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Young Carers Benefit From Cookery Courses

Young carers from the South Tyneside region have spent the summer holidays acquiring valuable skills at cookery courses arranged by the Cooking for Life project.

Young carers are often required to take on many of the roles traditionally played by parents. These can included completing the weekly shop and preparing meals for the entire family.

Shopping and planning meals on a tight budget can be very challenging so the cooking courses offered to members of South Tyneside’s Young Carers Scheme have been really helpful.

In addition to teaching the youngsters how to cook, the cookery courses also focused on explaining how to use the kitchen equipment, the importance of a balanced diet and also how to stay safe.

Interaction with the group and social skills were also an important aspect of the project. The youngsters were able to relax with friends and enjoy the meal that they had helped to prepare.

Members of the Cooking for Life project have been working with youngsters in the area for the last ten years. A spokeswoman for the project, Joyce Greely explained that the North-East is unfortunately one of the least healthy places in the UK, with rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease rapidly increasing.

By the time that they leave home, many young people lack basic food knowledge and are unable to prepare simple balanced meals themselves. Many fail to recognise the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Without additional help, this lack of basic skills and unhealthy lifestyle is likely to be passed onto their children. It is for this reason that the Cooking for Life project was established. It aims to teach young people and their families how to prepare great tasting meals that are also cheap, healthy and nourishing.

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Celebrate National Cherry Day with a summer fruit crumble

Article original posted July 16th, but those nasty little gremlins pinched it.

While it’s still summer, and we’ve had a few cherries on top of the icing on the cake at the Olympics – six golds in one day, yesterday; stunning or what? – why not celebrate with this stunning recipe for fruit crumble, starring my favourite fruit of them all, the humble British cherry.

Today is National Cherry Day, did you know? No, I didn’t know we had one, either, but hey-ho, there you go. In order that no one’s opportunity passes by to pop their cherry dish into either a crumble, clafoutis or bun in the oven, we’re going to bring you the second in our series of recipes here on cookerycourses.co.uk.

There is the opportunity to make a clafoutis on the Great British Chefs blog, but as this website is aimed at those wanting to learn to cook, I’ve got a good idea that the majority of people picking up on this post, if they’re ought like me, couldn’t find their way to making a stimulating clafoutis even if they had a map. There is, however, another decent little recipe for a summer fruit crumble, the star ingredient of which is indeed the Great British cherry. Hurrah!

The good thing about this recipe is that for sweetness, it draws mainly on the natural sugars found within the fruits themselves, contains fibre in the oats and wholemeal flour, protein in the hazelnuts and Chia seeds contain even more omega-3 per gram than salmon.  What’s more, all of the fruits are blessed with their own antioxidant qualities, helping to rejuvenate your skin and lower your ldl cholesterol. Bonus! Combine all of that with the essential fatty acids (mono- and polyunsaturates) that feature more heavily than the saturates and you have to ask: who said desserts couldn’t be delicious yet also be healthy eating? What’s more, its sooo simple to make, it’s child’s play.

A dessert healthy, tasty and good for you? Get away!

So, herewith, the ingredients. For the fruits, we have 400gm of cherries, 125gm each of blueberries and raspberries and 200gm of strawberries. Remember to wash them all well. The cherries need to be stoned and, quartered, the strawberries sliced similarly. The raspberries are to be halved and the blueberries left whole. This will make the base, along with one teaspoon of chia seeds and 100ml of water.

For the crumble, a 100gm of each of the following: porridge oats, wholemeal flour (sieved to retain the bran – we don’t need that), hazelnuts (coarsely chopped in a food processor) and melted butter. Also, 75gm of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and one teaspoon of chia seeds.

In an 11″ flan dish (approx.), layer the fruit, squishing it down gently until something like level, but not entirely spirit-level flat. Add the water and then sprinkle the teaspoon of chia seeds across the top.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (190°c).

Everything else but the butter, tip into a mixing bowl. That’s the chopped hazelnuts, tsp of chia seeds, cinnamon, oats, sugar and flour. Mix together with hands, then pour over the melted butter. Grab yourself a wooden spoon and combine; you should have a mixture that looks like clusters, which you can then layer over the top of the fruit. Don’t worry if it doesn’t entirely cover the fruit – there should be chunks jutting through like a rocky desert landscape.

Place the flan dish on a baking tray in the middle of the preheated oven for about half an hour – the mixture should have begun to brown and the cherries and berries bubbling through the crumble by then – if not, leave a little while longer until they’ve done so.

