After-School Snacks: Keeping it Healthy and Delicious with Soy

After-school snacks will soon be on the mind of moms (and kids) everywhere. Though ready-made snacks—whether granola bars, cookies, and the like–are easily purchased, it’s healthier and more economical to make munchies at home.

Healthier is especially important as kids need a good balance of nutrients to power them through the academic, social, and physical demands that are a part of childhood and adolescence. Lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber are all important to growing bodies.

While it’s easy to fill up on empty calories (I can’t be the only one who downed entire rows of Oreo cookies as a kid), it’s a better move to give cookies etc. “special treat” status and offer more nutritious snacks as regular fare. But this can be tricky; kids won’t eat what they don’t like.

Making DIY after-school treats, then, requires cooks to think about appearance, texture, and taste. What will appeal to the younger set? Color is key—bland-looking foods won’t work with a generation raised on Technicolor. As well, varying textures and flavors make it more likely to hit that home run. Fresh-popped popcorn tossed with dried fruits and nuts, graham crackers topped with peanut butter and thinly sliced apples, homemade snack mixes, and even a bowl of cereal and milk—bonus points for topping with fruit—will appeal to kids and also satisfy hunger, bridging time between arriving home from school and the evening meal.

Including soyfoods in these snacks offers the double whammy of soy’s perfect balance of those complex carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats and soy’s superpower antioxidant, genistein, which may be responsible for lowering the risk of breast cancer. Though there’s been controversy about soy’s potential in fighting hormone-related cancers, recent studies have focused on when soyfoods are consumed. It appears as if soy consumed pre-puberty may help reduce the risk for breast cancer as an adult.

All the more reason then to serve up soy smoothies, toss roasted soynuts into snack mixes (or even bake them into cookies), puree drained canned soybeans into hummus, or bake up the crunchy snack recipe found below.

As a younger soybean (edamame are essentially traditional soybeans that have been picked before reaching full maturity), edamame are sweeter and less beany in flavor than their brown relations. As well, they’re lower in fat than are brown and black soybeans. Better yet, they’re an especially easy sell for those who may not be ready for the deeper, earthier flavors of regular soybeans.


Crunchy Parmesan Edamame

This recipe makes a single serving. Feel free to multiply as desired.

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame

1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, as desired

Heat oven to 400°F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. On baking sheet, stir together edamame, cheese, and oil. Bake 20 minutes or until golden; remove from oven. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired. Cool completely.