Tag Archives: family meal

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.


 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.


  • 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
  • ½ tsp ea Ground Turmeric, Cumin and Cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp Fennel Seeds
  • ¾ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 500ml Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt



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.

Yum Cha for 4

Today we went to yum cha for the first time as a family of 4. Last week we welcomed Verity to our family. We are getting settled at home & are enjoying getting to know our new bundle of joy.

I sat during yum cha & thought about the experience from my toddler’s point of view. She was loving watching all of the carts circling around the restaurant and the hub bub of the tables around us. She insisted on trying out chopsticks. Firstly, I fed her with them. Then she invented an innovative “one stick and one hand” technique. She loved the rice parcels in pandan leaf, sesame encrusted prawn roll, snake beans and black pepper beef.

I thought that if you are looking for a way of having family style meals when dining out and if Yum Cha is an option for you – give it a go! There are lots of learning opportunities and topics for fact based food conversations.

For more information about some simple steps to introducing the family meal see this post of mine.

My mum is nutty about mealtimes

This is a blog post in response to the Daily Post weekly writing challenge “Leave your shoes at the door” – The challenge is to write a piece from another persons perspective.  This week, I am writing from my 21 month old daughter’s perspective, concerning my “nutty” obsession with meal and snack schedules.  (I really didn’t want to consider my husband’s perspective!)


My mum is nutty about mealtimes

I am Ellie.  I am 21 months old.  I like the colour purple, staying up late and playing with my dolls.  I have curls in my hair that everyone gushes about.  My daddy combs my hair and makes them pretty but my mum doesn’t worry about that so much.  My mum dresses me “sensibly”.  I attempt to communicate with her that I don’t like that and I want to wear pretty dresses with shoes that don’t match.  She doesn’t like that my communication method is not as smiley and wordy as hers.  I prefer tears and using one word – “No”.

My mum is pretty normal except for at mealtimes.  Mum always insists on sitting with me and she likes to eat at the same times each day.  I have a special chair that I sit in at the table.  This makes me feel important and happy.  I like to say “cheers” with my drinks numerous times through the meal and expect everyone at the table to chink their glasses with my plastic cup.  I even like to say “cheers” when I have my fork full and expect everyone to say “cheers” back and touch their fork to mine.  It makes me laugh and I feel involved.

My mum likes to lay out the food and have me “choose” what I want to eat.  I think it is funny that I have to “choose” because I still end up picking something from each bowl she presents to me.  The good thing is that when I want more of one particular thing she is happy to give it to me.  I’ve usually licked & tasted everything on my plate before I ask for more cheese.  It’s my most preferred food.

Mum likes to talk about the colours of the food and we talk about the temperature of the food.  Mum has rhymes for the colours of the food that make me giggle.  We also like to count the different things on my plate.  We make “wheels” out of some things by “rolling, rolling, rolling” and all sorts of other shapes.  But my favorite thing is to “dip, dip, dip” my foods.  I like it when mum asks for and then takes some unknown foods that I choose for my plate.  She then demonstrates how to eat them, usually with a big cheesy smile on her face.  So, I can’t help but copy her.  It’s just that, sometimes, a new food is confusing for me and I’m not sure what to do with it.  She doesn’t get angry if I spit it back out. Sometimes I am really unsure about how I feel with it in my mouth.  She says “I like that you tried that in your mouth”.  However, I know I will see that food again soon and it won’t be as surprising next time.

Mum always ends the meal with “clean-up time”.  She asks me if I am ready and then we go to the bathroom and get cleaned up.  I like being able to use the soap and dry my own hands.  Sometimes, I even get to go straight into the bath.  I like that my mum doesn’t scrub me down at the table & in between bites of food – that would be annoying!  Instead, she laughs at how messy I can get.

Mum sits down each week and writes a meal plan.  Sometimes we follow it all – sometimes we have to ditch the plan.  Sometimes I get to help ….

What I think of mum's meal plans ... I think they are much prettier with the pink & pen scribbles!
What I think of mum’s meal plans … I think they are much prettier with the pink & pen scribbles!

All in all my mum may be a bit nutty about meals, but she’s MY nutty mealtime mum!

The Family Meal and a Korean Inspired Pork Recipe

I use the term Family Meal often through my blog, facebook posts and my classes.  This is a way of organising your meals so that the whole family can participate in them no matter where your children are at on their eating journey.  A family meal doesn’t have to include everyone, yet it does at least have to have 2 people.  Some of the pointers that we guide parents through during our lessons include the following:

  1. Ensure that children have appropriately set-up eating positions.  They should sit with a 90o angle at the hips, knees and the ankles.
  2. Decide on the environmental cues that will help your child to eat and avoid cues that have been previously associated with negative feeding behaviours.
  3. Engage the child in some movement before the meal to help them organise or reset themselves.
  4. Family style meal serves where everyone takes something from each plate provided – they can put it on their plate or onto their learning plate.  Do this instead of plating up for the child in advance.
  5. At every meal offer: a preferred food, a carbohydrate, a dairy, a fruit, a vegetable and a protein. (** Simone’s tip for busy carer’s is to work towards a balanced diet over the day**).
  6. After 15-20 minutes of eating, instigate “clean-up time”.   (A great routine you learn at Play with Food lessons that transitions to the home environment)

Last Friday I had a huge win with my evening family meal, Korean Inspired Marinated Pork with Broccoli, Rice and a Salad of Carrot & Apple.

  1. The meal contained 4 food groups, grains, meat, fruit and vegetables
  2. It provided vocabulary extension opportunities with my 21mth old
  3. I was very proud of adapting a pork marinade recipe to suit our family (see below)
  4. The meal was all eaten

If the meal wasn’t all eaten, leftovers are safe to wrap from the family style serving plates as opposed to wasted if all food was preserved & mostly refused.

korean pork-1

Korean Inspired Pork & Broccoli (makes enough to marinade 300g diced pork fillet):

For the Marinade:

  • 1/2 apple cored, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1/3 onion peeled
  • 20ml dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

You will also need:

  • 300g Pork fillet cut into strips
  • Peanut (or vegetable) oil
  • 3 Shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, broken into bite size florets

Add all marinade ingredients to a food processer and blitz.  Pour marinade over pork and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Stir-fry the shallots and broccoli in some oil and once cooked to your liking, transfer to a bowl. Drain the pork from the marinade (reserving the marinade for later).  Stir fry the pork on its own in a little bit of oil (you may need to do this in batches so the pan is not overcrowded which results in boiling), once cooked through add the reserved marinade and the broccoli mix.  Put into a family serving bowl for the table.


Simone Emery