Behaviour, FOOD, HEALTH AND WELLBEING, HEALTHY EATING, NUTRITION

FUSSY FISH- How to Increase Your Child’s Brain Potential.

Fussy eating driving you mad? Want to ensure your child is reaching their optimum learning potential?

Since lockdown, former parents of children I’ve cared for have been getting in touch to ask me what meals and recipes I used to cook for their childrens tea, as they won’t eat anything remotely healthy at home.

I know many parents struggle with time to cook nutritious, healthy meals, that they know their children simply won’t eat.

It’s heart breaking when you’ve lovingly prepared a meal, only to end up scraping it all in the bin. Our children are not concerned that we have spent hours slaving over a hot stove, spent a fortune on the best organic ingredients, or created a culinary piece of art.

So, we can forget trying to make them feel guilty for our labour, this only adds to their obstinate nature.

They can’t contemplate the future either and don’t understand it when we say;

 ‘If you don’t eat now, you’ll be hungry later.’

They can’t think that far ahead about how they might feel later. They think and feel at the moment they are in. That’s why feeling hungry is a good way of demonstrating the consequences of not eating their meal.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t persist in offering healthy meals every day. In fact, we should persist, day in, day out, until they understand there’s no alternatives.

The best way to do this is to offer foods they do like, along with those they don’t and try to be creative in combining ingredients.

Many children are fish haters but I’ve found that making a fish pie encourages them to eat more fish. I mix an assortment of wild pacific salmon, cod, and smoked haddock, with parsley sauce and petit pois and sweetcorn, topped with a creamy mash potato. It’s a comfort food favourite of mine that reminds me of my childhood and a dish I cooked for my children weekly whist young.

If you are listening to this on our podcast you can find images along with the accompanying blog on our website http://www.happychild.care

Fish pie is a much healthier alternative to fish fingers and chips. Anything fried or processed provide empty calories, that offer no nutrients for healthy growth and brain development, such as essential vitamins, minerals and omegas.

Long chain Omega 3 is vital to our childrens intellectual development. In fact, infants who don’t get enough (DHA) are 48% more likely to score in the lowest quartile of IQ tests. We can help support our children’s brain potential and increase their intake of omega 3, by offering oily fish 3 times a week.

Ideally our children should have between 125mg and 250mg of DHA a day. If not from their diet, then from an omega 3 supplement every day. Always do your research on supplements first though, to check dosages and correct times to take them and that they won’t adversely affect any medication your child is on.

How we cook food is important to our children’s health. Swapping fried foods for poached, boiled or steamed options, and chips for boiled, mashed or jacket potatoes (skin left on) is a healthier option.

Here is my easy, peasy, fish pie, which usually takes around 40 minutes to prepare and cook, although I prep it all earlier in the day and heat it up in the oven after the school run, making it a winner, winner fish dinner!

Easy Peasy Fish Pie

Wild Pacific Salmon, Smoked Haddock and Cod, Parsley Sauce and Boiled Potatoes.

Put 2 bags of mixed fish (available from most supermarkets, around 800g) into a baking tray and cover with foil and cook as per cooking instructions on the packet.

Try not to overcook as this will dry fish out and make it rubbery and we have to cook it again later.

Peel and cut into cubes a bag of white potatoes (2.5 kg) and boil.

Blend 600ml (a pint) of full fat milk into a saucepan with 2 packets of parsley sauce mix, stir continuously.

Take fish out when cooked and put into a large baking dish, mix in the parsley sauce and 2 cupsful of petit pois and 2 cupsful of sweetcorn.

Mash the potatoes with a small pat or two of butter and splash of milk and top the fish mix with the mash potato and pop in the over to reheat for 20 minutes, low heat, to crisp up mash topping.

Serve with broccoli.

This is a quick dish to ensure they get three of their recommended daily amount of vegetables and some healthy fish (Salmon is the richest, oily fish source of protein). I make this amount for approximately 8 children, with broccoli extra on the side, so if you are a smaller family or have adults to feed vary the amount of ingredients, for example, a family of 3 will only need 1 bag of mixed fish and less potatoes.

