Creating a hunger for healthy foods

Well it’s no surprise that healthy eating need some help in the PR department.

When new parents hit the shops they are usually time poor and distracted by a baby (or two) and let’s not get started on the shopping list left idling on the bench at home …

Who hasn’t zoomed around the aisle in a sleep-deprived stupor preferring convenience over health?

Spooky green apple monsters for Halloween partyAnd show me the zombie mum who doesn’t survive the first few weeks of parenting on a solid diet of chocolate biscuits and coffee! (Disclaimer – yes, I know the chocolate & coffee diet isn’t recommended for mums – breastfeeding or not – but let’s be realistic, it’s often all we have time for.)

So how do you help your little one develop healthy food habits from the get go? Obviously nothing beats modelling healthy habits so if you want junior to chow down on kale and carrot sticks you’ll need to show them just how delicious those healthy foods are by eating them yourself.

Which got me thinking about how I only started liking tomatoes in my sandwiches around the same time my toddler unleashed a vendetta against the squishy red fruit. And voila – 12-months later we’re a tomato friendly household.

So assuming you’ve got the bases covered at home, let’s tackle the ‘out and abouts’ and playgroup can be a real asset in the war on bedding down healthy eating habits.

Wrap with grilled chicken and vegetables for children party, selective focusIt might sound slightly weird BUT we all love an outside expert. So given the old supply and demand analogy – nothing makes a carrot stick more popular than when another child wants it!

So start with a few tried and true favourites like apple slices and cut up banana before switching to some stronger tastes, textures and flavours ie. swap out sliced fresh fruit for some dried apricots and pear. You’ll be surprised at just how quickly your little one acquires a taste for those healthy snacks.

And to help you get started, here are some of my favourite snack tips (if sharing at playgroup just be mindful of allergies and food intolerances):

  • Cold meat & crackers – use cookie cutters to cut meats, cheeses, fruit and vegies into interesting shapes for sharingFunny sandwich for child on wooden boards
  • Blitz up some fruit (fresh or frozen) with yogurt or milk for a yummy smoothie
  • If you feel the kids only eat apples or bananas – swap in some strawberries which are rich in Vitamin C
  •  Sneak in fruit and vegetables when baking – muffins can be fortified with carrots; zucchini and banana
  •  Yogurt pops – in the summer time just slice a small hole in a yogurt pot and add a pop stick and freeze. Once set, peel off the lid and you have a home-made yogurt ice lolly
  • Sweet potato crisps – simply slice, oil and bake!
  • Hummus – made form pureed chick peas can be served as a dip or a yummy sandwich filling
  • Pears – cut up and served with some cottage cheese this is a winner with kids!
  • Combo mix – toss together pretzels, whole grain cereal, banana chips and popcorn

Want to read more: Check out or recent blogs on healthy eating and being allergy aware:
Three ideas to nurture your child’s love of wholesome food
Stay allergy aware at playgroup

What’s your ‘go to’ healthy snack? Are you the creative sort who makes apple slices and raisins into cute cars or cheese pieces and orange segments into coconut trees? Share your successes and fails …

Kath is a 40-year-old mum of three who works part time and enjoys catching up with other stressed-out mums in her spare time. Usually she’s racing against the clock to make her boys (+ husband) arrive anywhere on time and feels quite the talented mother when two of the three kids make it out of the house with shoes on!