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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Foodie: Snack Time

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 29-04-2013

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Do children ever stop eating? Little Man is 2 and a half and he seems to be permanently eating something or asking for food. Aside from his three meals a day snacks are very popular. He has the occasional “naughty” treat – Smarties are usually a winner, or those small Lindt Rabbits – but he does love fruit. Strawberries and grapes are probably his favourites, but he also eats blueberries, apples, bananas and satsumas by the bucket load. When we’re at home fruit is an easy snack to provide, but when we’re out and about transporting soft fruits can be a bit of a nightmare. Strawberries have been very disappointing this year, most of them are squashy and wet by the time they make it from the supermarket so I tend to leave them at home instead of popping some in a pot to take out on trips and days out. The team at Fruit Bowls however sent Little Man a couple of packets of their newest product Fruit Peelers to try, and may well have solved the strawberry problem.

Fruit Peelers are made from 100 fruit and nothing else, so I’m happy to give them to Little Man. He thinks he’s getting a treat or some much requested “treasure” when in fact he’s getting a healthy snack. Available in three different flavours Fruit Peelers come in packs of 3, and each peeler contains 1 of your 5 a day – another positive. They look like 6 strawberry laces stuck together, and they are peel-able – as the name suggests – so you can eat one lace at a time. Little Man ate the first one lace by lace, but now – with all the samples long gone, and numerous others bought since – he just eats them as a complete stick or bar. The great thing about these from my point of view is that you can chuck one in your handbag or changing back when you go out, and if your little one doesn’t eat it you can just leave it in there till your next trip out. There’s no mess to find in the bottom of your bag a few days later.

Fruit Bowl also do other products which are ideal for taking out and about without the mess. Fruit Flakes are another big hit with Little Man, as are the School Bars. Both make great things to pop into a handbag, or to use in your little ones lunch boxes for nursery, preschool or school. The Fruit Flakes are also great for baking – perfect for use in cakes, biscuits, muffins or scones.

The complete Fruit Bowls range is available from most supermarkets.

Review: Healthy Snacks From Special K

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 14-02-2013

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As parents we are endlessly trying to encourage our children to eat healthily. Whether eat be at meal times or snack times we are keen for them to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and less biscuits and crisps – apart from the occasional treat of course! Unfortunately as parents who are often running around after our children we tend to be less concerned with our own diets. When there’s a million and one things to do we often grab food on the go and are probably more likely to grab something we shouldn’t than a healthier alternative.

When I want a snack, either during the day or when I’m relaxing in the evenings, you are more likely to find me going for a packet of crisps – more often than not a large packet – or a chocolate biscuit, than an apple or banana. Something fast and full of instant energy, which is certainly handy with a toddler in the house. Sadly this is not the healthiest thing I could eat. The team at Special K have come up with a solution however to satisfy my salted snack cravings, and my sweet tooth too.

Special K Cracker Crisps
These crisps are a far cry from that brand I usually buy, but I am thrilled, and a little surprised, to admit they taste better! “Healthy” crisps tend to be a little bit bland, or often taste like you are chewing cardboard. I’ve tried a few in  my time and found none that I like so I was keen to test out these cracker crisps. The serving suggestion is 21 crisps, and in that you’ll find a mere 95 calories (based on Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar flavour). Now these crisps are rather addictive, and I can confess that limiting myself to just 21 was basically impossible. The great thing was that even if I ate half the box (who, me?) it was infinitely better for me that eating half a share size bag of traditional crisps. These crisps from Special K are delicious and I recommend all three flavours, though my absolute favourites are the Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar. Perfect for eating with lunch, a mid afternoon snack, and they go rather well with that much needed glass of wine in the evenings when the kids have finally gone to bed.

Special K Biscuit Moments
Biscuit Moments are twin packs of biscuits with a fruit filling and a vanilla drizzle on top. At 98 or 99 calories each depending on flavour they are again a very healthy alternative to raiding the biscuit barrel. Once again I was surprised at how tasty they were for something so much better for you than a bar of chocolate, but despite this I wasn’t entirely satisfied. I could easily have eaten 2, and I fear that would have defeated the purpose. They were light and tasty, but a little too light for me. Maybe you could have one of these and then just the one chocolate biscuit as opposed to four or five. Don’t get me wrong they are yummy, but I personally would need something else. I suggest you try them and decide for yourselves.

The new ranges from Special K are available now from your local supermarket.

