Chocolate Spread, but not as they know it (shhhhhh)

I’ve been slacking off the healthy eating reins a little lately. My eldest is following in my healthy footsteps, and totally out doing me  if I’m honest.<hides the Crunchie ice-cream out of shame > The tables have turned and it’s been my boy educating me on what I should and shouldn’t eat. I’d love to to take the credit but I suspect it’s more to do with teenagers being generally fitter and healthier these days. Meanwhile,  my younger teen has been taking advantage of my relaxed approach to nutrition by going into sugar overkill.

I’m sure something happens to kids when they first hit the teenage years, along with the lack of vocabulary / selective mutism and grumbles, there’s this overwhelming urge to consume as much sugar as possible. This begins at breakfast time and ends at evening snacks with fizzy drinks and sweets in the middle. As much as I try limit it at home, they can get what they want at school (and grandparents)  So it’s back to my original plan of attack with healthier eating begining at home.

The one area where Ky, my youngest teenager, really goes to town is early evening snacking, so any swaps we can make are starting here. This started out last week when I introduced Jim Jams chocolate spread, which has 83% less sugar, so he can slather as much on his toast without me recoiling in horror at the instant devastation it’ll be doing to his teeth. It also means my toddler can join in and I don’t have to worry about his sugar intake either. He’s not too bad to be fair, as fruit is his thing, but believe me, a lively toddler on a sugar rush is never a good thing always needs careful management.

finding sneaky ways to reduce my kid's sugar intake starting with Jim Jams chocolate spread!

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to healthy-up a toast topping for us all. I recently made my own hazelnut chocolate spread using raw cacao, maple syrup and ground hazelnuts which went down like a lead balloon. Suffice to say Jim Jams received a much better reception, I don’t even think they noticed the swap. And believe me, my teenager would tell me.

It’s also made it’s way into a family favourite – my own recipe for a Hazelnut, chocolate cake. so even more sneaky sugar reducing tactics going on.

And less sugar highs, mean less sugar lows which is always a good thing.

Disclaimer 

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. [I have received a voucher in return for writing this post]”

 

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Toddler Lunch box Ideas For A Toddler-Sized Challenge

Having worked in a school in the past, it was astonishing to see the difference in the sizes of what the kids brought in for packed lunch. I remember saying at the time that there needs to be some more information giving clear examples of what is a suitable portion size. The parents were getting the healthy message (the majority were at least) but there were a few children who came in with more food than an average adult could eat in one sitting.

I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking that there was a gap in information as the Infant & Toddler Forum launched the #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign to help raise awareness of it’s not just what we put on toddlers’ plates it’s also how much last year.

I not alone in thinking that there should be a clearer message that it's not just what we put in a toddlers’ lunch box it’s also how much

And they’re back with a challenge for parents, grandparents and guardians to see how can you take all the ITF’s guidance and make it PRACTICAL and easy for all parents to follow every day at every meal?

Curious? Why not visit Toddler Sized Challenge to find out more, join in and share, comment, vote and have the chance to win £1000 and two £500 runners-up prizes as well as spot cash prizes of £100 for commenting and engaging.

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge

I’m weighing in with my tuppence and submitted a suggestion to the challenge already. too with some lunch box ideas on how to help parents ensure they’re getting their toddler lunch boxes spot on.

There are some great menu ideas on the website a but I’ve purposed an idea for downloadable sheets of menu planners with suggestions for toddler lunch boxes  Taking inspiration from the Think Toddler Sized website and creating a go to sheet for lunch boxes which can be printed off and placed on your fridge, or saved as a photo of your photo along with a quick read shopping list section of items to buy.

The idea is about simplifying life for parents, grandparents and carers and taking the stress out of thinking what to buy.

Now I’ve shared mine, what’s would your idea to help parents to Think Toddler Sized be? Why not visit the website (links here if you missed it earlier http://bit.ly/ToddlerSizedChallenge ) to see what’s already been suggested and see if you can come up with something new then upload your idea to the website. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Think about:

  • The 4 different food groups: carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables
  • How often different types food should be offered every day
  • How much should be on the plate – think toddler portions

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge



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Berghaus Kids Jackets Reviewed

Change of seasons always catch me out when it comes to clothing. Take spring for example, the slightest hint of sunshine and I’m ditching to the dark wooly jumpers in favour for cool pastel cottons and end up a shivering mess cussing my perpetual predictability and lack of learning from all the previous years mistakes. I’m just an eager beaver ready to step into the next phase of good ol’ english weather I guess. It’s even worse when you’ve applied the same thought process to kids. They end up whingey that they’re cold or you run the risk of WORSE PARENT EVER syndrome for letting the kiddos out unsuitably dressed. Nothing scorns harder than a whispered “tut, tut” from another well prepared adult.

Not this spring as I’m on it, on it like a car bonnet with bells on as the kids step out in spring proof (and autumn / winter) coats from the new Berghaus range. Dressed in the cutest Fourstones  and Ancroft  parkers with super soft hoods, they’ve had a thorough testing. Despite being warm and practical ( we’ve survivied a rain soaked dog walk ) they’re quite light and look pretty cool. The 4 external pockets came in handy for storing daisies, sticks and shells too and are long enough to cover bums when picnicking. (or even handier when covering up a toddler potty training accident!)

