Fun Food – Mash Ghost (Halloween)

Fun Food – Mash Ghost

Get the children to make their own super simple mash potato ghost for Halloween. This fun food creation takes minutes to make and about the same to eat!!

 Healthy kids food

If you like my posts please click on the link below to vote for my site.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/pages/index.php

Recipe

– Mash potato (any mashed veg would substitute – parsnip/cauliflower/white bean).

– I used olives for the eyes and mouth

– I used corn for the writing but peas or any other small veggie would do

Method

1. Make the ghost from the mash (make sure the mash is not too wet when you cook it).

Mash Ghost - 1 Mash (1 of 1)

 

I made a triangular head and then stuck arms on later and moulded them into shape.

2. Add a face. I sliced olives which gave the ghost a startled expression.

Mash Ghost - 2 face (1 of 1)

 

3. Then I made “Boo !!” from corn kernels.

Mash Ghost - 3 boo (1 of 1)

 

4. And that is it. My simple, fun, mashy ghost.

Healthy kids food

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small

Fun Haunted House (Halloween)

Haunted House

Nothing screams horror like a haunted house. Although my house is more cartoon than fright!

This is a fun, simple to construct Halloween breakfast or light lunch and my boys were delighted with the house but not happy until I added the bats for full effect.

Healthy creative food for kids

Recipe

– 3 slices of bread. Ours is bakery so on the small side.

– 1 large egg

– 1 small tomato

– 1 large baby spinach leaf – for the bat

Method

1. Cut a large piece for the centre of the house. It’s a very forgiving design as you can cut pretty much however it comes and it’ll look OK.

Haunted House - 1 Bread (1 of 1)

 

2. I used another piece of bread for a tower.

Haunted House - 2b (1 of 1)

 

3. Then the 3rd piece of bread to make two side towers.

Haunted House - 3b (1 of 1)

 

I added triangles to the top of them for roofs. I also cut corners off the first slice of bread and placed them on the top edge of the large piece. It just seemed to give it better balance.

4. I cooked the egg yolk and white separately. The yolk I cut into shapes to make the windows.

 

 Haunted House - 5 egg windows (1 of 1)

5. Then I used a slice of cheese cut to make a door.

Haunted House - 6b (1 of 1)

 

6. And sliced pieces from the tomato to make window frames and a window for the door.

Haunted House - 7b (1 of 1)

 

7. I used the white of the egg to make the moon.

Haunted House - 8 moon (1 of 1)

 

And some pieces of bread for the steps.

8. Then I sprinkled some oat bran as stars.

Healthy Halloween Food

And for my boys added some bats cut from baby spinach leaves!!

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small

Fun Apple Bat – Halloween

Apple Bat

Black food is very limited so I have decided to work the contrast the other way round for Halloween this year and do light objects on a dark background …

This is my cute, fun and simple apple bat.

Fun healthy food for children

Recipe

– Red Apple

– Coconut / oat bran (for stars)

Method

1. Cut two wings from the largest part of the apple at the centre. I used one wing to make a template for the other.

Apple Bat - 1 wings (1 of 1)

 

2. Then I cut a circle for the head.

Apple Bat - 2 head (1 of 1)

 

3. And some pointy ears.

Apple Bat - 3  (1 of 1)

 

4. I gave him some little feet but removed them later!

Apple Bat - 4 Feet  (1 of 1)

 

5. Then used the outer part of the apple to make a smiley face.

Apple Bat - 5 face (1 of 1)

 

6. And more of the red part of the apple for detail for the wings.

Apple Bat - 6 detail (1 of 1)

 

7. I cut another circle for the moon.

Apple Bat - 7 moon (1 of 1)

 

8. Then sprinkled coconut for stars.

Healthy Food for Halloween

9. I decided I didn’t like the feet so ate them!!

Healthy snacks for Halloween

(Assault and battery ?!?!?)

