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Food Surgery with Paula Mee Week 4: Food for Adolescents - Chill Con Carne & Apple Couscous Pudding

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Foods for Adolescents

Paula has been in cooking and discussing nutritious food with us for the last 3 weeks. Each week she talks about specific foods needed in the diet to help with specific health issues.

Today is the last week of this strand and she will be talking about foods for adolescents, in particular, foods to help with. Last week she dealt with foods to help with women's health issues, specifically pregnancy and menopause.

The Facts

Teenagers, especially those aged between 14 and 18, have greater nutritional needs than any other age-group in terms of calorie, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements. This is the crucial time for making height and muscle, for building bone mass and for sexual development. Health problems later in life, including osteoporosis and heart disease, may be influenced by what people eat in their teens. This is the time in their lives when parents should try to establish and encourage healthy eating habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Yet, sadly, many teenagers get a poorer diet than most other social groups.

Here are some results from the Irish National Teens Food Survey, carried out in 2005 - 2006.

1 in 5 Irish teens is overweight or obese

There has been a significant increase in obesity since 1990, especially in Irish males

Strong parental influence is linked with the prevalence of obesity in Irish teens

High computer game use may be linked with overweight and obesity in Irish teens

Other diet related problems include:

Fruit does not factor on the menus of one in 3 teenagers, while 90% say they eat vegetables, but only consume an average of 54 grams a day

23% of teenage boys and 42% of teenage girls have inadequate calcium intakes

25% of teenage boys and 31% of teenage girls have inadequate vitamin A intakes

19% of teenage boys and 74% of teenage girls have inadequate iron intakes

Fibre, vitamin D and folate are also low in teenagers diets
Fat and salt intakes are too high

Who is the guest?

Paula Mee

BSc., Dip Dietetics., MSc in Health Sciences., Dip Allergy, M.I.N.D.I.
Nutrition Consulting

From Galway, Paula graduated from University College Galway with a BSc in Biochemistry.

She then completed her postgraduate qualifications in Dietetics and a Masters in Health Science in Leeds Metropolitan University.

Paula has recently been awarded a Diploma in Allergy from Southampton University. She has also completed the British Dietetic Association's Sports Dietitian course. She is a current member and a past president of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute. Paula Mee, Nutrition Consulting was set up in 2004 and offers organisations and industry an extensive range of services in nutrition, product development and marketing communications.

As part of her working week she also operates a dietetic and weight management clinic in the Dublin Nutrition Centre.

Prior to this, Paula was the Nutrition Manager for Superquinn. Previously she worked as senior nutritionist in the National Dairy Council. She has also practiced as a dietitian in
Hospitals in Northern Ireland.

Paula is currently on the board of Consumer Foods in Bord Bia. Paula was one of the presenters of RTE TV's Health Squad programme which ran from 2002 to 2006. She makes regular appearances on TV and radio programmes advising on nutrition and health issues.

Angela Phelan's "Who's who in Ireland" recently commented:
"(Paula) now has a national profile from her Health Squad TV series. Down to earth, no nonsense approach to diet and nutrition. Doesn't lecture or hector instead her easy manner makes her advice so much easier to take"

Calcium needs

Needed for the strength and structure of bones and teeth, calcium is vital in a teenager's diet. To make sure your teenager gets enough calcium encourage them to eat or drink plenty of low-fat dairy products. Ideally, teenagers need at least 4 servings a day. These will also provide much-needed vitamin D.

Iron intake

The body needs iron to build red blood cells. When you do not get enough iron from the food in your daily diet, you tire more easily and lack stamina, which can be difficult for teenagers involved in sport.

Teenage girls have a higher requirement for iron than boys because iron is lost each month during menstruation. Unfortunately, many teenage girls skip meals or try unbalanced fad diets in an effort to lose weight, or they may decide to become vegetarian. As a result they may not be getting enough iron in their diet, which puts them at risk of iron-deficiency anaemia.

