Fifteen Top Tips for getting your children to eat more fruit and vegetables

Natasha Gavin is a mum and knows what a struggle it can be to get your children to eat their fruit and vegetables! Founder of I Know why it’s Yum here she provide her top tips to help you encourage them to want to eat healthier food to benefit their well-being.

Get the children to grow their own
Soil, water, anticipation, pride- all will help your children to feel positive about stuff that comes from the ground! After 12 years of low-maintenance allotment-eering with impatient young boys, I would recommend the following: strawberries, raspberries, plums, mangetout, courgettes, green beans, beetroots. All of those are usually prolific producers, with very little TLC.  Radishes are great but can get very fiery if left too long and go woody, so often not that popular with children. And in a back garden (where you can water often and keep slugs/snails at bay): tomatoes and salad leaves. And don’t forget SUNFLOWERS: plant them early enough, and they will amaze children with their tree like stems by the end of the summer, and you might get a few sunflower seeds to harvest!
Pick  fruit and veg with them
On the allotment, in the back garden, on the window ledge, at a pick-your- own farm. They won’t be able to resist sneaking a few into their mouths (make sure they are hungry before you start harvesting!), and everything will taste much better straight off the bush/tree/ plant. The flavours really ARE that much more intense. Even unripe strawberries can taste delicious.
Have fun with food
Make playing with the fruit and vegetables fun for ‘veg-phobic’ kids. Get them to pick sprouts off the tall stems they grow on, get them to pod the peas or broad beans and shoot them into a bowl, make snake tongues out of carrot peelings, play relay races with courgettes, paint your lips with red fruit. Lucy Thomas from has lots of ideas that are accessible through It might feel silly at first, but it achieves incredible results- I have seen them with my own eyes.
Explain WHY they should eat their greens (and oranges, and reds, and purples..)
This is what I believe in passionately. Kids always want to know WHY this, WHY that. So try explaining how the broccoli is good for their tummy, and raisins provide iron which they need for healthy blood. Have some nuggets at your fingertips that will amuse them, and convince them that you are telling the truth. Here are a few:

  • beans make you fart  because they are high in fibre which gets the food moving through your body
  • avocados are used in  face packs for ladies because they are so high in vitamin E – which repairs your skin
  • the staining colour of beetroot means it can be used to calculate the speed you process/ metabolise food: mashed potato with beetroot laced through it will be visible in your pink poo (it’s called the transition test!)
  •  carrots are great for your eyes but too many carrots will make your skin orange (honestly)
  • pineapples are good for sore throats as they are anti-inflammatory
  • pumpkin seeds are full of healthy fats which can improve your memory.

Each fruit and veg brings a specific health benefit, or several, that you can latch on to make your point. You can read more in The Food Doctor for babies and children by Vicki Edgson. And encourage them to achieve a RAINBOW DIET. Eating different coloured fruit and veg each day will mean their body gets most of the nutrients it needs. (Mother nature is so clever eh?)

