What to feed the family? How can I up the health stakes at home? These are questions that I get asked a lot. I have three children and I have the same issues.
Basically an ideal plate should be ¼ complex carbs, ¼ good quality protein and half vegetables, and by vegetables I mean a big variety and all the colours of the rainbow; not all at one meal I hasten to add, but throughout the meals you eat!
1. Carb switch ups
Simple changes you can make are swapping foods you already eat for a more nutrient dense option, so white rice for brown rice, white bread for brown bread, white potatoes for sweet potatoes, shop bought chips for home made chips (using white or sweet potatoes). Pasta is a very popular food for children, it is a fast burning carb though, so to slow it down try using different pastas made from brown rice - you can even get mung and aduki bean pastas, which I love! Also, you could try squeezing an orange or lemon into a jug of water rather than using squash, herbal teas instead of tea and green tea instead of coffee… (is that a step too far?!). I won’t mention wine!
2. Favourites with a twist
When I am cooking I try to push as much nutrition in as I can, and again it is all down to little changes. So I add carrot to mashed potato, I add broccoli to cauliflower cheese. I use spiralized courgette or carrot instead of spaghetti sometimes. I add herbs and green leaves to tomato sauces and add berries and seeds to porridge in the morning. Wherever I can add I will, and you will be amazed at what you can use without changing the family's favourite meal too much.
3. Cut back on meat and fish
With meat and fish, I source it carefully. I know organic, grass fed meat is expensive but my philosophy is to eat less but better quality and know that you are getting a cut that isn’t contaminated with antibiotics and hormones, which do end up inside us! And remember we don’t need to eat as much meat as we do. Fish has its own issues too, some are very polluted with heavy metals and plastics and sadly this means that eating loads of fish can cause problems for us as well. Try sticking to smaller fish; things like sardines and mackerel are great.
4. Experiment with vegetable proteins
Lentils and beans are getting more popular. I find that if you put a Mexican twist on beans people are pretty accepting of them! Add nuts and seeds to the diet whether as a snack or to your food. The more flavours we try, the more accepting our taste buds become and before you know it you will be pining for a falafel and avocado.
If you can buy organic fruit and vegetables then great, but if you can’t just make sure you peel or give them a really good wash.
5. Get the kids involved
When it comes to children I have found that if they make it they are more likely to eat it. We have a bread machine, and I love it; aside from the fact that you can time it so that you get a waft of fresh bread in the house in the morning, it is brilliant for the kids to get involved with and the ingredients are much healthier than a lot of shop bought breads. You can add seeds, use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and Himalayan crystal salt instead of salt and at the moment I am using coconut sugar instead of sugar too.
Another good trick to encourage children is smoothie making. You can make lovely berry smoothies with coconut water and then you can start to add some vegetables and they see that you can get some greens to make you strong but not compromise the taste!
No matter where you are in the process of improving the family diet, small changes are the way forward.
Juice: Cleanse. Heal. Revitalize: 100 Nourishing Recipes and Simple Juice Fasts by Rosemary Ferguson, (Ebury Press) is £15.99 and available to buy from www.amazon.co.uk .