Tuesday 29 March 2011

The Co-operative Good for Everyone - Join The Revolution !

A few months ago, I blogged (here) about The Co-operative Membership Fund looking for local community projects to help sponsor. It's therefore great to be able to come back with an update to tell you about some of the really worthwhile initiatives that have been funded with their help.
As well as the great ethics and community spirit, I love the heritage of The Co-operative group. It was originally the Rochdale Pioneers who established the first successful co-operative in 1844 and started a revolution which is still going strong. . Now it may just be me but I imagine Now, I have no doubt this is just me, but the name "the Rochdale Pioneers" makes me think of people running around in Thanksgiving Pilgrim hats eating turkey with American Indians for some reason !
Today in the UK, as well as The Co-operative Group, with its six million members and 5,000 outlets across its family of businesses including food, financial services, travel, pharmacy and funerals, there are thousands of other co-operators who share the same heritage. Every year, The Co-operative supports thousands of initiatives, both in the UK and the developing world, helping people to change the world around them, so I won't be able to tell you about all of them, but I can mention a few that particularly caught my eye. The Co-operative Group is actually launching a high profile, multi-media campaign, showing the massive impact the original co-operators had on the world and urging consumers to "Join the revolution" and "Get involved", so you actually may have seen some of these stories already.

1. A new generation of inner-city beekeepers 
Urban Bees was set up by bee-lovers Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin, who wanted to help protect dwindling honeybee populations in urban areas by educating city-dwellers in beekeeping. Having already invested £500,000 into Plan Bee, their own bee protection and education programme, funding from The Co-operative helped Urban Bees to run training courses for beginners, give talks and work in partnership with other organisations and companies. Brian and Alison have now established 20 new hives on rooftops and in community gardens and allotments across London, and they will have given training and start-up equipment to approximately 300 people by the end of 2011.

2. A co-operative football club putting community back at the heart of the game 

Founded by a collective including Andy Walsh in response to the increasing commercialisation of football, FC United now has a membership of over 3,000 co-operative shareholders. As well as offering affordable football matches, the Manchester-based club runs sports coaching courses for refugees, care-leavers and other people who may not otherwise be able to access them. In January 2011, it also launched a Community Football Coach Apprenticeship especially for children in the local area. The Co-operative have offered the club training and support through their Enterprise Hub, including helping them to develop a Volunteer Information Pack, with job specifications and information on club policies. To date, FC United have sold more than 1 million £1 shares. 

3. A Cumbrian village powering their village by wind  (        00  (and I'll resist the urge to make jokes about beans for tea !)

The UK’s first community owned wind farm, Baywind Energy Co-operative was established in 1996. The project has always favoured local investors, that way the economic benefits of the wind farm are kept within the community it serves. In 1998 Baywind secured a loan from The Co-operative Bank to purchase two turbines for their Harlock Hill site. It has also received several grants from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub to develop new, co-operatively owned wind farms across the UK. Baywind now typically generates around 10,000MWh of electricity each year – enough to power around 30,000 homes. And along with educational visits throughout the year, it funds environmental books for local schools.  

4. A community group offering even more ways to play to local children 

Play Montgomeryshire provides families with free or low cost activities that give children greater opportunity to learn through play. One of their services, the Machynlleth Toy Library, came under threat of closure when its existing funding was cancelled. The library is a well-loved part of the local community, and Mieke and the Play Montgomeryshire team were determined to save it. The group approached The Co-operative and secured a donation of £2,000 from their Community Fund. As a result, they are now confident that the library will continue to serve local children.The Co-operative Community Fund is funded by the money that our members agree to donate from their share of the profits. In 2010 their generosity allowed them to make 1319 awards to local community projects. 


