Parents who have young children are always in search of nutritious, non-sugary holiday snacks that satisfy young taste buds and look good on Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s serving tables. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to achieve this noble goal any time of the year, but particularly during the holidays. Whether you’re looking for natural sweets, meats or vegan essentials like nut butters, legumes and yogurts, there’s a lot to choose from. Consider the following suggestions from holiday chefs who know what it takes to whip up tasty, festive favorites that everyone in the family can enjoy:
Choose Cheese & Crackers Wisely
If tradition calls for cheese and crackers on the holiday snack table, be a smart host and shop for nutritious versions of these holiday favorites. Nowadays, stores carry an endless variety of crackers and specialty, low-calorie cheeses. One option that seems to go over well is rice crackers and low-fat, high-protein pot cheese. There’s no reason cheese and crackers have to be a calorie-laden snack.
Make Vegetables and Fresh Fruits the Centerpieces of Snack Tables
Whether you’re in charge of the holiday office party or host a family get-together at Hanukkah or Christmas, rise to the occasion and help everyone eat smart. We’ve all heard the common complaint about “feeling stuffed” from October to January. Why not be part of the solution rather than one more cog in the sugar-chocolate-calorie wheel? Design snack tables with nothing but fruits and vegetables. You’ll be surprised at how many people will take the time to thank you for helping them get through a party without the temptation to delve into chocolates, cakes and pies.
Make Halloween Snack Tables Candy-Free
Every parent knows that Halloween is candy time. It’s hard to control what neighbors put in your kids’ bags as you walk alongside them and ring doorbells. That’s why it’s so important to avoid adding more candy to the mix if you throw a Halloween party for the local goblin gang. Keep snack tables at your spooky party loaded up with apple slices, strawberries, grapes, a large veggie tray and ice water.
Opt for Light Fruit Punch Instead of Sugar-Laden Drinks
You can make your own punch instead of buying the sugar-packed stuff at the store. Consider mixing about a half-gallon of water with freshly-squeezed lemons and oranges for a light version of typical holiday punch. If you dare to read labels on the most popular punch products on store shelves, you’ll notice that they’re not only loaded with sugar but have about 150 calories, or more, per 8-ounce serving. After a few glasses of such a heavy drink it’s no wonder adults are sleepy and young children appear to be full of jet fuel.
If you don’t want all the work of preparing fresh fruits, or live somewhere with low availability, consider using one of the low-calorie artificial lemon or lime drink mixes that are so common at summertime office parties. They don’t taste as good and contain no real nutrition but are still a much wiser option than syrupy punch.