Tuesday, 9 April 2019

How To Get Your Toddler To Eat A Healthy Organic Diet, Plus Recipe By Elle Halliwell...

Have you ever been caught in a full-blown toddler food tantrum? The one where they throw your carefully prepared casserole on the floor and run away screaming? I thought so.

You’ve probably spent an hour preparing a healthy dinner full of your toddler’s favourite things and envisaged a scene involving baby-teeth smiles and “mmms” of approval. But unbeknownst to you, your child’s now decided their favourite food is the most disgusting substance in the world. They won’t even look at it, let alone put it near their judgemental, tiny mouths! My sympathies.

In recent months I’ve developed a theory that my two-year-old son Tor, has either destroyed some taste buds, or is becoming an adventurous eater. His current favourite foods include kalamata olives, dried seaweed, and to my horror, occasionally our cat’s dry kibble!

In any case, when Tor actually does allow food to pass through his lips, I ensure it is organic. No matter how many studies argue the case of conventional versus organic, why wouldn’t I avoid giving my child food containing genetically-modified organisms, pesticides and hormones?

My all-organic lifestyle began three years ago when I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, a rare form of blood cancer, and discovered I was pregnant within the space of 48 hours. In order to proceed with the pregnancy, I had to delay chemotherapy drugs until after the birth, which was very risky. I decided I’d no longer consume or use anything containing chemicals and other nasties, to clean out and prepare my system.

Luckily, I’m now cancer-free and feel an organic lifestyle has really contributed to my overall well-being. So much so, I’m also now an ambassador for Australian Organic, the industry’s leading body, as I want to inspire others to welcome organic products into their lives. I’m currently studying naturopathy and every day learn something new about the impact nutrition has on a growing child’s body and future health.

If you’re interested in getting your child to eat organically, here are my top tips.

Stock up on organic produce and always read labels.

Firstly, seek out organic fruit, vegetables and meat. With packaged products look for the Australian Organic certified Bud Logo on products, to know you’re getting an authentically organic product.

There are a lot of great “sometimes foods” for kids such as popcorn, chocolate and sauces (I like Jensens Organic Tomato Sauce), so I never feel my choices are limited, or that I have to make everything from scratch. Does any mum have time for that?

Make regular breakfast dishes.

Mornings can be frantic, so I stick to the same rotation of foods. Scrambled eggs with pesto, and Red Tractor Organic Steel-Cut Oats with flax, chia seeds, coconut oil, Nutty Bruce Almond Milk, cacao, chai powder. Sultanas or dates, are two of Tor’s favourites. I’ll also make Tor a green smoothie with cashews, frozen banana, coconut and flaxseed oil, probiotic powder, baby spinach and coconut or almond milk. If he’s got a sniffle, I’ll juice celery, carrot, orange and ginger. On special days I make banana pancakes, (a recipe my healthy friend Briana concocted), which is half cup of soaked oats, an egg, mashed banana and almond meal.

Fast, easy lunches are best.

Eggs are great for a fast toddler lunch. I chop capsicum, zucchini, spinach, mushroom, tomato and onion, freeze it in small batches and simply throw it straight into a frying pan with a couple of beaten eggs for an omelette. I also have Absolute Organic Baked Beans on hand which I’ll heat up with whatever green vegetables I’ve got.

Make vegie-filled dinners.

My husband’s of Italian heritage, so pasta is a staple. I always have Pasta Emilia Ravioli in the freezer and throw it in a butter nutmeg sauce with peas, spinach and parmesan. It’s a 10-minute dinner bursting with flavour which right now is Tor’s favourite. He also loves my vegan mac and cheese, which includes Terra Madre Bio-Engivita Nutritional Yeast, pasta, almond milk, garlic powder, coconut oil, arrowroot powder (to thicken), peas and spinach. Other fail-safe options are baked salmon with tomato and sautéed vegetables, vegetable and lentil soup with garlic croutons or pita triangles, and chicken and vegetable brown rice risotto.

Snacks will tame hunger.

A piece of fruit, chunks of tasty cheese, some trail mix and Whole Kids Rice Wafers are Tor’s go-to snacks for days out, so I’m not caught out with a tired, hungry toddler.

