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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how our food beliefs can limit us nutritionally – it was a really popular post to help you to think differently about what and when you eat (if you missed it you can catch up here). Today, Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner delves deeper into how our own beliefs around food shape can shape our kids eating habits from a very early age. She raises many great points and even more food for thought…

Words, Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner

Are our food beliefs as parents shaping our kids eating habits?

Beliefs are powerful, we start forming some of them before we can even talk; we form beliefs about food, about ourselves and about the world around us. These beliefs guide our life and our decision making and a lot of these beliefs are unconscious- we don’t even realise that they are running within us! We learn them from observing others- parents, caregivers, the media and the people around us.

Children watch and learn from us all of the time, they are like sponges soaking up everything they see, hear and feel. They watch how we interact with others, how we interact with them and how we nourish and care for ourselves. This early learning influences how they perceive themselves and the world around them. So how we approach food, what we choose to eat and how we eat makes an impression upon our kids.

As parents it is useful to check out your beliefs around food and eating because if you remain unaware of them, you might pass them onto your children. If you have a healthy relationship with food and eating, that’s great, however, some of us have had painful relationships with our weight, self-image and food. The best gift you can offer your child is to gently heal this within yourself.

We live in a culture that doesn’t encourage feeling, we drink, smoke and eat to shove feelings down and this is seen as reasonable behaviour. Unfortunately shoving our feelings down with food and denying them leads to loads of issues and difficulties in life. We start to link emotion with food- ‘Food fixes everything,’ ‘When I eat, I don’t feel.’

Keeping food away from the emotional arena

Try not to bring food into the emotional arena- food is for nourishing the body and the senses, not soothing the emotions. We bring food into the emotional arena when we treat for good behaviour with food, or we offer some food when our child is upset or sad. Even labelling yourself as ‘naughty’ when you eat something that you perceive is ‘bad’ is entering the emotional arena and setting yourself up for feelings of shame, guilt and body image concerns.

We are influencing our kids all of the time, for example, if you make healthy meals for the kids and then don’t eat because you are worried about your weight- your kids will notice that. Or if you make healthy, organic food for them and then grab yourself some fast food on the way home, your kids will notice that too. They generally adopt our habits and behaviours. If you ask your kids to eat vegies and you don’t or, ask them to try lots of different foods and yet limit your own choices, or if you are anxious about food and find it difficult to sit and enjoy a meal, they will generally follow your example.

Some helpful tips for raising whole food loving kids

Here are some tips to help you to keep food and emotion separate which will help in raising kids who have a positive relationship with food…

  • Start to get curious about your own beliefs around food and eating.
  • Ask yourself, what kind of relationship do you want your kids to have with food?
  • What changes would need to happen to create an environment where that would be possible?
  • Aim to be more open minded and avoid telling your kids what they will and won’t like
  • Avoid labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’
  • Avoid linking food with emotion- ‘this will make you feel better’
  • Avoid rewarding good behaviour with food- ‘Clean your room and you can have a Freddo’
  • Avoid any negative self-talk about food and body image
  • Encourage your kids to try any new whole foods without becoming g emotional around their response
  • Model a healthy relationship with food and eating yourself
  • Lastly and most importantly, celebrate opportunities to come together with family and friends to enjoy food

We are all human and all have our issues, beliefs and ways of doing life. Please be gentle on yourself and remember that all of us are resilient and capable of change. If need be, explore a new relationship with your beliefs and with food.

Jane Faulkner is a psychotherapist, registered nurse, yoga teacher and the founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia, an organisation that provides training, retreats, programs and individual sessions that aim to provide individuals with a new and authentic ways to grow and learn more about themselves. Connect with Jane HERE. As always, your feedback and questions are welcome. Post a comment below and Jane or I will reply!
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I originally developed this recipe for WellBeings EatWell Magazine – a simple, flavoursome take on meat and three veg (with more of an emphasis on veggies). Trust me, there’s nothing bland about these carrots, peas and crunchy potatoes.

For some reason when I think of meat and three veg I think back to my days living in Ireland and visiting one of my hubbies relatives who would always serve up meat and three veggies for lunch or dinner when we visited. The veg part was always mashed swede (turnip), mashed potato and carrots or peas. I was a pescatarian back then which used to throw her into such a spin (but I was happy and grateful for the veggies which were always well seasoned and slathered in butter, just the way I like them).

I love to make this one tray side when I’m entertaining a crowd, it’s a bit more interesting than simple roast spuds.

Smashed Potato and Vegetable Bake

This bake is such delicious side dish with lots of lovely flavours and textures. It’s great to serve at a BBQ or when entertaining a crowd. Check out the variations below for vegetarian and vegan. 

  • 12-16 (approx.) kipfler potatoes, scrubbed clean ((or any small potato that roasts well))
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil ((or melted ghee))
  • 12-16 (approx.) dutch carrots, peeled & trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • Black pepper, (to taste)
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup creme fraiche or sour cream ((optional))
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200℃.
  2. Boil the potatoes until starting to soften (almost cooked through). Depending upon the size of your potatoes, this will take about 10-20 mins.
  3. Drain the potatoes well.
  4. Place 2 tbsp of the olive oil into a large baking tray. Add the potatoes and with the back of a fork, partially crush them.
  5. Scatter over the carrots, rosemary and garlic.
  6. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  7. Bake for 20 mins then add the prosciutto and cook for a further 15 mins.
  8. Defrost the peas by sitting them in boiling water. Drain well.
  9. Once the potatoes and prosciutto are crispy, remove from the oven and scatter over the peas.
  1. Serve immediately with the optional creme fraiche or sour cream.


