Now that summer is in full swing, you can dust off that picnic basket and put it to good use. If you are bringing children along, you might have to get a little creative with the contents.
I am used to feeding kids, having raised three girls and now often buddying up at mealtime with my 6-year-old granddaughter. Kids are very “particular” with their cuisine. I confess I have heard the words “I don’t like that” more times than I care to remember. But miraculously, my kids didn’t starve.
I caught on early that, like adults, children are big on food presentation. But for food to look good to kids, it has to appeal to them visually on their level. Bright colors, shapes and imagination have taken me a long way with my young foodies. I have created everything from Minnie Mouse pancakes for my daughters to “ham flowers” for my granddaughter.
It never hurts to have a little help, so I am turning to the lifestyle queen, Martha Stewart. Here are some pretty, yet healthy, ideas for your child’s picnic basket, courtesy of marthastewart.com:
Chop Vegetables. Wash vegetables, then pat dry so they’ll stay crisp. While an adult chops celery and peppers, kids can snap green beans and put cherry tomatoes and chopped vegetables into plastic bags.
Prepare Trail Mix. Raid your pantry for dried fruits, nuts and other bite-size sweet and salty snacks. Put a handful of each into a large bowl, then stir gently. Store in a hard-sided container to keep ingredients from getting crushed. You can make the trail mix a day or two ahead to save time. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.
Frost Graham Crackers. Spread homemade or store-bought frosting between two graham cracker halves; we used chocolate frosting for some, vanilla for others, or both. Stack and store in a hard-sided container.
Prepare Fruit and Cream. Combine ripe berries and grapes for a quick fruit salad. Don’t wash berries until just before the picnic, or they’ll turn soggy. Look for plump blueberries with a silverish tint and raspberries that are deep red but not too soft. Toss together gently, using your hands. Pack in a hard-sided container.
To make the cream, put 3/4 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar in a 1-quart airtight container. You’ll “whip” the cream at the picnic site.
Make Sandwiches. Cream cheese spreads keep better than mayonnaise and taste great on ham or turkey sandwiches. Divide an 8-ounce package of cream cheese between two bowls. Stir 4 tablespoons of apricot jam into one, and a teaspoon of oregano into the other. Then set up a sandwich-assembly line, making sure each sandwich gets both spreads.
Wrap Sandwiches. Once you’ve made the sandwiches, wrap them in waxed paper the same way you would wrap a present. Seal the sandwiches with different colored stickers; that way you can tell at a glance which is turkey and which is ham.
Shake Up Whipped Cream. Making whipped cream is fun and simple to do. At the picnic site, kids can take turns shaking the container of cream and powdered sugar vigorously (two to four minutes), until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Don’t shake it too early, or it will deflate before you serve it. Spoon fruit into cones, and top with a dollop of cream.
TERI LYON IS AN EXPERIENCED MOM, GRANDMOM AND FREELANCE WRITER WHO LIVES IN GLENBURN TOWNSHIP WITH THE YOUNGEST OF HER THREE DAUGHTERS AND THEIR CAT.