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Six weeks ago, one of your New Year’s resolutions may have been to encourage your family to eat healthier foods.  But now Valentine’s Day, with all the sweets that go with it, will soon be here.  While it’s tempting to load up on heart-shaped candy, cookies and other treats, put a halt to the sugar-loading this Valentine’s Day by giving your children healthy but festive snacks!

  • Try finding or making dark chocolate-covered fruit or nuts.  Don’t overdo it, but dark chocolate is healthier than other types of chocolate.
  • Take a hint from the fruit-bouquet business.  Cut fruit into heart shapes and arrange on sticks in a flower pot.  Kids will get a kick out of eating the “flowers.”
  • Make black bean brownies (there are plenty of recipes out there) and cut them into bite-sized heart shapes.  You don’t have to feel guilty about giving seconds!
  • Pop some plain popcorn and add toppings yourself, then package in festive food safe bags.
  • Cut strawberries in half or quarters and marinate in honey if you wish.  Place them on a nonstick surface like parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake for 2 hours at 200 F, flipping once.  The strawberries will dry up and look and taste like heart-shaped candy.

Show your kids that they are loved by making meals festive too.  Some ideas include:

  • For breakfast, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make a Valentine’s egg-in-a-basket (also known as toad in the hole), an egg fried in a hole of a slice of bread
  • For lunch, cut out a small heart on one side of a PB&J to let the red jelly shine through.
  • Use whole wheat pizza dough to make a heart-shaped pizza topped with tomato sauce, low-fat mozzarella, and veggies.
  • Serve tomato soup with heart-shaped grilled (low-fat) cheese for a balanced and fun dinner!

Despite the traditional association with all things sugar, Valentine’s Day can be full of healthy variety that will make your family’s hearts–and bodies–feel loved!

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