Eat seasonal fruit and veg this winter, advises specialist paediatric dietitian Ana-Kristina Skrapac
Christmas is almost upon us and the winter woollies are well and truly out. At this time of year we crave winter warmers and nourishing foods. Just as we change our summery scarves for woolly items, we should also adapt our eating.
By eating seasonally we achieve variety in what we eat and ensure that we get the right balance of nutrients. Many parents tell me they struggle to keep food variety over the winter months and that their children quickly tire of eating the same foods. So let’s look at how we can encourage food variety by eating seasonally while encouraging children to try new foods.
It’s no surprise that the fruits and vegetables we generally associate with the Christmas season are winter-growing foods. In the lead-up to the Christmas holidays, visit the local farmers’ market with your kids and let them explore all the new colours and shapes.
Eating a wholesome range of fruits daily boosts our vitamin intake and helps fight off colds. Try apples, clementines, cranberries, dates, grapefruits and pears. Explore the different varieties, noticing the subtle differences in taste, colour, size and texture. Involve your children in picking out different varieties when you shop. Try fruits roasted and poached as well as fresh and crunchy.
Root vegetables are at their prime in winter and make the perfect base for nourishing meals and tasty sides. Try parsnips, pumpkins, swedes, sweet potatoes and turnips. You could make sweet potato wedges, pumpkin risotto or pureed swede. Pair these with fresh or dried herbs, such as sage, thyme, rosemary or parsley, or liven them up with mild chilli, ginger or grated parmesan. Vegetables don’t need to boiled and boring. Using the natural flavours from roasting or a combination of herbs and spices can really entice children to try them.
Using a variety of coloured vegetables gives the best diversity of nutrients. Learn new ways of combining vegetables with your staples. For example, aubergine can be hidden in familiar favourites such as bolognaise sauce, or slow-roasted with tomato. Try steamed cauliflower, cabbage, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke or leek.
Oven-roasted crunchy Kale can be sprinkled over dishes for a texture and taste explosion, or mixed with herbs to create a healthy snack. And let’s not forget the Brussels sprout. It’s not everyone’s favourite, but children often reject a new flavour the first time round. Encourage them to try new foods multiple times and lead by example. The more they see you trying new foods the more likely they are to try them.
Check out bbcgoodfood.com for more information on seasonal foods!
Ana-Kristina has been providing nutrition services for infants, children and adolescents for 15 years. She offers private consultations in her Harley Street clinic, specialising in paediatric gastroenterology and food allergy, feeding difficulties and eating problems. Visit london-nutrition.com and follow her on Twitter @AnaKristinaLNC