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BECAUSE WE EAT WITH ALL OUR SENSES: THIS MONTH IS ABOUT “SIGHT”



The smell of chocolate cookies coming out of the oven. The bright red of a ripe tomato. The weird shape of a walnut in our hand. The crunchiness of a raw carrot between our teeth.

Because all our senses join in the ballet, the simple act of eating is always the most extraordinary sensory experience. We just need to be aware of it and teach our little ones about it so they can join the dance, instead of sulking on the side.

In this little series, we will go through each sense with a few tips about how to engage your little ones in the exploration.
Today we talk about the first one: SIGHT

Seeing plays a major part in our appreciation of food. If it did not, chefs would not spend hours figuring out how to assemble a plate that excites this very sense. As soon as you put the plate on the table, your little ones’ sight is mobilised: the shape, colour, size and presentation automatically excite their curiosity. In your kitchen or around the table, you should invite them to open their eyes wide and start by making the most of the colours: the red of tomatoes and berries, the purple of aubergines and grapes, the yellow of lemon and corn, the green of peas and kiwis, the orange of mango or carrot, the white of cauliflower and coconut. Put them all in order on a plate and your little one will delight in seeing the rainbow… and may want to eat it!

From the very start, you should get your little ones used to see many colours on their plate. You could engage them by inviting them to name them, and talk about their favourite ones. They may want to touch them and reassemble them in the plate in the order they like. One day you might want to serve them all separated on the plate but the next day all mixed up like a firework. I would encourage this last one as it may make your life easier in the future: serving stews with lots of different ingredients thrown in is a magical time saver for family dinners!

It is recommended to eat fruits and vegetables of each of the 6 groups daily: red, orange, yellow, green, purple and white. We might as well start early and get the rainbow do the talking! I promise you, in the future they might look at you in disbelief if one day you assemble a very beige dinner. My daughter, aged 3 then, certainly did and looked at me as if I had gone nuts or ill or something! She even refused to eat my rice with chicken and mushrooms meal. I had to beg her to do so by promising that the next day I would make her favourite meal with lots of colours.

Never forget that 80% of our memory is made up of what we see... so if they see colours, they will remember colours! It will become their norm and what they feel safe with.

Do you struggle to get your little ones to enjoy colours on their plates? Do you need tips about how to engage them and talk about what they see?

Created On  24 Jul 2017 1:06  -  Permalink
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I am Helene, RATATOUïE's founder

I am Helene, RATATOUïE’ founder, a nutritional chef and a mother with a passion for quality nourishing food, a desire to pass it on to all children and a dedication to make the life of other parents easier…certainly when it comes to food, my passion!

Formerly a banker, I gave it all up after I had my daughter to fill the painfully experienced gap in the baby and young children food market: to reconcile the convenience of shop bought products with the quality of fresh and homemade. This is why with RATATOUïE, I prepare it in small batches and then deliver it, fresh, to my clients’ doors.

Beyond the products themselves, I also nourish the secret dream of making teatime work in every household and help parents teach healthful eating habits to their little ones. Through my food, upcoming tips, recipes, blogs and workshops, I aim to make that journey as it should be: fun and practical.

Because mealtime does not have to be a battle. Because eating is colourful, flavourful and beautiful. Because eating is the very foundation of our little ones’ health.

Created On  24 Jun 2017 1:17  -  Permalink
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IN LOVE WITH HONEST, SIMPLE, VARIED FOOD




Do you feel that you may be failing your family if their day does not start with a mango-cauliflower smoothie with a spoonful of chia seeds and ladles of coconut water? And what about if they did not get their necessary portions of quinoa, black beans, baobab or goji berries in their lunchbox? Feeling lost about what you are supposed to do with all that information when feeding your little ones and family, read on for peace of mind.

Up to recently a very ordinary daily task, eating seems to have become a very complex matter indeed. We are constantly fed (pun intended!) a succession of very complicated diets, intricate superfoods, unpronounceable ingredients unbeknown to us just yesterday, scary warnings and contradictory advice together with waves after waves of never ending concepts. Following the ever changing trends would fill a full time job and dig a serious hole in our wallet as none of them tend to come cheap.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying they are all fads without substance or truth. As a food lover dotted with a very curious mind, I will try everything that is thrown at me with enthusiasm and happily add them to my daily recipes.

But this is that same love of food that keeps me grounded in my cooking for my family. I am in love with a cuisine that is very honest, simple, balanced and varied. Its success does not call for rare and pricy ingredients, assembled in complex combinations. It calls for local, seasonal, quality ingredients judiciously mixed, adequately measured, seasoned with care, cooked appropriately with the adequate equipment. Food must be flavoursome and joyful. Its various colours must compose a very happy song. Its different textures, flavours and aromas must dance harmoniously in the most delightful ballet. It should raise the appetite, excite the taste buds and satisfy the tummy, responding naturally to the demand of our bodies and minds.

Simple, varied and balanced food will automatically bring pleasure. There is no pleasure in boredom…and children know that well! Teaching them about such a pleasure will set them up towards a healthful future where they will naturally receive from their food the necessary nourishment to excel and succeed.

Created On  24 May 2017 0:50  -  Permalink
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FOOD FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S BODY, MIND AND SOUL


  
Nestled in your hand, a small tomato. Red, yellow and orange depending on where the sun hit it with its rays…. Beautiful apple of love… one of the last of the season. Close your eyes, and now let your hand caress its skin. Feel the soft and tiny little hair that make up its only protection against nasty insects. Bring it close to your nose and smell it: the closer you get to its stalk, the stronger its scent becomes. 

