Program planning that promotes healthy eating

Program planning that promotes healthy eating

The guide to the NEW National Quality Framework statesAssessors may sight program planning including cooking experiences that promote healthy eating and knowledge of nutrition.”


Giving children the opportunity to have hands on experience with food is an important part of developing a positive relationship with food into adulthood. Learning where food comes from, how it’s grown, how it helps fuel our body and ways to prepare it is vital.


Here are some ways you can meet the criteria through planned experiences:


  • Home corner/ pretend play – Add a variety of healthy pretend food or food cartons from varying food groups and cultures and appropriate cooking utensils.  Turn the home corner area into a restaurant, cafe or grocery store.
  • Music and movement– Use fun, interactive songs, music and rhymes about foods, different food groups, foods that are good for your body
  • Fruit and vegetable recognition games -memory, matching, colours
  • Storytime –  Picture books with a focus on food for babies and toddlers. For older children, consider books about growing foods and where different foods come from. View recipes books with a variety of foods from other cultures.
  • Outdoor – establish a vegie patch or herb garden


Cooking activities in particular are a fun and much loved group activity. Cooking with children can develop fine motor coordination, promote maths and literacy concepts, colour recognition and creativity. Develop children’s mathematical skills by discussing size, shape, weight of different food types in a fun and enjoyable way.

Ensure age appropriate recipes and tasks are given to children.


0-18 months

  • Observe educators cooking
  • Be given safe equipment to participate in the activity (i.e wooden spoons and plastic bowls).
  • Let them feel different fruits and vegetables.


Between 18 Months – 3 Years children are often ready to help out with simple tasks including:

  • Pouring dry and liquid ingredients into a bowl
  • Rinsing fruit and vegetables
  • Picking herbs off a stem
  • Tearing lettuce
  • Stirring batter
  • Sprinkling herbs and spices



From 4 – 5 years introduce slightly more complex tasks like:

  • Kneading pizza or bread dough
  • Juicing lemons
  • Whisking ingredients
  • Measuring and levelling dry ingredients

Check out some of our food game resources here. 

Finally, make sure you document experiences ready for Assessment and Rating!


New National Quality Framework

The new National Quality Framework came into affect on the 1st of February 2018.  You may be wondering what has changed in relation to healthy eating and food safety in the new National Quality Framework.  Here is our quick snapshot of what you need to know!

Food safety and healthy eating continue to be included in Quality Area 2 – Children’s Health and Safety.

Food safety is now included in element 2.1.2 Health practices and procedures – Effective illness and injury management and hygiene practices are promoted and implemented. The assessment guide for food safety related activities and issues remains relatively unchanged.  The following additions have been made to the assessment guide in the NEW Guide to the National Quality Framework:

  • Assessors may observe children consuming food and drinks in a hygienic manner.
  • Assessor may sight visual aids and hand-washing signs displayed where children wash their hands.


Healthy eating is now included in element 2.1.3 Healthy lifestyle – Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child.  There are additions to the assessment guide in relation to healthy eating and mealtimes that settings should be aware of and implementing in their daily practice.  The following additions have been made to the assessment guide in the NEW Guide to the National Quality Framework:

  • Assessors may observe educators encouraging children to eat healthy food without requiring them to eat food they don’t like or to eat more than they need, including supporting children to recognise when they are hungry or full.
  • Assessors may observe educators sitting with children and modelling, implementing and reinforcing healthy eating and nutrition practices with children during mealtimes.
  • Assessors may observe educators consulting children about their routines and meal times.
  • Assessors may observe educators responding to babies’ verbal and non-verbal cues about their preferred food preferences and meal times.
  • Assessors may observe babies being fed individually by educators according to each child’s routine.
  • Assessors may observe children being supported by educators to feed themselves.
  • Assessors may sight program planning including cooking experiences that promote healthy eating and knowledge of nutrition.
  • Assessors may sight if the menu is changed, notification is displayed for families so that they are informed of their children’s meals that day.

In coming Food Foundations newsletters and news articles we will explore these new additions to the assessment guide and provide you with strategies and ideas to implement these activities into your daily routine.

Meeting nutritional requirements on ‘sandwich day’

Although it may be a time-consuming option for chefs and cooks in early years centres, sandwiches are a tasty and popular option with children.  Coming into the summer months, it is likely that sandwiches will be a regular fixture on your menus.

But, it is tricky to balance nutrition requirements on the days you serve sandwiches.  When we do menu assessments, we typically see that centres provide below recommended amounts of vegetables and foods from the lean meats food group on sandwich day.


It is recommended that children aged 2-3 years have access to 1.5 serves of vegetables per day while in care – that is 110g vegetables/ salad while in care.  Children aged 4-5 years should have access to 2.5 serves of vegetables per day while in care – that is 185g vegetables/ salad while in care.

While it may be possible to get that many vegetables into a hot dish for the children, it is difficult to include the required amount on a sandwich.  On days that you serve sandwiches for lunch, you can not rely on lunch alone to ensure that children have the opportunity to consume adequate vegetables while in care.  To add more more vegetables to your menu, consider adding vegetables to your fruit platters and including snacks which feature vegetables such as zucchini slice, corn cobs and vegetable muffins.

Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legume/ beans.

This food group is made up of plenty of iron and protein rich foods.  The food group includes:

  • lean beef, lamb, chicken, turkey and pork
  • fish
  • eggs
  • tofu
  • nuts and seeds
  • legumes such as chickpeas and baked beans.

Ham is not part of this food group.  Ham is a discretionary (or extra) food.  Generally if you are not including at least 2 foods from this food group as part of your sandwich fillings, it is unlikely that on sandwich day, you will be meeting childrens’ requirements for this food group.  Great sandwich filling options include, egg, poached chicken (you can poach this onsite and freeze for use in the future), tuna or baked beans.

When planned well, sandwiches are a wonderful addition to your child care menu, particularly during the summer months.  When you have adequate vegetables across the day and include foods from the lean meats food group, sandwich day can easily meet you nutritional requirements for children while they are in care.

How do we encourage and support breastfeeding in the service?

One of the ‘Guide to the National Quality Standard’ questions to encourage your reflection on practice for standard 2.2 is, “How do we encourage and support breastfeeding in the service?

There are many things (even if they may be small) that early years centres can do to support families that wish to continue to breastfeed when a child starts attending care.

Strategies include:

  • Create a quiet comfortable place for mothers to breastfeed
  • On enrolment, actively let families know that you can accept, store and warm expressed breast milk for baby
  • Be positive about families leaving expressed breast milk for baby
  • Have a breastfeeding policy
  • Instil a sense of trust and confidence in families that expressed breast milk will be safely cared for at the centre
  • Display easily accessible resources about breastfeeding
  • Provide training to staff about your centres breastfeeding policy and how to safely store and serve expressed breast milk.

For more information click here.

Meeting nutritional requirements on ‘sandwich day’

Although it may be a time-consuming option for chefs and cooks in early years centres, sandwiches are a tasty and popular option with children.  Coming into the summer months, it is likely that sandwiches will be a regular fixture on your menus.

But, it is tricky to balance nutrition requirements on the days you serve sandwiches.  When we do menu assessments, we typically see that centres provide below recommended amounts of vegetables and foods from the lean meats food group on sandwich day.



It is recommended that children aged 2-3 years have access to 1.5 serves of vegetables per day while in care – that is 110g vegetables/ salad while in care.  Children aged 4-5 years should have access to 2.5 serves of vegetables per day while in care – that is 185g vegetables/ salad while in care.

