In today’s post I’m aiming to offer a few more fun ideas for presenting food. Whilst it is really important to give children ‘proper’ food and get them used to eating the same meals as you do, it can also help to present food to them in an interesting and attractive way, especially when you are trying to persuade your child to eat something that ‘isn’t their favourite’ as Small Child rather diplomatically puts it. Even as adults we like our food to look good; if you think about the food you would expect to receive in a decent restaurant, it is often a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds, and seems to taste all the better for it.
Below is a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with some multi-seed pitta bread. I put the soup in a brightly coloured bowl and sprinkled it with some grated cheese. I placed the bowl in the middle of a matching plate and arranged the pitta bread (cut into triangles) around the outside to make it look like the sun, or a flower. I then added a few pretzel sticks as an extra decorative touch. I have never seen a bowl of soup vanish as quickly as that one did!
I remember reading somewhere that the more you can get a child to eat something, even if it is ‘hidden’, like the many vegetables pureed into this soup, or chopped up small into a pasta sauce etc, the more likely it is that they will actually like it, and happily eat it in the future. With this in mind I do sometimes find myself providing a little incentive to eat a less favoured vegetable. This happened the other day, when Small Child had shepherds pie with vegetables on the side for dinner. The shepherds pie vanished quickly, and it didn’t take him too long to eat the green beans that went with it (he likes those), but there was some lonely stir-fried cabbage left languishing on the plate, unloved! All I did was wave his new chopsticks at him (they arrived, hurrah!), and then put them with a bowl of fruit salad I was preparing for dessert, and the cabbage disappeared in an instant. Never underestimate the power of chopsticks!
Here is Small Child, enjoying trying out his new child friendly chopsticks:
Another fun way to present food is as a kebab. Stick any food on a stick and it instantly becomes more fun. These fruit kebabs (grapes, kiwi, strawberries and banana) were made during one of my childminding days so I used cocktail stirrers as they don’t have a sharp point on the end – two young children + a sharp pointy stick = possible loss of at least one eye!
Last but not least I have to mention cutters. These can be ‘official’ cookie cutters, playdough cutters, mini cutters for icing or even the mini cutters sold for cutting clay. You can use them for so many things; toast, sandwiches, homemade biscuits, fruit, vegetables, cheese… whatever your imagination can come up with. Here is another of Small Child’s fun breakfasts, where I used cookie cutters and mini cutters on the toast. It’s made up of a toast and honey hedgehog, a toast and jam snail, and some toast flowers. The flower stems and ‘whirl’ on the snail are made from spaghetti cheese (children will eat anything, even jam and cheese for breakfast!). I also used sprinkle butterflies and round sprinkles for the eyes.
I think that providing fun food for children is just as much fun for the adults; it’s always good to add a little extra creativity into the day, I certainly enjoy it! It can also be a great opportunity for children to get involved in making their own food; even a very young child could probably thread fruit onto a kebab stick for example.