Winter is just around the corner and in many a playground, you can already hear the sound of sniffles and coughs. So how can you minimise the impact of the lurgy?
Feed your young ones these delicious immune-boosting morsels, suggests food scientist and nutritionist Mandy dos Santos, who is also a mother of two and the Cenovis Home Economist. Add these tasty flu-fighters to your shopping list now…
Cloudy with a chance of MEATBALLS!
Meatballs, soccer balls, flying saucers… however you define these iron-packed power foods, they’re a hit with both health benefits and fun factor. “Red meat is an efficient source of iron and vitamin B12, two important micronutrients which are crucial for maintaining our red blood cell formation and immune defence,” explains Mandy. “A piece of steak can be quite tough for little munchers, whereas meatballs are an easier option to digest and a great snack or meal for finger feeders. Pack them with grated veggies for extra nutritional goodness.”
One POTATO, two potatoes, three potatoes four…
This unsung vegie hero should be called Super Spud. According to Mandy, while many people think potatoes are boring, it’s actually a budget friendly, versatile kitchen staple that’s the perfect vegetable addition to your little ones diet, especially in the lead up to winter. “It is a fabulous source of vitamin C, which is great for our health and works in tandem with our meatball loving iron friends by promoting iron absorption in the body,” explains Mandy. “A quick and easy healthy dinner idea is a baked potato with some delicious Mexican inspired toppings, like avocado, cheese, kidney beans and Greek yoghurt.”
Once I caught a FISH alive…
“Fish is a brilliant source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc,” explains Mandy. “Deficiencies in zinc can lead to an increased susceptibility to infection. But how do you know what, exactly, has gone into those boxed up fish fingers in the frozen aisle… “Supermarket fish fingers can be difficult to navigate at times, so why not make your own healthy version,” suggests Mandy. “Lightly batter or bread your own bite sized fish pieces at home so the kids can get the benefit of not only the mineral zinc, but also the protein and fatty acids.”
Go yo-yo for YOGHURT
Lest we not forget our superhero dairy friends… “Probiotics are very much in vogue at the moment, and for good reason,” explains Mandy. “They are incredibly beneficial for maintaining a positive balance of good bacteria in our gut, thanks to key ingredients such a lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis. This is important with our little ones, especially if they have been on antibiotics or suffered from diarrhoea.”
Yoghurt may be less trendy, but it’s a completely acceptable carrier of probiotics and a food that children love. “Choose plain, natural or Greek yoghurts, which have not been artificially sweetened,” suggests Mandy. “Add your own fruit with a trickle of honey so you are in control of how much sugar is added. You can also opt for a probiotic supplement free from artificial colours and flavours, which are palatable for children.”
Mama mia, it’s CHIA seeds!
“Chia seeds are a terrific source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids, two nutrients which are essential for protection, rebuilding of cells and reducing inflammation,” explains Mandy. “Protein in particular is crucial for antibody development, which protects us from disease.”
Try chia puddings for a delicious and nutritious snack or dessert option. “Sweeten with fruit, juice or blended banana and even throw in a little cocoa for a hint of chocolate appeal,” suggests Mandy. “If your child likes jelly, they will love these!”
Mandy dos Santos is a fully qualified food scientist and nutritionist and a busy mum, passionate about providing Australian families with the tools they need to make food and nutrition fun and take the headache out of mealtimes. In her new role as the Cenovis Home Economist, she will be sharing tried and tested advice on a range of topics – from nutritious meal-planning and creative recipe ideas through to time-saving kitchen tips and home budgeting ideas. Mandy is committed to offering simple, honest and practical solutions to nutrition and also works with the NSW Health Department as a Nutrition Leader for their Go 4 Fun/MEND program, helping primary school children and their families develop a healthier lifestyle. Through Little People Nutrition, Mandy consults with childcare centres on nutritionally balanced menus, runs cooking classes for pre-schoolers, and holds workshops on various nutritional topics.