Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.
With the Super Bowl just ending (and hopefully not leaving you feeling too full or stuffed), it’s time to start thinking about and planning for the next fun-holiday that kids (and adults) love to be part of – Valentine’s Day. However, Valentine’s Day is known best for its boxes of rich chocolates, candies, and decadent foods – all things that we are probably trying to steer away from, especially for the kids. Let’s show our bodies we love them with these fun, healthy, creative, and kid-friendly ideas to get everyone in the family involved to celebrate what’s usually a more “unhealthy” holiday.
Some Easy Suggestions to Start With:
- Get a heart-shaped cutter (or set of cutters) to cut fruit, breads, vegetables, frozen whipped cream, etc. into fun heart shapes to make some of the ideas shown below:
- Get a heart-shaped mold to make the homemade healthy fruit snacks or healthier red velvet cupcakes shown below. You can find different sizes in stores like Michaels, JoAnn Crafts, Target, and online (click on the links for candy mold product example): casa.com or amazon.com.
- Use heart-shaped construction paper cut-outs or other Valentine arts-and-craft pieces to decorate straws for healthy smoothies, and containers for cupcakes, snacks, etc.
- Here’s a really neat and easy way to make a heart-shaped cake without having to buy a separate heart-shaped pan!
- I really recommend avoiding using conventional red food dye in any recipes, for it is made with the controversial ingredients that are linked to neurotoxicity, hyperactivity and ADHD to name a few. Instead, use natural alternatives. Here’s a recipe to make your own, or here are easy, pre-made natural alternatives. Either can be used in recipes like the healthier red velvet cake or homemade conversation heart candy recipes shown below.
- In addition to the red food dye, I also recommend staying away from the heart-shaped red hot candies, candy lollipops, boxes of conventional chocolates (like Russell Stover, etc.) and “Conversation Hearts” that are so popular on Valentine’s Day. I am not mentioning this to be a pleasure-depriving jerk, but these “treat” choices tend to be full of artificial flavorings, color, additives, preservatives, trans-fats, and ingredients that are very unfavorable to human health. While I don’t condone eating tons of sugary treats, here’s a recipe for homemade Conversation Heart Candies that may be sugary, but not full of artificial garbage. Here are some other Valentine’s Day candy choices that are more natural or a list of some high-quality Valentine’s Day chocolate choices (mostly organic, to uphold sustainability, sourcing, and quality).
Top Healthy Valentine Treat Ideas:
Food-Dye-Free Healthy Version Red Velvet Cupcakes – Who doesn’t love a deliciously moist cupcake? Check out the recipe for a neat history lesson on why these chocolate wonders were even colored red in the first place – and how to make them healthier.
There’s even a healthier version that trumps the “healthy meter” and can double as dye-free Red Velvet Pancakes! Don’t forget to shape the pancakes in the shape of a heart as well!
If you make heart-shaped pancakes, don’t forget the heart-shaped bacon to go with it! (Try to use all-natural, nitrate-free versions like Applegate, etc.)
Heart-Shaped Fruit and Veggie Kabobs – Use a heart-shaped cutter to cut out pieces of fruit and vegetables to make awesome heart fruit or veggie kabobs! Kids will love helping out with this recipe activity – and eating them is just as fun. Here’s a neat way to easily make heart-shaped strawberries.
(Picture courtesy of jodiefitz.com)
Homemade Tomato Soup with Heart-Shaped Grilled Cheese – with cold weather slamming most of us, what better way to feel warm and loved on Valentine’s Day than to indulge in a delicious bowl of red, hearty, healthy tomato soup and sinful grilled cheese? I like this recipe, but please feel free to sub out the soymilk for dairy milk or another nut milk. Simply use a heart-shaped cutter to create the heart-shaped sandwich pattern with these healthier grilled cheese recipes ideas, or easier yet, use a knife to trim the shape out yourself!
Make a Pink or Red Berry Blast Creamy Smoothie (and drink it out of a fancy straw adorned with heart/Valentine decorations!) or add fresh or frozen berries to plain, organic yogurt and stir to create a beautifully pink treat.
Easy Pink Berry Smoothie Recipe:
1 cup frozen (organic preferred) mixed berries, preferably raspberries and/or strawberries
1 frozen ripe banana
½ cup low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt (organic and plain preferred, as to cut down on the sugar)
1 whole orange, peeled
10 ounces (or more, depending on your smoothie thickness preference) of cold, filtered water
You can add several ice cubes for increased “icy-ness”
Blend all ingredients together until smooth
Homemade Healthy Heart Pizza – Click on the link to find some healthy pizza recipes that will make for a super fun way to get the kids involved. Just be sure to shape your dough in a heart shape (and maybe even use a heart shape cutter to cut out veggie hearts, etc.)
Delicious Nut Butter, Coconut and Date Heart Bites – You’ll flip over these super easy, healthy, and delicious creations that you can make anytime and take with you anywhere. I love the versatility of them – you can switch out which nut butters to use, etc. For this Valentine-inspired version of the recipe, simply shape the balls into hearts or roll out and use a heart-shaped cutter and then roll in coconut flakes.
Fabulous Frozen Whipped Cream Hearts can adorn any dessert or warm beverage…. And they are easy enough for the kids to help make (if they don’t eat all of them first!)
Check out this awesome idea to make adorable heart-shaped cherry tomato treats! So simple, fun, and a great way to get some nutrition into the whole family!
Speaking of tomatoes, here’s a great idea for a delicious heart-shaped tomato and mozzarella salad (I would actually cut the tomatoes out in heart shapes, too!):
Last but not least, try this awesome recipe for homemade healthy fruit snacks and use the small heart-shaped mold to make them fit the Valentine’s Day bill. In fact, you’ll probably love these treats so much, you will make them year-round to bring with you as a portable snack. Even better, they serve as a perfect way to even incorporate vitamins to make your own home-made chewable gummy vitamins (check with your pediatrician first for correct dosing and be sure to use powdered-form vitamins in capsules that are pre-measured; all you need to do is open each capsule per serving and gently mix in each gummy vitamin).
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook!V