It’s all about the toppings!

The kids at HealthBarn USA always keep me on my toes!  Everyday at the Barn brings new ideas and experiences when it comes to kids.  You have probably heard me talk about the importance of cooking with your children and growing your own food to get them excited about fruits and vegetables.  The more hands-on the better and that’s why the HealthBarn USA recipes are effective because they are structured as activities that taste so good!

Now, I’m eager to report my latest observation that is definitely getting double thumbs up at the Barn from expert taste testers to the pickiest of eaters!  Yes, parents it means a little more work, but it’s so much more fun!  READY?  It’s the “make your own” trend in eating for kids!  It doesn’t even involve cooking, it’s all about the toppings or filling!

Here are my top proven “make your own” ideas:

1) Quesadillas!  Tired of cheese and white flour tortillas?  Buy the whole wheat tortillas and offer fillings such as black beans, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocado, plain Greek yogurt with chives and cheddar cheese in separate bowls.  Let the everyone create their masterpieces and then, place another tortilla on top.  Heat on a griddle for 5 minutes on each side to melt the cheese — and you have an exciting eating night for the whole family!

2) Super Salad Bar!  Wondering why your little one doesn’t touch the beautiful salad that you made placed in the center of the table?  Set up separate bowls of bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, black beans, croutons, shredded cheese, raisins and offer a range of vinaigrettes (our top picks are Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette if you don’t make your own).  You will have them going up for thirds!

Cooking and eating fresh ingredients never tasted so good – and makes team work fun, too!

3) The Pizza Challenge!  We grill our homemade Whole Wheat Pizza dough and guide the kids to pick fresh veggie and herb toppings from the garden to top their pizzas with in addition to tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Winning categories include best taste, most creative, most veggies and best teamwork!  These pizzas are a work of art and proof that kids will each their veggies when it’s fun!

Other top food categories for “make your own” food fun are wraps, kabobs, soup and sushi rolls!  Start with quesadillas to build confidence, and then, build momentum with other meals from there!

Share your kids’ favorite “make your own” food.

– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, director, HealthBarn Foundation, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.

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