Ella’s Kitchen have a new range of “My Little Big Meals” for toddlers. We were sent the Stacked & Packed Veggie Moussaka to try out: The Veggie Moussaka is the only vegetarian meal in the range. I would love to see more options available for vegetarian meals, but as one to start off with I think Veggie Moussaka is a great choice. As an adult, Vegetarian Moussaka is a dish I really like, and it makes a change from pasta dishes which the vegetarian options often are.
The meal is suitable from 12 months onwards and is easily heated in the microwave. It contains 7 different vegetables which are: tomatoes, aubergines, carrots, potatoes, red peppers, yellow peppers, onions – and it is organic vegetables which are used.
The portion is 200g which is quite generous. It was plenty for Mr R who is just over 2 years so I think it could probably do two portions for a 12 month old – of course this depends on appetite.
Mr R enjoyed the meal and was happy to eat it. Mr T and Mr Z did not want to try but I think at almost 4 and 5 they may be more at the older end for these kind of meals. It is the kind of thing I would give to Mr R sometimes for lunch on the days that the other children are out at school. Rather than giving sandwiches on a cold day, this type of meal may be a better alternative for a quick lunch.
I did try a taste of it myself just to see what it is like (I tend to do this when giving the children new foods so I know what I am giving them!) and I found the taste good, but obviously it is mild and quite bland as it is for babies and toddlers. It has lentils in it and I felt that taste came through – which is good as my children are used to eating daal so they are fine with lentils, and also its very good for protein as it’s a vegetarian meal!
All the nutritional information, ingredients and heating instructions are clearly shown on the back of the pack. If you don’t wish to microwave your babies food, instructions are given on how to warm the meal in hot water instead.
Ella’s Kitchen is a brand I trust and I would be happy to give these meals from time to time. For those who can meat, its a pretty wide and varied range so I do suggest having a look – Or for vegetarians try out the Moussaka! 🙂
We were sent some goodgrips tools from Oxo to help out with making some delicious meals for the little ones. With the weather starting to turn chilly, and the leaves starting to turn orange – Autumn is definitely in the air! So I decided to make Shepherds Pie as this is a simple and comforting hot dish for the colder weather.
At first I decided to grate the cheese, so I could keep it ready for later. I don’t add a lot of cheese to the top of the shepherd’s pie, and if you don’t like cheese you can leave it off and it will work fine! My boys really like cheese, so a little grated on the top works well for them and I also had extra so I gave them a bit more on the side of their plate.
Mr T was on hand to help me out with the grating. They all enjoy helping with cooking when they have the chance, and as all the cheese is collected in the compartment at the bottom of the box grater, that makes it easier for little ones to help out with this task without making too much mess!
I did have to help him a fair bit to actually get it grated properly – but he enjoyed it, and it is all learning for him to just have a go.
I love the grater as the little box is so handy, and the whole thing is really well made. You can easily detach and reattach the box as needed.
Next up I prepared the mince, which Mr T could not help with as it is cooked on the hob but he was happy to stay in the kitchen and watch for a bit.
To cook the mince, I have softened onions and carrots (in a pain with oil) then added the mince and browned it, adding some tomato puree and sauce. I have used lean mince (from New Zealand lamb – which are all certified as Halal) but even so, I still drain any fat after cooking the mince.
Once the lamb mince is prepared, it is time to make the mashed potato for on top. I simply boiled some peeled and chopped potatoes and then mashed with butter and milk, using the Oxo Good Grips masher. This is a lovely masher as it is very sturdy and very comfortable to use, even if you were mashing for a long time. Mr T had wandered off by this point so I did the mashing by myself!
I then placed the cooked lamb mince into my bake ware and then added the mashed potato and topped it with a little bit of the grated cheese I prepared earlier. I would advise don’t add too much! I put some fork markings into the mashed potato and then it was ready for the oven.
I baked it for 20-25 minutes on Gas mark 4.
Ta-da! One shepherds pie suitable for all the family. I served it with peas and cauliflower for the vegetables and some extra grated cheese for the children.
