Fun Food Ideas
How do you make healthy food attractive to an uninterested or picky audience? To a certain extent, it's all in the presentation. Plunk a bowl of sliced strawberries and bananas down in front of a seven-year-old. Then offer her a strawberry-banana smoothie in a plastic coconut shell cup topped off with a paper umbrella. Guess which one she'll go for?
Party themes can sometimes make your job a little easier. If your child is enamored with horses, then trail mix, rolled-oat granola, apple-and-carrot salad, and horseshoe-shaped fruit bars are fun. Going with gymnastics or yoga? Try soft pretzel twists with a choice of toppings. Use your imagination, and adapt favorites to your party's needs.
Remember that you don't have to break the bank to pique your child's interest, nor do you have to be a professional party planner. Inject a little novelty into the menu, along with a healthy dose of kid involvement, and you'll have his interest in no time flat.
Tasty Party Treats
Kids enjoy creating their own culinary masterpieces, so make the party food interactive. Supply some imaginative and nutritious toppings, and have kids build their own personal pizzas on whole-wheat pita bread or English muffins. The same strategy can be used for soft tacos, another kid favorite. For the older crowd, make-your-own smoothies with a spread of favorite fruits and more exotic selections, such as kiwis and mangoes, can be a hit.
For entrée fondues, substitute the traditional boiling oil (which can splatter and adds unnecessary fat to the meal) with a low-sodium broth and cook thinly sliced meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetable chunks. Typical dunking time is one to two minutes in the boiling broth, but always check meat and poultry for doneness before eating to avoid foodborne illness.
Fondue is another fun food kids can't resist. The name is exotic, they get to use their fingers, and it's the next best thing to cooking over the campfire. Entrée fondues, which are cooked at the table, can include just about any type of meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetable cut into chunks. Provide a wide array of dipping sauces to add zest to entrée fondues. Cheese fondue for dipping is also delicious; use low-fat cheeses for the fondue, and select whole-grain breads for dunking.
To go along with the birthday cake, let the kids crank up an old-fashioned ice-cream machine and create their own low-fat frozen yogurt or a light sorbet. Homemade snow cones are also a fun and cool treat. Use a variety of sugar-free syrups or 100-percent fruit juices for the flavoring.
Blame it on the space program, but virtually everything you once ate with a spoon comes in tube or bar form these days. Tubes of yogurt, peanut butter, and applesauce can be healthful and filling treats, and certain cereal bars are also a good option. They also have the advantage of being packaged in single-serving sizes so your child can be conscious of how much he is eating. The downside is that the extra packaging typically means these products cost more, but generic versions are frequently available that can make the price difference less painful.
These are perfect snack choices to provide fun and utensil-free eating at beach party or picnic. For whatever reason, kids seem to prefer squirting food into their mouths rather than using the archaic spoon-to-mouth method. If your child has a take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards certain foods that could be part of a healthy diet, try changing the format to see if her interest is raised. Always check the nutrition facts label first — some of these products contain a lot of added sugars.