Mange Tout Kids

Lucy's Blog

Kiwi Fruit

Last week we were supposed to be doing Kiwi in class along with celery and chick peas, however whilst running Mange Tout in the kids club in Lanzarote last year I discovered I was allergic to them?!?! Following a severe rash, swelling of the mouth and ulcers I have been advised to refrain from eating them and hence removed them from the Mange Tout curriculum.

Kiwi fruitPlease do not let my experience put you off our furry little friends. I have included lots of interesting ways to help you explore and enjoy Kiwi fruit with your children at home. Let me know how you get on!

Kiwi fruit is the best source of Vitamin C available in fruit containing twice as much as oranges! And Kiwis also contain more fibre than an apple. It is an excellent but extremely gentle laxative ideal for youngsters who are often constipated.

This is a very strange looking little fruit and not immediately appetizing. Point them out to your child in the shops and discuss whether they are fruit or vegetable. You could also discuss whether they are sweet or sour, if they need cooking, what colour they are inside.

If you are able to handle the fruit, squeeze them gently – the softer, the riper and sweeter. Help your child to select a few to experiment with at home. Say something like, “Shall we take a few home to find out what they are like?” In this way your child will know that it is just for discovering and experimenting rather than worrying if they will have to eat it. Explain that kiwi fruit have lots of vitamin C which helps fight cold germs so they are very good for our bodies.

Fun ways to discover/explore/touch and maybe taste

Kiwi fruitThe skin of a kiwi is unlike most other fruits and feels almost furry. But surprisingly, it is thin and can be eaten as long as the fruit has been well washed, although it’s not to everyone’s taste!

Decide whether to cut the fruit lengthwise or cross-wise – each will give a different pattern. At one end of the fruit, beneath the skin, is a sharp little spike. Show this to your child and feel how hard and sharp it is. This should be removed before eating the fruit unsupervised.

The fruit is translucent and easily chopped with a blunt knife. It feels slippery and fingers will get very sticky but licking them clean may well be the first tasting experience!

Kiwis do not have a strong flavour and go well with other fruits. Use a lemon squeezer to see how much juice comes out of one half.

A Song to Sing (To the tune of London’s Burning)

Kiwi furry; Kiwi furry;
Green and juicy; green and juicy;
Sweet, sweet! Sweet, sweet!
Keep me healthy! Keep me healthy!

Games to play with family and/or friends

Rolling the fruit – do they roll in a straight line? How are they different to a ball?

Cut the fruit into thick slices and stack them to see who can build the highest tower.

Carry a fruit in a dessert-spoon.

Hide some around the room and let your child collect them in a bag or basket.

Make an eating game! If your child is happy to eat a small piece of fruit, scoop out the flesh from half a kiwi and dice it into small chunks. Keep the shell of the fruit to hide the pieces underneath. Take turns to roll a dice to determine how many pieces of fruit you can have.

Activities using this fruit

Kiwi fruitUse an old toothbrush to gently scrub the skin clean.

Slice thinly and lay over end of your finger to see if you can see through it.

Draw a circle, let your child colour it green and then dot it with black for the seeds. Look at the fruit to see how the seeds are arranged.

What else can you do?

Use the whole fruit as a body and add limbs made from other fruit or vegetables.

Use the unpeeled fruit as a head and use seeds or pasta shapes to make features. (Like Mr. Potato Head)

Encourage eating by placing kiwi fruit in an egg cup, slice the top off and eat it like a boiled egg.


This cheap and versatile vegetable used to be among my least favourite. In fact I would go as far to say that, before I started Mange-Tout I would go out of my way to avoid eating it! Picking celery out of every salad or stew and wincing at my mother who would happily crunch away on sticks of the stuff!

CeleryTeaching Mange-Tout has certainly helped me to accept celery although I have to admit that the early days of celery crunching, and munching teeth marks left a bitter taste in my mouth – one which I had to strategically conceal from the children!

My other confession is that I would rarely choose to crunch my way through a stack of celery sticks these days, but I can however be tempted with a big enough pot of hummus, so long as the stringy bits have been peeled off! I also have a weakness for a good Waldorf Twist – Celery apple lime and ginger juiced together and served on ice – Delicious!

