Nutrition

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Sugar. There’s been an explosion of interest over the past few years, but how many people actually know why we should be limiting it, and how much exactly should we be limiting our children to?

When I ask most parents why they believe we should avoid sugar I usually get answers such as “It’s bad for you” or “It causes Type 2 diabetes”, neither of which are really correct. With so much hype and hysteria over sugar, the real evidence and concern with it’s intake has been lost, such that people now think it’s mere consumption is going to do them harm.

Back in 2015 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released their Guideline: Sugars Intake for Adults and Children. You can read the full document here: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/149782/1/9789241549028_eng.pdf?ua=1

This guideline specifically looks at what we call “free sugars” in our diet. That’s sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides – e.g. glucose syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, rice malt syrup etc..) added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates” (WHO, 2015).

This guideline reviewed all the current evidence (at the time of publication) as to why we should be avoiding sugar and went on to make recommendations as to how much sugar adults and children should be limiting ourselves to. You may be surprised to learn that the evidence for avoiding (or rather limiting) sugar relates primarily to obesity and dental caries. Sugar is often cited as a cause or risk factor for developing a wide range of diseases ranging from Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. However the fact of the matter is that that evidence simply doesn’t exist (yet). What we do know is that overweight and obesity are independent risk factors for chronic or non communicable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Going back to the WHO guideline, they found a MODERATE level of evidence that lower intakes of free sugars was associated with lower body weights in both adults and children. Please note that this does not mean that sugar causes you to become overweight or obese either. It simply means that people who consumed a diet higher in sugar, were more likely to have a higher body weight. The development of overweight and obesity is a complex issue and trying to narrow it’s cause down to one single nutrient is misguided, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The WHO guideline specifically recommends trying to reduce the intake of free sugars to 10% or less of your total daily energy intake (this is for both adults and children). There is a further recommendation to reduce it to 5% of total daily energy intake, however, the evidence for this recommendation was stated as WEAK, so for the purposes of this article, we will stick with 10%. I’ve represented this below as the number of teaspoons of sugar an “average” sized child with a light activity level, would need to limit their intake to each day.

So I wondered how I was fairing with my own children in relation to this guideline? I have always been well aware of which foods contain added sugars and done my best to limit their intake. I’m no sugar nazzi though, and my personal opinion is that if sugar is packaged up in a food that also contains many nutrients that are beneficial, then I’m fairly happy to include that food in our diet. We certainly limit our intake of foods that are high in sugar but offer little other nutritional benefit (think lollies, cakes, biscuits etc..). That said, we still enjoy a slice of home made cake, ice cream and chocolate in moderation. But day to day with my children’s typical diet, how was I really doing? Was I anywhere near the guideline, or had I totally blown it without even realising? I have to admit I was a bit nervous to take a closer look. Maybe I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I was?

I present to you my 4 yr old’s intake on a typical kindy day. All of the free sugars he consumed are listed in bold.

Breakfast: Rolled oats and 1 tsp of honey with reduced fat milk and a glass of unsweetened orange juice


SUGAR: 4 teaspoons

Lunch box: coco cranberry bliss ball, apple + carrot muffin, wrap with roast chicken, carrots, cucumber, rockmelon, plain milk and an apple (to be shared at fruit time)


SUGAR: 2.5 teaspoons

After kindy snack: Strawberry smoothie (frozen strawberries, strawberry yoghurt, water), he also then asked for another coco cranberry bliss ball

SUGAR: less than 1.5 teaspoon

Dinner:

Spaghetti Bolognese, bread and olive oil spread and a fruit platter (he only ate the watermelon)

SUGAR: none

Total: just under 8 teaspoons

Well I have to say I was pretty relieved to see that I’d just made it under the 10% guideline, but I certainly hadn’t made it any lower! I’d also have to admit they we certainly do have “blow out” days from time to time where my child’s sugar intake would be much higher. For example earlier this week I treated the family to a homemade dessert of chocolate self saucing pudding which I served with 1 scoop of ice cream. A dessert like this would have around 3 teaspoons of sugar in it.
I have to say on the whole I feel pretty happy that I’ve got my child’s typical diet fairly much where I want it to be. Sure, I could improve a little by not offering orange juice at breakfast, but he enjoys this and the vitamin C also helps him absorb the iron from his oats (a serve of whole fruit would offer the same benefit).

Calculating your child’s sugar intake is tricky business. It was difficult for me and I’m a dietitian! That’s primarily because our food labels don’t currently require manufacturers to separately list added or free sugars independent of any naturally occurring sugars. So at home, rather than focus on how much sugar your child is currently consuming I’d focus on just minimising fee sugars where you can.

If you want to try and reduce your child’s sugar intake my top tips would be:

1. Watch your child’s intake of sweetened beverages, don’t offer soft drinks or cordials, keep juice to no more than 1/2 a cup per day (unsweetened at that), alternate offering sweetened milk drinks with plain milk or sweeten with fruit (smoothie style)

2. Reduce your intake of processed/packaged snacks – most store bought snacks have a surprising amount of sugar added. Better to make your own and experiment with reducing the sugar content of some of your go to recipes

3. Avoid sugary breakfast cereals and opt for wholegrain “plain” varieties, rolled oats, weetbix and shredded wheat biscuits are go to’s in our house.

3. Keep occasional food as just that, occasional

4. Read labels on the food you buy. Ingredients have to be listed from most to least, if sugar is high up on the list you probably want to avoid it.

On that note, maple syrup, honey, rice malt syrup, glucose syrup, coconut sugar and rapadura sugar are all sugar. Yes some contain more glucose and others more fructose (or other mono or disaccharides), but they ALL need to be counted as sugar. You may have noticed a surge in popularity of so called natural or less refined sweeteners in the community. I see many recipes labeled as either “sugar free” or “refined sugar free” only to see they contain a LOT of honey or maple syrup. Whilst it’s true that many of these “natural” sweeteners do contain other nutrients (for example 100ml of maple syrup contains 89mg of calcium and 1.6 mg of iron amongst other things) whereas white refined sugar offers nothing beyond its carbohydrate content. The point I’d make, though, is that if we are actively working on trying to reduce our intake of sugars, I wouldn’t be focussing on these products for adding extra nutrients into my diet. They are also very expensive. Whilst I do personally use of these “natural” sweeteners, I do so more out of taste more so than for any nutritional benefits they confer. That said, it you can afford it, there’s no harm using honey or maple syrup as your sweetener of choice at home.

How do you think you’re fairing with your child’s sugar intake?

Julia @Bloom x


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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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We’re realists here at Bloom Nutrition Studio. Whilst we prioritise serving our kids real food that’s mostly made by us, lets be honest, there isn’t always enough hours in the day to do this. Over time I’ve built up a little list of go to packaged foods that I’m happy to serve my family and to help fill in the gaps when I simply don’t have the time or energy to cook.

To that end we thought we would help you on this journey to feed your family by providing you with some ideas for items that you can put in the lunchbox that perhaps you haven’t thought of before, or new products we’ve found that have hit the supermarket shelf.
We hope you find this useful!

Buy it:

Nudie have just released a variety of smoothie type drinks in convenient “fruit boxes” that can go straight into the lunchbox. They can be stored at room temperature so you don’t have to worry about them going off in the lunchbox if stored in the sun. What I like about them is that the sugar content is low. The variety shown above contains 6.8g of sugar per 100ml, which is less than most flavoured milks (usually around 10g/100m). They are sweetened with real fruit, maple syrup and dairy products (depending on the flavour you buy). The one shown is dairy free.Whilst they don’t contain any added preservatives, artificial colours or flavours they do include a “natural flavour”. Whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with using a natural flavour, I can always taste it, and personally I prefer my kids to experience the natural flavours of food. I suspect it’s added as the pasteurisation type process a product like this would go through, probably affects the natural taste. All in all, it’s something I’d be happy to include in my child’s lunchbox when I don’t have time to make a smoothie myself.

Have you tried Bulla plain or flavoured cottage cheese? It’s been around for years and is a great snack for kids and busy Mums alike. It’s a brilliant source of protein and calcium and unlike other varieties of cheese is low calorie too. I like it on wholegrain crackers.

