TODDLER TASTING TRAYS
If you know Jamie Oliver then you probably know about his food revolution. I’m not in any way being paid by Jamie Oliver I just love him : ) There’s an episode where Jamie brings fresh fruit and vegetables to a group of young children to demonstrate that many of them didn’t know where their favourite foods came from. This episode inspired me to hold a food tasting day for my grade 10 planning class. I brought in a few dozen fruits and vegetables and set them up around the class and invited the kids to look, smell and taste. We had a worksheet to go with the activity and the kids wrote down a description of each food (texture, flavour, aroma, liked/didn’t like.) I challenged them to try at least one thing they had never tried before. At the end of the lesson I was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone had tried at least one new food and most had discovered a few they really liked. The class was a success and I had some great feedback. I will remember that as one of my favourite days of teaching!
From there I was hooked on the idea of exposing kids to new foods and flavours and went in search of ideas.
I’m a huge Pintrest fan, it’s where I go if I’m in search of inspiration. When I started looking up snack ideas for the daycare I came across this adorable idea for toddler tasting trays made from ice cube trays. I love the idea of giving kids a bunch of different healthy foods in small taste friendly portions.
As you probably know from experience, little kids don’t eat a lot in one sitting and many are reluctant to try new foods. There are different philosophies out there for how to deal with picky eaters; some people beg, bribe and bargain, others believe the more you push the harder they push back. I believe that no one approach will work all of the time for every child because kids are all different and go through phases. I do however believe it is important to offer new foods regularly, to model adventurous eating, to try new things in front of your kids and to gently encourage them to do the same. I like the taste rule- that they should at least taste a new food being offered.
Keen to add tasting trays to the daycare snack menu I headed off to my local Dollar Tree for store to look for ice cube trays or something similar. I decided on these little plastic crafting boxes ( 1.25$ each) because they shallow and have small compartments perfect for foods chopped into little taste sizes. Each compartment is small but the box can hold a decent amount of food, enough for 2 snacks or a meal. They came in a few different colours (Red, Pink, White & Blue) which is appealing to little ones. They have a lid to make them handy for traveling or storing unfinished snacks for later. Using a box with a lid as opposed to an open tray allows you to pre-make a number of snack boxes and stack them in your fridge or cooler.
I can think of a variety of ways to use these tasting trays but started off with a tray for snack time. This tray was destined for a 3 year old and I filled it with mini carrots sliced up, sliced cucumber, diced cheese, frozen blueberries, frozen raspberries, dehydrated yogurt bites, veggie crackers, celery and wow butter. I later added mandarin orate segments and broccoli florets.
SNACK TIME- TASTING TRAY
Tasting Tray Variations:
* Sliced Vegetables + Hummus
* Cubed Fruit + Fruit Dip (Yogurt, Honey, Penut Butter)
*Frozen Bites: Berries, Banana, Yogurt dots, Marshmallows, Peas, Applesauce dots
* Trail mix: Variety of Nuts + Dried Fruit
* Family Dinner: Mash, Veggies, Meat, Gravy
*Mexican Night: beans, corn, rice, chicken, tortilla strips, chips, salsa, guacamole
* Travel Snack Tray: Nuts, Popcorn, Trail Mix, Dried Fruit
Tasting trays are a fun way to introduce new foods or to present familiar ones in a new way, can you think of any fun tray ideas?
I hope this post has inspired you to give tasting trays a try!