Children’s Sustainable Nutrition for Fussy Eaters

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The waitress watched in disbelief “she is eating broccoli?” Our two year old was quick to correct her observation by responding “small trees yummy”.

There is no doubt that at times our Little One is fussy and picky.  However generally I would conclude that she is a good eater.  Generally it isn’t a challenge ensuring she is getting 7 to 10 proportions of varied fruit and vegetables daily.

Listening to parents share their toddler eating behaviour frustrations, puts me in a reflective mood.  Why them, why not me?

Short answer is I don’t know.  I say it is because of some luck and some good genes (I was a toddler garbage disposal – eating any veggies my older brother would not).  However I feel instinctively that there are two activities that have fueled our toddler’s love of eating a wide variety of nutritious food.

Firstly the simple activity of growing your own veggies.  From six months of age I have been gardening with her.  Now she will venture into the garden to eat sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, chick peas, snow peas or whatever is in season (without my prompting or help).

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Secondly the equally simple activity of cooking.  As our Little One showed interest in our cooking pursuits, we have encouraged her involvement with age appropriate tasks.  Always keeping in mind the bigger picture when she makes a mess, refuses to give back the pepper shaker or fights us for the spoon – short term annoyances allows for long term, life skills learnt.

Our Little One is planting seeds, watching them grow, harvesting food from the garden then cooking the produce.  This has to be contributing to her willingness to then eat the food, she has had envolvement in producing and preparing.

Food for thought.

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Why Everyone Shouldn’t Eat Dairy with Spinanch or Meat?

Spinach grows all year, in our Australian temperate zoned garden.  Therefore spinach accompanied the sustainable fish we cook last night for dinner.

Here is my easy recipe for spinanch and other seasonal vegetables, that I cook regularly.  It is a surprisingly enjoyable recipe that even our toddler will eat.

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Thinly chop a clove of garlic and lightly fry.  Add the spinanch, some green string beans, cherry tomatoes, saltanas and pine nuts.

To ensure my body is able to absorb as much iron from the spinanch, I use Nuttelex dairy free butter for frying as dairy decreases iron absorbtion.  Being dairy intolerant is an advantage when it comes to iron absorbtion.

Adding cherry tomatoes not only adds a tangy flavour to the vegetables but also adds vitamin C to your meal.  Vitamin C helps with the absorbtion of iron.

I add other vegetables at different times of the year but the spinanch is always a constant. 

Good nutrition simple, easy and tasty.

DIY Grape Nectar From the ‘Gods’

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The phrase ‘nectar from the gods’ came to mind the first time I tried home made grape juice. The sweet, pure, non alcoholic beverage was one of the most surprisingly enjoyable drinks, I’ve ever tasted.

Better still my friend shared with me, just how easy it was to make my own home made grape juice. So I decided to give it a go.

Unlike my friend, my grapes were store purchased and not grown at home.  Also my grapes were a mixture of white and red grapes instead of my friend’s red grapes only suggestion (which I will adhere to in the future).  My store purcased, mix grapes were getting old which motivated me to get making juice – so to reduce grape waste.

Nectar of the gods grape juice (Sarhn’s basic procedure):

* Remove grapes from their stems. 
* Wash them and remove any unripe or ‘yucky’ grapes.
* Place grapes into a very large saucepan or pot, then place on the stove. Turn on the heat.
* As grapes heat up, mash them with a potato masher.  Keep mashing until all juice has been squeezed out of the skins.
* Bring to boil slowly then simmer for 15 minutes.
* Place mixture through a large fine cooking sieve to separate juice from skins.

I served the juice straight away so hence it was warm but serving chilled or at room temperature are both equally enjoyable.

We didn’t have left over juice (but we didn’t have lots of grapes to start with).  If however there was left over juice, I would store it in the fridge for up to three days.

If you have an abundance of juice, read my friend’s blog post on how they preserve their grape juice for up to a year.

Seriously you got to try this grape juice.  Our Little One doesn’t drink anything faster!

