Just when you thought all the holiday parties and treats were behind you, here comes Valentine’s Day.However, there are plenty of fun and healthy ways to celebrate this holiday without indulging and overdoing it.
Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to involve the whole family in learning different ways to celebrate in a healthy manner. If your kids are anything like mine, they are always looking for an excuse to have treats and goodies. I have come to realize that “treats” doesn’t have to mean candy, chocolate, ice cream or cookies.
A perfect way to start off the morning is to add a drop of red food coloring to the glass of milk or their milk in their cereal. It doesn’t change the taste and will put a big smile on a little face.
Kids are more likely to try things when presented in a fun and different way. That brings up a way to create a Valentine’s breakfast, heart shaped pancakes surrounded with red raspberries and strawberries. If you don’t have time for pancakes, how about a red or pink smoothie? Combine vanilla yogurt, a tough of honey and any red fruit you have and blend it up — an instant Valentines’ smoothie.
This might not be possible for everyone, especially those of us rushing just to get dressed and out the door in the morning. A fast and quick way to start the day for your little Valentine — simply toast a frozen waffle and then use a cookie cutter to cut out hearts. Bagels and cream cheese (lite, of course) can be adapted for Valentine’s Day by — again — using red food coloring and adding a bit to the cream cheese and spread on a bagel.
You can always pack their lunch with a sandwich cut out with cookie cutters in the shape of a heart. You can make any sandwich you like — peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheese or just cheese — and just cut it out with a cookie cutter (Note: This can be done for any holiday or celebration throughout the year).
Cookie cutters can be used for a variety of different foods. Use little ones and cut out hearts from apple slices, pear slices, pineapples, cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon. You can also add some heart shaped cucumbers to their lunch.
Since I am on the cookie cutter kick, you can also use them (the little ones) to make cookies of little brownie bites. Your kids will still be getting a “treat,” but in a moderate and fun way.
I know I mentioned this recipe before but it is one of my family’s favorite snacks and perfect for Valentine’s Day because they can be cut out in all different heart shapes and sizes — homemade graham crackers, simple and easy to make and so yummy.
Ingredients are 1 cup whole wheat flour; 1½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup dark brown sugar, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ cup butter (chilled and cubed), ¼ cup honey, and ¼ cup water.
Preheat the oven to 350, combine the first six ingredients in mixer or food processor, add the chilled butter and pulse to form a crumbly mixture. Then add honey and water and combine to form dough (you may need a little bit more water).
Roll out and cut into heart shapes, bake for about 15 minutes using a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Again, this yummy treat and be made with any shape and size cookie cutter, so perfect for a variety of different occasions and celebrations.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Department of Health and Human Performance. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 17 years. She and her husband have three young children (6-year-old twin boys and a 4-year-old little girl).