Fun Food Textures 3 Ways
Kids eat with their eyes, nose, mouth… and all their other senses, too. The feel of certain foods can actually influence their preferences. What’s more, sometimes a certain texture may lead them to think they don’t like a food, when it’s really more about being thrown off by a sensation they don’t recognize. The best way to tackle this is by tossing some new textures into the mix, challenging their senses and taste buds to be more adventurous. Here are three creatively scrumptious and healthy ways to experiment and encourage your little ones to try new foods.
Get the kids involved in this hot food trend. Spiralizing summer squash into long, twirly pieces not only makes the veg look cool, but also cooks it more quickly. Just sauté in olive oil and toss with desired sauce, and you have a nutritious side dish in a snap! For an innovative alternative to pasta, mix your squash spirals with pesto or marinara sauce. Or add sesame oil, soy sauce, and freshly squeezed lime juice for a light summer dish. Spiralizing devices range in price from $25 for a hand crank model to around $100 for an attachment for your stand mixer. And you don’t have to stop at zucchini: make veggie noodles out of sweet potato, beets, carrots, and butternut squash.
If smoothies are popular in your house, give cold soups a try. Use a blender or food processor to transfer roughly chopped veggies and fruit into spoonable and sippable meals. Whip up a batch of gazpacho or try a blend of cucumbers and Greek yogurt. Fresh melon, chives, and a splash of 100% apple juice will also make a silky smooth soup you can serve with a few pieces of crunchy bacon or prosciutto. Leave the soups slightly chunky by pulsing in the food processor or use the blender for a more uniform purée.
Did you ever think the infomercial sensation of the 80s (“cha cha cha chia”) would morph into your dessert bowl? While they may not have the same appreciation for the jingle, kids will love to see how these tiny, crunchy and nutrient-filled seeds make a thick and creamy pudding after a few hours in the fridge. Just mix a few tablespoons of chia seeds with liquid (I love almond or coconut milk). Then add extra flavor with accoutrements like vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds. Thanks to the chia seeds, this kid-friendly treat is filled with fiber and omega-3 fats for healthy skin, blood, and neurological development. By adding milk or a dairy alternative, the pudding is also full of bone-building calcium and vitamin D—in the disguise of a yummy dessert.