We recently had a chat with Tara, the university-qualified nutritionist and all round wonder-woman behind The Nutrition Guru and The Chef. Between being a mum to her adorable Lucy-Belle and setting ridiculous food myths straight, we’re not quite sure how she finds time to sleep, let alone turn out delicious recipes. Tara’s approach to health is refreshingly straightforward; food guilt, superfood fads and restrictive diets have no place on her site. She’s all about getting back to basics, and just eating real food, an idea we certainly can get behind.
Here’s her top tips for feeding your little ones and an easy-peasy baked quinoa recipe that’s sure to become a staple on your dinner table.
What advice can you give to first time mothers when it comes to introducing new foods to babies?
Let them make mess. Children who are allowed to explore their food using their hands, develop many skills including fine motor skills and a love of food and the act of eating. If a mother is hovering over baby while eating and getting flustered or angry every time pumpkin ends up all over the baby’s face or on the floor, the child can become fearful and anxious around meal times. Those that are left to explore their food (which includes smooshing pumpkin all through their hair) are less likely to become picky eaters.
What advice can you give mums of picky eaters?
Don’t stress, it might not last forever. A lot of children grow out of the picky eating stage if the parents continue to offer different foods, which is key. Although it is easy to keep offering the same food that you know they will enjoy, keep offering new foods without putting pressure on them that they must eat it. Instead, put it on their plate and tell them that all they have to do is describe the colour and shape to you without having to eat it. After several times doing this, tell them that it’s on their plate to try it if they would like to, but they don’t have to eat it. Get them to pick it up and tell you what it feels like when they squash it and what it smells like. Get them to tell you what they THINK it will taste like – sweet, salty, crunchy, soft?
Over time, exposing the child gently to foods they normally refuse will help break down a lot of the fear of the unknown that they experience with some foods. Hopefully you will find one day, they will just pick it up and eat it without you even having had to ask.
Do you have any tips for mums who are short on time but still want to cook from scratch?
Make big batches of food, don’t just cook for that day. Chop loads and loads (more than you think you need) of pumpkin and sweet potato and roast in the oven with a dash of olive oil. Use this to puree for babies, finger foods for older babies and as a side dish for the adults. Throw into a salad, or add stock and blitz into a soup. Freeze extras for baby meals throughout the week.
On that note, here’s a fantastic recipe for little and big mouths alike. It goes very well with a piece of grilled fish, slow cooked lamb shoulder, spooned into a baked potato or roast chicken. It’s also delicious served with grated cheese or hummus on top
Baked Quinoa and Vegetables
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups The Stock Merchant Chicken, Mushroom or Vegetable stock.
- 2 zucchini sliced thinly
- 1 carrot sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (optional)
- Place quinoa into a deep baking pan (such as a cake pan) and cover with the stock. Place the sliced vegetables evenly on top of the quinoa
- Wrap the pan in foil to prevent the quinoa from drying out.
- Bake in a 180 degree oven for 45 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to see if the quinoa has dried out. If so, simply add 1/4 cup of stock
- Remove from the oven and place the butter on top, using a fork to stir it through the quinoa and veg mix.
For younger babies, place in a blender to form a puree For adults and older children, serve as is.
Want more recipes for your little ones? Check out our baby recipe section.