BAKE IT OFF! Five ways to reduce exam (SATS) stress by Cooking with your Kids

Five ways to reduce exam (SATS) stress by cooking with your kids

It's SATS week for 10 and 11 year olds across the UK, and after months of practice tests at school, most Year 6 pupils are feeling pretty tense about this week. As a former primary school teacher, I'm feeling pretty aerated by the unnecessary pressure these tests put on our little ones (and they are still little!), so I've come up with some relaxing afterschool activities for my 11 year old. We've made slime, done cartwheels (her not me!), played on a giant piano in the garden, and next up it's cooking.  

But why cooking? Well obviously I'm biased, but of all the downtime activities I can rustle up with little effort and expense, this hits a lot of positive buttons. And guarantees smiles (lots of them!)

Here are my five top tips:

  1. Choose a recipe: planning the recipe together is an important stage - leaf through some cookery books or browse some blog posts/pinterest for easy, tested recipes which appeal. Ask them to make an ingredient list and read it out whilst you check which ingredients you already have/need to get in. This teaches your child about planning and prep and builds the excitement about the time you are going to spend cooking together. Result - #buildsexcitement - and give them something to look forward to.

  2. Stress can inhibit appetite - which in turns affects performance and concentration. Baking something delicious together will relax your child and stimulate their appetite. I’d recommend a healthy failsafe muffin or batch of wholefood cookies (see examples below) - sneak in some veggies or dried fruit for added fibre (as stress can affect digestion too). Other great ingredients for exam time are oats, eggs, and seeds. Result - #feelingnourished

  3. Set aside time - cooking together is quality time that can’t be rushed (please don’t rush it or you’ll defeat the object) and illustrates you want to spend time with them and you value their company. Result - #feelingvalued  - another great stress buster

  4. Cooking is social and, when shared, involves teamwork, taking turns and collaborating. Decide together who is doing what, and make sure they know which jobs they are solely responsible for (and if you veer towards control freakery, hold back and let them do it themselves!). Result -  #feelingindependent - and elevating the importance of non academic skills

  5. Cookery is a sensory, tactile and whole brain experience - and will help balance out the exhaustion many children feel during test week. They’ll use the left part of their brain following instructions, and weighing and measuring, the right for creative flourishes, and evaluating tastes, smells, textures and how the experience makes them feels. Result - #feelingbalanced

Try it out - even as an end of week treat.

I can’t wait to hear how you get on. I guarantee smiles and happier, relaxed kids!

Here are some recipe ideas to get you going.

Any tips you'd like to share on how to relax and restore balance in your kids' lives? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you. And if you enjoyed this post, please share.

Does my baby need vitamin supplements?

Does my baby need vitamin supplements?

Does your infant or toddler need vitamin supplements? Does it make any difference if they are breast fed or on formula? What about when they start on solid food? We ask registered dietitian Abby Ixer for advice on your baby's changing nutritional needs and whether this includes giving supplements.

Carrot, Apple & Courgette Puree/Mash

Offering your baby a rainbow of different fruits and vegetables, means you maximise nutrient levels for them. Here we’re combining different colours you can ensure that your child gets a range of vitamins and minerals and their associated nutrients.

The vibrant orange colour in carrots comes from beta carotene which is converted in the body to vitamin A. This nutrient is used to strengthen the immune system and to ensure good eye health.

Apples are packed with vitamins and fibre, which help to ensure a healthy bowel and prevent constipation and courgettes are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as folate and potassium.

Whether you are pureeing, mashing or steaming in fingers for blw, your baby will love this combination of Autumn flavours.


Note:

If you are taking the baby led weaning approach, cut the ingredients into an appropriate shape for baby to hold (such as fingers), before boiling or steaming till cooked.  Allow to cool before giving to baby.
 

Nutritional info:

This combination is a great source of Vitamins A and C, and essential trace vitamins and minerals.

 

9 children’s books to encourage healthy eating

One of our most successful and memorable community cookery programs which ran in many children’s centres, libraries and infant schools, used books and storytelling as a starting point to inspire families to cook together. We named the project ‘Fairytale Feasts’ and soon realised the value of storytelling to start conversations with children.

This was expanded to a series of workshops for families with younger children - and the main aim was to encourage healthy eating and trying new and unfamiliar foods.

