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Tips on raising conscious kids in the kitchen

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb

When mealtime comes, kids can be tougher than any fancy food critic. Making food that is convenient to prepare, tastes good and is nutritious, is no easy task. As a family with kids ourselves, we understand the need to not only make mealtime entertaining, but also the importance of raising awareness around where our food comes from. Cooking is an excellent way for children to learn responsibility, understand healthy food choices and to make the connections about what is on their plate.  It also creates quality family time and treasured memories.

With this in mind, we have put together our top eight tips for making healthy, wholesome meals fun, simple, educational and inspiring for the whole family!

  1. Get everyone involved while learning new skills! From measuring the wet and dry ingredients, to stirring and whisking, there is a task for everyone! And don’t forget about the rinsing, scrubbing, chopping, dicing and even julienning! Get the really little ones to help clean the veggies while the slightly older kids can assist with measuring and handling the sharper equipment.
  2. Art class is now in session! There is so much more to cooking than just the final meal. Setting the table and plating the food in artful ways are some fun methods to get creative and expressive with food.
  3. Get a roster going. Get the whole family to take turns to make snacks and school lunches in the week or cook dinner on the weekends. From date balls to sandwiches, and from easy pizzas to burgers, there is a meal for everyone to take responsibility for. It’s a great way for everyone to learn about balanced eating and nutrition.
  4. Be the star of the show! Choose a colour like red or purple, or a veggie that you love, and create a meal around that! Start a conversation around that veggie: Why it is healthy to eat this plant? What are the different ways to prepare it? How does it grow and where did it come from (eg.: homegrown or from a farm nearby)? It’s a fun way to learn about the cycle of an ingredient’s life from seed to table as well as encouraging out-the-box thinking (try to think of all the creative ways to cook the veggie…the crazier and more hilarious, the better!).
  5. Talk about the gratitudes in your life. Be grateful for every meal you eat with your family and say it out loud. Showing appreciation for the nourishment the food is giving to your body, to the farmers who grew the various ingredients, for the transport that helped bring the food all the way to your plate, and for the people sitting around the table with you, develops a deeper connection and respect.
  6. Talk about where food comes from, animals included. Educating yourself and your family about the health benefits of fruits, veggies, starches, grains, plant proteins and fats are important. Talking about where animal products come from too may seem daunting, but it could help the rest of the family understand your point of view. Try to keep the emotions out of these discussions – be honest, logical and be prepared to answer many questions.
  7. Be ready for social gatherings. Be prepared for events like school outings, parties, camps and sleepovers; they often always include animal products. Pack some options like meat alternatives for your child the night before so that they don’t have to go hungry or feel left out, but also be flexible. In these environments, children will often explore and try new things that they wouldn’t normally do at home. As parents, all we can do is offer guidance and provide knowledge. Parenting can be tough; let your children make their own choices outside of the home.
  8. Honour the fact that everyone is on their own journey. We cannot enforce our own feelings on our children, other parents or their children! Listen to their point of view openly, be kind, and give your own thoughts in a non-confrontational way. Plant seeds. Do not judge.

Starting in the kitchen may seem a bit far-fetched when talking about consciousness but it is the one place in the home where many important topics all come together, such as socio-economic issues, health and nutrition, environmental challenges, the wonderful miracles and beauty of nature, and more in practical ways.

Of course, we all want the very best for our children. We instill morals and values in them, hoping they will turn out to be good, upstanding members of society. We want to feel proud of them, knowing we have done our job. However, our children are their own selves, acting out their life’s purpose and fulfilling their own destiny. Indeed, raising conscious children is an ongoing job; and it requires presence and remaining connected with them.

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Healthy eating for kids

Childhood obesity is becoming a global epidemic, and along with increasing rates of chronic diseases of lifestyle (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancers) during childhood, it is apparent that the state of our children’s health is in a dire situation.

