My son will be a teenager this year. He will be taller than me any minute now: His feet are the size of an adult’s. “As soon as I’m taller, you won’t be able to tell me what to do anymore!”. I’m wondering whether this also means he’ll be taking full responsibility for taking care of himself? I’m guessing, perhaps not!
His perspective on the world is changing every day—a millimetre taller, new strength, higher expectations at school and home.
Is it any wonder that many children cling to the familiar? It could be a favourite toy or a small ritual, a favourite destination or a beloved book.
For many children, food is a significant source of comfort and a way to retain some control in a world where they are subject to others’ rules and requirements.
At the end of a day of learning new things and navigating relationships, familiar foods help ground and reassure our children. A degree of predictability for tastes and textures means one less challenge to navigate, one reassuring experience, one time that they can relax.
But we face a challenge when what’s predictable and reassuring is doing them harm.
Food marketed to children is often nutritionally empty and dense in calories, high in sugar, fat and salt, and low in nutrients.
We might see the consequences of this in our children’s weight, but the impact doesn’t stop there.
Increasingly, evidence points to the consequences of this type of food on our children’s mood and their ability to focus and learn.
Our brains and bodies operate synergistically. Did you know there are as many neurons in our gut as in a cat’s brain? That’s why it has come to be known as the “second brain”.
Consider how sophisticated a cat’s behaviour is. It can find food, escape threats and search for comfort. Imagine how much we can influence our behaviour, and our children’s learning and mood through the right nutrition!
The challenge for us, as parents, is to introduce food that provides what their bodies need at the same time as meeting their emotional needs for familiarity, autonomy and joy in eating. It is possible to do both!
My children would happily exist on a diet of white bread, wraps and pizza. Carbohydrates are a great “comfort food”, but unfortunately they do not provide the optimum fuel for a day of learning and achieving their goals.
I’m gradually introducing them to a plant-based diet, and I’ll share the tips and tricks I’ve learned with you here in future. Along the way, I want to help you fuel your kids with quick and easy recipes, which help to nourish them to achieve their potential.
A great place to start is this one-minute spelt flour bread.
Aside from the fact it can be grown with fewer fertilisers and adapts well to deficient soils, spelt is a powerhouse of different vitamins and minerals. Swap it for highly processed white flour. Your kids won’t notice the difference if you use white spelt flour, but either way, using wholemeal or white spelt, you’ll be loading them up with nutrients that help their digestion and circulation, boost their immunity, strengthen their bones and support their brain function.
You won’t need any special equipment, just a bowl and a mixing spoon or spatula (silicone is ideal as the dough won’t stick!). Click on this link to see how it's made:
ONE-MINUTE BRAINY BREAD
1kg spelt flour (I prefer whole grain)
One dessert spoon of salt (I use sea salt for its wide range of trace elements)
One dessert spoon of yeast
760ml warm rainwater (make sure it is not too hot!)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure the flour is absorbed, but it doesn’t require kneading.
Cover the bowl with a clean, dry tea towel and leave it for around 2 hours, or until it’s doubled in size.
At this point, you can cover it loosely with a lid, and place it in the fridge. After one day, you can seal the top entirely. It will keep for up to one week, gradually developing a sourdough flavour.
When you are ready to use it, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Shape the dough as desired, and leave it for 20 minutes to warm up slightly.
Bake in the oven until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it. The focaccia in this image took 40 minutes to cook.
Before baking, I created dimples in the surface with my fingers and drizzled the dough with olive oil, salt and rosemary. I added extra herbs and feta in the final 10 minutes of baking.
I’d love you to join us for lunch!