Children will be more apt to try a new, healthy food if they are allowed to have a hand in making it. With a few simple techniques, you can make foods more interesting and fun for children to help prepare.
Here are a few ideas:
Jazz up fruits & vegetables with peanut butter. Let kids decorate apple slices, celery sticks, cucumber slices, & carrot sticks with peanut butter & raisins.
Cut food into different shapes. Slice sandwiches into small triangles or squares, or create “sandwich fingers” by cutting a sandwich into four or five long slices. Let the children add the fillings they want. A few examples are peanut butter, cheese spread, cream cheese, tuna salad or egg salad.
Allow children to pick the shape of their snack. Offer cheese cubes or cheese slices cut into fun shapes or let them cut pizza into squares or triangles with kitchen shears.
Use cookie cutters to make an assortment of shapes from bread. Let children add the toppings. Save the edges of the bread slices to make croutons or bread crumbs for another meal. Older kids can spread cream cheese, peanut butter or cheese spread. Younger kids can decorate with sliced, chopped & grated vegetables: green & red pepper strips, olives sliced into circles, raisins for eyes, celery slices or sticks, cucumber slices & grated or sliced carrots.
A healthy snack gives children the energy to play outside or do their homework. Give them plenty of choices to build their own snack. If the choices you give them are reasonably nutritious, then everybody’s happy! The children get to decide on their own snack, and you get to ensure that they’re eating healthfully.
Links for more ideas:
KidsHealth Nutrition and FitnessCenter
TeensHealth Food and Fitness
Janice Wade-Miller is a nutrition educator in Tallahassee, Florida. She has earned her bachelors and masters degrees in Food and Nutrition from Florida State University. In her role as a health educator, she has assisted all age groups, from young children to senior citizens in learning about good nutrition, health and food safety. Her email address is [email protected].