Middle E turned 3 this weekend. This toddler loves to crunch on the biggest carrots he can find in the crisper and freaks if I put fruit in his oatmeal. We’ve arranged a truce and he eats it on the side. He is a delight and I am so grateful to be his mother.
I love celebrations. And that’s where we can get into trouble culturally. We’ve turned nearly everything into a celebration. And naturally a celebration calls for sweets? Right? I’ve been in this trap a million times. But I’m learning how to make sweets an actual treat with moderation.
Recently at Big P’s school they celebrated with some sugary foods I don’t serve at home. I love his teachers and I know they work hard to make things fun. But I am hoping that creativity can rise above Oreos and M&Ms in light of the childhood obesity crisis. Parties tend to be less fun when you’re a kid dealing with the heap of physical, social, and emotional issues that come with being overweight. And experts say that this is at least one in three kids.
Instead of sulking all weekend about the health culture at Big P’s school, I decided to make sure Middle E’s party was both fun and healthy. They can co-exist. I promise.
The party was themed “Under Construction.” Construction trucks and equipment are a big thing over at our house these days.
Here’s the menu:
A few notes about the menu:
- Tuna Salad: I used plain yogurt, crumbled feta, finely diced red onion, and celery instead of globs of mayonnaise. It tasted great.
- Peanut Butter Yogurt “Mortar” Dip: Check out the recipe here. I’ve used it for LOTS of social events. Always a hit.
- Cake Decorations: I put Chocolate Chex into my food processor to make realistic sand. I cheated a bit because it contains 8 grams of sugar per serving, bending my 6 grams per serving rule. For the almond “rocks” I simply roasted almonds and assigned Big P to crunch them up in our mortar and pestle.
- Healthier Cake: I used the Devil’s Food Cake recipe from my well-worn Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. I cut the sugar in half and substituted applesauce for the butter. Have you ever substituted applesauce for oil or butter before? Here’s a 10-second tutorial: Instead of oil, butter, or shortening you can simply use the same quantity of unsweetened applesauce. Decrease the cooking temperature by 20-25 degrees. Set the timer for a few minutes less than what the recipe calls for. My baked goods always cook faster when I use applesauce.
Here’s to healthy celebrations and healthy kids. Leave a comment with your ideas on how to make celebrations a bit healthier.
Are you bored and want to read more about sugar sneakily adding up in our diet? I knew you did…
- “How Much Sugar Are Americans Eating” by Alicia D. Walton, Forbes Magazine
- “Don’t Get Sabotaged by Sweeteners” by Mayo Clinic Staff
- “U.S. Kids Still Eat Too Much Added Sugar” by Steven Reinberg, US News
- “Added Sugars Pile Up on Children’s Plates” by Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times