These foods will keep your kids’ energy up
Trail mix is a great snack for an energy boost.
Back to school is fast approaching which means that you and your family are also figuring out after school activities. Whether it’s football practice, guitar lessons, or tutoring, after school activities take up a lot of energy for both you and your kids, especially after a long day at school.
The best way to keep your kids awake and ready to go is with high-energy snacks. That means snacks filled with protein. Of course make sure your kids get plenty of water too because dehydration is one of the quickest routes to an energy slump. We’ve gathered together some energy boosting goodies that will fuel all of your kids’ after school plans.
Homemade Energy Bars
Energy bars are a quick, portable snack that are perfect on the go between school and activities. These bars have rolled oats, unsweetened peanut butter, and chia seeds for a powerful energy kick that is yummy and healthy. Or you could go with these Greek yogurt-drizzled museli bars, complete with chocolate chips for sweetness.
Energy Boosting Candies
Usually the words “candy” and “healthy” don’t fit together, but these protein packed truffles are the best of both worlds. You can customize them however you want with any nut butter and spices your kids fancy.
You can either drink smoothies on the go or stop at home to enjoy them between activities for a quick and cool way to keep your kid’s energy up. This matcha smoothie uses almond milk for a protein kick, or you could go a little more towards dessert with this key lime pie smoothie with one surprising ingredient: avocado!
Seed and Nut Trail Mix
Trail mix is a munch-able, delicious snack that is easy to eat and perfect for energy boosts. This pumpkin seed and dried cherry trail mix is sweet and salty, but you can always customize your own trail mix with any combination of seeds, nuts, dried fruits, and sweet additions like peanut butter chips or dark chocolate chunks.
Halva Bliss Balls
Chocolate Bliss Balls
Nutritious and Delicious
What a fun weekend we had with family visiting from California, including one super adorable, three month old grand-niece. Nice treat for Labor Day before life becomes all about routines and back to the business of work and school and regular activities. Although I’m sorry to see the warm weather depart, I do love routine and organization. Especially in the kitchen….in the form of healthy habits. What? You didn’t guess?
Simple, wholesome ingredients make these bliss balls a super healthy snack choice
Thrive Smoothie: Pamela Elizabeth, owner of Blossom Du Jour
“Just like the name, the Thrive Smoothie will keep you thriving throughout the day. Green pea protein is a natural, nutrient-rich energy booster. The kale also provides heaps of vitamins A, K, and C, which help protect cells, while the banana helps regulate muscle functioning.”
· 1 medium handful organic raw kale
· 1 tsp almond butter
· 1/2 of a banana
· 1 tsp green pea protein
· 16 oz vegan milk of choice
Add all to blender and blend until smooth
Cooking Activities with Preschoolers
13. Fruit Salsa (Still Playing School) – This recipe is so easy and healthy too. Your preschoolers will not only have fun helping out, but also gobble it up!
14. Quick Apple Crisp Recipe (Fun-a-Day) – The preschool kiddos definitely enjoy cooking and making snacks in the classroom. This quick apple crisp recipe will definitely be a hit during a preschool apple theme!
15. Cooking with Kids: 10 Lessons Learned (Playground Parkbench) – Cooking with kids has some many benefits. If you are still hesistant to try it, this article will change your mind!
16. The Simplest Cookies on the Planet (My Mundane and Miraculous Life) – This cookies recipe is so easy to make, so it’s perfect for involving the kids!
17. Alphabet and Number Pretzels (ABC Creative Learning) – These Fun Alphabet Numbers Pretzel Snack are the perfect way to add a bit of fun to any lesson!
18. How to Make Silly Putty (Crystal and Co.) – Silly putty is fun and easy to make and your preschoolers will have so much fun playing with it after!
19. Strawberry Play Dough (Teaching Mama) – This homemade pink strawberry play dough is easy to make, smells great, and a perfect recipe to try in Springtime!