Simply omit the prosciutto



Omit the prosciutto and replace the cream with Cashew Cream.



I’d love to hear how you enjoy this delicious bake – once again please post your feedback or any questions below G x


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Food beliefs, we all have them; but are they limiting us nutritionally? In this post I explore how what we think is appropriate food for certain meals (and also for kids to eat) can negatively impact on the amount of nutrition we are deriving from our diet.

I had a call from a friend a few months ago, panicking as her son had told her he didn’t like eating cereal or toast for breakfast and she was at a loss as to what to feed him. It got me thinking about how much our food beliefs affect our food choices and potentially limit us nutritionally.

You eat what for breakfast?

The food processing industry has done a very good job of selling us the idea that certain foods should be eaten at certain times of the day. Obviously it benefits them enormously for us to form beliefs around food, especially when those foods are of the processed variety.

Let’s do a Family Feud style quiz. I’ve taken the liberty of inserting the the kinds of foods I’ve found patients to report eating when I explore their diet in a consult –

Q – A food you can eat for breakfast

A – Cereal, bacon and eggs, toast

Q – A food you can eat for lunch

A – Sandwich, wrap or roll, pie or sausage roll (that one’s for the tradies)

Q – A food you can eat for dinner

A – Meat and veg, pasta, casserole

Q – A food you can eat for a snack

A – Biscuits, muesli bars, crackers, fruit

How’d I do? In Australia I think many peoples eating regime look something like this and it’s certainly not all bad. I’ve also practiced in Ireland and whilst similar, my patients would count potatoes cooked three different ways as three serves of veggies (ha ha).

I believe so many of our food beliefs (in the Western Cultures) are limiting us nutritionally and in many cases hindering our health. I know personally, the more I’ve dropped preconceptions about what food should be eaten when, the better my diet has become.

Breakfast is one meal where the food processing industry have society seriously brainwashed as the foods they have sold us (cereal, breakfast drinks), do nothing to support our bodies nutritionally. So I’m going to put it out there – you can eat any nourishing whole food you desire for breakfast. Think leftover dinner, a bowl of soup, a smoothie. My kids are even loving home-made ice blocks (basically smoothies frozen into ice block moulds) and also home made jelly for breakfast (pureed fruit and gelatine which is great for their gut and immune system). We also often have left over bolognese, dhal or curries on toast for breakfast – quick, easy and so much more nourishing than many of the ‘conventional’ breakfasts.

The same goes for snacks – just eat real food, perhaps add in a veggie or two and you are all good. I very often throw together a snack plate that is basically a mish mash of whatever I have in the cupboard or fridge (I have loads of snack ideas here). If you’re baking, inject as much nourishment into it as possible (this is always the aim with all of my recipes, even the sweet treats).

In fact, I challenge you to let go of convention and replace the processed foods you’ve been conditioned to eat with whole foods and watch your health improve. This post is a great place to start with simple food swaps that can make a huge difference to you and your families health and wellbeing. Even small improvements like adding a side salad (basically a handful of leafy greens with vinegar and olive oil) and a spoonful of sauerkraut to your cooked breakfast when you have one, is a bonus (something I’ve personally committed to doing). At first my hubby and kids thought it was a bit weird, but now it’s just the norm.

Back to my friend. So I talked with her and her son and discovered he loves soup and smoothies – so that’s what he now has for breakfast. She makes big pots of soup and freezes it in jars or containers for him to re-heat as needed. She also adds veggies to his smoothies (this post will give you ideas on how to do this too) and has already reported that his health has improved enormously (he was getting sick very frequently when we first spoke).

I cant believe your kids actually eat that!

Another food belief is that certain foods are for kids. Think about it, in the supermarket there are cereals marketed as being good for babies and kids, yoghurts, muesli bars, breakfast drinks, juices, noodles, breads… I could go on and on. Food marketers are very clever knowing they can throw a few health claims onto a product leading parents to believe that their product will benefit their kids health and it is guaranteed to sell well. We all want what’s best for our kids, unfortunately mass fortification and a heap of ‘ingredients’ inside pretty packaging is not serving our kids at all.

I can remember when a lady asked me if it was okay to feed her baby ‘her yoghurt’ (as her store was out of ‘baby’ yoghurt). I didn’t even know what was in the yoghurt marketed to babies and kids so I checked it out and I was horrified by the ingredients. She was so much better off, financially as they were expensive, but also regular full-fat natural yoghurt was so much better for the nourishment of her baby.

One thing I’ve always been very conscious of is letting my kids try everything that we eat and my hubby has been great at marketing whole foods to them (he’s a very convincing sales man ha ha). We constantly talk about the deliciousness on our plates at meal times, how yummy veggies are and from a very young age, they have eaten what we’ve eaten. Even when we are eating out we ‘share’ food and have never ordered food off the ‘kids’ menu (another bug bear of mine – but I won’t go there now).

I believe this approach has really helped them to have an openness to trying new foods and a great appreciation of food. My son in particular is mad on making up flavour combinations of his own. A few weeks ago he put mustard, grated horseradish and jalapeños on a rice cracker for afternoon tea – it’s become a new favourite (insert eye’s boggling emoji)!

Anyhow, I’ve written this post to encourage you to check in with your food beliefs and even consider challenging them (just maybe not to the extreme of my 10 yr old ha ha). Perhaps you already have a few unconventional food or eating habits – I’d love you to share them in the comments below. Let’s prove there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ diet!
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I have SO much thyme in my garden at the moment and even though it is just one of many ingredients in this totally divine Mushroom and Lentil Lasagne, it was what ultimately inspired this dish. I’m constantly experimenting on delicious ways to win over my meat loving family and this is our latest vegetarian favourite so I thought I’d better share it.

