Taste Testing Fun from Doctor Yum!


Thanks to Doctor Yum for this wonderful guest post: this is an example of Taste Training in action!

As a pediatrician, one of the most common questions parents ask is, “How do I get my child to eat healthy food?” My answer….”Tasting Time!”

When I started my website doctoryum.com in 2011, I started asking kids in my community to try healthy family recipes after school. I called these kids “Tiny Tasters,” and most were the usual garden-variety, vegetable-hating kids. Surprisingly, with each recipe I found these kids opening up to tasting and enjoying a wider variety of healthy foods. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the environment I was creating for tasting (which I now call “Tasting Time”) was one of the most powerful tools for encouraging kids to try new foods. Following the success of the website, I founded The Doctor Yum Project, a nonprofit which aims to reduce childhood obesity by teaching families and kids of all ages to cook. I have since incorporated the “Tasting Time” concept into those cooking classes with great success, often getting some pretty reluctant eaters to open up to new foods. I now recommend that all families have a “Tasting Time” to open their kids up to trying new foods in an unpressured and joyful way. During this time, kids can explore food in a way that promotes healthy eating, much like my Tiny Tasters and cooking students do in our Instructional Kitchen.

Here are some reasons that “Tasting Time” works so well and ways you can make it work for your family too!

preschoolstrawberry51)   “Tasting Time” is NOT part of mealtime. Typically, the after school period is the time I have classes and food tastings for our website. I find that having “Tasting Time” after school when you would serve a snack (and when kids are naturally very hungry) is a great time to try new foods, or to re-try favorite foods in new ways. When kids are asked to TASTE food outside of a meal and not EAT (or finish) food during dinner, they are more likely to take the plunge. Would you want to commit to eating a whole plate of mystery food? Probably not, but you might take one bite to see how it tastes!

2)   I ask kids to taste with a smile on my face. With the same enthusiasm I would ask children to smell a scratch and sniff sticker or listen to a cool song, I ask them to, “try this neat food and tell me how it feels in your mouth!” To reduce anxiety, tell kids how the new food relates to another food they already like (“This new fruit is sweet and crunchy like that apple you liked!”). Instead of treating tasting vegetables as punishment, present it like a fun new adventure. Research shows that kids are more likely to try a new food served by a smiling parent than one who is not smiling. So put aside your own distaste for beets and SMILE when you offer them to your kids!

king george watermelon 23)   I ask kids’ for feedback about food. Get involved and ask questions. “What does this food remind you of? Does it feel crunchy in your mouth?” These are questions that show that you are interested in the child’s experience. Our “Yum Score” is helpful for kids to start talking about food, too. At my practice, Yum Pediatrics, every 4 year-old leaves with an apple, a clementine, and a laminated card with a “Yum Score” so they can start Tasting Time at home. Remind kids that their taste buds need to practice. Foods that taste like “Super Yuck” can someday turn into a “Super Yum.” Help kids understand that practice is important in all areas, whether it’s riding a bike, playing sports, and even tasting food.

4)   We celebrate successes. If a child is not able to taste broccoli today, give him a pat on the back for just washing it, chopping it, or stirring it into the broccoli salad. Hesitant eaters get a high five for smelling the food and a show of enthusiasm for them to taste it next time. In our classes we use “food passports” to record the food we try and encourage tasting of foods that are unfamiliar. Another way to celebrate tasting is to take pictures of their successes to share with friends. Sometimes I ask my patient’s families to post a picture of their child trying new foods at Tasting Time on my Facebook page. This can be an inspiration to us all!

pajamaparty1.15)   Kids can encourage kids. Our Tiny Tasters and cooking students often taste new foods in the company of other children. In Doctor Yum’s Preschool Adventure, a preschool nutrition curriculum written by myself and speech language pathologist, Melanie Potock, preschoolers prepare and taste food in the classroom with other preschoolers. This group experience is another reason our programs are so successful. There is a certain amount of positive peer pressure and infectious curiosity that occurs when kids try food together. At home you can do the same by watching my Tiny Taster Videos to show kids that tasting can be fun. Kids can taste with siblings or can invite friends over to try food together. One of my patients recently told me she was going to start a “Tasting Club” with her neighborhood friends!


