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The scoop on sodium 

The scoop on sodium 

This week at Shelley’s Good Eats we are bringing you the scoop on sodium! During this post, we endeavour to cover all the common questions and misconceptions surrounding this nutrient, as well as some practical tips for you and your family. 

What is Sodium?

Sodium is an essential mineral our bodies use to regulate and maintain specific cellular functions…because we class this mineral as essential, this means our bodies are unable to make this themselves…and so we have to consume it from our food. 

The major source of sodium we consume in our diets is sodium chloride or ‘salt’. While both of these minerals are found naturally in many foods, they are also added to many of our favourite packaged foods as a preservative or as a way of adding flavour. 

*Nutrition tip When comparing or checking the nutrition labels of your favourite packaged foods, the ‘Sodium Chloride’ or ‘salt’ content is written as ‘Sodium’ (confusing, we know!) 

Should we all be worried about sodium?

Excessive sodium and chloride intake have been shown to have negative impacts on our health, and so it is recommended to limit the amount of added sodium chloride or ‘salt’, into our diets. 

Remember that our sodium intake also includes the amount of salt we add to our cooking and at the dinner table. And as you can imagine, the daily requirement of sodium for children is much lower than it is for a fully grown adult! Therefore, it is best to limit the amount of salt you add to your cooking so that your kids are not overdoing it on their requirements for the day!

However, since a lot of Australian’s are getting a large majority of their sodium requirements from processed and packaged foods, it is important that we understand how to read and compare food labels, in order to choose the best options. 

How do I know what to look for on a food label?

Here at Shelley’s good Eats, we know that it can be hard for parents to know what foods they should choose to feed their kids! We are so spoilt for options at the supermarket, that the idea of comparing food labels can feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why we have decided to break down the label reading barriers and give you all a simple sodium guide, based on the information in our Australian Dietary Guidelines. 

sodium in tomatoes

  • When comparing the sodium content between brands, always use the ‘per 100g’ column, as serving sizes can differ between products and brands
  • When comparing the sodium content of similar foods, products with less than 400mg of sodium per 100g are good, but products with less than 120 mg per 100g are best
  • When reading the ingredients label of a product, foods are listed on the label from the highest amounts to lowest amounts, so checking the first three ingredients for sodium can also be helpful when comparing between products. However while this can give us a good appreciation of the nutritional makeup of the food, this tool is best when used alongside the first two guidelines.
  • Finally, when checking the ingredients list, the name ‘salt’ can come in many forms. Therefore, being aware of the other names of high salt ingredients can be useful, these include; Baking powder, celery salt, garlic salt, meat/yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, (MSG), onion salt, rock salt, sea salt, sodium, sodium ascorbate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium nitrate/nitrite, stock cubes, vegetable salt.

We know that label reading can be tricky and knowing what to look out for when it comes to feeding your kids can feel like an impossible task sometimes! If you want to learn more about how to understand food labels, the Australian Dietary Guidelines have some good information we have linked above for you. 

Also If you liked today’s post or found it useful, or if there are any other topics you would like to hear about from us in the future, please feel free to contact us or comment below. Other kids nutrition-related topics we have already covered are, the truth about feeding your kids fats, your kids and calcium, and sugars – are they all really all the same?

  • The Shelleys Good Eats Team

A bit about the Author

Hi my name is Karly. I am a 3rd year Nutrition student, studying on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I work as an assistant at Shelley’s Good Eats, in-between my studies. As well as having a passion for all things nutrition, I also have a keen interest in sustainability. In the future, I would love to combine both of my passions and educate people in a dynamic and multifaceted way.  

5 ways to entertain your kids if school gets cancelled!

5 ways to entertain your kids if school gets cancelled!

Stuck at home with your kids?

Coronavirus or Covid-19 and the panic that has followed it has left the world in upheaval! BUT what is causing even more panic is the threat that all schools (and basically everything else) will be shut in a country wide lock down…

*Fingers Crossed* that doesn’t happen, but if it does its best to be prepared and no that doesn’t involve panic buying.

With all that extra time looming with your kids (and Easter holidays just around the corner) I thought I would put together a list of activities that can entertain your kids and teach them valuable lessons in the process.

 

Bake a cake

This chocolate cake is super simple and you are bound to have all the ingredients stashed away in your pantry! Sure it is important to stay healthy and eat a nutritious diet to help our immune system where possible. BUT life is also waaayyyy to short to not eat cake. So take this extra time you have with your kids to get messy in the kitchen and bake this super easy cake!

Chocolatecake

 

Sort the veggies into colours and talk about their benefits!

The Colours of vegetables and fruits correlate with different vitamins and minerals that are found in them. For example – yellow and orange veg are high beta carotene the precursor for vitamin A that helps with eye sight – so yes carrots really do help you see better at night! Follow this link to find out what other colours mean!

Get your kids to sort the vegetables in your crisper into colour groups and then talk to them about the benefits they have!

