Healthy body, healthy mind – Whole foods can make all the difference for your children

New Shoots Healthy body, healthy mind – Whole foods can make all the difference for your children .jpg

At New Shoots Children’s Centres we value the importance of food and nutrition and we appreciate the impact we have in establishing healthy eating habits, helping to shape your child’s attitude towards food, and setting them up for life. It is recognised now more than ever that the quality of food that children eat significantly contributes to growth and development and is vital for young bodies and minds. 

Our carefully designed menu is a point of difference for our centres. It has been created by London City and Guild trained chefs and is monitored and checked by a qualified nutritionist. This ensures it is well balanced, high-quality, nutrient-dense, meets nutritional guidelines and importantly, delicious! This provides parents confidence that their child is getting the nutrients they need and simultaneously enjoying food. 

We offer largely whole foods made up of unprocessed, seasonal, natural, healthy ingredients and more often than not, gluten free. Our products are often New Zealand grown and locally sourced.  

Whole, nutrient-rich foods that we use include fresh lean meat, vegetables, fruit, whole grain bread and protein and fibre-rich grains (including polenta, rolled oats, quinoa and buckwheat, to name a few). We have focussed on eliminating processed foods and have carefully considered our use of whole and additive-free foods to optimise nutrition. Our focus is to use foods as unprocessed as possible, but there are some food types that are processed (pasteurisation) for food-safety reasons such as cheese and yoghurt, which are a vital source of calcium for growing bones and these feature in our menu (unless your child is lactose-free). 

What are whole foods?  Why do we have this focus in our menus? 

There are a lot of different opinions and genuine confusion about what qualifies as “whole” food, it seems to be the current buzz word, but we aim to fit within the true meaning of whole food when deciding what to nourish your children with during their days at New Shoots. Officially, whole foods can be defined as foods containing little additives, artificial flavours and colours, that have had minimal processing and refining. Many of the products in the supermarkets and in our pantry’s have been processed and modified. This is to make a product more visually appealing to children, to prolong shelf life and make it less expensive for the manufacturer to produce. Consequently, we end up consuming foods that are high in sugar, fat, additives and low in nutrients, fibre and minerals – far from what they look like and offer in their natural, whole state.  

To provide an example: Instead of processed chicken nuggets and fries, we would use chicken breast coated in egg and wholemeal flour with fresh, tasty herbs, pan fried in olive oil. Fresh potatoes would baked with the skin on to retain the nutrients. The nutritional difference between these two meals is substantial and demonstrates the way in which we use whole foods at New Shoots Children Centres.

With hectic lives and busy schedules, we often do not give our children the opportunity to learn to appreciate or discuss real food. As parents, we often think that vegetables must be hidden to be eaten. There is a focus at New Shoots on enjoying meal times, creating a love of food and assisting in the development of children’s self-help skills. It has been scientifically proven that children need reoccurring exposure (on average 12 times) to new foods to get used to, and enjoy, the taste and texture. We help with that exposure by continuously offering them new foods to try. This can help to avoid your child becoming a “fussy” eater and ensure they get a variety of food and therefore, nutrients. 

In an early childhood setting, and around the family dinner table we have the perfect opportunity to sit with the children and talk about food. To encourage them to try new foods. To explain what foods help them run faster, concentrate better, or make us feel better when we’re sick. A whole food diet gives your child the opportunity to build a resilient digestive and immune system. We believe all of this is crucial in setting children up to have a healthy relationship with food for life and to enjoy real, whole food. Healthy Body, Healthy Mind.

Sample New Shoots Menu:

Morning Tea
Fresh fruit platter, mixed grain cheese scrolls or mini corn fritters and homemade tomato relish. Water/Milk

Pizzas-Lamb, onion, pumpkin and spinach with mint drizzle or Ham, tomato, pineapple and spinach
both with fresh seasonal salad (V or L)

Afternoon Tea
Apple, quinoa, banana, raisin, cinnamon muffins. Vegetables and dip platter. Water Milk

Late Snack
Ceres organic rice cakes brown tamari and vegemite and hummus or dips. Fresh/dried fruit. Popcorn

Mashed seasonal vegetables with or without protein: 
beef, lamb, chicken or fish.