Baby Hints & Tips

Getting kids to love healthy food

mamacino 784By Kristin Cosgrove from Mamacino

When our beautiful babies reach the exciting stage of beginning their real food journeys, we have such wonderful intentions of keeping their diets clean and green.  We promise ourselves we will only offer the healthiest foods and spend hours labouring over organic vegetable purees and fresh fruit concoctions.

Time passes and our beautiful babies become toddlers with minds of their own and strong ideas of what they will and won’t eat.  Add sleep deprivation, well meaning family members and general busy-ness and before you know it, our children are living on toast, biscuits, pasta and juice.

If this sounds familiar, don’t despair!  There is always a pathway to improving what our kids eat.  A little commitment, planning and gentle persuasion and you will have your children requesting carrots to snack on in no time.

These ideas work for me and my kids and I hope some of them may work for you too!

1.     Cut back on sugar!

It is so easy to cut out white, processed sugar because there are so many healthier alternatives.  Honey, maple syrup, dates and rice malt syrup can all be used in moderation to make the occasional sweet treat.  My kid’s behaviour improves 100% when they don’t have sugar in their diet!

2.     Make a Rainbow on your plate

We all eat with our eyes so preparing food that is colourful will not only provide a whole range of nutrients, it will look enticing too.  Sometimes for lunch, I will make my kids a platter with things like crackers, hummus, good quality ham, cherry tomatoes, carrot, cucumber, apple, kiwi and strawberries, and let them choose the things they would like to eat.  Giving children the power to choose what they like from a healthy selection when possible empowers them and helps make meal time more fun.

3.      Positive encouragement

Or…better known as bribery.  We don’t have dessert in our house every night, but if we do, there is no way you are getting any unless you do a good job of your dinner first.

4.      Just Keep Trying

It takes something like 20 tries for kids to accept and like a new food so keep trying!  Persistence pays off but having said that, if there is a food my kids really don’t like, like say tuna, I don’t force them to eat it…food should be fun!

5.      Tough Love

You really can’t expect your kids to eat the lovely, healthy dinner you have prepared if they have been eating biscuits and bananas all afternoon!  I don’t let my kids eat snacks after 3pm so I know they will be hungry and ready to eat by dinner time, which is about 5pm.

I also don’t make a stack of different options for each person in my family.  This is what is for dinner…you don’t have to eat it, but there is nothing else!

Some Ideas for healthy food for kids:

mamacino 622Breakfast

Scrambled or boiled eggs with toast spread with avocado or hummus

A Green Smoothie with spinach, berries, banana and coconut water

Porridge with grated apple, ground linseeds, almond milk and a drizzle of raw honey

Lunch

Leftover roast chicken and avocado sandwich on good quality bread

A platter with free range ham, crackers, hummus, chopped raw veggies and fruit

Leftover vegetable soup with some Quinoa or rice stirred through

Dinner

Grilled Chicken tenders with sweet potato mash and steamed broccoli with a dollop of organic butter

Homemade baked beans with a soft boiled egg and some good quality buttered toast

Spaghetti Bolognaise made with real ingredients – good quality beef mince, tomatoes, veggies and herbs served with spelt pasta, brown rice or over the top of mashed steamed veggies.

Snacks

Apple sliced and spread with nut butter

Chopped veggies with a dip, like guacamole

Freshly popped organic popcorn

Bliss Balls made with nuts, seeds, cacao and dates

Homemade muffins from real, wholefood ingredients

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I hope these ideas help you to keep your kids on the path to healthy eating.  We can only do our best on any given day but ultimately, it will be worth it to see our children grow up strong, well and healthy.

How do you encourage your kids to eat healthy? Is it a struggle or do they enjoy it?

Kristin Cosgrove is a whole food baker, blogger, educator and mum of three.  She is a real food devotee and owns a small business, Mamacino Homemade, making whole food treats and snacks for those without the time (or inclination) to do so themselves. You can find Kristin at her blog, or on facebookTo see all of Kristin’s articles and recipes, click here.

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  1. Dee says:

    Thanks! This is a great post. Something I just discovered today that works for my 20 month old is to pack a picnic with little boxes for olives, carrots, grapes, etc, plus cut out some shapes from sandwiches (it looks cute, but literally only takes a few seconds more than slicing the sandwich in half and both my kids snack on the offcuts at breakfast time).
    If I put some stuff in front of her, but keep some little boxes “for me”, she wants to eat the stuff I’ve got. Worked an absolute treat, and my fussy little girl ended up eating way more than she usually does. I tried the same at afternoon tea time. She usually only eats bananas, but I was cutting some pieces of silverside for me and she kept saying, “Piece?” She ended up eating almost her whole protein intake for afternoon tea. It was great and made dinner less of a panic with her babysitter because I knew she had eaten lots of good stuff during the day.

