play with your food

Looking for a way to encourage your children to eat healthy food? Let them play with their food. The creative ideas below are from Sam Scarborough's book Fun Foods: Healthy Meals for Kids.
By Child magazine

Main Image


Sandwich pictures
“Little fishes eat their dishes”… Get creative with this underwater fish scene. Make the first picture yourself; the kids are sure to want to make and eat more little fishies and bubbles. If you use a brown paper background, they can draw other fish, and sharks too. Brown paper placemats are brilliant for creative children. Save this idea for lunch when they are home for the holidays.
  • Sliced wholewheat, brown and/or white bread
  • Ham slices
  • Cheese slices
  • Cucumber or green apple
  • Parsley or coriander
  • Small red or green grapes
Use a fish-shaped cookie cutter or a sharp knife to make fish shapes from the bread. Lay the shapes on a piece of brown paper, or on a suitable tray or platter. Cut the ham, cheese, cucumber or apple to depict the gills and scales. (You can also use mayonnaise or any other suitable spread to decorate the fish.) Add pieces of cucumber or apple and cheese for the eyes. Decorate the scene with “seaweed” made from parsley or coriander leaves, and add bubble trails with a line of small grapes.
 Tuna boats
Sail away in a cucumber boat filled with tangy tuna mayo.
  • Small cucumbers
  • Tuna mayonnaise (homemade or bought)
  • Wedge of yellow pepper
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • You need: wooden or bamboo skewers
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and divide each half in two. (This will make four boats, so adjust the quantities as required.) Cut a thin slice off one side to create a flat base, and cut a thin slice off the top of each cucumber half to use for the sail. Use a spoon to remove the pips and hollow out some of the flesh for the boat. Fill the hollow with tuna mayo. Secure the thin slice of cucumber to the skewer for the sail, curving it to look as if it is billowing in the wind. Press the end of the skewer into the centre of the cucumber boat. Cut a triangle of yellow pepper and secure it to the top of the skewer for the flag.
Fruit faces
Use fruit to create funny faces. Serve these as soon as you make them otherwise the banana will start to discolour.
  • Naartjie
  • Strawberries
  • Sweetmelon (spanspek)
  • Dried banana chips
  • Blueberries
  • Pumpkin seeds or seedless raisins
  • Banana
Peel the naartjie and divide the segments in half. Place one half flat side down on the plate. Peel the banana and cut a thin slice off the back so it rests on the plate without falling over. Cut a mouth in the banana and set in place. Scoop small balls of melon and position them for the ears. Add banana chips and pumpkin seeds or seedless raisins for the eyes. Add blueberry “hair” and half a strawberry or a melon ball for the nose.
Car rolls
Is it a roll or a Rolls-Royce? Zoot up a small bread roll by adding wheels and funny drivers. For younger children, one roll will suffice, but older ones might eat more, so we’ve given two ways to make up the rolls.
  • Cocktail bread rolls
  • Butter
  • Your choice of fillings (ham, cheese, tuna mayo, etc.)
  • Cucumber slices
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Cheese
  • Carrot sticks
  • You need: cocktail sticks, to secure the ingredients (cut or break them, as necessary)
Cut the roll in half, butter both halves and fill with your choice of filling. To make the wheels, place half a cherry tomato in the middle of a cucumber slice and insert a cocktail stick through the centre. Use the cocktail stick to secure the wheel to the side of the roll. Make four wheels. For one of the rolls, peel the hard-boiled egg, halve it and position the egg, yolk side down, on top of the roll, to resemble the “driver”. Secure the egg with a cocktail stick, leaving it sticking out of the egg. To the cocktail stick, add a small circle of cucumber for a bowler hat and a sliver of cucumber or cheese for a feather, pressing them down gently to secure. Add small circles of cucumber for the eyes. For the other roll, make a face with a strip of cheese and add pieces of carrot stick for the hair and eyes. Use a cocktail stick to fix half a cherry tomato to the front of the roll for a headlamp. Remind children to remove any cocktail sticks before they start eating.
About the book
The aim is to put fun back into feeding children. Filled with 60 practical, easy-to-make recipes, Fun Foods: Healthy Meals for Kids by Samantha Scarborough aims to get parents and children involved in the preparation of meals, while promoting a healthy approach to eating. The book is published by Struik Lifestyle.

add your comments

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Customize This