20. 5 Easy Steps to Invent a Recipe with Kids (TinkerLab) – Do you like to cooking with kids or do you yearn to cook with your child? Today we’re sharing five easy steps to invent a recipe with kids, which will get you into a creative cooking mindset. Think Master Chef + little kids = a fun afternoon.
21. Pinkalicious Cupcake Popsicles (Growing Book by Book) – Make some popsicles inspired by the Pinkalicious book!
22. 5 Apple Dips (JDaniel4’s Mom) – There is just something wonderful about dipping a fresh fruit into a refreshingly delicious dip created using a super easy dip recipe.
23. Baking with Kids: Chocolate Croissants (Fun-a-Day) – This is a fun easy recipe for Sunday morning to bake with your kids.
24. Best Tip for Baking with Toddlers (Busy Toddler) – Learn some great tips to bake with toddlers, including what “toddler batter” is!
25. 14 Essentials for Kitchen Fun (Sunny Day Family) – These are perfect for using to make your own kitchen kid ready, and also make great gift ideas for kids who are starting to learn to cook.
26. Fun Fruit Kebabs (Crafty Kids at Home) – Tired of the same old after school snack ideas? Then why not try one (or two) of our Fun Fruit Kebabs. They will give your child a much needed fruity energy boost after a busy day in school, along with a little treat as well.
27. Chicka Coconut Banana Booms (Growing Book by Book) – Reading and following a recipe is a fun way to incorporate pre-reading or reading skills. This original recipe, Chicka Coconut Banana Booms is healthy with no added sugar and easy to prepare.
Top 10 Energy Boosters
1. Increase Your Magnesium Intake
Eating a balanced diet can help ensure your vitamin and mineral needs are met. But if you still find yourself too pooped to pop, you could have a slight magnesium deficiency, Heller says.
"This mineral is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including breaking down glucose into energy," Heller says. "So when levels are even a little low, energy can drop."
In a study done at the Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D., women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks than they did after their magnesium levels were restored. In essence, their bodies were working harder which, over time, says Heller, can leave you feeling depleted.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium is around 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. To make sure you're getting enough, Heller suggests:
- Add a handful of almonds, hazelnuts or cashews to your daily diet.
- Increase your intake of whole grains, particularly bran cereal.
- Eat more fish, especially halibut.
2. Walk Around the Block
While it may seem as if moving about when you feel exhausted is the quickest route to feeling more exhausted, the opposite is true. Experts say that increasing physical activity -- particularly walking -- increases energy.
"I like walking because it's accessible, easy to do, doesn't need training or equipment and you can do it anywhere," says Rita Redberg, MD, science advisor to the American Heart Association's "Choose To Move" program.
In experiments conducted by Robert Thayer, PhD, at California State University, a brisk 10-minute walk not only increased energy, but the effects lasted up to two hours. And when the daily 10-minute walks continued for three weeks, overall energy levels and mood were lifted.
Research has shown that both information overload and pushing our brains too hard can zap energy. But studies by the National Institutes of Mental Health found that a 60-minute "power nap" can not only reverse the mind-numbing effects of information overload, it may also help us to better retain what we have learned.
4. Don't Skip Breakfast -- or Any Other Meal
"Studies show that folks who eat breakfast report being in a better mood, and have more energy throughout the day," says Heller.
Her personal theory, she says, is that breaking the fast soon after rising supplies your body with a jolt of fuel that sets the tone for the whole day.
Moreover, studies published in the journal Nutritional Health found that missing any meal during the day led to an overall greater feeling of fatigue by day's end.
5. Reduce Stress and Deal With Anger
One of the biggest energy zappers is stress, says psychologist Paul Baard, PhD.
"Stress is the result of anxiety, and anxiety uses up a whole lot of our energy," says Baard, a sports psychologist at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y.
Like worry or fear, Baard says, stress can leave you mentally and physically exhausted -- even if you've spent the day in bed. More commonly, he says, low but chronic levels of stress erode energy levels, so over time you find yourself doing less and feeling it more.
In much the same way, unexpressed anger can give a one-two punch to your energy level. The reason: "We're expending all our energy trying to contain our angry feelings, and that can be exhausting," Baard tells WebMD.
The good news, says Baard, is that we can counter these energy killers by programming more relaxation activities into our day. While for many folks, increasing exercise burns off the chemical effects of stress and anger, others find relief in quiet pursuits: listening to music, reading a steamy romance novel, or even just talking on the phone.
"Whatever is relaxing for you will reduce tension and that will help increase energy," says Baard.
6. Drink More Water and Less Alcohol
You may already know that it's easy to confuse signals of hunger with thirst (we think we need food when we really need water). But did you know that thirst can also masquerade as fatigue?
"Sometimes, even slight dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic," says nutritionist Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, an associate professor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York and author of The Uncle Sam Diet.
The solution is simple: a tall, cool glass of water. This is particularly important to boost energy after exercise, when your body is likely to be craving fluids, Ayoob says. Conversely, Heller says, if you find yourself frequently fatigued even after a good night's sleep, try cutting down on alcohol during the evening hours.
'While alcohol initially helps you fall asleep, it also interferes with deep sleep, so you're not getting the rest you think you are -- even if you sleep a full eight hours," she says.
By cutting down on alcohol before bedtime, you'll get a better night's rest, which is bound to result in more energy the next day.
7. Eat More Whole Grains and Less Sugar
The key here is keeping blood sugar balanced so energy is constant.
"When you're eating a sweet food, you get a spike in blood sugar, which gives you an initial burst of energy," Heller says. "But that's followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar, which in turn can leave you feeling very wiped out."
Do that enough times a day, she says, and by evening you're feeling exhausted.
"But, if you eat a lot of whole grains, which provide a slow and steady release of fuel, your energy will be consistent and balanced, so by day's end you'll feel less tired," says Heller.
Indeed, a study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating more whole grains helped increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, allowing for that slow and steady release.
Power snacking is more than just eating between meals, Ayoob says. He suggests a treat that combines protein, a little fat and some fiber -- like peanut butter on a whole-wheat cracker, or some yogurt with a handful of nuts.
"The carbs offer a quick pick-me-up, the protein keeps your energy up, and the fat makes the energy last," he tells WebMD.
Pair a quick caffeine hit with the sustaining power of protein by having a low-fat latte instead of just a cup of coffee, advises Ayoob.
"All that milk turns your java into a protein drink, which provides not only extra energy, but extra calcium, which is good for your bones," he tells WebMD. Combine it with an ounce of almonds, he says, and the healthy fat will really tide you over -- while making you feel you're spoiling yourself silly!
10. Check Your Thyroid Function and Complete Blood Cell Count
It certainly won't provide an instant boost. But if you're constantly low on energy -- especially if you feel sluggish even after a good night's rest -- Heller says you should talk to your doctor about a blood test for thyroid dysfunction as well as anemia.
"Thyroid can be a particular problem for women -- it often develops after childbirth and frequently during the perimenopause -- but a simple blood test can verify if this is your problem," says Heller. If you're diagnosed with low thyroid function, medication can bring your body back up to speed.
In anemia, says Heller, a reduction in red blood cells can mean your body isn't getting the level of oxygen necessary to sustain energy. So, you tire easily.
"This can sometimes occur during a woman's reproductive years, particularly if she has a very heavy menstrual cycle," says Heller.
Science and STEM activities
Let your kiddo explore their analytical side with these unique and brain-building activities.
16. Try the cabbage color experiment
Image via Paging Fun Mums
Perfect for the little scientist, this activity is a fun way for kids to learn about how plants absorb water. All you will need is some cabbage leaves, water, food coloring and a few jars.
