Bloom

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Persistence. The key to combatting toddler fussy eating?

I’ve had lots of people say to me, “You’re lucky your kids are good eaters. It must be easy because you are a dietitian”. Thankfully, my kids do love to eat – now. And I genuinely feel more happy and relaxed at family meal times now with 4 kids at the table than ever before. But I will be honest – it’s still not “perfect” (is there even such a thing?), and it was a long road to get to where we are.

We haven’t exactly had things easy in the feeding department. All 4 of my kids have had food allergies – 2 still see the Allergist regularly. One had the most sensitive gag reflex as toddler, she would eat an entire meal, vomit then immediately ask to be fed again. And one had a horrible run with enormous tonsils and adenoids, having multiple infections, speech difficulties and feeding aversions before needing speech therapy and surgery. All of these are minor issues in comparison to the complexities faced by many other families – but they were enough to add stress to an already gorgeously chaotic family life.

So while I haven’t had the easiest run with feeders, I do feel incredibly blessed that our issues were small, that my training allowed me to see what was happening, and that I had the knowledge to know where to get help, and what to do at home.

But as I said, it was a long road to get here, particularly with Mr Tonsils. In all honesty, how we ended up here was not through luck, or my profession, but through sheer persistence.

There were so many times when I wanted to just give him pasta, again, while we ate something else. Times when I picked up food from all over the floor, screaming on the inside, but calmly outwardly saying “Food stays on the table”. Countless times when I lamented the huge waste of food as I throw the veggies in the bin, again. But it was the persistence with calmly offering without expectation, giving only brief and gentle encouragement, and most importantly, family role modelling that led to where we are today.

Recently, he, the fussiest of my four, finally bit into a cherry tomato (albeit in a effort to squirt his sisters with the insides – but thats how we encouraged him to put it in his mouth) and said “I tasted the juice!”. A few months ago he would’ve pouted “I don’t eat tomatoes, take it off my plate!!!”.

He also ate black charcoal noodles – “Mum, black is my favourite colour”- when they arrived unexpectedly in his beloved ramen noodle soup at a new restaurant. He randomly picked up the broccoli I was preparing for his sisters’ school lunch boxes and said “Mum, I eat this now, I’m strong”. He then proceeded to pop it in his mouth and walk away – the rest of us stunned into jaw dropping silence. He picked up chicken breast of the plate and ate it without a word, after months of not eating it. He drank a green smoothie and called it “hulk juice”, flexing his biceps as he drank.

So, you can safely say we had an amazing week at the dining table that week (cue champagne!), which reminded me that all that persistence with our feeding plan was worth it. We were winning.

I know I’m not alone in this sort of feeding experience. I’ve met so many parents over the years who have faced the same thing. The ongoing trials, but then finally the successes.

This year Julia and I will be putting together a package to help families with their in home feeding issues; so watch this space. We will share the training and experience we’ve had as Paediatric Dietitians, and the trial by fire we’ve had as parents. We’re aiming to provide families with scientifically sound, but genuinely practical advice. It works if you work it. We’ve got proof!

Find this, and more family eating, health and wellbeing stories in our Bloom quarterly nutrition newsletters. And to subscribe to future updates, click here

Angela @ Bloom 🌿


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We all know buying fruit and vegetables in season makes good sense. Food is fresher, tastes better, and is more economical. But with so many fruits and vegetables available out of their natural season, it can be confusing to know what to buy right now.

Below is a guide to whats available in the southern states in Autumn for March/April/May.

Autumn fruits –
apples, blackberries, cumquats, figs, feijoas, grapes, honeydew, limes, mandarins, valencia oranges,

passionfruits, pears, persimmon, plums, pomegranates, quinces, raspberries, rhubarb, rockmelons, strawberries, watermelons.

Autumn vegetables –
asian greens, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, capsicums, carrots, celeriac, celery, cauliflower, eggplant, jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnip, peas, potato, pumpkin, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, swede, sweet corn, turnip, chicory, zucchini.

Nuts –

chestnuts, pistachios.

(Seasonal Guide with thanks to Adelaide Farmer’s Market)

And what to do with these autumn offerings?

