Don’t go cold turkey…

Laura Sharp

The Christmas hols aren’t even over yet, and I’ve got the job of writing about turkey. Talk about being stuffed!

Well, actually I’ve got the job of blogging about folate, and how to get more of it into your school lunch menu. And guess what? Turkey is a great source of the stuff. Folate is one of a group of B vitamins and occurs naturally in foods, though it’s also manufactured to be used in supplements. The manufactured form is called folic acid.

We need it for healthy red blood cells, to help nerves function properly and to allow cells to reproduce. Without enough, you may feel tired and lacking in energy.

We can’t store folate in our bodies, which is why it’s so important for children to eat enough folate-rich foods every week. One in every 20 children isn’t getting enough folate, but a balanced diet full of lots of wholefoods, fruit and veg is all they need to cover it. Here are some tips on good ways to get kids full of folate:

  • Stir-fry it. Cooking vegetables quickly stops all the folate being lost and there are many folate-rich foods that work really well in stir-fries. Try broccoli, spring onions and bean sprouts and add some sesame seeds or peanuts
  • Pass on the peeler. Jacket potatoes and potato wedges in their skins are a great high folate alternative to chips. Top them with things like bean chilli or turkey stew for extra folate points
  • Get growing! Kids love eating things they’ve nurtured themselves – parsley and mint are great sources of folate and easy to grow at home. Use them to add flavour and colour to soups or casseroles
  • Try turkey! Coat drumsticks in a tasty herb or spicy marinade and bake or grill them – a healthy alternative to processed turkey products
  • Bang in some beetroot. Add it to soup, salads or even chocolate cake to boost their folate content (you’ll find a great recipe for a beetroot chocolate cake for your school menu on P18 of this booklet)

Find more fabulous folate ideas for school cooks here.

Laura’s one of our nutritionists. Email Laura.

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