Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Pancake Day Fun with Robinsons

Robinsons, the UK’s favourite squash brand, is made with real fruit in every drop! With this in mind, Robinsons have challenged me to cook up some fruity pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, inspired by some of the fruit flavours in their range of squashes.


We love Pancake Day. It's a great excuse to indulge in some fun in the kitchen, whipping up and tossing pancakes with the children. Topping with fruit is a tasty addition and contributes to our five a day. So tonight we celebrated Shrove Tuesday by making some delicious Robinsons inspired, fruity topped pancakes.


The pancake recipe we use is a non-weigh American style one comprising of one cup of flour, one cup of almond milk and one free range egg, which are whisked together until smooth. Spoonfuls of the batter are then poured into hot oil in a frying pan and cooked on one side, then flipped until the other side is golden brown. The pancakes are so light and fluffy.

pancake day

Classic, traditional freshly squeezed lemon juice and sugar is one of my favourite toppings for a pancake. It is fresh, zingy and tangy but still sweet enough to taste delicious (just like Robinsons Real Fruit Lemon squash). It is a real reminder of my childhood! For a lower sugar version, use a Stevia sweetener with the lemon juice.

Lemon and Sugar Pancakes with Robinsons Lemon Squash

Robinsons Fruit and Barley Strawberry & Kiwi is a wonderfully, fruity combination. Strawberries and sliced kiwi fruit is also an incredible topping to go on a pancake. I love the contrast in the colours and the way the slices look so interesting. Drizzle over a little organic maple syrup for a delicious dessert.

Robinsons Fruit and Barley Strawberry and Kiwi inspired pancake

We really enjoyed making and eating our fruity pancakes this year, serving them with a glass of Robinsons squash. It was the first time my children had tried the  Robinsons Strawberry & Kiwi flavour Fruit & Barley and they really loved it. It makes a great change to the usual orange or blackcurrant squashes, and will definitely become a new family favourite.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Food Review Round Up featuring Doritos and Heinz


Doritos Heatburst® is a revolutionary new tortilla chip, which creates an unexpected taste transformation, perfect for the boldest of snack lovers who want something new and unique. First you taste the flavour of BBQ or Chipotle Cream, but as you crunch the chip an explosion of fiery chilli kicks in for a deliciously spicy sensation! This happens because Doritos Heatburst has mini chilli capsules mixed in the tortilla that are released as you crunch, bringing in a second burst of flavour.

They are definitely not for the faint hearted. These are seriously spicy chips for grown-ups! Find them in supermarkets.



Heinz have launched their new No Sugar Beanz, a brand new variety of the nation’s favourite. The No Added Sugar Beanz offer health-conscious households and those looking to reduce their sugar intake the first no added sugar baked beans from Heinz.

With 34% of UK households cutting back on their sugar consumption, it is clear that Brits are becoming increasingly concerned with what they eat. The new and improved no added sugar recipe from Heinz will replace the popular 50% Less Sugar variety while keeping the same great taste, allowing families to enjoy the new recipe with confidence.

Naturally high in protein and fibre and low in fat, Heinz Beanz is already low in sugar, gluten free, vegetarian friendly and also contributes towards one of your five a day. No Added Sugar Beanz is also produced with 25% less salt than standard Heinz Beanz, without compromising on the authentic Heinz taste.


Heinz Beanz Top Nutrition Facts:

  • Naturally high in protein and fibre, half a can provides 19% of the daily intake of protein and 7.5g of fibre
  • Heinz No Added Sugar Beanz are naturally sweetened with stevia plant extracts
  • Naturally low in fat, a 100g serving of Heinz No Added Sugar Beanz contains just 0.2g of fat and are cholesterol free

Ready to transform meal times, Heinz’ No Added Sugar Beanz is available in single cans, multipacks and snap pots.  RRP 75p for 415g can.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Geronimo Festival 2017 - a family friendly weekend of fun


With spring fast approaching, now is the time to book family tickets for Geronimo, the family friendly festival taking place at the stunning Arley Hall on the 27th to 29th May.

Now in its third year, Geronimo is taking place over the Bank holiday weekend at the picturesque Arley Hall estate in Northwich, Cheshire and offers families the fabulous opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful parts of the UK and experience one of the UK’s most amazing family festivals with a whole weekend of jam packed fun.


The warm and welcoming atmosphere allows families to relax and enjoy a weekend full of family fun for all ages. The line up includes CBeebies favourites: Justin Fletcher, Mr Bloom and the stars of Swashbuckle, as well as YouTube favourites Amazing Arabella and Mini Matt Smith in the new Digital Zone.

The theme of this year’s event is Princesses, Knights and Dragons and families are welcome to dress up and join in the fun. There are 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 fun to be had on the Bear Grylls Assault Course, dare devil mobile climbing walls and cardboard harp workshops. 

When it comes to accommodation, families can bring their own tent, caravan or motor home or book one of Geronimo’s range of accommodation including Bedouin tents and Tangerine tents available to suit families whatever their size.

Tier two tickets are now available at the following prices:

Prebooked  tickets:  Saturday £21 per ticket; Sunday £21 per ticket; Monday £18 per ticket; 2 day Saturday/Sunday £39; 3 day Saturday, Sunday and Monday £55.

