All posts by playwithfoodaustralia

I run Play with Food. We run classes and workshops for children about healthy eating. I am based in Sydney, Australia but do travel for workshops interstate. My blog is

Picky? Puhleez!

Yep, I post lots of healthy eating recipes and ideas. HOWEVER, this mummy has a very good message here. It is hard to think “healthy” all of the time when you know your child has sensory aversions to most foods. At Play with Food Classes, we try different approaches to see where the selected fruits and vegetables lie on the steps to eating hierarchy for your child. We want you to learn where your child is at and we want you to have a happy mealtime when you find that understanding.
This is a US Blog so some of the terminology is different to what we may use. If you have any questions, contact me ( or ph: 0402696928)
ūüôā Simone

Sensory Speak

This will probably be my 2nd biggest blog post to date. It‚Äôs going to offend some, but hopefully educate others. This post is long overdue, but especially needed in the ‚Äúpicky eating‚ÄĚ community. Tread with caution. This post will consist of my own words, but it‚Äôs the thoughts and overall experiences of my 7 year old daughter, B, and may other children like her who have challenges eating everyday foods. I will also be standing up for the ‚Äúpicky‚ÄĚ eater parents who struggle with their own issues regarding this topic. Stepping into my big girl panties‚Ķ

Picky eater. That word offends me beyond belief. I know it’s all over the internet. Many books, articles, and blogs have been written on the topic. Yet, picky eating doesn’t even begin to describe what my daughter and many other children like her deal with on a daily basis. It goes WAY beyond picky…

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Caramelized Banana Loaf

This recipe is so easy to whip together that my toddler could do it. In fact Рshe did!  Warning: the baking time is long at 2.5hrs Рbut the deep caramelized flavour is worth it.

Getting  kids in the kitchen is a great way to increase their exposures to foods, learn language skills, practice fine & gross motor skills as well as keeping them busy (and hopefully out of mess creating mischief). Fussy eaters get so many benefits from increased food exposures, including those away from mealtimes Рread more here!


8 ways kids can help in the kitchen & learn at the same time:

1) Measuring and tipping ingredients into the bowl helps with motor planning & learning about volume.
2) Mixing ingredients in the bowl is great for learning to control the speed of the spoon.
3) Threading wooden skewers is great for fine motor skills.
4) Mashing softened fruits or vegetables with a fork is great to learn about changing textures.
5) Cracking eggs into a separate bowl for more motor planning experiences.
**hot tip: use other bits of shell to scoop out shell that accidentally goes into your eggs.**
6) Hand over hand grating is great for sensory exposure – let them feel the fruit or vegetable as well as the vibration of the grater safely by controlling and holding their hand in yours away from the blades.
7) Practice counting and numbers by setting timers or helping to use scales.
8) Using cutters to make and learn shapes in dough, bread, fruits, vegetables and pancakes


Caramelized Banana Loaf

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
3 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 cup macadamia nut oil (or other oil / butter of your choice)
1 1/3 cups flour (you can use a combination of wholemeal and  plain white flour for this)
1/3 cup natural yoghurt (for dairy free opt for 1/2 cup almond milk instead)

Method (steps that kids can do are put in italics):

  • Line a loaf tin with foil (shiny surface facing inwards)
  • Preheat the oven to 130oC
  • Measure out the following¬†ingredients into little bowls; bicarb soda, flour, natural yoghurt, oil, honey and sugar. You can also crack the eggs into separate bowl, check for shell & lightly whisk.¬†This step is optional depending on¬†your child’s involvement and skill set.
  • Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork – I like to use a plastic bowl with a non-slip bottom to assist my¬†toddler with her tasks. Having a bowl that slips and slides is frustrating and difficult to process for the little chefs.
  • Add the bicarb soda, sugar and honey to the bananas and mix.
  • Mix in the following ingredients in this order:
         Macadamia Nut Oil
         Natural Yoghurt
  • Pour the batter into the loaf tin
  • Put it in the oven for 2.5 hours or until it is cooked through (ie ¬†a skewer or knife comes out clean)

This recipe is suitable for freezing by wrapping individual slices in cling film.  Take them straight from the freezer and put them into the lunchbox.

Do you have a tip for safely including your kids in the kitchen?

In our Sydney based workshops and classes for toddlers, preschoolers and early primary schoolers, I love to answer parents’ questions about engaging their children in activities with food. ¬†Do you have any questions? ¬†If you want to know when our classes are on – have a look here!

Happy Eating!


