We love to pair Story Time books with a Story Time Craft, or even the occassional edible food-craft. But you can also dish up a fun story to serve to your kids! We're not encouraging playing with their food, necessarily...but playful food is just plain adorable, and can also be a huge help getting fussy eaters to eat more bites.
There are so many ways to make cooking and eating fun for kids, from kid-friendly recipes, to hands-on mixing, to the classic pancake shapes or egg soldier. I thought I'd share 3 of my go-to silly but healthy snacks when cooking for my little cousins. These have been kid-tested and repeatedly received their yummy approval from age 3-6! So far, so yum!
One of my favorite fun-foods I remember eating as a kid were these AWESOME Octapus Hot Dogs. That may not be your go-to today for the healthy snack, but super fun nonetheless. My sister would go all out with a full ocean scene on a plate, and I'd love eating all the props! If you like, sub out the standar dog for your favorite all-natural sausage. Just make sure the casing is thin enough to slice "legs" that curl up and the smiles pop!
1. Octapus Hot Dogs. You can make one giant ocapus, or mini ones like you see in the photo above. Slice 4 long legs starting from the middle of the hot dog, or cut the dog into 2" logs first, then slice mini legs as seen above. You can also make slits for eyes and a big smile if you like! Any cut you make in the hot dog prior to cooking will open up when heated. This method works best when boiled, but you can also pan fry.
2. Egg Ships. A medium boiled (or heard boiled/devilled) egg sliced in half makes for the perfect egg-boat, especially with a pepperoni sail (pinned on a toothpick). Bell peppers cut into traingles also make great sails, and rafts made out of cookies or pretzels are a fun alternative to the egg boat.
3. Sea Creatures. Your favorite baked fish-shaped snack will do to fill in the ocean! Goldfish crackers work well, and Annie's used to have a dolphin shaped cracker in addition to their standard bunnies, though I can't find any on the shelves these days. For dessert, a couple of Swedish Fish are a delicious addition. A Real Treat Candy Boutique has the perfect all-natural alternative to this red juicy fruit snack!
Making bugs and flowers out of fruit and veggies is super easy, and really does make each bite fun to pull apart and munch.
1. Apple+Butter Butterfly. Halved apple slices can be pieced together with your favorite nut butter (natural almond butter is our favorite). These curved little apple+butter sandwiches make up the 4 pieces of your butterfly wings. In the center goes long pieces of carrot (celery or another tall stalk works too!) to make the body of your butterfly. Hard to picture? Click here!
2. Cucumber-pillar. Cucumber, apple, or bell peppers sliced into half moons can be arranged in a curving line with a cheese, cherry tomato, radish, or red-apple ceterpillar head. You can also string green grapes along a toothpick with grape tomato heads. So easy, and fun to pick apart! Don't fret about making cute little feet and eyes- they are a hassel, and usually don't get eaten. I just go for antenaes sticking out. Racecars made of apple slices and grapes are also awesome!
3. Ants on a Log. This classic still goes. Cut up celery into "logs" and fill with your favorite nut butter, cream cheese, or hummus, and dot with raisins or chocolate chips for ants!
Cookie Cutter Sandwiches
It's easy to cut the center of a slice bread out with a fun cookie cutter shape. This is perfect for the classic egg-in-a-hole or sandwich cut-outs. My cousins love grilled cheese bites in little animal shapes, with a tomato soup "watering hole!" Also, try out this gluten-free twist on the egg-in-hole with bell pepper instead of bread! They look like little flowers or butterflies!
Fun Food Activity: Hungry Caterpillar Story Time
Fruit and veggie slices with holes poked in them are always adorable additions to hungry caterpillar themed birthday parties, but can also be a fun way for you and your child to have a snack during Story Time! Either poke the holes together with straws as you read, and then eat, or make the holey snacks prior to Story Time to enjoy together after!
Connecting kids with food and cooking early on can sometimes be messy and overwhelming, but can be an enriching and bonding experience you and your kids remember through years. Any of these recipe ideas are great to get hand-on in the kitchen together. Having your child help you make the smile on the octapus, break the egg into the bell pepper flower, or press down the cookie cutter can help them feel engaged with their food. This can inspire imagination while creating and eating, and encourage more bites of the food they helped make!
By Samantha, Store Manager