Ask the expert - we talk to an oral health expert about the best ways to look after your family’s teeth and avoid child tooth decay and extractions.


The dental health of children, including issues such as tooth extractions and decay are currently making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Numbers of child tooth extractions are up, causing what must be for many children, a great deal of unnecessary stress and discomfort, as well as putting additional pressure on the NHS.

Hospitals extracted multiple teeth from children and teenagers in England a total of 42,911 times – 170 a day – in 2016-17, according to statistics obtained by the Local Government Association

As a parent, and someone who spent a lot of time in the dentist’s chair from the age of ten (due to two broken front teeth rather than cavities), this worries me deeply not only because I know just how distressing and painful dental work is, but also because for most, it is avoidable.

I’d like to think I’m a well informed parent, but these statistics make me wonder just what’s missing in our parenting education, for this problem to be growing so dramatically.

Yes, we need to give our children less sugary foods.

Yes, supermarkets need to stop promoting sugary food.

But as well as dietary choices, how much do parents really know about the best ways to care for their children’s teeth?

As a parent educator, I also know it’s something that other parents lack confidence in too, especially those who have babies starting solids or preschoolers.

Is there enough support and information to support parents right from when a baby starts solids, through to when a child is left to brush their teeth independently?

With this in mind, I decided it was time put some of our parent questions to an expert, and I am very grateful to Samantha Glover, Dental Public Health Program Manager at Public Health England, for taking part in the following Q and A. All questions were submitted by The Organic Cookery School’s Parent Focus Group.

This first question came from Isabel, who like many parents often gives homemade smoothies as a way to boost her children’s intake of fruit and veg (particularly spinach, which as we all know becomes infinitely more acceptable to a child blitzed up with fruit)

Q: Are smoothies really bad? Are they better if drunk through a straw?

A: It is so much better to eat whole fruits; when you blitz the smoothie you release the sugars which can damage your teeth.

These can also be quite acid, leading to enamel erosion. If you are going to have a smoothie or any drink that is not water or milk, drink it with a meal and over a short period of time. The worst thing you can do is sip these drinks throughout the day as it means the damage is continual rather than being in one hit.

If straws reduce the amount of time a sugary drink is in contact with teeth, then yes, but this is reduced if being sipped over a long period.

Find out more on this topic here

Amy wanted to know whether it’s better to offer smoothies at a particular time of day.

Q: Is it better to give a smoothie in the morning (because you can brush teeth after)

A: Give it with a meal and stick to water or milk in between meals. Do not brush your teeth for 45mins after you have eaten or drank anything. Once you eat or drink the sugars and acids in the food form an acid which attacks the enamel. Over the next 45 mins your saliva with help neutralise this acid environment and bring the PH back to a neutral level. At this point it is safe to brush again. If you want to help you teeth drink some water after eating or drinking.

Find out more on this topic here:

Lianne has a toddler and school-aged child and wanted to know how important it is to use toothpaste targeted at different age groups.

Q: Do I really need different toothpastes for all the different ages? Does it matter if my two year old and 8 year old have the same one?

A: The difference in ages for toothpaste is the fluoride content. Children from 4 years old who are developing their adult teeth benefit from the higher dose of fluoride (1450ppm). This is the same for all children older than this. With children 4 and above use a pea sized blob. Children under this age use just a smear. Rub the toothpaste in to the toothbrush so the child doesn’t just suck the paste off the brush and swallow it.

Find out more on this topic here:

Lianne also asked about mouthwashes targeted at children.

Q: Do my children need to use children’s mouthwash?

A: Children should not need to use a mouthwash unless recommended by their dental professional. After brushing the teeth for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste spit out the bubbles but do not rinse. You want that fluoride to soak in to the enamel to help keep it strong. If you rinse with water or mouthwash you will wash all of this away. The child’s saliva will slowly  wash this away once it has done its job.

Monika wondered about whether toothbrushes need cleaning.

Q: Should I clean my child’s toothbrush (eg sterilise it)?


A: No, toothbrushes should be replaced regularly. Every three months is recommended but if yor child has been sick or been unwell replace the toothbrush before. Use a toothbrush cover once the brush is dry or keep them in a cupboard. Do not use each other’s brushes. It is always best to replace than try and sterilise or disinfect a brush. Just rinse the bristles well after use and leave to try.

Find out more on this topic here:

Inga wondered about the effects of dried fruit on teeth, especially as a playtime snack or at lunch.

Q: Can I give my children dried fruit snacks during the day?

A: Dried fruits such as raisins are very concentrated sugar and stick so they stay on the tooth surface for a long time. Try to limit snacks to two a day (100cals) and drink plenty of water after a snack to help clean the mouth.

