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Crispy Cereal Toasts for Wholefood Breakfast

Crispy Cereal Toasts for Wholefood Breakfast

Bel Smith | May 19, 2020


Cereal Toasts, with a topping of natural greek yoghurt and frozen strawberry chunks (front), peanut butter (back left), or peanut butter and apple slices (back right)
Would you like to give your kids something different to cereal or toast for breakfast? These cereal toasts are a good mixture of cereal and toast. They take cereal ingredients, add some real food ingredients to it, then bake them in an oven to form toasts. Once the toasts are made, add toppings to further boost the goodness and keep tummies fuller for longer.
Like with pancakes, our family prefers to add sweetness by way of the topping rather than the base. If you think your family would like a little sweetness to the toasts, add a splash of maple syrup or rice malt syrup to the ingredients.


1 large ripe banana
1 egg
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp of peanut butter
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup puffed rice
1 tbsp chia seed


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

2. In a mixing bowl, mash the banana

3. Add in the egg and cinnamon. Mix well

4. Add the peanut butter and mix well

5. Add the oats, puffed rice and chia seed. Mix well until all the dry ingredients are now wet

6. Place a sheet of baking paper on a large baking tray. Take a dessert spoon of the mixture and put it onto the tray, then use the back of the spoon or moist hands to flatten and shape the mixture into square toast shapes. This recipe will make 6 toasts.

7. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown

8. Allow to cool, then add your toppings

Topping Ideas

Real butter
100% peanut butter
100% peanut butter with apple or banana slices
Natural greek yoghurt with berries
Ricotta cheese with drizzle of raw honey or rice malt syrup
Ricotta cheese mixed with cream cheese and mashed banana

Storage / Freezing

Store the toasts in a container in the fridge for up to 2 days. To use, warm them gently in a dry frying pan. To freeze, separate the toasts with baking paper, then place in an airtight container. To use, defrost and warm gently in a dry frying pan.

2 Other Ways

Biscuits – Add some cacao nibs (or chocolate chips) or some sultanas, mix, then use smaller spoonfuls to make into biscuits. Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray, then flatten a little.
Dessert – Place some frozen bananas in a processor and mix until it forms an ice cream. Don’t overly process because we want the ice cream a bit firm. Place ice cream in a thick layer on one toast, then top with another. Banana ice cream sandwiches – Yum!

Story behind this recipe

Our son goes through stages where he just wants cereals (a mix of rolled oats, puffed rice and corn, maybe even a Weetbix) for breakfast. I call these cereals cardboard and prefer to have them as a back up, so we have a deal – he can have cereal, as long as he lets me give him something more nutritious to start with. Most mornings, if I am well prepared, he doesn’t even get around to having cereal. This week however, I have not been prepared and so nearly everyday, he has had cereal. Today I wanted to break the habit again, so I created these cereal toasts. The cereal toasts are a combination of the cereal (or I call it cardboard) he loves but mixed with a whole lot of real food goodness to boost the nourishment. We added toppings which include protein and good fats to help keep us all fuller for longer.

Just a reminder, you don’t need to be a master chef, or have a big spotless kitchen to make awesome nutritious meals or snacks for your family.

Banana and Pumpkin Bread

Banana and Pumpkin Bread

Bel Smith | March 30, 2020

I’ve shared this many a time: I’m not a great cook, but I am a smart cook.

I’m always looking for ways to use the same ingredients or recipe a different way. This week I had some really sad pumpkin I discovered in the back of our fridge. I cut the real yucky bits off, and roasted the better bits in big chunks. At the time, I didn’t know how I was going to use it.

After I got it out of the oven to cool, I started doing my weekly meal preparation. This always includes making my new and improved Lazy Bones Banana Bread for a breakfast meal with leftovers for the lunchbox. As I started to make it, I wondered how it would go with pumpkin in it. A quick google search showed other people had made foods with banana and pumpkin, so it appeared the flavours must go ok together. So I tweaked the Lazy Bones Banana Bread recipe to incorporate pureed roast pumpkin, and this delicious Pumpkin and Banana Bread was born.

Our 6 yo son told me it was “wicked”. That’s a good sign. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get Israel to photograph it properly, so I’m sorry you’ve got just my iPhone snap for this recipe.
My new and improved Lazy Bones Banana Bread recipe is one of favourites on our website. I hope you enjoy this new twist to the recipe as much as you love the original.


