Often used as a garnish then relegated to the edge of the plate, herbs like parsley have strong smells, which can be overwhelming, but interacting with herbs can be a great way to explore and get used to stronger smells and flavors.
What we smell is a huge part of what we taste. If the smell of a food is overpowering to someone, most likely a taste of it will be overpowering as well. So, getting used to smells can be an important step in trying new foods. Below are 3 ways to incorporate herbs and new smells into food play and daily activities. Enjoy!
1. I love this smelling bottles sensory activity. You could use cotton balls with essential oils or extracts like the activity says, but you could also do this activity with herbs. If you have an herb garden growing or can buy some fresh, cut a bit of a few herbs and put them in bottles to smell, too.
Herbs are one of the easiest edibles to garden yourself. They grow well in pots and, if you don’t have outdoor space, a windowsill garden of herbs adds a nice touch of indoor green. This is also a really nice way to start teaching kids how food grows, if you don’t have access to larger gardens.
3. Cooking Helper
Kids are great helpers to take herb leaves off the stem. Often herbs need to be cut up for a recipe, but if it could work to have the leaves torn up (thinking bigger leaves here like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint), see if you can enlist a helper to rip them into tiny pieces. The pungent oils from the herbs will be released as your child rips up the leaves and they’ll have a nice opportunity to interact with herbs without any pressure to eat them.
If your child would never agree to touching strong smelling herbs, helping in the kitchen may be something to work up to. Try to take any opportunity to point out the smells of foods. Tear off a little piece of parsley at the grocery store or take a walk through a garden center and find the herbs if you have extra time on an outing.
Tapping into what smells are around us is also a great way to bring yourself back to the present moment and cultivate mindfulness. Enjoy noticing the smells around you this week and happy food play!