Today on the blog we have the lovely Nikki from The Wholefood Hub (more below). She is an expert in managing a busy life and family whilst eating well, so I asked her for some tips and tricks on how to ensure you can provide healthy meal options for your little ones. Enjoy!
If we stayed home all day to prepare meals for our babies and toddlers, providing awesome nutritious and healthy food and values would be easier than we all find it. We have however evolved from our grandparents’ generation, and getting out and about each day with our babies and toddlers has become a part of everyday life. Hence too so have lunchbox meals and snacks.
Whether you be getting out for toddler activities, a social play, shopping or even just the school run (if you have older children) having nutritious, easy and tasty snacks on hand are essential for us new age mums. However, whilst tonnes of prepackaged snack options are available on our supermarket shelves most are not an option for us wholefoodie mums who are keen to keep additives, preservatives and nutrition-less empty calories out of precious little tummies!
As a mum of three little wholefoodies aged 5, 3 and 1, working everyday running my online wholefood store, The Wholefood Hub along with classes, public speaking events and coaching sessions I have become the master of quick and easy baby and toddler snacks and lunches.
Want to know my secrets??
First things first – You have an awesome opportunity to set the tone when your children are babies and toddlers surrounding your family’s food values and habits. Yes that means developing your food values too!
Babies aren’t born with a sweet tooth or knowing which foods are snack foods and which are for meals. They only learn habits that we model and impress on them.
- Snacks don’t need to be a sweet treat, rather view snacks as mini meals.
- It’s perfectly ok to be eating lunch at 10am. Why top up your 2 year old with less nutrient dense food at 10am and risk them not eating a proper lunch?
- If we focus on 3 big meals children may not need snacks….yes that is ok!
- Creating a list of non-negotiable foods you won’t allow (ours is lollies, processed foods and additives). This makes it easier (no – not easy but easier!) in a social setting with shared food.
- Focus on not including or minimising “displacement foods” in your child’s diet. Things like popcorn and rice cakes along with processed snacks full of white flour and white sugar are nutrient poor, so your body uses more of its resources digesting them than is given back by the food source.
If your children are older don’t fear…. Changing food values and habits is achievable!
Secondly create a routine for a coordinated and organised kitchen…
- Have a rotating list of freezable or pantry safe snacks you make on a regular basis to keep stock on hand. You will find you can usually make a meal out of snack-sized foods when it comes to babies and toddlers. Check out links to some of my favourite recipes below.
- Cook extra at dinnertime so you can use leftovers for snacks and lunches the next day. Things like omelette, vegetables, meatballs and sausages are great as they are finger foods, don’t however discount soups, stews and salads which are made easily portable with a Thermos Insulated Food Jar.
- Boil up eggs every few days so you always have cooked eggs on hand. Perfect finger food style power houses of energy and nutrients.
- Spend 30-60 minutes twice a week cleaning and preparing vegetables, making smoothies and purees in reusable food pouches and loading snack boxes from bulk packages to be stored in fridges and pantries so that snacks are ready to go as you make your dash out of the house.
So you get the gist right?
Now for some actual food ideas perfect for babies, toddlers and even bigger kids.
I must add here that my children were baby led weaned so I kept purees to a minimum and toddler and children’s snacks were introduced at an early age. This was especially true with number 3 as it was easier to feed three kids the same menu!
- Vegetables roasted in coconut oil and herbs – sweet potato, potato, beetroot, carrots, parsnip are gorgeously tasty and filling. Puree or mash with a fork for little ones.
- Meat – meatballs, preservative free sausages, meatzza, coconut crumbed chicken drumsticks
- Legumes – lentil patties, lentil salad
- Eggs – Eggie muffins, frittata, omelette or simply boiled
- Smoothies – Blitz up yogurt, kefir, fruit, veg, seeds and nuts (for toddlers and older children), coconut milk/water…the combinations are endless and pack into reusable food pouches
- Avocado – Make a dip or spoon it out as is!
- Crackers and Vegetable Chips – kale chips or quinoa and spelt crackers
- Gelatin based treats – home made peach jelly or wholefood gummy lollies using Great Lakes gelatin
- Biscuits and cookies – Casalinga biscuits (perfect baby’s first biscuits), Chewy date cookies
- Muffins and cupcakes – Freezer friendly so you can pull them out one at a time – one cup coconut cakes, honey coconut cakes
Sounds easy peasy? Mmmmm…..
I am the first to know that lists and ideas make it all sound easy…but it isn’t!
So my final last tips.
Keep track in a diary (you might like this one my sister and I designed and made specifically for our wholefood mama lives), establish a routine and change the way you think, plan and operate.
Three essentials to ensure success.
Good luck wholefoodie mama!
X Nikki Di Costa
If you feel like you need more help feel free to contact Nikki via email or on 0400 884 404 for more info on her classes, seminars and personalised coaching.
Nikki is a pharmacist and CHEK HLC Holistic Health and Lifestyle Coach based in Perth, WA. She owns and operates her personalised online wholefoods store, The Wholefood Hub, runs cooking classes and seminars along with conducting personalised and group coaching sessions.