Sharon Lam is a food blogger, kitchen whisperer and a devoted mother of two beautiful girls, age 5 and 6. She is also the co-founder of Cookit.SG, a cook kit home delivery program based on a grain/gluten-free, sugar-free, legume-free, lactose-free, paleolithic diet. She believes in setting boundaries and spending quality time with her daughters. She also understands the importance of making healthy meals for them. We chatted with Sharon on how she makes sure that her young daughters get the best from her home-cooking.
1. How do you ensure that your daughters get enough nutrients from their daily diet?
I believe that it is very important to establish routines, especially with young children. That includes having standard meals time and snacks in-between. My girls start the day with a nutritious breakfast. And on most days, lunch is cooked and packed for the girls to bring to school. It is a lot of work, but it allows me to know that they are eating well.
We want our girls have a balance diet from the different food groups. That means taking the time to learn more about the food we consume and plan what goes on to their plate. The trick is to make each calorie count, by using fresh nutrients dense ingredients to prepare their meals. We also avoid using instant convenient product such as process food and store bought pastries which are empty calories and often stripped of their nutrients. Empty calories fills the body, but doesn’t fuel it.
2. Are they picky eaters?
Yes, yes, and have I already mentioned yes? How do you encourage them to eat healthy food which they do not like? We have a rule at home about food. To try everything at least once. This encourages kids to try out new food which are foreign to them. And more often than not, they have a pre-conceived notion that they do not like that new food even before trying. Don’t forget to praise them for trying something new.
I also find that getting them involved in meal preparation usually helps. Kids feel proud of what they made and would be more likely to eat it. This process can also help the kids to learn more about different kind of food and its benefits. Make it a fun educational process.
It is also important to model. Kids model after their parents all the time. Eat healthier and your kids will do the same. My girls grew up watching my husband and I eat raw vegetables and salad (or dinosaur leaves as they call it). We chomp it down and pretend to be herbivorous dinosaurs. And within seconds, my girls are mimicking us, having fun eating their greens.
Another way is to try different ways of cooking them. My kids does not like eating sweet potatoes when it’s mashed. However, they love it when I cut them up into wedges and bake them. Sometimes I spiralize them into sweet potato noodles for stir-fries. The same goes for avocado. They tried but didn’t like it. However, if I blend it with some milk and a touch of honey, they will be fighting for it. The secret is to be creative with food.
What are some healthy snacks that kids can munch on between meals? For snacks, the girls get healthy options of fresh fruits with almond butter, vegetable sticks with homemade dips, and home-made goodies/treats. I bake healthier alternatives to replace store bought pastries and snacks. Choose whole wheat, flax seeds, almond flour and use natural sweeteners like fruits and coconut sugar. I’ll also use shredded zucchini, shredded carrots, and ground oats as fillers for my bakes.
The girls also like making their own yogurt pops. That’s Greek yogurt with fresh fruits or fruit puree frozen in popsicle trays. Great alternative to ice-creams.
Don’t throw away fruits that are ripe or ignored on the kitchen counter. Freeze them, and use those frozen fruits as snacks or throw them in the blender to make smoothies. My girls love it when I blend frozen fruit smoothies for them, because they have a milk shake/soft serve ice-cream consistency.
3. Please share a recipe with us that is a favourite among your daughters.
My girls love Spiced Chicken Wrap with Pineapple Salsa. Perhaps it is because they get to have fun eating with their hands. But at the same time, they are eating a lot of colourful vegetables in one seating. The best part of this recipe is that you get to prep everything before hand. Let the flavours develop while you go about your day. Then fire up the pan or grill and cook the chicken before serving.