Before Valentine's Day turns into just one more sugary feast, it's a good idea to come up with some Valentine's Day treats that are both healthy and delicious. Whether you're making treats for a school Valentine's Day party, for snacks at home, or as tasty gifts for friends or relatives, it's possible to come up with something tasty and nutritionally sound, especially if you look into both sweet and savory ideas.
Decide What's Healthy
Keep sugar content to a minimum and eliminate empty calories in creating your healthy Valentine treats. That might mean including such items as fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. And you might keep in mind that for kids, appearance is everything when it comes to food. They won't try what doesn't appeal to them.
Dark chocolate, rich in antioxidants, can form the basis of several Valentine's treats. Chocolate dipped strawberries are tempting as are small apples with have been dipped in melted chocolate and then decorated with one or two tiny cinnamon candy hearts. Homemade granola bars, with dried cranberries added for color, can be shaped like hearts.
Sugar cookies can be made healthier by using a recipe that contains honey instead of sugar and whole wheat flour instead of white (see Resources). Of course, cut the cookies into heart shapes.
For dairy treats, low-fat strawberry ice cream in pink cones is an easy to prepare favorite. Or make a parfait with layers of low-fat cherry yogurt, cherry pie filling, and granola cereal. Strawberry smoothies made with skim milk can taste so rich that kids will never realize they're enjoying a healthy treat.
Good-for-You Savory Treats
Make sandwiches from whole grain bread cut into small heart shapes and filled with any of the following: peanut butter and strawberry preserves (the kind that's all fruit), lower sodium ham cut into heart-shaped slices or made into ham salad, or, for those who like a little spicier taste, a spread made from cream cheese blended with salsa.
Buy frozen pizza dough and shape it into small heart- shaped crusts; add tomato sauce and a sprinkle of cheese before baking.
Cereal mixes are great for Valentine's Day when they are packaged in plastic bags tied with red ribbon bows and decorated with heart stickers. Mix together assorted whole grain cereals, tiny crackers, small pretzels, dried cranberries and some dark chocolate chips.
- Snack Attack!: Over 150 Guilt-free Treats for Healthy Munching; American Diabetes Association and Ruth Glick; 2006
- Healthy Snacks for Kids (Nitty Gritty Cookbooks); Penny Warner; 2007
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