Cheese sandwiches will always be a popular favourite amongst young children. Whether it’s for lunch or just a snack, little ones and adults alike can all appreciate how tasty a cheese sandwich really is – or better yet, a toasty! But, did you know that some cheese sandwiches can contain more than 2 grams of salt, which is the recommended daily intake for children under three?
The most common cheese sandwich combo I see from my clients, uses white bread with a smothering of vegetable oil-filled margarine and a high-sodium processed cheese, sound familiar?
Compare that to wholegrain bread or sourdough bread with a spread of avocado and a low-sodium hard cheese or a white cheese such as ricotta or even goats curd, and already you can see how some simple swaps can create a different feast altogether.
The Wholesome Child teaches us how to make a healthy chocolate spread that’s delicious and super easy to make.
As a nutritionist, I’m incredibly passionate about the fact that health is all about a journey. Especially when it comes to children, it’s important to take small steps towards change so as to not overwhelm little taste buds with new flavours all at once. That’s why I created the 8-step family nutrition program that you can find in my book, Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook, all about easy steps you can slowly introduce to greatly improve the overall health of your family.
When we make simple swaps, we can also start to slowly increase the variety in a child’s diet. Many of my clients who struggle with fussy eating tend to resort to the same few foods that their child enjoys – like a cheese sandwich, for example! But, once you start to make small changes, the door opens to a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods that you can slowly but surely begin to introduce.
Remember, the journey to a healthy and varied diet is a marathon, not a sprint.
These are my top simple pantry swaps that will help boost your family’s health and start to increase variety too…
Bribe your way to a better morning routine: Join Holly and Andrew as they take you through the ultimate back-to-school bootcamp on This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.
All those breads on the shelf are the same, right? In fact, there are plenty of nasties that could be hiding right under your nose that you miss every single day. Most breads that you can pick up at your supermarket are highly processed and contain a range of sneaky ingredients such as added gluten, vegetable oils, sugar, sodium and even preservatives.
The easiest swap I recommend is to reach for a wholegrain or sourdough bread. Sourdough is a fermented bread which is easily digested and supports your healthy gut bacteria, plus, it’s got a hit of protein in there too. Wholegrain bread on the other hand, is great for slow release energy for active little ones.
I go into great depth in my book about how to choose the perfect bread at the supermarket, but some easy tips are to look for wholegrains high on the ingredients list, and choose one that offers at least 2g of dietary fibre per serve.
If you have the time, why not bake your own bread too? In my book you’ll find a simple Gluten-Free Yoghurt Bread recipe, as well as recipes for pita bread and burger buns too. Or, check out my Wholesome Child Banana Bread for a sweet treat.
As I mentioned earlier, processed cheese is often packed with sodium and may contain other preservatives to make them keep in the fridge for longer. A simple swap you can make is to buy a block of hard cheese and grate it or let your child cut shapes with cookie cutters to add to sandwiches or lunchboxes. Saying goodbye to individually wrapped portions is better for the environment too!
3. Peanut butter.
Whether your child’s a smooth or crunchy peanut butter lover, it can be a family favourite sandwich topper as it’s packed with protein and satiating fats, perfect for little tums. But, have a read of the ingredients list and see what you find! If sugar is listed, pop it back on the shelf and reach for one that’s sugar and salt-free.
Not only will it be delicious on their sandwiches, but try these High Protein Peanut Butter Biscuits too.
4. Vegetable oil.
For a long time, we were convinced that vegetable oils were healthy. But now, more and more research is coming out explaining that due to the toxic processing methods and industrial chemicals, they’re far from good for us.
I’d recommend rotating between extra virgin olive oil, cold pressed avocado oil and virgin coconut oil to boost your healthy fats intake and support brain and cell development in young children.
Sipping on soda is perhaps an obvious drink that needs to be swapped out. But, what do you do when your child just loves the bubbles and the sweet taste? Opt for kombucha instead!
Not only is kombucha fermented so it’s good for their gut, but it’s naturally sweetened too – without those nasties. Many versions of kombucha are now being stocked in supermarkets and convenience stores, making them an easy swap or perfect to grab on-the-go.
6. Milk chocolate.
Contrary to what you might think, I’m not about to say all chocolate has to go! In fact, quite the opposite. I’m a firm believer that chocolate is a ‘sometimes’ food, but you need to pick the right one.
While milk chocolate is often packed with lots of sugar that will cause hyperactivity, dark chocolate actually has proven health benefits! The higher the cacao content and lower the sugar, the better. I’d recommended to swap out that milk chocolate, for 70% dark chocolate to start with and gradually get darker as little taste buds adjust.
7. Breakfast cereals.
Did you know, many popular breakfast cereals can contain up to five teaspoons of sugar per serve? No wonder your child experiences a sugar spike straight after breakfast.
Try swapping out that processed cereal for a nutritious wholegrain granola, or even make your own. My book has a few tasty and inexpensive granola recipes that are perfect to kick off your little one’s day.
Visit the Wholesome Child website to learn more about Mandy Sacher. Her book “Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook” is available to purchase online and through iTunes. Connect with Mandy on Instagram and Facebook.