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Skip the candy kisses! Healthy, kid-friendly Valentine's Day treats

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Sweet treats worth eating

While there's nothing wrong with the occasional piece of chocolate or candy heart, your kids will get plenty of those things during school-sponsored Valentine's Day parties. When it comes to celebrating Cupid's holiday at home, show them true love by offering healthy, kid-friendly sweets.

Frozen Dark Chocolate Almond Banana Pops

Frozen dark chocolate almond banana pops

Talk about a kid-pleaser! These chocolate-covered treats taste as good as a store-bought popsicle, but they're packed with vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and antioxidants, the perfect immune booster during cold and flu season. All you need are eight popsicle sticks, four medium bananas cut in half width-wise, a half cup of melted dark chocolate chips and a half-cup of chopped California almonds. Then simply stick the popsicle sticks into the bananas, drizzle them with chocolate and sprinkle the almonds over the top. Finish up by popping them in the freezer on a wax-lined baking sheet, and in 30 minutes they'll be ready to serve! For a Valentine's-inspired look, consider adding a dash of pink or red sprinkles on top.

California almond butter popcorn

California Almond Butter Popcorn

Popcorn sometimes gets a bad rap, but homemade popcorn treats can actually be quite healthy! Since popcorn is a whole-grain food packed with healthy fiber, as long as serving sizes aren't too big and add-ins are relatively limited, you and your kids can feel good about this recipe provided by Real California Milk. The almond butter and sliced almonds also offer heart- and immune-friendly vitamin E, making it a perfectly healthy alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) California butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 cups popcorn (about 1/4 cup unpopped corn)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the almond butter and salt, mixing well.
  3. Pour the mixture over popcorn and toss to coat evenly. Add the sliced almonds, if desired.

Strawberry frozen yogurt squares

Frozen Yogurt Bars

If you want to make Valentine's Day breakfast special without setting the table with boxes of chocolate candies, try serving up these strawberry frozen yogurt squares from the National Dairy Council. The pink color will delight your kids, while the 7 grams of protein and 20 percent daily value of calcium will make you smile.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup crunchy wheat and barley cereal
  • 3 cups fat-free strawberry yogurt (use Greek yogurt to increase protein content further)
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen unsweetened strawberries (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup light or fat-free whipped topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with foil. Sprinkle cereal evenly on the bottom of the pan and set it aside.
  2. Place yogurt, strawberries and condensed milk in a blender. Blend the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour the blended ingredients into the pan on top of the cereal, gently smoothing yogurt mixture to the edges of the pan.
  4. Cover with foil and freeze for eight hours or until firm.
  5. Use the edges of the foil to loosen and remove the treat from the pan. Let the treat thaw for five to 10 minutes and cut into squares.

Milk chocolate cheesecakelets

Cheesecakelets

For an after-dinner V-Day treat, you don't have to skimp on the chocolate! Just make sure you're choosing something healthier than a slab of chocolate cake or a chocolate brownie. We love the milk chocolate cheesecakelets recipe from Liz Vaccariello, the editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest and the author of The Digest Diet. At only 122 calories and 6 grams of protein each, you can happily serve one (or two) to your kids, to their delight. For an especially kid-friendly version, experiment with heart-shaped silicone cupcake or candy molds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce natural skin-on almonds
  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 8 ounces no-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle.
  2. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on the stove until crisp. Remove and chop.
  3. Fill a baking sheet with a quarter-inch of water and place a 12-cup muffin tin in the water
  4. Line 10 of the cups with paper liners and evenly distribute the almonds between the lined cups.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
  6. Bake about 30 minutes; the consistency should be set, but still a little loose. Remove and let cool in the water bath.
  7. Chill in the refrigerator until fully set.

More on kids' health

The ultimate anti-obesity lunchbox
Why are food allergies among children on the rise?
Healthy kids: Back-to-school nutrition basics

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