Remember those Valentine candy grahams and cards you would get from your classmates from elementary school? What about the time you helped Dad make breakfast for Mom? Valentine’s Day holds many meanings for people of different ages. While Valentine’s Day can mean romance for grown-ups, this holiday means love, friendship, sweet goodies, and time with loved ones for children and toddlers.
At the same time, things may get overly sweet and a little out of control. From the heart shaped candies with sweet little sayings, to little chocolates nestled in a heart shaped box, this holiday can have the potential to turn into unhealthy, sugar-high sessions, similar to that of Halloween for kids. Instead, take advantage of this festive occassion by making fun, eye-popping snacks out of healthy foods for your little ones.
Importance Of Making Healthy Alternatives
Generally, children will gravitate toward foods that are attractive, novel and eye-catching, so this may be a great opportunity to alter healthy snacks and foods to encourage increased consumption. Remember that while it is fine to occasionally give your children sweets for a festive occasion, it is also important to establish healthy eating habits. Here are some healthy Valentine's Day Snacks for kids that you can make fun and festive.
(For tips on creating a healthier Valentine's Day for that special someone, read 10 Tips For A Healthy Valentine's Day.)
Healthy Valentine's Day Veggies
Now is your chance to get the kids to eat some healthy vegetables by making these Valentine's Day snack treats that are festive and eye-catching:
- Think of a flashy and exciting new name for a healthy snack your child is familiar with. For example, calling celery with peanut butter and raisins “ants on a log” may prove to be more enticing to kids. Why not do something similar for Valentine's Day? Try switching those raisins with dried cranberries and call the snack "hearts on a log."
- Vegetable based pastries are a great fibrous alternative to Valentine's Day cakes. Some healthier alternatives include zucchini bread, pumpkin bread or carrot cake.
- Decorate a veggie platter with flowers and red roses. While the flowers are not necessarily meant for consumption, its festivities may attract children to eat more servings of the healthier food or snack.
- Serve healthy vegetable soups in heart-shaped bowls or bread bowls.
- Make healthy, heart shaped veggie pizzas with heart-shaped tomato cutouts just for Valentine's Day.
Heart Tomatoes For Veggie Pizzas
Heart-Shaped Bowls For Veggie Soup
Alternatives To Sugary Snacks And Sweets
Rather than feeding the children with sugary, processed snacks void of nutrients, here are some healthy snack ideas that also embraces the loving essence of Valentine’s Day:
- Substitute chocolates with red berries in a heart shaped box.
- Make heart-shaped sandwiches by using a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out whole grain bread, ham, cheese and vegetables.
- Small cakes are fine, but substitute the oil or frosting with healthier alternatives, like applesauce, for a more fibrous and nutritious cake.
- Griddle your child’s morning egg in a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Add a piece of whole wheat toast, and you can get eggs in a nest - the Valentine's Day version!
- Swap candy toppings on sundaes and ice cream with fresh fruits, nuts, and honey. Better yet, swap the ice cream with frozen yogurt.
- Make whole-wheat, heart-shaped pancakes and top them with strawberry jam instead of syrup to make them look more festive.
- Real fruit juice can be used to make wonderful, heart-shaped ice pops.
- Dip small pieces of fruits in dark chocolate for a nutritious, chocolate snack.
- Freeze juice in heart-shaped ice cube trays, and serve them in carbonated water. It is a fantastic replacement for soda, and your child will love the festive juice cubes.
- Replace dips and syrups with yogurt and honey for a calcium and antioxidant boost.
Tips On Safe Snacking
Sometimes, food and snacks can be hazardous to small toddlers and infants if not prepared properly. Here are some tips on safe snacking to prevent any potential dangers:
- Cut all fruits and snacks into small, bite size pieces suitable for your child. Sometimes, fruits such as raspberries or strawberries cut in half actually resemble heart shapes that are great for the occasion!
- Foods that are hard to chew or are sticky should be consumed carefully and under parental watch.
- Gelatin and popcorn can be a choking hazard for children who have a weak swallowing mechanism.
- Always teach your children to chew the foods slowly and carefully, and possibly wash it down with water after each bite.
- Toddlers should avoid carbonated soda beverages, punch and acidic juices.
- Honey should not be given to a child under 1 year old.
- Be sure to brush the child’s teeth after consumption of sticky foods, such as chocolate or candy, to prevent cavities.
Hopefully, with these tips and tactics, your child will prefer to eat healthier foods over candy grahams and heart-shaped chocolates. The important thing to remember is that these types of occasions are the perfect opportunity to reinforce the idea of healthy snacking and eating habits for your little ones, while keeping things fun and festive.