This week on ‘celebrating the small things’ this week as me thinking back on lavender field photoshoots, special allergy treats and Pimms in the sun.
Lavender Field Photoshoot – For someone who at the begining of the year always shied away from the camera terribly, I feel that although I’m certainly not confident in front of the camera but have started to fear it a lot less!
I had been chatting to the lovely Rachel Thornhill for a while now and whence asked me if I would like a photoshoot in the beautiful Mayfield Lavender fields I jumped at the chance.
Not only did I get some fabulous images of the day but I got to meet the lady inside my phone and was pleasantly surprised that she was as lovely as I had invisidged.
Treats For My Allergy Boy – Life with Frankie’s allergies can be a real mental challenge sometimes as the ability to give him what he wants is completely taken out of my hands and the ‘mum guilt’ is immense!
Recently we were out to eat pretty late and the selection of food was pretty limited. The others were all grabbing tasty treat whilst Frankie looked on. After nearly exhausting every option we stumbled across a place that served fries covered in vegan cheese. His face lit up and my heart my full over something so simple.
It’s Pimms O’Clock – This is probably one of the silliest small things I’ve written about but I can honestly say that being out in the sunshine, watching the kids play and having a Pimms in my hand is certainly one of my guilty pleasures…it also helps when the playful children start to argue!
We are all back into the swing of things as far as the school run goes here and all the good intentions of wholesome packed lunches and after school snacks have been wavering a little.
The kids are coming home with untouched food in their pack lunches and with the stress of trying to juggle everything after school we have been reaching for the crisps and biscuits a little to often of late.
What I need is something that takes as little time to prepare as possible, is healthy and nutritious but appealing to the kids.
This is a big wish list but luckily enough our favourite baking mixes Sweetpea Pantry have come to our rescue with their scrumptious carrot cupcake mix and their super-duper brownie mix.
We are big fans of their ginger giggles biscuit mix and the playful pizza dough mix already and were eager to try out these new additions.
For me it’s really important to get the children involved in the whole process of preparing their food as I strongly believe this goes a long way to make them more inclined to try new things and gives them a real sense of achievement.
The preparation of both these mixes was so quick and easy – in fact the whole process is complete in less than 30 mins.
There was the addition of few simple store cupboard ingredients such as oil, honey and eggs all mixed together with the packet mix that is then transferred into cake cases or tins, baked for around 15 mins and is then ready to eat.
Each mix is packed full of nutritious ingredients and yummy whole grains whilst leaving all the nasty refined sugars and artificial colours and flavourings out.
The super chocolatey brownies where a great hit after school when the kids are crying out for something sweet really quickly.
The cupcakes were moist and fruity and the perfect size for packed lunch boxes.
These mixes are so easy to tuck away in the cupboard and just grab as and when you need them so what is not to love.
Easter is always a tricky time for Frankie and his allergies but this year he is feeling it even more so.
For a few months he had been allowed dairy and it had opened up his eyes to the world of real chocolate.
We had all really hoped that this would be the first year he would be able to get a Easter egg the same as his siblings but sadly this isn’t the case.
Stomach problems, bad skin and mood swings had all come on in force again and the doctors decided it was probably down to the dairy so we had to say goodbye to it again.
It’s been a hugely tough couple of months as he was so enjoying everything that came will the inclusion of dairy so this Easter I’m going to have to go that extra mile to make it special for him.
These cupcakes that mimic a chick cracking from an egg have really put a smile on his face and could easily be converted to your usual ingredients.
Allergy Friendly Easter Cupcakes
- 100g gluten free self-raising flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g dairy free spread
- Egg replacer for equivalent of 2 eggs
- 1tsp baking powder
- Pack ready roll fondant icing
- 12 decorative chicks
- 12 cupcake cases
- Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/400F and lay out cases into cake tin.
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix with electric whisk until combined.
- Place ingredients into cases as bake for 13/16 mins.
- Once cook allow to cool on rack.
- Whilst cooling roll out a small amount of icing to about a thickness of 2cm.
- Cut out a circle slightly larger than the cakes and create a cross in the middle.
- Lay on top of the cake and peel up edges of the cross to open a whole in the centre.
- In this gap place one of the chicks to create the look of a hatching chick.
Who doesn’t like pizza would be an easier question to ask than who does.
Pizza is the the most popular choice when it comes to takeaways with pepperoni coming in as the top choice; and if you thought pizza was a relatively new thing you would be very far from the truth as the first ever pizzeria was opened in Italy way back in 1738!
