Student’s Scholarship Year Benefits Bellyful

Having nannied for four years, year 13 Carmel College student Courtney Adolphe was adamant that her subject for Scholarship Food Technology had to be something that would benefit families. After finding Bellyful online Courtney says she thought, “This is an organisation I can really relate to.”

“The year before we had done a group project but this year we had to work as individuals. I originally thought about a meal kit for mothers of newborns but once I got in touch with Bellyful I was able to focus on something they actually need,” says Courtney.

Nic Cronin, Branch Coordinator for the local Bellyful branch met with Courtney and gave her a brief to create a meal that is vegetarian as well as being either gluten free or dairy free. As it would be given to families with young children it needed to be toddler-friendly, freeze well, retain its texture and flavour after thawing and heating, and be easy and quick to heat – thus providing a stress-free meal for a family dealing with a newborn or illness.

Undaunted, Courtney says, “I did research on what nutrition new mums need plus what they lose during pregnancy. I wanted to make the meal nutritious for them but fun for kids as well. When there are tough times in the house the children suffer as well so I knew I’d have to get kids involved too.”

Courtney had several attempts at making the right meal. “My first vegetable Bolognese was too runny, a frittata I made was yummy but after freezing and reheating it was average. I also made a kumara curry but that would have been too expensive.”

Eventually Courtney refocussed on the vegetable Bolognese and achieved the right consistency and incorporated several legumes including kidney beans, lentils and carrot for fibre.

“Depending on the family’s preference, they could add either pasta, rice or corn chips to the dish,” says Courtney.

“I was constantly evaluating and eliminating stuff – keeping in mind sodium content and doing brand comparisons to get the best result. I wanted to use fresh garlic but that would take too long in a Cookathon so I changed that. I had to think about the people shopping and cooking as well as the people eating the meal.

“I did testing with families and asked the parents to fill out questionnaires. They were very honest.”

Courtney knew she had met her brief when a parent commented that the meal was, “very attractive for the children. It felt like a treat for them though it was still healthy and satisfying” [for all the family].

On reflection on her year’s work Courtney says, “It’s all been worth it. I love helping people and I love children.”

“I had to document everything. I did small tests to start with but then I had to do some bulk cooks to make sure the recipe would upscale and still work. With one bulk cook for a test we had a shared lunch in the food tech class but the rest were done at home. I think the family are a bit over it,” says Courtney.

“I’ve given quite a few meals away to my nanny family, my cousin, friends and neighbours but we still have 10 in our freezer. My younger sister is taller than me now. It’s the eating all the healthy food she’s been getting!”

The result of Courtney’s work has not only given a recipe for a new Bellyful meal to trial, it has also seen Courtney awarded a well earned ‘outstanding’ mark for her scholarship.

Nic Cronin commented, “We really appreciate all the work Courtney has done for Bellyful. She has been lovely to work with and her knowledge, work ethic, energy and enthusiasm truly are outstanding.”

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