Monday, 29 September 2014

After School Chefs - Getting back into the tea time routine!

Cooking healthy meals and having stress free tea times can be difficult with young children, especially on weekdays.  When they’ve been at school all day and walk through the door hungry and tired, you need meals to be quick and easy to prepare but also nutritious.

Birds Eye have a really good range of quick and simple tea time solutions for those kind of days!  We were invited to try out some of the range and use it in our after school cooking to see what we thought.

The majority of the time we eat together as a family and we all have the same on our plates.  Whether The Pickle eats it or not is a different story!  He will not touch meat or most vegetables – apart from sweetcorn, carrots and sugar snap peas.  His staple food is potato.  Whether it’s mashed, roast, wedges or Birdseye waffles.  We do keep introducing new foods to his plate but we try not to get too stressed if he pushes it away – we know he eats plenty of fruit and cereal and he’ll grow out of this phase eventually.  Lots of preschool aged children are fussy eaters and unless they are eating particularly unhealthily or starving themselves, I don’t think there’s any need to be too concerned!

We usually eat as soon as Daddy gets home from work, which leaves plenty of time afterwards for homework, playing and relaxing before the bed time routine starts.  We have the TV turned off and we all sit at the table, apart from one ‘treat’ evening a week where we have a relaxed buffet style tea in front of a family film.  It’s something we all really look forward to each week.

After School Chefs

Getting the kids involved with cooking the family meals is a great way for them to learn about what they are eating and how to prepare healthy food.  They also learn a lot more than just how to cook.  Preparing meals together teaches them about hygiene and safety and it’s also good for encouraging team work and helpfulness (The Pickle loves to go and search for the ingredients in the fridge or freezer and recognises which food is which from the packaging).  Looking at labels, instructions and recipes is good reading practise and counting out or weighing ingredients teaches simple maths skills too!   Most importantly, cooking together can be great fun and usually The Princess and The Pickle are more likely to eat a healthy meal if they’ve helped to make it themselves.

Our Desert Island Pizzas are a really simple and fun idea.  We used naan bread for the base (pitta bread or similar would also be fine) as it saved time.  If you wanted to make your own dough and have time to do it earlier in the day you could leave it in the fridge so it’s ready to roll out when you need it.

The kids were then let loose with tomato puree, home grown tomatoes freshly picked from the garden, grated cheese and Birds Eye Field Fresh Supersweet Sweetcorn.  We had kitchen roll on hand so they could clean up any mess as they went (this helps them feel more independent and also means there’s less mess to worry about at the end!)

We also used some Birds Eye Chicken Popstars and sugar snap peas to make palm trees on the island and of course, a Mashtag sun!  The finished product doesn’t need to look perfect, as long as the kids have fun making it, but the presentation of this took minimal effort, so why not?!

We served the pizzas with colourful raw chopped vegetables, including peppers, sugar snap peas, celery and cucumber.  Again, you could chop these earlier in the day if you have time and pop them in the fridge for when you need them.  Cutting the veg into interesting shapes with small cookie cutters can make it much more appealing.  We used ours to spell out words!

We also served up some Birds Eye Field Fresh mixed vegetables, which are so easy to pop in the microwave just as you start serving everything else up.


My top tips for the after school tea time routine

Have a healthy snack ready for after school to kerb hunger until tea time, but only something small so they are still hungry enough to eat their meal!

If you have fussy eaters, try to be inventive with their favourite food and gradually introduce different foods.  For example, if they love mashed potato try mashing some carrot or parsnip in with it.

Plan your weekly meals in advance so you’re not worrying about what to cook each evening and searching the cupboards for ingredients!  Let the kids help you plan the meals too.  Maybe they could come to the supermarket and each choose a few fresh ingredients to use.

Ready prepared vegetables, such as Birds Eye Field Fresh, saves time and frozen veg also helps to keep the nutrients in!

Try to vary the menu each week – use new, different ingredients alongside trusty favourites.

I’m a big fan of the slow cooker, especially through the colder months.  Pop some diced lamb, carrots, onions and gravy in there in the morning and leave it to cook through the day.  Then all you need to do in the evening is cook some boiled or mashed potatoes to go with it.  Perfect for when you have to balance cooking with after school activities too!

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

A Year in Photos - Weeks 37, 38 & 39

7th - 13th September
Shadows on the lake
Being a superhero is thirsty work
Back into the homework routine
A crazy day
Making a sparkly picture
Cheese and basil scones
Releasing the butterflies

14th - 20th September
Fun in the forest
Playing at the park after preschool
Leaping across the stepping stones
Frozen yogurt treat
Watching seeds grow
He's somewhere under that hat
Homegrown tomatoes

21st - 27th September
Enjoying an activity book
Head first down the slide
Snuggling up on a cold morning
Collecting conkers
Making loom band bracelets together
Ready to jump
All aboard the lego train

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 19 September 2014

The beginnings of Autumn

Last weekend we visited one of our favourite New Forest spots, Burley.  A fab place for spotting so many different types of fungi, we set off in search of the first signs of Autumn.
We also found plenty of time to run around and play with sticks, of course!

We even said hello to a few local residents...
... before heading home to start another week!

Linking this post up with these fab blogs!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday, 15 September 2014

Win a Ghostbusters children's costume, keyring & a copy of the 30th anniversary Blu-ray!

Ghostbusters fans can now own the Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray™ and a two-disc Blu-ray box set, which includes the Ghostbusters II 25th Anniversary Edition, debuting on Blu-ray.  Both films have been fully restored and remastered in 4K and will be presented in high definition on Blu-ray from those 4K sources. 

Both the Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters I & II Blu-rays come loaded with exclusive bonus materials, including revealing conversations with director Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, as well as never-before-seen deleted scenes from Ghostbusters II and more. The Ghostbusters anniversary edition features the original music video of the Oscar® nominated song “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr., while Ghostbusters II includes the original music video for “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown. In addition, Ghostbusters will contain all previously released legacy content, commentary and an interactive Slimer Mode, offering fans a picture-in-picture graphical viewing experience.

The Blu-ray™ Anniversary Editions of GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS I & II are available now

GHOSTBUSTERS has been restored and remastered in 4K and will be returning to cinemas for one day only across the UK on October 28th.

To celebrate the special 30th anniversary Blu-ray™ release of Ghostbusters, I’ve teamed up with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to give one lucky winner a children’s Ghostbusters unisex costume courtesy of Rubies Masquerade Co. UK Ltd, a keyring supplied by Pyramid, and a copy of the Blu-ray!  Enter via the Rafflecopter form below and answer the very very easy question!


a Rafflecopter giveaway