There are a whole variety of toppings available now and as a family we love evenings of making up our own combinations.
It is the perfect meal to allow everyone to get hands on and pick the things they they really like.
To celebrate National Pizza Day I have joined up with the lovely people at Sweetpea Pantry who challenged us to create on own pizza using their fab Playful Pizza Dough Mix.
A while ago we were lucky enough to try out their Ginger Giggles Biscuit Mix and were more than impressed with the child friendly mixes that are easy to prepare, healthy and great fun.
The Playful Pizza Mix lived up to what I expected and created the perfect base to make our creation.
I decided to steer away from the norm and create a sweet pizza but keeping sugar to a minimum with a few products that are low in sugar but still taste good.
Take a look and see if it is something you fancy giving a try, it would actually be the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate Heart Pizza
- Pack of Playful Pizza Dough
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 50g dairy free milk choc chips
- 50g dairy free white choc chips
- 300g Jim Jams reduced sugar hazelnut spread
- 50g freedom vegetarian mini marshmallows
- Handful of raspberries
- Mix the dough according to the instructions.
- Once ready take one of the three dough balls and create a heart shape leaving a slight lip around the edge to create the crust.
- Prick the dough with a fork and cook for 10 mins.
- Take out and allow to cool slightly.
- Next take the hazelnut spread and cover the base.
- Sprinkle over the chocolate chips first, followed by the marshmallows and finally add a few raspberries to the very top.
- Place under the grill until the marshmallows have slightly toasted and the chocolate has melted slightly.
Let me know if you give this a try as I would love to know what you think!
All any mother wants is the guarantee that when her precious little bundle arrives she will be able to keep them safe, healthy and happy.
We all go out of our way to give our babies the best start in life that we possibly can…but what if this taken out of our hands and problems arise.
When I had number four as many of you will know we had a really tough journey after his was diagnosed with multiple food allergies.
I had never really considered what a huge impact this would have on us and it took months of hospital visits and teams of wonderful staff that managed to get this issues under control so that we could go be safe I the knowledge that we could bring up our son so that he would grow and nourish like any other child.
I was lucky enough to manage to breastfed for two years by excluding all allergiens from my diet, but as he got older his diet was so limited that he struggled with weight gain and up until the age of four he was prescribed a formula milk that was suitable for him.
Along with this and up to the present time we also get safe bread and pasta for him that have been a huge help as they are so costly to buy and the bread alone that is only available online at the cost on nearly £5 for one small loaf.
Sadly I have just heard that the Clinical Commissioning Group for the borough of Croydon are now going to stop providing infant formulas and gluten free products on prescription.
Can you imagine having a newborn baby that needs feeding and having to find the money to pay sometimes as much as £45 for one small tin of formula.
With an average of two tins being used per week I would struggle to find many families that would be able to find upwards of £360 a month to feed one baby, infact this amount would probably equate to what most families would spend on a food shop for their entire family.
I fully understand that the NHS is under extreme pressure and cuts and changes need to be made so that this fantastic service can be kept for us, but taking food from the mouths of babes
is a step to far and will have serious implications for so many families in this borough.
If this affects you in any way or you feel this is unjust then please feel free to sign this petition ‘here’.
My life sometimes seems to be filled with me wondering what I am going to cook for the family, and most importantly when I do are they all going to eat it!
I can count on one hand how many meals I prepare that please them all, but eating out is always a different matter.
One of our favourites is Wagamamma and what I love about this restaurant is their use of fresh and healthy ingredients that also taste great.
I timidly tried to do my own take on this with a mildly spicy broth filled with rice noodles and tasty meatballs.
If you want to have a go yourself then take a look at my super easy recipe. It is also free from most major allergens so great for my little allergy boy.
Vegetable Broth With Ginger And Chilli Meatballs
- 450g minced chicken
- 225g rice noodles
- 3 pak choi
- 8 spring onions
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 400ml vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp wheat free soy sauce
- 2 tbsps grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp grated lemongrass
- Place the chicken into a large bowl and then with you’re hands mix in the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, half the spring onions and half the chilli flakes.
- Roll into balls that are about 3cm in diameter and place into a hot pan to cook for around 10mins, turning occasionally.
- While the meatball are cooking I a large pan lightly fry the pak choi and remaining spring onions for a couple of mins.
- Add to this the broth, soy sauce and remaining chilli flakes and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and add the rice noodle and meatballs and simmer for a further five minutes.
