There are few things more frustrating to a parent than placing a bowl or plate of homemade food in front of your darling little preschoolers, only to have them take one look at it, and turn up their noses in disgust! (Actually, having them throw it on the floor in disgust is definitely more frustrating!!) On some days, it’s enough to bring a mommy to tears; on other days this can quickly elevate into a full-out battle of wills. (If you find you are constantly fighting the sprouts at mealtime, check out this article on some tips to help feed picky kids.)
What us parents feed our sprouts can make a difference in how well received a meal or snack may be. I’m not arguing that we need to settle for “kid-friendly” dishes like the oh, so popular grilled cheese, or anything deep-fried. Nope. Kids don’t need to be served food absent of flavor or nutrition in order to be persuaded to eat. What kids do need are simple, healthy choices in order to help them learn to appreciate real, wholesome foods. Here are six simple (no-sugar-added) snack ideas to get you and your preschooler on the same page about eating delicious, wholesome food that will make you both smile.
This smoothie recipe is one that I have found to be the most consistently enjoyed by picky little sprouts. For one serving, you will need half a ripe banana, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, and the juice of half an orange, plus cold water to thin it out as necessary. This has always been a hit with all four sprouts, which, for their unique personalities and tastes, is really saying something!
Every kid seems to appreciate food more when it’s on a stick. Why not make vegetables a little more exciting by making a rainbow veggie kabob, complete with dip. A cherry tomato, carrot round, yellow pepper slice, and cucumber wedge, between two white cauliflower clouds may be all it takes to get your little one to taste, and even enjoy veggies.
For whatever reason, a bowl full of fresh fruit, chopped into bite-sized pieces, is somehow elevated from same-old to exciting. Fruit salad is a great way to introduce new fruits, or simply get your kids to eat more of the familiar ones. A squeeze of an orange over the top can help prevent browning and add a hint more sweetness; a teaspoon of finely minced fresh mint can add a unique dessert-like flavor to the dish.
Finding a way to get kids to eat their protein can often be a challenge. Making meat roll-ups has been a fun alternative to sandwiches in our home. Simply slice cheese into sticks, or cut a string cheese in half. Cut a pickle length-wise into quarters, and then wrap a piece of turkey or ham around the cheese and pickle, and secure with a toothpick (there is that always-fun stick again!).
“Ants on a log”, or celery sticks with peanut (or other nut) butter and raisins, is an oddly delicious combination that kids often really enjoy. Having the sprouts place their own “ants” on the “log” just adds to the fun. If the celery is too stringy, try peeling it with a veggie peeler; it should be much easier for your littles to bite into. Alternately, serving apple slices or banana slices with peanut butter and “ants” can also be a delicious treat.
Another easy to make snack is trail mix. It could include nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or even a few chocolate chips. The key is to choose ingredients that are not high in added salt, sugar, or preservatives. A favorite combination around our house is cashews, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, and and dried cranberries. Getting your sprouts to create their own flavor combinations might make this snack even more appealing!
What kinds of real-food snacks do you feed your kiddos? I’d love to hear your suggestions!