While it may be possible to get that many vegetables into a hot dish for the children, it is difficult to include the required amount on a sandwich.  On days that you serve sandwiches for lunch, you can not rely on lunch alone to ensure that children have the opportunity to consume adequate vegetables while in care.  To add more more vegetables to your menu, consider adding vegetables to your fruit platters and including snacks which feature vegetables such as zucchini slice, corn cobs and vegetable muffins.


Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legume/ beans.

This food group is made up of plenty of iron and protein rich foods.  The food group includes:

  • lean beef, lamb, chicken, turkey and pork
  • fish
  • eggs
  • tofu
  • nuts and seeds
  • legumes such as chickpeas and baked beans.

Ham is not part of this food group.  Ham is a discretionary (or extra) food.  Generally if you are not including at least 2 foods from this food group as part of your sandwich fillings, it is unlikely that on sandwich day, you will be meeting childrens’ requirements for this food group.  Great sandwich filling options include, egg, poached chicken (you can poach this onsite and freeze for use in the future), tuna or baked beans.


When planned well, sandwiches are a wonderful addition to your child care menu, particularly during the summer months.  When you have adequate vegetables across the day and include foods from the lean meats food group, sandwich day can easily meet you nutritional requirements for children while they are in care.

Tips from the Auditor – Are you really sanitising?

Article by Abbey Warren, Food Safety Auditor FSA/0288


A common non-compliance I see when auditing early childhood settings is the use of agents other than sanitisers to sanitise.

Anything that may come into contact with food must be cleaned and then sanitised. This includes all food preparation equipment, bench tops and eating tables. Sanitising destroys microorganisms and reduces the number present on a surface to a safe level.

There are 3 ways to sanitise:

  • Hot water greater than 77°C
  • Steam
  • Chemical

Hot water and steam are often used as the sanitising agent in a dishwasher and food grade chemicals most often on bench tops and eating tables.

What is a Food Grade Sanitiser? It’s time to check your products

A food grade sanitiser is called exactly that a “Food Grade Sanitiser” or it may be a diluted bleach solution made up following the manufacturer’s instructions and then discarded after 24hrs.

Alternatives such as vinegar, lemon juice and methylated spirits are not sanitisers.

If you have a food safety question or need an Onsite Compliance audit or Notice of Written Advice for a food safety program please contact me on or call 07 3257 4393 – I am more than happy to help.


Spotlight on standards – Never using food as a reward or punishment

The National Quality Standard Assessment Guide for element 2.2.1 highlights that Assessors may observe educators “never using food to reward or punish children.

Saying things such as “you need to eat more of your lunch before you can have dessert” or “you have to eat your fruit before your cake” are examples of situations where food is potentially been used as a reward.  These sorts of statements are common and are often said quite innocently with the best intentions.  But we do have to be careful about how we talk to children about food.

It is important for children to learn early in life to understand their appetite, to eat if they are hungry and to stop eating when they are full.  The behaviours contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.  Using food as a reward encourages “non-hungry” eating and can lead to children over-eating and can affect their natural ability to regulate their appetite.  This may increase the risk of a poor relationship with food and emotional eating later in life.  Some studies have found an association between the regular use of food rewards and emotional overeating behaviours starting in children from just 5 years of age.

Developing children’s attitudes to food and the way they eat food is as important as the food that is eaten.  We should avoid forcing children to eat if they are not hungry or do not like a particular food.  Mealtimes should be a pleasant relaxed time.  We can encourage children to try small amounts of food by:

  • Suggesting the child nibble on the food like a rabbit or have a go at placing the food in their mouth and then politely taking it out again.
  • Role modelling by trying the food with the child.
  • Talking about how good the food is.
  • Presenting the food with a range of other familiar healthy options that the child likes.
  • Avoiding conflict or stress if the child does not try the food.
  • Consistently exposing the child to the food without making a big deal about trying the food – this may include placing the food in the middle of the table on a platter or placing only a very small amount on the child’s plate.
  • Avoid serving dessert regularly.

In your education and care setting, it is worthwhile reflecting on the language you use at mealtimes and ensuring you are not inadvertently using food as a reward or punishment.  You can provide plenty of positive verbal and non-verbal encouragement to children to try healthy options from the menu or their lunchbox without reverting to the use of food as a reward or punishment.

View our previous articles


Non-food rewards

Do your sanitising procedures reflect best practice?

The Food Standards Code requires that food contact surfaces in food premises be cleaned and sanitised.  Cleaning and sanitising are 2 different processes.

Cleaning removes the grime and food scraps from a surface.  You may use detergent or a cleaning spray as part of the cleaning process.

Sanitising involves the use of steam, hot water above 77 degrees or a food grade chemical sanitiser to reduce the amount of potentially harmful bacteria on a surface.

You must clean before you sanitise and you must sanitise all food contact surfaces.  

Food contact surfaces include:

  • Plates and cutlery
  • Food preparation benches
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Serving utensils
  • Dining tables

We often see early years services making 3 common mistakes when it comes to sanitising.


Common mistake 1:

Using a cleaning product instead of a food grade chemical sanitiser.


You must use a food grade chemical sanitiser on all food contact surfaces.  Most will require at least 30 seconds contact with the surface to be effective.  Usually, you can purchase food grade chemical sanitiser from your usual chemical supplier or from major foodservice suppliers.


Common mistake 2:

Not sanitising dishes and cutlery that are hand washed instead of going through the dishwasher.


You can sanitise hand washed dishes by either soaking the cleaned dishes in hot water above 77 degrees or soaking them in properly diluted food grade chemical sanitiser.


Common mistake 3:

Not sanitising dining tables.


All dining tables must be cleaned and sanitised before a meal.  After cleaning the table, use a food grade chemical sanitiser to sanitise the table.  Spray the sanitiser into a paper towel or clean cloth (not the same cloth you have just used for cleaning the table) and wipe over table.  Read the instructions on your sanitiser to determine if you need to wipe it off and how long you have to leave it on the surface before you wipe it off.


More questions about food safety?

Our newly updated and improved Safe Food Handling Workshops are perfect for Early Years services.  Our workshops are linked to the National Quality Standard and provide opportunities for interaction and discussion about centre specific challenges.

Choose from:

  • Safe Food Handling when providing a menu
  • Safe Food Handling with lunchboxes
  • Safe Food Handling when working with external caterers

Contact us for more information and a quote, email –

Menu planning: How much food should be provided?

The Assessment Guide for element 2.2.1 states that Assessors may observe “children being provided with food that is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for for Children and Adolescents in Australia”.

It is  considered best practice, for settings providing food, to provide 50% of children’s recommended daily intake of foods over morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.  The Australian Dietary Guidelines outline the recommended daily intake of foods for children.

The tables below outline the different food groups and the recommended daily intake each food group for children of different ages.

Table 1: Recommended minimum serves per day for children 13 – 24 months

Food Group Serves required per day

Serves required

in care 50%

Vegetables & Legumes 2 1
Fruit ½ ¼
Grain (Cereal) Foods 4 2
Lean Meat and Alternatives 1 ½
Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives 1 ½



Table 2: Recommended minimum serves per day for children 2-3 years

Food Group Serves required per day

Serves required

in care 50%

Vegetables & Legumes 2 ½ 1 ¼
Fruit 1 ½
Grain (Cereal) Foods 4 2
Lean Meat and Alternatives 1 ½
Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives 1 ½ ¾



Table 3: Recommended minimum serves per day for children 4-8 years

Food Group Serves required per day

Serves required

in care 50%

Vegetables & Legumes 2 ¼
Fruit ¾
Grain (Cereal) Foods 4 2
Lean Meat and Alternatives ¾
Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives 1 ½ – 2 1



Most settings which provide food do a good job of providing plenty of healthy foods.  But making sure enough of each food group is provided can prove to be a little trickier.

NAQ Nutrition Dietitans complete menu assessments for Early Childhood Education and Care settings.  We have put together a some of the common issues we see on menus in settings and our tips to make sure you are on track.

Common issue: Not enough food from the lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/ beans food group on days that sandwiches are served for lunch

It is common for settings to not provide enough food from this food group on days which sandwiches are served for lunch.  Ham is a fairly common sandwich filling.  But ham is a processed meat and does not fit into the lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/ beans food group.

Our Tips: To provide food from the  lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/ beans food group on sandwich day consider the following ideas.

  • Include eggs, tuna, baked beans or poached chicken as a sandwich filling.
  • Add mince meatballs or boiled eggs to snack platters at morning or afternoon tea
  • Include baked beans as a snack.
  • Incorporate legumes into baked goods.


Common issue: Not including grains everyday

Grain foods include rice, pasta, breads, crispbreads, English muffins, wraps, oats and high fibre cereals.  Baked goods (eg sweet cakes or biscuits) with added sugar or a lot of added fat do not fit into this food group.  We also commonly find that settings are only using white flour in baked goods.

Our tips: Ideally setting menus would provide at least 2 serves from the grains food group per child.  Two serves is equivalent to any of the following options:

  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 cup cooked pasta
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup oats and 3 crispbread
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice and 1 small English muffin

Have a look at your menu to check you offer at least 2 serves grains per day per child.  You may need to consider some additions to your menu on some days, such as:

  • adding a small serve of rice or cous cous at lunch
  • adding crispbreads/ grain crackers as an option at a snack
  • adding English muffin or bread open grills as an option at a snack
  • adding oats or muesli to yoghurt.
  • Use wholemeal flour (instead of or in combination with white flour) to increase the fibre content.


Common issue: Not enough vegetables

Most settings we assess are usually providing some vegetables, however most are not achieving the required serves per day for this food group.

Our tips: The best way to tell if you provide enough vegetables is to check your the total amount of vegetables you use each day.  One serve of vegetables is 75 grams.  Have a look at the example in the table below.  The table outlines how you can determine the total weight of vegetables you should be providing each day.  Compare this to the actual volume of vegetables you provide.


Age group Example – Average number of children in care per day Recommended amount of vegetables to be provided each day, while in care, per child Totals recommended amount of vegetables to be provided each day, while in care, per age group
12-24 months 15 children 0.075 kg (1 serve) 1.125 kg
2-3 years 34 children  0.095 kg (1 ¼ serves) 3.230 kg
4-5 years 22 children 0.170 kg (2 ¼ serves) 3.740 kg
Total vegetables per day for setting 8.095 kilograms


For ideas about increasing the amount of vegetables on your menu, check out this previous article.


Check out these sample menus for more ideas:

Sample menu 1

Sample menu 2

Entertaining in the Warmer Months

The warm weather has truly arrived in most parts of Australia. One of the great things about this time of year is that we often get to spend more time outdoors – whether that’s on the beach or having a BBQ with friends and family.

If you are entertaining guests or preparing for parties throughout the festive season, you will be asking yourself  the question, ‘What am I going to cook?’.

It’s likely that your guests will appreciate having some healthy options available so we’ve put together some tasty recipe ideas from our Healthy Food Healthy Planet recipe library to provide some inspiration!

You’re having a BBQ:

  • Try barbequeing corn on the cob by brushing with a little oil and smoked paprika for a smoky Mid-West flavour.
  • Make your own high fibre burger patties by using lean beef mince, tinned lentils and herbs.
  • Choose lean sausages as regular barbequing sausages are often very high in saturated fat.
  • Offer a few salads for variety and to balance out all that meat that typically comes with an Aussie barbeque. Our Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Salad and Green Quinoa Salad with Pistachio Pesto Dressing are both crowd pleasers.
  • Instead of a large dessert selection, make up a big platter of fresh fruit now that the warmer weather is bringing us the best fresh produce. Frozen grapes, strawberries and mango slices will be a sure hit on a hot day.

When you’re asked to bring a plate:

  • Why not whip up a quick homemade dip using a food processor? Our vegetable based homemade Beetroot and Chickpea Dip  can be ready in minutes.
  • A plate of fresh fruit kebabs is a great choice to share with others. Fresh, colourful and quick to prepare. Cut fruit into interesting shapes with cookie cutters or use a melon baller.

You want to try something a bit fancy, but still healthy:

  • Couscous is a really versatile food that is easy to prepare with impressive results. Choosing wholemeal couscous and adding lots of colourful vegetables will create a high fibre, eye-catching side dish. For recipe inspiration try our Tangy Broccolini Couscous which can be made in advance.
  • Canapés. If you haven’t cooked with wonton wrappers, now is the time! Wonton wrappers are available from the refrigerated section of the supermarket and can be baked in mini muffins trays to form little tart shells perfect for filling with a sweet or savoury filling. This is a much healthier alternative to pastry and gives a very crunchy result. See recipe here 

More healthy swaps:

  • Replace high fat mayonnaise based dressings with a mix of reduced fat plain yoghurt, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. A great dressing for pasta salads or coleslaw.
  • If using frozen pastry, look for reduced fat varieties to cut down on saturated fat.

For more healthy recipe inspiration visit:


Making sense of milk alternatives

There are many reasons that a family may prefer or a child may require a particular milk.  The market is full of different dairy milks and an ever growing variety of non-dairy milk alternatives.   Not all of these alternatives are created equal.  In this article we explore the pros and cons of some of the milks commonly found in supermarkets.

Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk is a highly nutritious food containing high levels of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and protein. Unlike many non-dairy alternatives, cow’s milk has no added sugars, flavours, thickeners, emulsifiers, or gums. It’s just cow’s milk.


Lactose free cow’s milk

Lactose free cow’s milk contains no lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk. The enzyme lactase has been added to break the lactose down into simple sugars. This enables people who are lactose intolerant to consume cow’s milk.  Lactose free cow’s milk is nutritionally very similar to regular cow’s milk. Lactose free dairy milk is not suitable for those with a dairy allergy.



Goat’s milk

Goat’s milk has a different protein to cow’s milk, making it easier to digest for some people. Goat’s milk is fairly similar to cow’s milk although it is higher in calcium but lower in B12. It also has slightly more calories and fat content compared to cow’s milk. Goat’s milk still contains lactose, although at lower concentration than cow’s milk. Goat’s milk tends to be more expensive and harder to find.


Soy milk

Soy milk has a protein content similar to cow’s milk and contains all the essential amino acids. Most soy milks are calcium fortified making them a good alternative source of calcium.


Oat milk

Oat milk contains double the carbohydrate content of cow’s milk and is more energy dense.  It is a good source of folic acid and often high in fibre.  Oat milk is lower in protein than cow’s milk and soy milk and if not fortified with calcium is very low in calcium.


Rice milk

Rice milk is low in protein and has very low nutrient value.  Sometimes rice milk is fortified with calcium and other vitamins to improve its nutritional value.  Rice milk can be a useful alternative for children with dairy and soy allergies.


Almond milk

Almond milk is often sweetened with added sugar and is low in protein.  Like rice milk it has a very low nutrient value but is sometimes fortified with calcium.


