From sweet potatoes to mangoes, papayas and peanuts, you'll find plenty of African-based foods to serve at a party for children. Your young guests won't care if you serve authentic versions of food or simply African-inspired dishes, so have fun with the dishes and focus on foods the children will love.
Snacks and Sides
As your young guests arrive, let them munch on sweet potato and kale chips, foods from West African countries, that you've sprayed with cooking oil, roasted at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until crunchy, about 20 minutes, and sprinkled with salt. Or set out a bowl of peanuts, also common in the countries of the western portions of the continent. Serve the peanuts in their shells if your party is outdoors so the children can have the fun of shelling.
Fruit for Snacks or Sides
If your party is in the winter months, set out bowls of easily peeled mandarin oranges, which grow profusely in Morocco and are available in the U.S. from November through January. For a side dish, serve a fruit salad with mangoes, bananas, casaba melon and papayas, all foods found in West African countries. Add a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds on top.
Foods With Substance
Serving hearty foods along with standard sugary party fare helps keep children well-fueled for the party activities. For example, serve breaded chicken fingers with a peanut butter dipping sauce thinned with chicken stock and a dash of vinegar, or serve breaded fish fingers with a ketchup dipping sauce. For an unusual but tasty party treat roast chickpeas in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 40 minutes and sprinkle them with salt.
An assortment of sweet treats lets children pick and choose. Include dates rolled in coconut, Moroccan m'semen crepes with jam or honey, or baked pastries made with phyllo dough and stuffed with almonds and honey. For a more traditional party fare, serve chocolate cupcakes whose chocolate may have come from the Ivory Coast -- where one-third of the world's cocoa beans are grown, according to a 2014 report by Matt Percival of CNN.
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- The Soul of a New Cuisine -- A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa; Marcus Samuelsson
- The Flavor Bible; Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
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- CNN World: From Bean to Bar -- Why Chocolate Will Never Taste the Same Again
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Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.