Mange Tout Kids

Lucy's Blog

Kidney Beans

At Mange Tout classes this week everyone was full of beans – metaphorically and quite literally too as we were exploring Kidney Beans, along with Tomatoes and Pears!

Kidney Beans are not something you instantly associate with a child’s menu, however they are packed full of goodness and seeing as so many children enjoy a nutritious serving of baked beans as one of their five a day – I thought it would be interesting to see how everyone responded to these delightful looking purple/red kidney shaped beans.

Kidney beans were something I never really ate as a child, vague memories of school dinner mince with them swimming about and the odd spattering of them in my Mum’s stew or chilli doesn’t evoke an enthusiastic nostalgic appetite for them.

However seeing them all glossy and red once they were well rinsed from the can made me think how they might be rather appealing to children on their own without a sauce added.

Demonstrating in class how to feel the smooth skin of the shiny beans on our lips and tongue assured children that there was little to be feared. Similarly when I experimented to see if sucking the bean made it any smaller everyone followed suit. On biting the kidney bean to reveal the soft mashed potato like texture inside – 95% of the children at Mange Tout tucked into the protein packed goodies albeit with mixed responses. Amanda’s daughter Zoe along with several others asked for more and delighted in the bean’s consistent soft smooth texture. One of the Mum’s texted today to say that she had put some in her son’s lunch-box following a request for Pod’s red beans! A great food that’s easy to eat with fingers and packed with protein, carbohydrate and fibre to fuel a busy day and ensure your child is full of beans!

If plain kidney beans are not to you or your child’s taste, why not try pureeing them into a basic tomato sauce for pasta or mashing them with spring onion and herbs and frying to make a tasty bean burger.

TIP: Although it important we ensure our child’s diet is not high in salt and sugar, you may find that tinned kidney beans that are in a salt/sugar solution are more palatable when eaten on their own as a snack or part of a meal – the tiny amount of salt/sugar present in a handful of the beans is far outweighed by the goodness they contain. Remember to drain and rinse the beans well, and if serving on their own cover them in boiling water and drain before serving so that they are warm and softened.

As a treat you could have kidney beans and unsalted corn chips with a tomato dip – squash a bean in between a corn chip and dip into a tomato sauce – delicious and great fun too!

Do you have any kidney bean or other pulse recipes to share with us?

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Today it was time for me to face my nemesis! I had approached this week’s produce with trepidation; for the classes were to feature a vegetable that I am none too fond of to say the least.

There are only two vegetables that are serious contenders for the title of “least delectable” (in my eyes) – one being Celery which thanks to Mange Tout I can now manage with a large dollop of tasty dip and even manage to crunch a stick following an energetic rendition of “hokey cokey celery”!

However, today was not about celery – but BEETROOT!

I really do NOT like beetroot to put it mildly. I think my Mum must have eaten bucket loads of it when pregnant with me and she still relishes it today, however there is something I find unpalatable about it (to the point of gagging – when I first began Mange Tout I trained myself like warrior to tolerate beetroot and smile throughout).

I can manage a tiny bit of it raw, in a mixed salad but that’s at a push!

Why you might ask, when I have such a dislike of Beetroot do I continue to put myself through the challenge and enthuse hundreds of children to delight in this purple root vegetable then?!?! Well, the answer is simple and is also a superb reminder as to why I set up Mange Tout in the first place – FUN!

It’s the fun with food that we have at Mange Tout that is the root (excuse the pun) of our success. Today was such a fantastic example of this when each child at every single class – watched in delight as I painted my tongue pink with a slice of raw beetroot – even more giggles when I brushed my teeth and turned them pink too.

With Pod’s action song – everyone got busy smelling the beetroot, painting their tongues and brushing their teeth. Once the sweet taste of this root vegetable was discovered and explored, everyone began to munch and crunch away, including me! My enthusiasm was fuelled by the wave of happy pink faces and purple/pink fingers giving me high fives!

It was so inspiring to see children from less than eighteen months old up to five years of age giving beetroot a fair trial.

I was managing to hold it together and smile rather than retch throughout the whole experience and I have to say, it has actually been my most favourite class so far this term!

Everyone was in such high spirits and really getting into the spirit of Mange Tout – we even had a sing off in the 4.30pm class and it nearly brought a tear to my eye when I stopped singing for a minute to listen to the children singing “picked a beetroot” perfectly in tune and doing all the actions. Who could have believed that a day of classes which I’d thought might leave a bitter taste in my mouth could end with such a sweet smell of success!

If like me you are not so keen on this antioxidant rich purple veg either, there is a way that I find helps it become far more palatable – chocolate brownies!

This is what I shall be doing with all the left over beetroot from this week’s classes, see recipe to follow!

If you have any beetroot recipes you’d like to share with us please let us know – I’ll certainly give them a go! In the meantime I’ll get cracking on my Beetroot Brownie Bake Off!

Lucy x

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Mange Tout Goes to Lanzarote!

Gosh PR agency approached Mange Tout a couple of years ago to see if we could offer something a little different to the Canary Islands chain of “Seaside Hotels”.

The hotel has fantastic family facilities and amazing cuisine however they were looking to encourage the children on holiday to tuck into some of the local produce and delight in the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available on the island that the kitchen so readily prepared and made so enticing.

It was such a wonderful opportunity and a new experience for us so I took on the challenge and set about planning and creating a week of children’s entertainment for the Mini Club at Los Jameos Playa Lanzarote. The week consisted of four hours per day of fruit and vegetable themed activities for children aged four to eight years.

Everyday we ran a Mange-Tout class, followed by a cooking session and the in the afternoon we did fruit and vegetable themed art and craft and ended with an hour of sports!

Parents were thrilled to hear of fruit and vegetable conquests their child had completed when collecting them from the Mini Club. Many were heard exclaiming:
“How on earth did you get them to eat that?!?!”

Children were very proud to show off their baked goods and artistic creations from the day (favourites being vegetable cupcakes, pizzas, fruit and vegetable printed T.shirts, edible jewellery and fruit basket cards.) At the end of most days parents arrived early to watch their children taking part in the end of our sporting sessions which included Grapefruit Bowls, Tomato and Kiwi Races and Apple Bobbing.

The smooth running of the event was made possible with the help and support of the staff at the hotel. The kitchen staff were extremely reliable and helpful and nothing was ever too much trouble. The Mini Club staff were on hand to help with translations for children who didn’t speak English and were always willing to lend an extra pair of hands when the club was at full capacity (which was most days!)

On our lunch breaks and in the evenings children would wave or come and say hello and tell us they would be coming again in the morning, and the parents were thrilled with a club that offered four hours of entertainment that kept their children occupied, learning and having fun.

We had an amazing time and it was such a fantastic experience, not to mention so rewarding to see so many children having fun, learning something new and keeping healthy on holiday!

The 2010 October half term week was so successful that we were invited back again in 2011 to run a fortnight of activities that covered the Irish half term too!

We hope to get invited again this year – so we will keep you posted, perhaps you might like to come for some winter sun too?

Mange Tout in Oxford

Mange Tout is expanding!

We have opened up our first venue outside of London, in Oxford!

Classes commenced at the start of September and we have had a great response so far. It is very exciting for us that some people outside of London have a chance to experience Mange Tout, and the person who shares our excitement in running these classes is Cath Dendy.

Check out the Classes page for more information about Oxford classes and contact information.

We look forward to bringing you more exciting news as Mange Tout grows and helps to build a healthier generation across the UK.