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Healthy Valentine’s Treats: 18 Fresh Food Ideas for an All-Natural School Party

Just when your fam­ily had started to recover from the hol­i­day sugar binge: Along comes Valentine’s Day to pro­vide yet another excuse for a class party laden with candy, cup­cakes and other sweets. I don’t know about you, but I am not too excited about the idea of my kids down­ing 10 pounds of sugar and who knows what kind of arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents. I’m all for an occa­sional treat, but the last thing they need is another junk fest.

Valentine’s Day is an anniver­sary of sorts for me. It was this time last year that I finally freaked about all the empty-calorie treats being fed to my son (a kinder­gart­ner at the time) at school. My frus­tra­tion had been build­ing for a while, but the week of Feb­ru­ary 14 put me over the edge. It wasn’t just the sweets served in class on V Day itself. It was all the candy that came attached to his Valen­tines. The cup­cakes and gummy bears to honor his classmate’s birth­day two days later. And the ice cream at the school’s annual 100 Days of School cel­e­bra­tion two days after that.

It was a spe­cial week,” my son’s teacher explained after I emailed her about the moun­tain of sugar that had been con­sumed over the span of five days. She was right: Valentine’s week was excep­tion­ally bad, unlike any­thing we had seen so far that year. But the truth was, unhealthy food had been mak­ing reg­u­lar appear­ances in the class­room all fall and winter—at least once a week, by my esti­mate. It was too much. And I felt that it was under­min­ing my efforts to teach my kids how to eat.

As those of you have been fol­low­ing my blog know, I acted on my frus­tra­tion. I asked to start a well­ness com­mit­tee (and help start one I did!). And while things are far from per­fect, I have noticed some pos­i­tive changes this school year, includ­ing a push for health­ier food at class­room par­ties. My son’s new fitness-minded teacher only per­mits one group birth­day party a month and has specif­i­cally requested par­ents stick to nutri­tious snacks.  It’s been much bet­ter, with­out a doubt. But what will hap­pen dur­ing Valentine’s week is still up in the air.

That’s where this list comes in. The head of our new Well­ness Com­mit­tee asked me to pro­vide some healthy Valentine’s Day food ideas to share with teach­ers and par­ents. Because it seems a lot of fam­i­lies want to be health­ier but may default to junk food out of lack of bet­ter ideas. I’m a firm believer that kids will get excited about a spread of healthy nib­bles if they taste yummy and look spe­cial. So with no fur­ther ado…The List:

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Heart melon pop* I did a vari­a­tion on this idea at Christ­mas using kiwi. This time, I took a mini heart-shaped cookie cut­ter and care­fully cut out pieces of can­taloupe. While I’ve strug­gled to make shapes out of water­melon in the past, the can­taloupe held up well. For color, you could try mak­ing heart shapes out of other fruits like hon­ey­dew, kiwi and pineap­ple. Flower shapes made into a Valentine’s bou­quet would be cute, too!

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Be-still-my-beating-heart sand­wich* Organic unsweet­ened Sun­But­ter and red rasp­berry pre­serves on locally made honey wheat bread–YUM!

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Choco­late zuc­chini mini “cup­cakes” Made with whole wheat flour and shred­ded zuc­chini, these are much less sin­ful than tra­di­tional frosted cup­cakes but plenty sweet enough to please the kids. I put mine in mini muf­fin lin­ers adorned with pink and red hearts. Add a Valentine’s cup­cake top­per to fur­ther up the appeal.

For the rest of Stacy's Valentine's Day treats for a healthy school party see her original post: http://school-bites.com/healthy-valentines-day-treats-school-party/

Stacy Whitman is the author of the blog "School Bites: One Mom's Crusade for Better Nourished Kids at School (and at Home!)". After getting fup with the food situation at her son's elementary school she took action and started a wellness committee.


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