Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Spaghetti Night {Ft My Little Piccolo}

 Recently I've been trying to get us eating more healthily at mealtimes and give TJ some more responsibility in the kitchen. He is now five and although he usually potters about with me doing bits while I'm making the tea he's starting to get a grasp of doing actual tasks by himself. I've been giving him little jobs like preparing vegetables - with a non sharp knife, standing at the stove, whilst I'm with him of course, and setting the table on his own. I think it's important that kids learn how to use their own judgement and be safe as early as possible; they'll be much less likely to get injured and it'll be a much more natural progression for them to learn cooking skills, in my humble opinion anyway!
I love seeing children involved in the kitchen; unlike other play time activity it really gives them a sense of achievement and importance. They respond so well to being given a task and feeling the expectation to do it well, not in a pressured way, but where they know it's something that everyone will benefit from, so they try. Even simple tasks like setting the table or making a dessert. I never cease to be amazed at how being given a simple job to do can focus even the most wild little ones (like mine!). I think the reason I love cooking and baking is that it doesn't just engage them but lets them express themselves and gives them a finished product that they can be really proud of.
We had a great time at the Morrisons Piccolo event a couple of weeks ago; I was certainly inspired by Alison's talk to get the boys eating much more homemade and fresh foods. In all honesty I  have always encouraged the boys to eat as much fruit and veg as I can get them to; thankfully they're not particularly picky and I can usually get them to at least try most things. They both enjoy most fruit and veg although neither of them will take to salad! As I enjoy cooking I usually do make dinners on an evening but I have noticed though that I could definitely do more to introduce new flavours and cook more meals"from scratch".
One of our family favourites that always goes down well is Spaghetti Bolognese. I usually tend to buy ready made sauces, but in the spirit of trying new things, TJ and I decided to make our own and as it's little E's favourite, we took inspiration from the Sweet Tomato Ricotta Spaghetti Piccolo pouch. As Piccolo is big on getting people into the kitchen, the recipes for all of their pouches are on the website along with other great snack and meal ideas for little ones. TJ and I picked up the ingredients-which were fewer than I anticipated!- in our local Morrisons then headed home for some kitchen time together; he was really excited to be putting the meal together and I decided to let him do as much of it as possible. He did really well and enjoyed preparing the veg( I gave him a butter knife and a pair of children's scissors which proved quite successful) adding everything to a pan, then stirring it while it was cooking. He looked quite the little chef- look out Jamie Oliver.
The whole recipe was very easy to put together and tasted delicious, I was actually pleasantly surprised as I have tried to make sauces before and they've been quite bland! It's a really easy recipe to follow and was extremely well received by everyone at the table; Everyone had seconds and asked for it again! The only thing I changed was the addition of some Quorn Swedish style meatballs which were really good and went perfectly with the sauce.
 I think my favourite part about cooking with him is the quality of our time together, just laughing, talking and enjoying what we're doing. It can be stressful at times as this guy is a bit liberal with his ingredients and we definitely have moments where I wonder why I've started the task but that's what its all about. It's messy, a bit crazy but always worthwhile. I've been working with Piccolo for a while now and although their pouches are lovely, what I really love is their ethos; getting kids to enjoy food and encouraging them to develop healthy eating habits is something I can really get behind as I can see how important it is to start them off on the right foot. They donate ten percent of their profits to the Food Education Foundation which provides information and workshops to help parents from weaning onwards to provide the best nutrition for their children and give them more confidence with introducing a wider variety of healthy foods. I think it's such a wonderful concept; we really have to start at early as possible in order to give our children the best chance of developing healthy eating habits and avoiding the consequences of a poor diet. It's wonderful to see the great work Piccolo are doing and we are definitely enjoying their recipes!

Do you cook with your little ones? What are your favourite recipes?

NB Post in collaboration with Piccolo


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