Here are some of our favourite books for younger children which can be used as a tool to inspire younger children to be more adventurous – don’t forget to plan in some cookery as part of the activity. It will reinforce the message and gives them a chance to surprise you and them with what they will try.

 

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Bites

makes 20-24 bites

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Bites - The Organic Cookery School

Babies and toddlers love to be independent and will feed themselves as soon as they are given the chance . Perfect for baby-led weaning, and a healthy lunchbox treat for older kids, you can offer these knowing they are  the perfect hand held snack.

These portable nutrition bombs contain quinoa, a unique grain containing all of the essential amino acids that the body needs, which is also naturally high in fibre, B vitamins and magnesium as well as vitamin rich broccoli, eggs and cheese for protein.

They freeze really well too. Enjoy!


N.B. Children should always be supervised when cooking, and an adult should oversee the use of heat as well as all preparation involving sharp utensils.


Try something different

Try mixing finely chopped carrot or raisins instead of broccoli

 

Did you know?

Quinoa is a gluten-free wholegrain

You can get white, red or black quinoa.

White quinoa will cook to be the fluffier, whilst red and black will cook to be a little more crunchy.

Quinoa has the perfect balance of all nine amino acids essential for human nutrition, and provides a good amount of fibre and iron.


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet for an adult. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Infants and Toddlers will need less calories according to their age.
Click here for advice on how many calories your child needs.

Bread and Butter Pudding Muffins

MAKES 16 MUFFINS

Lunch box staple and after school treat. These never last long in our household and are ideal to cook with little ones. Great for using up stale bread and a portable form of bread and butter pudding. Need we say more?



Did you know?

These muffins are full of calcium (good for your bones) and contains very little added sugar because of the natural sweetness of the dried fruit.

 


Cheese, Leek and Potato Pie

Cheese Leek and Potato Pie - The Organic Cookery School

Here’s a popular dish from our Cooking with Dad project and afterschool clubs. Using cheap winter veg, tasty cheese and dried herbs, it’s inexpensive to make and delicious. You children will love getting creative with the pastry scraps too – so make sure there’s plenty left for all their decorations.

N.B. Children should always be supervised when cooking, and an adult should oversee the

use of heat as well as all preparation involving sharp utensils.


Try something different

Try using alternative vegetables in this pie. Peppers, sweetcorn, courgettes would all work well.

 

Did you know?

  • Cheese contains both protein and calcium – something we all need for growth and development.
  • For other interesting facts about cheese visit: www.britishcheese.com
 

Pear and Chocolate Pudding

serves 4

pear and chocolate pudding

Low sugar and using store cupboard staples, this is perfect when you need a healthier chocolate pudding for the family. This goes down a storm in our community cookery classes and we’ve heard reports of it being served at fancy dinner parties. If you’re feeling indulgent throw in some extra dark chocolate chips ☺


Tip: 

Younger children may prefer their pear cut into smaller chunks.

 

Optional chocolate sauce recipe:

Break 150g dark chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over simmering water, add a tablespoon of honey and a knob of butter and stir until combined and glossy. Slowly whisk in 100ml of warmed (but not boiling milk). Can be made in advance and reheated when ready.

 

Did you know?

  • Pears are good source of dietary fibre, vitamins C and K and minerals such as copper and potassium.
  • There are over 3000 varieties of pears grown around the world.
 

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet for an adult. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Infants and Toddlers will need less calories according to their age.
Click here for advice on how many calories your child needs.

Summertime Soup

serves 3 – 4

Try this if you’re making our potato, pea and mint puree for baby – it’s delicious and delightfully green. Also known as Mean Green Soup, we’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t ask for seconds. And we’ve heard that lettuce has soporific qualities – perhaps a good sleep inducing supper.

N.B. Children should always be supervised when cooking, and an adult should oversee the use of heat as well as all preparation involving sharp utensils.


Try something different...

  • This basic soup can be varied with whatever vegetables are in season. Swap potato for sweet potato, butternut squash or pumpkin, and onions for spring onion or leek.
  • For information about what’s in season visit: www.eattheseasons.co.uk

 

Did you know?

  • Soups can be thick or thin. A thin, clear soup is often referred to as a consommé.
  • The potatoes and peas in this recipe which are blended together give this soup a thick consistency which is filling and satisfying.
 