Hopefully, these stories may have inspired you to come up with a project of your own. As I mentioned in my earlier blogpost, I'd love to see a community allotment where kids and teens could learn about growing their own food then go to a community kitchen where they'd learn to cook and love fruit and vegetables that many of them probably wouldn't be familiar with. I think I'm having a Jamie Oliver-moment !! What's the best project you can come up with ?

for more information : www.co-operative.coop/join-the-revolution/get-involved http://www.facebook.com/TheCooperative?v=info

 or on facebook : or
or on facebook : http://www.facebook.com/TheCooperative?v=info


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Limited Edition Apple & Blackcurrant Fab Ice Lollies

One of the most over-used words in my vocabulary is fab ! I can't help out, it just keeps popping out, when I'm talking to people (usually to the girls, when I'm bigging up something they've done !) or replying to emails. So I had to laugh when I was asked if I'd like to receive a goody bag from Fab ice lollies. This time I won't have to hold back in my review, because I'll be allowed to say they're "fab" !!

The girls got highly excited when they unpacked the lovely parcel delivered by the postie. There are three pairs of totally funky flip-flops that I've put away for this year's summer holiday in Turkey, some ultra-cute penguin badges thay they've decided to share with their friends and a gorgeous retro-style Fab bag that is definitely mine mine mine !! Oh, and quite possibly the best bit of all - some vouchers for us to try out the new Fab ice lollies.

Yes, this fab ..err, clever bit of PR is to highlight the launch of a limited edition Apple & Blackcurrant Fab ice lolly specially created for the summer of 2011 and they're hitting the shops this week !
Needless to say, we headed straight off to the shops with our vouchers to try them out. We couldn't find them in Tesco's or Sainsbury's but Asda came up trumps and they're absolutely delicious - lovely and zesty and tangy and refreshing for hot summer days. I've got a really sore throat this week and they've been perfect for cooling down my poorly throat. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it !!)  I'll still be buying the original flavour too, because they're unbeatable in my opinion, but I can safely say, both of these lollies will be living in our freezer for the whole summer !

Go on, I have to say it ! They're fab-solutely delicious !

star rating : 5/5

for more information : http://www.myfabland.com/

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Bernard Matthews Farms and Marco Pierre White create a bootiful partnership

Bernard Matthews Farms may have lost their founding father a few months ago when Bernard Matthews passed away just before Christmas, but they have found a fabulous new ambassador in the shape of top chef Marco Pierre White. I often think celebrity ambassadors have a really cushy job and get paid a bucketload of money for doing very little but Marco Pierre White seems to have got really involved in this campaign.

First of all, he has created a series of videos in which he talks to celebrities about different ways of using turkey. The first advert, set in a lovely country inn, treats viewers to a glimpse of lunch as Marco serves Martin Kemp a delicious fresh roasted turkey breast. The images will prove totally wrong anyone who always says that turkey meat is dry ! The conversation was unscripted and real and this helps convey the genuine passion Marco has for turkey and its multitude of uses.
You can watch the Martin Kemp video below :

Marco has a dedicated webpage on the Bernard Matthews website and also proposes a whole host of recipes on the Change Your Meat Not Your Menu website too. I love the fact that a top chef has managed to create such family-friendly meal ideas. As well as Mum's Top Recipes, there are Slimming Recipes and Leftovers Recipes so it's a great place to go for inspiration when planning the week's meals.

In our house, we love the traditional Christmas roast turkey with all the trimmings and also frequently roast a whole turkey leg on the barbecue in summer so it takes on a lovely smoky chargrilled flavour, but I'd never thought of substituting turkey into recipes that usually use beef or chicken. As it is low in saturated fat as well as in price, it certainly makes sense though, so I'll be trying out some of Marco's recipes to see what they taste like. The cottage pie and turkey lasagne have particularly caught my eye.

I was impressed by the Bernard Matthews Farms website too, because it highlights all the hard work they put in to be an ethical company in four areas - their packaging, turkey welfare, community and climate change. 

There is also currently a competition running to win a signed copy of Marco Pierre White's new cookery book so don't miss out on that !

