22 August 2013

Top Tips

Top tips on helping children to try a new food… 
1) Stay calm and relaxed: Children can be very sensitive to what is going on around them and they will sense when there is pressure and tension around them about eating fruits and vegetables. Trying something new can be daunting and scary; in a relaxed atmosphere this can be easier.
2) Introduce new foods gently & consistently: Avoid pressuring, bribing, demanding…instead introduce a new vegetable in small amounts repeatedly with their favourite meals until they are willing to try it.
3) Make food appealing and fun: How can you present it in a fun, interesting way for your children? Pay attention to colour, cutting styles, flavour and texture.
4) Get them involved: Getting children involved with the prep work will make them more interested in eating it. They can help mix, cut (with a child safe knife), wash, peel fruits and vegetables.
5) Cut down on junk food snacks and fizzy drinks, especially in between meals: Not only is this harmful to children’s health, it can also affect their appetite for main meals.
6) Be Flexible and think outside the box: Just because your child doesn’t like carrots sliced and boiled doesn’t mean they won’t like grated carrot in a salad or carrot soup. Be inventive, creative and persevere.
Share your successes here...do you have any top tips that have worked for you and your family?

21 August 2013

Mmm Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes offer great natural sweetness which children of all ages love. Not only do they taste great, they help nourish the spleen and pancreas, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels.
Check out the delicious sweet potato recipes on this blog (more to follow)...

Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet Potato Treats

Sweet Potato and Apple Cake

Sweet Vegetable Bake

Oven Baked and Delicious

Other sweet potato recipe ideas include sweet potato and red lentil soup, sweet potato and beetroot soup, mashed sweet potato with orange rind, mashed sweet potato with suede, and jacket sweet potato with various fillings.

Weaning off the Junk Food...

I have had many requests regarding this topic, how to wean children off junk food. It can be daunting at first to make the change however in the long run that change can be invaluable to the health and well being of all the family.

So often I have been in restaurants to be amazed at the difference between the children and adult menus. Whilst the main menu is filled with fresh produce, homemade dishes full of variety and colour, the children’s menu is usually a monotonous brown full of oily, breaded and overly seasoned produce – the majority of which has only travelled from the freezer to the deep fat fryer.

Is this really what we want our children to grown up with?
Will this provide them with the nutritional benefits that they need at this important stage in their lives?

If children have never been given junk food on a regular basis, they will not have anything to compare freshly prepared meals to. They will therefore be more willing to try new fruits and vegetables and consume a varied, healthy diet.
Starting children off from the beginning is easy, however once children have acquired the taste for junk foods it can be a little bit more difficult to make the switch – that is not to say it isn’t possible. As Audrey Hepburn once said, ‘Nothing is impossible, even the word says I’m Possible’. With kind perseverance, creativity and communication you can make that shift for the highest good of all the family.

So how do we go from chicken nuggets to freshly prepared home cooked meals?

Communicate: Talking to children about the importance of good food can help them to understand why rather than them reacting to the ‘because I said so’. Explain why a particular food is good for them in a way that they can relate. For example…whole grains can give you lots of energy and strengthen your brain power when you are at school. Notice how that will provoke a different reaction compared to ‘eat your porridge because I said so’.
Slowly Does It: Start to create home cooked versions of the junk food favourites. Not only will you reduce the salt and sugar intake, you can be in control, slowly making the junk food versions less childlike and introducing children to home cooked meals that can be enjoyed by all the family. Making your own fish fingers can be quicker than you think. Simply cut some skinned and boned Cod or Haddock into long strips and coat with a beaten egg and bread crumbs. This can be placed on a greased baking tray and cooked until crispy and golden brown. A great way to serve this can be with sweet potato wedges and peas or in wraps with salad and avocado dip (see Recipe section of blog for dip recipe).
Get them Involved: There is no greater way to get children interested in food than with getting them involved with the preparation process. Make it a fun game, for example you may pretend to all be sailors on a ship making your own fish and chips as the pirates have stolen all the fish fingers. Think outside the box and be creative. If it doesn’t work be flexible and try something else! This also helps children to become aware of where food comes from and how it is prepared which can prove invaluable when they are old enough to cook for themselves.
Experiment, have fun and get them involved. Notice what changes and keep persevering. If they don’t like it one day it doesn’t mean they will never like it for the rest of their lives. Continue without bribery or force whilst remaining kind to yourself in the process. It is never too late to make a change and sooner or later you will see results.

9 August 2013

Homemade Lemonade!

Due to a Lemonade flash mob with Good Vibrations Barcelona I found myself in the kitchen full of lemons, lemon juice, lemon zest making up batches of homemade lemonade mmmm!
Very easy to make and wonderfully refreshing drink for the summer, especially for picnics, BBQ's and children's parties. Simply take a 1.5l bottle of water and empty the water into a saucepan or container to use later on. Add the juice of 5-6 lemons and the zest of half a lemon, water and agave syrup to taste (roughly 1/2 a cup), place the lid on the bottle and shake well. Before serving, use a strainer to remove the lemon zest. Can be enjoyed as it is, chilled or with some added mint leaves for an added extra.
Enjoy and do let me know how your kids respond to this recipe, especially in comparison to Lemonade with sugar. Notice what is different with their behaviour...

(For more health details on sugar see the post on this blog´A spoonful of sugar...´)