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Fun – and Healthy – School Treats for the Classroom

For many families, back to school means back to classroom birthday treats. In a lot of schools, kids’ birthdays are celebrated in the classroom in the morning, and many kids come home regaling parents with tales of doughnuts, cookies and cupcakes before 9 am. Don’t despair, there are healthy – and fun – birthday treat options out there, you just have to use a little creativity. In many instances, it’s all about the presentation – kabobs and miniature plastic cups can help something healthy be just as exciting as a cupcake. Another bonus? Kids can help assemble these treats, which is a great way to get them in the kitchen, preparing healthy food. Here are some ideas to get you away from the doughnut drive-through:

Fruit Kabobs: Pick your child’s favorite fruits – strawberries, pineapple, grapes, apples and melon are all good choices – and assemble colorful fruit kabobs. Kids can help with the cutting of the fruit into bite sized chunks when necessary (with adult supervision), and threading the fruit on the skewers. Squeeze a little lemon juice on the finished kabobs to prevent discoloration and you can even include some strawberry or vanilla yogurt for dipping. Add an intermittent marshmallow on the kabobs for a tiny treat.  Here’s Rach’s recipe

Mini Muffins: Bake your favorite muffin or quick bread in mini form for a cute treat – zucchini, banana, blueberry and carrot muffins are all good choices. Kick up the nutritional value and use all or part whole wheat flour. You can also whip together a quick cream cheese frosting for an added treat (beat one 8 oz. (softened) block of cream cheese with 1/4 cup softened butter. Add 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add  1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa for chocolate frosting). Kids can help with the mixing of the muffin batter, spooning batter into muffin tins, and frosting.  Here are a few good muffin recipes:

Applesauce Muffins

Banana Muffins

Cinnamon Muffins

Cinnamon Tortillas with Fruit Salsa:  A sweet twist on chips and salsa sure to please the class. Take wheat flour tortillas and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle the tortillas with cinnamon sugar; cut each tortilla into 8 wedges and bake on an uungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F for ten minutes or until crisp. Kids can help by brushing the melted butter on the tortillas and sprinkling the cinnamon sugar. For the fruit salsa, pick any combination of your kid’s favorite fruits – apples, strawberries, kiwis, pineapple and blackberries all work well – dice and mix with a little sugar and lime juice. Kids can help with the cutting (with adult supervision of course) and mixing of the fruit. Serve salsa in mini plastic cups or bowls with the tortilla chips on the side on paper plates for dipping.

Chocolate-dipped Pretzels: A little chocolate goes a long way here. Pick your favorite pretzel rod (wheat if possible) and melt a bag of chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave (in 30 second increments, stirring each time to avoid scorching). Dip the rods in the melted chocolate – leaving the “handle” bare for holding. Lay on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and sprinkle with sprinkles if desired. Chill in the fridge until chocolate is set. Kids can help with dipping of  the pretzels and the sprinkling of the sprinkles.

Berries and Whipped Cream: Take individual clear plastic glasses and fill half way with any mixture of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream (52 calories per serving) and a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips. Kids can assemble the entire treat on their own – spooning berries, topping with whipped cream and chocolate chips. You can easily make this a short cake with home made or store bought biscuits or slices of pound cake.

Yogurt Parfait: Place a dollop of your child’s favorite yogurt in the bottom of a clear plastic cup and layer with with granola or crushed graham crackers, chocolate chips and berries – or any combination your child likes. Again, your child can assemble the entire treat.

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Rachael Ray