Category

Food & Eating

Top tips for sleepovers

By | dance & Art, family, Food & Eating, fun for children, Music and singing, parties, play
by Kitty Jones
The Dreamy Den Company

Sleepovers are a childhood staple but can be a daunting time for parents. Have no fear, we’ve put together some helpful tips and advice for a smooth sleepover experience.

1 Food
Hungry children are no fun so make sure you have plenty of food and snacks to keep them fuelled and happy. Self-serve stations are great fun and easy to prepare, try a burger bar, taco bar or a noodle/pasta bar with a selection of toppings and sides. Grab some recyclable ‘take-out’ boxes to minimise washing up.

2 Setting up camp
Living rooms are a good option due to size and TV access for movies but make sure pets can be relocated and the TV usage is monitored so they don’t stumble across any late night horrors by accident. And don’t forget to move any precious ornaments!

3 Midnight feast
This definitely doesn’t have to be at midnight – as hopefully everyone will be asleep by then! Consider having a break in the movie and doing a fruit fondue or a popcorn bar with a selection of toppings and sauces. Try some sugar alternatives to keep the sugar rush under control.

4 Entertainment
Garden games are great for summer and for burning off energy. For rainy days you can try DIY pamper packs or craft packs. Alternatively hire an external entertainer to come in and give you a few hours peace. Movies are great for later on and you can always have a pre-selected list to minimise arguments.

5 Nervous children
Be open and discuss action plans with parents beforehand, especially if a child has never been to a sleepover before. Make sure you know where each child’s parent will be and always get two contact numbers from parents.

6 The morning after
Choose your collection time as mid-morning giving the children a chance to have breakfast and, most importantly, don’t plan too much for the next day, you may all need a few impromptu naps to recover!

Keep on cooking

By | children's health, Education, Food & Eating, play
by Naomi Marks, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

I have yet to come across the small child who doesn’t love to roll up their sleeves and get busy with biscuit dough and cutters. It’s all the tactile pleasure and creative fun of playdough with the bonus of a teatime treat at the end.

But once children get beyond infant school age, cooking can all too often play second fiddle to the lure of the screen as an indoor activity.

That’s such a shame when we all know how important eating good, home-cooked food is for children’s physical and mental health. Keeping the cooking habit going as children grow older will benefit their bodies and their brains – and arm them with a set of skills that will serve them well throughout life.

Besides, cooking is fun!potatoes pan

Here are some ideas to keep your school-age child engaged in the kitchen. You never know, you may end up with a future MasterChef in the family. At the very least, you can expect some tasty outputs from your young ones.

Your children’s learning in the kitchen will be incremental. Younger children love to construct so let them start out this way and only slowly build up to more advanced cookery techniques. For example, primary school-aged children have great fun building their own pizzas. Set some passata and mozzarella or grated cheddar on the side and fill bowls with a range of toppings, such as cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, ham slices, olives, red pepper, chorizo and spinach. Then let them get creative on a pizza base of their own.

Older kids, however, will also enjoy making their own pizza sauce: an easy one sees a tin of tomatoes, a teaspoon of mixed herbs, a clove of garlic and some salt and pepper whizzed up together, with enough tomato puree then added to make a good, thick sauce.

A real sense of achievement will come when children feel confident enough to tackle the dough. Find an easy recipe for pizza bases at www.bhfood.org.uk/recipes/basic-bread/

Top tip: pizza-making is a great children’s party activity.

Alternatively, the same approach can be brought to shop-bought falafels and hummus. Set alongside bowls of fillings such as tomatoes, avocados, spring onions and pickles for children to lay out on flat bread and roll into delicious and healthy Mediterranean wraps.

While younger children will be content with this, older children will be amazed at how easy it is to make their own tasty hummus: just whiz up chick peas, tahini (sesame seed paste, which is widely available), lemon juice and olive oil with some cumin and paprika to taste.

And your more ambitious child will enjoy actually making the falafels – though do be on hand for this as it involves hot oil. Check out the recipe at www.bhfood.org.uk/recipes/falafel/

If you’re stuck for cooking ideas, take inspiration from cuisines around the world. There’s a host of fun to be had home-rolling sushi with your child. Most supermarkets sell the rolling mats and special rice required – and few fridges and larders fail to yield enough to supply sushi fillings. A carrot, a chunk of cucumber, some cream cheese, a one-egg omelette and some leftover tinned tuna will go a long way.

avocado childOr use festivals as your excuse for experimentation. Make a simple curry with your children for Diwali or a chili for the Day of the Dead.

