Go ahead, kids -- play with your food

  • Dietitians say children who help prepare meals are more likely to enjoy healthy foods.

    Dietitians say children who help prepare meals are more likely to enjoy healthy foods. Stock Photo

  • "Ants on a log" are a fun, nutritious snack for kids.

    "Ants on a log" are a fun, nutritious snack for kids. Stock Photo

  • Dietitians say children who help prepare meals are more likely to enjoy healthy foods.

    Dietitians say children who help prepare meals are more likely to enjoy healthy foods. Stock Photo

 
By Amita Health
Posted9/25/2021 8:00 AM

Did your parents tell you to stop playing with your food? Turns out having fun with food may encourage the pickiest of young eaters to try something new.

It's true -- most kids will wrinkle their noses and stick out their tongues at the sight of spinach. But what if they're piling it on a homemade, healthy pizza instead of shoving it around their dinner plates?

 

The key to getting your kids to try healthy foods is in making it fun, dietitians agree. And that includes letting them don the chef's hat; kids may try foods they've avoided in the past, if they help make them. You provide the healthy ingredients and let the kids help with the preparation.

Children respond to colorful food, so in addition to the spinach, chop up bright red and yellow peppers and brilliant green broccoli to toss on the homemade healthy pie.

In addition, try these fun recipes, too, with your kids:

• Bugs on a log -- Top celery, cucumber or carrot sticks with peanut butter and top with dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries or cherries.

• Caterpillar kebabs -- Create a colorful kebab with chunks of melon, apple, orange and pear on skewers. For a raw veggie version, use zucchini, cucumber, squash, sweet peppers and tomato.

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• Potato person -- Make a funny face by decorating half a potato with sliced cherry tomatoes, peas, broccoli and low-fat cheese.

• Fruity peanut butterfly -- Start with a carrot stick or celery for the body. Attach wings made of thinly sliced apples with peanut butter and decorate with grapes and dried fruit.

• Berry banana shake-up -- Blend four scoops of low-fat frozen yogurt, 10 fresh strawberries and half a banana in a blender. This inviting pink smoothie is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

And preparing their own food teaches children simple measurements and kitchen safety. They'll have fun and not even realize they're not missing the chicken nuggets.

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Amita Health. To check out more information, visit amitahealth.org.

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