Easy ways to add fruit and veg to kids’ party food
Posted on July 09 2020
Grace Willis from Happy Little Eaters shares some ideas on how to put on a nutritious and delicious spread...
- 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, so try serving bright batons of carrot, cucumber and pepper among your other treats. 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
2. Alternative party food
With only smaller gatherings being allowed under current social distancing guidelines, why not serve fish tacos (recipe below) where both kids and parents can get involved, providing 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 in little serving bowls and pots like these to make it even more colourful and attractive to little eyes?
3. 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.
Recipe for Fish Tacos
- Fish fingers
- Soft tortilla wraps (Or easily make your own with this recipe)
- Shredded lettuce
- A mix of vegetables such as grated carrot, cherry tomatoes, cubed cucumber or pepper
- Lime wedges
- Mayonnaise with some sweet chilli sauce added
- Fresh coriander
- Sides: fries, corn on the cob, tortilla chips, salsa
Pop the cooked fish fingers on a platter, with each of the other items in separate bowls and let the kids assemble their own. It's as simple as that!
:: 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
:: All the above information has been reviewed by specialist paediatric dietitian Lucy Upton @childrensdietitian