Health: Good Food & Drinks For Christmas & New Year

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Foodie | Posted on 18-12-2012

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Overindulging is one of the best parts of Christmas – I certainly do it, and I’m sure everyone reading this will be guilty of it this year too. As the New Year dawns we’ll all start thinking about resolutions and no doubt healthy eating and a new fitness regime will be part of that for some of us. I’m pretty sure we all start each new year with the best of intentions, but no doubt by the end of the first week all hope is lost!

Here are a few recipes for drinks, meals and snacks which might just help you have a healthy Christmas and New Year. By using Philadelphia Light, Total Greek Yogurt or making “Mocktails” with Welchs Purple Grape Juice, you can eat well, and eat healthier.

Turkey & Cranberry Bites
This is a great way to use up Christmas Day leftovers and create some tasty nibbles for Boxing Day and beyond. Take a 375g pack of ready rolled puff pastry and cut it into 24 little squares. Top each square with a dollop of Philadelphia Light, some Cranberry Sauce and a few pieces of cooked turkey. Cook for 10-15 minutes at 220degrees/Gas 7 until the pastry is golden. Allow to cool a little before serving.

Mini Cheesecake Bites
These are also a great party food, or you could make a large one anytime. Take a packet of mini chocolate chip cookies, shortbread rounds, or oat biscuits and top generously with spoonfuls of Chocolate Philadelphia. Top with fresh fruit of your choice, such as strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.

Creamy Lincolnshire Sausage Hot Pot
For a great family friendly meal try this delicious hot pot.

Prep time: 45mins
Cooking time: 1hr
Serves: 4

454g Lincolnshire pork sausage (8 sausages)
2 Eating apples (preferably red to add colour to the dish)
1 Leek
2 Large carrots
1 Medium onion
1 Clove of garlic (crushed)
½ pint Chicken stock
300g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt Classic
4 Medium potatoes
50g Butter
Olive oil for cooking

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 6/400F or 200C.
Peel and par boil the potatoes in a saucepan of salted water, drain and allow to cool.
Cut each apple into four wedges and remove the core. Gently sauté in a frying pan with a little olive oil for around 3-4 minutes then remove from the pan and place to one side.
Roughly cut the carrot, leek and the onion into 1 inch pieces.
Gently sweat with the garlic for approximately 5 minutes until they start to soften, then add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
When stock has boiled, remove from the heat and add the yoghurt.
In a frying pan, quickly fry off the sausages in a little olive oil whilst cooking the par boiled potatoes into ¼ inch thick slices.
Place the sausages and apples into a large casserole dish. Then pour over the carrot, onion, leek and yoghurt mixture.
Next, lay the sliced half cooked potatoes over the top in an even layer. Generously brush with melted butter and bake in the middle of oven for approx 1 hr until crisp and golden on the top.

This is delicious, and a great recipe for hiding vegetables from little ones too!

Black Forest Gateau In A Glass
This is a lovely healthy twist on the classic dessert, and served in individual glasses looks great too.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

500g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt (0%, 2% or Authentic)
1 tin Pitted black cherries
½ pkt Luxury chocolate cookies
100g Nutella
1 Cadbury’s flake

Drain the cherries, but keep the juice.
Crush the cookies and chop the flake into small pieces

To Serve:
Take four sundae glasses – or any quirky glassware you have – and layer the ingredients. Start with the cookies and drizzle with the juice from the cherries. Next add a layer of cherries, a layer of chocolate spread and a layer of yoghurt.  Keep adding the layers until glass is nearly full. Finish with a sprinkling of crumbled flake!

These look amazing, and taste delicious!

Mock Mulled Wine
Try this festive juice this year instead of the traditional alcoholic version. Put 300ml of Welchs Purple Grape juice, 2 cloves, 1cm stick of cinnamon, 1 star anise and a 2inch piece of orange peel into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a hot drinks glass – removing and pieces first of course – and garnish with a cinnamon stick. Tasty and much better for you.


Product Review: Popcorn Machine

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 12-12-2012

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Popcorn is the staple food of any good movie night, but it can also be a healthy snack if made correctly. Paramount Zone sent me one of their best selling Popcorn Machines to review, and I was VERY impressed.

The best feature of this machine for me was that the popcorn is made using hot air, not hot oil. This makes the popcorn very healthy, but also eliminates the hazard of hot oil in the kitchen – very important with a toddler around – and also means the machine needs barely any cleaning out after use. My kind of kitchen appliance!