Make your own pizzas

Get the kids to play with and mix this easy 2 ingredient dough. It is just like play-dough. Then they can push it out or roll it out to form different shapes! Finally help them top it with their favourite ingredients.

2 ingredient pizza dough: A slice of pizza

Build an herb garden

This is my little veggie garden that I planted just 4 weeks ago and it only cost $20 (minus a few pots I already had). Get the kids to water them every day and monitor their growth! In two weeks, you will definitely see a lot of little seeds sprouting up! With the food panic going on this can be a valuable talking point to get kids learning about the important of reducing our impact (and just how easy it can be to grow things at home!).

Germ activity

Last but not least this is a very important activity to take your kids through especially in this weird weird time. Watch this link to find out exactly what I mean by ‘germ activity’.

 

Pepper germ activity 

Banana Strawberry Breakfast Smoothie

Banana Strawberry Breakfast Smoothie

Smoothies are great because they can be prepared in minutes – speedy is always good in the mornings. What isn’t great is when they don’t keep you full for long. But there are a few things we can do to combat that and this banana strawberry breakfast smoothie has it all!Breaky Smoothie

It is loaded with fresh fruit and oats for fibre and a healthy dose of carbohydrates and packed with protein from the greek yoghurt and milk!

Breaky Smoothie

Other smoothie Recipes you will love:

Strawberry Banana Breaky Smoothie

A Delicious nourishing breakfast smoothie with everything your kids need to fuel their day!
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Australian
Keyword banana, Green Smoothie, Smoothie, strawberries
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 banana frozen
  • 1/3 cup rolled Oats
  • 6 Strawberries
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/4 cup greek Yoghurt
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 cup ice

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 2mins or until smooth.
Lemon Weetabix Slice

Lemon Weetabix Slice

The citrus lemon flavour we crave from a lemon slice only on a base packed with fibre from the sugar!

Lemon Weetabix Slice

Your kids will love this snack in their lunch box and you will love it when you know they are getting a healthy dose of fibre in their diet!

Lemon Weetabix Slice

Other Recipes your might like:

Lemon Weetabix Slice

Use up those old weetabix in the cupboard with this delicious healthy slice.
Course Snack, Sweet
Cuisine Australian
Keyword high fibre, lemon cake, slice, weetabix
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 16 people

Ingredients

  • 3 Weetabix crushed
  • 100 g butter
  • 3 tbsp. rice malt syrup
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • zest of lemon

Icing

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice.
  • 2 tbsp. shredded coconut.

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 180C.
  • Combine the Weetabix, coconut, rolled oats, plain flour, baking powder and lemon zest in a bowl. In a small saucepan heat the butter and rice malt syrup on low heat until just melted. Pour the butter into the dry ingredients.
  • Press into a lined square baking tray and bake in the oven for 20mins.
  • Meanwhile prepare the icing. Combine the butter, icing sugar and lemon juice. When the slice is cool spread with icing and top with extra shredded coconut.
Yoghurt Fruit Skewers

Yoghurt Fruit Skewers

These skewers take fruit and yoghurt to a whole new level of fun for your kids! Get them to help you make these Yoghurt fruit skewers by threading their favourite fruit onto the wooden skewers.

This snack is loaded with calcium that your kids needs for their growing bodies. Check out our post to learn all about why your kids need calcium and the best way to get their daily requirement.

Yoghurt fruit skewers

Other recipes you might like:

Yoghurt Fruit Skewers

A delicious easy snack to keep stocked in the freezer for your little ones!
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Australian
Keyword berries, fruit, strawberries, Yoghurt
Prep Time 5 minutes
Freezing Time 2 hours
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 8 Skewers
  • 1 cup Blueberries
  • 1 cup Strawberries
  • ½ cup Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp. Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Instructions

  • Combine the maple syrup and greek yoghurt in a bowl. Thread the strawberries and blueberries on to skewers. Dip into yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Spread on a lined baking tray and free for at least 1 hr.

Notes

  • Use the fruit of your choice! It also works well with kiwi fruit, banana and Peaches
The truth about feeding your kids fats

The truth about feeding your kids fats

Here at Shelley’s Good Eats, we know it can be difficult for parents to know what foods they should be feeding their kids. So today we’re discussing all things fat, and particularly the truth about feeding your kids healthy fats. With so much conflicting information out there, it can be hard to know what to believe…and fat is no exception. With some old school professionals telling us that, “Eating fats causes weight gain and disease” and pro-Keto people preaching that, “High-fat diets promote weight loss and longevity”, it is understandable why we have conflicted feelings about fat. The reality is that it is not that simple and the truth about fats and our health, lies somewhere in the middle of these two conflicting beliefs. 

unsaturated fat sources

The first part of the truth is that our bodies do need dietary fats to support some of their important functions; such as assisting the absorption of some vitamins (A, D, E and K), building our hormones and insulating our nervous system tissues, providing our bodies with energy and helping us to feel full after a meal (making us less likely to overeat!) However, the second part of this truth is that not all fats are created equal, meaning while some fats are health-promoting, others can have negative effects on our bodies when eaten in large amounts over long periods of time.  

