Spreads and toppings

Early childhood services

Not all spreads are equal. For example, jam, honey, Nutella, and Vegemite can be high in added sugars, saturated fats or salt.

Here are our top tips for healthy and tasty toppings

Toast with spreads and fruit toppings

Did you know?

  • Eating too much added sugar from spreads and toppings can lead to increased risk of children developing tooth decay and gum problems. [3,4] Filling up on sugary spreads also means children may eat more energy (kilojoules) than they need.
  • Sweet spreads, like jam and honey, are the second largest contributor of added sugars for Australian children.

On average, Australian children eat 60g of added sugar per day. That’s more than twice the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum of 25g – and 1/3 of this added sugar comes from sweet spreads! [1,2]

  • Swap spreads that contain mostly saturated fat (such as butter or chocolate spreads), for ones that have more healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (such as avocado or nut paste*).
  • Add fruit and vegetables to meals with spreads.
  • When buying spreads, look for products which have the lowest amount of sodium and sugar possible, and remember to provide them in moderation.

*If your centre allows nuts

Fresh ideas

Limit these spreads… …and choose these instead.
Butter Chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
Yeast-based spread (such as Vegemite)
Nut pastes* (no added sugar or salt)
Cottage cheese, ricotta, or yoghurt
Vegetable-based dips
Extra virgin olive oil (light drizzle)

Sweet goodies

Peanut butter and banana

Top wholegrain toast with natural peanut butter*, sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

*If your centre allows nuts.

Ricotta and strawberries

Ricotta and strawberries make a delicious sweet combination to add on scones or fruit toast.

Yoghurt, cinnamon and berries

Serve natural yoghurt on pikelets with sprinkle of cinnamon, and a small handful of berries.

Savoury goodies

Smashed vegetables

Boost your vegetable intake by topping wholegrain toast with smashed avocado, peas or roasted pumpkin.

Cannellini bean mash

Drain off excess liquid from canned cannellini beans. Mash with olive oil and basil leaves. Add to wholegrain toast or crackers with slices of tasty cheese.

Cheese and vegetable slices

Choose some reduced fat cheese and pair it up with a veggie such as avocado, capsicum, cucumber and/or carrot to serve on wholemeal bread, crackers or even pikelets.

Hard-boiled egg slices

Either smashed or sliced, serve hard boiled eggs with wholegrain toast or crackers for a protein-rich meal.

Tzatziki dip

A delicious favourite with kids. Mix with natural yoghurt, grated cucumber, crushed garlic, cumin and lemon juice. Serve with wholegrain crackers, corn thin or crispbread; as well as fresh vegetables.

Hummus dip

A traditional favourite that is lactose, soy and egg free. Blend together canned chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, olive oil, and cumin. Serve with wholegrain crackers, corn thin or crispbread; as well as fresh vegetables.


[1] Intake and sources of added sugar among Australian children and adolescents, Louie, Moshtaghian, Rangan, Flood and Gill, European Journal of Nutrition, V55:8, p2347-2355, September 2016

[2] Dietary intake and food sources of added sugar in the Australian population, Lei, Rangan, Flood and Louie, British Journal of Nutrition, V115:5, p868-877, January 2016

[3] Sugar, National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, www.eatforhealth.gov.au

[4] Australian Dietary Guidelines, National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, www.eatforhealth.gov.au

For more information please phone 1300 22 52 88 or email heas@nutritionaustralia.org.au

Except where otherwise indicated, the images in this document show models and illustrative settings only, and do not necessarily depict actual services, facilities or recipients of services. This document may contain images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In this document, ‘Aboriginal’ refers to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. ‘Indigenous’ or ‘Koori/Koorie’ is retained when part of the title of a report, program or quotation. Copyright © State of Victoria 2016

Written and reviewed by dietitians and nutritionists at Nutrition Australia, with support from the Victorian Government.

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