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« A Special Fork Summer Party | Main | One or Two Bites »

We Eat with our Eyes

By Andrew Hunter

I know in a split second if my boys are going to eat what’s on their plates or not. That’s because they judge whether they like something by the way it looks. Chefs like to say, “we eat with our eyes,” because we know the way a plate looks to a guest is as important as the way it tastes.

Presentation is especially important when cooking for finicky kids. Colors, textures and garnishes all have an important place on the plate. Most kids are attracted to fast food because of the presentation. I mean, who doesn’t like bright, primary-colored packaging that includes a toy? So why not arrange their fruit and veggies in a fun and colorful way too?

Making quesadillas, for example, is an easy, child-friendly way to have fun and be creative with colorful ingredients and presentation. Kids love customizing, plating and decorating their own.

We make a lot of quesadillas at our house. For breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, the boys love them any time of day. We put practically anything into a quesadilla, such as last night’s leftover meat from the grill, sliced ham and turkey, and eggs. Our boys don’t like scrambled eggs, but will eat them in quesadillas.

For a basic cheese quesadilla, heat a small amount of oil or butter in a large skillet. Nonstick cooking spray works just as well.  Place ingredients on one half of a whole-wheat tortilla and sprinkle with cheese (we use Monterey Jack or a sharp Cheddar). When the cheese starts to melt, add other goodies, fold over, and press it down. Cook until lightly brown on both sides. Remove from the skillet and cut into three wedges. Place the overlapping wedges on a plate and garnish with colorful toppings.

Nicky’s favorite is Nutella with sliced bananas or strawberries. Follow the instructions above, but instead of cheese, spread Nutella thinly across the tortilla and sprinkle with fresh fruit.

I read recently that our bodies make more efficient use of nutrients from foods that we like. After all, if your kids’ eyes like it, chances are their tummies will too.

Special Fork bloggers blog Monday through Friday. For more recipes and ideas on your smartphone, check us out at Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @specialforksndy.

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