Last Updated: 25 July 2016

Children need to take their own route, sometimes an unexpected route, to healthy eating.  Each child goes on their own journey as they learn to eat.   What works for one child, may not necessarily work for another.  It’s the same for ALL things that children have to learn –  toilet training, interacting with others, sleeping habits etc… Usually these are all things that top the list of “a parent’s concerns”.  We all become anxious about these things because to some extent, they are out of our control.  We can be armed with tools and ideas to help, yet we need to evaluate how our child responds to these things before we can know what worked (at least for that child).  I find parenting is the HARDEST thing I’ve had to do – why? – feedback comes in the form of tantrums, repeated “no” word usage, vague looks or sometimes your kids laughing at you!  Let me tell you that if your boss ever gave you that feedback, you’d probably resign siting irreconcilable differences in the workplace.  Kids don’t come with a manual! We have to learn along with them.

What if the feedback you were getting to food was gagging?  vomiting?

How would you feel?  How do you think your child would be feeling?

This is not unusual.  The rest of this article may seem unusual though.  It is based on an experience I had with a child food jagging on a range of “unhealthy” foods.  Instead of using our usual tactics for overcoming food aversions (to introduce healthy foods), we had to stay there in amongst the world of the donuts. Why?  His aversions were due to sensory processing difficulties of most fruits and vegetables.  Sensory processing difficulties is one possible reason for gagging / vomiting responses to food.  We needed to embrace the safe texture of the donuts, cakes, biscuits and pikelets.  (I explain a bit more about food jagging tactics in this article).  Some ideas that the family tried were inclusion of donuts as an option at dinner when using the family style meal approach.  I also suggested that we use donuts to make a pink smooothie with some fresh strawberries – once we were at the point of changing textures.  Donuts ended up being a catalyst for change, slowly but surely.

I was so happy to stumble across some fantastic pin-spiration for baking donuts instead of frying them.  Why?  Baking just seems so much more fool proof to me than trying out deep frying.  I generally always have one or both of my girls with me, so finding time to fry a batch of donuts was just not going to happen.  Even baking is a challenge sometimes for me (as you can re-read in this tongue-and-cheek recipe)!  Here is a video of Ellie (age 3) and I making these donuts.

This will help you understand what I mean by “aluminium foil donut shapers”.  It will also have you laughing at how a 3 year old says cinnamon, decides that “next we will take a nap, guys” and refuse to eat the finished product because the donuts are still warm.  Ahh the joys of filming with a 3-year old!

Baked Pumpkin and Honey Donuts | Play with Food

Baked Pumpkin and Honey Donuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A delicious treat food for soft food sensory seekers or to resolve sugar cravings. All without as much refined sugar and saturated fats as store bought donuts.
Recipe type: snack
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup SR flour
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin
  • ⅓ cup oil, grapeseed oil works the best. Organic coconut oil is good too yet, it does leave a slightly "coconutty" flavour that I found overpowers the honey and cinnamon. Which can be a deal breaker for a food jagger!
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • cinnamon sugar for dusting at the end (mix 1 tsp cinnamon to 4 tbsp sugar)
  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC and make your aluminium foil donut shapers. Place the shapers into your muffin tray and spray with oil. (Or you can use a donut pan - if you own one).
  2. In one bowl, whisk the oil, pumpkin, egg and honey together.
  3. In the other bowl, mix the ground cinnamon and nutmeg with the SR flour. Add the wet mixture, to this bowl.
  4. Add the mixture to your muffin wells until it is ½ way up the donut shapers. This can be a little messy, so you can try piping it in by placing the mixture into a ziplock bag and cutting off the corner.
  5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (until they are firm to the touch).
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then carefully peel away the tin foil shapers.
  7. Toss your donuts in cinnamon sugar.
  8. Eat straight away. If you leave the donuts to sit before serving, the cinnamon sugar will be absorbed. These are only good to eat within 1 - 2 days (hence my small batch recipe). Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Baked Honey and Pumpkin Donuts | Play with Food

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