Written together with Tulane Intern Holly Wise
Getting children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables at a young age is important not only for their growth but also to instill healthy eating habits early. Just because we know kids need to eat healthy foods, does not mean it is easy. Some kids are less willing to try new foods than others.
So, how do you get picky eaters to expand their diet and eat fruits and vegetables? Getting children to interact with their food can be a great tool. One way to engage children in their food is by being creative with it! Measuring, mixing, dumping, scooping, chopping, and smashing – all these activities involved in creating recipes or even assembling fruit and vegetables can increase familiarity with it.
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Tools
Using good judgment on age-appropriate kitchen tools and adult supervision is the key to having fun in the kitchen. Creating a safe environment and teaching kitchen safety is a good idea so that a fun environment is created, not a scary one.
Here is a list of ideas for kitchen tools to help get started:
Small Cookie Cutters: Can be used for cutting fruit and vegetables into shapes.
Colorful Cutting Boards and Mixing Bowls: Creating a colorful workstation can fuel up excitement for new recipes!
Nylon Kids Knives: These kid chef knives help kids learn knife skills while staying safe. Great for cutting fruit and soft veggies.
Kids Scissors: Scissors are for more than cutting paper, they make a great tool to cut green onions and fresh herbs such as parsley and cilantro.
Wavy Chopper: Can give fruit and veggies a wavy cut effect.
Whisk and Rubber Spatula: Great tools for mixing fruit salads and muffin mixes.
Measuring Tools: Lots of lessons to be learned about measuring – how to make a level measurement, adding fractions, and more!
Blender: Let’s face it, kids (and parents) love smoothies! Having a user-friendly blender on hand can lend itself to fruit and veggie creativity in the kitchen.
Mini Muffin Pan: What’s better than a muffin? A mini muffin!
Kids Recipe Ideas
Now that we have gone over how to safely get kids involved in the kitchen and ways to make the food more fun for the kids, let’s talk recipes. These are all fun recipes ideas that are simple and fun for kids to create themselves. They are also all customizable, so you can change up the ingredients and vary the amounts depending on the kids’ preferences. These dishes are perfect for the summer!
Infused Water with Fruits: Water combined with mint leaves, cucumbers, watermelon, lemon, lime, or berries
Breakfast Fruit Pizza: Whole wheat pita with yogurt topped with fruits
Watermelon Pizza: Watermelon slice with whipped cream or yogurt topped with fruits
Homemade Popsicles: Fill popsicle molds with juice and smashed berries
Creating a Dip Platter for Vegetables and Fruit: Ranch, hummus, yogurt dip, peanut butter, or just a few simple ideas
Rainbow Charcuterie Board: Cut up fruits and vegetables and use the dips above. This also goes great with cheese, meat, or crackers to pair with the fresh produce.
Frozen fruit kabobs: Place desired fruits on a kabob stick and freeze
Fairy/unicorn wands: Place blueberries (or other fruits) on a stick and roll in yogurt then freeze
Smoothies: Blend berries, banana, spinach, yogurt, juice, and ice for a cool treat
Foodie Kids Activities
There are many fun activities that help keep kids busy and entertained while also including healthy messages about fruits and vegetables. Food activities for kids can also create memorable moments for kids in the kitchen.
Grocery Shopping: Taking your kids grocery shopping with you and letting them pick a new fruit or vegetable each shopping trip can be a fun way to get them involved in choosing what they eat. It can also help expose them to foods they might not have tried before.
Window Herb Gardens: If you have a garden or window with lots of natural light, making an herb garden can be a great way to get children involved in growing their own food. Herb gardens are an easy way to have a hands-on activity to allow kids to see the whole life cycle of their produce.
Personalize Food Décor: Creating a special garnish for a plate such as a mango rose, fanned cucumber, or a Hasselback potato can be a unique way to make a plate more fun.