Let's get our kids eggs-cited

As obesity rates among young people soar, a new initiative aimed at promoting a healthy breakfast is being driven by a group of West Cork women, writes EMMA CONNOLLY
Let's get our kids eggs-cited
Caroline Murphy of West Cork Eggs

GOOD quality protein eaten at breakfast will help support children’s concentration, focus and energy.

That’s the message from an all Cork team who are touring primary schools to convince youngsters, and their parents, to ditch sugary cereals in favour of more brain nurturing foods.

Their Eggsellent Breakfast initiative is motivated by a desire to get children eating protein rich foods like eggs which will have a knock-on benefit of fighting childhood obesity.

Caroline Murphy of West Cork Eggs, Alison Kingston, Health Coach; Kate Ryan of Flavour.ie and Taste Cork have joined forces to launch the campaign.

It’s based around a series of short presentations about the nutritional value of eggs followed by a brief cookery demonstration of one of five egg-based breakfast.

Kids will even get to meet a happy, free range hen who will visit the classroom.

The team want to get across the message of the importance of a healthy, balanced breakfast that is free from sugar to as many children and parents as possible.

And they decided to focus on eggs as their ideal breakfast describing them as ‘awesome little bundles of goodness; quick to cook, versatile, inexpensive and accessible.’ “Everyone can learn from this initiative, young or old because the fact is that we are all getting fatter, and there is one major cause: sugar,” they said.

“Children whose breakfast is mainly sugary cereals, or sweet spreads such as jam or milk chocolate spreads, aren’t getting enough good stuff to wake up their bodies and their brains and to keep going all the way until lunchtime without reaching for snacks to keep energy levels up.

“By making one simple change to how we treat the most important meal of the day, such as choosing eggs for breakfast, we can make a huge difference! Eggs provide huge amounts of important vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as protein which can help keep you feeling fuller for longer as well as keeping our brains and bodies alert - important for children who are expected to keep up with the demands of study and sport as part of a normal school day,” they said.

Glandore National School in West Cork is the first school to benefit from this initiative but the plan is to take the campaign on tour to as many schools as possible.

Health coach Alison Kingston’s aim is to educate the children to firstly to appreciate their amazing bodies: “I tell them interesting facts about our body such as the liver could be damaged by up to 70% and it can totally be regenerated. We get a new stomach lining every three days. I ask them what they think is amazing about their bodies. This then leads me to explain why we need good quality protein, fats, and carbohydrates at breakfast to support repair in the body as well as explaining this balance will support their concentration, focus, and energy.

“I got involved as its a dream of mine to teach children about food, their body, and nutrition, I have gone into a lot of schools teaching and really enjoy it. Children need visuals and practical tips so they can be inspired to make lasting changes.” Her top food tip for parents and children around food ‘is to explore food from a playful perspective.’ “Try to have as many different colours as possible. Experiment with cooking and get the children very much involved, this could be learning about what other countries and cultures eat and trying some of their traditional dishes.” West Cork Eggs is based near Rosscarbery, where mum of four Caroline Murphy has 3,000 happy free range hens.

She moved to the area from London with her children now aged 14, 12, 9 and 6 started out with four hens back in 2009.

“We believe in giving our hens good food, freedom and fun and in return they give us delicious eggs which can be used in so many different ways. We supply our lovely free range eggs to 18 Supervalu stores, independent shops, restaurants and hotels across county Cork,” said Caroline.

“If you have an egg you’re never hungry – there’s so much you can do both sweet and savoury: French toast, poached, scrambled, pancakes, omelettes.

School kids will receive a box of free range eggs from her farm and a copy of Eggsellent Breakfasts recipe booklet to take home.

Kate Ryan of Flavour.ie, a website that is dedicated to promoting West Cork Food through writing, events and tours and who will give the cookery demonstration said: “We can reach out to 40 children at a time from 5th and 6th Class with a couple of fun and interactive talks, a cookery demo and tasting of one of our tasty and delicious breakfast recipes using Caroline’s wonderful free range eggs. Parents are welcome to come along to our presentation – in fact we encourage it!” With the support of Taste Cork, the aim is grown the initiative over the next two years to reach out to schools across the entire country to help spread the message about child obesity and to offer up an easy and affordable way to tackle it for good.

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