Num Noms & our cake for National Chocolate Cake Day

We were sent the Num Noms and the cake ingredients for help in completing this post.

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day and we were recently sent some ingredients to make our very own chocolate cake as well as a Num Noms series 4 deluxe pack and some mystery pots as well as a lovely chef’s hat.

To make our bake in a box cake, we had to preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius for a fan oven, peel off the lid and pour the sachet contents into the box. Add 130ml of milk and stir with a fork until smooth. Then put the box in the oven for ten minutes.Then after 10 minutes, you remove from the oven, score a 1cm deep line, lengthways through the centre of the cake and put back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes. Remove and leave to cool before removing from the box carefully and decorating – yum!

Here’s our finished products:

Jack had lots of fun making his cakes and only wishes he had some more decorations and icing. He’s also been playing lots with his new Num Noms and introducing them to Olivia. He loves the mystery pots – it is always so fun to see what he can find inside.

What have you done for National Chocolate Cake Day? Did you make anything?

Healthy Snacking For Children With Googly Fruit

Googly Fruit healthy snacking for children

We were sent the Googly Fruit snacks for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

As a parent I am always looking for healthy snacks for my kids. It can be so easy to give in and give them those sweets and chocolate they are demanding but why not try to give them something a little healthier?

Googly Fruit healthy snacking for children

I am quite lucky in that both my children quite like fruit but sometimes just don’t want a whole piece of fruit. When offered the chance to review Googly Fruit, I knew that these had the potential to go down really well with my children. So who are Googly Fruit and what did we think?

The brand was founded by Natacha and Alex, parents and aunt and uncle to children. Their mission is to help kids make a lifelong friendship with fruit and vegetables.They have given all their fruit and veg googly eyes and cheeky names and personalities. Googly Fruit is made from 100% organic fruit and veg with no organic nonsense.

We were sent a variety of different products for the children to try. So what did we think?

Googly FruitWe were sent five of the Squeezy pouches – apple, blueberry and purple carrot; apple, mango and peach; apple, pear, carrot and pumpkin; apple, sweet potato and clementine & apple, strawberry, blueberry and raspberry. Both kids love a pouch – they are so convenient and usually quite tasty and the Googly Fruit pouches are no different. I even tasted a couple – they are so fruity and delicious and you can tell there are no additives in them. They taste just as they’re meant to taste and Olivia and Jack are loving them.

We were sent three packets of their crisps: 100% strawberry, 100% banana and raspberry and 100% apple and blueberry. Olivia has tried little bits of these but I still feel as if she is a little too small for these so Jack has been the one mainly snacking away on them – and loving them! He loves fruit and veg crisps – he loves a tasty snack with crunch!

We were also sent three packs of their crunchy puffs. Now my children LOVE puffed crisps so I was sure these were going to go down well – and I wasn’t wrong. I’ve had to split the packets into two equal halves when giving them as the kids love them so much and don’t really want to share with their sibling! So far the carrot ones seem to be most popular – but the others are well liked by Jack and Olivia too.

As well as this lovely selection of tasty treats that my children have enjoyed, they sent this lovely lot to the kids too: an activity book, googly eyes, stickers and a book that tells you the names of all their fruit and veg! Jack was disappointed not to see his name under J until he realised there was a jackfruit and now he is chuffed! Olivia is quite happy that her name is an Orange, she giggled when we kept pointing to it saying it was her, haha!#

All in all, I have been very impressed by what Googly Fruit has to offer. They are spreading a very popular message – that we should introduce our children to fruit and veg whilst they’re young even if that means making them fun. Their products also taste great and I can be assured that when I am giving my children one of their snacks, I’m not giving them any chemical nasties.

I’ll definitely be picking up some more of these for the kids – I can let the kids snack without worrying about what they are consuming.

Have you ever tried the brand?

5 healthy food and drink trends you need to know for 2018

Food trends are ever changing, it can be hard to keep up! But what should you be adding to your shopping list in 2018?

Healthy drinking

Many of us enjoy drinking alcohol, whether it’s when socialising with friends or drinking a complementary glass of wine with a meal. However, we are becoming more health conscious and calorie counting doesn’t go well with a taste for liquor…

This suggests the upcoming trend of 2018 — healthy drinking. This new trend allows us to drink and be sociable without consuming extra calories. The low-calorie option amongst alcoholic drinks has been a rising segment for many years and will continue to grow as we increasingly monitor what we eat and drink.

There is already low-calorie beer available and it is likely that low-calorie cocktails could be the next big thing. Now, 78% of bars offer cocktails which is up 12% on 2016 — driven by social media and people’s willingness to post photos of their fancy drinks. Zach Sasser, a head bartender, predicts that ingredients such as beetroot juice, kale and pureed carrots will be popular. “Going into this health-conscious age that we live in, I believe integration is inevitable,” he says.

