Tips for feeding children and teen’s!

As the mother of a toddler, I am right in the thick of THAT parenting ‘zone’… you might know the zone: The ‘my-child-will-eat-a-balanced-homemade-diet-everyday-with-no-processed-food-or-‘horror’-sugar’ zone. Every parent enters this zone at some stage. It is when hours are devoted to turning peanut butter toast into a teddy bears face, or make a ‘vegetable man’ with broccoli hair, just to encourage a ‘healthy’ intake.

Fast forward 12 years and the focus has often shifted… A lot of things happen to our children during their teenage years. Choosing healthy food and snacks is often not one of them! I have worked with teens a lot and they are hormonal, fiercely independent, somewhat argumentative AND they tend to drift between ‘forgetting to eat’ and eating much more processed food than they have before.

Another thing happens to our teens – They gain approximately 20 percent of their height and 50 percent of their weight. It is a super important time for them, physically and psychologically.

So what can we do? As parents and carers, it is important to put a similar amount of energy into your growing child and teens nutritional intake, as you did when they were a toddler (I know, they not nearly as cute!).

I have two hot tips:
1. Be a positive food role model (one of my favourite sayings: ‘lead by example’)

▪       Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since children and teenagers who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.

▪       Watch what you say. Avoid describing food as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘naughty’ and so on. You could try the terms ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods instead.

▪       Remain balanced yourself. This might mean enjoying your favourite foods – takeaway, chocolate, cake, whatever it is – every now and then, but not all the time. Also, don’t make a big deal of it. You are not ‘being naughty’, you are simply eating food and enjoying it!

▪       Don’t insist your child cleans the plate! and – never use food as a reward or bribe. From toddlers to teens, this is the rule: Parents provide, children decide. There needs to be direction around staying at the table, with the family for the duration of the meal, but no pressure to eat all the meal.

2. Create a healthy food environment

▪       Make a variety of healthy snacks available. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grain snacks, as well as low fat milk and chilled water around and easily accessible so children and teenagers become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of soft drink or chips.

▪       Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for children about the importance of eating fresh and in season foods. This is also a great opportunity to talk about preparing and cooking food.

▪       Get children and teens involved. Believe it or not, they may actually enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner.

We need to remind ourselves that it is not all about the here and now. It’s about educating, nurturing and setting them up for a lifetime of habits and choices. Remember that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and mature at different rates. Puberty is not an easy time and our job is to remain positive and create a happy and healthy environment with plenty of fresh, wholesome food choices, and the occasional treat.

And keep our own sanity in tact.

There is wine for that.


My favourite snack ideas to fill up after school:

▪       Raisin toast with peanut butter, honey or ricotta cheese

▪       Fruit smoothie with low fat milk, yoghurt and blended fresh fruit

▪       Try making a savory muffin with grated carrot and zucchini

▪       Heat pita bread in the oven until crispy and serve with some hummus

▪       Boiled egg with wholegrain toast

▪       Baked beans with wholegrain toast



The Fabulous Hawkins Banana & Honey Loaf!

This is a recipe I have been making for a very long time! I absolutely LOVE bananas, I eat them everyday… and when I was in my mid 20’s and trying to fit in university, sport, a part time job, and a social life (of sorts!), I used to make this as a ‘grab and go’ / ‘lunchbox’ – type snack. I now make it for my busy family for the same reason, and it is always a winner… a full loaf barely lasts us 48 hours!

This loaf is so yummy, full of fibre, Low GI for sustained energy and balanced blood sugars and just SO easy to make (no strange ‘health food shop only’ ingredients).

So for busy mum’s, families with active children or teenagers, or busy working couples, this is especially for you. I have made some modifications over the years and this is how I do it:


  • 1 and 1/2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour OR (this is a recent modification) 1 cup of wholemeal self raising flour and 1/2 cup of almond meal (keeps it moist and adds texture / flavour).
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
  • 3 bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup of good quality honey
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten


(These days I literally ‘throw it all in and stir like mad… usually because it is 6 am or 11 pm when I am making it!) The proper way is:

  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius
  • Line a loaf tim with baking paper
  • put flour and almond meal (if using) into a bowl and mix through the bi-carb soda
  • Add mashed banana, oil, eggs and honey
  • Stir until mixture is smooth (may have banana lumps), it will be a runny mixture.
  • Pour into loaf tin and bake for 45 mins on 150 degrees C, fan forced. Make sure you check it after 35 mins as some ovens are hotter that others… strange but true.
  • Leave to cool in tin for 10 mins.

I usually eat it plain, hot from the oven. You can put light cream cheese or olive oil spread on it, but it really doesn’t need it… oh and I vaguely remember (when it was just me), that it lasts in a air tight container for almost a week!



Zucchini Slice for lunch!

