My friend Natasha at Honest Healthy got me thinking about what we feed our children at birthday parties. It’s usually in the form of pizza, chips, party rings and chocolate fingers, topped off with a giant slice of cake. Natasha couldn’t understand how intelligent people could feed this to their children and then be completely surprised to see them running around in a cloud of sugar, only to start weeping or falling into a full tantrum just before going home. This has been on my mind ever since, and I asked the wonderful Georgie Soskin from Cooking Them Healthy to come up with some great party snack ideas that would keep the tears at bay. I really love this column, it’s filled with brilliant ideas, and I can’t wait to try them out, starting with Crustless Quiches and Berry Fruit Jelly.
Here at Cooking them Healthy we have taken the hard work out of preparing your children’s birthday party with our Top 10 Healthy Party Snacks. Everyone deserves the occasional sweet treat, and a party would simply be no fun at all if there wasn’t any delicious food to enjoy. We have selected well balanced recipes to reduce the impact of the sugar, as well as providing some interesting tasty alternatives.
The majority of our recipes are refined sugar free and many are also gluten & dairy free, yet all are easy to make and most importantly for a party, are fun to eat. We aim to help you avoid the inevitable post-party mood swings and sugar slumps and head home with a happy child.
1) It’s a Wrap Pizza
All children love pizza and it makes for an easy and ever popular party food to be eaten with fingers. Our recipe makes it different in that we use a whole wheat wrap for the base which provides additional fibre. It is also lighter and more nutritious than the traditional white flour alternative. With a delicious spread of tomato passata and mozzarella, we then encourage you to add any topping you wish. Some combinations we like include feta, spinach, onion, sweetcorn, pineapple…you name it. You can make them in advance and have them ready to cook just before serving warm.
2) Veggie Dippers
Dips are a brilliant and easy way of providing nutrients for your child as they are usually vegetable or pulse based. We find most children love Hummus in particular (did you know that it is full of calcium from the sesame seed tahini?). Other popular nutritious dips include our Beetroot Tzatziki or Easy Guacamole. Our Beetroot Tzatziki is packed full of vitamins and minerals such as iron for optimal energy levels, as well as immune boosting Vitamin C and – it’s especially brilliant for a girlie party as it’s a beautiful vibrant pink colour.
Try serving your dips with a nice selection of fresh vegetables such as celery, carrot, and cucumber cut into batons. Don’t underestimate children – by leaving out bowls of cheery red baby tomatoes and plates of sliced red pepper (which taste naturally sweet & delicious) you might just be surprised at how much disappears!
3) Pitta Chips
Try making some homemade pitta chips which are a great fibre rich snack and make a healthy alternative to regular crisps (they store well in a tin or kilner jar so can easily be made in advance).
4) Nutty Snack Bars
Children love snack bars and we are slightly addicted to them too. We have a selection of different recipes on our site but our current favourite is our Nutty Snack Bar – containing no refined sugar, packed with protein and good fats, they are ideal for an instant energy boost.
We love eggs, and after all they are nature’s fast food and full of fantastic protein which is ideal for growing bones. They also provide a welcome boost of B vitamins which are important for energy for all those party games!
Our Crustless Quiches work brilliantly for the party table as they are easy to make, take just minutes to cook and the perfect size for little hands (and tummies). We like pesto & peas, but you can try experimenting with different fillings to find your family’s favourite combination.
6) Peanut Butter Balls
Aside from our Nutty Snack Bars we also love our nutrient packed balls! Our Peanut Butter Balls are a delicious fudgey snack that provide a hit of protein from the peanuts and B vitamins for energy from the oats.
We find as soon as any child see’s chocolate in anything its a “goer” and as dark chocolate has valuable antioxidant levels to help boost the immune system we figure it makes a wonderful treat. We also love our delicious chewy coconut and apricot balls which again take just minutes to make and can be stored to have on hand for weeks.
7) Maple Spiced Popcorn
Popcorn makes a brilliant party snack as it looks great and is fun to eat. It also takes very little time to make, therefore ideal to serve at a party. We love our spiced maple pop corn but why not try experimenting with flavours from sweet to savoury. Its also wonderful for after school pick ups.
8) Cheese & Fruit Sticks
Fruit is packed with vitamins & minerals, and is delicious served on sticks with cubes of lovely hard cheese. Try a mix of strawberries, grapes and blueberries with cubes of cheddar or feta for a delicious combination. The protein in the cheese helps little ones to feel full, and also helps to temper the sugar treats available, helping to keep blood sugar levels balanced. You could also try our Cheese Biscuits. Cheese provides that much needed protein and these biscuits being made with spelt flour are easier on the digestive system.
9) Butterfly Carrot Cupcakes
Every child loves a cupcake and here at Cooking them Healthy we have focused on the way we create our recipes to leave behind the bad stuff and increase the good as much as possible. Our delicious spiced Butterfly Carrot Cupcakes make a nutritious alternative to typical carrot cake recipes and they also look very pretty on a party table. We use wholewheat flour (you can use gluten free flour if required), which is less processed and higher in fibre & B vitamins. The cinnamon and ginger add delicious warmth to the recipe: cinnamon is a lovely spice, naturally sweet and helpful in balancing blood sugar levels. Walnuts are protein rich and full of good fats.
10) Berry Fruit Jelly
A party simply wouldn’t be complete without serving jelly. The majority of shop bought jellies contain a high number chemicals and plenty of refined sugar which understandably gives it a reputation as a naughty food.
Homemade jelly is a fab party treat for growing children and gelatine can be really helpful in supporting digestive health. In our Berry Jelly recipe we use fresh berries which are full of antioxidants (immune boosting and anti-inflammatory) and honey which provides it’s own health benefits as well as being naturally sweeter than sugar so you need less of it.
If you are hosting a party in the summer why not try making some berry lollies which are full of immune boosting vitamin C which is also important for healthy skin. Or offer some fresh smoothies and/ or juices to go with their meal.
By Georgie Soskin, Cooking Them Healthy