March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Looking for Valentine's Day party treats for your child's classroom can be a heart-stopping experience. With concerns about allergies, many schools no longer allow homemade goodies, asking for packaged treats to be sent in instead. The only problem with the ban on homemade treats is that these packaged candies and desserts tend to be rich in added sugars, which contribute empty calories and little or no nutrition.
Instead, think outside the heart-shaped box and use classroom parties as a time to learn about healthy snacking. Try these Valentine's Day party treats that feature dairy, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.
- Send a Message
Using a felt-tipped marker, write fun messages on the skin of clementines ("Hi, Cutie!") or bananas ("I'm bananas for you!").
- Strawberries on Cloud 9
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber and are a naturally healthy treat. Serve them with a small dollop of whipped cream.
- Red Dip
Set up a "dip bar" and let kids make their own snack plates with cut up vegetables, whole-grain pita chips and low-fat cheese cubes to dip into tomato salsa.
- Banana Split Love Boats
Split a peeled banana down the middle and top with low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and sliced heart-shaped fruit.
- Pink Milk
Bring a big container full of blended strawberries and low-fat milk for a delicious protein-packed, naturally sweet drink.
- Heart-Shaped Sandwiches
Use a cookie cutter to turn a nut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread into a heart-shaped Valentine.
- Red Fruit and Yogurt Dip
Celebrate with fruits that are red, the unofficial color of Valentine's Day: apples, blood oranges, grape tomatoes, red grapes and red peppers. For a sweet dip, mix cinnamon and low-fat vanilla yogurt.
- Cupid's Smoothie
Before the party starts, blend cranberry or pomegranate juice with low-fat milk, bananas and canned pineapples to make a naturally sweet and pink colored beverage.
- XOXO Trail Mix
Mix together O-shaped cereal (the Os) and pretzel sticks (the Xs) along with bright red dried cranberries and dried strawberries.