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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Date Truffle Recipe - Valentine's Date Night just got Fruitier with Forest Feast #ThePerfectDate

Forest Feast produce an amazing range of dried fruit, and for Valentine's Day, their Medjool Dates are the perfect ingredient for cooking up a deliciously healthy treat for your loved one. With dates being a great source of minerals, fibre, amino acids and energy, they are a nutrient dense, modern superfood. Medjool dates have a sweet, sticky, soft caramel quality making them a luxurious, natural treat and are considered an aphrodisiac and symbol of sex and fertility in some cultures - perfect for Valentine's Day!

Forest Feast sent me some of their Medjool Dates and a recipe to make some Date Truffles. The recipe is suitable for vegans and is a super healthy alternative to chocolates. The bite size balls of decadence are rich and delicious.

dates


Medjool Date Recipe

7 Forest Feast Medjool Dated (pitted)
65g of nuts (I used walnuts)
85g ground almonds
30g cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of sea salt

Soak dates in hot water for a few minutes to soften.
Drain and squeeze.
Finely grind nuts in food processor. Add ground almonds and cocoa and pulse together.
Add dates, vanilla and sea salt and pulse to form a sticky ball.
Take teaspoon size balls and press into a silicone heart mould.
Pop into freezer and once hard pop them out and roll in cocoa powder.
Alternatively, roll into balls and roll in cocoa powder, chopped nuts or dessicated coconut - or keep them naked if preferred!

Not the prettiest truffle, but they are absolutely lush!

Forest Feast dried fruits are available online and from retailers nationwide. Medjool Dates are £2.85 for a 180g bag and Smart and Hearty Dates are £1.99 for a 100g bag. Perfect for snacking or cooking.


www.forestfeast.com
@forest_feast



Friday, 10 February 2017

Dealing with Kids and Colds #VicksTricks

This is the time of year when colds and coughs are at their worst and few homes escape the effect of flu season. As parents, taking care of a poorly child can be quite stressful as we deal with our little ones' runny noses, fevers, sneezing, coughing and disturbed sleep. If you are anything like me, then you will have a medicine cabinet stocked with kids' paracetamol, Vicks Vaporub and First Defence spray, a thermometer, throat sweets, multi-vitamins, echinacea drops and cough medicines - just in case! But medicines are just a small part of nursing a child who doesn't feel well.

Children need to get plenty of rest when they are unwell, and often need to be gently entertained and soothed when not asleep. Lots of TLC and cuddles help poorly children feel better, as parental care and concern can be a powerful antidote to feeling unwell. I have spent many days sat on the sofa snuggling my children when they have felt poorly, stroking their little heads and holding their little hands. Housework can wait when there is a sick child that needs my attention.

colds, flu


A cuddly toy or snuggly hot water bottle can make perfect comforters. A favourite book or DVD can be a great way to relax a little one and offer a distraction to their symptoms. 75% of parents, according to Vicks consumer research, put on a favourite TV show or film while 27% read a story to their child when they feel poorly. Some parents get more creative with 8% telling jokes and 2% turning to magic tricks, like this Vick Tricks magic coin trick! Laughter can be the perfect medicine.

       


During flu season, I always try to make sure that Freddy eats plenty of fruit and vegetables, drinks a glass of orange juice a day and takes multi-vitamins to keep his immune system boosted. I encourage him to wash his hands to keep them germ free and if he does get the sniffles, the use of tissues is actively encouraged!

My favourite tip for when a cold strikes is to give children a nice, warm bath. The steamy room helps with congestion and a bath relaxes them ready for sleep. When I was a little girl, my parents were big believers in 'feeding a cold' and we were always given plenty of our favourite food to give us the strength to fight the virus.  I don't know if that really worked, but a tasty treat makes you feel better, calories give you much needed energy and the action of chewing definitely helps clear your head. So if my little ones feel like eating, I'm happy to indulge them!

VapoRub was a product my mum always used on us, smothering our chests in it before bedtime if we had a cold. The smell of it has such an evocative scent. It is a product I have used on all my children over the past 28 years and is a must have in our household. Freddy likes to sniff it straight from the pot if his nose is blocked.