Coconut milk

Coconut milk is high in saturated fat and lacks calcium and protein. However, it contains higher niacin, fibre and iron than cow’s milk. Because of its high energy density it should be consumed in moderation.


Choosing a dairy alternative

If choosing a non dairy milk it is best to choose one that is calcium fortified.  Look for drinks which are fortified with at least 100mg of calcium per 100g.



Article written by Katherine Sparks & Amelia Webster

How do we keep informed about current food safety and hygiene practices and ensure that all educators, co-ordinators and staff members consistently implement these practices?

Spotlight on Element 2.1.3: Effective hygiene practices are promoted and implemented.

How do we keep informed about current food safety and hygiene practices and ensure that all educators, co-ordinators and staff members consistently implement these practices?


The Guide to the National Quality Standard outlines questions to guide reflection on practice for standard 2.1.  One of these important questions asks, “How do we keep informed about current food safety and hygiene practices and ensure that all educators, co-ordinators and staff members consistently implement these practices?


So, how do you stay informed? Consider the following opportunities:


The next step is to make sure all educators, co-ordinators and staff members are consistently implementing best practice.  We recommend the following:

  • Monthly review of all completed food safety records by the Food Safety Supervisor and/or Director.
  • Regular informal conversations with staff to ensure they have a good understanding of setting food safety policies.
  • Use your food safety policy as a tool during safe food handling training.
  • Make food safety a regular agenda item at staff meetings.
  • Conduct quarterly internal food safety audits.

Do you really have enough vegetables on your menu?

Background and links to the National Quality Standard

For early years settings who provide food to children it is important that consideration is given to the assessment guide for Element 2.2.1, outlined in the Guide to the National Quality Standard.

Element 2.2.1 is “Healthy eating is promoted and food and drinks provided by the service are nutritious and appropriate for each child.”

The Assessment Guide for element 2.2.1 states that Assessors may observe if children are “provided with food that is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia.”

The Australian Dietary Guidelines make recommendations about the amounts core foods or healthy foods children should eat for good health and healthy growth and development.  It is generally considered best practice, for settings providing food, that 50% of the recommended daily intake is provided while in care over morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.


Vegetables – How much is enough?

The table below shows the recommended serves of vegetables per day for children and also the amount that should be provided while children are in care.

Age Group Vegetable serves required per day Vegetable serves required in care (over morning tea, lunch and dinner)
1 – 2 years

2 serves

(about 150g per day)

1 serve

(about 75g)

2 – 3 years

2 ½ serves

(about 190g per day)

1 ½

(about 115g per day)

4-6 years

4 ½ serves

(about 340g per day)

2 ½

(about 190g per day)


One serve of vegetables is equivalent to about 75g.  75g of vegetables could be:

  • ½ cup of cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup of salad vegetables
  • ½ potato


For  children 7 – 12 months, working towards 40g of vegetables a day is recommended.


Counting up your serves – don’t get tricked

If you are counting up the number of serves of vegetables you provide over a day be careful to consider the amount that is actually provided to children.

For example, a vegetable muffin is very unlikely to provide a full serve of vegetables for a child. Remember a serve is 75g.  If you have used 600g of vegetables to make 30 muffins, there is about 20g of vegetables per muffin.  This extra vegetable content is really great but don’t get tricked into counting it as a full serve.


Tips for more vegetables

Consider ways that you can add extra vegetables to meals and include some vegetable based snacks as it can be tricky to have enough vegetables for the day at lunch alone.  These are some of our top tips:

  • Add lentils or kidney beans to mince dishes.
  • Add chick peas to mild curries.
  • Add extra frozen vegetables at meals if your budget for fresh vegetables is tight.
  • Add vegetable sticks to your fruit platters – mix it up, use beans, snow peas, capsicum, carrot, cucumber.
  • Add salad to sandwiches.
  • Check out the vegetable recipes ideas in our latest e-newsletter.


Need more information or assistance

Food Foundations provides services to help your Early Years Setting better understand how much of each food group, including vegetables, is actually provided on your menu.


Food Foundations Menu Assessments

Our menu assessments include a full menu assessment report, including:

  • Areas of achievement highlighted.
  • A full breakdown of how much food from each food group you are providing.
  • New meal and snack ideas.
  • Practical examples of changes your setting can implement to better meet the nutritional requirements for children in care.


Food Foundations Menu Planning Workshops

You can host a menu planning workshop at your setting for groups of 3 to 20 people.  The workshop is practical session taking you through the 7 steps to creating a menu that provides children their daily nutritional requirements.


Please contact us for more information about menu planning workshops or menu assessments.

Phone: (07) 32574393


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Crunch & Sip classroom resources

Crunch & Sip style programs (Munch & Crunch / Brain Breaks) involve schools and teachers scheduling time in class to allow children to eat fruit and vegetables and drink water in the classroom. Veggie sticks

The benefits of a fruit, vegetable and water in class include:

  • Exposing students to the concept of daily fruit and vegetable consumption helps build lifelong healthy eating habits.
  • The break reinforces other nutrition education messages delivered in the classroom.
  • Water and healthy food consumption can help improve students’ behaviour, and ability to concentrate and learn in the classroom.

Learn more about Crunch & Sip in schools by watching our video – St Paul’s Lutheran College and Mansfield State School share their experiences in implementing programs in their schools.


Classroom activities

Curriculum linked classroom activities can be undertaken during Crunch & Sip.  For ideas explore our resources below.



Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4 





Grade 1 

Grade 2 

Grade 3 

Grade 4 


Useful links

Government of Western Australia Crunch&Sip Program

Queensland Department of Education & Training

St Paul’s Lutheran College and Mansfield State School share their experiences in implementing programs in their schools

Sustainability and Nude Food at Milton State School


In November 2014, schools  went ‘nude’ with their school lunches to promote a healthy body and a healthy planet for  National Nude Food Day, run by Nude Food Movers Australia.


To celebrate the event Nude Food Movers offered over $5,000 in prizes to schools who best created and explained how they made Nude Food Day a big event in their school calendar.

As a result, Nude Food Movers in partnership with Nutrition Australia, had over 5 million students around Australia participate in the event.

Congratulations to Milton State School who won the 2014 competition.  The Nude Food Day event at Milton State School was managed by thier sustainability committee.   We wanted to find out more about the Milton State School sustainability committee and share with our readers the wonderful work that they do.  Milton State School parent Emma Kettle helped us put together our Q&A with the sustainability committee.

How did your sustainability committee get started?

The Committee started in 2013 through a commitment between a parent and a teacher to try and implement recycling in Milton State School. They felt the best way to advance recycling and other sustainability initiatives in the school was to form a Committee of like minded parents and community to help them achieve a vision of a more sustainable school.


Who is on the sustainability committee?

The Committee is made up of dedicated teachers and parents; there are also representatives from time to time from the local business community. Members all bring a wide range of interest in sustainability, in particular around the concepts of healthy planet and healthy body.


What are the most successful events your sustainability committee has run and how did these events benefit the students and school?

In 2014 we had an exciting year, with many events being held. Along side participating in the Active Travel program every Wednesday, we also focused our events around the Nude Food concept and implementing regular Nude Food days across the whole school. To help raise awareness on these days we have also run events such as, the ‘Fruit and Vegetable’ juice days, which was great fun and embraced by students and parents too. We also held a parent Nude Food Information night, which was very well received and generously supported by many local businesses. All these events have helped raise parents awareness of the benefits of a waste free lunch, in particular how this supports healthy food choices for their children. It also helps to build confidence, in parents, teachers, students and teachers in rolling out the nude food message throughout the year.






