Sanitarium has released a free digital children’s cookbook in partnership with Masterchef’s Callum Hann and dietician Themis Chryssidis from Adelaide’s Sprout Cooking School.

Called 12 before 12, the initiative challenges children to learn essential health cooking skills before they turn 12-years-old.

Grouped into four key area, 12 before 12 covers the complete food journey, from planning healthy meals and choosing nutritious options at the shops, through to the hands-on tools and techniques children need in the kitchen.

It also highlights the importance of family mealtimes as an opportunity for parents to model healthy eating behaviours and reconnect after a busy school day, which Sanitarium’s Little People Big Lives report demonstrates is critical for children’s emotional wellbeing.

Sprout’s Chryssidis says that a mission to simplify healthy eating advice guided them with 12 before 12.

“Somewhere along the way, the healthy eating message has got so complex. We’ve become overly focussed on looking at food through the lens of nutrients or kilojoules – the micro detail of what we’re eating – that we’ve lost sight of the bigger picture behaviours that make healthy eating intuitive. Food has become over-thought, and it’s not doing us any good.

“12 before 12’s simpler message is: Eat mostly whole plant-based foods, drink mostly water, cook more at home – and for kids, find ways to sprinkle in some fun,” he said.

These food skills form the basis of a new Sanitarium cookbook, available as a free digital download from the 12 before 12 website.

Shane Landon, Accredited Practising Dietician and Nutrition Insights Manager, Sanitarium Health Food Company, says: “One of the key ways to a healthier diet is having the practical skills to make it happen.”

“Food preparation and cooking skills are key ingredients in nutrition education, but we can’t rely on schools to do the job alone, particularly when most meal preparation happens in the home. Teaching children essential food skills needs to sit alongside physical activity as a priority for every Australian parent – and it can be lots of fun too.”

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