Find out more on this topic here:

Ines posed a great question about foods that might help neutralise sugar acid during the day.

Q: Does cheese (or any other food) neutralise sugar acid?

A: Yes to a degree. Low acid and sugar snacks include rice cakes, cheese and milk. These can be a good addition to the diet and water and milk are a good option after something acidic or with sugar.  

Find out more on this topic here:

Chloe, one of our ‘Cooking for Baby’ mums asked about babies and teething.

Q: Is it ok to let my baby chew her toothbrush when teething?

A: Teething rings are better for long term chewing but introducing your baby to a toothbrush whilst they are teething is a good idea, they can get used to the feeling of the bristles so this feels more familiar when you start to brush the teeth. Children should be supervised to brush up to the age of 7.

Sam wondered whether her son’s current dental routine was linked to recurrent bad breath.

Q: My child has bad breath, but we clean teeth regularly, are we doing something wrong?

A: Bad breath can be a sign of a throat or stomach problem. Take the child to check that the teeth and gums are clean and healthy. If this is the case then check with your GP.  Often when a child has a throat infection or stomach problem it can cause a bad taste and smell in the mouth.

We also asked about rinsing with water.

Q: Should my child rinse with water or leave some toothpaste in their mouth after brushing?

A: Spit don’t rinse (see above)

And whether Samantha had any specific advice on sippy cups/giving up bottles.

A: Children should be encouraged to drink from a free flowing cup from 6 months. This will help with keeping the teeth healthy as the liquid is not pooling in the mouth and is in contact with the teeth for a shorter period of time. It will also help with speech development as different muscles are used to drink from a cup.

Find out more on this topic here:

Best books to encourage your children to brush their teeth (and eliminate worry at the dentist)


As parents we all want our children to understand the importance of brushing their teeth properly, but the natural consequence of not doing so (tooth decay, drilling, filling, gum disease and even tooth extractions) are pretty scary. Most of the dentists I’ve visited have been brilliant with my daughters but it can still be a little scary, particularly if you have an anxious child.

The following book list has been put together by myself and Samantha Glover,  Dental Public Health Program Manager at Public Health England, who recently answered parent questions about the best ways to look after your children’s teeth.

When choosing stories on a dentist/tooth brushing theme, Samantha tries ‘to steer away from books that link the dentist with toothache i.e ‘little princess had a terrible tooth ache so she went to the dentist to get it fixed’. We want young people to get used to going to the dentist (from one year old) as a routine thing not related to pain or anxiety.’

The following books are all available from Amazon, and should be accessible from your library too.

You can read the full article, Ask the expert - we talk to an oral health expert about the best ways to look after your family’s teeth and avoid child tooth decay and extractions, by clicking this link.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. The Organic Cookery School may receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using affiliate links.


Peach Melba Chia Pudding

The Organic Cookery School Peach Melba Chia Pudding Baby Weaning Toddlers Recipe blog .jpg

Here’s the second recipe in our series of chia seed puddings which are perfect for babies (over 6 months), toddlers and big kids too! Based on a classic peach melba, it’s perfect for summer months when peaches and raspberries are plentiful.

100 million times better than a processed kids’ dessert, it’s also got the thumbs up from Abby, our registered dietitian.

This delicious dessert is bursting with vitamin C and fibre from the combination of fruits. Chia seeds add omega 3 to help healthy brain and heart development. They also provide healthy protein for normal growth and development.
— Abby Ixer, Registered Dietician

With no added sugar and vitamins and minerals galore, you'll want to try this with your fussy eater too.

New folder-13b.jpg
New folder-15.jpg
New folder-19.jpg
The Organic Cookery School Peach Melba Chia Pudding Baby Weaning Toddlers Recipe jpg.jpg

Healthy Valentine Recipes Your Kids Will Love


We love Valentine’s day at The Organic Cookery School. Partly because it often falls in our February half term (so extra time for kids’ baking classes!) and because it’s Lucy’s wedding anniversary (awww!) on the 14th.

So whether it’s a weekend or school hols activity, Valentine’s is a perfect time to get hands on in the kitchen with your little ones.

Here are some our our favourite health(ier) recipes for Valentine’s.

These raspberry yogurt mousse pots from Eats Amazing are super quick and lower sugar than your average dessert.

These raspberry yogurt mousse pots from Eats Amazing are super quick and lower sugar than your average dessert.

