What Springs to mind when you hear the words ‘clean eating’?
With an ever growing global awareness surrounding ‘health’ and ‘wellness’ you may have heard the term ‘clean eating’ pop up more and more as you search for healthy ways to feed your family.
But what does it mean exactly?
Is it just some trendy new diet plan?
Could it be safe or suitable for kids?
Is it some restrictive eating plan?
Is it the latest new celebrity trend?
Is it just another food fad that everyone will tire of soon enough?
It is none of the above…
Let me explain.
Clean eating is simply based upon the foundation of eating whole foods as natural to their original state as possible. Food that is filled with goodness – naturally. It involves eating a rainbow of beautiful, fresh produce (organic where possible), responsibly sourced and as natural as possible and including some quality proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats in each meal to provide your body with all it needs.
It is a sustainable, long term lifestyle that also includes nurturing a positive and intuitive relationship to food, one that will encourage good health throughout life.
It is about letting go of foods that are highly processed and created from additives, fake flavours, cheap oils and preservatives and instead respecting and nourishing your body with every meal. It’s a simple approach whereby your food choices are pared back to foods that are simple and nourishing and delicious.
What about children … why is ‘clean eating’ for kids so important?
Clean eating for children is simply about making each meal an opportunity to nourish their body and soul with goodness.
When we feed children nutrient dense food, it’s so much more than just filling their belly and stopping their hunger. It is about food that is rich in all the goodness they need, food that is simple, naturally colourful, and filled with nutrients that will feed and nourish every cell in their body. We are giving them energy, vigour, strength and the minerals & nutrients they need to build their bodies and brain and support its growth and development.
Childhood is a time of vast growth, development and change. The food we feed our children needs to support this. Unfortunately, we have veered way off track with the food industry taking over the supermarkets. Suddenly we are swimming in a sea of processed food that has been created in mass factories using chemically created flavours and additives and then shaped into all sorts of colourful packaging and sold as ‘food’. When it comes to the health and wellbeing of our precious young ones ( as well as ourselves and all of our loved ones), it is vital that we stay aware, informed and resistant to the misleading advertising campaigns of highly processed (health damaging) foods. Clean eating for children is simply about getting everyone back on track for a long, happy and healthy life together.
It is important to note here that while I am using the term ‘clean eating’ within this article for descriptive purposes, it is not a term I would ever use at home or in my conversations about food with children.
When children hear us refer to our food choices as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘dirty’, ‘naughty’ or even ‘clean’ it can interfere with their happy relationship to food and personal food choices. Guilt is not a feeling we ever want our children to associate in any way with food. We want them to happily eat wonderful nourishing food because they enjoy it. We want them eating from a positive place of joy and love rather than one of fear. I have written about the importance of fostering a positive relationship with food here. It is a topic close to my heart.
Now that is all cleared up…
What might a day of healthy ‘clean eating’ recipes for kids look like?
Here are some of our favourites:
It is important to start the day off right regardless of how busy the mornings are in your house.
1. Breakfast Smoothies
Perfect option if you are short for time. There are endless flavour combinations to come up with. Try not to overload on super sweet fruit as the sugar content will end up being very high, which is not what your children’s bodies need. Try adding a little spinach/kale to give a boost of nutrients (the flavour is easily disguised by one sweet fruit such as banana, mango, pineapple). Make sure to include some healthy fats such as some creamy avocado or coconut milk or even a small dollop of coconut oil & a teaspoon of chia seeds or hemp seeds. Try these delicious smoothie recipes
Oats offer a good dose of complex carbohydrates as well as fibre. If you are avoiding gluten you can find Gluten Free oats (it will be clearly specified on the packet) or opt for other Gluten free grains such as quinoa & buckwheat which you can buy as whole, groats or rolled flakes.
Toppings might include : berries // grated apple // poached pear // chopped almonds or seeds for a little crunch.
If porridge isn’t a family favourite (try this delicious plum & vanilla granola recipe )
They are versatile, fast to prepare and a wonderful dose of protein to start the day which helps little ones feel satisfied for longer.
Here are 3 ways my little ones enjoy them:
- Scrambled with a little grated veg and some avocado slices on a slice of sour dough toast
- Omelette – with some grated garlic and a few chopped mushrooms.
- Breakfast Frittata – fill muffin tins with chopped mushrooms + tomatoes + cubed steamed sweet potato then whisk 4 eggs with a splash of (choice of) milk. Pour this mixture over other ingredients and bake in moderate oven for around 20 mins or until cooked through.
Lunch can be tricky as many parents are faced with the lunch-box dilemma.
