Mash up some fun yummies: 10  clever summertime ideas for junior foodies

Help kids celebrate almost-summer with creative kitchen concoctions that make out-of-the-ordinary tummy-fillers and produce great memories!

  1. Grow fresh herbs and/or pot up a tomato vine -- These lovely, practical plants require little space. A windowsill is enough for the herbs, and a deck (or less) is ample for a sturdy, fruitful tomato vine. What fun to help kids make that dirt-to-table connection.
  2. Dig into a platter of rainbow-colored-spaghetti -- (posted by Jennifer Perkins to LearnVe$T, under “10 Cheap and Fun Summer Activities for Kids”) Perkins writes, “Cooked noodles with a little food coloring and oil automatically become exciting in a myriad of ways. Set your kid down with a pile of it and let her go wild smooshing, painting and flinging. (You might want to do this outside, if you're worried about the mess.)” What a multi-sensory experience!
  3. Go fishing in a cup -- (from Kraft) Use blue Jell-o Berry Blue flavor gelatin and fish-shaped chewy candies to create adorable, edible Fish Bowl Fun (also called Fish Food).
  4. Get sticky with peanut butter and pretzels -- (from Jif) Coat part of pretzel rods in Jif® Whips Whipped Peanut Butter and Salty Caramel Flavored Spread and roll them in chocolate chips, sprinkles, or chopped nuts to make Salty Caramel Pretzel Sticks.
  5. Serve up s’mores without camping or campfire -- Jamie Cooks It Up blog offers “15 Fun Recipes for Kids,” including SMore Cookies.
  6. Add a few penguins to the day’s fruit serving --  (from the book Bean Appetit by Shannon Peyette Seip, Kelly Parthen, and Carisa Dixon excerpted for Parenting) Completely adorable Pear Penguins with pastry-brush-painted-on chocolate feathers, chocolate chip eyes, and carrot snippet noses make a great a project for an entire crew—one pear per person!
  7. Skewer together sweet, tasty vitamins on a stick -- pop strawberries, kiwi slices, grapes, berries, pineapple chunks, apple slices and other fruits onto a shish kebob skewer for a colorful, vitamin-packed treat. With larger fruit, cut out shapes with mini cookie cutters or chocolate molds. Dip in yogurt and coconut. Or just nibble ‘em plain.
  8. Take a few bears to the beach -- (from Kraft) Especially clever for summer birthday parties these Bears at the Beach cupcakes, using graham cracker bear-shaped graham snacks, a little blue food coloring, Cool Whip, a few paper umbrellas, some scene-setting imagination and a handful of other ingredients, will definitely produce smiles.
  9. Re-think the sandwich -- Funky Lunch has put together an unbelievable collection of creative variations on the classic sandwich. Find a gallery of great ideas. From dinosaur to butterfly to grand piano on celery legs, it’s hard to believe they involve bread slices!
  10. Hide veggies in a bright purple smoothie -- Shhhh... no one has to know the secret ingredients but you. Mix up a Purple Pie smoothie with sweet potato, blueberry, apple, cinnamon and ginger. For another sneaky, healthy substitute, add a little red cabbage to a berry smoothie.