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Fresh is Best

Year: 2018

Fresh is Best

With so many products on our supermarket shelves being made to look healthy by clever marketing tricks and deceptive labelling, it’s time to take a step back, define “fresh” and take a look and what we are really eating.

Fresh foods are not frozen or preserved in any way. They are usually sourced locally and retain all of the nutritional value and flavour without any additions or manipulation.

It’s misleading when items such as fruit and vegetable juice or even the dehydrated fruit in dry cereals are marketed by some manufacturers as counting towards fruit and vegetable servings.

The definition of “fresh” is often misconstrued by simply serving an item at the expected temperature – hot or cold. 

Labels can be deceiving too, seemingly endless products labelled as “natural” and “organic” may not be as good for you as you think.

Additives such and poor quality ingredients undermine the overall nutritional value of foods. What is not highlighted by many food labels or manufacturers are all the hidden ingredients – from added sugar, sodium, and unpronounceable preservatives, to additives, flavouring, and colouring.  Commonly used, artificially enriched grains are not as healthy as those that remain intact during production. The addition of brown colouring to some breads may mislead consumers into thinking they are purchasing whole grains, when in fact the product is not.  Due to the need to extend shelf-life and reduce manufacturing costs, many lesser quality ingredients are often utilised – including those that are harmful to our health, like sodium solution fillers or saturated and hydrogenated fat sources.

When you walk through the aisle in the supermarket, most cereals have a fortified certification on them; fortified with six different vitamins and minerals. The question you should be asking is: What happened to the vitamins and minerals that were in there to begin with? They got processed out.

Focusing on fresh ingredients not only promotes improved health, but also boosts nutrients and flavour profiles.  Any type of processing such as canning, freezing or drying can deteriorate the quality of and amount of nutrients, fibre, flavour, and even natural colour.  A simple test is comparing fresh, frozen, and canned carrots.  The fresh carrots retain a bright orange colour, with a crispness superior to the canned or frozen variety.

Processing of any type also reduces the nutrient content, and may even strip away those vital antioxidants that support immune health and protect cells from damage. In addition, choosing fresh ingredients promotes synergy of nutrients that may not necessarily occur if the items were processed.  Even after processed grains are enriched, the final product is less nutritious than the original whole grain.  As a result, much of the fibre content is lost, meaning you need to consume much larger quantities than you would if is in its raw form.

Many consumers choose pre-made frozen entrees and sides simply for convenience, but typical sodium content for a frozen entrée ranges 700 to 1300 mg – 30-50% of the daily maximum recommendation of 2500 mg.  According to the CDC, a reduction of sodium intake from the current national average of 3400 mg to 2300 mg per day may reduce cases of high blood pressure by 11 million per year!It may be surprising but buying fresh, raw ingredients is less expensive than selecting processed items.The more steps required to process a food item, the higher the cost. 

Pumpkins on trend this October for children in child care

It is October and for us in Australia, this means a growing trend (thanks to our friends in the USA) to celebrate Halloween and the fun and festivities that surround this event and this includes pumpkins.

Already children are planning and plotting their costumes and activities on the 31 October (which is good because a bit of lead time is actually appreciated for a busy working mum!)

But did you know it is also the perfect time in Australia, to plant pumpkin seeds ready for a delicious Autumn harvest?

This is a great activity for children in child care.  The excitement of watching the seeds sprout and vines crawl along the ground is enough to entice any young child to want to sample the finished product – a magnificent pumpkin of course!

Try this easy and hands on activity at child care to get into the spirit of pumpkins, Spring and eating healthy seasonal produce:

Plant your own pumpkins

This activity will grow pumpkins from seed.