I made this for my little girl on the weekend as she just loved it. As well as being packed full of goodness, this Zucchini Slice has a great texture and consistency for little hands, learning to use cutlery, and little taste buds.

I might add that this is also yummy for mummy and daddy too with a side salad, you may want to season with salt and pepper and add some more cheese before cooking.


  • 5 eggs
  • 2 zucchini grated
  • 1-2 carrots grated
  • 1 cup of sweetcorn
  • 1/2 cup of grated cheese
  • 1 medium sized can of salmon in olive oil (salmon broken up) OR equivalent of fresh salmon (Note – this can be substituted for finely shredded roast chicken)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of wholemeal self raising flour

* you can substitute and veggies that you have left over or that your little ones particularly like, just make sure they are grated or very finely chopped.


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees if fan forced) and line a leamington tray with baking paper.

2. Whisk eggs together in a bowl. Add all ingredients except the flour and stir thoroughly.

3. Add flour and stir through.

4. Pour into lamington tray and bake for 30 – 40 mins in the oven, until the top is nice and brown…

5. Cool, slice into ‘fingers’. Some can be divided up and frozen.




Enjoy watching them eat it, smear it and pull it apart to get the bits they want!

Kathryn xx - Black


Baby Banana Bread!

Who doesn’t LOVE banana bread for morning or afternoon tea? Or a late night snack?!

This baby banana bread recipe is free of added sugar, and packed with nutrition! As adults, it tastes way too bland for us, but for babies who are new to eating and enjoy having finger foods (approx. 7 months +), it is really yummy!!

There are a few options to this recipe, and you can also replace the bananas with cooked and pureed apple or pear. Make sure you choose the option that suits your family the best.


  • 2 very ripe bananas.
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups of almond meal, or wholemeal flour, or a combination of both (almond meal will make this loaf much more dense).
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ‘splash’ of cows milk, goats milk, or almond milk – (this is really for the consistency. You want it to be like a thick paste)
  • Optional – 2-3 medjool dates, pitted.


  1. Blend banana, eggs and cinnamon (and dates if using) in the blender until smooth, pour into mixing bowl.
  2. Add almond meal and / or flour and baking soda to the bowl.
  3. Mix together and use a splash of your chosen milk if you need to alter the consistency.
  4. You can bake in muffin pans or a loaf pan. I like to use a loaf pan so then I can cut into finger food sized pieces. In a loaf pan lined with baking paper, place in a 180 degree oven for 20 – 30 mins (until cooked). The cooking time varies depending on wether you use almond meal or flour.

Cool, slice and let them enjoy! I also sometimes spread with some natural peanut butter… yummo!

Hint: you can make most things ‘baby friendly’ by omitting the sugar and salt options and look to use more spices for flavour. Also think about making things more nutritionally dense by using coconut flour, almond meal, nut butters and full cream greek yogurt in your baking.




The best ever Spaghetti Bolognese!

It’s cold, it’s dark… and I have never met anyone who doesn’t LOVE spaghetti bolognese! For me it was a childhood favourite, particularly in winter, it reminds me of being at the snow with my family and cousins… and of rain on our tin roof at my parents farm.

Because of these memories, and its ability to satisfy the hungriest crowd, spaghetti bolognese has remained a weekend staple as I grew up.

Now, anyone who knows my family, knows that my husband can cook one and only dish – and that is bolognese sauce! So, I do have to tread very carefully here… his sauce is really very tasty, and I am so happy when he is home all weekend and I don’t have to cook! The difference is, that my bolognese uses ONLY whole foods (not a jar of sauce in sight), lots of vegetables, no artificial anything AND it has a secret ingredient that is guaranteed to make your tastebuds dance!
The veggies in my dish not only add lots of fibre, they also add bulk, meaning the mince goes further, and there is enough left for lunch the next day… oh and don’t worry, you can’t even tell the veggies are in there!

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 carrot, very finely diced
2 sticks celery, very finely diced
500gms (heart smart) beef mince
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 medium sized eggplant, finely cubed
4 roma tomatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms
1 cup chicken or beef stock (preferably homemeade)
1 1/2 cups pasatta (or you can use a can of Australian crushed tomatoes, no added salt)
1 red capsicum, finely diced
3 – 4 bay leaves
2 teaspoon dried oregano
4-5 Anchovies to taste! (SECRET INGREDIENT)

Spaghetti for serving – approx 1 cup cooked pasta per person.

1. In generous amount of olive oil, sautee onion, celery and carrot over a medium heat until the vegetables soften and begin to caramelise, sticking to the bottom of the pan a little.

2. Add the mince, garlic, tomato paste and anchovies and continue to fry until the mince breaks up and starts to brown. Give this process a good 10 minutes to allow the tomato paste to be cooked down and the bolognese mix to start to become quite sticky in the pan.

