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Making Snacking Fun, Tasty, and Colorful

Nicholas enjoys selecting his snacks from the colorful choice of vegetables and fruits displayed in a muffin tin. Try this method of introducing snacks to your child.

As a mom of a five-year-old and a one-year-old, food, snacks, and the “what, when, where, and how” to feed my kids are top subjects occupying my mind 24/7. Are they getting enough protein? Does that item have too much sugar? Can I make their lunch before they have a meltdown? Some days, I feel like my boys don’t stop eating. Then other days it seems like they haven’t eaten for a week!

To add to the food battle, I have my own challenges deciding what I want and when to fit in a meal for myself in between naps, school, and after-school activities. It can be a pretty crazy, and sometimes unfortunate battle, to get food fixed and eaten.

It has become my quest to make mealtimes a little less challenging. On my journey, I have come across fantastic cookbooks, blogs, mom advice, and food prep ideas. I’ve used a lot of what I have discovered. Recently, I have come across a strategy that I have found to be pretty pleasurable and successful in my household.

My older son is not that picky of an eater, but he has a hard time actually “selecting” what he wants to eat. My most successful meals for him are ones that have lots of different types of food, but in small quantities. This need for variety in small packages has made mealtime quite challenging. However, I recently came across a late afternoon snack idea that has made him excited to eat, me ecstatic with his eating choices, and both of us eager to be in the kitchen together. As an added bonus, my one-year-old, who follows almost anything my five-year-old does, has also shown great interest in this new snack idea.

I like to call it “Taste the Snack Rainbow.” Basically, we take a 12-muffin cooking tin and fill each three-muffin column with proteins, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Once the tin is prepped, we pick out plates for both boys’ meals, and then my sons get to pick one or two foods from each category to put on their plates. It is a super simple idea, but it has paid dividends for us. It has encouraged us to prepare food ahead, get a variety of foods to pick from, and even try to make a rainbow of colors on our plates.

For our latest version, we added silicone muffin cups into the tin to both aid with washing and to add further color to the snacks. Then, we chose our items for each category. For proteins we selected salami, hardboiled egg, and smoked gouda. For the grains/fats we picked out crackers, cut-up tortilla, and cashews. Our fruit choices were freeze-dried strawberries, grapes, and one peeled Cutie. Lastly, for our vegetables, Nicholas chose pickles, carrots, and arugula.

I think what I like most about this activity is that it is easy, allows my son to get excited about snack time, and it does not lead to me wasting any food. As a parent, you know these are great measures of success!

In my role as “mom,” I truly appreciate finding ways that help me keep my kids healthy while also creating memorable, fun experiences. This snack time idea is one such way. I encourage you to try this out with your kiddos. Heck, I enjoy it as my snack time treat, too! Keep healthy readers! God Bless!

Photo and write up by Cheryl Thode

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