As Valentine’s Day is now advertised all over, often the kids want to get in on the action too.
Luckily there are many simple, edible ways they can create “love” food with a little bit of supervision.
There are not a whole range of concepts associated with Valentine’s – it’s pretty limited to hearts, flowers and arrows. But there are so many ways to present these, so pick your favourite. And if all else fails, a love note is perfect.
Bread/pizza/crackers/roast potatoes – these can all be shaped into hearts prior to baking. A simple way to create a great visual.
Sandwiches (love-wiches!)/sushi or muesli bars can also be shaped or cut into heart shapes. Present on a red or pink plate for a special Valentine’s treat.
Melted cheese/sour cream/yoghurt – make a perfect addition to a burger, chilli or meat dish. Just use a cookie cutter to form a love shape.
Toppings – use heart or X and O (for kisses and hugs) toppings on pizza, soup, salad or pasta. Cheese, toast, carrots or pepperoni can all be cut simply with cookie cutters - let your imagination run wild.
Cut out hearts from waffles, pancakes or French toast and fill with berries. Use yoghurt for extra kisses.
Eggs are a great medium. They can be fried egg flowers for breakfast, cracked into a heart-shaped hole in toast or made into a boiled egg heart (take a boiled egg, push a chopstick into one long side until an indent is created, then slice vertically to create hearts).
Strawberry and cherry tomato hearts. Strawberries can either be cut in half then skewered together side by side to create a heart. Or just cut in half and make an indent at the top. Cherry tomatoes make perfect hearts. Slice at a 45° angle a third of the way up two tomatoes, twist around, slot together and skewer to make hearts.
Fruit and vege hearts – many fruits and veg can be cut into heart shapes. Build a delicious salad, either fruit or savoury. Or create a fabulous platter either with lots of hearts or for younger kids just place in a heart-shaped bowl. Older kids can create a giant heart from overlapping fruit or veg. Marry this with other foods that are easy to cut into shapes, like ham or cheese.
Or make “I love you” plates. Cut veg like capsicum into letters and spell out I U. Serve with a dip for the perfect snack.
Kabobs or cut outs. Use seasonal fruit like melon to make heart kabobs or cut heart-shaped holes in melon and stuff with fresh berries. Or make a “love arrow” using a skewer and an easily cut fruit like watermelon.
Fruit or veg bouquets. Flowers are easy to make free-form or with cookie cutters. Skewer and create a 3-D bouquet or just place on a pretty platter for a special “mum” plate. Older kids might like to try strawberry roses, which look so impressive but aren’t too tricky.
Strawberry pops or cherry hearts are a lovely summer treat. Use a popsicle stick to skewer a strawberry and dip in melted chocolate or yoghurt and then a range of toppings like crushed nuts. Or dip cherries in yoghurt as they are naturally heart-shaped.
Pink smoothies. Easy to create and delicious to drink. Make a lovely berry smoothie for the ones you love. Serve with red straws and even add some heart-shaped ice cubes (made from berry puree for a vibrant splash of colour and flavour).
Muffins. Make heart-shaped by adding a marble or round cooking weight to the inside of each muffin cup so when they cook they have the indent at the top.
Red packaging. Create a lovely present using red or pink bags or jars decorated with hearts and arrows and fill with your favourite - popcorn, nuts or chocolates.
Judith Yeabsley is a mum of two boys who is passionate about healthy food for kids. She runs a food art website, theartofnutrition.com, focusing on presenting fruit and veges creatively. She also works to change the food environment in schools, community groups and lunchboxes. For information on this and great recipes, see theartofnutrition.co.nz.