Peanut Butter fans will go crazy for Healthy Little Foodies  Raspberry Peanut Butter Freezer Bites     

Peanut Butter fans will go crazy for Healthy Little Foodies  Raspberry Peanut Butter Freezer Bites     

More than Just Carrots have also rethought the Jammie Dodger, with a strawberry chia jam and wholemeal hazelnut biscuit.                                                                                                                            

More than Just Carrots have also rethought the Jammie Dodger, with a strawberry chia jam and wholemeal hazelnut biscuit.                                                                                                                            

Frozen strawberries work perfectly in these healthy Strawberry Breakfast Bites from My Kids Lick The Bowl with oats, coconut and sunflower seeds.

Frozen strawberries work perfectly in these healthy Strawberry Breakfast Bites from My Kids Lick The Bowl with oats, coconut and sunflower seeds.

All About Kids have reinvented the traditional Jammie Dodger with raspberry chia jam. Yum!         

All About Kids have reinvented the traditional Jammie Dodger with raspberry chia jam. Yum!         

And if hummous is your thing, you can’t go wrong with this Beetroot Hummous recipe from Baby Gram

And if hummous is your thing, you can’t go wrong with this Beetroot Hummous recipe from Baby Gram

And Valentine’s is one time when breakfast balls needn’t just be for breakfast! Healthy Little Foodies’s Raspberry and Coconut ones look delicious and are perfect for little hands to roll.

And Valentine’s is one time when breakfast balls needn’t just be for breakfast! Healthy Little Foodies’s Raspberry and Coconut ones look delicious and are perfect for little hands to roll.

Lucy and Clare over at The Happy Weaner have plenty of ideas for cute Valentine snacks

Lucy and Clare over at The Happy Weaner have plenty of ideas for cute Valentine snacks

But one of our favourites has to be these super cute Valentine apple love bugs from Grace at Eats Amazing Who could resist?


We hope that’s given you a little inspiration for 14th February and we’d love to hear if you try any of the above.


Poop problems – we talk to a registered dietitian about how to help your constipated child & when to worry about diarrhoea

digestive issues in kids - how to help and avoid constipation.png

Digestive issues in Children – a guest article by by Abby Ixer, RD

Your child’s digestive system is a complex system that turns food into the energy their body needs to develop and grow. Effective digestion is key to good health. Throughout a child’s life, the gut is exposed to outside factors which may cause unpleasant side effects, such as diarrhoea or constipation. These can often be worrying for parents, but are often harmless and can be treated effectively. This article aims to summarise the main things to consider if your child is suffering with digestive problems and how to treat some of the more common ones.


Constipation is surprisingly common in children, with roughly one third suffering at any one time. Constipation can usually be managed at home through diet and lifestyle changes.

How to spot signs of constipation?

Your child may be constipated if:

  • They don’t pass stools more than three times a week.
  • Their stools are often large or very firm.
  • Their stools look like ‘rabbit droppings’ or small pellets.
  • They suffer from loss of appetite.
  • They lack energy.
  • They suffer stomach pain or discomfort.
  • They seem irritable or generally unhappy.

How to prevent and treat constipation:

If you suspect that your child might be suffering with constipation, it is always best to take them to your family doctor to rule out anything more serious. It is essential to get advice early, as the longer it goes on for the more difficult it is for bowel habits to return to normal. Diet and lifestyle changes are usually the first treatment for constipation, but it might take a while for these changes have a significant effect, so it is important to be patient.

  • Ensure adequate fluid intake. Encourage regular sips of water throughout the day.

  • Ensure that your child is given a varied diet to include plenty of fibre. Fibre rich foods include fruits and vegetables, wholegrain products such as bread and cereals, oats, seeds, beans and pulses. It is best to introduce fibre slowly and in small quantities to avoid nasty gut side effects. Be aware that wholegrain foods are not suitable for children under two years of age, as they tend to fill them up before they have consumed enough calories. Avoid giving children under five solely wholegrain products alone, so include a mixture of different types. For young children, try giving pureed apple as a dessert or chopped strawberries as a snack.
  • Avoid over feeding. Children who are fed too much are more likely to suffer with constipation, especially if they don’t get enough fluid. Ensure portion sizes are appropriate for their age. For more information about portion sizes for child, see the ‘Useful Links’ section.
  • Encourage your child to take part in gentle exercise and remain active.
  • Try to remain calm and reassuring. Avoid creating a stressful toilet environment and give them enough time so that your child doesn’t feel anxious about going to the toilet.


What about babies?

For babies who haven’t started to eat solid foods, give them extra water in between their normal feeds. If your baby is eating solid foods, make sure they drink plenty of water or diluted fruit juice in between meals. Try to include small amounts of fruit as well. This can be chopped or pureed depending on their stage of weaning. To help encourage bowel movements, you can also try gently massaging their stomach.

When should I be concerned?