 

Sweet Potato and Orange Muffins

makes 12-18

The apricots in this mix make these muffins – which are low in added sugar and full of natural sweetness from sweet potato, carrots, orange juice and dried fruit. We made them in standard muffin cases here, but they are perfect as mini muffins too – split the mix and have some mum and baby/toddler-sized ones. Perfect for lunchboxes and freezable.

* Adult supervision is required for all chopping, and use of ovens.


Did you know?

  • Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene).
  • They are also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fibre, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.
     

Try this!

Swap chopped apricots for any other favourite dried fruit – cranberries, raisins, even chopped prunes!


 

Tomato and Paprika Biscuits

makes 20 small biscuits

There’s something pretty unique about these biscuits – our very anti-tomato 10 year old loves them!  As does pretty much everyone who’s made them in our community classes (even fussy eaters!)  They can be thrown together in minutes, require pretty much store cupboard staples (just need to make sure you have a couple of spring onions to hand) and are perfect blw or lunchbox staples.

* N.B. Children should always be supervised when cooking, and an adult should oversee the use of heat as well as all preparation involving sharp utensils.


Did you know?

  • The English word “tomato” comes from the Aztec word, “tomatl”. Tomatoes are full of health: A good source of vitamins A, C and E tomatoes also contain potassium which may help lower blood pressure and calcium which is vital for healthy bones and teeth.
  • To read more about the humble tomato visit: www.britishtomatoes.co.uk

 

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet for an adult. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Infants and Toddlers will need less calories according to their age.
Click here for advice on how many calories your child needs.

10 Steps to More Veggies: Chocolate and Beetroot Muffins

Over the summer hols, we ran our first online challenge for parents who’d previously attended or signed up for info on our courses. 10 Steps to more Veggies is a five week e-course which aims to inspire and support parents to cook more with their children and when better to test it out than over the long school summer holidays.

We featured 10 of our more popular veggie smuggling recipes and support from tutors and other families through a private Facebook group. Everything was kept pretty low key, as we were testing our new e-course platform but were thrilled when 100 families signed up within a week.

Today we’re featuring the hands down favourite recipe of the course (although there were no losers!) Everyone loves this recipe and it’s a great lower sugar treat for your family, which your little ones will LOVE making with you. We’ve been known to polish a few off with a pot of tea.


Chocolate and Beetroot Muffins

makes 16 muffins

* Adult supervision is required when using sharp objects (graters, knives) and the oven.


Tip:

Grating beetroot can be tricky (and messy). Try disposable rubber gloves!
 

Try something different...

  • Try sultanas, chopped prunes or apricots instead of cranberries
  • Wholemeal flour works well in this recipe
  • If you can’t find beetroot, finely grated carrot could be used in its place.

 

Courgette, Pear and Carrot Cakes

makes two small loaves or 8 - 10 muffins

Here’s another low sugar lunchbox treat, which the kids will love making. Dead simple, packed with veggies and naturally sweet with very little added sugar. We regularly make these in our Little Foodies toddler cookery classes, and everyone loves them.

Need any further excuse to try them?

Carrots are rich in beta carotene which is converted in the body to vitamin A. This nutrient is used to strengthen the immune system and to ensure good eye health. Courgettes are also a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as folate and potassium and fibre, which help to ensure a healthy bowel and prevent constipation in little ones.

*N.B. Children should always be supervised when cooking, and an adult should oversee the use of heat as well as all preparation involving sharp utensils.


Try something different

  • Try changing the pear for another fruit or your choice. Apples, plums and peach would work well.
     

Did you know?

  • Courgette (also known as Zucchini) contains more potassium than bananas and are a rich source of vitamin C and manganese.
  • Carrots although usually orange in colour can also come in purple, red, white, and yellow varieties.
  • The human body turns beta-carotene from carrots into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for the health of our vision (including our night vision) as well as our bones, teeth and skin.

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet for an adult. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Infants and Toddlers will need less calories according to their age.
Click here for advice on how many calories your child needs.

 

Cheesy Spinach and Apple Muffins

Perfect for babies and toddlers

If your children are bored of sandwiches, these are great in lunchbox ( perhaps with some cooked chicken or a boiled egg for extra protein). Loved by toddlers, fussy eaters and baby-led weaners they freeze perfectly and are our secret weapon for sneaky some extra veggies into our little ones diets. We’ve made these as full sized muffins, but they work just as well as mini muffins for babies and toddlers.


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet for an adult. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Infants and Toddlers will need less calories according to their age.
Click here for advice on how many calories your child needs.