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small

Fun Carrot Fingers – Halloween

Carrot Fingers

I wanted to create a party piece for Halloween and some crudites and dip are a perfect starter. I have used a home-made beetroot dip so I can make sure it’s healthy!

Fun, creative Halloween food

This is a fun plate that would be great at any time of the year ….. and then the gross addition (subtraction!!) of half a finger fits right into Halloween.

Halloween party food

Recipe

– 5 small carrots

– I used yellow capsicum (bell pepper) for the fingernails – you could substitute with sliced cucumber/celery/daikon/radish

– Dip – I used beetroot for the “blood” effect

Method

1. Peel and slice the carrot in half and then cut into a “finger” shape.

Carrot Fingers - 1 carrot (1 of 1)

 

2. Then cut an indent at the end for the fingernail to sit in.

Carrot Fingers - 2 fingernail (1 of 1)

 

3. And make enough for a handful! I used a smaller carrot for the little finger.

Carrot Fingers - 3 four fingers (1 of 1)

 

4. Then for the thumb slice the fingernail indent to the side and trim down so it’s a little shorter too.

Carrot Fingers - 4 Thumb (1 of 1)

 

5. I cut pieces of a yellow capsicum/bell pepper to make the nails.

Carrot Fingers - 5 fingernails (1 of 1)

 

6. And then used the left over pieces to make knuckles.

Carrot Fingers - 6 knuckles (1 of 1)

 

7. I made a dip.

Healthy Halloween snacks

8. And there is a great party plate to share.

Fun food for Halloween

9. Or if you prefer the Halloween (gross) version ….

Carrot Fingers - Gross (1 of 1)

Then cut off the tip of one of the fingers and dunk in the dip. I also added some beetroot juice to the end of the severed finger….

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Oat Web – Halloween

Oat Web

Now spiders may not be everyone’s cup of tea but this is a fun, cute strawberry one that would be delicious for breakfast.

The web looks time consuming but actually it’s not hard to put together and surprisingly quick.

Fun food for children Halloween

Recipe

– Oats – I used wholegrain and soaked them in milk so they were softened

– Strawberry cut in half for the spider’s body (any fruit would be OK)

– Raisins for the spiders legs (or small blueberries)

– Blueberry cut in half for the eyes (or raisins/dates)

– I used yoghurt for detail

Method

1. Make a rough circle from the oats in the middle and then make 6 diagonal lines. I used a teaspoon and fingers to guide the oats.

Oat Spiderweb - 1 6 threads (1 of 1)

 

2. Then make an inner ring from more oats.

Oat Spiderweb - 2 first ring (1 of 1)

 

3. And then a second.

Oat Spiderweb - 3 second ring (1 of 1)

 

4. And a third.

Oat Spiderweb - 4 third ring (1 of 1)

 

5. Now it’s time to add the spider (or not!!)

Oat Spiderweb - 5 spider body (1 of 1)

 

I used a strawberry cut in half.

6. And then added half a blueberry for each eye and cut raisins in half for the legs.

Oat Spiderweb - 6 legs (1 of 1)

 

I also gave him some chelicera (the sticking out bits at the front!!)

7. Then used yoghurt to make detail for the eyes and on the back.

Oat Spiderweb - 7 eyes (1 of 1)

8. And there is my Halloween spider web all ready to eat.

Healthy Halloween breakfast

 

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Yoghurt Graveyard – Halloween

Yoghurt Graveyard

I’m on a Halloween roll!

Yoghurt = ghosts. It’s true!!

Here’s my simple, fun and quick fruity graveyard.

Creative breakfast for kids Halloween

Recipe

– Pear (or apple/melon)

– Yoghurt (I used home-made Greek style)

– I used flaked almonds, sunflower seeds and a strawberry for detail

– Raisins – for ghost eyes and mouth

Note: I made some changes as I went through. I realised the ghosties had to be bigger and that the one on the left was too close to the grave and needed to scoot away!