To achieve an iron-rich diet, encourage your teenager to eat red meat at least once a week, and pulses and beans on a regular basis. Fortified breakfast cereals can also help with iron intakes.

In order to maximise the amount of iron absorbed from food, your teenager should also eat foods rich in vitamin C, including fruit and vegetables.

Growth and development

Adolescent boys need to eat more food than adult men, relative to their weight and size. They need the extra nutrients to support growth and their relatively high levels of physical activity.

Not only is there a continuous process of growth and development, but the process doesn't always continue at a regular pace. Growth spurts come at different times between the ages of 12 and 16, and this is when the boys need the most energy.

Encouraging healthy eating habits

Regular meals are essential, starting with a proper breakfast. If they race for the bus every morning after no more than half a piece of toast and a snatched hot drink or can of fizzy drink, then the temptation to boost their mid-morning nose-diving blood sugar levels with another fizzy drink, or a chocolate bar or packet of crisps will be almost irresistible.

Porridge is a great breakfast, and they can make it themselves in just 2-3 minutes. Its high fibre content will fill them up for the morning. They should eat it with milk (preferably fortified) for calcium and vitamin D.

If lunch is sandwiches, make sure they're made from wholegrain bread. Add a hard-boiled egg, cheese, tuna or chicken for protein. Include plenty of salad and round off their lunch with a yoghurt and a piece of fruit.

Encourage your teenagers to sit down to a sensible, leisurely evening meal with the rest of the family, since lunch is so often eaten in a rush. Include lots of vegetables to boost their fibre, vitamin and mineral intakes.

1. Eggs - the original convenience food. They supply protein, iron and choline for brain function

2. Red meat - iron

3. Pulses & beans - alternative iron source, plus fibre

Chill Con Carne

(Serves 4)

. 500g lean minced beef iron
. 1 tsp sunflower oil
. 1 large onion, chopped
. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
. 1-2 fresh green chillies, seeded & chopped
. Bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
. 400g tin red kidney beans, drained & rinsed iron
. 400g tin chopped tomatoes
. 400g Carrots vitamin A
. 2 tbsp tomato puree
. 2 tsp soft brown sugar
. 175ml chicken stock or water
. 1 cinnamon stick
. 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
. Lime juice
. Fresh ground black pepper

Eat with: Tortilla chips or tacos. Top with natural yoghurt, diced avocado, chopped fresh coriander, chopped red onion, squeeze of lime & grated cheese.

Preheat the oven to 180oC if baking. Heat the oil in a large casserole.
2. Tip in the mince and turn quickly until browned.
3. Lower the heat and add the onion, garlic, chillies and coriander.
4. Cook for a few minutes until soft.
5. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, stock or water and cinnamon stick.
6. Stir and bring to the boil.
7. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer gently or bake in the oven for 1 hour.
8. Check and stir occasionally. Add a splash of water if needed.
9. Add the red pepper and stir.
10. Cover and simmer gently or bake for a further 40 minutes.
11. Taste. Season with pepper and a squeeze of lime.

Foods which are great for teenagers include:

1. Yoghurt / fortified milk- calcium and vitamin D

2. Spinach/ fruit - high in vitamin A.(beta carotene), vitamin C, folate, source of iron, source of calcium, full of antioxidants

Apple Couscous Pudding

(Serves 4)

. 600ml apple juice (fruit)
. 115g couscous
. 40g sultanas (fruit)
. tsp mixed spice
. 1 large Bramley apple, peeled, cored and sliced (fruit)
. 2 tbsp demerara sugar
. Natural low-fat yoghurt to serve Calcium

1. Preheat the oven to 200oC.
2. Place the apple juice, couscous, sultanas and spice in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring.
3. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until all the free liquid is absorbed.
4. Spoon half the couscous mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with half the apple slices. Top with remaining couscous.
5. Arrange the remaining apple slices overlapping over the top and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Serve warm with yoghurt.

Apple Peeler: Jacqui Morrisssey

takes orders over the phone (086 3858157) and they are sent the next day via An Post. The price is €25 plus p&p (€8).

Paula Mee