Bite into it and let its velvety and sweet flesh explode on your tongue. Feel the freshness and acidity of its pips tickle your taste buds. With your eyes still closed, you find yourself imagining the rugged hand that carefully picked it, its owner walking slowly amongst the plants under the scorching sun. Go back further in time and see the tomato swing on its stem, rocked by the wind. Follow the ladybirds that fly around, protecting it from aphids. From the field into the kitchen. Now you see your grand-mother peeling it (because like most children, you didn’t like the skin back then), slicing it, and displaying it in the white oval dish next to the green salad bowl. You see her add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of flower of salt, a sprinkle of pepper: it’s ready! You proudly bring the dish to the table where all your family has gathered, underneath the mulberry tree that so generously shares its shade.

From the above description, it is easy to see that food brings all our senses together in exploration mode. Beyond our senses, it brings back memories of our childhood as efficiently as faded photos in a forgotten album. You may like or dislike the ingredient itself but here is not the subject. Beyond taste itself, food belongs to each and every one of us very own family culture and heritage. It makes up one of the most wholesome experiences of our daily lives.

From the above description, it is easy to see that food is certainly not just about calorie intake. Whoever thinks so must lead a very monotonous and sad existence indeed!

Let’s not impose the white, beige and bland treatment to our children. It is not good for their body. It is not good for their brain. it is not good for their soul. From the very start, let’s engage our children’s senses in teaching them how to eat right. Around the table, let's fill them up with childhood memories!


Created On  12 Apr 2017 12:00  -  Permalink
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...and the other elements of the Mediterranean Diet






On my last post, I promised a bit more about other aspects of the Mediterranean Diet, which we believe are very important to setting healthy eating habits. We grew up on it and can tell you a bit more about what it means to us.

Though the thought of spending long hours around a table may sound like the ultimate bore for little ones, we both have heart-filled memories of it. Obviously children are usually allowed to leave the table once the main course is over but the excitement always started with the never-to-be-missed "aperitif", bringing galore of olives, lupins, roasted peppers, tapenade crostini, fresh tomato&shallots mini bruschetta, etc... This always made a great intro to lunch and that is when we were allowed juice which was a total treat... Here is a first point: we only drank water at the table with our meals, and only water. Never juice or anything else! Coming to think of it, it is water only during mealtime (always.  Like every day, every meal, no alternative!).... until you are about 18 and then you may switch to wine!
Anyway then it was time for lunch with all of us around a table sharing homemade food from starter and main course to cheese and desert...until it was time for the grown-ups to start arguing about politics or other matters...think that was the wine talking!

All that to say that eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a moment of social exchange and communication, an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. The Mediterranean diet brings people, friends and family together. If the example above was more like a weekly ritual (mainly on Sundays, when you had guests around or were invited at their place), every day the family would get together for at least dinner. It makes the experience of eating a lot more enjoyable... It automatically makes it less about what you have in your plate and more about who you are sharing it with!

And if nowadays, it may be difficult to offer this daily ritual to our little ones, we should always make the effort to sit and eat with them around a table when they eat (if only a small portion if we plan for a proper dinner later on). Sit, eat, talk, exchange and above all watch and listen! It may represent a bit more of an effort when they are very little (and I can vouch for this as I've sat with my little girl since she started on solid, and until she could talk I have had some pretty boring moments!) but you will reap the rewards in no time.  

Mealtimes are such a great opportunity for you and your baby and young child to spend time together. Eating as a family helps to introduce them to lots of different healthy foods, as your food choices will naturally be wider than theirs. Eating together lets your little ones see you and other family members enjoying food, and maybe chatting about what they all like to eatBest of all, your little ones will experience the pleasure of mealtimes. This will help to set a healthy-eating habit that could last her a lifetime. Because let's face it, who likes eating alone!

Created On  17 Mar 2017 9:39  -  Permalink
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The Mediterranean Diet: why do we find this trend kind of funny?



You've probably heard that the Mediterranean diet can make your heart healthier, protect against cancer and even help you live longer.

You’ve also probably heard that it is a fabulous pick for babies, toddlers and kids also. Packed with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish and healthy fats, a Mediterranean diet provides nutrients that support optimal growth and development and also promote a healthy weight.

Moreover, and this is the most important point here: beyond its balanced and diverse nutritional value, the Mediterranean Diet is not a weight loss or management program. It is an actual way of life. And if you do not believe us, you may be more convinced if some organisation like the UNESCO tells you as such…. Well they do! The Mediterranean Diet was inscribed in 2013 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Now you have it! And why does it make us kind of laugh? Well because we are two food loving ladies who grew up with it in our respective Provence and Puglia. It has always been our way of life, shaping up our lifelong eating habits since we were born. The only revelation for us was that we wrongly assumed that everyone else was eating in the same way.

The balance and diversity of the Mediterranean Diet is RATATOUïE’s nutritional motto. We strongly believe we should teach our children to expect variety from the onset of weaning. We are here to help you achieve this diversity in colours, flavours, scents and textures and through it instil lifelong healthy eating habits into your little ones. And we promise: you don't need to be Yotam Ottolenghi to be a pro at it!

Next time, we’ll talk about other elements fundamental to this Mediterranean Diet… stay tuned!

Created On  26 Feb 2017 11:00  -  Permalink
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