While the weather is still warm in the beginning of autumn, fresh foods served simply, like BBQs, salads and shared platters and outdoor eating remain at the top of the family meal list.

As the weather cools down, consider preserving some of the warmer weather’s fruits and veg for the coming winter. Getting chilly? Start ramping up the roast and soup rotations to help meet the family’s 2 & 5 goals for fruit and veg. Leftovers are great for lunchboxes too!

Remember, if you’ve got a fussy eater in the family, providing both new and familiar options of fruits and vegetables in a buffet or family style offering encourages children to try new foods.

Enjoy!

Angela @ Bloom 🌿

 


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It can be tricky to find a recipe for a lunchbox cookie that meets the brief; a good source of nutrients, enough protein and fibre to keep the kids full, not too much sugar, no nuts, and tasty enough that they actually eat them!

 

I’ve tried many a cookie recipe, and played around with a few favourites to come up with one that all 6 members of our family really enjoy. After posting some pics on instagram, we were asked by people to share the recipe… so here it is.

 

It’s definitely not your traditional choc chip cookie, and may not be sweet enough for some, so check out the notes at the bottom of the recipe for modification tips if needed.

 

Chia sunflower double choc cookies (Dairy free)

Ingredients

100g Nuttelex olive oil light, melted and cooled

1/4 c maple syrup or honey

1 egg

2 tsp natural vanilla essence

 

1/2 c ground sunflower seeds

1/2 c wholemeal self raising flour

1 1/2 c quick oats

1/4 c cocoa powder or cacao

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

2 tsp mixed chia seeds

 

1/3 c dark choc chips ( I use Callebaut Belgian Callets from Costco, and they are dairy free)

 

Method

Mix all wet ingredients together (cooled melted nuttelex, maple syrup, egg and vanilla essence) until combined.

Stir together all the remaining dry ingredients, except for the choc chips) removing any lumps.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined. The final consistency shouldn’t be too wet. (If it is, scatter through some more oats)  Then fold through choc chips.

Roll into balls, and place on tray with 5 cm space between, and press lightly to form a cookie shape.

Bake at 180 deg for 15-18 mins, or until cooked to your liking.
(15 min is perfect for my oven which runs quite hot)

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

 

NOTES

They may soften and become more like a whoopee pie consistency if not all eaten on the first day, but my kids really like them either way.

These cookies are on the more savory side of a sweet cookie! If your kids prefer a sweeter cookie you may need to start with more maple syrup, or add a little brown sugar, and gradually decrease the amount of sweetness. Or use a few extra choc chips 😉 .

You can also make them egg free if you need to for allergies or vegan diets, by simply omitting the egg, but decrease the oats to about 1 cup, otherwise the mixture will be too dry.
My best advice is to have a play around and see how they work best for your tribe… the cookies you get to taste test along the way are all in the name of science 🙂
x Angela @ Bloom 🌿

 

 

 


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Here at Bloom we really love summer. So the arrival of autumn can bring mixed feelings.

It can be hard to farewell our gorgeous Aussie summer, as the days start to cool down, and mornings are a little darker.  But, there is still much Vitamin D to be gained from long afternoons in the mild March sunshine, little ones begin sleeping in again, finally, and the gorgeous autumn fruit and vegetable produce begins popping up in markets, grocers, and supermarkets everywhere. Actually, when you think about it, autumn is pretty darn good.

So here’s our autumn gift to you 💛.

Click the mini-mag link below ⤵, to get our collection of seasonal nutrition tidbits for you and your family. Fussy eater? Needing fitness inspo? Family dinner recipes? We’ve got you covered.

We hope you enjoy it!

Angela @ Bloom 🌿

Bloom Autumn 18 Nutrition News


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Summer brings what many believe to be the best fruit and vegetables to Australian family tables. Here at Bloom, we agree!

Think fresh tropical and stone fruits livening up meals, and little hand holding huge chunks of watermelon at snack times… Firm favourites for adults and children alike!

Check out this guide to what great fruits and vegetables are in season now and popping up here in South Australia, and think how you could make these shine at your family table to hit your 2 & 5 targets.