You will need to obtain the following items from your local nursery so be prepared:

You will need:

  • A packet of ‘Jiffy’ pots – these are biodegradable pots that are planted directly into the ground (or large pot) once your seedlings have germinated and are big enough.
  • A large pot (one to three Jiffy pots per pot) or a garden bed to plant your Jiffy pots directly into – you will need this ready in about six weeks’ time.
  • Some pumpkin seeds (unless you have dried out seeds yourself – purchase these from your local nursery)
  • Seed raising mix
  • Gloves for the children so they can help
  • Watering can
  • A sunny spot by the window
  • A tray to put the Jiffy pots into while they germinate

What to do:

  1. Set up your Jiffy pots in your tray
  2. Fill each pot with seed raising mix and pat down so it is firm
  3. Put your pointer finger into each pot up to a child’s second knuckle (or perhaps their whole finger if it is a little finger), and pop a pumpkin seed into the hole. Cover and gently pat down.
  4. Once all pumpkin seeds have been planted – water well from the watering can and place on the window sill in the sun to grow.
  5. Every couple of days check on your pots. If the outside of the Jiffy pot looks dry, give it another water.   Make sure you don’t let your pots dry out too much – they like water 😊
  6. In about 14 days (depending on the temperature), the seeds should start to germinate and sprout – this is the exciting part! You and your children can watch the germination process day after day as the seedlings grow bigger and bigger.
  7. Once the seedlings are big enough to fill the Jiffy pot, dig a hole in your garden bed or big pot (filled with potting mix) and plant the pot straight into the hole.
  8. Water well and keep in a sunny position. Enjoy watching your pumpkin spring to life and weave its vines around your centre until pumpkins start to grow.

Alternatively, you could get enough Jiffy pots for every child in your room and once germinated, your child could take their pot home to grow in their own garden! (keep one of the pots for your room too of course).

Let us know how you go by posting a picture on our Facebook Page or commenting below.   We love pumpkins and healthy fresh food here at Hearty Health.

For more information on Hearty Health or to book a free tasting of our delicious meals, please contact us here.

6 tips to encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables

Is your child a fussy eater when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables?   Here are some tips to encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables, from the chef’s at Hearty Health:

​1. Try and try again

Children can be fussy with food, which can change from day to day. It is important to be patient and continue to offer a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, not just the type they like.

If you don’t succeed at first, try again. Some children need to be presented with a new food several times – even up to ten times or more – before they will try it. The goal is to make mealtime a positive experience and any new food consumed is a step forward.

2. Eating together

Parents and Early Childhood Educators have an important role to play in establishing a positive mealtime experience for children. Having meals together means that children are provided with an opportunity to learn.  Watching parents and role models enjoy a variety of nutritious foods, means children are more likely to join in.

3. Encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables

Encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables by providing non-food or social rewards, such as a star chart or reward scheme in your child care centre room.   Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables together with a child’s peers, creates positive eating habits for life.

4. Serving size matters

A child’s portion size may be small and varies with age, appetite and activity levels. Start by serving food in more manageable portions and gradually build from there.

5. Get children involved

Increase your child’s exposure and interest in fresh produce by going grocery shopping together and getting them involved in choosing which fruits and vegetables they would like to have. Many green grocers and supermarkets are now offering tours of their fresh produce departments.  This is a great excursion idea that many Child Care Centres are taking advantage of to encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables.

6. Make it fun and tasty

Children can have particular preferences for the taste, texture and presentation of their meals. Those who prefer crunchier textures may do better with raw rather than cooked vegetables.

To encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables, it may also be more appealing if different coloured fruits and vegetables are served together.

If your child is picky with vegetables, try starting with sweeter and more colourful vegetables like pumpkin, corn, cauliflower or carrots. Incorporate other types of vegetables when your child gets used to eating them.

New types of fruits and vegetables can also be served along with a food that you know they enjoy such as homemade sauces and dips to make them more palatable.

For more hints and tips from the chef’s in the Hearty Health kitchen, follow our Facebook page and check in to our Hearty Health Blog.

Hearty Health pride themselves in providing fresh, delicious meals to children in Child Care.   All dips and sauces are made from scratch by professional chefs to suit a child’s fussy palate.   Crunchy fresh fruit and vegetables are always on the menu along with a variety of baked goods and delicious hot meals.  To find out more or sample our seasonal menu contact us here.

How to manage food allergies in children who attend child care

Food allergies in children affect thousands of Australians with a significant increase in food allergy diagnosis in the last twenty years.

This means it is more important than ever to ensure that every parent and child is aware of potential food allergies in children.  This includes what foods to stay away from and how to manage this increasingly common health risk, especially for children attending child care.

