Healthy Zones Ambassadors pick their favourite after-school club recipes
In the new academic year, we moved our focus to their after-school club, where I continued to work with a group of year 6 students (the Healthy Zones Ambassadors) who had already worked with me on their school food policy. They were eager and excited to do the work, along with the health mentor who was a huge help, particularly knowing how busy the senior leadership team is. We worked with the Healthy Zones Ambassadors every Monday for seven weeks, cooking nutritious recipes to then be proposed for the after-school menu. We made Moroccan couscous with roasted vegetables, Greek salad with tzatziki and wholemeal pitta breads, sweet potatoes with guacamole on top, vegetable frittatas (which didn’t go to plan but was a fun afternoon), low sugar oat flapjacks, creamy coconut carrot and chilli soup, and roasted vegetables with pitta breads.
Tips for engaging children with new foods
Getting children to prepare and cook food is a great way for them to get more familiar with a variety of recipes and flavours. Adding pressure doesn’t usually work even with adults, so letting the children steer, and trusting their skills, helps encourage them to be enthusiastic. They even helped with the washing up and cleaning too. We started with the children smelling, touching and trying food, then deciding whether or not it’s their favourite, rather than saying “eeeew” or “disgusting”, and this worked well. Offering one familiar food and then the new flavours allowed them to feel safe in trying something different (e.g. sweet potato was a familiar food and guacamole a new food).
It was so lovely to hear from the after-school lead that she too has started changing her own food openness and now feels inspired and confident to do more food preparation and experimenting with children who attend the after-school club. The changes to the food served would have not been possible without the hard work of the Healthy Zones Ambassadors, who so passionately voice the desire for nutritious food to be accessible to all students throughout the school day. We have now designed a new menu for their after-school club and the club lead is working with a small group of children each day to continue improving the nutrition and build on the momentum of openness to trying new foods.
Written by SFM Project Officer Sabine Appleby, MSc, ANutr