Mornings can be a whirlwind. The rush to get everyone out of bed, dressed, and ready often leaves little time for the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Amidst the chaos, we've all been guilty of handing our kids a bowl of cereal which, deep down, we know isn't the best nutritional choice. Or perhaps, during those tiring evenings, we've reached for a sugary snack as a quick bedtime treat. Sound familiar? Well, fret not! As female founders and mothers ourselves, we understand the juggling act that comes with having a family! So, in today’s blog, we’re here to guide you through the art of meal-prepping that doesn't just save time but ensures our children get the nutrition they need to thrive.
In today's world of supermarket deals and attractive branding, making the right choices can feel overwhelming. We are often bombarded with buzzwords like "natural", “high fibre”, "low-fat", or "vitamin-enriched", so it’s no wonder we can lose sight of what true nutrition looks like. Especially when it comes to our children where every morsel matters. Not only do their growing bodies and minds need the right fuel to ensure optimum development, so do we in order to deal with what the day brings us! But with the plethora of options available, how do we ensure that we're making the best choices?
Today’s blog will serve as your go-to guide to demystifying the complex world of family nutrition. Beyond just recipes, it aims to educate, empower, and enable every parent to make informed decisions. Whether you're wondering about the right cereal to buy or searching for bedtime snacks that won't spike sugar levels, this space will serve as your trusty handbook. Armed with a treasure trove of information, recipes, and brand recommendations, you'll be ready to face the supermarket aisles and morning chaos with confidence. Dive in and discover the magic of meal-prepping. Here's to happier, healthier mornings and snack times!
Nutrition is not just about what we eat but how we eat it. Breakfast, as the first meal of the day, sets the tone. Starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast benefits kids in numerous ways. It provides a steady source of energy, ensuring that children remain attentive and energetic as they tackle school and play. Moreover, protein helps in satiety, reducing those mid-morning hunger pangs and keeping us focused on tasks. And let’s be honest, we aren’t just talking about the kids here – it’s just as important for us too! By keeping blood sugar levels balanced, a protein packed breakfast will keep you going until lunch time. But with our busy schedules, how do we ensure we get that protein punch every morning? Let’s explore some simple (but yummy) ways to give breakfasts the protein boost we all need.
Creative Breakfast Ideas with a Protein Twist
Morning Smoothie Magic - While fruits and yoghurt are standard smoothie ingredients, consider adding a scoop of protein powder. It seamlessly blends into the drink, ensuring your child starts the day with a balance of essential nutrients. Flavours like chocolate or vanilla can be a hit with the kids! Combine with some berries, bananas, and a splash of almond milk, and you have a breakfast winner. We are fans of Supernova Living Future Power Blend, which has been designed with hungry kids in mind! They do a female blend for mum too – check out their Woman 01 protein.
Protein-Packed Homemade Oat Bars - Store-bought cereal bars might be convenient, but they often come loaded with sugars. Why not make a weekend activity out of preparing homemade protein bars with your kids? Incorporate oats, dried fruits, a dollop of nut butter, and of course, some protein powder. Not only are they delicious, but they also offer a healthful energy source your child can grab on-the-go. We have a delicious oat snack bar recipe in our recent blog.
Cereal with a Protein Twist - If your child is a fan of the classic bowl of cereal, give it a nutritional upgrade by mixing protein powder with milk. This can then be poured over their favourite cereal, ensuring they get the goodness of both carbohydrates and protein in one meal. For added protein, you can also sprinkle chopped nuts on top, hemp seeds and add a few colourful berries for extra fibre too.
Loaded Toast – If you and your kids love the ease of toast first thing, make it more nutritious by loading it with fruit, seeds, and nut butters. For example, avocado toast works well will a squeeze of lemon juice, crumbled organic feta for healthy fats, and a sprinkling of hemp seeds for protein, meanwhile nut butter on toast, with berries and a drizzle of Greek yoghurt is another good combination. If you have a little more time on your hands, you could make eggy bread, by cracking an egg in a bowl, adding a pinch of cinnamon and dipping your slice of toast in so it’s completely covered in the mix and then lightly fry off in a non-stick pan. You can even add nut butter to your toast before dipping in the egg for a protein-packed take on this family breakfast favourite.
Navigating the Cereal Aisle
The cereal aisle can often leave us feeling totally confused and unsure who to trust. Bright boxes emblazoned with cheerful mascots promise endless health benefits. Yet, beneath the vivid packaging, there's a world of difference in nutritional value. So, how can we as parents discern between those that offer a healthy start to the day and those that are sugar-laden treats masquerading as breakfast? Let's break it down.
