Keeping Toddlers Healthy Over Christmas

Simply having a Toddler-Sized Christmas time

Earlier this year I took part in the Toddler-Sized challenge, encouraging parents to use the evidence-based guidance on feeding toddlers, developed by the Infant & Toddler Forum, into something easy and practical. For me, it helped to take the guess work out of feeding my toddler healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks.  T

Along with my own ideas on how to create toddler sized lunch boxes, there were many others who took part in the challenge and you can meet the winners here. And the advice now extends to the festive season with the Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to give little ones a healthy balance, while still enjoying some treats while the festive tips for active toddlers give lots of active play ideas.

Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to gives little ones a healthy balance, as well as tips for active toddlers

Toddler menu and healthy hints and tips for a happy festive season

Christmas is a time for families to be together, to relax and to celebrate the season. It can also be a time of extra pressure as families get swept up in the holiday madness of parties, shopping and cooking! In such a busy period, everyday routines may go out of the window, and it can be hard to keep track, and make sure your toddler is eating the right foods in the right amounts and in the right balance. Some toddlers may become extra sensitive as routine changes influence moods. Nap-times are essential for toddlers but at Christmas these may be later or cut short, not to mention meals and snacks may be rushed and regular activity may get forgotten.

To help make the most of this busy period, the Infant & Toddler Forum has developed resources to help maintain a happy, active and healthy holiday season for all. Our festive tips for active toddlers (see below) have plenty of ideas to keep the little ones busy, and our festive menu is full of suggestions to give little ones a healthy balance at Christmas dinner, while still enjoying all the seasonal fun.

Facts and stats on parent toddler diet confidence

A recent parent survey (parents of children 1 – 5yrs) by the Infant & Toddler Forum found that:

  • Only 14% of parents follow the recommended serving frequency for each of the food groups when feeding their toddlers
  • Over a third (35%) are worried they do not give their children the right balance of foods and more than a quarter (26%) feel their child is not getting enough variety
  • Whilst 80% of parents correctly identified the key food groups that when combined form a balanced diet, only a third (28%) take the advice given to them by experts on what they should be feeding their children

Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to gives little ones a healthy balance, as well as tips for active toddlers Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to gives little ones a healthy balance, as well as tips for active toddlers

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This is a collaborative post 
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Christmas Dinner Made Easy with HelloFresh

There’s definitely a recurring theme on here this month; I’ve already hinted that you can make Christmas shopping easier with prefilled stockings, how you can tick off some of that list for your label-loving person in your life and now I bring good news about a great, stress free way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.

I’m no stranger to HelloFresh deliveries and have written about them a couple of times already so it’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of their festive box. For those not in the know, HelloFresh is a subscription meal delivery which you cook from scratch. You get an easy-to-follow-recipe card and high quality, pre-portioned fresh ingredients so they time allocated on each card it true, there’s no weighing or measuring. It also takes the hassle out of planning your meals for the week, I’m terrible at thinking of new things to cook, most weeks, I don’t have time to browse through with my recipe books, HelloFresh is a much quicker way of making sure my family get fresh, healthy meals.

And the Christmas box is no different.

You get all ingredients, including a turkey, along with a step by step recipe card. It starts you off prepping for the day before, giving times and foolproof instructions. And with the music cranked up, it was all girls in the kitchen (although had I not been severely jet lagged, I’m pretty sure I’d have managed to cook this on my own.)

On the menu were;

Butter Basted Roast Turkey with Pigs in Blankets

The BEST Rosemary Roast Potatoes

Creamy Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Pancetta

Honey & Thyme Roasted Root Veggies

Slow Cooked Spiced Red Cabbage with Apples

Rich and Delicious Make Ahead Gravy

This was the first time I’d make a ‘proper’ gravy, like mums do, and was absolutely lush, it’s quite hard to pick out a favourite from everything we cooked. The slow cooked spiced red cabbage got a huge thumbs up, the creamy brussel sprouts with garlic and pancetta were probably, at a push, top of my yum list. (for the record, I’m in camp brussels, and cooked this way took that bitter taste away making them even more delicious.

I bring good news about a great, stressfree way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.

 

Our box came pre packed with enough to feed 4 people, but I’d say it would feed a couple more comfortabl,  no need to worry if there’ll be enough. HelloFresh offers Christmas boxes for 4, 6, 8 or 10 people with the option of adding a pudding on. At £69.99 for the 4 person box, it’s not the cheapest way of doing Christmas dinner, but you’re guaranteed fresh quality ingredients (which I can vouch for having used them for over a year now on and off.) And it saves time on going out to buy everything, it’s almost too easy having a box delivered straight to your door.

It almost like cheating, but I’m all for time savers and as I said previously, there was more than enough for 4 people so you’ll still get your boxing day bubble and squeak!.

I bring good news about a great, stressfree way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post, I was gifted a HelloFresh Christmas box for the purpose of this review 

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Breezing the seasons with Hello Day Supplements

Have you ever noticed how your skin or general well-being takes a little adjusting through each new season. I’m always ready mentally for the change, I love seeing trees turn shades of red in autumn, the anticipation of snow in winter and gardens coming to life in spring. Physically I’m not always as good as catching up, my skin especially gives a little grumble and my winter afternoon slump isn’t as easy to embrace when the skies are blue and spring walks are beckoning.

So this spring I took a little helping hand with some carefully tailored supplements from Hello Day. My box came with the promise of vitality, libido stimulant (yeah, I won’t be sharing how I got on with that, my mum reads this!)  a digestion detox and finally something to help with my circulation. Initial thoughts lead me to think that in 6 weeks time I’d be very happy, energetic, tactile (read that bit as you like) single mum with great bowel movements. Not a bad place to be at 41, I’d say.