In South Africa, 14.2% of primary school children are overweight or obese. At the current rate, it is predicted that a whopping 3.91 million school children in South Africa will be overweight or obese by the year 2025.  In addition, conditions such as early-onset diabetes and high blood pressure are also on the rise. We know that these conditions are related to lifestyle choices (diet, exercise and stress) and as a result, we are forced to examine how our food choices could be affecting our children’s health. In addition to these chronic lifestyle-related conditions, we are also seeing an increase in a range of other childhood diseases, from autism, ADHD and anxiety to constipation, allergies, asthma and auto-immune diseases. It may not seem obvious, but these diseases are also related to dietary and lifestyle factors. So what is the cause of this rapid decline in the health status of our children?

Our Busy Lifestyles Lead to Unhealthy Food Choices

As modern life becomes more demanding, most parents are forced to not only care for their children and look after domestic duties, but to also work full-time and spend many hours commuting on a daily basis. This leaves little time for food preparation, with most families relying on convenience options such as takeaways, ready-made meals and quick supermarket snacks. Unfortunately, most of these convenience options are packed with added sugars, salt, preservatives, trans-fats and a number of other processed ingredients which have a detrimental impact on growing bodies and developing brains. Even the most well-meaning and health-conscious parents are often forced to compromise on health due to the basic lack of nutritious and healthy convenience options on supermarket shelves as well as the lack of time available to them to prepare healthier options from scratch. Even snacks and convenience options that may appear to be healthy often have unhealthy additives, hidden sugars and preservatives which can increase the risk for health-related conditions during childhood.

For example, in 2015 the World Health Organization added processed meat to a growing list of recognized carcinogens, meaning that it has been out-rightly proven that processed meat causes cancer. In addition, red meat was added as a probable cause of cancer. So what does this mean? To be direct seemingly healthy childhood favourites such as biltong, salami, viennas, lunch meats and polony have all been linked to increased risk for cancer and even unprocessed red meats like mince and steak could well be a cause of cancer.

Why Choose to Eat Plant-Based?

This is one of the many reasons I promote a plant-based diet for children. Not only are plant-protein options free of the harmful carcinogens, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, cholesterol and hormones that are often found in meat and dairy but they are also full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants which help to fight disease and keep children healthy. Studies have found that children who eat a plant-based diet grow to the same height as meat-eating children but have less risk of becoming overweight or obese and tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. Children who maintain a healthy weight during childhood are less likely to become overweight or obese during adulthood and healthy eating habits that are set during childhood are often maintained throughout life which means that eating a plant-based diet early in life can establish lifelong healthy habits.

Making sure that the house is stocked up with healthy snacks is one way to ensure that children are not only getting in enough energy, but also getting in enough nutrients and protein for optimal growth and development.

Children need to eat about 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which means that all meals and snacks should contain a small amount of fruits or veg. In addition, children need to eat lots of good quality protein, wholesome carbohydrates and healthy fats in order to have enough energy for both their busy days and for growth. Since plant-protein options are my preferred choice of protein, I always encourage parents to make sure that there is a good source of plant protein at every meal. Foods such as legumes, natural soya products, peanut butter, quinoa, and nuts and seeds are all high in good quality plant proteins. The Fry’s Crafted Range makes for a great nutritious meat alternative that is packed with good quality natural plant protein ingredients such as non-GMO soya protein, chia seeds, rice protein, quinoa and chickpeas. In addition, the Crafted Range products are a source of healthy omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids from ingredients such as chia seeds, flax oil and sunflower seed oil. Not only are these products super nutritious and free of harmful ingredients, but they are one of the few convenience options available on supermarket shelves for busy parents.

Here are my top tips for making healthy, nutritious meals for the whole family without needing to spend hours in the kitchen:

  1. Make use of healthy and nutritious convenience products. Healthy and nutritious ready-made snacks may be few in number but you can take advantage of the great products that are readily available on our supermarket shelves. Natural dairy-free yoghurts, pre-cut veg sticks, commercial hummus, plain popcorn, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, whole-grain crackers, Fry’s Kasha, pretzels and Fry’s Crafted Range Chickpea and Butternut Balls and Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels all make for quick healthy snack options.
  2. Make one-pot meals. Yes, a variety of food groups are needed at each meal to make a healthy balanced meal, but that doesn’t mean that meals need to be made up of a number of different dishes in order to make them balance. In fact, putting all your different food groups into one dish can help to reduce preparation time and reduce wastage as well as making certain food groups, such as vegetables, more acceptable for picky eaters. So, why not try a hearty pasta, risotto, shepherd’s pie or veggie bake as your next family meal?
  3. Minimize chopping and cutting. Most of the time that goes into healthy meal preparation is not necessarily spent cooking but in preparing vegetables and other ingredients for cooking. This process is known as pre-preparation. Minimize pre-preparation time by investing in a good electric chopper, buying pre-cut vegetables, soup packs and stir fry mixes or by pre-preparing your vegetables in bulk ahead of time. You may spend a little bit extra on things like pre-cut veggies but the investment in your families’ health and the time you save will be totally worth it.
  4. Prepare. As they say, “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” and preparing some of your food in advance for the week is a sure way to save time during the week and ensure a healthy diet for you and your family. From planning family dinners, to pre-cutting veggies, or even batch cooking and freezing meals in advance, every bit of preparation you embark on will save you time in the future. Don’t forget to also stock up on healthy snacks such as veggie sticks, cut up fruit, hummus, whole-grain crackers and popcorn for when those munchies hit.
  5. Get the kids involved. Getting kids involved in cooking and meal preparation can seem to be more work than benefit, especially when you’re having a busy week but empowering your kids to make their own snacks and lunch boxes and take a turn or two to cook dinner, will teach them about good nutrition and pay off in the long run.
  6. Simplify lunch boxes. Don’t get bogged down with complicated lunch box ideas. Get a lunch box with various compartments and fill each compartment with different fruits, veg, protein options and crackers. This will save you the time of having to make sandwiches and salads and the variety of fruits and vegetables will keep your kids interested.
  7. Variety. Variety is truly the spice of life and when it comes to kids, nothing keeps them interested in food like variety. But this doesn’t have to mean a lot of work or time on your behalf. You can use the same basic ingredients in 3 or 4 different ways without kids feeling bored or noticing that they’re eating the same foods over and over. For example, one could use the Fry’s Crafted Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels as a pita bread filling, as a finger food on a snack plate or as meatless balls in a pasta.

The Super Plate

The Super Food Plate was developed to help parents to understand the nutritional needs of their children and to plan balanced meals.

Super Meal Plate for Kids

Explaining the Food Plate

Fruits and Veg: 5-7 servings per day (about 1/3 of the plate). Includes all fresh vegetables and fruits e.g. apple, banana, berries, pineapple, watermelon, dried fruit, salad, tomatoes, spinach, kale, cucumber, corn, baby marrows, mushrooms, etc.

Grains and Starches: 7 servings per day (about 1/3 of the plate) Includes all whole-grain products and starchy vegetables e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats, cornmeal, potato, sweet potato, butternut, barley, whole-wheat bread/ crackers, etc.

Proteins: 2-3 servings per day Includes all legumes and soya products as well as nuts and seeds e.g. Fry’s products, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, beans, chia seeds, peanut butter, etc.

Fats: 3-4 servings per day. Includes all oils and added fats e.g. avocado, tahini, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, olive oil, sunflower oil, flax oil, etc.

Outside of the plate: 3 servings per day of non-dairy milk/ milk products. Includes all plant milks/ milk products but preferably soya milk e.g. soya milk, almond milk, soya yoghurt, etc.

Here are some healthy meal ideas, making use of the Food Plate, without having to spend hours in the kitchen:

BREAKFAST

Kasha berry smoothie

Ingredients: frozen berries, banana, Vanilla & Chia Kasha, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

Chocolate protein flapjacks

Ingredients: whole-grain flour, Cacao Kasha, ground flax, mashed banana, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

Peanut butter oatmeal

Ingredients: oatmeal, soya milk, peanut butter, cinnamon, banana, strawberries

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

MID-MORNING SNACK

Veg sticks, whole-grain crackers and hummus

Ingredients: veg of choice (baby tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, sugar snap peas) + hummus

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Chickpea and Roasted Butternut Balls with peanut dipping sauce

Ingredients: Crafted Range Chickpea and Roasted Butternut Balls + peanut sauce (peanut butter, maple syrup, water)

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Banana chia muffins

Ingredients: oat flour, banana, chia seeds, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

LUNCH

Rice Protein and Chia Nuggets with baked sweet potato batons and pink beet hummus

