Both kids and adults crave filling, tasty after-school snacks. Going the gluten-free route shouldn’t limit your snacking options in any way — and it won’t as long as you pay attention to ingredients and exercise your creativity in the kitchen. From homemade crackers to store-bought chocolate snacks, there are a variety of gluten-free munchies from which to choose. The next time you or the kids need a nutritious, safe snack after the school day, start here first.
Homemade Cheese Crackers
Cheez-It crackers make a tasty snack, but they’re not the healthiest option, and they’re certainly not gluten-free. The good news is that you can easily make cheese crackers at home using real cheese. Make sure you have some gluten-free flour on hand. Mix it with shredded cheddar, a bit of butter, some sea salt, and a little water to bind everything together. They bake in a blink and you wind up with crispy, crunchy, cheesy crackers that make an ideal after-school snack.
A Little Something Sweet
Everybody enjoys a sweet treat after a busy day. Traditional cakes, cookies, and other sweet snacks don’t fit in with a gluten-free lifestyle, but there are other ways to satisfy a sweet tooth. Gluten-free chocolate snacks that contain all-natural ingredients aren’t hard to find, if you — or the kids — need a satisfying chocolate fix.
Fried foods don’t have to be entirely unhealthy, especially if you coat them in gluten-free flour and use a healthier fat for frying. Consider cutting up sweet potatoes and onions shoestring-style. Thin vegetables not only fry up quickly, but they result in a crunchy, tasty snack that no one will be able to resist. You can also season these snacks however you like. A sprinkle of sea salt is a must, but you can season shoestring veggies with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and maybe even a little chili powder or cayenne, as well.
Gluten-free granola is a delicious addition to GF yogurts and ice creams. You can also bake it into breakfast bars. All you need to do is search for gluten-free oats. Supplement the granola with seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Nuts are also tasty, not to mention they’re full of protein and healthy fats, both of which are perfect for after-school snacks.
No, we’re not talking about teeny tiny sandwiches that involve cucumbers and thinly pressed cheese bread. Yummy as that sounds, it’s not gluten-free. Turning the cucumber into the “bread,” however, gives you much more freedom. Cut a cucumber in half, hollow out the middle, and fill it with a gluten-free spread or your child’s favorite cheeses and meats. Try to stay away from processed lunch meats, though. They’re sneaky and may contain gluten. Go to the deli for turkey, chicken, ham, and roast beef instead.
Kid-Friendly Virgin Cocktails
Sometimes, the only thing you want after school is a frosty, tasty drink. Mom and dad may opt to celebrate a gluten-free cocktail hour, but there are delicious choices for the younger set, as well. In fact, it’s not hard to find virgin versions of cool cocktails like daiquiris and Bloody Marys, which are actually full of nutritious ingredients. The key is to make sure that none of the ingredients contain gluten. That’s why it’s so helpful to make your own drinks and snacks.
Baked Fruit Chips
Fruit is always a terrific snack, but you can make it even more palatable. Do you have a mandolin? Get ready to use it! Thinly sliced apples, pears, and other fruits can be baked to dehydrate them. Doing this results in crispy “chips” that pack a nutritional punch.
You can do the same thing with a variety of vegetables. Squash and zucchini lend themselves well to baking, as do sweet potatoes. As with shoestring vegetables, you can season them in a variety of ways, whether you choose fresh herbs or powdered spices, such as onion powder and paprika.
If baking isn’t your thing, then experiment with the appliances you have in the kitchen. For example, air-frying vegetables is quickly becoming a favored method. Have you ever air-fried fruit or vegetable chips?
An after-school snack doesn’t necessarily have to be a food. Smoothies are filling and nutritious, as well. Using fruit puree and almond milk can result in a yummy smoothie, but you can also get inventive. Frozen fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, carrots, berries, and mangos, can give smoothies the perfect consistency. You can also include options like milk and certain types of yogurt. Bear in mind that you can use many frozen fruits to make frozen “yogurt.” Frozen bananas, for instance, are easy to transform into something that’s almost exactly like ice cream.
These snacks are sure to please any palate, and you don’t have to eat gluten-free all the time to enjoy them. Do you have any snack recipes that don’t contain gluten? Share your tasty treats!