If you are concerned, it is always advised to speak to a GP for further guidance. If you notice any of the following, you should see a GP urgently.

  • Bleeding from the back passage or in stools.
  • Persistent tiredness.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Other gut symptoms such as intermittent diarrhoea or vomiting.


Diarrhoea can be unpleasant and uncomfortable for children, although in most cases there is nothing to worry about. It usually affects most children at some stage of life and can usually be treated at home without the need for medical intervention.

How to prevent and treat diarrhoea?

  • Ensure adequate fluid intake. Diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, so it is essential to replace any lost fluid as soon as possible. It is often more effective to give smaller amounts of fluid more frequently. Avoid fruit juice or fizzy drinks as these can often make symptoms worse. Encourage your child to take regular sips of water throughout the day. 
  • If your child is dehydrated, consider giving them an oral rehydration solution. This can help to replace lost fluid and nutrients. It is usually advised to give this to your child after each bout of diarrhoea. Speak to a GP or pharmacist before using these to ensure the correct dose is given. 
  • Make sure they get plenty of rest.
  • Anti-diarrhoea medications are not usually necessary and most types are not suitable for children.

When should I be concerned?

Usually, diarrhoea will clear up by itself within five to seven days. However, if your child has any of the following, you should speak to a GP straight away.

  • More than six episodes of diarrhoea in the past 24 hours.
  • Persistent diarrhoea lasting more than seven days.
  • Symptoms of dehydration. These include dizziness, dry mouth, cold or blotchy hands, dark coloured urine or low urine output.
  • Blood in stools or from the back passage.
  • Very watery stools.
  • Severe stomach pains.

Tips for children with a stomach bug

  • Encourage your child to start eating solid food as soon as they are able to. Start with small amounts of plain food, such as bread, soup, pasta or potato. For babies, continue to feed as normal.
  • The priority for a child with a stomach bug is to prevent dehydration, so avoid giving them any solid food until they have drunk enough fluids. Once they stop showing signs of dehydration, they can resume a normal diet again. If they do not feel like eating, continue to give them plenty of fluids and wait until their appetite returns.

What about probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria, usually described as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria. They are often added to yoghurts and are thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics may be beneficial in some cases, for example there is fairly good research to support the use of probiotics for children whilst taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can reduce the amount of friendly bacteria in the gut, causing adverse side effects including diarrhoea and bloating. Taking probiotics may help to replace the bacteria lost as a result of antibiotic use. More research is needed to support the claimed benefits of probiotics, as it appears that people respond differently to different strains of bacteria and the evidence is not strong enough yet to recommend them as a treatment.

Summary: general tips for good digestive health

  • Ensure adequate fibre intake to prevent constipation. Try adding beans to soups or stews or give your child vegetables sticks with hummus as a snack. A great way of boosting fibre at breakfast is to mix a high fibre cereal with your child’s favourite, choose wholegrain options where possible and try to keep skins on potatoes.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Aim for 5 portions a day, but always start small and build up gradually. As a general guide, one portion is roughly the size of your child’s fist. Try adding a small handful of dried fruit to porridge or add a few cherry tomatoes to their lunchbox. For older children, keep pre-prepared fruits and vegetables in the fridge, such as pre-chopped fruit salad or chopped celery for a snack. For fussy eaters, hide chopped vegetables in pasta dishes. The Change4Lfie website provides other useful tips for boosting fruit and vegetable intake (link below).
  • Ensure adequate fluid intake. Water is best, but diluted sugar free squash is also an option.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks. Caffeine can have a laxative effect, so avoid giving to your child in large amounts. The obvious sources are tea and coffee, but also be aware that fizzy drinks often contain large amounts of caffeine.
  • Ensure that your child eats regular meals and encourage them to eat slowly at meal times to avoid swallowing excess air, which can cause gas and bloating.
  • Give your child small portions to prevent overeating, which can cause bloating or wind.
  • Avoid fatty, rich or spicy foods, as these can irritate the gut.
  • Keep a food and symptom diary. This can help to identify trigger foods that may cause nasty gut symptoms.
  • Follow general healthy eating guidelines. The Eatwell guide gives detailed advice about how to implement a healthy, balanced diet (see link below).
  • Monitor any changes in your child’s stools and seek advice from a GP if there are any unusual changes, such as an unpleasant odour, blood, a greasy texture, pale colour or any change in consistency or frequency of bowel movements.