Hearty Health have been providing allergen free meals to children in child care for the last eighteen years. Operating from an egg, nut and pork free kitchen, chefs in the Hearty Health kitchen have noticed a steady increase in allergen meal requests.  Our chefs continue to adapt recipes that are safe but still taste delicious for high risk children.

Common food allergies

The most common food allergies are to nine main foods:

  1. cow’s milk
  2. hen’s eggs
  3. soybeans
  4. peanuts
  5. tree nuts like cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts
  6. sesame
  7. wheat
  8. fish
  9. shellfish

Diagnosing food allergies in children

If you think your child has a food allergy, your GP is the best place to start. Your GP might refer you to an allergy or immunology specialist for further checks and tests.

Tests for immediate-onset food allergies:

  • Skin-prick test: your child’s skin is pricked with a small device that looks a bit like a toothpick and that contains a drop of a specific allergen. If your child is allergic, a red lump might come up where the skin has been pricked.
  • Blood tests: the serum specific IgE antibody test uses your child’s blood to see sensitivity to specific allergens. Your child might have this test if she can’t have skin-prick testing because she has severe eczema or has taken an antihistamine in the five days before the test.
  • Oral food challenge: sometimes your child will be given the possible allergen in a safe, supervised setting. Medical and nursing staff will watch to see whether an allergic reaction happens. This test carries a risk of anaphylaxis so should be conducted only by medical specialists in a setting where anaphylaxis can be safely and quickly treated.

A positive skin prick test or serum specific IgE antibody test doesn’t always mean your child has a food allergy. Sometimes your child can have a positive test and actually be able to eat the food. It’s important that your child is properly assessed by a doctor so he doesn’t avoid foods he’s not allergic to.

Delayed-onset food allergies

If your child has a delayed-onset food allergy, diagnosis usually happens through an ‘elimination and re-challenge’ test.

This involves removing possible allergy-causing foods from your child’s diet, then reintroducing them when your child’s allergy specialist thinks it’s safe to do so. You reintroduce only one food at a time so it’s easier to identify the food that’s causing the allergy.

Managing food allergies in children

There’s currently no cure for food allergies in children, but many children grow out of them. You can also take some steps to make it easier for you and your child to live with food allergies.

  1. Avoid the food

    It’s important for your child to avoid the food. This can be challenging, particularly as eating even tiny amounts can cause an allergic reaction. Your child also needs to avoid any foods or cutlery that could have been in contact with the food she’s allergic to.

    You can do two important things to help your child avoid the food:

Read labels on all foods. Be aware that some allergenic foods have different names – for example, cow’s milk protein might be called ‘whey’ or ‘casein’. By law, ten allergens must be plainly stated on food labels – these are the nine foods listed above, plus lupin.

Be careful when you eat out and ask the following questions:

– what ingredients each dish includes
– how it was prepared
– whether it has touched any other foods
– whether there’s any risk of cross-contamination

Most restaurants are happy to tell you, but they might not know about the ingredients in some foods like sauces.

It’s best to avoid buffets and bain-maries (food warmers) because there’s a good chance that ingredients have been transferred from one dish to another.

  1. Have an action plan

    You should talk to your doctor about an ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) action plan. This will help you recognise and treat symptoms if your child eats something that causes an allergic reaction.

  2. Know how to use an adrenaline auto-injector
    If your child is at risk of anaphylaxis, he might be prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector like EpiPen®. These auto-injectors make it easy to self-inject adrenaline. Your doctor will teach you and your child (if old enough) how and when to use it.   It’s important that key people – like family, carers, babysitters and your Child Care Centre– know how and when to use your child’s adrenaline auto-injector.
  1. Consider a medical bracelet

    Your child might wear a medical bracelet that lets people know she has an allergy.

How long do food allergies last?

Most children grow out of their food allergies by adolescence, especially children who are allergic to milk, egg, soybean or wheat.

Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are more likely to be lifelong. Allergy to gluten, known as coeliac disease, is also lifelong.

If you think your child might have grown out of an allergy, see your GP or allergy and immunology specialist for an assessment. Don’t experiment at home to see whether your child has outgrown the allergy. Your doctor will let you know whether it’s safe for you to introduce the food at home or whether this should be done under medical supervision.

