Lunchbox success

Sometimes I can find it hard to pack a balanced lunch for school. I understand the struggle is real for most parents. Every school holidays I sit down with the children and plan the menu for each term. I cook enough for the whole term and freeze in lunchbox portions. The school lunch menu often consists of; minestrone soup, spaghetti and meatballs, lamb hotpot, nasi goreng and nachos just to name a few.

But not everybody has time or a Nanny! I also have some quick easy go to meals like homemade sushi, chickpea and feta salad and their favourite tuna, rice and peas. They get the occasional sandwich too! What if the freezer is running low and also the fridge and cupboards. How do you make sure you pack a balanced lunch for your children?

Most children’s lunches consist of a sandwich with vegemite or jam, a packet of chips, muesli bar or tiny teddies and hopefully a piece of fruit but most likely a fruit bar. Last week we spoke about added sugar in breakfast cereals. Most children’s lunch boxes are also full of added sugar, a whole lot of brown food (grains) and not many vegetables.

Lunches need to be packed full of vegetables because dinnertime alone is not enough to get all 5 serves of vegetables a day. The key to packing a balanced lunchbox for your children is to think of the 5 food groups and pack something from all 5 groups.

How to Build a Balanced Lunchbox

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Choose your Vegetables

+Canned beans like chickpeas or cannellini beans  +Carrot, cucumber, capsicum or celery sticks  +Olives +Cherry tomatoes  +Avocado  +Leftover roast vegetables

Choose your Grains (wholegrain)

+Bread  +Rice +Pasta +Noodles +Crackers +Corn on the cob

Choose your Protein
+Grilled chicken or homemade chicken nuggets  +Tin of tuna in olive oil  +Roast leftovers +Boiled egg

Choose your Fruit

+Berries  +Watermelon  +Apple  +Banana  +Pear  +Orange  +Grapes  +Pineapple  +Kiwi

Choose your Dairy (optional)

+Cheese (feta, cherry boconcinni, cheddar etc.) +Plain Greek Yoghurt with 1 tsp Jam

Optional (Little treat 2x a week)

+Oat and date slice  +Gummie lollies  +Mini banana and date muffin

 

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Not quite chocolate ‘paddle pops’

Looking for healthy allergy free treats? These not quite ‘paddle pop’s are refined sugar free, dairy free and gluten free. Children love these delicious ice-creams, they are tasty and sweet and they are healthy. Most ice-creams that you find at the supermarket are full of added sugar, flavours, skim milk powders and thickeners. This recipe is so easy to make and when the children ask if they can have an ice-cream you won’t hesitate to say yes. Great as an afternoon treat and they are colour, flavour and preservative free.

What’s so good about it?

Coconut is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral to help promote a healthy immune system. Cacao is good for heart health and it may lower blood pressure and reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Cacao is high in magnesium and iron which is good for maintaining energy levels, help you to relax and sustain the health of your blood and heart vessels.

Not quite chocolate ‘paddle pops’

Ingredients:

  • 1 400g can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cacao
  • 1/3 cup sweetener of choice (maple syrup, honey, xylitol)
  • 1tsp vanilla powder
  • 3 tsp gelatin powder bloomed in 2 tbls water

*optional-1/2 cup of frozen fruit (add an extra tsp of gelatin to the blooming process if using fruit).

Method:

  1. Sprinkle gelatin powder over water and let bloom.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce heat and whisk until the chocolate is all dissolved.
  3. Add the gelatin to the saucepan and mix until all the gelatin has dissolved.
  4. Add frozen fruit if adding
  5. Pour mixture into ice block moulds and place in fridge for 30 minutes before transferring to the freezer to set.

Makes 10

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Let’s start the day the right way

A visit to the supermarket can leave you wondering if the cereal you have chosen is in fact ‘healthy’. They claim that they contain wholegrains, are high in fibre and calcium. Unfortunately most cereals are high in sugar, artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. If a cereal tastes good, it is full of sugar! Is sugar really that bad? There is no nutritional value in added sugar; our bodies do not need it. The current research is telling us that excess sugar has a number of health-associated risks. It is now being linked to cardiovascular disease – the number 1 cause of death in the world.

In Australia added sugar and natural sugar are not separated, they will be listed together under ‘sugar’ on the nutritional information panel. Ingredients are listed in order of the amount that is in a product and only added sugars, not natural sugars are listed. A good rule to follow is; if sugar is in the first 3 ingredients, then the product will be high in sugar.

Children should be consuming less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Lets have a look at the added sugar content in a standard kids breakfast.

  • 1/2 cup of nutri-grain/rice bubbles/coco-pops without milk = 3 tsp. of added sugar
  • 1 piece of wholemeal bread with 1 tbsp of nutella = 3 tsp. of added sugar
  • ½ cup of strawberry yoghurt = 2.5 tsp. of added sugar

Total teaspoons of added sugar= 8.5 teaspoons

We are already over our child’s daily limit and we have not had snacks, lunch, dinner, dessert or any beverages.

How to make a quick nutritious breakfast 

healthy-breakfast

Options include:                                                                    Added sugar

-2 Vita Brits with banana or strawberries                        0

-Rolled oats with nuts and fresh berries                          0

-Porridge with homemade applesauce                              0

-Eggs on toast                                                                           1/2 tsp.

-Natural or Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit                     1/2 tsp.

-Toast with 100% nut spread.                                              1/2 tsp.

