Chances are that a party for kids will feature sugary treats, so stuffing them with healthy appetizers beforehand makes sense. Even if you just want to offer a healthy snack, make it more interesting than the usual platter of plain fruit. It's easy to dress up healthy foods in ways that don't disguise them but do enhance their appeal. Growing kids need plenty of vegetables and calcium, and appetizers are a fun way to provide essential nutrients.
Kids may argue that potato chips are made from vegetables, but there are healthier ways to provide a crunchy snack. Lightly coat kale leaves with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake to make kale chips. The same technique works for thin slices of sweet potatoes, which are loaded with vitamin A. Stuff hollowed out cherry tomatoes with a mixture of softened cream cheese, ranch dressing and chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, dill or basil. Use the same mixture on celery sticks wrapped with thin slices of deli turkey and tied with the green end of a scallion.
It generally isn't difficult to get kids to eat fruit, but that's no reason not to jazz things up. Make a fruit salsa with peaches or mango and pineapple and serve with whole grain crackers and slices of cucumber for scooping. Apple slices with a dip made of vanilla yogurt and honey is simple to prepare. Melon balls are a fun way to serve refreshing cantaloupe and honeydew on a hot day.
Hot appetizers are a little fancier than vegetables and fruits but are often just as simple to prepare. Wonton cups are perfect as finger food and you can stuff them with an endless variety of healthy fillings. Lightly spray both sides of round wonton wrappers with vegetable oil and bake in a mini muffin tin for a crunchy cup. Stuff with fat-free cream cheese lightly seasoned with ranch dressing mix and blended with herbs and chopped tomatoes, egg salad with diced celery, or a sloppy Joe mixture made with lean ground beef and topped with grated cheese.
Food on a Stick
Threading bite-sized chunks of food on a skewer makes even the simplest foods more visually appealing and fun to eat. Grapes and strawberries seem designed for skewers and chunks of pineapple and cantaloupe are good accompaniments. Experiment with other fruits, such as kiwi, cherries and watermelon. Serve with a yogurt dipping sauce. Shrimp or chunks of lean chicken make a kid-friendly satay appetizer when served with a simple peanut sauce. If you're making food on a stick for younger children, use a wooden stick, and cut off the sharp ends before serving.
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