By Ren Behan
The summer holidays have come to an end and the kids have gone back to school. Teens and tweens need regular refuelling and whilst daytime hunger pangs are mostly taken care of courtesy of the school canteen or the corner shop, there will almost certainly be some fridge-raiding going on once they arrive home. There are the obvious snack targets, such as cereals and store cupboard treats, but hungry teenagers really need food that will give them a nutritious boost and keep them going until teatime.
Healthy smoothies and milkshakes are as good as an after-school snack as they are a quick breakfast. Keep a stick blender or a jug blender within easy reach and you’ll never be more than a couple of minutes away from a food pit stop. Better still, teach your teens how to whizz up a few recipes themselves and they’ll soon be experimenting with their own favourite flavours. A good basic recipe to start with is The amazing date shake – made with dates, milk and a pinch of cinnamon. Then experiment with dairy-free milks or nut milks for extra protein, or try adding in a banana or even half an avocado for a bonus hit of potassium.
Sandwiches and wraps filled with protein and salad are also good choices. If your teens fancy something warm, try quesadillas, made by filling two soft flour tortillas with grated cheese and strips of ham, turkey, chicken or leftover veggies. Once filled, warm the filled tortillas through in a flat pan, flipping them over like a pancake, until they get crispy on the outside and the cheese has melted on the inside. Flour tortillas don’t take up a lot of space, and you can always keep a few packets to hand in the freezer. There are plenty of varieties available now too, so look out for plain wraps, as well as wholemeal, seeded or corn tortillas. Try these Mexican-style Quesadillas with guacamole to start with.
Tinned soups are easy for anyone to grab out of the cupboard and re-heat, but why not make one big tasty pan of homemade soup, using cheap and seasonal vegetables, which can then be kept in the fridge ready to reheat throughout the week? Soups can easily be padded out with lentils, beans, pasta, noodles or rice, too, which will not only keep hungry teenagers going for longer, but will make simple ingredients stretch a bit further. You can make very tasty soups with roasted vegetables. Try peppers, butternut squash or mixed tomatoes and a handful of onions, and roast until soft. Transfer to a large pan, cover the veg with stock, bring to the boil and blend. Or, go for something really flavourful and filling like an Early autumn minestrone, adding in all their favourite veggies in one go.
Inspire the teens to get creative!
Ren Behan is a mum of two and a food writer. Find out more at www.renbehan.com