I am a big fan of Pinterest. It lets me archive all of my favorite ideas; everything from craft ideas for therapy sessions, to latest fashion trends and travel destinations. I also use Pinterest a lot to help me find fresh ideas for “picky eaters,” since this can supplement my practice as a feeding/speech therapist.
Some of the ideas for toddler snacks and meals that are healthy, creative, and fun — are amazing works of art but definitely not realistic for our busy schedules. Fear not, quick ideas are here! Below are some snack time and mealtime ideas that are quick to execute, with effective presentation sure to lure in the kiddos. We want these amazing healthy foods to look appealing to our picky eaters, so that they will eat the healthy snacks, rather than munching on junk food all day. But we also want it to be simple and quick for us to prepare. So, how can we do these crafty snacks, without taking forever to prep lunch or snack time?
Below are my favorite easy strategies that are popular with 2 and 3-year-olds.
For more ideas, or if you think your child may have some feeding difficulties, contact us at (520) 989 – 9799 today for a feeding consultation or a complete feeding assessment.
(Word of caution: be careful with the sharp side of the skewer stick, so that your child does not poke their mouth or injure themselves. You may want to use Popsicle sticks instead.)
Take any of your favorite fruits, or whatever you have on hand, and slice them up into bite size pieces and skewer them on to your preference. Grapes and blueberries are already set to go, so they are quick and easy to incorporate into this snack. Voila, fruit kabobs and snack kabobs!
Instead of sandwiching together your child’s favorite lunchtime meal, try rolling it up like sushi! I’ve done lots of variations with this one. Flatten out your bread a bit so that the filling will roll up nicely; you can do this one with classic PB & J, or get some more nutritious meats and veggies in a turkey or lean ham roll up! Slice up veggies and other fillings in julienne strips. Make sure to use a sticky substance (hummus, light mayo, cream cheese) to help everything stick together and roll nicely. I’ve also seen this done for breakfast.
This one is so fun. You can go crazy with this technique, since it’s really about sorting and separating, so you can use almost any food. Find a tray at home that has lots of compartments; a popular one is a muffin tin tray. You can also use a paint tray, an ice cube tray, or a deviled egg tray. Take some of your child’s preferred snacks, as well as some new ones you would like him to try, and place one kind in each compartment. Finger foods work well here. This is like a mini buffet, right at your child’s fingertips! Learn more about preferred foods and tolerated foods here. (Feeding Therapy 101).
This one is like compartmentalizing, only instead of putting finger foods in the tray slots, put dips in some of the slots. You can offer carrot sticks, veggie straws, or other stick-type foods. For softer foods that you want to dip (such as fruits, olives, cheese cubes), putting them on toothpicks or those little mini cocktail swords is a great solution. Fondue was a special treat for me as a child, since we only ate fondue on New Year’s Eve. It was such a fun, fond memory of eating a special treat!
I’ve done this technique for my husband, and he loves it! Blueberries, strawberries, and grapes work great for this, and it’s a great cold snack during summer. Dip your fruits into yogurt, and freeze them in the freezer until hardened (I usually leave mine in for 1-2 hours). You can also do simple yogurt drops (yogurt in a Ziploc bag, then cut off the tip and drop dime-sized circles onto wax paper or a cookie sheet). Easy frozen yogurt bites!
Think outside the box
Sometimes we get too stuck in our routine. Shake up the menu a bit by trying new food combinations. You might be surprised what your little one will eat. Try changing up a classic, the PB and J; put a banana in a hot dog bun and use your favorite peanut butter, and top it with strawberry jelly for “ketchup”.
You can also try these cute ham and cheese flower sandwiches.
Use cookie cutters to quickly cut up cheese, melons, cucumbers, etc. for some fun shape foods. Keep an open mind, and try substituting healthier options, when you can. Have fun, and enjoy the new experimentation with some of your favorite healthy foods!
Photos featured in this blog post are from the following:
Lion King sandwich: http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/sandwich/114-lion-king
Fruit Kabobs: http://www.livingatthewhiteheadszoo.blogspot.com/2013/08/epic-feature-leafman-cookbook.html
Meat, cheese, and fruit kabobs: http://www.daycareanswers.com/kids-lunch-recipes.html#taco-cups
Sandwich sushi rolls: http://reluctantentertainer.com/2010/08/birthday-party-sushi-sandwiches-are-easy/
Muffin tin snacks: http://desmoinesparent.com/muffin-tin-snacks-easy-way-get-child-try-new-foods/
Muffin tin fondue: http://mistylynnwhat.blogspot.com/2013/09/after-school-snack-chocolate-fondue.html
Frozen yogurt cranberry bites: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-snack-recipe-ltemgtyogurtcovered-cranberriesltemgt-recipes-from-the-kitchn-183355
Banana hot dog: http://thevillagecook.com/banana-dogs/
Flower sandwiches: http://www.projectsforpreschoolers.com/cute-flower-cookie-cutter-sandwiches/