Monkeying Around with Your Kid’s Eating Routine

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MONKEY PLATTER BORDERSEver since the days of preschool playdates, monkey platters have been a mainstay in our household. Forget trying to craft edible and allergen-free creations for eight unruly and opinionated preschoolers. The monkey platter pleases and nourishes all. The inspiration credit goes to my second child, who was and still is a bit of a food separatist. No need to cook elaborate casseroles for this child when she’d prefer foods not to mix. There is something to be said about the simplicity of foods in their most basic form and these platters can be made to the specifications, preferences, and allergens of each child.

Definition: Monkey Platter – noun –  A plate of assorted finger foods requiring little preparation and satisfying an array of tastes and nutritional needs. The term Monkey Platter was popularized by Unschooling guru Sandra Dodd, though may have been always been a universal concept.

I break out the monkey platter on days or nights when I just can’t bear the thought of trying to come up with a meal that everyone can agree on. You can get fancy or keep it simple. I usually fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I’m not going to create elaborate art out of my children’s food, but I do like to use things like toothpicks, tiny forks, and small bowls to make the eating experience more interesting and enticing. Fun plates with individual compartments can also add to the visual appeal and fun. An ice cube tray or muffin tin can serve this purpose in a pinch!

Some of our favorites include:

AVOCADOVegetables:

baby carrots

avocado

celery sticks

cucumber slices

olives

Dairy:

cubed cheese with toothpicks (or not)

soft goat cheese

Dips and Spreads: (some purists will tell you that they leave these out)GOAT CHEESE

hummus

olive tapenade

tatziki

sour cream

cream cheese

yogurt

Fruit:

fruit leather

dates

dried cranberriesPOMEGRANATE

grapes

sliced apples

kiwi

banana

watermelon

strawberries

blueberries

raspberries

seeded pomegranate (a favorite in our house) – let me show you how to de-seed a pomegranate in 30 seconds!

Nuts and Seeds:

cashews

peanutsCASHEWS

almonds

walnuts

pecans

sunflower seeds

pistachios

pumpkin seeds

Meats and Eggs:

boiled egg

rolled up turkey or ham

cut up hot dog or tofu dog circles

Prepared Snack Foods:SNACK MIX

pretzels

rice crackers

goldfish

oyster crackers

pita chips

tortilla chips

MONKEY PLATTERThe beautiful thing about a monkey platter is that you can use what you have on hand and survey the nutritional profile as you go. On days of scant pantry, the platter will be about filling the children more than anything, but I do aim to hit a spectrum of colors and food groups if I can. An array of ingredients from your garden, pantry or farmer’s market will provide quality nutrition for your kids without the usual protestation. A well built money platter can lead to high feelings of accomplishment with low effort.  It feels like cheating but looks like winning. And if you’re too tired to make your own dinner, who’s to say adults can’t monkey around as well? Share your favorite Monkey Platter ingredients!

Be Well, Eat well.

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Hello, I’m Jennifer! I’m an NH native and a self-proclaimed and often accused Jack of all trades, master of some. I am a single mother and longtime homeschooler of two girls, 15 and 11, who were both born and raised on our 50 acre farm in the “mountains” of Strafford. Once the home to dozens of barnyard animals, our ever-evolving farm has morphed into a teaching site for foraging classes, as well as a haven for Tiny Home refugees. In addition to my wildcrafting classes and CSA, I sell nontoxic cleaning products and play solo acoustic music locally. I am a lover of all things “green,” both literally and environmentally, and an accumulator of random certifications such as Hypnotherapist, Equine Massage Therapist, CPR & First Aid Instructor, Midwife, Music Together Teacher, this list goes on. But most days I find myself crowned with the illustrious title of “chauffeur” to my two active girls. When I grow up I’d like to live in a Yurt and maybe practice Midwifery again in a remote location.