3. Add in the eggplant, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, capsicum, bay leaves and dried oregano and stir through well. Season well with your salt and pepper.IMG_5261
4. This next step takes time and is important when developing the flavour. Allow the mince and vegetable mix to continue to cook, stirring frequently until all the vegetables have softened and the liquid has completely evaporated. Again, wait until the mince and vegetables start to caramelise and stick to the bottom of the pan. This will take a good 20 minutes at the least, and can be left to cook for up to an hour.

IMG_5263 final

5. Add in the canned tomatoes and stock. Season well, stir thoroughly and then cover the pot, bringing the bolognese to a soft boil. Turn to simmer for 30 minutes minimum, ideally longer as more flavour will develop.


6. Ta – Dah! The most perfect bolognese that will satisfy adults and children alike!

You can make this even more tasty, and more of an adult dish, by adding a slug of red wine in step 3. Serve with lashings of your favourite cheese, or tun it into a lasagne… and ENJOY!!



Kathryn xx - Black


A closer look at ‘healthy’…

I have been asked and asked if I am going to start blogging regularly again – and the answer is YES! Finally I have time between clinic hours, home life, speaking engagements and a 12 week old puppy… and I am going to get back to the blog!

Todays blog is all about being healthy. Its winter, its cold, and its dark. There is nothing better than, at the end of the day, curling up by the fire with a bowl of pasta and a glass of red, or a big bowl of soup and hot crusty bread, OR a hot chocolate and marshmallows! But, that is not healthy… is it?

There is a fine line around living a healthy life and feeling in control… and your healthy life controlling you!

I am lucky and I get to meet a lot of interesting people every day; clients, friends, colleagues and journalists. There are so many people who love to tell me that they are living by certain food ‘rules’; only eating at certain times, excluding certain food groups (without medical reason), only eating certain combinations of foods, and following certain eating plans.

I understand that the intention is there to be ‘healthy’, but the irony is; your ‘healthy life’ may just be making you UNHEALTHY! If you are constantly worried about food – researching, discussing, trying different plans, and stressing over every meal / snack – then there is a problem.

As a dietitian, the pattern I see most often is that when a person learns to relax the ‘rules’, eat with variety, listen to their body and their needs, introduce more wholegrains and cut down on large amounts of fats, cut down on intense exercise daily, understand how food works in the body, and TRUST their bodies; only then do they see improvements. Reports are generally improvements in energy, moods, gastrointestinal symptoms, weight loss and overall, a better feeling of balance and well being.

It is not surprising to me when clients start to see lifestyle ‘results’, but it is to them – and I love it every time! You see, eating in a balanced fashion, and understanding your body and your needs, gives you tools for life. Over time the domino effects of overall health include improved confidence, a sense of self compassion, and a feeling of contentment… I can even verify this from personal experience!

So, start by deciding to tune into your body this winter – rest when you need to rest, eat when you are hungry, get to know yourself… really know yourself, and allow yourself to be that wonderful human being that you are; perfectly YOU!


Kathryn xx - Black


Learn to listen to your body

Hunger v’s Non-Hunger

Unless I am seeing someone for a specific medical condition, I generally don’t tell them what to eat.

What I DO do is teach people about nutrients and food – quality, portion sizes and cooking techniques. I also teach people about eating and getting back in touch with their bodies, and one of my observations has been that the ‘food’ side of things is often easier to grasp than the ‘getting in touch with your body’ side of things!

Hunger is often the first thing we talk about and yet can be one of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments for clients. The first thing to always think about is that hunger is a normal body cue and it feels different for different people (and some people manage better with different levels of hunger!). Fullness is also a normal body cue. It indicates to us when we have had enough to eat, when our body perceives that it has received enough energy.

Some people are even afraid of feeling hungry. Some popular diets even market to this, promising that ‘you will never be hungry’, which is not really of advantage to you. You are supposed to feel hungry and supposed to feel full!

There is no need to be afraid of hunger, it is normal, and even a good sign that your body is working well. Best of all, hunger is easily fixed!

Often diets will advertise themselves as having the ability to make you ‘never feel hungry’


So what does hunger feel like?

As I mentioned, different people, feel hunger differently. Some of the ways hunger can be felt can be described as:

  • Hunger ‘pangs’
  • Hollow or empty feeling
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • ‘Queasy’ feeling
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Crankiness
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Here is an exercise you can do right now sitting at your desk:

Close you eyes and bring awareness internally.

Start at your mouth and work your way down to your stomach.

Are you aware of any signals that your body is giving you that you are full, or hungry?

Does any part of your body feel tense? Or hollow?

Is your stomach moving or is it still?

Can you associate any other feelings with how your stomach is? Are you happy? Anxious? Nervous? Tired?

