The holidays make the home a warm, cozy place. Sweet spices fill the air as the oven keeps your family and your meals nice and toasty. This is the time of year for comfort food: fruity pies, sweet cakes, decadent breads, and creamy potatoes. Mouth watering yet? (Ours sure are!) But many of these sweet, savory, and spiced treats are loaded with unhealthy ingredients. So what do we do when this time of year just doesn’t feel the same without them? Luckily, the options for nutrient rich alternatives are seemingly endless! Keep reading for fun holiday snacks for kids that you don’t have to feel guilty about! 

Pumpkin Everything

November is in full swing. And that means everything pumpkin. Use this festive fall fruit to update classic snacks to their healthy counterparts. Meanwhile, show your kiddos sustainable eating by turning the whole pumpkin into many yummy, healthy treats. You can carve it open as a family for an interactive experience, then, get cooking! Instead of munching on chips, bake pumpkin seeds with your seasoning of choice. Tangy, spicy, sweet, or salty — these seeds can do it all. Come back to the meat of the pumpkin to make a purée for soup, pie, sauce, or spread. 

Sweetie Pie

In the United States, it is hard to think of the holidays without pie. Apple, berry, chocolate, you name it! But these specialty desserts are loaded with sugar. So take out the extra and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Instead of pie, opt for a similar but healthy holiday treat. Go crustless with heated apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon. Or, use a warm berry medley with a light drizzle of honey or agave syrup. Take it to the next level by topping it with a nutty or oaty crumble. If the kids simply cannot forgo a pie, we get it! Amp up the festivity and use nuts and coconut oil to create your very own healthier pie crust. 

Fruity Pops

In many households, baking and decorating sweet treats as a family is part of many traditions. For the same fun, but a healthier substitution, dip fresh or frozen fruit slices in unsweetened chocolate or yogurt. While parents handle the slicing, the kids can decorate the pieces just like sugar cookies! Change up the color by adding in some puréed fruit. Mix and match toppings with blueberries, nuts, or cocoa nibs! To bring in the veggies, use carrots for the snowmen noses and celery sticks for tree stalks. Create an additional dipper with a cocoa powder and nut butter combo. Get crafty with berries for hats and raisins for buttons! Turn up the trees with blueberry or pomegranate seed ornaments! Not only will this activity encourage healthy eating, but family bonding and creativity too.

Better Breads

Kids love bread, and cakes are next-level bread. But these delicious desserts are best eaten in moderation. So when you want to keep the festivities up with healthy holiday treats, substitute with unusual ingredients. Make decadent dark chocolate brownies with eggplant or zucchini. Or, try out a spiced carrot cake for festive fun! You can use anything from bananas, pumpkin, or squash to make your bread better for the kids. Incorporate flax seeds, oats or chia seeds to pack in even more nutrients. This is another chance to invite the kids to explore different recipes and watch how whole foods can make their favorite snacks taste even better!

Savory Treats

Mashed potatoes are a holiday classic! But if your kiddos want to eat them every day, it is best to find a healthy alternative. Challenge the kids to come up with the tastiest new recipe. Swap starchy potatoes for a creamy cauliflower mash. Use a food processor and a strainer to get the mixture super fine, add a sprinkle of cheese, and you can hardly tell the difference. Missing the spice? Use sweet potatoes with cinnamon, coconut oil, and a dash of brown sugar to make a sweet and savory dish. Cook some carrots or roast some squash with a sprinkle of your favorite spices to keep up the flavors of the season.

Seasonal Sips

Savor the flavors of the season with healthy holiday drinks for kids! Think apple pie tea. You can use the fruit’s peels, cinnamon sticks, and a little bit of sweetener for a festive holiday sipper. Craving cocoa? Start with dark chocolate or cocoa powder in hot water or milk. Add your own sweetener such as stevia drops and mask the flavor change with some honey, agave syrup, or coconut sugar and cinnamon. Pop some whipped cream (vegan works too) and top with more cinnamon or cocoa powder for a little extra dust of fun. 

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we know that fun holiday snacks for kids are a great way to work together, engage the imagination, and encourage good choices for the body and mind. As you gather in the kitchen with your family, we hope these healthy holiday treats soothe their sweet tooth and your peace of mind!