Fruit:

Apricots
Bananas
Blackberries
Blueberries
Carambola/starfruit
Cherries
Grapes
Honeydew melons
Lemons
Lychees
Mangoes
Nectarines
Peaches
Passionfruit
Pineapples
Rockmelon/cantaloupe
Rambutan
Raspberries
Red papaya
Strawberries
Valencia oranges
Watermelon
Yellow papaw

Vegetables:

Asparagus
Capsicum
Celery
Cucumber
Eggplants
Green beans
Hass avocados
Lettuce
Peas
Radish
Snow peas
Spring onions/green shallots
Sugar snap peas
Sweet corn
Zucchini

(I downloaded this list long ago to help guide my own family’s seasonal fruit and vegetable shopping, and I’ve long since lost the source! But I hope it helps steer your family into eating more fresh seasonal fruit and veggies, just like it did mine!)

Enjoy some of your family favourites, and try out something new this week,

Angela @ Bloom 🌿


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We. Love. Summer!

Here at Bloom we do, really, love summer.

And we happily welcome the arrival of the warmer weather, school holidays, Aussie Christmas, and the Bloom Nutrition Studio seasonal newsletter Summer 17/18 edition!

Click the mini-mag link below ⤵️, to get our collection of summer nutrition tidbits for you and your family.

Eat well, live well and enjoy your summer 💛 !

Angela @ Bloom 🌿

 

 

 

 


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I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of cauliflower at the moment!
It seems to be the new “it” food, and whilst we’re not into the whole concept of superfoods here at Bloom Nutrition (all fruit and veggies are good for you, it’s aiming for 2 & 5 that really needs to be our focus) I do enjoy seeing all the new ideas people come up with for cooking and serving a veg once it becomes popular.
One of my favourite ways to eat cauliflower is in a salad. If you read my blog post on lunch ideas (here), you’ll know I like to prepare a base that I can then pull into a salad on the day. With this recipe I prep the cauliflower, pearl barley and dressing at the beginning of the week and simply layer it and add the baby spinach come lunchtime.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Julia @ Bloom 🌿 x

 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD

Makes 4 serves

Ingredients

1 whole cauliflower cut into florets
Olive Oil – 2 Tablespoons

1 cup of pearl barley – cooked as per instructions on packet

Spice Mix:

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
1 Tablespoon Tumeric

 

Dressing:

200g natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon dijion mustard
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

To assemble:

1 bag of baby spinach
Pepitas

 

Directions:

Roughly chop your cauliflower into florets. Toss first in olive oil then in the spice mix. Lay on to a baking tray and cook for about 20mins at 180 degrees or until a skewer will pass through easily.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Whilst cauliflower is baking, cook pearl barley according to instructions on packet.
Mix together ingredients for dressing.

To assemble, add about a cup of baby spinach to your bowl. Layer with 1/2 cup of cooked barley and scatter with a 1/4 of the cauliflower florets. Dollop around dressing and sprinkle with a few peptias.

Enjoy!

 


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At the beginning of a new term parents are often primed with nutrition goals, and the energy to fulfil them. But sometimes, particularly as a school term progresses, it can feel like you are a B track stuck on repeat – making the same lunch box, over and over again.

Pretty soon either you or your children tire of this lunch rut, or you may start to realise that through this lack of variety, your child is missing the mark on Australian Dietary Guideline # 2 – exposure to and enjoyment of wide variety of foods.

When you want to make changes, it can seem a world away to reach some of the insta-perfect lunches online – especially if you have a fussy eater in the family, or don’t have huge amounts of time on your hands for cartoon style lunch box prep. But here are some tips that get you moving in the right direction for both variety and nutrition, but don’t require hours of painstaking preparation.

 

Think outside the (lunch)box

It doesn’t have to come in a packet to be a recess snack… Look at the types of foods your children will choose for themselves when they open the refrigerator, and aim to add these fresh foods to the lunch box. If you or your kids do really like packets (for portability, freshness or keeping foods separated), buy some reusable or biodegradable ziplock bags and put real food in. My lunch boxes will often have throw in fridge staples of berries, mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks or yogurt portions.