What have been the keys to success for your sustainability committee?

Keys to success have been having a strong, commitment group of like-minded, and driven individuals who really believe in the strength of community to make positive changes for our children. It is our aim to imbed a sustainable approach within the school, the students and also to reach our local community and share the sustainable message.


Have you faced any barriers and how did you overcome these?

Yes we have faced some barriers, the biggest one is that everyone is so time poor as they are running businesses, full time jobs and are just generally very busy people. We try and share the load as much as possible and keep our expectations in check, we can’t make these changes overnight, it is definitely a long term journey.


Why did you decide to enter the National Nude Food Day competition?

Our big focus in 2014 was to raise awareness and particularly to inform not just the students but help the parents understand our goal to be more sustainable and improve our health all at the same time! The Nude Food concept is a perfect blend of healthy planet and healthy body message. With all the events we held in 2014 to promote the nude Food concept and the desire to continue our effort in 2015, we decide to enter the competition to share our ideas, raise awareness of the great job the students were doing in getting behind the Nude Food concept. We also hoped earn some funds to help our sustainability committee continue to make an impact and role out our sustainability initiatives.


What does winning a prize mean for your school?  

It has also been a great way to raise awareness about the Sustainability Committee and given us some credibility, kudos and helped to acknowledge all the great work the students and teachers have put into being more sustainable. It also gives us funds that we can put toward sustainability initiatives for the school, which is a fabulous opportunity to continue to strengthen our committee and messages.



Front: Kylie Dunn – MSS Deputy Principal, Rachael Nasplezes – Sustainability Committee chairperson, Jessica Craig – MSS Sustainability Captain (Student)   

Back: Emma Kettle and Katherine McDonald – Parent’s involved in co-ordinating the Nude Food events

Reflections on the 2014 Smart Choices Masterclasses


Food Smart Schools have had the pleasure of been in attendance and presenting at the Smart Choices  Masterclasses run by the Qld Department of Education, Training and Employment this year in Cairns and Brisbane.


We had such a great time catching up with all the wonderful convenors, volunteers and parent organisation representatives we met at these events.


Food Smart Schools presentations

This year Food Smart Schools Dietitian, Amelia Webster presented on managing allergens in the tuckshop and greening up tuckshop menus.

Throughout the managing allergens presentations a few key documents were mentioned, which we have linked to below.

Anaphylaxis guidelines for Queensland state schools –

Catering for those with coeliac disease –

ASCIA dietary avoidance for food allergy fact sheets –


During the More GREEN Please workshops we worked through some menu case study examples.  For those making an effort to GREEN up their menus, here is a reminder of our top tips:

  • Keep you menus small and manageable
  • Have GREEN specials – see our top selling GREEN ideas
  • Avoid multiple types of similar AMBER foods (eg. different types of crumbed chicken or a wide range of crisp-type snacks)
  • Sell just water, milk and small fruit juices



Workshops from Alison Taafe

The always entertaining Alison Taafe was in attendance at the masterclasses again.  To see Alison cooking some of her popular dishes, check out the clips on the Department of Education, Training and Employment You Tube channel.



Queensland Tuckshop Sandwich Designer of the Year

Congratulations to Anna Keefe from St William’s Primary who won the Department of Education, Training and Employment  2014 Queensland Tuckshop Sandwich Designer of the Year award! Anna created the Tunalicious – a delicious blend of tuna, red onion, grated carrot, alfalfa, dill, flat leaf parsley, chives, sweet chilli sauce, mayonnaise, lettuce and crunchy combo sprouts in homemade flat bread.  The announcement of Anna as the winner was held in the Queens Street Mall with special guest judges, Mal Gill and Alison Taafe.  

smart choices masterclasses

Pizza Slabs for tuckshops

Fried Rice

Marketing Healthy Food in the Tuckshop Part 2

This month we continue exploring how to market healthy food to kids with a focus on quality and variety. Click here to read the first installment of our marketing and promotion series.


Getting your product mix right is about having menu items that your students will want to buy.

Students want a QUALITY product that is consistent.

Having a consistent product is important for maintaining customers’ expectations and their perception of the quality of the service. If the consistency varies each time a purchase is made from the tuckshop, then it’s possible for students to lose confidence in the tuckshop and choose to spend their money elsewhere (like in local stores, before and after school).


Would you be a return customer if sometimes you get a great sandwich and other times it is a bit disappointing?

9. Sandwich consistency



Question: How do you deliver a consistent product?

Answer: Ensure volunteers and staff are well trained or know what is expected. Consider placing photos in the food preparation area of how the final product is meant to look.


High quality products:

• Make use of fresh ingredients where possible. Seasonal produce is the freshest so try to include specials that make use of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
• Are served at the right temperature – cold food needs to be served cold and hot food needs to be served hot. Regularly check heating and refrigeration equipment to make sure it is working effectively

You may like to consider doing a meal quality audit by sampling 1 hot item and 1 cold item at serving time to see how the item tastes and looks

Students need VARIETY

A lack of variety in your menu can lead to disinterest amongst customers. Why not try including daily or weekly specials that change regularly to create variety without the need for a large menu? Offering theme days, weeks or a devoting a whole month to a cuisine can work well to increase variety offered to students.

Ideas for theme days

Menu suggestions:
– Mexican mince rolls (prepare beef chilli con carne with lots of beans and vegetables and serve in a roll or over rice)
– Mexican chicken salad (serve grilled chicken with couscous, beans, corn, reduced fat cheese and tomato salsa)
– Burritos

Menu suggestions:
– French style baguettes/rolls with lean meat and salad
– Vegetarian quiche and salad
– French toast cups filled with fruit

Menu suggestions:
– Shephards Pie with salad
– Homemade spinach and ricotta sausage rolls
– Iced fruit kebabs

In coming newsletters we will continue to share our marketing ideas and the great things we are seeing in school tuckshops.

Great Winter Warmer – Fragrant Dahl




 004 Fragrant DahlIngredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes (more if wanted)
  • 1 teaspoon of brown mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of Indian or Sri Lankan curry powder
  • Chapatti (optional)



1. Simmer the lentils in 750ml of boiling water for about 20 minutes or until soft. Ensure that you stir a few times    during cooking to make sure that the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Do not drain.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft.

3. Add the chilli, mustard seeds, turmeric and curry      powder and cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop.

4. Stir in the undrained lentils and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes or until the mixture is heated through and slightly creamy.

5. Serve alone or with chapatti (Indian flat bread)


The grocery gap– making the most of what you’ve got!


Vegetables and fruits are important for growing children and teenagers. Unfortunately Australians are not eating enough fruits and vegetables.  Sometimes access to fresh fruit and vegetables can be challenging however there are some tricks to get a variety of nutritious and affordable food onto tuckshop and household menus.

Frozen fruits and vegetables:frozen vegetables

  • They are the ultimate super healthy shortcut. Not only do they contain the same amount of nutrients, but they also do not require washing, peeling or chopping.
  • Frozen veggies can be chief ingredients for a variety of recipes such as stir  fries, spaghetti bolognese, rice dishes, savoury mince and hotpots.
  • Frozen berries are a cheaper option than fresh and a great alternative for recipes such as fruit muffins and homemade muesli bars. They are useful for making fruit salads.

They come in a can:

  • Canned legumes are quick and ready to use for salads, soups, burger patties, stews, casseroles and healthy meat balls.

Freeze your own vegetables:Chopping Veg

  • If you have access to affordable fresh vegetables irregularly, you can purchase plenty when they are available, chop them up and freeze them yourself.  These can be used in cooked dishes at a later date.  Carrots, broccoli, beans and onions all freeze well.

