Category Archives: Kids Eating Tips

Article contains tips relating to family and kids eating

Caramelized Banana Loaf

This recipe is so easy to whip together that my toddler could do it. In fact – she did!  Warning: the baking time is long at 2.5hrs – but 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 – read 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

 

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 – 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 😉

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

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 🙂
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 🙂
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

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!
🙂 Simone