I take fam­ily favourites and just make them health­ier

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

NUTRITIONIST Mandy Sacher is no stranger to fussy chil­dren and meal­time chaos. But it’s not her two chil­dren who give her the big­gest chal­lenge. The Syd­ney au­thor of Whole­some Child (pic­tured left) has helped thou­sands of Aus­tralian fam­i­lies tackle the tricky topic of fam­ily meal­times. She says fussy eaters, time stress at meal­times and lunch-box so­lu­tions are her most re­ferred prob­lems.

“Meals hap­pen three times a day, so they have a big and con­stant im­pact,” she says. “What I hear most of­ten is that par­ents have no time, there is a preva­lence of junk food on the menu and a high de­gree of food re­fusal. Lack of din­ner­time inspiration is an­other big one. One of the main things I help par­ents with is how to ex­pand a child’s food op­tions and my ap­proach is to stretch them lit­tle by lit­tle.

“If you try to over­haul a fam­ily’s diet in one swift move, it be­comes over­whelm­ing for the fam­ily and too dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment.”

Sacher’s one-on-one ap­proach starts with a fam­ily pro­vid­ing a three-day food diary which al­lows her to see where the de­fi­cien­cies lie and to cre­ate changes that won’t be too dras­tic.

“I take fam­ily favourites and just make them health­ier, like fish fin­gers made with salmon, or chicken nuggets with the ad­di­tion of cau­li­flower. I once had an ex­treme case of an eight- month-old child who was only eat­ing red vel­vet mud cake. I got the par­ents to try my black bean brownie recipe and the mother later told me I’d saved her life,” she says.

Sacher says there are also many ways to make a main meal into a lunch box favourite — left­over mac’n’cheese into cup­cake hold­ers for the next day; roast beef sliced thin for sand­wiches and wraps; left­over steamed ve­g­ies mixed with pasta and cheese or rice for fried rice.

“Try wher­ever pos­si­ble to make a multi-task­ing meal and cook dou­ble batches to freeze left­overs, it doesn’t take much longer than cook­ing a sin­gle batch,” she says.

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