Method

1. Pile up the yoghurt to make the ghosts (I made them bigger as I went along).

Yoghurt Graveyard - 1 Yoghurt (1 of 1)

 

Tip: If your yoghurt is a bit soft then you can freeze for a while to thicken. Also you can put a piece of fruit underneath to build the ghost up more effectively.

2. Cut a gravestone from the inside of a pear.

Yoghurt Graveyard - 2 gravestone (1 of 1)

 

3. I used strips from the side of the pear to make a grave.

Yoghurt Graveyard - 3 grave (1 of 1)

 

I also cut R.I.P. into the gravestone and smeared with juice from a strawberry (which you can just see).

4. Then I put detail around the back of the stone using flaked almonds and a strawberry sliced.

Yoghurt Graveyard - 4 grave surrounds (1 of 1)

 

And filled the grave with sunflower seeds – like gravel!

5. I built the ghosties up a bit and gave them raisin eyes.

Yoghurt Graveyard - 5 eyes (1 of 1)

 

But realised that the ghost on the left was too close so had to move it left and squeeze up the grave a smidge.

6. Then the ghosts needed mouths.

Healthy breakfast Halloween

Woooooooooo hoooooooooooo.

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Pasta Skeleton – Halloween

Pasta Skeleton

Skeletons are an iconic Halloween figure and so easy to make and share.

Here is my fun, cartoon style pasta skeleton.

Fun food for children Halloween

 

Recipe

– Pasta – I used wholemeal penne and spirals (I wanted to call them a flashy Italian name but they are alas called “spirals” ….)

– Cheese – for the skull

– Steamed carrots for the hands and feet

– Corn – for joints

– I used olives for the skull detail

Method

1. Cut the skull shape from a slice of cheese.

 

 

2. Add collarbone and upper arms.

Pasta Skeleton - 2 arms (1 of 1)

 

I used corn as the elbows then the penne again for the lower arms.

3. Add spinal column from corn and ribs from spirals.

Pasta Skeleton - 3 ribs (1 of 1)

 

4. Make hips and upper legs.

Pasta Skeleton - 4 Hips (1 of 1)

 

5. Then add corn knees and lower legs.

Pasta Skeleton - 5 legs (1 of 1)

 

6. I cut hands and feet from steamed carrots (that had been cut lengthways).

Pasta Skeleton - 6 hands & feet (1 of 1)

 

7. Then I gave him a face cut from olive. Two eye sockets, teeth and nostrils.

8. And he is ready to be eaten!

Healthy food Halloween

 

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Carved Tomato – Halloween

Carved Tomato

Everyone has seen or even made their own carved pumpkin for Halloween but have you ever eaten one?!?!

So I thought I’d do my own take on the carved pumpkin making a mini, edible one from a tomato. It’s a fun way to do scrambled eggs and tomato for breakfast or a snack and I have to say delicious. Had to make one for everyone … lucky I am now an “expert” carver and it’s deceptively quick and simple.

Fun creative food for children Halloween

Recipe

– A firm tomato. Look for the perfect shape!

– Scrambled egg.

– I used cheese for the stalk.

– I sprinkled thyme as it tastes so good with egg.

Method

1. Carve the traditional triangular eyes and nose from the front of the tomato. Then cut a mouth with teeth. You will need a sharp knife but it’s actually quite simple to do.

Carved Tomato - 1 face (1 of 1)

 

I propped it up so it was easier to see the face.

2. Then I cut a flap at the back and hollowed out the tomato which wasn’t hard to do.

Carved Tomato - 2 cut out (1 of 1)

 

3. I stuffed the tomato full of scrambled egg.

Carved Tomato - 3 egg (1 of 1)

And put the rest underneath and around.

4. I used a chunk of cheese to make the stalk and I thought a yellow picnic plate may look better ……

Carved Tomato - 4 stalk (1 of 1)

5. Then I sprinkled thyme around.

Healthy Halloween breakfast

6. And knew the yellow was just a little too bright ….

Healthy Halloween breakfast

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Fruit Skeleton – Halloween

Fruit Skeleton

Skeletons fit well into Halloween but this is a fun food, cartoony one that you can whip up quickly for dessert or a snack. My boys were rapt to be able to share with one of their friends and delightedly picked off the body parts to eat (as you do!).

