school wellness

Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI’m a purist when it comes to trick-or-treating: I pass out chocolate and let my kids have free reign over their stashes (read: “How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness“). But I think it makes sense to dial it back for classroom Halloween parties. Most kids already haul in loads of sugar from trick or treating. At my children’s school, many of the teachers actually request healthier party foods.

I’ve planned or pitched in food for many classroom bashes, and here’s what I’ve learned: The kids are pretty happy with whatever you give them, and the food is usually secondary to the fun anyway. Which is why I’m unwilling to pull an all-nighter prepping food for grade schoolers.

These are all foods I’ve made for parties (or am making this year). They’re all fun, healthy–and most importantly, totally doable.

Green Goblin Smoothies: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI made these Green Goblin Smoothies for my son’s preschool class at Halloween. I brought my Vitamix blender to the classroom, and the kids took turns pressing the buttons (free entertainment!). Try this easy recipe: 2 bananas, 2 cups water, 1 cup pineapple (fresh, frozen, or canned in juice), and 2 large handfuls spinach or kale. Use permanent marker to decorate plastic cups with silly faces.

Ghostly Grape Jack-o-Lantern: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI got this idea from Grapes From California, which happen to still be in season. This makes a fun centerpiece, and kids can nibble the jack-o-lantern’s hair (or brains!).

Eyeballs on a Stick: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesYou can also thread grapes onto skewers and serve them fresh or frozen, branded as “Eyeballs on a Stick” for maximum Halloween creepiness.

Boo-nana Ghosts: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesYou’ve probably seen these guys online. Sometimes they’re dipped in yogurt and rolled in coconut. I take the easy way out: Cut a banana in half, press in two mini chocolate chips for eyes, and insert a lollipop stick (get those at Target, a craft store, or Amazon).

Kiwi Pops: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesUse those same sticks for these easy Kiwi Pops. Just peel kiwis, cut into thick slices, insert a popsicle stick in one end, and freeze. You’ll get about 3-4 pops per kiwi.

Popcorn Hands: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI’ll admit: These Popcorn Hands are slightly more labor intensive, but I couldn’t resist because they combine two of my favorites, popcorn and candy corn. Be sure to use foodservice-grade gloves (find them at a restaurant supply store or on Amazon). Drop a piece of candy corn into the tip of each finger, then fill with popcorn, and close with a twist-tie. (Get my no-fail recipe for stovetop popcorn.)

Apple Spirals: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesI nabbed this idea from a classmate’s mom, who brought her old-fashioned apple peelerand a bag of apples to a classroom party years ago. Each child took a turn peeling an apple. I thought that was brilliant! Since then, I’ve done this for a few parties, and I love seeing how much the kids enjoy eating their spirals (and peels).

Clementine Pumpkins: Healthy Treats for Classroom Halloween PartiesWhat’s not to love about easy-to-peel clementine cuties? You can draw the faces on the outside with a Sharpie or let kids decorate their own.

For more ideas, visit my “Healthy Halloween Snacks” Pinterest board.

Do you have any good ideas for healthy classroom party treats? I’d love to hear about them!

Disclosures: I’m happy to be working with Grapes From California this year as a Blogger Ambassador. I am compensated for my time. All opinions expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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FoodDay2014_poster_11x17_new2small-page-001You’re already doing a lot to make healthy eating happen at home. But you might feel helpless when it comes to your kids’ school. Children spend 35-plus-hours at school every week, eating up to two meals (and maybe even a snack) there. That makes it a natural setting for learning about and experiencing food. Good food. The kind that doesn’t come in a plastic wrapper. Here are 12 ways you can take action in your child’s school to make that happen:

1. Volunteer to bring a fruit tray or fruit salad to the next class party or school event. The simple “fruit rainbow” I brought to my son’s preschool class was a huge hit and was quickly gobbled up.

RainbowFruit

2. Join a PTA committee that plans events and fundraisers and lobby for healthier options. For example, could a cookie dough fundraiser be swapped for a Florida citrus sale? Could the PTA adopt a “water only” drink policy for all school events? Could students get slices of watermelon instead of snow cones on the last day of school?

3. Ask your child’s teacher about taking a field trip to tour a local farm, farmer’s market, or natural foods market. Some farms and markets have special programming just for schools–and your children’s teachers may have health-related topics they need to cover as part of their curriculum (that’s a win-win!). Last year, my son’s kindergarten teachers arranged a class visit to a farm to learn about maple sugaring, then they all returned in the spring to see how bees make honey.

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4. Celebrate your child’s birthday by donating a book to the classroom that teaches a lesson about food (two of my favorites are Yoko and Bread & Jam for Frances). Babble.com has a list of 10 books for a Healthy Food Attitude.