– Fruit                                                                                           0

– Glass of plain milk                                                                0
How do you know if a product has added sugar? Look out for ingredients that read: Raw sugar, honey, sucrose, cane sugar, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, glucose, malt syrup, molasses, agave nectar, barley malt and caramel. These are all names for added sugar.

Kids who eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast have more energy and do better in school. Kids who eat a high sugar breakfast become restless, irritable and tired. Try to make time for a healthy breakfast. Try to include fruit or vegetables, a dairy product and a wholegrain bread, or cereal.

Aimee x

 

Lunchbox friendly-Date and Oat Slice

Looking for lunchbox friendly treats? This date and oat slice is perfect. Children love these delicious snack size treats, they are tasty and sweet and they are healthy. Most muesli bars that you find at the supermarket are full of added sugar. This recipe is so easy to make and you can make a big batch and freeze it. Great to add to kids lunch boxes, as an afternoon snack or even as a quick breakfast on the go. It’s refined sugar free and has no added preservatives or colours.

What’s so good about it?

These snack size treats are packed full of fibre, which helps maintain cholesterol and it also good for your digestion, and will help keep your bowels working properly. Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar levels and can also boost brain activity. Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E, which is linked to healthy cardiovascular function. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium and zinc, which is essential for metabolism and digestive health.

Date and Oat Slice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 12 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Combine the chia seeds with 12 tablespoons of water. Let it sit until a gel forms.
  3. Take the seeds out of the dates and cover the dates with boiling water for 5 minutes.
  4. Blend the date with the coconut oil until it becomes a smooth paste.
  5. Add the oats,coconut, seeds, cinnamon and dried fruit to a bowl and stir in the date mixture.
  6. Add the chia gel and mix well.
  7. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Pour the mixture into the tray and spread it out evenly.
  8. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is a lovely golden brown.
  9. Let it set for 20 minutes on the bench.
  10. Cut into snack size pieces and store the bars in an airtight container and freeze.
  11. Take the slice out of the freezer and place them in the children’s lunchbox. They will be defrosted by the time the children eat them at recess or lunch.

It’s not just what we give our kids, it’s also what we tell them.

My mum would send me to the service station to get bread. “Can I get white bread?” I never got an answer, just a look, which I knew meant no. I would watch everyone eating his or her white bread sandwiches and think, how unlucky I was. 22 years later, I rarely eat white bread!

I always thought I would be an interior designer, that’s what I was studying when I took my first Nanning job. The family I worked for were reasonably healthy and the children also complained about not having white bread. Today my focus has turned from Interior design to Nutrition. I have complete control when it comes to my current nanny family’s children’s diets. What I find interesting is that they never complain about not having white bread. Instead they tell me how they can’t believe how many children at school eat white bread. “Don’t they know that brown is better?” they would say.

This is what drives me, I get super excited and I know that educating children about nutrition will make a difference. I want to help you understand why nutrition should be a priority. Yes, Kidtritious (coming soon) is an educational program for kids but I will teach you simple, effective ways to help build healthy eating patterns in your family. I will help you educate your children about healthy food choices and help you implement them into daily life. Together we can make a difference.

Raspberry, Chia Jam

Children love jam, it is so sweet and fruity and it’s healthy, right? Most fruit jams that you find at the supermarket are full of added sugar. This recipe is so easy to make and is equally as easy to eat. Great to add to plain yoghurt, porridge, toast. It’s refined sugar free and has no added preservatives or colours.

What’s so good about it?

This jam is packed full of fibre which helps maintain cholesterol and it also good for your digestion, and will help keep your bowels working properly. Chia is also high in omega 3’s and raspberries are high in antioxidants which play an important role in preventing disease.

Raspberry,Chia Jam

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups raspberries fresh or frozen
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, brown rice syrup) *optional
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in a pot minus the chia seeds.
  2. Bring to the boil until desired texture of berries is achieved.
  3. Add chia seeds.
  4. Store in airtight container in the fridge.

 

How I got ‘my kids’ to eat olives

I love olives. I grew up in an olive eating family. My mum is Italian and we have all eaten olives since I can remember. I often wondered if it was in ‘my genes’ until I turned my husband into an olive-eating machine. So when I nannied two children from an Australian family I knew it was possible for them to love olives too.

This is not a story about olives; it is a story about what you eat will have a huge influence over what your children will eat. If this can happen with olives can the same principles be applied with all food? My answer… Absolutely! Exposure is the single most important thing to establishing healthy-eating patterns. It won’t happen over night but with a few tantrums, food being thrown across the room and determination it can happen.

I eat olives regularly; if they are in the fridge I will eat them everyday. I like to put them in salads, pastas and enjoy them by themselves. The children I nannied would watch me eat olives all the time. I would always offer them one and at first they would say no. After a while they started to ask if they could try one. They would take a bite and put it back and say, “I don’t like it”. The thing that amazed me was even though they didn’t enjoy the taste they would continue to ask to try an olive over and over again, and once again they would say, “I don’t like it”. This happened over a period of time and it almost always ended in the same result. But then all of sudden it happened, they would eat the whole olive and even ask for more. This can be the same with any food.

I have learnt that the keys to getting kids open to trying new foods is:

  1. Don’t load them with expectations; rather, let their curiosity lead them. It might take days, weeks or months.
  2. Don’t let eating or not eating become emotional.
  3. Do give high praise when they do discover and try something new.

Welcome to my blog, I have prepared meals for many children. Let me show you how you can get your children to eat healthy nourishing food.

Aimee x