Camping is £60 for three nights and caravans are £90 for three nights.

Admittance for a day on the gate is £30 each.

For further information about the Geronimo Festival and to book tickets, please visit:

Encouraging healthy living in young people with Sainsbury's Active Kids

Sainsbury's recently released findings from their 'Eat Well. Move Well. Live Well' * report , showing some shocking statistics about the health and nutritional beliefs of children aged 11 - 14 years old.

Although 84% of children agreed that it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle and knew what steps needed to be taken, many of them failed to eat enough fruit and vegetables, drink enough water, exercise enough or limit their junk food intake. 13% of those surveyed said that they didn't even think it was important to eat healthily when young, 21% believed that fast food was a healthy option and 71% said they did not limit their sweet and chocolate consumption. 31% of the 11 to 14 year olds surveyed, admitted they didn't even think about whether the food they ate was healthy or not.

Factors influencing children living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles include the rise in social media, the increased availability of junk food and the move away from home cooking. Children of this age have greater freedom to make decisions but often lack the proper information, leading to poor judgment. Skipping meals, cutting out food groups, avoiding exercise and eating too much fast food is leading many young people into unhealthy lifestyles.

31% of young people said healthy food is boring and cited that as a reason for not eating more healthily. While 48% of children said they'd rather be doing other things than getting exercise including using social media and playing video games.

Young people need to be educated and empowered into taking positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle. To get my children interested in nutrition and to give them the tools they require to make good choices, I've always included them in the kitchen and encouraged them to help out with meal planning and food preparation. Kezia, is now 14 and has a few good meals that she can make in her repertoire, including a really delicious and healthy lentil and sweet potato curry. Healthy eating most definitely does not have to be boring!

curry recipe, healthy eating

Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe

2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium carrots
1 sweet potato
1 large white potato
1 cup of red lentils
3 cups of water
vegetable stock cube
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
ground black pepper
1 small can coconut milk
coconut oil

Chop the onions and gently fry in coconut oil until softened.
Add the chopped garlic and spices and fry for a further few minutes.
Add peeled and chopped carrots, potato and sweet potato and lentils.
Stir to coat.
Add water and the stock cube.
Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
(Add more water if it needs it.)
Once the vegetables are cooked through add the coconut milk and stir through.
Serve with rice for a wholesome meal.

When it comes to exercise, 41% of kids say that they 'could do more'. We lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles sat behind computer screens or on our phones for hours on end. Although my 7 year old does after school gymnastics and swimming lessons, my 14 year old is no longer interested in doing any extra-curricular sports. As a family, we try to go walking a few times a month. It is a fun way to get some gentle exercise and to spend time together free from technology. As the weather improves, I'm hoping that we will get to do a lot more of this, helping my children be more active and keeping us all fit.

sainsburys active kids

*Sainsbury’s will use the findings of this research to evolve their Active Kids programme for 2018 and help to continue to progress towards responsible measures that help young people and their families eat well, move well and live well.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

We Broke Out at Breakout Manchester

If you are looking for something a bit different to do with the family, I can highly recommend Breakout Manchester. It delivers an exciting and challenging activity that the families with older children can enjoy together. We played a Wild West themed escape room, Most Wanted, and it was absolutely brilliant for us all, from 7 year old Freddy to 48 year old Dad!

escape rooms, Breakout

Escape rooms are the latest in immersive, interactive entertainment. Guests find themselves locked in a themed room and are given 60 minutes to find clues and solve puzzles in order to escape. With physical and mental challenges, you work as a team, aided when necessary by your Break Out host who monitors your game from the control room and communicates with you via cryptic clues on the TV screen.

Breakout Manchester

I had very little idea what to expect, and was quite nervous, but our host Lucy made us very welcome as she gave us our brief. We were bandits breaking in to the local Sheriff's barroom in a bid to steal his stash of poker chips. The Sheriff was due to return in an hour, giving us sixty minutes that counted down on the TV screen in our room.

I won't give you any spoilers, but we had to solve a series of clues to lead us to keys or codes to open padlocks, which gave us further puzzles to solve in order to break out of the room in the allotted time. The attention to detail in the room was amazing and added to the authenticity of the experience.  Most Wanted has the added challenge of collecting the poker chips that are hidden around the room and behind padlocked cupboard doors. You really have to experience an escape room to understand just how cool it is. I felt like I was experiencing something like a cross between The Crystal Maze and a Clint Eastwood Western.

We were so pleased that we succeeded in breaking out of the room and we also got onto the leader board for collecting poker chips. We felt a real sense of achievement and enjoyed working as a team using our strengths to solve the clues. Everyone of us played a part and I was so pleased with Freddy who really got stuck in and was an awesome team player.

escape rooms, Most wanted

There are plenty of other themed rooms, so if you'd prefer to be a spy, solve a murder mystery, find a cure for a life threatening viral outbreak, thwart a mad scientist's deadly experiment, outwit a twisted serial killer or escape a hotel room from hell, there is a room for you. I honestly can't wait to play again!

escape rooms, Manchester

Find out more and book your team's game at:

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.


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.

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

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


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