Monthly Archives: June 2018

28th June 2018

We test: ‘Real Food Kids Will Love’ by Annabel Karmel…

Annabel Karmel could write a book about anything and I’d buy it. I totally trust her. I know that she’s the best at creating recipes that get the good stuff into my kids, whilst being so yummy that they don’t hesitate to pick up their cutlery and tuck in – and I’ve followed her recipes since my babies were weaning (and years afterwards) for that very reason. So I knew I was going to like her brand new book ‘Real Food Kids Will Love’ (released today) before I’d even seen it. But still, I was intrigued and excited to see what was in store – and when I got the chance to have a sneak preview of the book a few weeks ago, I ripped open that padded envelope and settled down on the sofa for a flick through immediately.

But I didn’t get to keep it for long. Because not long after I started scanning through the tantalising recipes for kids (there are over 100 in there), my eldest child stole it off me. And for the next 30 minutes, he sat there reading through every page, making a list of the recipes he wanted me to cook for him and his siblings. Every few minutes, he shouted out “MUMMY, LOOK!!” and held up a page with the most beautiful food photography pictured alongside the recipe. I quickly realised that the book wasn’t just written to provide me with inspiration in the kitchen – but to get children excited about eating wholesome, healthy food too.

Stanley’s picks were:

– Scrambled Egg Muffins

– Pot-Roast Chicken

– Thai Chicken and Rice Soup

– Fruit Flower Pots

– Easy Banana and Strawberry Ice Cream

– Blueberry Muffins

We decided to start with the recipe for the ‘Thai Chicken and Rice Soup’ – mainly because his younger siblings both adore curry and rice too, so I knew they’d like the flavour too. So the next day, we went to the supermarket to find the ingredients and got to work in the kitchen, with Stanley watching my every move.

I found the recipe really easy to follow, with only a few steps to work through once the prep had been completed – and once dished up, all three children tucked in straight away and cleaned up their plates. Mabel, in fact, was the first to get through her bowl and ask for another serving – and with plenty of vegetables packed into the dish, I had a smug smile on my face as I poured her another spoonful!

And it was really delicious. In fact, it was so delicious that my husband and I used the leftovers in the pot as the base for our dinner that night too (just chucking in some extra chicken and vegetables to stretch it further). It really is a recipe that the whole family can enjoy – and I think that’s the whole point of this book, as it encourages the whole family to enjoy the same recipes, the same food, and the same mealtimes.

So would I recommend the book? Without hesitation. For the vast range of recipes that will inspire you in the kitchen, without challenging you with advanced cooking skills (if I can do it, anyone can do it). For the gorgeous layout, tantalising photographs, and helpful tips from Annabel. And for the food you will go onto create.

It’s one of those books that you would add to your kitchen shelf now – and pick up regularly for years and years to come. With sections for ‘Family Favourites’, ‘Meat-Free and Vegan’, ’15 Minute Meals’, ‘Healthy Fast Food’, ‘Lunchbox and Playdate Snacks’, ‘Desserts and Sweets’ and ‘Holiday Cooking with Kids’, there is lots and lots of ideas and inspiration. I can imagine my copy will become heavily thumbed, as we work through the recipes and come back to revisit them in years to come. And if you are feeling a bit ‘stuck in a rut’ when it comes to feeding your children, I am confident you will love it just as much as I do.

Real Food Kids Will Love by Annabel Karmel is released today, June 28th 2018. You can get your copy at Amazon here – https://amzn.to/2yPo1Ex

 

This blog post is written in collaboration with Annabel Karmel



18th June 2018

Mabel tries: Baby Led Spreads

I am contacted about new products for babies and children on a daily basis – but every once in a while, a message makes me immediately stop what I’m doing and shout out loud “What a genius idea!” And when I found out about Baby Led Spreads a few weeks ago, that was exactly what happened.

So what are Baby Led Spreads? Designed for baby led weaning, these little jars contain a range of different healthy, versatile spreads. They can be used on sandwiches, as fillings in jacket potatoes, as an easy sauce for warm or cold pasta dishes, as bases for homemade pizza, or as dips for crunchy vegetables, breadsticks, or toast fingers.

The spreads are the perfect accompaniment to your baby’s diet, with a range of tastes, textures, and nutrients packed into each jar. You can pick non-dairy jars, dairy jars, or a mixture of the two – with six flavours to pick from, including ‘Spicy Pumpkin and Chickpea’, ‘Carrot, Apple and Hummus’, ‘Ricotta & Bean’, ‘Green Pea, Rocket and Dill’, ‘Red Lentil and Sweet Potato’ and ‘Avocado, Red pepper and Tomato.”

