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Food Play That Makes Eating Healthier and Fun

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Millions of people make resolutions to improve their lives–both at the beginning of a new year and throughout the year. In addition to personal resolutions, parents often promise to make their children’s lives healthier and more productive as well.
Healthy Foods From A to ZSince children love to play and are eager to learn, here are a few fun projects adapted from Moonstone Press LLC’s children’s book, Healthy Foods From A to Z / Comida sana de la A a la Z, that make eating healthier both simple and fun:
1.  Young children who are learning their colors can sort through a variety of fruits and vegetables, and  put them into piles of red, green, yellow, orange, blue, etc. Older children can practice their spelling by writing note cards for their younger siblings and having them label each pile. Specific colors–and their corresponding foods–are assigned to specific days, and certain cards are made on those days. At least one meal is devoted to that special healthy food and color (such as red tomatoes or green broccoli), and is served on that particular day. All family members have to agree to at least taste the food item–especially if they haven’t tried it before–making it fun for everyone! They can then share their impressions and decide whether they liked it or not and why. Was it too sweet, sour, or spicy, or did it feel too mushy, crunchy, or slimy? Perhaps a new food item is added to the regular shopping list, in which case an older child or a parent can also give a quick explanation of what type of food it is, and where is grown in the world.

So try one new, healthy food each week–whether it’s an avocado, a pomegranate or some tofu… Who knows, it could become pretty popular around the dinner table!fruit snacks

2.  Create your own edible fruit or vege bouquet. Using cookie cutters or a knife (and with the help of an adult), children cut food items into various shapes, place them on skewers and insert the skewers into half a cabbage. Once the bouquet is finished, young children can practice identifying shapes: are they squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, stars, or something else? After that it’s time to eat the fruit–or vegetables–for snack or dessert.
fruit snacks
 3.  Make an animal out of an apple or pear, using toothpicks to hold berries, nuts, and other healthy foods together for the  ears, eyes, a nose, hands and feet. At the same time, discuss what types of healthy foods animals eat every day, and how they compare to those of humans.
fruit creatures
4.  Decorate an old hat with pictures of healthy foods from a magazine or a child’s drawings. Use a glue stick or adhesive to create an “imagination hat”!
5. Carefully carve your own stamp into half a potato or apple, dip it in paint, and press it down on paper to create amusing designs! Then once the ink or paint dries, use these creations as place mats.
Children learn through playing, and learning about new foods while “playing” with them will often take away any mystery or fear of something new. It may also make picky eaters more open to accepting a wider variety of foods–and even develop new favorites!
Guest post by Stephanie Maze who is the creator of Healthy Foods From A to Z/Comida sana de la A a la Z. This children’s book incorporates fun food faces made of healthy foods representing each letter of the alphabet. Written in both English and Spanish, children can practice colors, letters, shapes, spelling, as well as a new language, while at the same time, learn about healthy food choices. Included at the end of the book is a template for children to create their own healthy food face, other healthy food projects involving math, science and art activities, and a glossary for parents to learn fun and interesting facts about the large variety of healthy foods available today.

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Terri K (@tkharmonic)

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

I think it really does make a difference, helps kids get more comfortable with new foods too. Creative, healthy, fun, what more can you ask for?