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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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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RELATED: 3 Fast and Healthy Finger Food Recipes for Your Baby
I've been on a mission lately to find healthy and tasty snack recipes to add some variety to my son's snack-pack for kindergarten. I was in a rut of sending store-bought granola bars, cheese strings, and apples (or a similar combination) for a while. What can I say? I've got a two year-old and 4-month-old baby at home as well, and mornings are chaotic to say the least! Eventually my son complained about how he was bored of his snack and, frankly , I was bored of sending it. The Dietitian in me wants to ensure that the snacks I send are healthy and somewhat balanced, containing both protein and carbohydrates and always including a fruit or vegetable. The Mom in me wants to send something that my son will eat (and enjoy eating!) and one that helps to keep his tummy full until lunch.
I haven't jumped on the energy or protein ball train until now, but I'm glad I did. These delicious little balls are a little sweet, a little salty, and a little crunchy — the perfect combination of all three. They are also extremely nutritious, packed full of protein, fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They can also be made school-safe by substituting pumpkin seed butter for the peanut butter.
(Makes 20-22 balls)
Add all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a food processor and process until well-blended. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add chocolate chips. Mix well.
Roll into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper inside an airtight container. Chill and serve!
*Recipe inspired by: Living Well Mom's Gluten-free Chocolate Protein Balls
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If you like this, try my school-safe chocolate zucchini muffins and my flourless peanut butter and banana muffins