Fuel up on real fruit snacks! Here are the apple & grape car snacks I made and posted on my Facebook page yesterday:
All you need is apples, firm grapes, and food picks*:
- Slice an apple into wedges and trim the core.
- For each apple wedge, slice 2 grapes in half, widthwise.
- Push the pick through the sliced side of one grape half, then through one end of the apple, then finish with the other grape half, sliced side out.
- Repeat with the other end of the apple wedge and 2 more grape slices, and they should look like little cars :)
Some great variation suggestions were made on Facebook too:
- pears with cucumber wheels
- carrot slice wheels on a cucumber car
- banana wheels
- cheese wheels
[update 4.24.13] My car fruit snack is featured in the May 2013 issue of Family Fun magazine & website, as Treat of the Month!
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Now, on to my post about talking to my 10 year old son about real food:
Yesterday, Beanstalk, my 5th grader, came home from school with some carrots in his bento box - but I hadn't packed him carrots - (he says) he doesn't like them. When I asked him about them, he said his teacher gave them to him, because she didn't think his lunch was very nutritious.
Now, my first reaction was to feel miffed and defensive. But then, I thought about what was in his lunch that day and how it might have looked to her. I don't have a pic, but it was a Lock&Lock 4 square bento box, packed with Granny Smith apple slices, white cheddar popcorn, and an organic Clif Kid Z Bar - but the Clif bar was cut in half in one of the little squares - I bet it looked like a brownie to her! Now that I've thought about it more, I'm thankful that she cares about his nutrition :) Here's something close to yesterday's lunch - only he had popcorn in place of the bread and ham (which we were out of):
I was happy he asked for popcorn in his lunch instead of bread or crackers! I'm happy anytime he wants to try something not part of his usual repertoire :) The Clif bar does look like a brownie.
A little backstory: Beanstalk is very picky - always has been since he was a baby - and slow to gain, with little appetite. His pediatrician even prescribed Pediasure to supplement his diet when he was a toddler. He just doesn't have much interest in eating. So, I am glad when he lets me pack him a lunch and put anything into it other than a nutrition bar (like Power bar or Clif bar) and a Boost drink.
Anyways, his teacher criticizing his lunch gave me an opportunity to talk to him about nutrition. "See," I said, "even your teacher agrees with me. You should eat more real food, not just meal replacement bars." We talked about how some processed foods may fill you up, but that your body doesn't use all of it, so that "filler" is empty calories, and how filling up on empty calories may make you feel full, but you didn't eat anything your body needs, and now you don't have room. I told him it's okay to eat some empty calories - he does share my love for candy - but only after you've eaten enough of the good kind of calories that your body needs for fuel. (If there are any dietitians reading this, constructive criticism on what I told him would be welcomed!) Here's another typical Beanstalk lunch, in a Fit & Fresh Chill container:
Oh, I am turning this into a long story... get to the point right? I told him I would really love to see him try more real food. Yes, there was nutrition in his Boost and Clif bars - but they were processed, and what if they suddenly weren't available? And really, he might find out he likes things that he thinks he doesn't - he's been saying "I don't like ______" for so long now, it might not actually be true anymore - our tastes develop and change as we grow, and he might like something now that he didn't 5 years ago.
So, I asked him if he would be willing to try new foods if there was an incentive. He suggested video games. Figures. But, that's what he likes, so if the promise of video games gets him to try more real food, is that so bad? I hope not... I suggested this: If he tries something from each colour's list on the Today I Ate A Rainbow chart every day for a full week, I'll buy him a previously-viewed video game (they cost less). Deal! And he wanted to get started right away too - last night he ate a whole strawberry! (OK here's where those of you with good eaters are thinking - one strawberry? Big deal. But I don't think this kid has eaten a real strawberry in years, in fact, for longer than I can remember.) He started slowly, with little nibbles and a grimace on his face, but the last couple of bites he chewed and swallowed without his gag face. Woo, celebrate! *sigh* Wish us luck with the other colours of the rainbow!
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