• Diet, Family 04.05.2013 2 Comments

    This is an entry for the BritMums/Special K “How I’ve changed Linky challenge.”

    I was sent a box of new recipe Special K to try. I used to eat Special K quite often, particularly the red berries version, but, preferring a wholegrain cereal, I haven’t had any for a while. The new recipe is a 3 grain recipe and contains wholewheat so it fills you up! No need for mid-morning nibbles! It is fortified with vitamins too but, most importantly, it tastes good. I enjoyed it with some skimmed milk and sliced strawberries and it really filled me up.

    Special K with strawberries



    Kellogg’s have changed the recipe for the first time since 1983 and this prompted the challenge to discover how I’ve changed since 1983.

    In 1983 I was working as a computer programmer and got engaged to my now husband. We bought our first house, a 3 bedroom semi, for £32,000! We had to do a lot of work on the house and most of our money went on that but we could still eat out and enjoy ourselves. I was a vegetarian and eating out wasn’t always easy, “we could make you an omelette” was a phrase I heard often! This meant that Italian food was often our choice so I could get a cheese and tomato pizza! There was one supermarket on the way home from work which we could go to occasionally but otherwise we shopped at local shops; a busy greengrocer, a baker’s and a grocer’s. Check out the shoulder pads in this picture of me in 1983.

    Me with Dad in 1983


    Things have certainly changed for me in the last 30 years. I now have 4 children and a granddaughter, I work very part time as a primary teacher and have recently completed a foundation degree in e-communication, I still have the same husband though! Our house is now a much larger detached, although downsizing is on the horizon. I usually prefer to cook at home than eat out, but the choice and quality of vegetarian food has changed beyond recognition! I still enjoy the occasional pizza but now I can have goat’s cheese, artichokes and rocket on it. Shopping has changed beyond recognition too. There are several supermarkets to choose from but the local shops are pretty much all gone where I live. A farmer’s market is a real treat and online food shopping quite normal. This new photo is a much more casual one of me with my beautiful granddaughter.



    Me with granddaughter in 2013



    On the whole I think I prefer things now and I’m not too nostalgic about the way things were in 1983. I wouldn’t mind being the same weight though and I could certainly do without the creaky knees! Maybe Special K will help with that!





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  • We are all aware that we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for the sake of our health. So how do you persuade your fussy children to do the same? Here are a few suggestions that have worked for my family, try them and see if you can turn your faddy eaters into healthy choosers.

    The most important thing is to start with what they like. Don’t make too many changes at once and try to add to the foods they are already happy with rather than giving them completely new foods. You may have adventurous youngsters who love to try new things, I’ve heard they exist, your little one may refuse to eat anything except chicken nuggets and marmite or, most likely, you’ve got something in between. It doesn’t matter. Start from where your child is and make the changes small and gradual.

    The best way I found to give my finicky eaters more of what I wanted them to eat was to hide it in something they already liked. When my daughter was six she decided to become a vegetarian. I couldn’t argue with this, as I am a vegetarian myself. The trouble was she didn’t really like vegetables! While she was at school the food processor came out and in went onions, mushrooms, butter beans or chickpeas for protein and any other things she wasn’t too keen on. Then I made a casserole with potatoes, carrots, peas and sweet corn and incorporated my healthy puree into the sauce. She had no idea how healthy her tea was. It is easy to do the same with a tomato sauce for pasta, add in some red lentils which cook down to nothing, carrots, onions, courgettes, broccoli and herbs and whiz it up in the blender. You can spread this sauce on a pizza too.

    A great way to incorporate vegetables into meals is to make soup. Even the cheapest stick blender will hide any number of vegetables beyond recognition. Onions, carrots and potato fried gently then cooked with some stock and herbs and a tin of tomatoes will blend into a sweet, tasty soup most children, and adults, will enjoy. Lentils can be added to any mixture of vegetables and stock to give a more substantial soup. Serve the soup in bowls as part of a meal or in mugs to drink after school in the winter, filling, warming and good for you too.

    When it comes to packed lunches and snacks you can have lots of fun. Make sandwiches tiny or in fancy shapes, my youngest daughter had a duck shaped cutter she loved when she was nursery school age. Make them appeal to the child’s taste, a wizard’s hat for your Harry Potter fan, chicks and Easter egg shapes, Christmas trees and stars, horses or cats. There are lots of cookie cutters available so make lunchtime fun. Children as young as one or two can easily cut out shapes with a little help. When it comes to fillings you really want a little protein and plenty of vegetables or fruit. Peanut butter, cheese spread or hummus make good fillings with salad vegetables. Don’t worry if they don’t like salad; add crunchy carrot and cucumber sticks, bags of mini carrots and grapes, satsumas or little apples into their lunchbox. When they need a drink or snack make that healthy too. Banana milkshake, strawberry smoothie, mango smoothie or fruit salad are always popular. If your children love their desserts then make some fruit puree to pour over ice cream or stir into natural yogurt. Stewed apples, pears or rhubarb are good with ice cream, yogurt or custard too and don’t forget that old favourite bananas and custard.

    When you really want to introduce them to new foods you can hide them at first in sauces as above. Then try chopping the food up really small so it’s difficult to distinguish and only when they’ve accepted that should you move to bite size pieces. This may take several weeks or even months but it is worth the effort. Of course they may still resist but does it really matter? Think of any foods that you’re not keen on; there are probably a few. Does it affect your life or health if you don’t eat these foods? Probably not, so don’t worry if your children don’t like the same foods as you. As long as their diet is healthy most of the time and they get a variety of foods and nutrients during the week one poor meal won’t hurt them. You can always make a game of eating new foods too, a three year old can be allowed to have three spoonfuls of a new food before leaving the rest, moving up to four after a birthday.

    When it comes to family meals no one wants to make several meals to give everyone their own choice. Try to make the choices part of the meal and your children may surprise you by trying things you may not usually offer them. A pasta bake can be made quite basic (with hidden vegetables in the sauce maybe) and then served with separate bowls of tuna, sweet corn and roasted vegetables for everyone to help themselves.

    So, the general advice is to make the changes small at first. Try again after a few weeks if they resist change. Make mealtimes fun, relaxed mealtimes are pleasanter for everyone. Let the children get involved in choices and preparation. Lead by example, you may be so busy with the family you forget about yourself, so make sure you are getting plenty of fruit and vegetables too and eat a healthy snack at the table while the children eat tea if you are eating later.

    Finally, don’t worry, faddy young children often grow up to be health conscious teenagers and adults, so don’t give up, have fun, enjoy your children and your food.

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  • Family, holidays 07.09.2011 2 Comments

    Today is the day it feels as though summer is over. Back to school for my teenage son, back to routine for me. In a few days the first day of the final year of my degree course.

    It has been a busy and enjoyable summer. I spent a week in North Wales with my son and we enjoyed beautiful weather to go with the beautiful scenery.


    My son and I also went to Ibiza for a few days to see my youngest daughter who was working there over the summer. It was very hot, pretty noisy and generally suited to a younger age group than mine! It was lovely though and old Ibiza Town was beautiful. The flight out was the noisiest I have ever encountered and I think plenty of alcohol was consumed! The flight back was much quieter with mainly families on the plane. Much pleasanter, and a reminder that I don’t really want to revisit my twenties!


    A final trip to Dublin completed our travels this summer. A couple of days with friends celebrating a 50th birthday and then a couple of days in the centre of Dublin in a nice hotel. My husband finally got to visit The Guinness Storehouse and we checked the quality in a pub too!


    It’s been a lovely summer but I’m glad to have my daughters back from working in Ibiza and Sardinia and I’m ready to get on with my course.

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