Supercharging your family's diet with bestselling author and blogger Maddie Shaw
Having shaken up the wellness industry with her mindful approach to healthy eating and exercise, new mum Madeleine Shaw is turning her attention to family nutrition. The best-selling author and blogger has teamed up with Babease, the vegetable-led baby food brand, to show parents that weaning doesn’t need to stressful, and to encourage them to be brave and adventurous when it comes to introducing new foods. Here she talks about how to boost your family’s health, and shares three nutritious weaning recipes she has created in collaboration with Babease.
Has your approach to nutrition, exercise and relaxation changed since you’ve become a mother?
It has changed a lot. I have much less time to cook, do yoga and work now. I guess everything has had to become shorter and more time efficient. For example, sometimes this means instead of an hour-long yoga class, Shay and I will go on a walk. I find walking super relaxing, it gets us moving and it’s really special.
What advice would you give to mums who want to incorporate healthy eating into their busy family schedules?
I love to use Sunday as a prep day. I plan my meals for the week – I normally end up roasting a chicken and some veg and preparing oats for the morning. Batch cooking helps to get you on top of your week, you know exactly what’s going in your meal and it just makes you feel great. You can also freeze meals if you don’t use them, so you’re prepared for those days where you don’t have much time. I would also recommend cooking foods that work for the whole family and that can be made into finger food for little ones.
You’ve launched ‘Madeleine Shaw’s Mini Kitchen’ to share the meals you make for Shay. What would you say is the secret to raising healthy, adventurous eaters?
Be consistent with putting new flavours, textures and ingredients in front of them. They may be unsure at the start, but I find that it sometimes takes a while for them to like it. It’s best to start them on flavours young. I also find sitting and eating with them, showing them you are eating too, always works.
What are your top tips for making sure little ones are getting a nutritionally balanced diet from the start?
I started with vegetable weaning (so Shay really started to love veg) and then I began to add in fruit. I try to balance his plate with healthy fats, protein, fibre and tons of veggies. I find finger food makes eating more fun for him. Also, I always try to get three different colours on the plate – variety is everything. Constantly switch up the grains you use, the veg, fruit, nuts and seeds, so they get a good balance.
Do you think new mums are put under too much pressure to ‘bounce back’ after giving birth? How can you look after yourself after having a baby?
Focus on your health, not having a flat stomach. The most important thing is yours and your baby’s health; don’t worry what anyone else thinks. My key points to mums on this topic would be:
Breastfeeding does help with weight loss, as does daily movement
Try and take your little one out for a walk every day and do some gentle yoga on YouTube while your little one sleeps, when you can!
Try to snack on nuts, not sugary energy bars, as this will fill you up and stop you grazing all day
Try to eat three meals a day sitting down, even if it is carrots and houmous
Eating mindfully will stop you overeating and allow you to enjoy your food
Don’t ever feel bad and don’t let anyone else’s life make you feel bad, we are all on our own individual journeys
For mums who are too busy to get to the gym, what are the easiest ways to get active?
YouTube videos; these can be done everywhere and provide you with so many different types of exercises for all abilities
Play with your kids; you’d be surprised how much movement crawling, laughing, running or kicking a football involves. You have fun and it gets you moving!
Walk in nature; there have been studies which say how exercising in nature has a significant positive impact on our mood and happiness
And finally, is meditation something you can do as a family? What are your favourite ways to incorporate a bit of Zen into your day?
I hope to get Shay involved with meditation one day. He is a little young at the moment. However, when he gets upset I will get him to take deep breaths, which really helps. We also always have a wind-down routine and try to calm him with dim lights, stories and cuddles.
Nutritional Weaning Recipes created by Madeleine Shaw and Babease
Whole Baked Keralan Cauliflower
Try this simple but delicious lightly spiced dish during your little one’s ‘flavour window’ – the time they are most likely to be receptive to new tastes. Getting babies to sample bitter tastes during this period means they are more likely to be receptive to the taste as they get older.
A squeeze of Babease vegetable Keralan curry pouch
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp yoghurt
Mix the yoghurt, vegetable Keralan curry pouch and cumin seeds together. Rub the mix into the cauliflower until well covered. Place in the oven at 200c / 180c fan / gas mark 6 and bake for 1 hour.
Sweet Potato Falafel Wrap
A great vegetarian family sharing dish that can be created in less than half an hour, making it perfect for when you are short on time.
1 Babease sweet potato and chickpea pouch
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 can chickpeas, drained
3 tbsp chickpea flour
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon juiced
¼ cucumber, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
Preheat the oven to 200c. In a food processor, blitz all the falafel ingredients, roll into balls, coat in sesame seeds, brush with oil, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Mix the yoghurt and lemon together. Grab a flatbread, smear with the Babease sweet potato, top with carrot, cucumber, falafels and finish off with a dollop of yoghurt.
Oat and Apricot Bars
These oat and apricot bars making a delicious healthy ‘on the go’ breakfast or snack. As they freeze well, they can be made in advance – great if you or the baby need a quick food fix!
500g dried apricots
250g porridge oats
4 tbsp desiccated coconut
100g butter or coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
½ lime zest
Preheat the oven to 175c / 160 fan / gas mark 4. Grab a food processor and pop in the apricots and butter or coconut oil for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz for 30 seconds. Place in a lined try and bake for 25 minutes. Cut into bars.