HOW TO PREPARE HEALTHY SNACKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Snacking for children

A woman wields the  greatest  power over her household as she determines what gets eaten in her house ,she determines how healthy her family will be and most of us forget the power we have.You solely can  set the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives and well into adulthood.

As a woman many times I have found myself  asking this very simple question- ” why am I  here?” .

I don’t know if many others struggle with the same question ?This   feeling  that even though I may be doing very well in my career,business,relationships….I am not yet quite there.

It feels like we are in some kind of waiting room,you know like the one at the docotrs where you have to wait out your turn?

Hospital waiting rooms and waiting rooms of any kind are interesting places to get to see what people do when they have nothing to do but wait their turn.

Some are busy on their phones,reading newspapers ,magazine or a book or just people watching.

When you have children and have to take your children to the paedetrician,it is a great time to meet other mother,fathers as well though they are pretty rare.As a nutritionist it is also a time to see the kind of snacks children carry with them.Snacks are a great way to keep children  busy,their  very short attentions spans (15 minutes with my kids)means that they get bored pretty fast.They have very creative ways of keeping you busy as a parent with their trips to the dispenser pouring out cup after cup of water or making repeated trips to the bathroom to wash their hands.

Snack time is an opportunity parents can use to teach children to pick the healthy option rather than the one that looks tempting.Whether it is a hospital visit or packing snacks for school ,whatever snacks we put into their hands should more often than not be a choice that feeds their bodies and their taste buds as well.

Snack time is an opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements and growing children require more micro nutrients which are the vitamins and minerals than adults do.Giving them  a choice of fruits,nuts as well as vegetables is a healthy way of meeting their nutritional needs.

The trick to getting children eat more vegetables and fruits is to present it in a very attractive manner.

After the last post on the building blocks of your child’s nutrition some readers asked if I could give some ideas on healthy snacks they could give to their children .

Just before I share the suggestions I have  prepared I thought I should say some things to every woman who is doing her best to raise her children to eat better and have healthier habits.

A woman yields the  greatest  power over her household as she determine what get eaten and most do not  know it.You are the one that sets the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives.

A woman has the power to determine the kind of lifestyle her children,grand children and future great grand children will live.

A woman determines what ends up on the plates of her children,by the choice of the kind of foods she chooses to wean her child on, she is developing her child’s taste buds for healthy food .

The reason why we are told to wean children on a variety of natural foods is to develop their taste for nature’s goodness and not food from little  jars or boxes that is filled with a lot of sugar,salt and other additives and preservatives.

As much as possible try and develop healthy eating habits in your children as early as you can.

And even when you may have missed the opportunity earlier on,as long as they live under your roof you still have the power to change the course of their eating habits.

Children who develop healthy eating habits from an early age have fewer incidences of disease and hospital visits.They are more likely to perform better in school as well as socially.

You may want to read a post I did on why you should be reading food labels as well.

The foods that are great and healthy alternatives are foods you can pick from your local kiosk or grocery shop and when it comes to fruits,the best choices are the fruits in season,these offer you a fresh as well as cheaper alternative than those that are out of season.

1.Fruits

Fruits are best eaten  whole not blended.

Blending a few fruits for juice may seem healthy on the surface but fruits contain fructose a sugar and drinking too much fruit juice means  children while enjoying nature’s goodness in a glass of juice are also taking in too much sugar.

2-3 fruits daily are enough to meet a child’s dietary requirements .

Instead of blending 2-3 fruits to make fruit juice have your children eat the fruit whole,if it is an orange,slice it and let them have the orange.If an apple let them crunch their teeth  through the skin of the apple or let them peel the banana .Peeling bananas is a good way to develop your child’s fine motor skills as well.

As we live in the tropics,Kenya is never out of fruits,we enjoy a wide variety of fruits all year round,be sure to have your child eat at least 2 in a day by packing them as a snack for school and having another as an after school snack.

3.Salads

Salads are a great way for getting your children to meet their dietary requirements for  vitamins and minerals .

Making salads is a fun and easy way to get children to eat more of their vegetables.

Better still is if you use your own dressing,forget the one you buy from the supermarket that is loaded with preservatives,sugar and salt.Home made salad dressing are easy and tasty.