Ingredients: Crafted Rice Protein and Chia Nuggets, sweet potato, hummus, beetroot

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Country Roast sandwich

Ingredients: Crafted Range Soy and Quinoa Country Roast thinly sliced, whole-grain bread, mustard, lettuce, tomato, cucumber

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Falafel in pita bread

Ingredients: whole-wheat mini pita breads filled with Crafted Range Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels, hummus, dairy-free yoghurt and chopped salad

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

LATE AFTERNOON SNACK

Fresh fruit and soya yoghurt

Ingredients: fresh seasonal fruit, soya yoghurt

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Protein

√ Milk

Snack plate

Ingredients: Crafted Range Chickpea and Butternut Balls, seed crackers, guacamole, olives, cherry tomatoes, popcorn

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Chia seed pudding

Ingredients: chia seeds, cinnamon, soya milk, fresh chopped pineapple, coconut

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

SUPPER

Lentil cottage pie

Ingredients: lentils, stock, carrot, celery, onion, spices, potato mash, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Meat-free meatball pasta

Ingredients: whole-grain pasta, Crafted Range Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels, roasted tomato and pepper pasta sauce, mushrooms, spinach dairy-free basil pesto

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Butternut risotto

Ingredients: short-grain brown rice, soya milk, stock, butternut, carrots, onion, nutritional yeast, Crafted Range Chickpea and Butternut Balls. Optional: dairy-free cheese

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Ensuring that your children have the best start in life has been made easy and convenient thanks to Fry’s Crafted Range of natural plant-protein products. With just a little bit of planning, preparation, and the use of a few healthy convenience options such as those found in the Crafted Range, a nutritious plant-based diet is within reach for the whole family. This type of diet will not only allow for healthy living in a time-limited modern world but will also prevent many of the chronic debilitating conditions affecting today’s children and allow your children to develop to their full potential.

For more information on the Green Dietician head here: https://thegreendietitian.co.za/

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Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicathegreendietitian/

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Packed with plant power

Earlier-than-usual wake-ups, rushed mornings, AM traffic… Moms and Dads, it is that time of year again: It’s back to school. But before you rush out of the door with a measly peanut butter sandwich and a bruised banana trailing behind a flurry of bouncing ponytails and half-done school ties, we have got just what you and your child need in preparation for healthy and tasty meat-free lunchbox meals. If your child is already plant-based or is transitioning, there are many ways to make plants nutritious, as well as fun and exciting for even the pickiest of eaters.

Once viewed as nutritionally inadequate and even harmful, a plant-based diet is becoming more accepted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), doctors and dietitians around the world as healthful, affordable and sustainable. Indeed, a plant-based diet is suitable for individuals across all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence and for athletes, according to the largest group of nutritionists in the U.S, the American Dietetic Association. A well-planned and balanced plant-based diet can provide many health benefits in the prevention and treatment of a multitude of diseases including diabetes, some cancers and heart disease.

So what’s the secret to preparing balanced meat-free meals all year round? If the lunch box comes back with half-eaten greens and sandwiches, and you find yourself settling once again back into the old lunch-making routine, there is no need to fret. We have a few tips for you and a number of meat-free meals that are easy to make, for all ages.

plant power
Sure, we love our PB&J sammies but there are many other options out there that are just as simple. With a little bit of imagination, it is easy to pack a lunch that your children will gladly devour.

We begin with the power of C². Fill your kid’s lunchbox with a variety of colour and crunch. Strips of red, yellow and green bell peppers make great rainbow food while bite-sized pieces of Fry’s Vegetarian Pops or Fry’s Polony Slicing Sausage with grilled veggies on a kebab stick gives texture and adds interest. View your child’s lunchbox as a mixed media art piece filled with all kinds of colours, textures and shapes. Likewise, allow your children to have fun creating their own food art. In separate containers filled with fresh and dried fruits, nuts and cereal, encourage them to design “pictures” on their non-dairy yoghurts!

Dips and sauces are your draw cards when offering raw vegetables. When packing carrots, cucumber and celery sticks, add a small container filled with hummus, nut butter, or B-Well Tangy Mayo. Adding some whole-wheat pita bread, crackers, or rice cakes can jazz up the standard bread fare.