You may notice other emotions that are unique to you. Acknowledge these. Maybe write them down, but don’t focus on them…

There are a couple of reasons why we are getting you to understand and value your body cues and that is because, it is likely (if you are a human – very likely!) that you have, in the past, used food for reasons other than hunger.

Chances are you have used food for one or more of the following:

  • Comfort
  • Reward
  • Distraction
  • Boredom
  • To stay awake
  • In celebration
  • To clear your plate
  • So you don’t offend anyone.

Whist some of these are quite acceptable reasons to eat when not strictly hungry, they are the reasons that don’t happen every day – celebrations are occasional, usually once a month at best; Not offending the person giving you the meal or snack is also minimal. The big issues are around when you find you are CONSTANTLY eating for emotional reasons, as a distraction, or as entertainment.

Eating when we are not hungry is called ‘non hungry eating’. Non hungry eating also includes overeating, grazing, nibbling and bingeing. Most people do a significant amount of non hungry eating and it does appear to be one of the biggest factors in causing weight gain, and difficulty loosing weight.

So how do we decrease our non-hungry eating? 
Well, there are two ways.

1. The first way is to recognise it! Check in with yourself before you eat something and see if you are really hungry or not. Using your hunger-fullness scale is a great tool for this. Being more aware of our physical hunger and fullness also helps us to become more conscious of the reasons we might be eating when we are not physically hungry.

2. The second way to decrease non hungry eating is to be more aware of weather we are enjoying all of the food we are eating. This may sound strange to some of you, but it is very common habit a lot of people have where they are not really paying attention to this aspect of eating. For example, we might start off enjoying something – that first bite or two taste fabulous, but then we loose the pleasure and we just keep eating to finish it off. Another thing that can happen is that we start off with a food we really enjoy, and then we get distracted, by the TV usually, and before we know it, our plate is empty and we barely tasted the food!

Always remember – YOU are the expert on your own life, no one else. A dietitian can help guide you; give you up to date, evidence based advise; help manage medical conditions nutritionally in conjunction with your GP; teach you to manage your own nutrition and that of your familys, but we are NOT experts on YOU!
with love,

Fish Cakes!

Fish is a great source of protein monounsaturated fatty acids, especially omega 3′s.

Eating fish 2 – 3 times a week, is what I recommend… but there is no need for it to be boring!

These healthy fish cakes are so simple and a great way to serve fish.

They are particularly wonderful for those that aren’t so keen on fish (like the kids!) as the flavour and texture changes when they are cooked – they hardly even taste like fish!

Serves 4


  • Large handful of parsley
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 500 gram of firm white fish (Snapper, Blue eye or any other firm white fish work well) roughly diced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Coating:
 Sesame seeds


.    In a food processor, process the parsley, onion and garlic until finely chopped.  Add the fish, seasoning, lemon and zest and process to a rough paste. If you don’t have a processor, you can dice the ingredients finely and squeeze together with your hands.

.    Roll with wet hands into patties.

.    Dip into the sesame seeds and set aside until ready to cook.

.    Over a moderate to high burner, heat enough sesame oil or macadamia nut oil (or whatever you choose to use) to coat the bottom of your pan.

.    Cook the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until just brown.

Serve immediately with salad or vegetables – Enjoy!

Why not be creative and make ‘fish burgers’ using the fish cakes as patties?


Healthy, Wholefoods, Creamy – Fettuccine!

Is it possible? a healthy, low in saturated fat, tasty and fresh version of Creamy Fettuccine?

Here it is! I made this on friday night and it was so good I just had to share with you all today. Here is the base recipe, I added chicken, chili and broccolini to mine, and chicken, chili and fresh basil to my husbands (he really has an aversion to broccolini!). We both agreed that this dish it really lovely at the end of a long week, it can be nicely paired with vino of your choice and does not leave you feeling heavy and sluggish like the original creamy sauces can. Fabulous for kids too!

Serves 4


  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock, or chicken stock (I used chicken stock because it was what I had in the freezer, and also I was pairing it with chicken.)
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated.
  • ½ cup low-fat milk (your choice of dairy, nut or rice milk)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped chives
  • 500g fettucine pasta


Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan. Sauté garlic until fragrant, about 3 – 4 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and cover with vegetable / chicken stock. Cook for 10 – 12 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta ‘al dente’.

Drain the cauliflower, reserving 1 cup of the stock. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor or blender and add 1 cup of stock and ½ cup low-fat milk.

You can continue to add more stock or milk, until a sauce consistency is achieved based on your preference, and it is smooth without any lumps. Add the cheese, chives and black pepper to taste. Toss through the cooked fettucine and top with a little extra cheese if desired.

* Ideas to toss through some protein options might be chicken, smoked salmon, firm white fish or scollops. For a meal packed with veggies some grated zucchini and finely chopped broccolini goes nicely!

Enjoy! xx