After months spent mindlessly laying in the sun, it is difficult to adjust to the back-to-school schedule. Gone are the days of rolling off the beach and grabbing a sandwich at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Suddenly all night study sessions hit, and the only food in sight is the granola bar wrapper which previously contained your dinner. Between classes, extracurriculars, work, volunteering... making sure you are eating healthy food in a timely fashion is the last thing on your mind once school begins in the fall.  

Zoe Malin

While this may be the case, ensuring that you are eating healthily despite a chaotic school schedule is imperative. A study conducted by the University of Alberta (Canada) demonstrated "the importance of overall diet quality to academic performance" and, as the Chicago Tribune reported,  gave "emphasis to the importance of children's nutrition not only at breakfast but throughout the day." Researchers found that "the better a student's eating, the less likely he or she was to have failed [a] test." This convincing evidence should encourage students to pack nutritious snacks and lunches during the school year.

Preparing healthy food to bring to school is time-consuming especially if you follow a specific diet such as eating gluten free or vegan. However, bringing snacks to school is crucial since students should aim to eat throughout the day to stay sharp and focused. You should aim to eat small snacks every 2-3 hours after a meal to keep your blood sugar up. Armed with a few quick-to-make, satisfying, and delicious snack ideas, students will have no problem sticking to this idea.

Below are five of my favorite back-to-school snacks. Not only are these snacks easy to make and as tasty as can be, but they can all be brought to school or made in a mason jar... talk about convenient!

Zoe Malin

1. Veggies and Bean Dip

sushi, vegetable, fish, ice
Zoe Malin

Pairing cruciferous vegetables with bean dip is a match made in heaven; the protein in the bean dip slows down the sugar released by the vegetables. Eating these types of foods together gives you a steady, continuous boost of energy instead of making your blood sugar suddenly spike.

During the hectic school year, I usually buy hummus or black bean dip, but you can make homemade dip as well. Either way, munching on this snack halfway through the school day will keep you full until lunch and give you the energy needed to nail your exams.

How to make it: Scoop two tablespoons of your favorite bean dip into the bottom of a mason jar. Then, place veggie sticks such as carrots, peppers, celery, or cucumbers into the bean dip facing up. Refrigerate overnight or place in your backpack right away!

2. Mini Fruit Kebabs

Zoe Malin

Why throw together a boring fruit salad when you can create fun fruit kebabs in seconds? Any fruit that you can skewer works to create the kebabs, but different types of fruits have different effects on your body. For example, raspberries, apples, and pears have a lot of fiber which keeps you fuller longer. In contrast, grapes, mangos, and cherries are high in sugar and raise your blood sugar more quickly than other fruits. Keep when you plan on eating the mini fruit kebabs in mind to decide which fruits to use.

How to make it: Cut your favorite fruits into small pieces and skewer them onto a few lollipop sticks. Stand the fruit kebabs up in a tall mason jar. If you want to add protein to this snack, drizzle nut butter onto the fruit kebabs or place nuts at the bottom of the jar.

#SpoonTip: If you have to refrigerate the kebabs overnight, use fruits that do not need to be cut before they are skewered such as berries, grapes, and cherries. And please, stay away from using bananas-they rot very quickly.

3. Trail Mix

chocolate, walnut, sweet, nut
Zoe Malin

Trail mix is a go-to snack for almost everyone; a handful of dried fruit, some nuts, maybe some seeds, and you have put together a satisfying snack in seconds. However, a large serving of any of the ingredients mentioned above adds up, creating a high-calorie, high-sugar, and fat-dense snack. Trail mix is tricky to navigate, but when portioned correctly, nourishing and perfect to take on-the-go.

Making a well-balanced trail mix is easy once you decipher how much of each ingredient to include. I usually stick to the following ratio: 2 tablespoons of nuts, 2 tablespoons of dried fruit, and 1 tablespoon of seeds. By following these guidelines, I ensure that I do not over-eat and that each food is beneficial for my body.

How to make it: In a small mason jar, layer 2 tablespoons of nuts, 2 tablespoons of dried fruit, and 1 tablespoon of seeds. You can also include add-ins such as crumbled pretzels or peanut butter chips. When you have added each ingredient close the lid tightly on the mason jar and shake. If you have a busy week ahead, make your trail mix in bulk on Sunday, portion it out, and each weekday morning, grab a jar and go!

4. Greek Yogurt Parfait

milk, muesli, granola
Zoe Malin

If you are in need of a snack that will sustain you, turn to a Greek yogurt parfait. Layers of protein-packed Greek yogurt, berries, and granola cover all the essential food groups necessary to keep you full during your classes. The parfait is also great to snack on if you had a light breakfast or before practice. Bring the parfait to school in an insulated bag or with an ice pack to keep it fresh and cold during the day. Don't forget to pack a spoon!

How to make it: First place two tablespoons of homemade or store-bought granola at the bottom of a small mason jar. Then scoop 1/3 cup of any Greek yogurt flavor on top of the granola. Layer 1/4 cup berries atop the Greek yogurt, and finish the parfait off with two final tablespoons of granola. 

TIP: It is best to make this snack the day you plan on eating it. Refrigerating the parfait overnight will cause the granola and berries to become soggy.

5. Flavored Popcorn

caramel, salt, kettle corn, corn, popcorn
Zoe Malin

Popcorn often gets a bad rap because of the movie theatre; people hear popcorn and visualize butter, grease, and salt. Fortunately, if prepared correctly, popcorn holds a lot of potential as a crunchy snack due to its high fiber content.

If you are making popcorn in the microwave, buy butterless, low-sodium popcorn. Kettle corn is a fantastic option, as well. My favorite brands are Whole Foods' Organic Microwaveable Popcorn and Skinny Pop's Sea Salt Microwaveable Popcorn. 

After you decide upon which popcorn to pop, add some spice to those kernels! You can't go wrong with chili powder and paprika, cinnamon and raw cocoa, or garlic and herbs! If you are up for something more unique, try pumpkin pie spiced or chai spiced popcorn... you'll be surprised as to how delicious it is! 

How to make it: Pop popcorn any way you please and let cool. When it is cool, fill half of a large mason jar with popcorn. Then, sprinkle on the spice/flavoring of your choice. Fill the rest of the mason jar with popcorn and add more seasoning. Finally, tightly close the mason jar and shake it to ensure that all the kernels are coated. This snack can also be made in bulk, portioned out, and stored in the pantry to grab during a busy week.

Zoe Malin

In order to ace the snack game and your classes, munching throughout the day is a must. Keeping your blood sugar up and regulating your hunger levels is possible by eating wholesome foods during the school day. Despite feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or rushed, set aside time to prepare good-for-you snacks such as these; your body, mind, and grades will thank you.