We know kids can regard fruit as boring, but there are definitely some tricks you can pull to ensure fruit seems more appealing. My mother always said, “It’s not a fruit salad unless there are ten or more fruits in the bowl!” While am I certainly not saying you need to start buying every fruit on the shelf, having a variety certainly spices things up. Small chunks of fruit, such as strawberries, grapes, pineapple or melon, served on a skewer, are almost always eaten. Bananas and apple slices are also more likely to be eaten when accompanied with some peanut butter.

If it’s too much effort to eat, it probably won’t be eaten. A little bit of prep work goes a long way in making almost all food more kid-friendly. Peel oranges, deseed peaches or cut kiwis in half so that the flesh can be easily scooped out with a funky spoon.

plant power
Who said that too many cooks spoil the broth? By actively involving your kids in choosing and preparing their school lunches, they are given a sense of responsibility in what they eat, an understanding of where their food comes from, and how food impacts their health, the planet and other beings. And as they grow up, give them more of a say in what goes into their lunchbox.

Additionally, peer pressure can also be the make-or-break in your child’s decision to toss or trade in his or her lunch. Ask them what meals their best friends bring to school and find the plant-based alternative. Consider making a twister-style wrap, veg-filled hot dog sandwich, or a chicken-style mayo sammie.

plant power
An appropriately planned plant-based diet is nutritionally adequate, healthy and satisfying. Children raised on, or who are transitioning towards a plant-based diet are at an advantage: they are at a much lower risk for a variety of health issues that will affect many of their meat-eating school friends as they grow up. An increased consumption of fruit and vegetables and a diet naturally lower in saturated fats ensures plant-based children reduce their risk of weight-related illnesses and are able to maintain a healthy body weight.

So what types of food should we focus on? Firstly, it is important to remember that children require more calories during times of growth or when physically exerting themselves. Due to the fact that plant-based diets are high in fibre, they may feel full before they have actually consumed enough calories. Be sure to include foods that are both nutritionally dense and rich in calories such as trail mixes, dried fruit or rice cakes with nut butter.

A well-balanced plant-based diet, that is filled with brain-busting foods, help with concentration during school and with the retention of homework. But our brains are picky eaters, requiring glucose throughout the day, so be sure to include whole grains, beans and legumes, fruit and vegetables so that neurons are supplied with the energy they need. Additionally, because our brains are made up of 60% fat, chia and flax seeds, nuts, beans, avocado and coconut – rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids – should be consumed daily so that your child feels happy, focused and calm.

Protein on a plant-based diet should not be a concern. If your child is getting enough variety throughout the day, he or she will obtain the eight essential amino acids that facilitate bone and muscle growth, ensuring top performance on the track and field, in the pool, or on stage. Beans, grains, cereals, nuts, seeds, meat alternatives and soy products, such as Fry’s Meat Free Mince are just some of the foods that are rich sources of protein.

Iron requirements for children and teenagers are high, and by eating a varied diet, a young vegan can easily meet his or her iron needs. Foods rich in iron include broccoli, spinach, blackstrap molasses, beans and dried fruit. To ensure that the body effectively absorbs iron, include foods that are high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers and tomatoes.

Bone density is determined during the teen years and young adulthood, so getting in good sources of calcium every day is very important for building healthy bones. And one doesn’t need to get it from cows. Products, such as Fry’s Chicken-Style Strips, leafy greens, including collard greens, fortified soy or rice milk, fortified orange juice and almonds are just some of the plant-based calcium sources.

EAT LESS MEAT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
Adopting a plant-based diet is not only healthy for your child, but it also has a positive impact on the planet at large, meaning future generations get to live in a safe and happy environment.

The increasing global demand for meat, dairy and eggs mean more animals, and with more animals, more crops are needed to feed them. This, in turn, leads to land degradation, deforestation, land and water scarcity, species extinction, pollution and global warming. Livestock production is not only unsustainable, it is unjustifiable. A plant-based diet offers many meat alternatives that mimic taste and texture, like the Cheeze Griller Burger Sandwich, Chick’n Strip Pizza or Schnitzel Burger, whilst requiring less land, water and energy to produce. Lessening our ecological footprint starts first and foremost with what we eat. It begins with us.

