Calling all Moms and Room Mothers. Stressing over what snacks to make for your kids that are low in sugar and high on nutrition? Here are a few tricks I learned over the years that help to keep your family happy and healthy.
Think Pink. For breakfast, try strawberry-flavored cream cheese on a slice of toast or a half bagel topped with sliced strawberries in the shape of hearts or fans.
If you are really creative, you can slice the strawberry standing on its end and notch out the middle section so that it looks like its own little heart shape on toast. Or make a smiley face with the little red grapes cut in half and positioned on top.
Instead of a fattening milkshake, how about a yogurt smoothie with cherries or raspberries? Blend one cup of yogurt and one cup of fresh or frozen red fruit, blend well and sprinkle with dark chocolate chips.
Think Red. For an afternoon snack, try low sugar or sugar-free Cranberry Jell-O cups. My kids love Jell-O and we like to chop up some cranberries or raspberries, or red grapes, or finely-chopped celery – yes celery.
It absorbs the flavor of the liquid around it and gives the Jell-O a little bit of crunch, and then you can feel good about making sure they eat their veggies.
Seconds? No problem! You can also mix and match any combination of the above as a Jell-O cup addition.
Instead of sugary cupcakes, try cornbread muffins with strawberry jam buried in the center. Follow the recipes from your favorite cornbread muffin recipe, but after filling the muffin tins about halfway full of batter, place a generous ½ teaspoon of red jam in the center, then top with the remaining batter and bake as instructed.
Think Dark Chocolate. I know this isn’t pink or red, but all the latest reports that we are hearing from the medical community agree that a little dark chocolate can actually be good for you – so what could be more wonderful and healthy than strawberries dipped in dark chocolate?
Think exotic. Surprise the kids with slices of blood oranges as an afternoon snack. (You might want to give it a different fun name for the little ones).
About this column: Pat Gabilondo is a freelance writer and a Lilburn resident for 18 years. She lives with her husband, three sons and two cats. What healthy treats do your kids love for Valentine’s Day? Let us know what works and what doesn’t work for you both at home or in the classroom Tell us in the comments.
(Editor's note: This column first appeared on Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch in February 2011. It's back by popular demand.)