A few weeks ago, I came downstairs in the morning to find a trail of icing sugar between the kitchen and the living room. Negligent in my parenting, I’d had a lie-in and almost slept while I could hear the girls crashing around downstairs.
On a Sunday, they’ll usually watch TV and make themselves cereal until I emerge about an hour later. They make a huge mess, but it’s worth it for the gentle wake-up. It’s nice not to have to catapult yourself out of bed at least one day a week.
Still, this Sunday was not an organic cereal and milk day. Instead of going for something broadly nutritious, Belle had climbed up on the countertops, found a bag of icing sugar in the back of a cupboard and carried handfuls of it with her into the sitting room.
It was everywhere, especially around her mouth. So when I asked her if she’d been eating icing sugar, and she looked incredulous — how dare I suggest it? — I told her the gig was up.
She then collapsed into heaps of laughter and said, “But I was so hungry!!”
I explained to her that passing over cereal, apples or yoghurt (and all those other things the fridge was packed with) for icing sugar wasn’t a great idea. Of course, she thought it was a fantastic idea and remained unconvinced.
So, it goes without saying that Belle has a sweet tooth. She does have a limit (and will stop herself after a while) but she’d eat way more sugar than she should if she could.
Kids shouldn’t really have any more than five teaspoons of sugar a day. You’d find that in one fruit-flavoured yoghurt or a small cup of juice, so it’s easy to go overboard every single day. The danger of this is, of course, weight gain around the middle (visceral fat, which is metabolically active and a disease risk factor) and type 2 diabetes.
Every day, in one-on-one consults and classes, I teach people how to read nutrition labels. We zone in on sugar in particular. All you really need to know is that 4g “sugars” equals one teaspoon. Take a look and do the math, you’ll probably be shocked to see how much sugar is hiding in things you eat all the time.
As a result, if you’re motivated to cut the sugar in your diet, one of the easiest places to start is with all those sweet snacks.
Cookies, muffins, yoghurts, granola, candy bars, even fruit and smoothies — it’s all too easy to go sweet all the time. So here’s a list of healthy savoury snacks for you. Some of these are kid-friendly, others less so, but you need to role model better snacking too, so let’s clean it up!
I’ve included the recipe for roasted chickpeas for you to try this weekend. Have a good one!
Hummus and veggie sticks
The classic! I love the whipped hummus from Miles and the red pepper hummus at Supermart. It’s easy to make your own too, and rotating flavours will stop you getting bored. I’ll post a good recipe on Facebook over the weekend, so join me there.
There are a couple of brands out there. I think the Saffron Road brand (Lindo’s) has the best nutrition profile, lots of fibre and a little protein too. Try to go for the plain sea salt flavour as the other flavours have layers of maltodextrin which is another version of sugar. Kids tend to like these.
Not so kid-friendly, but great for nutrition geeks. These are made with soaked and cracked flaxseed, so you are more likely to get the benefits of all that omega-3. These are great with hummus, guacamole or a little organic cheese. I’ve found them at Supermart and Lindo’s so far.
Gently roasted seeds sold in tubs or little snack packs at Down to Earth and Supermart. Mainly savoury options (there is a chocolate option!) but my favourite is the Pumpkin Power blend. They are great sprinkled on top of salads too.
My desert island food. There is nothing better than an amazing guacamole bursting with lime and coriander. So many great recipes online, but I’ll add my favourite to the Facebook list.
Avocado on toast
Wholegrain toast, a little butter or Earth balance, avocado slices, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Simple and delicious.
Nut butter and celery
Ever tried a celery stick with cashew or almond butter down the middle? It’s tasty! You can add raisins too if you are OK with a little sweet.
This is my morning-after go-to, when I have had too much fun the night before. Pack a bowl full of shredded red cabbage, yellow peppers, cucumber and anything else you have kicking around. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or flax oil, lemon juice and some light seasoning. I feel like this cleans my body from the inside out!
The life-changing loaf of bread
The life-changing loaf of bread was created by Sarah Britton, holistic nutritionist extraordinaire and creator of the amazing My New Roots blog. Some argue that it’s not really “bread” — there’s no actual flour, it’s packed with nuts, seeds, psyllium and oats instead. Whatever it is, it’s a super healthy vehicle for hummus, guacamole, nut butter or a little organic cheese! Here’s the link: http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/
Veg sticks and green goddess dip
If you like Mexican flavours, this is for you. Recipe on Facebook over the weekend. Great with lentil chips or veggie sticks. Give it as much kick as you like.
Quick, easy and packed full of fibre and protein. I use the Eden organic brand. Recipe below.
If you are looking for a little nibble but aren’t all that hungry, try the GiMe organic seaweed snacks from Supermart and Down to Earth. Again, try and stick to the sea salt option, though, as the teriyaki flavour is pretty sweet.
If you eat dairy, then mozzarella is a good lighter option. Mix it with juicy sliced tomatoes, torn basil and a drizzle of balsamic and extra virgin olive oil for a seriously tasty snack! If you are dairy free, I think it works just as well with avocado instead of cheese.
Olives stuffed with almonds
Olives are packed with antioxidants and some good fats too. Try the Waitrose or Good Earth olives at Supermart. So good.
Eden tamari almonds
Most grocery stores stock the Eden Organic gently roasted nuts seeds. Supermart have the full range. I love the tamari almonds that have enough flavour to make them interesting without being covered in MSG or maltodextrin. They do great roasted and spicy pumpkin seeds too, as well as organic shelled pistachios. Yum!
Crunchy oven-roasted chickpeas
• 1 regular-sized tin chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
• 1 tsp light olive or refined coconut oil
Seasonings — your choice, simply salt/pepper (add cayenne if you like things spicy), or try 2 tbs maple syrup with a sprinkling of sea salt and cinnamon.
• Preheat the oven to 425F.
• Rinse the chickpeas really well and pat very dry. If you have time, let them air dry on the side for an additional ten minutes.
• Dry roast the chickpeas on a baking tray for 20 minutes, shaking the tin at least once.
• Remove them and toss in the oil and seasonings.
• Pop back in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Once the time is up, turn off the heat, crack open the oven door and leave them there as the oven cools. They go extra crunchy this way, but don’t risk it if you have toddlers in the house.
• The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda