Deconstructing Toddler and Kid Meals- Ideas that your kids will eat




                                           Chubby cheeks, dimple chin,
Rosy lips, teeth within
Curly hair, very fair
Eyes are brown –loveliest in town.
Mama’s pet , is that you?
Yes! Yes! Yes!

Even as you all read the rhyme above I could hear voices and imagine heads shaking,  trying to recall the original rhyme –

Chubby cheeks, dimple chin,
Rosy lips, teeth within
Curly hair, very fair
Eyes are blue –lovely too.
Teacher’s pet , is that you?
Yes! Yes! Yes!

There surely must not be a toddler parent who has not tweaked a story or a funny rhyme to suit her or his kids, in order to experience and enjoy the innocent real merry laughter of her toddler.

That, is exactly what we need to do to the food we give our toddlers and slightly older kids too! Lots of natural creativity (which all parents inherently possess when it comes to their kids), is all that is needed most of the times to make the kids  eat properly to our satisfaction. So, it is time to bid a Good Bye to the vigorous head  
shakes and wrinkled noses of kids at the mention of a boring fruit or an equally uninteresting piece of cucumber.

Let us talk about some interesting ways to feed your kids healthy food by making the food appeal to their minds. Some known, some unknown but all equally interesting.

  •    Generally toddlers are fidgety and hate the ‘boring’ act of sitting still and eating. They mostly love to do and use things marked - ‘only elders ‘ . Letting them use a butter knife to spread their dip or very cautiously with your help cut their sandwiches with a  ‘pizza cutter’ or slice a tomato with a plastic salad/herb  knife fascinates them into eating the cut portions too. However make sure to implement the golden rules – finish the food in your mouth before cutting another piece.
·       To   kids, animal and other fancy shaped food (like dinosaur sandwiches , star pancakes) always tastes better. A question of mind over matter after all !
 So, use fun fancy plastic cookie cutters or special metal ones to create amazing pan cakes and sandwiches. You can also use special sandwich or bread crust cutters to cut awesome shapes.   





            
  •        
    Carrot, cucumber and sweet potato cut into sticks (like there favourite  fries) served with healthy dips like hung curd mixed with herbs, or humus or sometimes even spreadable cheese or cream cheese  are also delectable to the kids !
  •   Food  arrangements in various forms and shapes, also make eating a fun task for kids. Grapes placed pierced on a tooth pick with cloves and tiny pieces of cheese slices for  eyes  looking like caterpillars or banana and other fruits placed on cut semi circular pieces of waffle to look like a butterfly are always welcome treats waiting to be gobbled by kids.





  •       No kids are able to resist fun utensils to eat because that is the only way they get to use them. So use fun animal or bird shaped forks and food picks (readily available) to tempt your little ones.

  •           Involve your kids in assembling food like sandwiches, pizza, salads and salad dressings .Make it a big deal by making them feel important, let them wear special apparel and accessories like a chef’s apron or a coat, chef's hat and give them a fancy important name . The pride of accomplishing an important difficult for them task transforms  automatically  into interest in eating.


  •   Transforming food by packing in attractive street food style packages also helps a lot. For example - instead of giving plain chapatti sabzi, make wraps with homemade tomato /green chutney / a thin layer of cheese (only sometimes) spread on the base of the chapatti , top it with cooked vegetables of your choice. Roll the ends in overlapping pieces of foil ,so that one side foil can be removed and the wrap can be eaten held over the foil from the other side.
  •       Sometimes changing the place or setting of eating within the house or maybe going to a nearby park /terrace for eating a picnic meal also adds to the excitement.

·       If your child loves Pizza then make his meal look like a pizza and also cut it like a pizza.


  



Make a nice round omelet or a healthy multigrain pancake (these days you get proper round/star /… shaped pans to make them), put ‘toppings’ on it - like tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli (you might have to dress it up a bit make it look like an upright flower, dot it with cheese spread or… out it goes) - and cut it into ‘wedges’ like a Pizza. Do take advantage of the meal time to casually bring in words like ‘wedges’. Keep ready some ‘fruit wedges’ like those of water melon and sometime around do show him your ‘wedge heels’ if you own a pair .Idea is to gradually bring in multiple usage of the same word.

  • The adage ‘Out of sight out of mind’ works very well for food and kids! Re-hash, must eaten but not liked fruits and vegetables into smoothies  and parathas (which we all do) or even hide them in Chilaas( you can even hide grated bottle gourd i.e. lauki in chilaas) and sandwiches ! Spinach puree can be used in virtually any food and other greens like fenugreek are also made into pooris with various nutritious flours.



However, use the disguising of food trick, cautiously! After all how long can you do it?Ultimately the aim is, inculcating life long habits of eating healthy fruits and vegetables .


      So de-constructing food into mind appealing looks is a better option than disguising it or hiding it. We must also keep in mind the fact that our eating habits are going to have a direct impact on those of the kids!


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