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Welcome to Vegie Month, March 2024

Research shows that only 1 in 20 New South Wales children aged 2-15 years eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day. Encouraging children to eat vegetables can be challenging. Using sensory exploration through nutrition learning experiences in early childhood education and care (ECEC) services can support children to eat more vegetables. This may include looking, listening, feeling, smelling or tasting both familiar and unfamiliar vegetables each day. These activities familiarise children with vegetables which can lead to an increased willingness to try them.

Children love food preparation! It’s exciting, messy and fun!

Below is an example of how children can engage each of the five senses while preparing, cooking and eating food:

· Sight: Lay the ingredients in front of the children. Ask children if they can name the vegetables. What colours are they?

· Sound: During the food preparation process, remind children to listen for different sounds. What can they hear when they wash and dry lettuce leaves? Can they hear sizzling from a fry pan?

· Smell: If children are helping to cook in the kitchen, there will be lots of opportunity to use the sense of smell. Can children smell garlic and onion in the fry pan? Can they smell food being cooked in the toaster or oven? Is it a new or familiar smell? If children are preparing herbs, encourage them to handle and explore the different smells.

· Touch: When selecting a recipe, ensure that it includes vegetables. Involve children in handling the vegetables through chopping, grating and peeling. If you are using produce from your garden, involve children in harvesting the vegetables.

· Taste: Once the food is prepared, have children sit and eat together. Depending on the recipe, you may encourage children to taste raw ingredients as you cook, e.g., tasting tomatoes when you pick them out of the garden before using them on top of pizza muffins.

Cobbers Child Care Centre enjoys Vegie Month, each Educator picks a day to cook with the children using one or many vegetables. The challenge of using as many different vegetables as possible, in many different ways is always fun and has the children intrigued.

The children have the opportunity to use their 5 senses and learn about new vegetables while cooking and are always encouraged to try what they cook, even if it starts off with a lick, then a bite and most of the time it’s gobbled up (to the surprise of their parents!).

Not only do we cook, but we immerse ourselves with stories about vegetables, healthy eating, cooking and gardening. Our table activities allow the children to make their own choices about food by choosing what they would put in their shopping trolley, what my tongue likes to taste, drawing on a plate what they had for dinner and creating many discussions around food.

Healthy eating and healthy choices are embedded in our Centre every day, with our two Fruit/vegie breaks during the day, allowing the children to try a variety of healthy foods.

Healthy lunches are encouraged and families are supported to provide a healthy lunch for their child.   We share information with parents through social media, photos, information sheets and recipes.  There is also discussion with educators and first hand observation when parents actually see their child eating something new.

Encouraging children to eat vegetables can be challenging, however using the five senses while preparing, cooking and eating food will familiarise your child with vegetables and may increase their willingness to try them.   


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