Unfortunately they are quite picky eaters, and they won’t just eat without a fuss even though they have helped to make it! But I still have to keep trying with them! It’s good to have a simple meal suitable for all of us so that we can sit and eat together at the weekends, and this meal was ideal for that. The Oxo Good Grips tools were brilliant to use while making it and I will definitely keep using these tools in future.
Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron is a really comprehensive guide on making your babies food. The book is from America and the first version sold over half a million copies. Now the fully revised and completely updated 3rd edition has been released and it is also available here in the UK.
The book is so much more than just recipes (although there are plenty of recipes too! Over 350! ) It is full of information about nutrition and food types, and also includes some extra information on growing your own vegetables and home made baby products or household products, and safety information.
The most important part of the Super Baby Food diet is the super baby porridge which can be started from 6 months and there is a lot of other information on which fruits are good to introduce at which age. This book would have been more useful for me if I had it when my toddlers were babies weaning onto solid foods as I think I may have now missed the window to get them to eat this super porridge! However there are lots of toddler recipes, including ones that seem tempting to children even though they are healthy – like healthy potato chips, easy baked beans, falafel, or healthier recipes for pizza crusts.
I have to admit, I am not someone who always cooks every single thing from scratch. I am more of a mixture – sometimes giving shop bought baby meals and sometimes making our own. Despite that, I still found this book accessible and was able to take some ideas from here although I may not be following the whole diet. I would say it is a useful resource to have, especially if you are wanting to make more effort to know exactly what is in your little ones food or want some guidance on how to make more yourself, and make sure what you make is good!
If you would like to win your own copy, enter via the Rafflecopter below:
A few weeks back we tried some of the gluten free ready meals from Ilumi.Each meal comes in a pouch which can be microwaved, and the rice pouches come separately. We tried the Vegetable and Chickpea Jalfrezi. These meals are really handy for days when you are in a rush, or if you have someone come round with various allergies or food intolerances and want to make sure you have a suitable meal – as Ilumi make nut-, gluten- and milk-free foods. All of the dietary information is clearly labelled right on the front of the pouch, to make sure it is very clear and easy to check that it is suitable and very easy to follow the heating instructions.
The meals are cooked by a team of chefs in county Durham. They are cooked from scratch in their kitchens, using a pressure cooker. Because of the pouches, they don’t need refrigerating so it’s really handy to be able to keep a couple of these in the cupboard for emergencies! There are no preservatives or unnatural ingredients included – the reason the meals are able to keep well outside of the fridge is because of the cooking method in the pouch.
There are almost 30 different varieties available from Ilumi. Many of the flavours have an Asian influence but there are also British favourites like Beef Meatballs in tomato sauce, and a variety of soups or sauces which you could use and cook the rest of your meal yourself.
As we eat Halal food I was interested in the vegetarian varieties and I was pleased to find that the vegetable and chickpea jalfezi was tasty and enjoyable. We ate this with the yellow basmati rice. I found the portion size okay, each meal is suitable for one person.
I have tried other brands of gluten free food in the past and really didn’t enjoy them but I was very satisfied with Ilumi that the taste is good. We are not on a gluten free diet, I just try these things out from time to time! Because the Ilumi meals taste good they can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of the dietary requirements.
If you want to see some of the other varieties, including non vegetarian – Have a look at a couple of other bloggers reviews here:
September is here and with the children back to school it’s time to start thinking of more lunchbox ideas to keep the lunches interesting!
Two of my boys take pack lunches, and I do find myself running out of ideas from time to time, or resorting to the same old favourites.
We recently tried some of the new Warburtons products to “liven up lunch” – Square sandwich wraps and sandwich thins. I also try to vary the sandwiches by mixing it up between sliced bread, bread rolls, tortilla wraps or pitta.
The boys favourite sandwich filling is cheese. Also nutella or peanut butter but obviously not too often! Some other ideas are:
As well as the main sandwich or salad item, I also like to find variety for the extras that I include.
We were sent some samples from Yu who have a great range of healthy snacks.
There range includes:
Fruit Pieces covered in yoghurt
They are all a great size for lunch boxes and are made from real fruit. I have tried them myself too, and really like the taste. I’m really happy for the children to have these as a part of their lunch or as a snack. They do taste quite sweet, especially the yu-bar which means the children enjoy eating them but I know as it is made of fruit that it does have goodness in it.