I am also a big fan of the speed the machine operates. You put a measure of popcorn kernels – not supplied but available at supermarkets and health stores (I got mine at Holland & Barrett) – into the machine and place the hood in place. You turn the machine on at the socket – there are no buttons on the machine itself – and watch. The heat coming from the machine is intense so its best to stand clear and keep children out the way. After about a minute and a half the kernels begin turning into popcorn and start flowing out the machine. Make sure you have a large bowl ready! Within another minute or so all the kernels are fluffy pieces of popcorn waiting to be eaten.

The first time I made popcorn with the machine we made two types. We left half plain – surprisingly delicious, and perfect for children to eat. We covered the second half with a homemade mixture of melted butter and sugar, a basic almost caramel mix. Little Man was happy to munch on the plain, and shove little handfuls into my mouth – not that I was complaining. The caramel flavoured popcorn was reserved for the adults and it was amazing. So quick to make and so tasty.

I can see the popcorn machine being a great addition to our kitchen this Christmas. I’m rather tempted to make a batch and decorate the tree with it, like you see in US TV shows. A small cup makes a huge amount so it would hardly be wasted. I also expect lots of bowls to be eaten during festive movies – some fab suggestions on Team Lloyds blog at the moment – and during family gatherings during Christmas and New Year.

The Popcorn Machine would make a great gift this Christmas too, and at just £14.99 at the moment is amazing value. Check out Paramount Zones other Christmas Gift suggestions too.

Sun Awareness Week – 30th April to May 6th

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 30-04-2012

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I know, its a little ironic what with the deluge of rain that’s fallen in recent weeks, but this week is in fact Sun Awareness Week. Staying safe in the sun is important for everyone, but for young children with delicate skin its essential. Taking good precautions from an early age is vital in ensuring a lifetime of healthy skin. Young children are amazing at picking up phrases or mimicking actions, so why not take the time to ensure they learn the importance of protecting themselves from the sun this Sun Awareness Week… or next time its stops raining!

A recent survey by Cuddledry highlighted major concerns about parents awareness of the danger of the sun, and what counts as appropriate protection. 85% of respondents believed that just keeping your child covered up in clothing provided BETTER protection than an SPF 30 sun cream. In reality most children’s clothing provided a meagre SPF 15 protection, meaning your child’s skin can still get damaged through what they are wearing.

For safety in the sun SPF 30 should be worn along with sun protection clothing, so the team at Cuddledry have designed a new Sun Protection Poncho Towel which is perfect for use by the pool, on the beach and during the holidays. The fabric uses a patented Rayosan(TM) technology that coats the towel and acts like a mirror, reflecting the harmful rays away from your child and provides a protection factor of up to 50+. They also incorporate the familiar Cuddledry signature cotton and bamboo fibre, which means its super absorbent and soft next to your child’s skin. The ponchos also have poppers under the arms so you can make it have sleeves so its more likely to stay on, making it a great outfit to throw on throughout the holiday season.

The SPF 50+ Ponchos are available now direct from the Cuddledry website in a choice of two colours – Lilac & Cherry or Aqua & Turquoise.

Product Review: Ella’s Kitchen Nibbly Fingers

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 17-01-2012

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Now my Little Man is 15 months old he rarely eats shop bought baby food any more. I do sometimes have an emergency one in the cupboard for lazy days, but more often than not he sits down at the table with us and eats what we’re having for his meals. To me he seems very grown up now that he’s not tucking into his favourite Ella’s Kitchen meal and I don’t need to buy them any more. I was going to miss Ella’s Kitchen and their brilliant foods, but now I have an answer. Now Ella is still a part of my Little Man’s life… in the form of her Nibbly Fingers!

Available in three flavours – Banana & Raisin, Mango & Carrot, and Strawberry & Apple – these bars are designed for toddlers aged 12 months plus and are perfectly sized for their little hands. They don’t contain any added salt or sugars, any E numbers or GM, or any additives. They are just 100% organic bars for little hands and little tums. They do contain gluten and some naturally occurring fruit sugars, but they make a healthy handy snack for any time and any where.

Little Man was sent a box of each to test out and he loved them. He snacks on them at home and we never leave the house without one of these in a pocket or a bag, so there’s always one available when hunger strikes. Because they are made with organic oats and fruits they are filling and satisfying, so you don’t find Little Man asking for “More” after he’s had one, unlike with other sugary snacks.

Nibbly Fingers are available in boxes of 5 from supermarkets now.