Cooking · Parenting

Cooking with children – part 2

When I wrote part 1, I promised there would be more… Here it is!

Last time we talked about: Hand hygiene, general yuk, listening to an adult, not touching things they have not been asked to touch, stirring skills, measuring out ingredients, food handling and the language of recipes

This time, we are going to look at some more skills.

Chopping skills

You may be nervous about letting your child use a knife but it is important children learn to use one. Start with a non serrated butter knife and let them spread their homous on their bread. You could then graduate to cutting soft bread or avocado. There are also child safe cooking knives on the market which use a sawing action to cut things. You can use these to cut vegetables but it is quite a different action to a regular chopping action. As your child becomes more confident, let them put their hand on top of yours as you cut things up so they get used to the action required and when you are happy, let them have a go. Make sure they are always supervised and the knife is not too heavy for them.

It is really important that you don’t micromanage cutting things. If the pepper pieces are not all exactly even, don’t interfere. Praise your child regardless of the uniformity of the product! If they think they can’t do it perfectly, they might not want to have a go next time. If what they are cutting needs to be a bit more uniform so the cooking time is even, help them cut the pieces into similar sizes.

You may find for certain ingredients, for example, bacon or sundried tomatoes, using scissors is easier than a knife.

Oven and hob safety

It goes without saying that ovens and hobs can be dangerous. Teach your child not to touch the door of the oven or the stove top, teach them to turn the pan handles in and to use oven gloves when touching hot things. Children will eventually need to learn to get things out of the oven but do this in stages, get them used to stirring things on the hob with you supervising making sure they don’t touch other things at the same time and then let them practise using oven gloves to move things round the kitchen. Once you are happy they are in charge of both of their hands at the same time and they can safely wear the gloves, you can help them to use the oven. Always supervise.

Food hygiene

From making sure you thoroughly wash vegetables to using different chopping boards for raw and cooked foods to how to store food, there is lots to learn about food hygiene. There is too much to discuss here but children have to learn all these things at some point so it is best they learn them from you rather than finding out after they have given the whole family food poisoning. There is some great information here to get you started.

Portion control

Working out how much each person can eat is a challenge for even the most experienced of cooks but it is a skill children need to learn. Looking at the portion sizes on packets can help but some are way out! Experimenting is part of the learning process. If you have cooked far too much, talk to your child about how you can cook less next time but also how you might be able to use up the leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste have lots of tips on this.

Tidying up!

No matter how big your kitchen is, you will need to tidy up at some point. Teaching your child to tidy up as they go along is a skill that can be useful outside the kitchen too! So as you are waiting for something to come to the boil or to bake in the oven, start clearing the work surfaces so you have space to do the next part of the cooking process

 

 

Remember, try to have these skills in mind when you are cooking with a child. The end result might not be amazing but think of what they have learnt in the process. Remember cooking is part of play, it needs to be fun (and quite messy!).

I’d love to hear about what you cook with your children.

 

Growing · Healthy Eating

Harvest time

IMG_20170805_121834778It’s harvest festival time again. A time when we think about all the wonderful things we have to eat. All of nature’s finest larder items. Purple sprouting broccoli, squash of many colours and shapes, blackberries and hundreds of varieties of apple.

We are fast forgetting the rhythm of the seasons as fruit and vegetables are available at most times of the year but we are also forgetting variety as we get used to having the same fruit and veg in our baskets each week. We need variety. We need all the colours. Each has its own food matrix of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre.

So here’s a challenge for this week; try and eat one veg you have not picked up from the supermarket in a while. Squash or marrow are in season and delicious. And for those of us who need a good reminder, have a watch of the video below (featuring my sister and my son!) for a song to get stuck your head and prompt you at the supermarket!

For some ideas about what else is in season check out http://eatseasonably.co.uk/

 

Uncategorized

Vitamin supplements – should we take them?

I was recently told about this article which was published in Nature as a News Feature. It is a long and detailed article looking at what we know about vitamin supplements for the general population. It concludes that studies need to be designed better and we need to be better at analysing the data in order to be able to have the evidence base needed. Many people take vitamin supplements without knowing whether they need to or not. There are companies providing services to check vitamin levels but the science behind these is not always evidence based in itself, and they are often very expensive. As a nutrition professional we need the information to steer people on the right track and not leave them in the hands of the marketing companies. As the article suggests, we need the studies.

 

Disclaimer. I do not recommend anyone takes vitamin supplements without advice from a health professional, or unless you fit into one of the following categories:

Women planning to try for a baby and those who are pregnant: folic acid supplementation recommended by the Department of Health

Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Vitamin D supplementation recommended by the Department of Health

Children between 6 months and 5 years (unless they are consuming 500ml or more of formula milk a day): Vitamin D supplementation recommended by the Department of Health

Over 65s: Vitamin D supplementation recommended by the Department of Health

Uncategorized

Eating your greens

There has been some interesting research published recently about children eating their vegetables. Check out http://www.nutritionsociety.org/blog/paper-month-nudge-children-eat-more-vegetables for more details.

 

It goes to show that if you don’t offer a variety of vegetables, children will not have the chance to try them. I meet lots of parents who say their children won’t eat vegetables. What they often mean is that their children won’t eat some of the vegetables they are giving them. Broccoli and cabbage are common culprits. I recommend trying other vegetables, trying offering raw vegetables for a different texture and not making vegetables a big deal. The worst thing to do is offer a treat for eating vegetables as this makes them sound like they are not nice and you need a treat to cope with them.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I know how frustrating it is when vegetables are refused – often with loud protests!

Healthy Eating · Parenting · Weaning

Weaning

With government cuts there seems to be less and less information available for parents from health professionals about all sorts of parenting issues.

Are parents supposed to reply on instinct, the internet, books and word of mouth?

With an obesity epidemic and rickets (vitamin D deficiency in children) on the rise we really shouldn’t be taking such a risk with weaning and toddler diets? Cuts mean we are creating an even greater divide between the well off and the not so well off – depending on whether parents can get the information or not.

If you are a parent reading this, why not check out the Infant and Toddler Forum which has loads of information on feeding babies and the under 5s.

If you would like to do a weaning course and you are in the Manchester area, contact me – aliya.porter@gmail.com or 07986 809633. I can run a course for you and a minimum of 4 of your friends in your home. I will do 3 or 4 90 minute sessions on weaning and feeding babies and toddlers.

Uncategorized

Change4Life Supermeals

When Change4Life launched I thought it was a positive initiative, although very misinformed. Living and working at the time in a very deprived part of south east London with a high proportion of the population from minority ethnic communities, I felt that though the messages were great, they would not reach our population. They might work on the middle classes.

Change4Life survived a change of government and this new initiative ‘Supermeals’ is clearly trying to move with the times, difficult economic times. I think it is great that big business is involved because most people do shop for their groceries at the large supermarkets, however, where is Sainsbury’s who did their own feed your family for a fiver initiative ages ago? Do these businesses really want to be realistic about how much people can afford to spend on their food?

£5 for a meal, why does it need to be so much? We need to teach the skills to be able to cook cheaper than that for the people on low incomes. Do we have to be so middle class?