Food for Thought

Have you ever heard the expression, “can’t cook, won’t cook”? Well, this was well and truly myself before I attended university. I thought that the kettle’s purpose was for boiling eggs and I could not make toast without burning it. However, this was seven years ago and I would like to think I have come a long way. I’m no Gordon Ramsey, but I believe my late arrival to the world of preparing good, healthy food enables me to impart these essential skills in a clear and achievable manner for young children.

Since then, cooking healthy meals has become something I feel quite passionately about. This first became apparent during my teacher training. Walking around the dining hall I would peer inquisitively into the children’s lunch boxes and, to my consternation, I could only see crisps, sweets and chocolate. I would ask the children, “Do you think your lunch is healthy? Why do you only have junk food for your lunch?” The children’s replies often varied from not realising their lunch was, in fact, unhealthy to the fact that their parents could not make healthy meals. I knew something had to be done.

When I volunteered to set up an after-school healthy cookery club, responses ranged from: “Are you mad?” to “A cookery club for 6 to 11-year-olds, it will be chaos!” But this did not deter me and if anything, it made me more determined. My club would teach the foundations for handling and preparing food in a fun and safe way. Seeing the children’s beaming smiles as they watched their healthy ingredients transform into a delicious meal gave me a great sense of pride. I was making a difference.

Fast forward four years, and I am delighted to be able to offer a healthy cookery club to the children of Arcadia as part of the unique Enrichment Learning Programme. We don’t have the said problems with lunch here, but I am confident that a healthy cookery club will teach the children an imperative skillset that they will have for life. Nicole Henderson, an avid healthy food blogger, bolsters my notion by stating: “the early years are when you give your child a foundation for establishing a proper diet. If children learn about the importance of eating healthy early in their lives, they will not have to re-learn as an adult.”

I am also delighted to have been given the responsibility of Science ambassador for Key Stage 2. This role allows me to ensure that the curriculum incorporates healthy eating and balanced diets. Already, this can be seen in Year 3 as they have designed their ‘Healthy Plate’, which provides detailed guidance in a simple format to help children make the best eating choices. Aspects such as this, aim to deliver key messages about the importance of healthy eating, in an engaging and manageable way.

So far, the popularity of cookery club has been substantial with fourteen children signed up. What stood out immediately was how eager and engaged the children are in their learning. This, combined with the excellent facilities Arcadia have will ensure the cookery club is both hands on and will add maximal value to their learning experience. By the end of Term 1, we aim to write the first ‘Arcadia Healthy Cookery Book’, which will share some amazing recipes with the other children at Arcadia.

Watch this space Gordon Ramsey, the children of Arcadia are coming for you!

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