Roasted Vegetable and Cheddar Cannelloni #Dolmio #ThankGoodness

This is quite possibly one of my biggest and sneakiest parenting triumphs to date! My kids are relatively healthy although but there is still lots of scope for more fruit and vegetables in their diet and I think I might have just cracked it with this recipe. Not only did they wolf it down without so much of a grumble, they got all their 5 a day in one sitting and ate mushrooms which they’ve been reluctant to try for many, many years.

The golden rule to feeding fussy eaters is to chop the vegetables up into very small chunks, which also helps when filling the cannelloni, and the lashings of Dolmio Bolognese sauce helps it all under the guise of tomato sauce. With 10  tomatoes, tomato puree,  onion,  sunflower oil,  garlic, basil, a teaspoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, two teaspoons of added beet sugar for taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of water, the sauce alone kept my midweek meal full of healthy goodness! watch the video to see for yourself…..

Clean plates and no grumbles was the only feedback I needed from my busy teenagers who failed to notice the feel good mum smirk on my face as they carried their plates to the kitchen, washed up their plates and fled back to their rooms without ever knowing how happy those clean plates had made me.

One small step for mankind, one giant leap for a mum trying desperately to make sure her kids eat healthy!

If you’d like to have a go yourself, here’s the recipe I used, it can be prepared the night before and baked in the oven the following day.

Ingredients 

2 carrots

1 onion

I courgette

1 aubergine

1 red pepper

4 balls of frozen spinach

4 large mushrooms

1 bottle Dolmio bolognese sauce

200g cheddar cheese

100g Parmesan cheese

250g  cannelloni

Sea salt & pepper

1 tsp Smoked lazy garlic or 2 fresh garlic cloves

Method 

  • Pre heat the oven to 150’c
  • Chop the courgette, red pepper, mushrooms, onion and aubergine into small chucks, keeping the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Grate the carrots and cheddar cheese

  • Place the aubergine, courgette and red pepper on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mix everything thing thoroughly then place in a pre heated oven for 20 minutes on a middle shelf, checking to make sure nothing is burning after 10 minutes and giving the tray a gentle shake.
  • Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes then add the garlic,  mushrooms  and carrots and fry for another 5 minutes.
  • Put an pan of water on to boil ready for steaming the spinach.
  • Add the cheddar cheese and roasted vegetables to the frying pan mix, stirring everything through.
  • Steam the spinach over a pan of boiling water while you get on with filling the cannelloni.

  • Using a table knife, fill each cannelloni tube with the mixture then layer them in a greased dish.
  • Place a layer of spinach and slice grate half the Parmesan over the first layer of cannelloni and spinach.

  • When you finished filling, pour a jar of Dolmio over the top, making sure the cannelloni rolls have slight gaps so the sauce can seep through the middle.
  • Finish with the rest of the Parmesan over the top and bake in the middle of the oven 160’c for 20 minutes.

  • Serve straight away as it is, there’s so many vegetables you’ve already got your complete meal good to go.
  • If you’ve made it in advance, made in advance too, just add an extra 5 minutes cooking time.

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness.”

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Win A £50 Pia Jewellery Voucher & Some Mothers Day Gift Ideas

If you’ve left buying your Mothers Day gift to last-minute, I’ve put together a sprinkling of fail safe gifts which will get you out of hot water and show just how much you care. From essential oil based natural body care which is free from synthetics to beautiful (and not bad priced ) jewellery sets and my own personal choice of flower delivery service. Keep reading and there’s a little giveaway treat at the end too!

Pia Jewellery 

Affordable and stylish , this 9ct rose gold-plated sterling silver ring, earrings and pendant with  faceted rose quartz is an alternative to gold and silver costume jewellery. Each piece comes beautifully presented and packaged making it positively perfect to give as a gift!

Oleo Bodycare

I’m a huge Oleo Bodycare fan. Hand blended without using harmful chemicals or synthetics. It uses pure essential oils so you have the added benefit of the power of each oil and they smell divine! The Hand and Body treat kit is top of my list.

Oleo body care is top on my list for a Mothers Day gift

Serenata Flowers

I’m a sucker for a bunch of flowers, I love how they brighten a room breathing life and colour. Always a welcome sight in my calm, grey decor. And when I want to share some floral love with someone who lives away, I nearly always use Serenata Flowers. The text message updates for leaving the warehouse and once they’ve been delivered is really reassuring that they’re A; going to make it on time and B; they’ve reached their destination.