The fruit will remain hot for some time, so be careful; custard is my fave with this dessert but you can temper the heat by serving it with ice-cream or – if you’re ultra-healthy – yoghurt will make a decent accompaniment, too.

So, now you can at least enjoy National Cherry Day, even if the summer has been a little bit of a let down, to date.

 

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Study reveals many people start a new diet every month

According a recent study of two thousand consumers, twenty two per cent of the adult population in the UK begin a new diet every month with more than a third choosing low calorie items during their weekly shop.

The study by Seven Seas, also found that forty three per cent of women regularly buy low calorie items despite the fact that two thirds believe that the pressure to lose weight is too much.

Fifty per cent of mothers questioned confirmed that their food purchases are often influenced by the wishes of their children whilst thirty per cent admitted to using unhealthy food to reward their children for good behaviour.

Around sixty per cent of those questioned claimed to eat the recommended number of five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, suggesting that forty per cent miss out.

These proportions vary significantly for the consumer age groups. Around seventy five per cent of people aged over sixty five consume the recommended number of portions whilst this figure drops to twenty five per cent for those between sixteen and twenty four.

Overall seventy per cent of people confirmed that they would really like to improve their diet but many claimed that they don’t have the time.

The study also found that many people believe that there are too many conflicting messages concerning which types of food are healthy. Experts are concerned that whilst people are be dieting they may not be eating healthily.

A nutritionist who worked on the report explained that whilst television schedules and magazines are full of food, recipes and celebrity chefs, our diets are losing balance and this is a real concern.

Whilst it’s important to understand the intake of calories, this mustn’t interfere with eating a varied and balanced diet, which is rich in minerals, vitamins and key fatty acids.

Cookery schools thoughout the UK  offer a range healthy cookery courses aimed at helping students improve their diet.

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Healthier School Dinners Linked To Improved Results

Delegates at a recent London conference celebrated the success of a project that has demonstrated the link between healthy school dinners, improved behaviour and academic achievement.

The Food For Life Partnership (FFLP) project was established to help promote healthier food for schoolchildren and also to connect them with the environment and the source of that food. So far the project has helped to transform almost 4,000 schools that have taken part.

One of the project’s greatest supporters is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. He has been really encouraged by its success and believes that the evidence demonstrates what the best teachers already knew – that school meals and food education don’t just influence children’s health, it also aids concentrated and success at school.

The conference, which was jointly hosted by the Faculty of Public Health and the FFLP, heard evidence from an impartial evaluation by Cardiff University and the University of the West of England.

This demonstrated that;

  • The number of primary schools receiving an outstanding Ofsted rating more than doubled following their participation in the FFLP project. Head teachers also reported a beneficial impact on the attention, attainment and behaviour of pupils.
  • The proportion of children eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day increased following participation in the project. In addition, almost fifty percent of parents reported that family was eating more sustainable and healthier food.
  • The take-up of free school meals increased by thirteen percent in participating schools.
  • Almost seventy percent of school inspectors felt that the project had helped to support pupil’s wellbeing and personal development.

A spokeswoman for the FFLP explained that these findings prove that the project is not only helping to improve the diet of schoolchildren but it is also having a positive effect on attainment and behaviour.

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Cooking Courses News

West Yorkshire School Hosts Cookery Courses

Students at Todmorden High School in West Yorkshire learnt about sustainable growing, food production and also attended cookery courses at a recent ‘Food for Life’ day.

The event was designed to teach students about a number of different issues relating to food in support of the schools aim to achieve a Food for Life Partnership gold award.

Those pupils that attended the cooking courses learnt how to press apples, how to make delicious homemade bread and how to prepare fantastic summer smoothies.

The high school’s catering manager, who demonstrated to the students how to prepare fresh pasta, explained that this was the second such event that the school has hosted. He also explained that the aim was to help students make the right food choices by explaining where it comes from, how it’s grown and how we cook it.

The event was also supported by local producer Staups Lea Farm. Staff from the farm attended with a number of animals.

The day included activities in a variety of different subjects.

Geography students studied the food sustainability in various different countries whilst mathematics students spent time looking into nutritional analysis.

History classes studied the way in which food production has evolved over a number of years while art students were given a food based design task.

Organisers acknowledged that the day had been a great success and were quick to thank the students and staff who were involved.

The school continues to work hard to achieve its aim of a gold award. It is currently investigating organic produce and plans to add organic options to its lunchtime menu.

For more information of the Food for Life scheme please visit http://www.foodforlife.org.uk/