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Sunday 27 March 2011

Gtech Power Floor Sweepers

****** You can win your very own Power Floor Sweeper right here on my blog *****

When I was asked if I'd like to review a floor sweeper from Gtech, my initial instinct was blimey, do they still exist ?! Well, the answer is yes, but they're nothing like the archaic old Ewbank models that instantly make me think of post-war housewives in pink floral housecoats with their hair up in curlers !

The modern ones are power sweepers so you have to charge them up by plugging them into the mains for - wait for it ! - 16 hours ! That's what the instructions say, but when it arrived, I was too impatient to try it out and, more importantly, the kids had just walked dried mud all across the floor, so after about an hour's charging, I unplugged it and tried it out. It had plenty of energy for the quick whizz round I needed.

But I know that the question you're all burning to ask is, does it actually work ? Well, I'm amazed to say yes, it really does ! In a house with three kids, 2 dogs and a rabbit (who loves flicking sawdust out of his cage !), the floors are constantly covered in a mixture of traipsed-in dirt, spilt crumbs, pet hair, not to mention dust bunnies. I had a really quick whizz around the floor where the kids had just walked in a load of dried mud and found it so quick, easy and gratifying that I carried on into the kitchen, around the computer chair, under the sofa ... Because it cordless, it's so much simpler to manoeuver than a heavy, bulky vacuum cleaner. I know there are times when I see pet hair or crumbs on the floor and can't face getting the vacuum cleaner out because it's heavy and Pierre will trip over the flex or play with the plug or get ideas about poking things in the socket when he sees me plugging it in. It's so effortless to do a few swipes with the floor sweeper that I know I'll be much quicker to react when the floors need a clean.

It's also brilliant for the kids who want to clean their own rooms. I'm always very wary about them plugging in the hoover by themselves but they can use the sweeper with no danger. It's also much less cumbersome to get up the stairs to the loft conversion than the bulky, awkward vacuum cleaner.

Gtech explain : "The Cordless Floor Sweeper is an ideal cleaning tool to help effortlessly clean the home. It not only picks up any debris from stubborn pet hairs to larger objects that have been spilled such as rice, pasta and coffee granules, but it’s the must have tool for ‘quick’ cleaning; the time it would normally take to get the vacuum out of the cupboard and set up, Gtech’s Cordless Floor Sweeper would have already whizzed around the room and been put away. On a serious note, it can save on bills too; the energy efficient sweepers cost just 1p to charge 3 times over and have a cleverly concealed tray which means you’ll save even more money not having to buy dust bags."

To prove how well it works, here's the contents of the dust drawer after a super-quick whizz around the lower floor, where we successfully tried it on carpet, laminate flooring and lino.

The model we have been testing is the SW18 which has another added advantage, "Germguard". The product description explains : "Peace of mind cleaning with the SW18 Germguard our exclusive antibacterial material on machine touch points. Germguard is a ‘silver ion’ antibacterial additive blended into the plastic during manufacture and exclusive to Gtech. It kills over 99% of bacteria including MRSA, E.Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria." As a parent of young children, that's really reassuring.

There is no way I ever would have bought a floor sweeper before testing one because I thought the concept was outdated and inefficient. However, I am happy to say that I have been totally proved wrong ! The only downside is the long charging time - after 1/2 hour's use, it supposedly needs 12 hours charge time again, but ours is ready to go at a moment's notice for a quick tidy up and hasn't let me down yet, even with a much shorter charge time.

Even better news is that I'll have one of these beauties up for grabs on my blog very very soon so watch this space ! :)

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £44.95

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Saturday 26 March 2011

Lacura Eye Roll-On

I've got a cold - well, to be honest, it feels more like flu, with aches and pains in my shoulders, neck and back and alternating hot and cold flushes. But I haven't got time to be ill because I have to accompany a 3-day school trip to London next week. I'm not worried or stressed but my brain is in overdrive working out the last minute details and things I need to remind the kids and parents before we go. That means it's sometimes hard to shut down and fall asleep at bedtime. Added to this, Pierre is also snotty-nosed and feverish (I hope he perks up before the school trip or I'll spend the whole time worrying and feeling guilty) so he keeps waking up and crying at 5am. As the alarm goes off at 6.10am, I barely have time to get back to sleep after settling him before it's time to get up again. Aaagggh !

