Slowing Down the pace on a cycle holiday

Bike riding has always been one of our favourite family activities, even with a toddler in tow, it’s a case of strap them in the trailer and off we go! From Center Parcs breaks where we spend the whole time biking around the village to day trips exploring  Holden Forest on 2 wheels and more recently, and my local cycle path favourite, a long leisurely ride from Darts Farm in Topsham, along the coast and stopping in Exmouth.

It’s only part of stretch of family friendly cycle routes in Devon, I prefer to keep off the main roads as much as possible as it takes all the stress out of keeping the kids safe and is nearly all on the flat, give or take a couple of hills. I don’t mind getting off and pushing my bike here as it gives you a chance to meander though the pretty village of Lympstone as well as have a gawp at the stunning houses and see how the other half lives. There’s also a couple of pubs along the route as well as a local shop where we stopped for an ice-cream.

Living in a hilly village, I don’t get to use a bike as much as I like, as much as it’s easier going down, it takes just as long to ride coming up and that’s without a toddler on the back so the only chance I get is when I’ve planned a day out and hired bikes or on holidays. Which is exactly why I would consider taking a biking holiday like those offered by the Slow-Holiday company, Inntravel, where they plan all their biking holiday routes carefully.

Just imagine being able to take in the scenery at a much slower pace, they make sure their tried and tested routes as enjoyable with quiet roads and country lanes wherever possible.The Topsham to Exmouth route would fit their bill perfectly. I’d need that reassurance when exploring another country on a bike

With detailed maps and route notes I’d feel suitably prepared they even transport luggage ahead to your hotel. <cough, cough,> (British Airways couldn’t even manage that for us!)  To top it off, as these bike holidays are for individuals, not groups, you can take your pick of the routes suggested each day and cycle at entirely your own pace.

I’m thinking Tuscany……. vineyards…….sunsets……bliss!

slowing down the holiday pace with a cycle holiday

 

Disclosure

This post is in collaboration with Inntravel

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Clean Eating Made Easy With Everdine

I first dabbled with clean eating last year, inspired by the Ella’s Kitchen cookbook recommended by a friend who had overcome some health problems thanks to a change in diet, it was a welcome lifestyle adjustment. I’d already given up meat (not fish) and felt better, I had more energy for starters. My sugar intake was through the roof though and I was rubbish at getting my recommended 5 a day.

So clean eating was the way forward. Everything cooked from fresh with oodles of fresh veg and introducing ingredients I’d never heard of, chia seeds were thrown in and on everything and breakfast began with overnight oats and granola. The only problem was time. I was a busy mum running 2 businesses and trying to prepare and find recipes which I knew the whole family would eat.

Luckily the older boys are quite good at trying new foods, getting them to always finish was a chore though. Clean eating soon became a chore and while I remained vegetarian and endeavoured to cook healthy meals from scratch, it was still too easy to pop a frozen pizza in the oven on days when I wasn’t in the mood for cooking.

My eldest son is now a keen health foodie though and when asked to try out a clean eating delivery  service called Everyone where clean eating is made simple we both agreed. No more mum guilt, except the whole frozen meals thing concerned me a little, surely it was cheating a little?

None the less, I picked out my favourites from the 8 meal section, that’d be 2 family meals of our choosing where everyone gets what they want. I could see this working out quite well for the boys and I! It meant I could stick to my meat free diet but the boys got their fill.

It arrived in an insulated cardboard box with icepacks (really useful to keep in the freezer and reuse for picnics as you can throw them away afterwards) I then stored them away in the freezer ready for the next day when time was of the essence.

everdine clea eating delivery service reviewed

The meals are microwaved and ready to eat in under 10 minutes and smelt as good as they tasted. The portions are a good size, enough for my older teenager and I managed to share some of mine with my toddler without feeling I’d sacrificed a meal. There’s a really great range to make your choices from on the website too, I went for a mixture of fish, lamb and vegetarian so we were all happy.

clean eating made simple with a delivery service my whole family loved. This exceeded my expectations in ready meals
The lamb chops with feta cous cous and beetroot was a huge hit with the boys, theres no expense spared on taste and seeing them try foods they’d never had before was awesome. My favourite was the harissa & king prawn tabbouleh, a nicely spiced dish with a just right balance of vegetables.

The convenience of having healthy meals ready in the freezer was priceless and while I don’t think I’d use it solely for regular family meals, I can see this being perfect for working couples and singletons. (and for my child free days when I tend to just have a sandwich rather than cook a whole meal.) The only downside was not being able to serve the meals in one go, although some you could cook in the oven.

If you’d like to try them out for yourself, Click here for your Everdine offer giving you £25 off your first box

 

clean eating made simple with a delivery service my whole family loved. This exceeded my expectations in ready meals

Disclaimer 

I have been invited to test Everdine‘s service thanks to a company called Tornado.

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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



Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post

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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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What to do if a vegan is coming to dinner

There may have been a time, many moons ago, when having a vegan over for dinner was almost unheard of. Vegans were perceived as hippies, extremists, people who wanted to be off grid, and separate themselves from society or just cause trouble. Clearly this was a skewed view, but happily that way of thinking is mostly in the past now. Nowadays, the vegans are here in force  and over half a million of them occupy the UK according to a study conducted last year. Having a selective diet is just not that out of the ordinary I’m sure you can name one or 5 vegetarians, flexitarians, pescatarians like myself,  meat free monday fans, vegans and raw vegans. 

But right now, I’m focusing on the vegan diet. Even if you don’t currently have a vegan coming over for dinner, it might be worth having some sort of backup plan for if it does happen because ‘free from’ sales show it’s getting more likely by the day! You might also want to experiment with a bit of vegan cooking yourself, because it’s nice to try something different that according to reports, is good for your body, the animals and the planet. Even a 5 day detox is worth a try now and then.

So, what do you do, if a vegan is coming for dinner?

what to do if a vegan is coming to dinner

No Need To Chuck The Meat Just Yet

A lot of people assume that vegans will walk back out the door at the first hint of meat, but this simply isn’t the case. Everyone is different and some may find it more difficult than others, it all depends on their approach to veganism and their approach to being around meat eaters. The best way to approach it is with sensitivity you would afford any guest. Sure they would love for everyone to eat vegan at your dinner party, but if that is too far a stretch for you, some basic adjustments will likely do just fine. Try to:

  • Have the meat covered or carved out of sight if possible
  • Keep the meat away from the vegan items of food
  • Keep the meat cooking smells to a minimum as much as you can, AKA keep the kitchen door closed

Ask Them

A lot of people think a vegan will be offended if asked about what they can and can’t eat. In fact, anyone with specific dietary requirements is likely to be happy to specify, to avoid an awkward presentation of food they can’t eat in front of a table full of people.

Do Your Own Research

It is so easy to buy vegan ingredients now, even a little research online will show you how easy it is for you to find vegan ingredients in all major supermarkets, and on the high street. There are also countless vegan recipes listed online and lots of inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram.

 

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