Let Your Kids Make the Fruit Salad!
Who doesn't love dessert? Kids especially love something sweet after their meal, and fruit salad is a healthy way to give it to them. But sometimes it can be a pain to do all that cutting and peeling, and store-bought fruit salad is expensive and not very good (who eats giant chunks of green melon, anyway?). Here's an easy way to solve the problem: let the kids make fruit salad for dessert while you're in the kitchen making dinner! You can supervise their efforts, but they'll feel a sense of accomplishment from having made dessert "all by themselves."
1. Have the kids forage through the fridge for fruit. It's really hard to make a bad fruit salad, so let them have free reign over what to choose. Stocking basics like apples and bananas in the winter or peaches and plums in the summer will make it easy for them.
2. Get out a cutting board and knives while the kids wash their hands with hot water and soap. (Make them try again while singing "Happy Birthday" if they come out of the bathroom too soon!)
3. Let the kids get started prepping the fruit. Your younger child can wash and peel fruit while the elder does the cutting, or they can split the jobs by type of fruit. For instance, even a four-year-old can cut banana coins safely with a plastic knife, while an eight-year-old can chop peaches or plums with a table knife or paring knife. (You may want to save the apples to do yourself, since they're the hardest fruit and can cause a knife to slip.)
4. Once the fruit is all cut into small pieces, have the kids put it into a big bowl and stir. If you've included apples, you may want to add a splash of orange juice to keep them from oxidizing. A little OJ also keeps other dry fruit moist. My children like to add raisins to our fruit salads, and they soak up the juice and become extra-delicious.
The best fruit salads have ingredients that change with the seasons. Don't buy expensive, imported fruit because it tends to be dry and tasteless. Check out your supermarket's produce aisle for local or peak-of-season fruits. Here are some seasonal suggestions:
Summer Fruit Salad
Winter Fruit Salad
mandarin or navel oranges
If you want a summer fruit salad in the winter, frozen fruit is a great addition. Use a base of apples and pears, and then toss in frozen berries or mangos for more flavor and color. You don't even need to defrost them first, as long as they're not too icy. (If they are, leave them in a covered bowl on the counter for an hour or two and then drain them before tossing with the fresh fruit.)
Your kids can choose just two or three of these ingredients, or half a dozen. As long as the fruit is ripe, it's nearly impossible to make a fruit salad taste bad. Let them have an adventure in fruit salad today!