A Naturally Sweet School Valentine's DayTue 11 Feb 2014
Story by Stacy Whitman
From Valentine exchanges to class parties, February 14th can be a very special day at school--even when it isn't filled with sugary junk.
Once a religious celebration, Valentine’s Day came to be associated with romantic love in the era of Geoffrey Chaucer. Today, in countless schools, it’s another excuse for kids to load up on industrial cupcakes and candy with enough sugar, food dyes and preservatives to last a lifetime. But it doesn’t have to be that way, especially when there are so many fun and healthy ways to celebrate.
Here are 10 festive ideas for keeping it healthy in the classroom this Valentine’s Day:
1) Soda, lemonade and fruit juice only add more sugar to an already sicky-sweet school event. So skip the sugary drinks (including 100-percent fruit juice) and serve water instead. You can make a plain old bottle more enticing by attaching a funny Valentine’s label such as this Water You Waiting For? from Don't Panic Mom.
2) While a ho-hum crudite platter may not be so well received, you can get kids excited to eat their veggies by cutting them into fun shapes. Use a mini heart-shaped cookie cutter for cucumbers, or a paring knife to carve carrots into hearts. Or, create a Valentine's Veggie Flower Bouquet like this one from Super Healthy Kids.
3) Plan an all-natural red-and pink-food themed party to teach students about eating from the rainbow while avoiding those icky artificial colors. Think red peppers, cherry tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, apples, watermelon and dried cherries. Serve ‘em up in a cupcake tin like Super Healthy Kids’ Red Fruits & Veggies Snack.
4) What could be more fitting for Valentine’s Day than a snack filled with heart-healthy fats? Just grab some heart-shaped cookie cutters to whip up this super-cute Avocado Valentine on toast from Mimi Avocado.
5) Put almost any food on a stick and it turns into a fun treat. Such is the case with heart-shaped melon pops from School Bites (yep—that’s me!). They’ll give new meaning to the word “lollipop” and are almost guaranteed to be gobbled up.
6) Forget hot fudge sundaes: Kids won’t even miss them if you serve up yummy yogurt, fruit and granola parfaits like these Valentine-themed babies from Frog Prince Paperie. Keep it eco-friendly by using clear, plastic-free compostable cups.
7) Give a traditional banana split a healthy makeover by foregoing the ice cream and whipped topping for Greek yogurt and heart-shaped strawberries, like this one from School Bites.
8) After the Valentine exchange is over, get the kids up and moving with a rousing game of Musical Hearts from Teach Mama. Or, try Valentine Hopscotch from Toddler Approved for a festive twist on a playground classic.
9) Be true to your “real food” values and attach fresh fruit to your Valentines instead of candy. Craftaholics Anonymous makes it easy with free Valentine's Fruit printable cards that can be tied to an orange or apple in a food-safe bag.
10) As long as you’re swearing off the conversation hearts), head over to my website and sign and share the 2014 Candy-free School Valentine Pledge!
For more naturally sweet ideas: See Healthy Valentine's Treats: 18 Fresh Food Ideas for an All-natural School Party and check out my Healthy Valentine's Day board on Pinterest!
About the Author: Stacy Whitman is the real-food lovin' mom behind the blog School Bites: One Mom's Crusade for Better Nourished Kids at School (and at Home!). Visit School Bites and join the School Bites community on Facebook and Twitter for more information about creating healthier schools and improving food choices for kids. And check out School Bites on Pinterest for fun and healthy food ideas for school parties and more!
School Bites: One Mom's Crusade for Better Nourished Kids at School (and at Home!)
Visit my website: http://school-bites.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/School_Bites
Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SchoolBites
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