Make it:

Have you tried sending your kids to school with a smoothie? If you have a high speed blender it will take you only a few minutes to do and it can be a great way of getting some extra fruit and veggies into the lunchbox. You will need an insulated drinking container to ensure it stays sufficiently cool.
My kids are using these ones from kmart. They don’t leak, keep the drinks very cold for the entire school day and at $7 what’s there to complain about??
http://www.kmart.com.au/product/double-wall-insulated-500ml-bottle-blue/1754374

Strawberry Smoothie:

1 cup of frozen strawberries
1/2 cup of strawberry yoghurt
water up to 700ml
ice if desired.

Blend and serve.

Stuck in a rut? try this…..

Breakfast wrap

1 slice of wholemeal mountain bread
Honey
Toasted muesli (nut free for school)
Apple cut into match sticks

Spread the wrap with a thin layer of honey. Sprinkle with muesli and apple pieces. Roll and cut into small bites size pieces or leave as a larger roll for older children.

Until next time…

Bloom x

This post is not sponsored


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Given that I spend my life around other Mums, it’s not surprising that as soon as people find out what I do for a job, they inevitably have a question for me.
Today’s question was one that I have answered time and time again, and given our soaring temperatures here at the moment, I suspect it’s something on a lot of parent’s minds. So I thought I’d share my answer with you all and extend the offer for you to ask us anything! If you’ve got a burning question, pop it in the comments section below, send us a message on Instagram or FaceBook or just drop us a line over email.

Anyway, onto today’s question which was “ My baby is 10 months old, she’s only ever been breastfed and isn’t taking much water. I’m worried she’s not getting enough fluids, especially in the heat”.

On Further questioning Mum said she had introduced water around 6 months of age but noticed that her baby drank very little of it. Mum had also tried (multiple times!) to get her baby to take either expressed breast milk or formula from a bottle but she had always outright refused. The baby was still breastfeeding 3 times a day and taking about 1/2 a sippy cup of water throughout the day.

It’s perfectly normal for babies to take very little extra fluid beyond what is offered via either breastmilk or formula. Baby’s first foods (be they pureed or mashed) have a high fluid content and this combined with the fluid they are naturally getting from breastmilk or formula will be enough for most babies. I always recommend introducing water from around 6 months (or the time that you introduce solids), but I wouldn’t expect a baby to get through more than about 1/4 of a sippy cup a day until they are 9 – 10 months old. As they start moving onto more solid food (and the fluid content of their meals drops and they also start reducing their breast or formula feeds), their intake of water will naturally increase. Most 12 months old babies will be taking close to a sippy cup (ie around 250ml) of water across the whole day. If your baby is taking less and you’re concerned, check their nappies. If they’re wet enough that you need to change them several times per day and they are also passing regular bowel motions, then that’s generally a sign that your baby is getting enough fluid. Their lips should also appear moist, not dry and cracked.

My top tips for encouraging babies to drink water include: persistence – don’t give up just because you think they aren’t drinking much. Many parents panic and start to introduce dilute juice as a way of tempting babies to drink. This only leads to the expectation that beverages should be sweet, and usually in my experience, further exacerbates the problem. Your baby will most likely to be thirsty immediately after eating, so always have water available at the end (or during) every meal or snack that is offered. Many babies are also thirsty when they wake from sleep. If you’re not going to be offering them a breastfed or formula, it’s a good time to try some water.
It’s worth remembering that breastfed babies under 6 months of age don’t need any extra fluid, just feed them on demand. Formula fed babies may be offered some cooled boiled tap water if they seem thirstier than usual (eg on a hot day). All babies can be offered tap water from 6 months of age. You may like to first offer water in a baby bottle, but I would suggest moving him or her onto a sippy cup after a few months (we like the Tommy Tippee range of adapters for baby bottles here: https://www.tommeetippee.com.au/product/weaning/cups). These are good all rounder cups/bottles if your baby is breastfed.