If you are choosing pre packaged snacks, try to stick to those that contain core foods (like fruit, veg, dairy, whole grains), and fit the healthy canteen guidelines of <600kg (~140 Cal) and 3g or less of saturated fat per serve. This doesn’t mean a food is automatically the most healthy choice, but it does mean the food will contain more nutrients if it contains some core foods, and the portion size of these foods is more acceptable. Ideally try to get foods with the highest fibre content too, if it’s listed on the label, aim for 2g or more per serve. Here are some of my favourite lunch box packaged snacks to throw in at the last minute.

It doesn’t have to be sandwiches… Use breakfast items or dinner leftovers for lunches. Think omelette rolls, half an avocado squeezed with lemon, cereal and berries to dump into a yogurt pot, leftover cold meat, eggs, quiche, salad, roast veggies or left over pasta, soup, curry, etc served in a thermos. Jump on pinterest and search non sandwich lunches – theres a whole host of ideas.

 

Get the kids on board

Ask each child to write a list of everything they are happy to have in their lunch box, food group by food group (use the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating -AGHE- picture as a prompt), and from breakfast items or your regular dinner rotations. Help them be as specific as they can, so you know how many different options are on offer. For example from the Dairy group the list might include – Fresh milk in a bottle, UHT milk box, Flavoured milk box, cheese slice, grated cheese, cheese stick, string cheese, bocconcini balls, cow cheese triangles, babble cheese, natural yogurt, flavoured yogurt, custard pots, chia puddings….. list everything they like to eat from each group to maximise your options! Stick this list up on the fridge for easy reference, and to allow the addition of new items as you progress.

Get kids involved with the preparation. I know we’ve said it before, but it really does help! On the weekend, see if you can make a healthy baked item with your kids – muffins, biscuits, scrolls, brownies, quiches etc, to freeze for the week ahead. Getting kids involved increases their ownership of that healthy food, and the likelihood that they will eat and enjoy it. Try to make a different recipe each weekend to find new family favourites. Try recipes that don’t have too much added sugar, and include ingredients like wholemeal flour, oats, fruits, veggies, eggs, yogurt, olive oil or ground seeds for nutrient boosts.

If kids are making their own lunches, ask them to pick something out of each category of the AGHE plate for their lunchbox – so 1 fruit, 1 veg, 1 carb option (worth a couple of serves), 1 protein, 1 dairy. Spy any gaps – in food groups, or the amount of food they need, and either they or you can throw in an extra choice if needed.

 

Food chaining

This is a term which describes the technique of applying very small changes to the types of foods a child will eat, to increase the acceptability of new foods and improve variety. It’s a system that works well with extremely picky eaters, or highly sensitive or selective children, like kids with ASD, or kids with a past history of medical conditions that affected their feeding, like food allergies or reflux. You can read more about it here.

With some children you may need to make what feel like sideways steps with nutrition, to make gains in variety. By this I mean choosing foods that aren’t necessarily more healthy, to increase the variety of food eaten. While at first their nutrition might not seem to be much improved, if the approach is consistent and progressive, it will eventually lead to eating more of all types of foods, including healthy foods.

So for these kids’ lunch boxes, think swapping foods for “close cousins”. Plain water crackers for water crackers with sesame seeds, or plain rice crackers, then onto puffed rice crackers or puffed vegetable crisps with sesame seeds, then something slightly different again. These are small steps, but they slowly introduce children to a wider variety of food. (If making even these very small steps is too difficult or distressing for your child, or you feel like this approach is something that you could benefit from some guidance with, see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian or Speech Pathologist in your area who is trained in the SOS Approach to Feeding).

Finally – if your kids are naturally less adventurous with food – it’s ok to take small, but consistent, steps to improve things. Over time, these small changes will make way to bigger changes in dietary patterns. With consistency, encouragement and a greater involvement with foods (see our post on “From fussy to fabulous – Helping your child enjoy new family meals”) children can successfully broaden their variety and improve their nutrition, to be healthy, feel great, and grow well.

Now that’s winning.

x Angela @ Bloom 🌿


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I was recently asked a few canteen questions by a journalist – “How often is it ok for parents to organise a canteen lunch without feeling guilty? How do you navigate the school canteen menu to work out the healthy choices, and how can parents deal with pressure from kids to order unhealthy choices?”. So here’s a little bit of background for you on how to make the best choices when it comes to your school canteen.

Before we begin, it needs to be said – we need to remove “guilt” from all the vocabulary that surrounds eating and feeding our families! Parenting is a tough gig, and Bloom is not in the business of putting added, unnecessary pressure on our family feeding relationships. From our inception we have always wanted to place “being real over being ideal”. So with that in mind, here a few tips to navigate the schools canteen minefield!

How often it’s best to order from your canteen depends on the choices available to you, and the choices you make. Ordering meals and snacks that reflect good eating choices mean you can confidently use the canteen to meet your little one’s food needs more regularly, if thats what you’re keen to do.

Most Australian schools follow, or aim to follow state canteen guidelines. These generally use a traffic light system to indicate healthier and unhealthy choices ( NSW has recently released a different balance system using health star ratings).

The red, amber and green categories in the traffic light system give you a good guide, and many canteens display their menus this way. Red foods should not be available on the regular school menu, outside of a few discreet occasions. Amber and Green foods should be the choices available to families, where amber is to “choose carefully” and green is “go”! There are different cut offs state by state, but they are relatively similar, and no matter where you live, the more green choices you make the more nutritious your family’s canteen food choices will be.

So at the canteen, as with healthy eating at home, the more you base your meal and snack choices around fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and wholegrains the more nutritious the food will be.

Menus obviously differ between schools, but try and centre canteen choices around options that feature whole foods as the core ingredients – vegetables, fruits, lean protein, dairy, and whole grain cereals.

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) food plate gives a rough visual indication of what proportions to base kids canteen meals (or lunch boxes) on – try and make at least 1/3 -1/2 meal veg and fruit, then split the rest 1/2 wholegrain cereals, 1/2 combined lean protein/dairy. Check it out here.

If your canteen sells meals like: vegetable based stir-frys, jacket potatoes with vegetables and lean meat toppings, meat and salad sandwiches, wraps or wholegrain rolls, and sushi rolls these are some really good options. For snacks, items like: fresh fruit salads, fruit snack packs, smoothies, yogurts, or veggies with dips and crackers are great choices you can regularly make with confidence.

To avoid conflicts, uneaten lunches and to improve kids understanding about the importance of the foods they eat, children should definitely be involved in the choice of their foods from the canteen. Parents can provide a selection of 3 or 4 options they are happy for their children to choose from, and let kids choose their preference from there. Eg “Today would you like sushi, stir-fry, fried rice or a chicken and salad roll?”.

This method fits really well with Ellyn Satter’s  Division of Responsibility in feeding, “the parent provides, child decides” – this still applies even if you are not preparing the food yourself.

And as far as how can parents deal with the pressure from a child to order unhealthy items?

If you’re using the canteen regularly, you need to approach it the same way you would filling a healthy lunch box, and make nutritious choices.

Talk openly about it with your child, and set an agreement in place. School kids can understand that food is fuel for all the great things they want to do, and you need to fuel your body well.

Less healthy options should only be chosen occasionally, for example limit those items to say a “free choice day” once per term. (Even the reduced fat pastry items like pies and sausage rolls are best avoided more often than this. Even if they can just make it into the amber category, as they don’t provide any of the great nutritional benefits of vegetables, fruit, dairy and wholegrains.)

However, with good planning and food choices, parents definitely can pack quick, nutritious lunches from home at a much lower price. Want more info on how to pack a nutritious balanced lunchbox? One that’s healthy, but importantly quick and easy? Stay tuned for our next blog post…

Angela @ Bloom 🌿


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When it comes to children’s snacks, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of foods that you make yourself at home are going to be vastly superior to anything you buy from a store. I’ve now assembled a repertoire of snacks that I make myself that the kids (mostly) like. I try to vary what I bake from week to week and I usually bake that little bit extra to ensure I’ve got a few options in the freezer.

