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Spending regular quality time with your children is imperative to a happy family. It is natural for children to want quality time with their parents, to fulfil their healthy need for attention and to make them feel secure and confident in who they are.

We have to eat to live and to be healthy so here are some great ways to make food and the preparation of it fun for the whole family.

Eat dinner together – in fun and interesting locations

Eating together is one of the easiest ways to spend quality time as a family.  We all have to eat dinner at some point, so eating together is the perfect time to touch base and talk about the day. Generally it is a good idea to have the meals at the dinner table, but every now and then it makes for a nice change to spice up the location a little. Why not have an outdoor picnic after a walk or some touch-rugby with the kids? Or even an indoor picnic in front of the fire in winter? Having some variety in your routine is a fantastic way to bring the family together.

Presentation is key

For younger children it is fun to present food as a game or a play-filled experience.  Why not cut the food into unusual shapes, adding smiley-faces, mini hearts, stars, or even giving foods silly names to help them get excited about and try different foods.

Get the kids involved

If your children become involved in choosing and preparing meals they’ll be more interested in eating what they’ve made.  Take them grocery shopping and let them choose some of the foods.  Why not let them help with the preparation… even if they are young? Just being in the kitchen with you and letting them stir a pot could make their day.  As they get older they can have more and more responsibility and really get GO’ing in the kitchen.  Once in a while look for some kid-friendly, fun recipes that they can make with you.  The Zucchini and Corn Pirate Boat recipe below is a perfect example.

The reading labels game

Reading labels is an important activity that everyone should be able to do.  If your kids learn to read labels at a young age they will learn what is good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat. While shopping, make sure they check the fat and sugar contents of their choices and let them decide whether it should be part of the menu or not. Let this empower and inspire them to always choose healthy choices.

International dinner dates

Once in a while pick a country that all of you are interested in and then make food that is characteristic of that country.  Why not make it a learning experience where each person brings a fact about the country and you all dress up in clothes that are commonly worn in that country?

Film a cooking show

Cooking shows are very popular these days and with technology becoming so much easier, this is a very entertaining activity to do with your kids.  Pick out a recipe that you would like to try and pretend that you are hosting your own cooking show!  If the whole family participates you will have a lot of laughs watching the video for many years to come.

It’s all about having fun with the family!  And since food is such an important part of our lives it only makes sense to have some fun activities around food to bring the family closer together.  Enjoy!

Zucchini and Corn Pirate Boats

Ingredients

Boats:

  • 4 medium zucchini, hollowed out, flesh reserved and chopped

Filling:

  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • ½ cup finely minced onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 small zucchini, diced into ¼-inch pieces

Masts:

  • 8 small cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4 10cm skewers
  • 2 zucchini slices, halved
  • 2 green onions, green parts only

Method

Boats:

  1. Boil the zucchini for 3 minutes until slightly tender
  2. Remove the zucchini and set them aside to cool
  3. You can scoop out the insides of the zucchini halves before or after boiling

Filling:

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat
  2. Add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate
  4. Drain the bacon drippings from the pan
  5. Add the onion and cook it until translucent
  6. Add the zucchini filling and cubed zucchini and cook for 1 minute
  7. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds
  8. Add the corn and tomato and stir occasionally until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes
  9. Stir in the bacon
  10. Season with salt and pepper, to taste

Masts:

  1. Thread 2 cherry tomatoes onto each skewer with a little piece of green onion between them and top with a half slice of zucchini.
  2. Insert a mast into the end of each boat, then fill the zucchini boats with the filling
  3. Arrange the boats on a serving platter and serve with your meal

Recipe from foodnetwork.com