Finally, the lure of a cake is one sure way to bring children racing into the kitchen. But, why not up the stakes and appeal to their more competitive side?

Stage a mini Bake Off, inviting other family members or your children’s friends to join in the fun. Points can be awarded for artistic flair as well as taste – and maybe cleaning up skills too.

Just remember: keep it friendly, keep it fun!

Brighton & Hove Community Kitchen is running two World of Food Easter holiday cookery courses for children aged 7-11 and 12-16. Find out more at www.bhfood.org.uk/events/world-of-food-ii-school-holiday-cooking-with-jethro-for-young-cooks-aged-12-to-16/

Local non-profit organisation, the Food Partnership has just launched a new ‘Community Kitchen’ on Queens Road in central Brighton – a cookery school where classes with chefs and food experts help subsidise low-cost, accessible community cookery activities.
www.bhfood.org.uk/the-community-kitchen

How women can empower themselves with good health

By | beauty, Education, family, Food & Eating, Health, Relationships, sleep, Uncategorized
by Dr Mathi Woodhouse
GP at Your Doctor – www.your-doctor.co.uk

1 Being proactive about your health is vital both in terms of strengthening your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms and preventing future illness and disease. Planning, testing, check-ups and addressing all kinds of areas of mental to sexual health matters all take time. People often do not prioritise their own health. Be proactive now.

2 Have you ever wondered what your biological age is? Telomere testing can reveal your biological age through a simple blood test. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Lifestyle can influence the rate which your telomeres shorten faster that simple tests can reveal. Eat well, exercise often, sleep well, and address stress levels. These can all reduce the inflammatory process and therefore slow the rate of telomere shortening.

3 Don’t miss your vaginal smear. In 2013 60% of all new HIV diagnoses were to young adolescent women and girls. HPV (human papillomavirus) is a sexually transmitted infection, it accounts for around 70% of all cervical cancers. Sexual health in women is of the utmost importance and more importantly is totally preventable. Take measures for safe sex, and ensure all available screening is seized. A cervical smear should be available at least once every three years until the age of 65. Oral contraceptive pills protect against pregnancy but offer no protection against infection. Ensure you take measures to keep yourself clear of pelvic disease. Use condoms and get yourself tested for STDs if you’re worried. Do not wait.

4 Feel those boobs. Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths amongst women. Early detection can result in great long-term outcomes. A simple examination once a month after your period is the best time to check. Pay particular attention to dimples in the skin and inversion of the nipple. If you are unsure have a doctor give you a quick tutorial. It’s simple, easy and a potential lifesaver. If you are above 50 you should be able to have routine mammography to screen for breast cancer; ensure this happens.

5 Hot flushes… if you feel perimenopausal there are many non-hormonal ways to assist. Soya, red clover and black cohosh are all approved herbal remedies to fight your fluctuating hormones. If these symptoms are really bothersome and you want to avoid HRT, your doctor may be able to offer some alternatives.

6 Women are more likely to have greater emotional intelligence and empathy. They typically have a larger limbic system which supports a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory. Use it!

7 Eating well goes without saying. A large proportion of women are anaemic without knowing. Tiredness, poor skin and hair loss, and pallor are all signs of this. Eat foods rich in iron such as dark green vegetables, small servings of red meat, and legumes. Keeping your folate and calcium levels up also will help in preserving good health prior/during pregnancy and your bones will be strong beyond the menopause.

8 Eat to energise yourself. Stick to a diet low in saturated fats, salt and processed sugars. Increase your intake of omega 3 through nuts, avocados, or oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna. Eat enough fibre by increasing your portions of fruit and vegetables. Experts believe that 30g of fibre a day can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

9 Sleep is crucial in maintaining your physical and mental health, it supports many facets of healthy brain function. Good quality, deep sleep is important for all of us, especially multi-tasking women. To really train your body to sleep well, allow a period of de-stressing before bedtime, get into bed at a decent hour and keep the room dark. Avoid browsing the Internet on your phone or laptop in bed and limit caffeine and alcohol.

10 Stress management is one of the key pillars to good health. Much of our stress is caused by too many responsibilities. Start saying ‘no’ to requests that are asking too much of you. Meditation, practicing some mindfulness and deep breathing are all worth investing in a few minutes per day. Find a quiet moment to sit down and focus on yourself. Positive thoughts and self-worth can make leaps and bounds to self-esteem and mood.

