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Kids in the Kitchen

I've been known to eat dessert first. While my food philosophies may be unorthodox at times, my efforts to make eating fun and exciting for my girls have produced rather impressive palates for two little ones. They love Japanese food, Indian food, veggies, you name it.

ON LILSUGAR: Kids in the Kitchen: The Best Toys for Your Little Foodies

One of my tried-and-true strategies for raising well-rounded eaters is to have my kids make some of their own choices in the kitchen. Letting them have a hand in the process gives them a sense of control and empowerment—and trust me, my girls are way more willing to eat a salad that they helped make!

Here are some fun ideas for playing with ingredients in the kitchen:

Pancakes and waffles are breakfast staples in my house. They're yummy, fun to make, and a great way to teach some measuring and math skills while you cook. I let the girls customize their own toppings.

Have kids help make their own school lunches. I set out a variety of options on the counter and allow Poet and Jagger to pick and choose the items they want. They also love using cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes.

For salads, I cut up an assortment of veggies and have the kids toss everything together in the bowl. The more colors, the better—they love the idea of eating something with every shade of the rainbow in one bite.

ON LILSUGAR: Play With Your Food! Fun, Adorable, and Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids

We're big bakers and are constantly test-driving new recipes. The girls get to choose their mix-ins when we make cookies (mini marshmallows and chocolate chips are favorites), and when we bake cakes, the best part is the decorating—obviously! My kids get really creative with the icing and sprinkles.

And that's not all—here is one of my favorite tricks for sneaking in new foods and flavors: I turn to "surprise smoothies" for those picky eaters. I recently threw avocado and broccoli into the blender with chocolate ice cream for my friend's son and he loved it!

Even if food gets everywhere—I'm talking sprinkles on the floor and icing on the wall, which I've dealt with many times—we always have a blast together. When I'm in need of some fresh ideas, new recipes, and creative kitchen projects for the girls, I turn to my faithful followers on Twitter and the Target Baby Facebook community. There’s nothing like crowdsourcing when you've got mouths to feed!

Please share some of your favorite food ideas and inspiration here!

MORE ON LILSUGAR:

7 Websites That Inspire Cooking With Kids

5 Easy Ways to Make Vegetables More Fun For Kids

Baker’s Dozen: 13 Pantry Finds For Moms and Kids in the Kitchen

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