Oh June…an emotional month of gearing up for summer while saying goodbye to another school year and all of its chaos. If you have school age children, you probably see June as another symbol–another mark on their growth chart. It is both thrilling and a little sad to see them grow.
Along with the many end-of-year emotions comes the never ending series of activities, parties and attempts to dodge the ice cream truck at the park. Before you know it, every day is filled with one “sometimes” food after another. Add to it the pressure of not wanting to be the parent that continually brings unhealthful foods to parties (try being the “dietitian mom”!).
Keeping it all balanced can be tough. Luckily, I’m here to make it easier with these strategies and tips. Enjoy!
Things to bring to a class party that kids will enjoy…and parents will appreciate:
Fruit Kebabs: Use a variety of colorful fruit (3 Guiding Stars) for a presentation that is sure to attract kids.
Yogurt Fruit Dip: Pairs perfectly with the fruit kebab; combine non-fat plain Greek yogurt (3 Guiding Stars) with a bit of cinnamon, vanilla extract and honey.
Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies: Make good old cookies healthier by replacing regular flour with whole wheat such as Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour (3 Guiding Stars).
Colorful Veggie Plate: Not just better to look at, this veggie plate will be loaded with antioxidants and other best-for-them, 3-Guiding-Stars nutrients that will have parents and kids excited about veggies. Try: Grape tomatoes, carrots, yellow pepper and sugar snap peas with hummus, guacamole or black bean dip.
Ranch Dip: Use up the rest of your Greek yogurt! Just stir in ranch seasoning and serve along with the veggie plate.
Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Butter: An allergy-friendly alternative to nut butter, 3 Guiding Star sunflower seed butter is delicious; pair with apple slices or whole grain pretzel sticks.
Mini Muffins: Bake mini muffins with a “starry “ twist such as canned pumpkin (3 Guiding Stars), whole wheat flour (3 Guiding Stars) or blueberries (3 Guiding Stars); I like to individually wrap ahead of time so they can easily be taken home if left over (tie the recipe around the ribbon!).
Things to know to make this party season fun and safe for everyone…
Ask the teacher ahead of time for an allergy list; if allergies exist, do your best to create snacks that everyone can enjoy (tweet me if I can help!).
If a student requires gluten free, discuss with their parents how they prefer you to handle it. Since your home is probably not gluten free, you can’t create truly gluten free foods in your kitchen (the risk of cross contamination is very high).
Monitor how long foods are left out–especially dips. Make sure to use cooling packs or a bowl created to stay cooler longer, such as those found at www.fit-fresh.com.
Things to consider when every day includes a “sometimes” food…
“Sometimes foods” are just that, foods that we should only eat sometimes such as cookies, ice cream, cake, pizza, chicken nuggets, chips and more. So what do you do when everyday seems to include a trip to the ice cream shop and/or a party? Naturally, you want your child to participate in as much as possible. That said, it is also important that the piece of their day that can be controlled is. Make sure meals served at home are healthful and balanced, keep up with physical activity and, if your child is old enough, use these opportunities as moments to teach about the idea of “every day” vs. “sometimes” foods. It just may be one of the most important things they learn all year.