Do you have a celery recipe that might tempt me to tuck into the crunchy stuff more readily?

Celery is a fantastic way of introducing lots of different flavours to your child using a variety of purees, dips and juices.

Excellent to use for those troublesome months of teething! Make sure you peel the stringy layer off the celery stick using a potato peeler. Leave the stick long enough to hold onto and place in the freezer or fridge. Use as needed. Remember never leave a child unattended with food.

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Foods: Celery.


Anyone for Cabbage?

In my opinion Cabbage should be renamed the Super food of the century! We should all include a serving of this fantastic vegetable at least once a week for it’s valuable cancer fighting properties and vital sulphur compounds that our diets often lack which is all hugely beneficial for our skin and joints.

Many of you may screw up your face in disgust at the thought of something that stirs memories of smelly school dinners or your grandmas over cooked Sunday roast!

However, the reason behind your pungent memory is because the cabbage you experienced was most likely soggy, over cooked and devoid of any nutritional value whatsoever. As with many vegetables, the secret to great taste and gaining the optimum nutritional value from it lies in eating it raw, or only lightly cooked.

At mange-tout this week there were many surprised parents who delighted at the fresh nutty flavour of raw cabbage or were amazed at their child’s sudden acquired taste for raw purple cabbage.

Local farmers markets as well as your regular supermarket will all stock a wide range of different cabbages: White, Savoy, Purple, Pointed and Miniature!

Let your child choose two different ones to take home to look at, explore and compare.

Have you overlooked cabbage in the supermarket because it wasn’t on your shopping list? Perhaps you’d spotted it and not been inspired as to how to cook or prepare it?

The wonderful thing about cabbage is that it needs little or no preparation and your child can get involved in the process too! I love making coleslaw with grated carrot, finely sliced cabbage, grated courgette and stirring in some mayonnaise and a sprinkle of poppy seeds.

Do you have any favourite cabbage recipes to share with us?

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Foods: Cabbage.


Are there particular foods that you exclude from your child’s diet because it’s something you don’t enjoy?

This week at Mange Tout we were exploring Cauliflower, Spinach and Pomegranate. Much to one mother’s amazement her toddler attempted to bite into the pomegranate in circle time! Then at table time she nearly keeled over and fainted as her two year old began munching away on a piece of raw cauliflower!!! Such a fantastic result and amazing progress from a little boy who; as she put it “…lives on fresh air!” As it turns out the Mum hates cauliflower and never eats it, and therefore her son had not been exposed to it.

I had decided to serve the cauliflower raw as cooked cauliflower can have such a pungent smell. The last thing I wanted to do was put everyone off the second they walked into the classroom and caught a whiff of it!

Everyone has food preferences, coupled with some strong likes and dislikes and we have to acknowledge that children will not always like everything that is served to them. We accept the fact that what may be appetising and delicious to us could seem completely unappealing to others. However, we are not always so ready to allow children the same opportunities for choice.

Initially young children need to be offered the whole range of flavours and textures available in order to develop their own preferences. Some new tastes will need to be offered as many as 10-15 times in order to be accepted and if we stop offering after one refusal we may be putting a limit on the kinds of food they will eat as they grow older. Do not give up after the fourth or fifth attempt – acceptance could be just around the corner!

Children are great imitators regardless of their age and look to parents as role models – someone to emulate and copy. Just by setting a good example we are making an excellent start.

It may be helpful to undertake a little self-analysis just to check that the messages we are sending to our children are the ones that we would want to give.

Do you sit down with your child during mealtimes?

Mealtimes and feeding can be emotional and traumatic not to mention frustrating. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and relax.

It is very easy to think of mealtimes as an opportunity to “get a few things done” whilst your child is preoccupied with food. However, more often than not your child is far more distracted by you emptying the dishwasher, answering the phone or hanging out the washing than interested in what’s on his plate.

Understandably, sitting down at the table means that your attention can focus too much on what your child is or isn’t eating. This in turn can raise your anxiety levels which the child easily picks up on. The floodgates then open for an all out battle of control between parent and child, resulting in frustration, uneaten food and a guilty conscience.