- This will now all be ready to serve in deep bowls…with chopsticks if you are brave enough!
Hot dogs are always something that most children will eat and are so quick and easy to prepare.
I decided using a couple of great Quorn products to create a vegetarian chilli dog that allows you to sneak a few veggies into one of their favourite foods.
Quorn Chilli Dogs
- Pack Quorn sausages
- Pack Quorn mince
- 4 brioche hotdog buns
- 1 chopped red onion
- 3 chopped cloves of garlic
- 400g tin tomatoes
- 400g tin kidney beans
- 1 chopped red pepper
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 300ml water
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tbsps tomato purée
- Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 and then begin to fry the onion and garlic in a large saucepan with a little olive oil for a few minutes until softened.
- Next add the red pepper and fry for a further couple of mins.
- Add to this the spices and and allow to release the flavours for a few minutes.
- Add the Quorn mince, tomatoes, tomato purée, kidney beans, stock cube, water and oregano and allow to simmer for 20 mins.
- Whist the chilli is cooking place the Quorn sausages into the oven for 15 mins.
- Once the sausages are cooked remove from the oven and place inside the brioche buns and top with the chilli.
- Serve with a portion of skinny fries and a mini corn on the cob.
When you have a child with allergies times like Halloween can be a bit of a tricky time with treats around every corner.
I’m planning ahead this year and making sure number four has plenty of treats ready for the weekend ahead.
One of my easiest and most loved recipes for him are my Rice Krispie lolly pops.
I have used the basic ingredients from this and changed it around a little to create these cute ghosts.
Allergy Friendly Halloween Ghosts
- 150g Rice Krispies
- 3tbsps dairy free spread
- 320g dairy free white chocolate
- Dairy free chocolate drops for face
- Over a low heat melt the butter and marshmallows in a large pan.
- Once melted add Rice Krispies until completly covered.
- Take a small handful of mixture and mould into an elongated oval shape that is tapered at the end to create a tail.
- Place onto greaceproof paper and cool in the fridge for about thirty minutes.
- Meanwhile melt the white chocolate in a bowl over the top of a pan of boiling water.
- Once the ghosts have hardened up cover the top half in the chocolate, add a few chocolate drops for eyes and a mouth and place back in the fridge to set the chocolate.
- Once hardened they are ready to serve.
My slow cooker is my best friend and the most used piece of kitchen equipment I own.
It is more versatile than I ever thought it would be and I make all sorts of things from stews, soups and curries to cakes and fudge!
With a large family who take part in lots of activities after school being able to stick something in the slow cooker at the beginning of the day and it being ready as soon as we get in is invaluable.
A favourite with all the family is a healthy chicken and lentil curry the we serve with rice and a simple tomato and cucumber salad.
Chicken And Lentil Curry
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 2 chopped onions
- 2 chopped cloves of garlic
- 4 diced chicken breasts
- 2 tbsps garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsps tomato purée
- 500ml chicken stock
- 175g red lentils
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until softened.
- Add the diced chicken and cook until browned.
- Transfer into the slow cooker and mix together with the remaining ingredients.
- Cook on high for 6 hours and serve with basmati rice and a simple cucumber, tomato and red onion salad.
Valentines Day is fastly become a big celebration in the UK with it being a day not just for couples but something that the children now join in with.
My older children all attend Valentines discos at school and the younger ones have made some beautiful cards at school.
To be honest for me it should be something special left for couples to enjoy but im going with the flow and letting the kids join in with the celebrations too!
Number four wanted to do some baking this week so we went with a pink theme and made some strawberry flavoured cupcakes that were suitable for his allergies.
Strawberry Flavoured Cupcakes
- 110g self raising wheat free flour
- 110g dairy free margarine
- 110g caster sugar
- Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
- 1 tsp strawberry flavouring
- 1tsp red colouring
- 140g dairy free margarine
- 250c icing sugar
- Few drops red colouring
- Strawberry flavoured sparkles
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 and lay out 12 cake cases ready for filling.
- Best the butter and sugar together, add the egg replacer, flavouring and food colouring.
- Fold in the flour until completely mixed. Then transfer to cake cases.
- Cook for 10 mins then place in a wire rack to cool.
- Make up the buttercream by combining the margarine with the sugar and then mixing in the food colouring.
- Once the cakes are cooled place the butter cream on top and pull a fork over the top to create a rough surface and then sprinkle over the strawberry sparkles.