After several days of this punishing regime, my eyes look beautiful, if you're a panda ! If you're not, words that are more likely to spring to mind are tired, puffy, dark circles, shadows, grey ... hmmm definitely not so good !

Now therefore seemed the perfect time to try out the Lacura Eye Roll-On that I was sent to review a while back. It promises to combat dark circles and puffy eyes, containing caffeine, provitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid to offer intensive moisturising care with hyaluronan. (Blame my snot-clogged, sleep-addled brain but that word keeps giving me visions of karate-chopping moisturising molecules shouting 'Hya" as they banish the dark circles and puffiness !)

As soon as you apply the roll-on, it has a lovely cooling, soothing, refreshing effect which is lovely first thing in the morning if you're feeling tired. It dries quickly and doesn't leave any sticky or greasy residue so it won't interfere with your make-up. It didn't instantly eradicate my dark circles but it did reduce the puffiness and I'm hopeful that it will brighten up the shadows with repeated use. I can't wait to use this to help soothe and de-puff my eyes this summer when I get hayfever and often look as if I've been crying my eyes out !

The best thing is, if you're on a tight budget, this nifty little roll-on is actually sold at a bargain basement price of £3.49 by Aldi, so it's much cheaper than other similar products. That doesn't mean it doesn't contain a whole host of scrummy ingredients though. The manufacturer explains : "This super-eye treatment is jam-packed with ultra moisturising ingredients, eye bright extract Euphrasia Officinalis and special ingredients Ash Bark and bio peptides that, in conjunction with the massage ball applicator, stimulate the micro-circulation of the area around the eyes."

It's also the perfect size for your handbag and is so simple to apply that you can use it whenever and wherever you need it.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £3.49

available in Aldi stores nationwide

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Love Hearts Egg Cups and Egg Cosies

Chick chick chick chick chicken, lay a little egg for me,
Chick chick chick chick chicken, I want one for my tea,
I haven't had an egg since Easter, and now it's half past three, soooo
Chick chick chick chick chicken, lay a little egg for me !

For some reason, the girls always get really excited when I tell them they can have boiled eggs for tea ! I think it's probably all to do with the fun of dipping bread soldiers into the runny yolk and then being allowed to smash the empty shells to bits afterwards (so that the witches can't use them to sail away across the sea in ! I have absolutely no idea where that comes from but I remember hearing it as a child so I mentioned it to the girls once and they love saying it every time now !)

Well, we have a variety of egg cups in our house, including wooden ones and porous plaster cast type ones. They look pretty but the colour and/or stuck-on eyes come off after a few washes so they soon stop looking the business.

These cute and funky Love Hearts themed egg cups are made of ceramic and are dishwasher safe so they'll last much longer. They're also microwave safe but I can't think why you'd want to put an egg cup in a microwave - am I missing something ?!

Even cuter is the fact that they come with matching pastel-coloured egg cosies. Now, I have to admit, when I was younger (or more to the point, before I had kids !), I could never really understand the point of egg cosies. A boiled egg only takes minutes to cook so what could possibly crop up within those few minutes to prevent you from tucking in straight away ? Well, now I could make you a list ! Pierre doing a particularly smelly poo that is about to put everyone off their food, Juliette knocking over her glass of water, one of the neighbour's kids coming to call for Sophie, the phone ringing ... the list just goes on and on ! Similarly, if you have kids who always seem to take ages to make it to the table - we haven't reached the "just a minute, I'll just finish my game" stage yet but there always seems to be an ultra-long trip to the toilet at just the wrong time ! - you can keep their egg lovely and warm until they arrive.

The gift set, which contains two egg cups and two matching egg cosies, would make a perfect Easter gift, possibly topped off with a couple of chocolate eggs, and the best news is, despite a RRP of £7.99, it's currently on offer at £4.99 so get in quick !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £7.99 (but currently £4.99)

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Friday 25 March 2011

Nyokki Egg Pet Plants

A couple of years ago, the lovely people at Dorset Cereals sent us a kit to enable us to enter an "Edible Playgrounds" competition and grow cress heads. We had great fun, as you can see here. I apologise in advance to any Scottish readers for that Susan Boyle-d Egg accent !

Well, this is a very similar idea but with grass instead of cress. I'm sure you've all seen the squishy-faced grasshead toys that you water to make grass hair sprout. We actually went to a kids' play festival a few years back where they taught us how to make our own. You get an old pair of tights, tip in some grass seed, pour in sawdust, tie up the bottom, stick on eyes and a mouth and stab a few holes to allow the grass to get through. Great in theory but it never grew, however much we watered it ! (I think the seed was probably really old !)

Well, these Nyokki Egg Pet Plants not only take all the work out of it, they also look incredibly cute, sitting on the kitchen windowsill with their dangly legs ! You have a choice of chicks, bunnies - both perfect for Easter - frogs or cats, but they're all cute, whichever one you choose.

They're actually very educational as well as great fun. 9-year-old Sophie and 6-year-old Juliette have both been learning about what plants need to grow at school so this was a great hands-on experiment for them.

I was intrigued by the word Nyokki so I did a quick bit of hunting around online. These Egg Pet Plants are made in Japan (so you can do your tiny bit to help get their economy back on track after the horrific events of the past couple of weeks) and - I quote ! - Nyokki is a Japanese onomatopeia that mimics the sound of a plant growing ! Yes, really !!

The Nyokki contain medium and rye grass seed, which will start growing within 2 weeks or less once you start watering them. You can make bunches, cut the hair into funky styles - you'll be amazed at what the kids will come up with ! And you can even use the planters for growing cress seeds on wet cotton wool once you've got bored with the grass.

They may be made of china but they are a lot less fragile than boiled egg shells, which is what we usually use. Definitely a lot of fun and a pretty decorative object for the kitchen too.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £5.99

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Personalised chocolate bar from find me a gift

Back in February, I reviewed (here) some of the lovely original Valentine's Day gifts available from funky online boutique find me a gift. Well, they've done it again ! They've just sent me a selection of their Mother's Day and Easter gifts to review and cute just doesn't cover it !

First up was this personalised chocolate bar. Let's face it, almost everybody loves chocolate so you're already on to a winner but this personalised bar adds a really special, personal touch which will make any mum's heart melt quicker than this chocolate in the clammy hands of a toddler !

The chocolate itself, which comes in a 100g bar, is nice enough milk chocolate, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. What really makes this gift special is the packaging. You can personalise the heart with a name of up to 12 characters and also add a message to the back over two lines, with up to 30 characters per line. That gives you quite a lot of scope. I went for the very unimaginative but very cute "Mummy ... love from Sophie, Juliette & Pierre xxx" !

I love the pink, girlie label but if you want something more gender-neutral or masculine (these would be great for Father's Day too), they do have a range of other designs available too so don't be put off by the design.

This must have trumped the "last Rolo" as the ultimate romantic chocolate gift, and it's absolutely perfect for that special someone for Mother's Day or Easter. You can certainly find cheaper chocolate gifts but nothing as heart-warming as this one.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £5.99

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Mother's Day cocktails from Food Network UK - get your 5 a day and alcohol in one !

Now this sounds right up my street - a great way of making sure you get your five a day with a hefty dose of vodka or rum thrown in ! Grab yourself a moment of me-time for these funky and (semi !) healthy mother's day cocktails - you deserve it ! :-)


Sunset Virtue Cocktail

This invigorating concoction of vegetable juices pepped up with vodka is a fresh and fruity take on a classic smoothie. Lovely for mothers who want who want a sip of spring.


30ml vodka
Dash Worchester sauce
3 thin slices of fresh ginger
30ml fresh lemon juice
1 tsp agave nectar
60ml tomato juice
60ml carrot juice


1. Muddle ginger slices in the bottom of a shaker glass. Add a dash of lemon juice to help make it easier to muddle. Add all other ingredients. Fill shaker with ice and shake for approximately 5 seconds.

2. Strain into a tall ice-filled glass and garish with a cherry tomato and yellow pepper.

Very Berry Brazilian Cocktail

A mouth-watering combination of strawberries muddled with Cahaca and cinna, this delicious cocktail is perfect for Mum’s who like their strawberries ‘sans’ cream.


45 ml Brazilian Rum
3 Strawberries
1 tsp. agave nectar
Two dashes ground cinnamon


1. Muddle the strawberries, agave and cinnamon in the bottom of a shaker glass. Add ice and Cachaca. Shake well and strain into a large rocks glass

for more information : http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/

Book review : Lake Charles - Ed Lynskey

I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but sometimes it's hard not to, and as soon as my ARC (that's advanced reading copy, to anyone who doesn't know !) of Lake Charles plopped on the door mat, I had high expectations. The eerie skeleton combined with the hauntingly beautiful scenery of the lake promised great things so I turned to the first chapter in eager anticipation.

The opening chapters didn't disappoint. In this high-octane thriller, we meet Brendan Fishback, heading off to Lake Charles for some bass-fishing with his best buddy Cobb and his twin sister Edna, who just happens to be Cobb's estranged wife, with her jet-ski. They're hoping for some relaxation but also reconciliation and Brendan also wants to get his mind off his upcoming murder trial. We learn that Brendan is in it up to his neck after a one-night stand with a rich daddy's girl went wrong. After smoking some pot, the couple fell asleep and when Brendan wakes up, the girl is dead, some hardcore Angel Dust has appeared and he seems to have been well and truly set up.

Just like the one night stand, the fun weekend fishing trip also turns sour when Edna goes missing. Hunting around the banks of the lake for her, they stumble across some marijuana plantations and realise that they've stumbled into trouble again. The proverbial lightning may not strike twice but Brendan seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time again. As they continue their search, everything seems to become strangely entwined - Edna's disappearance, the drugs, the dead girl - and, knowing that Brendan already has the finger of suspicion pointed firmly in his direction, especially from the police, they have to sort it all out for themselves.

The opening chapters had me on the edge of my seat, gripped by the drama and with my mind working overtime trying to figure out what could have happened and what would be the best thing to do. However, as the adventure continues and the body count grows higher, I couldn't help but notice that I seemed to be the only one displaying any signs of emotion so that rather took the edge off. The central characters, despite being shot at, desperately trying to recover a loved one in mortal danger and being involved in deadly shoot-outs, seem strangely calm, detached and unfazed by everything. Even losing a loved one barely seems to register on their emotional radar and this makes them seem wooden and unrealistic.

The drugs plantation plotline frequently reminded me of The Beach, Alex Garland's novel which was turned into a film starring Leonardo Di Caprio by Danny Boyle. I felt the novel had great potential but, due to the lack of emotion, the major high and low-points lacked the impact they could have had and, ultimately, the characters' indifference won me over too, which was a shame.

It's still a good read but some careful editing and an injection of emotion could make it into a great read.

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £7.99

Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Wildside Press (28 Jun 2011)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1434430464
ISBN-13: 978-1434430465

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Thursday 24 March 2011

Are you a grandparent? Would you be interested in joining a new research panel ?

Just a quick heads up for all you grandparents. This plopped into my inbox earlier from Mumsnet Towers ...

Mumsnet, (http://www.mumsnet.com/) the UK's leading parenting website, is now looking for grandparents to join a new research panel. We have recently started a research panel on Mumsnet for mothers and, as a result, companies have started to ask us if we can conduct research among grandparents. Some Q&As about what's involved in being on the panel can be found by clicking on the link below . If you do sign up, we promise not to bombard you with emails but will in effect be emailing you with links to surveys - potentially about grandchildren but also about other lifestyle issues. Each time you complete a survey we will run a prize draw where typically one winner will get store vouchers to a value of £150+.

Everyone who signs up to the panel will be entered into a competition to win a £100 Cath Kidston voucher!

Many thanks and please do pass this on to other grandparents you know - we'd welcome all!


Other blogpsts you may be interested in :


Is your toddler a Foodie Fan or Mini Muncher?

I found this piece of research fascinating. Pierre is currently a Contrary Kid but he used to be a Foodie Fan so I'm hoping it's just a passing phase, probably signalling the start of the Terrible Twos. God help us !! Which category do your toddlers fall into ?


UK parents concerned they’re not fulfilling their toddler’s nutritional needs

Nine out of ten (92%) UK parents admit they’re not confident they know what their toddler’s healthy diet should consist of, reveals new research. Two fifths (39%) go further admitting they’re not convinced their child has a healthy balanced diet, receiving all the nutrients they require.

The research conducted by SMA Nutrition to identify toddlers eating habits confirms Government statistics, highlighting that just one in ten (11%) toddlers achieve their recommended intake of vitamins and minerals required for healthy growth and development. Iron and vitamin D are two of the key nutrients toddlers maybe deficient in.

Is your toddler a Foodie Fan or Mini Muncher?

To help parents understand their toddlers eating habits, SMA Nutrition has identified four different typologies to coincide with the launch of new SMA Toddler Milk:

Almost half (47%) of parents feel their toddler is an adventurous Foodie Fan. These toddlers are happy to try new food and have a somewhat sophisticated palate for their years

Nearly one in three (33%) parents admit their toddler is a Contrary Kid who can be unpredictable when it comes to their ever changing mealtime likes and dislikes

For one in ten (9%) parents, their toddlers are the Stubborn Stompers of the bunch. These rather smart or headstrong toddlers seem to know exactly what foods they do and don’t like without even tasting them

A small minority (8%) of parents confess that their toddler is a Mini Muncher. This group will do anything to avoid eating at the table, preferring to snack their way through the day

Despite lots of different typologies, the research shows that parents’ worries are universal. So, to aid parents with the rollercoaster that can be meal times, SMA Nutrition has teamed up with Eileen Hayes, parenting and behaviour expert who comments:

“Almost all parents know only too well that moment when a lovingly prepared meal is completely rejected by their toddler. It is important to realise that all children have certain preferences and it can take many times trying new foods before a toddler will accept it.’

Filling the Nutritional Gap

The launch of new SMA Toddler Milk will also help to put parents’ minds at rest as just one 200 ml serving will provide up to 50% of a toddler’s daily requirement for key vitamins and minerals. SMA Toddler Milk helps to plug the nutritional gaps in toddlers’ diets delivering iron, zinc, vitamins A & D and Omega 3 & 6, which are all required by growing toddlers.

SMA Nutritionist Anne Sidnell comments, “Toddlers’ diets can be extremely varied and parents are concerned, as the research has shown, but whether you have a foodie fan or a mini muncher it’s hard to know if your toddler is getting the right amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. New SMA Toddler Milk aims to bridge any nutritional gaps in a toddler’s diet and alongside a varied diet hopefully puts to rest any concerns parents may have. SMA Toddler Milk can be used as a drink and also in recipes. ”

Parenting and behaviour expert Eileen’s Hayes provides her top 5 tips to happy toddler mealtimes :

