Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Playing with Food.

Have you ever noticed the decorative items on a plate when you have ordered at a Japanese or Chinese restaurant? It’s an art form, and those items are actual foods and edible; a rose made from a radish, a bird made from a carrot, a lotus blossom from an onion. Not only can you eat the items, but it’s fascinating how such delicate art can come from a simple fruit or vegetable.

So, why is it we don’t encourage our children to play with their food, but just the opposite? Parents tell kids, “don’t play with your food, and just eat it”…how boring! A child is probably more willing to eat broccoli if you let him/her build a mountain, on their plate of course, of mashed potatoes, put broccoli trees on it, and then they can pretend to be a giant who eats it down. Telling them to eat it just because it’s good for them, or that people are starving somewhere else, is not an enticement.

Encourage their creativity, and yes, put limits on what they can and cannot do with their food; be a parent and a teacher at the same time. You could have a budding artist on your hands, or the next great chef; but overall, you’ll have a child who will enjoy eating their food, not going “yuck!” One other thing let your child help you in the kitchen; depending on the age, the smallest task would be something big to them.

Here are a few ideas for creating snacks with your children, and you’ll enjoy them too.

Rice Cake Snack Pizzas


24 large rice cakes (plain or butter flavored)
1 container whipped cream cheese
1 jar smooth peanut butter
1 jar marshmallow fluff
1 squeeze bottle caramel sauce
1 can pineapple rings; drain juice
1 bag shredded coconut
1 box raisins
1 bag shredded carrots
4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into ¼” slices
1 bag miniature chocolate chips


Carrot Cake Pizza

Spread 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter on rice cake. Cover with alternating rows of shredded carrot and raisins

Hawaiian Pizza
Spread 2 Tbsp whipped cream cheese on rice cake. Place a pineapple ring on top, fill the hole in the center with shredded coconut.

Elvis Pizza
Spread 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter on rice cake. Starting ¼” from edge of rice cake, place banana slices in a circular pattern till the center is reached.

Ooey Gooey Pizza
Spread 2 Tbsp marshmallow fluff on rice cake. Sprinkle on chocolate chips and drizzle on caramel sauce.

Notes: The “Hawaiian”, “Carrot Cake” and “Elvis” pizzas are a great afternoon snack. When an after school event, sports practice or game, or music lessons, etc is scheduled; these become a great pick-me-up for children; or adults.

The “Ooey Gooey” pizza is an easy dessert or party treat.

Mary Cokenour
September 9, 1996

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