10 Tips for Making Healthy Food More Fun
Ed. note: Originally published in the USDA The School Day Just Got Healthier Toolkit for Parents.
Encourage children to eat vegetables and fruits by making it fun. Let kids help with preparation, based on their age and skills. Kids may try foods they avoided in the past if they helped make them.
First Lady Michelle Obama watches a chef's demonstration with third-grade students from Pocantico Hill School and John F. Kennedy Magnet School, before a luncheon at Blue Hill Farm in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., Sept. 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
- Smoothie creations: Blend fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk with fruit pieces and crushed ice. Use fresh, frozen, canned, and even overripe fruits. Try bananas, berries, peaches, and/or pineapple. If you freeze the fruit first, you can even skip the ice!
- Delicious dippers: Kids love to dip their foods. Whip up a quick dip for veggies with yogurt and seasonings such as herbs or garlic. Serve with raw vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower. Fruit chunks go great with a yogurt and cinnamon or vanilla dip.
- Caterpillar kabobs: Assemble chunks of melon, apple, orange, and pear on skewers for a fruity kabob. For a raw veggie version, use vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, squash, sweet peppers, or tomatoes.
- Personalized pizzas: Set up a pizza-making station in the kitchen. Use whole-wheat English muffins, bagels, or pita bread as the crust. Have tomato sauce, low-fat cheese, and cut-up vegetables or fruits for toppings. Let kids choose their own favorites. Then pop the pizzas into the oven to warm.
- Fruity peanut butterfly: Start with carrot sticks or celery for the body. Attach wings made of thinly sliced apples with peanut butter and decorate with halved grapes or dried fruit.
- Frosty fruits: Frozen treats are bound to be popular in the warm months. Just put fresh fruits such as melon chunks in the freezer (rinse first). Make “popsicles” by inserting sticks into peeled bananas and freezing.
- Bugs on a log: Use celery, cucumber, or carrot sticks as the log and add peanut butter. Top with dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or cherries, depending on what bugs you want!
- Homemade trail mix: Skip the pre-made trail mix and make your own. Use your favorite nuts and dried fruits, such as unsalted peanuts, cashews, walnuts, or sunflower seeds mixed with dried apples, pineapple, cherries, apricots, or raisins. Add whole-grain cereals to the mix, too.
- Potato person: Decorate half a baked potato. Use sliced cherry tomatoes, peas, and low-fat cheese on the potato to make a funny face.
- Put kids in charge: Ask your child to name new veggie or fruit creations. Let them arrange raw veggies or fruits into a fun shape or design.