Thursday, January 29, 2015

9 Tips to Turn a Dish of Pasta Into Something Fun

Every kid loves pasta. They may be more picky when it comes to vegetables, but they can rarely refuse a good plate of spaghetti carbonara or macaroni bolognese. Nevertheless, kids usually get bored of the same routine or lack of imagination with their meals. Here are some ways to add a spark of imagination to a pasta dish to provide nutritious, healthy and creative meals.

1) True Colors.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is life beyond the classic macaroni necklace painted with markers! A good idea is to dye them with their favorite color and then... eat them all! To do this, you need to add a tablespoon of food coloring into the boiling water before you put the pasta in. When it boils, you can add the spaghetti, fusilli, penne or farfale, and you will notice, slowly, how they begin to change color. Finally, you will have a colorful plate of pasta and a big smile on your kid’s face.

2) Spaghetti Mane.

This is a simple way to get your kids to finish their entire plate. Take some hot dogs, cut them in half and prick raw spaghetti in one end of each. Cook them in plenty of water until the pasta is ready. When you strain it, you will have cool “lions” with a noodle mane. You can even paint their eyes with mayonnaise and a mouth with ketchup to achieve the full effect.

Funny Face Pasta

3) A Nest of Hungry Birds.

To make a real nest of hungry birds, you need spaghetti and some good homemade meatballs. Boil the pasta and then make a circle around the center of the plate with all the noodles and place two meatballs dipped in tomato sauce in the center. Cut a couple triangles of cheddar cheese to make the beak. You can use circles of boiled egg or black olives to make the eyes. To give the feeling that they are standing on a tree branch, we can put a sprig of celery underneath.

4) Clowning Around.

For those children who love goofing around and magic you can create a small clown on their plate! Using colored spirals can make the clown hair. When serving, place the cooked pasta in a half circle around the edge of the plate, then you can use a halved cherry tomato for the clown nose, green olives for the eyes and their favorite pasta sauce to “draw” the mouth and ears. You can also prepare some extra bow tie pasta for the clown’s bow!

5) On Wheels.

‘Rotelle’ are small pieces of pasta that look like wheels. The fun possibilities with this pasta are endless: from bikes (where green asparagus are the handlebars and frame) to trains where a slice of cheese may be the car. The power of imagination is endless!

6) Bringing the Field to the Plate.

You can use green pasta (‘tagliatelle’, for instance) and boil it. That will be the grass. Broccoli can be used for the trees, the yolk of a fried egg will be a perfect sun, and some fresh cheese cut skillfully will become clouds. If you want a complete meal, you can ask your little gardener to 'water it' with extra virgin olive oil. Delicious, beautiful and very healthy!

7) Lasagna Cupcakes.

Is there anything tastier than cupcakes to children? In this case, we will make cupcakes for dinner. How? To make it, all you have to do is put the pasta in muffin tins, then put it in the oven filled with ground beef and bechamel sauce. Bake and... Mmmm, delicious Italian cupcakes!

8) Find the Treasure.

‘Conchiglie’ or pasta shells are great helpers to turn a meal into a game. You just have to put them face down and ask the kids to find something you have hidden under one of them (a pea, corn kernel, carrot chunk)... Before you notice, they’ll have eaten the whole plate. Just do not forget to have something planned when he/she can claim as their treasure. A chocolate dessert, perhaps?

9) Use Cartoons.

If everything else fails, you can always try that scene with the spaghetti and the meatballs from the Disney movie ‘Lady and the Tramp’, or insist on the fact that Garfield is a true fan of lasagna, or even remind them of Super Mario’s Italian heritage who, of course, loves spaghetti. Buon Appetito!


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