1. Hello Geneviève, I wonder if you have any snack ideas to offer children, more specifically during the school year. My children are in elementary school, and nuts and peanuts are prohibited, which limits my choices a little. Thank you for your help.

Geneviève Nadeau

Snacks are indeed very important to fill the nutritional needs of children, because they have a small stomach but great needs! You must therefore encourage them to eat often and small quantities. First of all, choose nutritious snacks that will calm the hunger of your small ones while giving them energy. To do this, you can include protein (that satisfies their appetite) and carbohydrates-rich food (which are a source of energy). Here are a few examples of nourishing snacks that combine these two nutrients while being nuts and peanuts free:

Ideas for snacks (containing carbohydrates and proteins)

- Dried dates + roasted soybeans

- Homemade bran muffin + milk in a cardboard container (UHT milk)

- Fresh or frozen fruits +Greek yogurt (to keep cool in the lunchbox)

- Banana + soy vanilla pudding

- Breakfast cereals + desert flavoured tofu (you can find it in the chilled dips counter at the grocery store)

- Wholegrain crackers + fortified soy beverage

- Dried cranberries + homemade granola with oats

- Organic fruit puree + fruit yogurt

I suggest you read our article by clicking on the following link Back to school = return of lunchboxes . You will also find a lot of tips and advice for lunchboxes.

Happy back-to-school !

2. Hello, I would like to give carrots to my daughter. I heard that carrots contain nitrates. Isn’t that a carcinogenic compound? Can you help me? Thanks!

Geneviève Nadeau
Good day,
Many vegetables contain nitrates naturally: carrots, beets, turnips, spinach, etc. Nitrates are naturally present in the water and in the ground, that’s why some root vegetables contain them. However, nitrates present in vegetables are not the same as the nitrates and nitrites that are added in processed meat products. Eating vegetable is clearly beneficial for the health. In other words, carrots don’t’ promote the chance of suffering from cancer!
The nitrates included in those vegetables may prevent the oxygen from functioning normally in the organism. Effects are mainly reported in very young infants because they have a smaller body. Therefore, nitrates build up easily. We ask to drain the cooking water of carrots before they are puréed because it contains a high level of nitrates.
As for beets, turnips and spinach, you will have to wait until the baby is 9 months old before introducing them because they have a much higher level of nitrates. Also don’t keep the water when you make the purée.
To learn more about solid food, you can read my article about introducing solid food.

3. Dear Genevieve, Are eggs bad for my baby’s health? When is it best to introduce them? I heard that the yolk was bad, but I am currently giving them to my child. I am confused… Thanks!

Geneviève Nadeau
Good day,
Personally, I don’t think there is any bad food. It is a matter of quantity. Egg yolks are very nutritious and rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, minerals, fat, etc. That being said, it is true that they contain cholesterol. Many people are afraid of culinary cholesterol! Nonetheless, only people with high blood cholesterol and heart conditions should keep an eye on their cholesterol intake. So don’t worry.
Now, it is possible to introduce WHOLE eggs in your child nutrition by the time he reaches 6 months of age. As a matter of fact, recent studies have shown that it is not necessary to wait longer before introducing allergenic food (like egg white) to prevent allergies. To learn more about this subject, you can read my article about Introducing solid food.

4. Hello, We always hear how important it is to include children in the cooking, but I have a hard time believing that my kids are capable of such thing. They are so jittery! I’m afraid that they will cut themselves or get hurt on the stove elements. Do you have simple tips to get started and that are risk free? Thanks!

Geneviève Nadeau
Good day,
I understand your concern. The best is to involve the kids at an early age. But better late than never… If your apprentice cooks are not familiar with the pleasure of cooking, you can use utensils that are adapted to their preference: colourful plastic spoon, mixing bowls with images of princesses or superheroes, etc. Then, you can choose simple games in the kitchen! For example, a recipe as simple as a homemade hamburger can be fun. They can watch you cook the patties. If they are behaving during that step, promise them that they will be allowed to have fun with the toppings. What a success it will be when they will spread relish or mustard on their warm bun! One layer of grated cheese, slices of pickles, lettuce, grated cabbage… Even if they didn’t cut the vegetables, they will be very proud of their culinary masterpiece.
At first, offer them to help with recipes that require fewer steps and that your kids already enjoy. They will be more focused and motivated in making the recipe a success, especially if it is oatmeal and raisin cookies or banana muffins with a few chocolate chips! In my experience they will take pleasure in cooking everything! They may even want to cook leeks with salad dressing and fish with capers and olives… Patience is key and, mostly, don’t expect perfection the first time!
To learn more, you can read the article: Celebrate healthy food: plan and cook your meals as a family!

5. Dear Geneviève, I was wondering how I could plan my weekly meals better. I run out of time to make complicated recipes because I have 2 kids who are 3 and 5 years old. Where do I start? Thanks!

Geneviève Nadeau
Good day,
You are right! It is not easy to juggle work, family and still plan meals. First, get rid of the pressure by eliminating elaborated and fancy recipes. Get back to the basics that you can cook in large quantity: grated pasta, homemade pizza, lentil meatloaf or chicken and vegetables rice casserole. Use your day off or the weekends to prepare them in a larger quantity and freeze them. This way, you can warm them up quickly during the week.
You can also plan quick meals using basic ingredients you always keep in the fridge or in the pantry (ex. Sweet pepper + green onions + couscous + can of tuna = Couscous and tuna salad, with a twist of orange juice, oil and pepper as seasoning). To learn more, you can read the article: Celebrate healthy food: plan and cook your meals as a family!

6. Hello, My daughter is 9 months and she refuses to eat baby cereal. I’ve tried to offer her all kinds brand, to no avail. Is there a substitute to baby cereal?

Geneviève Nadeau
I understand your situation and it frequently happens that infant cereals are not very popular with children. Unfortunately, these cereals provide specific nutrients, such as iron required quantities. Other foods introduced into the diet of your child, such as vegetables and fruits alone cannot provide these key elements in sufficient quantity. So that your little princess might eventually rediscover the pleasure of eating cereal, I suggest you continue to offer her in very small quantities. You can also add them to yogurt or in a fruit puree.
For more information you can read the article Understanding infant cereals

7. Hello Genevieve My 13 month old child refuses to eat meat and I’m worried he may come to suffer form an iron or protein deficiency. What other foods can I give him to make sure he gets what he really needs? Thank you!

Geneviève Nadeau
I understand your concern. Meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb) and poultry (chicken, turkey), are among the protein sources most frequently consumed. These foods are rich in protein and also provide a variety of nutrients that have many important roles in the body and are very important for the development of your child. For example, meat provides iron and vitamin B12, essential for the growth of your toddler. But there is hope out there because many other foods also provide a variety of nutrients just like meat: vegetables, fish, tofu, eggs, nuts and cereals all contain these nutrients. Besides, parents of children with vegetarian diets also have to deal with these issues all the while ensuring that baby gets everything he needs.
For more information you can read the article Your child dislikes meat, here are a few tips