Another school year is just about to begin. As a parent I am juggling my individual kids' food preferences ('cause they're all different), the family budget and trying to get most of the food groups in.
I hope these ideas help you to feed your kids this year!
1. Vegies and fruit- fresh and dried
2. Yoghurt and muesli, which can be kept cold in frozen Nude food containers. Nut boxes are also handy but keep nuts at home if your school is nut-free.
3. Grainy crackers, with homous or cheese.
4. Tuna with or without crackers or Messy Monkeys popcorn (see my November 2018 blog about healthy popcorn choices).
5. Leftover quiche, boiled eggs or baked beans for that filling protein hit.
6. Salads with leftover roast vegies, boiled eggs, or homemade sushi.
7. Rolls, wraps or bread (gluten free for those who can't have wheat) with meat and salad fillings.
We also do pizza muffins- English muffins with tomato paste, ham, pineapple and grilled cheese as leftovers travel well to school. Hot crossed buns are also for sale at the moment and freeze well.
The popcorn range on our supermarket shelves has expanded it seems this year. I have reviewed a number of different brands to show which is the best choice, with Messy Monkeys coming out on top. Read on to find out why.
Of course popping corn yourself and giving to the kids in reusable containers saves you money, reduces packaging, and will almost certainly be lower in fat and salt.
These popcorn brands do provide some fibre at around 8-9% and a slightly better choice for kids' lunch boxes than chips.
Just to compare:
Messy Monkeys Lightly Salted Popcorn has the lowest fat and salt that I have looked at.
Before Messy Monkeys appeared at my IGA I was buying Sunbites popcorn as it was lower in fat and sodium than other brands. This one has 21% fat and 500mg sodium.
The next brands of popcorn are similar- Snackers and Cool Pak. They have 26% fat and 700mg sodium.
This pack of Cobs popcorn has 3 flavours inside- all with 23% fat and 300mg sodium. However the "Lightly Salted, Slightly Sweet" packet has 16% sugar. All the other savoury popcorns I looked at have only 0.1-2% sugar.
The Perfect Pop by Community Co is an IGA brand. It had the highest fat at 44% (and it certainly tasted buttery!) and 470mg of sodium per 100g. This popcorn wasn't packaged in individual bags.
So next time you are looking for kids' snacks compare the fat and sodium and choose the lowest you can find! If you have the time, popping corn yourself is healthier and will save you money and reduce the need for single-use packaging.
I was asked about the sugar in breakfast cereals, so I have been shopping and busily reading labels to show the difference between them. Here are the top 4 sugary cereals with 1 sugar cube= 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams. I chose to use per 100g to display, as the serves listed on cereal packets are very small and unrealistic. Remember we are looking as a guide for foods with <10% sugar.
Coco pops is 37% sugar, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes is 32%, and both Nutrigrain and Milo cereal are 27%.
Sultana Bran is high in sugar at 28% (7 tsp) but most of this sugar comes from the 26% sultanas. Sultanas appear in the ingredient list before sugar which tells us that there are more sultanas than added sugar. This is also a high fibre cereal so it has more nutritional value than other sweet cereals.
Choice have been campaigning for labelling of both natural and added sugars which would make this process easier!
To the disappointment of my kids, Weetbix Bites are also on the high sugar list. They are 22% sugar with sugar high (second) on the ingredient list, along with the sugars invert syrup and honey. And the only fruit I can find on the label is 3% berry puree.
The next cereals have similar amounts of sugar but sugar appears lower in the ingredient list at eighth (after fruit, in Sustain), and fifth (Plus), and they are a source of fibre.
So we come to lower sugar cereals in Special K, muesli, nutty Be Natural, Weetbix and the sugar-free rolled oats! All are good sources of fibre and great breakfast options.
You can see that Corn Flakes and Rice Bubbles are not very high in sugar, both about 7-8%. But they don't rate as an everyday choice because of their low fibre content. Corn Flakes are 4% fibre and Rice Bubbles are only 2% fibre. In contrast both Carman's berry bircher muesli and Weetbix are 11% fibre.
Like my Facebook page for continued food reviews based on people's questions and comments- keep your thoughts coming!
Thanks to all my supporters, clients, colleagues, friends and family who have helped me achieve so much in my business in the past 10 years!
My business started with one clinic half a day a week 10 years ago. Now I work every day, in five towns, six medical centres, five aged care facilities and one private hospital.
My amazing 12 year old daughter Emily made a perfectly coloured fondant cake complete with my logo, to celebrate my business’ 10th birthday.
Here’s to another 10 years of helping people eat well.
In my last blog we looked at how to read food labels, looking at the sugar and fat using the 100g column.
It is also helpful to look at the sugar in the per serve column for some foods. It is useful to know that 1 teaspoon of sugar weighs 4 grams.
If you look at sugar per serve below, you can see that a Nescafe cappuccino sachet has almost 1.5 teaspoons (5.5g) of sugar per cup. This surprised me as people may also add their own sugar to this coffee, not realising that it already contains sugar.
The Ingredient list also gives us clues about about how much sugar is in food. Ingredients are listed in descending order. In the regular coffee sachet, glucose syrup (a type of sugar) and sugar are listed as third and fourth in the ingredient list.
In the Butterscotch sachet below you can see that sugar is listed as the first ingredient in this sachet, which means it is the most prominent ingredient, before even coffee!
The sweet coffee sachet below has more sugar at almost 2 teaspoons per cup.
The skim sachet has the same sugar as the regular sachet, almost 1.5 teaspoons per cup, but also has less fat than the regular sachet.
Finally, the butterscotch latte sachet below has nearly 3 teaspoons of sugar per cup, with sugar is listed as the first ingredient.
Knowing how to spot the sugar in food helps us make informed decisions about what to eat and drink.
Reading food labels can be confusing and time consuming! By the time we weigh up health concerns, whether our family will eat the food we buy, and the cost of food, we can all get overwhelmed when grocery shopping!
Here's my top five tips for reading food labels to make the whole process easier.
There are other words listed below for fat, sugar and salt to watch out for on the Ingredient list as well, and some targets for what to aim for in your total fat, saturated fat and sugar intake.
Leanne is an experienced dietitian who is passionate about helping people eat well.