There is also further potential for integrating healthy ingredients into cocktails. In one survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 700 chefs were surveyed on what they think the latest culinary trends may be. They said that the relationship between the bar and the kitchen is to become stronger. Can we expect vegetable-infused cocktails in 2018?

Rise in mushrooms

Research has revealed that many fungi, such as mushrooms, are good for you as they produce ‘adaptogenic’ compounds — assisting in anti-stress and anti-cancer treatments. For this reason, we predict that mushrooms will be the next big thing in 2018. In fact, Food Navigator found that year-on-year sales of food products that include medicinal mushrooms have risen between an outstanding 200-800%, depending on the variety.

Consulting firm, Grand View Research, reported that the mushroom market is expected to exceed $50 billion (£37 million) over the next six years. Making its way into the food and drink sector through mushroom-infused coffees and mushroom smoothies, many cafes and retailers are already profiting from the trend.

The special ingredient is finding a place on supermarket shelves in other ways too — through hair and skincare products! Different species of mushrooms are chosen for their varying properties — for example shiitake mushrooms are known for their richness in antioxidants and high vitamin D content, and the reishi mushroom is selected for its anti-inflammatory properties.

‘Flexitarianism’

In recent years, we have seen a rise in the number of people turning vegetarian and vegan. In fact, the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 350% in the past decade — predominantly driven by the younger market, with half of those opting for this diet falling between the ages of 15 and 34. Some people are enjoying the best of both worlds with a flexitarian diet — primarily vegetarian with meat and fish occasionally.

Many people believe that there is little room for indulging or eating unhealthily on a vegan diet and we predict that this could all change. With so many people transforming to a ‘flexitarian’ diet, there is a new market for vegan fast food.  

This may include seeing more of plant-based ‘meat’, such as the innovation that Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in called Beyond Meat. This could come in the form of burgers or fried food. Expect to see other indulgent food too, such as extravagant vegan desserts.

Plant-based protein

Possibly due to the rise of Instagram foodies and chefs, healthy smoothies have been big in 2017. Finely ground tea leaves, matcha and powdered super vegetables such as kale, spirulina and spinach have been popular too — their texture making it easy to add to soups, smoothies and salads. Registered dietician, Abbey Sharpe, explains their popularity: “I think people love a quick way to get in their healthy-eating fix, and powdered substances are seen as an easy way to pack in the nutrition.”

This year we are expecting to see an increase of garden plant based proteins to support healthy diets and act as workout fuel. One of the newest forms of this is pea protein which has many benefits including its neutral taste — making it favourable for regular consumption.

Domestic produce

With Brexit on the horizon and the uncertainty of trade regulations and costs, it is very likely that we will be embracing home grown produce this year. Brexit is already changing our views on food shopping. In April 2017, one in five said that they were more likely to buy British food after leaving the EU to support the economy. However, this was dependent on pricing, and if prices rise, many will go for cheaper alternatives.

We experienced rising fruit and vegetable costs in 2016 — vegetable prices rose by 6.6% and this was explained by climate problems in Europe which led to shortages in some items. Can we risk facing these soaring prices again? Many think not. Instead, keen and amateur gardeners are heading to their back yards to plant their own vegetables and it’s expected that this trend will continue.

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Degustabox | November 2017

Yet again we received our monthly Degustabox subscription box, priced at just £12.99 for the whole box with free delivery. This month was a festive themed box and we were lucky to receive a lovely selection of items. Subscribers only get one of the Filippo Berio products in their box but we get to try all of them to showcase what is available. So what did we receive this month? Cadbury Picnic Bites – £1.99
Picnics are one of my favourite chocolate bars so I may have shrieked to see these Picnic Bites included. They didn’t take long to eat – they were probably gone within thirty minutes of the box being opened!

The Jelly Bean Factory Super Sours – £1.79

Now if I was extremely happy to see the Picnic Bites, Steve was very happy to see these – jelly beans are his favourite sweet! They went down a treat.

Planters Fruity Chocolate Crunch – £2

This was something the whole family enjoyed. Made with crunch peanuts, juicy cranberries and creamy milk chocolate buttons, we all enjoyed this very much.

Weetabix Additions Apple & Raisin – £2.99

These have been in the boxes before and I enjoyed them then. I love having these for my breakfast and I never share – the box is all for me!

ALO – £1.99

Steve had this as I am not a big fan of aloe vera drinks. Steve really enjoyed this and it is cool to know that Alo are the only quality-proven brand of Aloe vera drinks in the UK.

