Before I start, let me state how much I hate myself right now. Having spent the first 18 or so years of my life living up North, the fact that I’m referring to the mealtime in the afternoon as ‘lunch’ rather than ‘dinner’ pains me significantly.
Anyway, that’s enough self loathing, for now. Let me instead move on to the actual point of this post. At 20 months old, Toddler L has recently hit a bit of an annoying point in the food department. She’s always been a fantastic eater since she started weaning, but recently she’s become a little pickier, more demanding and rather stubborn.
Food she would usually eat without hesitation – pasta, paella, stew, chili etc – are taking longer to devour with much more hassle along the way. Gone are the days when she would be happy for us to shovel food into her mouth. Instead, she wants to hold the spoon / fork and do all of the work herself – this is obviously fine, but we’re finding she gets distracted and annoyed as a result, plus her appetite at evening meals seems to have vanished.
As such, what she eats each day is becoming a little boring and repetitive. As she’s not eating as much in the evening, I’m sticking to the same tried and tested meals at lunchtime to ensure she continues to stay full. This means beans on toast, tomato soup with bread and simple sandwiches. If I’m bored of making them, I’m pretty sure she’s a little bored of eating them.
It was therefore with great interest that I read a recent email from margarine supremos Flora, who challenged me to get creative in the kitchen at lunchtime. I was tasked with checking out their tasty lunchbox ideas then recreating them myself with my culinary ‘expertise’.
With a range of recipes from curried chicken and apricot sandwiches to chicken pittas, I decided to be as creative as possible by attempting to copy the more ‘Pinteresty’ design of the busy bee sunflower sandwich in the hope that this would get Toddler L to eat more because of the aesthetically pleasing appearance.
With a steely determination, I retrieved the ingredients from the fridge and cupboard, found a couple of cookie cutters and set about doing my best Heston Blumenthal impression. Here’s how I got on with the Flora lunchbox idea:
Busy Bee Sunflower Sandwiches
Our special busy bee sunflower sandwich is so simple to make, but fun to eat! It’s just a round sandwich with pretty petals of yellow pepper and cheese popping out, but we think kids will love to look at it – and you will love knowing that it’s spread with Flora Original. It’s a recipe for sandwich happiness
(Bet you can’t guess which one of the above is mine…)
- 15 g Flora Original
- 1 x slice of wholemeal bread
- 1 x slice of crusty wholemeal bread
- 1 x yellow pepper
- 60 g slice of reduced fat cheddar cheese
- 2 x spring onions
- lettuce leaves
- Make a sandwich using the bread, Flora Original and your filling.
- Get some different size round cookie cutters and cut two or three circles from the sandwich. Turn them crust side up.
- To make the petals on the sunflowers, we used a petal shaped cutter from a cake decorating kit, but you could also cut some triangles and overlap them instead.
- Use the cheese and yellow pepper to create as many petals as you can and then tuck them into the sandwich all the way round. You may find it easier to remove the top layer of bread while you add the petals and then press the top of the sandwich back down, holding everything in place.
- The stalks are added by using some spring onions and lettuce leaves.
As you can probably see, I reckon I get an ‘A’ for effort but ‘D’ for execution. The sandwiches ended up looking a bit more like a weird alien thing than sunflowers, but Toddler L didn’t seem to mind. She ended up eating the majority of the bread, all of the cheese and some of the chicken – she wasn’t a fan of the raw pepper or spring onion, although she did give it a go.
I actually really enjoyed trying to get creative with her sandwiches and will definitely be giving this – and other Flora recipes – another go. Next time, I think I need to cut the cheese in larger triangles and find slightly better cookie cutters as the proportions were out – hence the boob like appearance. Still, I love the concept of making mealtimes more fun and think that Toddler L will enjoy my efforts even more when she’s a little older and able to recognise the designs.
Do you think you could make better sunflower sandwiches than me (don’t worry if you say yes, I’ve not set the bar that high!)? Have you ever done creative things like this with food in the hope that it helps with mealtimes? You can check out this recipe and other lunchtime ideas on the Flora website.
N.B. This is a collaborative post written with Flora.