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Top 10 healthy lunch box ideas

Frys-Schnitzels-Sandwich

“Don’t forget to take your lunch!”

Mornings are generally chaotic.  Dad trying to do his tie while drinking coffee and brushing his teeth, kids eating cereal and playing candy crush on your tablet, you trying to fight for a spot in the bathroom queue to get ready for work and pack lunch for the kids somehow simultaneously.  We are sure this scene is quite familiar!

To keep the lunch boxes brimming with delicious healthy snacks and treats, we at Fry’s have put together 10 easy and healthy recipes which will keep your children tucking in for more instead of the junk at the tuck shop!

1. Vegan Twister Wrap

pops-Twister-wrap-resized

Meat-free and taste full!  This easy wrap recipe goes well in any lunchbox.

– Get the Recipe!

2. Rainbow Sandwiches

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This simple vegan recipe is perfect for school lunch boxes or for those who are on the go.

– Get the Recipe!

3. Chicken Strips Pizza

Chicken-strip-pizza-resized

Pizza isn’t the question… it’s the answer. Especially when you use dairy-free cheese!

– Get the Recipe!

4. Hot Dog Sandwich

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This is a twist on the conventional hot dog on a bun… a must-try!

– Get the Recipe!

5. Mango Chicken Wrap

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Your kids will get their fruit ‘n veggies in one go with this healthy wrap.

– Get the Recipe!

6. Nugget Quesadillas

nugget-Quesadilla-resized

This Mexican recipe is given a vegetarian flair with our nuggets.

– Get the Recipe!

7. Grilled Polony and Hummus Sandwich

polony-and-cheese-resized

So quick and easy that your kids could do it!

– Get the Recipe!

8. Roti Wrap

roti-wrap-resized

Looking for a traditional Indian lunchbox recipe?  Here you go!

9. Schnitzel, Cucumber and Lettuce Roll

schnitzel-roll-resized

Vegan and quick with all the taste to fill the lunchbox.

10. Sweet Chilli Tortilla Wrap

sweet-chilli-mince-wrap-resized

Packed full of the good stuff to keep your kids focused in school.

That’s our top 10 list!  What are your lunchbox favourites?  Please share them with us on Facebook or Twitter now!

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Raising a vegetarian child

raising-veg-kids-blog-post-01

“Mom, what’s for supper?”

Following a well-balanced plant-based diet is not only healthy but evidence suggests that it may help prevent or even reverse some diseases.  Furthermore, both the Australian and American Governments have publicly recognised the benefits of plant-based diets.

If your children refuse to eat meat because they struggle with texture or you are raising your kids vegetarian,  it is possible for them to receive all their nutrients with a well-balanced diet.   Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, chairman of the American Academy of Paediatrics’ committee on nutrition, has stated that “Vegetarianism can be conducive to a healthy lifestyle, but you have to balance out what you omit”.

Tips to raise your child vegetarian:
Protein

The main concern with a vegetarian diet is that your child will not receive enough protein.  Meat is a complete protein as it contains all 8 essential proteins, plant-based proteins such as soya are able to provide the same quality of protein in your child’s diet.  Examples of soya-based protein include tofu and Fry’s.  For more information about the health benefits of soya, click here.

Iron

Leafy green vegetables are especially good sources of iron, and according to the Vegetarian Resources Group may even be better on a per calorie basis when compared to meat. If your child is vegetarian, your paediatrician may want to test for any iron deficiency but a diet filled with these non-animal iron sources will ensure this does not happen.

Omega-3

Fish is the main source of omega-3 fatty acids but there are plenty of other ways to get this essential nutrient in your child’s diet without the meat.  Sources include flaxseeds (put it in anything you cook or bake), beans, leafy greens, hummus and winter squash.  For information on vegetarian sources of omega-3 click here.

Calcium

If your child is eating a vegan diet, it is important to ensure that they are getting enough calcium in their diet.  Include foods fortified with calcium: 100% fruit juice, soya milk, tofu, and breakfast cereals.

Have any other questions?  Tammy Fry has raised both her children to happy and healthy on a vegetarian diet, ask her now!  For the top 10 vegetarian lunchbox ideas for your child click here.