Last February, many of my mom friends expressed concern and frustration that Valentine’s Day was the new Halloween with all of the candy and other sugar-laden foods available to their children. They are right. When I was a child, Valentine’s parties at school simply consisted of the exchange of cards, there was no treat filled parties or Valentine’s card attached to a pouch of candy. But times have changed. These items are fine in moderation, but, as a dietitian and mother, I know it’s important to strike a balance between nutrient rich foods and other choices, not only during meal and snack time, but during celebrations as well. Looking for healthy Valentines treats kids will get excited about? Try these tips at home or at your child’s school, for a happy, heart healthy Valentine’s Day.
- Fix Fun Food: Incorporate nutrient rich choices into the party menu by providing veggie kabobs layered with cherry tomatoes and low-fat Mozzarella cheese. Make love potion smoothies by combining milk, frozen berries and low-fat yogurt and serve with a fancy straw. Skip the cupcakes and pass out cherry muffins. Or serve sweetheart yogurt parfaits- yogurt layered with berries and granola.
- Bump up the Beverages- Drinks are often a missed opportunity for nutrients. Instead of juice or soda, try strawberry milk. The color will fit the theme and the kids will love it. Flavored milk contains the same essential vitamins and minerals as white milk.
- Have Heart Pumping Activity- Make sure the party just isn’t about the food, get kids moving. Click here for valentine themed activities.
- Leave Love Notes- Don’t ruin healthy party efforts by passing out candy laden Valentine’s Day cards at the end of the party. Instead attach pencils, stickers, erasers, or fun shaped straws to the cards.
Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN