A couple of years ago, I sent my daughter to school with a box of clementines for her Thanksgiving party. When she came home, she told me about the cupcakes, doughnuts, and Rice Krispie treats that other moms contributed. But that's not going to happen this year. Many schools now require all items sent in for parties to be "healthy" so like it or not, the orange-frosted cupcakes and apple doughnuts are off the table.
To snag some more creative ideas for Thanksgiving parties—or even for Turkey Day itself–I asked nutrition experts who have kids for their suggestions. Here's a roundup of snacks that their kids gobbled up:
Liz Weiss, R.D., from Meal Makeover Moms, made this veggie platter with a group of fourth and fifth graders. She started with her dip recipe here and put it in a small, hollowed-out acorn squash. (You could do the same with a mini pumpkin.) She then sliced veggies such as cucumbers, red bell peppers, and rainbow carrots into strips, arranged them on a platter around the squash.
Heidi McIndoo, R.D., from Apple A Day Nutrition, helped to set up a popcorn bar for her kids' Fall Festival: One mom made popcorn and scooped it in small brown lunch bags, filling them about three-quarters of the way full. "Then I and a few of other moms brought in mix-ins, like dried fruit, cereal, and chocolate chips," she says. "The kids chose what mix-ins they wanted and shook them up in the bag." (Side note: If you need a really good mac 'n cheese recipe, check out the story that Heidi wrote for Parents last year.)
Sarah Krieger, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and consultant in St. Petersburg, Florida, relies on dip and sliced apples for her kids' school parties. She mixes equal parts of canned pumpkin and Greek yogurt for the delish dip and then adds a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. She sends it into school with sliced red or green apples.
Jill Castle, R.D., author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School, suggests placing small waffle cones down flat on a platter and filling them with sliced grapes, raspberries, and other fresh fruit so they resemble mini cornucopias.