When you think about party food, “healthy” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Unhealthy ‘treats’ like pizza, chips, crisps and sweets are the regular birthday bash staples. After all, there is some truth in the argument that the odd day of indulgence keeps life interesting.
That said, even on party days there will be a little niggle about what your kids are eating. Junk food is known as such for good reason, party or no party. Plus, feed a room full of eight-year-olds their recommended weekly sugar intake, in the space of a few hours, and you might find yourself on a one-way journey to domestic Armageddon – kids bouncing off walls, ceilings, each other and the cat.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can make party food your kids will love and that is good for them too. Here are some of my favorites:
1) Smoothie Jellies
This recipe is a good alternative to jelly, which is often full of sugar and preservatives. The smoothies are made by soaking leaf gelatine in cold water until it is soft. Gently heat the smoothie in a saucepan but don’t let it come to boil. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine, and then add it to the pan and stir until smooth. Place the mixture in setting molds, and chill for an hour. Voila – fruit disguised as delicious treats. Add low-fat ice cream to make this recipe extra special.
2) Low Calorie Drinks
Soft drinks are jam-packed with sugar, and consequently bad news for your children’s teeth. It’s easy to replace these with the diet varieties, but it’s much more entertaining to get a little creative. Plain water flavoured with orange and cucumber slices is a healthy alternative. You could also try mashing up raspberries, and adding them to mineral water for some messy fun.
3) Fresh Fruit Kebab Dribbled With Chocolate
Kebab sticks and chocolate are two sneaky ways to make fruit more interesting. Thread on strawberries, peeled kiwi fruit, melon and pineapple, and then dribble chocolate over it all. Fresh fruit is one of the healthiest things for kids, and this twist gives it a little extra something to make it more tempting.
4) Home-made Chicken Nuggets and Chips
Lots of things stereotyped as junk food can actually be pretty healthy if you make them yourself. Putting in a little effort in means that you can use fresh, quality ingredients that don’t have added preservatives and flavourings. Simple changes, such as using extra virgin olive oil and adding less salt, can make a huge difference. Try Cooking Light’s recipe for home-made chicken nuggets and chips.
5) Banana Cupcakes
This recipe is a healthier alternative to other types of cake, as bananas are a good source of dietary fibre and packed full of vitamins. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then add the mashed banana, bicarbonate of soda, flour and milk, and bake for 20 minutes. When they’re cool, create the perfect party atmosphere by presenting them on colourful tableware.
Getting creative in the kitchen is a fun way to make your party food healthier. Packaged food is quick and convenient but it often comes with lots of nasty additives. Not only do fresh ingredients taste better, but they will look prettier on your table. Once the kids get munching, I’ll bet there won’t be any complaints about these healthy alternatives.
Elise Leveque loves cooking and entertaining, and always likes to deliver the healthier option.