HEALTHY eating was on the menu for the children of Larne YMCA after schools club who have produced their own cookery book.
Not only did they cook and sample each of the 20 dishes featured, they also sourced the ingredients.
The project took the youngsters, aged from four to 11, to a variety of outlets, including a visit to local farms where they got a first-hand look at egg production and milking process and to the town’s market where they purchased fish and a greengrocer’s where they learned about the benefits of buying fresh produce.
They had the chance to try their hand at using these ingredients, cooking Spanish omelettes, baked chicken goujons and fruit kebabs to more adventurous seafood chowder, mussels with cream, garlic and parsley and baked monkfish.
The group also hosted lunch for guests, including DUP MLA Alistair Ross, who secured funding from the Phoenix Natural Gas charity, the Energy for Children Charitable Trust.
Mr Ross was so inspired that he submitted his own recipe for banana muffins for inclusion in the cookery book, which was launched at the YMCA centre, last Thursday.
He was among guests including board members, councillors and a representative from Phoenix Natural Gas.
YMCA treasurer Robert Alexander said: “The young people involved have got a lot out of this project and we have had some good feeds here.”
Laura Hunter, after-schools club co-ordinator, explained: “When funding became available, we talked to the kids who asked to do a cookery activity. We thought it was a good way to promote healthy eating and learn about food preparation.”
YMCA project worker Pamela Rainey added: “The children were very creative and participated very well. It was very innovative and good for learning life skills which is very important for their development.”
Among the young participants were brother and sister 10-year-old Rory McAuley and Niamh, aged seven. Rory said he enjoyed learning about different varieties of fish, whereas Niamh preferred the pasta dish.
Eight-year-old Samantha Davison said she liked making soup and cooking at home with her mum.
Congratulating the children on their achievement, Alistair Ross said: “I am delighted that the children have embraced this opportunity. Maintaining a balanced diet is so important to ensure that a young person can lead a healthy and active lifestyle, but learning skills in the kitchen are also useful life skills for anyone.”
Simon Little, spokesman, for Phoenix Natural Gas, adeed: “A lot of money raised has been raised by local plumbers and staff. It is great to see so many enthusiastic faces.”
The cookery book is now available at the Larne YMCA centre, priced at £3.50.