It seemed appropriate that this was the scene that I found outside when I woke up on Saturday ready to travel to Bristol to attend a Growing Up Milk Info Event all about how children are lacking in Vitamin D. The first snow of the winter was at the end of October and here we are at the end of March and there's still some snow on the ground. Most of Master C's life has been winter with snow nearly every month. It's often far too cold to be outside with the children, especially with a small baby who can't yet run around to keep himself warm.
In fact though the start of British summertime (Sunday 31 March – Vitamin D Day) is the first day on which the sun is at the right angle for our bodies to make Vitamin D, and the period from April to September it is vital for children to receive Vitamin D from the sun. At the same time though there are constant worries about over-exposure to the sun and the risks of skin cancer meaning that it's also vital to use sun-cream. Balancing all these things it's obvious that toddlers need Vitamin D rich diets, especially if we're to stop the rise of rickets in children that we're currently seeing. Whilst vitamin D is important for everyone, toddlers have a specific need for the vitamin to support the period of growth and development during the toddler years, as it supports the development of healthy bones and teeth. It was reported just in December last year that Doctors are urging for Vitamin D to be added to more food. Some foods naturally contain Vitamin D and as a parent it is obviously good to know what these foods are and to try to incorporate them in your toddler's diet as much as possible.
For toddlers one easy way to increase their Vitamin D intake is through Growing Up Milk. I'm sure I'm not alone as someone who moved Little Miss C on to cows milk once she turned one, but when you look at the following table and see what extra things Growing Up Milk would give her over cow's milk at this stage of her development it makes me feel quite bad about doing so.
Drinking Growing Up Milk (GUM) isn't the only way of getting Vitamin D into a toddler's diet though. As well as trying to incorporate foods that are rich in Vitamin D in their diets you can also cook with GUM. Growing Up Milk Info have been working with kids food expert Fiona Faulkner who has been developing recipes for children using GUM instead of normal cow's milk. GUM has a slightly sweeter taste than cow's milk and whilst a straight substitution is possible, recipes would not taste the same.
On Saturday Carolin from Mummy Alarm and I were lucky enough to attend a cook along with Fiona where we tried out four of her recipes. It was a fantastic opportunity to pick up lots of tips for cooking for children (I'm sure there'll be a whole separate blog post about this!) and to see just how easy it is to incorporate GUM in meals for toddlers.
The first thing we made were Baby Broccoli Muffins and I have to say that there were just so delicious! The sweetness of the GUM combined with the saltiness of the cheddar cheese worked perfectly and all of us really enjoyed tucking in to these. I would quite happily be served these myself as a canape or just a savory snack. They are also incredibly simple to make. Mr C is usually very sceptical of vegetables in cakes, but even he seemed to be won over when he tasted them. Sadly we let slip to LMC that they contained broccoli and we just couldn't convince her to taste them at all. She's a determined little lady that's for sure. I think next time I make some I just won't tell her what they contain and hope that she will at least try them then.
The idea of combining pancakes and pizza may sound a bit strange at first, but both are things that children love and therefore Fiona came up with the idea of a pizza pancake. The pizza base is actually a pancake made with GUM, whilst the pizza topping tries to squeeze as many vegetables as possible into it. Again the sweetness of the GUM really works well in the pancakes, yet the pancake also works as pizza base too. I'm delighted to say that LMC devoured the pancake base, but yet again her magical vegetable-sensor was at work and she declared that the pizza topping wasn't something she liked without even tasting it!
Amazingly I managed to master the skill of flipping pancakes and Cara from Frank PR even managed to catch it on camera! Just excuse the slightly paniced look on my face.
We also made Mac and Cheese and Rice Pudding with the Growing Up Milk and again I was amazed how good both tasted. When I borded the train back to London I was carrying several tubs of food that we'd made during the day and I even had some hungry students comment on how nice everything smelt and ask what I had with me. I'll be honest and say that I decided not to tell them that I'd been cooking with formula – it just didn't quite seem the thing to tell a bunch of strangers!
There's no doubt that I learnt a huge amount last Saturday and I really hope that doing so will now benefit both my children. I've certainly had my eyes opened as to where their diets may be lacking, but also how I can change that moving forwards. Now to do so.
Disclaimer: My expenses for going to Bristol for this cook along were paid and I also received a goodie bag whilst there. I am currently a Growing Up Milk Mum.