We have also tried out a variety of fruit pouches, including fruit smoothie pouches from Ella’s Kitchen and 100% Fruit pouches from Cow & Gate
These are really handy to eat straight out of the packet, and provide an easy portion of fruit. Especially for children who are fussy or not keen on whole fruit, these could be a solution. Mr T will only eat banana so these are good to try and encourage him. I have been told that sucking from these kind of pouches is also good for his mouth muscles! I also like that it is really mess free as compared to giving fruit puree in a pot with a spoon. Mr Z would not have any of the pouches in his packed lunch as he said they are too babyish. Although you do often get weaning food in these pouches, fruit puree can be eaten at any age and I have even tried the cow & gate ones myself but it will depend on the child whether they are happy to include them in the lunch box or not. My younger two would have no objections to it.
Crisps: As long as it is not every day, I am happy for the boys to have crisps in their packed lunch. We have tried a couple of varieties from walkers recently:
My boys preferred the Hoops and Crosses from these two types but it is worth trying them both to see which you like.
You can also get fruit crisps from brands such as Nims Fruit Crisps. We personally didn’t love these as much but they are nice in small quantities and could be a healthier option to include now and again. Our favourite is the apple flavour.
We have also been trying out a couple of different drinks, all of which have been really popular in the boys lunch boxes.
These come in a blend of either apple & mango or apple & pear and are 60% juice and 40% water which makes them a lighter tasting juice and also seems healthier than 100% juice as it is less calories and will be kinder on teeth. Each carton is 200ml which is an ideal size for lunch boxes. The boys enjoyed the taste (so did I – I tried one too :D) and I really like that it has a high water content, especially for Mr R who is only 2 years old.
These are also a blend, but in more unusual flavours. They come in blackcurrant and cherry or pear and vanilla, which is nice to add some variety to the usual flavours. They come with cheeky characters on the packaging and 1% of profits goes to support the Rainbow Trust. These are 100% natural fruit juice, with just a splash of water added. Again, I am happy to see water added to this to dilute the juice a little and the boys enjoyed the taste of the juice.
We tried this out recently through Bzz agent and the boys really enjoyed these. It does have less fruit juice content than the other juices mentioned but I am happy for them to have it now and again. The plus refers to added vitamins. Depending on the flavour different vitamins are included with some having added calcium (marked as healthy bones) and others having vitamins A, C and E (marked as immunity support) I do like the idea of this especially for Mr T who’s diet can be a bit restricted.
I would buy all of these drinks in future as its good to mix and match to stop the children getting bored.
We have also been sent a great personalised water bottle to review recently from It’s Your Story. This is a really cute and different product and is great for making lunch times more fun and encouraging children to drink more water.
To make the water bottle you choose which design your child would prefer, from 14 available options then upload a picture so that their head can be added in the design. Mr Z chose the farmer design himself as he found it really funny
The design has come out really clearly on the water bottle and looks great. It is a metal water bottle (aluminium) which seems better quality and more durable than some of the plastic ones we have had, and is a really good size at 500ml yet is still pretty light to carry. The bottles are available in either white or silver, and ours is a white one. I have found it doesn’t chip or scratch easily. As well as livening up your child’s lunch box it would also be a nice gift.
Have you tried anything new in your child’s lunchbox this year? Let me know in the comments.
I have a guest post today from my sister! I was invited to the opening of the new La Tasca Spanish Tapas restaurant in Broadgate but couldn’t make it in the end due to not having any childcare – poor me! Luckily my sister was still able to go so she has written a review for me 🙂
I went to the opening of the new La Tasca Broadgate with my friend Danielle. This was a really handy location for us as we both work in the City and the restaurant is right next to Liverpool Street station.
When we arrived we got ourselves some white wine at the bar and were then shown to our table. The atmosphere is nice and relaxing and the eating area is spacious with generous sized tables that are amply big enough to hold all the different plates of various tapas items. Our waiter was friendly and welcoming and he explained that we could get 3 tapas items each, so we ordered the following
Prawns with garlic and chilli
Paella of the day, chicken and chorizo
Chicken with lemon and vegetables
Empanada stuffed with meet
Croqueta with cheese and spinach
I can’t remember the exact Spanish names of these dishes! My friend who was dining with me is a fan of Spanish food as she has spent time living in Madrid and Seville. She was keen to order some croquetas as they are her favourite. They have a fair amount of variety on the menu, with a few different versions of some of the classic tapas. For example you can get croquetas in different flavours ranging from meaty to vegetarian and the same applies to the paellas. Personally my favourite of these was the empanada which is basically like a Spanish meat pasty! I liked the prawns too and we both thought the sauce on the papatas bravas was quite authentic tasting.
