kids

Can elderberry fight colds and flu?

If you’ve tried a lot of different cold and flu remedies, elderberry is one of the ingredients that you’ve probably come across. This herbal remedy has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes and is very anti-inflammatory. Elderberries contain more flavonoids than blueberries, cranberries and goji berries and this has a lot to do with their immune boosting powers.

 

According to research, it may be a good choice for treating colds and flu. So much so that it can potentially help symptoms on their way in just a couple of days.

 

Elderberry has been commonly studied as a cold and flu remedy and the results have been super promising. It seems that elderberry has powerful effects for immunity, which is great news if you’re suffering from flu. Two studies confirmed that it can halve the average length of a flu bout and start to tackle symptoms in 48 hours. This is more likely if elderberry extract is taken within 48 hours of flu symptoms coming on.

 

A 2016 study looking at colds picked up during air travel found that elderberry extract can cut the length of a cold and make symptoms less severe. There was one catch though … elderberry was taken for up to 10 days before getting on a plane and for up to 5 days after arriving at the destination. Elderberry didn’t stop a cold from occurring but it did reduce the length of time that it lasted for. For most people, their cold was 2 days shorter and symptoms were milder.

 

If you’re eating elderberries, don’t eat the raw seeds. These can potentially make you sick. Fresh or dried elderberries are great choices.

 

Pre made elderberry syrups are readily available but you could try making your own version. Dried elderberries are perfect for this as they have a pretty good shelf life. You can just grab a handful when cold or flu strikes. Team dried elderberries with ginger, cinnamon and cloves for a super effective immunity boosting syrup. Simmer the ingredients in water for around 30 minutes, mash up the elderberries, strain out the liquid and leave to cool. Once it’s at room temperature, put it in the refrigerator, it’ll last for a couple of months.

Elderberry is great for kids as its nice and sweet and can be added to other herbs in a herbal tincture to make the taste more palatable for kids. I recommend taking elderberry with echinacea on a daily basis over winter, when kids are more susceptible to illness (like when they are around sick kids at daycare) and before going on planes and travelling. Contact me if you would like to book in a one on one consult or would like to order an elderberry tincture for your child (postage can be arranged Australia wide).

How to get your child to eat more veggies?

As a mum I know how challenging it can be at times to get your child to eat veggies. Here are some of my tips to make it easier to increase the veggies in your child’s diet.

Sauce

It’s easy to sneak all kinds of veggies into a tomato sauce that you can use in pasta or rice dishes or even on pizza. You can use anything from mushrooms to broccoli, carrots or spinach. Blending them first will make sure they don’t get spotted even by really picky eaters! Tomato isn’t your only option though. You can also use cauliflower or red capsicums as a based. Check out my recipe page for some ides. If you freeze sauce in portions you will have some on hand when you need it.

Pizza

Pizzas have lots of possibilities for including veggies. There’s the toppings (obviously), the sauce (that you froze earlier) AND the base! You can even include veggies in the base, cauliflower makes a great base. I love this recipe from Minimalist Baker for a cauliflower pizza crust. Or you could even make a base from sweet potato and add some garlic, carrot and zucchini.

Tofu

Veggies can easily be blended into tofu to make quiche, omelettes or slice. Pretty much anything goes with this one but a few options include spinach, tomato, zucchini, capsicums/bell peppers, onions, fresh herbs and spinach. You can even grate some carrot into the mixture or use pureed sweet potato or squash. 

Sweets

This is one sneaky trick that kids will never see coming! Hiding veggies in sweet treats such as cookies, muffins and brownies. To really hide the evidence, blitz the veggies in a food processor so that there are no visible signs of anything healthy. Great choices include carrot, sweet potato, squash, zucchini and even spinach. And don’t worry that it’ll be off putting or unappetising as it won’t change the taste at all. I like to keep some snacks in the freezer so I have something on hand for a quick snack or breakfast.

Smoothies

Green smoothies are one of my favourite ways to sneak more vegetables into your child's diet. Just grab some fruit (e.g. bananas, oranges, berries, avocado) + veggies (e.g. kale, baby spinach, cucumber, carrot, beetroot) + liquid (e.g. orange juice, water, plant based milk, coconut water) + nutrient boosters (e.g. hemp seeds, spirulina, nuts and seeds) blend it all together and share it with your child.  I try to include a green smoothie every day.

