PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!
We have all been told to never play with our food. We were wrong. It is the perfect opportunity to introduce a world of wonder and fun to fussy eaters, picky with vegetables and fruits. Why should mealtimes be any less magical than playtime? It is the perfect way to spend an afternoon together, and involve your child in food preparation and storytelling. The following recipes are a few ways to incorporate vegetables and fruits into your child’s meals and snack times. The best part? They are kept simple, require no fixed measurements, and invoke hours of fun.
5 Ways to Play with VEGETABLES
Ingredients: (for half dozen nests)
6 quail eggs
1 sweet potato
Some flax seeds
Some olive oil
Mini cupcake tin
Boil quail eggs 3 to 4 minutes, depending on desired firmness. Cook eggs for 4 minutes for perfectly hard boiled eggs.
While eggs are boiling, grate sweet potatoes. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with some olive oil. Toss to coat evenly.
Place a heaped teaspoonful* of the sweet potato mixture into each cupcake mould. Use your fingers to compact it as evenly as possible to the shape of the mould. Grill in a preheated 180 degree oven for 6 to 10 minutes** until the sweet potato looks lightly browned. Remove and let the sweet potato cool and set in the cupcake tin.
Peel the eggs and decorate the eyes with flax seeds, and leftover sweet potato shavings to form beaks.
Place birdie eggs in the nest and serve.
*Depending on the size of your cupcake mould, just spoon in enough to completely cover the entire surface.
**Cooking time can vary depending on size of mould, oven temperature, and amount of filling used.
Ingredients: (for half dozen snails)
6 ladies fingers
6 long beans
Some flax or chia seeds
Sea salt or serving sauces (e.g. soy)
Carve out a 5cm x 1cm strip in the middle of each ladies finger. Cut the removed section lengthwise into 2mm strips and set aside to create feelers. If necessary, cut out a very thin strip of the underside of the ladies finger to level out the base.
Lightly steam ladies fingers and long beans for several minutes. Ladies fingers should be taken out while still crisp. Long beans might require a few extra minutes to be fully pliable.
Roll the long beans into a coil and fit into the pre-cut groove on the ladies finger.
Use the tip of the knife or chopstick to spear small holes at the ‘head’ to fit the feeler strips. Spear some ladies finger pods onto the tip of the feelers to form eyeballs. Use flax or chia seeds to create dark pupils.
Serve with light sprinkling of salt. Better still, use your child’s favourite sauces to form a slimy trail behind the snail.
MAGIC MUSHROOM GARDEN
Ingredients: ( for 1 large garden)
Any variety of mushrooms
A handful of cauliflower florets
2 cloves garlic
Fresh greens of your choice (e.g. herbs, chives, baby spinach)
Black pitted olives (optional)
Knob of butter
Steam the cauliflower and peeled garlic cloves 10 to 15 minutes until completely soft.
Remove from steamer, season with salt and butter and mash with a fork. A food processor is not necessary as a lumpy consistency will add character and texture to your garden.
Mushrooms may be raw, steamed or sautéed. If you wish to steam the mushrooms, they may be added together with the cauliflower at the last two minutes of cooking. Do not overcook the mushrooms. Alternatively, lightly sautée the mushrooms in some butter and set aside.
To assemble your garden, pat the mashed cauliflower mixture onto a serving plate or board. Have fun decorating the garden with mushrooms, fresh greens and sprinkle with chopped olives ‘earth’. Serve warm
BABIES IN PRAMS
Ingredients: (for large and small prams)
Handful of Cherry Tomatoes
Handful of Chickpeas
1 ripe Avocado
1 baby Lotus Root or small Carrot
Fresh mint leaves
Sharp paring knife
Carefully cut an avocado into half, taking care to keep the shape of the peel intact. Remove the flesh, deseed and blend avocado in a food processor with a pinch of salt until smooth.
Steam chickpeas with some coriander seeds until soft, then remove and set aside.
Cut a third of each cherry tomato lengthwise, and remove seeds. You may level off a small strip of the underside of each tomato to form a firm base.
Place the avocado puree in a piping bag, cut a small tip, and carefully pipe it into each tomato.
Place a chickpea baby on top of the filled tomato. You may use the coriander seeds to create eyes.
Slice lotus root to create wheels. Alternatively, any circular vegetable such as carrots can be used.
Place mint leaves to create bonnets.
To create the larger carriage, pipe the remaining avocado puree into the avocado peel. Using a sharp knife, fashion the handle of the stroller using the widest base of a carrot.
Ingredients: (for a cake or two)
1 small Beetroot
1 baby Radish
2 knobs of Butter
Cake piping tip
Miniature cheesecake ring*
Peel and steam potatoes and beetroot separately.
Remove and mash potatoes and beetroot separately with a knob of butter and a sprinkle of salt each. Add a third of the potato to the beetroot and mix until smooth**.
Place the ring on top of your serving plate. Spoon alternate equal quantities of potato and beetroot mixture into the ring, making sure the layers are evenly compacted.
Remove the ring slowly. Using a cake piping tip and piping bag, pipe a decorative layer on the top of the cake.
Decorate with thin slices of baby radish.
Serve whole or in miniature slices.
*you can use any sized ring from 2.5” to 5”. If there is leftover mixture, repeat with a new ring until all the mixture is used up.
** Optional step. This is to improve the texture of the beetroot layers