Oleo body care is top on my list for a Mothers Day gift

And as a little treat to you for being such a kind, caring individual and putting some thought into showing mum they’re still your number one, why not try your luck in this giveaway? Pia Jewellery are offering one lucky winner a £50 voucher to spend on their website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK residents over the ager of 18 only.

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky
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A Christmas Feast at River Cottage 

So there I was hurtling down the A35 on a dark & dingy November afternoon. I’d watched the TV shows, entrigued by the fact it was all being filmed a stones throw away from me, and today was the day I set foot in that very spot and sample the culinary delights, crafted by the team at River Cottage in Axminster.

Now you’d think that being one of the closest attendees I’d be punctual and know where I was going. Wrong. As always, my navigation skills failed me miserably (a serious weakness I need to address) One of the handful of Devon based bloggers who’d be invited along for this Christmas feast limped ashsmedly into the bumpy car park, where we’d be taken by tractor pulled trailer down to River Cottage head quarters.

Bloggers had travelled from all over to be treated to a brining demonstration by chef Andy, some networking time and then the piece de resistance; the feast.


But back to that brining demo. Even a lacto, I eat fish, vegetarian like myself came away with an urge to brine some pork for Christmas Day. A technique where you soak the meat for up to 24 days in a mixture of salt, muscsvado sugar, cider & herbs (boil the mixture up & leave to cool before adding the meat in a a reactive free pot.) Leave in a cool spot, then bake. It can be kept for days after brine soaking. Perfect for Christmas Day, Boxing Day & the remaining pre new year season.


While we broke off for some time to mingle with fellow bloggers and explore the grounds. (This was a great opportunity to talk the trade & put faces to blogs.) the guys got busy in the kitchen.



Then our Christmas feast began.

Canapés to start; Welsh rare bit made with a melt in your mouth gluten free toast. And goats cheese  topped with sliced beetroot.


Starters began with a celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms.


Mains was an intriguing rosti topped with poached egg, roasted carrot purée & sided by fried savoy cabbage (my braces completely failed me here as I struggled to chew said cabbage but from the mumors of delight I think it was a surprising hit.)  and braised beans.


Highlight of the evening however was the honeycomb creme brûlée with Apple purer and apple crisps. Oh.my.word! Never in my life have I tasted such a perfectly baked creme brûlée. This has been my signature dessert at Christmas for the last few years anc now the bar has been raised, the challenge is on to try and replicate the River Cottage recipe.


Testament to the theory behind organic, freshly prepared food, my visit to River Cottage has reminded me exactly why I switched to a clean living lifestyle this year. Nothing beats cooking from fresh and putting a little extra effort into sourcing your ingredients. This was just what I needed after being on a restricted diet while wearing braces, I’d completely fallen out of love with food as I sulked my way through my dental treatment.

Family, you have been warned! Mamas back in the kitchen & it’s going to be good!

Many thanks to the Foodies 100 team and River Cottage for organising the evening. 

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Rebalancing At The Reflexology Retreat

I’m a huge believer in alternative therapies, be it the powers of aromatherapy, massage or practicing mindfulness and positive thinking. It’s got me through many a stressful or negative time in my life and is being put to it’s full power right now as I’m navigating the rocky road of divorce. But one therapy in particular seems to make significant differences, reflexology.  More than simply a massage for your feet, anyone trained in this practice can tell so much from what’s going on with your mind and body.

reflexology retreat 4

My first experience was 3 years ago now. Stressed to the hilt with a full house renovation and struggling to conceive, I trotted off to a local lady out of desperation. 2 hours later, I floated out of her therapy room like a weight had been lifted and much more knowledgeable about things which were going on in my body which had been niggling me for months. It was amazing and 6 weeks later I found out I was expecting a baby. Coincidence? I think not.

It’s been something which I knew I should try again, given the stressful situations I’m finding myself in right now, so this morning I headed off to see if Sarah and The Reflexology Retreat near Exeter could work her magic on my achy shoulders, broken sleep and general sense of well-being.

The aim at The Retreat is to use the ancient healing art of reflexology to provide a rejuvenating and restorative holistic experience.  By analysing the reflex points on the feet you will receive a tailored treatment every time reflecting your current physical and emotional health.

Reflexology retreat 1

The Reflexology Retreat is set in the tranquil countryside on the outskirts of Exeter, the perfect position to embrace your therapy session. After a few general health question, you head over to the take your seat, reclining on fur blankets and wrapped in a heated blanket. The next hour or so I melted into a calm reflective state, thinking I could use the free time to plan my working week in my head, there was no resisting the urge to just forget everything. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to completely clear my mind.