11 Drink less alcohol. Women should stick to no more than 14 units per week allowing at least three alcohol free days per week. High alcohol intake can lead to a heart disease, diabetes and liver damage. Binge drinking can cause serious injury, collapse, and irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Alcohol also contains a lot of calories and sugar which can have a big impact on weight management and the risk of diabetes.

12 Smoking is the largest single preventable cause of cancer each year in the UK yet some 9.4 million people in the UK smoke every day. Set a date and time to stop smoking. Slowly cutting down on cigarettes can have a psychological effect that makes the cigarettes seem far more precious than they actually are. Put the money aside that you would have otherwise spent on cigarettes and watch your money grow!

Reduce Reuse Recycle

By | Education, family, Food & Eating, Health, recycling

Recycling at home

The ‘war on waste’ has been at the forefront of discussion around recycling recently, in the classroom and at home. These ideas can be challenging for pupils, however, by introducing them gradually using engaging and challenging resources, children can become prepared for the world they will inherit.
PlanBee, a leading online provider of primary school resources, has recently announced the launch of its new ESR (Education for Social Responsibility) packs. As the company celebrates these fantastic social responsibility resources, Oli Ryan, former teacher and resource creator at PlanBee, reveals his tips for encouraging children’s involvement in recycling at home.

Waste reduction tips:
Knowing how things are made, and the effort and resources that go into products we use, is central to understanding the importance of reducing wasteful or excessive use of everyday items.

Here are some tips for getting children to help reduce waste at home:
1. Go hunting for information books in the library, or for fun videos online, which show how everyday household products and items are manufactured.
2. Show children how little toothpaste, shower gel or toilet roll they actually need when they use it. You’ll reduce waste and save money!
3. Encourage friendly sibling competition. Ask “Who can make X last the longest?” Consider asking this about consumable items like shampoo, felt-tipped pens or colouring books. You can incentivise little challenges like these with simple rewards such as choosing a board game to play together, or a book to read at bedtime.

Tips on how to reuse:
Finding creative ways to reuse old materials is a great way to encourage your children’s creativity and natural curiosity.

Here are three ideas to try at home:
1. Keep a box of cellophane, cardboard and plastic packaging for children to use for art projects.
2. Plastic packaging in particular is great for green-fingered children. Virtually any container can be used as a plant pot or a watering can.
3. Think outside the box! Set challenges to keep kids preoccupied on rainy days or during school holidays – can they make a bird feeder using only scrap materials? Old packaging is great for 3D model making, which can assist your children when starting a project from scratch. Popular ideas from the classroom include building model robots, bridges or entire cityscapes using old boxes and bottles.

Simple recycling tips:
When it comes to recycling at home, children can be your best friends. We’ve all been guilty at times of throwing something away that could have been recycled, but once children know the benefits of recycling, they’ll often be more than happy to help.

Check out our top tips below:
1. Recycling is, essentially, fun – especially for children! There are little things nearly all children enjoy, like jumping on cardboard boxes to squash them down, or crushing aluminium cans with a can crusher – very satisfying!
2. Did you know that while plastic shampoo and shower gel bottles can be recycled, they have to be washed out first? Ask the children to do it – playing with squirty bottles and water is another simple pleasure most children will enjoy! Slightly older children will enjoy helping to recycle glass containers at the bottle bank: they love throwing bottles into the bank and hearing them smash!
3. Ask your children about recycling in all areas of their lives. Challenging them to consider what recycling is done in school, at home, and in other places they spend time, will encourage them to think holistically about reducing waste in every aspect of their lives.

Looking for more information and ideas on how to encourage education for social responsibility at home and in the classroom? Become a PlanBee member to gain access to an extensive range of KS1 and KS2 lesson resources.
www.planbee.com

The great tea tonic

By | Food & Eating, Health

Tea really is the best drink of the day – not just for its refreshing taste, but even more so for its powerful ability to help curb and combat a raft of health challenges and improve our general well-being.

Scientists are finding a growing body of evidence to show just how powerful components in tea are in helping ease common health woes and keeping both the mind and body in good condition.

A report – Brew Knew That? For Good Health, It’s Always Tea Time – compiled by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), explores the latest ground-breaking science and studies around the health benefits of tea.

The health-enhancing flavonoids obtained from just two cups of tea a day reduces the risk of death from all-causes of mortality by 40%, according to research published in the American Journal of Nutrition. Studies have found that drinking tea is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic inflammation – which is recognised as a factor in many age-related health issues. Studies show it may even aid weight control and influence fat distribution.

