Christmas fun for fussy eaters
Christmas is just around the corner, so I wanted to do something a little lighter and ‘fluffier’ instead of a more educational blog.
Food art is a hobby of mine and I love creating designs focused on fruit and veg. It’s a great way to create interest in foods that may be a little more of a challenge.
I began producing food art when my boys were at Kindy and the policy was to bring in items like cakes or donuts any time it was a child’s birthday. I wondered if I could inject the same delight using fruit and veg, and it turns out the answer was yes!
If you have a super selective eater, creating the world’s most exciting picture will probably not tempt them into eating. It may, however, draw their interest and that is still important.
Having children make their own food art is a great activity and even those children who find eating fruit and veg challenging can enjoy making pictures. Importantly, they will then be interacting with the food which over time builds comfort.
I’ve showcased a host of ideas, either to copy, simplify or give you inspiration if you’d like to make your own. For Halloween, I uploaded some ideas and one of the mum’s did her own food art design and it got way more hits than my blog so I’m hoping the same happens with Christmas ideas
Banana snowmen – these are made from circles of banana with blueberry ‘buttons’, strawberry hats and slices of raisins for mouths and arms. The nose is a piece of dried apricot and the snow, yoghurt.
They can be simplified to discs of banana for the body and head, eyes, and buttons. Perfect for younger children to create.
Pizza snowman – he too can be simplified. I used a home-made pizza base and cut it with a knife. Making the pizza on a wrap would mean you could even use scissors to cut the shape. I often draw the outline on paper first to make it easy.
Add a plain topping like cheese and then you can embellish with whatever is appealing for your child. I’ve use red capsicum, olives, carrot, and spinach.
Using a plain cheese pizza with tomato sauce or Vegemite buttons would also work.
Popcorn snowman – super simple and a great, budget-friendly gift. Just fill a plastic bag with popcorn, tie a little material around for a scarf and glue cut out paper for hat, buttons and face.
Strawberry snowman – this was the design I created for the Healthy Food Guide for Christmas. It’s a bit more complex, but you can of course simplify!
He’s made of two strawberries, the larger for the body and the smaller for the head and then covered in yoghurt, cream or cream cheese. His arms are cocktail sticks with raisin pieces and his eyes, mouth and buttons can be pieces of dried fruit or blueberries.
His nose is a piece of dried apricot and his scarf and hat made from strawberries.
To simplify you can just do strawberries covered in yoghurt with eyes and buttons.
Cheese Christmas tree – this is in 3-D, but you can always do one flat on a plate. This is cut out of a big slice of cheese with a cocktail stick stuck into a raw carrot and the bottom of the cheese. The star on top was made with a mini metal cookie cutter from a piece of spinach.
Cucumber Christmas tree – simple as it’s just circles of cucumber made into a tree shape. You could do the same with green kiwi fruit. Add ‘ornaments’ as needed.
Strawberry Christmas tree – slices 0f strawberry overlapped to create a tree shape.
Add slivers and circles of other fresh or dried fruit for ornaments. The inside of the strawberry makes a great pot as it’s a contrasting colour (the one in the picture is plum).
Melon Christmas platter – super simple. Chunks of honeydew melon fashioned into a tree shape ad then other fruits scattered for ornaments.
Christmas tree sandwiches – sandwiches cut into 3 different sized triangles and then arranged as a tree shape. I’ve used a cheese star and celery trunk, but these can be adapted to be whatever works for your child. Ditto for the ornaments – these can be blobs of jam, for example.
It’s a lovely way to bring a simple Vegemite or peanut butter sandwich to a party for a fussy child to share food and not seem like you’re bringing just a ‘jam sandwich’ Or serve for Christmas lunch alongside the turkey so everyone feels involved.
Christmas tree platters
I often make these for social occasions. This was designed for a group of adults but can easily be adapted to be more ‘child friendly’. Add chunks of cheese, raisins, cherry tomatoes, crackers, or whatever else would be a win for your child.
Hummus Rudolph – it’s simple aside from the antlers, which are a nightmare If stuck, use pretzels I just formed hummus into the shape and then added nose and eyes.
Strawberry Rudolph – apart from the antlers, he’s a pretty simple ask. Made from apple or pear, with a strawberry nose, and blueberry or raisin eyes with slices of raisins or dates for the smile.
Rudolph crackers – cute and simple. Triangle crackers, tomato nose and cheese eyes with olive or raisin pupils and antlers from carrot or pretzels.
Fruit candy cane – simple, strawberry slices combined with banana. Cut the pieces on the curve into more of a wedge shape.
Tomato cheese candy cane – even simpler! Cheese cubes and cherry tomatoes. I have also done a fruit version with red apple and either banana or peeled apples.
Christmas cracker – this can be super simple. It’s just one Weetbix in the middle, and two halves on the end. Add yoghurt and berries for colour and decoration, or not!
Strawberry santas – these can be less complex! A strawberry on the bottom, a blob of cream, yoghurt (if it’s too runny drain for a while through a Chux) or cream cheese. Add detail with blueberries or dried fruit.
Christmas angel – she’s a triangle of apple, with apple cut into wings and an oval of apple for her halo. I’ve used sunflower seeds for detail. A simple version would be a triangle body with 2 triangle wings and a circle for the head.
Fruit baubles – these look great but all they are is fruit in little soy dishes. I added a cube of apple and sunflower seeds to make the attachment and string.
Great fun to do with the children as they can make their own sweet or savoury ‘baubles’.
Christmas letters – I used plastic cookie cutters and filled with veg to make this. You could do the same with fruit, nuts, or cookie dough that’s then baked.
Santa hats – strawberries with a blob of cream, thick yoghurt, or cream cheese on top. Dip the rim in yoghurt/cream/cream cheese and then coconut for fluff (or not).
I thought I’d share some of my simple food art designs in case you feel that way inclined. If not, hopefully they have put a smile on the face, which at this time of year is a plus!!
Judith, MA Cantab, Post Grad Dip Psychology, 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/