Wednesday 9 February 2011

Cooking With Kids

Many of you will have read before that I have a real fear that my children will grow up obsessed with food, weight and diets just like I have. Whilst I have not yet managed to shift the excess weight myself I am determined that my children will grow up with a healthy attitude around food. For this reason I was over the moon when Diarylea invited me and 5 other great bloggers; All About The Boys, Mumra, Who’s The Mummy, New Mummy and Jo Beaufoix (It was wonderful to meet you all ladies!) to go to London for the day and attend a cooking class with TV Chef James Tanner.

I was a good little girl the night before our trip and I googled James to find out a bit more about him. I do not watch much daytime TV now, so whilst I knew his name I was not aware of his credentials. What I found out is that he is a dad of a 5 year old girl, owns a couple of restaurants and has been a qualified chef for a long time now, having completed some training under the watchful eye of Michel Roux. Being a qualified chef myself (bet you didn’t know that!) that was proof enough of his skill level.

Cooking with kids the James Tanner way

What fun we had Saturday, at first watching James prepare 5 quick and simple meals for families with young children to enjoy. Then once the demonstration was over the kids were able to get stuck in and work with James to experience the cooking. All the children who made the fishcakes loved the goo all over their fingers, one little toddler sat there making patterns in flour on her chopping board and JJ and one of the older girls helped James to do some cooking. You could tell James is a dad, his way with the kids was superb, chatting to them and making them smile.

James encouraged us all to cook with our kids at home and to let them get involved. I am lucky enough to have a dh who enjoys doing this and my JJ who is 7 is able to cook omelette, pancakes, scrambled eggs and other simple foods on the hob. The girls avidly pursue me to let them help chop soft vegetables and to make cakes, set the table etc. Children really are likely to eat a wider variety of foods when they are party to the preparation process, I know this first hand. Many people worry about the mess and the time it takes but if you get yourself in the right mind frame then this is half the fun.

My simple advice is to make cooking with your kids a fun activity rather than a chore!

The girls enjoy shaping their fishcakes

Dietary Advice with Azmina Govindji

Then a pleasant surprise to hear from a dietitian who is real and honest. Azmina talked about the mistakes she made as a parent and how it is better to negotiate and compromise with your children than have kids who eat perfectly and avoid all unwise food choices to then find that they gorge later in life.

Azmina used a large Eatwell plate to give the children a visual demonstration of what falls into each of the food groups, My JJ decided to show his *cough* confident side and take over this show having learned about food grouping at school recently.

The three tops tips I gained from Azmina were –

• Teach your children that there must always be at least three colours on their plate, so even if they are having fish fingers and chips (which are both yellow foods in case you are wondering) she then asked them to get two more colours and empowered the children to choose their own cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Unfortunately salad does not go down well with the kids in our house and it would probably end up being green beans and carrots. My kids do love their cooked veg – who am I to complain?

• Ensure your children have a good breakfast. Yes, ideally they should have non processed cereals but this is real life and if they choose cereals such as Cheerios which are fortified with vitamins and minerals this is better than nothing. Continue to use full fat milk until your children are at least 5 years old as the benefits they gain far outweigh any calorific implications.

• To use the NHS supermarket checker. We talked about children’s yoghurt's and the amount of sugar that can be found in them. Using this tool I can check my local brand at my local supermarket and it will suggest alternatives to me that are far healthier. How great is that?

So why did Dairylea host this day you may be wondering?

As a modern brand Dairylea are trying hard to improve their products and to change perceptions. They are aware that their products are high in salt and as such are about to launch a 25% less salt version of the Dairylea triangles.  Call me naive but I was not really aware salt was an issue with their products and when I got home I checked the packet of Cathedral City mature cheddar in our fridge to find that it was actually higher in salt and I would not think twice to feed my kids cheddar. 

Many of the Diarylea products are now free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives but sadly the two products my kids love the strip cheese and lunchables are not but Dairylea were honest and I really like that.  The Brand Manager that we met even said they would not recommend children to eat Dairylea every day but it has a place to play in a varied diet and as kids enjoy it, there is nothing wrong with it occasionally.

Many thanks to Dairlea for this super day out, we will most definitely continue to give you our custom!

My children and I attended this event and our costs for travel and lunch were met. We were also given a goodie bag with vouchers and products. There was no obligation on me to write this post but after a great day I wanted to share what I had learned. I remain honest as per always.
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