So many families enjoy the sights and sounds of Fall. It’s colorful, cozy and most of all FULL of candy and sweets. Besides candy and pumpkin specialty sweets, how can we get our kids to eat a decent meal when they are flooded with creepy, gooey, pumpkin-y treats? And on top of all the sugar and chocolate, what really stinks, is that fall is the time of year they need nutritious food the most so they don’t come down with a case of the “Ick” (aka cold and flu).
But I have been around the block a time or two with kids and food, from extreme picky eaters as clients, to kids at birthday parties that won’t even try a cupcake due to it’s color and shape. Fall food for kids is a walk in the park, and this park is full of beautiful leaves and tasty treats. So no worries; it’s harvest time!
Why Oktoberfest? Using Creativity to Feed Kids.
My kids are pretty good eaters, but I have to be honest. I work with them a LOT on growing our own food, knowing our farmers, teaching them how to bake and cook, and setting the expectations that they eat well in order to get sweets. Oktoberfest is one fall party that is going to make my job easy.
First off it’s a party. A great big harvest party, and except for the beer, it is one party that has lots of delicious food as a focal point that is kid-friendly. With a little research and a look in my Slovak family cookbook, my imagination and party plans start to seem very, very possible.
Even better yet, my cousin is throwing a picnic this weekend and I have hinted about the Slovak and German family roots we share as a reason to have ethnic food. She gets the hint and starts planning the menu, but with some minor reservation. She needs to feed almost 10 kids and isn’t sure how to turn Oktoberfest food into kids’ food. I assure her that we can easily transform the picnic into a family memory that will include the kids.
Why Family Makes Food All The More Delicious
It isn’t a secret that eating with family makes families stronger. But as a developmental therapist, it’s often forgotten that parental example of eating is one of the strongest indicators of how well (or poorly) a child eats. This says that parents and family, including siblings, set the example for the kids. Family members that realize the impact their eating habits has on future generations usually choose to eat more mindfully.
So getting together, sharing food, and being social are key factors in teaching kids to eat. So picking some foods that are healthy when having a family meal or a party is essential.
A Pot Luck is a Lucky Pot.
If everyone can bring a dish that is built around a theme, with the goal of making for a delicious meal, then how could a family party not be successful? Duplicate foods, too many of one item such as desserts, and food allergies make the modern family party a little tricky.
It was best for the host, my cousin, to check in with all the guests ahead of time to see if there were any food allergies before planning. She discovered that we needed to address gluten free and dairy free options.Then the menu can be developed and volunteers can be asked to bring specific foods. For our family Oktoberfest, my mom had already offered to bring 2 dozen pierogies. Off to A delicious start!
Brainstorming an Oktoberfest Meal for Kids
It’s always a good idea to have a plan when hosting a party, especially when kids are involved.
Now for some there may be no need to go beyond the buttery pasta pocket filled with potato and cheese that is the classic pierogie, but being realistic about what kids might find tasty, and also what they might need in terms of well balanced nutrition, my cousin and I come up with a few ideas for kids food.
There are so many choices when it comes to Oktoberfest foods. With options ranging from bratwurst sausages to German potato salad, we have a good start. Add in pretzels, cider, spaetzle (fried noodles), pierogies (stuffed dumplings), sauerkraut, simple Instant Pot pulled pork goulash, cucumber salad, stuffed cabbages, and more. My German, Hungarian and Slovak ethnic ties of a few generation ago make this menu a dream! This is a super easy meal plan endeavor.
But how to make this all kid friendly? Easy.
Super Easy Oktoberfest Food For Kids
Here’s the list we came up with, which we easily assigned to family members to bring the day of the party.
- Bratwurst Sausages cut up in small bites and a gluten free pretzel stick to use as a handle to dip each bite in stone ground mustard
- Slovak breaded and fried chicken thighs
- Pierogies (stuffed noodles and butter)
- Spaetzle Fake-Out: Instead of fried noodles, just make noodles of any shape and add melted butter and kraut
- Pretzels and dipping sauce
- Mashed potato bar with toppings including kraut, both organic cold garlic and hot, diced sausages, cubed brats, butter, salsa, cheddar cheese, and pulled pork goulash. Serving glasses were available to make the mashed creations look like ice cream sundaes!
- Pulled pork goulash (Instant Pot)
- Hot dogs wrapped in dough (what some call Pigs in a Blanket)
- Cucumber Salad (Slovak style with vinegar and paprika)
- Apple cider and water to drink
Now most of these foods are easy to make and with a quick internet search they are easy to create from a good recipe. But our family has some true favorite recipes to share. Here is one my cousin made that was AMAZING!
Simple Instant Pot Pulled Pork Goulash
This recipe was made using the Instant Pot manual function.
2-3 pork loin or butt roast (bone in optional, cut in half if too large for pot)
2 T ghee
½ onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Sliced white mushrooms (12 oz)
Penzey’s Steak Seasoning
2 T Hungarian Sweet Paprika
1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz)
3 cups organic beef broth
1 jar roasted red pepper strips (drained)
Ground black pepper
1. Set Instant Pot to Sauté function.
2. Trim all visible fat from roast. Cut in half if too large for pot.
3. Add ghee to instant pot when ready.
4. Sprinkle pork with steak seasoning.
5. When ghee is hot, brown pork on each side until nicely browned, could take up to 10
minutes. Brown in batches if halved.
6. While pork is browning chop onion, prepare mushrooms, and mince garlic.
7. Remove pork to a plate.
8. Add onions to pot and sauté for 3 minutes. Sprinkle paprika over onions and add garlic.
Stir and brown for another 3 minutes.
9. Stir in mushrooms and brown another 5 minutes.
10. Return pork and add diced tomatoes, roasted pepper strips, and beef stock to Instant Pot.
Lock lid and cook on manual function for 60 minutes at high pressure. Let pressure
11. Shred pork using two forks. Set pot to keep warm until serving time.
Add ½ t caraway seeds in step 9 optional
Roast your own red pepper
Serve over mashed potatoes with dollop sour cream
Cook in slow cooker for 8-10 hours on low, or high 4-6
How Our Family’s Oktoberfest Celebration Helped the Next Generation Eat Better.
After the celebration, it was clear we had some solid new food our whole family enjoyed. My daughter told me she had a blast, and loved all the amazing and wonderful food. She said this to me the next day without me even asking. So a shout out to my family -“You are one Oktoberfest inspiration for the next generation of kids! I am proud to be Frau Melissa in this group of Eastern European Foodies!”
Kids’ Food Winners for Oktoberfest
The sauerkraut and black forest cake were the clear winners at our Oktoberfest celebration, but the Goulash came in a very strong Third.