No More Cupcakes in the Classroom! What's a Mom to do? Dairy Council of California Offers Healthy Classroom Celebration Ideas

When schools take an integrated approach to teaching nutrition in the classroom and adopting healthier snack guidelines, students' eating habits improve. With ideas from Dairy Council of California, it's easy and fun to offer healthy classroom snacks that fit within the five food groups.

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Healthy classroom snacks like Gobbling Turkey Apples are a fun way to celebrate the seasons and healthy eating.

Gobbling Turkey Apples from MakeAndTakes.com are a fun and healthy snack activity that can reinforce and extend classroom nutrition lessons.

When classroom treats reinforce the healthy messages being taught at home and at school, children build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Sacramento, Calif. (PRWEB) October 15, 2012

Recent research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that when schools take an integrated approach to wellness—from teaching nutrition to adopting healthier snack guidelines in the classroom—they can reduce students’ intake of less healthy foods and beverages by 30 percent. If cupcakes, sweets and other treats are off the menu in your child’s classroom or school, try these healthy celebration ideas from Dairy Council of California (CA).

“Classroom celebrations and snacks are a wonderful opportunity for teachers and parents to be partners in healthy eating to reinforce and extend classroom nutrition lessons,” said Registered Dietitian Tracy Witmer, Territory Manager with Dairy Council of CA. “However, this movement toward healthier choices does not have to mean the end of fun and enjoyment for students. Nutrient-rich food choices can be just as tasty and fun as previous classroom treats.”

In addition to providing K-12 nutrition education curriculum featuring lesson plans customized for each grade level, Dairy Council of CA also shares healthy snack ideas on its blog at HealthyEating.org and on Pinterest. Following are some of the more popular ideas that ensure kids will get valuable nutrients while they’re having fun, too. Each snack provides foods from multiple food groups: Milk & Milk Products; Vegetables; Fruits; Grains; and Meat & Beans.

Five Food Group “Fares”
Whether tasting unusual foods in a game-show style format called FLAVOR FACTOR or exploring different food combinations with MY VERY OWN PIZZA, Five Food Group Fares are healthy classroom party ideas that include foods from each food group. EAT THE ALPHABET features foods from A to Z, and the FIVE FOOD GROUP FIESTA features individualized tacos, nachos or burritos and a mixed-fruit salad. Outlines and food suggestions for each of these Five Food Group Fares are available on the blog at HealthyEating.org.

Healthy Halloween
Keep Halloween celebrations healthy with Banana Yogurt Ghosts (Boo-Nanas). Dip half of a peeled banana in low-fat vanilla yogurt, add mini chocolate chip eyes and freeze for a spooktacular snack. Draw jack-o’-lantern faces on clementines or oranges and serve with low-fat chocolate milk, The Official Drink of Halloween. With milk’s irreplaceable package of nine essential nutrients plus scientifically-proven health benefits, there’s no trick to this healthy treat.

Thanksgiving
Since Thanksgiving is all about coming together as a community, ask each student to contribute a vegetable, meat or container of broth and hold a Stone Soup classroom activity. For a healthy snack, try Gobbling Turkey Apples, featuring pretzel kabob “feathers” made with raisins, cranberries, popcorn, cheese, cereal o’s, grapes and other fun foods. See more at MakeandTakes.com/Gobbling-Turkey-Apples.

Birthdays
Consider non-food celebrations for birthdays. Surprise kids with fun pencil and eraser sets or let birthday boys or girls choose a favorite book for story time.

Winter Holidays
Chop a banana into round sections and dress with raisin or chocolate chip eyes and buttons, pretzel arms and apple or cheese triangle hats to make a healthy snowman snack. Pair this healthy snack with hot cocoa made with low-fat milk. Milk is an essential part of a healthy diet and can be enjoyed in so many different ways!

Valentine’s Day
There’s even room for sweets in healthy classroom celebrations. Mix plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt with chopped strawberries and top with granola for perfect parfaits.

“Whether choosing something simple, like baby carrots and ranch dip with cartons of milk, or one of the more elaborate snack ideas available on Pinterest, it’s easy to offer fun and healthy classroom snacks that fit within the five food groups,” said Witmer. “When classroom treats reinforce the healthy messages being taught at home and at school with a formal nutrition education program, children build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.”

Be sure to visit Dairy Council of CA on the web at HealthyEating.org for more classroom snack ideas to Eat Better, Eat Together for Healthier Students.

About Dairy Council of CA
Dairy Council of CA serves as the dairy industry’s contribution to community health by creating science-based nutrition education curricula and resources that help children and families improve their eating habits and make nutrient-rich choices from all food groups. For nearly a century, Dairy Council of CA has partnered with schools, health professionals and community leaders to offer California families simple steps for making balanced food choices while conveying the irreplaceable role that milk and milk products play in a balanced diet. Healthy Eating Made Easier®