You probably know Tyler Florence as a celebrity chef and Food Network star. What you might not know is that he is also the co-founder of Sprout Foods, a father and an advocate for healthy diets for kids.
Good food, flavor and more
Adults know a lot about flavors and nutritional benefits of healthy foods like quinoa and butternut squash, but do babies, toddlers and children? Maybe not so much.
“As a father, I’m always thinking how I can get my children to eat healthy, even when time is an issue,” says Tyler. “As a chef, I want to treat them to foods that are delicious and create a great relationship with a variety of foods.”
So he co-created Sprout Food and developed a line of food that is 100 percent organic, using unique cooking methods and flavor combinations that babies and children love. With its creative, nutritious recipes, and innovative, eco-friendly pouch packaging, Sprout Food offers children’s food in stages, from babies to toddlers.
We had the opportunity to hear from Geoff Stella, Sprout Food healthy living expert, to get an understanding of what Sprout is all about.
SheKnows: How is Sprout Baby Food made so it appeals to children? Does that differ from developing recipes that appeal to adults?
Geoff Stella: We use interesting ingredient combinations that enhance each other to bring out wonderful flavor combinations. Many of our recipes feature ingredients that are not commonly served or mixed together, but we carefully choose high-quality, organic ingredients that we know will create amazing flavor experiences. That’s why kids — and adults — love our products.
Creating food for children and adults is very similar when you start with the best organic ingredients and focus on developing great-tasting flavor combinations. For babies with growing appetites who are learning to self-feed, we begin with heavily pureed foods, and increase the heartiness of our recipes as they grow into toddlerhood.
SK: Do you think babies and children are able to tell the difference between good, healthy food, and food that’s not so healthy?
GS: We believe it’s important to introduce healthful, good-for-you foods as early as possible so it’s easier to encourage a love of healthy foods for a lifetime. Kids who are conditioned that way are probably more likely to turn their noses up at heavily sweetened foods because they really won’t taste like “real” food to them.
SK: What makes Sprout Food unique, from the food to the packaging?
GS: At Sprout, our mission is to offer babies and kids a wide variety of great-tasting nutritious foods right from the start. This encourages the development of taste preferences and thus healthy eating habits to last a lifetime.
We feature combinations of fruits, veggies, grains and proteins, and we were the first company to include veggies at every stage. Consequently, we help parents offer their children a more balanced diet than the fruit-dominated recipes commonly offered by other brands. Our meals come in resealable squeeze pouches, convenient serving trays and easy-open packs, some with microwave convenience. And all of our packaging offers parents the safety of being BPA-free.
SK: What are the benefits of eating organic foods?
GS: Organic foods should have no additives, preservatives or pesticides of any kind. They’re often richer in important nutrients like antioxidants than conventionally produced foods, and organic foods are good for farmers, animals and the environment
SK: What upcoming food trends for kids do you see heading our way?
GS: One would be the continued use of healthy grains, like quinoa, millet, barley and brown rice. Also, the interesting use of “super foods,” such as acai, Greek yogurt and blueberries.
SK: What would you tell new parents about children and nutrition?
GS: It’s important to start as early as possible introducing healthy fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins to children so they develop a familiarity and love for these foods.
Variety is important, too, and combining vegetables with fruits, grains and proteins can be a way to help develop their palate, along with providing important nutrients
SK: Are your products developed with food allergies in mind?
GS: We develop all of our products with key allergens in mind, and are sensitive to the needs of parents. Our packaging is clearly labeled so it’s easy to discern if a particular flavor variety is right for their child.
Make a great meal
For summer, try this recipe by Tyler Florence using Sprout Food and home-grown or locally grown vegetables for a healthy option that even children will love.
Sweet and savory butternut squash and carrot soup
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, sliced or minced
- 2 pouches of Sprout Sweet Baby Carrots
- 3 pouches of Sprout Roasted Butternut Squash
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons butter (less if you prefer) or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Maple syrup (optional; about 1 tablespoon is recommended)
- Melt 2-4 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and gently saute it until it’s tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute it for about 3 minutes, just until it begins to brown.
- Add the Sprout Butternut Squash and Carrots, and chicken stock, and cook until it’s heated through. Alternatively, you can use less or add stock or cream to reach your preferred soup thickness.
- Add salt, pepper and maple syrup to taste.
To learn more, visit Sprout.