Try making them with some olive oil,freshly squeezed lemon juice ,black pepper,pinch of salt ,honey and use that dressing to toss your grated cabbage and carrot,or lettuce tomatoes and carrots.

Salads can be served for dinner or over the weekend and are a great way to get kids involved in preparing healthy meals ,lessons that they will definitely carry with them through adult hood and when they bring up their own children as well.

4.Nuts and seeds

Before you start giving your children nuts and seeds,ensure they do not have any nut allergies.

Cashew nuts,macadamia nuts are   favorites with most children , we also have peanuts(some children have peanut allergies)  we also have almonds,hazel nuts that are not produced locally and cost more but are also healthy choices and are stocked in a variety of stores.

Before packing nuts and seeds as a snack for children ensure they are past the age of 4 years and can comfortably eat them in your presence as they are a choking hazard for younger children.

There are also nut butters available and these nut butters can be used on bread,on sandwiches as well and are healthier than margarine as well as most commercially produced fruit jams.

5.Dried fruits

Dried fruits like sultanas,dates  and raisins are also good but not too much though as sugar is used as a preservative to lengthen their shelf life.These you can mix in with your favourite nuts to create some variety or added to breads you make at home and to cakes as well.

Salads can be jazzed up with some nuts,dried fruits and seeds like sesame seeds as well.

6.Sandwiches

Everybody loves bread(at least I thought so until we started thinking gluten was evil)

You may want to read :WHY YOU MAY NOT REALLY BE ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN.

You can make sandwiches from left over chicken and add tomatoes and with a simple simple dressing of olive oil and lemon you will have  a really delicious sandwich.You can add some crunch to it by first grilling the bread,rubbing some garlic clove on it and what you will end up with your children will keep asking for every time you have left over chicken.

One of my favorites as well as my kids is placing a slice of bread on a plate and layering it with thinly sliced avocado pieces  ,slices of  tomatoes  and topping it with a slice of bread then slicing the bread  diagonally into 4 cute triangular pieces.

You can come up with as many sandwich varieties as you like depending on what your family likes and as long as it is a healthy.Make your sandwiches  irresistible  by cutting them into fancy shapes using cookie cutters,your children will love them.

The secret to  getting it right with  sandwiches is to buy sandwich bread which is denser in order to hold the filling(s )and pick a healthy filling as well.

Fillings for sandwiches can be anything from fruits like avocado,tomato  to salads like guacamole or left over roast beef,chicken,turkey or tuna.

6.Making your own fruit yoghurts

A lot of the fruit yoghurts available in the market have a lot of sugar in them,a great idea is to buy  plain yoghurt and it with a fruit of your choice and pack it for your child  which they can have  as a mid morning or after school snack when they come back home.

Fruits that will give you a really great flavor when blended with yoghurt are strawberries,bananas,avocado,blueberries and just  one fruit per serving of yoghurt at a time .

A few years back I bought a popsicle maker and would often make popsicles with fruit yoghurt. The kids loved it especially when the weather was hot.

You may want to read :BENEFITS OF YOGHURT

A great way to ensure you do not have to push your children to choose healthy snack options is to always have a fruit bowl in the house,make sure its filled with fruits like bananas,oranges,apples ,grapes and by keeping a jar of nuts and seeds as well so that when the hunger pangs strike then they know where they can refill from.

If this post helpful,we would love to hear from you.It is readers like Wambui and everyone else who sends in their questions that keep us writing.

We may not always get it right all the time but when we can get it right 75% of the time when we pick a fruit over a packet of crisps then we are doing the right thing.

See you in the comments section and thank you Wambui!

INTRODUCING YOUR BABY TO SOLIDS

Weaning is a really exciting time for both mother and baby.

After 6 months your baby’s nutritional needs cannot be adequately catered for with just breast milk or formula.

That is why a careful choice  of first foods is important

Your little bubba at 6 months is  ready to be introduced to solid foods….gradually.

Breast milk should still remain the main source of nourishment for your baby but she needs some extra nutrients which is why t is very important to make informed choices on what the best foods for weaning your baby are.

You will find a lot of   ready made baby food,ignore them.

Jar of ready to eat baby food
Jar of ready to eat baby food

Nature provides some of the best foods for baby,remember too that you are also setting the foundation for  future food choices.