Allergy risk facts and factors for children

Most children with food allergies don’t have parents with food allergy. But if a child’s parents have other allergy problems like food allergy, asthma, eczema or hay fever, the child has an increased risk of food allergies.

Babies with severe eczema in the first few months of life are at an increased risk of developing food allergy.

For more information on allergies in children visit raisingchildren.net.au or check out the National Allergy Strategy that has recently been released.  The Strategy provides practical information to parents about when and how to introduce the common allergy causing foods to children.

Hearty Health is passionate about providing allergen children with fresh healthy meals in child care.

Contact Hearty Health here to view a sample of our Allergen Spring Menu and to book in a tasting with one of our experienced Chefs.

How to include fruit servings in child care menus

Most Australians eat only about half the recommended quantity of fruit which is concerning given the huge health benefits of eating fresh produce.   Children in Child Care especially need fruit servings in child care menus to establish great eating habits and to keep them fit and healthy.

Child Care Centres are encouraged to ensure that there is the right amount of fruit servings in child care menus and to take the time to make sure meals are balanced, fresh and meet nutritional guidelines.

It is recommended toddlers eat one serving of fruit a day which increases to two servings by the time they reach the age of nine years old.

Fresh is best….

A wide variety of fruit is grown and available in Australia with plenty of choice throughout the year.  Choosing fruits in season ensures better taste, quality and also adds more variety to a child’s diet throughout the year.  And just like with veggies, choosing different coloured fruits increases the variety of nutrients, which can enhance your health.

Choose fruits from these different categories for variety:

  • pome fruits such as apples and pears
  • citrus fruit such as oranges, mandarins and grapefruit
  • stone fruit such as apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums
  • tropical fruit such as bananas, paw paw, mangoes, pineapple and melons
  • berries
  • other fruits such as grapes and passionfruit.

Recommended serving amount of fruit servings in child care menus

A serve of fruit is approximately 150g (350kJ) which is:

  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
  • 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits or plums
  • 1 cup diced or canned fruit (no added sugar)
  • 16 grapes
  • 4 large strawberries
  • ½ raw fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)

Raisingchildren.net.au is a great resource if you would like more information on fruit servings for children.

Health benefits of fruit

Did you know there is increasing evidence that whole foods such as fruit are more effective in reducing the risk of cancer than specific vitamin and mineral supplements. There is also building evidence that some risk factors for cancer can be avoided by eating fruit (and vegetables and legumes) during childhood and early adult life.

Most fruits are low in energy (kilojoules) and high in fibre and water, making you feel fuller. This reduces the risk of over eating which can cause weight gain. The fibre in fruit is also thought to reduce the risk of some cancers, including colorectal cancer.

Fruit is abundant in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Vitamins such as vitamin C and E and different phytochemicals may reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions. Potassium and magnesium found in fruit have also been linked to lower blood pressure.

Different coloured fruits, especially orange, red and yellow fruit, contain carotenes (Vitamin A) which are also thought to assist in immune function.

Hearty Health have been designing nutritionally balanced menus specifically for children in Child Care since the year 2000.   Hearty Health include the recommended amount of fruit servings in child care menus and are passionate about creating healthy eating habits in children from a very early age.     Contact us here to find out more about Hearty Health and how we can help your Child Care Centre.

Top 3 books to encourage healthy eating habits in kids

We love Book Week.   It is lots of fun and from a nutritional point of view, there is no better time to help encourage healthy eating habits in children than by reading a good book about it!

Tips when reading to children

When reading books to children remember these hot tips:

• Give everything a name – Build a child’s vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects. For example, “Look at the apple! Apples grow in trees. How do you think apples grow?”

• Say how much you enjoy reading – Tell the children how much you enjoy reading with them. Talk about “story time” as your favourite part of your day.

• Read with excitement in your voice – read to children with humour and expression. Use different voices and make it fun : )

• Know when to stop – put the book away for a while if the children start to lose interest or are having trouble paying attention.

• Be interactive – Discuss what’s happening in the book, point out things on the page, and ask questions. Have some healthy food to give out and smell, eat and touch as you are reading the book.