Try not to adopt an ‘all or nothing’ approach. Suggest porridge with hot chocolate drinking powder sprinkled on top, lightly steamed broccoli with lots of grated cheddar on top, or natural yoghurt with Smarties! Sometimes you might get further, less painfully, if you meet them half way.
Call recipes funny names and try out wacky combinations
I found an incredible book (The great big veg challenge by Charlotte Hume). Charlotte presents her three top recipes for each veg in the alphabet- according to scores by her fussy eater son. Cauliflower popcorn is a firm favourite in our house. Tiny florets are tossed in olive oil, a tiny bit of salt, paprika, and breadcrumbs, and are then roasted in the oven on a flat tray. Another of Charlotte’s recipes is stir fried shredded brussel sprouts with garlic, bacon and ginger. I was really surprised at how much even I liked them! Beetroot and chocolate cake, courgette muffins (if necessary, don’t tell the children the ingredients until after they have eaten them!). Hiding vegetables in soup or a bolognaise sauces is a fab short term option, but not a long term solution. On the other hand, there is no need to tell them the contents of a delicious meal or cake too early, if the mere name of what is in there is going to put them off, right?
Take them on a fruit and veg adventure & empower them with choice
Visit a local ethnic veg market, or look out for unusual veg and fruit in the supermarket. Let each of your children chose one, and then have fun finding recipes to cook it. (Charlotte’s book will come in very handy here).
 Make the oldest sibling your ‘partner in crime’
Bribe them or sweet talk them into leading by example to help convince younger siblings to eat good stuff, and to set a great example by responding positively to new dishes, and veg, you present them all with at the dinner table. There is nothing worse than an older child exclaiming: “Oh this doesn’t look very nice (or worse) mum” as you are trying to convince a fussy toddler to try something new.
Take difficult meals out of the kitchen
Eat in a tent, have a picnic, in a shed etc. Consider letting your children eat in front of the TV as a treat, if they promise to eat all the green veg? ( I know it’s a slippery slope, but I try to keep these kinds of solutions for meals I really really want them to eat.)
Reward small steps
Be happy with children just ‘trying something’ and keep offering it. Even if it takes 5-10 times. I never believed this method truly worked, and just accepted that as long as my boys ate a varied diet, it didn’t really matter that I pandered to their dislike of mushrooms, or courgettes. But then I put the theory to the test, with just a couple of raw spinach leaves on my three year old’s plate every meal time- eventually I noticed the leaves had disappeared without me asking Tom to just ‘try them’. After checking on the floor, I concluded that he had just picked them up and eaten them. So now I put a couple of salad leaves on Tom’s plate whenever his older brother is getting a big boy portion. I haven’t cracked ‘salad’ completely, but we are making progress..perhaps consider using a reward chart and plan a treat at the end of a fruit and veg discovery week?
Have school dinners!
Proven to be better for you nutritionally than even the best pack lunches, school meals offer your children diversity that they almost certainly wouldn’t experience otherwise (unless you make a habit of cooking Chinese, Welsh, Indian, Mexican etc- I certainly don’t). They will try dishes (and fruit and vegetables) you might rarely or never make at home-which broadens their palates, and makes them more likely to try new things at home. I never use tinned tuna (mainly because I never think to use the tin at the back of the cupboard!), but have discovered my eldest son Michael adores tuna fajitas at school. (And my toddler discovered humus, noodles and spring rolls at playgroup) And if you have wonderful in-house catering and chefs that care about what their children eat, it is a win-win situation, well worth the £2 odd a day. (I do both actually- pack lunches two days a week, school dinners three days. It’s a compromise on many fronts!)
Cut down on taste extremes: like salty and sweet
Very salty foods (like any crisps) and very sweet foods (like cakes/chocolate) kill taste buds. Reduce the amount of salt and sugar they eat, and they will find natural food less bland, and will ‘enjoy’ the taste of fruit and veg more, or meals seasoned with garlic and herbs more palatable.( I know everyone is always going about salt, but it’s true. Our diets are far too salty (even bread has loads in it), and little bodies can’t cope with it- reduce it now, before it makes an impact on their health. High salt intake in children can lead to high blood pressure in young adults.)
Keep them HUNGRY                                                                             
Children who have snacked will NOT be as likely to try new things, or eat things they are not so keen on. You know what it’s like: if you have ever camped, by the time you have set up your tent, blown up the lilo and lit the fire,- the tin of baked beans tastes like heaven on earth.
Distract younger children
If they are young enough, this might work. If I read books to Tom he just opens his mouth like a bird, not really conscious of what is going in. If I ever have a ‘tricky’ meal to get into him, I will just promise to read him his favourite book, or better still, recently purchased Cbeebies magazine. We ‘spot the differences’, and stick the stickers everywhere. Before he has noticed, most of the dinner has gone down (And there is usually some ketchup involved too.) It’s all worth a try.
And FINALLY: Encourage your child care setting or primary school to book a ‘I Know Why It’s Yum, Mum!’ show or workshop 
I know why it’s Yum Mum ( and provides Workshops and School productions aimed at getting children to remember WHY different fruit and veg (and cereals and seeds) are SO good for them, so they actively chose to eat the right stuff in the dinner queue,  or when offered it at home.  The workshops include fun activities – including  genuine fruit and veg Top Trumps cards, sticker activities, singing fruit and veggie rthymes and playing games with selected fruits and vegetables. Children learn what the health benefits are of each type of fruit and vegetable.  Natasha is not a food fascist (She loves crisps, cakes and burgers), but she is passionate about children’s diets and knows the importance it has on their health and well-being.








New Mums get Fit and Fabulous in 2013 and the baby comes too.

A must-have for new mums who want to regain their pre-baby shape

North London mums and mums-to-be who want to exercise safely, bond with their baby and meet other mums after baby is born, now have a new year fitness choice with local classes in Muswell Hill offered by TheBeezKneez.

TheBeezKneez Fit and Fabulous 2013 classes provide Mums a complete workout over six weeks from warm-up to core conditioning, toning, cardio intervals, stretching and relaxing whilst having fun, meeting other mums and gaining body confidence.

With two types of classes  ‘New  Mamas’ and ‘Mamas’ (with toddlers, teens or twenty somethings) the classes will guide mums from the first few years with their new baby and way beyond childbirth.  The exercises, specific for Mums help shift the baby weight, focus on flattening abdominals and ensure fitness to be a mum.