Wild Slippery Jack Mushrooms

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Wild Slippery Jack Mushrooms are new to me.  I have been educated and enlightened by my friend at Little Field Mice Farm.

These yummy free delights grow wild on her farm, underneath the pine trees.  My generous friend gave me lots to take home, last time we met for our local Seed Savers event.

Foraging for wild food is something I enjoy, however mushrooms to date have been out of the question – dangerous with my lack of knowledge. 

Don’t you think it is cool that my friend teaches her children about wild mushroom foraging on their farm?

These Slippery Jack mushrooms have now been cooked up in my homemade soups, quiches and stir fries. Everyone in my family ate them with no fuss or complaint.

I just needed to peel off the skin from the top of the mushrooms, remove the stems, wash them, then squeeze out the water (slippery jack mushrooms are like a sponge).

Interested if you forage for any wild, free food?  What is your experience?

Reduce Fruit Food Waste – Simple Icy Poles

Last weekend a dear friend came to visit.  She came visiting bearing gifts – huge tray of mangos, blueberries, strawberries and bananas.

We are a big fruit eating family however not so much with mangos.  So what do we do with a tray of mangos?

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I have been baking mango muffins which the family love.

However with this Autumn heat we have been having,  I had another idea – mango flavoured icy poles!

Into a blender went five peeled and seeded mangos and the last of the strawberry yoghurt that was soon to go off. 

Note** I am intolerant to dairy and prefer not using it for animal compassionate reasons but as my husband and daughter do eat some dairy, you will find it in our fridge.  As I hate food waste, I prefer to use the yoghurt rather than chucking it out.  I just will not be eating these icy poles however I will make some more with yummy dairy free coconut cream, for everyone later.

Once blended, pour the mixture into icy pole moulds and freeze over night.

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Our Little One won’t eat mango fruit but gobbled TWO of these mango icy poles.  My first reaction was to limit her to just one until I asked myself “why”.  The yoghurt had very little sugar and besides, 85% of the ingredients was mango juice and pulp – no additives, no chemicals and no food colourings. Just healthy goodness.

My only tip is to use moulds that are designed better.  Ours are easily knocked over in the freezer or near small excited hands.

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Australia’s Future Food Security – Imported Frozen Fruit Concerns

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Sure, it’s knowledge that knows a tomato is a fruit.

And sure, it’s wisdom that knows that a tomato doesn’t belong in fruit salad.

However it is experience that proves home grown tomatoes taste best and locally grown produce is the safest. 

Recently Australia has been hearing the news of frozen imported fruit, leading to many people contracting Hepatitis A. 

I wonder if this will be the ‘lighting bulb moment’ that will awaken my beloved Country from it’s indifference to their food production. Why don’t the majority of Australians care about where their food comes from?

If however you do care about your food production – where your food is grown and produced (e.g. canned, frozen):

1) Buy locally grown produce. Support your local farmers and ensure your food is safe for consumption.

2) Buy locally produced food products. Dick Smith brand uses Australian grown produce and all profits go to charity.  Now that is worth supporting!

3) Grow some of your own food.  You don’t have to be knowledgeable to start. Just give it a go.  I promise you that there is nothing like your own home grown tomatoes.

Divine Smelling Lemon Verbena

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At the last ‘Seed Savers’ event, I was given clippings of lemon verbena (Aloysia Citrodora). Oh my goodness,  the smell was surprisingly divine – can’t believe I have never smelt or even heard of lemon verbena before.

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In a few days the leaves dried completely, inspiring me to try lemon verbena tea.  Very basically, I crushed up the leaves and added them to a tea leaf strainer.  Added boiling water to a mug and wahlah!  Again nothing earth shattering scientific – very basic but pleasantly refreshing.

Apparently fresh lemon verbena leaves can be used like a herb, adding flavour to fish and poultry dishes.

I’m thinking I would like to grow my own verbena plant.  I’ll have a ponder as to where it would be best to grow a three metre shrub that prefers good drainage soil.  Perhaps not where the recent flash flood ‘river’ flowed.