• Read it again and again – the beauty of books is that they are never ending. There is always time to read the same book on another day

Top 3 books to read to encourage healthy eating habits in kids

Here are our top 3 recommendations for Book Week in 2018 which focus on health eating habits:

Healthy eating habitsWe Are What We Eat by Kristy Hammil. According to the description, “Your kids will start to recognize the difference between foods that are nourishing to their bodies and foods that aren’t.” Great for kids 2-10 years old.


Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain.  Mama and Dr. Grizzly attempt to help their children understand the importance of nutritious foods and exercise.


Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat –  Gregory is a goat that only eats fruits, vegetables, bread and butter.  This disappoints his parents because they wish he would eat tires, shoelaces, tin cans, and cardboard.  The kids think it’s hilarious!


Hearty Health are passionate developing healthy eating habits in children and providing fresh seasonal meals to children in child care.  All meals are delivered directly to child care centre fridges fresh every day.

Contact Hearty Health at here or ring us on 1300 728 762 to book a tasting of our delicious menu that your kids will love.

How to improve your child’s gut health

Gut health is an important factor which can determine how we feel, how strong our immune system is and our energy levels.  If our gut is upset and inflamed, that inflammation can spread to the rest of our body and make tension worse.

Therefore, we need to be eating a wholesome diet to give our gut health the best chance to make us feel great.  Avoiding sugar including any soft drinks/juices and processed foods is the best way to heal our gut.  Some people also have specific intolerances to gluten, dairy or fructose so it is important to get tested to ensure the best diet for you.

For kids, the gut’s main role is to regulate digestion (and keep things moving!), as well as to give them the immunity they need to fight off any bugs that they get exposed to.

An unhappy gut in a child can lead to stomach aches and issues with absorption of vitamins and minerals.   Other symptoms such as issues with sleeping, constipation, bloating or lethargy can often be caused by gut issues.

3 simple ways to improve your child’s gut health:

1. Reduce Processed Foods

Processed foods, and food containing excessive sugar can be causing your child’s gut health to be compromised.

Making your own healthy homemade snacks and treats can make a big difference.  You can also ensure that your child has an adequate intake of fibre, by adding things like pears and apples (with peel on), potato and sweet potato (skin on), legumes (like our Hearty Health Hommus) and berries.

And don’t forget to keep their water intake up as this helps flush their system.

2. Avoid overuse of antibiotics

When your child is ill it’s natural to visit the doctor and see if they might need medication.  But overuse of antibiotics can kill your child’s good gut flora.

Speak to your doctor about your child’s symptoms and ask if antibiotics are necessary.  There may be other options available if you ask.

3. Add some of these gut friendly foods to children’s meals:

  • natural or Greek yoghurt goes well with nearly everything and the probiotics in yoghurt make it the best option for increasing gut flora
  • pickles or sauerkraut on homemade burgers is delicious – introduce this slowly to your kids to help them develop their palate
  • homemade stock in your Bolognese and soups
  • salmon with green leafy vegetables
  • blueberries as a snack on their own or in a muffin
  • chia seeds and/or walnuts in a muffin or porridge is filling and ticks all the boxes for optimum health
  • beetroot dip is a popular snack that Hearty Health make for children in child care. Delicious with fresh celery and carrot sticks
  • sweet potato used as a mash with Shepherd’s Pie or wedges would be a bit hit with the kids
  • turmeric and ginger in a mild curry would warm up tummy’s as well as giving a big immune boost

The Hearty Health Menu is specifically created for children in child care to ensure that gut health and children’s dietary and allergen requirements are met.

Hearty Health specialise in creating fresh seasonal meals for children which are made by professional chef’s and delivered daily to child care centres.    For more information, contact Hearty Health here.

7 ways to boost the immunity of children in child care

Colds and flu in children can spread rapidly especially in child care.  It is considered normal for children to get a number of infections and colds during a year and helps to build stronger immune systems for later in life.  However, it is a good idea to minimise the chance of infection (and spread) as much as you can and boost the immunity of children in child care.

1. Sleep breeds sleep

Sleep allows our bodies to rest and heal so it is important that children get enough sleep on a regular basis.  The recommended amount of sleep for a toddler is 11 to 14 hours a day including naps.  You can read more information on getting your toddler into a regular sleep routine here.