Useful Links and References

NHS - Eatwell Guide

Change4Life – Tips to reach 5 a day


British Nutrition Foundation (Portion size guide for toddlers)

NHS Choices

Caroline Walker Trust – Eating well for 1-4 year olds

British Dietetic Association – Healthy Eating for Children Fact Sheet

British Dietetic Association – Fibre Fact Sheet

Additional resources:

Make sure your child can rest their feet flat on the floor or a step when they're using the potty or toilet, to get them in a good position for pooing. ERIC, The Children's Bowel & Bladder Charity's leaflet, Children’s Bowel Problems (PDF, 2.48Mb) shows this position.

Want to test your knowledge of family nutrition? Take our 10 question test to find out how much you know and how we can help you fill the gaps!



What Foodbanks really need after Christmas (apart from your leftover Quality Street)

Annual use of foodbanks is rising, so it’s bittersweet that so many of us are loosening out waistbands and still surrounded by the excesses of a typical British family Christmas.


And as New Year's Eve approaches, lots of these foods will soon be decluttered to make way for healthier January fare - the boxes of Roses from well-meaning aunties, packets of dates, sugared almonds and marzipan fruits from the neighbours, the family sized tubs of Celebrations, Twiglets and Mini Cheddars, being replaced with fresh fruit and veg, salads and smoothies.

Many of these unwanted treats will end up in food bank donation bins, where the basics of baked beans, tea bags and tinned veg are already shuffling  for space with Christmas teas, fancy jams and endless Scottish shortbread.


And whilst the estimated 590,000 people per year who rely on food bank donations may welcome some of your Christmas leftovers, there are numerous essential items, often not food related, which are in greater need.

So next time you pass the food bank drop off at your local supermarket, church or community centre, please consider donating some of the following non food items too, as identified by The Trussell Trust.

Non food items to donate to your local Foodbank:

  • Deodorant

  • Toilet paper

  • Shower gel

  • Shaving gel

  • Shampoo

  • Soap

  • Toothbrushes

  • Toothpaste

  • Hand wipes

  • Laundry detergent or powder

  • Washing-up liquid

  • Sanitary towels

  • Tampons

  • Nappies

  • Baby wipes

  • Baby food (but not Baby Formula due to UNICEF regulations)



It’s also very helpful to check with your local foodbank as to which items, food or otherwise, they are particularly low on, or have plenty of.

Many, like Exeter Foodbank, issue a monthly priority list which you can find on their social media feeds.

If you and your family are struggling, you can find out more about being referred to your local food bank via the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.


How else can you help:

If you’d like to make a donation or volunteer to support the operation of your local foodbank, find out more here

In 2016/17, The Trussell Trust handed our over 1.8 million emergency food parcels. They operate a network of 400 foodbanks across the UK.

Family Nutrition Quiz

Fancy testing your nutrition knowledge? We've put together a short quiz with family oriented nutrition facts we believe every parent needs to know, and that we teach on a weekly basis in our community based and online family nutrition classes. So if your brood is somewhere between 12 months and 12 years, and you've children who are fussy eaters or are concerned that their diet could be healthier, this is for you.

Even better, you'll receive an exclusive invitation to test out our 'Family Nutrition Essentials' home study course when it launches in January 2018.

Seven Healthy Halloween Treats to Make Your Kids Scream


The countdown to Halloween has started early for The Organic Cookery School, with themed sweet and savoury cookery workshops running all through October half term.

But for those of you planning parties at home, we’ve compiled some of our favourite healthier Halloween treats. They are super simple to make, so get the kids involved and enjoy the festivities.


What you need:                              

1 cup spinach  

2 kiwi fruit

½ cup white grapes

1 banana

What to do:

Peel banana and kiwi and add to blender with rest of ingredients. 

Add a cup of water and blend to desired consistency. 

Decorate cups or bottle with ghoulish googly eyes, and serve.


What you need:


Plain or vanilla yogurt

Choc chips or currants for eyes.

What to do:

Pour yogurt into a cup and dunk strawberries by their stem. 

Arrange on greaseproof paper and place in freezer for 5-10 minutes. 

Remove from freezer and repeat. 

After second dunk add chocolate chip or currant eyes.  

Refrigerate until ready to serve.



Bananas (halved)

Plain or vanilla yogurt

Dried coconut flakes

Chocolate chips 


Dunk banana halves in a tumbler of yogurt. Roll in coconut .

Stand on platter and add chocolate chip eyes. 

Refrigerate for at least 10 mins before serving



Peanut butter

Celery cut into 5 cm lengths

Plastic spiders


Using a small table knife, fill celery logs with peanut butter.

Decorate each log with a spider.



Babybel or similar

Googly eyes in various sizes

Small sharp knife


Carefully cut out funky monster teeth from wax outer. Decorate with googly eyes.