Always follow the lead pattern of your child when it comes to introducing solids to your baby,introduce a  teaspoon or two of just one kind of food at a time.

Sauteing  or steaming your baby food are the best methods when it comes to preparing your baby’s food.

Here is a guide on foods that are perfect starter foods for your baby.

Cereals

When introducing cereals to a baby when introducing baby porridge always make sure it is of a thin consistency and should be mixed with your breast milk/formula as cereals do tend to be pretty bland.

Cooked green baby bananas not the matoke variety are also a very common and easily accessible first food for babies within the east African region.

Because they are low in calories ,once cooked puree them and add some breast milk till you have a thin consistency your baby can swallow.

With time you can mix your bananas with vegetables like pumpkin ,peas,carrots in order to increase their nutritional value.

There is no need to add any sweeteners to your baby’s cereal at this point.

 

Fruit

This should be added when baby is already used to solids,most babies take to fruits like fish to water.

Fruits like pawpaw,bananas which should be really ripe then mashed  with a  fork and some breast milk/formula added to thin it out,also do try avocado.

Stay away from citrus fruits till your baby is one year.

Other fruits like apples and pears  can be introduced after 8 months need to be steamed to make it easier for your baby digest them.

 

Vegetables

Peas,pumpkin,carrots and even sweet potatoes are a great source of nourishment for baby during the  first months.

Cook then then strain or blend making sure you add milk to ensure your baby is able to swallow them.

stay away from strong tasting vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli till a little later when your baby has formed a consistent eating pattern.

Watch the  stool pattern of your baby  when you start them on vegetables and in case of any loose bowel movements or mucus in their stool omit it and try again after a month.

For further assistance i  can be reached  here.

CHOCOLATE MILK POPSICLES

For the longest time i have wanted  to make popsicle for the kids and when i saw  this 4 piece mold at Nakumatt,i grabbed it  and i prayed there would be some sun soon so that i could try making some.

I waited six weeks , finally last Saturday i did get to make some.

How to get your kids to drink more milk...make popsicles1
How to get your kids to drink more milk…make popsicles1

Ingredients

250 ml chocolate milk(you can make hot chocolate,wait for it to cool then  use it)

Method

1.Fill the mold ,leave space of about a  centimeter from the top free to allow for expansion of the milk.

2.Freeze for 4-6 hours.

3.To remove the molds ,boil some water,dip the mold in hot water for 30 seconds,twists the  tops off,and remove from the mould.

4.Enjoy.

Try different flavors like strawberry and vanilla and roll the popsicles in shaved chocolate or toasted coconut for some extra kick.

PERFECTLY OVEN ROASTED POTATOES

*DRUM ROLLS*

A new oven and i decided to break it with roasting potatoes!

I love potatoes,my kids love potatoes in all forms,fried,roasted,mashed…

Here is a recipe that will make your tastebuds swoon without expanding your waist line.

I had run out of fresh garlic and i replaced it with garlic powder ,feel free to replace that with a clove or two of crushed or minced garlic.

Ingredients

1 kilo of medium sized irish potatoes,peeled,washed and quartered

2-3 tablespoons corn oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 pinches salt

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Roast potatoes are ready.....!
Roast potatoes are ready…..!

Method

1.Parboil your potatoes for 5-7 minutes,then drain

2. Pre- heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

3.Line your drained potatoes onto a roasting pan,make sure all potatoes touch the bottom of the pan.

4.Drizzle the oil on the potatoes,sprinkle the garlic powder and salt on to the potatoes and using clean hands rub the oil,garlic powder ,salt onto the potatoes.Making sure all the potatoes are coated.

5.Once your oven is ready pop your potatoes for 30 minutes,,with kitchen gloves on remove the pan from your oven and sprinkle the chopped rosemary leaves on the potatoes and pop back the pan into the oven for a further 20 minutes.

6.Serve hot with a vegetable salad or a meat dish of your choice.

AVOCADO CREAM SANDWICHES

Kenyans love their margarine and their bread,so much so some bread companies include a free    sachet of margarine when they package  their loaves.

But you do not have to have your bread with margarine,try butter or avocados for a really nutritious start  to your morning.