2 ripe bananas
½ cup pureed roasted pumpkin
½ tsp vanilla powder
1 cup yoghurt
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 cups self raising flour 
½ cup LSA
1 tsp baking powder
Pepitas and coconut flakes (optional but good to sprinkle over the top)


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Grab a big bowl and mash the bananas roughly in the bowl

3. Add in the pureed roast pumpkin and mix well

4. Add vanilla powder, yoghurt and maple syrup – mix well. I use a fork to mix this

5. Add in the flour, LSA and baking powder. Mix with the fork again – just enough for the ingredients to be combined

6. Pour into a prepared loaf / bread tin (I sprayed mine lightly with coconut oil and dusted with a bit of flour)

7. Sprinkle top with pepitas and coconut flakes

8. Cook in oven for 40-50 minutes until brown on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle

9. Allow to cool before removing from the pan

Storing and freezing

Slice and freeze in bags for individual serving. Defrost and toast, and serve with fruit, nuts and yoghurt for breakfast.

This recipe could be made lunchbox safe by replacing the LSA with another flour such as rice flour or all self raising flour.

Just a reminder, you don’t need to be a master chef, or have a big spotless kitchen to make awesome nutritious meals or snacks for your family.

Super Simple Flat Bread

Super Simple Flat Bread

Bel Smith | January 20, 2020

This delicious simple flat bread recipe is my favourite kind of recipe – easy to make, AND versatile!
I love recipes you can use many ways. Like this Simple Flat Bread Recipe – it’s so versatile. This recipe will make you 4-6 flat breads, and here’s some ideas of how you can use them:

For breakfast
Use as a toast by cooking them under the griller and top them with avocado, tomato and cheese. Or cut them into soldiers for dunking into boiled eggs. If you want a fancy breakfast, serve them warm topped with some baby spinach, smashed avocado, tomato, and poached egg.
For the lunchbox
Cut them in half and fill them just like a sandwich. You can cook them in the oven, making them crispier and then cut them into triangles to be used as dunkers to go with dips, homemade baked beans, lentils etc. Or you can turn them into pizzas – see how to do this below.
For dinner
Use these flat breads to go with meals like dahl or chick pea curry. This week we turned them into delicious pizzas for Fun Family Friday Night – our pizza and movie night.

Simple flat breads – freshly made and ready to use.


1 ½ cups wholemeal spelt flour (plus extra for kneading and rolling)
½ tsp of salt
1 tsp yeast
¾ cup warm water
2 tsp olive oil


1. Mix flour, yeast and salt.

2. Make well in centre of the dry ingredients.

3. Mix in water and olive oil by stirring quickly with a fork.

4. Pour water into the well of the dry ingredients and stir through – this will form a sticky dough.

5. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top, then dust your hands with flour. Now knead this sticky dough for about 1 minute by just turning it around in the bowl – be prepared to get it all over your fingers.

6. Knead roughly for 1 min.

7. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let sit for 10 mins.

8. Split into 4-6 balls.

9. Sprinkle more flour onto your bench and then take one ball, and roll it out into a flat circle. Do this for the other balls BUT do not stack the flat breads on top of each other or they will stick together.

10. Heat frying pan over high heat.

11. Dry cook 1 minute each side – if start to burn, turn down eat.

Turn Your Flat Bread Into Pizza Bases.

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Cook Flat Breads in oven for about 7 minutes each side.

3. They are now ready to be topped, then cooked in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Storing / Freezing

Cook the flat breads and allow to cool. Then place a sheet of baking paper between each one, then wrap in foil or pop in an airtight container. Store in freezer. Defrost before using.

Story behind this recipe

We have a family ritual called Fun Family Friday Night where the kids choose a ‘fun’ meal for us to have (i.e. not the usual meal with vegetables being the main feature) and a movie to watch. Homemade Pizza is always a favourite. These flat breads are a simple way to make pizza bases. I usually make my passata so it has veggies smashed up in it, so we’re still getting veggies and then kids choose their topping.

Just a reminder, you don’t need to be a master chef, or have a big spotless kitchen to make awesome nutritious meals or snacks for your family.

Find more healthy, wholefood, kid-friendly recipes on Bel’s website, The Root Cause.

Festive Season French Onion Dip

Festive Season French Onion Dip

Bel Smith | November 6, 2019

Dips are a great way to encourage kids to eat fresh vegetables. I’ve previously written about 3 ridiculously easy lunch box dips and these are usually my go to.

However, I was recently reminded by a school girl about one of my old time favourites when I was a young girl – the good ole french onion dip.

Now a store bought french onion dip costs about $3 and has an ingredients list that looks like this:
Ingredients: Onion (29%), Cream, Cream Cheese (21%) (Milk, Cream, Starter Culture), Milk Solids Non Fat, Water, Salt, Modified Starch (From Maize), Lactic Acid, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Natural Flavour, Sorbic Acid (Preservative).Contains Milk Solids 29%. (From Coles Online for Kraft French Onion Dip)

Here’s my french onion dip recipe with just 4 ingredients. It’s a bit hard to put a cost on it because I have the ingredients in my pantry and even after using them to make this recipe, most ingredients go straight back into my pantry to be used again to make other foods.

