Category Archives: Food and Drink

Dr Sally Norton’s Recommended Healthy Lunch Box Treats for Kids

Research shows how the overall energy intake of children increases while the diet quality decreases, as they move from toddlers to teens. Specifically under scrutiny were their snacking habits, which showed the greatest area of decline when it came to ‘healthy choices’. Now this may very well be the fact that the younger children have their snacks chosen for them, whereas older kids may be left to make their own (unhealthy) choices, but the advice was clear: by instilling good eating habits in younger children will set them up for a lifetime of healthy food choices and for parents to encourage snacks that are ‘nutrient rich, rather than calorie dense’ in children of any age.

Dr Sally Norton, looks at choices for lunch box treats which represent a healthier snacking choice:

1. Nakd bars

A regular favourite with the adults, they’re equally popular with the next generation. Why not pop one in their lunchbox instead of a sugary cake for break-time?

2. Bear Nibbles Yo-Yos

These rolls are simply dried fruit and a little veg, gently baked. No added sugar and another one of their 7 a day. While we still need to be careful of sugar intake, even from fruit, these fun treats are infinitely better than a packet of sweets and the collectable cards in each pack will test their brains too.

3. Nut butters

Pip and Nut peanut butter

As long as your tots are not allergic, nut butters are a great savoury snack as the high protein hit will keep them full. Cashew is the sweetest, child-friendly variety we’ve tried – but let your brood find their own favourite. Then simply try a variety of ‘vehicles’ for your butter of choice – a teaspoon of butter between two apple wedges, or spread on some oatcakes.

4. Root veg crisps

One for the weekend when you’ve got more time, and an easy one for youngsters to get involved with making, these veggie crisps are a great alternative to additive and salt-laden bagged snacks. Simply thinly slice a selection of root veg – carrots, parsnips, beetroots, sweet potatoes are all great – toss in a little olive oil (you want them just coated, not greasy!) and cook in a preheated 200 degree C oven for 15-25mins until golden.

And it’s not just about health, children’s behaviour can be influenced by what they eat. You only have to see a group of five-year-olds going ‘hyper’ after cakes, sweets and biscuits to know that sugar sets them spinning. On the other hand, children who eat fruit, veg, oily fish and wholegrain all high in nutrients and low in salt, sugar and processed foods tend to have better behaviour, less risk of obesity and other illnesses and so have a rosier future ahead. What we feed our children can either boost or damage their health – it’s our choice.

Grown Up snack time

WP_20160810_10_00_28_Pro In need of a mid-afternoon something or other and the kids’ Peppa Pig jelly just not doing it for you…?

We’re loving Pip and Nut’s limited edition maple peanut butter, which is palm oil free, great on toast (or off the spoon out of the jar).

Crave something even sweeter? Try the Ombar Centres range of 100% cacao creamy treats – packed with good things and the perfect size not to share!

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Love sausage and beer? The guys at Leffe have created their own special sausage to accompany their ale, as part of the promotion of ‘Leffe Slow Time’ (a series of films  showcasing artists and artisans, their dedication to their craft and their relationship with time.) Charcuterie maker Adrienne E Treeby has created dried meat delights using Leffe Brune… Watch the Slow Time film here.

Date Night: Dinner at the Twits’ courtesy of @bompasandparr

If your other half has started sporting unkempt (maybe it started as hipster) facial hair or wiping his mouth on his sleeve then give him a date night of the truly disgusting variety, courtesy of gastro-wizards Bompas and Parr, immersive theatre peeps Les Enfants Terribles and creatives Creature of London.

Dinner at the Twits - Mr and Mrs Twit. Design by Samuel WyerBased on the best-selling and much-loved title from the world’s number one storyteller. For the very first time join two of Roald Dahl’s most exquisitely appalling characters, Mr and Mrs Twit, inside their windowless house and ghastly garden for a grown-up journey down memory lane. But be warned: Dinner at the Twits is not for the faint of heart or soft of stomach!

Your evening will include a banquet of deliciously disgusting dishes, to be enjoyed with homemade cocktails, Mr Twit’s special brew and Mrs Twit’s potent punch.

Fish the glass eye from your cocktail, take a slice of bird pie, and enjoy all manner of fabulously foul food while being entertained by your horrid hosts.

