Fostering Food Joy with Food Science

Fostering food joy…the big reveal!

Need a creative strategy to help kiddos feel better about food, and about eating? Well, pop on your mad-scientist hat, and look no further than your fridge, and pantry!

My Cela would be the first to you that her Mama has a mad-love for science, and learning. I’m “that Mom.” The one who asks too many questions, gifts you a book on your birthday, and cannot stop herself from explaining why cut apples turn brown.

Lucky for us, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Cela entertains my kitchen musings about everything from the Maillard reaction to the latest sports nutrition research. Who knew peanut butter toast could so exciting, and informative? Poor kid, lol. She returns the favour keeping me up-to-date on the latest “no-fail” slime recipes, and LEGO brick-building techniques. It’s a joyful win-win.

“Fostering food joy, and helping children develop a healthy relationship with food takes time, creativity, and a hunger to learn something new.” – Emily Mardell

Reflecting back on my own childhood, I have three remarkable, and influential women to thank for their part in sparking that hunger in me.

Emily and Joy Old Photo
My powerhouse Mom, Joy.

My Mom, Joy, a retired English teacher, and two-time World Powerlifting Champion. She was the first person to inspire in me a love of words, and teaching. But it was through her athletic accomplishments that I discovered that food was energy. And, a passion for sports nutrition was born.

My lovely Stepmom, Joannie.

My Stepmom, Joannie, was an x-ray technician, and instructor. She later switched directions, and became an air traffic controller. Crazy, hey? By her example, I learned you don’t have to choose one path; it’s actually good to challenge, and change your mind.

My stylin’, and regal, GiGi

My Grandmother, GiGi is an amazing seamstress, gardener, and chef. She’s handmade more custom garments for me than I can count. And, showed me how to get my hands dirty in the veggie patch, and reap the benefits in the kitchen. At her side, I learned to craft the Mother sauces without burning myself, or the house down. Essential. Life. Lessons.

In university biochemistry, and neuroscience proved to be my jam. A passion for health grew, and grew. Remarkable mentors like Glendora Boland, and Marcia Stodalka inspired a path towards community, and family nutrition. And, eventually my purpose to foster food joy became abundantly clear.

“Growing alongside so many inspiring women has made me appreciate the power, and purpose of women who find, and share their passion.” – Emily Mardell 

Now that I’m a Mom, I’m excited to watch my Cela find, and follow her path.  I see in her that familiar hunger to learn something new, and a boundless possibility all her own. She’s an unending book of questions, and insights. And, frankly, I feel barely equipped to answer half her questions, lol. Ever eager to know—how, why, when, and what if? It won’t be long before she’s both braver, and smarter than me!


Cela’s culinary curiosity is one of the reasons we spend so much time experimenting with the tasty side of science. We’ve seen firsthand that GetJoyfull magic that happens when food, and science collide. And, when we take turns being the kid in the kitchen, lol.

Most recently, after our Food Trip to Cheslen Dairies, Cela, and I decided to try making homemade fresh ricotta.

Milk + heat + lemon juice = Fresh ricotta

And, it was a delicious success!

Ricotta Apple Toasties

“Activities that explore edible science give parents, and kids a whole new way to discover food. One that brings fun, surprise, and joy back to the kitchen, and ultimately the family table.” – Emily Mardell

Cela’s always loved aged cheeses, but hadn’t yet expanded her palette to milder creamier varieties. Learning to make fresh ricotta, with her own little hands, was the perfect whey (see what I did there?) to make an unfamiliar food fun, and appealing–even before it hit her plate.

Ricotta Apple Toasties
Not sure what I love more, the pride in her eyes, or the missing tooth grin.

“Improving your child’s attitudes towards food is one of the first steps to helping them feel good about themselves, and about eating.” – Emily Mardell 

Ricotta Apple Toasties
Cela’s ricotta shines at breakfast. Spread thick on whole-grain toast with tart green apple, honey & cracked pepper.

For Cela’s full recipe, and my tips on how to improve your morning routine check out our September feature in Taste Alberta.

Interested in more GetJoyfull “experiments?” Here are a few of our favourites:

Water + sugar + salt + herbs + citrus = Holiday brine
Holiday brine

Water + sugar + salt + herbs + citrus = Holiday brine

Chef David Omar graciously teaching us the fundamentals of a festive holiday brine.

The Ruby Apron - Pavlova
Fluffy pavlova

Egg whites + sugar + air + heat = Fluffy pavlova

A cold copper bowl, and a little patience goes a long way towards whipping up something delicious.

Cloudbery Caramels
Cloudbery caramels

Cream + fruit puree + heat + butter = Cloudbery caramels

Caramel making seems easy on paper, but it took us a few tries to get it right. Our amazing friend, A Canadian Foodie, taught us it’s a special mix of science, and luck. Oh, and patience. After all waiting for candy to cool is “no fun.”

Homemade bread

Flour + yeast + salt + water = Homemade bread

Cela Joy practicing traditional Newfoundland touton making under the tutelage of Nana Joy.

For more ideas check out one of our favourite books, Edible Science.

Edible Science

Grab a beaker, pick up your whisk, and get ready to cook up some solid science. Using food as our tools (or ingredients!) curious kids become saucy scientists that measure, weigh, combine, and craft their way through the kitchen. Discover dozens of thoroughly tested, fun, edible experiments, sprinkled with helpful photos, diagrams, scientific facts, sub-experiments, and more.

Edible Science

Cece Loves Science

Cece, a budding and inquisitive scientist, and her equally curious best friend, Isaac, conduct experiments to see whether Cece’s dog, Einstein, will eat his vegetables.

Cece Loves Science

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Inspiring stories of 100 extraordinary women from the past, and present that encourage girls to own their “jam,” and sometimes break the rules. Illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Thanks to our friends at Alberta Milk, and Dairy Farmers of Canada for contributing to the GetJoyfull movement, and inspiring everyday food joy. Your support in helping make this post possible is greatly appreciated!



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