Food For All The Family Week 1- The Basics

I'm currently running courses for parents in local schools and I'll be posting up the information from each session here as well as my usual posting. So all Food For All The Family posts will be relating to this. There won't be any pictures and there will be links back to previous recipes as suggestion.

Don't panic! Normal posting habits and topics will also continue, just throwing some extras out there for you all!


Food Groups, Balancing & Portioning

Food Groups

1. Fruit and vegetables

Vital source of vitamins and minerals

Five portions a day- at least, not most. You should be eating more fruits and veggies than anything else.

Make sure your intake comes from a variety of fruits & veggies in a rainbow of colour. Just eating bananas will not cut it.

Evidence supports our fruits and veggies lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables or just one apple, banana, pear or similar equates to 1 portion.

Chop fruit and vegetables into sauces, pasta dishes, chilli, curries, porridge, yoghurt etc.

We weren't built to eat meat every day! Get some veggies in you!

2. Carbohydrates

Should be up to 1/3 of everything we eat, depending on your activity levels.

Not all carbs are equal! Look at sweet potato vs. packet bread.

Carbs are energy providers and are also a good source of fibre.

They can help with weight gain.

3. Protein

Essential for the body's muscle growth and repair.

Provides a range of vitamins and minerals.

Try and choose lean meat over fatty cuts. Pick the natural meat over processed or treated.

Fish is an excellent source of protein, loaded with vitamins and minerals and oily fish is a fantastic way of getting omega 3.

Vegetarians should be conscious of getting a good protein intake through eggs, beans, nuts, seeds and pulses.

Aim for two portions of fish a week.

Replace bread crumbs with nuts.

4. Dairy

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream etc. are good sources of protein, calcium & fat.

They can cause irritation, stomach upset and headaches. You may find excluding dairy improves your overall well being.

There are suggestions the non-homogenised milk may be better for you as the fat globules will pass through instead of sticking to blood cells.

Margarine may be slightly lower in saturated fat, but it is more likely to contain trans fat, unlike butter.

5. Fats

Fat is essential for brain function and some can aid digestion.

Most people in the UK eat too much fat and too much sugar.

Not all fats are equal coconut oil vs. vegetable oil. fish oils vs margarine.

Avoid all trans fats.

Sat fat is found in cheese, sausages, cake, biscuits, processed foods etc. and can raise cholesterol levels, increase risk of heart disease.

Unsat fat is found in fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and can lower cholesterol and help maintain a fully functioning & healthy body.

6. Junk Food

Most people in the UK eat too much fatty, sugary junk foods.

If you consume more than you burn you will gain weight. Uncontrolled weight gain can lead to obesity which is linked to many illnesses including type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke.

Try to keep heavily processed foods to a minimum. Natural and fresh is always best.

Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as fruit and milk, but the real trouble is that it's added to lots of foods and drinks such as sugary fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pastries, ice cream and alcohol. It's also contained in a lot of savoury package foods like ready meals and sauces etc.


Use the palm of you hand as a guide for portion sizes. Remember that your child is smaller than you, and their portions should reflect this. Check their hand size against yours for a helpful reminder.

Recipe Look

Try my nut roast for some meatless protein and sneaky veggies or a good, old fashioned chicken casserole.

Chicken Casserole

• 1 tbsp olive oil

• 1 onion, chopped

• 1 leek

• 500g skinless chicken thighs

• 300g small new potatoes

• 425ml vegetable stock

• 350g broccoli, cut into small florets

• 350g spring greens, shredded

• 140g petits pois

• bunch spring onion, sliced

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan. Add the onion and leek, gently fry for 5 mins until softened, add the chicken, then fry until lightly coloured. Add the potatoes, stock and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, then bring to the boil. Cover, then simmer for 30 mins until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked. Can be frozen at this point
  2. Add the broccoli, spring greens, petit pois and spring onions, stir well, then return to the boil, cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes more.

Flavour Suggestions


Chilli, cayenne, paprika

Favourite herbs; Rosemary, Thyme, Coriander, Basil

Sweetcorn, parsnips, swede, squash, carrots

Chopped tomatoes instead of stock


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