Kid Friendly Finger Food Night
By Joan Whetzel
When my kids were little, I found myself scrambling for ways to get healthy foods into them without the whiny "I don't like that" coming out of their mouths. One meal I came up with was the finger food night. It has endless variations sure to please any child. There are only two rules: 1) The finger food spread has to have offerings from every food group in some form, and 2) The kids have to choose something from each of the food groups.
Meat and Cheese
The meat and cheese selections come in many shapes and sizes. For meats include one or more of the following:
· chicken nuggets or chicken fingers
· Small ham, turkey, salami from the deli cut into squares or triangles
· cheese cubes
· string cheese
· small squares of sliced cheeses
Fruit and Veggies
Fruits and veggies can be dished up in a variety you want, depending on what you have at hand. Offering a variety of colors and flavors, then varying the variety every finger food night keeps this tray interesting. Cube cantaloupe, honeydew, mango and pineapple. Slice apples, watermelon (wedges) and cucumber. Berries, cherries, grapes and cherry tomatoes can be served loose on the platter. Cut carrots and celery into sticks, or serve baby carrots.
Breads, Beans and Grains
This group is a little harder to serve alone. Some finger foods like crackers, pretzels or edamame (fresh or frozen) can be served alone. Others need to be incorporated into a finger food. Tortillas for example can be used to make quesadillas or tortilla wraps. The crackers can be eaten alone or served with lunch meat squares and cheese or some sort of cheese spread.
I frequently added homemade finger foods, including nachos, quesadillas, deviled eggs, ants on a log (celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins) and apples slices with peanut butter for dipping. These, of course, combine foods from more than one of the food groups.
From the Frozen Food Section
Take a stroll through the frozen food section, which offers a huge selection of ethnic and generally kid friendly foods. Here's a small selection of foods I've found in my grocer's freezer section: pizza rolls, Pot stickers, Edamame, Egg rolls, Mozzarella sticks, Spring rolls, Mini quiches, Spanikopita, French fries, and tater tots.
What self respecting kid doesn't like dipping sauces. Like the finger foods, the variety here is endless. Some of the dips we've incorporated into finger food night over the years include: barbecue sauce, sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, honey mustard, peanut butter for apple slices or celery sticks, onion dip, queso, spaghetti or pizza sauce (for the mozzarella sticks), guacamole, honey, vanilla yogurt (for fruit), and ranch dip.
These are only but a few ideas for finger food night. Mix and match these and any other finger foods that your family likes, or foods found at the grocery store, or any new recipes that you can invent, borrow from friends and family of locate in cook books and cooking websites. There's no end to the possible combinations and you're only limited by your imagination.