Fun with Food!

Welcome to Fun with Food! This site was designed to help parents and caregivers find, share and ask about fun foods for your selective toddler!

As a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, I encounter many children who have experienced negative associations surrounding food. These children often have accompanying oral motor feeding difficulties and sensory processing difficulties--making eating a very stressful experience instead of an enjoyable one.

This website will hopefully serve as an "idea place" for meals as well as questions and support from other parents and caregivers. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Cheer!

Adalyn and her Nana enjoying the cookie making process!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Son's Message of Patience with Trying New Foods

The following video is a message from a child with Autism. Take a few minutes to listen to his precious words and allow his honesty and message of patience to be a lesson to all of us! Thank you Jake--you are putting into words what many children cannot and I'm proud to feature you on my blog!

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Waffle Hash"

I wasn't sure what to call this one. This is what I came up with when combining frozen hashbrowns, a few turkey sausage links, pancake mix, sharp cheddar cheese and some seasonings. In several of my other posts I have mentioned the fact that some children need and desire foods that offer more sensory feedback. These crunchy waffles have protein, starch, dairy and fat all in one nice little Crunch!

Since this was more of a Use Whatcha Have kind of recipe I will approximate the measurements to the best of my ability!

Grind sausage (or your preferred meat/protein) in Magic Bullet or processor
Approximately 1 cup pancake mix (I used the 'just add water' mix)
1 cup frozen hash browns, thawed
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
dash of Lawry's seasoned salt

These were very good and crisp! We made Adalyn's into a waffle tower with a few dabs of yogurt butter and cheese.

Easy Dairy Free Pumpkin cupcakes

Looking for a yummy dairy free dessert for the holidays? Some Duncan Hines brands are completely milk free--be sure to check labels! Another favorite is the spice cake mix. You can add some canned pumpkin to the mix for added nutrients and flavor, yum!

Don't ask me why this "Buttercream" frosting happens to be milk free but it is and its good! We also mixed the pumpkin and frosting together for a 'pumpkin mousse' topping for some of the cupcakes...or hey, just eat a little of it by itself! Some of the little ones who have not yet developed the ability to chew may love it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Visual Learning!

I am trying to capture realistic opportunities for the parents who cannot be a part of weekly feeding sessions to implement at home…both on video and in writing. I am hoping that others will find this beneficial as well. I am considering posting more video of some food prep with my daughter helping or just simple ‘how to’ videos of food that was targeted during a session. The video serves a dual purpose—watching the video with your child can plant the seed so to speak. He may feel a little more anxious when not knowing what to expect and often being in the same vicinity as the undesired food triggers anxiety. Video on the other hand is a safe way to explore what would otherwise induce anxiety. Watch a video, talk about it and give it a try! I also feel it is important to do what you can to mentally prepare your child for any new food or change. I talk more about this in an example given in the post entitled The Bigger Picture.

Back to the topic of video learning—I recommend that parents of these very selective little ones watch some of Roni’s videos with her son on her website GreenLiteBites. She has so many great video clips of how food exploration should be! I came across this particular post Crazy Fruit Day the other day and wrote to her immediately asking if she would mind if I linked this video to my site. New fruits, new experiences, no pressure---this is hard to teach! Positive outlooks are so contagious! So I encourage you to watch this video and first and foremost take note of the comfort level between both parent and child in relation to the food. With a child who has a hard time getting past even touching or smelling the food you take several steps back…maybe talk about the color and the shape and use your own judgement with setting your expectations beyond what you feel is his level of comfort. This will pay off in the long run! It can be easy to confuse “What you Know you need to target” and “How to target”…for example you may know that your child is having a very negative response to your requests to touch a food. This is because it is being asked of him and his anxiety is still pretty high. Incorporating these sensory steps is also a process as is eating. Instead of saying “Can you touch the food?” you could try asking your child to hand you pieces of food or help clean up as well as incorporate other nonfood sensory play: play dough, rice or bean box, shaving cream, textured balls and other toys, etc. There are many articles on these topics and websites dedicated to sensory integration that may be very helpful in your child’s acceptance of food and the many steps involved in eating.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pediatric Basics--The Journal of Pediatric Nutrition and Development

This is a wonderful resource for anyone, especially pediatricians who would like to learn more about pediatric dysphagia. I encourage you to read this as it includes a great summary of oral and sensory motor feeding development as well as a few one page articles related to Understanding Why children Won't Eat and How to Help, Treating and Preventing Food Jags and Putting Research Into Practice .