However, I would estimate this dip may cost about $1.

This dip is best made the day before you want to use it or at least a good few hours before to allow the flavours to enhance and the dip to thicken. It makes about a cup-worth but if you want a larger serve for a party or something, just double the ingredients.


½ brown onion
2 teaspoons of butter
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Natural Greek Yoghurt*

* I always use full fat yoghurt because the low fat products are usually pumped with sugar to make them taste better.


1. Finely grate the onion and pop it in a bowl (to save on washing up, use the bowl you’ll store / serve the dip in). I use a zester grater on the medium zest side

2. Melt the butter over medium heat

3. Once the butter is melted, add the onion and turn down heat

4. Slowly cook the onions until they start to caramelise – I stir them frequently using a fork to prevent the onion from clumping together too much. Keep an eye on them and if they look like they are starting to burn add a splash of water

5. Once they are looking yummy and caramelised (about 5 mins), add the Worcestershire sauce and stir again.

6. Take off heat and allow to cool

7. Once cool place the onion mixture into your dip bowl

8. Now gradually add in the yoghurt whilst stirring the onion around in it

9. Place in the fridge to thicken up. The flavours will enhance the longer it is left.

Storing / Freezing

Store this dip covered in the fridge. It’s not suitable for freezing and best eaten within 4-5 days.

Serving suggestions

Serve this dip with an array of different coloured vegetable crudites. Be bold – include vegetables you know your kids will like but add on others too. We throw on green beans and broccoli as well as the usual carrots, celery, capsicum (why not add a traffic light array of capsicum), cherry tomatoes etc.

The Science and Art of Food Marketing

The Science and Art of Food Marketing

Bel Smith | October 8, 2019


Why am I writing about The Art and Science of Food Marketing?

Because I recently sat in listening to food organisations giving evidence to the Senate Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic about how it is their job to provide parents (consumers) with choice, and it is our job as parents to make better choices. Their position is there a place for these foods in a balanced diet. I can honestly tell you, it was so hard to sit there and bite my tongue.

I 100% agree it is a parent’s responsibility to make food and beverage choices for their family. However, these organisations total lack of acceptance of the role they play in the choices parents are making really annoys me. The art and science of food marketing plays a massive role in what parents are choosing to feed their family. Parents right around Australia have shared with us just how difficult it is to say no to these foods in light of the pester power created by these foods, and what their child’s friends are eating (no-one likes the idea of their kid not feeling normal).

Then there are the messages about how busy, time-poor parents need these products because they are convenient. Oh, I could go on! But, rather than get all hot under the collar about this, I decided to do what I do best – empower people with knowledge. Today I share with you some information to help you navigate (ie. see through) the marketing of food, so you can wield your consumer power by simply not buying many of these foods.

Left Brain Right Brain Food Marketing

Important Numbers

Personal trainers and medical professionals tell us that 80% of our health comes from the food we eat, therefore it is important to understand the numbers behind how most Australians are eating.

Discretionary foods are now the norm

  • Discretionary foods are not part of the 5 food groups our bodies need for health. They are foods that are considered to be OK to eat in small amounts, and only occasionally;
  • Our Australian Tour and our involvement in The Real Food Lunchbox Project found that most Australian children are having at least 2-4 discretionary foods in their lunchbox a day;
  • Only 5 out of every 100 children are eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables a day;
  • ABS data now shows that 58% of a household’s weekly food budget is now spent on discretionary foods – this means most households are spending over half of their food budget on foods which are not needed for health. (In fact, many of these foods have been shown to take away from our health.) Personally, I think this ABS study is really telling us how effective food manufacturers are at practising the art and science of marketing!

Given these numbers, it is fair to say most Australian children are not eating a balanced diet. They are eating a diet of largely discretionary foods, with small amounts of the foods their bodies need for health.

What’s on our supermarket shelves?

The George Institute For Global Health recently released a study completed on 40,664 products currently available on supermarket shelves (some reports indicate there are 50-80,000 different products currently available). Here are some of the key findings:

  • Two thirds (2/3) of products on supermarket shelves are considered unhealthy
  • 61% of products on supermarket shelves are considered highly or ultra processed
  • Another 18% are considered to be moderately processed
  • 53% of packaged foods are considered to be discretionary

Combine these stats with the ABS data that 58% of a household’s weekly food budget is now spent on discretionary foods, and is it any wonder this country has a health crisis?

Cereal Food Marketing

What is marketing?

Depending on what you read, and where you read it, it is said that marketing is both an art and a science. The “art” part of marketing is the side which looks at shades of human behaviour, and creating an emotional connection with the consumer. The “science” part is the more analytical side, which looks at the strategies to optimise consumer activity and spend. The combination of the 2 makes it difficult for even the most astute consumer to navigate the enormous amounts of products on the supermarket shelf.

To help you navigate better, I want to share with you a few techniques (tactics) used in the food industry so you can easily recognise them for what they are. I hope you can learn to see them for what they are, laugh at them and move on (ie. do not buy them).

Supermarket positioning

There is definitely a science to the layout of supermarkets and their promotions. Have you ever noticed how when you walk into the 2 major supermarkets in Australia, you enter from one side, and that there are usually specials near the entrance? Yep, there’s a science to that: the specials tend to be items with a higher margin (ie. that the supermarkets will make more money on) – or that the food manufacturer has paid extra $ for, to place at the front of the store.

Product positioning is another important marketing science. Have you ever noticed how foods like Tiny Teddies are positioned at the eye level of kids from toddlers to 7 year olds? And biscuits like shapes are at the eye level of slightly older kids, and those packets of noodles with flavour sachets are at the eye level of tweens and early teens? Then energy drinks and soft drinks at the eye level of teens? This is not a coincidence.

There is a whole other level of positioning around brands, too. I recently had a discussion with someone who is a manager at food manufacturer which has over 10 lines of products with the 3 major supermarkets. His company was approached by one of the major supermarkets who said they were looking at reducing the number of brands of a particular product range, and requested a $100,000 payment in order to keep their brand on the shelf. I won’t even go into the rest of the negotiations that went on, but suffice to say I was blown away.

I started doing some research and found this article called Shelf Importance which was eye opening – I suggest you read it to get a great understanding of just how much science is involved with how products and brands are marketed within supermarkets.

Psychology of colour

Have you noticed how many fast food outlets and packaged foods use red, yellow, greens and blues? It’s because each colour elicits a different kind of response. In this great article by Karen Haller about branding she says “The language of colour is communicated quicker to the brain than words or shapes as they work directly on our feelings and emotions.”

Here are just some of the ways colours are used:

RED – gives a sense of urgency. Is often used by fast food outlets because it encourages appetite, builds excitement and passion.

YELLOW / ORANGE – happy and friendly colours. When combined with red, they give the feeling of speed. Also used to elicit impulsive buys. Yellow is also the most visible colour in daylight (you can always see those golden arches, day or night).

BLUE – associated with peace and reliability. Used mostly by conservative brands wanting people to trust them.

GREEN – think healthy, nature, strong. Used to relax people.

PURPLE – wisdom, admiration, creative.

BLACK – means strong, stable

Think about the colours used by most fast food outlets, or the colours on packaged foods. Can you see now why those companies and products are using those colours?

You might also like to read this article on the psychology of colour.

Taken from this great article by the Obesity Policy Coalition

Characters / Words

I’ve written before about the use of characters on food packets for kids before – read the Dark Side of The Force, it explains how characters have a significant impact on pester power of kids.

What about the use of our sports people to promote food and drinks too. I can tell you from first hand experience of showing kids sports drinks and hearing them all cheer for them, that the use of Australian sports people promoting these drinks has been a stroke of genius by these firms. Kids look up to these athletes. They see if they are drinking them, then we must need them after we have played sport. Seriously, what kid (or adult for that matter) needs the 9 teaspoons of sugar most of these drinks contain? 

Then the words used on packets: E.g. lunchbox friendly (only to manufacturers – not to our kids bodies nor the stress levels of teachers), canteen approved, no artificial colours or flavours, 30% less sugar (than what?), no added MSG and the list goes on.

These words, those pictures – all of this is the art and science of marketing. None of it tells you what’s in your food. Turn the packet over and read the ingredients.

Specials, like Buy One, Get One Free

Everyone loves to think they are getting a bargain. But are you?  Why is it this week you can get 2 for the price of one? Who is paying for the other one? Are the supermarkets being the nice guy and giving it away? I doubt it. Have they charged the manufacturer additional fees to do this? Or are we being overcharged in the first place?

Interesting questions, don’t you think? What about this question: Do you really need two of that item this week?

Food Marketing chocolate

5 Tips To Navigate Marketing At Supermarkets

Here are my 5 simple tips to navigate marketing whilst at supermarkets:

  1. Go into the shops with a full tummy and a shopping list
  2. Shop mainly in the fruit and veg section, followed by the refrigerated section (use steps 3-5 when shopping in refrigerated section)
  3. Pay no attention to where products are positioned
  4. Pay no attention to items listed as on special unless they are on your list
  5. Only buy what’s on the list after turning packets around, and reading the ingredients. Always ask: “What’s in my food?”

If you want help learning how to read packet labels, read this article – 5 simple steps to reading packet labels.

If you want to help spread the word about how to make better food choices, please share this article widely with your family and friends. We thank you for being a stand for children’s health.