Stop and Eat the Flowers

This adorable idea from Highlights is one of those times when it’s perfectly okay to let the kids play with their food.

Just before Travis got home from school, I prepped a big platter of veggies and fruits that could be used to make a veggie “garden”. This can include almost anything, but we used an assortment of:

Celery

Snap peas

Cherry tomatoes

Baby carrots

Green beans

Broccoli

Green apple

Blueberries

I set out the plate, along with a cutting board for a “canvas”, and invited Travis to form the items into flowers.

There was so much room for variety here! The long green shapes like celery and green beans were perfect for flower stems. The slightly shorter snap peas could be grass.

Rounder shapes (cherry tomatoes, blueberries) worked nicely as the center of flowers, and we played around with ideas for petals, such as baby carrots or fuzzy broccoli trees.

This “flower” with a cluster of blueberries made me think of delphiniums!

Be careful though, because you’ll probably have garden “pests” who gobble up the flowers only moments after they’ve bloomed.

Mango Cereal Mix

Mango Cereal Mix

This is a great snack mix to bring along for sports practice, playground trips, and more. And it’s so easily adaptable, depending what’s currently in your pantry! Use the ingredients below as a loose suggestion only.

Ingredients:

  • 6 strips mango fruit leather
  • 2 cups cinnamon cereal
  • 2 cups corn puff cereal
  • 2 cups freeze-dried blueberries
  • 2 ounces dried mango
  1. Cut the fruit leather into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined.

This mix packs up great in zip-top baggies for individual servings on the go!

Strawberry Swimmy Fish

We adapted this recipe from Travis’s latest Kiwi Crate, all about pond life. The original recipe called for Greek yogurt, but you can use non-dairy yogurt in a pinch to make these little fishies vegan!

To start, place graham crackers in a zip-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour the crumbs into a bowl.

Working with 1 strawberry at a time, dip in a little vanilla non-dairy yogurt, then roll in the graham cracker crumbs. Transfer to a plate and add a mini chocolate chip (such as Enjoy Life) as an eye.

Chances are this snack will go down swimmingly!

Fruit Dips

Fruit Dips (1)

Veronika doesn’t like to eat yogurt off a spoon, but here’s a fantastic way to introduce the flavor to little ones who might otherwise be hesitant: turn it into a dip!

In general, toddlers love to dip food and this snack plays right into that desire. I set out a plate for her with a variety of cut up fruits, including strawberries, nectarine, oranges, green grapes, apple, banana, and pineapple. I wasn’t aiming for a full rainbow (although you could!), but we did hit nearly every hue from ROYGBIV.

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Next, I cut plastic straws into short pieces and then poked a straw piece into each fruit cube. Spoon a little vanilla non-dairy yogurt directly into the center of the plate. Time to dip!

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Veronika loved that she was in charge of this snack. Sometimes she would dip a fruit piece in and eat fruit and yogurt together. Sometimes she used the fruit more like a spoon for the yogurt, scooping it up and licking off. Apple pieces were her favorite for this particular method.

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I had one very happy little snacker.

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Apple Smiles

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This is a cute snack to make either before or after a visit to the dentist; it helps make things silly and not scary for toddlers!

To prepare the apple smiles, spread a wedge of unpeeled red apple with a little peanut butter. Add 3 mini Dandies marshmallows, then spread a second wedge of apple with peanut butter and place on top.

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Not only do these make a tasty snack and a chance to point out those shiny white teeth, but you can do more with it than that! We had an extra toothbrush and Veronika loved “brushing” the apple smiles to help them get clean. The peanut butter really will make the marshmallows a bit mucky and stained, adding a touch of verisimilitude. “Let’s brush off all that peanut butter,” she said so proudly, helping the apple smile get clean and bright.

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So a snack plus a quick lesson! Just make sure you brush real teeth after eating those sugary marshmallows.

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Bread Roll Puppets

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Today, Travis had full permission to play with his food because we turned a bread roll into a puppet!

To start, I showed Travis how to make a “smile” in a French bread roll by cutting a slit in the middle like a mouth.

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Poke two additional holes above the mouth with a butter knife to be the eyes. We filled these with chocolate chips, although raisins might have worked better.

For a silly tongue, fold up your favorite meatless deli slice (like Tofurky), and insert into the mouth.

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Let the showtime begin! Travis immediately began both eating the puppet and being silly with it, squeezing so the mouth could move. The rolls were so delicious that the puppet didn’t last long! But if you manage to slow your hungry kids down, arrange the rolls on a plate with basil or lettuce leaves as hair for a cute photo-op first.

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Chocolate Pomegranate Dip

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Sneak a little pomegranate into your family’s repertoire with this yummy snack dip!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package dairy-free chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 and 1/2 cups oat milk
  • 1 cup non-dairy sour cream
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  1. Combine the pudding mix and oat milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until blended.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat to combine. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for 1 hour.

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We love this served with fresh fruit like orange segments for dipping! You can also dunk in slices of pound cake. Or just eat it up with a spoon!

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Reindeer Mix

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Really this is just an ordinary snack mix that you could make any time of year. But if you tell your kids it’s “Reindeer Mix”, all of a suddenly ordinary becomes extraordinary!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups pretzel twists
  • 1 cup Puffins cereal
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
  1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, thyme, salt, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, just until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
  2. Arrange the almonds and walnuts on a baking sheet lined with foil and pour half of the brown sugar mixture over the nuts, tossing to coat. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7 minutes.
  3. Toss the pretzels with the remaining brown sugar mixture. Add to the baking sheet and bake for a final 3 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the nut mixture to a large bowl and add the cereal, dried cranberries, and white chocolate, stirring to combine.

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Be sure to snack on this mix while you track the reindeer and Santa across the sky on Christmas Eve!

Candy-Less Canes

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Confession: we’ve probably eaten way too many sugary candy canes this holiday season. So it was time to put a healthier spin on this favorite holiday treat!

Over two afternoons, we had fun making faux candy canes with red-and-white foods. First up was a fruit version. I sliced strawberries and bananas and set them on a cutting board, then challenged Travis to arrange them like a candy cane (or as Veronika calls it, a “minty”).

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He quickly got the hang of it, and then both kids loved devouring this trompe l’oiel snack.

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Needless to say, the red stripes (a.k.a. strawberries) didn’t last long.

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The next day it was time for a savory spin on the treat! This time I set out piles of sliced tomato and vegan feta cheese. Travis again quickly figured out how to line them up like candy cane stripes.

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And the kids quickly polished it off for a snack! What foods would you use for a pretend candy cane? Please share in the comments!

Baked Pita Chips

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These easy homemade chips are a delicious alternative to store-bought ones, and perfect for dipping in hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole wheat pitas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  1. Brush the olive oil evenly over the pitas, coating both sides.
  2. Cut each pita into 8 wedges and transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the garlic salt.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6 minutes, just until browned.

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