Friday, 30 December 2016

EASY, DELICIOUS 5 MINUTE LUNCH FOR KIDS

Easy peasey
This is the easiest summertime lunch for a child of any age. Delicious, nutritious and a sure winner on taste, visual colour and texture. Did you know that the act of chewing helps our brains grow? And in adults,  the act of chewing releases hormones that calm us and make us feel good. So NO VITAMISING YOUR FOOD, PEOPLE!

What do you need?
On my kidlet's plate below you will see small samples of three types of cheeses - Jarlsberg, cheddar and Bocconcini. Also, green grapes, kiwi fruit, carrot sticks and nectarine. YUM! Make your own variations.

Important tips
  • It takes 15 times for a child's palate to get used to new foods, so persist! Don't give into the 'I want a biscuit/MacDonald's/ice cream/toast' whining. 
  • Provide what is nutritious, looks fabulous and tastes great. With no alternative. Eat this or nothing, is my policy. And it works. 
  • Some of this selection could be included in the school lunchbox. 
  • Make the preparation of food part of the fun for your child, teaching them the value of fresh fruit and vegetables as a natural part of the diet. 
  • Each meal, the plate should be 1/4 protein, (dairy, meat, fish, vegetarian soy meats etc), 1/4 grains (bread, rice, pasta etc) and 1/2 fruits or vegetables. Did you get that? ONE HALF of the plate should be fruits and/or vegetables. Our bodies are designed to eat mostly vegetation, not mostly meat. 
  • Enjoy shopping for fabulous fruit and vegies together
  • Enjoy preparing meals, looking through cookbooks together as part of learning and also bonding. We love it.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Good Food for Our Kids - It shouldn't be this hard!

me on a writing retreat near Canberra with Danny the dog
BUSY BUSY BUSY!
So, I teach in a learning centre, (when I'm not writing and visiting schools as an author) and I see lots of different types of people coming through the doors. I see  caring parents interested and invested in their child's academic progress, which is why they are prepared to spend money on getting extra assistance for their children. They're nice people. They're also very busy people.

As a working mum myself I know how hard it can be. I reach a small panic late in the afternoon - 'what they heck shall I cook for dinner?' I also wrestle with what to put in my daughter's lunchbox every day. I also wrangle the husband to make good choices about food and serve correct portion size, (why do men seem to think a little girl eats the same amount as themselves?) on the nights when I'm working.
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The point of this blog post
A while ago I started taking photos of the meals my daughter and I prepared and today I thought, why not share what we've learned?

When I see kids sitting staring at screens, with chubby little legs and arms, a double chin and a glazed look in their eyes I feel sorry for them. They are not getting the right food! So if this can help a few kids by helping their mums and dads make better choices, I will be extremely pleased!

We are not perfect. I certainly am not. Some of my suggestions you'll think - "Whaaat? No, that won't work for me." But hey, that's fine. It's about sharing the ideas and getting you to think differently. It's about making informed choices, wherever you can, noticing what you're putting in the trolley, putting in the cupboard, putting on the plate, putting into the lunchbox. Change happens slowly. The last thing we need is more pressure!
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So I encourage you, come with me on this journey. We will have fun, we'll feel better about ourselves as parents and most importantly, we'll have happier, healthier kids. There will be pages to the right of your screen with suggestions and I welcome your input too. yummy ideas ought to be shared!

Let's go!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

ACTIVITY - Get your kid moving!

Why do we need to move?
There's so many screens now, competing for our child's attention, with x-box, TV, DVD, Cinema, Wii, ipads, phones... Phew! think of all the hours wasted staring at these things! And none of it helps our  mental or physical state. NONE of it, no matter what the manufacturer tells you about their 'wonderful' product that reproduces reality so faithfully. Blargh!

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Our bodies are designed to move. Every part of the skeleton has at least one function, for instance, your ribs expand as your lungs inflate with air. They also protect your lungs, heart and stomach from impact. We tend to take our bodies for granted. Until something terrible happens to them.

Movement is a stimulus for the body. Hormones of all different kinds are released when we move. These hormones help the body regulate itself, from how it uses energy, to improving our mood. Just stepping outside, under trees and taking a deep breath has a magical effect.
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Movement stimulates our body to heal itself, too. Nowdays, within hours of knee replacement surgery patients are up and walking about, using that new knee! Seems cruel, but doctors and researchers have discovered that the body's immune system is stimulated by movement. Exercise increases the flow of secretions which improve digestion.

So how does this help kids?
Kid's bodies are constantly changing and growing, learning and adapting to their environment. Its an inbuilt response nature has given us in order to survive. its something we are born to do. It stimulates our mind too. That's why climbing trees, running, cycling, skating, kicking a football, dancing etc make kids laugh. They enjoy it, whether its a team sport or by themselves. The thrill of moving their limbs in the space around them, negotiating speed, accurate timing, hand-eye coordination, breathing. There's a lot going on. And it makes kids feel good.

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Studies show that depression can be improved with exercise. Anxiety can be reduced. Friendships improved. Coordination improved. School work is positively affected. There is no downside really! It's about finding the right activity for your child.

Persist
Changing bad habits isn't easy. Getting your kid away from the telly might provoke some argument, but be firm. This is what parenting is about. Too many people use the TV as a babysitter. You might need to get outside and kick a ball around too. Is that such a bad thing? Here are some simple suggestions that don't cost money:
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  1. Walk around the block. Even if you live in an urban area, you can do this.
  2. Find a nearby park. Walk there if possible. Take something to do, whether its ball, frisbee or notepad and pencil for jotting down plants and animals you see.
  3. Walk to the local library. Make it a weekly outing you both enjoy. Sit and read the paper or choose a DVD to watch at night while your child browses the shelves.
  4. Kick a ball in the backyard together.
  5. Tree climbing. The confidence this activity gives a child is quite miraculous. It can include use of ropes for safety and fun.
  6. Yoga stretches on the balcony if you don't have a garden.
  7. Park the car further from school and walk there and back when you do the drop-off and pick-up.
  8. See if there is a nearby bus stop your child can walk to to take the bus to school.
  9. Join a local team sport.
  10. ride your bicycles together 
  11. gardening together - plant a vegie patch, digging over the soil, adding mulch, planting herbs and vegies etc.
  12.  A community garden. If there isn't one, start one!
Other activities include:
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  1. backyard trampoline. Invite friends over for afternoon play
  2. bicycle, skate board, scooter park
  3. swimming
  4. karate or other martial arts
  5. soccer/football/basketball/baseball team
  6. Cub scouts club
  7. cricket/horse riding
  8. dress-ups
I'm sure you could think of your own ideas. The main thing is to improve activity. Good luck!