For about 20 years of my life I was a vegetarian, many of those years I was a student also so legumes, being a cheap, healthy source of protein, were my go to. Various types of vegetarian bolognese type dishes were staples for me back than- the base ingredients were similar, always a legume of some kind + vegetables + tomatoes + various herbs and spices depending upon what I felt like.

So in creating my latest vegetarian lasagne, I returned to my tried and tested formula, balancing the flavours of thyme and vegetables until  it was perfect – and now it is, so I hope you love it as much as my family does (even the legume fussy one in our household loves this).

For a legume-free lasagne, my Pumpkin Lasagne has been a huge hit with the Well Nourished audience too.

Mushroom and Lentil Lasagne (to die for)

This super tasty Mushroom and Lentil Lasagne will win over any meat lovers in your family. Vegetarian lasagne just doesn’t get any better. 

  • 100g (½ cup approx.) un-cooked Puy lentils (sometimes called French lentils)
  • Splash extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, dried
  • Generous handful (small bunch) fresh thyme, (leaves picked off the stems)
  • 250 grams approx. swiss brown or portobello mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 400 ml vegetable stock ((or bone broth if not worried about it no longer being vegetarian))
  • 1 x 400 gram tin diced tomatoes or 6 vine ripened roma tomatoes (diced (you can skin them also if you like, personally I don't bother))
  • Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves, (chopped)
  • 200 grams dried lasagne sheets, (see below for GF and GrF)
Cheese sauce (see below for a vegan version)
  • 1 cup grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 30 grams butter
  • 50 grams spelt flour (or GF flour)
  • 500ml (2 cups) milk of your choice, (full-fat is best)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. I personally like to soak all legumes overnight in water with a splash of vinegar, so do this with the puy lentils if you like (you don’t have to, but I’d recommend it).

  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180℃ / 350℉.
  3. I used my Thermomix to do all the chopping, but you can easily use a regular food processor or grate/ finely dice all the veggies by hand. No need to wash or rinse the food processor in between each step too.

  4. In a food processor or thermomix chop your garlic (TMX 5 secs, speed 5) and then onion (TMX 5 secs, speed 4).

  5. Heat a large pan over a low heat and add the olive oil (or you can use ghee or butter if not vegan). Add the chopped garlic/onion and gently sauté whilst processing the other veggies.

  6. Now pop the celery, carrots and zucchini into your food processor and pulse to chop – you are looking for a course consistency so be careful not to over process (TMX use the turbo button, quick pulses until the right consistency, about 2-3 should do it look through the lid after each pulse). Alternatively grate the carrot and zucchini and finely dice the celery. Add this to the pan with the onion.

  7. Sauté for a few minutes with the bay leaves and thyme leaves.

  8. Pulse the mushrooms in the food processor until just chopped (TMX pulse 1-2 times).
  9. Add them to the pan with the Puy lentils, tomato puree, stock and diced tomatoes. Season, stir to combine and allow to simmer with the lid ajar, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the lentils are cooked. This will take about 30 minutes.

  10. Once cooked, add the chopped spinach and stir though to wilt it. Taste, adjust the seasoning if you need to (salt brings out the flavour so don’t be shy). Remove from the heat and set aside. 

Cheese sauce
  1. Grate the cheese (in the processor and set aside).
  2. For the Thermomix method, follow the recipe for Béchamel in your basic cookbook.
  3. In a medium sized pot, melt the butter over a low heat. Remove from the heat and add the flour mixing to combine.
  4. Return to a medium to high heat and gradually add the milk, approx. half a cup at a time mixing constantly. As it heats it will thicken, this is when you should add another half a cup of milk. Do this until all the milk is added and the sauce is thick.
  5. Add about a quarter of the cheese, season with sea salt and pepper to taste, and stir well (reserve the rest of the cheese for the top of the lasagne).

  1. To assemble the lasagne, use a medium size baking dish (mine is 25 x 25cm), placing half of the lentil sauce in the base, top with lasagne sheets, then the remaining lentil sauce, another layer of pasta and finish with the cheese sauce and the remaining grated cheese.

  2. Bake for 30 – 45 minute or until the lasagne is cooked through.
Gluten and grain-free

Choose gluten-free lasagne sheets and for grain free layer with thinly sliced eggplant (aubergine) or zucchini (courgette).


Vegan (dairy-free) cheese sauce

Steam half a large head of cauliflower, then puree with a tablespoon of nutritional yeast, a generous pinch of sea salt and pepper and a splash of almond milk to achieve a Béchamel consistency (thick sauce). Top with grated vegan cheese.


All in the Thermomix

I personally used my TMX for all the preparation (chopping) and making the cheese sauce but cooked the lentil sauce in the pan as I prefer the consistency the pan produces (plus the volume of the sauce is pushing the bowl limits). But if you did want to cook it all in the TMX,  I’d cook on reverse, speed 1, temp 100, 30 minutes (or until the lentils are cooked through) with the lid ajar. 



The lasagne can be made ahead, refrigerated and re-heated as required. It can also be portioned and frozen.

You can also serve this as a pasta sauce if you can’t be bothered with the few extra steps to the lasagne.


Enjoy! I’d love to hear how you and your family enjoyed this tasty dish. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think (star rating extra appreciated as that way this recipe will entice even more people). 

