Do you remember the days when you would run home from school and tear open the cupboards looking for something to snack on? As the back-to-school season approaches, it’s a good idea to keep plenty of quick, easy and portable snacks on hand. Where is the best place to stash those quick snacks? Your backpack!

According to recent studies, most children snack during the day, with afternoon being the most popular time. Whether your child comes home after school or spends hours after school at sports events and other extra-curricular activities, backpack snacks can be a healthy way to fuel kids’ bodies while on the go. Most children need to eat every three to four hours to replenish energy. Snacks also help improve their attention span and improve discipline.

Packing plenty of snacks will decrease the chances that your child will grab food from the vending machine. Snack foods that are sold in vending machines are often high in sugar, sodium and calories and lack important nutrients needed by growing kids. When you pack your child’s backpack, you are in control and can offer your child a healthy alternative.

Some suggestions to ensure your child’s backpack is bursting with satisfying snacks:

• Baggies are a snacks’ best friend. Sandwich and snack baggies can be stuffed with ultra-convenient snacks like baby carrots, raisins, celery and trail mix. Baggies are great for pre-measuring items into the correct serving size.

• Pack perishables with care. Packing cold food in a backpack is possible. Foods such as yogurt, cheese and milk need to be kept cold and should be carried in an insulated bag with an ice pack.

• Jazz up a peanut butter sandwich. Include sliced bananas, honey, marshmallow fluff, sliced apples or pretzels on your regular peanut butter sandwich.

• Pack the original fast food. Fruits and vegetables are the original fast food. Think about it, the ultimate grab-and-go snacks are apples, grapes, bananas, celery, carrots, oranges and pears.

• Use MyPlate as your guide. Let the food groups guide your food choices. Choose an apple (fruit group), carrots (vegetable group), string cheese (milk group) or a peanut butter sandwich (grain and meat group). Check out to get more information on MyPlate for Kids.

• Hydrate with water. Try to limit juices and soda and use water as your beverage choice. It is the best thirst quencher, and kids won’t fill up on the empty calories that sweetened drinks have.

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location. The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at


Kashi Spicy Honey Almond Snack Mix

All you need:

• ¼ cup coconut flakes

• 4 cups Kashi® GOLEAN® Crunch!® Honey Almond Flax cereal

• 2 tbsp golden flax seeds

• 3 tbsp expeller-pressed safflower oil

• 1 tbsp honey

• 1 tsp low-sodium naturally-prepared soy sauce

• ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

• 1 tbsp curry powder

• 2 tbsp white sesame seeds

• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

• ¼ tsp ground cumin

• ¼ tsp kosher salt

All you do:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread coconut in shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes or until toasted.

In large bowl toss together coconut and remaining ingredients.

Spread mixture evenly on baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

Nutrition facts:

Serving size: ¾ cup, Serves: 8, Calories: 270, Total fat: 14g, Saturated fat: 2.5g, Cholesterol: Omg, Sodium: 190mg, Potassium: 310 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 32g, Dietary Fiber: 8g, Sugars: 12g, Protein: 9g