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Why is healthy food "right from the start" so important?

The Pioneering work of neuroscience scientists such as Kuhl, Meltzoff, Gopnik, and more recently by Giacomo Rizzolatti detail the enormous potential of a baby's brain and describe such enormous potential of a baby as “the most powerful learning machine in the universe!” They have established that a rich and complex set of neurological connections are made in the early minutes/ hours /days and weeks of a baby’s life. A child's brain seemingly being furiously driven by experience from the utero into early childhood. Babies and young children are far more able than we would ever have believed!

Professor John Stein F.R.C.P. of Oxford University says:-“There is now overwhelming evidence that infants' nutrition plays a very important part in optimal development of their brains.

Research findings now show that the food given to children in the early years can influence not only well being, growth and behaviour, but also their educational achievement. (The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

At Nursery Food Matters we are experts in our field; that of feeding babies and young children with healthy food, and in the delivery of an accompanying "Fun Food Education”. Eating well, learning about food, gaining food handling skills and early cookery are all part of an important framework necessary for promoting a child’s well being, their physical and educational development, and for laying down the "foundation" of healthy eating patterns in the future.

We have been doing this successfully now for over 25 years in busy nursery settings in Oxford and have received national recognition and awards for our approach to healthy food and food education in the early years. (The Soil Association, Organix, and Nursery World. (2007/2008, 2009 and 2010).

We understand that this very specialised area of expertise in looking after children requires nutritional knowledge and understanding and so, in response, we have documented our expertise and have published it for others to use. Our resources are simple to use, economical on a nursery (or family) budget and practical to prepare and deliver. No longer do you need a celebrity chef or dietician to help you.

We have simplified, and made practical our Recipes, Menus and approach to “Fun Food Education so that it enables parents/carers and early years professionals to deliver the same standards of healthy food and fun food education as the experts in the field. Just DOWNLOAD, print off and GO!

To use our popular children's recipes or educational resouces at home, nursery or after school clubs click <here>

Introducing Mr.Willow

Now more than ever "healthy food" and "fun food education" are a “must” for every child.....right from the start!

Mr Willow is our healthy food hero. His quest? To improve children’s nutrition, understanding of food and cooking and to role-model, encourage and “enable” healthy food practicewithin the nursery school and at home.

Mr. Willow says ”A child’s health depends on many factors, food, heredity, climate, hygiene, exercise – but FOOD is the most important of all these.”

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer to England, predicts that "By 2050 90% of today's children will be overweight or obese."

Mr Willow introduces young children to, and teaches them about healthy foods and how important they are for them. His recipes and menus are full of "Super Foods" which he knows are just perfect for growing children. He makes food “fun” and encourages children to eat well and learn to cook. They don't need much encouragement however ... his recipes have won national awards for being so tasty and popular with them!

Mr. Willow’s “Super Foods for Super kids”

What are "Super" Foods for children?

Super Foods for children form the basis of Mr. Willow’s recipes. They are exactly what they say they are .... super foods. These foods are popular since children love eating them, they are practical and economical to make and use, and they are nutritionally important and appropriate. Our recipes are designed around the nutritional needs of growing and developing children, at a time when they are "laying down" structures like their teeth, bones, brain and other vital organs; thefoundation stones of their whole future well-being and longevity.
Mr. Willow’s award winning recipes and Fun Food Activities are proven. They are healthy and suitable for anyone working with, or looking after young children.They encourage the use of home grown produce, lean meat, oily fish and low sugar options. Mr. Willow has lots of exciting healthy food ideas for children, their families, and for use in Early Years settings,church, school, and holiday clubs.
Mr. Willow’s “Super Foods for Super Kids” recipe and story books are packed full of healthy and wholesome food ideas, fun activities, and recipes. They encourage participation between a child and a grown up; the first step, he believes, in promoting the enormous value of healthy food and understanding in the family of a young child.
For one of Mr.Willow's Super Food Tips click <here>
For one of Mr.Willow's healthy recipes to cook with your child <here>
For Early Years Settings who wish to improve their delivery of healthy food and food education we have informative “working” documents, for use within the nursery kitchen, classroom,or church hall. Our resources are proven and easy to use. They come as electronic DOWNLOADS for you to print off and laminate (or place in plastic wallets). Click <here>
Parents interested in our “Super Foods for Super Kids” resources below should click <here>
  • “Fun Food activities” to do with your child.
  • Family sized versions of our award winning recipes.
  • Super foods to cook WITH your child.
 Mr. Willow's story booksencourage healthy eating andall have a"healthy recipe to make with your child.
  • "Mr. Willow's Herb Garden and Some Very Cheeky Seagulls"
  • "All Kind Of Boats"
  • "On The Beach "
  • "Carrots are very good for you... don't you know!          click <here>
N.B. Mr. Willow our bear chef is the “brain child” of Valerie Grady. Valerie is a post graduate teacher having recently gained her EYPS (Early Years professional Status) at Brookes University, Oxford. She holds a Food Sciences honours degree from Kings College, London and is a former Home Economics teacher. As such she has an in depth of understanding of a child’s nutritional needs and 28 years experience of leading teams of inspirational people who not only make food fun for children but reliably deliver healthy and popular nursery food. She is passionate about re- instating and revitalising cookery within our families and believes that we should start with the very young.
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