Meet Grace MacKenzie

Mum of one, Edinburgh

Mum of one Grace Mackenzie (33) returned to study nutrition at university when she had her little girl, Poppy. Healthy eating had been a lifelong passion of hers but it wasn’t until Poppy was born with a number of severe allergies that she discovered just how valuable this knowledge would be.

Why is healthy eating important to you and your family?

When Poppy was born I quickly discovered she suffered some pretty serious allergies including dairy, soya, eggs and wheat. From the start I was forced to get creative and come up with as many substitutions as possible to make sure she was still getting all the right nutrients despite her requirements. I think because I was already studying nutrition I was at a slight advantage but it was still a really stressful time for me and it was a real challenge learning how to accommodate her needs. For me, being a role model is an important part of teaching my daughter about healthy eating behaviours and I try to make sure that we eat together every mealtime.

Is your child a fussy eater? 

Poppy’s now nearly two years old and I would say we are well and truly in a routine with meal times and I’ve got a great selection of alternatives prepared so that she feels like she’s having the same things as everyone else but they won’t upset her. Poppy is a bit young to be fussy at the moment but I can totally see how kids can become choosy. My approach is to try and get her to eat what’s on her plate and if she doesn’t then I don’t force her but I don’t offer her anything else until the next meal time. I also don’t give her snacks or sweets. In my opinion, it’s my responsibility as Poppy’s parent to make sure she’s fed an appropriate diet. If she does get hungry in between meals I would tend to offer her dried fruit, breadsticks or some cereal.

What are some of your healthy swaps? 

Instead of tomato based pasta sauce I have found roasting butternut squash and pureeing it works really well and is nice for a change.

What are some favourite meals your child likes to eat? 

Poppy’s favourites include any kind of soup, my homemade fish cakes and mince and potatoes.

Do you have any top tips about healthy eating? 

My advice to parents is to try and make sure they don’t pressurise kids into eating things. I think it’s important that meal times are enjoyable and not stressful for them. Kids love your attention which is why sitting down and eating together can really help encourage them to enjoy food. I’ve seen success through my approach so far and love to share my tips with friends whose kids are slightly more choosy eaters and since they’ve stopped giving in to their demands for sweet treats and snacks they’ve seen a real improvement in them eating all their meals.

Do you enjoy cooking? Do you like to batch freeze recipes?

I make everything from scratch now as I have to be absolutely certain of every ingredient in what I’m feeding my daughter. Her allergies are so severe I can’t give her anything from jars or tins and even pre-prepared baby food is out of the question. However, I’ve also found that doing this actually saves me time and money as I can make big batches and divide it into portions to freeze for later on. Poppy’s favourites include any kind of soup, my homemade fish cakes and mince and potatoes. 

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My favourite recipe


Smoked mackerel with bread or breadsticks.

If you like the sound of Grace’s smoked mackerel, why not give our Mackerel Fish Cakes recipe a try? They cost less than £4, feed a family of 4 and can be ready in 25 minutes: http://www.eatbetterfeelbetter.co.uk/recipe/mackerel-fish-cakes-vegetable-rice.

Grace MacKenzie's top tips


Rice pudding is popular in my house and you can make it tasty using cinnamon rather than sugar. It’s also really cheap to buy and make.

Stock up on raisins and sugar-free jelly to help satisfy sweet tooth cravings.

Don’t put out too big a portion for your child as it can sometimes be off putting.