By Dietician Caryn Kave
So in some of our previous articles you will have heard us talking about the importance of feeding your family foods from the 5 food groups... everyday. You may even have seen the food pyramid detailing the servings per group. But the practicality of how to actually incorporate this into your everyday menu can be a little intimidating.
We have put together some simple suggestions that you can use as a starting point for how to include a variety of products from each of the key food groups:
Grain (Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties)
Grain (cereal grain) foods, should mostly consist of whole grains rather than white, high processed options (as found in most processed food). It will then have more healthy properties such as fibre, vitamins and minerals. Grains can be incorporated on a daily basis by using wholemeal or rye bread for sandwiches, rice (preferably brown) or quinoa in salads. Pasta, (again preferably Whole wheat or spelt), wholegrain crackers.
Between-meal snacks that can add to your daily grain intake include healthy muffins, slices and loaves that use a portion of whole meal flour, spelt flour or include oats to name a few.
Include a variety of seasonally available, multi-coloured fruit and vegetables. The variety of colours ensures that you are accessing an array of vitamins and minerals.
Vegetables and legumes/beans
Veggies can be treated similarly to fruit in that a variety of colour will ensure you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals. Plus always choose vegetables that are in season to ensure freshness.
Dairy (Milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat)
For those wanting a low-fat diet, dairy can really add to the daily calorie intake so it is a good idea to look at low fat dairy products. It is important to read the label to ensure that the products are not jam packed with sugar (this is often used to improve the taste of low fat foods).
Good sources of dairy include milk, yoghurt and cheese. Include cheese in sandwiches or cottage cheese as the spread as it is low in fat, low in sugar and high in protein. Yoghurt can be served in containers, tubs or squeezy packs. Also look at yoghurt as a great dessert alternative (rather than something sweet). As an after school snack serve up a smoothies with yoghurt, frozen fruits (frozen raspberries and bananas work a treat), milk (or water as a low fat option) and a dollop of honey.
Meat and Protein (Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans)
This includes lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans. These can be included throughout the day as snacks and in lunch by popping lean cold cuts of meat such as shaved turkey or chicken breast in sandwiches/wraps, hard boiled eggs or an egg and salad sandwich or wrap, tuna sandwiches or baked beans.
Nuts and seeds can be offered after school (if school has a no nut policy) in a slice or simply as a mix with some fresh fruit.
And a note on Fats, Oils and Sweets
The right fat’s are an important part of a healthy diet. Young children especially need good fat in their diet to help the brain and nervous system develop.
Parent’s challenge is finding easy sources of ‘good fats’ as opposed to the unhealthy processed fats found in most commercially baked, sweet and fast food products.
'Good fats' (or unprocessed fats) are found in avocados, fish, nuts and seeds, and lean meats. Olive oil, sesame oil, nut oils, and flax seed oil, coconut oil and rice bran oil are also good examples of 'good fats'.
Many of FUNCH’s ‘Healthiest Version’ products use Coconut oil as it is a naturally occurring saturated fat. It is used as an instant source of energy by the body, stops sugar cravings and energy slumps and is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. Coconut oil also has a fantastic taste.