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 (Simone@playwithfood.com.au 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!

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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

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Caramelized Banana Loaf

Ingredients:
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:
         Eggs
         Macadamia Nut Oil
         Flour
         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!

Simone

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!

Simone

 

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 (simone@playwithfood.com.au) – I endeavour to send out a newsletter every 2 months.

2) Sign-up to the blog!  Go to http://www.playwithfood.com.au 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

THE RULES

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!

Simone

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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Lady Marmalade

It’s a funny feeling when you accomplish something that a few years ago, I would have laughed out loud at it’s mere suggestion. Even more surreal to be blogging about it. We grew our own food & turned it into something beautiful. I feel like a total domestic goddess – that’s the bit that makes me laugh!

We have a substantial amount of blood oranges & lemons on our trees this year. So, I decided to try my hand at marmalade. I am chuffed with the results & how easy it actually was. Note: it does need overnight preparation.

Blood Orange & Lemon Marmalade

Ingredients:
3 blood oranges
1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar

Method:
Trim the top & bottoms of the blood oranges & lemons. Cut into quarters & remove the pithy cores & seeds. Finely slice each part of the citrus fruits & put in a bowl. Fill the bowl with water to make it up to 2 cups in volume. Leave to soak overnight.
In a saucepan, add the citrus water mix & sugar. Allow to boil with regular stirring. Simmer until the sauce thickens. It will thicken more after you remove it from the heat.

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Serving suggestion for this marmalade is with scones. Even better if the scones have been made with love!

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Happy eating!

June is Artichoke Month

Another Month = Another Challenge!

This month I took on artichoke. ¬†This one was a real curve ball for me as the only time I have ever really used them was from a jar! ¬†A 100g serve of Artichokes from a jar contains 320mg of sodium whereas steaming them fresh (without salt) gives¬†60mg of sodium.¬†Depending on your total diet though this may not be a significant issue – it’s unlikely we are going to be adding a significant number of artichokes to our diet! ¬†However, if you consider that the¬†National Health and Medical Research Centre suggests we limit salt to 4g/day (1600mg sodium) and the Heart Foundation says 6g/day (2300mg sodium) and the average Australian consumes 8 or 9 times this amount, I think we should be mindful of what salt we add to our diet by using processed foods vs naturally occurring salt.

Now, I’ll jump off my nutritional science podium and chat to you about the main things¬†I learnt during my challenge.

1) Preparing an artichoke is a bit perplexing but you can find awesome infographics on pinterest to help you!

Source of Image:  http://illustratedbites.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/prickly-treat/

How to Prepare and Artichoke

2) Talking about artichokes was a wonderful language building exercise for my toddler. ¬†We looked at pictures of them on the internet and talked about what they may feel like before we went to the shops to choose some to cook. ¬†My daughter was quite the sight walking around the green grocers with her¬†“choke fwowers”. I figured that they did look like flowers and some multi-syllable words are still a bit tricky. ¬†(The artichoke is actually the flower bud harvested before the flower blooms). ¬†The preparatory talks about artichokes, built some excitement about going to the shops. ¬†As you may have seen in my previous post about vegetable exposures away from mealtimes, ¬†I did creatively use going to get the artichokes as a “bribe” to get her off the Peppa Pig coin operated ride and into the green grocer.

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3) I made an Artichoke, Lemon & Tomato cob loaf with my steamed artichoke hearts that was really yummy and simple. Lemon is in season now & so very fragrant in this bread. I loved it served with some good quality butter, fresh ham & a side salad. The loaf is big enough for a light lunch for 2 adults & 2 kids.
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Artichoke, Lemon & Tomato Cob Loaf

Ingredients:
1 Artichoke Heart
1 Tomato, Roughly Chopped
Zest from 1/2 Lemon
1/4 cup Parmesan, Finely Grated
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 cup Self Raising Flour
1 Egg
Ground Black Pepper, To Taste

To prepare the artichokes, I trimmed it as per the above infographic. ¬†Instead of putting them in the pot with salted water, I used a bamboo steamer and no salt – this worked well and in 20mins I had lovely steamed artichokes. ¬†I tried one with a lemon & pepper yoghurt dipping sauce, which was OK. ¬†I didn’t actually try to get my daughter to try the artichoke like this. ¬†Scraping the flesh away from the leaves with your teeth is interesting but a bit of work for the limited fleshy artichoke that you get.

