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5 Super-easy (and healthy!) classroom party treats

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Health & Fitness

Amy Nelson Makechnie is a writer, runner, and a mother to a wily flock of children; all of which provide daily material for stories and articles.  She is a graduate of Brigham Young  University with a teaching background in health, nutri...

A little produce creativity can turn your child's holiday party into something sweet — and healthy!

You signed up to send in a holiday snack for the class party, didn't you?

Forget the cookies.

Banish the sugar comas, after-school meltdowns and rotten teeth.

This year, let's make a treat that tastes great and feels good. Let's also make it simple.

Grinch pops

Inspired by Produce for Kids, it was quite the treat for my kids to bite the Grinch. Isn't he cute?

Ingredients:

  • Green grapes
  • Banana slices
  • Strawberries
  • Baby marshmallow cap

Directions:

Skewer one of each ingredient on long toothpicks to create little Grinches, as pictured above.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Ingredients:

  • Rectangular pineapple slices
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Dark chocolate mini-chips

Pineapple and pomegranate are in season right now, and since many children have never tried a pomegranate — here's a chance to introduce them to a spectacular fruit!

The pomegranate is high in vitamins C and K, and it's a good source of fiber. It also has high levels of antioxidants, which help to prevent premature aging, cancer and heart disease.

Have I also mentioned it's tasty?

Banana snowmen

Ingredients:

  • Sliced bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Dark chocolate mini-chips

Sugared cranberries

Loaded with antioxidants, sugared cranberries pack a terrific balance of sweet and tart crunch. Cranberries won't be in season for long, so stock up on a few bags, which can be safely stored in the refrigerator for two months.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag cranberries
  • Sugar

Directions:

  1. Pour 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar into a large stockpot.
  2. Heat over medium heat, just until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Turn off the heat and pour in the entire bag of cranberries.
  4. Stir, covering all the cranberries with the light syrup mixture.
  5. With a slotted spoon, take the cranberries out.
  6. Let the cranberries dry on a wire rack placed over a trey lined with foil (so there is less of a mess).

So pretty! Now, go do something else (perhaps take a nap?) so the newly syruped cranberries can dry. After about an hour, put some granulated sugar in a bowl and roll those babies around to coat them.

That's it!

Not only do sugared cranberries have great flavor, but they're also an addictive, crunchy "pop" that keeps kids coming back for more.

Cranberries outrank every other fruit and vegetable (except blueberries) in their antioxidant content. They also rank high in vitamin C and fiber, and they only have 45 calories per cup.

Granola

Granola is a wonderful, tasty party snack that gives long-lasting energy.

Dry Ingredients:

  • Oatmeal
  • Wheat germ
  • Chopped almonds and walnuts
  • Cinnamon
  • Flaxseed

Wet Ingredients:

  • Honey
  • Canola oil
  • Maple syrup (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat all the wet ingredients in a small saucepan until tiny bubbles form.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with foil, mix the dry ingredients together and spread them out on the foil. Then pour out the wet ingredients on top of the dry mix, spreading it out evenly.
  3. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and cook the granola at 300 degrees F for about an hour, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown.
For green Christmas flair, add pistachios or pumpkin seeds. For red, add dried cranberries, cherries or goji berries. You can also add cut-up figs and prunes or any dried fruit. For step-by-step, big-batch granola instructions, you can visit maisymak.com.

How to serve granola? Make a little paper-cup parfait by topping plain Greek yogurt with your newly made, protein-rich granola.

Granola has healthy fats and protein, and the natural sugars in the dried fruit will negate any need for flavored yogurt or added sugar.

Healthy party snacks = happier kids. Happy kids make for happier homes.

Want to hear some more great news for busy parents? These five classroom holiday snacks are healthy and tasty, and they take less time to make than your average baked goods do.

Enjoy!

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