TheBeezKneez provides a very positive environment to exercise in with a whole variety of safe exercises led by certified pre and postnatal instructors to provide that ‘extra’ conditioning effect you cannot achieve by Yoga or Pilates alone.  With great music, using versatile equipment in circuit style formats all mums are in the same boat.  Babies are welcome to the daytime classes and classes run in Muswell Hill.

Vicky Warr, owner and founder of TheBeezKneez and new mum herself says “In our classes, we help women get strong, gain confidence about becoming a mum and make new friends — all at the same time! I’m thrilled to reach out to Mums with TheBeezKneez Fitness experience, whether you are new to exercise or a regular exerciser we cater for all levels and we empathise completely with the changes that occur to the body during pregnancy, after the baby is born and way beyond.”

Muswell Hill mum, Fiona Wallis, who had her first child a year ago, says “Now I have moved back to Australia, I crave to find an equivalent challenging and enjoyable class. TheBeezKneez classes helped me to combine both fitness and my baby in a great setting. I found it really helped me to build core strength and aerobic fitness, which allows me to handle the day to day of a new baby. Vicky Warr and her team made sure everyone at the class was catered for regardless of the fitness level and I enjoyed the classes so much I continued them well into a year post natal.”

For more information and to book online go to or call 020 8 354 1583. All classes are lead by a certified postnatal instructor and run for six weeks at a time. Monthly passes also available. 

For taster sessions, from £5 call 020 8 354 1583 to book. 

Class Times for Muswell Hill: 

Mamas: Tuesdays: 10.00am
New Mamas: Tuesdays: 11.00am (babies welcome)
NPLAC, 76 St James Lane, N10 3RD

About TheBeezKneez

TheBeezKneez is one of the only prenatal and postnatal experiences in the country. Exercise classes provide new and expectant mums a place to find support, make friends, and get fit and bond with their babies. Classes are designed to take mums from pregnancy through birth – and then into the toddler years with their child. There are three kinds – Bumps, New Mamas and Mamas all Indoors. The classes offered are Core Conditioning and Metabolic Cardio, post baby fat loss and prenatal core and whole body conditioning. TheBeezKneez Fitness programmes started in West London in 2007 by creating a growing local community of more than 10,000 mums-to-be, mums and babies.

Media Contact:
Vicky Warr
TheBeezKneez PR
020 8354 1583






Tummy Exercise for Pregnancy and Post natal

Straight arm pull down

Place a resistance band around a bar or door handle (or other immovable object). Make sure the door is shut. Kneel facing the band with your knees hip-width apart.
Hold onto the band at each end with your arms slightly bent so that the band is aligned just below your chest.
There must be tension in the band so vary the hand distance to get tension.



Keep your head straight and lower back in a natural arch by drawing in your navel. Inhale and exhale deeply.
Pull the band down toward your hips in a wide, sweeping arc, so you hands and wrists are facing away from you.
Exhale as you pass the midpoint of the move.
Return to the starting position in a smooth, controlled motion, stopping once your arms are above your head.

Concentrate on drawing in your navel and lifting up your pelvic floor and ensure to breath throughout the move.

Quick, Delicious & Healthy Pumpkin Risotto

Here’s what to do with your pumpkin! This is a healthy take on a risotto and it’s quick and easy to make, so don’t fret busy mum!  Use Brown Arborio rice as it is nutritionally far superior than than the regular white Arborio because of the fibre content and the slow release of energy it provides (you will feel fuller for longer and eat less).  One of the  best brands is Biona,, which you can buy from Nature Intended or online at healthy supplies. 


570ml/1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
1 small glass of white wine
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
170g/6oz Brown arborio (risotto) rice or other short grained brown rice
250g/9oz pumpkin cut into small cubes
small knob of butter
1 tablespoon of fresh or dried basil
1/2 tablespoon of fresh or dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving
small piece of fresh parmesan, or vegetarian parmesan-style grating cheese

  1. Heat stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring constantly (do not brown). Add garlic and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly and basil and oregano. Add the rice and mix well for a few seconds to coat the grains with oil, then pour in the wine and stir for one minute or until liquid has evaporated. Add the pumpkin and some stock, and continue to simmer gently until the stock is absorbed. Stir in another cup of the stock and cook until  absorbed, stirring constantly. Keep adding stock cup by cup making sure each cup is absorbed before adding the next.  Add the herbs. The texture should be creamy and the rice a little crunchy. Remove from heat. Stir the butter into the risotto, put lid on pad to let it sink in. Season well with sea or rock salt and pepper.










