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