Mealtime: refilling energy regularly
To have energy and feel good throughout the day, you need a hearty breakfast, lunch and supper.
In addition, at least the kids should get a healthy snack between meals. A fresh fruit, yogurt or a sandwich perhaps – in the morning and afternoon. Preferably there shouldn’t be more than 3 hours between refills for kids.
Children’s blood sugar levels fall quickly when they play or concentrate intently, and they easily become grumpy or whiny (just like us!) when it’s been a few hours since their last snack or meal. The phenomenon of “late-afternoon-crying” usually depends on this, in addition to tiredness. If supper is delayed, it is a good idea to hand the child some fruit, a sandwich or maybe carrot sticks while waiting.
Good quality food helps the child grow big and strong and in good health. It helps brain development, keeping a balanced temper and a nice feeling of being full for a longer period of time. This is not a dietary site, but general advice is:
– Fresh fruit and veggies are important parts of a healthy diet. Some vitamines get damaged when cooked, so the raw food is important as part of a diet. On the other hand, some are more easily absorbed when heated, so cooking e.g. onions, carrots and green beans for casseroles or woks is a good idea. Totally we should have about 0,5 kilos (about a pound) of fruit and veggies everyday (as adults). That’s quite a lot.
– Whole grain includes more fibers than white flour, which help us feel full and keeps the stomach working nicely. A lot of pasta, bread, müsli and rice can be found in whole grain versions.
– Protein sources can be beans, eggs and milk products such as cheese – and of course the most common: fish, seafood or meat. Vegetarians need to make sure to include a lot of alternate protein and iron sources in their diet, like peas or beans. Vitamin B12, usually found in liver, is needed for building blood cells and there is no substitute for this in the vegetarian diet. B12 needs to be complemented with supplements for vegetarians.
– We do need some fat as well, although possibly some moderation here is a good advice. Vegetable oils with a high rate of mono- and polyunsaturated fat, such as olive oil, are considered healthy. Butter also apparently. Fish oil from fat fish like salmon or herring are held to be especially good for the concentration and brain development.
However, frying oil, usually with a high rate of saturated fat, is not a healthy kind of fat. Avoid french fries, crisps and other deep-fried snacks except for on festive occasions and you’ll probably be fine.
– Sugar and white flour (carbs) seem to be the scapegoats of our time. Every diet is on to us for even looking at them longingly. And yes – sugar IS addictive. The more you eat, the more you want. That’s just never good.
This is why snacks shouldn’t be too sweet: blood sugar will rise, then fall quickly. The kids turn overexcited then moody, then hungry again in no time. Preferably for more sweets.
Personally, I like a reasonable approach to most things: I think it´s OK to have the occasional cake, soda or ice-cream, and to have some candy on Saturdays or parties. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have too much of it, or have it everyday. Simple everyday advice:
- Use morning cereal with actual grains in it, and only moderate amounts of sugar. Or whole-grain bread with . Fresh fruit or veggies is great, if you have time for it. Or have the old English egg and bacon breakfast with beans.
- Whole sandwiches with somewhat healthy spread are great lunches or snacks. Cheese, tuna, egg, ham or salami with some veggies are healthier than jam, even if jam is quite tasty too (We use it on birthdays, and pancakes, which admittedly happens more regularly).
- Avoid sugary drinks, syrup or soda. It’s much more apreciated on festive occasions if it’s not another everyday thing. Juice is fine once a day or so, but also contains a lot of sugar. Drink water or milk with meals, and just water in between and you’ll be fine.
Cooked meals should preferably be served with about 1/3 of each:
- protein: beans, eggs, fish or meat. Dairy and soy products works too.
- vegetables and / or fresh fruit
- grain, seed: bread, rice, pasta – preferably whole OR root vegetables: potatoes,
With children to care for and look after, possibly work and shopping for groceries to do – how do we get time to cook?
I have 3 major advice, that I’m not founder of, but thankful learner from:
1) Plan ahead. Take your time during the weekend to plan the menu for the coming up week. Not knowing your ambitions or cooking skills, cultural or diatary prefenences, I will only advice to plan for at least a few easy-to-do meals.
2) Make a huge shoppinglist, including things you’re running low on. Check your supplies of spice, detergents, beverage, batteries and light bulbs at the same time. I actually have a list on my fridge, I’m one of those, that I scribble down things to remember to buy next time.
Buy it all once a week, at the best-priced supermarket with good quality food that you can reach. It saves you time and money. If you need to run over to the closest store every now and then it’s a lot more of transport and queing time.
3) Use a big saucepan and cook for more than one meal at a time, then save some of it until later. Pick it out and microwave it, reboil it or heat it in the oven when needed. Lasagnas, stews and casseroles, but also a lot of soups can easily be saved in the fridge for a couple of days, or freezed and actually in many cases grow in taste by it.
Here’s a few recipes as examples of less-than 30 minues-meals.
There are other quick-fixes:
A green-pea soup takes about 5 minutes to do:
Boil water (0,5 liters, or 2 cups, or 1,5 ounces)
Add frozen peas (0,5 kg or 1 pound) some broth and one chopped up onion. Maybe a little white wine.
Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add a little cream and mix it up. Spice as you wish (I use a bit of horse radish, salt, pepper and honey). Done!
Can be served with creme fraiche, greek yoghurt or maybe some cream cheese. I like to add a bit of horse radish cream too, and serve with bacon and some bread. The kids love it. Maybe you want to add some bread or have an egg or so with it, but it tastes good and is filled with vitamines.