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How to get your kids to eat more vegetables

5th September, 2018

Finding ways to get kids to eat vegetables is a constant challenge for most parents. I know it’s something that we have to deal with in our household on a daily basis, and finding new and creative ways to make vegetables appealing can become an impossible task at times. This is why I’ve enlisted the help of paediatric nutritionist and founder of Wholesome Child Mandy Sacher, who shared her great insights on kids nutrition on the blog a few weeks ago. Here she shares her tips on how to deal with a child who isn’t really big on vegetables, and how to make it a process that’s less stressful and more fun.

Create a “rainbow” plate

“Many children I see are repetitive vegetable eaters—meaning that they eat the same limited range each and every week. Whilst all vegetables are beneficial, the ultimate goal is to eat a diverse range of colours and groups to get the maximum benefit. We all eat with our eyes first, so it makes sense to engage your child visually when encouraging them to eat more variety. Encourage your little one to create their own rainbow plate, it’ll engage their imagination and will lead to a nibble or two!”

Include one new veggie a week—and lead by example

“There’s often a strong connection between children who eat the same vegetables each week and parents who do the same. Through parents expanding their own repertoire, children will have an opportunity to see and taste a variety—and watch their parents enjoying the broader range, too!  Try salad veggies, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and starchy vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato.”

Don’t forget beans and legumes

“Beans and legumes are our most nutritious plant foods. Rich in proteins, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, fibre, minerals and phytochemicals. Hummus, lentil soup, bean stews and chickpea falafels are a fantastic way to introduce legumes to your child. Try kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils. For canned varieties, look for BPA-free cans wherever possible and rinse well beforehand to reduce sodium levels.”

Include sea vegetables

“Due to its high calcium content, seaweed strengthens bones and teeth. It’s also high in iron, has antimicrobial properties and is a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre which helps prevent constipation.

Nori, rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as iodine also contains protein. Use it for sushi, shred it over salad or create veggie-filled seaweed wraps filled with julienned carrots, cucumber, shredded chicken (or protein of choice) and avocado. If your child likes the seaweed snack packs that are commonly found in supermarkets, seek out varieties that are free from additives such as MSG or added sugar.”

Remember to use fresh herbs and spices 

“Basil is packed with essential oils which are known to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Use in tomato-based pasta sauces, sprinkle on pizza and mix into rissoles. 

Mint soothes upset tummies and improves digestion. Chill mint tea with a dash of raw honey or add fresh mint leaves and orange slices to water and serve in place of juice. 

Oregano is often used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and urinary tract disorders.  Add to chicken, lamb or beef dishes. 

Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins and keeps the immune system strong, tones the bones and heals the nervous system.  It also helps to flush excess fluid from the body and support kidney function.  Add to smoothies, chicken soup and pasta sauces.

Spices – as well as adding flavour, spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are packed with nutrients too. Add turmeric and ginger to chicken soup, sprinkle turmeric on cauliflower and add cinnamon to pumpkin and butternut squash.”

Create a veggie patch

“Children love planting seeds, watching them grow, and eventually harvesting what they have planted. It’s the best way to help them make the association between earth to plate, and to engage their curiosity about different varieties of vegetables. If outdoor space is limited, start off with herbs such as basil or oregano, or better yet get involved with a community garden.”

Shop for and cook vegetables together

Encourage your children to touch, smell and engage with their food.  Let them help with grocery shopping and encourage them to pick up new vegetables from the shelves and place them in the trolley themselves – this begins the engagement with the new food.

Little ones tend to be more willing to eat what they’ve helped to prepare and it’s important for them to be exposed to vegetables in their raw state and to understand how the texture and look of a vegetable changes when it’s cooked. Get them involved by asking them to peel carrots and potatoes (using kid-friendly graters), cutting lettuce with a plastic knife or adding grated vegetables to muffin batter.

It’s important for parents to be patient and to recognise that change is often slow with children.  Don’t be disappointed if they don’t eat the new vegetable or food the first time it’s offered – stay positive and freeze what’s not eaten and offer it again – persistent repetition is key here.”

What are some creative ways you’ve used to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables?

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What I’m looking to buy my family this Christmas

5th December, 2016

xmas

This is such a great time of year but it can also be quite stressful trying to get my Christmas shopping done amongst all the other things on my to-do list – which is why I’ve learnt to scope out the shops (both in-store and online) ahead of time and make a list of possible gift ideas for my family and friends. I find if I’ve got a shortlist then it helps make getting my shopping done a much more streamlined process. If you’re looking for present ideas then here’s a peek at what I’m considering…. (my family will just have to wait till Christmas morning to see what my final choices were!).

Gifts for her:

It’s fun (sometimes a little dangerous!) shopping for my mum and sister-in-law, Hoda because I always inevitably stumble upon things I end up falling in love with too. I find that beautiful home decor such as great candle or quality towel is a great option as interior decorating is something they’re both really into. That said, they also both love fashion so a nice pair of earrings or cute shoes is always something that will put a smile on their face.

Gifts for him:

Finding gifts for my husband, Luke, brother, Tom and my dad almost always end up falling into the fashion category. I find a great tie or sunglasses is something they’ll be able to get plenty of use out of throughout the year. However I sometimes like to give them something they can wear to death during the summer break such as a pair of shorts or a hat. Fragrances are also ideal and I find it’s something most men don’t tend to buy for themselves so it’s a nice albeit useful surprise.

Gifts for kids: 

Christmas in our family is now all about the kids so it’s always really fun shopping for my girls but also my niece, Rose and nephew, William. I love buying cute clothes for Sophia and Rose but they’re also into their toys so I make sure to try and maintain a balance. As Grace is still a baby I’ll probably end up with something adorable to add to her wardrobe. I find toys are always a winner for my nephew so something he can play with such as a fire engine will be something he’ll enjoy finding under the tree.

Fashion

Sophia’s favourite accessory

3rd December, 2015

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As far as accessories go one of the questions I frequently get asked is what type of bows Sophia wears. The answer? Pixies Bows! She’s now got quite the collection in various colours as I use them everyday. Sophia’s had lots of hair from the moment she was born so she’s worn clips for quite awhile and now her hair is getting quite long it gets in her eyes, so I love Pixies Bows because they help keep her hair off her face while also being really cute.

I’ve used a lot of bows and clips and these have been the only kind that don’t fall out as they have a non slip clip enclosure so it works on really fine hair. It also comes in different sizes which is great. I like the medium-sized bows at the moment but when Sophia was a baby I used the smaller ones in her hair so I’ll probably graduate her to the bigger ones when she’s older.

If anyone has a little girl or are looking for a great present for Christmas I can attest to the fact these bows come in really handy. They’re definitely Sophia’s hair accessory of choice as she doesn’t leave home without one.

Want to buy a Pixies Bow? You can find them here.

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