Easy ways to add fruit and veg to kids’ party food
Do you want to host a children's party which isn't just a beige buffet of freezer food and pork-based snacks? Then Grace Willis from Happy Little Eaters is here to share some ideas on how to put on a nutritious and delicious spread that children will love...
Eating the rainbow
Grace says, ‘Many parents don’t always think to offer fruit and vegetables at parties, particularly if they have been rejected so many times before - but this is a great opportunity to offer them in a relaxed and non pressured environment. Remember that kids often learn from and copy what other children are doing - and that includes eating, so it could be a good chance for them to try something new’.
Adding the vibrant colours of fruit and veg also makes everything look more appealing too. Cherry tomatoes are the perfect size to pop into tiny mouths so work well in party food boxes. We all know that green means goodness and better still you can use this to match your party theme. Sticks of cucumber and asparagus served with guacamole make great snacks for a wild jungle party or a dinosaur party.
Grace uses cookie cutters to make the shapes more appealing to kids (you can serve up on one of our bright party platters). This vegetable train, with its pepper carriages and cucumber wheels, makes an amazing table centrepiece, and don’t you love these fruit and vegetable bug snacks (halve the grapes, olives and tomatoes for younger children) and rainbow vegetable skewers?
Raw apples sliced or grated are ideal sandwich fillers for children and work well with tuna or cream cheese. Apple puree makes a great dipping sauce for chicken kebabs or turkey burgers. For the sweeter side of things apple and raisin muffins or little apple pies are great, but for the ultimate sugar fix sticky toffee apples are a winner (they also make great going home presents). As a juice, apples are really popular with children and for chillier days they will love this warmed up with a dash of cinnamon.
Alternative party food
Preparing something like fish tacos where both kids and parents can get involved, provides the perfect opportunity for parents to role-model happy eating habits. Serve 'family-style', where everyone can help themselves to add an extra layer of fun. ‘This is a great meal as children are presented with something familiar (the fish fingers) but other elements are available should they wish to try with no pressure,’ says Grace. She recommends we get less hung up on ‘what’ they eat, but think more long-term about regular exposure to new food so they start to get more familiar with foods - a step on the way to acceptance.
Why not serve the tacos and other elements in the iridescent paper trays to make the spread even more colourful and attractive to little eyes?
The sweet spot
Grace’s approach to mealtimes is all about the balance and says that no food should be off the (dinner) table, especially at birthday parties. ‘There is a place for all food in our lives and we need to be mindful of demonising or restricting any foods or food groups , especially around children,’ she says.
‘For some, this can create a scarcity environment where, if a food has become less available, we tend to crave it more and actually desire more of it or place certain foods on a pedestal! When sweets and cakes are treated as just another food, they lose much of their appeal and children are able to eat them more intuitively.’ We agree, Grace, and feel that food is not just about nutrients but pleasure too!
Here is her twins’ favourite birthday dessert:
Marshmallow top hats (makes approx. 15)
- 1 bar of milk chocolate
- Tub of smarties
- Bag of marshmallows
Melt chocolate in a bain-marie (a glass bowl within a saucepan of boiling water); put a teaspoon of the melted chocolate into a mini cupcake case, followed by a marshmallow - put a small amount of the chocolate on top of the marshmallow followed by a Smartie. Store in a container in a cool cupboard; keeping in the fridge can cause the chocolate to develop a ‘sugar bloom’ where the chocolate can turn white on the surface.
:: If you’d like to learn more about Happy Little Eaters’ approach to mealtimes and pick up more practical tips, please go to her website