Fun food for kids Halloween

Recipe

This is a very versatile recipe as you can use any fruit you have on hand. This is what I used and suggestions for substitutions:

– Apple for the skull (pear/melon/stone fruit)

– Dark grapes for the face and elbow/knee (blueberries/raisins)

– Pineapple for the bones (apple/pear/melon/stone fruit/banana)

– Green grapes for the vertebrae (any fruit cut into circles)

– Mandarin segments for ribs (you could cut apple/pear/melon/stone fruit)

– Strawberries for hands and feet (apple/pear/melon/stone fruit)

Method

1. Cut the shape of the skull. I used the inner flesh from an apple in one design and pear in the other.

Fruit Skeleton - 1 skull (1 of 1)

 

2. I cut the bottoms from grapes to make the eyes and then sliced some teeth from the side of the grape.

Fruit Skeleton - 2 face (1 of 1)

 

3. And sliced some extra bits for nostrils.

Fruit Skeleton - 3 nostrils (1 of 1)

 

4. Then I placed a line of vertebrae cut from the bottom of green grapes.

Fruit Skeleton - 4 vertebrae (1 of 1)

 

5. I used the handily shaped mandarin segments to make ribs.

Fruit Skeleton - 5 ribs (1 of 1)

 

6. Then cut pineapple to make collarbones.

Fruit Skeleton - 6 Collarbones (1 of 1)

 

7. And arms.

Fruit Skeleton - 7 arms (1 of 1)

 

8. Adding cut grapes as elbows.

Fruit Skeleton - 8 elbows (1 of 1)

 

And adding lower arms.

9. Then some strawberry hands.

Fruit Skeleton - 9 hands (1 of 1)

 

10. Followed by a pineapple pelvis.

Fruit Skeleton - 10 pelvis (1 of 1)

 

And upper legs.

11. He then needed grape knees.

Fruit Skeleton - 11 knees (1 of 1)

 

And lower legs.

12. Before adding the strawberry feet.

Healthy Halloween snack

 

13. And the skeleton is finished.

Fun Halloween snack

14. And here is one I prepared earlier using pear for the skull.

Fun Halloween food

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small..

Fun Skull & Crossbones – Halloween

Skull & Crossbones

OK so it’s October so time to pull a few seasonal dishes out of the bag!!

This is a simple, fun skull and crossbones – probably suitable for older kids as it’s a little on the “real” side.

Skull and crossbones healthy food for kids

 

Recipe

– White bean puree (potato, parsnip, celeriac, cauliflower mash/puree would all work well) for the skull.

– Steamed potatoes – for the ends of the bones

– Cauliflower – for the bones

– Pumpkin – for the eye socket (optional)

Any white veggies that you have on hand will work. Most can be steamed or roasted and then put in the blender with a little milk (and flavourings like garlic should you wish) to make a puree.

Method

1. Form a skull shape from the puree.

 

 Skull - 1 mash

2. Then dig out some eye sockets with a knife.

Skull - 2 eye sockets (1 of 1)

 

3. And then some nostrils.

Skull - 3 nostrils (1 of 1)

 

4. Then make a mouth with teeth outlines.

Skull - 4 teeth (1 of 1)

 

5. I cut steamed potatoes to make the ends of the bones.

Skull - 5 potatoes (1 of 1)

 

6. Then added some lightly roasted cauliflower as the bones themselves.

Skull - Finished 2 (1 of 1)

7. Or you can give the eyes the scary look with a contrasting veg (I used roasted pumpkin).

Skull - Finished 1 (1 of 1)

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Toast Truck

Toast Truck

I am always looking for really simple designs so I can whip up a unique meal in minutes. This was one that grew out of lovely ripe cherry tomatoes that looked so lovely and wheel-like!

Fun food, simple and very quick.

