1. Make water the drink of choice!
Its best mums & dads avoid sugary drinks when they can – water is always the best drink to have for hydration. Making water a habit at an early age is really important. These days, many drinks contain hidden caffeine, salt and sugar, which will cause kids to feel even thirstier! There are a few ways to encourage your little ones to love water – try adding fresh fruit to water jugs or adding cubes of fruit to make it a colourful and fun drink for kids – and giving them something to munch on whilst they drink.
2. Spice things up!
It’s important to get your little ones trying new foods as early as possible, as these different flavours and spices can become familiar favourites for kids as young as 18 months to 3-years old, especially before they start school and develop those fussy taste buds! Kids also have a heightened sense of smell, so exposing them to different spices and herbs will also add to their mealtime experience, and of course, the nutritional value of the food they eat.
A few great examples to start including are tumeric, garlic, ginger, basil, mint, vanilla and cinnamon. Lemon is such a great way to add salty/sweet tastes into food, and the best way to avoid sugar or too much salt, whilst also keeping things interesting. Many parents can feel a little unsure when it comes to adding some of these ingredients into foods for their babies or toddlers, but these are great for health and nutrition, no matter what age!
Kate Di Prima, Infant Nutritionist, suggests the following:
1. Mix cinnamon and stewed pears into yoghurt instead of opting for a sugary yoghurt – stewed pears are a great source of slow release carbohydrates and are also high in fibre
2. Tumeric and garlic taste great in mild curries, soups, casseroles and burrito mince – garlic has antibacterial properties that help grow healthy gut bacteria, especially when fighting off nasty colds and bugs.
3. Basil will add some green into your dishes and works perfectly in chicken meals such as chicken veggie stir fry
4. Ginger is also great in stir-fries, home made health bars or even just pickled on the side – ginger has an anti-nausea effect so great for calming and settling
You don’t have to stress too much about prep or storage if you cook this for dinner the night before and use a insulated container for day-care the next day, as this will keep meals fresh and delicious until lunch time. For families with young kids heading to day care, I’d recommend using Thermos Foogo Food Jar to pack the food safely, as it will keep hot food warm for up to 5 hours, and cold food cool for 7 hours.
3. Make treats a special occasion
Making cookies and other sweet treats as ‘special occasions’ rather than an afternoon snack will mean you’ll cut out a lot of unnecessary sugar intake. We cant forget that natural sugars are still great for you when it comes to fueling busy-bodies and keeping energy levels high. It’s all about keeping the added sugar levels down and moderation.
4. Substitute the lollies for healthy treats
Dried fruits are a great and nutritious alternative to lollies. Your kids will get the sweetness they crave, whilst also learning to opt for fruit when snacking – dried apricots are a great source of potassium and an easy-to-pack snack. Sometimes for dessert, I make my kids a “fruit whip” by blending up a mixture of frozen fruit – Mangos and strawberries are our household favourites!
5. Veggies aren’t just for dinner
The daily recommendation of 5 serves of veggies can’t be consumed in one sitting, this consumption needs to be staggered throughout the day – which is also a great habit to get your kids into from a young age. Blend up a juice with a 3 parts vegetable and 1 part fruit to up their veggie intake.
Here are a few I’d recommend:
1. Apple with cucumber
2. Watermelon with carrot
3. Strawberry with baby spinach + mint
4. Blueberry, lemon and beetroot
Why not also pack this as a mid-morning or afternoon snack? Store this in a vacuum insulated bottle like the Thermos Foogo Straw Bottle with a few ice cubs – this will stay chilled for up to 10 hours. Also, try to make veggies fun or different! I use spirals of zucchini, or chilled cucumber sticks cut with a pot of hummus.
The Carousel thanks Thermos Foogo expert Kate Di Prima, Infant Nutritionist and Dietician for this article. Photography by Chantelle Ellem.