As a mum who went down the baby led weaning route fairly recently (with Mabel, who is my third baby), I would have found Baby Led Spreads so incredibly useful to have in the cupboard at home. I always found breakfast pretty easy – and dinner tended to be exactly what I was cooking for her brothers. But I often really struggled with inspiration for her lunches, usually giving her platters of bits and pieces I could find in the fridge. Having these little jars on hand would’ve given me so many options when putting together her plate – and I would have thrown the jars into my bag for meals out at restaurants too, letting her dip breadsticks into the spreads and feeling reassured she was getting some goodness.

We tried the jars out yesterday at lunchtime, letting Mabel use the spreads as a dip for her toast soldiers, cheese cubes, and tomato slices. I showed her what to do – and she carried on independently, happily gobbling up most of the plate. Her favourite was the ‘Avocado, Red Pepper, and Tomato’ – whilst her brothers (who happily dipped their toast soldiers into the leftovers in the jars) liked the ‘Carrot, Apple and Hummus’. I know the jars aren’t designed for older children, but it occurred to me that it would be a brilliant snack / packed lunch item to send into school, with a few breadsticks to dip into.

 

So how much do Baby Led Spreads cost? Well, I was seriously impressed. A selecion of 9 jars (three different flavours) costs just £6.50 (72p each) or a selection of 18 jars (6 different flavours) costs just £12 (67p each). Postage and packaging is free too, which makes it even more affordable.

But that’s not all, because this company has a heart too – and for every sale, money is donated directly to Bliss; a charity dedicated to helping babies born premature of sick (www.bliss.org.uk). For every 9 jars sold, they donate 30p to Bliss and for every 18 jars, they donate 60p.

You can buy them online at www.babyledspreads.co.uk

 

Written in collaboration with Baby Led Spreads



7th June 2018

Stanley tries: MentalUP (plus discount for every reader)

Summer holidays are coming – and if your children are anything like mine, they will need to keep their minds busy when school is out! I don’t always find it easy to dream up ways for them to do this, which is why I am relieved to have discovered MentalUP just in time – and having had the chance to play it, Stanley agrees…

Experts agree that the most effective and organic way to improve development in children is through play – and the MentalUp app contains a series of exercise that feel just like games to the children that are playing them. The app was developed by a team of doctors, scientists, academics and game designers, ensuring that every game challenges them, keeps their minds busy, and ultimately ensures that they have lots of fun.

 

So how does it work?

I’ve sat with Stanley while he’s played it several times now – and my favourite game is one called ‘Equalization’. It’s all about eliminating numbers you don’t need and collecting ones you do. Stanley really enjoyed it, completely unaware that he was practicing problem-solving skills as he played.

But that’s just one of the games… There are dozens with similar ideas, from remembering sequences of numbers, to matching patterns, to arranging letters in the correct orders. Each game helps children to practice different skills (focusing on memory, concentration, visual or logic) – and as the child progresses up the levels, the games become increasingly difficult.

MentalUp is used in 48 different countries worldwide, with over two million users. It has a rating of 4.8 in the app stores too, making it impressively popular with users.

The details…

MentalUp can be used on a computer, a tablet, or a phone.

It’s suitable for all children, adapting to their age, experience and performance.

Time is limited to 25-30 minutes per day, which is enough to keep their minds busy. I LOVE this feature! Stanley happily walks away saying he’s finished his slot, so no battles over handing back the laptop or iPad.

You can track your child’s performance with regular reports.

 

Where do you get it?

You can try the app completely for free for 7 days to see whether you like it. Head over to www.mentalup.co to sign up.

And if you want to buy the full-package, I have teamed up with MentalUP to offer a big discount. See below for all the details of the offer – and using the code 3056 with automatically apply your discount (valid until 24th June).

12 MONTHS PACKAGE

  • List price: £71.88
  • Current promotion price: £47.88
  • Price with the discount code: £23.88

6 MONTHS PACKAGE

  • List price: £35.94
  • Current promotion price: £29.94
  • Price with the discount code: £17.94

 

How to redeem the discount code (Android and IOS, Tablet and Phone)

After logging in, you will see the screen below. When you click on the buttons I’ve highlighted with arrows, you get to a screen with all the packages listed. You can then enter your promotional code.

 

 

Enter the code in the field and click “Apply code” – the package prices will then be automatically dropped.

 

Head over to www.mentalup.co or download it from App Store or Google store. The app is available both for IOS and Android.