If your children like sandwiches it can be difficult to find healthy bread that isn’t filled with all sorts of e-numbers and cheaply processed oils and flavours. Sure it stays super soft on your shelf for days but what happens in our children’s precious tummies? Not a nice thought! If you make sandwiches be sure to look for high quality sourdough or even better make your own bread so you know what is inside.
Here are some clean eating recipes and ideas for kids’ lunch boxes
4. Omelette rolled up
(As long as they didn’t eat eggs at breakfast).
Can fill it with cheese, lettuce, carrot sticks and cucumber so it is like a bread wrap. If taking it to school ensure it is kept next to a frozen lunchbox cooler in warmer climates.
5. Wraps with flat bread
Fill with shredded veggies, grated cheese, avocado or some cooked organic chicken. They can be more fun to eat than sandwiches but as always be sure to read the ingredients on the bread packet and avoid any that are full of processed ingredients. The best ones should just have 2-3 ingredients.
6. Healthy little platter
A finger food selection of veggie sticks, hummus or avocado dip, cubes of cheddar cheese , boiled egg, olives, fresh fruit.
Last night’s left over meatballs, with some grated carrot and lettuce to wrap it in. I have a great recipe called ‘popeye’s meatballs’ in my e-book. You can download your copy for free here
8. Nori Rolls
You can use brown rice or quinoa to replace the white rice for extra nutrients. Wrap nori sheets around the cooked rice, with some chopped or shredded veggies inside and a tiny bit of Tamari soy sauce .
9. Quinoa balls
These make a delicious lunchbox snack. This is our favourite quinoa ball recipe.
Some easy clean eating dinner ideas and recipes for the whole family.
10.Roast vegetable sauce
This sauce can be made and frozen and then used to make so many different dishes. You will find a delicious recipe here as well as suggestions for some easy and yummy dishes to create.
11. Broth (stock)
This is highly nutritive base for your soups, sauces and casseroles and will amp up the flavour of all your meals as well as boost your child’s immune system. Read about the benefits and how to make broth here.
12. Beef and vegetable kebabs
These kebabs are so simple and the fact they are presented on a stick seems to make them all the more appealing to kids.
13. Cauliflower Mash
Mashed potato is a favourite among children and this golden cauliflower mash is a nutritious & delicious alternative. It can be used as a side dish or used as a topping for shepherd’s pie.
Steam a head of cauliflower // Once steamed and soft, break apart into smaller pieces // In a fry pan sauté a little chopped onion, garlic and grated turmeric // Add the cauliflower and coat it in the sauté mixture // In a blender, puree the cauliflower with a little organic grass-fed butter and a dash of milk (of choice) if it needs it // Blend until creamy // This also makes a nice dip for little veggie sticks. Or as my kids call it – “Snow for the tops of broccoli trees”
14. Crispy Kale Chips
Get a bunch of Kale // wash thoroughly // de-stalk and chop bigger leaves in half // rub with olive or coconut oil // sprinkle a pinch of sea salt // bake in baking tray on temp of 150’ for about 30 mins or until all crisp and crunchy but ensure the leaves still have a green colour. Check regularly to ensure they don’t burn. You can also bake slower on a lower temperature for longer.
15. Bliss balls
They are small balls of nutrient-dense – nuts || oils || coconut || fruits || blended and rolled into balls. The flavour combinations are as vast as your imagination. We often make this nut free bliss ball for lunch boxes and these apricot squares for after school homework energy boost.
16. Chia pudding
They are a simple way to get a good dose of healthy fats and fibre into your child’s body. They are so simple to make, can be made in advance and totable when put in a jar with a lid. This berry chia pudding is our favourite for breakfast, lunch dessert and everything in between. I also have more mouthwatering chia pudding recipes in my free ebook. You can download it for FREE here
17. Homemade frozen popsicles
These can be simply made from left over smoothie, or blended fresh fruits/yoghurt/coconut cream. They make n excellent chilling snack. Simply blend ingredients in a blender then pour into ice block moulds and freeze. YUM! My little ones love these cool calm and collected mango & chamomile ice-blocks with the added calming benefits go chamomile tea.
There you have it – seventeen of my favourite clean eating recipes for kids that will excite them, nourish them and fuel their bodies and brains . It doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t involve following the latest health fads. It’s all about nourishing our babes with good, wholesome, simple and delicious food.
Wanting some more inspiration?
Download my yummy little ebook for FREE . Click here or click the image below. It is filled with simple, scrumptious, colourful, nourishing and fun recipes for the whole family. It will help you nourish your babes – morning, noon and night.