Kids learn art of healthy cooking at Sunderland Tesco

Vicky Garthwaite helps nephew Ethan Pratt prepare a healthy meal at the children's healthy cooking session.

Vicky Garthwaite helps nephew Ethan Pratt prepare a healthy meal at the children's healthy cooking session.

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Youngsters were feeling the heat on a summer activity in the city.

More than 50 children from across Sunderland took part in free pop-up cooking lessons, in a bid to get them eating healthily.

Pam Hardy, of the Children's Food Trust, with seven-year-olds Fran Sawkill and Joshua Hardy, both of Sunderland, and their freshly baked muffins.

Pam Hardy, of the Children's Food Trust, with seven-year-olds Fran Sawkill and Joshua Hardy, both of Sunderland, and their freshly baked muffins.

The Children’s Food Trust joined forces with Tesco to run the Let’s Cook sessions in its stores, including at the Tesco Extra in Roker, as a way of tackling gaps in cooking knowledge.

It was the third time the Wearside store has held the sessions, following on from their success at Easter and last summer, and 54 children, aged five to 11, took part.

Let’s Cook, part of The Tesco Eat Happy Project, gave children the cooking skills to create a variety of healthy, nutritious meals from fruity yoghurt cups to veggie fajitas as well as providing something educational, fun and free for children to do in the summer holidays.

The courses help develop children’s interest in food, creating a passion for cooking that can last a lifetime.

Gill Wilkinson of The Children's Food Trust keeps a watchful eye on Alex Garthwaite.

Gill Wilkinson of The Children's Food Trust keeps a watchful eye on Alex Garthwaite.

Linda Cregan, chief executive of the Children’s Food Trust, said: “These sessions have been so popular, there’s nothing like getting stuck in and making it yourself to make food fun.

“We’ve seen fussy eaters trying things they’d never normally contemplate, new friends being made and big smiles all round for the new recipes children take home. Most importantly, these sessions are giving kids the skills they need to grow into healthier adults.”

The need for the classes is backed by research carried out last year which found that nearly two- thirds of parents from the North East worry that children are growing up without basic cooking skills and food knowledge.

Almost half admitted to spending significantly less time cooking for their children than their parents did, despite the fact that nearly two-thirds felt worried about the long-term impact of diet on their child’s health.

More than nine out of ten secondary school teachers were also shocked by the minimal knowledge about food their pupils have.

Research also found that just under half of school children in the region have chopped food with a knife, 70% have never boiled an egg and a quarter have never made a sandwich.