Schools and Special Diets

Schools and Special Diets

I was sick to my stomach when my son Tim started school, wondering how I’d manage schools and special diets when I wasn’t there to control the environment. I couldn’t leave any stone unturned in making sure it was Schools and Special Dietsgoing to be safe.

Preparation and communication is vital. When you can pre-empt what might be a stumbling block and give clear instructions with easy alternatives for these situations, you should find that the school community is happy to help.

Here are some of the things I did that I hope might help you when you come to managing your child’s special diet at school.

  • Firstly make a rule with your child – they can ONLY eat what you send to school or what the teacher approves.
  • Talk to the teacher and ask what sort of rewards they use in the classroom. Please encourage them to use non-food rewards for good work – things like stickers/pencils. If they won’t, then give them a stash of acceptable treats they can use for your child. This is very important. You don’t want your child missing out.
  • Ask the teacher to give you a schedule for any cooking they may be doing or any topics that are going to have food attached. Ask if you can send in substitute ingredients, modify the recipe for the whole class or send in something else for your child. I didn’t realise how much food was involved in a school day –you have movie days, days where you eat food from a certain country, cooking as a skill where you make something and eat it for morning tea, rewards after sports events, pizza for the class who wins a challenge .. and on it goes. You have to make sure you have contingency plans for all of these.
  • Bake a few dozen, nicely decorated cupcakes and take them in a labeled container and leave them in a freezer near the classroom. It seems that there is a birthday every second day and there’s cake on offer! Again you want a great alternative so your child doesn’t have to miss out.
  • Make up a sheet with your child’s name and picture on it and list all the foods they can’t eat. Don’t just write gluten or dairy for example as many people won’t know exactly what that means. Spell it out – list bread, cake, biscuits, milk, cheese, yogurt etc. Make sure this sheet goes not only to their class teacher but to the office, to specialist teachers (where they go to other classrooms like music and art) and also that it’s in the files for a relief teacher if your class teacher is absent.
  • Make friends with the tuckshop convener at your school. Give them the sheet above and then go through the tuckshop menu with them and mark off what your child is allowed from there (if your school is anything like an average one, unfortunately this will be a very short list).
  • Bake your own pies/sausage rolls/meals and send them into the tuckshop in a labeled container to keep in the freezer. That way you can give your child a tuckshop order every now and then and they feel just like the other kids and you know they are getting a treat but it’s a safe, healthy treat. Buy the tuckshop ladies a nice Christmas present and they will be happy to help you out. If all else fails, take over the tuckshop in your spare time so you are in charge of what’s on the menu J

With some preparation and planning, school can be a safe and enjoyable place for kids with special dietary needs. Good luck!

Article submitted by Kris Barrett


Backyard Cricket Guide

Backyard Cricket Guide

With the Aussie summer of backyard cricket just around the corner, it’s time to get those backyards cricket-ready for family and friends to enjoy a little healthy competition.Backyard Cricket

Legendary pitch maker, Les Burdett, who was Head Curator at the Adelaide Oval for more than 40 years, says that regardless of your turf variety, preparing a backyard pitch is easy and can be done in just a few simple steps.

“You don’t need to be a turf or cricket expert, or have a specific type of lawn to create a great pitch. The only tools you need are probably already lying around the house – a lawn mower, spray can of grass-friendly acrylic paint and a garbage bin or esky!

“Taking the time to create a simple pitch will pay off in countless hours of entertainment and fun for friends and family, especially during the upcoming holiday season.

“I’ve been privileged enough to travel the world making turf cricket pitches, but nothing is quite like a good old game of backyard cricket,” said Mr Burdett.

Les Burdett’s 3 steps to the perfect backyard pitch:

Select the best open space in your yard and give it a good water. Every space will have characteristics that give your cricket game its own personal character, whether it’s a shed, the hills hoist or an established tree.

Mark out your deBackyard Cricket Pitch Guidesired pitch and mow the grass low. Use string lines for a professionally cut, straight pitch and a cylinder mower if possible, as it will provide a light roll and a beautifully manicured pitch surface. If the grass is thatchy, lower your mower’s cutting height and repeat to remove more grass.

Mark the batting and bowling crease on the grass with either a grass-friendly spray can or create your own appropriate paint by watering down white water-based acrylic paint with 2 parts water, 1 part paint. Paint onto grass with a 25-50mm brush.

Want to make your pitch more pro? Top dress the pitch with a sandy loam to fill in any ridges or holes. This will provide an even better batting surface.

Post a photo of your very own backyard cricket pitch on our Facebook page, Lawnspiration, and go in running to win tickets to the KFC Big Bash in your nearest capital city.

For more information visit or

Holiday Food For Kids

Holiday Food For Kids

The school holidays are here again and the question of what to feed the kids is top of mind. So how do you have healthy holiday food for the kids and still have fun treats?Holiday Food For Kids

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that homemade is the best option. This way you know exactly what is in the food, especially if you have extra mouths to feed. So many children have food allergies these days and react to preservatives, colourings and sugar.

Kids love bite sized food that they can eat with their hands. Try my low-fat Sausage Rolls (Book 2), Mini Quiches (Book 4), Mexican Meatballs (Book 1), Chicken Bites (Book 3), Mini Pizza Breads and Potato Wedges (Book 4) to name but a few. I also have a Party Food section in Book 4 that will help.

Many of my recipes can be made ahead and frozen. Encourage the kids to get into the kitchen and help with the cooking. They say variety is the spice of life and it’s no different with kids’ food, keep it interesting and they will look forward to meal times.

Here are more suggestions:

For Lunches

  • Pizzas made on Lebanese bread. These are delicious and much cheaper and healthier than the bought variety. Kids love ham, cheese and pineapple. Let them add their own toppings.
  • Sushi is popular with kids. Slice it up for littler kids to make it easier for them to handle.
  • Salad wraps are great. Cut them into small sizes so they can eat them easily.

For Snacks

  • Kids love dips. Avoid ones that are high in salt and fat and serve with rice crackers or carrot/celery sticks, snow peas or cucumber
  • Corn on the cob. Leave the husk on and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes for a delicious treat, no butter required.
  • Homemade popcorn is always a winner.
  • Pre-packaged options such as cheese sticks or snack sized Vege Chips are an occasional treat.

Something Sweet

  • Fresh fruit with a yoghurt dipping sauce is a welcome sweet treat. Think grapes, strawberries, small dices of melons, apple or whatever is in season.
  • Small boxes of sultanas or Be Natural muesli bars.
  • Check out the baking section in my cookbooks.

It’s how we sell ‘healthy’ to our kids. I was in the supermarket recently and heard a mother ask her little girl who was sitting in the trolley “would you like a lolly?” The little girl answered with a very excited “yes please.” The mum reached into her bag and handed her a dried apricot. “Yum” said the little girl. Make healthy the hero!

Article submitted by Annette Sym of Symply Too Good


Holiday Sun Protection

Holiday Sun Protection

Holiday sun protection is more important than you are probably aware.Holiday Sun Protection

The statistics are scary: Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. It is the most common type of cancer in Australia, and 90%-99% of skin cancer is related to sun exposure. And just in case skin cancer wasn’t enough of a deterrent, up to 90% of the visible signs of ageing, including wrinkles, are caused by sun exposure too.

So, be it for health or vanity reasons, having the best possible skin comes down to reducing sun damage.

With temperatures already on the rise, here are my top 4 tips to defend yourself against the dangers of sun exposure.

Make sun protection a daily habit

 Everyone, especially people with fair skin types, are familiar with the burn from UVB rays. But did you know that 95% of UV rays are UVA rays? And these UVA rays are with us all the time, every day, regardless of the season, and hour of daylight, or weather forecast. UVA rays are responsible for premature skin ageing, such as pigmentation, wrinkles, reduced skin elasticity, dark spots, skin yellowing and skin cancer. They penetrate deep into our skin, not just superficial layers, and through most clothing, cloud cover and glass. The damaged caused by UVA rays is irreversible.

For this reason, protecting yourself against sun exposure is something that you need to do every day – not just days spent poolside or on the beach. And with summer approaching, the best time to start making sun protection a daily habit is now!

Cotton Doesn’t Cut It

The Cancer Council’s Slip Slop Slap message is NOT being fulfilled by slipping on clothing of just any description. Yes, we all love our t-shirts, flowy kaftans and oh-so-versatile sarongs. But, did you know, that the average white cotton t-shirt only has a UPF 5 (which is like SPF for clothes)? This means that it allows 1/5th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through.  And remember UV rays are not blocked by cloud coverage or glass.

You need to be wearing clothing that has been specifically designed to protect you from the sun. If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time this summer, remember, cotton doesn’t cut it, look for clothing labeled as providing certified UPF 50+ protection, the highest possible rating.

Be generous with your sunscreen

 Despite the fact that women know they should wear sunscreen every day of the year, less than 30% of us do on a regular basis. I hear many excuses for this – from ‘it’s too greasy’ to ‘I’m too busy’. But, given the importance of sun protection, I hope you’ll get in the habit of applying sunscreen daily, especially during these warmer months.

Personally I use Hamilton Sensitive UPF50+ Sunscreen – Hamilton is an Australian laboratory that has particular expertise with dry and sensitive skins and their sensitive sunscreen is free from fragrance, lanolin, and colours, and offers broad spectrum 50+ protection.

Remember, UVA rays are with us all the time, every day. Be generous with your sunscreen, most people do not use enough, apply it before you go outside and reapply it at least every 2 hours.

For every head, a hat

Yes, you need your hat to be breathable, lightweight and comfortable – but it also needs to be constructed in a fabric that offers protection.  I see women wearing their big floppy straw hats and yes, they look good and provide shade, but if you can see through the weave, then those UV rays can see you too!

Like sun protection clothing, look for hats that are labeled as providing protection from UV exposure.

 Don’t be a statistic

 With so many great reasons to protect yourself from sun exposure and so much public education focused on skin protection, it’s hard to believe that we Aussies are not already world class superstars at sun safety. I implore you, please don’t be a statistic, learn more about sun protection, and enjoy the sun safely.

Article submitted by Annaliese Allen

Founder of Honeybell Waterwear


Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

Do you feel a slight sensation of dread, thinking what all those Christmas parties will do to your waistline?  Staying healthy this holiday season doesn’t need to be stressful.Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

A new study shows that even one week of overindulging can change the way your genes in your fat cells store fat.  This is shocking news indeed, but there are some simple steps we can implement to prevent this, and get through the jolly season not only with our health intact, but positively glowing!

  1. Sit down and set your goal. On January 1st, 2017 how do you want to feel and look? Write yourself a postcard from the future, describing exactly how you are after the party season is over
  2. Plan your strategy of how you will achieve this. For this you need to concentrate on three elements:
  • Maintaining your focus. Plan beforehand how you want to act at get-togethers. How many drinks will you have? Which food items will you have, and which ones might you reserve as a special treat for Christmas itself? Is there a special dish you could bring, that you know is low in calories and scores high on taste, which you could fill up on? Get creative and have fun planning with your goal of feeling fantastic in January firm in your mind.
  • Nourish your body well. Start the day with fresh fruit and berries, have plenty of salad and veg. Stay away from refined foods as much as possible, and tweak your recipes to make them fat-free. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – when you drink plenty of water, you feel less hungry.
  • Move your body. Even when you don’t have time for your normal exercise routine, you can have fun building little bursts of movement into the day: think quick trips to the park with the family or dancing to your favourite songs in the living room.
  1. Track and review how you’re going, and tweak your approach as you go.

With this simple strategy you can enjoy a much more relaxed holiday season, and stay in control of your waistline and health at the same time. Beautiful!

Article submitted by Hilke Legenhausen


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