Understanding Carbohydrates in Cereals
Carbohydrates provide energy, and they are especially important for kids who have an active day ahead. However, the type and amount matter. For a balanced breakfast cereal aim for cereals that provide 20-25 grams of carbs per serving. This should ideally come from whole grains which release energy slowly, ensuring sustained fullness and concentration. But be wary of cereals that contain more than 10 grams of sugars per serving. Remember, sugars are carbs too, but they're quickly digested, leading to energy spikes and crashes. Besides the obvious "sugar", watch out for terms like high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, and even "organic cane sugar". While honey, agave, or maple syrup might sound healthier, they still contribute to the overall sugar content. Artificial additives should be avoided too. These include synthetic dyes, preservatives, and flavour enhancers. Always read the label to ensure what you're offering your family is free from unnecessary additives. Finally, dietary fibre, typically from whole grains, helps with digestion and satiety. If a cereal contains less than 3 grams of fibre per serving, it might not be the best choice.
Brands That Prioritise Nutrition Over Mere Taste
Weetabix - A classic choice that’s low in sugar and salt and high in fibre. It’s made from 100% wholegrain wheat, offering sustained energy. It’s also packed with B vitamins and iron to help support energy levels.
Alpen - Alpen muesli is a long-standing favourite in many households. It provides a balanced combination of whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits. While they do offer some variants with added sugars, their 'No Added Sugar' version is a good one to consider for the family.
Dorset Cereals - This brand is renowned for its mueslis that combine a mixture of grains, nuts, and dried fruits. Most of their offerings are high in fibre and free from artificial preservatives, colours, and sweeteners. Their commitment to using authentic and natural ingredients makes them a top choice for health-conscious families.
Rude Health - An organic and non-GMO brand, Rude Health is known for its variety, from granolas to puffed cereals. Their products often steer clear of refined sugars and instead embrace natural sweetness from fruits. They are also clear champions of using whole grains, making them a nutritious choice.
Nestlé Shredded Wheat: Made from 100% whole grain wheat, these mini biscuits are free from artificial colours or flavours and are low in sugar. It's a simple cereal, but sometimes simplicity offers the best nutritional punch. Pairing this with fruits or a sprinkle of nuts can elevate its taste and nutritional profile.
Remember, while these brands might offer healthier options, it's always crucial to read labels as not all cereals from a single brand may meet specific nutritional criteria. Always check for sugar content, fibre, and ensure whole grains are at the forefront of the ingredients list.
We get it – the juggling act of work, school, extracurricular activities, and everything in between, means that every minute saved can feel like a small victory. Enter our game-changing win: meal prepping. It's more than just a fad; it's a strategy that, when employed correctly, can transform your weekly routine, saving you precious hours and reducing daily stress.
What exactly is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is essentially the act of planning and preparing meals (or parts of meals) in advance. This can mean cooking a few dinners on a Sunday afternoon, or simply chopping up veggies for the next few days' meals and storing in the fridge. The beauty lies in its flexibility. By having meals or meal components ready to go, you eliminate the daily "what’s for dinner?" dilemma, drastically cutting down on cooking time during the more hectic weekdays. Financially, meal prepping can lead to significant savings. When you plan in advance, you're more likely to make a comprehensive shopping list, which reduces impulsive purchases. You can buy in bulk, take advantage of sales, and decrease the frequency of eating out or ordering in. Nutritionally, having control over ingredients and portions allows families to make healthier choices. Knowing what goes into your food avoids hidden sugars, salts, or unhealthy fats that are often present in store-bought or takeaway meals.
5 Meal Prepping Tips
- Batch Cooking - This involves making large quantities of a particular dish and then dividing it into portions to be eaten across several days. For example, cooking a big pot of chilli can serve as dinner one night, then be repurposed as fillings for wraps or topped on baked potatoes on subsequent days.
- Component Prepping - Instead of preparing full meals, you focus on individual components. This can be roasting vegetables, cooking up quinoa or brown rice, grilling proteins, or making sauces. Throughout the week, you can mix and match these components for varied meals. To save time further, you can find ready chopped veg in the fresh or frozen aisles in most supermarkets. Other time-saving hacks are purchasing ready chopped garlic, chopped tomatoes and chopped herbs. This also means, you are less likely to waste foods too.
