This Italian inspired, plant-based pasta dish is packed with goodness from sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and red lentils. Simmer slowly for buckets of flavour, and combine with your favourite pasta to create a tasty, wholesome dish. If you fancy it, try serving with a sprinkling of grated cheese - you won’t regret it!

What do we love about our lentil bolognese pasta?

It’s important for our health to eat a range of protein foods. Our bolognese sauce is made using red lentils; an alternative to meat and high in both protein and fibre.

Protein is an important macronutrient needed for growth, repair, and maintenance in the body, especially for bone and muscles. Fibre is important for children as it can help digestion and prevent constipation.

Pasta is a starchy carbohydrate which provides energy, vitamins and minerals.

Ingredients

- white onion
- mushrooms
- carrots
- nutritional yeast
- red pepper
- sweet potato
- garlic
- red lentils
- tomato paste
- passata
- dried mushrooms
- chopped tomatoes
- mushroom stock
- marmite
- rosemary
- oregano
- black pepper

Download the full lentil bolognese pasta recipe, here.

Today is pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday, as it's known to many. It's a time to flip, flip, and flip again, and eat some yummy pancakes. Pancakes are really simple and quick to make, which makes them perfect for getting little ones involved with cooking. What's more, cooking with children in their early years provides a bunch of fun, learning opportunities.

By following the easy pancake recipe, children can learn to:

Making pancakes with children also provides invaluable bonding time, which can have a powerful emotional benefit for everyone involved. So, let's get these pancakes flipping!

We've created a fun pancake recipe that will allow children to get creative with shapes, letters, and colours. Children should be supervised throughout the pancake making process.

Fun pancake recipe for children

Ingredients

Equipment

Method

Happy pancake day!

Fennel is a crunchy green and white vegetable with feathery leaves, that can be eaten both raw and cooked. Fennel seeds, which are the actually the fruit of the fennel, are also available to be used in cooking.

Fennel is a member of the carrot family, but unlike carrots, it grows above ground. With a fresh, aromatic and subtly sweet, aniseed flavour, it can make a delightful addition to salads, sauces, and sides. For example, we've used diced fennel, together with fennel seeds to make our new, fish pie sauce for our salmon & smoked haddock pie.

How to eat fennel

There are really simple ways to eat fennel, such as slicing it very thinly and adding it to a salad. Dressing the fennel salad with olive oil and lemon works perfectly. Alternatively, you can dice fennel and use it in the same way you would onion, in the base of a recipe.

We also love roasted fennel, which can make it turn very sweet. To roast, you'll simply need to chop the fennel into long wedges, and place in the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes or so until golden, caramelised, and soft. We recommend roasting fennel with olive oil, lemon, and seasoning - just be mindful of adding any salt if you'll be serving to little ones. We think roast fennel is a really great and interesting side dish for any dinner, and works particularly well with chicken or fish.

Why do we we love fennel?

Fennel is a good source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant in your body. The mineral manganese is also found in fennel, which is important for enzyme activation, metabolism, cellular protection, bone development, blood sugar regulation, and wound healing! Fennel actually contains several minerals vital to bone health, including, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

All in all, you can probably see why we absolutely love, fabulous fennel!

This is our recipe for the creamy sauce we use in our new salmon & smoked haddock fish pie. It could be used in lots of other ways but we suggest pouring it on top of your favourite fish (even prawns!) and topping with cooked potato (sliced, mashed, crushed…whatever takes your fancy) and then some grated cheese. Finish by baking until hot, golden and bubbling.

What do we love about our salmon & smoked haddock pie? 

Our fish pie dish is perfect for getting more fish into children’s diets! Salmon and haddock are great sources of protein, which is needed for growth and muscle repair. Salmon, being an oily fish, is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, important for heart health, and a good source of vitamin D!

Ingredients

- 50g butter
- 20g cooking oil
- ½ white onion -diced
- ½ leek - diced
- 1 fennel - diced
- pinch of fennel seeds
- 2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
- 20g gluten free flour
- 1 litre whole milk
- 1 fish stock cube
- 10g dill - finely chopped
- 150ml double cream
- 100g sweetcorn
- 100g frozen peas
- 1 lemon - juiced
- 3 spring onions - shredded
- 1tbsp wholegrain mustard

Download the full swish fish pie sauce recipe, here.

We are delighted to announce our partnership with Home-Start Essex, a charity providing vital support to families in Mid, South and West Essex. Nursery Kitchen will be joining Seymour House to support the charity in a variety of ways in 2023, including sharing our expertise and knowledge of nutrition and early years education, volunteering, and fundraising.

Home-Start Essex helps give children the best possible start in life by supporting parents to grow in confidence, build their resilience and find ways to manage the challenges they are facing. They help families facing challenges as diverse as isolation, mental health, or physical health difficulties, recovering from the impact of domestic abuse, or when they are just finding parenting is a struggle.

Their professionally trained volunteers and caring staff give parents a helping hand through a range of services, including weekly home visits from volunteers, supportive family groups, school readiness programmes, and wellbeing support. Through over 150 volunteers, Home-Start Essex helped 1367 children to get the best start in life last year.

Nursery Kitchen will be focusing on donating fresh and nutritious meals to families in-need, to relieve the pressures that can often come with feeding a family a healthy meal. Seymour House will be working with Home-Start Essex to further develop their nursery/ school readiness programme. This will help to prepare young children and families for nursery/ school life, so that they have a smooth transition.

Together, Nursery Kitchen and Seymour House will help Home-Start Essex to develop and improve its services while ensuring that families continue to receive dedicated care and resources, that deliver so much value. We will keep you updated as this partnership progresses and invite our team, families and friends to support and donate where they can.

Learn more about Home-Start Essex, here: https://youtu.be/wAA1tfUJWAY

These carrots are the perfect festive side dish! Roasted in orange juice, a little maple syrup, and a sprinkle of thyme leaves, carrots become sweet and fragrant and wouldn’t be out of place on anyone’s Christmas table.

Why do we love this?

Carrots are typically a favourite veg for young children but with the addition or maple, orange, and thyme, it provides an opportunity to experience more flavour combinations to develop the palate.

Ingredients

- 500g Carrots
- 30g Maple syrup
- Juice of 1 orange OR 20g of orange juice
- A splash of olive oil
- 3 Sprigs of thyme

Download the full maple & orange roast carrots recipe, here.

Our brand new squash and seed roast is an exciting vegan roast dinner with buckets full of flavour. Little ones can enjoy butternut squash, apricots, cranberries, chestnuts, and pumpkin seeds while broadening their taste palate. Serve with roast potatoes and gravy to make the perfect comforting dish for children and adults alike.

Why do we love this? 

Great taste with hidden nutrition! The chickpeas and bulgur wheat in this dish are high in fibre and a great source of plant-based proteins. Aubergine, squash, fruits, and seeds provide a source of antioxidants.

Ingredients

- A splash of cooking oil
- 1 Small aubergine
- ½ A red onion
- 2 Cloves of garlic
- ½ A butternut squash
- 2 Sprigs of sage
- 1 tbsp Tomato puree
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- 100g Chestnut puree
- 70g Chopped pumpkin seeds
- 40g Chopped sunflower seeds
- 1 Veg stock cube
- 50g Dried cranberries
- 50g Dried chopped apricot
- 40g Bulghur wheat
- 1 Drained tin of chickpeas
- 1 tsp of marmite
- A splash of water
- A splash of balsamic vinegar
- 2 Sprigs of rosemary

Download the full squash and seeds roast recipe, here.

This week (14th - 20th November 2022) is World Nursery Rhyme Week. And of course, we absolutely love nursery rhymes about food! One of our all time favourites is, Oats and Beans and Barley Grow - here's how it goes:

Oats and beans and barley grow,
Oats and beans and barley grow,
Not you, nor I, nor anyone know,
How oats and beans and barley grow.

First the farmer sows the seed,
Then he stands and takes his ease,
Stamps his feet and claps his hand,
And turns around to view the land.

Oats and beans and barley grow,
Oats and beans and barley grow,
Not you, nor I, nor anyone know,
How oats and beans and barley grow.

First the farmer sows the seed,
Then he stands and takes his ease,
Stamps his feet and claps his hand,
And turns around to view the land.

 

Did you know that nursery rhymes play an important role in early childhood development and education?

As well as being fun, nursery rhymes are excellent teaching tools:

 

Another classic nursery rhyme about food and great for learning counting skills is, One Potato, Two Potatoes - here's how it goes:

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes - four
Five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes - more
Eight potatoes, nine potatoes, ten potatoes - all

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes - four
Five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes - more
Eight potatoes, nine potatoes, ten potatoes - all

 

Our last but certainly not least favourite nursery rhyme about food is Five Fat Sausages. This one is so much fun for children to join in with and it can open discussions about sausages and why they're not such a healthy option. Here's how it goes:

Five fat sausages sizzling in a pan
The grease got hot - and one went "BANG"!

Four fat sausages sizzling in a pan
The grease got hot - and one went "BANG"!

Three fat sausages sizzling in a pan
The grease got hot - and one went "BANG"!

Two fat sausages sizzling in a pan
The grease got hot - and one went "BANG"!

One fat sausage sizzling in a pan
The grease got hot - and it went "BANG"!

Autumn is a beautiful season for discovery and exploration with children. There are so many colourful sights with green leaves turning to vivid reds, warm oranges and golden yellows before they fall to the ground creating a crunchy blanket. So, with so much to see and discuss, wrap up warm and head outdoors to try out one of our suggested learning ideas focusing on the natural world around us.

Take children on a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are a great way to connect with the natural environment whilst developing your child's vocabulary. Challenge  your child to focus on the sights around them, looking out for an acorn, a pine cone, 1 green leaf, 2 brown leaves, 3 red leaves, a conker, a flat stone, or a twig, for example. Why not take your autumn collection home to create funny nature faces with your child or use your collected pine cones to make bird cakes for your outdoor space (see bird cake recipe below!).

Make a leaf kebab

Help your child to create a colourful leaf kebab! Simply find a straight twig, choose a fallen leaf, and gently thread the leaf onto the stick. Support your child to continue to layer lots of different colour leaves until you have made your very own leaf kebab. Challenge older children to explore different patterns, for example, if you thread 2 red leaves, then 1 green leaf, are they able to repeat the pattern?

Child holding colourful autumn leaves

Help feed the birds with bird seed cakes

With bugs and berries scarce in autumn, why not help feed the birds by making a bird cake. You will need:

*The RSPB recommends using seed mixtures that include flaked maize, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules, but do be mindful of safety if your child has allergies.

Before making the bird cake place the pine cone in a sunny spot or somewhere warm like in an airing cupboard or near a radiator for a few days to make it open out.

  1. Cut the lard or suet into small pieces and encourage your child to mix this with the bird seed in a small bowl.
  2. Take some of the mixture and press in between the pine cone layers.
  3. Tie some string around the cone then choose a good spot to hang it outdoors, remembering to hang out of reach of cats! Somewhere where you can watch from the window is ideal.

Allocate a few minutes each day to watch from afar to see how many birds visit the feeder. Older children might like to look up the names of the different types of birds that visit and keep a tally.

We hope you have lots of autumnal fun!

We’ve combined antioxidant rich and naturally sweet fruit with high fibre oats, tropical coconut, and exciting spices to make a tasty and nutritious dessert for young children. This delightful dessert is available with peaches, pears, and apples.

Ingredients

-1 Large tin of peaches
- 60g Porridge oats
- ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground ginger
- 2 tbsp Gluten free oat flour
- 1 ½ tbsp Desiccated coconut
- 1 ½ tbsp Extra virgin
- Coconut oil
- Pinch of sunflower & pumpkin seeds

Nutritional benefits

Peaches are filled with antioxidants from vitamins C, A and E, and can also aid digestion. Fibre helps regulate the body's use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check! A powerful combination for children (and us adults)  - how delightful is this dessert!?

Providing children with desserts containing natural sweetness from fruit rather than refined sugar-filled desserts is essential for palate development and keeping sugar intake to a minimum. Children can very quickly get used to sugar-filled puddings, which can affect their health and taste preferences in later life. That’s why we’ve taken steps to achieve the Sugarwise Platinum Certification for our menu.

Download the full peach oaty crunch recipe, HERE.