Fun food for kids

Recipe

– 2 pieces of bread

– 2 cherry or small tomatoes

– Cheese – for the window

– Egg yolk for the sun

– Baby spinach leaves (for the birds)

Method

1. Slice the bread for the back of the truck using the longest side.

 

 

2. Then use another slice for the cab (it doesn’t quite fit into one slice of our bakery bread – they need bigger loaves!).

Toast Truck - 2 Cab

 

3. Cut arches for the wheels.

Toast Truck - 3 wheel arches

 

4. Slice two tomatoes in half to form the wheels.

Toast Truck - 4 wheels

 

5. Then add a cheese window and an exhaust pipe from the bread.

Toast Truck - 5 window

 

6. I cut some more of the bread to make the road.

Toast Truck - 6 road

7. Then cooked an egg yolk to make the sun (the cheats way is prick the yolk and cook for 5-10 secs in the microwave).

Toast Truck - 7 sun

8. And as I buy big eggs there was enough yolk left over to make the sun shine.

Toast Truck - 8 sun shine

9. I always want more greenery in my meals and spinach is a great one to use. I am not sure this works though.

Healthy breakfast for children

10. Although I did like the spinach birds.

Fun breakfasts for chioldren

11. So I decided to banish the leaves and keep the birds!

Fun, creative food for children

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Grape Eiffel Tower

Grape Eiffel Tower

I love grapes for designing. You can cut them in half and model them into pretty much any shape very quickly and very simply.

This is my fun food, grape Eiffel Tower.

Healthy snack

Recipe

– Grapes – I used two different colours for contrast

– I sprinkled desiccated coconut for the clouds

Method

1. Cut the grapes in half and build an arch for the base of the tower.

Grape Eiffel Tower - 1 base

 

2. Then add another level.

Grape Eiffel Tower - 2 lower level

 

3. And a third.

Grape Eiffel Tower - 3 third level

 

4. Then keep building the tower up.

Grape Eiffel Tower - 4 fourth level

 

5. And then the tall part of tower.

Grape Eiffel Tower - 5 tower

6. Add a grape at the top.

Grape Eiffel Tower - 6 top

7. Then a slice of grape to make the pinnacle.

Grape Eiffel Tower - 7 Spire

8. I added some desiccated coconut clouds.

Healthy snacks for children

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.

Fun Princess Dress

Princess Dress

As I was walking back from dropping the boys at school I saw beautiful flowers on the rosemary bushes that grow along our street. They sparked an idea and a few minutes later I was back with a pot to collect a few of the 100’s that were blooming.

I created a fun princess dress that my boys were fascinated by so hopefully it would be a hit at any dinner table.

healthy food for kids

Recipe

– Mashed potato (or any white veg puree)

– Beetroot to stain the mash pink

– Rosemary flowers (or other edible flowers – rose petals could be cut for example)

Method

1. Mold the mash into the shape of a bodice and flowing gown. I used a knife and my favourite kitchen utensils (fingers!).

Princess Dress - 1 mash

 

2. I drew some lines into the bottom part of the dress to give it folds.

Princess Dress - 2 lines

 

3. And then some horizontal ones to create ruffles.

Princess Dress - 3 Ruffles

 

4. I used some beetroot juice from my roasted beetroot to stain the bodice.

Princess Dress - 4 Bodice

5. And then added some rosemary flowers along the ruffle line.

Princess Dress - 5 Flowers

6. I also put a row of flowers along the bottom of the bodice.

Princess Dress - 6 Waist Flowers

7. Then made some little sleeves.

Princess Dress - 7 Sleeves

And added more flowers.

8. I fashioned some little buttons from mash for the bodice.

Healthy creative food

9. And realised they were a little skew-whiff so moved them into line!

Healthy princess food

All we need is some slippers and we’re ready to go to the ball ….

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food fo kids big and small.

