With the school year now in full swing, it’s tempting to reach for the easiest food option and stuff it in your child’s lunch box. But giving kids healthy food to eat will help them grow and develop correctly, says Pure Goodness writer Felicity Gatfield.
Good nutrition is an extremely important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet is essential for children to receive the vitamins and minerals needed for their growth and development. Most children go through a period of fussy eating and may only want to eat very plain food or sugary treats. However it is important to keep their nutrition on track by providing them with a good variety of food.
Between the ages of 5-12 children are rapidly growing and developing so it is essential that they are provided with enough calcium, iron and protein each day. Encouraging good eating habits early on can significantly benefit children later in life. Many children’s lunch boxes are full of high sugar, high fat and high salt foods, because they are either easy for parents to pack, or parents believe this is all their children will eat. Balance and nutrition is important. Offer your child a variety of foods and be creative. Use a cookie cutter to create shapes from fruit or vegetables; it will entice children into exploring these foods.
Some tips on helping reinforce healthy eating habits:
- Involve your children in the preparation of their food so they can learn and discover new ingredients
- Enjoy meals as a family
- Increase the variety of foods available to children
- Stock your home with healthy and nutritious options. If you buy nutritious food then that’s all you will eat, but if you keep sugary, packaged foods in the cupboard, chances are you’ll allow your children to eat them.
- I believe everything can be eaten in moderation. If my children go to a birthday party, I’m not going to stop them from eating sausage rolls, party pies or chips. A party is 2 hours of their life. These type of foods are then considered a “treat” i.e. something they don’t usually consume. I want my children to be educated on healthy options. I don’t want them to be obsessed with body weight or body image, but I want them to have an understanding of what is in foods, and why that lovely box of Oreo biscuits on the supermarket shelf isn’t suitable to have for lunch.
It’s the start of a new school year, so start fresh and let your children try new foods for school, starting with my recipe below:
Crunch Muesli Bar Balls
These balls are perfect for school lunch boxes. They provide your child with a healthy source of essential fatty acids along with fibre and protein, keeping little tummies full for longer. The muesli adds a nice texture and crunch, whilst providing the right amount of natural sweetness.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Makes: 15 balls
Nutritional count: protein (2.6g) carbohydrate (11.8g) total fat (10.3g) calories (150)
- 8 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 cup desiccated coconut plus 1/2 cup for rolling
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon brown rice malt syrup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cacao
- 1/2 cup nut free muesli (plain not roasted)
- 1/4 cup goji berries (optional)
- In a blender, process dates, coconut, sunflower seeds, cacao and chia seeds. Process until well combined.
- Add the coconut oil and brown rice malt syrup and process until the mixture looks sticky and firm to roll
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl and add the muesli and goji berries (optional). Mix until well combined and the muesli has been evenly distributed
- Roll the mixture into balls and then into coconut if desired
- Store the muesli balls in an airtight container in the fridge until firm
Felicity from Pure Goodness will be launching a new lunchbox ebook with 20 recipes perfect for school lunches. The recipes contain hidden vegetables and fruits, without making them seem too ‘healthy’ to children. There are recipes for healthier versions of Tiny Teddies, Roll-Ups, muesli bars, and many other packaged foods, but without the added sugar and preservatives. ‘Like’ the Pure Goodness for Kids Facebook page or subscribe to the newsletter to find out when the book will be available.
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