As well as eating the food we were able to see a brief demonstration of how to cook paella. They made a seafood one with prawns, squid, white fish. This was explained by the person in charge of sourcing all the ingredients and he told us about the best prawns which he likes to get from Argentina which are the freshest and tastiest all year around. They did make it look quite simple to make paella so we will try to recreate it at home at some point!
Just to make the meal even better we were also given a free glass of sangria each – definitely a nice treat after a long day at work.
Creative Tops have created some Mr Men recipe cards for parents to download, and they would love to see pictures of your children busy in the kitchen enjoying the baking process. Pictures can be posted on their Facebook wall and one winner will be picked at random to win some kids baking goodies to encourage their love of baking even more!
Here are the recipe cards which have been created. Click each one to bring it up bigger!
I do love competitions like this, as it gives you the excuse to have a fun afternoon of baking, which the kids always enjoy. I will let the boys choose which Mr Men recipe they fancy trying out. I like the look of all these 70’s style recipes – tasty and not too daunting.
Which one do you think you will try? Let me know in the comments. I will be sharing pictures soon, and of course posting them up on the Creative Tops Facebook page!
Some of you may remember our #CookWithPyrex Twitter party and the all the brilliant Pyrex products we have been trying out (you can see all my posts here)
Now I have been trying some of the Pyrex Flexi Twist bakeware products. They sent some of their fab Flexi Twist range which has very child friendly fun designs. The moulds are all made of silicone and are non stick which makes them so convenient and easy to use. It is really easy to remove the cake once cooked, and really easy to clean. They all have 0% bisphenol A too which is reassuring to know.
The Numbers cake tray
This is really cool! Mr Z is very interested in anything to do with numbers so he was really excited to see this cake design. I used this silicone cake mould to make a simple chocolate cake, and the effect was great. I was so happy with how simple and quick this was to get such an effective result.
I made a simple chocolate cake, and filled the tray only to half way to allow space for the cake to rise. 20 minutes later I had a really great number design cake with such a little effort.
You could also try a moist apple cake as described on the back of the packaging. Jenny from the Brick Castle’s teenage daughter tried this recipe which you can see here.
Eileen and her kids, from ET Speaks from home have also been busy baking with the same moulds which you can see here.
The individual circus moulds
I decided to try something else with these, just as an experiment. I wondered whether they would work well for some deserts other than cakes, so I used them to make some bombay Halwa.
For anyone who may not know, this is a milk based desert which you make from China Grass (agar agar). It is kind of like a milk based jelly.
I have used the Gits packet which you can buy in any supermarket, because I like to save time so as far am I’m concerned its all about the packet mixes! 😉
You combine the ingredients with milk on the hob then simply stir it till done and then place it into a dish to set. I decided to use these circus moulds rather than a normal dish, hoping that the desert would set well into the circus shapes. I have to say I was quite impressed with how sharply the designs came out. These moulds worked so well! So I would definitely recommend that if you want to branch out and use them for anything other than cake, it will work perfectly.
I should have possibly put slightly less into each mould as the pieces came out quite thick and big but the effect of the designs looks so cool 🙂
Next I will try it with normal jelly. Has anyone got any more ideas for me? Please do share it with me in the comments.
Disclaimer: We were sent all the products for review.
