For sure, a child’s birthday party should be a festival of fun. And that means balloons and games, and goodies like ice cream, cake, and candy. But it can also mean good nutrition. You just have to be sneaky about it.
I’ve found kids will eat pretty much anything if it’s 1) served on a stick, 2) cut into an interesting shape, or 3) a miniature version of something.
Besides, you can still use Shindigz Sugar Buzz Birthday Party Theme to decorate and serve these healthy treats along with the other treats.
Cherry Tomato Lollipops
20 cherry tomatoes
¾ to 1 cup finely chopped, cooked chicken breast
10 mini mozzarella balls, cut in half
½ cup (approximately) of fresh pesto
½ cup balsamic reduction
¼ cup olive oil
- Make the balsamic reduction. I generally do a whole bottle (15-17 ounces) at one time because I use it so often. Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Boil gently for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until it reduces to a thick syrupy glaze. Watch it carefully as the reduction can go from perfect to burnt very quickly. Set aside to cool. Do not refrigerate or it will get too thick; you want it to remain pourable.
- Make the pesto. As with the balsamic reduction, you’ll have more than you need for this recipe but you can use the leftovers on pasta or veggies, or freeze it for later use.
- 2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, depending on taste
- ¼ cup nuts (pine nuts are traditional but I often use walnuts)
- ½ cup freshly grated hard cheese, such as Asiago or Pecorino
- 2/3 cup (and maybe a bit more) olive oil
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Put the basil, garlic, nuts, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is almost pureed, stopping, as necessary, to scrap down the sides of the bowl. Add the grated cheese and pulse a few times to mix. Then, with the processor running, slowly add the olive oil. You want a spreadable consistency that will mix well with the chopped chicken. Taste and adjust for seasoning, if necessary.
- Mix the pesto with the chopped chicken.
- Prepare the tomatoes by slicing off the top (a serrated knife works well) and scooping out the inside of the tomato with a teaspoon or small melon baller. Pack the hollowed-out cherry tomato with the chicken-pesto mixture. Top with half a mini mozzarella ball.
- Insert a 6″ or 8″ wooden skewer into the bottom of the each tomato until it pierces the mozzarella “lid.” Stand the lollipops in a tall glass or vase like a bouquet of flowers.
- Whisk together the balsamic reduction and olive oil, and serve alongside as a dipping sauce.
Ambrosia on a Stick
- Miniature marshmallows (or large marshmallows cut in half with scissors)
- Miniature oranges (like Cuties) or small tangerines
- Maraschino cherries
- A selection of fruit that doesn’t brown when exposed to air, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, and kiwi
- Plain yogurt
- Flaked coconut
Peel the fruit and cut it into various shapes. Melon balls are always good. So are small cubes of pineapple and watermelon. If you have the time—and are so inclined—you can cut some of the fruit into thin slices and use small, sharp cookie cutters to make simple shapes like stars, hearts, butterflies, or dinosaurs.
Thread the fruit onto a short wooden skewer; a chunk of pineapple, a ball of watermelon, a kiwi star, a section of orange, cantaloupe butterfly, and so on, interspersed with a miniature marshmallow or maraschino cherry here-and-there. Arrange on a plate.
Mix the yogurt, flaked coconut, and enough honey to sweeten, and use as a dip.
Candace Schuler comes from a long line of foodies.Her grandmother taught her about planting, preserving, and cooking whole foods. Her father was a professional chef who taught her all about the importance of presentation and how to cook for big crowds. Her brothers have spent years in the restaurant business, and she and her sister constantly trade recipes via email for everything from fermented fruit kimchee to the perfect cheesecake.
Candace is also a professional writer, which, she says, makes writing about party-worthy recipes for Shindigz the perfect gig. Contact her at www.CandaceSchuler.com