Food: The Pub Board (for all ages)
You don’t have to disguise the food you give your children in order for them to eat it; in fact, most of them are too perceptive for that anyway. If you absolutely want them to eat vegetables, then that is what you should provide for them, day in and day out; no matter how it’s prepared, if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it.
But if, upon that rainy day, they become disinterested, there is an easy way to spruce it up and make healthy snacks a little more enticing for them. Our 4-year old has a difficult time eating things that are mixed together - be it casseroles, chili or even certain styles of pasta, he likes to eat his foods…raw; and we have always subscribed to the ISO principal, meet him where he’s at. So with this and the knowledge of the fact that children are natural grazers, we began sharing “pub boards”.
It’s as simple as it gets: We slice up bell peppers, cucumbers, celery stalks, carrots, pickles, nuts, seeds- anything fresh, raw and healthy. With our kiddos’ assistance, we arrange them on a cutting board (a plate or serving dish works fine) into various patterns or sets: we might stack the carrot sticks like fire wood and slather some hummus on there to be the “fire”; we might arrange the cucumber slices to look like a caterpillar with two raisin eyes, drizzle some honey, fresh lemon juice and a bit of Veganaise, dill and basil (kids love sprinkling on the spices and it helps them to learn about the various flavors they are tasting); three cashews can form a circle, so we stick some of those on there.
Fruit is a given and they can have more of that once the board is clean (you may have to adapt with your quantites of fruit to veggies, as they will often fill up just enough on the sweet stuff). Any berries, apple slices, kiwi, etc. you might have will sweeten the deal. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast over the veggies, with some shelled sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds and voila! We’ve done clouds, Stonehenge, rainbows and the Eiffel Tower and every time they eat all of it, usually requesting more.
The same concept can be applied to various lunch boxes and travel snacks for when you and/or your kiddo is on the go; many cargo methods may not provide the artistic element, but they can help you pack it and fill each compartment with delicious food and homemade dressings. This is also a simple way for us grownups to snag a few crucial vitamins and minerals as well.
Carving out time to cook and prepare food for our family can be challenging, but if we’re willing to explore, if we prepare and if we’re passionate about your kids’ health, we may create some countless beautiful meals until it becomes a lifestyle, further building our repertoire as an in-home chef. As our children grow, they may take an increased interest in our cooking, so be sure to include them in the process while they’re young and before they can take sustenance for granted. Food is life. Let them in, educate them on where it all comes from and let them learn it from you.