I love class parties.
I love how everyone’s eyes light up when they come back to a classroom that has been transformed with colorful paper napkins and matching plates. I adore the smiles on faces as they survey the assortment of treats and fun activities. I especially like the “ooohs and ahhhs” while they unwrap their take away gift, even if it is only a new pencil or some stickers. They don’t care. It is a moment in their day when they get to be silly and celebrate.
What I don’t like, is all the unnecessary sugar and calories that we serve them.
Oh, it’s just one day, some may say. What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that class parties typically are held during the most calorie rich seasons of our school year. Your child will probably have 4-5 class parties between the months of October and February. And don’t forget all the treats they will be getting outside of class during this time too. It adds up fast. Did you know that a snack size bag of Peanut M&M’s has 110 calories? Or that a snack size bag of Skittles has 80 calories? One Tootsie Roll Pop has 60 calories. A Capri Sun Fruit Punch has about 100 calories and an average cupcake has approximately 300 calories.
According to a recent report on ABC News, “in Michigan, 12.4 percent of individuals under 18 are obese, and that rate rises to 31.7 percent among adult Michiganders. As many as two-thirds of adults in the state are overweight, if not obese, making Michigan the eighth fattest state in the nation.”
Last year, at my daughter’s Halloween party, they served rice crispy treats with orange frosting, a large frosted cookie, apples with caramel dipping sauce, carrot sticks with high fat ranch dip and fruit punch. This was a menu planned by the teachers, and then of course, some parents sent in extra treats to pass out like candy bars and lollipops. My daughter had a stomach ache by the end of the afternoon. It’s obvious we need to lighten up a little and not be afraid to ask for a healthier party menu. Or, cut the menu in half. I think all of those kids would have been just as happy with a single frosted cookie and some milk.
Need help thinking of healthy snacks? Try some of these:
1. Low-fat milk, plain or flavored
2. 100% juice
3. String cheese
4. Fruit & cheese kebabs
5. Veggies with hummus or a low fat dip
6. Fresh fruit with yogurt
7. Low-fat pudding cups
8. Trail mix or cereal mix
9. Baked tortilla chips & fresh salsa
10. Low-fat pretzels or popcorn
With a little imagination, class parties can be fun while still providing the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Below are two recipes that would be fun for a class party but are still healthy:
Fat-Free Spiced Pumpkin Dip
4 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: In a small bowl, beat softened cream cheese, sugar, and syrup until creamy. Add pumpkin, spices and vanilla and beat until smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve with fresh cut apples, whole grain bagels, ginger snaps or animal crackers
Lo-Cal Dip Veggie Dip
1 12-ounce carton of cottage cheese
2 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 package Hidden Valley dip mix, any flavor (my kids like Ranch)
Directions: Blend thoroughly in a blender. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve with vegetables.