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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Good Eater Secrets, Part 3

Published September 27, 2011 8:37 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

This week I am sharing the yummy food secrets of a wonderfully creative woman, wife and mom who I met through a mutual close friend several years ago. Rebecca has two little girls, ages 2 and 4, and loves to cook for and with her family.

See below to read how the Food Network and "Dora the Explorer" have helped to shape the way she presents foods to her girls! She also shares her tantalizing turkey feta burger and cous cous salad recipes at the end of today's post!

In your opinion, are your children good eaters?


Have they always been good eaters? Even as babies?

Yes! I made my own baby food, not only because it was cost effective, but because the colors were so vibrant and fun to look at. Not to mention ... I enjoyed eating some of it, too (apples and  sweet potato purees, especially!). I love to cook and find we're in the kitchen a lot, so maybe being in there so frequently during the day has helped them grow to love being around food, as well.

Please list 5 of your children's favorite foods.

Avocado, broccoli, berries of any kind, edamame, yogurt (drinkable with probiotics), soup (that I make), and brown rice (sorry I couldn't limit it!).

Please list 5 of your children's non-preferred foods.

Green beans (because of the strings), eggs, cheese (sometimes they go back and forth with this...don't like it melted as much as cold), and peanut butter. There's not a ton they don't really like.

Do you cook/bake with your children? If so, how often (e.g., once a week, once a day, etc.)?

We cook probably three times a week, pending our schedule. If we don't cook a big dinner together, I'll have them help me with little tasks for different meals/snacks such as squeezing lime/adding salt/pepper into our guacamole, or "decorating" our Greek yogurt by sprinkling cinnamon, crunchy cereal, and dried fruit, and adding a "river" of honey.

What type of meals/dishes do you make with them?

It ranges, from something as simple as smoothies (where I let them pour the ingredients into the blender) all the way up to turkey burgers (see recipe below!). When my younger daughter naps, it gives me a chance to connect with my older daughter, talk and have fun in the kitchen. She loves to help me assemble ingredients, see how things transform into shapes in the food processor, see how the colors change and most importantly ... taste test!

Do your children like tasting new foods?

Yes! I've heard before that we "eat with our eyes first" (I watch a little too much Food Network!), and in our case, I've found that to be very true.

If they refuse to taste/eat any food, what do you do?

I normally will take a bite off of my plate (because we almost always have the exact same thing, especially for dinner) and make (well, ok ... sometimes obnoxiously enthusiastic) sounds of pure delight and comment on how delicious it is, how crunchy and sweet (let's say) the red peppers are.

If that doesn't work, you may find me turning into some sort of very hungry food monster, digging into their plate with my mean and mighty fork and snagging a piece of their food. That will normally do the trick, and gain a smile.

Also, I often create "scenes" on the girls' plates by taking all of the components of their lunch and turn it into a piece of art: a ray of carrot stick sunshine, slices of Persian cucumber (no seeds, much crunchier and smaller than a normal cucumber) as eyes, red pepper strips as eyebrows, a nose constructed from a piece of cheese, broccoli "trees", and so on.

Food face

I've found that "walking them through" eating their masterpieces helps get them excited to try something new. "Yum! How do those green broccoli trees taste? Delicioso?" (We're also big Dora fans, you see)" -- just play along with them. Part of mealtime is getting your kids to eat healthy stuff, but it should also be about having conversations, sharing stories and enjoying your food and your family. Bon appetite!

The Recipes Rebecca loves making for/with her girls:

Turkey Feta Burgers with Parsley-Feta Pesto and Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

Turkey Burgers


  • 1 pkg ground turkey
  • 1/4 small red onion, 1/2 red bell pepper (sauteed)
  • 1 TBSP cumin, oregano, grill seasoning
  • 1/2 cup bread (or panko) crumbs
  • 1/4 cup feta, cut into small cubes (or crumbled if you buy it that way)


  1. Mix all ingredients together in bowl.
  2. Shape into patties.
  3. Grill or cook on indoor pan.

Parsley Feta Pesto


  • 1 bunch (or less) washed, fresh parsley
  • 1/2 brick feta,cut into pieces
  • (or about 1/2 cup crumbled)
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • pepper to taste (enough salt in feta)


  1. Mix in mini-food processor.
  2. Serve on top of burgers.


  • Adjust proportions -- if it's too thick, add more EVOO, etc.
  • I normally serve this with warmed pita, cous cous salad that's chock full of cucumber, tomato, red pepper, red onion, (already have it cut from what I sauteed earlier), lemon juice, and olive oil.


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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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