Fruit and veges are great ingredients to have some fun with. The Lunchbox Prince and Princess are both little fruit bats so getting them to eat their 5+ a day is never a problem, but they still love to see these lunchbox staples presented in different ways. And if you're dealing with little people who have an aversion to fruit or veges, you might find that these tips will help tempt them!
ZIG ZAG KIWIFRUIT
Using a sharp paring knife, cut zig zags all around the kiwifruit, making sure the knife goes at least half way through the fruit with each cut. You don't need to be too fussy - it always turns out well! Once you've gone the whole way around, simply pull the halves apart. They will come apart easily.
Peel a mandarin and remove excess pith. Place a couple of segments in the base of a silicone cupcake case to create height. Layer the segments around the edge, then place a grape or berry in the middle for the 'cherry on the top'!.
MIXED VEGE BITES
Slice cucumber and carrot into rounds of similar thickness. Use a small cookie cutter or our Basic Shapes Cutter Set to cut shapes from each vege, then just swap the shapes around. You could replace one of veges with cheese too to make cucumber/cheese or carrot/cheese bites. You can also use this technique for fruits like apple or melon.
You can experiment using this technique on whole apples too, which look fantastic if you use two colours. And if you feel like getting extra fancy, alphabet cutters can be used to spell out a message! In each of these examples below, I just pushed the cutter about 1cm into the apple, then used the tip of a paring knife to help remove the shape. It comes out a lot more easily than you'd think!
Cut rounds from a cucumber and carrot. Halve the cucumber rounds to make semi-circles and remove the seeds by making two angled cuts. Make a couple of notches from the carrot rounds. Thread the cucumber 'leaves' and carrot 'flowers' onto a toothpick. [photo: Lovethispic]
With a small paring knife, cut notches from the top of an apple. Cut the completed top portion off, and soak in some acidulated water (water with a generous squirt of lemon or lime juice) for 20 - 30 seconds to prevent browning, then dry on paper towels. I stop at this stage as I love the look, but you can continue making cuts around the base of the flower as shown. [photo: Moodkids]
This one is a real bento classic and is known as ichimatsu moyou ringo in Japanese. Use a paring knife to score parallel lines vertically and horizontally on a large wedge of apple. Then simply use the tip of the knife to remove the peel from every alternate square. Plunge the apple into acidulated water for a minute or two to prevent browning, then dry on a paper towel before popping in the lunchbox. [Photo: Justbento.]
IF ALL ELSE FAILS...
...and you want something even quicker and easier, you could:
- use mini cutters to create simple shapes
- pop in some food picks to up the fun factor! .
- arrange different coloured fruit or veges neatly in rows
- make mini fruit or vege skewers by threading cut up pieces onto our mini food pick skewers (remember to cut off the sharp end of the skewer if your child is very young).
- make a salad with some dressing in a leak-proof container or one of our mini animal sauce bottles.
- include a dip. Veges work well with hummus or cottage cheese. I usually mix hummus with natural yoghurt (50:50) to tone down the garlic, which can be overpowering for children. Fruit can be dipped into plain or flavoured yoghurt. (Try mixing greek yoghurt with a little honey and lemon. Yum!)
Is it a struggle to get your kids to eat fruit and veges, or do they wolf them down like mine? We'd love you to share any tricks you've tried!
[Unless otherwise credited, all photos in this article are from The Lunchbox Queen.]