The produce aisle is a food zoo just waiting for you.

How to Create Animals With Fruit & Vegetables for Kids

by Eliza Martinez

As a mom, you probably know how hard it is to get your toddler or preschooler to expand his choices at the table. It's frustrating to worry that your kid isn't getting the nutrition he needs because he simply refuses to eat anything that isn't a potato chip dipped in ranch dressing. You might not think you have time to make animals out of fruits and vegetables, but this is a fun way to make them more appealing to picky eaters. It doesn't have to take a lot of time or look perfect. The simple novelty of it might be enough to get your kid to eat fruits and vegetables.

1 Use oranges or apples to make pigs, cats or dogs. The navel part of the orange or the stem part of the apple makes a great nose or mouth. Carve legs into the fruit by gently slicing through the skin in the shape of the foot. Pull the skin out slightly so you can see the legs. Use another orange or apple to carve ears and a tail. Cut a small slit in the orange or apple and insert the body parts into the crevices. Carve out two small holes just above the nose of the animal and insert black beans for eyes.

2 Carve a banana into a dachshund puppy. Cut the banana in half. The stem will be the tail and the other end becomes the face. On the underside of the banana half with the stem, carve short legs and feet and fold them down. On the other half of the banana, cut out ears and fold them outward. Insert toothpicks into the top portion of the body of the dog so they stick out halfway. Push the head of the dog, with the bottom end sticking out, onto the toothpicks to hold both halves together. Cut small holes and insert black beans for eyes.

3 Make a shark from zucchinis or cucumbers. Carve a triangle from one end to make a mouth. Use the excess to carve smaller triangles to make teeth. Cut small slits along the edges of the mouth and insert the teeth into them. Use a sharp knife to carve gills and fins on the sides of the animal. Cut small holes above the mouth and stick small carrot rounds into them to make eyes. Use some excess from another cucumber or zucchini to carve a fin. Cut a slit in the back of the shark and put the fin into it.

4 Use bok choy to make fish. This is easy because it doesn't even require much carving. The bottom end will be the face and the leaves of the bok choy become the fins. Fluff the leaves and pull them outward slightly to make side and back fins. Carve small holes at the face end of the bok choy and insert black beans or black-eyed peas to make eyes.

5 Make a frog out of green bell peppers. Cut the pepper in half and clean out the seeds. Turn one half, cut side down to make the body of the frog. Use the other half to carve the frog's legs. Make the back legs slightly fatter than the front ones. Carve small holes on top of the body half of the pepper and stick in black-eyed peas to make the frog's eyes.

Items you will need

  • Sharp knife
  • Black beans
  • Toothpicks
  • Black-eyed peas

Tips

  • Wash the fruits and vegetables with warm water and mild dish soap. This ensures that no bacteria or harmful chemicals find their way into your child's body. Wipe the fruits and vegetables dry to make it easier to cut them.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables that are just ripe, or slightly under ripe. If they are too soft or too hard, they'll be difficult to carve.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

Photo Credits

  • Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images