7 After-School Snacks That Sound Healthy But Aren’t

Get tips on how to avoid these seeminly healthy snacks and make smart choices.
Related To:

When your kids arrive home from school, they can often be super-hungry. It’s the perfect time to give them a healthy snack filled with nutrients needed for proper growth and development. You might want to think twice about what you’re serving, though, as what you think is healthy unfortunately might be anything but. These seemingly good-for-you snacks aren’t as healthy as you think.

Graham Crackers

Although these crunchy treats are easy for younger kids to chew, they don’t provide much nutrition. They contain low amounts of a variety of nutrients and provide no fiber.

Instead: Serve kids whole-grain crackers topped with cheese for a boost of fiber and calcium.

Fruit candy

Fruit candy

Fruit candy

Fruit Snacks

Their name may make you believe they’re filled with fruit, but don't be fooled. These treats stick to those little teeth and lead to cavities, and they also contain about five teaspoons of added sugar per pouch; some brands even add a small amount of partially hydrogenated oil (aka trans fat). Many also contain food coloring or dyes, including some that have been linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems in kids.

Instead: Offer them a piece of fresh fruit, filled with fiber, vitamin C and potassium.



Several Granola Bars Isolated on White

Photo by: Andy Dean ©Andy Dean Photography

Andy Dean, Andy Dean Photography

Many granola bars are brimming with sugar, fat, and a laundry list of additives and preservatives.

Instead: Choose granola bars with better ingredients, like bars from Kashi, Sunbelt Bakery and Nature Valley.



Vegetable Chips

Although these chips are made from vegetables, they are often processed to a degree where many of their important nutrients are lost. Per ounce, they contain about 125 to 160 calories and about 10 to 12 grams of fat.

Instead: Serve cut-up veggies alongside two tablespoons of your kid’s favorite dip.

Juice Drinks

Boxes of juices line the supermarket aisles, but many are simply sugar and water. And the portions are well over the max daily recommendation of 4 fluid ounces for kids.

Instead: Look for 100 percent fruit juice in smaller 4-fluid-ounce containers.


Bran or banana muffins may seem healthy, but they are just another source of empty calories, loads of fat and sugar, and not much fiber.

Instead: Make your own healthier version with whole-grain pastry flour, and replace part of the fat with applesauce or nonfat plain Greek yogurt like in Ellie Krieger’s Apple Muffins.

This peanut butter may be lower in fat, but it’s typically higher in sugar, making the total calories found in regular and reduced-fat peanut butter about the same.

Instead: Pick up a jar of natural peanut butter made with two ingredients, peanuts and salt.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Smarter Snacks: Picks for During & After School

When I tell my younger clients to eat 3 meals and 2 to 3 small, healthy snacks a day, they often look at me with a puzzled face and say, “I’m supposed to snack?” Well, yes, of course, but it's all about picking wisely. Kids should get 25% of their daily calories from snacks, so these mini-meals should be full of vitamins and minerals to help them grow. But the question is: what’s a healthy snack that your kid will want to eat?

Your Favorite Childhood Snacks

Food Network asked fans on Facebook, "if they could go back in time, what would be their favorite childhood snack?"

Win These KIND Bars!

We’re giving away one KIND Nuts & Spices Cube with 20 bars to five lucky, randomly-selected commenters

Simple Snacking: 3 New Ways to Crush the Chip Game

Learn three new ways to transform everyday snack items into all-new munchies.

Snacks to Fuel Workouts

No matter how you like to exercise, you need food to fuel your workouts. Your body needs nutrients both before and after to perform at its best. Since you may not always have time for a meal, have these power snacks ready to go.

Weekly Bits: Talkin' Tuna

Every week we publish our favorite reader tips, comments, and questions. Check out this week's list -- we might have included yours! On the menu: tuna salad, sweet and savory pumpkin, grilling with pomegranates, plus snacks to keep your appetite satisfied.

Food Network Stars Share Their Go-To Midnight Snacks

Hear from your favorite Food Network chefs to see what foods they crave in the middle of the night.

Snacks for the Racks: Your Black Friday Survival Plan

Gear up for the relentless sifting and sorting on Black Friday by stocking your purse or pockets with these on-the-go treats.