Catherine Fulvio: Educating children is the key to healthy eating
Have you ever thought where your last meal came from? Having grown up on a working farm and now, as both a chef and a mother, I am keenly aware of how important food is for good health. As we all know, we are what we eat, and this begins with knowing the origins and the quality of our food.
A recent survey found that, despite reports suggesting children have no interest in food, 74pc of primary school children, aged five to 11, are hungry to learn more about food origins.
The survey forms part of a new initiative by Kellogg's Ireland to help make children more aware of where their food comes from. Starting in September, the company will fund new teaching aids through its Kellogg's Origins programme, developed by the National Schools Partnership to educate around the origins of foods, like cereal, which are made from grains.
Encouragingly, almost two-thirds (65pc) of children were interested to see where their food is grown, and when children were asked where they learn about food, school came out on top (80pc) followed by home (69pc).
As a mother myself, I am delighted to be part of the Origins programme which is all about informing and educating the next generation on the source of our food in general, and explores the journey our cereals take from seed to serving.
I was also both surprised and delighted to learn that a huge 91pc of children surveyed help their parents cook, something I advocate through the classes run at Ballyknocken Cookery School, and over one-third (36pc) grow foods themselves.
Interestingly, the findings also showed that despite 68pc of parents saying their children enjoyed a bowl of cereal every day, nearly one in five children do not know that Kellogg's Corn Flakes are made from corn! While 15pc didn't know that vegetables are grown on farms.
With summer in full swing, It's the perfect time to teach children about food and introduce them to new fresh foods. Here are some basic tips that parents can employ during the summer months including playing games, such as name a vegetable beginning with x. This is a fun and engaging way to introduce your child to more unusual fruit and veg.
The first step in getting your kids involved in the kitchen is to make food enjoy!
Make your own pizza
No matter what age you are, pizzas are popular! I prepare the dough ahead of time and let it rise in a warm place. The toppings are in bowls so everyone can choose what they like and have a go at creating their own. We have a time limit on creating the topping, and then into the hot oven they go.
Makes two 30cm x 40cm rectangles:
1 rounded tsp dried yeast (or half a 7g sachet)
½ tsp sugar
150ml lukewarm water (more if required)
250g Italian '00' or strong white flour
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
120ml good-quality tomato sauce
Suggestions for toppings:
Chorizo, roasted red peppers and chargrilled asparagus
Pancetta, spinach and feta
Roasted courgette ribbons, aubergine and mozzarella
Sliced mushrooms, roasted cherry tomatoes and shredded kale
Leek, thin slices of sweet potatoes and roughly chopped walnuts
For the sweet tooth - cream cheese, blueberries and raspberries with a maple syrup drizzle
To make the dough, mix the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water and allow the yeast to activate. When the yeast foams, it's ready to use. This takes about 5 minutes
Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, salt and the yeast mixture. Mix to a loose dough, adding more flour or water as required. Knead until the dough is very pliable, which should take about 5 minutes using the dough hook of a stand mixer or 7-10 minutes by hand
Leave the dough to rise in a well-oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap until the dough has trebled in size and is springy to the touch, which will take about 2 hours. This will rise best in a warm, draught-free place, e.g. a hot press or near an oven
Preheat the oven to 230°C/fan 210°C gas 7
When the dough has risen, knock it back and place onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it again by hand for 2-3 minutes. Roll out or stretch the dough with your hands onto a lightly oiled pizza pan/screen or baking sheet. Lash on some tomato sauce, leaving a 1cm border clear around the edge of the pizza, and arrange your favourite toppings
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden and crisp. Allow to cool and slice
No-Bake Strawberry and Orange Tartlets
A no-bake dessert is delicious and easy, the perfect emergency dessert that can be made with kids. The Greek yoghurt balances the sweetness and soothes the sharpness of the passion fruit
(Makes 6 x 10cm tartlets or 1 x 24cm tart)
For the biscuit base
120g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
200g amaretti biscuits (or digestives)
For the filling
600ml double cream
Zest of 1 orange
pulp of 2 passion fruit
100g Greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g strawberries, washed and sliced into quarters
Brush 6 x 10cm loose-bottomed, fluted tartlet tins (or 1 x 24cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin) with a little of the melted butter
Place the amaretti biscuits in a food processor and whizz until they're fine crumbs. Add the butter and pulse a few times to combine, then carefully press the crumbs into the base and sides of the tartlet tins. Place in the fridge to set for 30 minutes
To make the filling, whisk the cream and orange zest in a large mixing bowl with an electric beater until stiff peaks form
Add the passion fruit pulp and stir to combine. Fold in the yoghurt and vanilla extract until mixed through
Spoon the filling into the set biscuit bases and chill again for 3 hours. When ready to serve, arrange the strawberries around the edge of the tartlets to make a fan effect
Health & Living