Having one picky eater is troublesome enough, but when you have a gathering of fussy little party-goers, getting kids to put down the party favors and pick up a healthy snack is next to impossible. The trick is to serve fun-looking foods that kids will be enticed to eat. With healthy animal-themed snacks, fun-loving youngsters won’t even notice they’re eating nutritiously, and as an added bonus, moms are spared the dreaded sugar rush that traditional party treats often yield.
Store-bought animal-shaped crackers come ready to serve, and with a few extra touches, make a special treat for kids. Fill a large, blue fish bowl with baked fish-shaped crackers, which are generally low in fat and calories and a good source of iron and calcium. Arrange aquarium accessories like coral and plastic foliage around the bowl to enhance the visual appeal of these healthy, kid-friendly treats. For a circus-, zoo- or jungle-themed party, place animal crackers on a serving platter surrounded by colorful plastic or eraser animals that kids can take home as party favors. These also tend to be low in fat and calories but high in calcium and iron.
Fruit makes for a sweet, healthy and refreshing treat on a warm day or after kids have been hard at party play. Slice fresh apples in half and remove the core and pits with an ice cream scoop. Place the apple halves flat side down on a platter and use a small drop of peanut butter to stick raisin “dots” onto the back of the apple. Dip the ends of two thin pretzel rods into peanut butter and stick a raisin on top of each for antennae, and gently push each rod into the front end of the apple to complete this adorable treat. Pre-carve small holes for the antennae with a paring knife to guide the pretzel rods in with ease. For the final touch, dip a toothpick in peanut butter to draw a smile on the ladybug face. Make sure to ask in advance if any guests have peanut allergies. If so, a different type of nut butter, like one made from sunflower seeds or almonds, would also work.
Gelatin Animal Cutouts
Prepare sugar-free gelatin according to package instructions and then pour it into silicone animal-shaped molds. Refrigerate until firm. When the gelatin is set, pop the sweet treats out of the molds and arrange the edible animals onto a serving platter. Use a variety of flavors and colors to enhance the visual appeal of the platter. Kids will enjoy the sweet, cool taste of these jiggly animal treats and will be none the wiser that they contain zero sugar or fat.
Prepare your favorite homemade or box mix bread or pretzel dough, and separate it into four balls. From each ball, create one large ball about the size of a baseball, and six small balls, about the size of a golf ball. Press the large ball down onto a cookie sheet, flattening the bottom slightly but keeping the rounded top intact. Next, shape “feet” from four of the small balls and one into a triangular “tail.” Moisten the edges of the shapes that will attach to the body with water, and firmly press them against the turtle shell shape so that they protrude out from the sides and back end. Repeat this step with the last ball, pressing it into the front end of the shell to form the turtle’s head. Press small raisins into the head to create the turtle’s eyes, and bake according to recipe instructions. For an extra special touch, carve a square pattern into the turtle shell top with a toothpick before baking.