It seemed that every year my sisters and sisters in law would look at the amount of holiday sweets that we provided and feel a little guilty; not to mention regretting the fact that we were having to put up with the sugar rush that followed. Although we will probably never get rid of those items, our first step was to get the kids involved in some alternatives.
GET THE KIDS INVOLVED
Although we will probably never get rid of those sugary items, our first step was to get the kids involved in some alternatives. If the kids are helping to prepare something, they are twice as likely to eat it.
PROVIDE A DIP
Kids will eat lots of different fruits and yes, even vegetables if they can dip it in something. Most of our kids like a low-fat buttermilk ranch. However, lots of other kids prefer a milder honey mustard dip. Whichever you choose can be incorporated into the bouquet. We used it to look like snow around Christmas trees and to cover up apples that we used in individual bouquets.
MAKE IT SPECIAL
We realized that we had holiday traditions that centered on the special preparation of food items like baking and decorating sugar cookies at Christmas. We decided to try doing something special with our fruits and vegetables.
1. The first time we tried it was for the luau that we held for my sister’s fiftieth birthday party. We had fruit that we had previously cut into kebob size pieces. The great party accessories site, Oriental Trading, (http://www.orientaltrading.com/) had hibiscus floral picks that we purchased. Then the kids got to put the fruit pieces on the floral picks and poke the picks into a fresh pineapple. The pineapple ended up looking like a huge flower bouquet and they were very proud of their efforts. In addition, because they were putting the fruit on, there were picks available that had the fruits that they liked. The bouquet disappeared quickly; the kids were choosing the fruit picks even after the birthday cake came out.
2. We also had the kids work on a vegetable bouquet. My mom had small floral cookie cutters that looked like daisies. After slicing turnips and beets very thin, the kids cut flowers from them and put them on wooden skewers. We cut slices of baby carrots for the centers of the flowers so they could arrange the flowers to look like another bouquet of flowers. This was not as popular as the fruit bouquet but with the ranch dip, the kids did eat more vegetables than we thought they would.
3. At Christmas, they were responsible for making the broccoli Christmas trees that would be at each of the tables. We took Styrofoam cones, covered them with plastic wrap, inserted a toothpick into a broccoli spear and covered the cones with broccoli. When the cones were completely covered, we cut grape tomatoes in half and attached them like decorations. Then, the trees were put on a plate and we poured ranch dressing around the bottom.
4. At Easter, they each got to make their own individual vegetable bouquets in a teacup. We cut an apple in half and placed in the teacups. Then they got to decorate their bouquet however they wanted to. Amazing how many vegetables they went through that time!
The floral bouquets that we made can be changed to fit any holiday with cookie cutters. Hearts for Valentine’s Day, pumpkins for Halloween, trees at Christmas, stars for the Fourth of July. We found that it didn’t matter what we made as long as we made it special, got the kids involved and ate the fruits and vegetables ourselves.