Nutrition-for-kids-2

Healthy Snacks For Babies And Toddlers

Most of us begin our parenting journey with the great intention to teach our children good eating habits. This intention often gets lost somewhere between the sleepless nights and the dirty nappies, however. We start looking for shortcuts, and one of them comes in the form of fast food. The temptation to choose one of the many readily available options is even stronger when we are on the go.

RELATED: Carrot, Zucchini And Parsnip Slice – An Easy Toddler Recipe

So, how do we find healthy snacks for our kids that are also quick and easy to prepare? Here are some suggestions:

Fresh fruit

For snacks on the go it’s best to choose fruits that keep well, are not messy, and which the children will like. Some of the options are blueberries, pieces of apple, mandarins, bananas, apricots and grapes. For babies, you may need to puree the fruit and carry it in a small container. If you have a toddler, keep in mind that apples and other hard fruit may present a choking hazard, so it’s best to get the fruit sliced and peeled beforehand.

Dried fruit

Some of the choices here are sultanas, dried apples, apricots or cranberries. They don’t take up a lot of space in your bag, don’t create mess and children love them. For young babies you may need to soak and puree the fruit before you offer it.

Veggies

Toddlers are notoriously bad at eating veggies. But sometimes they’ll eat them without a sound when they are outside and exploring new surroundings, so this is the perfect time to offer healthy snacks.  Some veggies you could offer include carrot, cucumber, celery or capsicum sticks, or cooked pumkin, peas and corn.

Sandwiches

Babies and toddlers usually love bread and many will be happy with just a bread roll on its own. If you’d like to add more nutrients, here are some basic sandwich fillings you can easily incorporate: Vegemite, cream cheese, grated cheddar, avocado, lean chicken, canned tuna, veggies.

Crispbread, crackers and rusks

There’s a variety of baby and toddler snacks available from the supermarket, but they aren’t always healthy (even if it reads “healthy” on the label). Check the list of ingredients carefully for any hidden additives and preservatives. Ideally, the products you select will also contain no added sugar and very little salt.

To take the stress out of snacking, be sure to carry a couple of different healthy options, especially for picky toddlers. This way your children will get a variety of nutrients and having a choice will help them feel in control.

Image via Pixabay

April 15, 2015

How To Help Your Kids Eat Healthier

Making sure that our kids have a healthy diet can not only reduce health and behaviour problems now, but it will set them up for a healthier future. While today’s lifestyle of fast food, aggressive advertising and constant exposure to temptations doesn’t help, good food habits still start at home and here are just few things you can do to help your kids eat healthier.

RELATED: 10 Sneaky Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat More Veggies

Be a role model

Your children learn from watching and copying you. A recent study by Ray Morgan research found that only 2% of Australians aged 14 and over eat the recommended 5 servings of veggies and 2 servings of fruit daily. Then is it a surprise than our children’s diets are less than ideal?

Don’t force it, but offer healthy food again and again

It can take children up to 15 tries of a certain food before they become familiar with it and start liking it, so don’t be discouraged by initial rejection. Recently I started making green smoothies every morning and all of my children will request to try what I’ve made. So far none of them found my green smoothies appealing enough to take more than a couple of sips, but even a couple of sips are better than nothing and I’m still hoping that they’ll come to the party soon.

Only have healthy food at home

It’s too hard to convince a child to eat a healthy meal prepared with love if they’re surrounded by temptations in the form of colourful packets, sweets, chips and party snacks. Only keep healthy food at home and your child will have to choose from what is available.

Talk about how different foods affect their body

My children love learning about why we eat certain foods. It fascinates them that an apple keeps them healthier, cheese makes their bones stronger and grains give them energy so that they can play longer. They often start a guessing game at the table, which makes me wish that I knew a whole lot more about food, so that I can tell them about it. You can sometimes even see me doing research between meals.

Get children involved in cooking

Kids in the kitchen are messy and will slow you down, but cooking together can be fun and the children will usually have more appreciation for a meal that they’ve helped prepare.

Persist

Sometimes you might find yourself too busy to do the shopping and opt for a take-away dinner instead. Or you might get so tired of your toddler’s winging that you give in to her request of a treat. Don’t be discouraged by temporary setbacks, they happen to all of us. Remind yourself why you’re doing it and return to your healthy diet efforts as soon as you can. Build your healthy lifestyle one tiny step at a time and after a while you will see that all those steps add up.

