How I got my Picky Eater to Love Celery

Ants on mulch is ants on a log but for the sensitive palate. After sensory aversion to the texture of celery sticks my picky eater made this.

This recipe was created by and plated by my eight year old daughter. She even took some of the action photos!
A percentage of all earnings from this post will be going into her savings account for her hard work and creativity. <3

A photo of a white plate topped with ants on mulch sitting on a grey slate tabletop

My eight year old daughter is a picky eater. A very picky eater. We deal with a lot of sensory issues in this house since we are all neurodivergent.

I’m lucky if I can get anything that isn’t beige into her before the day is up. It’s PBJs, chicky nuggies, and french fries aaallllllll the way down.

My younger daughter on the other hand, who is an adventurous eater, was begging for some ants on a log she saw on a video, and the older one was jealous. She wanted some but said her mouth can’t stand the texture of the celery sticks. The strings do her in.

So she had an idea..

Looking down onto a plate of ants on mulch, being held by my daughter. only her hands are visible.
I can’t believe how beautifully she plated this. It looks like a plate from a Michelin star chef!

Ants on a Log vs Ants on Mulch for a picky eater: celery problems

Ants on a log is a classic snack that’s made from celery sticks. They’re filled with something creamy (usually peanut butter or cream cheese) and topped with dried fruit, chocolate, nuts, or something else that makes the “ants”. So the celery is the log, and the toppings are the ants – stuck to the log by whatever creamy ingredient you desire.

Because the celery sticks used to make ants on a log have long strings in them that make her gag – what if we cut them? But we couldn’t just slice them across because her brain remembers all the times I tried to sneak celery into her food. And that’s exactly how I cut it before.

a photo of evil celery sticks and evil chopped celery on a wooden tabletop
evil celery sticks and chopped celery

Instead, we cut it in a herringbone type pattern.

This way, her mouth didn’t get sick from the strings and her brain didn’t feel betrayed by the half-moon celery slices from days past.

We chopped the log up into mulch, topped it, and it worked! The picky eater celery dish was a success!

What toppings did we use for our Ants on Mulch?

The ingredients for ants on mulch. Celery sticks, sunflower seeds, biscoff cookies, peanut butter, cookie butter, chocolate, and cranberries
  • Creamy: for our creamy to stick everything to the top of the mulch, we used peanut butter, cookie butter, and sugar-free dark chocolate. You could use any safe nut or seed butter, or your favorite safe cream cheese.
  • Dirt: my daughter said that we can’t have mulch and ants without having dirt. So we crumbled up some Biscoff cookies to sprinkle on top before placing the ants. You could use graham crackers, Oreos, or whatever cookies your family safely enjoys!
  • Seeds: ants eat seeds, so we enlisted the help of some roasted sunflower seeds. You could use chopped nuts or seeds of whatever your choosing.
  • Ants: for our ants, we used dried cranberries because it’s what we had on hand. You could use raisins, dried blueberries, or any dried fruit you want! If they’re large pieces, you may want to chop them up smaller to play the part.

Setting up to assemble your Ants on Mulch

  1. Wash your celery well (or buy ready-to-eat) and chop “the icky ends” off.
  2. Chop your celery in a herringbone pattern mulch to ensure the best chance of the brain not realising what it is. Place the mulch in a serving bowl. We like to use tongs for serving.

3. Crush your cookies or crackers and place the crumbs in a bowl with a small spoon for serving. We did it while they were still in their single serving package for less mess.

4. Put your seeds/nuts in another bowl and your dried fruit into another. We use a small spoon to serve the nuts/seeds, but go in with our fingers for the berries.
5. Melt your creamy addition choice in the microwave using a zap-safe bowl for 30 seconds. Stir it well to make sure it’s nice and melty. We love using my Wilton candy melt/chocolate drizzler spoon for serving this! We love melting and drizzling so there’s no chance of getting it on us.

Melted peanut butter dripping from a spoon into a bowl full of More melted peanut butter

6. Do the same thing to your chocolate. NEVER let your chocolate microwave for more than 30 seconds or it will burn and you will be sad. You’ll probably have to do 30 seconds, stir, and give it another 30 seconds. Keep doing that until it’s all melted. We use a small spoon to serve this.

If you have a batch of my chocolate ganache already made, you can just melt some of that instead!

How to assemble your Ants on Mulch

  1. Lay down a bed of your mulch (herringbone chopped celery)
  2. Generously drizzle your bed of mulch with your melted creamy choice followed by the melted chocolate
  3. Sprinkle cookie/cracker crumb dirt on top of the melted goodness
  4. Scatter some nuts/seeds on top of your dirt for the hungry ants.
  5. Gently place your army of ants on top of your ecological wonderland.

    Here’s a look at how my girls did it:

How to enjoy your Ants on Mulch

One of the best parts about eating this iteration of “ants on a log” is that you can eat it with a spoon! So if you have sensory issues (raises hand) and don’t like to get your fingers/hands dirty – this is for you too!!

You can also use a fork to stab all your pieces of mulch, but they might jump out of your plate. šŸ˜‰

Thanks for stopping by!

That’s pretty much it for this recipe! It’s simple, it’s beautiful, it’s genius, and it’s delicious. And I’m really proud of my kid for figuring a way around her own sensory issues and enjoying something not beige! Well, not all of it anyway. Lol

And I guess I didn’t get her to love celery at all. She did it all on her own. <3

Please do let me know if you make this! I would love for you to share your version of it with me on either Instagram or Facebook where my handle is @cookingoncaffeine

May you and your coffee both be strong,



Yield: 6 celery sticks worth

Ants on Mulch

Looking down onto a plate of ants on mulch, being held by my daughter. only her hands are visible.

Ants on mulch is ants on a log but for the sensitive palate. After sensory aversion to the texture of celery sticks my picky eater made this.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 6 celery sticks (mulch)
  • 6 tbsp creamy goodness (peanut butter, cookie butter, sun butter, etc.)
  • 25g cookies or crackers (dirt)
  • 50g chocolate (half a large bar or about 4 spoonfuls of chips)
  • 1 small handful seeds or chopped nuts (food for the ants)
  • 1 small handful dried fruit (ants)


  1. Wash and chop your celery in a herringbone pattern and place in a large bowl
  2. Crumble your cookies/crackers into dirt and place in a small bowl
  3. Place your nuts/seeds into a small bowl
  4. Place your dried fruit in a small bowl
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, zap your creamy choice for 30 seconds. Stir well to ensure it's all melty.
  6. In another microwave safe bowl, zap your chocolate for 30 seconds. Stir well. Zap another 30 seconds and stir again. Repeat until it's totally melted.
  7. Place a generous serving of celery on your plate.
  8. Top the celery with spoons of melted creamy choice followed by melted chocolate.
  9. Sprinkle your cookie/cracker crumbs on top of the melty stuff.
  10. Scatter your nuts/seeds on top of the crumbs.
  11. Gently place your dried fruit ant army atop your ecological wonderland.
  12. Enjoy with a spoon!


All amounts are approximate and can be adjusted based on your preferences.

If you absolutely 100% cannot do celery, green apples make a lovely substitute! You can also try pears or even roasted sweet potato if fruits are a no-go. <3

This recipe is easily divided or multiplied.

Kids love helping make this recipe! Get them involved!

Every click to this page earns my daughter some money towards her savings - so thanks so much for contributing!! <3

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