TWO TEA TIME CHOICES

Don’t get upset if they refuse to eat the fish pie that you’ve lovingly cooked them though. And definitely don’t be tempted to give them fish fingers instead because they refuse to eat it.

If we do, they will come to expect their preferred alternative all the time. Not because they prefer the fish fingers to the fish pie, but because they will have learnt how to get their own way. You can throw the fish pie in the bin if they refuse to eat it, but never give them anything else. If they are not hungry or refuse to eat, simply clear it away and wait until their next meal.

As long as we don’t allow them to snack unhealthily in the meantime, they’ll soon associate their refusal to eat dinner with hunger, serving as a good reminder to eat their next meal and giving them an appetite.

The food is there if they are hungry and want it, they have a choice. Eat it or don’t. Not fish pie or fish fingers.

Once they realize they have the choice to eat it or not, and it doesn’t bother us either way, then, if hungry, they will eat it.

You may not think it can be this simple and you may have tried unsuccessfully in the past, but perseverance is key. I know it works as it’s a method I’ve seen work with lots of children over the years, over and over again. I’ve never known it to fail, unless parents have given up before they’ve given it a real go.

We have to mean what we say though and say what we mean, calmly and confidently.

Such as,

 ‘The food’s there if you are hungry, if not, you don’t have to eat it, but there will be nothing else to eat.’  

They might say they are hungry but don’t like what we are offering them, but we mustn’t feel guilty for doing the right thing, they have a choice.

Some parents protest their children would never eat fish pie, but they never really offer it, especially if they dislike it themselves.

Fish pie is not a punishment, its love on a plate.

You can read more about fussy and resistant eaters in my worldwide, best selling book – The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child available from all good book shops. Alternatively, you can now listen to the audio version on Audible or iTunes, click button below or visit Amazon.

You can also read my latest contribution in the Spring issue of Mums and tots magazine, featuring a 3 page excerpt from my book, on sale now.

Mums and tots spring issue out now.

Stay Present, Stay Proactive,

Em x

Esteem, FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, The U URSELF Routine

Watercress -The Super Salad

What’s so super about watercress then?

Well I call it super because it’s a natural, yet, highly nutritious food. Its good for boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, increasing those feel good hormones known as serotonin, giving us energy, stamina and reducing inflammation and bloating.

It’s so versatile it’s an easy way to add nutrients to your child’s diet.

Stick to the watercress and forget the eggs please!!!

Following last week’s blog post I received messages from parents who said they tried the egg and cress sandwich and their children didn’t like it. Some children don’t like sandwiches or egg, but if it was the watercress putting them off, its more likely the healthy green look of it than the taste.

We can get around this fear of the healthy green stuff by letting them grow their own.

Kids love to feel connected to what they eat, and are more likely to eat watercress if they’ve nurtured it from seed. Children are just in awe of growing watercress; the main reason is it takes only days to grow where’s, most other fruit and vegetables take months from seed and children lose interest and forget.

Seeing before their eyes a mop of cress growing from a simple egg shell is mesmerizing for little ones and the really great thing is, very small toddlers can do this too, it’s so simple. No need again for allotments or even a garden or window box, just an empty eggshell. As an added bonus it can be grown inside the home all year round, making it cheap, quick, convenient, educational and fun.

Something as simple as growing some seeds can also help develop their caring nature, the plant is after all a living thing.

Seeing their efforts transpire into something they can pick and eat is a wonderful self confidence boost, giving them an – ‘I did that’ sense of achievement. It also offers them the chance to get creative too.

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN

Take the tops off the eggs and remove the egg from inside, put this in the fridge in a sealed container for later to cook with. Wash the inside and outside of the shells and wipe dry. Let your little one’s paint or use felt tip pens to decorate their shells with funny faces and leave them to dry for a few hours. If you don’t have any eggs or don’t fancy all the fuss then simply wash out a used yoghurt pot and follow the same procedure. You could turn this activity into a recycling education by looking for containers such as margarine tubs you’d normally bin, to plant in, showing children the real value, that so-called rubbish can have.

