Food Fun Can Mean Better Nutrition for Kids

Food Fun Can Mean Better Nutrition for Kids

Jennifer Steiner, PhD, Dietetic Intern- Florida State University &
Afaf Qasem, MS, RDN, LDN- Community Wellness Dietitian, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare

Serve it with Style and Swag

We eat with our eyes as much as our mouth and a child is more likely to explore and try things that look fun to eat.  Some ways to add some style to your child’s food includes:

  • Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of fruits, breads, vegetables, etc.
  • Spiralize! Make anything into a stringy, slingy delicious treat that is fun to eat. Many spiralizers come with different attachments for different shapes you can get creative with.
  • Make your sandwich or vegetables into a sushi roll shape
  • Make a design with a healthy topping or sauce on the food or give them a dipping container with a healthy dip like hummus in it that they can have fun dunking their snack in.
  • Serve the foods on a (not too sharp) skewer

Hide Healthy Foods in Things They Already Like

  • Add fruit purees to muffins or pancakes.
  • Mix vegetables and other healthy foods (beans, fruits) into sauces. This works especially well in a pasta sauce or lasagna dish. If needed, blend the cooked vegetable until its smooth and can’t be detected in the sauce.
  • Casseroles and frittatas can also disguise healthy foods like eggs, beans and vegetables.

Get Your Kids Involved

  • Have your kids come grocery shopping with you and help pick out the fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods they want to eat that week.
  • Ask your children for menu suggestions. You can even set criteria for each meal- like there must be at least one vegetable or whole grain in it.
  • Make them your sous chef (or the head chef) (just be careful with the knives!). This can help them take ownership and interest in trying the food they have prepared.
  • Do ‘build your own’ theme meals - lay out ingredients for them to build their own burrito/ salad/ pizza/ etc. You provide the healthy ingredients and they get to decide which they take and what they want to taste.
  • Continue to introduce new foods in your child’s diet and remember it can take, on average, 10 times before your child actually eats it.

Lead by Example

You can’t expect your child to want to eat broccoli and brussel sprouts while they watch you eat chips and ice cream for dinner.  Children watch their parents and siblings carefully.  Make sure your food choices and the food available in the house is in line with how you would like your child to eat!

Mixed Berry Smoothie

A great way to cool off this summer while having a healthy meal or snack.  Increase the plant power of this smoothie by adding in a handful of spinach, some refreshing cucumber, green bell pepper or even some green peas.


  • 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 4 cups of fat free milk
  • Add in a vegetable (or two) of your choice!

Makes 4 servings of 14 fluid oz. each

Instructions:  (ready in 5 minutes)

  1. Keep all the fruits frozen and milk and yogurt refrigerated until ready to use.
  2. In a blender combine frozen fruits, low fat vanilla yogurt and skim milk.
  3. Puree until smooth and thickened.
  4. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information (per 14 oz. serving) Calories: 190, Carbohydrates 36 g, Fat 1 g, Protein 11g, Dietary Fiber 5 g, Sugars 28 grams.



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