How to Avoid Empty Calories Snacks for Your Kids

My daughter started school almost a month ago and we are already experiencing the daunting task of harmonizing her school activities with the extracurricular activities.  She takes piano and saxophone lessons and three kind of dance lessons.  My situation is a common story for a lot of parents everywhere.Kids are kids, and when they are hungry, they want to eat now.  This is a challenge for parents who are torn between the often competing desire to be health conscious and careful to what our children eat,while also having to be conscious of scheduling, time, and our own energies as parents.  We face daily the relatively quick and easy, but often unhealthy temptation of pulling up to a fast food drive-up window and ordering French fries or a children' s meal, or grabbing a bag of chips and soda.  These snacks are full of empty calories and heart damaging fat.I sat down with my daughter and drew up a monthly calendar.  I asked her what her favorite food and snacks are.  Most were either healthy choices or allowed room for me to substitute with healthy alternatives, but there were some negotiations and of course, with the help of shuttle diplomacy, we were able to reach a compromise on some key issues.  For example, she agreed that strawberry ice cream did not qualify as a fruit, and I accepted that apple juice could count as one of her accepted snacks.  I agreed that hummus is not going to be an item in her lunch bag; she was afraid that her classmate will tease her about it. She, in return, agreed that whole wheat bread is the only bread of choice.When we were able to reach an agreement on the key diplomatic issues, I wrote down each day in the monthly calendar what she would be eating for her lunch and snack at school, and the snacks between after school activities.  The next day I took her with me grocery shopping.  She went through the aisles, reading labels and placing boxes in the cart.  She choose well. We had bags of nuts, dry cereals, dry and fresh fruits, fresh vegetables  and other snacks.  We also got small lunch plastic bags.Each Sunday, together we wash, peel and cut carrots, celery and cucumbers and place them in the refrigerator ready to be eaten.  We also, prepare different dry snack in a bag and write the date on it.  She then checks her daily calender for the activities and the snacks.  She has participated with me in a fun activity, she has a sense of ownership regarding the choices, and the snacks are inexpensive and most important of all-healthy.After School Savory Mixture makes 8 serving1       cup roasted peanuts1       cup baked pretzels1       cup baked fish crackers4       whole wheat Italian bread1       teaspoon of mixed herbs and spices-Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.-Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes.  Place the bread on a cookies sheet, spray with olive oil spray and then let your child sprinkle his choice of herbs.-Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until bread cubes are golden.  Remove from the oven and allow bread to cool completely.-In a large bowl, mix gently the bread cubes with the pretzle, the peanuts and the fish crackers.*My daughter choice of spices and herbs was 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme.