Saturday , 26 May 2018

Kyra’s Kitchen: After School Means After-School Snacks

By Kyra Effren, TSB Food Writer

The kids are back at school – blissful peace – until they come storming through the door in the afternoon. And some of them haven’t eaten since 11 a.m.! They are basically in starvation mode.

Are we going to give them chips and soda and make them wait for supper?

Or, here is a radical thought …

Should we consider this an opportunity to provide nutritious alternatives – protein, fruit and vegetables, even something sweet – that will be tasty and fun for the kids?

Here are 10 fun ideas, with some nutritious heft. Mix them up with sauces and dips [see below] and even give your offspring the opportunity to create their own after school meal. All the suggestions are easy and require very little effort on your part.

Oh … and why not put out a place setting, to make the afternoon snack really look like a mini meal!

DIY “Pizza”  
Flat sandwich buns, marinara sauce, grated cheese. Cut up a hot dog for toppings the kids are sure to enjoy.

Chicken Tender Fingers
Cut chicken tenders into strips. Season with salt and pepper or other seasoning of your choice.  Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Sauté the strips quickly – 2-3 minutes on each side. Set on paper toweling and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Sandwich Buffet 
Set out sandwich buns – mayonnaise, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, cold cuts, peanut butter, black beans – and let the kids build their own sandwich.

Tortellini Kebabs with Grape Tomatoes
Cook the tortellini according to package directions, drain and toss with dressing of your choice. Allow to cool. Serve with tomatoes on a stick. Tortellini with last up to 3 days in the refrigerator and can be frozen.  Set on a tray in a single layer – freeze – then bag.

Turkey Ball on a Stick
1 lb ground turkey
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup cracker crumbs [you can also use cheese crackers] Salt and pepper – and any other seasoning to your taste

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Form into small balls.
Heat the broiler on high.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Set turkey balls on the sheet in a single layer.
Broil for 10 minutes or until brown on one side – then turn the balls over and brown on the other side.
To serve, insert sticks into the balls and serve with a dip of choice.

Crunchy Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas well drained and dried
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon seasoning of your choice: chili – cinnamon – paprika – seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 425.
Arrange the chickpeas in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. 
Bake for 20 minutes.

Celery and Carrot Sticks
Stored in a plastic bag and served with dip of choice.

Frozen Grapes
Place a bunch of grapes in the freezer and freeze!

Choose combinations of any of the following:
Banana, frozen berries, yogurt, milk, orange juice concentrate and frozen yogurt.
Blend.  (Note for added nutrition you can blend in protein powder.)

This smoothie can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Frozen Yogurt Bars
Frozen yogurt
Graham crackers
Dark chocolate chips

Sandwich the graham crackers with the frozen yogurt and allow to re-freeze.
Melt chocolate chips  – stir until smooth.
Then dip one corner of the bars into the chocolate.

Pina Colada Pops (No these are not the mom version!)
1 can Coco Lopez
½ cup fresh limejuice
8 oz plain Greek yogurt

Combine all the ingredients and pour into small paper cups.
When the mixture is about set – insert sticks.


Orange Dip
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon lemon or limejuice
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon garlic salt

Blend together and store in a jar in the refrigerator.

RED HOT Applesauce Dip
½ can or bottle unsweetened applesauce
6- 10  ‘red hots’ cinnamon candies

Place in a microwaveable bowl – and micro on high for one minute.
Remove and stir until the applesauce is pink.
You can add or subtract red hots according to your taste.

Other ideas for Dips
Marinara Sauce
Thousand Island dressing
Mayonnaise mixed with a little vinegar
Water and sugar. 

About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for’s “Food” section.  She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking.   She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions.  What would you like to have for dinner?

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