Sweet treats are a favorite with children of all ages, but many of the kinds they love are high in sugar and empty calories, loaded with artificial flavors and colors, and seriously lacking in any real nutritional value. Parents often struggle to find healthier options that will satisfy their child's sweet tooth, while still providing some of the many nutrients their growing bodies need.
Yogurt-based snacks and treats make a great solution to this dilemma. Yogurt is high in protein and calcium, and once you find a favorite flavor, you can use it in all kinds of delicious recipes.
1. Fruit Filled with Yogurt
Raspberries work well for this treat, as do strawberries that have been hollowed out with a paring knife. Simply spoon your favorite yogurt inside the fresh fruit for an easy, delicious snack. Choose a healthy yogurt sweetened with honey to make a healthier version, or a bright pink or blue kid's yogurt to make it a more kid-friendly treat. And if you want to really impress, add multi-colored sprinkles to the tops.
2. Yogurt Cheesecake
Real cheesecake is sinfully rich and delicious, but it isn't good for you in any way, shape, or form. You can, however, make it healthier by including yogurt among the ingredients. This Vanilla Yogurt Cheesecake is a good example of a "healthier" yogurt cheesecake, or if you want a truly healthy recipe, try Yogurt "Cheesecake" with Strawberries and Pineapple Syrup.
3. Graham Cracker "Yogurtwiches"
This one is super-easy — just spread your child's favorite fruit-flavored yogurt on graham crackers and voila, a "yogurtwich." Serve immediately, or roll the edges in sprinkles and freeze until firm to turn this treat into an "ice cream" sandwich of sorts.
4. Fruity Fro-Yo Fun Bars
One look at the picture of these rainbow-colored Fruity Fro-Yo Fun Bars and you'll see why they're an instant hit with kids. They aren't exactly healthy — as the recipe involves mixing yogurt with sweetened condensed milk and layering it with Trix cereal — but the yogurt has both calcium and protein, and you can substitute other varieties of yogurt or cereal to make these bars healthier.
5. Peanut Butter Banilla Popsicles
Popsicles are a perennial childhood favorite, and Peanut Butter Banilla Popsicles are so delicious the kids will never know they're healthy too. For even easier yogurt popsicles, just freeze your favorite yogurt in popsicle molds and you'll have a nutritious frozen treat in no time.
6. Chocolate Pudding
Skip the store-bought pudding packs and make your own nutritious chocolate pudding instead. You only need 4 ingredients (one of which is yogurt, of course) to make this healthier version from Stonyfield Farms.
Tips for Choosing Healthier Yogurt
One yogurt isn't always as healthy as the next. Here are a few things to consider when deciding which brand to use in your favorite recipes.
- Plain, unflavored yogurt is best, and you can stir in your own flavors and sweeteners. This can be an acquired taste, though, so kids don't always consider it a "treat."
- Organic yogurt is pricier, but is also likely to be lower in sugar and to have live cultures of the probiotics that make yogurt so good for you. Stonyfield Farms and Wallaby Joey are both high-quality brands.
- Be careful about buying brands that are specifically marketed to children. If this is the only kind of yogurt your kids like, try the newly reformulated Yoplait Trix, which no longer contains high fructose corn syrup or any artificial flavors or colors.
- To learn more about how and why to choose healthier yogurts, read 10 Reasons Yogurt is a Top Health Food and How to Buy the Healthiest Yogurt: 5 Tips from pediatrician Dr. Sears.
Disclosure: I received a coupon to try the new Yoplait Trix yogurt. My kids (who are used to eating plain yogurt with fruit and honey) of course think it's awesome. And while it still isn't the healthiest yogurt on the market, it's much healthier than it used to be, and I applaud the company for taking a step in the right direction.