The Confident Eater

Science experiments with food

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Science experiments involving food

Many of us had drilled into us “don’t play with your food” and as a parent, I don’t want my children to be ‘messing’ about with food at the table. However, and I think you can make a distinction between play and anti-social behaviour.

There are also many positives to playing with food. In fact, feeding experts recommend playing with food as a key learning strategy for babies.

When your baby smushes food onto their tray or into their hair, what they are doing is learning all about how it feels, how it smells, what happens if …

For those children who don’t like to touch food and avoid this messy stage, it can feel like a blessing. However, they may also be missing out on learning.

Current advice is for children as old as eight to go back to this stage if they skipped it, as it may still be holding back their eating.

If mess makes you shudder then it can be contained, for example, with overalls, with an oil cloth for the table and with plastic sheets underneath the chair. It also doesn’t have to be done while eating if that’s easier to cope with.

Playing with food in a more structured way is also fine and that is part of what I’m proposing via science experiments involving food.

I am also suggesting these as good ways to get older children into the kitchen and handling food. Any connection to food, particularly those children generally avoid, in a low pressure, fun way is positive.

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As it’s school holidays, this is an excellent time to get a little more creative.

Science experiments involving food

1. Making butter – this evokes fond memories for me as my mum did this with my brother and I when we were young. Super simple to make!

i) Take a jar and add some fresh cream
ii) Shake the jar until the cream starts to solidify. This requires a LOT of shaking so it’s a great communal activity/ awesome for the testosterone fuelled 😉
iii) Pour off any liquid and the solid part left is butter and can be spread on bread or crackers.

Science experiments with food, Judith Yeabsley|Fussy Eating NZ, butter, #ScienceExperimentsWithFood, #ScienceExperimentsWithFoodForFussyEaters, # ScienceExperimentsWithFoodForPickyEaters, #TryNewFoods, #TheConfidentEater, #FussyEatingNZ, #HelpForFussyEating, #HelpForFussyEaters, #FussyEater, #FussyEating, #PickyEater, #PickyEating, #SupportForFussyEaters, #SupportForPickyEaters, #CreatingConfidentEaters, #TryNewFood #PickyEatingNZ #HelpForPickyEaters, #HelpForPickyEating, #Wellington, #NZ, #JudithYeabsley

2. Ice cream in a bag – quick, fun, and perfect for summer.

i) Get 2 ziploc bags, one bigger than the other.
ii) Add half cream/half milk to the small bag (start with a small quantity like ½ cup of each)
iii) Add sugar. 1 tsp – 1 tbs (to taste).
iv) Add 1 ½ tsp of vanilla
v) Seal bag really firmly (or even double bag)
vi) Half fill bigger bag with ice
vii) Add ¼ cup salt
viii) Place small bag inside the bigger bag
ix) Add more ice on top
x) Use gloves as bag will be very cold
xi) Shake the bag for approx. 6 minutes
xii) Remove the smaller bag and rinse well to remove salt from outside
xiii) Open, stir and eat!

3. Unicorn noodles – these show simple PH colours at work. Remember, even if your child is not interested in eating them, they are still involved in preparing food. They may even be fascinated by them and that’s a plus!

* Photo is far more red than the purple that you will get.

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i) Take half a purple cabbage and place in a large pan. Cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for about 10 mins. The water should be a dark purple.
ii) Put the cabbage aside and soak rice noodles in the liquid for 7-8 minutes until soft. Remove half the noodles and drain.
iii) Leave the remainder of the noodles in the pot for another 5 mins.
iv) Drain the remaining noodles.
v) Adding drops of an acid like lemon juice will change the colour to pink.
You can either serve the purple noodles and let your child add a little lemon juice to them on the plate, to see what happens or add the lemon juice in the kitchen and re-rinse before serving the mix of purple, blue and pink noodles.
Add your child’s favourite sauce or serve as is to eat.

4. Bread in a bag – I love making bread, again a ‘hang-over’ from my childhood as my mother made all our bread. She is still making all sorts of baked goods, breads, scones etc. in her 80’s and apparently “Granny’s bread is way better than mine”. I agree 🙁

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There are lots of quick and simple ways to make bread but the ‘bread in a bag’ is a bit more in line with the experimental vibe.

i) Measure 225gm of bread flour (flours with more gluten work better) into a strong Ziploc bag (will need to be quite big to fit everything in)
ii) Add a packet of quick acting yeast
iii) Add a generous pinch of salt
iv) Add 100mls of warm water (not too hot or it kills the yeast)
v) Massage the dough for approx. 10 minutes until it lifts away from the insides of the bag and almost forms a ball
vi) Flour a board and your hands
vii) Split the dough into 4 and roll into balls
viii) Place on a non-stick tray, cover and let rise for approx. an hour
ix) Place in a pre-heated oven at 200˚ for approx. 20-25 mins
x) Check rolls are cooked by tapping the bottom which should sound hollow and looking at the top, which should be browning.
xi) Allow to cool on a rack

5. Magical moving cereal – great fun to make cereal with a high iron content move around the bowl. May even make certain cereals more appealing.

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i) Check for a cereal with iron included
ii) Place in milk or water
iii) Wave a strong magnet just over the top of pieces of cereal to see if you can make them move

Just a few cool science experiments involving food to get the children in the kitchen and excited about cooking/playing with food.

For younger children it’s fun to do together. For older children they can follow videos on YouTube and do themselves.

Changing the perception of food from something that is challenging to something that is fun is always the goal 😊

Let me know how you go!

Judith, MA Cantab (Cambridge University), Post Grad Dip Psychology (Massey University), is an AOTA accredited picky eating advisor and internationally certified nutritional therapist. She works with 100+ families every year resolving fussy eating and returning pleasure and joy to the meal table.

She is also mum to two boys and the author of Creating Confident Eaters and Winner Winner I Eat Dinner. Her dream is that every child is able to approach food from a place of safety and joy, not fear.

Learn more about Judith here:

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