• How to avoid the sugar rush 24 February 2012 | View comments

  • Most children love foods that are colourful and sugary, however a sweet overload will only result in them bouncing off walls, before crashing into a grumpy heap. When planning the party tea sneak in plenty of healthy, high-energy snacks to sustain their mood swings.

    1. Try to avoid refined sugars that raise blood-glucose levels too quickly. Things like sauce, salad dressings, fruit juices, fizzy drinks,white bread and sweet confectionary are all party food culprits.

    Natural sugars such as fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy are much better.

    2. Stick to slow-burning carbs that are high in fibre, such as wholegrain bread or pitta, vegatables and oats. This will keep them satisfied for longer and sustain their energy.  Boys won’t even notice their tasty barbequed or grilled chipolata sausage is
    served in a small wholemeal roll rather than white if you make it tasty enough. Fill the roll with a creamy avocado spread (mashed avocado and lime), lettuce and tomato slices.

    3. Transform healthy snacks into something colourful and appealing. A fruit platter is perfect for this with a yoghurt dip but try and keep the skins on things like apples and pears that are full of fibre. If you slice them thinly, children will hardly notice they are on. Other high fibre fruits that are tasty with skins on are plums, grapes, peaches and nectarines and frozen grapes are also delicious (just pop them in the
    freezer for a couple of hours beforehand)

    4. Fruit juices are often packed with sugar so why not dilute them with water as children won’t notice the difference. Alternatively make a fresh juice or smoothie using fresh fruit, juice and ice.  Blend colourful fruits such as watermelon or mango with ice to make a colourful ‘slushy’ party drink and add a slice of fruit to garnish.
    For something creamier, add low fat milk or plain yoghurt to berries, bananas and mangos. You could even make ‘smoothie lollies’, perfect for a summer birthday, by storing your liquid mixtures in the freezer until ready to serve.

    5. Get creative by mixing up the different breads such as wheat, rye and raisin bread to make things a bit more interesting and use cookie cutters to turn what might seem boring brown bread sandwiches into fun shapes.  Add lots of colourful ingredients, lettuce, tomato, avocado and low-fat cheese spread to add appeal.

    6. Dried fruits and nuts are also great snacks so look out for things like mini packs of Sunmaid raisins, which are perfect to pop into party food boxes. You can always sneak in some healthy dried fruit into some homemade mini muffins or flapjacks too, just be creative with your party food planning.

    7. Raw vegetables are great for sustaining energy and so long as you cut them into finger sized sticks then children will love eating them and dipping them into something delicious. Colourful sticks of celery, peppers, carrots and cucumber are great for this paired with an avocado dip (mashed avocado and lime) or mashed butter bean dip. If you don’t have time you can buy a ready-made reduced fat dip from the supermarket.

    Other good veggies include colourful chunks of sweet potato which you can incorporate into your party food as fillings or toppings.

    8. Homemade food is far better than packaged food as you have more control of the amount of sugar that is inside. Packaged food is often packed with sugar and other hidden sweeteners such as honey and syrup. Try to make as much of the party food as you can, particularly with drinks, cakes and savoury snacks.

    9. Remember to be creative with your party food and plan in advance. Think of healthy ingredients such as fruit and vegetables but keep colour in mind so that it appeals to children. You can add ‘touches’ and ‘toppings’ of chocolate and sweets, as a birthday is a special occasion after all, but just keep it to a minimum. Fun garnishes and accessories such as drink umbrellas are enough to keep the healthy stuff fun!

    10. Children love cake and cupcakes and you can’t get away with not serving these at your party tea.  Healthy alternatives include banana cupcakes or freshly-grated carrot cake and top these with a low fat cream cheese frosting. If you are using a packet cake mixture, add a handful of blueberries to a vanilla sponge. Decorate your cakes with lots of colourful fruit to make it appealing, for boys, bold fruits are best such as blueberries, cherries and grapes and for girls strawberries and raspberries have their appeal.

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