Clementines or other easy peel citrus fruit

Black Sharpie


Draw pumpkin eyes, nose and mouth and leave to dry.




Jelly sweets for fingernails

Clear food grade gloves

Loom bands or small tie to secure


Drop a jelly sweet in each finger, then fill gloves with popcorn. 

Make sure the popcorn fills each finger and secure with a loom band or small tie.

We hope your little monsters scream with delight when they see what they are going to be making . And we’d love to hear your ideas too! Comment below with your favourite Halloween treats and recipes, we read every comment!

ten halloween jokes to make your kids scream the organic cookery school

Every Halloween party bag or lunchbox needs a ghoulish joke or two! 
Enter your email below and we'll send you a free printable of our best ten spooky Halloween lunchbox jokes.  

Best lunchboxes for the new school year

lunchboxes thumbnail.png

With a little less than a fortnight left of the Summer holidays (for some of us – I’ve two starting 10 days apart!), preparation for the new school term is well under way.

New shoes, new uniform, new pencils and new lunchboxes all round. Even if your kids have a hot school meal, a small lunchbox can serve as a useful break or after school snack holder.

We round up some of our favourites for boys and girls of all ages.



Fun, robust and easy for little hands to open and close. The unicorn designs is one of our faves, but they also come in monkey, owl, hedgehog, bees and ladybird. Cute to the max.

Buy it now.


Sturdy and plain enough for kids who just aren't into character lunchboxes anymore.

Buy it now.


Dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe, BPA and phthalate free, these sturdy bento sytle lunchboxes come in lots of colours and include a poy of fruit/jelly/yogurt.

Buy it now.


How cool is this? A roomy, retro style lunch tin, which we'd happily take to work.

Buy it now


Bright and colourful (and with a choice of messages) these smaller lunchboxes from Happy Jackson are also great for school break and afterschool snacks.

Buy it now.


In stretchy, insulated neoprene, with a ton of fun designs - we love the pineapple dots but there are also unicorns, cheeseburgers, cats and pirate designs. It's also machine-washable.

Buy it now.


With the new My Little Pony film coming out in October, there's little chance of your little one getting bored of the insulated lunch bag from Thermos featuring Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie.

Buy it now.


The ubiquitous classic yumbox has a lot of fans and comes in a myriad of rainbow colours. Not the cheapest on the market but built to last.

Buy it now.



A favourite in our household, this official minecraft lunchbag will go down well with any would be Steves.

Buy it now.

Organic Week at Lidl - the ten ingredients we're stocking up on this week

organic week at lidl (1).png

We love Lidl  - they always stock a great range of organic and fairtrade goodies, and a couple of times a year they run their Organic Week promotions. This week is one of those weeks (running 3rd August to 9th August inclusive).

Here are out top ten storecupboard essentials to stock up on whilst on promotion.

Organic Grains:

 Organic Bulgur Wheat (£1.99 for 500g)

 Organic  Spelt (£1.99 for 750g)

 Organic  Buckwheat (£1.99 for 500g)

 Organic  Amaranth (£1.99 for 500g)


There's also this very affordable muesli, which works brilliantly in flapjacks, homemade granola  bars:

5) Organic  Wholegrain Muesli (£2.19 for 500g)


Next up organic pasta at just 99p for 500g. (Check out their basic organic tomato pasta sauce too)

Followed by three storecupboard bargains:

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (£2.99 for 500ml)

Organic Tomato Ketchup (£1.29 for 450ml)

Organic Coconut Oil (£3.99 for 500ml)

Add this to organic smoked salmon, tons of organic fruit and veg choices, eggs, milk, yogurt and more and you're sure to save a few pennies at Lidl this week.


What will you make?

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.

SUGAR SWAPs - How much sugar is in your child's Easter egg?

The average child will receive between 8-10 Easter eggs this weekend.

We investigate the comparative sugar content in fourteen popular chocolate brands, and were surprised at the range of added sugar found.

easter egg sugar swaps the organic cookery school

Lowest added sugar

(4.5 - 7 sugar cubes per 100g)

Unsurprisingly the highest cocoa eggs had the lowest sugar per 100g, and these three fairtrade goodies came in lowest at:

Hotel Chocolate Egg Sandwich dark 150g - 18.8g per 100g

Divine Dark Chocolate tasting egg 340g - 27g per 100g 

Green and Blacks Dark egg 165g - 28.5g per 100g 

Medium added sugar

(8-10 sugar cubes per 100g)

Next best were in the 30g-40g per 100g category:

Moo free chocolate egg 100g - 33.7g per 100g

Lindt dark choc bunny 100g - 35g per 100g

Hotel Chocolat Egg on my face slab 200g - 40.8g per 100g 

High added sugar

(13-14 sugar cubes per 100g)

All remaining Easter eggs had over 50% sugar content, including:

Kinder Surprise Large Egg 100g - 53.6g per 100g

Thorntons Gruffalo Egg 162g - 54g sugar per 100g

Lindt Gold bunny 100g - 55g sugar per 100g

Milky Bar Barn egg 160g - 55.1g per 100g ***

Highest added sugar

(14-17 sugar cubes per 100g)

And the worst contenders also contained palm oil products.

