The Secret of Healthy Children
Every other day the media publicises statistics about Australia’s literally ‘growing’ population of children, with an accepted figure of one-in-five children now considered overweight or obese. Yet conversely or perhaps because of that, eight out of ten Australian parents are concerned about their child’s eating habits; four out of every ten think their child is a fussy eater and one in three think their child isn’t eating enough*…unless of course it’s chips, chocolate or soft drink!
Parents want their children to eat fruit and vegies and do their best to provide interesting or sneaky ways to get it into them – only to be defeated by the ability of children to sniff out a vegetable at 100 paces!
Nutrition Australia, a non-government, non-profit community nutrition education organisation recommends that each person should aim to eat 20-30 different foods on most days. And if you’re reeling in shock at the thought of trying that idea on the family, then their latest book, The Secret of Healthy Children, may help parents set up a cease-fire at the dinner table.
Bright and colourful, with a foreword by well known nutritionist, Catherine Saxelby, the book has been designed for families with children aged 4 to 14 and is full of everything parents need to know in the ongoing search to provide balanced and tasty meals for their family.
A quick flick through the list of contents shows information on such things as ages and stages of appetite and intake, picky and fussy eaters, the glycaemic index and additional references for project participants as various as the Australian Egg Board, Dairy Australia and even Tupperware.
Here’s just a sample of more than 300 recipes included in the book.
Action Packs that Blast the Lid off the Lunchbox
Rice Noodle Salad, Cinnamon Apple Muffin, Peach and Mango Freeze and a crisp apple.
Rice Noodle Salad
…good for lunches, packed in an insulated bag.
4 baby squash, trimmed
125g rice noodles (flat or vermicelli)
! clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mint jelly
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
100g cold meat, sliced
2 eggs, hard boiled and cut in quarters
- Cover the squash and microwave for 5 minutes. Cool, then cut into quarters.
- Boil 2 litres of water, add the noodles, return to the boil and cook for 3 minutes, stirring to separate.
- Drain, rinse under cold water and allow to cool.
- Mix the garlic and the oil, pour over noodles and fork through.
- Thoroughly mix the lemon juice and mint jelly together.
- Toss noodles, tomatoes, squash and parsley together.
- Place in a salad bowl and arrange meat and egg on top.
- Drizzle with the mint and lemon.
Cinnamon Apple Muffins
Soft, moist and simply scrumptious, especially when served warm. This recipe also works well in a food processor.
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup reduced fat milk
1 cup stewed apple or canned pie apple
a little icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Grease a 12 cup (small) or 6 cup (large) muffin tin.
- Beat the margarine and sugar together until light and creamy.
- Add the egg and beat well.
- Mix the two flours and cinnamon, combine well.
- Add the flour and milk alternatively to the egg mixture.
- Divide half the mixture evenly in the muffin tin.
- Place a heaped teaspoon of apple in the centre of each muffin, then top with the remaining mixture.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and springy.
- Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Peach and Mango Freeze
half a fresh mango
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Peel, stone and slice the peach and mango.
- Peel and slice the banana.
- Mix all ingredients together in a blender until smooth, then freeze.
Mini Quiche, cherry tomatoes and grapes (washed and packed together in a tub), a slice of No-fat No-egg Fruit Cake and a piece of fruit.
Multiply ingredients to make more than one, or kids can each make their own.
1 sheet of filo pastry
2 teaspoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons reduced fat milk
1-2 mushrooms, sliced
½ spring onion, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 190C
- Brush an individual pie tin with a little olive oil.
- Line the pie tin with 3 layers of filo pastry to fit, brushing each layer with a little of the oil. Make sure the pastry is pressed well into the tin.
- Mix together the egg, parsley and milk.
- Place the mushroom and onion in the pastry case and pour egg mixture over.
- Place the pie tin on a tray and bake at 190 C for about 20 minutes, or until egg is just set.
No-fat, No-egg Fruit Cake
This deliciously moist cake does not keep as long as a traditional fruit cake. Keep it covered in the fridge.
500g dried mixed peel
60g dried apricots, chopped
2 teaspoons honey or golden syrup
1 cup orange, apple, apricot or pineapple juice
1 cup mashed potato or mashed pumpkin
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
1 teaspoon mixed spice
75g chopped nuts or chopped ginger
- Place dried mixed fruit, chopped dried apricots and honey or golden syrup in a saucepan with the fruit juice. Bring to the boil and simmer about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Add the mashed potato or pumpkin to the fruit and mix well.
- Sift the flour, bicarb and mixed spice together and add to the fruit.
- Add the chopped nuts or ginger and mix well to combine.
- Grease a 20cm square or 22cm x 12cm cake tin with a little oil and line base with baking paper. Bake at 160 C for 1 ¼ hours.
Recipes reprinted with permission from:
The Secret of Healthy Children, produced with Nutrition Australia and published by Focus Publishing, 2003
*Source: Better Health website
This article was first published in Australian Family Magazine, November 2003.