Continuing in our theme of weaning and food, we have the thoughts of chef Aldo Zilli on the importance of family interaction at mealtimes and the inspiration behind his new range of organic baby food.
As a chef, I create dishes full of variety and goodness for my customers. And as a father of three, I understand the importance of replicating this balance in the diet of our children. This is why I launched Baby Zilli, my range of organic baby food, as a way of introducing a healthy diet as early as possible.
The range is packed full of fruit and vegetables, which provide nutrients that are vital for children’s growth and learning, as well as keeping them healthy. As children get older it can become difficult to get them to eat fruit and vegetables; however, instilling the values of sensible eating into kids at this early age is very important, as it sets up healthy habits for a lifetime.
With my own children, I found that allowing them input into planning meals made them more willing to try new things; let them choose between two different vegetables and they’ll feel like they made the recipe up themselves! Children really just want to be treated like grown-ups: they see us and copy our behaviour, so it is important that the whole family maintains a healthy diet, to set an example to the children. Eating together as a family can be a good way of showing your kids that healthy eating is part of being an adult. And, when kids are used to eating the same foods as Mum and Dad, it becomes easier to take them to eat out at restaurants, something which I believe families should do as much as possible.
Some of the fussiest eaters might not be influenced by their parents’ eating habits; children will sometimes refuse point blank to try something new. For children who are reluctant to be adventurous with their food choices, there are ways of sneaking healthy foods into their diets. Smoothies are a great way of getting kids eating more fruit. A fruit smoothie is much more appealing to a child than a big plate of fruit, which could be intimidating for a fussy eater, but still contains all the same vitamins. The same effect can be achieved with vegetables by blending them into a tasty soup; children often like the taste of fruit and veg but dislike the texture.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for parents in providing healthy choices for children is snacking. Most snacks favoured by kids, such as sweets and chocolates, are high in fat and sugar. These are fine in moderation of course, but sliced fruit or veg sticks are a much healthier option. If this is all you offer your child, they will eat it, and will eventually come to prefer these tasty, healthy treats.
The most important thing is that children learn to love trying new foods and flavours. This is why with Baby Zilli I have included a wide range of ingredients, to introduce babies to as many exciting new foods as possible. The earlier they start experiencing different foods, the more curious children will be to explore all kinds of foods and tastes.
Aldo Zilli (Creator of Baby Zilli)