There are so many wonderful ways to make fruit and veg exciting for kids, even if they already love it. In this feature, Laleh Mohmedi from Jacob’s Food Diaries shares her approach…
It was around May last year that I decided to turn my son Jacob’s spelt pancakes into a lion for a bit of fun. His reaction to it was priceless and so full of joy that I continued transforming his food into characters, using different ingredients to mark out their features – cherries for eyes, carrots for noses, and spelling out his name with other carved fruit and veg.
As the days went on, Jacob started to request characters that he wanted me to make – either from his books, toys, a TV programme or something that he’d taken a liking to that particular day – and now, these fun food friends are part of our everyday mealtimes. They’re a great way to get him excited about his food, and making the characters together allows us to spend some quality time with each other.
Here are my top tips to help make fruit and veg fun for kids:
1. Get them involved: getting your child to help prepare their own food is a great opportunity to teach them about the wonderful variety of ingredients that make up their meals. Jacob likes to sit on the kitchen bench with his little chopping board and plastic knife and helps me to wash, cut and mix food.
2. Get creative: don’t worry if you’re not artistic – what you may think looks terrible will look amazing to your child (Jacob’s reaction to the characters I make now is the same as his reaction when I was just starting out).
3. Embrace colourful fruit and veg: children eat with their eyes – the more colourful and fun a plate of food looks to them, the more delicious it will appear.
Why not give my owl meatballs a try? They’re super-easy to make!
How to make owl meatballs
- wholemeal tortilla wrap
- black pancake*
- cream cheese
- raw quinoa
- homemade meatballs
- sprigs of fresh rosemary
*To make a black pancake, just add natural food colouring to a regular pancake batter, then fry as normal. You can store it for up to a week in the fridge, and use it for all kinds of food decoration. Here, we’ll use it for the owl’s pupils.
1. First, make the owl’s eyes. Using a plastic bottle lid, cut two circles out of the wholemeal wrap.
2. Next, use a sharp knife to slice the cucumber into 2 thin rounds, then cut into circles slightly smaller than the wraps.
3. Use a straw to stamp circles out of the black pancake.
4. Spread a little cream cheese onto one side of each cucumber circle and stick it onto the wholemeal wrap.
5. Spread a little cream cheese onto one side of the black pancake and stick onto the cucumber.
6. Using a wet knife, pick up a grain of quinoa and stick on the top left side of each black pancake.
7. To make the beak, use a sharp knife to cut a diamond shape out of a slice of carrot. Then cut out two triangles, making a zigzag pattern, to make the little feet.
8. Insert one pointy end of the beak into the middle of the meatball, then spread a little cream cheese on the back of the eyes and stick to the meatball, just above the beak.
9. To make the arms, insert a small sprig of rosemary on either side of the meatball.
10. Carefully place your meatball owl on top of the feet and you’re done!
Check out Laleh’s Instagram account to see more of her fantastic creations, and head over to our Family Food Hub for loads of family-friendly recipes that you can jazz up with your own quirky characters.