Are you tired of trying disguise fruits and vegetables so that your kids will eat them? How much nutrition are your kids really getting anyway from that half cup of pureed cauliflower hidden in a bowl of macaroni and cheese that serves four people? Is all the prep worth it? If you’ve asked yourself these questions, why not retire deception and bring nutritious fruits and vegetables out into the open where your kids can see them and learn to enjoy them.
Teach your kids to “eat the rainbow”. Help them choose a range of naturally colorful produce that will give them all the nutrients their bodies need to grow and stay healthy. When it comes time to prep, enlist the help of your young chef-in-training. Kids love to help and preparing a small meal or snack makes the ideal training ground to perfect their skills. Many children are more receptive to new and different foods if they’ve had a hand in preparing it.
Some of the following ideas actually require that a child “play” with their food before they eat it. Don’t worry, this is meant to be fun, which is why the recipes are playful—but what’s more, they’re also nutritious and tasty enough to have your kids asking for more.
- 2 slices turkey
- 12 Trader Joes 12-grain mini snack crackers or 12 mini Ritz bits crackers
- 2 slices of cheese
Cut turkey and cheese into small rounds using a clean bottle cap. Place a slice of each on a mini cracker and top with another cracker. Serve as a mini sandwich
Baked Potatoes—made over
Bake a white or sweet potato in the oven for about 45 minutes at 400. If using the microwave to cook the potato, poke the potato before cooking approximately 5-6 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Split the potato and serve your spud in one of three ways:
- Pizza potato: add marinara sauce and 2 Tbsp of grated mozzarella cheese
- Mexicali potato: Top with ¼ cup refried beans, 2 Tbsp cheddar cheese and 2 Tbsp salsa
- Greek Potato: top with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, green onions and feta cheese, add sliced olives sprinkled over the top (optional)
Spear fruit chunks such as berries, melon or pineapple on a thin pretzel stick, the entire snack is edible, from fruit to kebab
Self-Serve Salad Bar
Fill the six cups of a small muffin tin with grated cheese, hard boiled eggs, chopped cucumbers, diced carrots, bell pepper strips, and shredded lettuce. Give your child a bowl and let him/her make their own salad. Top with favorite dressing, if desired.
Fishes in a pond
- ½ cup Neufchatel cheese (low fat cream cheese)
- celery sticks, carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, green beans or asparagus spears
- fish shaped crackers
In one small bowl, put the cream cheese. Place the fish crackers in a separate bowl. Let the kids dip the vegetables sticks into the cheese and then into a bowl of fish crackers to “catch” a fish
- ½ whole grain bagel
- 1 hardboiled egg, peeled
- Cream cheese, peanut butter or hummus
- carrot or banana sliced into coins
Spread the cream cheese, peanut butter or hummus over the bagel half. Set the hardboiled egg in the center of the bagel hole. Decorate the ship with carrot or banana slices placed around the bagel (on top of the cream cheese, peanut butter or hummus)
Frozen Fruit Pops
Slide sliced fruit of your choice onto wooden craft sticks, seal in a ziploc bag or freezer proof container for approximately 2 hours.
Best fruit to freeze: banana halves, orange sections, whole strawberries with stem removed, watermelon, pineapple chunks, mango spears, peeled kiwi, cantaloupe or honeydew melon chunks. Grapes can be used as well, but use a toothpick instead of a craft stick
Peanut Butter Bugs
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp wheat germ
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 3 Tbsp of non-fat dried milk powder
Mix all ingredients until in forms together. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Mold into clay shapes like a ladybug or snail. Once play time is over, gobble up the creature!
Peanut Butter Pizza
Spread peanut butter over a small whole wheat pita bread. Top with raisins, cheerios, apple slices, banana slices or nuts. Get as creative as you like. Arrange the toppings randomly or create a pattern. Use a pizza cutter to slice into 4 “pizza” slices.