two toddlers eating snacks

Party time at school can be a regular feature, especially in the lower grades. As a parent, you are often called upon to provide a treat for your child's birthday or another holiday celebration. Coming up with a healthy treat that will excite the students and provide some level of nutrition, especially with the number of no-peanut classrooms on the rise, can be challenging. Think outside the box when sending treats to school with your kids.

Check Policies
Before you bake, chop or prepare, ask your child's teacher for an up-to-date policy regarding celebrations and sharing food from home. Schools that cater to a large number of kids with food allergies might not allow you to bring in any homemade treats at all. Other districts may stipulate "no nuts" but allow home-baked goodies. Your child's class might be a confectionary-free zone, where sugary treats are discouraged. Nothing can spoil your son or daughter's special day more quickly than finding that Mom or Dad did not follow the rules.

Baked Goods
Cupcakes are perhaps the most traditional birthday treat to share in the classroom, but the baked goods are filled with sugar and empty calories. If your child just won't be happy without sharing a homemade dessert, you can easily boost the nutritional content without sacrificing taste. Courgette or carrot muffins with a dollop of cream cheese frosting fit the bill and contain less sugar than most cakes. Banana muffins studded with chocolate chips satisfy almost any kid's sweet tooth. Cookies are easy to make in large batches and can also be filled with healthful ingredients, including raisins and oatmeal. Try reducing the amount of sugar in your regular cupcake recipe by one third, or sprinkling the top with powdered sugar instead of using sugary frosting as healthier options to the standard fare.

Mini Treats
Children of all ages -as well as some adults - have supported the "mini" craze in full force. When you eat a bite sized cookie or brownie, you're satisfying the craving for sweetness without the full calorie count. Take this mini concept and run with it to create healthy, peanut-free treats for your kids to bring to school. Mini muffins, cheese cubes, small pretzels twists or fruit chunks are healthy and appealing. The diminutive size of the treats is small enough so that students can eat more than one at a time.

Creativity Rules!
Most parents find that on a good day, they can serve their children almost anything at the dinner table, as long as it's fun to eat. Creativity goes a long way to keeping kids interested and excited about food. Pack fruit kebabs for your child's next holiday party; string small pieces of melon, pineapple, strawberries and the occasional mini marshmallow on bamboo skewers. Serve a veggie platter with yogurt-based dips or salsa. Make healthy wraps, either sweet or savoury, for your child's next birthday. Layer lean turkey, cheese and a thin spread of ranch dressing on a whole wheat tortilla. Roll up and slice into small rounds. Sweeten the deal with cream cheese mixed with a dab of honey instead of the lunch fixings.

Healthy treats in the classroom do not have to be boring. Ask your child to help you brainstorm for best results.