2. Fresh fruit and vegetables

Fresh seasonal fresh produce is full of immune boosting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Carrots, green beans, oranges and strawberries all contain immunity-boosting phytonutrients such as vitamin C and carotenoids. Click here to read more about how vitamins and minerals in food keep children healthy and strong.

Try to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day. (A serving is about two tablespoons for toddlers and one cup for older kids.)   Use plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your winter casseroles, stews and soups and remember to serve raw fruit and vegetables too for essential health protecting enzymes.

3. Increase probiotics to boost the immunity of children in child care

A big portion of our immune system is located in our digestive system so gut health is also important.   Probiotics keep our intestinal tract free of disease causing germs which we often forget about.

Yoghurt is an excellent source of probiotics, so try to consume yoghurt with high amounts of live cultures.

4. Essential mineral intake

Zinc is an essential mineral for supporting immune functions and for fighting off the common cold.    It is found in lean red meat, fish and poultry, as well as wholegrain cereals, legumes, dairy foods and nuts.

Zinc is important for the development of white blood cells, the cells that recognise and destroy invading bacteria, viruses and assorted other bad guys.

5. Washing hands

Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection.

Take your time to thoroughly wash and dry your hands with soap and clean water, as well as the hands of children in child care.  Wash hands before and after food handling and after opening doors, patting pets and touching common areas within your centre.

6. Cleaning surfaces

Colds and flu are airborne viruses that are transmitted through droplets released when coughing or sneezing. Covering your mouth with your hand may prevent droplets from flying, however surfaces touched by those hands can create an issue.

Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands. People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising it, and germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.

Ensure any surfaces that are regularly used are kept clean and dry, and try to avoid touching your face with your hands.

7. Outside play and exercise

Research shows that exercise, fresh air and sunlight increases the number of natural cells in adults and regular activity can benefit children in the same way.

To boost the immunity of children in child care, create lifelong habits by exercising or playing outside with them. Fun activities include bike riding, hiking, walking the dog, playing in the park, in-line skating, basketball and tennis.

For more information on Hearty Health and how we provide fresh meals daily to boost the immunity of children in child care, please contact us here.     Like our Facebook Page to keep up to date with the latest news from the Hearty Health kitchen.

Encourage healthy sleep habits in toddlers

Healthy sleep habits combined with eating fresh healthy meals, keep our bodies fit and strong.

New research released by VicHealth and the Sleep Health Foundation has found that technology before bed, caffeine and stress all contribute to later bed times, sleep problems and mental illness in teenagers and young people.

It is much easier to create healthy sleep habits at an early age.  Follow our tips below to establish positive patterns in your family that will set you up for the teenage years:

Establish a regular sleep pattern

Regular hours of sleep are important. It will help your child understand when it is time to sleep and your child will have better sleep and develop healthy sleep habits.

Bed time and the time your child wakes up, shouldn’t vary by more than an hour between school and non-school nights.

A consistent bedtime routine

It is good to have the same routine before bed each night especially for children who thrive on routine. This will help prepare for sleep. Aim for quiet activities such as reading a book or having a bath and encourage a positive calm pattern ready for sleep.

In the half hour before bed, there are some things you don’t want your child to do such as increased physical activity, playing outside, watching television, or playing computer games.

Make sure the bedroom is comfortable

Your child’s bedroom should be a quiet, comfortable and dark. Some children like a dim night light which makes them feel safe. Make sure your child sees his or her bedroom as a good place to be.

Bed is for sleeping, not entertainment

Television, computers, mobile phones and other things that distract your child can stimulate your child’s brain and are not good for their sleep.   Start a habit of keeping all electronic games out of the bedroom and create a charging station in a central part of the house where they are stored every evening.   This habit will prove invaluable as your child grows through the primary years and into a teenager.

A snack before bed may help develop healthy sleep habits

It’s difficult to sleep on an empty stomach. A light snack can help settle and soothe your child if not enough nutritious food has been eaten during the day. Keep in mind that ideally your child should not have a heavy meal within one to two hours of going to bed so keep the snack light.   Check out our Hearty Health blog here for nutritious recipes that may help.

