• Meet Your Picky, Problem, Growing Eaters at Our Table

    Seed: This is a learning feeder. This child has not yet developed the skills to eat a wide variety of foods by mouth. This feeder may not be ready to place food into their mouth or may be learning to manage purees or their first meltable solids (e.g., puffs). We may see frequent gagging and choking with these friends. We may have difficulty achieving appropriate weight gain and meeting our nutritional content.

    Seedling: This child may have less than 15 foods they eat regularly, may not be able to tolerate new foods on their plate, may present with “behaviors” at the table, may not be able to sit at the table for more than five minutes, may currently eat different meals than the rest of the family, may request/eat the same foods each day, this child may only accept preferred food brands, and may have difficulty describing/navigating foods with new properties/changes.

    Sprout: This child may have less than 30 foods they eat regularly, this child may be emerging with their ability to see, hear, smell, touch, and occasionally taste new foods, this child may need multiple attempts before they can accept a new food into their inventory, this child often may be able to sit at the table for a full meal and may be presented with the same meal as the rest of the family in addition to their current preferred foods, this child may accept modifications to their preferred food brands and items.

    Blossom: This child has mastered a variety of skills including: seeing, hearing smelling, touching and tasting of foods. This child is able to enjoy foods with our basic senses, but can sit in a proper child size seat and physically engage in eating and feeding skills using his/her vestibular and proprioceptive skills. This child can tolerate a wide variety of foods from each food group, but still may require some hands on play and exploration for new foods.

  • KALE – 20 Ways to Play

    1. Make your own instruments! Place kale pieces into containers and shake them around like maracas! Bonus: Name your band something simple such as “Kale Crew”
    2. Use kale in food art! Make the kale grass or leaves on a tree! 
    3. Place kale into a smoothie! Do a science experiment to slowly add a little bit more and compare the colors as you go! 
    4. Make kale chips! Have your Little help you prep in the kitchen! 
    5. Put together a kale bouquet! Fill a small cup with water and place kale pieces inside together! 
    6. Create your own kale sensory bin! Have your Little practice ripping up pieces and place them into a container. Use toy animals to have a pretend farm!
    7. Have a kale race! Use kitchen tongs, a chip clip, or a clothespin to pick up a piece of kale and race it to the other side of the kitchen! 
    8. Play hide and seek! Take a large piece of kale and hide it around! 
    9. Put together a sensory bottle with kale! Fill a bottle up with water, kale pieces, and other ingredients of your choosing such as other greens or even food coloring! 
    10. Use kale pieces as paint brushes! Paint with dips or other condiments! Hold the brush in your hands or even between your teeth for a silly time! 
    11. Have a kale boat race! Place the kale in a bin of water and practice blowing your boats to the other side! Bonus: this gets your Little up close and personal with kale! 
    12. Have a kale car wash! Get out the toy cars and scrub them with kale for a pretend play activity! 
    13. Be a kale scientist! Make a hypothesis about how many kale pieces it takes to build a certain height of a tower or reach a certain weight on a food scale! 
    14. Kale Blankets: Make kale blankets and pretend putting little toys to sleep by singing “rock a bye baby”
    15. Silly Faces: Challenge each other to make the silliest kale faces/disguises! Use kale as unicorn horns, silly mustaches, long noses, and more! 
    16. Make kale jewelry! Grab out some string and tear up a few pieces of kale leaves! String the leaves to make a bracelet or necklace. 
    17. Design your own kale sensory bottle: Take an old water bottle and fill it with water and kale pieces plus any other fun ingredients of your choosing like food coloring, glitter, mini toys, and more! 
    18. Read a book with your magical kale pointer! Tell your Little(s) that it’s story time and they can use a magical green pointer to answer questions! Have your Little point out characters or vocabulary with the kale tip
    19. Remix a song! Try out “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your kale!” 

    Lastly, serve the kale. They may not eat it, but remember a little bit on the plate goes a long way for exposure!

  • Beets – 20 Ways to Play!

    1) Turn up the BEETS! Dance Around to some fun music with your “silly BEET headphones”

    2) Roll Away Race – Roll your beets across the table and see who can make it to the “finish line” first!

    3) Beet Shapes – Slice a few large beets across into halved strips and let your little one help push cookie cutters through to make fun beet shapes!

    4) Beet Balance – Build a small obstacle course for you and your little one. See who can make it through the farthest with the beet still balanced on their head!

    5) Beet Stick Cabins – Slice your beets “french-fry” style and use the “sticks” to build a cabin together!

    6) Beet Stamps – Cut fun shaped into your beet and let your little one help stamp it across paper to make some fun artwork together!