Dietitian and a member of the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “Tea is the ultimate superfood as it provides around 80% of the flavonoids in the UK diet and 70% of our dietary fluoride, unlike other superfoods which are expensive and have questionable claims about supposedly being packed with antioxidant flavonoids”
Flavonoids are natural plant components that have a strong link with a number of health benefits, thought to be due to their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Laboratory studies show that just one cup of tea delivers the same flavonoid activity as two apples, three and a half glasses of orange juice or 10 glasses of long-life apple juice. Another, which focused on the oxidative stress which has a role in making arteries harden, found the flavonoids in tea were more potent antioxidants than vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene.

Professor Philip Calder, Professor of Nutritional Immunology within Medicine at the University of Southampton and a guest advisor to the Tea Advisory Panel, notes: “Tea and other herbal tea infusions are such familiar friends, we often overlook the number, and range, of health benefits they bring to the table. Two of the biggest drivers for illness and age-related physical and cognitive decline are oxidation and inflammation, and tea helps combat both.

“It’s no wonder that drinking tea on a regular basis reduces the risk of so many health issues and barely a month goes by without fresh evidence of the benefits of a brew.”

Mind and body benefits
Dementia, heart disease, diabetes and cancers are all on the increase as a result of our ageing population, sedentary lifestyles and burgeoning levels of obesity. Health and wellbeing specialist, Dr Catherine Hood from TAP, says: “Sustained lifestyle changes are required to reverse these trends, but this often begins with baby-steps and one very simple and effective way to reduce your risk is to drink tea on a daily basis.”

Tea has been shown to:
1. Potentially cut the risks of dementia or delay its onset.
2. Enhance cognition and memory.
3. Reduce depression and anxiety.
4. Cut the risk of heart and circulation problems by up to 20% – some studies have found it could even be as high as 45%.
5. Cut the risk of type 2 diabetes – studies indicate the beneficial effect could be between 16%
and 33%.
6. Aid weight control – thought to be because of the catechin content and because of positive changes in the gut bacteria.
7. Help tackle high blood pressure – one study found drinking black tea could have a 10% effect at reducing blood pressure, while another found drinking green tea could reduce the risk by 46%.
8. Improve oral health – one study found tea helped with 40% reduction in dental decay risk and there is evidence tea can combat bad breath, and reduce inflammation, bone reabsorption and the growth of bacteria association with gum disease.
9. Help protect eyesight – research shows tea can reduce the risk of glaucoma and could reduce the risk of cataracts.
10. Give bones better protection – tea drinkers tend to have stronger bones and researchers reported that tea appeared to improve bone mineral density, especially in the spine, hip and neck. A further study also found that tea consumption may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

For more information see www.teaadvisorypanel.com

Herbs to soothe your child’s chickenpox

By | baby health, children's health, Food & Eating, Health, Uncategorized
by Henriette Kress
author of Practical Herbs 1 & 2

Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by the varicella virus. It’s belongs to the herpesviruses. You can remedy all problems caused by this group the same way, including cold sores (herpes simplex) and shingles (herpes zoster).

The most important thing to know about chickenpox is that it can get a lot worse if you use aspirin or ibuprofen. Leave them in your medicine cupboard whenever somebody has chickenpox or herpes.

The second important thing to know is that you have the virus for life. You can get rid of the symptoms, but you can’t get rid of the virus itself. Chickenpox is fairly mild if you get it in childhood. It’s a lot worse if you first get it as an adult, and it’s very contagious. It’s dangerous to the fetus if caught by a pregnant woman.

Herbs for chickenpox
I like three herbs for chickenpox:
1. Lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa) has been shown to be effective against various herpes-family viruses. It’s a mild herb and can be given freely as a tea. Here’s how:

Lemon balm tea
1-2 teaspoons dried lemon balm
or 3-4 teaspoons fresh crushed leaves of lemon balm
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as he likes.

2. Coneflower
Coneflowers (Echinacea-species) are wonderful herbs that help strengthen the immune system. They’re also effective against different viruses in the herpes family. Purple coneflower is widely available as a tincture. To use, dilute the tincture in water and give it to your child:

Diluted coneflower tincture
15 drops coneflower tincture
100 ml water
Mix and let your child sip this throughout the day. Generally, coneflowers work better in acute problems if they’re taken as small doses often rather than as larger doses three times a day.

If you find dried coneflower herb, you can make that into a tea instead. The recipe is:
Coneflower tea
1-2 teaspoons dried coneflower
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as she likes.

3. St. John’s wort
An infused oil of St. John’s wort works wonders for the itch of chickenpox. It’s also great for the pain from shingles. You can make your own, but you can also buy it in well-stocked health food stores. If you can’t get an oil or salve of St. John’s wort, you can use a calendula salve instead.

