Cooking with Toddlers: Building a Yum Bowl


Fig isn’t a huge fan of “mixed bowls”. I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact he can’t distinguish what’s in the bowl, that all the different ingredients are touching or even that the flavors are too intense because he get’s several ingredients with each bite. Either way, he’ll typically eat a few bites ( if we’re lucky) and then run off to play only to promptly return and beg for cookies ( which is always met with a negative by us and “omg you guys are the WORST” glare topped with a bit of crying).I try to be somewhat sensitive to his likes and dislikes but ultimately I’m not a short order cook and sometimes a mixed bowl is what’s on the dinner menu for that night .

Recently I’ve been having a bit of nostalgia for the Pacific Northwest where I grew up. In my totally biased opinion there is no better or beautiful place than the rugged coastline that stretches from Oregon up towards British Columbia and Alaska. I grew up in Seattle but spent much of my childhood traveling between Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

It was on one of these adventures as a highschooler that my older sister took me to a Cafe Yumm! where I was introduced to one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted. The Yumm Bowl. This bowl is pure genius and pure deliciousness. Despite only having eaten a Yumm Bowl twice or three times in my entire life nearly a decade ago, I’ve NEVER EVER stopped fantasizing about them.

And then I discovered this and this. Firstly, you can actually buy the sauce directly from Yumm Cafe! Secondly, you can make it yourself thanks to a wonderful recipe I found online. I chose to make it myself for the purposes of immediate cravings ( and it tastes pretty darn close to the real thing) but sooner or later I’ll probably buy the original sauce to save myself some time.

So, this weekend we embarked on a Yum Bowl ( without the extra M since it’s not the original!)  adventure and I decided that letting little Fig build his own bowl might just entice him to actually eat it. And guess what? It totally worked! He probably ate a solid 10 bites; which is a full meal in toddler land. Another plus, it’s super easy to prep everything yourself and just set everything out for your toddler on a small table. Being able to actively develop his own bowl was super exciting for him. We kept admiring his bowl saying “wow, did you make that yourself? It looks delicious!”. He kept proudly nodding his little head; clearly pleased as punch at his own little dinner creation! This is definitely an activity/tactic we’ll employ more often.


Yum Bowls:

  • Fresh Tomatos
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Brown Rice
  • Black Beans
  • Black Olives
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Yum Sauce  ( found here or here)


  • Cook beans and Rice
  • Add all ingredients together in desired proportions
  • Drizzle sauce over bowl
  • Mix
  • Enjoy!






17 thoughts on “Cooking with Toddlers: Building a Yum Bowl

  1. Boeta says:

    Great idea. We have 2 dinners right now, his and ours with him, he enjoys the second part, because he eats with us, and we get what he needs in…whatever works…


  2. Sarah says:

    This is a genius idea! My toddler is also a little wary of mixed bowls where she can’t easily distinguish what is what. I think she would love mixing her own bowl. I’m totally going to try this.
    I’ve been to Yumm cafe while visiting my folks in Oregon…it was delicious and my mom sent me a recipe for the Yumm sauce. Soooo good!


    • cookingwithtoddlers says:

      Thank you! I can’t believe I didn’t try and do this earlier. It could have saved me a lot of grief. The Yumm Cafe is easily one of my top 3 favorite restaurants of all time! I could easily consume 5 or 6 bowls in a sitting and if I ever go back to one I might actually try 🙂


  3. tinywhitecottage says:

    You grew up in Seattle… That’s where we live! Now I’m excited to go to Yumm Cafe for a Yumm Bowl. Made me smile when I read he ate a solid 10 bites…I remember the days when every bite my son took was so satisfying for me. Great idea with this one.


    • cookingwithtoddlers says:

      I’m so jealous! First, that you live in Seattle ( the best place on earth in my humble opinion) and secondly that you have access to the real Yumm Bowls! Yumm bowls haunt my dreams on a weekly basis…the deliciousness is too much for me to handle 🙂


    • cookingwithtoddlers says:

      Thank you! I hear you; I’m always surprised when I see my little guy eating things ( like tomatoes or eggplants) as he goes about cooking with me. I serve him the very same thing the next day and he won’t touch it!


  4. Lail | With A Spin says:

    My daughter just turned three and she loves tofu. As for table manners, we reauire her to sit in until dinner is over but we make sure she has a book to color, read or something else to keep her entertained a little while having dinner. Have you tried that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • cookingwithtoddlers says:

      That is a great suggestion..something I’ll try out with my little one! I’m always trying to be sensitive to where he is developmentally but at the same time I want to raise a well mannered kid; easier said than done especially since he’s my first. Maybe with subsequent kids I’ll have a better gauge of what’s appropriate for certain age groups. Thanks for the advice!!


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