From the very first day that I brought our son home, I've worried about the nutritional health of our children. When they were infants, I worried if breast milk was enough. When they were toddlers, I worried about fortified finger foods. And when they started school, I stressed about simple snack time offerings.
The school had a rule that homemade goodies were not allowed, meaning parents were left to choose only what the grocery stores have to offer, which are refined, quick and for the most part sugar-laden and unhealthy choices.
I decided to make a list of unrefined snack ideas that can spruce up the holiday party. I started with Halloween and created a list of Halloween classroom party ideas. These can be made by the children in a classroom setting with minimal mess or prep time. They are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and calcium that are sure to keep the festivities going in a healthy and unrefined way.
Is that a bat in the classroom? No, it’s an apple with a funny mask! This Vitamin C- and fiber-packed treat will keep those chompers chewing. Print out the free printable and wrap those washed red or green apples. These masks will make the whole fruit mysterious and appealing!
Banana Ghost Pops
Where does a ghost go swimming? In vanilla yogurt, of course! Take half of a peeled banana and place the cut end on a Popsicle stick. Press the pointy side of two small chocolate chips into the banana to make the eyes, then freeze. Once frozen, use the popsicle stick to dip the banana ghost into a serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt. These potassium rich ghosts swimming in a sea of calcium and protein make a superhero snack.
Swamp Water and Bugs on a Raft
Nothing says swampy like green or brown juice! Mix 100 percent grape juice with 100 percent orange juice, or purchase Green Machine juice by Naked brand for an authentic swampy effect. Maneuver the swamp on a rickety raft made of apple slices with a layer of nut butter and topped with raisins and/or chocolate chips.
Some mummies just don’t have it together. Take string cheese, peel the strands off and layer them in a whole wheat tortilla. Garnish with a tablespoon of hummus and matchstick carrots. Roll together all of the ingredients in the tortilla and enjoy this protein-rich and whole grain spooky snack.
Bring out the cauldron to mix together these fall favorites: pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, dried edamame or dried peas, nuts, raisins and dried cranberries or apricots. This good witch mix will serve up vitamins, minerals and protein in a healthy blend.
Small oranges, such as Clementines or Cuties, can be eaten with ease by little hands. Peel the fruit and stick a two-inch celery stick down the center of the "pumpkin."
When it comes down to it, children like to play with their food, maybe even more than they like the bright colored, sugar-filled candies, cakes and cookies. This year, say goodbye to the wicked witch that brings in the artificial colors, chemicals and supped up sugar foods, and say hello to the nutrition fairy that wants only healthy alternatives to ease the crazy holiday season.
RIP, unhealthy classroom snacks!