“Tasting Time” can make trying new foods less scary and more exciting. Remember to keep food fun, and your kids will be on the road to adventurous eating in no time!

Getting to Yum TV coming soon…we hope!

News flash: Getting to Yum is coming to a TV screen new you (we hope)!

Live in the Vancouver area? Have a picky eater in the house…and want to do something about it? Interested in sharing your story on TV? LaDiDa Media is shooting a demo for Getting to Yum TV in June and would love to have your family involved!🙂

They’d love to hear from you if:
-you have one picky eater aged around 6 years old
-you’re available to film in your home for one day on the weekend of June 7th and 8th, plus one day of the weekend of June 14th and 15th, plus a follow up in August

Send LaDiDaMedia a little information about your family, plus a photo or two to the following address: gettingtoyum@ladidamedia.com.

And for more information, check out GettingToYum.com.😉
Infographic Taste Training

Broccoli and Sole Puree: A new baby “Taste Training” recipe

Broccoli Sole Puree from GettingToYum

Broccoli Sole Puree from GettingToYum

I’ve been having SO much fun crafting new recipes for the Baby “Taste Training” Plan that I’ve developed.

This is one of my favourites: Broccoli & Sole Puree. It has a hint of citrus (orange), and zucchini that softens the taste of the broccoli. Yum!

By the way, if you’re worried about allergies, you might be interested to know the following. If in doubt, you should always consult your medical provider and follow their advice. But it may be helpful for you to know that the latest advice from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology is that: “there is no reason to delay the introduction of highly allergenic foods beyond 4 to 6 months of age. In fact, delaying the introduction of these foods may increase your baby’s risk of developing allergies.”

For more information from the AAAAI, click here.

New: Baby and Toddler Taste Training Plans!

Baby Taste Training Plan Sign UpSo excited to be letting you know about these new Taste Training Plans!

In response to popular demand, I’ve created these short plans which help you teach your child to learn to love new foods. Based on my new book Getting to Yum, the plans provide you with easy, tasty recipes that will expand your baby’s palate (and maybe even your own!), Top Tips, Games, Coloring Sheets, plus a personalized Taste Training Graduation Certificate at the end!

Sign Up: And click here to find out more about the baby or toddler plans.

Toddler Taste Training Plan Sign Up Button Final

Learn More: Find out more about Taste Training here, and the amazing Science of Taste Training here. And check out the happy family testimonials.

Give Back: The proceeds will go to help food education programs in schools (we’re currently supporting the amazing Project Chef in Vancouver), and low-income families can access the plans for free upon referral from a paediatrician or hospital. Proud to be giving back to the #foodiekids community!


Five Time-Saving Cooking Tips for Busy Parents

If you’re like me, life is busy. In the past, it often seemed like I was cooking in a hurry. I’d end up cooking my ‘fall back’ dishes, which meant we’d eat the same few dishes regularly. This wasn’t great for many reasons: limited variety means less nutritional diversity. And everyone got a bit bored with the same food (even me!).

When I streamlined my approach to the kitchen, it helped a lot. Here are some tips for busy parents: practical ideas that I have found really useful.

1. Plan ahead. Make vegetable soups on the weekend and freeze them; they are very quick to heat up for a meal. There are lots of great simple soup recipes in my new book (Getting to Yum); most take less than 10 minutes to make a large amount.

2. Cook once, eat twice. If you are making a time-consuming dish, make two batches, and refrigerate or freeze one for eating another day.

3. Use a slow-cooker (or “crock pot”): it will slowly cook a stew during the day – and you’ll have a delicious meal waiting at dinner-time.

4. Don’t cook every meal. Once a week, eat an “at-home picnic” with simple foods that don’t require much cooking. When we do this, we eat chopped vegetables with dips, simple salads, nice breads, cold meats, and sliced fruit. You can prepare many of these in advance and quickly serve them when you get home.

5. Delegate by asking your children to help with cooking! Most children over the age of 7 can chop and stir. They also love to eat the food that they have cooked themselves, so this is a great way to get them eating healthy food while saving you time. Younger children can do other tasks like put away cutlery, set the table, or fold napkins. They’ll have a great sense of accomplishment.

What are some of the strategies you use to save time in the kitchen?