Guest Blog: Connie Evers – Fun With Food!
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By Connie Evers, MS, RD, LD – Nutrition For Kids

Connie’s Healthy Eating Blog – Involve Kids in Fun, Creative Food Activities

Getting children to try new, nutritious foods sometimes takes creativity. Luckily, kids love fun projects, so setting up activities where they can play with their food is a win-win. Call it “art you can eat,” then watch your children have fun shaping, arranging, cutting and sculpting healthy foods into their own personal creations.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Cool off with “food fans”
One of the easiest things you and your child can make is a “food fan.” All you need is a large, seedless piece of fruit and a plastic, serrated knife. To make a strawberry fruit fan, insert the knife approximately 1/4 inch from the top of the berry and make a cut completely through to the bottom (see diagram). Make several more cuts parallel to the first one, then press down and “fan out.”

You can add fruit fans to a fruit salad or use them as a plate garnish. You can also use this same technique with peach or pear halves, cucumbers and other produce. Because of their vibrant colors, fruits and vegetables make especially enticing food art.

Stick It
Invite kids to make a colorful “salad on a stick” by arranging cherry or grape tomatoes, feta or fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves on a skewer. Dip in balsamic vinaigrette. You can also arrange colorful fruit chunks on a skewer and dip in honey or lemon-flavored yogurt. For young children, use plastic chopsticks instead of wooden skewers to minimize the risk of painful pokes.

Sculpt It
Make a real potato head that you can eat! Using toothpicks or broken spaghetti pieces, insert grape tomatoes, carrot pieces, broccoli florets, pepper slices, olives, cheese chunks, or other small chunks of food into a baked red potato to create your own funny face. Finish with “hair” made from grated carrots or white daikon radishes.

Serve It With a Smile
Create a pizza, open-faced burrito or whole grain toaster waffle that smiles back at you.

1. For mini-pizzas, start with a whole grain English muffin, spread with tomato sauce, spices and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Invite kids to make a face from mushrooms, olives, broccoli florets, onions and other veggies.
2. Spread waffles with peanut butter or light cream cheese and provide an assortment of fruit and berries to create a face.
3. Make a smiling burrito using a corn tortilla, refried beans, whole beans, olives, tomato chunks and grated cheese. Garnish with orange wedge “ears.”

Shape It Up
Use cookie cutters to cut fresh slices of melon, cheese, whole grain breads and other foods into all kinds of fun shapes.

Recommended Reading
Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers are masters at transforming fresh produce into art. They have a number of food art books with full colored photos including Food Play and How are you peeling? Fast Food is my personal favorite because it depicts fruit and vegetable sculptures engaged in various modes of transportation, including physical activities such as walking, bicycling, ice skating, skateboarding and more. Check out their work here!

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