Play with Your Food! Cooking with Toddlers
- Who tosses better than a toddler? Even two-year-olds can help tear lettuce for a salad or put bread into a bread basket.
- Get them rolling in refrigerated dough by making shapes, letters, and mini pies. Top with tomato sauce and cheese for personalized pizzas with pizzazz.
- Serve breakfast for dinner! Pancakes, bacon, and eggs make a fun change of pace after the sun goes down.
- Make your own place settings with laminated works of art as placemats and decorated toilet paper tubes as napkin rings. Let kids help set the table.
- Take kids to fruit and vegetable farms to pick out their own produce.
- Institute monthly theme nights. Serve a Mexican fiesta of tacos, red beans, and rice; or spend a Middle Eastern evening with hummus, falafel, and pita. Mix things up with foods that all start with the same letter or are all the same shape (manicotti, carrots, and bananas, anyone?).
- Stick with it! Meatballs, cheese cubes, even hotdogs are more fun when served on craft sticks, available at your local art supply or hobby store.
- Let your child decorate sandwiches with raisins, apples, banana slices, or grapes. “It’s amazing how quickly these sandwiches get eaten. Be prepared to make seconds,” says Nissenberg.
- Try making meatloaf in a muffin tin. The new shape makes the loaves easy to customize with ingredients and fun to pick up and eat.
- The game you can eat—spread peanut butter or cream cheese on graham cracker rectangles. Decorate with raisins or chocolate chips to look like dominoes. Perfect for playdates and get-togethers.
- Paint white bread with a mix of food coloring and milk. Throw it in the toaster for colorful, tasty, personalized toast.
- All the fun, none of the ants! Turn inclement weather into a special occasion for family indoor picnics.
- Play the refrigerator memory game. Just open the fridge for one minute, close the door, and then have your child list as many healthy foods as he or she can. This is also a great way to encourage yourself to stock nutritious options.
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