Five ways to keep your children healthy - Go For Grains
Teaching children to recognise, choose and enjoy the wide
range of grain-based foods and encouraging more activity can
help them stay fit and healthy and reduce their risk of
serious diseases later in life, according to Accredited
Practicing Dietitian, Trish Griffiths.
"Too many Australian children have a lifestyle and diet
which increases their risk of developing obesity,
cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and rates of these
diseases are soaring" said Trish Griffiths, Manager of Go
Grains. "Many of the major risk factors can begin in
childhood and with one in five children either overweight or
obese, and a similar number physically inactive, it is time
for parents to act.
"Parents are vital role models to encourage healthy
eating and regular physical activity," said Trish Griffiths.
So, what should parents do? Trish Griffiths has five
1. Teach your children to identify and enjoy healthy
foods, including those made from grains and pulses
like bread, breakfast cereals, rice, porridge, pasta,
noodles, couscous, corn, popcorn, crispbreads, cereal-based
snack bars, English muffins and baked beans.
Food habits developed in childhood will continue into later
life, so making sure children eat plenty of nutritious,
grain-based foods means they will have lots of energy-giving
carbohydrates, fibre to keep them regular, protein for
strong, growing bodies, vitamins and minerals for good
health and small amounts of healthy unsaturated fat.
2. Plan family meals and snacks with
plenty of 'health promoting' foods made from cereal grains
and pulses, along with lots of fruits and vegetables.
Wholegrain foods - like wholemeal or mixed grain bread,
brown rice, corn on the cob, wholegrain breakfast cereals
and oats - can protect against diseases like heart disease,
diabetes and some cancers later in life. Just one or two
serves of wholegrain foods each day offer some protection.
Pulses like soy and chickpeas can also reduce the risk of
3. Know how much fibre your child
needs and how many serves of grain foods they should eat
An easy way to calculate fibre needs is to add 10 to your
child's age, so a four-year old needs 4 + 10 = 14grams of
fibre each day.
Every day 4 to 7 year-olds should eat between three and
seven serves of grain-based foods while 8 to 11 year-olds
needs between four and nine serves. One serve is:
two slices of bread,
one cup of cooked rice, pasta or noodles,
one cup of cooked porridge,
1 1/3 cups of flaked breakfast cereal, 6-8
For example, a six-year-old child could eat cereal for
breakfast, a cereal-based nutritious snack bar for
morning tea, a sandwich and an apple for lunch, a
toasted English muffin (preferably wholemeal or mixed
grain) after school, and pasta or noodles for dinner to
meet their fibre and grain requirements.
4. Keep your children a healthy
weight by including plenty of carbohydrates from grain foods
in their diets
- they'll have all the energy they need
to grow and be more active.
Carbohydrates from grain foods provide the energy kids need
for school, sport and having fun. Children who eat breakfast
perform best at school - toast and cereal is an excellent
way to start the day, plus it's quick and easy for them to
prepare by themselves. Healthy snacks between meals, like
bread, crispbreads, cereal-based snack bars and quick
noodles or rice help children meet their energy and nutrient
needs. But remember, while grain foods like bread and pasta
are not fattening, what you put on them may be.
5. Enjoy meals and be active together.
Children follow their parents' behaviour, so enjoy healthy
meals and snacks together and do some family activities.
When everyone is busy, it's easy to just grab some
take-away, but 'fast food' is often high in fat and salt.
'Fast food' made at home - try pasta or stir-fry noodles -
is quick and usually much healthier. Preparing food and
eating together is good for everyone and choosing plenty of
grain-based foods and pulses, plus fruit and vegetables,
helps everyone watch their weight.
Making the right food choices is important for staying
healthy, but so is doing enough physical activity. Rather
than drive to the game, can you all walk there instead? If
everyone has a bicycle, hit the cycle path in your
neighbourhood. Hide the remote control - just getting up to
change the channel is good for you. Set aside a section of
the garden for each member of the family to grow vegetables
or fruit. The exercise of planting, weeding and watering is
healthy, and at dinner-time everyone can go out and pick
their contribution to the meal.
This week, why not try these easy meal
and snack ideas developed by Woman's Day Food Editor,
Beef Pita Burgers
2 tablespoons burghul
300g lean minced beef
½ onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon tomato sauce
6 wholemeal pita bread pockets
6 butter lettuce leaves
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ x 250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
Place burghul in a small bowl; cover with cold water.
Stand for 10 minutes; drain; rinse under cold water; drain
well. Squeeze out excess moisture.
Place burghul in a medium bowl; add minced beef, onion
and sauces. Using hands, mix well. Shape mixture into 12
patties; place onto an oven tray. Cover; refrigerate for 20
Cook patties, in batches, in a heated, oiled non-stick
pan until browned on both sides and cooked through.
Split open pita pocket breads; sandwich with patties,
lettuce leaves, cheese and tomatoes.
1 cup brown rice
3 cups boiling water
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 teaspoon water
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 button mushrooms, finely sliced
1 x 300g can chickpeas, drained
1 x 130g can corn kernels, drained
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Spring onion curls to garnish
Combine rice and water in a large microwave-safe bowl.
Cook, uncovered, on HIGH for about 17 to 20 minutes, or
until rice is tender; stir once during cooking. Rinse rice
Combine carrot, celery, water and garlic in a large
microwave-safe bowl. Cover; cook on HIGH for 2 minutes, or
until tender. Add rice, mushrooms, chickpeas, corn and soy
sauce; mix well. Cover; cook on HIGH for 4 minutes, or until
rice is hot. Stir in spring onions.
Serve rice garnished with spring onion curls.
Berry Swirl Muffins
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
½ cup self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup reduced-fat milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon strawberry jam, warmed
Grease a 12-hole muffin pan (1/3 cup capacity).
Sift flours and soda into a bowl. Return husks from
sifter to bowl. Stir in sugar.
Add eggs, milk, oil and ½ cup of blueberries; stir until
In a bowl, combine remaining blueberries with jam; spoon
evenly over uncooked muffin mixture. Using a skewer, swirl
Cook in moderately hot oven , 190ºC for about 25 minutes,
or until cooked when tested. Stand muffins in pan for 5
minutes; turn out onto wire rack to cool.
Easy tips for a grain-filled day!
Try these easy meal and snack suggestions:
For a different breakfast, try baked beans on a
toasted English muffin.
Breakfast cereal is an ideal snack any time of the
You can also use breakfast cereals in cooking, for
cakes, biscuits or toppings.
Cereal-based snack bars are healthy fast foods.
Stuff your favourite filling in a sandwich or pocket
bread (why not try banana, sultanas, honey and peanut
butter wrapped up on wholemeal Lebanese bread).
Homemade popcorn is a great whole-grain snack-food.
Jaffles are quick, easy and nutritious (try corn and
Pita chips with hummus dip - yum.
Try microwaved corn as a tasty snack.
Pasta with a vegetable sauce gives you an energy
Add a whole-grain bread roll to your meat and
A chicken and noodle stir-fry is fast to cook.
Top wholegrain crispbreads with favourite toppings
like cheese, Vegemite or peanut butter.
- Source: Go Grains