There are a large variety of sippy style cups on the market and the drinking style needed will vary from brand to brand. For example, some sippy cups require more of a “bite” to get water out style, others require sucking from a straw (generally babies won’t be ready for this until closer to 9 months) and others will require a suck somewhat similar to breastfeeding. Some come with valves to regulate the flow and others the water will simply pour straight out. If you’re really confused about cups and have a baby who’s really reluctant to take one, I would suggest consulting a paediatric speech pathologist who specialises in infant feeding. Another option would be to try an open cup but this will obviously be messy!

So my advice to this Mum today? Her baby was getting enough fluid and she just needed to hang in there offering water regularly as per my recommendations above. I had a feeling he was probably about to take off on the water as Mum was actively reducing breastfeeds, and his diet was expanding considerably. The other thing that’s worth remembering is that babies do have the ability to regulate their own thirst so long as the water is being offered regularly. It’s only in rare circumstances that babies won’t do this, usually as the result of a medical condition, or infants with extreme feeding disorders and food refusal. These babies are special cases that warrant individual assessment and advice.

Julia @ Bloom

This is not a sponsored endorsement


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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 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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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


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Women’s magazines, television advertisements, or Instagram.

There has always been a source of that picture perfect family image, sitting around a table, laughing, sharing wholesome food at a gorgeously set table. Everyone is eating, drinking, smiling.
No-one is crying, refusing their dinner, and there is not more food down on the floor than there is up on the table.

It can be difficult to swing the dinner pendulum from one end of the spectrum to the other (unrealistic) one. But there are some simple tips you can apply to dinner prep and meal time to make things run a little smoother, so that everyone eats, drinks and smiles… for at least some of the meal 😉

So what can I do?!

Prepare as much of the meal ahead of time as possible. It will decrease your workload around meal time, and help set a more relaxed tone in the eating environment. If possible chop, par-cook, or fully cook parts of the meal that can be prepared ahead, without tired, hungry little people clutching at your legs. If you are at home, this might be at lunchtime while little ones nap, or the night before or early morning if you are heading out to work.

While you finish cooking or assembling the meal, ask children to help out, with different tasks depending on their ages. Washing hands themselves, setting plates, cups and cutlery are small things, but if they can do these independently they are occupied, and have contributed to making things work, while you’re free to put the finishing touches on a meal.

Offer meals platter or buffet style, serving components separately where you can to allow kids to choose which parts of the meal they would like. For example, serving a new slow cooker curry on top of rice directly on a child’s plate may mean they refuse the entire meal. But having the curry, rice, naan and a child friendly selection of vegetables separately at the table may mean your child tries more. Even if they don’t choose a food first time around, having it remain available to them, and seeing others eat and enjoy it, increases their exposure to the food.

Allow family members to season a meal to their tastes. Many people leave out large amounts of hot spices from family meals, like pepper and chilli, but allow them to be added at the table. But try offering other seasonings too – like lemon wedges, parmesan, dukkah, fresh herbs, pesto, tomato relish, smoked paprika… the list goes on! You may be surprised what your children enjoy. ( It may not be the best example, but throw back to the days of adding tomato sauce to a meal that wasn’t quite your favourite as a child… get my drift?!)

Consider having one or two “non-threatening” foods available when trying a new meal with tastes or textures that may be challenging for some members of the family. If serving a new meal, offer an item like bread, grated cheese, or salad vegetables that your child can eat comfortably, and still participate in the family meal time.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t feel the entire success of a meal, and whether or not your child eats it, is your responsibility alone. ‘The parent provides, but the child decides’ is the central message from Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. Once you’ve done your job as parent, providing a wholesome meal in a relaxed environment, the rest is up to your child. Try to sit back and enjoy meal time for what it is – a family sharing together. Following this mantra can result in children progressively eating more of the family meal, enjoying a larger variety of foods, and a greater feeling of contentment at the family dinner table for everyone involved.

Angela @ Bloom 🌿


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“Mama, what’s for dinner?”

For those of us who’ve ever had a fussy eater, this question can make you break into a sweat. You’ve spent all this time, and money, making a new recipe. A wholesome family meal, which looked fabulous on screen, sporting 5 shining starts and rave reviews from other people telling you how much their family liked it. But what about your family?