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thank You

I wanted to post a special thank you to Alisa Fleming of who featured an article of mine entitled Food Allergies and Intolerances and their Impact on Feeding. Her post can be found at

Alisa's website features many vegan, gluten free and casein free recipes that many of you may find helpful in your dietary challenges! Take a look at the Top Ten Cutest and Tastiest Dairy Free and Vegan Halloween Treats for 2009!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Favorite 'crunchies'

These are a few favorite 'crunchy yet dissolvable' picks for working on lateral munching skills, transitioning to fruits and veggies (pairing the veggie crunchy foods with soft or pureed fruits or veggies of similar color) and 'waking up the mouth'. Very tasty too!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Little Chef of the Week!

If you have a little girl then you are probably familiar with Pinkalicious, the tale of a little girl who can't stop eating pink cupcakes despite the warnings from her parents. This is one of my daughter's favorite books...that and of course Purpilicious!

Pictured below is sweet 4 year old Caroline from Arkansas making her very own Pinkalicious cupcakes! The results look...well, pinkalicious for lack of a yummier description! A special thanks to Caroline's mother who took these great pictures and shared them with me! If you have a picture you would like to share feel free to email it to me and I will be sure to post it!

Turkey Nuggets

Simple and daughter approved!

1 package lean ground turkey (1-1.5 pounds I believe)
1/4 cup egg beaters or 1 egg
1/4 cup Sesame Ginger Dressing (use any type of vinaigrette or favorite dressing)
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Spray muffin tins with baking spray. I used a mini muffin tin and a regular tin, filled both up with none to spare! Pack each tin approximately 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fun with food!

These pictures say it all!
GROW a garden, EAT your garden, TEACH someone about your garden, ENJOY food, Be Princess Nugget if you wish! DISH OUT a bowl of chocolate pudding for your little one learning about food, DONT BE AFRAID to get messy! HAVE SOME FRIES in your hospital bed because you want something you know you like..salt! MAKE A BOWL out of your own avocado and dig in! POPSICLES in the yard with your friends! BE CONSISTENT with your meals and snacks and pick out a fun dinosaur placemat if you wish! GO AHEAD and buy that cotton candy at the fair..gotta love the experience!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Snippets of Success

After attending an awesome Food Chaining workshop with presenters Cheri Fraker, Laura Walbert and Sibyl Cox I felt compelled to share some of my own home video clips of me working on some new foods with my daughter. I have said to my families many times that the kids I work with often surpass my own child in terms of food repertoire simply because I do not take the time to work one on one with some difficult 'new' foods! Aren't we parents all guilty of that? Despite what we know we sometimes like to take the easy way out. On a good week I love to have Adalyn help in the kitchen (especially where new foods are concerned) and we make an effort to sit down and eat as a family in the evenings to enjoy each other and our meal. In this video we are using an activity for positive reinforcement, but it is not an expectation for the food to have to be eaten--however the foods are a variation of something she already accepts so it is likely that she will want to try them. For example Adalyn loves pancakes and loves frozen blueberries but will typically refuse a blueberry pancake. In this video she chooses a blueberry pancake cut into a butterfly shape (cookie cutter) and is also given some other new food choices such as sweet potato fries, spinach artichoke nugget and veggie mac pasta with spaghetti sauce. My therapy tools are novel to her as they usually stay in my office or car, so that was a bonus in her willingness to try new foods.