Ingredients

4 slices whole wheat bread

1/2 of a ripe avocado 

salt and pepper to taste

2 ripe tomatoes,sliced thinly into  rings

toasted sesame seeds(optional)

Tomato and avocado cream  sandwich
Tomato and avocado cream sandwich

Method

1.Using a teaspoon,scoop out the  the flesh of the avocado into a small bowl,add a pinch of salt ,  dash of ground black pepper and mash with a fork.

2.Take 4 slices of whole wheat  bread and reserving 2,spread the avocado

cream on two of the bread slices ,.

3.Arrange the tomato rings on top of the avocado cream and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top,then top with the 2

remaining bread slices. You will end up with 2 sandwiches.

4.Trim the crusts from the sandwiches and then cut diagonally.

Serve with preferred cold/hot beverage.

TURMERIC FLAVORED MASHED POTATOES

I love the earthy smell of turmeric and the fact that my star sign is Virgo may have something to do with it.

Virgos are said to be very health conscious and are known to have very refined palates,this may explain my obsession with preparing food well.

I love potatoes a lot and my kids seem to have taken after me,they eat potatoes in all their forms,fried,baked,roasted and they especially love mashed potatoes.

Yesterday i decided to indulge them with their favorite food but this time i would add some turmeric and it worked like a charm…they cleaned their plates.

You can read about turmeric benefits and why for me it defines Indian cuisine for me.

Hello food  delivers traditional Indian food that contains spices like turmeric ,try their amazing food and see why turmeric is such a definitive spice for this culinary style.

This recipe could be tried with baby potatoes ,just make sure you thoroughly clean them without bruising the skin and boil them as is,without peeling .

Ingredients

1 kilo of Irish potatoes,washed peeled.

1 small red onion,chopped.

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 cup frozen peas

salt and ground black pepper to taste.

METHOD

1.In a mediums sized saucepan add,1 and a half tablespoons of vegetable oil then add your chopped red onion and saute on low heat till soft.

2.Add the turmeric to the onions and stir,let cook for 2 minutes then add your  potatoes,stir the potatoes till they are coated in the oil,onions and turmeric.you get lovely looking turmeric kissed potatoes.

3.Add salt to taste and black pepper,stir ,let cook for a minute.

4.Add enough water to cover the potatoes then cover the saucepan with a lid ,bring to boil and let simmer for 15,add your frozen peas,then let boil for a further 5 minutes to cook the peas.The potatoes are ready when a fork easily passes through .

5.Remove from heat and drain the potatoes reserving a cup of the liquid.

6.Using the back of a wooden spoon mash your potatoes till smooth,then serve.

We had the mashed potatoes  with a beef stew that had blanched broccoli.

Buon appetito!

VEGETABLE SAUCE PASTA DISH

Do you know what goes really well with spaghetti especially if you are not a meat lover like i am…

It is cumber,carrots,red onions and lots of tomatoes.

My son loves this dish so much he almost always scraps his plate clean.

And it is a very very cheap dish too,no exotic ingredients in this dish.

Orange,green,red and pasta!!!
Orange,green,red and pasta!!!

Ingredients

1 medium sized red onion,chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic chopped finely/minced

1 medium sized zucchini sliced

2 carrots grated/chopped

2 tomatoes

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil/vegetable oil for frying

 200 grammes of spaghetti

Method

1.Boil a medium sized saucepan half filled with water,then add a tablespoon of salt once its starts boiling.Don’t worry you will not taste the salt.

2.Boil till al dente about 6-7 minutes.

3.Drain the pasta but retain a cup or so of the pasta water,you will add it later to the vegetables.

4.In the same saucepan add some olive oil.vegetable oil then add your chopped red onion and sauté till tender,.

5.Add the minced garlic,sauté for 0 seconds,then add your tomatoes,carrots fry for a minute or so till softened then add your tomato paste and salt and stir.

6.Add the cucumber slices and cover for a minute to let the steam tenderize them.

7..After a minute add a few tablespoons of the pasta water,enough to cover base of sauce pan,let simmer for a minute to thicken the sauce then add your drained paster and stir then cover for 30 seconds and remove from heat.

Add a splash of olive oil and toss then serve.

Bouon  appetito!