On my remaining artichoke, I cut away the hard leaves & was left with the heart.  I roughly chopped up the heart & yielded about 1/4 cup of chopped pieces. To the bowl I added the remaining ingredients. My toddler did some stirring & kneading of the bread with me. We put it on a dusted baking tray in the preheated (180oC) oven for about 30mins (until it sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom of the loaf).

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Do you have a favorite artichoke recipe?
Happy Eating!

Reasons to Play with Food Outside of Mealtimes

The more exposure that your child has to fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are to eat it. Fact.

The operative word here is EXPOSURES.

But how do we keep giving exposures without generating waste, mess and battles at the table? Simple – not all exposures have to be during mealtimes.

Reasons for exposure opportunities outside of mealtimes include:
1) It’s a no pressure environment
2) It’s packed with other learning opportunities eg language, motor planning, sensory & socialization
3) Having fun keeps us all sane ūüôā
4) Helps kids move up the first steps to eating hierarchy (tolerate, interact with, touch, smell .. etc)
5) Improves familiarity
6) It will help them learn to EAT those fruits & vegies

Have you ever said “oh don’t give him/her that, they won’t eat it”, Yes? Well you wouldn’t be alone, I have done it too! Why do I hate saying it though?
A) It comes out of my mouth before I even think about what I’m saying and it makes me sound so mumsy ūüôā
B) If my daughter heard me it would strengthen her belief that she doesn’t eat it
C) I just took away a great chance for another exposure.

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Here are a few exposures we did this week at our house outside of mealtimes:

1) Helping out in the kitchen to make dinosaur cakes. My daughter put the spinach & sweet potato into the blender. By touching them during the task, she was being exposed to it!

2) We talked about artichokes, looked at pictures (on the internet) and then went to buy them at the green grocer. Here is the best bit – By doing that pre-work with her meant that when all else failed trying to get her off the Peppa Pig coin operated ride at the shops, I simply said “do you want to go & buy the artichokes now?” And within a second she was by my side ready to go. Ha ha ha – got to love creative parenting!

3) Tracing around corn on the paper.¬† It is also a great language building time by talking about the bumpy surface, the colour “lello” and writing the word C O R N inside.

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4) Broccoli painting. Obviously needing a little extra patience on your part, painting is great for sensory exposures.

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Obviously the sky is the limit with vegie craft ideas & this is just some of what we did this week in our house. Have you done a great fruit & veg exposure craft? – comment below!

For more wonderful ideas for fruit & vegetable exposure, try out our play with food classes.

This broccoli exposure was during our pre-dinner play, so I wanted to use broccoli in our dinner. I used the rest of the head of broccoli to make this yummy family meal.

Chicken, Broccoli & Almond Rice Noodles

Serves: 2 adults & 2 kids

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You will need:
4 chicken thighs, cut into strips
Oil for browning chicken (i used peanut oil)
3 shallots, sliced into thin rounds
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3/4 head of broccoli, roughly chopped
Handful of coriander, roughly torn
2tbsp tahini
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp maple syrup
1/2 packet of dried rice noodles
1/4 cup toasted almond slivers
Boiling water

Method:
In a wok, heat oil & brown chicken. Add garlic & shallots. After 5 minutes & chicken is cooked through, add broccoli & coriander. Add boiling water to

noodles in a separate bowl so they cook (takes a couple of minutes). Add the mixed tahini, soy & maple to the chicken. Once noodles are cooked add them to the chicken & keep stirring for another minute or so. Serve in a big bowl in the middle of the table with toasted almonds on top & some extra coriander for garnish.

Happy Eating!
Simone

Dinosaur Cakes

So, I felt bad that my princess cakes may have excluded the boys. Today I asked my daughter what kind of cake would be green & she roared back at me “saurus cake”,¬† (ie. Dinosaur cake in Ellie speak).

We set about a little ingredient experiment to change up our princess cake recipe to make them green instead of orange.  We exchanged the finely grated carrot with a cup of loosely packed baby spinach and omitted the cinnamon.

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Pouring the batter from the blender into the waiting mini-muffin & patty cake tins is a great job for toddlers. You can also do some counting practice at the same time & we had some fun roaring like dinosaurs as we worked. The result is a moist & dense coconut flavoured mini cake that is egg free, gluten free, low in fat and packing some great vegie nutrients.

