Reflecting on FRD2014

I was appointed as a Food Revolution Ambassador a mere 10 days before the big event on 16 May 2014. I still remember exactly how I felt receiving that email – simply overjoyed. And then it hit me… what am I actually going to do?!
A few days later I’d secured a slot with my son’s primary school, St James’ in Cheltenham – the relief I was feeling after getting a gig for Food Revolution Day was mixed with bouts of panic as I fretted about what I was actually going to do on the day.. Thankfully, the Ambassador’s Facebook pages are filled with helpful folk and fantastic ideas.
The message for the 2014 campaign was that “We need every child to understand where food comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their body. This is about setting kids up with the knowledge they need to make better food choices for life.
I settled on something simple yet effective and chose to take a selection of fruits, herbs and vegetables in to do a little ‘Show & Tell’ for the reception children. I hoped to relay key messages about seasonality, healthy eating and balance. Did I forget that there were 2 reception classes? Maybe. Was I slightly overwhelmed having 60 eager 5-year-olds sitting in front of me? No comment.
Selection of fruits, vegetables and herbs
Alas, it was the most brilliant and enlightening of experiences. The children were engaging and intrigued, enthusiastic and seriously switched-on! They looked, touched, smelled and identified before jumping at the opportunity to taste. I had to enrol the teachers to help with cutting as we just couldn’t keep up!
Teaching the children
I foraged some Wild Garlic from next to the stream on the walk to the school thinking that they’ll definitely learn something new here.. How wrong was I! “Oh yes Alex, they’re Ramsons – we have them in the garden at home”… Unbelievable. Big tick for that little girl’s parents.
Wild Garlic
An hour flew by and I wished that we’d had more time. Great kids, great attitude and lovely feedback. #exhausted (but thinking about what we can do next).
Note to self; look for local sponsorship to cover the costs next time. What to do with all these offcuts and leftovers?
Voilà!
using leftovers
This year, Food Revolution Day will be held on May 15th and I can’t wait to get involved. The campaign is focussing on making practical food education compulsory in all schools. Have a look at www.foodrevolutionday.com, sign the petition and support the movement.

The Plough at Ford

The setting was fabulous, the architecture and décor transported me back in time and warmed my soul. The service really was wonderful and the food was reasonable. Local game (mostly in season) and homemade food, honest and well-proportioned.

The Plough

I liked it. But… what’s with children’s menus being so lame? I understand that you get fussy children that are fed rubbish most of the time and that restaurants want to cater for the masses, but it breaks my heart to see fantastic local Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages chucked on a sea of baked beans and piled high with nasty looking chips. #uninspired

I couldn’t even bring myself to photograph the plate.

Kids menus are equally important, and if we start to think about building good food habits and laying the foundations for our future generations… you can see where I’m going with this.

I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France as a child, eating out most of the time and experiencing a broad range of gastronomic delights. I’m fairly convinced that my views on food were forged during that time and led to my current fascination with all things edible. I don’t recall ever seeing a ‘kids menu’. We ate what our parents ate, and never questioned it; we didn’t know any different. Snails, fish on the bone, frogs legs, clams, wild boar…

Our children are adventurous when it comes to food, and it’s all down to getting in there early and sowing the right seeds in their minds. Most people don’t like the thought of eating, say, tripe. Urgh. How many of those people have ever actually even tried it? Do you think that maybe they’ve simply been influenced by those around them?

Back to the Plough, and needless to say, our 4 and 6-year-old tried the rabbit, venison and pheasant. No fuss, no complaints.

The weather was great, allowing the children to make good use of the awesome fort in their spacious beer garden. It’ll certainly be a destination for us in the future.

www.theploughinnford.co.uk

Felix

The Earlier, The Better

I love this job. It’s wonderful to hear people getting really enthusiastic about good food and promoting well-being; especially to younglings. It turns out the manager at my daughters’ nursery is a fellow foodie and has been putting lots of effort into food education and making sure their daily menu is balanced and nutritious. Even more inspiring, they’re ensuring the line up is exciting for the children too.

I certainly recall scouring the menus whilst prospecting nurseries a couple of years back; freshly prepared, healthy food was a significant factor in deciding where to send Felix.

The Pre-School at Treetops Nursery in Cheltenham have been focusing on nutrition and health as a theme with the children during the last week – fab. Discussing the merits of the food we choose to consume is no trivial task when it comes to young minds and modern tastes, but I strongly believe that it’s important to get children thinking about it early and regularly reinforcing the message as they develop.

We avidly filled in Winter’s meal diary for her homework and the children have provided a plethora of fascinating and impressive one-liners after making smoothies and fruit salads with their teachers:

“I have to eat 5 fruit and vegetables every day to grow strong and tall like my daddy, but not all at the same time otherwise I’ll get a poorly tummy”

“Milk makes your bones grow”

“Only eat a little bit of cheese otherwise you’ll get a great big fat tummy”

Not only are Treetops Cheltenham already embracing the underlying concepts and principles of the global Food Revolution, they’ve also now got Food Revolution Day 2015 in the diary!

The global day of action is on Friday 15th May this year and the headline is “Fighting for Food Education”.  The main event will be a live cook-along with Jamie streamed across the globe with thousands of younglings making the ‘Squash It Sandwich’ in real-time.

Have a look at www.foodrevolutionday.com for further details.

Teaching younglings to make Yoghurt Pops

JOFR August Challenge #2

The concept here is that they’re a great alternative to the sugary lollies you’ll find in the shops.

As per usual we’re not entirely prepared, but hey, life’s like that so we just have to make do with what’s to hand.

These aren’t something that we would normally eat, let alone make, but that just makes it more fun and to be honest, one of the greatest pleasures in cooking is the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment you get from doing something new.

Hurdle number 1, no lolly moulds.  Kids, do me a favour and eat a couple of Petit Filous yoghurts for me. (no argument there).  Big thanks to Waitrose Café for the coffee stirrers aka lolly sticks…

The recipe we used is below and I have to say that these are so very simple, that they’re easier than taking two children out to the shops to buy some!

It’s really heart-warming when the younglings’ first question is “are these healthy”.  Bless.

JOFR August Challenge #2: Yoghurt Pops 3

Recipe:

  • 175g frozen raspberries (or blueberries/strawberries)
  • 2 small bananas
  • 500g low/no fat plain yoghurt (2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp honey

Blend it all up until silky smooth, pour into moulds and then pop them in the freezer.  After 10 minutes or so, add the sticks and then return to the freezer for 3 hours.

I think that next time I would go with the blueberry option as I found them a little tart, although the children thought they were great.

JOFR August Challenge #2: Yoghurt Pops 1