Who is it good for? The cabbage color experiment from Paging Fun Mums is ideal for elementary-aged children who are likely also beginning to learn about plants in school.
Using only three ingredients, creating cloud dough is a sensory activity that your kids will absolutely love. Change up the colors or use glitter to make this activity one you can return to over and over.
Who is it good for? Kids up through middle school will love to create cloud dough, but it’s especially fun for toddlers, preschool and elementary school kids.
18. Create a toothpick tower earthquake
EntImage via Teachers Are Terrific/Instagram
This minimal-ingredient activity encourages problem-solving as children try to keep their structures from collapsing. When the structures fail to hold, the real learning begins.
Who is it good for? This building activity from Teachers Are Terrific would likely be too frustrating for very young children so it is best suited for kids in elementary or middle school.
Image via I Can Teach My Child
Is there a child alive who does not love making slime? There are a million slime recipes to be found on the internet, ranging from the super simple to the somewhat complicated, but creating slime is fun and educational for kids as they learn the basics of chemistry while combining ingredients to create a new substance.
Who is it good for? This slime-making activity from I Can Teach My Child is good for preschoolers (with supervision) on up.
20. Create lemon volcanoes
Image via Babble Dabble Do/Instagram
This activity is full of frothy fun, and it smells good, too! Children will learn how the chemical reaction created by mixing citric acid and baking soda results in a bubbly volcano that they create on their own.
Who is it good for? This science experiment from Babble Dabble Do is a ton of fun for elementary aged-kids, but early middle school-aged kids would love it, too.
All-Natural Energy Boosting Drink
Apple cider vinegar has so many benefits, not the least of which is providing feel-good energy. Get that boost you crave — without crashing later — with this drink! Via liverenewed.com.
Go Faster after-school snacks: grab and go
2. Small pack of nuts and seeds
An excellent source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, nuts and seeds help boost immunity levels, mood, brain power and brain development. An important nutrient for healthy growth and development as well as the manufacture of important hormones, children should be getting around 30% of their daily calories from fat. Encouraging children to get these from unsaturated rather than saturated fats will stand them in good stead for the future. If they don&rsquot like eating individual nuts, try a small peanut or almond butter sandwich on wholemeal bread instead.
3. Dried mango slices / dried apricots
Filling, sweet and tasty, dried apricots and mangoes are fabulous sources of the immune-boosting antioxidant, beta-carotene. Just a small handful will be enough for a sustaining snack as dried fruit, although a great alternative to sweets, contains much higher sugar content than regular fruit and is also high in fibre.
4. Hummus and carrot sticks
Ditch the monster munch for this tasty, garlicky mush of chickpeas, olive oil and lemon juice, loaded with protein, good fats and sustaining carbs to promote healthy growth and development. Perfect for those children who prefer savoury to sweet. Buy a pot or whizz up your own hummus in minutes (the kids will enjoy making this too) it keeps for several days in the refrigerator. A few tablespoons in a resealable pot at pick-up time with some carrot sticks or a pitta bread will go down a treat at the school gate.
Healthy fast food options
On the run with no time to pack your own snacks? Many fast food places offer healthy choices. Look for bagels or low fat muffins, a grilled chicken sandwich, salad, a baked potato, or a turkey, chicken, or veggie sub. Avoid high fat foods (like hot dogs or potato chips) because they take longer to digest than lighter snacks. Also avoid high sugar snacks &mdash your young athlete might feel an initial energy boost, but that boost will soon be followed by a crash.
5. Blueberry Oat Bar
"Oatmeal provides a source of complex carbohydrates that provides every and soluble fiber that supports a healthy digestion," Zhu says. Meanwhile, blueberries and dates are rich in vitamins A, C and potassium, so you know these little bars pack in the nutrition. Try pairing these Blueberry Oat Bars with a boiled egg or two for a protein boost.
Get the Blueberry Oat Bar recipe and nutrition info here.