Occupying The Kids in Half Term
Half-term is approaching, are you looking for inspiration? The weather in February doesn’t always lend itself to glorious days out so why not do something delicious, creative and healthy with the kids inside instead?
Feeding, educating and entertaining the Kids all at the Same Time
At the 2014 Thame Food Festival myself and two other Registered Nutritional[more] Therapists, Elizabeth Scott-Moncrieff and Rosie Pearce (Nutritionbyrosie.co.uk) held children’s workshops where children were able to make healthy snack bars and delicious green smoothies. The ingredients for both recipes are flexible allowing you and the children the chance to experiment with different flavours all day long.
Combine this creativity with a trip out to local shops or markets to get the ingredients. As you do so discuss with the children what they find appealing about each particular ingredient and try to explain to them why it not only tastes good but is also good for them. Allow them to explore all the different colours, shapes, textures and smells of the fruit and vegetables on display.
Raw Energy Bar
This recipe is more easily made if you still have a baby blender around the house, otherwise scale up the ingredients and simply make more portions. The ingredients do need to be in ratio though so encourage the children to use the scales and practise simple maths skills as they go along.
Throw a biology lesson in the mix too and drop the following nuggets of information in along the way:
- Nuts are a great source of the fat-soluble anti-oxidant Vitamin E which your little angels need to keep their immune system fully functioning when running around with all the other germs (sorry, children) in the playground.
- Cashew nuts also contain Vitamin B5 which also comes into its own in the playground helping to create red blood cells and giving children lots of energy.
- Magnesium, found in all three nuts, is a mineral that the government believes some infants may be deficient in. Among other things it’s needed for the efficient metabolism of calcium keeping children’s bones strong and healthy.
- Cranberries are excellent for a particular type of antioxidant, proanthocyanadins, helping to prevent free radical formation which could, for example, be formed by pollution from our busy roads.
- The dates, although providing a sweet binder for the bars, are also rich in fibre keeping our children’s bowels moving happily along!
Serves: 4 Preparation time: 10 Cooking time: 0 Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Dietary guidance: vegan vegetarian gluten-free dairy-free
20g almonds and walnuts
30g seed & berry mix
8 medium dates
10g dried cranberries
1 square dark chocolate
¼ tsp cinnamon
- Place all ingredients into a small food mixer and blend until fine and the mixture holds together when pinched.
- Empty the contents onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper.
- Fold the paper around the mixture and shape with hands from outside the paper pressing along the top and the edges to give a rectangular tablet shape
- Leave to stand for 5 minutes, preferably in the fridge, and cut into 4 equal bars
This drink is an easy way to get greens into your children's diet. The fibre and protein in the drink means that it will keep them satisfied much longer than a milk shake or glass of squash. As their taste buds acclimatise increase the greens from the vegetables and decrease the sweetness from the fruit. A stronger blender will do a better job of making it more of a smoothie and less of a lumpy, however using ground nuts or soaking the nuts and seeds beforehand can improve the texture.
To continue the biology lesson:
- Including the green leafy vegetables in this smoothie provide calcium, iron and magnesium contributing to great bone growth and strength
- The seeds and nuts increase the levels of protein meaning that this smoothie will keep them satisfied for longer
- Mango contains beta-carotenes, the same as in carrots, and yes, they do help to let you see in the dark and are essential for eye health.
- Pineapple is beneficial for digestion as it contains an enzyme called bromelain helping to prevent tummy troubles. Some people also believe it reduces mucus, always a bonus when an infant is to hand.
- Oranges, as most people know, are a great source of vitamin C, essential for immune health.
- Strawberries are full of good stuff including boron, essential for strong bones
- Blueberries contain nitrates which, specifically, are good for reducing blood pressure. You may want to put these aside for yourself to help you get through half-term on an even keel
- Bananas will keep the drink smooth and sweet but also increase levels of folate, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, prebiotics and the amino acid tryptophan. Amazing what can be packed into one simple, child-friendly yellow jacket.
- Avocados. Children regularly claim to not like these strange fruit, however it has a mild flavour and when added to the smoothie will give it the greatest consistency along with additional Vitamin E and unsaturated fats to keep their brains healthy and inquisitive.
Serves: 2 Preparation time: 5 Cooking time: 0 Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Dietary guidance: vegan vegetarian gluten-free dairy-free
1 Cup of milk, milk substitute (e.g. almond milk) or water
1-2 handfuls of greens e.g. spinach, kale or watercress
1 Cup roughly chopped fruit such as mangoes, strawberries, orange, apples, pineapple, blueberries, pears. Frozen fruit is also a good option
Half a banana or half an avocado
1 tblsp of either seeds, nuts, coconut oil or nut butters
- Add the liquid to the blender first
- Add the greens. Start with mild leaves first such as baby spinach and progress to stronger flavours.
- Add the fruit. If berries are used then it may end up more of a murky brown rather than lurid green, consider having a blindfold to hand if it proves too offensive…
- Add the creamy fruit for texture. Avocado will make it more creamy and also add healthy fats.
- Add the seeds or nuts for healthy fats and also thicken it up. If your blender isn't very powerful you can use ground nuts or soak overnight in water.
- Add any of the optional add-ins you fancy to make it sweeter or just add flavour.
- Blitz until smooth and pour.
By Saffron Rogerson
16 February 2015