    7) Beet Paint – Anyone who has enjoyed the pleasure of slicing beets knows it lets all kinds of fun purple “dye” out. Use the beet juice to paint polk-a-dots onto your hands together!

    8) Beet Scoop – Fill your sink or a bin with water and pop your beets in. After washing them let your little one help you scoop them out using a ladle or large spoon!

    9) Purple Egg Fun – Dye your boiled eggs with beets! Check out this fun activity from KidMinds: https://kidminds.org/the-science-of-coloring-easter-eggs-with-beets/?fbclid=IwAR2f1oFTAtl1nF9kAwhZf_377gAQL9cdfOo6PkveGcW6YMRSlVEjV_yjrfw

    10) Home Grocery Store – Play pretend play “grocery” and let your little one “pick out,” “check out” using that Monopoly money and “grocery bag” up your beets!

    11) Beet Letters – Use a “french-fry” style beet sticks like a crayon and write a secret message or draw some fun shapes on a paper plate with your little one! 

    12) Bulldozers – Use those “french-fry” style beet sticks to push around some mashed potatoes “Brmmmmmm! Bulldozer coming through!!”!

    13) Beet Comparison – Take your beets and sort them out, which are the biggest? The smallest? Which is the darkest shade? The lightest?

    14) Hot Potato Beets – Play a classic game of “hot potato” tossing your beet back and forth!

    15) Grow Beet Leaves – Take a clear jar of water and pop a beet inside, watch the greens continue to grow and the little roots that expand out with your little one!

    16) Beet Pops – Puree your beets and pipe some into a set of homemade ice cubes or “popsicles” !

    17) Beet Clocks – Hold your beets by the greens and swing them back and forth like a grandfather clock! Who can make their clock swing the slowest?!

    18) Beet Jam – Puree your beets (or steam well and fork smash with your little one!) to make your own “beet jam” that you can spread on crackers or on your next PBJ!

    19) Beet Sensory Bag – Puree your beets and place the puree into a sealed plastic bag with a few fun items (maybe even some of the beet leaves!) – let your little feel through the bag to uncover the leaves or items you placed inside!

    20) Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, continued exposure is the key to success!

  • Eat, Drink & Be Empathetic

    Finding yourself frustrated with meals? Wishing your child would progress with new foods quicker? We hear you. We understand you. We respect you.

    Did it feel good to hear that?

    Now, turn the script to your child. Hear them, understand them, respect them.

    New foods can be anxiety inducing. New activities can be challenging. New restaurants can be overwhelming.

    We encourage you to not only acknowledge your child’s emotions in response to foods, but also to assist them in navigating through problem solving.

    “I see that you crossed your arms and turned away to tell me that you were upset when I put this large bowl of new, purple food on the table. Let’s try putting a smaller amount onto a plate and making a purple house out of these carrots!”

    For more insight into navigating big emotions, check out “The Whole Brain Child” by @drdansiegel and @tinapaynebryson 

  • Allergen Free Recipes for all ages!

    Hi there! It’s Paige again dropping in to say hello and share some delicious allergen-free recipes and insights with you. If you haven’t read my posts before, I’ll give you a brief introduction of myself and you can also find my previous posts “Tips for parents of children with food allergies” and “Back to School for Littles with Food Allergies.” I work closely with individuals of all ages for nutrition counseling. I specifically focus on food allergies, vegan and vegetarian foods, food service sustainability and culinary nutrition. I work with a variety of students at my job to help them manage their food allergies, along with our team of talented chefs who help me create and implement new recipes. You can see more of what our team does by checking out @tk_bgsudining on Instagram!

    Let’s get to the fun part- RECIPES! The following recipes are ones that I absolutely LOVE to use when cooking for individuals with food allergies. Although they are specific to valentine’s day, they can really be used any time of year! Shape the cookies into shamrocks, make the pizzas into Christmas trees… you get the idea. The cookies are the perfect recipe to share with classrooms of children because they don’t contain any of the top 8 allergies. 

    Allergen Free Sugar Cookies

    Allergen Free Sugar Cookies and Frosting

    Cookies

    • 2/3 cup Earth Balance Butter
    • ¾ cup Sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • ½ cup applesauce
    • 4 tsp Oatmilk or Rice Milk
    • ¼ tsp Salt
    • 1 tsp Bob’s Red Mill Xantham Gum
    • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
    • 2 cups gluten free flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)

    Directions:

    1. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, applesauce and milk until smooth. Add in the salt, xantham gum, baking powder and half o the gluten-free flour. Mix well.
    2. Add in the rest of the gluten-free flour and blend well.
    3. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
    4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    5. Sprinkle gluten free flour on clean surface. Roll out cookie dough and cut out shapes.
    6. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and frost!

    Allergen Free Frosting

    • ½ cup earth balance butter, softened
    • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 Tbsp Oat milk or rice milk
    • Food Coloring as Desired

    Directions:

    1. Using electric mixer, beat butter, vanilla and milk until smooth.
    2. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Add in food coloring as desired. Keep refrigerated.

    Note: When looking for sprinkles be sure to double check ingredient labels because many sprinkles are manufactured in facilities that process peanuts and treenuts. You can also find a wide variety of allergen free sprinkles on Amazon! I will be creating a “favorite products” amazon list for you to check out soon.

    Allergen Free Heart Shaped Pizzas

    No-Rise Pizza Dough

    • 1 package dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 2 ½ cups gluten free flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
    • 2 Tbsp olive Oil
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 1 tsp salt

    Sauce

    • 2 cups tomato sauce
    • 3 Tbsp Tomato paste (more if you prefer thick sauce)
    • ½ tsp garlic powder
    • ½ tsp onion powder
    • 2 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
    • Pinch Salt
    • Pinch Pepper

    Toppings

    • Daiya Mozzarella Cheese (Note: some non-dairy cheeses contain coconut)
    • Fresh vegetables
    • Ham
    • Pineapple

    And anything else you desire!

    Directions:

    1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a medium bowl and add rest of ingredients. Beat vigorously for 20 strokes and let rest for 10 minutes. Press dough into heart shaped pizzas and place onto greased 11×17 baking sheet.
    2. Mix sauce ingredients together and spread over heart shaped pizzas. Top with Daiya cheese and toppings of choice.
    3. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes (dependent upon shape and size). Enjoy!

    I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do! Stay safe and warm friends.

    Paige Wagner, RDN, LD

  • Winter Sensory Fun ❄️

    ❄️ Simple sensory fun coming your way! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    1️⃣ Real snow! Scoop some up in a bucket, container, or even into the bathtub for some easy fun! In a warm climate?? (we’re jealous!) Use cotton balls or styrofoam packaging as your fake snow! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    2️⃣ Holiday scents! Snag cranberries, cinnamon sticks, fresh pine for a sensory experience to engage the nose! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    3️⃣ Freeze those water beads for a pretend icy winter wonderland! Try freezing beads that you’ve already had out/used. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    4️⃣ Use shaving cream for fake snow! Bonus: work on fine letter/number recognition and production by practicing writing in the snow! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    5️⃣ Try an edible sensory experience by using white cooking frosting as snow! Have it “snow” on graham crackers, strawberries, or even bananas! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    💡 Pro-tip: Try using a kiddy pool or baby bath tub for easy sensory fun clean up! ⠀

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  • Green Beans – 20 Ways to Play

    1)    Silly String Bean Faces – Build your own faces with your green beans using the full bean for a big grin and pop out the seeds for little eyes and noses! Do you have snow where you live right now? Why not add them to a snowman!? 

    2) Dough Rollers – Does your little one enjoy Playdough or cooking with you? Why not use your green beans as “steamrollers” to help roll out that dough (play-dough or real dough if you’re into baking!) or make silly shapes and stamps into it!

    3) Bean Telephones – Pretend play telephone with your string beans, *ring-ring* do I hear a fun time on the line?!

    4) Inchworms – “Inch” those green beans along like little inch worms or choo-choo trains! If you’re little one doesn’t know what an inchworm is, look up videos on you-tube and then act them out together!

    5) Build the Fortress – Take those green beans and build your own complete home or fortress, stack them up link log cabins and feel free to add fun editions like “trees” or “flowers” that your little one can smell and feel!

    6) String Bean Boats – Grab a tub of water or fill up your sink and drive a few bean “boats” or “canoes” through with your little one while your washing the beans off 

    7) Bean Paint Brushes – Grab a little dollop of ranch or dill dip (or preferred sauce/dip) and use your beans to “paint” a masterpiece on your plates

    8) Plant your own beans – When they’re ready to harvest let your little one help you collect and wash them up!

    9) Coloring Book Beans – Grab a coloring book or print an outline of a favorite character and use the beans to outline the character. Living somewhere sunny? Try outlining your shaddows (try your hands first!) with the beans too!

    10) Try a Fun Bean Experiment – Check our this “magic beanstalk” from Growing A Jeweled Rose: https://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2016/03/grow-magic-beanstalk.html

    11) Read Jack and the Beanstalk – Talk about beans and look up photos together 

    12) Connect The Dots – Try a fun twist on the classic pen and paper “connect-the-dots” by using green beans. Consider cooked and raw to determine whose are whose! 

    13) Raw Bean Egg Shakers – Let your little one help you chop up a few raw green beans and fill a few plastic eggs. Enjoy shaking them and making some music together!

    14) Balance Beam Beans – Try balancing your raw green beans across your noses – who can hold theirs the longest?!

    15) Pretend Play SpaceShips – 3, 2, 1 BLAST OFF! Send those beans in the air and fly them through space together! Maybe you’ll even land onto one of your “moon teeth” too!

    16) Scooping Spoons – Use those string beans to scoop up a dip or sauce! You can shovel it back and forth across your plate or maybe even your tongues!

    17) Bean Lipstick – Pretend play paint your lips “on” with your string bean lipstick tube!

    18) Bean Names – Use your beans to shape letters and spell out new words or names together!

    19) Pretend Play People – Pretend your green beans are dolls (or animals!) and bring them to life with a fun pretend play adventure story. 

    20) Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!

  • Linking to Learn – Poptarts to Raspberries

    🔗 Another linking to learn! Poptarts ➡️ Raspberries ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    🔗 Linking to learn involves presenting one food at a time to your Little while using your words to show how the foods are linked! Such as we had rainbow rocks and now we have all red rocks!” Spend a few minutes interacting with each food before moving on to the next! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    💡 Remember: linking to learn is for food exploration! Your Little may not quite be ready to eat all of these foods just yet! Celebrate the small steps like touching a new food, putting a new food on their noses, or even taking a small lick! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    ⏰ Keep it fun and try not to stay at the table too long! Take 15-20 minutes total to present each food one at a time. Try this strategy during a snack time so as not to interrupt mealtimes. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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  • No Fowl Play involved in the Creation of These Fun Apple “Turkey” Pops!

    🦃 #PlayDay turkey style! We mixed crafting and food exposure in this fun activity to create our very own turkeys! ⠀

    👍🏼 What we used:⠀
    -apples sliced in circles⠀
    -melted chocolate ⠀
    -reeses peanut butter cups ⠀
    -candy corn ⠀
    -candy eyes ⠀
    -sprinkles ⠀

    Steps to create! ⠀
    1️⃣ slice apples in circle shapes ⠀
    2️⃣ place apple slices on kebab sticks ⠀
    3️⃣ melt chocolate chips and spread over apples⠀
    4️⃣ place peanut butter cup in middle ⠀
    5️⃣ align candy corn as feathers! ⠀
    6️⃣ add candy eyes, candy corn pieces, and sprinkles to make the face! ⠀

    🗣Some language we used:⠀

    ⭐️you can help wash the apples! ⠀
    ⭐️we can use our fingers to spread the chocolate!⠀
    ⭐️we can count out five candy corn pieces! ⠀
    ⭐️we can clean up together when we are all done! ⠀

    Enjoy!⠀

  • Fall Sensory Bin Fun!

    🍁 Colored leaves and happy kiddos please! This #PlayDay we have a fall leaf sensory bin that will not disappoint! With this sensory bin we are hoping to engage the eyes, ears, hands, and noses! 

    What we used:
    🍁 Fall leaves (you can use real or fake).

    🥜 Acorns that had fallen on the ground.

    👃 Cinnamon sticks.

    🌲 Pinecones.



    🤚 Optional:

    1. Kitchen tongs for our little ones that may not be ready to dive in with their hands.
    2. Extra seasonings or essential oils to sprinkle (or drop) on top for an intense scent activity!


    😃 Play-tip: see which item makes the loudest sound when FALLing into the bin!

    💡 Pro-tip: encourage your child to help gather fresh items from outside for this bin so that they are able to learn more about the growing process! Take some time to compare pictures of green leaves on trees to the way the trees are looking now. Look up a picture of an acorn when it first starts growing and compare it to what you found outside.


    🤔 Living in a more urban area with less access to fresh trees and leaves? Never fear, Target Dollar Spot and Amazon Prime never disappoint!

  • Fall Sensory Trays!

    This season we are LOVING the latest shake up for sensory bins and bags in the evolution of the sensory baking tray!

    This is a fun way to introduce your little one to a variety of new concepts!

    For our fall sensory baking sheet we used:

    🌻 Flowers (“These flowers have a BIG smell, they smell sweet!”)

    🧂 Pom-Poms (“Look! These pom-poms are so colorful! I can pick up the green one with my clip!”)

    🌲 Pinecones (“Wow! These pinecones feel bumpy!”)

    🕯 Artificial Candles (“Woah! These candles make my pom-pom look brighter!”)

    🧁 Silicone cupcake liners (“Look I can put my pinecones IN! Plop! Plop!”)

    🥨 Chip-Clips

    Feel free to sprinkle whatever seasoning you want on top! We love to use nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices this time of year!

    NOTE: If you don’t have “chip-clips” on hand, clothespins work great too!

    As always, remember this activity is a great opportunity to practice that neutral descriptive language while helping your little one learn all about different textures, shapes, sizes and scents!