We decorated ours with a thin spread of nutella (like dino mud) and some shredded coconut. Have your child use a toddler knife to spread the nutella for motor planning practice. They will feel a great sense of achievement with their decorating.

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We used our the busy mums store plate as a work surface for the decorating. The plate provides learning opportunities from colour recognition (toddler), number recognition (preschooler) to equation practice (primary schoolers). The plates are great quality & likely to last us that long! They are designed & sold by a local mum. Supporting local business is important to me- hence the little plug here! :p

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Dinosaur Cakes

3/4 cup rice flour
1tbsp chia seeds, soaked in 2tbsp cold water for at least 10min
1 cup of loosely packed baby spinach
1/3 cup cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1tbsp butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180oC and grease your patty cake tin (or you can use mini cup cake holders). I used spray on coconut oil.

Put all ingredients into the blender. Whizz until all ingredients are well combined.

Pour batter into cake tin & bake for about 20mins (until cooked through). Tip: the mixture does not rise so fill the tins to the brim. Gently shake to level out the batter in the tin. This mix should make approx 24 mini-cakes.

To decorate these cakes we used nutella & shredded coconut.

All toddler cooking should be supervised.

Happy Eating!

Dinosaur Cakes

So, I felt bad that my princess cakes may have excluded the boys. Today I asked my daughter what kind of cake would be green & she roared back at me “saurus cake”,¬† (ie. Dinosaur cake in Ellie speak).

We set about a little ingredient experiment to change up our princess cake recipe to make them green instead of orange.  We exchanged the finely grated carrot with a cup of loosely packed baby spinach and omitted the cinnamon.

image

Pouring the batter from the blender into the waiting mini-muffin & patty cake tins is a great job for toddlers. You can also do some counting practice at the same time & we had some fun roaring like dinosaurs as we worked. The result is a moist & dense coconut flavoured mini cake that is egg free, gluten free, low in fat and packing some great vegie nutrients.

We decorated ours with a thin spread of nutella (like dino mud) and some shredded coconut. Have your child use a toddler knife to spread the nutella for motor planning practice. They will feel a great sense of achievement with their decorating.

image

We used our the busy mums store plate as a work surface for the decorating. The plate provides learning opportunities from colour recognition (toddler), number recognition (preschooler) to equation practice (primary schoolers). The plates are great quality & likely to last us that long! They are designed & sold by a local mum. Supporting local business is important to me- hence the little plug here! :p

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Dinosaur Cakes

3/4 cup rice flour
1tbsp chia seeds, soaked in 2tbsp cold water for at least 10min
1 cup of loosely packed baby spinach
1/3 cup cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1tbsp butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180oC and grease your patty cake tin (or you can use mini cup cake holders). I used spray on coconut oil.

Put all ingredients into the blender. Whizz until all ingredients are well combined.

Pour batter into cake tin & bake for about 20mins (until cooked through). Tip: the mixture does not rise so fill the tins to the brim. Gently shake to level out the batter in the tin. This mix should make approx 24 mini-cakes.

To decorate these cakes we used nutella & shredded coconut.

All toddler cooking should be supervised.

Happy Eating!

Kids Love Chicken Meatballs

Observing the children who participate in my classes each week, I definitely see lots of patterns emerge about what kids do and don’t like to eat. ¬†These patterns¬†fit¬†in so nicely with the current literature, studies¬†and the tools I demonstrate. ¬†I do find that MEAT is either a “Love it” or “Leave it” for most kids. ¬†Meat is a textural minefield and many of the problems result from how it is prepared. ¬†I obviously don’t cover meat in my classes – I only do fruits and vegetables – however, the routines¬†we learn in class for¬†the fruits and vegetables are directly transferable to your kitchen & table.

I do see children that have had allergies or currently have allergies.  A common allergy is egg.  Did you know that you can substitute egg with chia seeds?  (Well yes, if you have seen my post last week for princess cakes, you would already know this.  The princess cakes are egg & gluten free and are a yummy toddler approved morning tea.)

For those playing at home with the materials I have given you in class and are trying to assist your child overcome a food jag, this is a recipe that you can use if you are transitioning to whole pieces of meat from processed meat (eg. wanting your kids to have chicken breast as opposed to processed chicken nuggets). ¬†It’s also perfect for families that have to consider an egg allergy. ¬† Families should aim to have the one meal and this is a great recipe that will satisfy everyone. ¬†Use the best chicken mince that you can & the texture of the balls will be between that of the chicken nugget & a chicken breast. ¬†You can spice it up as you please (however, remember radically changing the taste profile for food jaggers is the final step in the transition.)