The Live Below the Line Challenge

The Living Below the Line Challenge

Max, my eldest (8) heard about the Live Below the Line Challenge and unilaterally decided to take it on as part of his extra-curriculum community program for school. I agreed to do it with him for support. The global challenge is to raise awareness for the millions of people who live below the poverty line and struggle daily to obtain basics like food. There is an amount designated for each country that reflects this “line”. In NZ its $ 2.25, in Aus $ 2.00, in the US $ 1.50 and the UK 1 pound.

Planning for the 5 days where we would have to spend no more than $ 2.25 each for all our food and drinks was actually quite involved as I was desperately trying to balance meals nutritionally as best I could given very limited resources. We chose things like lentils as they are a protein and a carbohydrate, oats as they are filling and great for fibre but can be cooked with water and seasonal veg such as pumpkin as you get bulk amounts for little outlay. We measured and calculated and had all our weekly food in a spread sheet so we were able to chop and change as we went along if we felt we’d over or under estimated a quantity of a particular food. We also had a “float” so we could add something in to cheer us up at the end of the week if necessary (became a HUGE necessity!!).

I was prepared for the psychological difficulty of not being able to eat what I wanted (or thought I was) but the physical problems I experienced took me by ugly surprise. I was also naively unprepared for how hard it was going to be to watch Max go through a whole range of difficulties mental and physical.

Monday started with a bowl of porridge made with water for both of us and a little added milk for Max (I was saving mine for my tea!). It was OK and we both braved watching Joe eat his regular muesli and toast. That was until about 10.30 when Max would normally have some fruit for morning tea. The budget did not allow for this so he dipped into his lunchtime allowance of lentil stew that he’d brought in his thermos. I too was ravenous by 10.30am but hung on until 12.00 when I put my portion of stew into my bowl and realised just how small it was. I was shocked at how little we ended up with once it had been split up. It was a toddler portion and hardly touched the sides going down (the photo shows my bowl with the teaspoon!).

Lunch

Even worse this was to sustain me until 6.00pm when we’d repeat the stew but with some additional rice, pumpkin, peas and spinach. I spent the afternoon hungry, very, very, hungry. I also started to get a headache and feel a bit faint. Max fared better physically thank goodness but by the time he returned from school was desperate for his banana to stave off some of the hunger. Both of us went to bed hungry that night.
Tuesday we woke hungry and felt hungry all day. The portion sizes we could afford just did not contain enough calories to feed our bodies. I also felt really unwell. I was lethargic, headachy, demotivated and faint. Max fortunately was not suffering much physically except for being really hungry.

Wednesday was a very low point for me. I was miserable and felt quite depressed. I was so tired and low on energy mentally and physically. This is so unusual for me as generally I am very positive, upbeat and probably a little on the manic side. I also do tonnes of exercise and although I continued to do this through the whole week I just didn’t have the energy going in to sustain it properly.
Thursday was a very hard day for Max. He was very tired and when I picked him up from school he looked pale and had no energy. I gave him his banana but he was still so, so hungry. By dinner time he was feeling miserable and watching Roy and Joe eat a varied and plentiful dinner was torture. Fortunately we had our “float” to dip into and so we allowed ourselves half a fried egg each. It is hard to describe just how exciting that egg was. We both saved it until last and savoured every tiny drop of yolk and every little piece of white. It gave us a horribly clear insight into just how much such a small thing can mean to someone who is impoverished, hungry and unable to have even the simplest of treats. I don’t think either of us will ever forget how exciting and delicious that half an egg was at that point in time. It is also very hard to convey just how difficult this challenge is to anyone who has not done it. I could not have truly prepared myself for what an enormous undertaking it was for people like us who are used to eating well, never experiencing shortages of anything necessary for comfortable living.

