Babytastes Blog

Welcome to the Babytastes Blog where we will keep you up-to-date with food and nutritional advice.  Please feel free to comment on the blogs by clicking the topics to the right.

11 September 2013

Just in case you need a reason to eat chocolate!

Posted in Blog

Not that we should justify our love of eating chocolate…… but if we have to , chocolate is actually good for us. Not everyone would agree that it is a salad (see our  FB post- Sept 2) but we can blind our detractors with science.

Chocolate makes us feel good as it stimulates serotonin and endorphins in the brain, which give us a happy glow. It can also make us feel calmer by reducing the amount of stress hormones released into our bodies.

In recent research findings:

  • Chocolate may help in the treatment of migraine.

  • Chocolate can lower blood pressure and therefore, may reduce heart disease risk.

  • High insulin levels are reduced when eating dark chocolate which is beneficial if you have diabetes and a benefit if you want to avoid it.

So, what type of chocolate is healthy and how much can we eat?

The health benefits of chocolate come from dark chocolate. This type of chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa which has flavonoids, a known antioxidant.

How much? Unfortunately, not too much. Even with all the health benefits of chocolate, it is still high in calories, so moderation is wise. Studies indicate eating about 30g daily is OK.

Try the delicious Mums’ treat, Danish hot chocolate. Page 214 Toddlertastes.


28 August 2013

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah)

Posted in Blog

Quinoa has been in the news recently: a Bolivian aged 123 years claimed a diet of quinoa, mushrooms, and coca is the key to his longevity. Also, in February of this year the ‘International Year of Quinoa’ was launched by the United Nations.

So what makes this seed so special?

Quinoa is a gluten-free seed from a leafy plant. The Incas originally grew it in South America thousands of years ago. It has similar features to couscous but it is classified a seed, not a grain.

Quinoa is one of the most nutrient-rich grains available. It has high protein levels, fibre, iron, phosphorous, calcium, zinc, and magnesium, which make quinoa a complete amino acid protein super food. It also has a low GI, (Glycemic Index) beneficial for keeping blood sugar levels stable.

There are four main varieties of quinoa available: white, sweet, red, and black. It can be eaten hot or cold, sweet or savoury.

Quinoa can be substituted for most cereals and is a good replacement for rice. It has a subtle flavour with a fluffy, creamy, and slightly crunchy texture.

Rinse quinoa before cooking.

Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking rice but double the volume of liquid e.g., ½ cup quinoa to 1 cup of water or 1 cup Quinoa to 2 cups water.

Add quinoa to a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender but still slightly crunchy. Let it stand for a few minutes then fluff up with a fork.

Quinoa, once cooked, can be frozen.








22 August 2013


Posted in Blog

Get Involved in Daffodil Day on Friday 23rd August

“This Daffodil Day, every daffodil, every donation, grows hope; hope for better treatments, hope for more survivors and hope for a cancer-free future.”\

Unfortunately, most of us know someone, be it family or friend, who has had cancer.

Funds are needed to fight against cancer, so dig deep this Daffodil Day. Funds raised help with research, education, prevention, and support.

If you would like to make a difference this Daffodil Day, donate direct to the Cancer Council now

30 July 2013

Perth Pregnancy, Babies, and Children’s Expo

Posted in Blog

We will be at the Perth Pregnancy, Babies, and Children’s Expo again this year. It opens on Friday August 9th until Sunday August 11th. We will be at stand G30.

For your opportunity to buy Babytastes and Toddlertastes at the special expo price just bring along your coupon (found inside the expo magazine) and, of course, if you are passing by, please come and say hello.

The expo is well worth a visit to source new products and gain valuable advice about pregnancy and parenthood.

Go to their website to pre-order your tickets and to obtain the 2 for 1 offer.


18 July 2013

Superfoods.... what are they?

Posted in Blog

Much is written about "superfoods,” but what are they? They have been described as those foods with a high nutrient or phytochemical content, which may be of a health benefit and not high in saturated fat, artificial additives or colours.
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants. Some give a dark purple colour as found in blueberries, or have a signature smell, such as garlic’s distinctive odour.
Many of the superfoods are your everyday pantry essentials: oats, eggs, oily fish, legumes, or cinnamon. Dark green, leafy vegetables are labelled superfoods: broccoli and kale (featured in the upcoming newsletter with a recipe). Brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, and those with a dark purple colour have a high phytochemical content. Many of the recipes in Babytastes and Toddlertastes use blueberries and sweet potatoes as they add a very nutritious element to your diet.

However, buyers beware! Some experts are voicing concern that the superfood term may be overused. Research continues on the validity of some of the sensational health claims not backed up by science.

