Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Fun, Festive and Healthy? Check!

Everyone has a favorite dish for the holidays, whether it's pumpkin pie and whipped cream, crispy-skinned Christmas goose, or a toasty mug of eggnog. While there's nothing wrong with a little indulging, it's all too easy to have every meal become a feast – and cookies become the snacks.

Think it's hard to find healthy treats that are also as festive as the season, and recipes that are kid-friendly? The chefs at Bean Sprouts are up for the challenge! (Editor's note: Bean Sprouts is a national chain, but not currently in the Seattle area.)

"The great thing is that the holidays are all about family, and there's a lot of family time in the kitchen," says Shannon Seip, co-founder of the Madison, Wisconsin-based company. She suggested three recipes that kids ages 3 to 10 can make (or help you make), and we've gathered additional tips to increase the healthy quotient of your holiday meals without reducing the fun.

Pear Penguins

This secular wintery recipe, a favorite for fans of Happy Feet, features mostly fruits and vegetables with just enough chocolate to make it dessert. Seip says kids love the process: "It cracks them up, and the recipe steps where they're waddling around like penguins … it's not just the outcome that's fun, it's the whole process."

Ingredients (per penguin)

2 mini chocolate chips
2 white chocolate chips
1 pear
3 tablespoons melted chocolate
1 thin slice of carrot, cut into a triangle
1 fig, cut in half diagonally
Shredded coconut, to represent snow on the plate

1. Your penguins need eyes to see how cute they will become! Push the mini chocolate chips into the center of the white chocolate chips to form eyes. Now waddle like a penguin twice around the table.

2. Even though penguins can't fly, they still need wings. Use a butter knife to carefully cut a slice upwards in both sides of the pear to form wings, making sure to keep the tops of the slices attached to the pear. Use a peeler to shave the pear skin off in between the wings in an oval shape. This is the penguin's white tummy.

3. Use a pastry brush to paint chocolate on the penguin's body, everywhere but his stomach and the undersides of his wings. Use a toothpick to notch a spot for each of the chocolate-chip eyes and the carrot beak. Insert the eyes and carrot beak. Balance the pear penguin on a plate and place the fig halves for feet. Sprinkle coconut around, like it's winter at the North Pole. Dress up in black and white clothes for this frosty feast!



Tile in Style

These mosaic tiles are easy to make. For the older kids, practice counting or the alphabet by shaping the vegetables into numbers and letters representing places at the table. Younger kids can enjoy the contrast of bright primary colors against the crisp white of the cream cheese. Seip says, "It's a showcase for the kids to think of their family while they're making them … The adults can acknowledge them right away. It's a way for them to contribute to something when they're usually on the receiving end."

Ingredients (per table setting)

1 tablespoon herbed cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup diced red and green bell peppers (or any other diced firm vegetable, like carrot, olive, cucumber, beet, celery, etc.)
1 large table cracker

Spread the cracker with cream cheese using the back of a spoon or a table knife. Press the pepper pieces gently into the cream cheese to form letters, numbers or fun designs.



Mascarpone Strawberries

A light alternative to traditional desserts, these (mostly) naturally sweet mouthfuls would also be appropriate at teatime, on the hors d'oeuvres table, or as part of a brunch spread. Kids will enjoy their bright colors, and they are easy to make but hard to resist.

Ingredients (per 8 berries)

1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 strawberries
8 raspberries
8 mint leaves

Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl. Cut both ends off of the strawberries, and stand the berries upright on the small end.

Use a spoon or piping bag to spread the sweet cheese mixture on the large end of each strawberry. Top with a raspberry and mint leaf.

About the Author

Ariel Hansen