Passion for health and nutrition for all to see
When cook Deb Engert and centre director Nilza Burgoyne from Goodstart Thornton start talking about food, you can’t help but get caught up in their enthusiasm.
The pair believe passionately in teaching children about where food comes from, how to make healthy food choices, and becoming involved in the food creation process.
They are so keen to spread the news, in fact, that they will host a talk by nutritionist Ruth Fellowes on nutrition and the importance of avoiding additives and preservatives at the centre on April 4 at 6.30pm.
“Every year we run a produce to plate program to teach the children all about where their food comes from,” Ms Burgoyne said.
“The children talk about what vegetables they may want to plant, what they like eating and when they should plant them. In the past we’ve had tomatoes, strawberries, spinach and herbs.
“We used to plant carrots as well but they never survive because the children pull them out to see if they’re ready - before they’re ready!”
Where does our food come from?
Cook Deb Engert loves to chat to the children about what they are eating and where the ingredients come from.
“She also likes to have the children pick the fresh vegetables out of the garden and she then washes them and puts them on her window ledge so they can come along and eat what they like.
“It encourages the children to eat healthy food and try new things.”
Dishes on her menu include fettuccine carbonara with tomato and bean salad, jacket potatoes with baked beans and cheese and chicken noodle soup. Snacks include sultana slice, muffins and scones.
Ms Engert also talks to the families about what the children are eating, sends home recipes for dishes individual children particularly liked and offers tips on how to get them eating more healthy food at home.
“We have several children who attend our service with a variety of dietary requirements so Deb has regular conversations with parents to ensure their dietary needs are being met,” Ms Burgoyne said.
As part of their commitment to healthy eating, the centre will welcome nutritionist Ruth Fellowes to the centre to run a seminar around nutritional requirements and preservatives. The talk will focus on preservatives and how they may affect a child’s behaviour.
“I think in today’s day and age we all live in a society where we pick up what’s cheap and easy,” Ms Burgoyne said.
“No one has time to plant a vegetable patch so it’s great to be able to do it here. We have that time and we can encourage children to do it,” she said.
Fellowes’ tips to avoiding additives and preservatives:
- Read the ingredients list on the back of the packet and know what you’re buying. Don’t just look at the sugar and fat content – make sure you know you’re buying healthy fats.
- Buy food that has less ingredients that have been minimally processed.
- Make the changes slowly and let your pantry catch up. You won’t be able to change everything in the first week.
- If there is a food you love that includes preservatives or additives, don’t cut it out completely. Just have it occasionally as a treat.
If you would like to attend the nutrition seminar on Tuesday 4 April please contact Goodstart Thornton on (02) 4966 3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.