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I write a lot about food and the benefits of eating a whole food diet. It’s what I know, it’s what occupies my thoughts each and every day. I’m forever striving to nourish and protect my families health in every way I know. These two blondies are my inspiration and driving force to do the best I can .

In a world where there is so much information about living a healthy life, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and consumed with guilt sometimes. Personally, I like to avoid feeling overwhelmed and the way I do this is by directing my time and energy into the parts of my life I feel are the greatest priority (generally things I do or am exposed to often). Because we eat and drink several times a day, food and filtered water are definitely my top two priorities (plus it helps I know food well).

Today I thought I’d share 5 simple ways I’ve reduced my families toxin load (plus a very special offer to help you to ‘Go Low Tox’ at the end of the post).

Turn off the wifi

Wireless technology is every where, right? I run an online business so wifi is a part of my life. However its effect on our health and that of our children is largely unknown and the control freak in me doesn’t like unknowns, especially when it comes to my kids health. I know I can’t avoid it altogether, but I can minimise our exposure.

So here’s what I do.

  1. Keep a distance – According to building biologist Nicole Biljsma “As you double the distance away from the source, you reduce your exposure by 75%”. I have my router in a cupboard away from our main living room / bedrooms. We also always use the phone on speaker (this is not negotiable for my kids and its become the norm for them).
  2. Switch off – We have much of our technology hardwired, but we still unfortunately have wifi. So at night (and when not in use) our router is always powered off. Someone on Facebook has just shared that they use a powerpoint timer to have their router automatically switch off at night (which is genius as I’m always running down stairs half asleep after forgetting to turn it off). If switching wifi of is not possible for you, place all devices on airplane mode (you should also do this if your kids are playing on devices).

There’s a heap more technical info on this subject here.

Ditch teflon coated cookware

Because it’s important to me that the food I lovingly source (as toxin free as possible) is not exposed to toxins during cooking, I recommend avoiding teflon coated cookware.

It’s been quite a while since I ditched my teflon coated pans and after cooking on cast iron (which is totally non-stick) I wish I had done so when I first moved out of home! It would have saved me a bucket load of money (replacing teflon pans when they wore out). Also food just cooks better on cast iron and I will never have to buy another pan again (it’s indestructible). I also have a collection of stainless steel pots, pans and baking dishes.

So what’s the problem with teflon? According to Alexx Stuart from Low Tox Life:

‘At just over 300 degrees celcius (pans on high preheating after just 5 mins) Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures another 100 degrees higher, non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene. NO THANK YOU! The easiest way to tell if you’ve over exposed yourself, is with flu like symptoms. If that’s not enough, birds die when exposed to the vapours almost instantly with something actually labelled by vets “Teflon Toxicosis”.’

Now you have great excuse to shop for some lovely new cookware! Stainless steel is available everywhere, though if I were shopping for new stainless, this would be my number one choice (click here). For good quality non-stick cast iron an cast steel, I simply adore Solidteknics (and this is in no way sponsored, it’s a product I just love) – they are Australian, inexpensive and just brilliant to cook on. For a family, their new 35cm dual handle Bigga Skillet is incredible (I have serious pan envy!). It’s available on pre-order from here (delivery next month).

I do my best to avoid storing food and drink in plastic

I’ve shared already shared info about the dangers of plastics (read more here). There is no such thing as ‘safe’ plastic, even BPA-free plastics leach chemicals (read more here). The net effect, especially on children, is so very worth the little bit of extra effort it takes to minimise their exposure.

These days we have so many options for plastic-free storage – glass, stainless steel and corning ware. I remember when my daughter was a toddler, finding a stainless steel drink bottle was tough, not to mention expensive. Same with finding largish airtight glass storage containers – now both are widely available in mainstream shops and they are very well priced. They also last SO much longer than plastic containers and drink bottles (which actually saves you money in the long run).

When switching from plastic containers in my pantry to glass, I transitioned gradually, picking up a $4 glass canister from the supermarket every week until all my plastic was replaced. I also recycled any large glass jars – 1 litre coconut oil jars are very handy for storing nuts/ seeds / leftover soups.

For a great range of stainless steel and glass drink bottles and a variety of stainless steel lunchboxes, Biome is my favourite place to shop. Click here to see their range of lunchboxes and drink bottles. I also love the range of Swag bags to store my fresh produce in the fridge (plastic free) and they keep the produce fresher for longer. Click here to find out more.

Choose low-tox personal products

Toothpaste, dental floss, skin care, deodorant and make-up are all things my family use daily (okay it’s just me with the make-up lol). So I do my best to ensure these products are as toxin-free as can be. I shop for a lot of this stuff at Nourished Life – they have great special offers and a fabulous rewards program.

I sleep on a spring-free, 100% natural latex mattress

I looooove a good night sleep (and because we spend so much of ours lives in bed) when it was time for me to upgrade my mattress not so long ago, I did a lot of research and decided that a spring-free, 100% natural latex mattress was for me. Most mattresses are a chemical landmine – it actually shocked me when I started researching this.

Like all clever marketing, it’s not enough that it’s ‘natural’ or ‘made with latex’ – it needs to be ‘100% natural latex’. Natural latex is super comfy, non-allergenic (unless latex is a problem for you), dust mite resistant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

My whole family are hot sleepers and we don’t find it the least bit hot (though our latex mattress is housed in a cotton casing). Before I could afford to switch us all onto latex, I bought latex mattress toppers for the kids so at least they weren’t in direct contact with their old mattress. If latex doesn’t suit you, consider your options in wool.

Special offer to Go Low Tox 

It is SO empowering to learn a better way – once you know better, you will do better. I think the best, most practical and do-able guide to fully understand what to look out for and what to avoid in our increasingly toxic world, is Alexx Stuart’s Go Low Tox e-course which kicks off very soon – on the 26th February 2018.