Noodles

Make veggies the star of the meal by using them as the noodles. Zucchini and carrots work great as noodles, just use a spiraliser or grater to make into thin noodle strips.

Grating

You can grate veggies and add them to your meal. Carrot or zucchini can be hidden in most dishes and your child won’t even know.

Bite Size Portions

Using veggies in a meal and making it into bite size portions seems to make them more enjoyable for kids. Check out one of my daughters favourites, my Spirulina and Pea Fritters.

Nutrient Boosters

Another easy way to include more veggies is by adding Spirulina powder into your child’s diet. I like to add a teaspoon to our smoothies, water or orange juice and Airlie loves it!

Snack on Veggies

Veggies make a great snack and are a great alternative to crackers and a healthier option. Raw zucchini, cucumber, red capsicum/pepper and carrots (steamed, not raw for children under 3) or baked potato or sweet potato chips are great for dipping. You can even add some veggies to your dip, beetroot and sweet potato hummus are delicious!

Pre-packaged Options

As much as I prefer nutritious home cooked food, I’m a busy mum too and I like to have snacks when we are out and about. Macro Lentil Bite chips from Woolworths are a good option as they contain carrot, beetroot or pumpkin with lentils.

How to Get Your Picky Eater to Be Less Fussy 

Have you got a child that is very fussy with what they eat? Picky eating can take a few different forms and some kids will only take a couple of bites before putting their fork down while others won’t try anything other than one or two of their favourite foods or they’ll change their mind a lot about what they actually want to eat. 

Whichever forms they take, picky eaters can make mealtimes a big source of frustration for everyone and it can also be worrying from a health and nutrition point of view. You might think that there’s nothing you can do to tip the balance back in your favour. Wrong! Here are a few tips to start winning power battles with a fussy eater. 


Go for Small Portions

It might seem like common sense to only offer small portions but it’s easy to dish up more than your child will realistically eat and this can put them off certain foods altogether. It’s often better to underestimate how much your child will eat on a first serving and have them asking for a second helping. 


Small portions can also work well for introducing new foods. If you’re struggling to get a picky eater to put some foods anywhere near their mouth, try giving them a really tiny piece to begin with. 


If you can tempt them to try it, half the battle is won already! In the early days, you might need to try a little bribery by following it up with something they do like eating or making it more fun by turning it into a game. 


If it works, you can gradually increase the amount of food you give them and at the same time, reduce how much of the reward food they’re getting afterwards.

Take it slowly

Don't’ feel discouraged if you don’t get anywhere on the first attempt … or even the first few tries. It will often be the case that kids need to try something over 10 times before they cave in and allow themselves to give it a go. Keep at it and you might well get some success! 

It won’t necessarily be like this for every food that you try though. Experts suggest that getting them to try a new food for the first time is a major breakthrough and in theory, it should get easier to persuade them to have a go with new foods after this. 

Don’t force the issue

Tempting as it may be to tell your child that they have to clear their plate regardless of what’s on it, it’s likely to build a negative association with mealtimes that can make them even less likely to broaden their food tastes. 

If you’ve been begging your child to eat different foods, they’re more likely to resist your pleas. 

Team up new foods with old favourites

Whenever you try to introduce new foods to your family’s diet, it can be more successful to do this alongside foods that they already enjoy eating. 

For vegetables, this might involve making sure that there is a delicious and kid friendly sauce to disguise the true taste. Cheese sauces made from cauliflower or cashews go really well with broccoli, for example. If your kid will happily eat mac ‘n’ cheese or pizza, look for ways to include more veggies in them. If you know that just the sight of veggies will mean an instant refusal, try blending them and then hiding them in sauces so that your child is oblivious to their presence. 

Go easy on the snacks

If your child snacks a lot during the day, they’re not likely to be all that hungry when it comes to mealtimes. And if they’re not really hungry, they’re a lot less likely to want to try anything new. A lot of parents don’t realise that their child’s appetite may not be as big as they think so snacks can make a bit difference.

Sitting them down for breakfast, lunch and dinner can be enough to stop them getting hungry and with just one snack in the middle to keep them going. They’re a lot more likely to feel hungry for these meals and they may be more inclined to improve their eating habits. 

Drinks might seem like a safe option but it’s also been shown that drinking a lot can also fill them up and make mealtimes more of a battle. Ideally, you want to strike a good balance between keeping them hydrated without affecting their appetite for meals.