Celebrating a hundred years of Roald Dahl, in a year filled with gloriumptious treats, Dinner at the Twits is designed specifically for grown-ups – no chiddlers allowed! Roald Dahl’s unique blend of macabre humour and quirky warmth has endeared him to generations of children and adults. Dinner at the Twits is the first adaptation of one of his children’s titles specifically created for adults.

Produced by Emma Brünjes, James Seager and Oliver Lansley with Creature of London, directed by Emma Earle, written by Oliver Lansley and Anthony Spargo, and designed by Sam Wyer, Dinner at the Twits will run at The Vaults in Waterloo from 4 September to 30 October.

Oliver Lansley, of Les Enfants Terribles, said: “We are delighted to be presenting the first adaptation specifically created for adults of one of Roald Dahl’s hugely adored children’s books. We never really lose our sense of play, our relish in the bizarre and revolting. Dinner at the Twits will give adults the opportunity to explore those boundaries between disgust and delight, to come up close and personal with the hideous hairy Twits and to be taken on a multisensory journey through Dahl’s beguilingly bizarre world.”

Harry Parr, of Bompas & Parr, said: “We have always been fascinated by food taboos, and the gleefully grotesque universe of the Twits seems to us the perfect place to probe the limits of gastronomic experimentation. We want guests at Dinner at the Twits to be titillated, intrigued and surprised, and we promise that squeamishness will give way to scrumptiousness as you open your minds and your mouths…”

Find out more and book tickets at www.twitsdinner.com

Read our interview with Sam Bompas in Slick Mummy Magazine 

Date night idea: The Hoegaarden Floating Gaardens

With horticulture and Hoegaarden being two of my husband’s favourite things, this one would definitely (ahem) float his boat. 

‘The Floating Gaardens’ by Hoegaarden is a one-of-a kind barge packed with unexpected delights, designed to open minds to new ideas, sounds, sights and tastes in the midst of busy urban life.

Moored outside Number 90, Hackney Wick, ‘The Floating Gaardens’ will be open to the public from this weekend for the next four weeks (30 July until 21 August. ) It will set sail every weekend along East London’s waterways up to six times daily.

Budding with over 500 different plants and shrubs and a unique Soundscape Gaarden, where your ears change the taste of Hoegaarden beer, as a twist of a dial heightens sweet flavours at one extreme and boosts sour notes at the other. The scientifically proven soundscape is designed by local Hackney-based artist Nathaniel Williams in collaboration with Oxford University.

Passengers onboard will not only be able to discover the Soundscape Gaarden for themselves, but will also be treated to complementary Hoegaarden served in a special-edition pint glass by Visual Artistic Director, Emma Charlton, whilst dining on paired canapés including smoked chicken and salmon and sweet treats, including white peaches and fudge.

Tickets to sail on the barge are now available to be booked through a draw-style system on the website: www.floatinggaardens.co.uk. Or just pop down as when it isn’t sailing it will be the hippest beer garden in town.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.floatinggaardens.co.uk.

School Holiday Snack Time

If having your offspring home for the hols means constant clamouring for the biscuit tin or a desperate attempt to chop veg into geometric wonders, then check out our pick of fab, guilt free snack foods that we can guarantee will get scoffed without quibbles…

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Punk’d Bars from Organix are so delicious that kids would honestly eat a multipack in one sitting given the chance. The bars come in Cocoa and Orange Crash or Strawberry and Vanilla Smash and being from Organix they have somehow managed to take oats, fruit and seeds and make them seem as indulgent as a large bit of cake followed by a white chocolate Magnum. They’ve gone really urban with the packaging too – which should keep sophisticated pre-teens happy – and you can buy online or from Amazon and Ocado.

The Collective (makers of super yummy yoghurt) have launched their Suckies range which consists of four flavours packaged in slurpable pouches which (unlike Frubes) don’t explode in your handbag…  If your kids actually need any more motivation than being able to suck their yoghurt then check out The Collective’s ‘win a zuped up bike’ competition online here

Ape Snacks are crunchy curls of coconut, lightly seasoned with salt or pepper. Since it’s water became Rihanna’s drink of choice, the coconut has escalated to being a ‘can’t live without’ addition to the fruitbowl and these crispy snacks are not only extremely moreish but they represent one of your five-a-day too. See here for stockists…

Get a Simply Cook box for just £3

If the School Holidays have resulted in your freezer being full of turkey dinosaurs and freeze-pops and assembling a meal involves drawing faces on boiled eggs, then a welcome relief might be a custom made meal box from Simply Cook. 

In short, when you haven’t even thought about what dinner might consist of for you and your partner (except for licking the leftover frosting out of a mixing bowl) you just go onto Simply Cook’s website, choose from their selection of restaurant quality meal ideas and they will send you boxes with the ingredients and recipes to create quick, easy and delicious meals that feed 2-4 and will convince others that you have been slaving over a stove all day (instead of picking PlayDoh out of your hair).

The boxes normally cost £8.99 each but if you sign up for a trial box via this link you pay just £3 and could be scoffing Vietnamese Pork or Cajun Meatballs instead of Nutella on toast.

Find out more about SimplyCook here.

SM tests… the Nutribullet dessert bullet from HighStreetTV

This nifty gadget comes from the Nutribullet family and creates frozen treats. We thought it might be just the thing for a heatwave…

SM tester writes: “remember those Mr Frosty things we had as kids? Which were basically adding sugar syrup to crushed ice, but how fabulous did we all think it was? Fast forward thirty years and the principle is just as thrilling, but the result is super healthy and delicious. 

The Dessert Bullet essentially smushes up frozen fruit into something that looks (to even the most fussy child) like frozen yoghurt or gelato. You chop up fruit and freeze it: make yourself a little selection including 2 inch chunks of banana (these make the result surprisingly smooth and creamy), any sort of berry (for colour and taste), lovely seasonal delights like mango and papaya – and then just chuck a selection into the Bullet. If your kids need a bit of sweetness you could either toss in some coconut, or even chocolate chips – or sprinkle them on top at the table. 

You can change the nozzle to vary the way the dessert comes out (ie like a Mr Whippy, or like balls of ice cream) and obviously (you’d already thought of this, right?) it makes a kick ass Frozen Margarita. 

The bits that get dirty can just go in the dishwasher and it comes with a recipe book suggesting all sorts of super healthy alternatives to mint choc chip or whoopee pie – we’ve so far only done the fruity options but I imagine if you have family members who are gluten or dairy intolerant this gadget would be a godsend for puddings…”

Available from www.highstreettv.com

Are fizzy drinks during pregnancy really that bad…?

So the latest hoo-hah is all this business about avoiding fizzy drinks (even the sugar free ones), because let’s face it, you’re already having to give up your morning double espresso, evening G&T and mid afternoon bowl of oysters laced with blue cheese and pâté … So why not add Vimto in there as well?

Obviously the logic here is that fizzy drinks may or may not contain: caffeine, sugar, no nutrition whatsoever, saccharine, stevia, artificial colour – none of which do you or any kind of babymaking any good. And now – apparently – drinking fizzy drinks leads to fat babies after birth as well.

But hands up who hasn’t reached for the ginger beer to curb morning sickness?  Or downed gallons of Lilt one day when all the water tasted metallic? Guilty as charged…

If you’re worried about all of this, but still can’t actually face drinking plain ole water (us neither!) we’ve recently acquired a taste for Ugly Drinks – which are flavoured waters with no sugar, sweetener, colour or any sort of nasties at all really. The grapefruit one comes billed as ‘a disco in a can’ (and as giving up discos was kind of on the list after the first child came along, this one seemed like a bit of a winner to us…)

The ‘Get More’ range are also pretty nice – these actually have added vitamins, so you’re not just swigging carbonated water. The Vitamin D one is meant to be the most preg-beneficial and it tops up calcium too .

Another new one on us – although not in the fizzy drink family at all – was the range of Caffe Ottavo teas for one’s Nespresso machine. ‘Tea in the Nespresso?’ we hear you cry – well, apparently it’s a thing and actually a darn site easier than brewing yourself a pot and having most of it go cold/get too strong. We’re loving the Moroccan mint and Chamomile ones (there’s also good ole fashion English Brekkie in the range if you’ve got builders ’round – and obviously lots of lovely rich coffees that for the minute you’ll just have to sniff the cartons of…

But gosh-darn-it,  if you still really crave a fizzy drink then we (who aren’t doctors or midwives or scientists of any sort – and often known to quote things we read in Mallory Towers) totally suggest the odd glass of really good champers …