HEADS UP – For anyone who registers before 19th February. You will receive 10% off the tier of your choice: LIFER, PREMIUM or BASIC. Simply use the coupon code GOLOWTOX10 at the checkout to save 10%. Click HERE to check it out.

So many ‘natural’ and ‘green’ products are anything but. Sadly whilst politicians can still be influenced and paid by lobby groups to prevent safety bills being passed, there will still be unsafe products on our shelves, in our personal care and the food we eat. It’s up to us, as individuals and as parents to to learn what’s what.

This e-course is just invaluable and will help you enormously, without guilt, to make changes that will improve the health of you, your family and our world. The course even includes special offers and giveaways to help to support you to go low tox.

CLICK HERE to find out more.

Questions? Post yours in the comments below!

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My kids are big veggie lovers, but this hasn’t always been the case. I’ve written extensively on the topic of raising real food loving kids here – it’s a topic I’m super passionate about. I also have a whole chapter in my ebook ‘The Well Nourished Lunchbox’ about delicious ways to include vegetables in your kids diet (as well as over 50 sensational recipes including loads of savoury cracker options). Click HERE to find out more (I have a brilliant back to school bonus offer available at the moment for a limited time).

One thing I know for sure, is the more vegetables your kids eat, the more they will enjoy and be open to eating them. So when my kids were little and reluctant to eat a wide variety of veggies, I used to hide them in everything I cooked, including sweet and savoury baking (as well as presenting them in their whole form throughout the day and with every meal). You can read my thoughts on the benefits and pitfalls of ‘hiding’ veggies for picky eaters here.

I first made this cracker when my kids were teething (as a rusk of sorts). So I thought I’d re-invent it as a cracker my kids will enjoy now – and it’s safe to say they do! I love adding extra veggies anywhere I can and this  cracker is really quick and easy to make. I hope you and yours enjoy it too.

Veggie Crackers

This is an easy to make, crunchy savoury cracker that the whole family will love.

  • 60 grams (½ cup) water
  • 50 grams 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, ((I used coconut sugar))
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules or powder, (optional)
  • 200 grams (1¾ cups approx.) wholemeal or wholegrain spelt flour ( (see below for GF))
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180℃.
  2. In a high speed blender mix the water and spinach, scraping the sides until pureed. Thermomix 1 minute, speed 5 (you will need to scrape the sides quite a few times).

  3. Add the olive oil, sea salt, sugar and baking powder and mix together until combined. Thermomix 20 seconds, speed 4.

  4. Add the flour and mix until a dough the consistency of play-doh forms (so it holds together but doesn’t stick to your hands). You may need to adjust the amount of flour or water slightly to achieve the right consistency (especially with the GF variation below). 

  5. Form into a rough disc, place between two sheets of parchment paper and roll until very thin (1-2mm). Remove the top piece of parchment and cut the dough with a pizza cutter or plastic ruler (my new way to get the squares nice and even). 

  6. Lift this carefully onto a baking tray. 

  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I find the outside rows cook quicker than the inside squares so I often take it from the oven at 20-25 minutes, remove the outer rows and return the middle crackers which are still not crisp enough to the oven for 5 minutes or until they are dry and crunchy.

  1. In an airtight container. They can also be frozen and packed into the lunchbox (from frozen). 

Gluten or grain free

I’ve recipe tested these crackers with both gluten-free and paleo flours (both are also nut-free) that I bought from The Whole Food Collective (here). I found these needed extra time in the oven to crisp up. 


Beetroot (pink crackers)

Replace the spinach with 50g of raw beetroot (about half a small beetroot), peeled and diced. This makes for little pink crackers. 

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One of the most common questions I receive is around dealing with kid’s lunchboxes coming home either untouched or partially eaten. It may be something that you have already encountered or may encounter in the future. I totally understand how frustrating it is – I know for me I  buy good quality food and hate to see anything wasted. So, I thought I’d team up with Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner to offer a few solutions. We’ve broken these down into age groups as this will somewhat impact your approach.

Firstly, across all ages I think it’s important to be very clear with your kids of what your expectations are. As parents we all have different expectations of our kids – how tidy their rooms are kept, bed made (or not) etc; and the lunchbox is no exception. So, for me, my kids have known since they were little that I expect them to finish the contents of their school lunch, if not at school then after school. This obviously doesn’t always work out, so when they haven’t eaten all of their lunch, I always inquire into why that’s the case and we discuss how to remedy any problems (like less food, a different kind of food). If there is no resolvable problem, then I will re-state my expectations and encourage them to get back on track.

Kindy and Prep

Distraction is the biggest issue for kindy and prep aged kids. The best approach is to prepare them as much as possible for eating at school. I’ve written about how to prepare your toddler to become lunchbox ready here.

At this age, they should still be supervised and given plenty of time to sit and eat their lunch. If they are not eating at school, enlist the help of teachers to re-inforce what you’ve told them – that eating their lunch is really important for them to be able to concentrate, learn and play at school. If you are packing a healthy, whole foods lunch and your kids are feeling out of place (because their classmates have packaged, processed lunches) also ask the teacher to perhaps have a quiet word about how lucky they are to eat so well or pass little comments about how yummy their lunches look to encourage them. Explain why you make the food choices that you do and that it’s okay to be different.