Infused oil of St. John’s wort
• Fresh flowering tops of St. John’s wort
• Extra virgin olive oil

Fill a jar with the chopped-up flowering tops, then cover the herb with olive oil. Leave the jar in your oven on 50 ºC for two hours and strain the liquid into a wide-mouth jar. Let the water settle out until the oil is clear instead of murky, for about 5 days. Bottle your oil and add a label: ‘St. John’s wort oil’ plus the date. Store in the fridge.

It’s an excellent oil for bruises, sprains, strains and similar and is very effective for chickenpox and shingles.

4. An oat bath
An oat bath is extremely soothing to the itch from chickenpox. To make it, you’ll need a small or large bathtub and rolled oats:

Anti-itch bath
A handful of finely rolled oats
warm (not hot) water
Draw a bath with warm water and adjust the temperature to suit your child. Lower your child into the water and very gently rub a handful of finely rolled oats over his skin. Older children can to this for themselves, too.

5. Chickweed
Chickweed is among our best herbs for various itches. It’s an abundant weed in lush garden soil. Use scissors to take the top off the chickweed and crush it in a little water. Strain and use the resulting green-tinted liquid as a gentle wash on your child’s itchy spots. Chickweed can also be made into an infused oil (see under St. John’s wort); it’s soothing in that form, too.

Those who have had chickenpox can get another outbreak of the same virus decades later. This time it’s shingles, though. Shingles is usually brought on by stress or by an immune system that’s laid low by some other disease. You can use the same herbs for shingles as you used for chickenpox.

Practical Herbs 1 & 2 by Henriette Kress, are available now, published by AEON Books, priced £19.99 each. For more information see: www.aeonbooks.co.uk

Quick and healthy family meals for busy parents

By | children's health, Food & Eating, fun for children, Health, Uncategorized

by Jess Crocker
Manager, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

We’ve all been there – after a long day, staring into the fridge willing a decent meal to appear as a tired child moans in our ear. We want to serve up healthy meals our children love, but this ideal can seem far away at times. At the Food Partnership we’ve been teaching adults and families about cookery and nutrition for over 10 years so we’ve seen these same issues again and again. So many of our strongest happy memories are connected to food, so we want to see more families finding simple ways to have positive experiences together in the kitchen and at the dining table.

Here’s our top time-saving tips to make healthy meals easier:
• Hidden veg tomato sauce Lots of parents blend or chop vegetables into pasta sauce to up their children’s veg intake, but we love to find new ways to make this go even further – freeze a large batch of the sauce so you can use it on pita-bread pizzas (see below), in stews, shepherd’s pie and or even as a base for a minestrone soup.

• Do it together
Getting children involved in cooking is a great way to get them trying new foods. Many parents involve even young children in activities like baking but the time, sugar and mess means this isn’t really an everyday option. We often find family meals that give children choice and control help to improve eating habits – and this can be quick too. One of our favourites is pita bread pizzas – all you need are store-bought breads, tomato paste or a basic sauce, grated cheese and some toppings (think frozen sweetcorn, peppers, chopped fresh tomato). Even toddlers can assemble the pizza themselves and wait excitedly to try their creation.

• Don’t fear frozen
Frozen veg often retains more nutrients than fresh food which has been left to languish in the fridge, plus you can portion out exactly what you need and cook it quickly. Keep a range of veg (and fruit) in the freezer to ensure your children get a good variety of foods without spending a fortune. Toddlers who are teething may even enjoy eating frozen peas or sweetcorn, and a little bit of frozen spinach can disperse through a dish as a very gentle introduction to more bitter flavours. It can take up to fifteen times for children to accept a new food, so don’t worry if it takes a while, if you’re eating it yourself they should eventually follow suit.

• Protein power
People often focus on vegetable intake in children – don’t forget protein. Children need two portions per day, roughly the size of their own fist or a handful. As well as meat, eggs and fish, we find that red lentils cook quickly and can easily disappear into a tasty carrot soup or casserole to add extra nutrition easily.

Check out our website for lots of quick and easy family recipes. If you have a top tip or recipe that helps your family eat quickly and well, we’d love to hear from you.

Local non-profit organisation, the Food Partnership has just launched a new ‘Community Kitchen’ on Queens Road in central Brighton – a cookery school where classes with chefs and food experts help subsidise low-cost, accessible community cookery activities.
www.bhfood.org.uk/the-community-kitchen