September 7, 2012

Playing With Food: Animal Toast

I mentioned having planned a few fun little projects for when my three nieces and nephews (all under age 4) came to stay with us over the long weekend. One of these projects involved making animal shapes in toast since I knew they'd be joining us for lunch as soon as they arrived. It also gave me an excuse to bring those cute animal shaped cookie cutters we got at Ikea out from hiding!

I thought this could be a cute and fun way to give us something to talk about during lunch while eating healthfully at the same time. The process for making these couldn't be simpler: lightly toast your bread enough to get a little hardness on each side (makes for easier cutting), then press cookie cutter shapes into toast and pop out shapes onto a plate.

I tried to get as many shapes out of one piece of bread by maneuvering the cookie cutters as close to the edges as possible and placing two at one time on a piece of bread like puzzle pieces before making the cuts.

Now here's where my not being a mother comes into play. Here I had all these grand plans of photographing the kids at the table with the animal shapes all laid out, photos of them holding them in their hands, photos of us spreading peanut butter and other fun things on them and of course photos of them taking a big smiley bite out of them. Well, all you mothers out there can take a big laugh at me right now as you probably know that the second my three beautiful and rambunctious nieces and nephews walked through the door, a little mayhem broke loose and basically just getting through lunchtime with a clean table and clean hands in the end was a victory in itself — forget the camera! Tim kept his mouth shut but I think in his head he was having a couple "I told you so" moments of validation (while I was prepping the animal toast shapes before the kids got here, he had been kind of shaking his head a little at all my big plans, haha).

Needless to say, the kids loved seeing the animal shapes waiting for them on the table when they arrived. We talked about which different animals there were and even got little Benjamin to try to pronounce the words "porcupine" and "hedgehog." They loved requesting how much peanut butter to spread on each animal and which parts of the animals they might bite into first.

They also seemed very concerned with each of them getting the same amount of shapes and when there was only one whale in the bunch I had to make a split second decision to feed it to the baby in bite sized pieces in order to avoid a potential meltdown among the older two — lesson learned for next time — always make sure to have even everything when they come over!

While I only photographed the toast portion, these little shapes would be great just alone as a snack or with a host of other combinations for meal time:
  • Simple toast with spread (butter, preserves, cream cheese, peanut butter, nutella).
  • Add a little protein like small ham slices or an egg to make an open faced sandwich.
  • Put two of the same shape together to make a mini sandwich.
  • The list of possibilities goes on and on...

So that's the simple trick I had to get the kids to eat whole grain bread at Aunt Mary and Uncle Tim's house and have fun while doing it. Obviously this might not be realistic for everyday meals, but since I only get to see the kiddos once in a while I try to find special ways to make things fun while I spend time with them. I'd love to hear your tips for making food fun and interesting for the little ones.


  1. Those are so cute!

    My two oldest are at an age where helping me with the preparation/cooking makes it more fun for them to eat the meals. My daughter (picky eater) is much more willing to try new foods when she helped put all the ingredients together.

  2. I use cookie cutters on PBJs AFTER they're assembled. it seals them just a bit and is a lot of fun. Sometimes I don't pull the shape out of the sandwich but let my kid pluck it out and she can nibble on the crust portion too, if she wants to.

    1. Page, love this idea. I can definitely see where letting the kids pick the shapes out would be fun and keep the rest of the bread in tact for eating!


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