It may be helpful to have smaller, bite sized pieces so that the food doesn’t break or fall out of their smaller hands. Kids at this age are really keen to help and are like little sponges, so also get them involved in washing the vegies, preparing what they can and start to educate them about healthy choices. Healthy foods make us strong and help us to feel good. This is the perfect age to lay solid foundations about healthy foods and to create a healthy connection to food.

Also get them to help pack their own lunch – give them choices and prepare items so they can place it in their lunchbox. Having a system is useful for younger kids. For example, they need to choose a piece of fruit, two veggies (have these washed and cut-up ready), a protein (something you have cooked like leftover chicken, egg, tuna etc.), and a snack you may have baked (I have a container with treats in the freezer for my kids to choose from).

Junior school

This is often where eating at school takes a back seat to playing and socialising. Often kids aren’t supervised or given an allocated time to eat in junior school and this is such a shame. I really wish schools were more mindful of this and had allocated times for kids to eat, followed by play (some schools do well here, others don’t).

Again, re-inforce that eating is necessary to keep them focussed, doing well at school and if they love sport, performing well at their chosen sports. Discuss with your child what you can do to help if they are preferring play over food – things like packing one handed lunches or things that they find quicker to eat. Also, re-inforce your expectations and why we don’t waste food (as above).

It’s helpful to start to teach kids about the connection between what they eat or don’t eat and how they feel. For example, if they come home from school complaining that they have a headache or that they feel really tired or angry and they haven’t eaten their lunch (when you are both fed and calm) explain what happens to their bodies without food. Their blood sugar levels plummet and their body really struggles to concentrate or play. Maybe even explain the term ‘hangry’, how our body gets so hungry that we start to feel angry and frustrated. Even challenge them to an experiment; let’s see how you feel if you eat as much of your lunch as you can! I find if kids can make the connection between the behaviour and the outcome, they are much more likely to make different choices for themselves from within.

They should also be contributing to packing their own lunch – the more they fuss, the more responsibility they have in packing it.

High school

Once your kids are in high school they can pack their own lunch start to finish. This is where peer pressure really kicks in and the need to fit-in often outshines the need to eat. Kids are also starting to form their own opinions about who they are and are differentiating from their parents- trying out new things to work out how they are different. This may involve doing the opposite of what you have taught them and instead of eating what you have always prepared, bingeing on junk foods or not eating at all.

It’s important to remember that this is a tough age- there is a lot going on for our teens on many levels- hormones, peers, pressure to fit in, school work and also the current state of our world. I think the best tactic here is to be clear on what you expect- that food will not be wasted but to also be open to exploring new options and to encourage your teen to take charge of what they will prepare for themselves. It’s important not to add more pressure or concern- at this age your child needs you to be a firm, kind and steady influence who is not freaking out about whether they have eaten lunch or not. Lectures tend to fall on deaf ears, sometimes I think teens need to learn from their own experiences and make better choices from their own internal compass within. Keep providing healthy wholefood options at home and try not to make a big deal out of what they are choosing outside of home. Remind yourself of all of the groundwork that you have put in- they are standing on solid foundations of what healthy food is and how it feels to eat well.

If you are concerned about their eating habits- let them know when you are both calm. It’s important not to shame your teen and to be open to what they have to share with you. They may be too anxious to eat at school, they may have concerns about their weight, they may have friends teasing them about their lunch. Most issues surrounding food are not about the food itself, they are about feelings.  So be a supportive, non-judgemental ear to your child and help them to work through their issues. Be open to what they have to say and to trying out something different even if it’s one day a week, to meet them in the middle. This doesn’t mean that suddenly you have no boundaries or expectations- it means that you show them that you value their opinion and you are willing to try out something new.

Remember, if your child has been raised on healthy wholefoods they will generally return to that way of eating and to keep providing healthy wholefood meals at home. I think it is also great to encourage your teen to cook one meal for the family per week. This teaches them a skill and also helps them to form a healthy relationship with food.

If all else fails…

If getting your kids to eat their school lunch is an ongoing battle, perhaps focus on making the bookends of the day (breakfast and afternoon tea) super healthy, filling and nourishing and pack a very small lunch. Control the meals you do have control over and know that you are setting foundations for a life long love of wholefoods.

I hope this post is useful and helps you to tackle any pesky uneaten lunchbox issues that have or may arise for your kids. I wrote this post in conjunction with respected Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner who often contributes to posts here at Well Nourished.

Also a reminder that I have a fabulous ‘Back to School Promo’ on my Well Nourished Lunchbox ebook and bundles at the moment. Click HERE for all the details and grab a bargain.

Jane Faulkner is a psychotherapist, registered nurse, yoga teacher and the founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia, an organisation that provides training, retreats, programs and individual sessions that aim to provide individuals with a new and authentic ways to grow and learn more about themselves. Connect with Jane HERE. If you ave anything you’d like to add or any questions for either Jane or I, please comment below!
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I have a sneaking suspicion that this weeks Chocolate Caramel Muesli Bar is going to be popular. I’ve had a few requests for a healthy caramel slice recipe and though it looks nothing like the sugar laden three layer slice, it is a super delicious, nourishing caramel choc treat.

As a kid I spent every weekend at my nan’s house and we cooked and baked together- a lot! Most of my childhood memories are centred around tending to our chickens and ducks, digging for potatoes (my favourite job as the kids in my favourite Enid Blighton book ‘The Faraway Tree’ used to dig for potatoes) and long sessions of cooking in her old wood-fired stove, always experimenting, always creating ‘new’ recipes and searching for delicious flavour combo’s.

However as an adult, whilst I’ve always loved cooking meals, it wasn’t until I had kids (and they started school) that I baked again. Once my youngest noticed all the biscuits and crackers her friends had in their lunchbox (and wanted the same) I realised the only thing I could do was to get my bake on again. The rest they say, is history!

