How a Pediatric Nutritionist Keeps Her Kids Happy
Mandy Sacher, a Sydney-based pediatric nutritionist, blogger, and mom of two, and the author of The Wholesome Child, has built a business on getting even the pickiest kids to eat a little better. She does this by riffing on on much-loved classics like French toast and mac-and-cheese—and then packs them out with vegetables, fruits, and even seeds.
“My family has always been big fans of mac ‘n’ cheese. It’s always a definite winner in my home. But traditional mac ‘n’ cheese, with cheese, butter, milk and wheat pasta, fails on nutrients. This version uses quality ingredients and gluten-free pasta; I take it one step further and boost the nutrition of the white sauce with the addition of cauliflower puree, shredded zucchini, and omega-3-rich chia seeds and I reduced the butter and milk. Before placing in the oven, I add an extra sprinkle of chia seeds. The leftovers go into mini cupcake holders, and are sent to school the next day in a thermos. My kids LOVE mini mac ‘n’ cheese leftover cupcakes.”
“Who doesn’t love French Toast? My 4.5-year-old loves preparing these with me. It’s special ‘us’ time and gives my husband and 7-year-old time to sleep in. For this version, I use mashed banana, pumpkin puree, plus eggs and chia seeds. I use a hand-held blender to make sure it’s mixed through. My daughter soaks the bread (she is in charge of soaking, so each time we make it, the consistency is different, ha ha). For the compote, I sometimes substitute the cherries for blueberries, and I reduce the maple syrup. My husband and I top our French toast with copious amounts of compote. My daughter enjoys hers on the side and uses it as a dipping sauce. My son skips the compote and has his French toast with coconut yogurt, a drizzle of honey, and fresh blueberries.
Tip: I often cut my children’s French Toast into fun shapes using a cookie cutter and use the leftovers as snacks.”
“My kids are huge fans of wraps, however most store-bought wraps contain additives so I always like a home-made alternative. My go-to wraps, which work so well with this grilled chicken filling, are arrowroot wraps (these are also used as tortillas).
I like to make the wraps the night before—they’re still delicious for lunch the next day. My son loves the grilled chicken plain, and my daughter loves the basil mayo (she asks for extra). I use a home-made cauliflower mayonnaise instead of Vegenaise.”
“My family loves cashew cheese, but I need to be mindful of the spice if I’m serving to my kids. I adapted the pimento cheese to ensure it suited all tastebuds. I leave out the Worcestershire sauce, and swap the spicy mustard for a mild Dijon. I also add nutritional yeast to boost the B-vitamin content, as well as fresh dill. The cashew cheese works really well with crunchy flaxseed crackers or vegetable crudités.”