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10 Easy Poolside Snacks

Kids of all ages appreciate a variety of foods to snack on during a day at the pool.
Kids of all ages appreciate a variety of foods to snack on during a day at the pool.
Creatas/Thinkstock

Summertime is finally here and not a moment too soon! We're coming out of hibernation with our bathing suits on and ready to hit the pool. When the sun is shining and your days are focused on fun by the pool, there's little time to think about prepping food for the day. You want easy and satisfying snacks to keep you outside as much as possible.

Summer snack foods are perfect because they require little to no preparation, and much of the prep work can be done the night before. Keeping food healthy and quick is key to a perfect summer day. Here are 10 easy snacks to help you make the most of summer days be the pool.

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Cheese and crackers is about the easiest snack ever, and it's always a crowd pleaser.
Cheese and crackers is about the easiest snack ever, and it's always a crowd pleaser.
©iStockphoto.com/Daniel Loiselle

One of the fastest snacks to prepare, cheese and crackers is as easy as opening a box, cutting cheese in slices or cubes and setting it all out to eat. Make a cheese platter the night before (keep it refrigerated, of course). When you're ready for a refuel, simply remove the cheese and break out the crackers.

Great cheeses for snacking outside are semisoft to hard cheeses. Cheeses such as mozzarella, Swiss, Gouda, cheddar or Muenster come in blocks that are easy to cut and serve. Pair cheese with an array of crackers, from saltines to fancy water crackers. Of course, you don't want to leave cheese out for too long, but we don't think a bunch of hungry swimmers will leave leftovers.

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When you're poolside, sandwiches are an easy-to-make and portable snack. Get as gourmet as you want with a deli platter featuring turkey, ham or whatever cold cuts you like. Add cheese, lettuce, tomato, condiments, pickles -- whatever you want -- so everyone can tailor them to their liking. For vegetarians, fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwiches are a perfect pair.

Want to put even less work into sandwiches? Peanut butter (or other nut or fruit butters) and jelly are still a no-cook, year-round staple that everyone loves.

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Experiment with any fruit-nut-combo you like to create a custom trail mix.
Experiment with any fruit-nut-combo you like to create a custom trail mix.
©iStockphoto.com/György Barna

Trail mix is a fun snack with infinite mixing possibilities. Also known as GORP -- or good 'ol raisins and peanuts -- trail mix isn't just for hiking anymore. With any nut-fruit-sweet combo, trail mix provides necessary fats and natural sugars to keep you going outside without weighing you down. Mix up a big batch of trail mix and keep it in an airtight canister or sealed bag for easy access.

A basic trail mix recipe usually contains peanuts, raisins and M&Ms. Try it with any dried fruit such as mango, papaya, cherries or cranberries; add sunflower seeds, nuts, pretzels or yogurt-covered raisins. Spice it up with wasabi peas, shredded coconut, crystallized ginger or white chocolate pieces -- get as exotic as you want. The fun part is experimenting with flavors a lot of effort required.

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Smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra nutrition into your kid's diet.
Smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra nutrition into your kid's diet.
©iStockphoto.com/Judy Barranco

Swimming and pool games can work up quite a thirst. Smoothies are a great, nutritious alternative to sodas and fruit juices. They provide a ton of nutrients and are satisfying (and cold!) on a hot day.

Making smoothies is almost foolproof. A basic smoothie recipe calls for a serving of fruit such as peaches, bananas or strawberries. Use any kind of liquid as a base; water, milk, juice and yogurt all work well. To save time, freeze pre-measured servings of fruit so you can just throw them into the blender. You can also add protein powder or wheat germ to bump up the nutrition for kids who might be finicky eaters.

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It's better to make smoothies and serve immediately, but you can make a big pitcher and keep refrigerated until you're ready to drink. The smoothies will keep for a few hours, but stir before you pour. It's a sweet, frozen treat in a glass!

Pasta salad is a great way to use leftover meats and veggies, and it can be made the night before a lazy day at the pool. Pasta is a healthy, simple food that provides complex carbs to curb your hunger through the afternoon. Small shapes such as elbow macaroni, bowties, penne and rotini hold ingredients well and are easier to eat than long strands of noodles.

The sky's the limit when making pasta salad. Throw in veggies such as peppers, mushrooms and artichokes with olive oil and vinegar to keep it light when it's sweltering outside. Add cubed cheese such as mozzarella or feta and chicken for protein.

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Thinking of summer often brings images of big, juicy slices of watermelon or endless bowls sweet peaches. Fruit is a versatile, healthy and portable way to re-energize during a day of swimming and pool games. Many fruits, such as melons and berries, keep you hydrated and full naturally. They also provide fiber and vitamins you can lose while basking in the sun or splashing around in the water.

Prepping fruit is simple. Cut up slices of melon or just wash a bunch of grapes and freeze for a super-cold snack. Enjoy in-season fruit such as mango, plums, peaches and berries at their peak with a colorful fruit salad. Fruit kabobs are also a great way kids can get involved in the prep -- and eating -- of fruit. Pre-cut small cubes of melon, banana, grapes, anything that will fit well on a small skewer. Kids love assembling the kabobs (make sure they're careful not to poke themselves!)

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Veggies are also a quick and easy food to prepare, store and snack on by the pool. They give a satisfying crunch and add fiber and vitamins we can lose very quickly on summer afternoons. Many veggies, such as carrots, celery, broccoli and peppers, come pre-cut, so there's no need to even break out a knife.

Think dips are limited to salad dressings or tubs of mayonnaise-y goop? Think again. Dips such as hummus, guacamole and yogurt-based dips are healthy additions to your summer menu.

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Why not make your own salsa? Throw in a few tomatoes, a bit of onion and garlic and whatever spices and seasonings you like.
Why not make your own salsa? Throw in a few tomatoes, a bit of onion and garlic and whatever spices and seasonings you like.
©iStockphoto.com/Elena Elisseeva

Chips are one of the simplest snacks to keep poolside. Whether tortilla, blue corn or potato, a variety of chips will appeal to all your swimmers. Pop open a bag, pour in a bowl and viola, instant snacking! Their natural companion, salsa, is also easy as opening a jar.

Salsa can be purchased or easily made at home. At its most basic, salsa is just a few ingredients -- tomatoes, onion and spices -- or you can get creative and add fruits and other herbs and spices. Mango and peach have made their way into many salsa recipes. The longer salsa is left in the fridge, the better it tastes, so make it the night before a day by the pool to maximize flavors! Just go easy on the spice if young kids will be eating it.

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What's a day by the pool without a frozen treat? Popsicle molds are inexpensive and fun to use. Make them from fruit juice, yogurt or pudding or buy them in the freezer section and have plenty on hand. Since Popsicles were invented by 11-year old Frank Epperson way back in 1905, it's no wonder kids flock to these bright confections!

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for this quintessential summer food. Ice cream is a snack tailor-made for summer. A frozen confection of milk, sugar, fruit and other ingredients, one walk down the freezer aisle will have your head spinning at all the flavors available. Fortunately, there are even non-dairy ice cream options such as soy or rice milk ice cream for the lactose intolerant.

By the pint or gallon, in a cup or cone, with sprinkles or hot fudge, everyone loves ice cream, and it's easy to make at home. You can find an array of ice cream makers and gadgets that are fairly inexpensive and can be used by the whole family.

The best part of ice cream in summer? Jumping into the pool after slurping down a bowl or cone! Be sure you eat that sweet treat fast -- it'll melt before you can say "make mine chocolate!"

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