Lidl Bertie bunny 150g -  56.2g per 100g ***

Maltesers large chocolate easter egg 265g -58.3 g per 100g ***

Cadbury Creme Eggs 40g each - 66.5g per 100g ***

Cadbury Mini eggs 90g -  68.5g per 100g ***

 *** Note these eggs list palm oil fat in their ingredients (yuk!) but have been included for comparative purposes.

Top tips for choosing better Easter eggs


  • Choose higher cocoa chocolate (70%+)
  • Choose smaller eggs with a toy or or Easter themed gift
  • Scan barcodes with the Change4Life Sugar Smart app to check sugar levels if not clear from labelling  
  • Organic and fairtrade eggs won't necessarily be healthier, but less ingredients (and an absence of palm oil) usually usually indicate a better quality chocolate.

Three Chia Seed Pudding Recipes your baby will love

The Organic Cookery School Three Chai Seed Pudding Recipes your baby will love

Chia seed recipes are everywhere - but are they suitable for your baby / toddler? And what does this weird frogspawn like superfood taste like?

Chia originates from Mexico, where the seeds were highly prized for medicinal and nutritional properties, and even used as currency.

Left to soak for a few hours, the small seeds absorb water, milk and other liquids and have little flavour of their own. The soaking process is particularly important for young children as it means they are easily digested.



Image courtesy of Dr Axe

They are nutritionally rich in omega 3 and protein as well as a mix of vitamins and minerals, making them a perfect healthy pudding for your little ones.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be posting three of our favourite chai seed weaning recipes, which are also perfect for toddlers, older children and adults alike.

Note from Abby Ixer, Registered Dietitian.

Chia seeds are nutritious, but not uniquely as other seeds also provide the same benefits. They can add an interesting texture to recipes, so are useful for increasing variety in the diet. Try flax, hemp and other seeds too. Suitable from 6 months +


Our first featured recipe (which we bet will be a hit with parents too) is Chocolate Chia Pudding,  a rich creamy chocolate pud, sweetened with prune and vanilla extract.

Next week, we'll be sharing a coconutty Pina Cola Chia Pudding and finally a summery Peach Melba Chia Pudding Recipe.

the Organic Cookery School Three Chai Seed Pudding Recipes your baby will love

Chocolate and Prune Chia Seed Pudding (for babies/toddlers)

The Organic Cookery School Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for babies/toddlers

So we’re cheating here - this recipe isn’t just for babies and toddlers and we give you and your older kids full permission to enjoy this as much as your little people.

However, that said, it is a perfect weaning recipe and full of protein, omega 3 and dietary fibre. Suitable from 6 months plus - there can’t be many puddings which pack as much goodness and flavour in. With no added sugar and plenty of vitamins and minerals, you'll want to try this with your fussy eater too.

This is the first of three chia seed pudding recipes we’ve developed for our Cooking for Baby parents. Enjoy!


This chocolate flavoured pudding may sound indulgent, but has a healthy twist. The sweet coconut milk complements the fibre packed prunes – great for ensuring a healthy gut and preventing constipation. Omega 3 is essential for young children to support brain development and good heart health, and is found in abundance in chia seeds.

The Organic Cookery School Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for Babies/Toddlers

Does my baby need vitamin supplements?

An article for new and weaning parents, exploring whether babies and toddlers need vitamin and mineral supplements.

Many parents participating in our practical weaning course 'Cooking for baby' ask us about supplements for their babies. We asked Abby Ixer, RD for her advice on supplements for babies and toddlers.


The Organic Cookery School Does my Baby need vitamin supplements

Does my baby need vitamin supplements? If so, why?

Babies who are exclusively breastfed should be given a vitamin D supplement containing 8.5 to 10mcg of vitamin D every day from birth up until one year of age. This is because there are very few dietary sources of vitamin D and maternal levels may be low. Vitamin D is vital to enhance absorption of calcium for strong bones and teeth, so it is important to ensure adequate intake.

However, infants who are fed with at least 500ml formula every day do not need vitamin supplements. This is because formula is fortified with these vitamins so no additional supplementation is required. 

