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Tasty ideas for fresh autumn produce

3rd March 2014

Tasty ideas for fresh autumn produce

With autumn produce now hitting the shelves, kids can look forward to some nutritious changes in their school lunches, say 5+ A Day.

Pears, feijoas, passionfruit and several varieties of apples are just some of the seasonal autumn produce that the whole family can enjoy.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of obesity in the developed world, so it’s important to expose children to a wide range of fruit and vegetables at an early age to set healthy eating habits for the future, says 5+ A Day nutritionist Bronwen Anderson.

“One way to get children eating well is to fill school lunch boxes with variety and seasonal produce,” says Bronwen. “Children need a balanced mix of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods and protein to keep them active and alert throughout the day.”

Fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, slow-release carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, low-fat cheese and yoghurt and iron-rich protein foods such as lean meat, chicken and eggs pack a good nutritional punch for active kids, says Bronwen.
And as the debate about sugar’s role in health problems heats up, Bronwen recommends swapping fruit juice and sugary drinks for whole fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Fruit and vegetables not only contain natural sugars but also provide fibre, vitamins and minerals essential for good health.”

Encouraging kids to tuck into autumn fruit will help satisfy their sweet tooth while being a much healthier alternative to processed food.

Here are quick, easy tips on how to make the most of autumn’s produce.

Nutrition: Fresh apples are an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre and help satisfy hunger without the calories, helping with weight loss.
Tips: Cut up apple, pear and nashi pear and mix through passionfruit pulp for a tasty fruit salad. This is a great idea for school lunch boxes, as it gives kids a sweet hit with loads of nutrients. Baked apple slices are great to snack on. Thinly slice apple and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and bake until soft.

Nutrition: Pears contain minerals essential for a healthy nervous system and brain function.
Tips: For the kids, cut chunks of pears, feijoa and apple and skewer for a tasty kebab snack or dessert. Toss a cup of sliced pear into a lunchtime salad and you’ll get around 10 per cent of your daily vitamin C. For a healthy breakfast, place pear chunks in the bottom of a clear glass. Add layers of low-fat yoghurt, muesli followed by more pears.

Nashi pears
Nutrition: Nashi pears are a good source of soluble fibre and vitamin C and are also a source of folate, essential for producing red blood cells.
Tips: Combine thinly sliced Nashi pear in kids’ sandwiches with lettuce, ham and cheese. Or toss with chicken and cucumber in a salad. For a quick dessert, core and fill with dried fruit. Drizzle with a little honey or maple syrup and bake until tender.

Nutrition: Full of vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants, this fruit is great for your little one’s developing vision, mucous membranes and skin. It is also high in vitamin C, essential for a healthy immune system, and fibre to aid digestion.
Tips: For a school day treat, add passionfruit pulp to low-fat cream cheese and spread it over raisin bread. Passionfruit can enhance the taste of many desserts: try topping off low-fat yoghurt with the pulp and seeds. If you have a bumper crop of passionfruit, freeze pulp in ice cube trays for later use or simply freeze passionfruit whole.

Nutrition: Fresh feijoas are high in antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Free radicals are a major cause of premature ageing, disease and cancer.
Tips: Make a batch of feijoa muffins or a feijoa loaf for school lunch boxes. Feijoas can be eaten raw, in fruit salads or as part of a fruit plate. They can also be cooked with other fruit such as apples.

Nutrition: Adding leeks to your diet helps ensure that you meet your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Leeks also contain compounds that contribute to healthy eyesight.
Tips: Leeks are delicious added to soups, casseroles and frittatas or served on their own in a delicious braise or roast. Whip up a traditional Italian dish with sautéed leek, garlic, chillies and olive oil. Mix together with your favourite wholemeal pasta, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of parsley.

Brussels sprouts
Nutrition: With a host of antioxidant ingredients, Brussels sprouts protect against oxidative stress on the body's cells.
Tips: Separate Brussels sprout leaves individually, drizzle with olive oil and lightly roast until crispy. Thinly slice Brussels sprouts and toss in olive oil and seasoning. Sprinkle over a pizza base to add freshness and texture. Sautee diced apple, raisins and Brussels sprouts in chicken stock or water for a tasty side dish. The colour and sweetness of the apple and raisins pair well with the savoury Brussels sprouts.


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