If you read my post about teaching variety to kids you’ll know I really want to teach my kids to eat a great variety of different kinds of food. If you would like that too, but you don’t know where to start and you are worried they won’t appreciate your efforts, I suggest to make a slow and easy start. A first step in teaching variation is to start varying the way you offer and present well known and accepted types of food, like for example an apple. An apple a day makes the doctor stay away, so where better to start??
Even just cutting up an apple can be done in all sorts of ways: wedges with skin, wedges without skin, slices, or half an apple without the core (apparently this is called a bear cave, at least my son told me so). You can also vary by colour or variety. Some apples are green, some are bright red, some are yellow, some have stripes, some have checks, some are bright green.
Out of all these choices, kids usually have a preference on how they eat their apple, often this simply associated with how they are used to eat them. So, by varying how you cut up your apple and by the type of apple you buy, you can start not to always give in to the preferences of your child. You are not adding any nutritional value by changing how you serve the apple, but you are planting a seed, you are preparing them for the next step. You are teaching them to get used to eating something new. Trying new foods is a habit. By keeping the steps small, you are much more likely to stimulate the child and create an interest.
As an example I have collected here 5 different ways of serving something very common and simple, a raw apple.
- Plain and simple, the apple as it is
This is of course the simplest method of all, just give it a quick wash and give it to your child. You may have to adjust to size to the age of your child and make sure it is a good one, you don’t want to put them off with an apple that has become too soft or that has a flowery taste. As soon as your toddler is old enough to eat any type of raw apple, when the choking hazard has passed, he can eat it like this as well. When I pick up the kids from school I give them an apple like this. It is the easiest way, they don’t go brown, I don’t need to do anything to it apart from giving it a wash
2. Apple in wedges
When I don’t give it any thought and I want to make sure some fruit is eaten really quickly, I cut up an apple and cut it into wedges. But even in these wedges you can introduce small variations. If you are used to peel the apple, why don’t you leave that step out? When my eldest was in preschool still, I noticed they got the wedges with the peel on whilst I always used to peel them for them. So, I stopped doing so, I only peel them now when I have lots of time or when the peel doesn’t look very attractive. It is better for them because lots of the vitamines sit right under the skin. It is much quicker for me as well! In the beginning they might nibble the apple off the skin, but don’t worry, keep going, they’ll eat the skin very soon if you don’t give in.
3. Apple with a dip
When there is a little bit more time for a snack, you could serve the apple wedges with a tasty little dip?
Peanut butter caramel
Mix half a teaspoon coconut sugar with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and add a little bit of milk to make it a little bit runny. I usually use almond milk, but you could use any other type of milk or you could squeeze some orange juice in there as well. Instead of coconut sugar you can use another type of dark sugar. I don’t think coconut sugar is healthier than any other sugar, but I definitely do prefer its taste.
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp almond milk
Orange and cashew dip
Take an orange and peel it, take as much as possible of the white off and cut roughly into chunks. Take the pits out and put into the food processor with the cashew nuts. Give it a really good mix and ready it is!
1/2 cup cashew nuts
4. Apple slices decorated with nuts, seeds, chocolate chips
If you cut an apple into slices, it looks totally different. The great thing about this is that the slices call for decoration. Spread some peanut butter or cream cheese on the apple slice and decorate with some crashed nuts, seeds , raisins or chocolate chips. Just pick a few possible toppings out of the cupboard, put them in little pots or bowls and let the kids decorate their own apple slice. That way, they can choose what they prefer and they get involved in preparing their own snack. It is good fun too!
5. Apple with yoghurt and granola
This is great way to eat an apple for breakfast. Cut up an apple into slices. Spread some yoghurt over it and scatter some granola, muesli or another preferred cereal over it. My kids still don’t want to eat my homemade granola in the usual way, in a bowl with yoghurt, but they do want it if it comes on an apple slice!