You certainly can’t go wrong with a well balanced diet.


01 July 2013


Posted in Blog

Your brain is busy deciding whether to select a certain food to eat way before you take the first bite. Choosing food and eating it involves sight, smell, feel, and taste.

Your toddler will often look, smell, and feel new food quite a few times before he actually puts it into his mouth.

Recent research by Prof. Charles Spence and Dr Vanessa Harrar at University of Oxford, suggests that the cutlery used to serve food can also influence our perception of how the food will taste. The researchers found that food tasted sweeter on small spoons. In addition, white yoghurt was rated as tasting sweeter off a white spoon rather than a black one. The testers also rated that cheese tasted more salty when offered from a knife compared to a spoon, fork, or toothpick.

Past research also demonstrated that the colour of a drink influenced our perception of how thirst quenching it would be. Fluid from a blue glass was rated more thirst quenching than from green, red, or yellow glasses, and sweeter if drunk from a red glass. In addition, in another research project, study participants were asked to rate the taste of cocoa. They preferred the flavour when it was served in an orange mug.

Another area of research done by Drs Wansink and Van Ittersum showed that our perception of how much food is on a plate is influenced by the colour of the dish. The studies found that more food was served on a plate if there was less colour contrast between the plate and food. For example, you will tend to serve bigger portions of green vegetables on a green plate as you will perceive the portion to be smaller. Conversley, if you use a white plate, and have more marked colour contrast between plate and food colour, you will be more inclined to serve less, because our brain perceives the food portion to be larger.


20 June 2013


Posted in Blog

A recent study conducted by Choice Magazine compared the price of bottled water to tap water. The cost comparison was staggering! If you drink 2 litres of tap water in a day (based on Sydney water costs), it would cost approximately $1.50 per year, compared to 2 litres of bottled water costing around $2800.00 per year.

Of course, it is far better to drink water than soft drinks, but tap water is just as effective for hydration as bottled water. Admittedly, some of our tap water doesn’t taste as good as the water in bottles, but the taste can easily be improved by buying a water jug with a filter, or having a filtered water tap system at home. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water, rest assured:

“Perth’s testing saw 100% of samples collected in the 2011-12 financial year comply with E-coli requirements and health-related chemical guidelines set by the WA Department of Health.”

Another plus for drinking tap water, especially for children, is the added fluoride. The Australian Dental Association recommends tap water as the primary choice of drink for everyone, as fluoridated water reduces the risk of tooth decay.

Of course, the environmental impact on the huge increase in plastic bottle production is immeasurable. Even if the bottles are made from recyclable material, less than half of these PET plastic bottles are recycled, with the remaining 60% going straight to landfill. The road and air miles generated by transporting bottled water is a significant generator of greenhouse gases. The refrigeration needed for bottled water also causes emissions.

The good news is, there is some change in attitude, as most of us carry a water bottle which we can refill. More councils, schools, universities, and corporations are “banning the bottle”, choosing to install water refill stations or drinking fountains. Next time you visit Perth Zoo, no need to buy bottled water just take your water bottle and use their refill station.

The aquafil range of  water refill stations and drinking fountains  are ideal for ALL public areas including parks, schools, universities, colleges, beaches, sporting facilities, golf courses, stadiums, and shopping centres.  Aquafil is a practical product that combats the extravagant waste of resources generated by bottled water. Join “Go Tap” by signing up using the form on the right.



07 June 2013


Posted in Blog

For years, grandmothers and mothers have been telling us to eat chicken soup when we have a cold or just need a boost. This claim of chicken soup having a healing and soothing benefit was even documented in early Greek Literature. Well, science has proved them right.

Research in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that a compound found in chicken soup – carnosine – helped the body’s immune system fight the early stages of flu. However, the benefit only lasts while the soup is still in your digestive system.

Earlier research from by Dr Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Centre showed that when chicken/vegetable soup was eaten, it inhibited the movement of white blood cells, neutrophils, which defend against infection. His theory is chicken soup helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms by inhibiting the migration of the infection-fighting cells in the body. However, he couldn't identify the exact ingredients in the soup that made it effective against colds.

Have you tried the chicken/lentil and vegetable hotpot Babytastes page 57?

A tasty winter warmer and it will soothe those sniffles.


