Kids are weird. You can present food to them one way and they’ll balk, then stick a toothpick in it and call it something else and they love it. What the hell?! But knowing this can open doors to a whole new way of serving your picky eaters good food—and that’s what interests me.
Case in point? Watermelon. Give my oldest a slice of watermelon and there’s no way he’d eat it. But melon-ball the hell out of it and serve it in a dish? He’d totally go for it. This is the same kid who gags at the thought of eating a slice of cheddar cheese, but needs cream cheese on his bagels. He’s a 14-year-old conundrum.
Here are some ways to transform healthy foods so that your kids don’t get bored, and you don’t run out of inspiration. The goal is to keep them eating healthfully AND stay hydrated all summer long. Ready?
Make Popsicles. Blend any fruit, fresh or frozen, with water, coconut water, coconut milk, or organic yogurt (if your kid isn’t vegan) and make your own popsicles. My kids go for this all summer long, and I throw weird stuff in there. Kale, avocado, chia seeds, ground flax, and maca are a few of the extra goodies that I can hide in my frozen treats. Also, kids think green popsicles are cool, so try spinach, mint, basil…whatever floats your boat. Say goodbye to store-bought freezies—they’re gross and the wrappers end up everywhere but in the garbage. Make your own!
Put a toothpick in it. Seriously. They think it’s fancy. I can slice up apples, dip them in almond butter, and stick a toothpick in them, and my kids think they’re AMAZING. This might be restricted to my kids only, but try it and see what happens! It’s worth it.
Flavoured water. I am definitely NOT talking about purchasing vitamin water or Gatorade or anything else that’s artificially flavoured and coloured and contains heaps of added sugar. I’m talking about throwing cucumber slices, or mint leaves, or cranberries, or anything else you can think of in a pitcher of cold, filtered water. Kids love it! Who am I kidding—I love it. But they do too. So forget the juice and gross sports drinks—have your kiddies help you cut up fruit or whatever and flavour their water naturally.
Freeze fruit. That’s right—just freeze it. My kids eat blueberries WAY more if they’re frozen, and on a hot day, they hit the spot. Berries are great, and so are melons, peaches, and nectarines. Frozen fruit is healthy and can cool your little ones down. And it’s easy. So I’m in. ‘Cause I’m lazy.
Mini-veggie cups with hummus. Take a small jar, place a couple of tablespoons of hummus in the bottom, then stick carrot and celery sticks and long cucumber wedges into the cup so that they become little portable salads. Kids think they look cool, and they’re delicious!
Make fruit kabobs. Get some bamboo skewers, and slide on whatever cut-up pieces of fruit (or veggies!) that you have on hand. Again, this one’s like the toothpick theory: they might think that fruit salad sucks, but fruit on a stick? Hell, yeah! If you want to impress them even more, drizzle some dark chocolate over the fruit.
When in doubt, make a smoothie. Throw in water, fruit, veggies, oats, dates, honey, or anything else that might make it into your kids’ open mouths. They’re nutritious, hydrating, and just like the popsicles: you can hide stuff in there. Seriously. They’ll never know.
If you have any more suggestions, please share!