Mary Saph Tanaka by Mary Saph Tanaka

Child eating snack“Power peas,” “x-ray vision carrots,” “tomato bursts” and “dinosaur broccoli trees” may be the long-awaited answer to dealing with your chronically veggie-rejecting kids. Cornell researchers found that when vegetables were given a wacky name, consumption doubled! And the effect persisted even when the vegetables went back to their old boring names.

Packaging—the way a food is prepared, presented and promoted—matters. This offers parents both an opportunity to devise innovative packaging and “marketing” tricks to help support their children in developing healthier eating habits.

There’s no better time to do this than snack time. With just a few ingredients, you can make quick and simple snacks your kids will enjoy eating. Get creative with your kids and have them come up with new ways to eat their fruits and veggies!

Try these fun food options:

Caterpillar Edamame

Shelled edamame beans
Grape or cherry tomatoes

To assemble the caterpillars, place approximately 15 shelled edamame beans in one line on a plate. At one end of the line of edamame, place the grape or cherry tomato. To make the antennae, place two toothpicks into the tomato and then top each of the toothpicks with one blueberry.

Sunshine Oranges

1 orange

Cut the orange lengthwise into approximately five round slices. Take the largest slice and set aside. With the remaining slices, cut each slice in half (so you have two semicircles) and then slice each semicircle in half again. Place the circular slice in the middle of the plate and then arrange the quartered slices around the circle to make the rays of the sun.

Poppy Carrots With Black Bean Hummus

Green beans
Black bean hummus (see recipe below)

Wash and peel the carrot. Slice the carrot across into circles, approximately 1/8-inch thick. To arrange the flowers, spread a few tablespoons of the black bean hummus at the bottom of the plate (this will be the :dirt” for the poppies). Place the green beans (the “stems” for the flowers) vertically with one end into the hummus and arrange the carrot slices (the “poppy flowers”) at the opposite end of the green beans.

Black Bean Hummus

1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, until desired consistency.

Banana Boats With Yogurt

Nonfat yogurt

Peel bananas and slice in half, lengthwise.  Next, slice each banana piece in the middle widthwise and set aside. Slice each strawberry lengthwise into approximately 1/8-inch slices. To make the “sail” for the boats, spear one strawberry slice at the end of a toothpick, using the end of the strawberry with the longer width.

Place 1/4 cup of yogurt into the bottom of a bowl. To arrange the boats, place one banana piece into the yogurt, with the flat side up. Finish by placing the toothpick with the strawberry “sail” at one end of the banana “boat.”