Dinner at 4:00 pm? Yes, if your kids are starving after-to-school!
It’s a new back-to-school season, so it’s a perfect time to create new habits to keep kids happy and healthy. A trend that I’ve been tracking for some time are kids appetites after the school day is over. Many parents complain that their kids are “starving” after-school and then, after a “snack” they continue there ravenous appetites through dinner and up to bed-time. As I explored this situation further, many kids are snacking on pretzels, apples, carrots or whole wheat crackers — food items that are portable but for the most part processed carbohydrates! I’d be hungry, too!
While I realize that it takes some planning and a schedule change, my best advice is to serve kids dinner or a “mini meal” at 4:00 p.m. or earlier! It’s important that this meal contain healthy fats, lean protein and whole grains! Pesto pasta, wraps, quesdillas (with veggie, beans and cheese), pizza potato pizzas, just to name a few ideas. Then, after sports or at the actual dinner-time when dad or mom come home from work, serve another “mini meal” so the family can still enjoy family meal-time together.
Still not convinced? Here’s the latest testimonial: The day we met, I brought my son a “mini-meal” after school (instead of snacks), a turkey, hummus, shredded carrots and lettuce wrap. He said, “Did you meet Stacey today? This sandwich is delicious!” I was amazed that he was not hungry again until 6:30pm, when I made him an “appetizer,” a cup of homemade pea soup, and we had dinner at 7pm. He was not interested in dessert that evening. And so we have continued for the past three weeks. He is so much happier, not always foraging for snacks, and even his grandparents commented that he “looks really good.”
Here’s an easy, thumbs up recipe to get you started!
The TLT Wrap (courtesy Appetite for Life):
Bacon, lettuce and tomato is a classic American sandwich, but the average BLT is high in calories, saturated (the “bad” stuff for your heart) fat and sodium. We remade this favorite into a healthier option, without sacrificing the flavor. Turkey bacon is a lean protein and it’s so satisfying that you’ll never go back to regular bacon again! This wrap is high in vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that help keep our immune system strong.
4 slices turkey bacon (4 ounces)
2 whole wheat lavash flatbreads or 2 (11-inch) whole wheat wraps
4 teaspoons olive oil mayonnaise
4 Romaine lettuce leaves
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
Cook bacon as label directs; drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Unfold lavash. Cut each lavash crosswise in half to make 4 pieces in total. Place 1 piece lavash on plate or flat surface.
Spread 1 teaspoon mayonnaise evenly over one narrow end of lavash, covering about half of lavash. Place 1 lettuce leaf on mayonnaise at end of lavash (so it’s easy to roll). Fill spine of lettuce leaf with ¼ of tomatoes; top with 1 slice bacon.
From filling end, tightly roll lavash, jelly-roll fashion. If you like, cut wrap in half.
Repeat to make 4 wraps in all.
Makes 4 servings (1 wrap per serving).
Nutrition Facts per serving: 150 calories; 7g fat (0.5g sat fat, 1g mono, 4g poly, 0g trans fat); 25mg cholesterol; 14g carbohydrate (2g fiber, 2g sugar); 9g protein; 320mg sodium; 15% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 20% DV vitamin C; 2% DV calcium; 8% DV iron.
Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, director, HealthBarn Foundation, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.