I was tickled to see news today of a study that found kids will eat twice as much fruit when itâs cut into fun shapes. In the study, children aged 4 to 7 were allowed to eat from two platters, one with normal, unprepared fruit and the other with visually appealing cut fruit. Guess which was more popular?
This is probably not a shock to anyone spending time with the under-10 set, but I have to admit, âfun foodâ is a trick I put away when my kids grew out of toddlerhood (and didnât stretch beyond the occasional smiley-open-faced PB&J and teddy bearâshaped pancake).
Now that my 6- and 9-year-old are pickier by the day, this news inspires me to inject a little of the show-woman (or fancy caterer, at least) into my food prep. Good tools: sharpened knives, a melon baller, peeler, zester/grater, maybe even a mandolin for those wonderful thin slices. Try different colors and shapes--mango or papaya and pomegranate seeds or kiwi slices. Try making skewers or concentric rings or shapes on a plate.
When buying fruit and vegetables for your children, be sure first to consult the Environmental Working Groupâs latest âcleanâ and âdirtyâ lists to find out which produce items have been found to contain the most and least amounts of pesticide residues.
And once youâve practiced your fruit and veggie sculpting techniques, here are a few other tips to try:
* Cut sandwiches into shapes with cookie-cutters.
* Spread tortillas with hummus, guacamole, or reduced-fat Neufchatel cheese, along with colorful veggies and meat or cheese if desired. Roll tightly and slice; spread out âpinwheelsâ on the plate.
* Follow this recipe for a healthier PB&J and make the traditional smiley face with banana and other favorite ingredients.