The Click Lock™ Bento Mealtime Set from Munchkin – Make lunchtimes fun, fresh and organised! See what we thought, and look out for the giveaway at the end of the page! Some of you may remember, we reviewed the Munchkin Disney range for toddlers a while back, and now I have something new to share with you for ‘Back to School’
The Click Lock™ Bento Mealtime Set is great! It is a lunch box with three different lidded compartments, perfect for keeping all the lunch time food fresh and separate. It also comes with it’s own cutlery set embedded in the lid – how handy and cool 😀
The two smaller compartments in the Bento Box come labelled one for fruit and one for vegetables, and they are just the perfect size for some chopped up pieces. It is a good space saver too, as normally I have to put these in different tubs inside a lunch box and it can all end up quite bulky! The main compartment is a good size for sandwiches, or would be ideal if you wanted to send any cooked food in for your child’s lunch. As it is a secure separate compartment there is no worry about it touching any of the other food items. You should even be okay sending in something with sauce as there is the click lock lid in place! I will be trying this out once Mr T goes back to nursery as his nursery allows them to bring hot food in so with this box I can send him some rice and daal which he likes to eat.
As the idea of Bento is normally to make small portions of food look more appealing for little ones, I thought I should get into the spirit of this by making the sandwiches into different shapes. You can see the box I made here with a gingerbread man shaped sandwich. I put the orange pieces and cucumber slice into the fruit and vegetable sections and then just included a babybel next to the gingerbread man’s foot which is supposed to be a football. The boys were very pleased with the shaped sandwiches, and I don’t really think I will get away with giving them normal shaped ones now!! So I will have to get all my different shaped cutters out. I just did it with a regular cookie cutter that you would use for baking. Also have a look at the Et Speaks from Home review as Eileen has made a great Bento box with a Japanese Geisha made from rice. I must try something like this myself!
You can also have a look at Capture by Lucy blog here to get more ideas for making very cool Bento lunches for your little ones.
This Bento Box set is available in Green (shown), blue or pink.
Want one of your own? Enter via the Rafflecopter below
Walkers have a new style of crisps out – Walkers Mighty Lights, and along with other blogging families we have been sent 3 multipacks (one for each flavour) to test out and tell you all what we thought of them.
I generally trust and like the brand Walkers for crisps, as they are so well established and I know there will be a certain quality they will meet. We recently reviewed another new crisps from them, the Hoops and Crosses, and you can see our review here.
But for now, onto the new crisps – Mighty Lights!
The three flavours are:
Cheese & Onion
They are called mighty lights because they have 30% less fat than the standard crisps on average, yet they are still mighty in flavour. The crisps have no artificial colours or preservatives, no MSG, are a source of fibre and are suitable for vegetarians.
I feel comfortable with my boys eating these crisps, because obviously it is within moderation even if they are a lighter crisp, so I am happy for this to be a part of their diet now and again – whether in the lunch box or sometimes as an after school snack.
The boys have tried out the crisps as a snack to give them some more energy while playing out in the garden. They all seemed to prefer the cheese and onion flavour, and were not so keen on the roast chicken – although the roast chicken was my favourite personally! (I did enjoy all of the flavours)
The amount in each pack was quite a lot for the children as they are only young (2-5 years old) so none of them managed to finish the whole packet to themselves but for an adult the portion is good. I think if placed in a lunch box, Mr Z may be able to finish a packet but if not I will take half out and put those in a small box inside his lunch box.
The texture of the crisps is a ribbed crinkle cut. I always like this more than the standard crisps, as it is thicker and gives a much better taste and are much more satisfying to eat.
The packaging of the crisps is good with all the calorie and dietary information clearly on the front, and the cute mighty lights crisp character there to make it appealing and fun. I do feel that blue for cheese and onion is very wrong – everyone knows it should be green and blue is supposed to be salt and vinegar! The lightly salted comes in red and the chicken is an orangey colour which are both what I would expect.
Overall, I would say the children did prefer other styles of Walkers crisps a little more than these, such as the Hoops and Crosses I mentioned earlier, or Mr Z said his favourite to choose for in the lunchbox would be quavers – as these Mighty Lights are not such an obviously “children’s” crisps, they are suitable for all ages. They did enjoy them though and were happy to eat them, and I really enjoyed them myself. I do prefer to eat crisps which are lower in fat, as I don’t see the point in eating higher fat ones when the low fat ones taste nice too. I would definitely get these when I come across them in the supermarket, possibly moreso as a lower fat choice for myself when I really fancy a packet of crisps rather than being primarily for the children’s lunch boxes but I will be happy to include some in their lunch boxes now and again for a bit of variety.
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