EDITED TO ADD: WINNER WAS CHOSEN FOR THIS POST 27/5/13 – ALICIA SHRIMPTON – THANKS TO EVERYONE THAT ENTERED!
A sponsored post for Cenovis Kids
I was asked to undergo a week-long “Good Stuff Challenge” to coincide with the launch of Cenovis Kids latest range of multivitamins. I had to prepare 3 nutritionally balanced meals for the family for a week. Well DER. This is what I am “meant” to do all the time isn’t it? Except that we all know that sometimes life gets in the way and more often than not a toasted cheese sandwich is thrown at my kids at dinner time because I have simply run out of time. Knowing that someone was watching me make an effort, well for one meal at least, but then again, life (that whole personal breakdown thing was especially poorly timed) went and got in the way and reality kicked in. Best you see how things “really” are anyway, right?
I am NO meal planner. I am not an organised mother who has tupperware containers of fruit cut up for trips to the park and more often than not, I forget water bottles so will be seen spending outrageous amounts of coin at service stations on bottles of water. But what we DO have is a great local supplier of organic fruit and vegetables delivered each week and we also have to very fortunate position of being able to eat dinner 5 nights a week together, around a table, as a family at about 5.30pm.
Breakfast & Lunches are standard practice: a sandwich and LOTS of fruit and water. Breakfast is toast and fruit, or weetbix and fruit. I am not adventurous. I am not fancy. This is no frills, day in and day out easy for me or Rob, easy for the kids.
So what does dinner time look for our family 5 times a week? Well the usual stuff: pasta, a stir fry, some meat and veg, some meat and salad (foods which I hope will boost their intake of calcium, iron and vitamins) and usually once a week a cheat dinner like a toasted sambo or boiled eggs with soldiers and a eat out at the pub or take away pizza. It’s hard to get the balance right of nutrition, taste, variety and of course something that Rob and I will enjoy. And did I mention it’s RELENTLESSNESS? Yes, that. Of course, let’s not mention the fact that little kids need SO much of the good stuff to help them grow and learn. I also have a hefty serve of guilt thrown in for good measure, just to beat myself up that even if I AM doing the right stuff, it’s probably not enough of the right stuff.
For us last week it looked like this:
Monday: Steak, kale chips, haloumi & cherry toms
Tuesday: Chicken noodle soup
Wednesday: Lamb racks with roasted vegies
Thursday: Pizza at the pub
Friday: Roast chicken & veggies
I have a usual rotation of about 10 different dinners that are on week in, week off and I will put my hand up and say that I am HOPELESS at trying new things. I have books and BOOKS of recipes that I rarely touch, it’s an unfortunate side effect of poor time management that sees the same stuff hit the trolley every week. Many of you would know the effort it takes to make something nice and nutritious only to have a little person’s nose turned up at it. I’ve thrown perfectly delicious meals in the BIN, just trying to make a point. Note: this rarely works and occasionally results in you eating food OUT OF A BIN. Just saying.
But growing up, my Mum was an excellent home cook and one of the many gifts she gave me was making me help in the kitchen from a very early age. She had me chopping and identifying fruit and vegetables and helping her out with her corporate catering job she had from home in the 1980’s. There were always people at our house for meals and dinner parties and soirees and it just became part of my “normal”. I’ve tried to do the same with my own girls – making them help out and get involved as much as possible. A kid that has helped out in the making of a meal is SO much more likely to have a go at eating it. I also think that sitting down together to eat a meal makes a huge difference. If Daisy and Harper see Rob and I eating the same thing as them, they will normalise the vegetables, haloumi, olives, or whatever it may be.
Whenever the fruit & veggie box arrives I will get Daisy or Harper to help me unpack it. I’ll make them go through and tell me the name of everything that comes out.
I’m getting a job done and they are learning too. I do the same in Harris Farm or the supermarket – I’ll ask Harper to grab some basil, or garlic and watch her run through the aisles trying to work out which is which. Making them smell, taste, feel – all the things kids love to do – helps them learn.
I’ll also get them to help out with dinner preparation. A plastic knife and some cutting will keep a 3 year old entertained for at least 4 minutes. And that’s pretty good in 3yro time. Tongs are fun, mixing, measuring and adding is pure kids delight. It’s messy and it takes longer to do, but if you can get them involved, dinner WILL be eaten (or at least tried) if they have had a hand at preparing it.
Feeding your family is RELENTLESS. And it can be boring. And it is SUCH a responsibility to make sure the food they are eating is healthy, full of nutrients and varied, while also encouraging them to try something new. I know some kids will eat NOTHING but a sandwich, and it’s sometimes just plain HARD WORK. When I’m throwing nuggets at the girls for dinner, chop up some tomatoes or cucumber on the side, it always makes me feel less guilty. Cheese sambo? Whack on a side of nutrient rich kale chips.
Despite parents’ best intentions, I was surprised to learn over a third of Aussie children are not eating the minimum recommended daily serves of fruit and vegetables.* Over a third of 4-7 year olds aren’t getting enough veggies in their diets, while a quarter of 8-11 year olds don’t eat any veggies at all. It’s food for thought I’ve been lucky to have kids that do try things and love to get involved which has helped a lot with their education and love of eating. It’s important for me that they have an appreciation for and sitting around a table and sharing a meal with people that you love, and I’m happy knowing that we are moving towards this. Every day.
Some tips from me:
- Get kids INVOLVED
- Teach them the names of the foods you use everyday when preparing meals
- Get them to grab the food from the fruit & veggie shop
- Try and eat meals together
- Get them to help out with dinner every night even if it’s just ripping lettuce leaves off
- Keep trying different stuff: one day kale will even seem normal if they’ve seen it enough
- Loose the options. If they don’t like it, then they don’t get anything else. They’ll eat if they are hungry
- Get messy and have fun!
So how did I find this challenge? Well it highlighted a few things – for me. Despite trying hard most of the time, there are still times where I’m sure I fall short of providing the right amount of servings of fruit & veg to the family. It did however, show me that we are on the right track, the girls are aware of what they eat, are willing to learn about food and cooking as well as experiment and try new flavours and textures. I need to keep their nutrition stuff front of mind, all the time. I have to keep reminding myself…it’s my job as their Mum, their cook, their teacher… to keep on keeping on, especially with this important stuff that will shape their eating and love for food for the rest of their lives. However, we are on the right track, the girls are aware of what they eat, willing to learn about food and cooking as well as experiment and try new flavours and textures.
To help parents teach kids more about where their food comes from and the importance of eating well, Cenovis® Kids recently ran an initiative called “Good Stuff in the Garden”. The free garden starter packs contain a My First Garden kit, $20 Bunnings voucher and 2 x Yates seed packs.
Valued at $100, I’ve got a pack up for grabs! Just leave a comment below – let me know your tips and tricks for getting the good stuff into your family. What are the challenges you face and did you realise how much of the good stuff (vitamins and minerals) your kids need every day? See here for Terms and conditions.
Cenovis Kids Vita Fizzies and Vita Tingles are free from artificial colours and flavours, a supplement designed to fill the nutritional gap.
*Research was conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Cenovis® Kids between 20-25 February, 2013 and surveyed 1000 Australians nationwide.