July 14, 2010 12:02:00 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Sometimes kids just need a little inspiration to try something in the kitchen. Sultry summertime offers a great opportunity to tempt them to make some simple, fun and yes, even healthy, snacks. The time together with mom or dad -- or grandparents -- can be a memory-builder, too.
Summer''s luscious fruit, watermelon, is an uncomplicated place to start. Whether 2 or 12, every child can enjoy taking a cookie cutter to slices of watermelon. Try a star, football, or simple flower shape on slices of a mouth-watering melon (seedless varieties are great). Usually 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick slices will do, but cut yours to match the depth of your cookie cutter.
When shapes are cut out, let the kids carefully insert a popsicle or craft stick into the bottom of each one. The melon-sicles are now ready to go into the freezer on a foil-lined pan for a couple of hours. Youngsters -- and adults -- will get a kick out of this no-fuss summer staple on a stick. For added party flare, reserve half of your original watermelon as a "holder" and stick the frozen sicles in it when ready to present at the table or poolside.
Put a fresh, healthy twist on the old banana split by substituting watermelon balls for ice cream. For kid-sized splits, cut a peeled banana in half lengthwise and then halve the length. With a melon scoop, add three or four watermelon balls between the banana slices. Add strawberries, pineapple, blueberries or any fruit topping and drizzle with chocolate for a delectable finish.
For the younger set, an afternoon spent baking and decorating cookies with a parent can be the highlight of the week. You can even use the large store-bought cookies and skip the oven-time.
A quick trip to the grocery store for a variety of Rollos, gummy fruit, M&Ms and the like can provide eyes, noses, mouths and even hair to make funny faces on cookies covered with a thin layer of cake icing. (Let the kids have at it; don''t worry if the results aren''t perfect.) And, a couple of tubes of gel icing will absorb your little artists. This can be a giggling activity for birthday parties, sleepovers, or when it''s just plain too hot to be outside.
Or, how about frozen grape pops? After washing any color grapes you prefer (alternating colors makes a visual treat), skewer about six on an 8-inch lollipop stick. You can usually find them at big box stores, or cake/candy supply sources. Place the grape sticks in a freezer-safe plastic bag and freeze overnight for a cool treat to keep on hand. And don''t forget that Jell-O poured into ice cube trays and frozen hits the spot, too.
Adults and youngsters spending kitchen time together is almost a lost art in many households these days. Admittedly, with busy schedules, it may take a little effort to carve out the time. But fun in the kitchen, elbow to elbow, can turn children on to healthier eating, teach them some basics and even strengthen family bonds.
Today''s food pages include more so-simple kid-friendly ideas to try out this summer and beyond. And fortunately, there''s no age limit on enjoying them!
8 ounces sour cream
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Watermelon sticks or small wedges
1-inch cubes seedless watermelon
Smoked turkey breast
Coffee stirrers or beverage straws
COCONUT COVERED BANANAS
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup nonfat vanilla or plain yogurt or lowfat milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Two ice cubes
Any fruit desired (fresh or frozen)
VANILLA PUDDING AND WAFER CUPS
Two boxes vanilla Jell-O
One box mini Nilla wafers
One tub whipped topping
One dark chocolate bar
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.