Chia & Chicken Balls | Why they are great for fussy kids | Play with Food

Recipe:

  1. Soak 2tsp of chia seeds in 4tsp of water for at least 10mins until gluggy.
  2. In the meantime, sautee 1 clove of finely chopped garlic & a rasher of finely chopped bacon.
  3. Then once cooked & in a separate bowl, combine the bacon mix, 1/2 cup multigrain breadcrumbs, 2tbsp tomato paste, 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce, chia mix and 350g chicken mince.
  4. Roll into balls & cook in the pan

If you are interested in learning more about our toddler, preschooler or 5-7yo class programs.  Have a look here for our current schedule!

If you have any questions about this recipe, food jagging or just love chicken meatballs – leave me a comment below!

Happy Eating!
Simone Emery

Princess Cakes

My mission was to orchestrate a fun day for my 2yo and her cousin (nearly 4yo) – a princess day. I wanted memorable activities, yummy fun food & a good chance for them to bond.

The activites included princess story books, playing outside and designing their own t-shirt. I helped the girls select pictures to print onto iron-on transfer paper and then we ironed them onto pre-purchased t-shirts.

What I was most excited about was using my daughter’s enthusiasm to help me in the kitchen. She helped grate the carrot (by holding her hand within mine.)  She put ingredients that I measured out into the blender and she poured the batter into the awaiting party cake holders.

Toddler snacks should be appropriately sized. I like to bake in smaller portion sizes for a few reasons:
1) less tendency for my daughter to over stuff her mouth.
2) you can serve with other food groups for a more balanced snack or meal.
3) less wastage if they don’t eat it all.
4) extras can be frozen for snacks on the go – wrap in cling film individually before freezing.

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Princess Cakes

3/4 cup rice flour
1tbsp chia seeds, soaked in 2tbsp cold water for at least 10min
1 medium sized carrot, finely grated
1/3 cup cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1tbsp butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 180oC and grease your patty cake tin (or you can use mini cup cake holders). I used spray on coconut oil.

Put all ingredients into the blender. Whizz until all ingredients are well combined.

Pour batter into cake tin & bake for about 20mins (until cooked through). Tip: the mixture does not rise so fill the tins to the brim. Gently shake to level out the batter in the tin. This mix should make approx 18 mini-cakes.

To decorate these cakes I made a tiny batch of pink butter cream icing & store-bought sprinkles. The girls used knives that come with toddler cuttlery sets to apply the icing.

All toddler cooking should be supervised.

Happy Eating!
ūüôā Simone

Learning to Eat

In August last year, I attended SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding training. ¬†This training really¬†helped me polish up¬†the activities in my fruit and vegetable classes. ¬†It gave me a good foundation to see the difference between normal feeding development (including developmental related fussiness) and feeding problems. The other major benefit to this training was to find a wonderful network of feeding therapy professionals including, dietitians, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, nutritionists, children’s psychologists and pediatric nurses.

Learning to eat is complex.  It can take 2 Р3 years to learn to eat.  Eating is NOT an automatic behavior Рit is a LEARNT behaviour.  Learning to eat is a journey for the senses, the physical body, the imagination, the memory and it happens about 5 times a day from the day we are born. Feeding therapy is usually sought for children who are not progressing on their feeding journey via the typical milestones.   What I have learnt in my experience and training is that there is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to helping children on their learning to eat journey.   It can take some collaboration to get it right.

As Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Dr Denise Stapleton, explained to me, ¬†“When the credits rollout at the end of a film we are reminded about the large number of different skills that were needed to produce it. Similarly, in order to make it possible for eating and family mealtimes to be harmonious, insights from many perspectives might be needed.” Dr Stapleton¬†finds that when she¬†combines her skill sets¬†with those of others they¬†achieve more than is possible on their¬†own. ¬†“When skilled occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians, physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, social workers, nurses and doctors connect and holistically support families, mealtimes can become pleasurable for all involved.” ¬†

Ultimately, if you are concerned about your child’s eating and their journey’s direction,¬†remember that there are many professionals that can assist because there are many factors that influence the eating journey. ¬† The best place to start looking for assistance is often with a GP, especially if children are not on the typical growth chart trajectory. ¬†For more general questions about your child’s¬†eating journey have a chat to Simone.