29 May 2013


Posted in Blog

Greek yoghurt has a higher fat content than natural yoghurt and is much thicker, with a creamier texture.
It usually has between 8-10% fat compared to around 4% fat in the natural yoghurt varieties.
Greek yoghurt is made by straining the milk mixture through muslin or a filter, removing the liquid whey, resulting in creamier, thicker yoghurt.
Some Greek yoghurt has added cream or powdered milk to give it an even thicker consistency.
In Greece, strained yoghurt is traditionally made using sheep or goats’ milk. Yoghurt should be labelled Greek-style yoghurt if cows’ milk is used.
Greek, or Greek-style, yoghurt is one of the best yoghurts to introduce to your baby or give to your toddler. It can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, added to fruit or cereal, and dips. Try stirring through soups and casseroles.
Greek yoghurt doesn’t curdle when heated so can be mixed directly into your cooked dishes.
Both Greek and natural yoghurt have active cultures; Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifido Bacterium, and Lactobacillus Casei. They may be labelled as live ABC cultures or probiotics. These active cultures can improve the tummy’s immune system by fighting off unhealthy gut flora, resulting in stronger body immunity.


22 May 2013

How healthy is your workplace?

Posted in Blog

Children learn much from their parents. Their eating and lifestyle habits are determined by what happens in the home. Usually, at least one family member goes to work for 8 hours a day, so if their work place is not supporting a healthy lifestyle, it can overflow into the family, resulting in poor food choices and an unhealthy life style.

Did you know that?

Healthier Workplace WA offers free services, tools, and resources to all workplaces across Western Australia to help them support and encourage their workers to make positive lifestyle changes that benefit everyone. This includes expert advice to develop healthy food and drink policies, encourage the use of active transport within the workplace, and support for workers giving up smoking.

“Healthier Workplace WA is part of the Healthy Workers Initiative, a joint Australian, State, and Territory Government initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health. The main objectives of the agreement are:

An increase in:

  • adults at a healthy weight
  • adults consuming fruit and vegetables
  • adults doing 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days a week

A decrease in:

  • adults smoking daily
  • adults drinking too much alcohol”

From June 4th, Healthier Workplace WA will be offering small grants to workplaces to implement projects that promote and support workers’ health and wellbeing.

Healthier Workplace WA is delivered by the Heart Foundation WA in conjunction with Cancer Council WA and the University of Western Australia. Other specialist services and programs are available from Diabetes WA, Western Australian School Canteen Association and TravelSmart.

Healthier Workplace WA
c/o The Heart Foundation
334 Rokeby Road
Perth WA 6904

Telephone 1300 550 271

Follow them on Facebook and Twitter

The website is full of useful information on how to get started on making your place of employment a healthier place to work. The workplace checklist is a good starting point.


15 May 2013


Posted in Blog

We are always out and about with children, but the day can be spoilt if they’re a bit grizzly or demand shop-bought snack food. Studies have found that some snack foods marketed for toddlers/children have a higher salt and sugar content than adult food.

Choice Magazine recently surveyed 240 snack foods marketed for toddlers; a quarter of the products contained a higher proportion of salt than a packet of potato chips, and some of these foods were sweet snacks.

If you need to buy snack food on the run, check the food label and choose foods with- sodium: 200mg or less per serving

Sugar: less than 15g per 100g. If some of the sugar comes from real fruit or lactose less than 25g per 100g

Saturated fat: 5g or less per 100g

Sultanas and other dried fruit are not recommended as stand-alone snacks as they contain between 45-80% sugar. They are best eaten with other foods such as fresh fruit, cheese or crackers (wholemeal or grain). If eaten as a snack, first give a cube of cheese to form a protective layer on the teeth.

If preparing your own snack foods, you obviously need food that can be picked up and is not too messy.

These suggestions are in Toddlertastes:

Banana and choc chip muffins, pg 89

Sultana, apricot, and oat biscuits, pg 93

Quinoa, banana, and date cookies pg 141

Tuna and corn muffins pg 96


09 May 2013


Posted in Blog

Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers, motherhood, and the influence mothers have in our society. Although the date may vary from country to country, it is usually celebrated in March or May.

Celebrations honouring mothers have occurred throughout the world, and have been documented since Greek and Roman times.

The modern day version of our Mother’s Day originated from the USA. An American woman, Anna Jarvis, was responsible for the creation of the day to honour one’s mother in 1908. US President, Woodrow Wilson, made it an official national holiday in the United States in 1914.

The United Kingdom celebrates Mothering Sunday, which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This holiday originates from the church and initially was unrelated to the American holiday. From the 16th century, Mothering Sunday was a day when mothers were reunited with their children, as young apprentices and women working in service were released by their masters for that weekend. The celebration waxed and waned but by the 1950s a more commercial Mothering Sunday began to be celebrated.



30 April 2013


Posted in Blog







Here in Perth, we are extremely fortunate to have many research projects being undertaken to improve the health of infants, children, and parents. Of course, these projects need your help. So, if you are interested in any of the following please use the contacts provided.


