URBANA – As your young athletes head into their chaotic fall school sport schedules, make sure they not only have all their necessary gear but are taking along nutritious snacks to fuel them up for their game or match as well, said a University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator.
“Many young athletes have nothing to eat from their 11 a.m. lunchtime until after the game or practice. This leaves them hungry and not able to play up to their potential. Here’s some help so you can avoid the drive-through,” said Mary Liz Wright.
As with many stressful situations, snacks on-the-go can be handled with a little organization if you plan ahead. What can you pack that requires little prep and is still safe and nutritious? Instead of the standard granola bar—that may be nutrient void—or a bag of chips that most certainly is, try one of these suggestions, she advised.
Make your own snack mix of dried fruit, whole-grain cereal, unsalted nuts, and pretzels. Mix up a large batch and then put a serving (1/2 cup) into a snack bag, she said.
According to USDA recommendations, (see www.MyPlate.gov), children should have 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables daily. An after-school snack is the perfect opportunity to get more fruits and veggies into your child’s diet, she said.
“Fresh fruit requires no refrigeration and is the perfect energy source for a game or workout. You could also send cut-up carrots and celery with some peanut butter for a protein-packed energy boost,” she noted.
Wright’s favorite recipe, included at the end of this article, uses the super-food pumpkin, and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. Just mix it up the night before, toss it into a lunch box with a stay-cool pack along with some whole grain crackers, add cut-up fruit and or veggies, and it will disappear, she said.
"Now take a deep breath of the crisp fall air, enjoy your children, and tame after-school chaos with some simple steps toward good health," she said.
Pumpkin–Peanut Butter Dip
¾ cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup peanut butter
1-4 Tbsp. brown sugar to taste
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Mix peanut butter and brown sugar.
2. Add vanilla and stir.
3. Add pumpkin and stir until well blended.
4. Serve with graham crackers, bread, apple slices, celery sticks, etc.
Nutrition Facts (per 1 Tablespoon) - Calories 50 ~ fat 2.5 g ~ calories from fat 20 ~ sodium 25 mg ~ total carbohydrate 7 g ~ fiber 0 g ~total 40 TBS