Play with your Food

Here's the deal.  Kids like fruit.  Kids like veggies.  Kids like to have fun. 

Problem solved - make eating their 5-a-day of fruits/veggies FUN!

If you just cut up strawberries and and put them in a bowl, chances are those berries become boring to all the other food in the house.  Why do you think they love fruit snacks, animal crackers & Goldfish so much?  They can play with them.

Here are some of my favorites to keep fruits & veggies fun!

Fruit and Veggie Stoplights
(courtesy of Super Healthy Kids)

Fruit Stoplights
  • Graham cracker sheets
  • Cream cheese (preferably light or Neufchâtel)
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Apricots, halved
  • Kiwi, sliced
To make it, simply spread a light layer of cream cheese onto a full graham cracker sheet. Top with a strawberry slice, apricot half, and a kiwi slice.

Veggie Stoplights
  • Celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • Cream cheese or Laughing Cow cheese
  • Red, yellow, and green bell peppers, cut into circles
To make it, spread a small amount of cream cheese or Laughing Cow cheese onto a 3-inch piece of celery. Arrange pepper circles on the celery like a stoplight.

Tuna Fish Sandwich
(courtesy of FamilyFun Magazine)

Ingredients (adapted to my taste):
  • Whole wheat bread
  • 1 (5-ounce) can of tuna
  • 1/2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 of an avocado, smashed 
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pea, carrot & red bell pepper (for the eye and mouth)

  1. null Stack two slices of bread and cut out the shapes as shown at right.

    2.       Drain the liquid from the tuna. In a bowl, mix together the tuna and all the ingredients except the veggies with a fork.

    3.      Put a third of the filling in each sandwich, then add the 

veggies eye and mouth (we used a pea, a carrot, and a red pepper.)

(courtesy of my girl, Giada De Laurentiis)
  • 2 cups dried bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 8 ounces ground turkey or chicken, preferably dark meat
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 8 ounces small pasta, such as pennette, shells, or elbows
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups grated white Cheddar
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli, blanched,* see Cook's Note
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, blanched
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 (12-cup) muffin or cupcake pans with vegetable cooking spray. Using 1 cup of the bread crumbs, coat the inside of each muffin cup with bread crumbs, shaking off any excess. 

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey or chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, Cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside and cover to keep warm. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and add to a large bowl. Stir in the cooked turkey and the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the prepared pasta mixture into the cupcake molds, filling evenly to about 2/3 full. Arrange a few pieces of tomato, broccoli and asparagus into each cup. Top with a thin layer of the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil. 

Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and carefully unmold with a spoon onto a serving platter. 

*Cook's Note: To blanch vegetables, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the vegetables and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until very crisp. Using a small strainer, remove the vegetables and immediately plunge into a bowl of iced water. Drain and use. 


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