29 June 2012

Talk Their Language

We all know how children love junk food, fast food and other oily, salty or sugary foods. The most important thing with children is to provide them with nutritional, healthy meals and snacks crammed full of fresh fruit and vegetables however presented in a way that will appeal to them. Talk their language!

Children (especially when they are at school) want to fit in with their peers, therefore it is essential that they can have healthy versions of well known foods so they can feel more accepted. Pizza is loved by almost everyone and especially children and teenagers.

By making your own pizza at home you are then in control of what toppings you put on top. This needn't be a laborious affair as there are many good quality ready made pizza bases available (all good Helath Food shops sell quality wholewheat/spelt pizza bases). Add a little tomato or even better beetroot sauce (see recipe section of this blog for beetroot pasta sauce - also great for pizza) and then top to your hearts content with chopped vegetables such as the following...Sweetcorn, Onion, Courgette, Mushroom, Asparagus, Artichoke etc etc etc.

To involve your children, choose and chop some vegetables together and then they can create their own pizza. Remember as children are growing fast always include plenty of protein too on the pizza or seperately with the same meal.

Carrots Carrots Carrots

What are the health benefits of carrots?

Carrots are very high in Beta Carotene which the body then converts into retinol (a type of Vitamin A). Vitamin A is essential for good quality skin, hair and especially eyes...thats where the well known phrase comes from 'carrots help you see in the dark'. Whilst they may not give you ultra night vision abilities, they do help promote good eye health so very important for growing children.

Quite fitting don't you think how the centre of carrot slices look like the iris of the eye?

Make Vegetables Fun!

There are many ways to make vegetables more fun and one way is by varying the cutting styles. At first, it may look like too much work or time, however it needn't be. The following image with carrot slices in flower shapes literally took me a couple of minutes and it is so effective.

Perfect for special occasions to add some vegetables to a birthday party spread or even just as something different for a normal everyday meal. If your children don't like carrots or cucumber try the following shapes, along with some pate or a dip and see what happens!

Carrot Flowers: Wash, peel (especially if not organic) and top and tail the carrots. With a knife cut long slithers length ways down the carrot and repeat all around every 0.5 or 1cm, removing a little of the carrot slither. Slice into rounds as usual and voila! (Can be served raw or cooked).

Cucumber Rings: Wash well and slice the cucumber as usual into rounds and use an apple corer to remove the centre of the cucumber slices (you can stack 4 or 5 slices ontop of one another to speed up the process).

28 June 2012

Healthy Snacks

With an increasing number of junk foods on the market, children are bombarded left, right, and centre with goods crammed full of refined sugars, phosphoric acid (cola drinks), excessive amounts of salt, monosodium glutamate (flavoured crisps), artificial sweetners and colourings - its no wonder that children today have many health issues and hyperactivity disorders.

Children are a true mirror to what we feed them. They will reflect back the quality of what food they have been given without fail - this is where the saying 'you are what you eat' really takes on its true meaning!

So what snacks are good? Obviously we do not want to remove their appetite for a good dinner however children have fast metabolisms and may need a few snacks inbetween meals to keep them going.

You can try any of the following and see whic work best with your children...
  • Chopped fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Vegetable sticks and dips (see recipe section of this blog)
  • Lightly salted corn chips and dips
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Oatcakes and pate
  • Naturally sweetened sweets, carob bars and other childrens snacks from Health Food shops
  • Rice/Corn cakes with peanut butter and jam and/or sliced bananas
  • Fruit kebabs with Peanut butter toffee sauce
  • Homemade dried fruit and nut cereral bars
  • Homemade Polenta summer berry cake (recipe coming soon!)
  • Homemade fruit jelly using agar agar
  • Sourdough toast with tahini and sugar free fruit jam
etc etc etc. Be creative, see what works and what doesnt, experiment and try new products out. Start getting into the habit of first reading the ingredients list of supermarket bought snacks and also visit your local Health Food shop and be amazed by the wide variety of products on offer.

Happy snacking!

Food Shopping!

Next time you are doing your weekly food shop in the local supermarket/market why not ask your children to pick one new type of vegetable or fruit to try as a treat? They can choose from the array of different colours, shapes, textures and whilst you can explain a little about where some of them come from.

They will be much more willling to try new fruit and vegetables if they are given a choice.

Who said education was boring?!!

27 June 2012

Top Tip

Another tip to get your children involved with fruit and vegetables is to have them to contribute to meal preparations. Not only can they help washing and cutting soft vegetables or fruit with a child safe knife, they can also have their say about what they may prefer for dinner. Now I dont mean asking 'What do you want for dinner?' as this may usually bring the response of 'Pizza! Chips!'. However give them a choice between vegetables.

You may have the meal planned already or need to use certain vegetables before they spoil, however by giving your children a choice between 2 vegetables that will form part of the meal not only will help them and you identify what vegetables they like, it will also give them a chance to contribute to the meal. For example you could ask... 'Do you want broccoli or green beans with your dinner tonight?'

When they then see the chosen vegetable on the table at dinner time, knowing that they helped in someway to contribute to the meal they will be more likely to eat it, rather than being forced to eat a plate of food that is placed infront of them which they had no involvement with.