A healthy-ish treat

I always try to inject as much nourishment as I can into all of my recipes, including sweet treats. I’ve made this  Chocolate Caramel Muesli Bar nut-free so it’s good for the school lunchbox. The seeds and wholegrains really help to add protein, good fats and a bit of sustenance to this sweet treat. My kids feel like they’ve hit the jackpot with this slice – it’s a new favourite.

Chocolate Caramel Muesli Bar

A sweet, sticky muesli bar that freezes really well for a quick, easy to pack lunchbox snack.

Base / crumble
  • 125 grams butter, (cubed)
  • 170 grams (½ cup) sweetener (rice malt syrup, maple syrup or honey)
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 120 grams (1 cup approx.) mixed seeds (I used sunflower seeds and pepitas)
  • 120 grams (1 cup) wholemeal spelt flour
  • 200 grams (2 cups) rolled oats or quinoa flakes (or a mixture)
  • 30 grams (4 tbs) raw cacao or Dutch Process cocoa
  • 115 gram (⅓ cup) sweetener (rice malt syrup, maple syrup or honey)
  • 120 ml (½ cup) full-fat coconut milk (I used Ayam brand)
  • Good pinch sea salt
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉.
  2. Begin with the caramel.
  3. In a small pot mix the sweetener, coconut milk and sea salt and bring to a bubbling simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the caramel starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and allow to cool (it will further thicken as it cools).
  4. Whilst the caramel cooks/cools, make the slice.
  5. In a small pot melt the butter and sweetener, mixing to combine. Add the bicarb and stir well.
  6. Place the seeds in a food processor and grind into a meal. Add the flour, oats (or quinoa flakes) and cacao and mix until well combined.
  7. Add the butter/ sweetener mix and process to combine. The mixture should come together into a coarse dough.
  8. Line a small tin (27cm x 18cm) with baking paper. Press ⅔ of the mixture into the base of the tin and press very down firmly with wet hands. I like to make sure the outer edges sit a little higher than the middle so I get an even coverage without the caramel making its way down the sides. 

  9. Top with the caramel. Crumble the remaining dough over the caramel pressing lightly.
  10. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until just golden brown.

  11. Allow to cool in the pan, refrigerate until firm and then cut into slices (chilling it allows for it to be sliced without crumbling).

Thermomix Method
    1. Heat the sweetener, coconut milk and sea salt, 7 minutes, temp varoma, speed 3 (cap ajar or off so the steam can escape). You can set this aside to cool and use the bowls without washing it. 

    1. Melt the butter and sweetener 1 minute, temp 90, speed 3 or until melted and combined. Add the bicarb and mix 5 seconds speed 3. Set aside.
    2. Add the rest of the base ingredients and the butter/sweetener and mix 15 seconds, speed 4. You may need to scrape the sides a few times to fully combine.
    3. Assemble as above.
    1. Airtight in the fridge or freezer. You can pack in school lunch boxes from frozen.

    Substitute the spelt for gluten free flour and the oats with quinoa flakes (rolled quinoa).

    Dairy-free and vegan

    Substitute the butter with coconut oil.


    The seeds can be substituted with any nuts. I love this with chopped hazelnuts or pecans or walnuts.

    A very special offer

    My best selling ebook The Well Nourished Lunchbox is choc-a-block full of healthy lunchbox inspiration.

    • So to help support you to kick off the new school term with healthy delicious, easy to prepare lunches I’m offering a bonus Healthy Party Planner ebook (which includes an amazing chocolate cake recipe)
    • plus a coupon for 10% off school lunchboxes, insulated food jars, insulated bags and more thanks to Biome Eco Stores.
    • as well as a coupon for 20% off your first shop at my favourite place to shop (and save big on pantry staples) The Wholefood Collective.

    All when you purchase your copy of The Well Nourished Lunchbox ebook. Offer ends 28th February 2018 and includes Well Nourished Lunchbox bundles.

    Click HERE to find out more about this fabulous ebook and bonus offer (and read the many, many reviews).


    I’d love to hear how your kids like this slice? I have a feeling it is going to be very popular. 


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    About a third of what your kids eat on a school day most likely comes from their lunch box. Therefore it’s essential to their health, wellbeing and ability to learn that they eat a lunch that fuels them well.

    Often it’s the little things that make a big difference to the nutritional value of their lunchbox. Small changes can make such a big difference to their overall health and wellbeing. So I thought I’d put together a list of healthy lunchbox swaps – things that you might like to chip away at to improve your kids school lunches  (and therefore health).

    I always recommend that changes are made gradually (it’s human nature to resist change so slow and steady will always win the race when it comes to making changes to the way kids eat).

    Swap margarine/ spreadable butter (or any spread containing vegetable oils) for plain old butter

    I’ve written extensively about why butter, in my opinion, is the only choice (and how damaging to our health vegetable oil containing spreads are) here. This post also includes suggestions for other healthy spreads besides butter.

    The thing is, the linoleic acid (the main fatty acid in vegetable oil), accumulates in the fat cells of the body, as well as in cell membranes and this is detrimental to your kids longterm health. The more you can avoid vegetable oils, the better off your kids will be.

    Swap additive laden breads for real bread

    Bread is a food that features heavily in many kids lunch box. However the average supermarket loaf today contains up to twenty ingredients. Some of the preservatives have even been linked to behavioural and learning problems in children so it’s super important beds continuing preservatives aren’t part of your kids lunch. If you need help choosing a better break, this post will guide you.

