Healthy food is a subject the team at Nurture and Develop Early Childhood Centre really get their teeth into.
Nurture and Develop provide all meals for children at the centre, prepared daily by two dedicated cooks, Kristin and Taylah, in an open kitchen. There is only rule - "no sandwiches".
All the food is made from scratch from fresh ingredients sourced locally, offering a diverse range of well-balanced and nutritious meals, with children encouraged to come into the kitchen and help develop menus and prepare food.
"We want the children to be full participants in the cooking experience, along with their educators," centre cook spokesperson Kristin Passmore said.
"Our open kitchen provides a platform where they can get involved with food.
"They can talk to the cooks, get involved in cutting vegetables and fruit.
"This also allows for a dialogue between families and staff, ensuring everyone's dietary needs are met, including allergies, intolerances and family preferences.
"Through that involvement children get curious about food - why that colour, how does that vegetable grow etc.
"Our educators then help them find out.
"They do research, find pictures, look at videos.
"Through this way the learning branches out.
"Children are curious. They want to know things."
NDECC is deeply inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool and primary education founded by educator Loris Malaguzzi after World War II.
The approach is child-centered and uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments.
The program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community via exploration and discovery through a self-guided curriculum.
Nurture and Develop's approach to healthy eating reflects this approach and is extended to the dedicated dining space at the centre.
"Children come in and eat, and socially engage which promotes conversations," Kristin said.
"The children enjoy a communal dining area, allowing them to share meals as a group at their leisure.
"From there they get to see what others eat which helps them to learn about the world of food, and tastes and exposes them to new things.
"We want to encourage kids to try new foods."
Healthy fresh baked goods are offered daily. Meals are catered to the children's tastes and prepared from fresh ingredients, often with fresh herbs or vegetables from the garden.
"The food is used a part of the curriculum to help educate the children about the importance of healthy choices," Kristin said.
"We offer progressive meal times, which means we don't automatically interrupt activities by dictating we eat at a strict time each day, but rather we inquired respectfully if children are ready to eat."
Nurture and Develop Early Childhood is located at 23 Rural Drive, Sandgate.
The centre is fully accredited and currently has vacancies in all age groups.
To arrange a centre tour or for more information ring (02) 4905 0641, or visit www.nurtureanddevelopchildhood.com.au.
HEALTHY BANANA BREAD
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or olive oil
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup milk (of choice) or Greek yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas about 2-3 medium bananas
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour or plain all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat oven to 325F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, sugar, milk and vanilla for 2 minutes. Stir in the bananas, flour mixture.
- Pour batter into greased pan, sprinkle with additional cinnamon or top with banana slices.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes.