• 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!

  • 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

  • Linking to Learn – Poptarts to Raspberries

    🔗 Another linking to learn! Poptarts ➡️ Raspberries ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    🔗 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! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    💡 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! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    ⏰ 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!

  • Pumpkins and Peppers and Plums OH MY!

    This pumpkin season we look to all things fall and fun! If you’re looking for a fun play day activity look no further! We have found you can bring the joy of pumpkin carving season to just about any fruit or vegetable that you please!

    What we used:
    -small cookie cutters
    -child-safe knives (optional for older kiddos)
    -a variety of colored peppers
    -battery powered tealights (optional)

    ✅ We used adult-sized helping hands to assist in the removal of the top of the pepper

    ✅ Next, we encouraged kiddo-sized hands to do the scooping/removal of the seeds

    ✅ Then, we used small cookie cutters to make eyes, noses, and mouths

    ✅ Lastly, we plopped mini battery-powered tea lights in for a spooky-feel


    😃 Play-tip: This is a great opportunity to learn about shapes or even following directions! Have your little ones put their listening ears on to pick out circle-shaped cookie cutters versus square or star shapes!

    💡 Pro-tip: For some little ones, scooping out the seeds may seem overwhelming at first. Try offering a spoon as a “special pepper scooper” if they appear hesitant to interact with the insides of the pepper.

    🌶 Wondering what to do with your peppers after you finished carving and playing with them? We love to make a spooky stuffed pepper from our jack-o-lanterns for a scary fun meal you won’t forget!

    What if you don’t have peppers at home this week? Don’t worry! You can make any fruit or vegetable with a peelable rhine “spooky” simply by grabbing a sharpie and coloring on spooky faces with your little one (think oranges, bananas, even corn husks)! Be sure to talk about how the fruit or veggies feels while you hold it and if it has a big or small smell! Is it citrus scented? sweet? The possibilities are endless!

  • All About Apples 🍎

    Fall is creeping in all around us and this season we are loving all things APPLE! Looking for a few fun ways to shake up your usual sliced apple? We love letting our little ones help decorate everything from apple doughnuts –

    to apple nachos!

    feel free to provide any sort of topping, sprinkle or combination you and your little on can dream up together! We like to mix drizzles of caramel, chocolate, coconut cream or maybe even an apple sauce with fun sprinkles which can be anything from classic sprinkles, to crushed cereal, graham cracker or freeze dried fruit!

    While we’re thinking of apples don’t forget to peek at our post on how to use apples as a heavy-work sensory preparation activity here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CE2ejyApmTw/ !

    Looking for a few more fall fun ideas? Don’t miss our Fall FREEBIE Scavenger hunt handout here: https://falling-grass-1079.ck.page/d8dffec670

  • FACT FRIDAY: The MOST and LEAST Likely Food Allergens

    🥘 We are often asked about allergens, so we decided to share the 8 most common foods that are likely to present as allergens according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and some of the least likely from one of our favorite books Nobody Ever Told me or my Mother That by Diane Bhar.

    🚨 Most likely: Milk (dairy), eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, soy, and treenuts] (Bahr, 2010, p. 73).


    ✅ Least likely: Apples, asparagus, avocado, barley, broccoli, carrots, chicken, lettuce, mangoes, oats, peaches, pears, sunflower oil, salmon, lamb, turkey, rice, squash, sweet potatoes, pears, olive oil — and these are just some of the many least likely food options (Bahr, 2010, p. 73-74).

    🔍 Some of the common symptoms to note if you feel your child is experiencing a food allergy are: stuffy or runny nose, wheezing and/or coughing, constipation or diarrhea, gas or abdominal pain, bad breath, gagging or vomiting, excessive colic like behaviors, refusal/dislike of touch, reoccuring sinus/ear and/or chest infections, dark circles or bags around the eyes, red cheeks and/or ear lobes, rashes, eczema, difficulty sleeping, excessive rocking and/or banging head, excessive drooling or perspires easily (Bahr, 2010, p. 72).

    💡 It is important to introduce one new food at a time to help identify if your child has a food allergy and wait between 3 to 5 days between each new food (CDC, 2018). Be sure to discuss any concerns with your child’s physician and possibly discuss a referral to a pediatric allergist.

    🤷‍♀️ How does this relate to picky eating?

    This is a top question that we ask during an evaluation. Not only is it for safety, but think about how you feel when you eat something and have discomfort. Allergen symptoms can sometimes be traumatic and/or uncomfortable for the little ones, and we can sometimes use this as an indicator of when “picky eating” started if symptoms were noted and eating decreased. There are many other areas that can lead to picky eating, but this one that we always include in our assessments.

    References:
    Bahr, D. (2010) Nobody Ever Told Me or my Mother That! Arlington, Texas: Sensory World.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, December 3). When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html

    *We also recommend checking out the American Academy of Pediatrics website for more information on food allergies!