Incorporating a host of information from a variety of disciplines is key to the success of the Play with Food programs.  When you walk in the door you get a cross-functional experience and you have a table of resources available to you to reference.

A variety of resources are made available for carers to enhance their play with food experiences.
A variety of resources are made available for carers to enhance their play with food experiences.

Dr Denise Stapleton has teamed up with occupational therapist, Gillian Griffiths, to write a book called SENSE-ational Mealtimes. Children, parents, caregivers and clinicians find the sensory preference information that they share throughout the book to be an important missing piece of their mealtime difficulties puzzle.  This is a link to their website.  http://www.sense-ationalmealtimes.com.au SM_sense-ational-mealtimes-book_Cover

May is Celeriac Month

For¬†May’s Play with Food cooking challenge, I have found & put my own twist on ¬†a beautiful dinner recipe for the family using celeriac.

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 Beef Meatballs & Celeriac

Flavoured with mild middle eastern tastes, this stove top meal is enough to feed 2 adults and 2 kids.  Best served with rice, cous cous or flat breads.

Ingredients:

  • 250g Beef Mince
  • 1/2 Medium Sized Zucchini, Grated
  • 1 Egg
  • 100g Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 1/2 Medium Brown Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 5 Sprigs of Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped (+ extra for garnish)
  • Olive Oil (for coating pan)
  • Salt & Black Pepper (as required for seasoning)
  • 1/2 a Bulb of Celeriac, Cut into Batons
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed
  • ¬Ĺ tsp ea¬†Ground Turmeric, Cumin and Cinnamon
  • 1¬Ĺ tsp Fennel Seeds
  • ¬ĺ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 500ml Chicken Stock
  • 2¬†tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp¬†Greek yoghurt

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Method:

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix the beef, zucchini, onion, breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, allspice, half a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Form into elongated meatballs.  Squeeze with your hand around them to leave bumps which helps add crispy textures to the finished dish.

Heat the oil in a large pan (that has a lid) or a tagine,  and sear the meatballs all over for about five minutes in total. Remove the meatballs before adding celeriac, garlic and remaining spices to the pan. Cook on high heat while constantly stirring for two minutes. Return the meatballs to the pan and then add the chicken stock, lemon juice.  Season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and leave to bubble away for 10 minutes more, until the sauce is quite thick.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to settle. Taste, season as necessary and serve topped with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkling of parsley.

Guava & Grape Slushy

  • ¬†Point One: This week is Allergy Awareness week
  • Point Two: May is also the “G & H” challenge for the Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge. ¬†Something I recently stumbled upon & thought I’d try to participate in. Here is a link to the Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge pinterest board (for more inspiration).
  • Point Three: Winter is on our door step here in Australia and it’s time to boost your Vitamin C intake. ¬†This claim is made despite the beautiful t-shirt weather we experienced¬†here in Sydney today.

So, to acknowledge all three points above, I came up with a fun, new (allergy free) drink for our afternoon tea today Рa Guava & Grape Slushy.  I loved that this drink (with a small pepita & cranberry bar) was enough for us to be sustained during the witching 2-hours before dinner.  (Please see my post about afternoon snacks for more ideas about how to cure 3:30-itis without spoiling dinner).

Why Guava?  
In 100g of guava there is 228.3mg of Vitamin C which is about 4 times the amount found in Oranges!  
Guava also contains a relatively high antioxidant value compared to other plant foods.

Grape & Guava Slushy by Play with Food


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen green grapes
  • 6 tinned guava halves with seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup of water or ice cubes (depending how icy you like your slushy)
  • 1 sprig of mint (optional)

Method:

Blend all ingredients.  Serve in 2 medium sized cups.

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Happy Eating!

Simone

 

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Food Revolution Day 2014

Play with Food and Little People Nutrition will be getting together for an informal pot luck morning tea for Food Revolution Day 2014…. AND you are invited!

pot luck

 

For more information about Mandy & Little People Nutrition Рhave a look at her website!  http://littlepeoplenutrition.com.au

Keep an eye out for pictures at the events via our facebook pages.

Play with Food run fun, interactive healthy eating programs for children.