    • Good strategy Dee! My kids do that too…always want what I am having…sometimes it works out well!
      It sounds like you are doing a great with your little girl, sometimes a little effort makes a huge difference x

  2. We have two boys; Master 4-and-3-quarters and Master 2-in-9-days.

    The older one LOVES cucumber. He could eat a whole cucumber to himself. He could have cucumber every night. The younger one will eat it too but doesn’t love it as much as his brother with peas being his favourite vegetable.

    Both boys went through stages of being meatasauruses with the little one being more so now. They are both not huge fans of flavour (go figure) but our main focus is getting them to eat rather than starving or relying on just milk (the little one that is).

    Whilst I try to get them to eat the plain version of whatever meal (or meat) we are having, that tends not to work so I admit I fall back on giving them quick and easy things that I know they’ll eat.

    Chicken nuggets is a favourite but you when you are considering using a processed food like this, you really need to go for the top end of the market (budget allowing) as you’ll find that there are less nasties in there.

    This is the ingredients of the Steggles Tempura style (dinosaur) nuggets;

    Chicken Breast (60%), Water, Cereal Flours (Wheat, Maize), Cottonseed Oil, Starch (Wheat, Tapioca), Salt, Acidity Regulators (450, 451, 500), Emulsifier (452), Milk Powder, Soy Protein, Spices.

    This is the Ingham Tempura style nuggets (taken from their website so sorry about the capitals);

    CHICKEN (52%), FLOUR (WHEAT, RICE), SALT, STARCH (WHEAT), VEGETABLE OIL, MINERAL SALTS (451, 541, 500), DEXTROSE, VEGETABLE GUM (407, 415, 412), WATER, NATURAL FLAVOUR (MILK), THICKENERS (1401, 1404), DEHYDRATED VEGETABLES (INCL ONION & GARLIC), HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL, EGG WHITE POWDER, MILK SOLIDS, YEAST EXTRACT, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, HERBS, GROUND & EXTRACTED SPICES, NATURAL COLOUR (160C), ANTIOXIDANTS (319, 306), EMULSIFIER (322 SOY), VITAMIN (THIAMIN). NO ATRIFICIAL COLOURS, FLAVOURS OR PRESERVATIVES

    My preference has to be the tempura style as they are missing the one thing we try to avoid; sugar.

    When you look at the alternative, this is the Coles brand nuggets (with traditional crumbed coating);

    Chicken Breast (48%), Water, Wheat Flour, Cotton Seed Oil, Soy Protein, Maize Flour, Salt, Maize Starch, SUGAR, Wheat Gluten, Mineral Salts (451, 450, 508, 500, 541), Hydrolyzed Maize Protein, Flavours, Egg Powder, Yeast, Maltodextrin, Vegetable Gum (412), Colour (160c, 100), Milk Solids, Spice, Vegetable Powder, Spice Extracts, Yeast Extract

    I capitalised SUGAR in the ingredients list.

    The cheapest ones on the market are at Woolworths which are the Homebrand and again they are the traditional crumbed type;

    Chicken (48%), Flour (Wheat, Maize, Rice), Water, Cottonseed Oil, Tapioca Starch, Salt, Thickener (1404), Mineral Salts (450, 451, 452, 500, 508), Yeast, SUGAR, Natural Colours (100, 160b), Vegetable Gums (412, 415), Wheat Gluten, Egg Powder, Maltodextrin, Hydrolysed Vegetable Proteins (Soy, Maize), Yeast Extract, Vegetable Powder, Spice Extracts.

    And once again SUGAR is on the list.

    Woolies also have a Select branded variety but they don’t publish the ingredients online, but once again, as these are crumbed, I would suggest they have sugar.

    Again the Inghams and Steggles versions mention sugar on their ingredients list and I believe that Wollies’ Select brand is actually made by one of these manufacturers so you could check their lists to see what they have in them.

    In short, with 60% chicken breast, you’d have to say the Steggles brand wins out for this product.

    I haven’t done it for a while as my wife and I have been doing the Michelle Bridges diet which focuses on a lot of fresh ingredients, plus a lot of work and a lot of time, but before that when we used to eat what the kids ate (rather than the other way around) I would make my own nuggets using chicken breast coated in a blend that I created (and it changes all the time based on what is handy, but here’s one I did);

    Slice chicken breast to resemble nuggets.

    In a container with a lid (I use the large EasiYo yoghurt container) place
    Corn flour
    Dried herbs to your liking (oregano, thyme, nothing too strong or over-bearing though)
    Pepper (I like to use the fine ground white pepper, but not too much)

    DO NOT ADD SALT OR SUGAR.

    Shake the dry mix in the container.

    Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, replace the lid and shake.

    Remove the coated chicken and repeat the process until done. Put the coated chicken on a tray lines with baking paper. A good quality brand of baking paper will mean that the chicken will not stick and there’s no need to spray heaps of oil on it.

    I tend to spray lightly with a good quality Heart Foundation approved oil over the top of the nuggets.

    This is quick and easy, and really, I am going to go back to doing this myself now that I have motivated myself by putting it out there.

    You can add egg (preferably just the white) beaten so that it becomes the glue for the chicken, but if the chicken is fresh, it should attract the dry mix and coat it evenly without it.

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