I’d love to explain exactly what Sarah did to initiate such a feeling of calm, but other than the occasional prod and tingles which shot through my body. The rest is a blur.

The feedback from my treatment was spot on and Sarah was able to advise on additional ways to help. Having been cured of migraines though a course of reflexology herself, she is passionate and very knowledgeable about the benefits.

Just as before, I felt like a weight had been lifted. Unaware how much tension I was carrying around, I felt lighter, my breathing slower, the familiar tightness in my chest which I’d had for so long, all gone. I’d been warned I may feel more emotional which was an understatement! Despite feeling calmer and I cried most of the way home each time a meaningful song came on the radio! Not a sad cry, I can’t really explain it, other than a release. And that calm feeling remained for the rest of the day. No more tears thankfully.

In brief it develops the bodies’ self-healing powers and maintains optimum health. This helps encourages the bodies’ neutral structure to achieve balance (known as homeostasis) in all its systems. Up to 70% of disorders can be related to stress and nerve tension.  Stress is manufactured in the body and not absorbed from outside. Long term exposure to high pressure lifestyles can result in fatigue and depression.

reflexology retreat 6

For anyone looking to manage their stress or anxiety levels, or experiencing minor niggles, a complementary therapy like reflexology is really worth a try. I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to look after my mental health more from now on. Like an annual service for the mind.

Disclaimer

I received a complementary reflexology session to share my experience 

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Sharing The Ecover Washing Up Liquid #GreenCanClean Message

Several months ago my dishwasher gave up on me. The feelings were mutual. I had grown to resent its constant breakdowns, he’d had enough of my constant whining. Despite being only 2 years old it was trouble after just 6 months use (proof that you should stick to a well-known brand as this was a freebie which came with our kitchen, happy to name and shame if you need as it’s been truly awful.) But this tale isn’t all about my washing up woes, optimistic me always tries to see the bright side so here it is;

So, you get the picture, it’s been old school washing up for this busy family ever since. Not great, I admit with 5 people in our house and a teenager with hollow legs. But with other things eating into our budget a dishwasher seemed more of a luxury than a necessity. I can do this, I said, we can do this. As a family we’ll tackle the washing up and the boys can muck in too. <cue groans> But we’ve done and over these few months it’s fair to say I’ve become a bit of a washing up liquid pro.

And with a health kick on the agenda, we’ve dipped our toes into the world of environmentally friendly products. Reducing chemicals around the home only seems logical when you think of all the damage they can do, I know myself how using bleach alone effected my breathing so lord only knows what that does to my children’s developing bodies.

First stop was to switch to Ecover washing up liquid. As a Talk To Mums mumbassador, I was tasked to spread the word on this particular brand. Being plant and mineral based rather than fully petrochemical based like other washing up liquids, it uses coconut oil and sugars to act as natural cleaning chemicals. The majority of my skin care is now natural oil and butter based so I was confident that Ecover was up to the job.

 

The main message that is championing the Green Can Clean (#GreenCanClean) Ecover campaign is the lack of added foam boosters in their products. “mmmmm, I though, not sure that less bubbles will be a resounding success.” (imagine a wondering expression here.) So I delved into what exactly that meant.

 foam boosters are what are known as ‘persistent chemicals’ which means that they don’t degrade well in water and can harm aquatic life

Ecover

Showing how effective Ecover washing up is despite no added foam boosters and spreading the Green Can Clean message

It actually turned out that less foam, and I’m not talking a huge difference to what I was use to, was actually a good thing. Not only did it do the job just as well as any other well-known brands, it actually meant that there wasn’t as much residue left on the dishes afterwards.

Another plus side, for me personally, was the difference I noticed on my hands. Being a pomphlyx eczema sufferer my hands are easily irritated my chemicals and I have to be so careful. Cover hasn’t effected it at all which is such a relief and as well as using it for the dishes, I’ve now stopped using any chemicals to wipe down my wooden work tops, table and pretty much anything else in the home and just use warm soapy Ecover washing up based water instead.

And for anyone needing a little more convincing, just check out the before and after shots from a morning’s washing up session after feeding 4 growing teenagers, a ravenous toddler and a husband.

Proof is in the pudding (bowl) I’d say, and that yes, Green Can Clean!

Showing how effective Ecover washing up is despite no added foam boosters and spreading the Green Can Clean message

Disclaimer

As a Talk To Mums mumbassador I am compensated to hand out samples and spread the #GreenCanClean message. This post is in conjunction with this role.

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