Healthy Kids Lunch Plans

The Healthy Kids Association (HKA), one of the main players in keeping kids healthy in Australia, has put together their Core 4 Plus 1 rule, which helps parents structure kids lunchboxes the healthy way and still keep them interesting.

The HKA Core Lunch plan suggests that lunches be nutritious and filling. So that is the first part of the “core”, or the basic lunch.

Then they suggest the “core snack” which would come from a variety of the five food groups. This is followed by the “core fruit” which is where it becomes interesting for us. They suggest that the fruit be low fructose, like fruit or mixed berries.

From there, there is the “core drink.”  The HKA suggests a water bottle.

So how about this for an idea: Investigate the value of watermelon juice, made from pressed watermelon. A superfood, it provides a lot of beneficial nutrition for children’s body. Or, pack two! It is filling and comes in its own organic portable bottles. And obviously, you could still add that water bottle.

This is finished off with the option of having an extra core snack for “active kids” in need of more energy.

Tips to Improve Your Eating Plan in 2017

2017 is here – a perfect time to kickstart the pursuit of new goals. The term “new year, new you” might sound like a cliché, but why not try to make a real change in your life? This could start with better diet and eating habits. Here are a few tips that you could try to make 2017 a better year for your health and palate.

Opt for whole grains instead of processed carbs

Consumption of whole grains is associated with lower risks of obesity and diabetes as well as improved heart health, according to Dr. Walter Willett, chair of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

“Many of the cereal grains and breads we eat are heavily processed, which is not what you want,” Willett’s colleague, Dr. David Ludwig told TIME. “You want something where you can see bits of kernel in it, and that has a dense, chewy consistency… Basically, the opposite of Wonder Bread.” Ludwig recommended “sprouted” or “stoneground” grain breads to get the best health benefits.

Eat more vegetables

It goes without saying that vegetables are good for you – the vitamins, minerals and fibres help prevent heart disease, cancers and weight gain. But did you know that most Australians only eat half of the recommended quantity of vegetables a day?

Eat for Health recommends 5 serves of vegetables per day for adults – which means around 2.5 cups of cooked green vegetables 5 cups of raw salad vegetables. So make sure you always have some veggies in your plate!

Don’t drink your calories

With the plethora of drink options available – from sports drinks and juices to coffee and tea – water remains the best choice. It will keep you hydrated without the added sugar and calories, keeping your weight in check.

Fats: eat the good, avoid the bad

Fat has long been blamed for weight issues, but it is actually an important part of our diet. Fat is a significant source of energy which also helps vitamin absorption and cell regeneration.

The trick is to choose the ‘good’ fats from the ‘bad’ ones. According to Harvard Health Publications, the bad ones include trans fats and saturated fats, which could increase LDL cholesterol level as well as the risks of heart diseases. These could be found in red meat, cheese, whole-milk dairy products, and more.

The good ones include unsaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol levels and risks of heart diseases. These fats could be found in avocados, flaxseed, a number of oils (such as canola, peanut, olive), most nuts (such as walnut), and fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, trout).

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Eating healthy seems hard. It’s inconvenient, it’s time-consuming and often complicated. You have to cook and harvest your own ingredients but also burden yourself with the task of analysing the nutritional value in everything you eat. Ordering fast-food or takeaway just seems like the easiest option. Well, it doesn’t have to be.

Being healthy doesn’t have to involve guzzling down disgusting protein shakes, munching away on kale every day and bragging about your detox on Instagram. It just means treating your body with the respect it deserves without having to take extreme measures such as fasting, practicing wacky food diets, or ingesting pills.

In fact, by choosing to improve your lifestyle and eating healthy, well-balanced meals, you are doing yourself a huge favour. You’ll receive benefits such as improved brain activity, good sleep quality, you’ll have more energy, a glowing complexion and also you’ll be in a much better mood.

 Here are some tips on how to implement good food into your daily routine:

  • Plan your meals. Yes, there’s a bit of thinking required. But side note- it’s also a great money saving tip! Research simple recipes online for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between (morning and afternoon tea) and jot down the easier ones first so you can work your way up from beginner level recipes to intermediate. Use a diary or a calendar and track your daily intake.
    Aim for 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Grocery shopping. Filter through the aisles by avoiding the artificially processed stuff. Find fresh ingredients that can be used together in the same week and include something different weekly to explore your taste buds (the key is to be open-minded)! Be sure to include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, dairy products and refined grains in your shopping cart. Enjoy your delicious green haul!
  • Cooking. Cooking your own nutritious meal could improve your culinary skills as well as earning yourself a Masterchef title amongst your friends and family. Avoid using too much salt and trade in regular oil for olive oil. Additionally, you will get a lot more out of your bags of groceries than you would with containers of takeaway (more food for you) and quite honestly, nothing beats a home-cooked meal.
  • Stick to the plan. Believe in yourself and stay committed. Try your best to discipline yourself from having unhealthy withdrawals. Eating healthy should never be treated as a punishment but as a natural part of your diet.

The solution does seem very obvious, but it’s rewarding and you’ll definitely feel lighter and fresher. There are no secrets, magical potions or shortcuts to it. Clean eating isn’t just a fantasy or a concept created by dieticians or something that only athletes or celebrities do. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll love treating yourself to a healthy diet, give it a go!

To kickstart your new clean eating lifestyle, try this Roast Pumpkin Salad recipe:

Ingredients:
– 1 (Butternut or Japanese) pumpkin, chopped into large dices or chunk pieces
– 100g of spinach leaves, or any green leaves of your choice
– 200g of traditional Greek feta cheese
– 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
– olive oil
– 1 teaspoon of salt (optional)

Method:
1. Heat olive oil in frying pan over low-medium heat.
2. Add chopped pumpkin chunks and stir until pumpkin starts to brown and texture softens. You may add a pinch or a teaspoon of salt during this process according to taste.
3. In a serving bowl, combine cubes of Greek feta cheese onto a bed of spinach leaves.
4. Remove pumpkin pieces from pan and add to serving bowl and combine.
5. Lightly drizzle olive oil and lemon juice sparingly over salad for dressing and gently mix together.

Serves:
– 3-4 people or one very hungry person, enjoy!