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When it comes to celebrating your child's birthday, it might be tempting to serve the most delectable, decadent treat available. But for a growing child who needs lots of nutrients, it might be wise to rethink classic birthday treats. Find out how to create a festive, healthful, and delicious birthday menu with these tips:

Better-for-you Cake Ideas

Here are some swap-out ingredients and suggestions that are better for you and your little one. Keep these in mind if you’re creating your own cake for the party.

Ingredient Swap Ideas

• 1/3 all-purpose flour can be replaced by whole wheat flour • Apple butter can replace about 1/3 of regular butter • Instead of 3 whole eggs, use 2 whole eggs and one egg white • Neufchatel can be used instead of full-fat cream cheese • Light sour cream can be used in place off regular sour cream

Full Cake Replacement Ideas

• Oatmeal cake • Banana bread • Vegetable breads (carrot, pumpkin, and zucchini) • Cakes including beets, potatoes, or sweet potatoes

Dips Abound

Dips and sauces are fun for toddlers, but may get a little messy. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—as long as your little one is eating healthily, you’re making progress!

Sweet Dips • Applesauce • Sour cream flavored with all-fruit spread or pureed fruits • Mashed bananas with or without berries and ricotta

Savory • Cream cheese lightened with milk • Guacamole • Small curd cottage cheese • Hummus • Creamy salad dressings • Cooked and pureed vegetables

Healthy Foods to Dip • Cheese • Fruit • Cooked vegetables (carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower) • Cucumbers • Graham crackers • Whole-grain breads • Small chunks or rolled-up slices of chicken or turkey

Shake It Up

Smoothies have moved beyond just fruit — many now include vegetables too. These nutrient-packed drinks are a great way to add veggies to a delicious treat. If your little one loves smoothies, add some of these ingredients for a nutrient boost:

• Avocado • Spinach • Cooked carrots • Kale • Parsley • Cucumber

If your toddler is using a sippy cup, smoothies can be thinned out with milk or water. (If the smoothie is very thick it can be served in a bowl with a spoon.)

Food “Face Time”

Make a face with food! Use food as “paint” and the plate as your canvas. Make the face as basic or elaborate as you want—but just eyes and a mouth can speak volumes. You can even dress it up with noodle hair, veggie earrings, or an oatmeal mustache!

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