July is Kohlrabi Month

The monthly challenge for July is Kohlrabi.Kohlrabi

It is¬†so cute the way my daughter (now 27 months old) says “coal-wabby”. ¬†Her enthusiasm for my monthly challenge has really been wonderful. ¬†We use the new fruits or vegetables to do some sensory exploration and talk about different attributes of them, increasing her vocabulary and language skills.

We tried Kohlrabi as chips & pickled.  Homemade chips are a great way for children to experience new vegetables if they are particularly fond of crunchy textures.

Golden Beetroot, Candy Striped Beetroot and Kohlrabii sliced ready for baking into chips
Golden Beetroot, Candy Striped Beetroot and Kohlrabii sliced ready for baking into chips
Chips in beautiful winter hues
Chips in beautiful winter hues

Pickled in an asian style slaw was perfect for a few different applications
1) in a Vietnamese roll for a variation of a Bahn Mi
2) in Rice paper rolls with oyster sauce flavoured pork mince, bean shoots & fresh coriander

Kohlrabi Cooking: Rice Paper Rolls by Play with Food
Pork Mince, Bean Shoots, Asian Style Slaw & Fresh Coriander


Asian Style Carrot, Beet & Kohlrabi Slaw

Julienne your raw carrot, beetroot & kohlrabi so that they look like matchsticks.  In your bowl, make the pickling juice with the following ratio of ingredients 1 cup water: 2tbsp Caster Sugar: 2tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar: 1tsp Salt.  You will need enough to soak the vegetables in.

I like to let this sit for at least 30 min.  You can do this first and then make your chicken or pork ready to fill your rolls or rice paper rolls.

My toddler was not a fan of the texture of the rice paper roll but loved the pickled slaw. ¬†Making rice paper rolls with a toddler is not a stress free event so I’d recommend saving this for a lazy Saturday afternoon. ¬†Or use it as a mid-week dinner as a bahn mi style on a Vietnamese roll with some marinated chicken pieces and fresh cos lettuce.

Happy Eating!



I hope it is not goodbye

Today, I was enjoying a fantastic lunch that my 2 year old created. ¬†We went to the pantry and fridge and she selected all the ingredients she wanted. ¬†I thought that this activity would be great for my facebook page! ¬†And then it hit me, it’s not only great for my facebook page BUT it is also great for my daughter.

I stood back and video’d her as she devoured her whole (but peeled) cucumber accompanied by dinosaur shaped pasta mixed with cheese, salmon & carrot. ¬†She considered throwing in honey too but I’m glad she changed her mind. ¬†She was an image of pure joy making her dinosaur sounds and laughing at how fun it was to make up her own recipe.

After lunch she asked to go outside to watch the clouds. ¬†My heart melted. ¬†Of course! ¬†My girls are at a beautiful age that I want to enjoy. ¬†So, I’ve decided to take my marketing / business information services away from facebook for a while.

I have loved maintaining my facebook page and delight in providing lots of information to my followers.  I put in lots of time and effort bringing original content and looking for amazing content from respected writers and bloggers across the world to share.

However, I want to look at the clouds too! ¬†I will still be running classes & workshops and enjoy meeting all the wonderful kids who come along to them. ¬†I’m just not going to be giving away so much of my precious time to social media.

How to keep in contact??

1) Subscribe to the newsletter either via the link on the facebook page or by sending me an email and I’ll put you on the list ( – I endeavour to send out a newsletter every 2 months.

2) Sign-up to the blog!  Go to and enter your email address into the sign-up field in the left hand column.

3) Email or call me ūüôā

It’s not a decision that I take lightly, however, I think those of you with kids will understand what I mean when I want to spend more time looking at the clouds with my daughter!

You will still see an occasional PWF fb post – just so the page doesn’t collapse completely. ¬†I will just set up an automated post of links to my blog when new articles are written. ¬†However, as I don’t own facebook or the algorithm it runs off – I know this won’t guarantee than many (if any) of my followers will get to¬†see these posts.

I can't talk or pose right now, I'm having too much fun!
My reason to stop &look at the clouds! xxx

I hope this isn’t goodbye to some of my followers but maybe a new “hello” to newsletter & blog subscribers!

Happy Eating!



Tasty Dinner Adventure Game

I have seen some interesting dinnerware options that I am going to be exploring in more depth in a later blog post. ¬†In my research, there are some alarming dinner games that encourage¬†rewarding with food. I’m not trying to be the fun police, BUT, I do believe in teaching your child to eat an amount that they recognize fills them up at mealtimes. ¬†I also believe in the meal being family time and full of learning opportunities. ¬† I also believe in appropriate reward for appropriate behaviour – with an acknowledged achievement being the best reward.

