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Playing with your food

MagazineJune 2011 (Vol. 22 Issue 3)Playing with your food

In response to requests from nursery-school teachers for innovative snacks and nature-related educational activities for preschoolers, here's my advice

In response to requests from nursery-school teachers for innovative snacks and nature-related educational activities for preschoolers, here's my advice.

u Children love dipping and dunking, so give them little pots of goat's milk cream cheese or hummus with cucumber or carrot sticks to stick in them.
u Try pitta pockets or tortilla wraps instead of sandwiches, or even crackers (although check their salt levels), with goat's or ewe's milk cream cheese, with a tiny bit of chopped chives and other vegetables.
u Offer different sorts of rice and sweetcorn or pea salads with some colourful chopped vegetables mixed in.
u Healthy home-made soup in a flask makes a good tummy-filler on miserable cold days.
u Water in a thermos flask rather than sugary drinks is good for hot days, or give them freshly juiced drinks, using a liquidizer or blender as appropriate. These may be diluted with water sometimes. On specific occasions, offer the following while explaining to the children what the function of each particular juice is.
v Kiwi cold-fighter, packed with Nature's vitamin C: 2 kiwifruit, peeled and chopped; 1/4 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped; 1 orange, peeled, seeded and chopped (white pith left on); 12-mm piece of fresh ginger; half a pinch of cayenne pepper.
v Melon mouth-healer, for mouth ulcers: 1/4 honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and chopped; 1 cup (90 g) chopped white cabbage; 2 level tsp slippery elm powder; 1 tbsp pumpkin seed meal (crushed with a mortar and pestle).
v Fennel and mint drink, for excessive flatulence: 1 chamomile teabag; 3/4 cup (180 mL) boiling water; 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed cored and chopped.
v Grapefruit, lemon & ginger juice, an appetite stimulant: 1/2 ruby grapefruit, peeled, seeded and chopped; 1 small lemon, peeled, seeded and chopped; 12-mm piece of fresh ginger; 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped.
v Apple, prune & aloe juice, for constipa-tion: 3/8 cup (65 g) pitted prunes, chopped; 1 cup (250 mL) water; 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped; 1 tbsp aloe vera juice; plus, if severe, 1/2 tsp psyllium husks.
v Guava & rice milk blend, for diarrhoea: 1 large ripe guava, unpeeled and chopped; 1/2 cup (125 mL) rice milk; 1/2 cup (125 g) acido-philus ewe's or goat's milk yog-hourt; a pinch of ground nutmeg (both guava and nutmeg have good diarrhoea-easing properties).
v Orange & herb brew, for cough: 2 large fresh thyme sprigs; 6 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped; 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water; 1 tsp natural honey (not heat-treated by the supplier); 1 small garlic clove, squeezed through a garlic press or finely chopped; juice of 1 large orange; 4 drops of liquid Echinacea (or 1/4 of the adult dose indicated on the bottle).
v Ginger & coriander seed tea, for nausea: 12-mm piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced; 1 tsp coriander seeds; 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water.
Give the children choices of the above drinks, so that they feel they have some input, and get them juicing, baking and making. Food and drinks they've had a part in creating are more likely to be consumed.
u Get them involved in growing herbs and plants indoors. Take two large wire-mesh waste baskets, and afix them to two food-serving turntables. Mark the edges with images or symbols so the children can turn them little by little all day, allowing different plants to get sunshine. Find a few jute bags (say, imported coffee-bean bags), cut them to fit inside the baskets and sew up the sides, trimming off the excess. After filling each basket with potting soil, slice holes into the bags for planting vegetables, berries and herbs. Plant lettuce and chard over the top, and harvest the outer leaves twice a week. Place the containers on a balcony or patio. (For a commercial version, see www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIVJj_ yajrU.) Children love to plant as well as water, tend and, finally, harvest the crop. They will also learn how we rely on plants for food and for their other beneficial effects, which will stay with them for life.

Harald Gaier

WDDTY VOL. 22 NO. 2


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