Healthy Treats For Your Sweets
Unconventional Valentine’s Day Surprise
By Caitlin Murray Giles
We all usually think of Valentine’s Day as a time to shower our loved ones with sweet or chocolate treats. But there are plenty of ways to make Valentine’s Day special for your kids that don’t involve a sugar rush (and of course the subsequent crash from that short-but-sweet high).
If you invest in a heart-shaped cookie cutter, you can create a variety of healthy treats for your kids that show the love.
Here are some age-appropriate ideas for unconventional (but still tasty) Valentine’s Day treats for your kids.
FOR OLDER KIDS
Valentine’s baked apple chips
Slicing device (either a mandoline, food processor or knife)
Parchment paper or Silpat baking mat
Cinnamon and sugar (optional)
Begin by choosing a few apples with no blemishes (Gala or Honey Crisp apples work well). Thinly slice the apples crosswise. A kitchen tool called a mandoline is best for this job because it produces very thin slices, but a food processor also will work. Both of those tools are extremely sharp. You can also use a knife and cut very thin, uniformly sized slices. No matter what tool you use, slicing the apples is an adults-only job. Note that it is critical to slice the apples very thinly so they will dry out.
Next, lay out your slices on a cutting board and put your kids to work with some small, heart-shaped cookie cutters. Use the cookie cutter to cut out the seedy center of each apple slice. Dip all the slices in some freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning. Depending on your family’s taste, you could sprinkle the slices with a small amount of cinnamon and sugar before baking.
Bake the apple slices on parchment, a Silpat baking mat or a cooling rack for an hour and 10 minutes in a 250 degree oven. Watch the apples carefully towards the end of the cooking time because they can burn quickly. Once they are lightly browned, take the slices out of the oven and gently remove them to a rack. They will crisp up as they cool.
Heart-shaped teething biscuits
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp. applesauce
Heart-shaped cookie cutters
Butter for greasing baking sheet
Mix ingredients together and knead by hand for a couple of minutes. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/3-inch thick. Cut into heart shapes using a cookie cutter. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes (until they just begin to brown slightly). Cool and serve to the little loves of your life. Older kids will love these served alongside a glass of milk for dipping.
FOR LITTLE KIDS
A bowl full of love
Mixed fruit (large strawberries, pineapple, melon, etc.)
Heart-shaped cookie cutters
Bowls for serving
Toddlers and preschoolers love finger food they can pop into their mouths. To surprise them on Valentine’s Day, offer your little one a bowl of heart-shaped fruit. Choose fruit that you can easily cut into small heart-shapes—like melons or pineapples.
Clean and trim the fruit and then use a very small (about one-inch) heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut an assortment of fresh fruit into heart shapes as a Valentine’s Day surprise.