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Fun food ideas to get kids interested in eating healthy

Or make food fun with an eggplant wagon filled with zesty eggplant, tomato and zucchini ragout.
April 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Something funny is going on in the kitchen, but that's a good thing. This message comes from chefs who want to get kids to go ahead and play with their food in order to eat well.

"I have always played with my food from day one, and my mamma didn't make me stop," said Chef Clare Crespo, author of "A Very Veggie World."

So Crespo made it a profession, holding cooking classes for kids.

"I have a child of my own. If you engage the child into the process of making something, then they, one, gain a little skill. They also are more likely to try whatever it is that you make," said Crespo.

Since the dinner table is often a battleground when it comes to eating veggies, she helps disarm your small opponents by having them create pretty pictures out of produce.

For instance, there are the hollowed-out zucchini boats filled with couscous feta mixture with a carrot sail or an eggplant wagon filled with zesty eggplant, tomato and zucchini ragout.

One of the favorites is a lightly oiled, orange and nutmeg spiced baked sweet potato bear claw. Little ones love to add the cashew claws.

Crespo says a hands-on food experience will have them nibbling at their project.

"If they don't, try it again in a couple of weeks. Your taste buds change and adjust," said Crespo.

Crespo's not alone in getting playful with the plate. There are outrageous things you can do with oatmeal. Bill and Clare Wurtzel wrote "Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy Silly Creative Breakfasts."

Their "how to" pictorial also provides little nutrition nuggets for kids of all ages to learn. The ideas can wake up finicky eaters with colorful creativity - from the advanced artist to the first-time food stylist.

My attempt to make an apple face most likely won't make their second edition, but the end result was a fun and tasty snack.

"Funny Food" costs $19.95 and is available on WelcomeBooks.com and "A Very Veggie World" can actually be downloaded free on the Country Crock website.

See photos of some creative dishes.


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