Birthdays are such special memory makers! Each year marks a milestone in your child’s life and you as their parent. It is a time for fun, games, presents and of course yummy party food! For some parents this can be a cause for stress as they feel torn between teaching their kids about healthy eating but without being seen as boring, and having plates of untouched food left at the end of the day.
For your child to have a healthy relationship with food – they need to firstly understand the foundations of healthy eating and the acknowledgement that there is a place for treat food. Personally I believe it is one of life’s great pleasures. There's nothing wrong with the occasional treat. If you are constantly vigilant and only serve tofu cake and bran muffins at your child's party…they are going to feel as if they’re missing out and will eventually discover junk food! It’s all about balance. Parties are a great time to serve foods that we don’t have everyday; it’s also a good idea to include some healthier choices so your children discover that lots of foods can be fun and healthy.
Here are a few of my top tips to make party food fun…and not all bad!!
- Don’t serve all sugary stuff - serve some savoury foods that contribute both protein and carbohydrate to help stabilize blood sugar levels – team cheerios with small dinner rolls for mini American hotdogs, mini quiches or cheese and pineapple sticks.
- Children respond well to bright, colourful food that’s easy to hold and eat. Keep portion sizes of treat foods small, a taste of something is often enough.
- Quench thirsts with a big jug of homemade fizz by mixing fruit juice with carbonated water – bright and vibrant with the ‘bubbles’ factor that kids love, it's a great alternative to store bought, sugar packed soft drinks.
- It’s all in the presentation. It’s easy to make ordinary food and drinks extra-ordinary by serving them in a special way. Freeze fruit such as blueberries into ice cubes, cut sandwiches into funny shapes or simply serve the food on bright, vibrant plates and cups. Children will eat anything that has the ‘cool factor’ associated with it!
- Finally, parties are all about fun for you and your child. To take the stress out of the day, choose food options that are easy and that can be prepared prior to the party. The last thing you want is to be slaving away in the kitchen all day as your child celebrates their birthday without you!
Kids love jelly and with these bite sized jelly boats, not a drop is wasted! So simple, yet so effective, these are sure to be a hit every time.
What you will need:
2 packets of jelly crystals (I like to use two different colours)
Water as per packet instructions
How to make them:
1. Make jelly according to instructions, allow to cool.
2. Cut oranges in half from the stalk down to the navel, otherwise the jelly mix will leak out of the navel.
3. With a small sharp knife, edge around the orange to help lift the orange segments out.
4. Scrape any excess orange off the peel as the juice may affect the setting of the jelly.
5. Set the orange halves on a tray. Tuck a little paper towel under to ensure no wobbles.
6. Pour cooled jelly into the orange halves and refrigerate until set.
7. Slice each half into wedges.
ARTISTS FRUIT PALETTE AND DIPS
Young children think that immersing foods in a tasty dip is pure fun and it is amazing how easy it can be to make healthy food so appealing with a little bit of imagination. Fruit, when served with delicious dipping sauces, are guaranteed to please even the fussiest eaters.
Chop up lots of different fruits into bite size pieces, serve on a large platter in the middle of the table. I like to serve the dips in recycled glass jars (but little bowls work just as well) with the mini bamboo skewers as the artists paint brushes!
Here are some of my favorite dips to get you started:
Mix together 3 tablespoons of thick greek yoghurt, 1 teaspoon of milk, 1 teaspoon icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon curd.
Blend together (I just use a hand blender but any blender will work) 85g raspberries (fresh or frozen and thawed), 1 ½ tablespoons icing sugar, 1 tablespoon thick greek yoghurt, ½ teaspoon lemon juice and 2 drops of vanilla essence.
Place a ¼ teaspoon of orange rind, 2 tablespoons of juice from the orange and 55g melting chocolate (broken into small pieces) into a bowl. Place over a pan of boiling water or melt in the microwave. Keep at room temperature until serving.
FUN CUT-OUT COOKIES
Turning the party food into one of the party games or activities is a great way to keep kids entertained. Choose cookie cutters that keep within the theme of the party if you want to be extra creative!
Let the kids ice the cookies themselves using tubes of icing that you buy from the supermarket or make your own with my simple recipe below. When the kids have decorated their cookies put a few into little clear bags as something to take home and enjoy.
You will need (makes about 30 cookies):
250g butter at room temperature
140g castor sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
300g plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
How to make them:
1. Place the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla essence in a large bowl and beat together until well mixed.
2. Sift in the flour and salt. Mix to make a ball of dough.
3. Roll the dough between a folded piece of baking paper until about 5mm thick.
4. Cut out different shapes using cookie cutters (gather up the trimmings into a ball, then roll again to make more shapes).
5. Lift cookies with a flat knife or spatula and arrange shapes slightly apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Make a mix of chocolate and vanilla cookies by splitting the dough into two at step 3 and adding 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder to one half.
SIMPLE ICING FOR COOKIES:
3 cups icing sugar (sifted)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
Dash of salt
Food colourings of your choice
Combine 3 cups of icing sugar (sifted), ¼ cup milk, ½ teaspoon vanilla essence and a pinch of salt; mix well. Divide into separate portions and add different food coloring to each.
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