Getting children back on their feet and feeling better can take time, but with love, care and a few tricks up your sleeve, they will be running around and back to their usual selves soon enough.


This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Little Live Pets Lil' Hedgehog and House

Little Live Pets definitely have the 'awww' factor when it comes to animal toys. They look, act and sound so real, children can't help falling in love with them as they deliver cuteness, fun and interactive play! The range continues to grow with new pets coming this year. The latest additions are the Little Live Pets Hatching Chicks and the Hedgehog and House

Freddy received the Little Live Pets Lil' Hedgehog and House to try out from Character Options. The play set consists of a battery operated, pet hedgehog that rolls into a ball or scurries around on its wheeled base, and a plastic house complete with hand operated elevator, a little flap door and curved slide. The hedgehog has a soft, velvety covered outer casing and a plastic face that peeps out. The pink nose can be pressed prompting the hedgehog to roll into a ball. After a moment, it pops out its head and continues to scurry and play.

Little Live Pets Lil' Hedgehog and House


We received the exclusive Shy Sky in the play set, a cute little mauve coloured hedgehog toy. Other colours of hedgehog are available separately and can be played with alongside Sky in the house.

Batteries are included, so you can play with Shy Sky straight from the box. You can play with it on a flat surface where it will scurry around until it hits something and rolls into a ball or goes off in a different direction. Or you can use it inside the play house, where it will run into the elevator, roll into a ball ready to be taken to the top of the slide for it to roll back down. The set comes ready built apart from the very edge of the slide that needs to be attached by clipping it on.

Little Live Pets Lil' Hedgehog and House


Freddy at first thought the creature was a 'big, fat hamster' as it doesn't have the characteristic spikes of a hedgehog, but that didn't deter him at all. The mechanism of the play set works quite well, although sometimes the hedgehog needed a bit of a push to get him to roll down the slide from the top of the raised elevator. After a few attempts we found that raising the elevator really quickly with a bit of a flick at the end did the trick, and Freddy became a dab hand at doing it. The movement of the hedgehog is fast and quirky and it is cute when it rolls into and out of a ball. Sometimes he ended up upside down and needed to be flipped back over, which added to the fun. The hedgehog can run around inside the house and pop through the door, but if you want him contained, the door is lockable using a little catch. The play set has a carry handle so you can take your toy wherever you go.

Freddy had a lot of fun watching the way the hedgehog moved both in and out of the house and liked making him roll down the slide using his well honed technique. I like that the play set is an all in one construction, so there are no little bits to lose and it stores away nicely with Shy Sky inside. The play set is a good size for little ones to carry around, perfect for taking along with them to the grandparents' house, on holiday or in the car.

Little Live Pets Lil' Hedgehog and House


The Little Live Pets Lil' Hedgehog and House is recommended for children aged 5 and over and has an RRP of £22.99 with additional hedgehogs costing £12.99. You can find out more at www.character-online.com/little-live-pets-hedgehog-and-house.

Keep an eye out and join on the fun on February 20th as UKMums.tv are having a Little Live Pets Takeover!




Thursday, 26 January 2017

GERONIMO FESTIVAL 2017 - BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER!

The ultimate in children’s festivals in back for its third successive year and 2017’s Geronimo Festival promises a weekend of great family entertainment with amazing acts and activities. New for this year, Geronimo is offering camping and glamping for guests to make a full weekend of it.  Bring your own tent, caravan or motor home or take the hassle out of camping by hiring one of the range of themed tents that are available for families.

Taking place from 27th - 29th May 2017, Geronimo will be held in the stunning, expansive grounds at Arley Hall in Northwich, Cheshire giving  guests access to a whole host of new and exciting attractions set over a larger scale. The event will be now held over three days so that more people can take advantage of everything the show has to offer.

The family festival which has been billed as ‘Glastonbury for Kids!’ by the Daily Mirror, will play host to a huge array of TV stars who will take centre stage throughout the day. The theme of this year’s event is Princesses, Knights and Dragons families are welcome to dress up and join in the fun. Stars of CBeebies, CBBC, YouTube and ITV will be performing to keep their young fans entertained.
Children’s TV Megastar, Justin Fletcher returns to Geronimo this year and will headline the Main Stage on Saturday 27th May.  On Sunday, children are in for another treat as Mr. Bloom takes to the stage introducing his brand new 40minute show which features his amazing four-piece band. The hilarious duo Swashbuckle will also be hosting their brilliant slapstick Pirate Show and Art Attack’s Lloyd Warbey will also be on hand to inspire creative kids. YouTube favourites Amazing Arabella and Mini Matt Smith will meet and greet fans and there will be more exciting YouTubers announced soon.

This year children can visit the Digital Zone where they can meet their favourite YouTubers and Gamers as well as try their hand at all the latest tech. Geronimo guests will also be treated to two full Circuses, a Theatre Tent and a Show Ground Arena with lots of displays including motorcycles, jousting and fencing. For the active kid, there’s so much to cram in including mobile climbing walls, cardboard harp workshops and a Bear Grylls Assault Course. In fact there are literally hundreds of activities to enjoy and something for kids of all ages (and big kids too!).

Families are urged to take advantage of the unique Early Bird offer which is available until the end of January with Tier 1 family tickets available from just £16.50 per person. As an added incentive, early birds who purchase Tier 1 tickets will receive a free wristband for the Victorian Fun Fair. So be quick!

For further information about the Geronimo Festival and to book tickets, please visit www.geronimofest.com.

Geronimo Festival

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Forest Feast - naturally sweet and ready to eat dried fruit snacks

I am a big advocate of trying to eat as healthily as possible for the majority of the time, but I also love food and want to enjoy lots of wonderful tastes and textures and not deprive myself of delicious things!

When it comes to sugar, there is a lot of research that highlights direct links between excessive consumption and health concerns. The government released a medical report that recommends that no more than 5% of our calorie intake should come from 'free sugars'. However, many low sugar or sugar-free products are made using artificial chemical sweeteners that I try to avoid. Where possible, I try to choose natural products that provide nutritional benefits to mine and my family's diets.

I was delighted to receive a delivery from Forest Feast, a company that produces a range of ten traditional and exotic dried fruits. Each product is carefully selected to contain no added sugars, syrups or juices. The range allows for smart and hearty snacking containing nothing but dried natural fruits and contain naturally occurring fibre, vitamins and minerals.

no added sugar snacks, dried fruit


The range includes apricots, bananas, cherries, dates, figs, goji berries, golden berries, mango, pineapple and plums, each in a foil backed bag for freshness. The fruits are perfectly sized for snacking, but can be used as an ingredient in many recipes from curries to cakes.

I am very impressed to see the ingredient list on each of the varieties of the Forest Feast range containing nothing more than the fruit itself. No preservatives, no added sugar or sweeteners, no added oils - just natural fruit that has been dried. They provide a delicious sweet treat, sweetened only as nature intended. No need for sugarcoating!

The Forest Feast snack sized dried fruit is a great addition to lunchboxes. Just pop some into a little pot and it provides a tasty, sweet treat that is all natural. They are also great for sprinkling over yogurt or cereals, adding to porridge or combining with nuts for a quick power snack!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Vegan Thai Vegetable Red Curry Recipe #veganuary

This fragrant vegan Thai vegetable red curry is easy to make but really delivers on flavour. It is a versatile recipe that can be adapted if required, allowing you to use up any veggies from the fridge along with chickpeas, tofu or vegan Quorn pieces to suit your taste. It uses Flora Freedom, the new dairy free spread from Flora that is 'powered by plants' making it better for you and for the environment.

vegan food, vegan recipe, Thai curry


Ingredients

25 g Flora Freedom
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (be sure to use a vegan one)
410 g coconut milk
500 g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
220 g green beans, trimmed and halved
400 g tinned chickpeas, drained
1 lime, juiced
1 pack basil (for garnish)


Directions

Heat Flora and oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until soft.
Add crushed garlic and half the chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the Thai red curry paste, coconut milk and 250ml water and bring to the boil.
Add sweet potatoes, reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
Add green beans and chickpeas and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the sweet potatoes and beans are just tender.
Stir through the lime juice and garnish the curry with remaining sliced chilli and basil leaves.

Serve with rice.

