Grandparents Teach, too

Marketing fruits, veggies to kids a challenge

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling, and Katers

“Yum. Here are some fruits and vegetables,” says adult to child. Young child’s mouth is sealed shut. “Let’s eat some salsa you helped chop up! Yummy!” Magically the mouth may open up with a smile. Not convinced? Give salsa a whirl.

Sometimes when families are encouraging small children to eat fruits and vegetables amiably we need a new approach. There are three nutritionists’ suggestions to follow: make the pieces small, thick salsa style; include children in the preparation; omit the spice or onions in the salsa.

Versatile salsa

Salsa is sauce in Spanish which means it can go on something to add interest and flavor, but young children like it as a stand- alone, as well as, on top of something.

Fruit salsa is generally an easy choice for young children. Make sure the children are standing on a sturdy surface and use plastic or table knives for chopping. Here are some possibilities: strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pitted Bing cherries, mangoes, peeled apples, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, peeled peaches, whatever is in season. The salsa should store for a day. Add fresh banana pieces before serving.

Older children or adults can cut the larger fruit into peeled pieces and younger children, the ones we want to convince, can cut the larger pieces into small ½ inch squares.

Mix the juice of half or less of a lemon and 1 Tablespoon of strawberry jam together and stir into the fruit. The salsa can be served with buttered toast or an English muffin or a side of Cheerios.

If you have time, make some cinnamon tortilla chips in the oven. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter the tortillas and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and sugar. Place on a cookie sheet and use a pizza cutter to cut into triangles or squares. Bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until they are light brown. When cooled, children can spoon salsa onto the chips.

If you need a rainy day activity, turn the salsa making into a cooking show by recording on your phone.

Not so spicy

Vegetable salsa is a little trickier because young children may not like the texture or taste of vegetables yet, but it is worth a try. Start with very small tender zucchini, black beans, cooked corn, shaved carrots cut into tiny squares, and tiny pieces of chopped lettuce. Add a little salt and eat with toast or homemade tortillas with no cinnamon. If the vegetables need to be a bit softer sprinkle with water and put the mixture in the microwave for a few seconds. Tomatoes, onions, and peppers are often a problem so that probably knocks out tomato salsa for a while. For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com; wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons; Pinterest and Facebook.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.