 

 

It wasn’t all about the parkers though, this Carrock  3 in 1 jacket is a fabulous all-rounder. The outer layer is fully waterproof while the warm and toasty thermal inner layer can be zipped away for cooler sunny days. The roll away hood proved a big hit (and limited any chance of getting caught when tree climbing) while sporting my own personal fave on a kids coat; reflective piping. Once kids are walking about on their own on dark evenings this feature comes into its own and has been a deal breaker when choosing kids coats in the past.

 

Zipped pockets mean there’s no chance of loosing precious items and in the summer you can remove the fleece layer so you have a lightweight waterproof. Just a heads up, these seem to come up a little small which is perfect so they aren’t stuck with bulky heavy coats, but if you’re choosing a size I’d suggest bigger. My toddler is nearly 3 and wears a 3-4 comfortably with room to go for next winter.

So happy days all round and even happier, suitably dressed kids ready to tackle whatever the weather throws at them and carry on with even more out and about adventures!

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This is a collaborative post for which I have been gifted these jackets 

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Simple Ways For a Healthier Christmas

If there was just one word that could effectively sum up Christmas, it would probably be ‘indulgence’, or maybe ‘excess’ Ok, that’s 2 words, but you get the idea.  During these dark, cold months, we tend to hide away and comfort ourselves & our friends and family  by indulging in gifts, nights out and, especially at this festive time of year,  rich food. Winter would not be the same without comfort food, hot chocolates with lashings of squirty cream are our favourite, and it is almost impossible to resist the array of mince pies and cheese boards that are laid in front of us at every opportunity.

So how can we have a healthier Christmas without denying ourselves these little pleasures throughout the festive season?

The good news is that we don’t, not really. This isn’t about cutting out those treats altogether, that just takes the fun out of the Christmas period. It’s more about being aware of the choices that are out there, and making those choices in a healthy, conscious way. That way, come January, you won’t be kicking yourself for overdosing on the Quality Streets.

some ideas for keeping heathy this ChristmasGetting Your 5 a Day

It’s easy to forget about even the most basic of nutritional requirements during the Christmas period, when sometimes the only piece of fruit we see is the satsuma in our stocking. This is a really easy way to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the festive season and all you need to do is be aware of how much fruit and veg you’re eating. However, unfortunately, parsnips roasted in goose fat don’t really count and don’t even try to justify a Terry’s Chocolate Orange! 

Things that do count, are the vegetables which aren’t smothered in butter or fat. So don’t pass on the carrots and sprouts, If you’re in charge of the cooking, you could even change your ingredients slightly to include healthier oils such as olive and coconut. This is also an excellent opportunity to get a good blender and make special Christmas smoothies for all the family. A brilliant breakfast treat, they’ll ensure that you’re still getting your vitamins throughout the festive season. Or even cook up some soups with the left overs, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a turkey and vegetable soup bubbling away on the stove come boxing day. 

Getting Out and About

With all of the stresses of the Christmas period, it’s easy to forget to take time for a bit of exercise, even if this just means a family walk. Breathing in the fresh winter air with make you feel healthier in both mind and body, and taking the time to do something active will set you up for a healthier New Year as well as kicking in those endorphins. Even if you can’t persuade your family to go out in the cold, it’s an excellent way for you to spend a spare half an hour. (It’s also a great de stress tactic if you’re feeling a little tense being with the in-laws for too long.)

If you’re trying to maintain a fitness routine throughout the festive season, it can be much easier said than done. Promises to go for a run or a bike ride are easily swept away by the freezing winds or the promise of your favourite Christmas film, leaving you feeling disappointed that you didn’t manage to keep up your routine. If you need a gentle reminder to go for that run or complete that exercise video, try installing a fitness app that will send you alerts when you need to get ready. It’s much easier to excuse yourself from a family gathering when your phone is literally telling you to. Maybe even challenge other family members who use a fitness tracker to see who can pack in the most steps. It’s a great conversation starter. 

some ideas for keeping heathy this Christm

Getting Some Me Time

One of the things that gets in the way of our health at Christmas time is the feeling that we have so much to do that we can’t possibly take any time out for ourselves. We have a stupidly long list of things to do before guests arrive and family members are always asking us to help them with one thing or another, but it is actually essential that we take a little bit of time for ourselves. Schedule in half an hour every day when you can retreat from the Christmas chaos and focus only on yourself.

How you use your ‘me time’ is entirely up to you, and you don’t necessarily need to do anything at all except make sure you take it. You might do some exercise, you might write in a journal or you might watch your favourite program. If you’re struggling to cope with stress, I use Headspace, a meditation app, which encourages you to sit for just ten minutes everyday and check in with your thoughts.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, so make sure you take the time to de-stress and unwind during this hectic time of year.

The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to make healthy decisions in other areas of life.

some ideas for keeping heathy this Christmas

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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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