Joking aside, just knowing I would be on the right track to helping reduce some of the burnout tiredness which comes with my lifestyle thanks to the magnesium in the vitality supplements was enough to hook me in. I’m guilty of burning the candles at both ends; working to the early hours then waking with my 3-year-old early the next day.

I’d considered taking Siberian Ginseng in the past to help nudge me in the right direction and I had high hopes it would this time, as well as improving my mental and physical energy. The vitality supplements also contain passion-flower to induce calmness, great,  as I always stress at balancing my personal and work life.

I’m not worried about watching my weight at the moment but there’s always room for improvement to help with a body detox. The detox supplements promised to do this by improving my digestive tract health and appetite. I fell off the healthy bandwagon for a while and to get me back on it, a gentle detox was perfect kickstart.
It’s been a month now since I completed everything in my Hello Day box so I thought it was high time I reflected the effects it had had. The whole energy thing was the first thing I noticed an improvement with, that afternoon slump which always hit disappeared, helping me focus on work and be a lot more productive during the day. So much so that a month on from stopping this supplement I’m back to fighting off the urge to nap come 3pm. (Time for a new box I think!)
Hello Day boxes certainly lived up to their promise to helped see me through the season change in a nice, subtle way. It’s not so much you notice how good you feel but rather, you don’t noticed how much you’re struggling to adjust. In a not knowing a good thing until it’s gone sort of way.
You still with me? I know they’ve worked as since stopping them, I’ve finding I could do with some help with my fatigue and mental sharpness.
I’ve been browsing their site looking at what else I could do with help with and there’s certainly some scope for a stress and relax supplements in my life to see me through school holidays and ward off burn out as I combine juggling workloads, childcare and mum guilt.
And the Sleep Rest promise of some relaxation to help me fall asleep naturally is music to my ears. It combines natural ingredients such as Valerian to cope with a busy lifestyle and daily stress, and Lemon Balm for a positive mood and calm wellbeing.
I guess you could say that my little experiment worked and I’m ready to step back into starting my day with the helping hand, if only to get me through this niggling urge to take a nap while I’m trying to finish this post!
breezing the seasons with a HelloDay box of supplements
Disclaimer
I received a complimentary box of Hello Day supplements in return for sharing my experience of using them.
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Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Its’s not the first time I’ve raved about HelloFresh delivery boxes, (you can read all about the time I discovered them here.) As a busy, working mum of 3, they’re an absolute lifesaver as they take the stress out of deciding what to cook and having to go buy the ingredients. I’ve just restarted my deliveries after a year break as I’ve found I was cooking the same things week after week.

I’ve only been ordering 3 meals a week so that still leaves a few days, to think up healthy meal ideas. So rather than trawl through my cook books ( that super busy mum thing again) I’ve used their new  Flavour Generator to help find some recipes. I can do all this while I’m on the site choosing my meals for the next delivery so my whole weeks meals are dun and dusted in one sitting.

It’s a great tool for helping you decide what to cook and try out some new recipes, this week I was in the mood for something Italian. You can you can choose between Italian, British, Middle Eastern, Mexican and Indian on the Flavour Generator drop down menu. Once you’ve decided on that, there’s more choices on the next drop down for flavour; tangy, herby, sweet or spicy. Then its spin and het presto! My Italian, herby mood brought up this recipe for Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese, it’s  a flavour full, tomato based vegetable bake with a breadcrumb top and tomato salad on the side. The pine nuts addition give it a really nice texture and best of all, you get to use up all the courgettes which are in abundance right now and  do some sneaky veggie hiding for reluctant vegetable eating kids.

Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Ingredients

  • half Red Onion
  •  2 Garlic Cloves
  •  1 Courgette
  •  0.5 punnet(s) Cherry Tomatoes
  •  1 ball(s)   Mozzarella
  • Tomato Passata
  •  0.75 tsp  Dried Oregano
  • 1 bunch Basil (20g)
  • 25 grams  Pine Nuts
  • 3 tbsp    Hard Italian Cheese
  • 20 grams  Panko Breadcrumbs
  •  1 Foccacia (I subbed for ciabatta)

Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees. Peel and finely chop the red onion and the garlic. Slice the courgette lengthways into ½cm strips. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half.
  2. Next cut three-quarters of your mozzarella into slices, as thin as you can (keep a quarter for your salad). Press kitchen paper or a clean tea towel onto each slice to soak up as much excess moisture as possible.
  3. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan and fry your red onion and garlic on medium-low heat for around 5 mins, or until soft. Tip: You can start step 5 at the same time to save some time.
  4. Add in the tomato passata with a pinch of salt, the oregano and a few grinds of black pepper. Bubble the mixture for 5 mins, then remove from the heat to cool down.
  5. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan on high heat. Once hot, fry your courgette strips in batches. Cook them for 1 minute on each side and then keep to the side. Do not overcrowd the pan as this will stew the courgette rather than brown it.
  6. Put enough (about a third) of your passata in an ovenproof dish to thinly cover the bottom. Top this with a layer of your courgette (you should use roughly half your courgette here as you’re going to repeat this step!). Next, layer on a couple of slices of mozzarella, followed by some torn basil and half of the pine nuts.
  7. Spread on another layer of passata, followed by your remaining courgette, a couple more slices of mozzarella and bit more basil (save some of each for your salad) and the rest of your pine nuts. Finally add one more layer of passata and top your parmigiana with the hard cheese and the breadcrumbs. Bake in your oven for 15 mins.
  8. Tear up a small handful of basil leaves and the remaining mozzarella. Toss these and your cherry tomatoes in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve your parmigiana with your salad and foccacia on the side.
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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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