10 Latin-Inspired After-School Snacks That Kids Can Help Prepare
Growing up, my Mexican-American abuela lived with us and always had a delicious snack waiting for me and my brother promptly at 3:15 pm when we got home from a full day of learning. She spoiled us with Latin-inspired after-school snacks that were popular in her childhood. I never realized how lucky I was to have these homemade bites prepared for us on a daily basis until I had children of my own.
My kids experience quite the opposite. They will raid the pantry in between meals, looking for something that will satisfy their appetite for a moment — usually a fruit snack (or three) and a bag of pretzels — but these options leave them hungry again only 30 minutes later. I can feel the disappointment of my abuela from the heavens above. If she were alive today, she would scold me about not preparing sustaining snacks for them, foods that will keep their energy and mood levels up for homework and extracurricular activities. And she’d be right!
Determined to revamp our after-school snack situation (and to make my late abuela proud), I made it my mission to find kid-friendly recipes that reminded me of the flavors of my own childhood and would get my children more in touch with their Latin roots. These recipes had to be easy to execute as well — unchallenging enough for older kids to make on their own (or with minimal supervision) and that smaller kids could take part in helping.
From options that can be made ahead in batches and frozen ahead of time, to ones prepared in under ten minutes, here are 10 kid-friendly treats from Latinx food bloggers that will keep your child’s belly happy until dinner time.
1. Mexican Fruit Cups
This snack is very popular in Mexico and is sold by fruit vendors on almost every corner. They are made by simply cutting a variety of fruits (usually jicama, watermelon, pineapple, or mango) into long spears and sprinkling them with Tajin, a tangy, salty, lime seasoning that’s free of artificial flavors, artificial colors, and sugars. This Mexican fruit cup recipe from Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack of Muy Bueno shows how easy and simple this healthy and delicious snack can be prepared.
Avocados are a huge part of Latin cuisine and they are an excellent source of fiber and healthy fats, which makes guacamole a great snack. This popular dip, which originated in Central Mexico, was prepared everyday by my abulea in under ten minutes. It’s quick to make: mash up some avocado and mix in tomatoes and spices as this recipe from My Latina Table shows. If your children have more adventurous palates, you can also add in the onions and cilantro. Serve it with a chips on the side.
Paletas, a popular Mexican frozen treat made of fresh fruit, have gained in popularity in the United States. They are a great all-natural alternative to store-bought ice pops and are simple to make. This Tropical Mango-Pineapple Paleta recipe from Everyday Latina is a great example of that. All you have to do is blend your fruit of choice into a smooth puree, add in a sweetener, and freeze them in popsicle molds.
4. Flour Tortillas
Homemade flour tortillas were my go-to snack as a child after school. They are such a versatile food and you can pair it with sweet or sour fillings or even just eat it lightly toasted. Even today, when I’m looking for something quick to eat, I’ll eat a tortilla plain, or spread it with peanut butter and honey. This recipe from Isabel Eats shows how, with only five ingredients, you can make homemade tortillas that come together in no time.
5. Chicharrones de Harina
Chicharrones de harina (not to be confused with chicharrones which are pork rinds) are a dense flour-based wheat snack that puff up when they are fried. They are very popular in Mexico and are sold by street vendors on almost every corner. Most commonly, they are bought cooked and ready-to-eat. However, they can be made at home by buying them uncooked and pre-molded into pinwheels, then quickly fried in a large pot of oil. Food blogger Ana Frias of Muy Delish mentions in her recipe writeup that uncooked chicharrones de harina might be available at the Mexican spice aisle of your grocery store, or you can find them online. Traditionally, these treats are topped with Tajin seasoning, a mix of chili powder and salt, or cayenne pepper. Personally, I like squeezing mine with lime juice and adding Cholula sauce, but they taste delicious on their own as well.
Conchas, also known as Mexican sweet bread, are a sweet and airy pastry that resemble a seashell (“concha” in Spanish). Conchas were my absolute favorite treat growing up and I recently had my kids help me prepare a batch using this recipe from Isabel Eats. They were an instant hit and I had to pinky-promise my kids that we will make them together every weekend moving forward.
Elotes, also known as Mexican street corn, is a beloved street food all over Mexico and it’s become increasingly popular in the United States as well. Corn on the cob is broiled or roasted, brushed with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and spices, then eaten with the husk serving as a handle. Food blogger Maura Hernández of The Other Side of the Tortilla lays out a great elote recipe that is savory and where the spice level can be tapered down to accommodate young palates.
These delectable finger foods are a puff pastry that can be prepared with your choice of filling. Food blogger Mely Martinez of Mexico in My Kitchen writes that volvanes are “a typical snack for a mid-morning or late afternoon pick-me-up for the inhabitants of the City Port of Veracruz”. Martinez’s recipe combines cheese and chorizo, a perfect combo in my opinion.
9. Arroz con Leche
Arroz con Leche (rice with milk) is a traditional dessert in Latin America and a popular after-school snack. This creamy rice pudding is made with three different types of milk: sweet condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk. This recipe from Muy Delish infuses cinnamon and is topped with raisins, however, it’s such a versatile recipe that it can be customized for your taste.
Bionicos, originally from Guadalajara, are tasty fruit bowls that are topped with a creamy mixture of yogurt, Mexican creme, and condensed milk. They can be made in under 20 minutes and also topped with granola for extra protein. This recipe from Mexico in My Kitchen uses fruits like papaya, strawberries, and diced cantaloupe, but encourages the use of whatever fruits are in season.