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Ten healthy food and snack swaps your children will love

No hassle: an electronic fish has made life easier for Catherine Burns

Last week, I bought the children an electronic fish. It’s the best pet we’ve ever had.

From a distance it looks like the real deal and it swims about performing impressive aquabatics (just made that word up)!

There’s no need for food or trips to the vet. And it doesn’t matter if Jules or Ellie (the real, live cats) try to eat it.

It’s a simple swap that has taken some stress and worry out of my everyday existence and I couldn’t be happier.

Don’t get me wrong, I think real pets are great for teaching empathy and responsibility, but a) we already have them and b) if you can make life 1 per cent easier with an electronic fish, then why the hell not?

Making life easier is probably the number one agenda for parents coming into my clinic.

Whether it’s dinnertime battles or hectic schedules, most of my clients need help simplifying.

Saving time is high on the list and yet people don’t want to compromise their children’s nutrition.

So, we go through quick and easy meal ideas as well as a list of healthy swaps.

There are so many options to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start in the grocery store.

I’ve made you a list to save you some time! Here’s ten healthy swaps you can make right away that are fully kid-approved.

Small changes add up to big differences — especially in young, growing bodies.

1. Made Good granola bars and bites

This Canadian brand of granola bars is nut-free, low-GI, non-GMO and great on the portion sizing for small children. They have fun flavours and you can choose from regular granola bars or little round granola bites. Find them at Supermart, Down to Earth and Lindo’s.

2. Waitrose sausages

Everyone’s looking for a better sausage (let’s see if we can get through this without laughing). The problem with the “healthier” turkey/chicken sausages is that they tend to be really processed, salty and often sweet too.

The texture is usually all wrong and they’re spongy! Instead, try switching to the Waitrose (Supermart) free-range English sausages.

Waitrose have a strict animal welfare policy so you can be sure you’re getting meat from quality farms.

I wouldn’t have these every day, but once a week would be fine — especially with some healthy sides — try making a cauliflower mash (half white potatoes half steamed cauli — blended), and steaming some frozen peas.

3. Alexia Organic Oven Fries

These are so much better than deep-fried fries that have been cooked in burnt, genetically modified oil!

Find them in the freezers at Supermart and bake until they are perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

4. Honest juice pouches, Hint Water or La Croix

Even 100 per cent juice boxes can pack a super-sugary punch which is not ideal in a country with such a risk of diabetes! Instead, try the Honest fruit drink pouches, Hint Water or La Croix sparkling water.

The Honest pouches are more juice boxlike, whereas the Hint and the La Croix do just have a hint of flavour (no dyes or artificial sweeteners, though).

My children were expecting something sweet, so didn’t like them straight away, but once they knew to just expect an interesting (but not sweet) alternative to plain water, they’ve been fine! All options available at Supermart.

5. Organic Valley, Amy’s or Siggi’s yoghurt tubes

Kids’ yoghurts can hide up to 26g of sugar per serving (that’s 6.5 tsps), but these brands contain less than 8g.

The bonus is that they’re all made from grass-fed, ethically raised cows with no growth hormone or antibiotics used within the farming. You’ll find these at all of the major grocery stores.

6. Ruby Rockets or Mott’s Pops

Ruby Rockets are all-natural fruit and veg juice pops with an impressively low sugar content. If these are the first pops your children are having, you’ll be fine!

If your children are used to a more sugary brand, you’ll have to adjust their expectations. My girls like the red and orange ones, especially.

If you need something a bit sweeter, try the Mott’s popsicles. They’re higher in sugar, but at least they are dye-free and 100 per cent better than a typical artificially-dyed freezie. Both of these are at Supermart.

7. Eden Organic dried fruit

Regular dried fruit can be high in added sugars and sulphites. Eden Organic uses apple juice to sweeten instead and doesn’t add chemical preservatives.

There are great dried blueberries, cranberries and tart cherries too. All at Supermart!

8. Waitrose Essentials natural food dye

If you’re baking and need or want food dye, try to resist the temptation to go with artificial dyes. These are linked to headaches, hyperactivity and tumour growth in lab rats.

Supermart carries the Waitrose Essential range of food dyes (on an end aisle opposite the cheese section) which do a decent job.

Note that natural dyes tend to be more of a pastel colour, although you can go pretty deep if need be!

9. Organic popcorn

One of the few organic foods that’s not actually that much more expensive. Try the Eden Organic (Supermart) or Arrowhead Mills (Lindo’s) brands.

I would use an air popper or go stove-top with a little coconut oil. Choosing organic means avoiding GMO corn, which is probably a wise decision right now.

10. YumEarth candy

If your children are going to have candy (or if you need something for travelling, or party bags) then try the YumEarth brand. YumEarth is organic, dye-free and good with portion sizing. Just because sugar is organic doesn’t mean that it’s healthy — but at least you can ditch the artificial dyes!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda