No fuss brain fuel
Boost your kids' brain power, mood and energy levels without even trying. No cooking experience necessary, just nutritional therapist Jo Saunders top tips.
ALife is busy! Often, when you’re juggling work, life, kids and possibly parents, you may find yourself slamming fish fingers in the oven because, quite frankly, you’re lacking the time, energy, skills or inclination to do much more. Then comes the guilt. Throw in fussy eaters, allergies, and the pressure of 5-a-day (barely scraping in that a week), and you feel like the battle is lost.
Of course, in an ideal world we’d be whipping up delicious home-cooked meals every night, but let’s get real and bask in the joy of finding last week’s leftover spag bol in the freezer when you can’t be figged to cook.
Four brilliant mums – elite caterer Hattie Mauleverer, whose clients include Jimmy Choo and Blenheim Palace, Leith School senior teacher Georgie Soskin, nutritional therapist Jo Saunders and marketing whizz Kerry Collinge – have taken this idea and turned it into a brilliant business.
Smart Infused Füd takes batch cooking to another level, offering super-charged frozen meals for kids that are jam packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals with brain-boosting benefits, helping concentration, energy levels, mood, as well as immune and nervous systems.
Jo is a mum of three (Max, Molly and Mary) who lives in West Berkshire, talked to Muddy about brain fuel where to find it (wink wink, in the freezer), and how Smart Infused Füd came to be….
Right, how do we get kids to eat themselves brainy?
I see a lot of kids as a nutritional therapist and their diets are really lacking. They’re eating cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and probably pasta for supper. Lots of carbs and very little protein – 99% are protein deficient, which is essential for growth and repair, feeling full and supporting our brain’s neurotransmitters that effect mood, how we think and our ability to learn. A good way to work out portion sizes for adults and kids and what to put on your plate, your protein (seafood, meat, eggs, nuts) should be the size of your fist (a quarter of the plate), a quarter complex carbs and half above ground veg.
You can’t guarantee an A* then?
Er, no. You’re not going to boost grades, but by adding ingredients that are rich in B vitamins, Omega 3, Vitamin A and Iron you can improve concentration, overall health and energy levels.
What if you have fussy eaters?
My children are no different to any other family, Max loves food, Molly’s not a fan of vegetables – so I hide them in dishes. It is a controversial, as some nutritionists really don’t believe in it. But that’s not real life and I want the peace of mind it’s going in. I make a nine-veg pasta sauce that Molly loves. She’s happily munching away and I’m secretly laughing as she thinks it’s veg-free.
If you’re really struggling, get your fussy eater, let them choose a recipe and make it together. They’re usually more inclined to try it when they’ve been involved in the process. Ultimately, don’t give up, keep trying, but don’t beat yourself up either.
Is that how Smart Infused Füd started?
Georgie and I have a recipe blog called Cooking Them Healthy sharing need-specific recipes that helped prevent coughs and colds, aid digestion and more. Georgie felt that everyone should know what to cook to ward off coughs and colds, so we ran workshops. I send Georgie a list of ingredients and she creates the most amazing dishes. She is a brilliant chef and total perfectionist. Moving into the ready meal market was the pipe dream.
Meanwhile, Hattie is running Top Hat Catering in London, and during quiet moments her chefs were batch cooking our recipes for her kids. She was working full time and wanted to know they were eating good food. The meals were batch cooked and frozen and taken home to Wiltshire.
Hattie then met Kerry at a women’s entrepreneurial weekend and, while chatting, Kerry spotted it as a business idea. What mum would not want that? So Hattie, asked me and Georgie to create six recipes, with nutrition very much the main focus.
Explain the name?
Our recipes go above and beyond ‘5-a-day’ thinking, optimising key nutrients, vitamins and minerals studied for their benefits for cognitive function, concentration, energy, immune & nervous system support in primary school age children. It’s about improving the mental wellbeing through food for families.
The ‘Infused’ bit of the brand name comes from the things we add, like chicken livers, flaxseed and miso paste, to bump up the nutrition even further. We also hide a lot of veg too. I’ll always serve extra on the side, but it gives me great satisfaction knowing that my kids are eating something that’s got 5/6 vegetables in.
Frozen ready meals have got a bad rep?
Ready meals, can be quite bland and the protein levels are really low – the average protein content is around 13% whereas we are achieving at least 40%. Frozen food generally has a bad reputation for being less, but actually it is considered more nutritious than food that’s been left in cold storage for weeks at a time. We cook in big batches, using natural ingredients you’d have at home and once they have cooled they’re flash frozen – and they are good for at least 6 months. It also means we don’t have to add preservatives. So no nasties lurking in there.
Give us the nutritional lowdown. We’re ready for the science bit… *concentrate*
The highest dose vitamin in each dish forms part of its name. So we have Vit A Sausage casserole which helps to utilise iron and boosts the immune system. Boosted with butter beans, celery, miso, red onion and passata.
Omega 3 Fish Cakes, brilliant for children’s brain development, improves focus and reduces anxiety – this dish is supercharged with omega 3 thanks to the haddock, salmon, mackerel and flaxseed.
Iron Chilli Con Carne (pictured above), good for your immune system and energy levels, the beef is a great source of zinc (good for brain development), kidney beans are a packed full of iron, boosted with chicken livers, and we add haricot beans, red onions, red peppers, carrots, celery and spice. Heat without it being too hot.
B12 Lamb Tagine, supporting the nervous system, cognitive function and energy levels, alongside the lamb you’ll find apricots and prunes, miso paste, six vegetables and spices.
B9 Lentil Shepherds Pie, aiding brain function, boosts immune system, and reduces tiredness and fatigue thanks to the lentils and lots of veg – red onion, sweet potato, carrots, red peppers.
B3 Fruity Chicken, good for the nervous and immune systems, which comes from the red onions, prunes, dried apricots, chicken, herbs and spices.
It might help reverse my gindulgence. Or not.
Do you do adult portions? Asking for a friend
The next step is to launch the family-sized meals, and then we could launch a range for our older friends. It’s tough. Many eat ready meals, but need some of the same vitamins and minerals our kids need. You go full circle.
We’re also currently working on a fish pie and lasagne – gluten free and dairy free, apart from the fish pie which uses organic dairy. We’re not fully organic, but I won’t compromise on the organic dairy it is rich in omega 3. Georgie is actually testing a dairy free fish pie, having thought it was not possible, and she says it’s actually really good, so watch this space.
Why have food allergies exploded?
We’ve antibac’d ourselves to death, which has affected our microbio gut bacteria – 80% of our immune system is in our gut. (No excuse needed here to clean less). The increase in C section births has also been a factor. It’s a completely non-judgemental statement, I had a C-section with my son, it’s shown very clearly that vaginal delivery and sterile C-section deliveries have totally different gut bacteria profiles.
Throw in the crap in our diet: processed food and food that’s not food, and problems occur. Food writer, Michael Pollan says: ‘Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food,” which is think is a quite good way of looking at it. All our dishes are gluten free, nut free, diary free and suitable for coeliacs, as a result.
Spill the beans, what five foods will make us happier and healthier?
Oily fish: we should be eating two portions a week. Salmon can be expensive, but mackerel is so cheap and so good for you.
Berries: have some in our freezer, they’re loaded with antioxidants, high in fibre, helps lower cholesterol and more.
Herbs and spices generally. We use lots in our dishes so we don’t have to add much salt. Did you know that cinnamon is really good at balancing blood sugar? I mean how clever is nature to make it sweet and balance blood sugar. Studies show it actually regulates insulin production. Thyme for instance is really good for the upper respiratory tract. We have spice pots that have been stuck in your cupboard for 10 years, use them.
Dark green veg: full of fibre, folate, vitamins C and K and the minerals iron and calcium.
Dark chocolate: because it’s delicious.
Where can we get out mitts on this summer sanity saver?
Direct from the website. There is a minimum order of 8. They come wrapped in an eco-friendly wool packaging, which is fully compostable and stays frozen for 24 hours. To justify the delivery cost we had to have a minimum order. It’s delivered by courier, you don’t need to be in to receive it.
You’ll also find us in Cobbs Farm Shops in Hungerford, Englefield and Winchester.
All the packaging is fully compostable. We use virgin fibre containers, which is like paper before it becomes paper instead of plastic. The sleeve is cardboard and is fully recyclable. It was really important to us that the packaging is as green as we can possibly make it.
Grab yourself a Smart Infused Füd Holiday Box containing 12 delicious brain boosting recipes, and get 20% off. Use promo code MUDDY20 at checkout, delivery if free and that’s 12 meals you don’t need to worry about.
You can also sign up for monthly subscriptions or send gift boxes for frazzled friends.