As much as I believe in buying and eating seasonally, nothing is really “in season” in Eastern Washington right now. At least not by way of growing outside in actual nature. We’re covered in ice and snow — which isn’t typical for my town and the reason why it took me 3 times longer to shovel myself out this morning than I had anticipated. And why, despite the 2 hour school delay, I still managed to get my 1st grader to school late.
Even though local fruit trees are on winter break, at least apples are in ample supply and generally well liked by kids–eat least mine enjoy them in nearly every form.
Yet, nutritious, crunchy and sweeta as they may be, a big bowl of shiny apples will either go untouched or–if you have small children–you’ll find your house littered with one-bite wonders:
Now my kids would never leave a trail of abandoned fruit lying around because 1) they are bottomless pits for fruit and 2) I make them sit at the table to eat (don’t ask how I obtained these photos). Instead, they shove any half eaten apples into sandwich bags, Sharpie their names on the bags and toss ’em in the fridge for burial behind dozen of other containers, never to be retrieved again.
If you’re having trouble with toddler leftovers, structure in meals and snacks will honestly do a lot to prevent partially eaten apples from taking over your house. And since research also shows that kids are more likely to eat fruit when it is sliced or cut up, if you start serving apples prepared instead of whole, you can eradicate Wasted Apple Syndrome entirely!
Heck I don’t even bite into apples anymore. Slices are my jam! (<– Look I said a popular phrase. Is that too hip for a mom? Or has the jam fad passed?)
Here are 10 Simple Ways to prepare and serve apples that your kids might love. We’ll start super simple and apple-centric then move on to recipes that require a little more prep and more ingredients. But don’t despair, nothing will be terribly time consuming. No actual pies.
1. Slices, sticks, rings, and cubes that don’t turn brown
Slice them, dice them, turn them into discs or sticks–or use a fun apple peeler or spiralizer. However you prep them up for school lunch or for ready-to-eat snack storage, if your kids are bothered by the natural browning that can occur in sliced apples, do this: dip the apple slices into a solution that is one part citrus juice and three parts water. Or make…
2. Cinnamon Slices
Juuuuust a sprinkle of cinnamon helps the apples not look brown…the apples not look brown… except in a cinnamony way 🙂 This works great for packing apple slices in a lunch box.
3. Rubber-band Trick
Another fabulous way to keep an apple from spoiling and make it easy to pack is with this rubber-band trick. Slice the apple all around the core like you see below, then reassemble like a puzzle, snap a rubber-band around and it’s ready to go!
4. Apple Slices with Dip
Want to offer something more than just fruit wedges? The simplest addition is a delicious dip. Something as simple as vanilla yogurt or peanut butter often does the trick. A couple fellow dietitians shared some of their favorites with me.
5. Apple Nachos
Spreading peanut butter on individual apple slices gets pretty messy. May as well turn the whole thing to an apple nachos plate and make it amazing! Toppings are only limited by your imagination!
6. Fresh Apple Pie Smoothie
While I’ve had plenty of homemade apple juice, I’ve never had or made an apple smoothie. So this recipe really caught my eye.
7. Shredded Apple-Carrot Salad
This favorite “salad” of my children was inspired by my dietitian colleague, Natalia Stasenko. Her recipe is a carrot recipe, but my kids love when I combine carrots with apples. If your kids have never had grated apples, I highly recommend it. Anytime an accepted food is presented in new ways, it helps them learn that “new” is not necessarily scary!
I’m not a food & recipe blogger. So here’s the general idea:
8. Apple Pie Bites
These scrumptious apple goodies require baking, but are fairly easy & quick. All you need is the ingredients below and a tube (or two) of ready-to-bake crescent rolls. You’ll need one apple slice for each crescent roll. 1/4″ to 1/2″ works well.
Actually if you have more than 3 people in your family, you’ll definitely want to double this or face a food fight over who gets the last one! Thanks to Natalia Stasenko for sharing this idea because it is a favorite in our house.
To start, just lay out your individual crescent roll triangles on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Put on as little or as much as you prefer of each. Several of us like walnuts, so I sometimes chop up a few walnuts and sprinkle those on too.
Next, brush your apple slices with melted butter. Or, melt some butter in a small dish and dip the apples in the goo. Then place at the widest part of the triangle dough. Then ROLL ’em up!
If you’re good at this stuff, yours will probably look prettier than mine.
But it doesn’t matter. They’ll still turn out amazing once you bake them according to the crescent roll package directions.
So until a new fruit season begins, you can keep yourself and your kiddos from getting bored of apples by using them in new ways. Even though you’re using the same fruit, serving apples in different ways adds visual and textural variety. Even little steps toward increasing variety will help your kids grow in their overall food acceptance.