Aside from my training and experience at Carolina Pediatric Dysphagia in Raleigh I came across a great resource, a gigantic book entitled Pre-Feeding skills. I was familiar with the book from my time at Arkansas Children's hospital as a graduate student, but I really grew to use this resource when I had 8 feeding patients per day in Raleigh, all with varying needs. The more I read and practiced this in daily therapies or evaluations, the more it just made sense to me and the easier it was for me to sort of 'weed out' other beliefs and practices from various feeding experts, but incorporate certain aspects of other therapies into my own. It was clear to me that the clinic in Raleigh practiced in this same way and we all learned from each other, sharing ideas and techniques. The authors Marsha Dunn Klein and Suzanne Evans Morris' outlook on feeding and the whole child approach is one that I have come to feel is necessary and have since felt about very passionately. As I am sure my Myer's Briggs "INFP" description (the idealist) would justify this calling! The truth is, folks, it is real and if I didn't feel it was right I would not be able to freely write without having 'writer's block'. I am sure there are many grammatical errors--please ignore!

When I worked in Raleigh I caught on to the fact that a child had less anxiety with foods that were similar in some ways to foods that they already accepted. I was also directing families to the article Expanding Children's Diets on a regular basis as I felt it was important for them to understand the need for a child to feel that comfort and safety with foods and approach their feeding concerns in a non threatening way. There is of course more to it than this and I strongly encourage anyone who has a child with feeding difficulties to seek out help from a speech-language pathologist and/or occupational therapist who has a similar philosophy as hopefully you will find on this site and others. So...Later I find out that these 'similar properties' are the same concepts in Food Chaining. I KNOW this because I attended a course over the weekend! So if you happen upon my site please check out their book and website at

I hope you enjoy the video clips! Please don't wait for help if you find you really need it. Another point that was reiterated at the conference I that also stood out to me at a Kay Toomey conference and I feel has become part of my 'evaluation speech' and training for other feeding therapists for the last 5 years is "Only 3 percent of children with feeding difficulties are truly behavioral in nature. 3 percent" So find your support team, they are out there! Althoug I miss my time in a pediatric feeding clinic in Raleigh and am so grateful for my experience there, I now work with a fantastic team at Carolina Pediatric Therapy and we all turn to each other for consulting and help within the various disciplines!

Here we are collecting items for our 'lunchbox'--a cute game one of my therapy families found and laminated for us to use!
Taking turns!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Click on the pictures or the recipe name below for the recipes

Squish your Squash Indian style!

As a first time gardener this year I grew an abundance of 'accidental' garden surprises...including pumpkins. Many many pumpkins! This first recipe was inspired by a friend of mine, Tina, who told me about the wonderful squash fritters she made for her family. Tina is one of my most creative friends and she and her husband are always coming up with the greatest ideas whether it be a recipe, party theme, creative art or halloween costumes for themselves and their children---as evidenced by last Halloween's costume, can you guess which soft drink she is representing?

I have adapted the recipe in order to make use of one of our pumpkins as well as satisfy my craving for curry that day. Tina says there are several squash fritter recipes online and you can change them up to fit any mood including Italian, Indian or Seafood. These fritters do resemble a crab cake so she and I were thinking of making a seafood feast one night during one of our get togethers--just substitute the other spices for some Old Bay for a seafood twist!

Indian inspired Spaghetti Squash and Pumpkin Fritters

½ small pumpkin (approximately ½ cup)

½ large spaghetti squash (approximately 1 cup)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp Indian seasoning (I had Kohinoor brand Sheek Kebab Special in the pantry)

¼ cup egg beaters or 1 egg

¼ cup whole wheat flour

Mix all ingredients together. Form into patties and roll in breadcrumbs. Pan fry in tbsp of olive oil, flip after approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve warm and crispy!

Well I didn't stop 'squishing squash' there since I wanted to use the remaining half of the spaghetti squash. I plugged in the Magic Bullet and made a great curried squash bisque--without the use of any dairy. This was very simple and very tasty! Adalyn had a few spoonfuls but I actually had myself in mind for this recipe. I know one of my favorite little patients will like this one though!

Curried Spaghetti Squash Bisque

1 cup spaghetti squash

2 tbsp water (add more or less depending on desired consistency)

½-1 tsp yellow curry (depends on your taste!)

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Blend first 3 ingredients (I used magic bullet), add seasonings