Welcome to Japan week!  We thought we would rope in the big cats this week and had Molly, the City of Edinburgh Council Discover! organiser, broadcast live from the ECF warehouse on Monday morning.  She showed the boxes being packed up, ready to go out to all the eager families whilst giving a run down of the activities we can expect in the coming week.  This got everyone raring to go and whipped up a bit of excitement for Japan week.  You can also see our Edinburgh Community Food Chief Executive, Brenda Black, in the weekly box packing preview video above - great job Brenda!

For the Love Food Hate Waste content this week, Catherine produced this great infographic to give the families some tips for food shopping.  This has been a hot topic in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and after remembering your mask, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitiser, shopping bags and then queuing for half an hour to get in, many of us probably feel exhausted before we even start.  But Catherine's tips are sure to make life easier, save us money and stop us buying things we might waste.

It was great to see one of the VIP Discover! families on the group using up some leftover ingredients from the previous week to make a dish they hadn't tried before and learning to love a healthy new food.  They commented:

"We have used up some of the stuff we had left over from India week to make a mild spicy rice dish with chick peas in; we had never tried chickpeas before we got them in our discover box but now we love them so thanks for helping us discover new flavours and ingredients"

Active Schools were back with new ways to get our bodies moving.  Families were encouraged to try orienteering in their local areas.  There were Youtube videos about how to create your own map and courses to tell your orienteers where they need to go and what places they need to visit.  What a fun way to get the kids out and enjoying nature, learning new skills and getting active; exercise certainly doesn't feel like a chore when you're having fun.  They also suggested another version of this for younger children called Walking Bingo.  You simply create a short list of items, for example, a bird, a stream and a pink flower.  Then go on a walk and tick them off as you go.  


Star of the week this week was the Summer Triangle constellation and we heard Fiona at the Royal Observatory tell us all about the Japanese Tanabata festival.   This celebrates how two lonely stars from the Summer Triangle constellation, represented by a man and a woman, fell in love.  Fiona also demonstrated how to make a mini Moon crater using the Playdoh from the boxes, a pen or pencil and a piece of white paper/card.  She shared some tips for looking at and drawing the Moon and explored the concept of shadows.  Here's the worksheet showing how to make it and a lovely example of the finished product from one of the families.  Someone also shared a great homemade playdough recipe for making more planets and saving money.


The family cooking recipe this week was Japanese noodle stir fry and it went down brilliantly with loads of families.  Here's our demo video and some of the creations shared on the group, they look so colourful and appetising.  We love to see the children still really excited to get involved in the food preparation and enjoying trying something new.



Our very own AfN registered Associate Nutritionist, Chris Mantle, gave an excellent talk on one of his personal favourite topics - fibre, gut bacteria and poo!  This was promised to be child-friendly and it included a fantastic biology lesson, explaining how digestion works at different stages of the digestive system from mouth to rear and also a fascinating diagram called the Bristol Stool Chart which health professionals use to spot an healthy gut from a look at your poo.

The arts and crafts session this week was held with Marga and she showed us how to make some lovely origami shapes.  She posted a handy video for making perfect paper squares to use for the origami ahead of the session so families could prepare them in advance.  The live session went out at 10am on Wednesday and we were advised to pause the video at different stages when we needed to.  Everyone does origami at a a different speed and sometimes you need to go back and watch again to get it right.  But eventually we had some beautiful bears and lotus flowers.  Another top tip was to have clean hands before starting, not that we need much encouragement to wash our hands theses days, but this helps to have a clean and smart looking shape at the end.  Marga also suggested origami as a great way to re-use junk mail or old envelopes instead of just recycling them straight away.

We saw lots of photos of pink and green pancakes throughout the week.  This was the healthier baking recipe for Japan week and people were really keen to get stuck into them even before the live cook-along.  Families received all the ingredients as well as some cooked beetroot and fresh spinach leaves to include in the mixture to turn the pancakes a bright pink or green.  Not only is this a fun way to inject some colour into your food but also adds some extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to the recipe.  I hosted the live cook-along with some help from Catherine on the comments section and I also made a stewed fruit compote to accompany the dish as a healthier and lower sugar alternative to honey or syrups. 


We also provided ingredients for a Japanese-style food play activity and encouraged the children to try their hand at sushi sandwiches.  The idea is to flatten out a piece of bread, put in some healthy filling and roll it up like sushi.  Here's the instructions we gave the families:

Becky from Edinburgh Zoo was live from the Koala enclosure for animal of the week.  We got a great view of the female Koalas who stay in their habitat with their children and the males in their separate habitat.  They were sitting on the branches looking very relaxed and super cuddly with their grey fur and leathery noses.  Becky revealed that Koalas are not actually bears but in fact they are marsupials and carry their young in a pouch.  We also had a story from Alice and Svend-Erik about the Giant's Causeway and an Irish giant called Finn Macool, Onisis did a wonderful dance session on Samba and we were invited to a pirate-themed song and dance party on Friday. 

And that's a wrap for Japan week.  In week 5 we journey to Morocco and challenge the families to a vegetable sculpture competition.