Most recipes can be adapted to use either frozen and canned fruits and vegetables in place of fresh. So remember to get creative with how to include fruit and vegetables in your tuckshop and home meals.



Article written by Kobe Odgers

Energy Drinks, Soft Drinks and Teenagers.

Did you know that the recent Australian Health Survey (ABS) found that 51% of teenage males had consumed soft drink on the day before their interview.


Drinking energy drinks and soft drinks regularly may seem appealing to the ‘risk taker teenager’, however these drinks are doing more harm than good, especially to their health. The impact of sugary drinks on behaviour, unhealthy eating patterns and dental health is becoming alarming.


The impact

Drinking sugary drinks throughout the day can lead to fatigue and mood swings.  Caffeine can interfere with sleep patterns, leading to a restless night. For young people irregular eating and disrupted sleep patterns can make it more difficult for them to deal with added pressures in school and life stress.

Regular drinking of energy drinks or soft drinks can often replace the intake of healthy foods like fruit, grains, dairy and vegetables. These poor eating habits can have a negative impact on growth, development and concentration and behaviour in the classroom

Different types of drinks including regular and diet soft drinks, sports/energy drinks and fruit juices, all contain acid that harms teeth. The acid weakens tooth enamel which can lead to tooth decay that cannot always be fixed. Poor dental health can have significant long term negative health, social and economic impacts for people.


Every day in the classroom

If you are a teacher, you can play a role in encouraging a regular intake of healthy food and water as the best choice drink.

  • Remind students to get a drink of water as they leave the classroom
  • Encourage students to bring a water bottle to class
  • Have water breaksWater Bottle Small
  • Do not drink soft drinks or energy drinks in the classroom and have your own water bottle to sip on regularly
  • Hang posters in the classroom as reminders that water is the best choice and that many other drinks contain high amounts of sugar and can damage teeth (sugar in drinks poster)
  • Remind students that eating healthy food at breaks helps them stay focussed in class and other activities such as sport


Article written by Kobe Odgers

Banana, Date and Bran Bread

preparation time 1 hour



  • 2 cups of self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • ½ cup of bran cereal
  • 1 ¼ cup of skim milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 large mashed bananas



1.  Preheat oven to 1800C and prepare a loaf tin (24cm x 13.5cm is recommended) by spraying with oil and ling with baking paper.

2. Place wholemeal flour, sugar, soda and nutmeg into a large bowl. Stir through dates and bran.

3. In another bowl, combine skim milk, eggs and banana.

4. Gently fold milk, egg and banana mix into the date mixt until well combined, being careful not to overwork the batter.

4. Pour into the pan and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before cutting into 16 serves.



Nutrition Information

Energy: 871kJ / serve

Saturated Fat: 0.6g/ serve

Fibre: 4.5g / serve


Marketing Healthy Food in the Tuckshop

In our work with school tuckshops, we have seen that those making a healthy profit from selling healthy foods are doing this by applying marketing principles in their tuckshop.

They are letting students and teachers know what is available by promoting products on their menu to the students, parents and staff of their school.

So, how can you successfully ‘market’ your tuckshop and menu?  Every school is different, but here are just a few ideas, to get you started.

Think about the 4 P’s – appealing Product, Presentation (the food and the tuckshop), Promotion and Price.  All of these factors effect peoples purchasing choices.

6. Price Product Presentation Promotion


Product & variety: find out what students want.  Talk to students about what they would like on the menu and consider doing an annual survey.  Well promoted specials are a great way to provide variety without the burden of a large daily menu.

17. presentation


Promotion: seek volunteers to help you create promotional material for your tuckshop menu.  These may be volunteers who are unable to give time to the tuckshop during the week, but are happy to contribute from home after hours.


20.Tropical treats



Use descriptive words on your menu: giving your menu items creative and descriptive names and highlighting the wonderful fresh ingredients you use can increase their appeal. Instead of a ‘chicken and salad wrap’ you might have a ‘tender chicken wrap with fresh salad and chucky tomato salsa’.

21. descriptive words


In coming newsletters we will continue to share our marketing ideas and the great things we are seeing in school tuckshops.


Using story time to promote vegetables and fruit to young children

Partners:  Queensland AEDI Community Action Grant


The project targeted parents and families living in Caboolture, Caboolture South and Deception Bay.


The storybook sessions aimed to encourage local families and carers of 3 year old children to:

  • Read aloud and share stories together, to promote language, literacy skills and brain development
  • Recognise perceived enjoyment of different vegetables and fruit, thus increasing acceptability of these foods
  • Convey and reinforce health messages, to promote positive changes in children’s eating, especially their willingness to try a wider variety of vegetables and fruit,  and in their physical activity behaviours
  • Gain confidence, skills and awareness on the importance of healthy eating particularly in increasing vegetable and fruit intake
  • Adopt and promote healthy lifestyle behaviours


NAQ delivered 14 storytime sessions across Caboolture, Caboolture South and Deception Bay. Free copies of the storybook were distributed to children who attended the sessions.

The storybook and storytime sessions have continued to be popular and have led to investment by the Department of Education and Training for NAQ Nutrition to develop a second storybook: “We’re growing a rainbow”. This book is also used in the delivery of the Rainbow storytime sessions.

The storybooks continue to be  purchased by parents, libraries, early childhood settings, schools and health professionals.


Read More

Healthy Me, Healthy Baby


Starting pregnancy at a healthy weight has been shown to make pregnancy and delivery safer for both mother and baby.


NAQ Nutrition has received funding from Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local to develop an awareness raising program around the importance of maintaining a healthy weight during (and pre) pregnancy.NAQ will collaborate with key stakeholders to lead this strategy responding to high rates of disadvantage, overweight/obesity, and increasing numbers of young people/children in Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local (MNBML) area.


For more information – click here.

Easy Grain Foods

Many ancient civilisations have relied on grain foods for nourishment.  While the Chinese were eating rice, the Babylonians and Assyrians were eating wheat and barley and in Central and South America they were using maize.  Today we have access to a wide variety of different grain foods.  They give us fibre and plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy.   In many cases grain foods are relatively cheap.

Here are some of our favourite recipes using grains.



Rice Stuffed Capsicum

Serves 6



  • 6 capsicums, halved lengthwise, seeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced;
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 400g canned lentils
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 80g cheese, grated



1. Preheat oven to 220°C

2. Place capsicum, cut side up, in a roasting pan. Scatter with a third of the garlic and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Roast for 30 mins or until tender

3. Cook rice as per instructions on the packet.

4. Mix lentils, currants, vinegar, lemon juice, cumin, parsley, cheese and remaining oil in a large bowl and stir.

7. Add rice to lentil mixture, spoon into roast capsicums.  Return to oven for 5 minutes.  Serve with a side salad.




Pearl Barley and Chicken Salad

Serves 4



  • 1 cup dry pearl barley
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons dried or chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Spray olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (55g) pumpkin seeds
  • 250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 200g rocket
  • 150grams reduced fat feta, crumbled



  1. Boil Barley: Wash pearl barley well and place in a saucepan with 2L (8 cups) boiling water. Simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on, until just tender. Once cooked pour into a colander and rinse under cold water then drain the barley.
  2. Season Chicken:  Rub oregano and paprika onto chicken breasts until it is evenly coated
  3. Cook Chicken: In a hot pan begin cooking chicken breasts over medium heat. Use spray oil to prevent it from sticking.  Thinly slice chicken once it is cooked and set it aside.
  4. Pumpkin seeds: Toast pumpkin seeds in a pan over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir them occasionally.
  5. Assemble salad: In a bowl add drained pearl barley, sliced cooked chicken, rocket, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber pumpkin seeds and crumbled feta. Add dressing and toss to combine.