So how do you know what fats you should be feeding your kids? 

Basically there are three main types of fats, saturated, trans and unsaturated fats. Saturated and trans-fats are considered to be ‘unhealthy fats’, while unsaturated fats are considered to be ‘healthy fats’. 

But why are some fats better than others and what foods contain healthy fats?

Saturated and Trans fats

Both saturated and trans fats increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol which can increase your risk of developing heart disease. However, trans fats also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol. 

Sources of saturated fats include:

– dairy foods (butter, cream, ghee, regular-fat milk and cheese)

– fatty cuts of meat (beef, pork, lamb and chicken skin) and processed meats (salami, sausages)

– lard

– palm oil

– cooking margarine and copha

– coconut oil, milk and cream

– fatty snack foods 

– deep-fried take away foods

– cakes, biscuits, pastries and pies

Sources of trans fats include:

– diary products

– some meats (beef, veal, lamb and mutton)

– hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils (can be added to deep-fried and baked packaged foods e.g. biscuits, cakes and pastries)

Unsaturated fats

olives in oil

Unsaturated fats help reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol levels. There are two main types of unsaturated fats which differ in chemical structure and offer different health benefits, these are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. It is recommended to replace sources of saturated fats with unsaturated fat sources in your diet, where possible. 

Polyunsaturated fats

There are two main sources of polyunsaturated fats, these include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Omega-3 fats are protective against the development of heart disease and omega-6 fats have been shown to decrease your risk when consumed in place of saturated fats. 

Omega-3 fat sources:

The best sources of omega-3 fats are oily fish and seafood. However, there are other sources of marine, animal and plant omega-3 fats. The best sources of omega-3 fats from each category include: 

– Fish and seafood sources (salmon, sardines and blue-eyed trevalla)

– Animal sources (free-range eggs, beef and chicken, but contain smaller amounts)

– Plant sources (linseed/flaxseed, walnuts, chia and hemp seeds, soybean oil and canola oil)

While these are the best sources of omega-3 fats, they are not an exclusive list. For more sources of omega-3 fats, head to The Heart Foundations ‘omega-3 sources’ list.

Omega-6 fat sources:

– margarine spreads

– sunflower, soybean and sesame oils

– nuts (walnuts, pecans, brazil and pine nuts)

– sunflower seeds

Monounsaturated fats

Replacing saturated fat sources with monounsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol. Monounsaturated fat sources include:

– olive, canola and peanut oil

– nuts

– avocados  

So how can we decrease the amount of saturated and trans fats in our kid’s diets?

As always, maintaining a healthy diet and relationship with our food should be about how we can incorporate more healthful foods into our diets, rather than focusing on which foods we should restrict or remove from our diets. With this in mind, we have come up with some simple tips on how to incorporate more ‘healthy fats’ into your kid’s diet. 

  1. Choose lean cuts of meat and trim off visible fat and remove the skin from chicken 
  2. Buy reduced-fat dairy products for children aged over 2 years (being mindful of the added sugar contents)
  3. Choose unsaturated oil types for your cooking (sunflower, olive oil)
  4. Swap to a natural margarine spread instead of butter, or try using avocados, hummus, nut butter or tahini as your spread of choice 
  5. Incorporate meals with plenty of fruits, veg and wholegrains and limit takeaway to once a week, if possible (Try our 2 ingredient pizza dough for an unforgettable homemade pizza night in) 
  6. Check packaged foods for added ‘hydrogenated oils’, as these contain trans-fats
  7. Opt for homemade cakes, biscuits and pastries, rather than pre-packaged (Try our black bean brownies or chewy muesli slice for some yummy homemade alternatives)
  8. Eat fish instead of meat 2-3 times a week (Try our sweet potato and salmon patties to take your fish meals to the next level)
  9. Try incorporating legume or bean-based meals twice a week in place of meat, if possible

As always, the best example of healthy eating habits your children can get is through the modelled behaviour of you (the parents). But a healthy diet doesn’t have to mean only consuming ‘healthful’ foods every day. And of course, there is a place in you and your kid’s diets for saturated fats and takeaway nights. Moderation is definitely the key to success when it comes to a healthy and sustainable diet and relationship with your food in the long term. Modelling a balanced approach to food, while incorporating plenty of the good stuff to help them grow and thrive, is the best way to ensure they get everything they need to live happy and healthy lives.   

We hope that this blog post has helped to clear up all the confusion surrounding fats and feeding them to your kids. Let us know in the comments if you found this post useful, we’d love to hear from you. 

– the Shelley’s Good Eats Team

A bit about the Author

Hi my name is Karly. I am a 3rd year Nutrition student, studying on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I work as an assistant at Shelley’s Good Eats, in-between my studies. As well as having a passion for all things nutrition, I also have a keen interest in sustainability. In the future, I would love to combine both of my passions and educate people in a dynamic and multifaceted way.