The Organic Cookery School Cooking for baby does my baby/toddler need supplements

What about when they start eating solid foods?

 The Department of Health recommends that all children between the ages of six months to five years should be given daily vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D, unless they are receiving more than 500ml of infant formula a day. It is essential to ensure that babies receive enough of these nutrients to aid healthy development. These vitamins have important functions in the body.

          - Vitamin A – needed for healthy growth, vision and skin.

- Vitamin C – important for development of the immune system and maintenance of healthy tissue. Also helps to absorb iron.

- Vitamin D – essential to help absorption of calcium for healthy bones and teeth. This is particularly important as it is very difficult for young infants to consume enough vitamin D from dietary sources alone.

Cooking for baby starting weaning cheesy quinoa bites

I have a toddler, should I give them supplements and if so for how long?

Although infants should be eating a varied diet by 12 months, it is important to continue to give vitamin supplements until they are five years old to ensure that they receive enough nutrients for growth and development. If a child does not eat much or is a fussy eater, they may struggle to get their recommended intakes of vitamins and minerals through food alone. Supplements should be used in addition to a balanced diet and are by no means a way of replacing the nutrients acquired through food.

The Organic Cookery School Food Explorers toddler Nutrition course

Are some brands of supplement better than others? What should I be looking for?

Many supplements can be purchased over the counter, but it is always best to ask a pharmacist for advice on which is most suitable. Any vitamin supplements given to babies need to be labelled as 'suitable for children under one year of age'. Always follow the recommended dose and do not be tempted to give more than one supplement to your child. Some people are entitled to ‘Healthy Start vouchers and vitamins’, which provides free vitamin drops to children and is specifically designed to help low income families. Your health visitor can provide advice on vitamins and where to access them.


For more information about Healthy Start vitamins, please visit:



For more ideas on meeting you baby's changing nutritional needs, check out our recipe books with full nutritional breakdown or sign up for one of our courses



Healthy Start Vitamins




National Institute of Clinical Excellence – Maternal and Child Nutrition (2008)

Available at:

Five Best Smoothie Makers for your family in 2017

So, it’s January, and we are all full of new year’s resolutions for our family’s diet and wellbeing. If that includes eating more fresh fruit and veg, and you haven’t yet invested in one, you’re probably thinking of investing in a smoothie maker.

But which to try? Will a stick blender do just as good a job or do you need a full on magic bullet/seed and nut blitzing top-of-the-range model?

We put five of the most popular models to the test in The Organic Cookery School Kitchen.

The Nutribullet

Our review: The ubiquitous Nutribullet magic bullet has everything you need to make healthy and delicious smoothies. It’s easy to clean, handles frozen fruit and veg well and makes short work of blitzing nuts and seeds.

It comes with a selection of cups in two sizes and lids, plus a spare blade, all of which are dishwasher proof.

It’s also come down considerably in price over the last year making it a good investment buy for the future.


The Nutri Ninja

Our review: Another big price reduction means the Nutribullet’s main competitor is now closer to £50, rather than the original £100 launch price. It’s powerful motor handles nuts and frozen fruit/veg well. The basic model comes with just one blade,however, and less cups than the Nutribullet. A good contender though, making a delicious blended juice in seconds.



KMix  Blender

This traditional freestanding blender comes in an eye popping range of colours. It'sa great blender and looks amazing in situ, but with a glass jug, we prefer the Nutribullet or Breville (see below) for ease of use and safety when making smoothies with kids.


Breville Blend Active Family Blender

Our review: What a great buy! Rather than cups it comes with three portable bottles (which you may or may not prefer) and at this price point it delivers great value for money. It doesn’t feel quite as weighty as The Nutribullet or Nutri Ninja, but it handles frozen fruit and veg well.


Braun Stick Blender

Our review: We thought it only fair to give our trusty stick blender a chance too, and tested the Braun MQ100 model. It's not the cheapest handblender there (there are models from around £5). The limitations are that you can’t blend frozen fruit or veg (so no frozen spinach, avocado or bananas for us) or seeds. So whilst it’s great for baby food and soup, you will be limited to very ripe fruit and veg for your smoothies. 

Our Conclusion:

Whether you've a fiver or £50 to invest, we are a big fan of homemade smoothies. We are big Nutribullet fans, but our second choice would be the Breville Blend Active Family Blender. 

We'd love to hear what you think and your favourite smoothie recipes.

The Organic Cookery School Five Best Family Smoothie Makers Review for 2017
All opinions in this article are unbiased and our own and we haven’t received any free products or renumeration for featuring these products.
We include Amazon affiliate links, and any affiliate income earned contributes directly to our free community cookery programmes for vulnerable families.

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.


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


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.