Dalston’s Fizzy Apple – £1.89

Steve also drank this and found it quite tasty. I tried a bit and wasn’t too sure but Steve enjoyed it.

Taylors of Harrogate Cacao Superior Colombia Ground Coffee – £4.49

We don’t drink coffee in our house so have gifted this to my brother in law – however it does sound quite nice!

PROPERCORN Perfectly Sweet Popcorn – 89p

Hand popped corn sprinkled with unrefined Fairtrade sugar, Jack enjoyed this whilst watching a movie with a friend. It didn’t last even five minutes.

Ryvita Multigrain Rye Cakes – £1.39

Whilst these do make a great snack, we aren’t the biggest fans of these so donated these to our local foodbank.

 Rio Mare Tuna in Olive Oil – £3

Jack and I both like tuna so this was a lovely addition to our box. It has a real unique taste and we really enjoyed it.

Kallo Organic Stock Pots (chicken flavour) – £1.80

We always use stock or stock pots in our meals so these are a very welcome addition to our pantry. Kallo are a fab brand and these new stock pots are made with organic, natural and high quality ingredients. There are three flavours available – chicken, beef or vegetable. We received the chicken flavour.

The English Provender Co.’s Caramelised Red Onion Chutney – £1.99

I don’t think you’ll find a family who loves chutney like we do and this was a very pleasing inclusion in our box. This is absolutely delicious.

Filippo Berio Classic Pesto

I am the only one to like pesto in our house so we don’t tend to make pesto dishes. I donated this to the local food bank so someone else can benefit from it.

Filippo Berio Fennel & Garlic Crostini

These were great to snack on and we all really enjoyed them. We would certainly buy them again!

This is what we received and we were very impressed – a great mix of sweet and savoury items and some interesting drinks. Definitely worth the money again this month.

We were sent the box for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

 

Quick and easy roast dinner hacks everyone needs to know

The Sunday tradition of a roast dinner is very much alive and well, but any night has the potential to be roast night in our household. I have some tricks up my sleeve for getting one on the table quickly, with no hassle and less pans to clear up afterwards – perfect when you want something warm and filling on a winter’s evening.

Change your meat

The thing that takes longest to cook in a roast is usually the meat, but choose wisely and you don’t have to wait for hours. We often go for a small beef joint as it cooks quickly, especially as we prefer it cooked medium, while sausages go down well with the kids and can also be really speedy.

Treat yourself to venison steaks and they’ll be ready in only 10 minutes – simply season and flash fry them before baking in the oven for around eight minutes. If nothing but good-old roast chicken will do, spatchcock one for a reduced cooking time (you can get them ready prepared to save you the effort). Or for an even quicker chicken dinner, buy a pre-cooked one from the cooked meat counter at your local supermarket.

Rustle up some roasties

When you’re using a quick-cook meat, the last thing you want to do is hang around for your spuds. That’s when McCain Roasts come in really handy. These crispy roast potatoes go straight in the oven from the freezer and are ready in just 30-40 minutes. That takes three stages out of the roast-making process – peeling, cutting and boiling. Coated in goose fat, they also taste great – as good as any I’ve made at home before.

Use instant gravy

This one’s a no-brainer for time-saving in our house, but if you’re not sold on the idea of using granules you can always add a little something to pep your gravy up. At the very least you should include the meat juices from the pan and water from the cooked veg, but there are some other great additions to pack in flavour and enhance your classic Bisto gravy.

Even if you’re a marmite hater, you’re sure to be sold on the addition of a spoonful in your gravy. It doesn’t have that pungent flavour when used this way and instead gives the whole thing a really rich taste. If you prefer the idea of using a pot of ready-made gravy, pep it up by frying some bacon and adding the sauce to the pan to absorb all the tasty juices.

Choose your vegetables wisely

Although veggies don’t take all that long to cook in the scheme of things, buying them ready-prepared saves you on prep time and hassle. Frozen peas are always a winner and are usually frozen as soon as they’re picked to ensure a fresh taste. You can also buy microwaveable packs of pretty much every vegetable on the market, from broccoli to cabbage, or go for veg that steams in no time like mange tout.

One pan roast

If you find it hard to get the timings right for all the different elements of a roast, instead try a one-pan wonder. This one-pan chicken roast only has three stages. Simply cook your chicken, potatoes and carrots together before turning the heat down a little later, finally adding peas and stock for the last stage. The juices from the chicken flavour the vegetables and there’s no need to make additional gravy, as the ingredients create a flavoursome sauce in the bottom of the pan.

We love a roast dinner in this family, and it’d be great to get some more tips on easy roast dinners from you.

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