Your body needs lots of nutrients, minerals and vitamins, for it to work correctly. When your body is working correctly, you don’t get ill, you have lots of energy, and you are happier.

Did you know that healthy food can make you happy? When our brains receive the nutrients it needs, it works better and makes happy hormones in our brains that are then released, making us feel good.

When we feel good, we work better, we play harder, and we are kind to others.

Let’s take a look at what make a healthy plate.

Knowledge is power, and when you know what you need to eat to be healthy, happy and strong, you can make the right choices.

Let’s have a look at some of our favourite fruit and veg and see what vitamins and minerals we can get by eating them regularly.

Strawberries

  • Vitamin C – this is an essential vitamin; it keeps our immune system healthy, which helps to fight bugs and illness.
  • Folate and potassium – this help to grow our skin and keep it healthy. If you cut yourself, it is these minerals that will help to make the skin grow back.
  • Antioxidants – this helps to protect the cells of our bodies. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, and we need to eat lots of foods with antioxidants to help keep our bodies healthy on the inside and outside.
  • Manganese – helps to keep our bones strong, helps our bodies process the other minerals and vitamins we eat, making sure they go to the right place in our bodies.

Grapes

  • Vitamin C & K – We’ve spoken about vitamin C, but vitamin K is good for helping your blood to clot. If you fall over and graze your knee, the blood clotting helps to form the scab which then stops dirt and germs getting into the cut.
  • Vitamin B6 – helps to produce the happy hormone, serotonin, which works to keep your mood lifted.
  • Thiamin – this mineral helps to keep your memory sharp, helping you when you need to learn your times tables or your weekly words for a spelling test.

Cucumber

  • Water – Cucumbers are 95% water. Your body needs water for its cells to work properly; otherwise, you can get dizzy and sick or even have to go to the hospital and how can you hang out with your friends if you’re ill?
  • Our antioxidant friends can be found in cucumbers too!
  • Scientists have discovered that cucumbers help to keep your heart healthy, there are lots of nutrients in the seeds that are very good for keeping your heart healthy.

Carrots

  • arrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is great news as your body converts this into vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for your vision and is very important for a growing body and helps keep your immune system healthy. It’s your immune system that helps to keep you from being ill, and if you do get sick, a robust immune system helps you to get better quickly so that you’re back playing with your friends before you know it.
  • Vitamin B6 – This is a group of vitamins that help your body turn your food into energy.
  • Lycopene – one of our antioxidant friends, helping keep our bodies healthy.

All of these fruits and vegetables can be eaten as a snack or a healthy addition to any meal. Health experts tell us we need to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables to keep our bodies healthy.

How can you make sure you eat 5 portions?

  • Fruit for snacks – bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, carrot and cucumber sticks make delicious and healthy snacks.
  • Ask mum and dad to add beans, peas, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, sweetcorn or any of your favourite vegetables to your dinners.
  • Smoothies – these are a great way to blend your favourite fruit and veg with milk or water to make a healthy, delicious drink.  Freeze smoothies to make healthy & delicious ice lollies to share with your friends.

Our bodies need proteins in our diets. Lean meat, chicken and fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, beans and legumes are excellent sources of proteins.

  • The body uses proteins to build and repair the body tissue (skin and muscle to you and me).
  • Proteins also make enzymes and enzymes are super important and perform essential tasks in your body. They help build muscle, they destroy toxins, and they break your food down into teeny tiny particles to help your body absorb the goodness in the food.
  • They are also the building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood – like miniature Lego bricks -they build bodies, rather than the Harry Potter castle, helicopters and boats, or whatever you like to make with Lego.

Now we know how important protein is and what foods contain protein, we need to know how to make it yummy and fun!

You probably hear your mum or school teachers tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and they’re right! Having a protein-filled breakfast will help you have lots of energy and brainpower for a fun-filled day at school. There is nothing worse than being hungry at school!

Protein-packed yummy scrummy breakfasts –

  • Scrambled eggs & baked beans
  • Porridge with banana (or whatever you like)
  • Pancakes (if you’re lucky enough to have time for pancakes in the morning)
  • Boiled egg and dippy soldiers, (who doesn’t love a dippy egg?)

Protein-packed lunch

Our school lunches are delicious and packed full of goodness, but if you want a packed lunch, you can ask mum and dad to put the following in your lunch box for added protein:

  • Yoghurt
  • Cubes of ham or chicken
  • Cheese
  • Hard-boiled egg (if your school allows egg – make sure you check with them first)
  • A little tub of hummus with carrot sticks to dip in, yum!

Protein-packed dinners:

  • Chicken fajitas
  • Bacon and cheese and egg muffins
  • Mild chilli
  • Roast chicken

We now need to add some Carbohydrates to our healthy plate to bring our meals into balance:

Carbohydrates provide our bodies and brains with energy; they help look after our muscles, our digestive systems and our hearts.

The foods that contain the carbohydrates our bodies need are:

  • Grains – this food group consists of bread, rice, crackers and cereals.
  • Legumes – beans: you might get your carbohydrates from baked beans or red kidney beans in your chilli.
  • Starchy vegetables – potatoes are the most common starchy vegetable. The carbohydrate on your plate may come from – chips, mash or roast potatoes and jacket potato.

Last but certainly not least, we need to talk about calcium. Calcium is essential for building bones and keeping them healthy, but did you know that we also need calcium for and blood, and we need it for our hearts to beat.

If we don’t get enough calcium, our body will take it out of our bones, and this makes them weak. To keep our bones healthy, we need to make sure we eat plenty of foods that contain calcium.

Foods that contain calcium are:

  • Dairy foods – milk, cheese, yoghurt, (ice cream – pssst, don’t tell your mum we told you that.) Having a glass of milk with your meal adds calcium.
  • Green leafy vegetables – not everyone’s favourite type of vegetable but broccoli and cabbage are full of calcium. If you eat it with carrot mash, you can hardly taste the broccoli.
  • Kiwi’s are full of calcium and make a delicious snack. Strawberries are also a great source, add a few chopped strawberries to yoghurt for a double whammy calcium boost.

There we have it – a balanced and healthy plate with lots of ideas and suggestions that you can add to your plate for an injection of the goodness our bodies need.

Lynne Wilson-Bailey

Lynne Wilson-Bailey

Office manager at Ideal School Meals