February is a month to pay attention to hearts--both literally and figuratively. It is,of course, the month in which Valentine’s Day falls, a day which for adults is one full of romance and for kids is a day full of sugary treats.
Since February is also designated American Heart Month by the American Heart Association it’s a good time to make some healthy Valentine’s Day Treats with your kids.
You can combine a day full of healthy heart foods with a day full of healthy heart Valentine's Day activities to help your child to and develop lifelong heart healthy habits.
Note: Knowing that Valentine’s Day often falls on a school day, you can give your child a heart-shaped IOU on the real day, promising that you’ll spend Saturday or Sunday making and eating healthy heart treats.
Start the day with heart-shaped pancakes.
These gluten-free buckwheat pancakes are yummy as well as good for you. Give your child a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the pancakes into a "sweeter" shape once they’re cooked. For an added Valentine's Day bonus, you can add a touch of red food coloring to the batter and serve the pancakes with strawberries.
Serve strawberries as a mid-morning snack.
The fruit lends itself naturally to being a heart-healthy Valentine's treat. Not only are strawberries the traditional color of the holiday, but when you cut a strawberry in half, the halves are shaped like a heart.
Since your child may not have noticed that before, give her a butter knife to cut them and make that discovery herself. Don’t tell her what to expect, just let her know that when she cuts the strawberry in half, she’ll see a Valentine surprise.
Note: Save some of the strawberries to use in your “love” fruit salad.
Food For Later
Make a "love" fruit salad.
As long as you and your child are in the kitchen anyway, you can spend some time making a special fruit salad to eat later. Though it may be tough to do this time of year, if you can find a watermelon, the pink flesh on the inside is a perfect base for the fruit salad.
Cut the watermelon into slices and give your child the heart-shaped cookie cutter once again. She can punch out sweet watermelon hearts to add to the halved strawberries. Add some of her other favorite fruits and put the whole thing in the fridge to have with lunch or dinner!
Have a heart-shaped pizza for lunch.
This Valentine’s Day pizza recipe, from About.com’s Guide to Cooking for Kids, not only tastes good, but also gives you and your child to practice some kitchen math.
By the time she’s done helping you figure out how to multiply the recipe to feed the whole family and measuring out ingredients, your child will have used everyday math and made a yummy Valentine’s lunch.
Make Jiggly Gelatin Hearts for dessert.
Just because you’re eating healthy, doesn't mean you need to deny your child sweets. Kids love to make gelatin (Jello) Jigglers. They’re easy to make together and are an especially good activity for younger kids, because all they really have to do is stir.
You can either pour the liquid into heart-shaped muffin tins to set or your child can use the trusty heart-shaped cookie cutter. Of, if she’s feeling really creative, she can use alphabet cookie cutters to cut the gelatin into love-related sight words.
Finish off the day with heart-shaped meatloaf.
For some reason, kids seem to like meatloaf better in individual sized portions. These little heart meatloaves are fun to make, require a lot of measuring practice on your child’s part and are the perfect end to a day of healthy Valentine’s Day treat activities with your child.