“DON’T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!” is a common plea shared by most mothers at the dinner table.  Dinnertime, which was once thought as a bonding time for families, has become a power struggle between parent and child. If it’s not the picky eater – it’s a battle of food allergies, technological distractions, or the boredom of sitting too long at the table.

The solution to a peaceful mealtime? Getting your child in the kitchen is the first step.

Children learn best by doing, so placing them in an environment to wash, peel, and even chop (yes, using a plastic knife) brings added value and interest to the dishes they create. If you are a beginner at introducing a younger child to the kitchen, a good way to start would be through Food Art. Food Art is just that – edible art.

Getting Started

  1. Inspiration. Social websites like Pinterest and Instagram are a great place to start if you’re looking for creative inspiration. Scroll through different posts with your child could encourage them to choose what fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy can be used.
  2. Make a List. Once the design is finalized, have the child prepare a grocery list of items needed, separating by each food group. This list can be taken with the child to the grocery store as their own shopping guide.
  3. Teaching Moments. Teaching a child where their food is coming from is just as important as teaching them how to cook.
  4. Start Creating! Finally, sit down with your child to help craft their “Food Art” snack. You may need cookie cutters, cutting boards, and a peeler to help you get started. Remember this doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, it just should be a fun time!

Here are some fun dairy inspired Food Art Ideas:

1. Goldfish

goldfish food art

Ingredients: Cheddar Cheese, Pepper Jack Cheese, Carrot, Swiss Cheese, Dill

Directions:

  1. Use a cookie cutter to cut circles out of yellow cheese varieties.
  2. Cut circles into half-moons and layer to make fins.
  3. For the mouth, use a carrot slice followed by a blueberry for the eye.
  4. To craft the bubbles cut out the circle swiss cheese. For the seaweed, place the dill around the plate.

2. Kitty Cat

Kitty food art

Ingredients: Yogurt, Strawberry, Banana, Blueberries, Mango, Pretzels

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, spoon 1 cup of yogurt.
  2. Slice strawberry, banana, and mango into slices.
  3. Place strawberries as ears, banana for eyes, and circle mango slide for nose in yogurt.
  4. Put blueberries in the eyes of the cat, nose, and mouth. Use pretzels as whiskers, three on each side.

3. Ladybugs

Lady Bugs Food Art

Ingredients: Baby Bell Cheese Slices, Pretzels, Raisins or Currants, Lettuce (Arugula)

Directions:

  1. Take baby bell cheese and cut triangle on the bottom and remove red wax.
  2. Then cut a straight line for the head of the ladybug and remove wax.
  3. Cut pretzels in half and stick three on each side of lady bug for arms.
  4. Place raisins on the eyelids of lady bugs and body to create spots.
  5. On a plate put lettuce and layer the lady bugs on top.

4. Moooo the Dairy Cow

Dairy Cow Food Art

Ingredients: Mozzarella, Blackberry (or Olive), Broccoli, Lemon (or Orange), Alfafa Sprouts.

Directions:

  1. Cut mozzarella into two circle slices. One slice will be for the body, while the other will be for the head.
  2. Shape the head into two ears and long mouth. Take mozzarella and slice two long slices for legs and one for a tail.
  3. Slice blackberries in half and place on the body of the cow.
  4. Place two small blackberry segments for the eyes.
  5. For the sun, slice the lemon/orange and cut another slice into small triangles. Place broccoli as trees and alfalfa sprouts for grass.

 

And Remember… Always serve your snack with a glass of milk!