    To make bread all that is needed is four ingredients – flour, water, salt and a rising agent (yeast or sourdough). The less processed a food is, the better it is for your kids and bread is no exception. In short, bread with lengthy ingredient lists are to be avoided.

    Swap processed (deli) meats for leftover home-cooked meats

    Processed deli meats contain a number of additives and preservatives that are simply not going to serve your kids well. It is so easy when you’re cooking dinner, to cook extra meat for school lunches. It can be portioned and either kept in the fridge or freezer to add to school lunches as required.

    Often when I’m roasting one piece of meat, I’ll double it up and use it the following week in the kids school lunch (to fill sandwiches, wraps, fresh rice paper rolls, sushi or just with salad).

    Swap processed snacks for home made snacks

    The best part about making your own sweet and savoury snacks for your kids lunchbox is that you have complete control over the ingredients and with a few basic pantry staples, you can make delicious, nourishing home made snacks easily. I bake once every 2-3 weeks (it takes no more than about an hour) and fill my freezer with a variety of healthy snacks to grab and pack (I pack from frozen).

    I have a heap of easy to make, healthy snacks here if you are after recipe inspiration. Also check out the fantastic back to school offer on ‘The Well Nourished Lunchbox’ ebook (details below).

    If you’re not inclined to bake – how about swapping a processed snack for vegetable sticks and a dip? Every little improvement can make such a huge difference to the health and learning of your kids. If you have veggie-fussy kids, this post might be of interest.

    Swap fruit juice for water or iced herbal tea

    We are quite simply not evolved to consume any other liquid (at quantity) other than water. Fruit juice, even when freshly squeezed (and no added sugar) is a very concentrated source of sugar and will hinder your child’s ability to concentrate (as well as compromising their immune function).

    The only other drink my kids might take to school is a good quality, unsweetened herbal tea (chilled in summer, hot in winter).

    Tip to help resistant kids change

    I believe seeking peer group support is a fabulous way to initiate change. Partner up with one of your kids friends parents and perhaps as a group (including the kids), discuss ways that they can change their lunches for the better, together. For example – this week we are going to pack (and eat) one vegetable a day. Before you know it it will become a habit.

    I know my own kids love to see other kids with lunches that look similar to their own. My son often comes home and tells me that one of his mates had a carrot or snow peas in his lunch, just like him.

    A very special offer

    My best selling ebook The Well Nourished Lunchbox is choc-a-block full of healthy lunchbox inspiration.

    • So to help support you to kick off the new school term with healthy delicious, easy to prepare lunches I’m offering a bonus Healthy Party Planner ebook (which includes an amazing chocolate cake recipe)
    • plus a coupon for 10% off school lunchboxes, insulated food jars, insulated bags and more thanks to Biome Eco Stores.
    • as well as a coupon for 20% off your first shop at my favourite place to shop (and save big on pantry staples) The Wholefood Collective.

    All when you purchase your copy of The Well Nourished Lunchbox ebook. Offer ends 28th February 2018 and includes Well Nourished Lunchbox bundles.

    Click HERE to find out more about this fabulous ebook and bonus offer (and read the many, many reviews).

    I’d also love to hear from you. Do you have any tips you could add? Questions as always are most welcome too.
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    At this time of the year, I’m trying my hardest to wean myself and my kids off the sweet stuff (it’s been a very indulgent festive season) whilst really re-focussing on including as many veggies in our diet as possible. My main aim for feeding my family well right now is fixed on packing as much nourishment into our diets as possible (leaving no room or desire for much else). The plan is to have them back on track in time for school restarting in a couple of weeks (read more here about why kids fall int the trap of craving processed foods).

    Which brings me to my Detox Ice Blocks. The weather these past few weeks in QLD has been really hot and the kids have been asking for ice blocks after big mornings in the sun nipper/swim training. So I thought I’d whip something up that’s not only delicious, but helps them refuel and rehydrate.

    The nutrient dense veggies are well hidden behind the sweetness of the fruit. I personally don’t add in the extra sweetener, but taste the mixture prior to freezing and decide if you think you need to add it.

    Health benefits

    Beetroot is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, detoxifying and extremely nutrient rich vegetable. Research suggests it improves stamina and sports performance (this fact alone appeals to my sport loving kids). Zucchini (also know as courgette), is extremely low in calories and loaded with fibre. It is also a great source of potassium.

    PS – I’ve written before about using smoothies to include extra vegetables in your diet (and therefore more nourishment), read more HERE if you’d like more inspiration for ‘hiding veggies’.

    Detox Ice Blocks

    These simple ice blocks include two veggies in this delicious, nourishing treat.

    • 1 small beetroot, (peeled & quartered)
    • 2 cups strawberries or raspberries, (washed & hulled)
    • 1 large banana, (peeled)
    • ½ small zucchini, (quartered)
    • 1 cup coconut water
    • ¼ cup sweetener (honey, rice malt or maple syrup), (optional)
    1. In a high powered blender, blend all of the ingredients until smooth. 

    2. Divide between ice block moulds and freeze until set firm. 

    Make it creamy

    Replace the coconut water with full-fat natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt. 

    No banana

    Replace the banana with mango.

    Add Protein

    I often add a scoop of 180 Nutrition Superfood Protein powder (coconut flavour). They have both a whey protein and vegan (dairy-free) options. Shop for it HERE.


    I’ve used these brilliant stainless steel ice block moulds by Onyx which you can shop for HERE

    This recipe also makes a delicious smoothie (just add a cup of ice prior to blending it). 


    I hope your family loves this recipe. Post any questions or comments below. 


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