Such focus and concentration!

Dip some cotton wool balls in some water and squeeze any excess water out so they are damp, not soaking, and put a ball into each shell and add on top one tsp of cress seeds to each egg shell (you can also use chia seeds the same way they are genetically related to the cress seed family) and place the shells into an empty egg carton or holder, you usually find these plastic ones in your fridge or use egg cups if you prefer. 

Leave in a light place such as the window sill but be careful not to expose it to too much direct sunlight, that can dry them out. Allow your child to sprinkle them with a little water each day if dry and needed, and show your child how the cress grows towards the light, then watch the miracle unfold and cress hair sprout from the shells in a matter of days! Don’t forget to show your child the furry root hairs of the cress seeds growing on the cotton wool, they’ll be amazed.

Then when the cress has grown usually within a week, snip the sprouting cress hair and get sneaky with hiding it in their meals, add to sandwiches, salads, pasta, soups and stews- whatever you choose! Try adding it to cheese spread on wholemeal bread or even peanut butter sarnies?

Or give this super summertime soup a go;

Watercress Super Summertime Soup (super, simple and speedy to make!)

Even a child could make this soup with guidance its super simple!

You’ll need

A knob of butter

A stick blender

1 x large peeled and diced potato

1 x large leek finely chopped

A bunch of watercress

600 ml of vegetable or chicken stock (maybe more depending how thick you like your soup?)

Half a teaspoon of ground cumin (if your child prefers bland food you can leave this out)

A generous grinding of black pepper

A dollop of double cream

Then let the cooking alchemy begin

Sauté the leek in the butter on a low heat.

Add the stock and diced potato bring to the boil then simmer for half hour. Make sure to keep stirring throughout as it can stick to the pan.

Get your child involved in the preparation too its good for their self esteem, confidence and teaches them valuable life skills.
LOOKS LIKE A LOT OF WATER CRESS BUT IT SOON SHRINKS

Add the watercress with the pepper, stir with love for a couple of minutes.

(I don’t add salt when I’m cooking for children and personally I use chicken stock so I get enough flavour from that, along with the cumin and black pepper but if you’re cooking a batch for yourself or other grown ups then feel free to season with salt and pepper to suit your preferred taste.)

Puree in a blender, I find using a stick blender quick and easy for soups. I love that thick gloopy, velvety consistency but if you or your child don’t you can add more stock initially or do what I do and add hot water from the kettle while blending to get it just right. Its surprising how thick this soup gets.

Add the dollop of cream stir and serve immediately. If you are going to store some in the fridge or freezer for later then don’t add cream to soup now, add to the soup when serving. Personally, I like it with or without the cream but when I’m trying to lose a few pounds I usually omit the cream but kids will likely prefer it with the cream.

This is a powerful detox soup for us grown ups too so grab yourself a bowl.

So, here’s some facts per 100 grams of watercress.

FIBRE 2.1

CALORIES 29

PROTEIN 2.6

CARBS 2.5

TOTAL SUGARS 0.2

FAT 0.5

VITAMINS A, C, K

Watercress is packed full of calcium and manganese for healthy eyes, skin and healthy blood clotting.

If you want to learn more about this underestimated but amazing super food and you like the facts and science behind food, then this is an interesting read,  find out more here https://www.thewatercresscompany.com/snapshot-of-researched-benefits

As always, the priority is on our children eating a well-balanced, overall diet and enjoying the mealtime experience. Not making them sit at the table trying to force them to eat their vegetables or clear their plate. That’s why The U URSELF Routine (click here or the button to find out more)

includes food and the mealtime experience. My book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child has a whole chapter dedicated to this, for a sneak-peek take a look below

Let me know how you and your little ones get on with watercress this week and feel free to send me your own sneak it in recipes so I can try with my little and big ones and share with other readers, if you have any pics feel free to send me those too 🙂

Until next time Stay Present, Stay Healthy,

Em x

Photo by Milada Vigerova silviarita Alexas_Fotos Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay