Wordle Customer Feedback

I have just discovered a new toy – Wordle.

A site where you type in some text or other and it creates ‘word clouds’. That is a pattern with the most frequently used words larger and brighter than the lesser used ones.

So it had to be done, I took customers comments and feedback, the last or 5 or so that I have received and this is what I got

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Win a porcelain cup on this weeks newsletter

Ginger for digestion, strawberries for your inflammation, porcelain to give away and silly prices for the summer

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Does your child see red when you offer her greens?

You know that fruit and veg are vital to help children develop into healthy adults and protect against diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and you know yours need to eat more… but what do you do if your child positively hates the stuff? Dietitian Gaynor Bussell from mychild.co.ukshares some dos and don’ts

Some scientists believe children may be programmed to be picky about their food because they are responding to an evolutionary trait, designed to protect them from harm. And it is not just the taste they object to; a younger child may also be put off by the colour and texture of fruit and vegetables.

It is best to try to introduce as many new fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet as soon as you can if you want to avoid a reluctant fruit and veg eater later, but what if you already have one on your hands?

Tips for increasing intake

Here are some tried and tested tips to increase the amount of fruit and veg in your child’s diet; some tips use stealth, others psychology and others just downright perseverance!

DOS

The rule of 10: Keep giving the child a little of the new fruit or veg you want them to try on their plate. Just give them a little bit and really encourage them to try it. You will need to try up to 10 times to do this, as that is the number of tries it can take to persuade toddlers to eat a new food.

Shop for it: Take your child shopping (you can even make it a special shopping trip) and ask them to choose a fruit or veg they have not tried before. Talk about how you could both prepare that veg or fruit for eating. Being made to feel special and being given the attention can be quite persuasive. This technique has the added benefit of getting your child interested in cooking.

Hide it: If you are making dishes with mince, such as cottage pie or a spaghetti bolognaise, it is easy to sneak in some veg, like grated carrot, without your child noticing. Mashed potato can also have some veg subtly mashed into it, especially if white, such as cauliflower, or parsnips. Pasta sauces can be another hidden carrier of finely chopped veg, and a tomato based rather than a creamy based source will deliver all the antioxidant goodness of the tomato sauce. Children will often eat soup and a blended vegetable soup often goes down well. Fruit can also be blended with yoghurt to make a smoothie.

Ad it: Some food is so idyllic to a child that they would eat it even if it included some vegetables. Pizza is an example here where you could add some extra toppings such as chopped peppers, sliced mushrooms and sweetcorn. To start with your child may try and pick it off, but eventually they may concede and eat the lot!

Snack it: Most active kids will need a few snacks in the day to keep their energy levels up. Try to make these snacks an opportunity to get in more fruit and veg rather than always resorting to the cakes, chocolate and biscuits. Dried fruit is energy packed and an older child could handle a dried fruit, seed and nut mix. Some vegetable sticks with a favourite dip might be of interest to your child too. Set and example: Kids are big mimics and they like to copy grown-ups, so if they see you tucking in to your veggies at the dinner table, they are likely to have a go themselves. This is another reason for trying to have at least some dinner-tablebased family meals together!

DON’TS

  • Don’t make meal times a battleground and a tense place to be for you or your child as nothing will be achieved. A refusal to eat a certain food should not get to tantrum point. If the child is adamant he or she will not eat a particular vegetable then ignore their negativity and just start talking about something completely different so that the battle is diffused!
  • Never coax your child to eat up all their main course and/or vegetables with the promise of a dessert, biscuits or a sweet treat. This only reinforces the belief in the child’s mind that the sweet things are the real treats and the vegetables and savoury stuff are to be endured as a means of getting the treat stuff!
  • Brassicas are a certain group of vegetables that include Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. Evidence now exists that some children and adults have the gene that makes this group of veg taste particularly bitter and nasty to them. So if the usual level of coaxing is still drawing disgusted little faces, then it may be that you have to bow to this dislike, and your child has science on his side to give them a let-out clause!

How much fruit and veg should children have?

Children, like adults, are recommended to have at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. Just think of what quantity could be held in your child’s hand as a good estimate of how much counts as a portion.

What counts?

  • Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned and dried fruit and veg all count
  • X Potato, yam and cassava don’t count as they are considered to be a starchy food
  • Vary the colours and type of fruit and veg
  • X Fruit juice, whatever the type, can only count once
  • You may find it is easier to encourage fruit consumption because of the sweet taste, but it is important not to give up on the veg

Justin Fleming © Gaynor Bussell

An active Father’s Day

On Saturday, we got our 4yr old son, Rohan, his first bike. A proper pedal bike with Dad-fitted stabilisers, and a ‘Cars’ helmet.

On Sunday, the boy and me went out in the afternoon with him on his bike and me on my longboard (skateboard). It was a real afternoon to remember because suddenly we are fully mobile and my boy is old enough to ride off and move at a decent speed for us to actually get somewhere (normally we walk everywhere at his little pace).

We had great fun racing each other and finding good places to ride around – mostly out-of-season closed car parks, where we could put some distance between each other and I could let him feel like he’s being ‘let off the leash’ a bit.

He didn’t want to go home again and just wanted to keep going and going, looking for new places to ride. What it really reminded me is how great and simple it is to get out, get fit and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. I stay fairly active with my skating and as a family, we won’t think much to walking for 45mins to get somewhere, but still, getting a kid a bike changes a child’s mindset about the outdoors in such a good way.

Let’s remember how much fun cycling is – even for adults. I personally don’t see how going to a gym really does anything for us as human beings. With exercise, it’s not just about the workout of your body, but the workout of the mind and emotions – getting out, having the landscape move and change, freedom of thoughts, the fresh-air, let-alone the fun of being able to race around with your 4yr old!

I haven’t even got a bike myself at the moment, but getting the boy a bike has made me even keener to get one soon. I had forgotten how much exploring and ‘accidental’ exercise I used to do on mine.

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Free food and drink

Last week I took my son Rohan (4yrs) out to collect the now abundant Elderflower which is found almost everywhere at the moment.

Elderflower is an odd smelling, white blooming flower head bigger that your hand, made of lots of tiny flowers.

The beauty of Elderflowers is that they can be easily collected and made very easily into a very simple, lovely drink.

So we collected about a carrier bag full of flower heads and following a recipe, made 2ltrs of syrupy cordial from:

20 flowerhead (shaken to remove bugs)
1.5lbs sugar
3 cut lemons
2ltrs boiling water

Throw it all in together and leave overnight before straining into a bottle. A tiny amount of this is enough to make a glass of cordial drink.

The recipe does use a heck of a lot of sugar which I can’t help feel took away from the point of the exercise, however, I tried with 1 lemon, a pint of boiling water, 2 flowerheads and only about a tablespoon of suger and produced a ready to drink squash.

Elderflower is high in vitamin C, so a bit of active foraging (which kids will love) can save you having to buy carton orange juice or equivalent. The Flowerheads can also be frozen for use whenever and the chilled cordial will keep for a fair while.

With Elder, it’s best to find two areas of trees. Harvest one patch for the flowers, then leave the other to flower and return to later in the year for collecting Elder berries.

Foraging free food brings a real satisfaction to the soul.

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Claim your free land courtesy of River Cottage

I’ve keenly started watching the new series of Hugh Fearnley–Whittingstall’s River Cottage – Spring. I’m very interested in growing my own food and also want to make sure my kids grow up with an awareness of ‘real’ food, both wild and home-grown.

So far, we haven’t gotten much further that a few herbs grown from seed – but you should see our towering Corriander and Parsley crop! Even Rohan, my 4yr old, has grown three very respectable carrots in a pot from seed (and enthusiastically waters them all).

We are terminally stuck in rented accommodation which always puts me off from doing anything with the garden food-wise. We always consider an allotment, but waiting lists for these is always about a year or something silly.

Then we watch episode 1 of ‘Spring’ where Hugh divulges a little-known secret in the UK. Apparently, if six or more people get together (presumably from different households) and write to the council, they can request a plot of land for growning their own produce and the council is obliged to ‘find’ them some land.

This is what Hugh and a gang of Bristol folk did and were given an acre or so of bramble-covered wasteland to transform into vegetable AND live-stock producing land.

This forum thread is a good source of information on it – http://forum.rivercottage.net/viewtopic.php?t=31469

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