So, until I have finished writing my more comprehensive blog post about setting the table up for your child to eat well.  Here is my version of an appropriate mealtime engagement activity.

Get the PDF by clicking on “Tasty Dinner Adventure”¬†& print up multiple copies of the 3rd page (game page)¬†&¬†laminate them to use as your plate.

Tasty Dinner Adventure


1)    Children and Parents decide together what food goes on each of the colourful squares

2)    A balanced range of colours and food groups should be represented (fruit, vegetable, meat or meat alternative, dairy or dairy alternative, cereal / grain)

3)    The reward at the end is NEVER substituted for food (like sweets)

4)    The reward for having a tasty dinner adventure is that you completed a tasty dinner adventure and gives you a sticker to put on your dinner adventure chart

5)    There is no additional reward for completing the chart. Never remove stickers your child has earnt from the chart for misbehaviour (this gives mixed signals). Find another consequence more fitting to the actions.

6)    There needs to be at least two players playing together.  This ensures the game is a family meal & brings learning opportunities to the forefront.

7)¬†¬†¬† During the game you can talk about the tangible aspects of the food you are trying / eating ‚Äď colour, temperature, texture, shape, flavour

8)    Keep a learning bowl on the side for the foods you tried and might come back to trying again later

Tasty Dinner Adventure Game by Play with Food

Illustrate Your Food Memories

I saw a lovely facebook post¬†illustrated by¬†the Blair Athol North School and shared by Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation. ¬†The children illustrated their own recipe. ¬†I looked online for a good template but didn’t find an ideal one …. So at the bottom of this post¬†is one I’ve created for you to print up and have your budding chef/artists record their food memories on.

This is my completed version of the template. ¬†Remember it’s not nice to laugh at other people’s drawings ūüėČ

Illustrate your Food Memories by Play with Food

Food is such a powerful and emotional part of our lives. ¬†We have great memories and painful memories all tied up in food. ¬†Illustrating your own recipes is¬†a good way to put down some favourite recipes and tease out what the memories mean to you and your kids. ¬†It’s a language building opportunity and a great discovery tool for deeper engagement.

I made the blood orange and chocolate cup cakes to eat¬†during last night’s episode of Master Chef. ¬† It came from¬†the¬†top of my head & based on available flavours. ¬†I wasn’t about to watch a dessert challenge & sit pining for something unhealthy for a whole hour. ¬†This was a sweet treat without the guilt. ¬†On the show last night, the contestants on Master Chef had to recreate an¬†amazing dessert based on their perceptions from a ¬†written description alone. ¬†It’s amazing what one written description resulted in from the 4 contestants. ¬†They weren’t given a picture, recipe or a taste¬†of the food. ¬†This is where their memory and their own experiences played a part in determining what they would plate up.

Food memories start VERY early on. ¬†Children that have painful food memories will often exhibit fussiness or issues with eating. ¬†Remember those memories (even fears) are real to them. ¬†Never belittle or dismiss a child’s memories or beliefs, it’s something that you should address correctly.

One way to assist with food memories is to build a library of “safe” recipes. ¬†Review this repertoire with your child and work on adding in some new shapes / colours / flavours and textures. ¬†Use our¬†template to build up your recipe collection! ¬†We cover lots of different ways to enhance positive eating memories in our classes / workshops. ¬†Have a look at our class schedule to learn more about what is available.

Blood Orange & Chocolate Cup Cakes by Play with Food

Blood Orange and Chocolate Cup Cakes

Stir all ingredients together & baked in a moderate oven for 25 min.  Makes 6 cup cakes.

  • Juice of 2 home grown (ie small) blood oranges
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 3/4 cup SR flour
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp macadamia oil
  • 1 egg

Here is the Recipe Template for your children to illustrate & enjoy with you.

Happy Eating!


EAF principle 3…

A thought provoking piece by Johanna Cormack. This is one part of Emotionally Aware Feeding (EAF) and good reminder to think about parenting styles. Food encounters (both positive & negative) are very influential during your child’s eating journey, even away from meal times. Food encounters can be found everywhere!

Emotionally Aware Feeding

Background From Colorful Sweets Of Sugar Candies

Rewarding with food is standard parenting practice ‚Äď for example, many parents use sweet treats to encourage their child to use the potty, or ¬†to recognise good behaviour. This gives the child the following message: ‚ÄúI approve of you, and so you can have ¬†sweet food‚ÄĚ . To take it a step further, from the child‚Äôs point of view, it equates eating sweet food with feeling loved. EAF is all about separating food from feelings so that children eat for physiological rather than emotional reasons.

Rewarding with food  fuses food and feelings. 

Consider adult comfort eating

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