Image by vikvarga via pixabay.com

January 20, 2015

10 Sneaky Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat More Veggies

We all know vegetables are good for us, but try explaining it to a grumpy, tired toddler… “I don’t like it.” Enough said. The best way to teach kids to eat veggies is to eat them yourself. Serve veggies with every family meal, offer them to your child, but if they say ‘no’ don’t force it. Your kids want to be like you. Sooner or later, they’ll be tempted to try what you’re having and then try it again. It takes 10-15 exposures to acquire a taste for a certain food. In the meantime, here are some sneaky ways to get a daily dose of veggies into your kids without them even knowing it:

  1. Add grated or blended veggies to cooked meals. Grated zucchini, carrots, cauliflower or yellow squash are easy to hide in pasta sauces, lasagne, tacos, casseroles and meatloaves.
  2. Mix some cauliflower into your mashed potato.
  3. Add small pieces of veggies to pizza and cover with cheese.
  4. Sneak in a handful of spinach into your fruit smoothies.
  5. Make your own ice blocks from fruit juice combined with blended veggies. Kids love anything frozen, especially when it’s their very own “ice-cream”.
  6. Use veggies when you’re baking. Carrots and pumpkin are naturally sweet and can be added to cakes and muffins.
  7. Spread a thin layer of avocado instead of butter on sandwiches.
  8. What child doesn’t like chips? Make oven-baked sweet potato chips instead of deep-fried potato ones.
  9. Try making kale chips. The kids will love the crunchy texture. Season with lemon and your chips won’t even taste like real veggies.
  10. Play with your presentation. If you arrange the food on the plate in the shape of a smiley face or a cuddly teddy bear, your child may just get curious enough to eat it.

Finally, have fun in the kitchen and experiment. Involve your kids, too. You’ll end up with a bunch of new healthy recipes that the whole family will love.

Image via Junior Libby via PublicDomainPictures.net

By Tatiana Apostolova

June 16, 2014

10 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

We know what it’s like – you go to the trouble of packing an interesting lunch with a variety of foods, only to find it comes back home at the end of the day half eaten, rotten and squashed in the bottom of the school bag. With the countless other issues piled on your shoulders, the next day it seems easier to revert to the basics.

But it’s important to push on through – the food you send to school can contribute to at least a third of your child’s daily food intake. So packing a balanced lunchbox is important to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need to grow up big and strong. On the plus side, healthy kids eat to hunger and won’t voluntarily starve themselves. So if you offer a healthy lunch box and avoid adding all the pre-packaged goodies they pester you for – they’ll eat it if they’re hungry. Good job mum!

When it comes to making your child’s lunch there are two rules Healthy Kids Association suggest you follow:

  1. When putting the lunch box together, choose a food from each of the five food groups: grains and cereals, protein, fruit, vegetables and dairy.
  2. Don’t demonise food – if you want to give your child one of their favourite ‘extra’ foods  (such as a small packet of chips or a sweet biscuit) that’s fine, but we recommend doing so only once a week and keep the portion small. As a guide, stick to serves  less than 600kj.

A note on drinks: we hope that all children drink water everyday. In addition, it’s OK to occasionally offer them fruit juice, as long as it’s 99% fruit juice and no more than 200mls. In the menu plan below, we offer it once a week. As for milk, studies show children are not getting enough calcium. Kids need calcium to encourage strong bone growth (especially teenagers!) and tooth enamel. Plain reduced fat milk for children over the age of two is ideal, but if your child won’t drink it, offering flavoured milk ensures they’re getting the calcium they need. If you’re worried about it staying cold and fresh, freeze it the night before.

