Dr. Yum

As a pediatrician and mother of two young boys, I am thinking about feeding kids constantly.  At work I answer questions on how to introduce solids to an infant, how to help a picky toddler eat more nutritious foods, and how to feed a child struggling with obesity.  Food is a topic we discuss at EVERY well-child visit, and it is a topic about which parents have a lot of questions.  At home I’m a mother dealing with the picky palates of two young boys, and have the same sort of struggles of any mom trying to deliver the most nutritious foods to a reluctant audience.

Doctor Yum started from a need to share information on feeding kids. It is a place for my patients, friends, and anyone who is interested in preparing healthy family meals to find ideas on cooking, nutrition, and health.  My recipes are not posted until they are kid-tested.  That’s where things get interesting.  I have a dedicated team of “Tiny Taste Testers” who sample all of my food and rate it on a 1-5 scale from “Super Yuck” to “Super Yum”.  My team is comprised of a range of kids of different ages with different likes, dislikes and challenges.

Some of the recipes are my own original ideas, but many are taken from other sources like cookbooks, friends and the internet.  Often I will “doctor” these recipes to make them more nutritious or more palatable to a young audience.  I try to use as much local seasonal ingredients as possible and encourage families to try their own small gardens, too. When trying new recipes, I get some “Yums” and along the way I get a lot of “Yucks” too.

Parents shouldn’t be discouraged if they get some “Yuck” reactions.  I see the “Super Yuck” as a necessary exposure to a new nutritious food. It may take several exposures before a child develops an acceptance for a new taste. It’s also a learning opportunity for trying new methods of preparing that food. Feel free to do your own “doctoring” of these recipes to suit your family’s tastes and needs.  Remember that kids’ palates are picky by nature. Until children are exposed to foods repeatedly, their palates may not change.  My hope is that some of my recipes and experiences will help parents to bring a foundation of adventurous, nutritious eating to their children.


Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH is a pediatrician practicing in Fredericksburg, VA at Yum Pediatrics. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh school of Medicine and School of Public Health with an M.D. and Masters in Public Health.  She completed residency and chief residency in Pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center Houston and served there for two years as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the department of Pediatrics. She is a Board Certified Pediatrician and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Besides practicing pediatrics Dr. Fernando stays busy  raising two boys, Zane (12) and Asa (8). She was recently invited to join the Subcommittee on Obesity Prevention for the Virginia Chapter of the AAP and is working on a website and toolkit to help providers counsel on Obesity prevention. In 2012, she founded “The Doctor Yum Project” a nonprofit dedicated to lowering childhood obesity and diet-related illness by partnering with families to raise children who eat a healthy whole food diet. In 2014 she opened Yum Pediatrics where she shares an innovative teaching garden and teaching kitchen which is shared between her practice and The Doctor Yum Project.


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