Find more recipes for vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free dishes at flora.com

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Motivation for Veganuary with Flora Freedom

There is no denying that a plant based diet brings huge benefits to both your health and to the environment. However, many people are put off of plant based meals believing that vegans suffer from a restricted diet, forced to consume nothing more exciting than a salad. That said, interest in veganism surged in 2016, bringing the number of vegans in the UK to over half a million. Many brands, supermarkets and restaurants have upped their game and are introducing more vegetarian, vegan and free-from options to meet the rising demand.

So there has never been a better time to give a plant based diet a try, even if you do it on a flexitarian basis, eating vegan friendly food once or twice a week. Dabbling in animal-free alternatives by making a few swaps or by doing Meat-Free Mondays can really have an impact on our environment and can provide many health benefits, as well as giving us an opportunity to shake things up in the kitchen by adding some new healthy ideas to meal planning. As veganism becomes more mainstream, hopefully the stigma of being considered sanctimonious, preachy, self-righteous or just plain weird will disappear, and people will see those who choose to eat vegan food, either full or part time, as making a good choice.

My family are all vegetarian, but we tend to eat plant based meals about 4 or 5 times a week and we use a lot of alternatives to dairy products in our day to day diet. Since making the change, we have never looked back and we enjoy an incredibly varied and delicious array of food. There is literally nothing that we miss nor do we feel deprived because we don't eat meat. In fact, there are vegan alternatives to nearly every food I can think of. We can have mock 'duck', veggie 'bacon', burgers and sausages, even vegan 'fish' fingers. And they are all tasty too! They might replicate the taste and texture of animal products, but they are made using 100% plant based ingredients and no animal suffered for us to eat them, so it's all good. Some of the kids' favourite treats such as Original Hula Hoops, Oreos, BBQ Pringles and Party Rings happen to be vegan, so the little ones don't even have to miss out on their goodies. It is easier than ever to give it a try.

January provides a great opportunity for people around the world to give veganism a try as it is the month given over to Veganuary. This year over 50,000 people have signed up, pledging to give up meat and animal products for 31 days. It is a great start to the year, especially after the excesses of Christmas and participants have noted weight loss, better sleep habits and improved energy levels as positive effects from taking part. Flora have teamed up with Veganuary this year. With their 'Powered by Plants' campaign and their Flora Freedom dairy-free spread, they are a brand that is well placed to help families eat more plant based alternatives.

Here are some helpful tips from dietician and TV presenter Lucy Jones to demonstrate just how easy it can be to make the change towards a plant based diet, which incorporate switching to Flora Freedom.

7 Simple Tips to try this Veganuary

  • Swap the milk in your tea, coffee and cereal to a plant-based alternatives such as soya, almond, cashew, coconut, oat and hemp. Many come fortified with key nutrients like calcium and B12.
  • Tinned pulses are convenient and ready to use straight from the tin. They are a source of protein and fibre and are very filling. Add to soups, salads and veggie chilli.
  • Make a delicious cottage pie using soya, quorn or lentils. Combine with chopped veggies, tinned tomatoes, herbs and spices and top with mashed root veg made using Flora Freedom. Perfect comfort food.
  • Use the slow cooker to make a warming stew.  Use tinned tomatoes, chopped vegetables, lentils, chickpeas or beans and add some barley or potato for a warm filling dinner. Serve in a bowl with crusty fresh bread spread with Flora Freedom.
  • Try some vegan pancakes. Make your pancake mix using flour, a plant based alternative to milk, nut butter and mashed banana. Top with sugar and lemon, maple syrup or chopped fruits.
  • Don’t miss out on dessert! You can make a delicious crumble topping using flour, oats, sugar and Flora Freedom to top some seasonal fruits. Serve with a soya or oat based custard or cream or some coconut or soya ice-cream.
  • Nuts make a fantastic healthy vegan snack. Combine 30g of your favourite with some small chunks of rich 80% dark chocolate for an indulgent afternoon treat.
You can find some dairy-free and vegan recipes on the Flora website including one for some rather delicious vegan chocolate brownies! Being vegan does not have to be dull!  

flora freedom


I'll be trying out one of the recipes using Flora Freedom for my blog soon, so watch this space!


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