With the children at home for 6 long weeks why not put them to good use whilst teaching them life skills and improving their nutrition. How? By getting them cooking.
Let’s face it, who wouldn’t like a bit of extra help around the kitchen? But on days when muscles are particularly painful or slow an assistant may be just what you need. Children make excellent commis chef’s – cutting, chopping, mixing, stirring. Older children if careful can use a knife but for younger children scissors work really well. It is surprising how much can be cut and chopped using scissors! Not only will this be a help to you but numerous research studies have shown that involving children in the cooking increases the variety of foods that they eat and diet quality. A study published just a couple of months ago, ‘Involving children in cooking activities: A potential strategy for directing food choices toward novel foods containing vegetables’, found that even just a single cooking session has effects on subsequent food choices. Another study ‘Involvement in meal preparation at home is associated with better diet quality among Canadian children’ concluded just that, finding that children involved in meal preparation ate 1 more serving of vegetables and fruit a day compared with children who never helped.
Try giving your children the task of creating a salad with as many different colours as possible or looking through a cookery book and planning a family meal. Or perhaps start with a simple smoothie? Children of all ages love making smoothies and they are a great way of packing antioxidants into the diet. Below is a smoothie recipe but let the children experiment. Basic guidance is 1-2 portions of fruit, ideally some vegetables such as spinach, then either a little water, coconut water or milk/yogurt (or dairy free alternatives). Other great ingredients for children to try are cocoa for that chocolate hit and avocado which gives smoothies a lovely creamy texture. Keep fruit to a maximum of 2 portions otherwise sugar content becomes too high. Berries are low in sugar, so lots can be added whilst fruits such as mango and banana are higher in sugar. Any smoothie mixture left over can be frozen in lolly moulds and enjoyed on a sunny day.
Yummy Banana and Strawberry Smoothie
100 ml yogurt or dairy free alternative 100ml milk or dairy free alternative Handful of strawberries 1 banana Handful spinach (optional) Tsp ground almonds.
Blend in a food processor or smoothie maker.
Find out more about Helen Money's nutritional advice