What Can You Do?

  1. Make sure you have a plate with some of your child’s food on for yourself – even if it is only a handful of peas or some cucumber slices.
  2. If it’s lunchtime sit down while your child eats and prepare the vegetables for the evening meal. Talk about what you are doing – even if only peeling carrots. They may surprise you and ask to try some!
  3. Try turning out the lights or closing the curtains and lighting a candle in the centre of the table to create a calm atmosphere. Even put on some classical music, rub lavender oil on your temples – whatever works to help you relax.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you talk to your children about the fresh food that you are buying?
  • Have you ever thought to talk about how healthy food is good for us all?
  • Do you not offer certain foods because you assume children won’t like them?
  • Do you avoid certain foods because you don’t like them?
  • Do you talk negatively about some foods in front of your children?

Do Not Worry!

You are not a bad parent and you do not have to change into a fresh food fanatic over night! Small and gradual changes will make a noticeable difference very quickly and even the longest journey has to begin with the first few small steps.

  • Talk to your children openly about food. Ask them their opinion when selecting fruit and vegetables. Explain how it helps our bodies to work and stay healthy.
  • Involve children in the whole process – from choosing and buying to preparing and exploring. (Remember that many vegetables are better for us if eaten raw or only slightly cooked.)
  • Express your own preferences in a positive way. For example “These aren’t my favourite but I can eat them and Daddy loves them.”
  • Take time to look at fruit and vegetables outside of normal mealtimes – Mange Tout offers guidance and suggestions for suitable activities.
  • On a rainy day pop to the supermarket and spend time in the Fruit and Veg section allowing your child to touch the produce, ask questions and point our their favourite colour. Choose something new to take home to explore and experiment with.
  • Allow children to get a little messy with food especially when weaning, it is important for children to touch and feel food without having their hands wiped every minute. (If you don’t want to get splattered and create more washing, put on a raincoat or throw a shower curtain on the floor?)
  • Work with your child when trying new food. Explain to your child that even you find certain foods tricky to taste and enlist their help. Make a chart for both of you or the whole family and see who can get 5 stars a week.

Mange-Tout is not about being a perfect parent or leading the perfect healthy life style…

…But it can be a fun and interesting journey of discovery!

When reaching for the same toys or books on the shelf- STOP and think: “What’s in the fridge or on the fruit bowl to have a look at?”

Imagine the pleasure of seeing a new and unusual fruit or vegetable and deciding WITH your child:

  • What it might smell like?
  • How you’re going to prepare it?
  • Whether it’s sweet or sour?
  • Who will kiss it first?
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Foods: Cauliflower.


One morning at mange-tout a new parent came to attend a trial class with her two year old daughter. They had arrived early, just as I was pouring the sugar snap peas into a large bowl ready for circle time…

The mother’s face grimaced as she spotted the green pods and exclaimed “You’ll never get her to eat those, she hates peas and anything green!”

I greeted Saskia with a huge smile and invited her to come and help me with the green pods. We sat on a brightly coloured mat in the centre of the room and began feeling and counting the pods and trying to guess what was inside them.

“I expect there is treasure inside” I whispered to Saskia, “Shall we have a look and see?”

On building the excitement and anticipation of the treasure to be found inside we hurriedly popped the pods open and Saskia squealed with delight at the tiny green balls inside. I counted the peas and instantly popped one into my mouth and exclaimed how sweet and crunchy it was, I then continued with what I was doing. Almost immediately, out the corner of my eye I caught Saskia popping the peas into her mouth faster than you can say “Mange-tout!” Saskia was so caught up in the drama and excitement that she’d obviously thrown all pea green grudges out the window and was eagerly popping the next pod whilst Mum stood flabbergasted in the corner of the room. Later that morning Saskia also put the entire Pod into her mouth and began crunching it following the, “Sugar snaps are good for me,” song.

What is important to remember here is that Saskia was not asked to EAT the peas; however she responded positively in relaxed company and without any pressure or anxiety to inhibit her.

Not all children respond in the same way to any given situation, therefore it may take a little more time using the introduction techniques and building your child’s confidence with positive praise for every small step taken.

Above all – We must not punish ourselves or feel guilty for the way in which we have handled or dealt with episodes in the past. Instead we must look forward and open our eyes to some different concepts and an exciting new adventure with food.

What is it about peas that makes children find them so undesirable?

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find the little green balls rather cute, they taste so sweet and are immensely satisfying with mashed potato!

It seems that quite a few children need a little more gentle persuasion in the form of fun before the peas reach their lips!

First though, let’s consider peas from a child’s point of view.

A pile of peas rolling around on the plate can seem extremely daunting. When babies make the transition to solid pureed food, it often gets spat out in response to the strange texture, especially when lumpier foods are gradually introduced. Young children find it quite tricky to deal with multiple textures in their mouth at one time. How many times has your child refused yoghurt with bits in, bread with seeds or pasta sauce with chunks in?

Do you ever notice how your child prefers to eat their food separately? Or perhaps you make a forkful of potato for them and bury a pea inside, they then begin to swirl the food around inside their mouth until eventually the pea gets pulled out? The same process can occur at the thought of putting a whole spoonful (5-8 peas) into their mouth and being unable to chew or deal with them all at once.

I looked after a little boy who would happily eat peas but only one at a time.

Many children will gag quite easily on cooked peas, however do not be alarmed and moreover do not take this to be a sign of their dislike!

A cooked pea separates very easily from its skin once it is in the mouth, the soft sweet pea inside is swallowed quite easily. However, the slightly tougher skin (especially if over cooked) may not be so palatable and can easily get stuck in the wrong place and can be tricky to swallow. A small retching or gagging incident can occur and a child can associate this all too soon with being sick. The natural response is to then dislike the peas!

Ways to approach peas and avoid negative experiences

Remember that Pod is a pea too – encourage and remind your child that Pod would be very proud of them for growing, shelling, smelling, kissing or crunching peas!

A rhyme to teach your child –

(Use your hand closed in a fist and let your fingers pop out as the peas grow)

Five green peas in a pea pod pressed,
One grew, two grew and so did all the rest!
They grew and they grew and they just couldn’t STOP!
Until one day the pod went POP!

Buy some peas that are still in their pods and have fun popping them out. If you cannot find podding peas then sugar snap peas work well too. If your child enjoys eating them this way – try lightly steaming sugar snaps and letting them cool before opening them.

Count how many peas are in the pod?

Before you pop them open try and guess how many will be inside?

Remember my story about Saskia and how she got so involved with the activity that she immediately copied me by popping a raw pea into her mouth! You can do the same but do not ask or force your child to copy you, just exclaim how sweet and crunchy they are and encourage them to choose a baby pea or the biggest one.

Feel how smooth the pea is by licking it with your tongue.

Does it get any smaller if we suck it? Will it disappear?

Put some hard frozen peas into a container with a lid on and sing whilst shaking the container-

Frozen peas, frozen peas,
Jumping in my pot!
Lots of crunchy green balls
I could nearly eat the lot!

Open up the container and share the crunchy frozen peas. Do they melt in your hand, do they change colour when licked? Do they make a crunching sound? Frozen Peas make a great tasty nutritional snack and because they are frozen, they have a consistent texture.

With cooked peas show your child that by gently squeezing a pea, it will pop itself out of its skin. Inside there are two small halves. Stick half a pea on your tongue so it looks like you have a green spot on your tongue. Can you make it disappear?

If your child is happy to explore and not eat – do not worry. It is great that they are getting involved with the activity and not shunning our little green friends!

Remember – A Chef’s Love of food comes from a hands on experience, exploring and getting to grips with food itself.

Have a go at sprouting some dried peas on some damp cotton wool, or grow your own peas.

Introduce sugar snap peas or mange-tout, raw and cooked.

Explain how the pod is edible too.

Brush your teeth with the pod and then see who can do the loudest crunch or see their teeth marks in a raw mange-tout or sugar snap pod!

Demonstrate the magic of mashed potato and how one little pea can stay on the fork even when it is turned upside down!

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Foods: Peas.