Need some more  lunch box ideas? The following menu will keep you going for the next two weeks:

  Main Lunch Snack Fruit Drink (in addition to water)  Extra Snack
Mon Chicken, hummus and tomato sandwich Reduced fat cheese stick Apple Chocolate flavoured reduced fat milk Air popped popcorn
Tues Ham, reduced fat cream cheese and salad wrap Sultana snack pack Fruit salad Water Dry breakfast cereal
Wed Pesto pasta salad with chicken and capsicum Reduced fat yoghurt Orange 99% fruit juice (200ml or less) Vegetable sticks with dip
Thurs Egg, celery and reduced fat mayonnaise sandwich Homemade pita chips with hummus Frozen grapes Reduced fat plain milk Tinned fruit in juice
Fri Tuna, corn, lettuce and reduced fat mayonnaise wrap Reduced fat cheese with crackers Fruit kebab Water Muesli bar (weekly extra)
Mon Ham and sweet corn frittata Reduced fat custard Banana Water Rice crackers or cakes with dip
Tues Chicken salad with chick peas, baby spinach and pumpkin Vegetable sticks with dip Fruit salad Strawberry flavoured reduced fat milk Reduced fat yoghurt
Wed Tuna and sweet potato patties Reduced fat cheese stick Frozen melon balls Water Fruit spice English muffin
Thurs Turkey, tomato, spinach and reduced fat cheese sandwich Avocado, carrot and lettuce rice paper rolls Apple Reduced fat plain milk Reduced fat custard
Fri Sweet chilli chicken and lettuce wrap Muesli and reduced fat yoghurt Kiwi fruit and strawberries 99% fruit juice (200ml or less) Small packet potato chips (weekly extra)

It’s “FRUIT & VEG MONTH”! Download our parent pack and enter our competitions – there are great prizes to be won, including 50% off a fruit and veg box for everyone who downloads a pack. Get started eating more fruit and veg now – visit Healthy Kids. Want more nutritional ideas? Follow Healthy Kids Association on Facebook.

August 22, 2013

Fight Childhood Obesity with Good Nutrition for Kids

Childhood obesity is a worldwide epidemic with disastrous implications. Being obese greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, joint problems and even some cancers. Most ominous is the fact that obese children have a very high likelihood of growing up to be obese adults.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2007-2008, one quarter of children in Australia are considered to be overweight or obese. That’s an increase of four percentage points since 1995, or 600,000 children between the ages of 5 and 17. What can you do to prevent your children from becoming part of those statistics?

The two most important factors in raising healthy kids are exercise and nutrition. Children start developing lifelong habits while very young, and you want the ones they develop to be healthy ones. Here are a few tips for feeding your kids the right foods.

Protein

See that your children get an adequate supply of protein for growth of their bones and muscles. Good sources of protein are lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas and nuts. Avoid processed meats, fatty cuts and fast food.

While some people think that you need large amounts of meat to get sufficient protein in your diet, there are alternate sources that offer less fat, hormones and preservatives. Consider having a meat-free meal once a week, using ingredients like legumes and nuts for protein.

Fruits and vegetables

Make sure your kids eat a variety of these every day. Introduce new ones regularly so they develop a taste for more than just a few fruits and veggies. Serve dark green leafy vegetables as often as possible.

Prepare vegetables as simply as possible, without too many additional fats and calories. Use your imagination when looking for new ways to up your kids’ intake of vegies. How about keeping cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks cold in the fridge for healthy, fast snacks?

Grains

Pass up the over-processed grain products like white bread or sweetened cereal and instead serve whole-grain choices like oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn and whole grain bread.

Porridge doesn’t have to be boring—add honey or fruit for natural sweetening. Plus, oatmeal cookies are a snack that’s packed with nutrition and fiber!

Dairy

While dairy products are a good source of important nutrients, they can also be high in fat. Encourage your kids to drink low-fat milk and eat low-fat cheeses in moderation.

Dairy foods high in calories like ice cream and fatty cheeses should be saved for special occasions. As long as they’re eating healthy kids food every day, a treat now and then won’t hurt.

Avoid empty calories

Here are a few foods you should allow only in very limited amounts, because they’re high in fats, salt and sugar: soft drinks, cake, pizza, butter, fried foods, lollies and processed meats. None of these qualify as nutritious kids food.

Soft drinks are considered to be the number-one culprit in the epidemic of childhood obesity, since they’re full of high fructose corn syrup and have little or no nutritional value. Try to keep your kids away from soft drinks as long as you can—you’ll be doing them a favour in the long run.

How do you get your kids to eat healthy? Share your tips below!

July 30, 2013