Hi there, I am Erin, creator of the @thegreenpantry Instagram Feed and www.SunDrenchedOrganicLife.wordpress.com.  My parnter and I have two daughters, Lauren, 10 and Evie, 8. They’ve grown up eating exceptionally healthy foods, however, they both love their share of “junk” food also. In regard to their diet especially, I’ve always tried to give them what I believed was best with the knowledge I had at the time, working with them in their dietary likes and dislikes.

 

 

From beginning solids at 6 months of age, they were introduced to fruits, vegetables, starches, fish and yoghurt. Thankfully, neither of the girls had any illnesses or allergies so we had a vast array of foods to choose from. I made a standard dish every single week and would freeze it in little glass jars to be easily reheated each night for dinner. The dish contained brown rice or wheat pasta with tomatoes, onion, garlic, zucchini, broccoli, carrot, capsicum, mushrooms, sweet potato and parsley. Some nights we would stir though some kind of cooked fish, mostly tuna or salmon. Water was always the main option for drinking however they both drank dairy milk and watered down apple juice on occasion. Other meals and snacks consisted of yoghurt, fresh fruit, hummus, crackers, eggs, etc.

 

 

As they got older, they discovered more unhealthy foods and of course, were attracted to these salty or sweet options. Over time, as I educated myself further in NUTRITION and health, I began to understand that the way I saw a healthy, balanced diet, was actually not as healthy as I’d first thought. The more I researched, the more I found that eating a completely PLANT based diet was exponentially better for you than consuming high fat animal products. So overnight I gave up meat and dairy but it took a little longer to eliminate eggs from my diet. For a little while I continued to cook fish for the girls and when I work late shifts, my husband will cook fish or eggs for them, but eventually, when I saw results that excluding animal products from my diet hadn’t left me deficient, I was confident that I was on the right track and will now only prepare plant based meals at home.

 

 

 

As a result of our plant based diet everyone’s health is exceptional and we eat an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, potatoes, legumes and wholegrains and I can tell you, none of us are deprived and we have plenty of energy. When the girls do eat “junk” type foods, their behaviour isn’t terribly affected, but their ENERGY levels are definitely lower and they will ask for healthier options from that point on. They’re also very aware on how processed food affects their peers, acknowledging that the children with the biggest BEHAVIOURAL ISSUES seem to be the ones with PROCESSED food laden lunch boxes.

 

 

There are a few little TIPS I’ve learned along this ten year motherhood journey in regard to healthy eating.

Firstly, when I’m making pancakes for instance, while I am standing at the stove, I’ll have all the toppings chopped up ready to top our pancakes (strawberries, bananas, lemons, blueberries, raspberries etc) and the girls will snack on those all morning while I am cooking, so by the time we’re to sit down to breakfast, they’ve had a decent amount of fruit already so they’re not stuffing their faces with pancakes alone.

 

 

My other trick when they were younger was hiding vegetables in their food (spaghetti sauce made from leftover root vegetables, tomatoes, celery, onions, garlic, parsley, spinach and tomatoes etc blended until smooth) but serving the spaghetti with a side of steamed vegetables also. It’s important that children get used to eating vegetables and see what they are eating and be proud of themselves for eating wholesome food. They’ll never be proud of themselves for something they didn’t know was even there. So, when the girls would only eat three stalks of broccoli and some carrots, they’d be proud of themselves thinking they did a great job and I’d be secretly happy because they’d eaten what they didn’t eat the night before hidden in their spaghetti!

My final tip is working with what they like and not forcing them to eat something they really dislike, for example, the youngest loves avocado, the eldest doesn’t, so she will have extra baby spinach instead. The youngest doesn’t like carrot, so she will compromise by having extra broccoli etc.

 

 

In my job (I’m a registered nurse working in the operating theatres and recovery), I see people with absolutely horrific digestive issues/metabolic disease associated with poor diet and I just wish I could tell them how amazing they could feel if they simply changed their diet. Our brain and our digestive tract are so intricately connected, the food we eat has such a profound effect on how we look, feel and live.

 

 

I’m attaching one of the girls favourite breakfast recipes – banana pancakes. I’ll make a batch of these on the weekend and we simply pop them in the toaster on a weekday morning to reheat them, then top them with lots of frozen raspberries, maple syrup and bananas. The pancakes are full of oats which fill you up and are loaded with pre and probiotics and protein. Sometimes, I’ll add a spoonful of matcha and some spinach to make them green, or some maqui berry powder and blueberries to make them purple and load them up with extra nutrients.

 

 

Banana Pancakes

2 large, ripe bananas

1 cup oats ground to a flour

1.5 cups spelt flour

2 cups almond milk

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp vanilla bean powder or extract

2 tbsp coconut sugar

2 tsp maca

 

Combine all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Alternatively you can blend the wet ingredients in a blender and whisk through your dry ingredients until smooth.

Cook 1/4 cup of batter in batches in a stone frying pan without oil (stone pans are naturally non-stick). If you don't have a stone frying pan/skillet, use a spray of coconut oil to grease pan.

Flip when just starting to bubble around edges and cook until golden.

Serve with warm blueberry + maqui chia jam, raw coconut flakes, berries + maple syrup or coconut yoghurt.

A lot of people think cooking certain foods depletes the nutrients in the food, however, cooking blueberries for instance actually increases their phytonutrient bioavailability, a lot like activating nuts or sprouting seeds, it allows for better absorption of the nutrients. I love adding warm blueberries to my ice cold smoothies for a contrast, plus I find cooking them, enhances the sweetness and flavour of the blueberry. In contrast to this, adding frozen blueberries to warm porridge is also one of my favourite contrasts when eating.

For these pancakes, I like to warm some chia jam with a little water + a handful of frozen organic blueberries to make a really filling, nutritionally rich, sweet sauce.

 

Mixed Berry and Maqui Jam

 

2 cups frozen organic mixed berries 1

lemon, juice only

2 tbsp coconut sugar

½ tsp vanilla bean powder or extract

1 tbsp Maqui

3 tbsp chia seeds

 

Place mixed berries, lemon juice + coconut sugar in a saucepan over moderate heat and bring to a light simmer, stirring often with a wooden spoon.

Add vanilla and Maqui and stir to combine.

Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat + allow to cool a little.

Scoop mixture into a high speed blender + blend on low until broken down into a rough purée (you can use a stick blender for this if you choose or skip this step entirely for a chunkier jam).

When blended, pour mixture into a small bowl and stir chia seeds through. Allow to cool before refrigerating (can be stored up to a week in the fridge).

 

Enjoy x 

ERIN WEEKS

@thegreenpantry

sundrenchedorganiclife.wordpress.com