FAMILY & CHILDREN

Heath and wellbeing starts with family.

When we start a family everyday eating becomes a big focus in our lives. Although it takes time, preparing good quality, fresh food each day is very worthwhile and can help to build our family’s health. Gathering all the family members together for at least one meal each day (if possible) helps to create strong family bonds and good eating habits. Simple foods such as whole grains, vegetables and plant-based proteins provide many of the nutrients essential for growing children.

Eating well, staying active and taking time to relax during pregnancy can contribute to a straightforward birth and a healthy baby.

When a baby is born the new mother needs complete rest and care for several weeks. Her body will be undergoing big hormonal changes following the birth and as her first milk arrives, so nourishing food, adequate sleep and rest are important. This can be a special and magical time for mother and baby to bond and get to know one another.

 

BREASTFEEDING AND ITS ADVANTAGES

If possible, it is best to breastfeed a newborn baby. Breast milk is a perfect food that helps prevent infection because:

* It contains all the necessary nutrients and antibodies for babies to grow well and stay healthy.

*It is always sterile and the right temperature.

*It is readily available and convenient to give to the baby when it becomes hungry.

*When the baby suckles it is physically close to its mother, which is highly bonding and important for a baby’s development.

*The first milk that comes in is called colostrum and provides the baby with an immediate natural immunity to infection.

For those unable to breastfeed (or not wishing to) a good quality alternative milk will be needed.

 

WEANING FOOD

From the age of 6 months, babies can be introduced to soft food in addition to breast milk. To start with, food needs to be more liquid, gradually becoming more solid as the baby grows. It is good to introduce new foods one at a time, to allow the baby to create the appropriate enzymes to digest each food. Grain milk is a good first food, starting with one grain and later adding other ingredients (see Recipe below). Vegetable purees are also suitable to use, either given separately or mixed with the grain milk.

Weaning food can be soft well-cooked grains, seeds, vegetables, and later beans, bean products and fish or other animal foods if desired, fruit and sea vegetables. As babies’ teeth come through, they can be given chunks of lightly cooked vegetables to chew on, which will help with the teething process. Sometimes some fruit puree can be used or some grain syrup added to their food for a sweeter taste. Some plant or dairy-based yoghourt and mild pickles can add beneficial bacteria to aid digestion. Drinks can include spring water, mild bancha tea, vegetable drink (see recipe below), vegetable and fruit juices, mild herb tea, amasake drinks

Baby foods need to be mild tasting, with no added salt, spices or sugar, as these are harmful to young babies. As the baby grows it will eat more solid food and less breast milk until it is ready to be fully weaned, usually at around 18 months (when the molars start to appear).

 

RECIPES

Grain Milk

½ cup brown rice

¼ cup barley

¼ cup whole oats,

2 tablespoons aduki or soy beans

4 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 small piece of kombu

 

Soak all ingredients for 8 hours (or overnight.)

Discard the soaking water and add 7 cups of water.

Bring to a boil and then cook slowly for 1 hour

Once cool, squeeze though a muslin cloth, or blend in a hand mill or with an electric blender

 

Whole Oat Porridge

1 cup whole oat groats

6 cups of water

1 piece of dulce sea vegetable

 

Rinse the oats.

Add the water and dulce and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Leave to sit for 8 hours (or overnight). Stir well, adding more water if necessary.

Bring to a boil and then simmer on a low flame for 20 minutes.

Blend or sieve

 

Pureed Vegetables

1 cup of sliced carrots

1 cup of squash or pumpkin

1 cup of water

Cook vegetables together with the water until soft. Puree until smooth.

 

Vegetable Drink

Gently cook carrots, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin or butternut squash

Add small piece of kombu seaweed and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes

Strain liquid and allow to cool.

 

COOKING FOR CHILDREN

Once children are fully weaned their eating will be similar to adults, but with a mild taste and consistency and avoiding spices and sugar and too much salt. Foods should include nutrients from all the main food groups, with plenty of richness and variety to support their growth. Please see list below. Parents need to be sure that their children are receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and essential fatty acids

Carbohydrates – complex carbohydrates are plentiful in all whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, wild rice, rye, spelt, barley as well as in beans and vegetables. If you are gluten intolerant you will want to choose gluten free grains such as millet, buckwheat and quinoa.

Protein –from plant sources like beans, pulses, lentils and legumes, black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, butter beans etc. Bean products such as tempeh and tofu are also good sources of protein. Eating grains together with beans provides a complete source of protein.

Some animal products (from ethical and sustainable sources,) such as fish and sea food, are good sources of protein.

Vitamins and minerals – using a good variety of ingredients will ensure you get adequate vitamins and minerals. These can be obtained from the foods listed above.

Fats – good quality oils such as omega oils are present in nuts and seeds, and in oily fish. Grains, beans and vegetables all have small amounts of good oils.

Fibre – Whole grains are a good source of fibre, as well as beans and vegetables.

Beneficial enzymes– these are found in some unpasteurised fermented foods

 

As well as tasty meals, children enjoy healthy snacks and deserts. Recipes to follow.

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