Claire Burrell, 44, is a mother of twin boys and founder of a not-for-profit organisation that teaches young children to enjoy eating healthy food by training staff to provide fun activities in nurseries.
What Claire says
What steps do you take to get your kids to eat healthily?
How did you become so passionate about healthy eating?
"Healthy eating became really important to me when I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 24. I wanted to eat the healthiest food possible, so I devoted lots of time and energy to healthy eating and cooking. Following chemotherapy I was not able to have children naturally, but I gave birth to twin boys after undergoing IVF. While this experience initially served as a catalyst for eating healthily, it has remained a fundamental part of my lifestyle."
How conscious are your kids about eating healthily?
"My two kids are also very aware of healthy eating as I exposed them to seasonal produce since early childhood. They still ask for sweet treats like a biscuit or chocolate, but they understand the concept of eating these foods in moderation. I often take the kids shopping so they can see the whole process of buying raw veg and then using it to make a meal. When they were younger, they would even have their own shopping baskets and shopping lists. At 11 years old, they are involved in choosing meals for the following week, and the fruit they want to eat at snack times."
Are your children ‘fussy eaters’?
"Arguments at the dinner table over eating fruit and veg are infrequent. I believe this is the result of not forcing them to eat something they don’t want to and by not bribing them with dessert. I encourage them to taste different fruits and veg without being forced to eat something they don’t want to."
What’s one of your most successful food stories when it comes to getting your kids to eat healthily?
What are some of the steps you have taken to get your kids to eat healthily?
"I’ve come up with some creative ways to encourage them. For example, to get them to eat more cabbage, I put grated cabbage in a Singapore noodles recipe. Because the colour is the same as the noodles and the texture is masked by the other ingredients in the recipe, I find that they have no problem eating it. While I’ve gone to great lengths to offer a variety of veg to the kids, I would never prepare a completely separate meal for them. It’s important not to give in to the kids and not to give up offering them healthy food. Ultimately, we are in control of what foods we provide for our kids, so we need to make sure that they are being offered the nutrition that they need."
Claire's favourite recipe
"Leek, lemon and courgette risotto. The kids absolutely love risotto and it’s really easy to make."
If you like the sound of this meal idea, try our Vegetable Risotto recipe which feeds the whole family for under £3: http://www.eatbetterfeelbetter.co.uk/recipe/vegetable-risotto.
Claire's top tips
"Don’t bribe or manipulate your kids into eating something they don’t want to. Ask questions about what kinds of food they see in front of them, and make comments like ‘I wonder if this broccoli is crunchy’ or ‘I wonder what these steamed carrots taste like.’"