We’ve said it before here at Bloom and we’ll say it again, the best way to ensure that you are providing your family with a healthy diet is to plan for it. I always think about what snack I’ll be baking for the week and make sure I include it on my shopping list. I also have a plan for when I’m cooking that snack (generally a Monday, when I also prep my salad bases for the week). I generally pack two snacks – one sweet (this is my home baked option) and a more savoury option (this is more likely to be a store bought item such as wholegrain crackers and cheese), and there’s always fruit, at least one serve, if not two. When it comes to fruit, again planning helps. Children need two serves of fruit each day. I frequently serve fruit smoothies as an after school snack and we also like a fruit platter after dinner. If I know I’m not going to be doing one of those two options, then I definitely pack two serves in the lunchbox. I’ll also pack an extra snack if my kids after school sport. Then there’s always some verge sticks and a dairy item included.

All things considered, none of us are superwoman and there are times when we all need to reach for packaged snacks to fill that hole in the lunchbox. I know for me that as the term wears on, I simply tire of the routine, and find myself reaching for a few more store bought snacks as I just need a break from it all.

So what do you reach for in those times? Below I share with you my top picks for store bought snacks, and few I’d recommend you avoid.

1. Raisin Toast

I really don’t think you can go past raisin toast (or fruit bread as it is also known) as a back up snack. I’ve always got a loaf in my freezer. Sure it has some added sugar, but most of the sugar comes from the added dried fruit. It’s low GI, filling and has around 120 calories per buttered slice (1 slice is plenty for a recess snack). Tip top have also just realised a wholemeal Raisin toast and that’s certainly got my tick of approval

 

2. Cheese and Crackers

Again another snack option that you can’t really go wrong with. I’m not really a fan of the pre-packaged cheese and biscuit packs as they cost a fortune. Even when you’re low on time you can still still grab a handful of crackers and cut a slice of cheese (or a cheese stick if you really need to). Not all crackers are created equal though. You definitely want to focus on buying a wholegrain variety (look for those with at least 4g of fibre per 100g) and with a sodium content less than 400mg/100g (harder to find).
My top picks would be Ryvita wholegrain crisp breads (I’d suggest breaking two in halves as they are larger), Vita-Wheat crisp bread range and crackers (note these all exceed 400mg of sodium/100g,but most are under 500g/100g) and the Mary’s Gone Crackers range (although please note these are a more expensive option).
Team with your child’s preferred cheese and you have a filling snack option high in fibre, B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids (from the seeds), calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

3. Roasted Chickpeas and Fava Beans

A newcomer to the snack market I think the texture of these products will appeal to many kids.
They come in plain (lightly salted), as well a variety of other flavours. I love that they come in individually wrapped portions so you can simply grab and chuck into the lunchbox. They also hit the mark for fibre content, sodium and overall calories, not to mention they also count towards your child’s daily intake of vegetables!

 

4. Popcorn

Another option that’s sure to be a hit with most kids that is filling and high in fibre. I’d recommend you check what type of oil your popcorn is cooked in (or better yet go for air popped, although many kids may find this too bland) and avoid any cooked in palm oil (a saturated fat we want to avoid).
Also look for those with a lower sodium content, ideally less than 400mg per 100g. I’d also stay away from any of the sweetened varieties, children don’t need the extra sugar in these products.

My pick would be Cobs natural sea salt variety. I buy it in the large packs and portion it out to save money, but if you’re really low on time you may prefer the individually packed option.

 

5. Muesli Bar

  

I couldn’t really compile this list without including a muesli bar, they’re a staple in many lunch boxes. There are a huge variety of muesli bars on the market and it can be hard to sort your way through them all and make a nutritious choice. In theory there’s lots to like about muesli bars. Made from wholegrain oats that contribute B-vitmains and fibre many have added dried fruit, seeds and nuts. All good. The problem is that they need something to stick them together. Here’s where the sugar comes in, and in many products it’s multiple different types of added sugar (one product I looked at contained glucose, sugar, invert sugar and honey and this is not unusual).
The second problem is that most schools in Australia are “Nut Free” which automatically rules out a lot of the products on the market. For the record I have less problem with the sugar in muesli bars that also contain a large amount of nuts, seeds and wholegrains. If the product overall is contributing lots of beneficial nutrients into the diet (think fibre, omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins) I’m more likely to be lenient on the sugar content. As I heard another dietitian say, “I judge sugar by the company it keeps”. I find many of the nut free muesli bars on the market are just oats and a large amount of sugar and are best avoided.