If you’ve every had this situation, and found it an epic fail, don’t despair. Take a few steps back and look at where the opportunities lie to improve your success rate; it could be about timing…

 

Being exposed to new foods at the dinner table can be too confronting for children who have difficulty with food variety.

The eating environment at dinner can be a little overwhelming for some young children; it may be loud or rushed, or they may sense their parents stress or expectations about the meal ahead. On top of all of this, young children can be very tired come this time of day.

To improve your strike rate with eating new meals, allow kids to be introduced to new foods well ahead of time, with no expectation that they have to eat it. This can be as hands on as you and your child are happy for!

Print out the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating . Point out different ingredients and talk with your child about which they have tried, those they like, or dislike, and why. See if you can pick any similarities between foods they either like or dislike. Ask what can be done to different foods to make them taste better to to them.

Give your child a grocery catalogue or a food recipe magazine and a pencil or Texta. Sit together and ask them to circle foods or recipes that they’d like you to try (you can get ahead of the game and tear out the confectionary and soft drink pages, or anything else you’re keen to avoid!). Older children may like to cut out pictures and stick them on to a shopping list.
Take your child to the fruit and veg shop. Ask them to collect the food that you need and place it in the trolley or basket. You don’t need to ask if they will eat it, the aim is to have them exposed to the food, learning its name, and touching it as it goes into the basket.

While you unpack groceries into the fridge and pantry, talk to children about the great things that eating good food does for their bodies. “This meat will help to make you strong”, “This brown rice will give you energy to run fast”, “This salmon will help to make your hair shiny”… whatever works for your child’s age and interests!

Kids can participate in meal preparation. Young children may have their high chair placed in a safe place within the kitchen so they can view food preparation, and be given small pieces of food and utensils to “help” and play. Older children can participate in preparing parts of the family meal, to have a sense of ownership over the food.

Food doesn’t have to come from a shop! A simple but effective way to have children become familiar with new foods is to grow them yourself. Kids love colour, so if you have the space, try to grow a range of different coloured fruits, vegetables and herbs in pots or your backyard. If ‘greens’ are a problem in your home, try milder or sweeter varieties to get the ball rolling, such as snow peas, cucumbers or even avocados.

And remember, there are lots of times in the day to try a new food or meal. If your child is happier and more willing earlier in the day, consider making brunch or lunch a key time to try new foods. Set up a picnic on a rug, or play restaurant at your child’s play table if you want to help them have some fun with new foods.

So, what to do when dinner time comes around? Check out out post on “Happy Meal? How to make dinner time more successful and enjoyable when feeding your young family”

Over the years we have helped lots of families improve their child’s eating. Feeding, just like family life, is about finding what works for you. For more great information, our e-book (coming soon) shares genuine advice and practical tips that have been a success for many families, including our own!

Do you have any good food familiarisation tips for young eaters? Drop us a line…

Angela @ Bloom 🌿

Note: some children have more serious, medical issues that will also impact upon their feeding. In the SOS approach to feeding these are known as ‘red flags’. You can read more about them here . If your child is showing signs like these, or anything else medically concerning, speak to your family doctor as soon as possible.


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Life as a Mum is BUSY.

With the average young child interrupting you every 2.5 mins (yes that’s a true fact!) it’s not surprising that you might be finding it difficult to eat properly.

Perhaps you’re a new Mum and between the sleep deprivation and the overwhelming sense that every hour in day is being used, your surviving on not much more than coffee and take away? Or maybe your children are at the toddler stage, and you feel like your life is an endless merry-go round of preparing meals and snacks and then cleaning up said meals and snacks, that the thought of making something for yourself is just too hard. Hello crusts off your child’s discarded vegemite sandwich!

Or maybe your kids are a bit bigger and you’re madly preparing lunch boxes in the morning to get everyone off to school and work but don’t prepare anything for yourself?

We’ve heard it before, you can’t pour from any empty cup, and part of looking after yourself is making sure your body is getting the nutrition that it needs.

If you’re currently breastfeeding your body is working extra hard to supply your baby with all the milk he or she needs. Breastfeeding Mum’s need around 500 extra calories every day. On top of that you also have greater needs for protein, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and a variety of B vitamins.