MY BETTER THAN A THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING

All you need for this dressing are these four things :

2013-02-19-1468

The salad dressing is great with your favourite vegetables or with pasta.
I had it with some blanched broccoli,grated carots,tomatoes,red onions and julienned cucmber slices…deliciously scrumptious is all i can say.

I prefer these recipe rather than go buy a bottle of ready made dressing because reading the labels of most commercial dressings,the ingredients are on a list as long as my arm.This allows me to enjoy my salad without all of the guilt of unhealthy ingredients i am  putting in my body as i saw that Kenya Orchards does try to keep their ingredients as simple as possible.
The only thing to note is the mayonnaise has eggs,for anyone with an egg allergy please do get an alternative.

Ingredients
4 level tablespoons mayonnaise
2 level tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 pinches of black pepper
freshly squeezed juice of 1 small lemon.

It should look like this...
It should look like this…

Method
In a small bowl add the above ingredients then thotoughly mix with a fork or spoon
Cover with cling film and let it rest in the refridgerator for flavours to mesh and develop.
A half hour before serving add your vegetables and toss then return to the fridge.
It can keep for a day.

OATS

Oats have been cultivated for about 2000 years which is pretty young in grain years.

They were  a weed beforethey were domesticated.

They became very popular in Scotland and Ireland  as a food before their use spread to the rest of the world,interestingly in England oats were given to …livestock!

I was looking up ideas to help with breastfeeding when someone mentioned oats boost breast milk production and i decided to do some more research on their health benefits, to humans ofcourse.

Oats are great for breastfeeding moms as they boost milk production but they are also an awesome cereal for anyone looking to eat and live a healthier  life.

Immediately I went and got myself a pack of quick cooking oats which you can find in any supermarket

Here are the ones i got.

The oats…..

Cooking oatmeal porridge is fairly easy  and the pack I got had a recipe on its side ,after  modifying it to make a small bowl of oatmeal porridge, Emma was one well fed baby.

Read  some more about  the  benefits of oats here.

 

Oatmeal porridge

Ingredients

5  heaped tablespoonsfuls  of oatmeal(1/3 of a cup)

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

some milk/cream

sugar/honey to taste

Method

1.In a small saucepan on medium high heat  bring the cup of water to boil then add the quarter teaspoon of salt.

2.Once the water comes to a  boil add the oats and stir then let simmer for 5 minutes  on medium low heat.

3.Remove from heat and cover for a further 5 minutes then add cream or milk  and honey/sugar to taste.

Alternatively slices of fruits like bananas,a tablespoon of some dried fruits would be great too.

Bon appetito!

.

CREAMY FRESH VEGETABLE STEW

One day I would love to have my own farm,have cows,a chicken coop,pigs the whole shebang with designer boots and sunglasses to match.

A beautiful cow with such amazing eyes…..from pinterest

I imagine myself rising up before cock-crow to make sure my cows which will all have cute names are getting milked as they listen to Mozart or Bach.I hear music calms them and makes them let down more milk…ahem..

Dreams…

For the longest time i have not seen a tub of cream on the supermarket shelf of the area i live in for some time,remember the milk crisis in Kenya ..?

Well it seems its over because all over sudden i ave seen sour cream,fresh cream even butter on the supermarket shelves and milk prices went down.

This definitely called for celebration and since i cannot pop champagne for now i bought myself fresh cream, whole 250 ml can,what can i do with it.

I made some creamy vegetable stew that we had with coconut rice and my kids loved it.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

500 grammes chopped mixed vegetables(green peas,french beans,carrots and sweet corn)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 medium-sized grated carrots

2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes

1 level tablespoon tomato paste

a dash of black pepper and salt to taste

2 tablespoons fresh cream.

Method.

I1.n a saucepan fry the onions till soft ,add the 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic let it fry on low heat for 30 seconds then add the  grated carrots and tomatoes fry for a minute,add tomato paste let cook for a minute then add the rest of the vegetables.

2.Add salt and black pepper to taste and cover the pan and leave to cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes.

3.Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan let cook for a further 3 minutes let it simmer,then add the 2 tablespoons of cream and stir continuously till it melts into the stew and there are no lumps left then turn off heat.

Great with some savoury or coconut rice or chapati.