Mother & Daughter cooking, Renee Naturally
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Kids in the Kitchen: Part Two

So you get your children involved and excited about cooking, but what are you cooking? These early kitchen experiences are what will shape your child’s understanding of nutrition and their life-long eating habits.  We need to be practicing what we preach and showing our children what healthy eating is, by doing it ourselves.

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Eating healthy definitely does take more time and planning, which can be a big constraint for some. But think of it this way, the time you put into healthy eating is added to your own life span as well as your children’s. That home-made hummus, pizza base, BBQ sauce or Mac N Cheese is still going to be a yummy ‘treat’ but by making it from scratch, it will significantly reduce the amount of sugar, salt, trans fats and artificial ingredients which are the four ‘bad boys’ we want to focus on avoiding when feeding our kiddies.

‘The Bad Boys’

Salt -  adds flavor and makes foods finger lickin’ good . But the simple truth is that high salt intake is associated with higher blood pressure and other health complaints. It is a compound of two elements – sodium and chloride and a healthy diet should have sodium present but Western diets tend to really overdo the salt content in foods.

Sugar - children love sugar and they will undoubtedly get their hands on some form of sweet so rather than ban this boy all together, let’s understand him. With so many different forms of sugar available and added to so many foods, keeping a close eye on your child’s sugar intake is vital! White sugar (actually, it’s bleached), brown sugar, ‘raw’ sugar, honey, maple syrup, Agave nectars, brown rice syrup and Stevia, are all available to us so choose wisely and use the healthier forms when required.

Trans Fats - children need to be taking in certain fats to help them develop and grow but trans fats variety are what you want to avoid.  Trans fats are used to extend the shelf or product life of processed foods and whenever you see ‘hydrogenated oil’ on the ingredients list you know you’re working with a high trans fat product.

Artificial Ingredients In short, this is a man-made ingredient such as artificial flavor, food colouring, preservatives, or sugar substitute. I struggle to believe that anyone could need an explanation as to why these aren’t necessary in our diets but my thought process is like this – would you feed your child a pureed piece of their plastic ball? Plastic is a man-made item not presently found in our food pyramid so why not add it? Because it’s not natural and not needed, just like artificial ingredients.

So you avoid the four bad boys for breakfast, lunch, & dinner – awesome job done! However, our little ones rely on us to provide them with snacks and treats both at home and on the go. Working with children and families across the US and NZ, I’ve found that there are some pantry staples in family kitchens. The four food ‘bad boys’ use their comrades below to invade our homes and make their way into our bellies!

‘The Accomplices’

These accomplices are so popular because they’re sweet and/or salty, making them addictive and scrumptious and they’re quick and easy. But our children will only consume them regularly or in excess if we make them available. It doesn’t take huge effort to swap from ready-made cheese & cracker packs to some cheese slices and natural rice crackers. And why not turn pizza night into a family event and a way to get your child into the kitchen? A pizza base is simple to make and adding your own toppings is a foolproof job that the child can do on his/her own.

Are you feeling inspired and want to try and avoid our ‘Bad Boys & Co.’? Try the Ten Steps to An Unprocessed Pantry and aim to significantly change your families diet for 1 week or 1 month and hopefully the results will justify making the change for a lifetime!

Live, love, eat… and do it with your kids! Xx


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