By Friday my body was still totally low on energy but had adjusted to the new “diet” and was coping better. Max on the other hand was miserable in the morning as he was still just so hungry. I suggested he take an extra piece of fruit for morning tea at school and he was horrified as he thought I was suggesting breaking the budget. I explained that we could drop other things and use the last of the float money. He gladly accepted an apple at breakfast and this seemed to cheer him up a little. Unfortunately being the last day of term his class was invited to a shared lunch party and he had to sit and watch the other students all tucking into a heaving table stacked with all sorts of goodies. Max’s teacher, aware of his challenge realised how torturous this was for him and sent him to a different class for a while – a blessing he will not forget in a hurry! The day for me was a turbulent one emotionally. I knew just how much Max was struggling, knew I could fix it and spent an agonising day fighting extreme mother guilt. The emotional mother in me couldn’t stand thinking about how bad he was feeling. The practical side of me understood that it was just hunger, it would pass and that this was probably going to be a life-long lesson that would not be forgotten (didn’t help the emotional side much though!!).
Friday night was terrible for both of us. Max sat at the dinner table and cried as I placed dinner down for Roy and Joe. Their bounty just brought home to him how little he had in his bowl and how boring and repetitive our meals were comparative to what we normally ate. He was tired, he was hungry and he was miserable. I had forgotten how bad I was feeling watching him melt down. Tough, tough, tough.

So, what have we learnt from this week? I admittedly learnt far more than I was expecting (and learnt it in a way I do not care to repeat!):

1. That in NZ it is impossible to eat a sufficient and healthy diet living on $ 2.25 per day for food and that having such a restricted intake of food leaves one with low energy levels, lethargy and feeling generally very under par (with obvious implications in terms of work/study/relationships/sports etc.).

2. For me not having the range of vitamins and minerals I would normally eat meant my body was not able to function properly and all aspects of my life were affected.

3. It renews my dislike of diets in general. I was very unkind to my body during this week and it took me two days afterwards to start to come back to feeling my normal self. I will never willingly subject my body to this sort of deprivation again. For me living a healthy life is achieved by gradually changing habits to ones which are more beneficial for the body. This should be done over time with each change being accepted before introducing a new one. This way it becomes a gradual lifestyle change rather than a “diet” which is a short-term patch and usually painful and not necessarily effective.

4. I realised in doing this that much of my eating was habit/routine based but also it showed me in no uncertain terms how important food is to my life. I love food. I like thinking about food, planning meals, shopping for food (only shopping I like!!), preparing/presenting and serving food. I particularly like eating food. But on a serious note it is a really central part of our family life. I realised how much I looked forward to our family meal together in the evening. Sharing platters of food, chatting about our day and having family time. I come away from the table feeling relaxed, replete and content. During the Live Below the Line Challenge this comforting ritual was upset and I felt I lost a lovely and important part of my day.

5. I can never really understand how difficult poverty is – especially as I was hungry but at the same time well clothed, housed and heated and knew it was a temporary pain that would pass soon enough. However, it gave me more of an insight than I bargained on about just how hard living on a subsistence income really is. After 10 years living in Asia I had been at close quarters with extreme poverty but never walked in those shoes in quite the same way as I did last week.

This whole challenge renews my resolve to ensure that all children receive a balanced, healthy, daily diet where they are able to consume a wide range of foods that deliver all the vital vitamins and minerals that the body needs to thrive. Our bodies are complicated machines and depriving them of critical nutrients leaves them operating less than optimally. This does not just apply to those unable to afford healthy meals but also those who eat a high calorie but low nutrient diet as had become quite common in today’s world.

I also want to extend a huge hug to Max who at 8 did an incredible job of sustaining the subsistence diet over a whole school week. He received an enormous amount of respect from his peers who could not imagine being able to complete the challenge themselves but no one is prouder than me. Max showed an inner strength I did not realise he possessed and has come away from the week with a knowledge that will give him the tools to hopefully make empathetic decisions as he gets older.

Finally, as a mother I was in turmoil watching my “baby” suffer. I just cannot imagine being in this situation daily, powerless to help my child and yet not having the means to do this. Most of us in the Western world do have the power to feed our children balanced and nutritious diets. Let us not waste this huge advantage we have been gifted.

The Art of Nutrition
Fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small.