Easter fun for fussy eaters
Food art can be really good fun for children.
It is in no way a magic bullet for encouraging fussy eaters to suddenly chow down carrots or pears like they have just been kidding for the last 4 years.
It is, however, a great way to support low pressure interaction. Every time a child interacts with a food in a positive way it helps to build a level of comfort with it. We are always more comfortable with foods we are familiar with.
If we are able to support our child to build comfort with foods it can break down some of the barriers that they build to protect themselves. That automatic ‘NO’ and fear or anxiety around foods is founded on discomfort.
Food art is something I have used to enable children to play with food without the focus being on the eating. Once the emphasis is on eating the shutters often come down and a child no longer feels comfortable around the food. However, long-term comfort enables eating.
I’ve got some simple and some not so simple ideas. However, many of them can be modified so they are easier!
If you have any great ideas please share them with us. Easter is a great time to do some fun things with the children.
Easter fun food art
Let’s start with eggs as they are the iconic symbol of Easter.
1. Giant Easter Eggs – these are a lot of fun to create, particularly if you have people coming over. I have done some very fancy ones, but way simpler ones can look just as good. I took the veggie one to my son’s school as a share platter.
Letting a child build them using foods they are happy to eat can also be a lovely way to have them involved. A simple way to do this is by using an oval plate or serving platter.
2. Eggs on the move – these ‘egg-citing’ cars look a lot more complicated than they are! Simply draw faces on eggs and then place them in part of an egg carton to create a car.
You can be flash and cover the car in silver paper, for example, if you wish. I also added carrot hats and steering wheel, mushroom tyres and yellow capsicum headlights.
In the back are toast soldiers, perfect if the eggs are hardboiled.
3. Decorated eggs – hard boiled eggs decorated with veg cut into shapes. This is a little more complex but could be simplified for little fingers too!
4. Nests – nests are a super simple way to get creative. The simplest ones are a small bowl or round silicon holder filled with grated carrot or grated cheese to make the ‘nest’. You can add mini chocolate eggs or form eggs from cheese or apple or carrot, for example.
Or, you can make a nest from spaghetti, adding eggs (or not)!
Salad too can make a nest:
5. Non-choc eggs – when my boys were little, particularly as my eldest didn’t like chocolate at the time, I used to make ‘muesli bar’ eggs. Using a muesli bar mix, roll it into an egg shape and wrap in silver paper. Perfect for Easter egg hunts.
Bunnies are another common part of Easter.
1. Carrot bunnies – these are cut from carrot and stuck in hummus. I used mini flower pots from the garden centre that I lined with greased paper (or cling film or aluminium foil) for hygiene. The bunny eyes are circles of olives, but raisins would also work.
Admittedly a bit fiddly but to make them simpler you can cut a circle for the head and then stick bigger ears in behind them.
2. Rabbit pancakes – these are easy with a cookie cutter. You can make pancakes or biscuits or crackers in the shape of bunnies. Decorate with whatever you have to hand. I used coconut, yoghurt, seeds, and raisins.
3. Brekkie bunny – I think he’s a little scary looking, but hopefully you can improve upon that! This is for all the Weetbix lovers (just mix crumbled Weetbix with a little liquid), or you could make from thickened porridge or even a crackle-type recipe.
I used apple and blueberries to give him more detail.
4. Fried egg bunny – I love him! He is probably a stretch for most selective eaters, but I couldn’t leave him out of the line-up!
Even though it’s autumn/fall in the southern hemisphere, many of our traditions stem from the northern hemisphere where it’s spring. Chicks hatching is part of Easter tradition so they couldn’t be forgotten!
1. Mandarin chicks – these look more complicated than they are!
Take a mandarin and pull out 3 segments (still joined) to make the head. Add apple detail to make beak, wings, crown and feet. You can use bits of raisins for eyes.
Even in their simplest form they still look great.
2. Pineapple chick – if your child enjoys fruit this is a simple way to create a cute chick. Just cut a circle of fresh pineapple and add detail. I used blueberries and strawberry, but you could make with red apple or other fruits.
3. Potato chicks – these are simple but cute. Boiled potato (you could use apple or pear instead) with corn kernels placed over the top for yellow feathers, carrot, and olive for detail.
It’s traditional to eat fish on Good Friday so I have some special ‘fish’ to share with you.
1. Watermelon fish – watermelon is easy to carve into whatever shape you fancy!
2. Melon fish – okay complex, but simplifying can still produce something that looks great! As this is made from slices of fruit you could also use apple or pineapple for the body, for example.
3. Breakfast fish – a version of this is super simple to do. I used a fish-shaped cookie cutter and stuffed with softened oats. You could do the same with Weetbix. I added seeds for decoration but just an eye would do. Add milk, or not.
4. Fish sandwiches – I love this as it’s something that most picky eaters could manage. I used mini rolled up sandwiches that can be anything from peanut butter to ham and cheese. The face, tail and fins are made from sweet potato (kumara) but could be cut from coloured paper (or paper coloured in by your child).
Nothing has to be flashy looking or perfect. I created many of these for publication in magazines such as the Healthy Food Guide, so for that, polish is important.
When you are making something for the family it can be simple. Even better, the children make things themselves. Children’s food art, like children’s drawings look amazing to them, and that is the important thing.
If you do have great ideas please share!!
Judith, MA Cantab (Cambridge University), Post Grad Dip Psychology (Massey University), is an AOTA accredited picky eating advisor and internationally certified nutritional therapist. She works with 100+ families every year resolving fussy eating and returning pleasure and joy to the meal table.
She is also mum to two boys and the author of Creating Confident Eaters and Winner Winner I Eat Dinner. Her dream is that every child is able to approach food from a place of safety and joy, not fear.
Learn more about Judith here: https://theconfidenteater.com/about/