Don’t panic though if you feel your diet has been poor. Your body will draw from it’s own stores to make sure that you are producing breastmilk that contains all the right nutrients. There’s plenty of good evidence to show that even women who are poorly nourished, are still able to produce sufficient breastmilk.

That said, you need to eat well to look after yourself. Poor nutrition is only going to make you more tired and lethargic, and have you wondering how you are going to get through the day.

Another thing that is certain to cross your mind from time to time as a parent, is your own longevity. It’s only natural that we want to be around for them as long as possible. When we look at “Blue Zones” (those areas of the world where people are living the longest) diet -along with physical activity, maintaining a health weight and limiting alcohol intake- is one of the biggest predictors of longevity.

The one thing I know for sure after having 4 kids in 7 years, is that eating well comes down to one thing PLANNING. I also know that the easiest way to make sure you are getting your 5 serves of veggies each day is to plan to have a salad or soup at lunch. In fact I’ll go as far as to say that if you’re not, then you’re unlikely to reach your target. Not that there is anything wrong with a sandwich, you just need to make sure its LOADED with veggies/salad, remembering that 1 cup of salad greens equals 1 serve of veges.

I’m going to share with you my formula for making sure I eat well at lunch EVERY day.

In the warmer months a salad is definitely my go to option for lunch. If you’re thinking a salad is not going to fill you up, think again! One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen women make when they start trying to eat well, is to eat a salad consisting of not much more than lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Such low calorie options are only going to leave you hungry and looking for the nearest snack. Not only does your salad need to include veges, but also fats, proteins and long lasting carbohydrates to ensure you’re well fuelled until your next meal.

Now there’s no way I’ve got time prepare food everyday, so my trick is to prepare what I like to call a salad base once or twice a week, and then quickly add items to this at the time of eating that will wilt or brown if prepared ahead of time.

It always includes a wholegrain long lasting carbohydrate such quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal cous cous or israeli cous cous.

Don’t even have time to cook some rice or quinoa? Never fear those little pots from SunRice cook in the microwave in 40 seconds and are an absolute time saver.

Add a variety of vegetables.

If I’ve got time I like to add some roasted pumpkin, but I also use tinned beetroot segments, red onion, tinned chickpeas, tinned sweetcorn kernels or tinned lentils. Did you know that tinned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh? That’s because they are picked and packed at their peak, so the nutritional content remains high. They’re a good choice for time poor mums!

I also like to dress my salad base (my favourite is a white balsamic dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic, dijon mustard and seasoned with salt and pepper). You could also make your dressing ahead of time and dress at the time of eating if you prefer.

When I’m ready to eat the salad I add a base of greens such as rocket, baby spinach or kale, and little avocado.

My salads are usually meat free, occasionally I add tuna, but I always add some protein and fat with a variety of cheese, usually feta or grilled haloumi (hint: use your sandwich press to grill it super quickly) or boiled eggs.
Lastly I like to top my salads with pepitas, walnuts or pine nuts for a good dose of healthy fats and little extra protein.

 

When the weather is cooler, a soup is my preferred lunch option. Now here is where the art of planning comes in. I”ll make a large batch of soup on a Monday and serve this up for our family’s dinner. Then I’ll have the rest of the soup for my lunch across the week. Winning!

One of my favourite soups is a minestrone made with chorizo rather than bacon. It’s packed full of veggies and legumes and you can get the recipe here at Bloom. I won’t lie, my kids are fairly fussy when it comes to this soup, but the one thing they all do is pull out the chorizo to eat. I’m not fussed that they do this. Using their hands and utensils to explore the soup and pull out what they like, helps improve familiarity with the food ,and eventually they’ll learn to eat it. I also try to help them by playing games like “How many balls (chickpeas) can you find in your soup”? We always serve it with crusty bread, so no one goes hungry.

Finally, I usually follow my lunch with either a smoothie (banana, maple syrup and cinnamon made with cow’s milk is a favourite) or a fruit salad topped with greek yoghurt. This will get me right through to dinner, without the need for a snack in between.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get busy in the kitchen!

Julia @ Bloom 🌿