Lemon Basil Dressing

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced basil leaves
  • Pepper

Make Dressing: To make dressing, place all ingredients in a screw-top jar or container and shake well.




Pizza Base



  • 2 cups plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 x sachet of dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water



  1. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add oil & water.
  2. Mix into a soft dough.
  3. Knead on a floured surface until soft and pliable (or you can use a food processor with a dough hook attachment)
  4. Return to mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in warm spot for 20 – 30 mins. The dough should almost double in size.
  5. When it has risen, ‘punch’ the dough to remove air bubbles. Remove from bowl and knead gently for 1 min.
  6. Divide the dough into two equal portions
  7. Roll the dough out to the desired size using a rolling pin.  Top with your favorite toppings, including plenty of veggies and cook in a hot oven.

New Physical Activity Guidelines Released


New Australian Physical Activity Guidelines were released on the 7th of February this year. 

The new guidelines place a greater emphasis on highlighting the importance of a variety of aerobic and other exercise.  There is also a much greater emphasis on the importance of minimising sedentary behaviour. 

Here are some interesting and concerning stats to really get you thinking.

The Australian Health Survey 2011-12 indicates that:

  • Only one-third of children, and one in ten young people undertook the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • 60% of Australian adults did less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day.
  • Fewer than one in three children and young people (5-17 year olds) met the “no more than 2 hours of screen-based entertainment” every day.
  • Nearly 70% of Australian adults (i.e. almost 12 million adults) are either sedentary or have low levels of physical activity.


  • Physical inactivity and low levels of physical activity is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable disease worldwide – contributing to over three million preventable deaths annually (6% of deaths globally).
  • Physical inactivity is the second greatest contributor, behind tobacco smoking, to the cancer burden in Australia.

Global Health Risks: mortality ad burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. World Health Organization, 2009.


Doing enough physical activity is not just about weight control and reducing chronic disease risk, there are great mental health benefits and it improves your quality of life.  If you are fitter, stronger, more flexible and healthier, you can get more out of everyday!

Physical Activity Guideline resources are available from the Australian Government Department of Health – 

You could also check out the Queensland Government Daily Physical Activity Guide for Schools –


Summary of the new guidelines for children (over 5 years) and young people:

•For health benefits, accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
•Physical activity should include a variety of aerobic activities, including some vigorous intensity activity.
•On at least three days per week, engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
•To achieve additional health benefits, engage in more activity – up to several hours per day.

Summary of sedentary behaviour guidelines for children (over 5 years) and young people:
•To reduce health risks,  minimise the time they spend being sedentary every day. To achieve this:

  • Limit use of electronic media for entertainment (e.g. television, seated electronic games and computer use) to no more than two hours a day – lower levels are associated with reduced health risks.
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

Resources for Prep Parent Orientation Events

Parent orientation events are the perfect opportunity to provide information to future parents on food supply in your school and the importance of healthy eating for productive learning and good behaviour.


You may like to use these resources at your parent orientation event:

How much food do prep students need?

Planning a Healthy Lunchbox?

Super Lunchbox Ideas

Ideas for Sandwich Fillings

Keeping Lunch Safe at School



From the Qld Government Smart Choices Website:

Smart Choices Information for Parents

Also available in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Samoan and Vietnamese

Congratulations Coombabah State School – Gold Menu Award Recipients

Food Smart Schools would like to congratulate Coombabah State School who have recently been awarded the prestigious Gold Menu Award for their tuckshop menu. Jennifer Munro (pictured centre, with Vicky and Juanita) has been the tuckshop convenor at Coombabah SS since 2006 and has been instrumental in making changes to the menu over the last few years. The tuckshop menu has a fantastic selection of homemade hot and cold meals and GREEN snacks. Jennifer says that a day at the Coombabah tuckshop can get busy, but has ongoing support from assistants and volunteers to help rollout the menu.


The tuckshop receives great comments and feedback from parents, teachers, new families and students of the school who are very happy with the selection offered. In 2013, Coombabah SS student Madison won the Sandwich Designer Competition and her item is now featured on the menu Madison’s Vegetarian Wrap – a mix of grilled eggplant, cheese, cucumber and avocado in a toasted wrap.


The most popular items on the menu are Coombabah’s range of ‘melts’ – a long crusty roll filled with reduced fat cheese and other fillings that are oven baked. The ‘melts’ were introduced as a replacement for garlic bread, and their popularity show that making small changes to GREEN up a menu can pay off. Jennifer is continually looking at ways to increase the sales of her healthy meal choices. This year, slightly reducing the price of spaghetti bolognaise and matching this with a smaller serve size has already seen an increase in sales. A well-deserved Gold Award for Coombabah SS.

 Vicky, Jennifer and Juanita


Béchamel Sauce

Beat the Heat Fruit Blocks

Winners Announced



 As part of the Nutrition Week 2013 activities students were invited by NAQ Nutrition to take part in two “design” competitions. All schools that completed these activities to promote Nutrition Week were eligible to submit their classes’ healthy dinner meal activities and tuckshop menu items to NAQ Nutrition for judging.


Students were judged on the nutritional quality, balance, variety and creativity of their dinner meals and tuckshop menu items and their explanation of the importance of the items they have chosen.


Greenslopes State School won the ‘Dinner Designs’ competition with Lachie Pitcher a Year One Student having the winning entry. Lachie’s entry ‘Smoothy Noodles’ was a delicious combination of noodles, chicken and vegetables and a smoothie with milk and banana.

Winning dinnertime 


Greenslopes State School was awarded the prize of sporting equipment from Smash Gear valued at $500; a NAQ Nutrition cooking demonstration and taste test for the winning class. All students in the winning class also received a Rubbish Free Lunchbox and water bottle from Smash Enterprises.


Luca Plant a Year One Student at Eatons Hill State School won the ‘Top Tasty Tuckshop’. Her entry wowed us; especially her reasoning behind her entry:


            My handberga is small so little kids can finish it before the bell. It fits into your hand. It has chicken, lettuce, cheese and tomato on a roll with sesame seeds. I made a meal deal for $5. It has some milk, handberga, a pear and a muffin. You can have carrot on your burger if you like. Mrs O (the environment team) grows these so they’ll be free”

 Winning tuck shop

 Eatons Hill State School received kitchen equipment from TEFAL valued at over $450 for use by their school tuckshop. 


Thank you to our National Nutrition Week Food Smart Schools Competition Official Sponsors, the Queensland Government, Smash Enterprises and TEFAL.  



Promoting Healthy Weight in Children










Parents and carers can now sign up to a free government-funded program which aims to increase activity and healthy eating for the whole family.    

The new program called PEACH™ (Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health), is available to families with a child 5-11 years who is above a healthy weight for their age.

The program takes a family-focused approach by helping parents and carers make healthy eating and activity a part of every-day life.  

Families attend 10 fortnightly sessions over six months, with additional support in the form of three phone calls. The sessions see parents learn and problem solve in a group environment while their children enjoy active play with a trained child physical activity facilitator.  

Some of the topics covered in the program include nutrition skills, relationships with food and eating, changing family lifestyle behaviours, making healthy eating affordable and overcoming resistance.

