At Tall Trees we strive to provide the children with the most nutritious and well-balanced meals possible. When looking at the overall balance of our lunchtime meals, we plan for children to get most of their nutrients from the savoury main course. Puddings tend to be based around milk-based desserts, as we want children to be 'filling up' on their main savoury meal. Milk puddings provide a great nutritious end to a meal without overloading the children with too much bulk after their main course.
It is important to use full-fat milk, as this is most suitable for young children's energy needs. It is also useful to remember that full-fat milk only contains 4 per cent fat, which is still considered a low-fat food.
We are lucky to have a local herd of Jersey cows which supplies our organic milk, ensuring the freshest and healthiest product for us to give the nursery children. We use the milk in homemade desserts such as rice puddings, semolina, custard and stewed fruit and butterscotch mousse.
We also make sure that all our yoghurts are supplied locally and organically, and use only organic milk for the children's drinks at snack time.
So why use organic milk, and what are the real benefits to children? We use organic milk for all our milk-based puddings, despite recent controversial claims that organic food is no better nutritionally than other foods. There is increasing evidence that there are other important factors to consider when deciding between organic and non-organic milk:
Antibiotics The overuse of antibiotics is a major public health issue, and they are widely used in agriculture. Organic milk comes from cows that have not been treated with antibiotics, so avoiding the contribution to the growing problem of bacterial resistance.
Synthetic hormones Organic milk comes from cows that have not been treated with synthetic hormones. Normal dairy production sometimes uses these hormones to stimulate milk production, but trace elements can cause changes in living beings.
Pesticides Organic milk comes from cows given feed that is free from harmful pesticides.
Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLAs) These are important 'good fats' that have been linked to a decrease in heart disease and diabetes. Organic milk tends to be higher in CLAs than non-organic, due to a higher percentage of time the cows spend at pasture.
If you don't already, why not consider switching to organic milk for your nursery? Try to find a local supplier if possible, and give the children's parents information supporting the change. It is sure to be a very popular decision, and the cost of the switch is minimal.
ORGANIC CHOCOLATE SEMOLINA PUDDING
(feeds approximately 40 children)
4 litres organic whole milk
1lb organic whole-wheat semolina
6 oz organic cane sugar
4 oz Green and Blacks organic drinking chocolate
- Using a heavy-based saucepan, bring the milk nearly to the boil.
- Gradually pour all the dry ingredients into the milk, whisking at the same time.
- Slowly bring back to simmer. When it turns to a thick consistency, turn off the heat and put a lid on, to prevent a skin forming.
Emma Comer is owner-manager and Meg Smith is cook at Tall Trees Kindergarten, Frome, Somerset. www.talltreeskindergarten.co.uk