Having fun with food in the kitchen is very important to me over on my blog, Fork & Beans, especially because I make a lot of recipes for kids with food allergies. It’s important that they see that food can still be exciting and creative even when certain ingredients need to be avoided. I get passionate about making healthy eating fun for kids, which is why National Child Health Day is so near and dear to my heart. By making food into silly shapes and faces (like with these Silly Apple Bites and these Guacadiles pictured below), I’m showing kids that what they eat can be another art medium; helping them explore their imagination and how the kitchen can be a vessel for not only healthy food but for fun as well.
I believe this is exactly what the toys from Melissa & Doug do as well; teaching kids about the creative nature of food and that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring but can be a theme even for playtime! I’m already sitting down with my 8 month old and showing him how to cut fruits and vegetables with my Melissa & Doug play sets and how to throw into all colorful vegetables in his Slice & Toss Salad Set (I might be hogging his toys until he gets old enough to really play with them in the meantime).
My 4 easy recommendations for making healthy eating fun for kids:
1. Invest in some cookie cutters. Use all different kinds to make fun and creative shapes out of fresh veggies, fruits, and even sandwiches. I like to make “donuts” out of apple slices and decorate them for an easy yet healthy and festive snack.
2. Make homemade googly eyes to pop on almost anything! They are instant fun-starters and they make it easy to dress up a snack. I turned the typical peanut butter and celery snack into cute reindeer with the simple addition of pretzels, raspberries, and googly eyes:
3. When in doubt, turn your snacks into animals. This breakfast just got a makeover by turning them into cute woodland animal toasts with simple ingredients like fruit, sliced almonds, and cereal.
4. Get your kids to participate. Don’t think that you have to do all the heavy lifting. In fact, by getting your kids to make their own snacks or do the decorating (like I did this Lion Pasta Party for kids), you are giving them the power to be in charge of their health. Be the leader that they need in the kitchen so they can eventually make their own smart choices.
Remember, it’s not always about making every meal something creative and spectacular, but rather it’s about making meaningful memories with your kids in the kitchen. Sometimes that means eating apple slices at the table, talking about their day at school. Whatever you choose to do, get them involved in the choices that they are making and find your own way of making healthy eating interesting and fun.