5. See if your child’s teacher would be open to having a farmer or chef visit the classroom and talk about how food is grown or prepared.

6. Get to know your school’s foodservice team. Thank them for their work. Ask questions. Find out how decisions are made. Be polite and gracious.

7. Volunteer to talk to your child’s class about food and nutrition. Super Healthy Kids has simple lesson plans for all grade levels.

8. Join your school’s wellness committee (or start one) and work on programming that gets students excited about healthy habits (read: “School Wellness Programs That Rock“).

9. Find out if your child’s school takes part in Farm to School, a national movement to source more foods locally and to provide educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. The USDA provides a toolkit to “grow your own” program.

DSC_112810. If the school allows outside food, organize parents to do tastings. Have kids sample different kinds of apples and make a bar graph of the class favorites. Bring your blender and whip up green smoothies with spinach and fruit. Let kids mash avocadoes into guacamole they scoop up with chips. Get advice from School Bites in this post, Tips for Starting a Preschool Cooking Class.

11. Does your child get a snack every day in class or at a school after-care program? If you’re not happy with the quality of the snack, talk to the teacher or staff about possibilities. Here’s a huge list of snack ideas from CSPI.

12. If your school has a garden, pitch in to help. If they don’t, could they start with a raised bed or containers? Whole Foods’ Whole Kids Foundation has lots of resources for making a case for a school garden, designing a garden, recruiting volunteers, and developing activities around it.

I wrote this post as part of a coordinated blogging event for Food Day. Held every October 24th, Food Day is designed to inspire Americans to change their diets for the better and to improve food policies. Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), it’s a day to resolve to make changes to your own diet and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level.

Visit the following blogs written by other authors participating in Food Day’s first-ever Coordinated Blogging Event:

Food Day

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I Wish Red Delicious Apples Would Just Go Away

September 12, 2014

I am sick of Red Delicious apples. Specifically, I am sick of Red Delicious apples being passed off as actual apples when really, they’re just very attractive props. Red Delicious apples, with their chewy skin and mealy flesh, are the most common apple in America, grown and sold more than any other variety. Thanks to years of breeding, the […]

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5 Grab-n-Go Healthy School Snacks

August 22, 2014

Does your child take a snack to school? Many do, to eat in their classroom or between school and sports practices. Sure, it’s easy to wash a piece of fruit–and ideally, it’s good to avoid waste with reusable food containers. But boy, it’s awfully nice to have packaged options on hand for mornings so nutty, you’re lucky if the […]

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School Wellness: 3 Ways To Get Involved This Year

August 18, 2014

School is starting in the next few weeks. Are there are changes you’d like to see in your child’s school, like less sugar in the classroom or more events that get kids moving? If so, make this the year you get involved! Here are three ways to jump in: 1. Attend PTA meetings. It’s the very best way to know […]

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No Child Should Go Hungry This Summer: Here’s How To Help!

May 26, 2014

Throughout the school year, 21 million children depend on free or reduced-price school lunch for reliable nutrition. But, what happens to those kids when they go on summer break? The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program provides free lunch (and sometimes breakfast) to children at 42,000 sites across the country during the summer months. This federally […]

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A Healthy Treat For Teacher Appreciation Week

May 20, 2014

Looking for a way to make a teacher’s day? Look what the parents at my children’s school did for Teacher Appreciation Week: They filled a bowl with fresh fruit, attached these adorable notes, and set it out for the staff. The bowl will be refilled all week long. It goes without saying, but teachers rock–and […]

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All About Snacktivism: My Interview in StayBasic Magazine

February 23, 2014

A few years ago, I got fed up with the Kool-Aid and cupcakes my son was getting after soccer games and vowed to make a change. I began talking to coaches and parents about providing fruit for post-game snacks instead–or even nixing snacks altogether (read: “What If Soccer Snacks Just Went Away?“). One day, a […]

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In Praise of Food Activism, Big & Small

February 18, 2014

Have you noticed that regular people are doing some very big stuff? Vani Hari (aka Food Babe) gets the attention of major food companies by exposing some of the questionable ingredients in their products–and demanding they do better. In response to her widely-circulated blog posts, Chik-fil-A is removing artificial dyes from its sauces and dressings […]

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A Call for Candy-Free Valentines

February 4, 2014

Remember Valentine’s Day as a kid? If your school was anything like mine, you found an old shoebox, cut a slot in the top, and decorated it with paper doilies and puffy heart stickers. You stationed it on your desk at school and made the rounds in the classroom, giggling and dropping valentines in your […]

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