Other handy tips:

Eat meals with your child.

According to paediatric dietitian Karina Savage, having the same mealtimes and eating the same foods as your toddler is the most effective way to combat a fussy eater and get them eating healthy foods. My husband and I cherish dinner times together, so this was a dilemma considering he doesn’t get home until after Tor’s eaten. However, I now prepare a small plate of Tor’s dinner for myself and eat with him.

Sweet Potato Cakes With Guacamole. Elle's own recipe below.

Keep offering food.

Adding a few new items alongside Tor’s favourite foods has been an effective way to encourage experimentation. The general rule is that a child needs to try a food more than a dozen times to decide whether they like a food, so while it pains me to dish up previously rejected food, I still try.

Make food fun.

In addition to visiting the community garden and farmers markets, I’ve found Tor’s interest in food and willingness to try new foods grows when I involve him in the process. Whether it’s helping me whisk eggs we’ve collected from his grandfather’s chooks, or picking the best-looking apples at the markets, it’s fun to see his confidence grow as he gets to know where his food comes from.

Freeze what you can.

I buy most of my fruit and vegetables in season as it keeps the prices down and gives us the vitamins and minerals we need. I bought a large pumpkin last week, which I steamed and blended into soup and froze in muffin tins.

As a parent the best way to encourage good eating habits is to be a great role model. Eat the foods you want kids to eat, be relaxed around meals and show them the importance of an Earth-friendly, sustainable lifestyle for their generation and the next!

Sweet Potato Cakes with Guacamole

These flavour packed patties are staples in my freezer and they are one of Tor’s favourite meals. I’ll often make a double batch and serve them with whatever meat or fish I’m cooking for dinner. They taste amazing with corn guacamole but pair well with most dips such as hummus and cucumber yoghurt.

Makes 8-10 cakes.
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 40 minutes.

3 large organic sweet potatoes cut into 2cm cubes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoky paprika
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp tahini (I use Pureharvest Organic Tahini)
½ cup almond meal (or breadcrumbs)
1 tbsp arrowroot flour
½ cup chopped baby spinach
½ cup herbs such as chives, parsley or coriander
Tbsp sesame seeds.

Cheesy Corn Guacamole:

1 organic avocado
2 sprigs spring onion, finely chopped
1 ear corn
½ clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp nutritional yeast.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Place cubed sweet potato into a stove top steamer and cook for 15 minutes or until softened. Place cooked sweet potato into a large bowl and roughly mash with a fork. Allow to cool slightly.

Add cumin, paprika, garlic, tahini, spinach, herbs and almond meal to the bowl and stir until well combined.

Form mixture into palm sized patties and lightly dust with arrowroot flour before placing on a baking paper-lined tray. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until patties are golden brown. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

For the guacamole: Cook corn in a saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes, allow to cool, then slice kernels off ear. Place corn, avocado, spring onion, garlic, yeast and lime juice in a bowl. Stir to combine and serve immediately.


Elle Halliwell is an Australian journalist, speaker and author whose mission is to inspire others to live their best lives. Having fostered a successful career as one of the country's favourite showbiz and fashion commentators - reporting beauty, style and celebrity news via the likes of The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Nova Entertainment and Channel 9. In 2016 at the age of 32 Elle’s life changed forever when she was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer 
(chronic myeloid leukaemiaand discovered she was pregnant with her first child within the space of 48 hours. She documented her unimaginable choice – whether to terminate the pregnancy for a better chance of survival – or have the baby and risk losing her own life – in her book A Mother’s Choice. She chose to go through with the pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Elle’s health battle sparked a passion for raising awareness of rare blood cancers and she is currently working with charities including The Cancer Council and the Leukaemia Foundation, as well as delivering inspiring keynote talks at schools and corporate events around the country covering topics such as overcoming adversity, managing anxiety, healthy living and the joys and complexities of motherhood. Health and wellbeing have always been a passion of Elle’s, and she is now a certified health coach and currently completing an Adv Dip of Integrative Natural Health (Naturopathy) at Nature Care College.

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