3 Tips to a Healthier Celebration (FN1833, Feb. 2017)

Celebrations such as birthdays or holidays are exciting and memorable times filled with family, friends and food. Nourish your body every time you eat, even when you are celebrating a special day.

Tracey Dillon, Dietetic Intern, NDSU Extension Service

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Availability: Web only

Here are three tips:

Incorporate three or more food groups into celebration foods.

Five food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy) are included in the current MyPlate nutrition guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When deciding on the menu, think about how you can incorporate at least three of these food groups.

• When including dairy, choose nonfat or low-fat options.
• Select lean proteins.
• Include fruits and vegetables to add color, flavor, texture and nutrients to any meal, snack or celebration menu.
• Choose whole grains for half of the grain foods on the menu.

Have fun with food activities.

Get creative! Kids are more likely to eat healthful foods when they are involved in the preparation. Provide healthful foods for kids to use in creating an edible picture or work of art. Have them guess what their friends made, then enjoy! Here are some examples:


celery, pretzels, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, craisins,
raisins, apple slices

Palm Tree

banana, kiwi, clementine

Swap ingredients to boost nutrition.

Trim calories and/or add fiber, vitamins and minerals with these more healthful swaps:

Ingredient Table

Key to abbreviations

c. = cup 
tsp. = teaspoon 
Tbsp. = tablespoon
oz. = ounce 
g = gram 
mg = milligrams


Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

• ¾ c. brown sugar
• ¼ c. vegetable oil
• 2 eggs
• 1¼ c. nonfat or low-fat milk
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 2 c. whole-wheat flour
• ½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
• 4 tsp. baking powder
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1 c. zucchini, pureed
• 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
• Frosting of your choice, optional

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place cupcake cups in muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk sugar, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Fold this mixture into liquid mixture. Then fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour batter evenly throughout cupcake cups, each about half full.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on cooling rack and top with your favorite frosting and sprinkles if desired. Serve within one to two days for best quality.

Makes about 30 servings. Each cupcake has 110 calories, 4.5 g fat, 3 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 105 mg sodium.

For more information about nutrition, food safety and health, visit this website.

Fruit Bowls

Waffle Bowl Parfait

• 10-pack waffle bowls
• 3 c. strawberries, sliced
• 2 c. grapes, sliced in half
• 2 c. blueberries
• 1 (16-oz.) container nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
• 3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. melted chocolate chips

Mix fruit together in a bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon melted chocolate on the bottom of each waffle bowl; let cool. Cover the chocolate bottom with yogurt. Top the yogurt with about ½ c. mixed fruit. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes or serve right away.

Makes 10 servings. Each one-bowl serving has 170 calories, 2.5 g fat, 5 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 30 mg sodium.

Pumpkin Muffins

Mini Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

• 1¾ c. whole-wheat flour
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
• 2 large eggs, room temperature
• ½ c. brown sugar, lightly packed
• 1 c. pumpkin puree
• 1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1/3 c. milk
• ½ c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin tins; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin, melted butter, vanilla and milk together until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake for
12 to 14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly and serve.

Makes 36 servings. Each serving has 60 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 90 mg sodium.

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