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July 27, 2021
Nutritionist, best-selling author and mother Lee Holmes shares her tips on how to supercharge your child's diet.
After being a solo mum for many years, I know just how hard it can be to serve up nutritious foods that kids will actually eat, let alone enjoy. It took me several years to master this skilful art, but I know we don’t all have that time. If you want to create wholesome and nutrient-rich recipes that your kids will devour again and again, Supercharged Food for Kids is the book for you. With advice on how to establish and maintain healthy eating habits for life, this is a fun and fresh book for both parents and kids.
I understand that making healthy food for kids can seem like an arduous task, but there’s much more to celery snacks than meets the eye. One of the key reasons we need to be mindful of what our children eat is due to the microbial shifts that occur during early childhood. Scientific literature is indicating that the microbiome is linked to infant and childhood development and immunity. A vast number of variables influence the gut microbiome, including maternal weight status, whether or not the child is breast or bottle fed, dietary habits and antibiotic exposure (1). Avoiding antibiotics where possible, supporting microbial diversity through child-appropriate probiotics and having a well-balanced diet are the building blocks for a strong gut and immune system later in life.
When it comes to things that can disturb the gut microbiome, be aware of sugary foods. Foods high in refined sugar can feed bad gut bacteria and cause an overgrowth, reducing our beneficial bacteria. While it’s tempting to give in and allow your kids to eat all the junk, be mindful of their intake and try to put in a few boundaries around it.
One of the most important things to remember when looking at childhood health is microbiome diversity. We want our kids to receive a plethora of nutrients to optimise their gut microbiome to keep them robust and their gut immune system strong for childhood and into later life.
An easy way to do this is by including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes. While the aim is to include five vegetables a day and two pieces of fruit, these don’t need to be boringly boiled potatoes or sad and soggy brussel sprouts. It’s all well and good to make healthy recipes but, if your kids aren’t going to eat it, don’t waste your time.
So, how do we take this one head on?
If your kids are opposed to eating plain vegetables, try sneaking them into tasty recipes. I love including vegetables and fruits in baking to add flavour and texture, while including a gut-friendly hit of goodness. One recipe children don’t get sick of is my Bonkers Banana-cado Bread . I mean seriously, who can say no to banana bread? Nobody, absolutely nobody. You could also try these scrumptious Strawberry and Chia Roll Ups.
Another simple way to add in an extra portion of fruit and vegetables is to disguise them in smoothies. Sweet fruits like bananas, berries and mangoes always have a place in smoothies. For an added nutrient hit, try boiling and freezing cauliflower and zucchini to add a smooth texture to your smoothies, too. My Chocolate and Raspberry Smoothie Bowl is a Holmes Home favourite. It’s tasty, fun to eat and includes antioxidant-rich raspberries and cacao to provide an immune boost.
If your child dreams of pizza, cookies, and spaghetti Bolognese, swap it out with a healthier, but similar, option. Try my Ham and Cheese Pizza, Golden Gut Oatmeal Cookies and Zoodles. This way, kids can enjoy their favourite foods but not feel deprived of their cravings.
As I’m sure you’re aware by now, I love food. To me, there’s no greater gift than sharing my love of food and helping people harness their own healthy relationship with food. One of the best ways to show my appreciation for the people around me is by baking. It also connects me with my deeper purpose – to help nourish people, whether that’s on an emotional or literal sense. If your kids refuse to touch the freshly chopped celery you’ve cut them, get them involved in cooking. Cooking can be a fantastic shared activity that gives children a much deeper understanding and richer appreciation of food.
My favourite treats to make with kids are the ones that bring me back to my own childhood. Chocolate curly wurlys do just that to me. I remember sitting on the playground, breaking off individual squiggles with my friends. Whenever I break a piece off my chocolate curls nowadays, it exudes a child-like joy within me that I can’t explain.
My Chocolate Curly Wurlys from Supercharge Your Gut provide gut-friendly deliciousness in a nostalgic and extremely pleasurable form.
Chocolate Curly Wurlys
This gut-friendly treat offers so much flavour and chocolatey fun! It’s a great one to make and enjoy with kids.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Melt the cacao butter in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of boiling water, stirring constantly.
Stir in the cacao powder, vanilla powder, maca powder and rice malt syrup or raw honey (or the stevia) until combined. Set aside until thick enough to pipe.
Pour the mixture into a piping (icing) bag and pipe it onto the baking paper, in a squiggly pattern, forming fingers about 15 cm (6 inches) long, and leaving space in between. (Alternatively, use a skewer to drag the mixture across the paper to create a pattern.)
Top with the coconut and place in the fridge for about 1 hour to harden. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2–3 weeks.
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