Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Little Healthy Eater

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This is my all-time favourite topic. I can talk about my sons healthy diet all day long. I have always had a passion for nutritional research... probably stemming from my own hang-ups with food, and I have spent many years devouring book after book on the topic of 'natural' nutrition. I have also completed a course in Natural Health and Nutrition through the International Academy of Health and Wellness.

I define the term 'natural' nutrition with eating as close to what nature intended as possible.

Long before I fell pregnant I decided that the mainstream diet that we are bombarded with from advertisers on television and in supermarkets is not conducive to a healthy mind, body and soul for our precious children. Through all my studies and reading in different books on the subject I came to a few conclusions. Firstly, that delaying the introduction of solids as late as possible is better for all involved. Find out more on my previous post regarding when to start solids here. The best first {solid} food for children is fruit. I have written on this topic previously and I do believe that it is valuable information so please find an excerpt from that post below, you can read the full post here.

Not only do I feel that babies are put on to solids too early, there are also some crazy choices that parents make as first foods. Babies have immature digestive systems and cannot chew properly until around 2 years old. Complex carbohydrates and proteins require chewing to start the digestive process off. Feeding your babies these foods means that they are not digested properly and ferment in the digestive tract. "By-products of fermentation are alcohol, acetic acid and ammonia, all of which can result in nappy rash, foul gas and stools, cramping, mucus, irritability and failure to thrive." (Healthy Kids, The Natural Way by Mary-Ann Shearer and Charlotte Meschede) 

There is, however, a perfect food. A food that is closest in its nutrient composition to mothers milk... and this is fruit. A food with all the protein and starch broken down into easily absorbable amino acids and glucose molecules, loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many other valuable nutrients. Uncooked, ripe fruit meets most of your young child’s nutrient requirements. Babies love eating fruit as it is naturally sweet, just like mother’s milk. 

After much research I have discovered that fruit is the only food your baby will need until they are two years old (As long as you are practicing full term breastfeeding). From here on you may start introducing more complex carbohydrates like carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin. In my opinion rice cereals and other highly refined baby foods have no place in a healthy babies diet. Cereal has become infamous for being "babies first junk food". 

My son is now 11 months old. He has only now started eating solids with any regularity or quantity. On a typical day... my husband goes off to work at the crack-of-dawn (he starts at 6am in summer) and leaves Jesse and I asleep in bed. We wake up a *little* later... and after lots of nursing, we go sit on the verandah (porch) and eat some fruit for breakfast whilst watching the birds and squirrels. Sometimes my husband manages to join us. Summer is a great time to eat lots of fruit, there is so much in season.

This is what our breakfast looks like on a typical day.

Jesse has been fed solids in the baby-led weaning fashion. The result of this is that he has become very aware of different textures and knows exactly what he likes. His first love was apple... and his new love is watermelon. 

Why I don't usually use plates or tablecloths.

I am also a believer in the miracles of green juice consumption, and that introducing green juice to your child early on in his life lets them become accustomed to its taste. Jesse and I have just started drinking these every morning. Find my favourite recipe here.

Another awesome breakfast is smoothies. Our favourite blend is made up of two frozen bananas, a teaspoon of cinnamon (anti-oxidant) and a fresh date with a little filtered water added. Very yummy, but I don't do smoothies too often as I feel it is important for Jesse to get used to the texture of solid foods and to build his jaw muscles by using a chewing action. See more about this in my post on baby-led weaning here.

A lovely recipe for children for breakfast, that is so nutritious too, is Chia Pudding. Chia seeds are the seed of a herb grown in North and South America, and was once the staple food of the Aztecs. Chia seeds are highly nutritious, they contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 with the perfect ratio of Omega 3 to 6. Chia seeds contain water soluble fibre which is ideal for constipation and diarrhoea as it regulates bowel function. They also regulate the thyroid and other hormonal function. These seeds contain all 8 amino acids for complete protein and contain powerful anti-oxidants.

Chia and Dried Fruit Pudding

This recipe was adapted from Evie's Kitchen by Shazzie

When mixed with water Chia Seeds turn glutinous making a pudding with a consistency not unlike that of tapioca pudding. It definitely tastes better than it looks :)

200ml Warm Water
30g Raisins
20g Chia Seeds
20g Dried Apricots
20g Dried Pear

Finely chop the dried fruit and add the Chia seeds in a small bowl. Pour over the warm (not hot) water and leave for twenty minutes to thicken. Stir before serving.

Indeed any dried fruit can be used, I used dried cranberries, pears and gooseberries in the picture above. However the Chia seeds do not have a very distinctive flavour so it is best to use sweet dried fruit.

Sharing with Daddy
I realise that it is easy to talk of my sons healthy diet now, when he is still so young and it is simple to control his diet. Once he becomes older and has more of a will I do fear it will become harder and I will have to become more and more imaginative in my healthy meal offerings. Until then, I will continue to slowly introduce healthy food.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


  1. hi there.. love the article. i am planning to use wheat cereal because babies need a balanced diet of grains, vegetable and fruit.. just like adults. heres a trick though, mixing fresh fruit juice with the cereal :)

    1. Hi Sarah
      Thanks for your comment :)
      I don't believe babies need grains at all, in fact I don't believe adults need them either. Wheat causes more digestive problems than any other natural food.


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