Get a sexy bottom

Two great exercises to sculpt, lift and tone your bottom.

Mini Band Ankle Walks (all Trimesters and post natal)

  • Start by placing a mini band around your ankles or tie a resistance band around your ankles (with so that your feet are just less than shoulder width apart with the band stretched). Stand with your feet parallel.
  • Keeping your hips level throughout the movement slide your left foot to the left about 6-12 inches or until the resistance is too great and then slide your right foot to a parallel stance again.
  • Repeat this movement for the desired reps or distance.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Make sure you keep your hips level and do not hike your hip to left the lead leg. This will defeat the purpose of the exercise.
  • It does take some time to master the subtle lifting of the lead foot and abducting it out to the side. Start with a light band until you have mastered the technique. Your foot should only raise just enough to slide it to the side which is like 1/4in.

How Many? 2 sets of 10-12

Heel Beats

  • The second is suitable up to 12 weeks pregnancy and post natal
  • Lie on your front with your hands on the floor by the side of your ribcage.
  • Turn your legs out at the hip so that your heels are touching but toes aren’t (forming a v-shape) look down to the floor
  • Extend the upper body and legs off the floor.
  • Open and close the legs to no further than hip-width apart, beating the heels together at a quick pace


How many? 20 reps





Anti-ageing food secret for mums

Contrary to what the fat phobics believe, the right kind of fat is essential to not only keep skin looking young but also to help prevent the dreaded belly fat.
Actually eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrate is more likely to put on the extra pounds and make your skin look tired and spotty. The right kind of fat can help flatten your stomach and seriously improve your health!

So which foods contain the fats you should be eating?
Since looking closely at many of my client’s food diaries and researching more into nutrition, I now take two dessertspoons of Flaxseed daily and stir fry vegetables with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle Brazil nut oil on salads. Just two to three tablespoons of Olive Oil a day can protect you against Heart Disease, improve your skin, boost your mood, improve your immune system, and boosts brain function (ah – mummy brain!)

Flaxseed, olive oil and nut oil fall under the umbrella term ‘essential fatty acids’ with the key word being ‘essential’. Your body needs them – this kind of fat is actually your friend! These fats help you absorb Vitamins A, D and E, vital for your nervous system, lower cholesterol levels and also help prevent stubborn abdominal fat!

There are two kinds of the Essential Fats to include in your diet:

These are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled.

Mono-unsaturated: You’ll find them in:
Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Peanut Butter
Nut oil Butter (check out your Health food shop, or Nature Intended)
Sesame Seeds

These contain omega 6 and omega 3’s that your body needs but doesn’t produce itself so you have to get these essential fats from foods containing them.
Omega-6 and omega-3 play a crucial role in brain function, memory and in the normal growth and development of your body. They are also essential to the healthy development of your baby’s brain!
Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds are good sources of omega 6 fatty acids. Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. However – government research shows that we are not eating enough omega 3 fish oils obtained from eating oily fish required for anti-ageing and great health. This is because many of us can’t stomach oily fish (or the smell!) or are concerned about the levels of toxins, PCB’s and other pollutants in fresh fish. Plus during pregnancy some fish are to be avoided due to the risk of high mercury levels. If you are not pregnant you can eat these fish but it’s worth enquiring about where they have come from. Also go for a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury such as canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, sea bass.
A supplement of Omega 3 is key, especially if you do not like oily fish. Healthspan has a good Omega 3 supplement.

Three Minute Healthy Breakfast Smoothies

Here are my two top favourites. Ready in just three minutes and all you need is the fruit and your blender.

A perfect quick breakfast choice.

Peach and Almond Smoothie
1 x heaped dsp of Ground Almonds
Half banana
Half teacup of Natural Yogurt
Three quarters cup frozen peaches
Some Water – 3 tbsps

Combine all ingredients together in a blender and process for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. Drink immediately.

Berry Smoothie

1 tbsp of natural yogurt with half banana and
one choice of berries (can be frozen)
one apple
some water – 3 tsbps

Combine all ingredients together in a blender and process for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. Drink immediately.

Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy


You may experience occasional aches in your pelvic region during pregnancy and this is common due to the hormonal changes taking place and the secretion of relaxin, whose job is to soften and widen the joints preparing your body to deliver the baby.

However, with some women pelvic pain can sometimes mean symphysis publis dysfunction (SPD) or Diastasis Symphysis Pubis in it’s more severe form, which is a pelvic joint pain. So it’s essential to monitor the pain and symptoms, which I’ll tell you about further on.

