Ask Annabel: your food questions answered

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Well-known author and children's food expert Annabel Karmel recommends outings to learn about food.

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Q: We are due to take the children on an outing next month as part of our healthy living week and I’d really like them to learn more about where their food comes from. Where do you suggest we can go? We have around 15 children.

A: Farmers’ markets and local greengrocers are top locations when it comes to exploring a world of flavour outside of nursery. They are often packed with the freshest, tastiest and sometimes most unusual produce to really excite and engage the children. You may even want to contact your local dairy and arrange a visit to learn about the journey of milk from the farm to the fridge.

And while it may sound like I’m stating the obvious, the supermarket is a great first port of call to get up close to a whole host of fresh foods. Many stores also now offer the chance for groups to venture behind the scenes of areas like the bakery to learn how bread is made.

An educational visit can definitely be a positive and powerful teaching tool. And escaping the classroom will definitely help motivate the children – and adults!  Hands-on learning can be difficult to replicate in a classroom environment, but there is so much you can bring back to continue learning back in the nursery.

If you’re out and about, why not bring some new ingredients back to the setting for lunch? Plus, if you got any fussy eaters in your group, this might encourage them to give something new a try.

RECIPES

Chinese-style Pork in Lettuce Boats

Buy your lettuce boats at the market

chinese-style-pork-lettuce-leaves

Ingredients

1 tbsp sesame oil

½ small red pepper, deseeded and diced

1 onion diced

150g shiitake mushrooms, chopped

300g minced pork or chicken

225g water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped

60g baby sweetcorn, cut into quarters

75g bean sprouts

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp sweet chilli sauce

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

12 little gem lettuce leaves

 

Method

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan, add the red pepper and onion, and stir fry for two minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, fry the minced pork in a dry frying pan until browned, stirring with a fork to break it up.
  2. Add the pork to the wok, stir in the water chestnuts, sweetcorn and beansprouts and stir fry for two to three minutes. Stir in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and rice wine vinegar.
  3. Spoon into the lettuce leaves and serve.

 

Welsh Rabbit

Buy some cheese at the market

 welsh-rarebit

Ingredients

1 English muffin, split and toasted

45g Cheddar cheese, grated

1 egg yolk

1 tsp milk

2-3 drops Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)

Pepper, to season

To garnish

 

Decoration

Thin slices of carrot or 2 baby carrots

1 black olive, stoned and halved

4 peas

4 mangetout

Small amount of spring onion, chopped

Few fresh chives

 

Method

  1. Preheat the grill on high.
  2. Put the cheese, egg yolk, milk/cream, and Worcestershire sauce into a bowl and mash together. Season with pepper, to taste.
  3. Spread the cheese mixture over the cut sides of the toasted muffin, spreading to the edges.
  4. Grill the muffin 7 to 8 centimetres from the heat source for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Don't let the muffin halves get too close to the heat or they may brown too quickly.
  5. Decorate the muffin with peas for eyes, mangetout for ears, half an olive for a nose, chives for whiskers, chopped spring onion for teeth, and a carrot for fun.
  6. Serve immediately.

 

For lots more recipe ideas visit www.annabelkarmel.com

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