Romeo and Juliet, Batman and Robin, Beyonce and JayZ – some pairs just belong together. Similarly, in combination some foods bring out the best in one another. Pairing certain foods together, not only taste great, but can also deliver far greater benefits for the body than when eaten alone.

Maximising nutrient absorption is particularly important when you are preparing food to fuel little bodies. Good nutrition is essential for the physical, cognitive and behavioral development of babies and toddlers.

As a nurse and a mum, I am very health conscious. I like to do everything I can to ensure that my son is getting the maximum nutritional benefits from his food. With very little effort I have been able to increase the nutritional value of my sons meals by pairing the following types of foods together:

Healthy Fats and Vitamins A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it needs to be eaten in conjunction with fat in order to be absorbed by the body.

Vitamin A promotes the healthy growth, development and repair of tissue and bone; healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses.  Foods rich in vitamin A include milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow/orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, capsicum and pumpkin.

Healthy sources of fat include olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, avocados, nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews) and seeds (sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds).

Ideas for Perfect Pairs

  • Oven baked sweet potato and carrot chips made with olive or sunflower oil
  • Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, capsicum, and avocado

Calcium & Vitamin D

As most of us know, calcium is essential for the growth of strong teeth and bones. It also plays an important role in promoting muscle and nerve function, aiding in blood clotting and activating enzymes that convert food into energy.

Calcium absorption can be maximized if calcium rich foods are paired with foods high in Vitamin D.

Good sources of calcium include dairy products (full fat milk, yoghurt and cheese), broccoli, kale, almonds, legumes, tuna and salmon. Foods rich in vitamin D include egg yolk, fresh fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), portobello mushrooms, and vitamin D fortified foods.

Ideas for Perfect Pairs

  • Cheese and broccoli omelet
  • Toasted tuna & cheese sandwich on wholemeal Bread
  • Iron-fortified yoghurt with berries

Iron & Vitamin C

Iron is an essential mineral for the healthy growth and development of children. Iron is required to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells.

Children should be introduced to iron rich foods as soon as they begin solids (approximately 6 months of age) and they should continue to eat a variety of iron rich foods everyday.

Iron rich foods are predominately animal products, from which iron is able to be readily absorbed by the body. Examples include red meat, poultry and fish.

Plant based foods can also be an excellent source of iron but they tend to be absorbed less by the body. Examples include legumes (lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas), green leafy vegetables, eggs, peanut butter, wholegrain breads and cereals.

Iron absorption from plant based foods is improved if they are eaten in conjunction with foods rich in Vitamin C. Foods rich in Vitamin C include oranges, lemons, pineapple, berries, capsicum, tomato and broccoli.

Ideas for Perfect Pairs

  • Porridge with almond milk and blueberries
  • Mixed nuts and dried fruit
  • Roasted sweet potato chips with hummus dip

 

You may also enjoy reading TASTY TREATS FOR TEETHING TODDLERS!

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