The pelvis is four separate bones joined at the front by the Symphysis pubis. There’s a normal gap of 4-5mm between the two pubic points. During pregnancy, the gap widens by another 2-3mm, as the hormone, relaxin is secreted to allow the pelvis in preparation to aid the baby to pass down the birth canal.

With some women excessive amounts of the hormone or where the pelvis is out of alignment can cause the gap to stretch too far, resulting in pain and discomfort. When this happens there may be pain or swelling over the joint. This can happen at any stage of pregnancy or after the birth – most commonly it is during the second trimester. In severe cases, some women can be incapacitated by the pain and need crutches during later stages of pregnancy.

Symptoms for SPD include:

  • Pain in your pubic area and groin.
  • Pain in the inside and down the thighs.
  • Lower back and hip pain (as the whole pelvis is under strain).
  • Pain when you walk, step, go up and down stairs or get out of bed.
  • A clicking sound that you can hear.
  • A feeling that your bones are grinding together.
  • Difficulty and pain when you try and open your legs.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s vital to get this checked with your doctor or midwife. If SPD is confirmed you’ll be referred to an obstetric physiotherapist, who can prescribe exercises for you.
Prior to the birth ensure you tell your midwife so they can help find a position that is comfortable to you.

Exercise considerations:

  • Avoid activities which take the legs apart and also bring them together as these can cause pain. Squatting, Lunging, stepping, walking, yoga, breast stroke can produce pain.
  • Avoid activities on one leg.

The good news is there are exercises you can do to remain strong and fit. I have trained pregnant clients with SPD and by working closely with the client and their physiotherapist the condition has not got worse.

Exercises you can do:

  • Squat with feet and legs together – like a ski squat would avoid the legs being apart.
  • Core exercises (avoid lying on your back after the thirteen to fourteen weeks), side planks and knee planks
  • Pelvic tilts – addressing posture
  • Standing wall press-ups (legs together)
  • Lateral Raises and upright rows with resistance bands – sat on a chair or fitness ball with the feet together (second trimester)
  • Pelvic Floor exercises

!Stop any of these exercises immediately if they do cause you pain and get your condition and pain checked out again!

Chicken and Pearl Barley Soup

IMG_1051So easy to make.

Delicious and healthy:

The protein in the chicken is ideal for maintaining muscle tone during pregnancy.
Protein also helps starve off sugar cravings and satisfies the appetite.
Barley: Rich in Beta-glucan which reduces bad cholesterol. Aim for 1g of beta-glucan per serving.
Helps regulate Bowel Functions – help with constipation in Pregnancy and also Post Baby, pelvic floor issues.

Takes: 15 minutes to prepare, then leave for an hour to simmer.
Tip: Cook before and freeze and reheat. Great quick Lunch.

Serves 6
1 Large onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 Sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 Leeks, peel off first layer and slice
250g Pearl Barley

2 litres Hot Chicken Stock

Leftover Roast chicken, chopped

1. Heat a little coconut oil over a low heat in a large saucepan or wok.
2. Add the onion, celery and leek.
3. Season, cover and soften for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Increase the heat and stir in the pearl barley, then add the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 35 minutes, then add the chicken (already cooked) and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes or until the barley is soft.

How to get a flatter tummy with these easy food tips

Q. “I had my baby over 8
weeks ago and really want to get rid of my flabby belly but find it’s difficult
to prepare and cook food with a baby! Any advice to help rid my stomach”?
Sylvia, Mum to Isabel

Its quite a challenge to focus on your own health whilst looking after your new baby or toddler!  So focus on these steps first:

  1. Eat a little and often to keep your metabolism up. Starving yourself means your body holds onto body fat; if you eat regularly your body is more likely to burn fat for fuel. Instead of focusing on calories, think about how nutritious a food is – for instance hummus and carrot sticks will nourish your body more than the same number of calories from a slice of cake. To breakdown fat your body needs optimum levels of vitamins and minerals, which are often depleted after pregnancy, so nutrient-rich foods are key.
  2. Go easy on portion sizes – your stomach is not much bigger that your fist. Chew food well and always wait 20 minutes before having seconds – often by then you are no longer hungry.
  3. Choose healthy ready meals such as ready-cooked
    lentils, quinoa or pre-made salad pots that can easily be mixed with some
    veggies and cooked chicken, for example.
  4. Have a cook-off. Choose an evening or weekend, make a big batch of fruit salad or a dish that will last a few meals/can be frozen.
  5. Plan your meals (and shopping list) a week in advance – this takes a bit of time in the short -term but it makes quick, healthy eating so much more
    achievable in the long term. Worth it!
  6. And finally, keep up the exercise!!! This not only burns calories but increases your metabolism – so you will be burning more calories per minute, even while you sleep…