Snacks: Veggies + Food Boards
I have stopped buying pre-packaged snacks. This began as an experiment a few months ago - I was curious about whether or not my kids would complain if I only fed them fresh whole foods. I wrote about this in our last blog post Apples + Bananas , and I described how we completely ran out of veggies in our first week! My kids still haven't noticed that our previously endless supply of seaweed, bars, puffs, cereals, pretzels and chips has disappeared. I am not completely against pre-packaged snacks, but I have found that we really really don't need them. They don't necessarily save tons of time, they are usually loaded with salt, sugar and other questionable ingredients, and they are pre-packaged so they are harder on our Earth! Also, I haven't sat down to do the math, but I'm pretty sure I'm saving money. I can buy 1 pound of organic oranges for $3.00 instead of buying 1 organic snack bar.
Whilst in the midst of this experiment I stumbled upon something else amazing…something that has my kids eating more veggies, fruits and varieties of foods than ever before. THE FOOD BOARD! There is something wonderful about throwing together a hodgepodge of fresh colourful food, serving it up on a beautiful wood board, and letting your children eat whatever they fancy. It takes the pressure off of you to make some kind of specific snack, and it allows your kids the autonomy to choose what they want to eat from the selection they are given. It makes them feel like they are more in control.
This is a picture of a typical after-school snack. I think it took maybe 5 min. to throw together. Some fresh chopped veggies, chunks of raw cheddar cheese and a sprouted bagel with some leftover hummus, avocado and vegan cream cheese cut into chunks. This board is full of colour and is certainly more filling than a bowl of cheese puffs.
Here's another board using similar veggies, but we've also used silicone muffin cups to hold chickpeas and our favourite Kite Hill vegan chive cream cheese (look for it at Whole Foods). I included some raw asparagus in the right hand corner of this board, and to my surprise my kids tried them and loved them. If I had served asparagus on a pre-made dinner plate I can guarentee they wouldn't have gone for it.
This is more of a food platter than a food board, but it was served up for lunch one day! My youngest loves to eat whole pieces of vegetables (you can read more about that on Skip The Purees) so I just gave her a variety to choose from. You'll notice the cheese stick in the corner - I used to buy a pack a week. Today I would serve this with chunks of cheese instead.
We love this piggy board! Lou picked all the raisins off her celery before I took this pic. She also ate two lettuce wraps off my plate and is about ready to gobble down her third. Lettuce wraps make amazing snacks and lunches! A simple piece of crunchy lettuce with some avocado or cheese or turkey in the middle. So delicious.
This beautiful food board was breakfast! Toast with nut butter and a variety of sliced strawberries, bananas and apple shapes. Amazingly simple, and so beautiful, playful and delicious!
I have a new saying and my 2yr. old is constantly reminding me about it. "What you say Mama?" she says. "Eat what you like and leave the rest!" There has been an amazing subtle shift in our kitchen. By serving food family style via food boards, or even big plates of steaming broccoli or bowls of salad placed in the middle of the table, I have given my kids a bit of freedom over their food. I choose what I put on the table, but they choose what they eat.