Table Talk with Nutritionist Laura Matthews

Since Laura was sent off for cooking lessons at age 9, a career in food was always in her sights. Laura is a Registered Nutritionist and previously worked for Jamie Oliver as Head of Nutrition for almost 10 years & has now been working freelance for 2.5 years. She now works with London borough councils, independent nurseries & school food catering providers to review the quality of food being served in schools & nurseries & ultimately to raise standards & make improvements. She also works with food businesses & brands such as COOK, BOSH! & kid’s food brand Kiddylicious to create & implement company nutrition standards. 

1. I’d like a table for…
My husband Adam, son Elliott & I and any of our local friends. Eating out with friends who’ve children of a similar age always helps with the kids entertaining each other…albeit it does equal a rather chaotic & raucous meal occasion! 

2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
Tamp Culture Coffee, it’s a little kiosk that’s been there a few years, it’s my go-to place in town for a mocha or a flat white. I wouldn’t go anyway else, I’d feel like I was cheating if I did! That first sip of their coffee is simply divine! 

3. Best brunch with kids?
We love Vegivores in Caversham. It has a very relaxed vibe and my son loves the nut butter bagel with strawberry chia jam! Jam & peanut butter is a popular combo of ours! The smoothies are also a great draw for us! 

4. Children’s menu must-visits…
Some of the high street chains do children’s food really well & I’d love to see more restaurants offering children’s portions of adult meals. We also love Wagamama for the novelty factor of the children’s chopsticks! I always like keeping an eye on the Soil Association children’s ‘Out to Lunch’ survey results to see which of the high street chains are really getting it right with regards to children’s food in terms of food quality, healthy options, sustainability, etc. 

5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
The Collective in Caversham. It opened during lockdown and has been a hit with the locals (& those from further afield!) ever since, the ‘B iscoff’ cruffins have understandably been very popular in our house! It’s opposite Caversham Court Gardens along the river and is a lovely spot for the kid’s to run around and for the parents to admire the view. 

6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
The Thames Lido reopened in 2017 and is thought to be the oldest surviving outdoor pool from the Edwardian period. I go there often and the post swim treat with my son is a coffee for me (babyccino for him) and a custard tart. If we have more time then we’ll opt for the tapas or a la carte menu. The food, setting & decor really is perfect. 

7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
My son is 4.5 years old and we are definitely at a point where it is less tricky to take him out to nice restaurants. It wasn’t so long ago that timing was key, in making sure he was not tired or too hungry to eat out! My trick is to set aside an old toy that my son hasn’t seen for a while or maybe pick up a small new toy for the occasion to peak his interest. I picked up some new pastel colouring pens recently which set us up nicely and kept him amused and entertained whilst out for lunch. 

8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
Take me out every time! I’ve always got a list of restaurants that I’m hankering to visit (both old & new) & a date night is a great excuse to tick some off the list! Heckfield Place is near to us and I’m hoping we make it there soon. 

9. My earliest food memory…
Playing with my toy portable kitchen around aged 5! I loved playing with the fake knobs to turn the hob on and force feeding my Mum endless cups of tea! I’m still hoping that one day my Mum will surprise me & realise she’s kept it in her loft all this time. 

10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
Some of my best meals have been out with my favourite foodies and ex-Jamie Oliver colleagues/mates in London including Georgie Hayden, Alex Dance, Christina Mackenzie, Phillippa Maxwell & Rozzie Batchelar! 

If you’d love to explore more fascinating food tips for your family from Laura, be sure to explore her website and follow her and her son Elliot on their delicious adventures on Instagram.

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