Fruit sushi! Super fun and healthy school lunch recipe.

September 30, 2015

It used to be that vegetables were the thing that always came home in my boys’ lunch boxes, but there was a strange reversal over the summer. Suddenly, the peppers and cucumbers, carrot stick and snap peas were eaten, but the fruit was coming home. Fruit? Sweet summer fruit! What gives?

Back in the day, I might have investigated this strange phenomenon. And maybe back then I would have written a long (possibly inspiring? or at least informational?) post about the psychology of children eating fruit. But you know what having a nearly 6-year-old and 8 1/2-year-old has done for me? It has freed me. I don’t need to investigate. I’m not even all that curious. It’s just the way of raising children. One day they like fruit and the next they don’t. One day pasta is their favorite food in the world and then next it’s quite possibly the most disgusting thing they have ever seen plated for human consumption.

There’s just no telling and luckily, at this point in my motherhood journey, I can rest assured in that reality. Instead, I focus a little energy—whatever I have—on looking for creative and easy solutions that get them to eat well. In this case, it comes in the form of fruit sushi.

Before I explain what fruit sushi is, how I make it, and why I refuse to call it “frushi” (it just sounds bad), I do hope that my “move along” attitude is, in some strange way, as helpful as the long examining posts of yesteryear. If you have younger children, I encourage you to still put the energy into learning about how and why kids eat the way that they do. Here are some resources that I hope help: 5 simple ways to feed baby while feeding yourself, why hiding vegetables misses the point, introducing high allergen foods. But I also hope that you don’t stress out too much. I get that you may not be able to just “move along” if you’re in the thick of dealing with a picky 3-year-old—I wouldn’t have been able to—but I also wish that someone had told me that my efforts were better spent eating well myself as a good model, having fun coming up with healthy meals that we could all ostensibly share, and not stressing when the kids refused my healthy meals. (Your kids won’t starve. Seriously. I promise.)

I wish someone had told me to make it easy because my best was good enough. And then I wish that someone had shown me fruit sushi. Because look at how fun!

The concept is simple: Sweet sticky rice wrapped around fresh fruit. It’s pretty easy to make, too, especially if you have a rice cooker. Start with short grain rice (sushi rice is the obvious choice, but any short grain will do). If you have a rice cooker, set it on the sticky rice setting, otherwise cook it with extra water so that it’s a little mushy.

This is the only time I’ll ever encourage you to make mushy rice!

Mash one cup of rice with one half to a whole banana, depending on how ripe it is. The point is to make the rice super sticky. I also add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk and chia seeds to taste to help things move along. (If you’ve never worked with chia seeds, they develop a gelatinous coating when combined with moisture that will help make the rice sticky.) You can also add a dash of cinnamon if you like.

In addition to rice, you’ll need fresh fruit cut into thin slices. I like using mango, banana, strawberries, or kiwi, but get creative—or at least pick your child’s favorite fruit.

Watch the video to learn how to put the rice and fruit together. It’s way easier than trying to read through detailed instructions. Trust me. One watch and you’ll know exactly what to do.

One pro tip before signing off: In the video, I say to use a sharp knife. Yes, you can do that, but unless it’s super sharp, I’ve found that a serrated bread knife works best. Also, keep a little cup of water nearby when cutting your sushi into bite-sized pieces. To keep the rice from sticking to the knife too much, wet your fingers and carefully use them to wipe down the blade between every cut.

Let me know if you give this a try and, if so, what fruit you use. Also, keep in mind that this can totally serve as the main entree in your kid’s lunch box. The rice is the carb and fruit is taken care of, then add a side of veggies and some protein. I think plain Greek yogurt is a good match, but some deli meat, leftover chicken, or a hunk of cheese can all do the job well.

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