Caffeine is a stimulant

Caffeine is found in many popular drinks. These include coffee, tea and soft drinks which can make it harder to get to sleep. Your child should have as little of these as possible, and especially not after lunchtime.

Watch out for daytime naps

It is normal for young children to nap during the day but as your child gets older, they will need less sleep. The number and length of naps depends on your child. If your child naps after 4pm (except for the very young) it can be harder to get to sleep at night.

Exercise and time outside

Daily exercise and time spent outside in the daylight is an important part of healthy living and promotes healthy sleep habits. However, it is best to steer clear of heavy exercise in the hour before sleep.

Work with your doctor

If your child is sick or isn’t comfortable, their sleep will suffer. Some children suffer from specific sleep problems such as frequent nightmares, snoring or sleep apnoea. It is important that these problems are dealt with. If you think ill health is involved, discuss this with your family doctor.

For more tips and hints on getting your children to sleep visit http://raisingchildren.net.au/

Hearty Health specialise in providing fresh healthy meals to children in child care every day.  Our philosophy is to create healthy eating habits in children as soon as possible to set them up to be healthy adults.   If your child attends child care, contact us here to find out if your centre is a Hearty Health centre.

How to celebrate the Winter Solstice with your kids

The Winter Solstice highlights the birth of a new solar year and is also known as midwinter or Yule.   It is the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.   Celebrate the Winter Solstice with your kids by learning about why it is so significant around the world and start new family traditions that become annual rituals…

Midwinter is a traditional time of feasting and celebration.   In the Southern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice will take place on 21 June.

This date in the calendar is recognised and celebrated because it marks the middle of Winter and the beginning of the journey towards longer lighter days and eventually Spring.

Yule corresponds with the Northern Hemisphere Christmas season and at this time, Yule logs are burned. The Yule log must traditionally be the root of a hardwood tree.

Winter Solstice in Australia

In Australia, Mallee roots, Tasmanian Oaks and all types of Eucalyptus are ideal for Yule logs. The Yule log is burned down until nothing but a small piece remains.  This is saved and kept to be used as a lighter for the following year’s Yule fire.

Winter Solstice traditions around the world

There are many traditions and activities around the world that you can use to celebrate the Winter Solstice with your kids.  Some focus around monuments but others are transferable to the Australian way of life and open up our imagination for fun and festivities.

  • Ireland – people stand inside the Newgrange monument in Ireland and absorb the first rays of the sun as they fill the ancient chambers.
  • Japan – people traditionally soak in hot baths with the Yuzu citrus fruit to protect their bodies from the common cold.
  • Korea – good luck on the solstice is associated with red bean porridge. Koreans will often make the dish both to eat and spread around the house to keep evil spirits away and keep them healthy.
  • England – Stonehenge is known for its precise alignment with the sun’s movement and may have been a sacred place of worship and celebration for solstices for thousands of year. People gather at the site to sing, dance, play instruments and kiss the stones as they wait for the sun to rise.
  • Antarctica – a swim in icy waters marks the passage of midwinter for expeditioners at Australia’s Antarctic and sub Antarctic stations. Crews mark the winter solstice with a range of activities including games, pantomimes and a gourmet dinner.
  • Iran – the family gather together, usually at the house of the oldest, and celebrate by eating, drinking and reading poems. Nuts, pomegranates and watermelons are particularly served during this festival.

How to celebrate the Winter Solstice with your kids

The Winter Solstice is a great opportunity to get together with family and friends and celebrate with your favourite warming foods and have lots of fun. Who knows, this could mark the start of a new annual tradition in your family?

Get the kids involved too by getting them into the kitchen to help you make delicious meals and try some simple activities like our Winter Solstice Lanterns to decorate your home.

Or pop over to a Solstice festival near you such as the Winter Solstice Festival by Festive Fires in Eltham, Victoria.  Experience the full festivities of the season including mulled wine, festive foods and more activities for the children.

Hearty Health specialise and are passionate about providing healthy nutritious meals to children in child care.  We write a series of educational and fun blogs on our Hearty Health website and Facebook page.

To find out more about how Hearty Health can assist children in child care, contact us here.