One of the PEACH™ program creators Professor Lynne Daniels, head of QUT’s Nutrition and Exercise Sciences School, said the program armed parents with skills to combat modern pressures around food and encouraged them to be more active as a family.

“The PEACH™ program focuses on promoting healthy lifestyle behaviours in the family environment and specifically on equipping parents to be healthy role models, as they are the agents of change in the household,” she said.

“It is about empowering parents and acknowledging that pressures of family life – including money and time restraints combined with mixed messages around food – can make it difficult to achieve a healthy balance.”

The PEACH™ program is a Queensland commitment under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health – Healthy Children. It will be delivered by QUT using trained PEACH™ facilitators.

PEACH™ will initially be offered to 75 families in Brisbane, Logan and Rockhampton, followed by a state-wide roll out to a further 1325 families from 2014.

If you would like more information about the PEACH™ program or to register please free call 1800 263 519 or visit

Sensational Smoothies

A homemade smoothie can be an easy way to get kids having a calcium rich snack. For fussy breakfast eaters, smoothies can be a great way of getting them to have a substantial start to the day. For tuckshops, smoothies can be another way of serving dairy foods and fruit.

This recipe is GREEN under the Smart Choices Strategy and uses milk, yoghurt, wheat biscuits and frozen berries. Any seasonal fruit will work well.


Serves 4

  • 2 cups reduced fat milk
  • 400g reduced fat berry flavoured yoghurt
  • 2 cups frozen berries
  • 2 wheat biscuits
  • handful of ice cubes (optional)


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender
  2. Blend until smooth, use pulse first if there are firmer pieces
  3. Serve at once

Other fruit to try include banana, mango, kiwi fruit, melons and  tinned apricot and peaches

The New Dietary Guidelines – Lean Meats


And it continues……….for those who have been following our e-newsletters this year, we have been providing you with and in depth look at the new Australian Dietary Guidelines and Australian Guide to Healthy eating for school aged children. This edition……drum roll please…….

Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans

More specifically, this group includes;

  • Lean meats – Beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
  • Poultry – Chicken, Turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
  • Fish and Seafood – Fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
  • Eggs – chicken eggs, duck eggs
  • Nuts and Seeds – Almonds, pine nuts, walnut, macadamia, hazelnut, cashew, peanut, nut spreads, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts
  • Legumes/beans – All beans, lentils, chick peas, split peas and tofu.

There is quite a range of foods considered as part of this group and one of the key nutrients these have in common, is that they are all important sources of protein. In Australia, we typically enjoy consuming foods from this group and generally most individuals consume adequate protein in their daily diets. In addition to providing protein, this group also provides us with a range of important nutrients including iron, zinc, iodine, vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids. Following the recent review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines, it would seem that Australian adult males tend to eat more red meat than they need and many children and some women need to eat more than they currently do.

When it comes to iron, lean red meats tend to be the riches and most well absorbed source. While the iron (and zinc) found in animal foods tend to be better absorbed than those found in the plant varieties including nuts, seeds and legumes, it should be noted that the other nutrients such as vitamin C found in fruit and vegetables, often consumed with these foods, does assist with the absorption of iron.

You may have noticed that legumes/beans appear in this group as well as the vegetable group. While these foods are certainly considered vegetables, they also provide some of the same nutrients as lean meats, poultry, seafood and eggs. For vegetarians, these foods are a key source of nutrients, particularly protein and must be consumed in order to balance their diet.

Serve Sizes:

What was a serve 2003?

One Serve=

  •   65-100g cooked meat
  •   80-120g cooked fish fillet
  •   2 small eggs
  •   1/3 Cup cooked dried beans, lentils, chick   peas, split peas or canned beans
  •   1/3 cup peanuts/almonds

What is a serve in 2013?


One Serve =

  •   65g cooked lean red meats such as beef, lamb,   veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (90-100g raw)
  •   80g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or   turkey (100g raw)
  •   100g cooked fish fillet (about 115g raw) or   one small can fish
  •   2 large (120g) eggs
  •   1 cup (150g) cooked or canned legumes/beans   such as lentils, chick peas or split peas (preferably with no added salt)
  •   170g tofu
  •   30g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or   tahini or other nut or seed paste (no added salt)*

*only to be used occasionally as a substitute for other foods in the   group.


So how much should school aged children be eating and has this changed since the 2003 Guidelines?


2003 Core Food Group Requirements

Age Number of Serves required/day
4-7yrs 0.5
8-11 yrs 1
12-18 yrs 1


2013 Core Food Group Requirements

Age Number of Serves/day  –  Boys Number of Serves/day –  Girls
2-3yrs 1 1
4-8 yrs 1.5 1.5
9-11yrs 2.5 2.5
12-13yrs 2.5 2.5
14-18yrs 2.5 2.5


Key Messages

  1. Key nutrients provided by this group include protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Protein is important for the growth and repair of tissues and iron plays a crucial role in the transport of oxygen in the blood around the body. Enjoy a wide variety of choices from this food group to maximise nutrient intake.
  2. To ensure adequate amounts of iron and zinc, about half of the daily required amounts should come from lean meat options in this group.
  3. For those who don’t eat animal foods, but who do consume milk products and eggs in addition to nuts/seeds, legumes/beans, can get all the necessary nutrients for this group from their diet.
  4. The 2013 guidelines give users a little more detail on what range of foods are included as part of this group. This can be seen in particular with the options provided in “what is a serve” section. Users are given more detailed about raw vs cooked weights and there are now no longer ranges for serve sizes. E.g. where one serve of meat was previously 65-100g, it is now simply 65g.  As a result, it can be interpreted that the serve size has reduced overall.
  5. Daily serve size requirements have increased for all children, even in light of what is considered a serve size decreasing.
  6. Where relevant, serve group sizes are listed as both weight (grams) measures and cup measures.
  7. Serve size for legumes when considered as an alternative to meat in this group are increased from ½ to 1 Cup cooked. This amount is required for legumes to be used more suitably as an alternative to meat.
  8. Tofu has been included as an alternative in the new guidelines.
  9. A serve of egg has been increased from 2 small eggs previously, to 2 large eggs currently.



All information and images relating to The Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Dietary Guidelines in this article are used by permission of the National Health and Medical Research Council.


Vegetable Dips

Vegetable based dips make a healthy snack choice and can be used as a spread on sanwiches and wraps. It should come as no surprise that dips top the list of the perfect party food. They are fun to eat  and  simple and easy to prepare.

Dips can be a great way to get kids trying new vegetables. Serve them with celery and carrot sticks or crackers. Why not try our Easy Avocado and Basil Smash or Roasted Garlic Hummus?

Avocado Smash

Serves 4-6


  • 1 large avocado (needs to be ripe)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ cup sliced basil
  • ½  teaspoon paprika
  • Cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red onion


  1. Cut avocado in half, discard the seed and place flesh into a bowl
  2. Roughly smash avocado with a fork (or potato masher) until it’s still chunky
  3. Stir through lemon juice, sliced basil and paprika. Season with pepper
  4. Add a small amount of diced red onion or spring onion if you desire

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Serves 4-6


  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 400g can of chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • ½ cup lemon juice lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder


  1. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees. Remove papery skin from garlic cloves, coat them lightly with oil and wrap loosely in foil. Bake for 20 minutes until softened.
  2. Rinse and drain chickpeas and place in a food processor. Process all ingredients until the mixture is smooth. E.g.  roasted garlic, tahini, lemon juice, oil and cumin powder.
  3. Serve with pita chips or vegetable sticks.  



Yoghurt Raspberry Loaf

Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry