How many times have you heard the words, “Don’t like this food. Yucky!” from a defiant toddler and wanted to hurl a melamine plate of fish against the wall in frustration?
You’ve probably spent an hour preparing a healthy dinner full of your toddler’s favourite foods. You’d pictured a scene involving baby-teeth smiles and “mmms” of approval. But unbeknownst to you, your child’s now decided their favourite food is the most disgusting substance in the world. They won’t even look at it, let along put it near their judgmental, tiny mouths! My sympathies.
In recent months I’ve developed a theory that my two-year-old son Tor has either destroyed some tastebuds or is becoming an adventurous eater. His current favourite foods include kalamata olives, dried seaweed and to my horror, occasionally our cat’s dry kibble!
In any case, when Tor actually does allow food to pass through his lips, I ensure it is organic. No matter how many studies argue the case of conventional versus organic, why wouldn’t I avoid giving my child food containing genetically-modified organisms, pesticides and hormones?
My all-organic lifestyle began three years ago when I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, a rare form of blood cancer, and discovered I was pregnant within the space of 48 hours. In order to proceed with the pregnancy, I had to delay chemotherapy drugs until after the birth which was very risky. I decided I’d no longer consume or use anything containing chemicals, and other nasties, to clean out and prepare my system.
Luckily, I’m now cancer free and feel an organic lifestyle has really contributed to my overall well-being. So much so, I’m also now an ambassador for Australian Organic, the industry’s leading industry body, as I want to inspire others to welcome organic products into their lives. I’m currently studying naturopathy and every day learn something new about the impact nutrition has on a growing child’s body and future health. If you’re interested in getting your child to eat organically, here are my top tips.
1) Start buying organic and scan the labels
Firstly, seek out organic fruit, vegetables and meat. With packaged products look for the Australian Organic certified Bud Logo on products to know you’re getting an authentically organic product. There are a lot of great “sometimes foods” for kids such as popcorn, chocolate and sauces (I like Jensens Organic Tomato Sauce), so I never feel my choices are limited or that I have to make everything from scratch. Does any mum have time for that?
2) Devise a breakfast routine
Mornings can be frantic, so I stick to the same rotation of foods. Scrambled eggs with pesto, and Red Tractor Organic Steel-Cut Oats with flax, chia seeds, coconut oil, Nutty Bruce Almond Milk, cacao, chai powder, sultanas or dates, are two of Tor’s favourites. I’ll also make Tor a green smoothie with cashews, frozen banana, coconut and flaxseed oil, probiotic powder, baby spinach and coconut or almond milk. If he’s got a sniffle, I’ll juice celery, carrot, orange and ginger. On special days I make banana pancakes (a recipe my healthy friend Briana concocted), which is half cup of soaked oats, an egg, mashed banana and almond meal.
3) Make lunch simple and easy
Eggs are great for a fast toddler lunch. I chop capsicum, zucchini, spinach, mushroom, tomato and onion and freeze it in small batches, and simply throw it straight into a frying pan with a couple of beaten eggs for an omelette. I also have Absolute Organic Baked Beans on hand which I’ll heat up with whatever green vegetables I’ve got.
4) Load up the veggies at dinner
My husband’s of Italian heritage, so pasta is a staple. I always have Pasta Emilia Ravioli in the freezer and throw it in a butter nutmeg sauce with peas, spinach and parmesan. It’s a 10-minute dinner bursting with flavour which right now is Tor’s favourite. He also loves my vegan mac and cheese, which includes Terra Madre Bio-Engivita Nutritional Yeast, pasta, almond milk, garlic powder, coconut oil, arrowroot powder (to thicken), peas and spinach. Other fail-safe options are baked salmon with tomato and sautéed vegetables, vegetable and lentil soup with garlic croutons or pita triangles, and chicken and vegetable brown rice risotto.
5) Have handy snacks ready
A piece of fruit, chunks of tasty cheese, some trail mix and Whole Kids Rice Wafers are Tor’s go-to snacks for days out, so I’m not caught out with a tired, hungry toddler.
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