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Nutritious snack alternatives plus lots of tips for you and the kids…

chocolate biscuit, or carrot?

Happy New Year! …or else it was until we woke up and heard the news this morning that children in the UK are consuming *three times the amount of sugar that they should be, and that half of it is from sugary snacks and drinks. Now, not only do we have our own Christmas excesses to deal with in our new year resolutions, but we also have a Change4Life campaign telling us to look out for the 100 calorie labels on food items in stores to inform us on which snacks might be better for our children…it’s not that simple though is it?! More labels, more apps, more stress, and all when meal/snack times as a parent are hard enough.

I have a four year old, and I’m very fortunate that he absolutely loves his food, and he’s not a fussy eater - the downside to that though, is that like my labrador, left to his own devices he would eat chocolate biscuits until he threw up. So, in order to prevent him from becoming obese before he even leaves primary school, I have had to teach him to make the right decisions when it comes to choosing which foods he enjoys…just in the same way that I have taught him not to touch hot fires, and walk out in front of a moving car. Food, and nutrition is one of the most important life skills that we can teach our children. It’s not enough to just prepare them a nutritious meal and put it in front of them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner times to tell them “enjoy”. We also need them to understand what different foods do to their bodies, and where they come from so that as they grow older, they can make their own educated decisions on what they put in their mouths rather than having to rely on a confusion of different labels in a supermarket. I have spoken to too many adults, who believe that just because they buy their ready meal from Marks & Spencers or Waitrose, that it somehow makes their dinner a ‘healthy’ option (once again, due to lack of education) There is nothing better, than to be able to understand ingredients, and cook from scratch so that you know exactly what’s going in. In order to do that, we need better education in schools and at home, and to get back in touch with food.

At The Cooking Shed, we find that children in reception, and years 1 & 2 at primary school have a real passion for wanting to learn about and prepare food - however when they reach year 3 and above, they loose interest. We're pleased to be working with our very first primary school to try and help harness that enthusiasm from a young age, so that as they grow, their interest in food grows with them....wouldn't it be great to see cookery lessons back on the national curriculum?..I'm not talking cheese muffins, and chocolate cookies, but proper, 'real', food that the whole family can enjoy. Having the kids prepare dinner would certainly cut down on the stress of meal times, wouldn't it?!

Here are some nutritious snacks that my son loves, which I thought I'd share incase you're stuck for ideas...

Some low sugar snack alternatives:

Homemade popcorn - easy to make, and you can control the amount of sugar that you add..or add a sprinkle of cinnamon instead of sugar for an even better snack!

Natural yoghurt - add flavour by adding in some fresh chopped fruit…you’ll be taking onboard the good sugars rather than the refined sugars found in some flavoured yoghurts

Homemade nacho’s - simply chop up some bread wraps in to triangles, then spray with one cal oil, and pop in the oven at 180 for 3 minutes, or until crisp. Leave to cool and enjoy with some homemade salsa, guacamole or hummus (you’ll find our simple hummus recipe that you can also freeze here)

Fruit dipped in chocolate - it’s OK to have the chocolate, but just ensure it’s in moderation…melting a few cubes and then dipping fruit in is a great way to make it go further and still pack in the goodness

Apple wedges with a small pot of natural Greek yoghurt for dipping

And a few top tips:

  1. Be prepared and save money! Make ahead some of your own fruity ice lollies to have as a dessert. Simply blitz together half strawberries, half greek yoghurt and a small squeeze of honey, then freeze in lolly moulds.

  2. Put the ‘good food’ on the table before the ‘naughty food’…if you’re going to have what we call at home a ‘dirty dinner’ (chips, Kiev, and beans…) make sure you pop a bowl of something like cherry tomatoes, or some chopped up cucumber on the table first so that your children will snack on them while they’re hungry and waiting for the main event - that way you know they’ve taken on board some of the good stuff too.

  3. Extend the excitement of going to the cinema by getting the kids to help put together a packed lunch before you go - Lidl do some cheap and tasty bags of popcorn that you simply put in the microwave to pop and then you can take them sealed to open at the cinema. You could also make your own flavoured water by dropping in some sliced kiwi, or strawberries and fresh mint to the bottle.

  4. Out of sight, out of mind - most households will have a ’treat tin’ or cupboard where they store the naughty stuff…you know, the one where you put the biscuits, bags of Haribo, crisps, leftovers from trick or treating, and Christmas selection boxes that you end up breaking in to once the kids have gone to bed…get rid of it!! You know it’s there, they know it’s there, and if you both have to work harder to get the treats - by taking a trip to the shops, then you’re less likely to have them as often.

Need some meal time inspiration and new recipes that the whole family will love?

Join us on our nutritious family dinners class (suitable for all skill levels)

Want to learn to cook with your children?

Have fun, learn new skills, and get fussy eaters trying some new things?

Kids cookery lessons

Have a child who’d like to attend our cookery lessons so that they can learn about nutrition, ingredients, and come home with dinner sorted for the family?!

Got a great nutritious snack idea to share? Please write in the comments below - thank you!

*Source: The Telegraph 2nd January 2018

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