Tag Archives: play with food

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.


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.


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


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


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

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!

January is Fresh Chive Month

As you may have seen in my Happy 2014 blog post, my new years resolution is to take on a seasonal fruit / vegetable each month to expand my cooking repertoire. ¬†It’s also a bonus if I can use this fruit/vegetable to make a kid approved meal (or snack).

January’s Challenge: Fresh Chives

To tell you the truth, I had never¬†actually used fresh chives in my cooking before. ¬†I found them to be a great taste booster this month and will definitely be using them again. ¬†It is wonderful to introduce new tastes to babies, toddlers and children through using different herbs. ¬†Herbs do still count as part of your daily vegetable intake. ¬†However, you don’t use much of them so they don’t make a substantial impact on your RDI. ¬†But if they make the flavour more appealing/exciting they can help increase the amount eaten of meat, cereal, dairy, fruits or other vegetables.

I made 3 unique dishes with the fresh chives in January:

  1. Baked Eggs in Tomatoes with Chives
  2. Pear & Chive Filo Parcels
  3. Soba Noodles with Zucchini, Creme Fraiche & Chives

The biggest hit with my toddler was the Soba Noodles.  However, I figured it would be a no-brainer, as noodles are one of her preferred foods and so is zucchini.  The Filo Parcels were my favourite.  I found the chives gave the pear such an amazing flavour and I love the crispy filo pastry.  See my notes below the recipe about my meal tactics and why my combination of foods would be great for you to copy if you have a fussy eater on your hands.

Baked Eggs in Tomatoes with Chives

This is a simple idea for a lunch or brunch.  Take the top off of your tomatoes and hollow them out. Chop up some fresh chives & whisk them into the egg with a small dash of milk.  Fill your tomatoes with the egg mixture and bake at 180oC for 30min.


I do have to admit to failing on this recipe once by using a bit too much milk and running out of baking time.  Under pressure from my eagerly awaiting daughter, I decided to turn her baked tomato into what I call Vegie Eggs.  Basically, what I do is chop/grate up vegetables & fresh herbs that I have, mix with a dash of milk & an egg in a ramekin and microwave for 1 min.  The egg will be cooked through and is like a little dome of omelette without the fuss of using a pan.  This is great for getting vegies in at breakfast during the mid-week rush.  Hint: you can also reserve the middles of your tomatoes from the above recipe to make vegie eggs the next day.

Pear and Chive Filo Parcels

I LOVED this for lunch with my daughter!  We had one pear between us to make 2 parcels. After I tasted it, I wished I had made us 2 parcels each because they were so yummy.

Prepare the pear with creme fraiche & chopped chives
Prepare the pear with creme fraiche & chopped chives

Take a pear and cut it in half from top to bottom removing the seeds & the stalk.  Fill the cavity (from the deseeding) with 1 tsp of creme fraiche.  Top with chopped fresh chives.  Wrap each pear half in a sheet of filo pastry and ensure it is sealed by brushing on some milk around the edges (or I just used a finger full of creme fraiche).  Cook this in a 180oC preheated oven for 15mins.  You should see that the pastry goes a nice golden colour at the edges.

Serving Suggestion for Kids:

My daughter loves filo pastry so she was happy to have the parcel on her plate. ¬†The pear can be very hot straight out of the oven – So, I cut it up to cool on her plate. ¬†In the meantime, I had available for her some grapes to choose (a preferred fruit) and shredded iceberg lettuce (our learning vegetable). ¬†She was happy to talk about the temperatures of the hot pear and the cool grapes & lettuce. ¬†We then made “wheels” out of our shredded lettuce by spinning the lettuce between our forefinger & thumb. ¬†We drove our wheels through the “mud” – ie. Stonefruit Chutney (see recipe here). ¬†Having a condiment and a game with the shredded lettuce helped her motor plan a new way to eat her shredded lettuce and gave her something to bite into. ¬†Lettuce can be tricky for children as it is hard to get into their mouths and then when it is there it can be hard to maneuver with their tongue. ¬†A thicker condiment, like a chutney, can add some bulk to it.

PWF left upper

Another part of play with food lessons that I incorporated into this lunch was my love of breaking down the barrier between fruits and vegetables by combining them on the same meal.  This is a link to some of the other topics we cover in lessons.

Soba Noodles with Zucchini, Creme Fraiche & Chives

Cook your Soba noodles as per the packet instructions.  I like to vary up the types of grains that we eat.  You could use pasta too for this meal.  Once cooked, drain the noodles and add 1/2 a zucchini worth of batons and chopped fresh chives (quantity to your liking).  Allow that to sit for 5-10mins (while you set the table & kick off your wash-up routine).  Stir through a generous tablespoon of creme fraiche and put into a serving bowl for the table.

Note: Zucchini does not need to be cooked (and definitely not over cooked to be a soggy mess).  Check that you are happy with the texture of your zucchini before serving РI like mine a bit crunchy so I only left ours in the hot noodles for 5 mins before adding the creme fraiche.

This is what we served up ourselves for lunch & what my daughter thought of it:


I can't talk or pose right now, I'm having too much fun!
I can’t talk or pose right now, I’m having too much fun!

Why is she making such a mess? ¬†She’s LEARNING to eat. ¬†My theory is that they have to learn to eat first before we worry about manners. ¬†Sensory exploration of food is so important for growing minds.

Leave me some comments if you’ve tried Fresh Chives in anything else you think I should try out. ¬†I also pin inspirational recipes for my new years resolutions on Pinterest – so have a look at my boards using the link in the side bar.


Simone Emery