Discovering 'Play With Food' with Simone Emery


I came across a fantastic intitiative called 'Play With Food', which most of you know I love to do with my kids.  Chatting with Simone Emery, a like minded mum and the creator of 'Play With Food', she has kindly offered to share a blog post with us to tell us more about what she does.  Over to you Simone and thank you.

Hi Healthy Mums,

We are hurdling towards the end of 2013.  Our new year’s resolutions are long forgotten but the motivation of early summer weather means that we haven’t lost sight of our wellness goals.  As a mum, I know it can be hard to keep motivated.  Programs like Healthy Mums are great for keeping that constant support and motivation up.  Wouldn’t it also be great to involve the children too? 

Having a healthy appreciation for good food is a skill you can nuture from a very young age in your own children.  Healthy food is far from boring for kids and I go about showing that in my lessons each week at “Play with Food”.  I run fun and interactive fruit and vegetable classes for children.  We play in a way that engages the sensory systems and promotes a greater appreciation of seasonal fruits and vegetables.  No two classes are ever the same! 

Playing with food should not be a frowned upon activity and you’ll be surprised how much sensory play can influence what the child then wants to try at home or questions while browsing the fruit and vegie aisle.  If you are looking for a healthy eating partner for motivation – look no further than your own kids! 

Our classes have been especially great for “fussy eaters” or children who just prefer the comfort of familiar foods.  As much as we may take it for granted, eating is one of 2 activities we physically engage in that requires so much sensory input and processing – 8 senses to be exact and that doesn’t cater for the changes in inputs that happen as you chew something from crunchy to soft.  If you are a child and you are busy learning about a new toy or game, do you really want to sit down and process a whole lot of new sensory inputs?  So if you have a fussy eater, take a minute to step into their shoes and think about the eating task at hand. 

One key way to help a child process a new food is to engage them in the process of making it in a fun way.  For example, if your child is happy to eat a limited range of foods like mashed potato, ham and cheese but doesn’t like other foods so much, maybe try getting them involved in making “(insert their name here) bites”.  This is their special recipe and this is how it goes:


  • Preferred Food #1 (eg Mashed Potato)
  • Preferred Food #2 (eg Grated Cheese)
  • Preferred Food #3 (eg Shredded Ham- Healthy Mums recommends nitrite free if possible)
  • Tolerated Food #1 (Tinned Sweet Corn Kernels - Healthy Mums recommends steamed fresh corn off the cob)

-          Mum Tip: The above quantities should come together to make about 1 cup & use left-overs – don’t spend more time preparing this than you need too.

  • 1 cup of multigrain bread crumbs (depending on the wetness of the preferred & tolerated ingredients)
  • 2 eggs
  • You can also use some freshly chopped or dry herbs here for extra flavour depending on your ingredients.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Have the child mix all of the preferred and tolerated ingredients together with their hands in a big bowl.  Add one egg and ½ the breadcrumbs and mix again with their hands.  Add the next egg and the remaining breadcrumbs and mix again with their hands.  If your child doesn’t like to use their hands, use a big wooden spoon.  Make sure the mixture is well mixed and that the consistency is like a wet biscuit batter – adding more bread crumbs if required.
  3. Use the wooden spoon (or hands) to take golf ball sized bits of batter and put them on the tray.  If you can mould them into balls, that will look good when they are cooked.
  4. Put them in the oven for 20minutes or until they are golden brown.
  5. You can serve them with a dipping sauce like hummus or pureed cannellini beans for extra protein.

At our classes we help carers find ways to encourage healthy food appreciation by their children.  We try lots of new and different fruits and vegetables and always have fun!  To find out more about “Play with Food” please look at our website or “like” us on facebook for more healthy eating tips.

Simone Emery (Play With Food)


Healthy Mums is a proud supporter of programs like ‘Play with Food’.  To learn more about nutritious foods and how to use them, you may like to check out the Healthy Mums 30 week online program.  It's not just about losing weight naturally, but the education you get about food, feeding kids and staying healthy.