My two picks for commercial muesli bars would be the Nice and Natural Super Grains muesli Bar (apricot, coconut, spelt, and chia) and the Freedom Foods Ancient Grains muesli bar. Both contain just over 1 tsp of sugar per bar and are good sources of fibre.

 

Finally a word about packaged snacks I don’t like.
The one thing I do try to avoid in my kid’s lunch boxes are highly processed carbohydrate based snacks. I’m thinking savoury crackers that aren’t whole grain (eg Jatz or Ritz biscuits, water crackers and rice crackers). Many of these products have a very high sodium content and simply aren’t filling. Although the calorie content of rice crackers is low, you need a lot to fill you up. My kids could easily devour a packet and be looking for more food. I also prefer to stay away from snacks with a lot of added flavours, e.g. BBQ/pizza flavoured biscuits. In addition to being high in sodium, they represent flavours that simply aren’t present in whole foods. Whilst there is no evidence for this, I think the more kids have these highly flavoured foods, the more they seek them out, rather than learning to appreciate the natural flavour of whole foods.
Similarly, I also prefer to avoid cartoon themed packaged sweet biscuits that are particularly aimed at children. Whilst the calorie content of many of these products are kept low thanks to their small serve size, the reality is that they’re not much more than refined flour, sugar and flavour. Many have an “improved” nutrient profile with the addition of inulin (a form of soluble fibre), but i really think there are much better choices you could be making for your child.
I’d be lying if I said I never bought these snacks. My kids like to have what they see other kids with, so occasionally I do buy them, but for the most part my kids know these aren’t regular choices for them.

If you’d like more information about making good snack choices for your child’s lunchbox check out the rest in our series on School Lunches and Snacks for kids.

Julia @ Bloom 🌿


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Google for some research on school lunches and you can find a vast array of content.

From a news channel running a story about the number of children who attend school with no lunch, or money to buy it, to images of a RRP $100+ shiny stainless steel lunch box, filled with almost nothing but kale, capsicum and carrots painstakingly cut into star shapes, to studies showing many Aussie schools struggle to meet government healthy canteen guidelines.

Good nutrition should be within the reach of all children, not only those with parents who have time to cut vegetables into fun shapes.

In light of this, here at Bloom we are embarking on a series of posts about kids lunches and snacks. About keeping it real, and getting it right, no matter if you’re short on time, sticking to a grocery budget, or navigating the canteen menu.

Check out Julia’s post on her favourite packet snacks to throw into a lunchbox when she’s short on time here… with more to follow on shortcuts to deciphering snack food labels, navigating the school canteen, and other school lunch hacks.

Let us know what you’d like to know more about when it comes to your child’s school lunch… look forward to hearing from you!

Angela @ Bloom 🌿


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It’s been said by government agencies that meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake could be the single most important improvement we could make to our nutritional health.

Plant foods are rich sources of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and a whole host of bioactive compounds too numerous to list.

The simple way to get these nutrients into your diet, is to get vegetables or fruits into every meal and snack.

With a little planning, its totally achievable, and there are two good ways to keep yourself on target – a checklist or a visual picture.

If your a checklist kinda person – its as simple as 2 & 5. Two serves of fruits and five serves of veg (around 1/2 c cooked veg or 1 c salad is a serve). And try not to leave it until dinner time to catch up on your veggies – make them feature in other meals or snacks in the day! (Little people may need a little less, check out the AGHE for more info.)

If you’re more visual, look at each eating opportunity you have – both meals and snacks – and try to make sure almost half of what you consume (or feed your families) is made up of fruit or vegetables.

But to make all of this happen, fruits and vegetables need to be the bulk of your food purchases. So look at your grocery shop in the same way – is half your trolley, basket or delivery made up of fruit and veg? Lots of companies now deliver fresh fruit and veg directly to your door, so you can always have a good supply at hand.

We tried out this delish family friendly stir fry from our food delivery last week. We liked it so much we had it again this week, served with edamame on the side (for even more veg) and amped up the flavours with coriander, chili, and extra lime and shallots.

This week, plan ahead to make it happen- grow more, buy more, prep more, and pack more, to eat more fruit and veg!

 

🌿 Angela @ Bloom