Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Veg out on holiday while your kids eat 5 a day!

She was unrecognisable. Mashed banana oozed between her fingers and under her nails. Dollops of hoummous hung from her nose, while shredded carrot decorated her hair.

Usually, I'd be reaching for a wet wipe to clean up my two-year-old Anais and she'd be heading for the naughty step for wearing instead of eating her dinner.

But today I smiled as she was given a sticker for being top of the class. 'Well done,' I said as Anais tucked into her 'work' – a hand-decorated rice cake and a courgette and hoummous sandwich.

Both had been carefully crafted without any help from me, thousands of miles away from her nursery. We were in the Los Jameos Playa hotel, in Lanzarote, where kids can learn to eat their five a day while on holiday.

The all-inclusive four star, part of the luxurious Seaside Hotels chain, has joined forces with Mange Tout to develop fun food school classes.

So while I took in the swimming pools, spa and Wellness centre, Anais did arts, crafts, games and songs with Mange Tout founder Lucy Thomas to encourage her to get excited about fruit and vegetables. Yes, I was getting brown, while she was getting healthy!

And, while there's a serious message to the Mange Tout classes -– that all children should eat healthily – former nanny Lucy serves it up with lashings of fun.

First up was explorers class where the children had to guess the name of ordinary and exotic vegetable and how they grew. 'No, carrots don't live on trees,' Lucy smiled at Anais. 'But good try.'

Then they took part in fruity Olympics, where they did kiwi and spoon races instead of the normal egg, and played grapefruit boules. My daughter nearly took a few of the audience out with her throws, but I'm thinking of putting her down for the shot-put in 2024.

Next, was a fascinating game of sink or swim – during which the children had to guess which fruit floated in a bucket of water, and which sank without a trace. Unbelievably, Anais got it right every time – an apple bobs, a carrot sinks, but how did she know? We always have ducks, not fruit and veg, to play with in the bath at home.

Each session was an hour long, and in between the children checked out the kids' swimming pool, the mini club and playground, complete with climbing frame, see-saw, swings and sand.

The hotel is only a short stroll to Puerto del Carmen and alongside Los Pocillos beach, though we had to cross a road to get to it, and it's volcanic sand, so Anais didn't believe it was real.

'Not beach,' she insisted, sticking out her lower lip.

But at two, and already incredibly girly, she did enjoy the boutique shops selling sarongs, necklaces and – result! - dolls along the seafront.

There was just enough time for, ahem, her to have a quick nap before dinner – which was amazing. Everywhere I looked chefs in their whites were grilling, chopping, baking, slicing and cooking delicious food. There were hot and cold starters, a buffet, and every imaginable dish from around the world on offer.

Unfortunately, the all-inclusive also includes wine and so there was plenty of rose, chardonnay and rioja among others for me to wash it all down. Even worse, there was a dessert section bigger than my house back home. I had one of every pudding – so at least I had a work-out the next day, sucking in my last remaining stomach muscle as I sunbathed in a bikini.

Then it was off to the kids' disco, in the hotel's El Belingo nightclub, where Anais threw a few shapes and managed to bag herself a four-year-old boyfriend, called Ned. They were inseparable all evening, but luckily he was at food school too, so they could sit holding hands over the fruit and veg the next day. They even learnt the Celery Hokey Cokey together.

Lucy ignored their budding romance while she read the children The Hungry Caterpillar. They then coloured in pictures of what the caterpillar ate before making their own creature out of courgette and carrot slices. Who would have thought veg on a matchstick (with a grape for the head) could keep a dozen children entertained for so long?

As I sipped a sangria in the sun, Anais and her new friends baked courgette cup cakes (which were surprisingly tasty if a little lop-sided), made their own fruit juice, and painted themselves while attempting to create a butterfly.

They sang, they laughed and they ate lots of fruit and vegetables, all in the shade of palm trees, without realising they were learning to appreciate eating healthily.

The truly amazing thing is that these food classes – which are just as exciting as a normal kids' club, if not more so, are being offered free during half term. The week's activities are worth £250 a child, but the hotel is providing them as part of the normal package deal.

And Anais couldn't get enough of them. Each day I'd ask if she wanted to go and play with Lucy and she couldn't wait. She even happily left the swimming pool, her absolute favourite - to join in the foodie fun.

After class, she'd rush to play tennis on the kids court there,   watch the breathtaking parrots and eagles show and then dance the night away with Ned while I sampled the local cocktails and watched, full and contented.

'More' became Anais' favourite phrase. She wanted more time in the swimming pool, more dancing each night but most importantly more fruit and veg at every meal time. Which parent doesn't want to get their kids to eat their five a day? On this fruity holiday they really do prove it's child's play.

Getting there
The price for October half term for half board accommodation at the Seaside Los Jameos Playa Hotel, including return flights (from Manchester) is from £908 per person (total price for a family, 2 adults, 2 children, is £3,632), on 22 October for 7 nights. This price includes the exclusive Mange Tout sessions. Departures from other UK airports also available.  Contact monarch at

General: Monarch offers a range of great value holidays, accommodation options, car hire and travel insurance. A week’s stay at the 5 diamond rates Hotel Seaside Los Jameos Playa in Playa de los Pocillos, Lanzarote, starts from £413 per person (based on a family of four sharing on a half board basis) and including Monarch flights from Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton or Manchester.  For further information or to book visit

1 comment:

  1. Hi there!

    Thanks for this. Mange Tout sounds great! I'm a mother of a 2 year old and a 6 year old and I'm always on the hunt for new an exciting things for them to do on holiday-things that involve learning or being healthy-you've combined everything here!

    This'll definitely be our next big break. The fruit animals are a great idea to try out at home too!

    Thanks for all the info!

    I'm saw this and thought of you!!/photo.php?fbid=175039889182421&set=a.171335879552822.36147.171333009553109

    My kids adore the pics by these guys!