Food Presentation as a Form of Art – Your Kids Will Love Eating!
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According to research done by Cornell University, the appearance of a child’s food can have a major impact on how they perceive it in terms of taste. By investing time in the presentation of your child’s meal, you can help them eat healthier and love doing so.
Kids are picky eaters. When they refuse to eat healthy foods, what can you do? You can make those foods more fun to eat. Here are our tips for food presentation as a form of art – your kids will love eating!
Set It Up Right
The first step in creating a good food presentation is getting the plate set up just right. You can do this by giving your children options, and, importantly, making those options fun! Rename their food choices, offer different serving methods (sliced versus mashed, etc.), or give your child the option between two healthy sides. You might also give your child the option to be in the kitchen while you make it. Having a child build their meal themselves will give them a sense of achievement, and make them more eager to enjoy the fruits of their hard work – a tasty, healthy meal.
Then, think about arranging their plate. Give them something interesting to look at while they’re eating. Make it colorful, give them interesting shapes, or try making faces! You can use cookie cutters to make fruits and veggies more fun – you might even let your kids decide on the shapes they want. One guideline that is easy to follow regarding color is the rainbow rule. You need at least three colors on the plate to make it look interesting. If you have brown meat, then you also need a green and another brighter color like yellow or orange. There are red vegetables too! ‘ Since potatoes and rice are white, you will need to pay special attention to spruce up plates with starches. Since most meat falls into the brown color range, you can liven it up with things like parsley flakes or a fruit salsa. You would be surprised what kids will eat if it’s topped with colorful fruit. Even grilled tuna can be a favorite if it’s covered in a fruit salsa. This is how you use food presentation as a form of art – kids will love eating!
Another way to use the rainbow method is to put meat with colorful vegetables on skewers to serve. Kids like anything that is served differently and the variety of colors may entice them to eat. Another idea is to go a bit gourmet on some of the way things like fruits and vegetables are presented. You can make melon balls for a salad, turn tomatoes and radishes into flowers, and carrots into butterflies! That may take some research, buying a few tools, and practice to learn how to do it correctly but you can include your child in your practice sessions and create more time together. It’s all a part of using food – as a form of art your kids will love eating. It could also create a new hobby for you! In a child’s mind, if it looks fun, then it should be fun to eat. Give yourself the advantage of a pretty plate. Consider food presentation as a form of art – your kids will love eating things that are visually appealing.
Incorporate Your Child’s Personality
While yes, kids are picky eaters, they’re also fiercely independent. So, when Mom offers them a plate that they had nothing to do with, they might balk immediately.
In the same vein as letting your child help to make their dinner, it’s also important to try and incorporate your child’s personality into the food they’re eating. Think of what they like to do when they’re playing and the stories they tell you after school. Can you make them part of the meal you’re about to make?
Use forms of animals, nature, or their favorite characters to make the food more appealing. Do they love dinosaurs? Dino veggie nuggets with a mashed potato volcano might be a great choice! Superman taking over their toy collection? Try making the symbol out of their noodles and pasta sauce.
It’s all about letting your child know that this meal was made especially for them. If they feel special and proud, they’ll be proud to eat.
Give It a Story
Jumping off of the last tip, it’s easy to say that kids are amazingly creative. They like fun and add a story to everything they do, from playtime and reading to, yes, dinner time. So, give them a story! Working with your child’s creative instincts can help them feel more included in the process of dinner. A way to get your child excited about dinner is to promote it ahead of time. If you’re excited about eating the family meal, they will be too! That is especially true if you are making something unique. Part of making food as a form of art – your kids will enjoy eating is to do a bit of pre-dinner promotion to get them excited to be at the table.
One way to promote enthusiasm and get your kids involved in the process of dinner is to show them the cookbook or recipe you are using for the meal. They can see the picture and, if old enough, can help read the recipe to you.
Allowing your child to measure ingredients will also help them with their math skills. You can teach them a bit of chemistry by explaining how the different ingredients work together. Children will always be more interested in eating something they helped prepare. It will build up their cooking confidence too if you involve them in food presentation as a form of art – your kids will love eating. A tip for parents is to try new foods and let the kids in on the experiment. You can try something from a different country or culture and let your child help you. That gives you a chance to talk and for you to share the story of the dish you’re making.
Creative parents can also use the time to share some history of the country or culture you’re exploring. Kids love to learn and sharing this kind of information with them not only makes the meal more fun but teaches them something about our world too. You can go all out on themes too! Have a night where all food salutes a certain time period in your life or your parents’ lives. Use a family recipe from that time and talk about that period in your life or your parent’s lives.
This is a good way to incorporate family stories into dinner and gives your kids a connection to you and their grandparents. It’s a good way to use food presentation as a form of art – your kids will love eating.
Go against the age-old advice you probably heard from your own parents: it’s time to play with your food! Make dinner into a game. How many carrots can you eat in this much time? Who can eat the most chicken? Take one bite of every color you see. You can also read a story related to your dinner of choice before you eat it, and talk about the story while you eat. Be silly – make green eggs and ham, or dragon tacos!
If your kids are engaged in a story about their favorite characters, they’ll forget that they didn’t want to eat, and you’ll get to get those veggies in there with much less whining and fighting.
Be Sneaky with Tough Foods
For some foods, just being pretty or given a story won’t always work. When that’s the case, it’s time to get creative. You can hide some trickier foods in other foods to make them more palatable.
For instance, you could try to give your child their favorite meal with a hidden twist. Make your own nuggets with a veggie mixed in, or burgers with a new topping. Try to incorporate foods they don’t enjoy as much and see if anything changes.
This is where a food processor or juicer can become you best friend. You can process things like spinach, broccoli or cauliflower so that it’s purified. Then, add it to things like meatballs, tomato sauce, and chicken dishes. They will never know and are eating the hidden vegetables.
You can also turn those types of foods into something else they are more familiar with and will eat. Ground, slightly pureed cauliflower can be made into pizza crust and even a mashed potato type dish. All you do for the cauliflower mashed potatoes is add sour cream, cream cheese, butter, milk , salt and pepper and they will eat it up without ever knowing it’s cauliflower! That’s how you do food presentation as a form of art – your kids will love eating.
You can also use some trickery to include items normally not eaten on foods your child does like. For instance, put vegetables like spinach and broccoli on pizza with lots of cheese and other items they like like pepperoni. Pizza is a great all-purpose item that you can creatively use to get your child to eat more of the right foods because you can top it with anything. Pizza can be a foundation for all sorts of vegetables and meats. You can even create “dessert pizza” by topping it with an array of colorful fruits!
Another way to “hide” foods your kids don’t like is to make casseroles. Vegetables and meats mixed up with noodles, rice, cheeses and other items taste better to children and are less noticeable. Cheese can cover a multitude of food fears! Use it to your advantage.
You should also show your child that you enjoy new or tough foods! If they see you eating it, they’ll be more inclined to try it themselves; some of that fear of the unknown will be assuaged just by having a dinner buddy.
Remember to think of food presentation as a form of art – your kids will love eating food that is pretty, suits them specifically, has a story they can follow along with, and that isn’t something scary and new.
Take it slowly and try new methods with every meal. Stick with what works and don’t get too frustrated with the things that don’t. Just try something else tomorrow.
You’re not going to get a win with every single meal, but with these tips, you’ll be able to get your kids eating healthier and being happier about it. Who knows? You may even find that you enjoy putting on a little show for your children in the evening. Who says playing make-believe isn’t fun for grown-ups too?
Some helpful tips to get your kids interested in their meals from the moment they’re on the table.