If you are over 18 years of age and in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, The University Of Western Australia (UWA) is seeking your help by answering a few simple questions on lifestyle and diet.

“Pregnancy is such an important time and it’s a vulnerable time for the fetus. Both environmental (“outside”) and psychological (“personal”) events are important during pregnancy. We would like to better understand how these events work together to affect the overall health of mothers and babies in Western Australia.

Over the next three years, we would like to survey more than 6000 pregnant women. The more participants we have in this study, and from all walks of life, the more we can learn. Our ultimate goal is to offer insight and knowledge that can improve the health and development of our children.”

To get involved in the study or to get more information, contact the research coordinator Dr Kimberley McAuley at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 6488 2987. Check the website for regular updates about the study and research outcomes. Or you can visit us on facebook to keep in touch.

Have you had gestational diabetes?

Researchers from The University Of Western Australia are looking for another 100 or more pregnant women to join a study investigating whether exercise can help prevent gestational diabetes. Women based in metropolitan Perth who are less than 14 weeks pregnant and have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy are eligible for the study.

Half of the volunteers have a stationary bike delivered to their home at 14 weeks of pregnancy and are visited three times each week by a female exercise physiologist to supervise the cycling exercise. The program runs until 28 weeks of pregnancy, when all women are tested for the recurrence of gestational diabetes.

The study needs around 200 women in total and is expected to run for another year.

Eligible women should call 9340 1705 or visit

  • caused by exercise

Is your child at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes?

This study wants to follow babies who are at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, from pregnancy until 3 years of age. It is already known that a child’s genes can increase the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, but it is now far more common than 20 years ago. The study wants to determine what effect our changing environment has on this disease. What in the environment is harmful and what is beneficial.

To be eligible for this study:

You are planning or expecting a baby,

or have a baby less than 6 months old,

and you, or the baby’s father, has Type1 diabetes,

or you have another child with Type 1 diabetes.

This study is being undertaken throughout Australia. For more information contact

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Does your child have exercise related asthma?

About the study

“We want to see how well we can identify exercise related asthma in young children. We hope that this study will help to improve the diagnosis and management of young children with exercise related asthma in the future.

Get involved
Children aged between 4 and 7 years can take part including children with a history of exercise-related symptoms in the past year and healthy children who have never had any respiratory symptoms”.

Phone 9340 8121 to get involved or for more information.


23 April 2013

The history of ANZAC biscuits

Posted in Blog

During World War I, an alternative source of nutrition was needed for our troops that could be transported, unrefrigerated for over two months, from Australia to the front lines. The answer was a mixture of rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter and bicarbonate of soda, all bound together by golden syrup or treacle. These were very hard biscuits and were often ground up and eaten as a type of porridge. They were initially simply called Soldiers’ Biscuits but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits.


Healthier Anzac biscuits

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes


1 cup rolled oats

¾ cup wholemeal plain flour

¾ cup sultanas

3 tbsp coconut

2 tbsp low GI sugar

2 tbsp rice bran oil

2 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp baking soda

4 tbsp water


Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Mix oats, flour, coconut, sultanas and sugar together in a bowl.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine golden syrup, oil and water.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds.

Whisk in baking soda until well mixed (it may foam a little).

Add to oat mixture and mix well.

Line an oven tray with baking paper.

Roll a teaspoonful of mixture in hands, place on prepared tray, and flatten with hand or back of spoon, (leaving space for spreading).

Bake for 10 minutes at 180ºC.

Leave on tray to cool.


Makes 16


17 April 2013


Posted in Blog

It is so hard for most of us to eat only a few chips, French fries, or sweets. Before we know it, the packet is empty. So, what makes us overindulge in these particular foods?

Recent studies have shown that these sugary, salty, fatty foods are addictive. When these foods are eaten, pleasing “feel-good” messages are transmitted to the brain’s reward centre. This response is greater in some people, who then find it difficult to control their eating behaviours.

The fat, salt, and sugar mix is an irresistible fast food combination, hence the food industry advertise and sell it in ever-increasing amounts throughout the world. Over the years, these foods have had more sugar, fat and salt added. Some foods have sweeteners added to enhance the sugar hit by 200 times!

We are born with a liking for sweet and a dislike for sour, but salt preference is learnt. Studies have shown those babies who are fed processed foods from an early age develop salt cravings.

When you are food shopping for the family, look out for advertising traps. If a product states “low sugar”, “low fat”, or “healthy”, check the label, as often the sugar, fat or salt content may still be too high. Although the product may advertise low fat, the sugar content may have been significantly increased. Some low-fat yoghurts have more sugar than ice-cream, but lower fat.

What is salt? Page 46/47 Toddlertastes book