- Theme Nights - Assign themes to different days of the week like "Meatless Mondays" or "Fish Fridays". This narrows down the meal choices, making planning simpler and more fun – get the whole family involved!
- Tools to Make it Easier - Having the right containers can make meal prepping more organised. Glass containers are environmentally friendly and free from harmful chemicals like BPA (found in plastics). They are perfect for reheating food too. Label your containers with contents and dates to keep track. Additionally, slow cookers and Instant Pots can be huge time-savers. These gadgets allow for one-pot meals, which means less time spent cooking and cleaning.
- Making it a Family Affair - Involve the entire family in the meal prepping process. Children can help with age-appropriate tasks like washing veggies or setting out containers. This not only eases the workload but also becomes an opportunity for family bonding. Plus, when kids have a hand in making their meals, they're more likely to eat them!
Meal prepping might seem daunting at first, but with a bit of practice and the right approach, it can seamlessly integrate into any family’s routine. It's a proactive approach to eating, ensuring that even on the busiest of days, your family has access to nutritious meals without the time pressure. So, take back those lost hours and invest a bit of time in preparation; your future self will thank you!
If you eat dinner early as a family, you may need to consider incorporating a bedtime snack. However, it's crucial to understand that what we consume before hitting the hay can influence the quality of our sleep. With the right bedtime snack, we can foster a tranquil environment within our bodies, ensuring that both our children and we enjoy a deep, undisturbed sleep. A proper bedtime snack does more than just quench those late-night hunger pangs. It plays a vital role in maintaining steady blood sugar levels throughout the night. When blood sugar levels dip, it can cause our sleep to be interrupted, resulting in a restless night. On the other hand, consuming foods that lead to a rapid surge in blood sugar can also disrupt the natural sleep cycle. Thus, the trick is to find the perfect balance: a snack that provides sustained energy without causing a spike. Moreover, certain foods can naturally promote sleep. They contain compounds like tryptophan, a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin. By integrating these foods into our evening snacks, we can harness their power to lull us into a peaceful slumber.
One of the standout foods rich in tryptophan is yoghurt. Creamy, versatile, and brimming with gut-friendly probiotics, yoghurt is a bedtime superstar. Pair it with cherries, which are a natural source of melatonin, and you've got a snack that is not only delicious but also designed to send you off to dreamland. Cherries' natural sweetness complements the tang of yoghurt, making for a tasty flavour combination. Another tryptophan rich bedtime option would be a warm milky malted drink. While commercially available malted drinks might contain added sugars and other additives you might want to avoid, a homemade version can offer more control over the components, ensuring it remains nutritious.
Wholesome Malted Bedtime Drink
- 2 tbsp malted barley powder (available in health stores or online; ensure it's unsweetened)
- 300ml organic cow’s milk
- 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional for a slight chocolaty flavour)
- 1-2 tsp honey or maple syrup (adjust according to preferred sweetness; less is more)
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
Method: In a saucepan, gently heat the milk over medium heat until it's warm, but not boiling. Once warm, whisk in the malted barley powder until it’s well dissolved. If you're adding cocoa powder, ensure it's mixed in thoroughly to avoid lumps. Stir in your choice of sweetener (honey or maple syrup). Remember, you can always add more later, so start with a small amount and adjust to taste. Add the vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon. If you're using chia seeds, add them last. Let the drink sit for a few minutes to allow the chia seeds to swell slightly, enhancing the texture. Pour the malted drink into a favourite mug. Enjoy it warm for a soothing bedtime treat.
Whipping up a Dreamy Protein Shake
For those who crave something a bit more indulgent, a protein shake can be a night-time treat. Begin with a base of almond milk, which is lighter than dairy and often enriched with additional nutrients. Add in your choice of protein powder, ensuring you select a variant without added sugars or stimulants such as Nuzest Kids Good Stuff Rich Chocolate Powder. The cocoa not only elevates the taste but also infuses the shake with antioxidants. It contains magnesium, a mineral linked to improved sleep quality. A dash of nut butter, like almond or peanut, introduces healthy fats and a rich creaminess to the shake. Fats are slower to digest, ensuring that the energy release is gradual, aiding in a full night's sleep.
Midnight Mocha Protein Shake
- 250ml almond milk
- 1 scoop of your preferred protein powder (ensure it’s kid-friendly if sharing with children)
- 1 tablespoon almond or peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
Method: Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve chilled and enjoy this creamy, chocolaty delight. Better still, warm the milk for a soothing bedtime treat.