We often serve make-your-own meals and snacks in our house. I love watching my kids get involved in the preparing the food that they eat. It's fun for them and increases the chances of them actually eating it. I prepare the main part of the meal, and then I set up a little "fixings bar" and put out little bowls of fixings for them to add to their meal or sprinkle on top. We do this with tacos, pizzas, lettuce wraps, yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, etc. It allows me to still be ultimately in charge of what's served (something that is important in the feeding relationship) but gives my kids a sense of control over what they're eating. And it also makes the process much more fun!
Yesterday, our neighbour friends were over for a play, and everyone was getting hungry. I had a couple of apples and decided to try something different for snack. I sliced the apples width-wise and made our regular fruit dip (equal parts vanilla Greek yogurt, natural peanut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon) and then set out a few little bowls with some yummy fixings (shredded coconut, dried cranberries, mini chocolate chips). The kids each got to spread the "icing" on top of their apples and then sprinkle the toppings of their choice on. They loved being able to make their own creation and one of the kids said "they're kind of like apple donuts!"
Because they aren't real donuts, we settled on "open-faced applewiches" instead. Us moms loved them just as much as the kids did- they were delicious and will be one of our go-to snacks from now on.
With a sharp knife, slice apples width-wise, removing the seeds and tough core in the middle of each "disk". Lay apple slices on a plate.
Combine Greek yogurt, peanut butter and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add a plastic knife for spreading
Place fixings into small bowls and add a spoon to each for serving
Let your kids spread and sprinkle their own apple
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If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I'm slightly obsessed with oatmeal. It's my family's go-to breakfast all year long because it's easy to make in big batches, filling and nutritious. It is also so versatile and can be served hot or cold and takes on the flavours of whatever delicious ingredients you add to it.
But, I've noticed that my kids have grown a little bored of our typical breakfast and have asked for something different. As such, I've started adding more variety to our breakfasts, serving more eggs and toast and DIY Greek yogurt parfaits. I've also experimented with some different grains to make porridge (other than our go-to oatmeal porridge). One that was a huge hit for everyone was quinoa porridge. We often serve quinoa as our grain for dinner, but until now, hadn't made it for breakfast. It was a huge success! And even better — I made it overnight in the slow-cooker and it was hot and ready for us in the morning.
We all love coconut, so I decided to use coconut milk and add shredded coconut before serving (as well as fresh berries and banana slices). Quinoa is naturally high in protein and fibre, so this breakfast was filling and kept us all going until lunch. For an extra protein and fibre boost, I added chia seeds, which are also high in calcium!
This is a big recipe — enough for leftovers.
Before bed, add rinsed quinoa, chia seeds, can of coconut milk, milk, brown sugar and salt to your slowcooker. Mix to combine
Turn to low and set for 8 hours
Go to bed
In the morning, serve in bowls, add a splash of coconut milk, fresh berries and banana slices (and a bit more brown sugar if you'd like)
If you're looking for yummy recipes and tips on feeding kids (even your picky eaters), I'm your gal. I post free tips and recipes on my Facebook page daily!
I know that I'm not alone in feeling that mealtimes can be stressful as a parent. Picky eating aside, the whole mealtime prep thing that has to happen three times a day (not including snacks) easily becomes redundant, frustrating, and tiresome. Some days I feel like I've just cleaned up the mess from one meal when I have to start prepping for the next!
One day not so long ago, I decided not to cook or really prepare much of anything for my kids' lunch. I just didn't have the energy. Instead, I put a bunch of healthy foods on their plate (foods that I could easily grab out of the fridge or pantry) that they could eat with their fingers (kind of like a snack but bigger) and put it in front of them.
THEY. LOVED. IT.
And now it's their (and my) favourite lunch ever. Oh, and sometimes breakfast and dinner too.
Sounds simple, right? It is. And that's the beauty of it!
The more variety and colour there is on their plates, the more your kids will eat. What will increase the chances of this even more, is if you put all of the ingredients out on the table and get your kids to serve themselves from all of the options. This way, even though you're still ultimately in control of what foods are served, your kids have a little bit of control over what they serve themselves and eat (which they love).
It's like magic...
Even for the pickiest of eaters!
Have you made finger food meals before? What do you like to include?
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