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Healthy eating shouldn’t just stop with parents. Find out which top 10 foods you should be passing onto your little ones to give them a happy, healthy kick start in life
Every now and then here in GTG HQ we stumble across something that truly catches our fancy – granted, more often than not this involves chocolate – but occasionally it’s something a little more meaningful. This time the source of our inspiration has come in the form of a book – or more precisely, How To Be A Hip Cool Mama Without Losing Your Cool, £12.99.
Written by graphic designer and creative director Jenny Scott, this book is a collection of tips, tricks, advice and anecdotal stories that celebrates real women doing the hardest job of all – all while keeping their personalities and having the best time of their lives. One of our favourite parts of the book was written by Sara Smith, who like Jenny, works particularly hard to ensure her children’s nutrition is high at the top of her priorities.
After noticing the lack of tasty, nutritious dishes available to children, and the reluctance of parents to try and force feed them vegetables, Sara Smith decided it was time to make cooking cool again, so started running healthy cooking classes for mums from her own home. Fast forward two years and Sara’s beautiful baby Betsy operates as the in-house taste-tester for Sara’s Child Nutrition Consultancy, Betsy’s Mum, which prides itself on producing scrumptious dishes that work to bring the family back together and make fussy toddlers a thing of the past.
“Studies suggest processed foods have a direct impact on your children’s behaviour and development,” says Sara. “With the food industry caring more about profits than the ingredients and hidden nasties they are putting in pre-made foods, there has never been a better time to start cooking from scratch!
“Not only is it cheaper, quicker and easier to all eat the same food together as a family – the chances are, it’s going to be a lot healthier than the so called ‘kids meals’ that often contain preservatives and very little precious vitamins that your little ones need for a happy and healthy life.
“Here is a simple list of my favourite kitchen super heroes every mum should have in her cupboards.”
“Low in fat, high in protein and an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, research shows that consuming one to two servings of fish a week can help with depression, as well as lowering your child’s risk of developing asthma and other nasty diseases like diabetes and inflammation.”
“Apples, pears, blueberries etc are all packed with essential vitamins and are also a great source of dietary fibre, which is crucial for a child’s diet,” says Sara. “The deeper the colour the more nutrient heavy. That’s what makes blueberries so magical!”
“I’m a bit of an avocado fanatic,” says Sara. “Not only is it packed with antioxidants and ‘good fats’, that are essential for healthy brain, skin and bone development in children, but it’s also so versatile and delicious. The darkest green flesh by the skin is where all the best nutrients are hiding, so don’t be scared to give them a good scrape! Avocado and banana whip should be on the menu for all weaning babies. It’s too delicious and simple not to be.”
“Carrots, parsnips, and potatoes are the perfect goods to start at weaning stage and are essential for healthy growth,” says Sara. “They are all easy to steam and blend can be used to make some nifty creations. Try using herbs and crushed seeds to flavour rather than salt, as well as finding a good reduced salt natural vegetable stock.”
“I LOVE eggs,” says Sara. “They are so versatile and jam packed with protein, folic acid and vitamin D. Essential for growing children, you can add eggs into things like soup (avgolemono), kedgeree and salads.
“Whole grains such as bulgur wheat, brown rice and oatmeal contain complex carbohydrates that slowly release energy throughout the day and are also rich in essential dietary fibre,” advises Sara. “I love to add leeks and peas to bulgur wheat – it’s delicious and a great alternative to pasta.”
“Rich in both calcium and protein, yoghurt helps strengthen bones and teeth,” says Sara. “It also contains live bacteria, which aids digestion and helps fight bad bacteria in the gut. Try to avoid shop bought yoghurts though, as these can be high in sugar and preservatives. Instead make healthy smoothies or easy homemade yoghurts by mashing fruit such as banana and blueberries together and adding honey for sweetness.”
“Sweet potatoes are a wonder food for children,” says Sara. “Rich in fibre, they are packed with beta carotene. For one cup of sweet potato you would have to consume 23 cups of broccoli to get the same amount! Roasted sweet potato with lashings of real butter should have a place on everyone’s dinner table – it’s so delicious and yet super healthy.”
“Juicing is one of the best things you can do for you and your children,” says Sara. “Raw fruit and vegetables contain a far stronger health punch than cooked or processed juices. Having a fresh juice in the morning, twenty minutes before you eat helps the body’s cells absorb all the nutrients and vitamins before your metabolism is kick started. Fruit and vegetable ice lollies for breakfast are a delicious and clever treat to give your kids – just make sure the house is warm and cosy! By adding vegetable juice and a bit of water you can also make the juice super hydrating and with a lower sugar content.”
“This little wonder tree earns its place on my top 10 super foods list because it’s loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals that help protect against cell damage. It’s also jam packed with fibre and calcium. This versatile little gem is great for juicing and also makes a mean soup – broccoli soup is one of Betsy’s favourites and contains just two ingredients – broccoli and stock!”