Playing with Your Food | Kitchen Explorers | PBS Food

Playing with Your Food

 Have you ever met a child who doesn’t love to play with their food? Even the pickiest eaters are often more willing to try new foods when they are disguised as animals, cars, boats and butterflies. I used to surprise my (formerly) picky son, Solomon, with fun food shapes to entice him to eat.  He wouldn’t eat turkey slices unless I cut them up and made faces out of them, quickly replacing features as he ate them (I’d jokingly warn him not to eat “my” nose, eyes, etc., which made him giggle and gobble the meal right down!).  My daughter, Celia, never needed much encouragement to eat, but she still loves making edible spiders, snowmen, flowers and trains. 

Making artistic snacks is a fantastic activity for play dates or days when you’re stuck inside. Sometimes I make a prototype for the kids to follow or show them a picture from a website or book.  Other times I give the kids lots of “raw” materials such as banana slices, raisins, pretzels, grapes, Cheerios, chocolate chips, and julienned vegetables and let their imaginations take over. Peanut butter, cream cheese or Nutella can serve as tasty “glue.  Small cookie cutters work well on cheese slices or thinly sliced fruit.

It’s so much fun to see what kids come up with!  Be sure to take some photos before they devour their creations. Here are a few of our favorites:

For snowmen, let the kids slice bananas and assemble the body (put the banana slices on round crackers for extra depth).  Decorate the snow people with Cheerios, raisins, pretzel sticks, cinnamon (used here for the buttons), or cocoa powder, and use string cheese or shredded coconut for snow. 

For sailboats, cut a hard-boiled egg in half, use a stick pretzel for the mast and a cheese triangle for the sail, and then set the boat in a sea of blueberries.  If one of you is feeling extra creative, cut shapes out of bell pepper to make a sailor, fish, or seagull. 

For trains (not pictured), use a graham cracker for the cars, banana slices or mini peanut butter crackers for wheels, pretzels or string cheese for tracks, raisins for coal, and a few mini-marshmallow for smoke. 

Visit CafeZoom at for more fun and delicious snack ideas, (I’m particularly fond of the Dino Desserts and Tasty Bugs.)

For even more ways to have fun with food, check out

I’d love to see or hear about some of your edible creations! Please tell us about your favorites or share a link below.

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