1. Don’t make a battle over food - try to be laid-back and let your child’s appetite control the amount they eat

2. Offer a new food alongside some favourites - it can take more than 10 times trying a new food, before they get to like it

3. Think about how the food looks - a smiley face pizza for example, and also about the texture. A child might enjoy a raw carrot, but not like them cooked

4. Try to sit and eat with your child so it becomes an enjoyable family occasion, and they can learn from watching you eat

5. As they gets older let your child help prepare the meal as this can make them much more interested


If you have any other top tips, please share them below. I've noticed Pierre eats a lot more if I let him feed himself, even if he makes a huge mess and ends up wearing as much as he eats !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Lush Hosts Nationwide Mother's Day "Mamma Mia !" Parties

I love Lush and have done since my teens so I thought I'd share this press release with you. Not only the parties sound like great fun but - hint hint - it's a great place to buy Mother's Day gifts ! Sophie and Juliette, I hope you're listening !! ;-)


Mothering Sunday is the day to celebrate all mums everywhere and what better way to do this than by treating mum to a scent-sational day of pampering and party fun! On Sunday 3rd April, all Lush stores NATIONWIDE will be hosting a 'Mamma Mia' inspired party in celebration of the Nations Mums, so grab your flares and floral maxis and come on down from 11:00 AM for super duper Mum-time fun!

Whether you're a new mum, a mum-to-be or just looking for that perfect gift to say 'Thank You' to a motherly figure, everyone is welcome - young and old, boys and girls - for a day of in-store pampering, fun and games. No party would be complete without drinks and nibbles and mums can officially put their feet up and relax (or get up and dance with silly moves to the retro tunes) whilst children can enjoy finger painting and making 'Tiny Hands' cards to mark this special day. Staff will be giving all mums complimentary skin and hair consultations and hand massages and will also be on hand to offer advice for anyone looking for the perfect gift for their mum from the Lush range.

And there are lots to choose from as Lush has designed a selection of limited edition gifts and products especially for Mother's Day 2011 including the MUMS bath ballistic (£3.60). Short for chrysantheMUMS, Mums are a bath ballistic mix pressed into the shape of flowers and presented on a stick. The tags are even seeded, so mum can plant them afterwards and grow her own real flowers. With three fragrances available there's one for every type of mum!

Or, Mamma Mia (£19.95) is a beautiful new shower gift from Lush. Containing a selection of products to scrub, moisturise and refresh hard working mums, including the new Tiny Hands solid hand cream, this gift will have mums everywhere singing and dancing with delight.

'Mamma Mia' Mother's Day parties are taking place on Sunday 3rd April 2011 in Lush stores nationwide. To find your nearest Lush store please call 01202 668 545 or visit online at http://www.lush.co.uk/.

Please enquire at your nearest Lush for Sunday opening times.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Giveaway #65 - Starting Over, One Cake At A Time by Gesine Bullock-Prado - closed - winner @foxyowl

I recently reviewed this lovely book (here) and now I'm happy to be able to offer a copy to one of my blog-readers. It's part memoir, part chicklit and part recipe book so it's got something to appeal to everyone.

You can watch the trailer, narrated by Gesine herself, right here :

To be in with a chance of winning your very own copy, you must do the following two things :

(1) comment on any of my other blogposts and tell me where you commented (other giveaways don't count and each comment only counts for one giveaway !)

(2) leave me a comment, with an email or twitter name so I can contact you if you win. If I don't hear back from you within a week, I'll have to pick another winner.
Bonus entries :

You can do any or all of the following for bonus entries - just make sure you leave me one comment per entry so that they're all counted !

(1) Tweet about my comp - this is now dead easy if you click on the tweet button on the right-hand side bar. Or you can make up your own tweet. Make sure you copy in @cherylp59 so I can track this.
(2) I love reading your comments so leave me some extra comments (maximum 5) and I'll give you a bonus entry for each one ! Just remember to leave me a comment here each time to tell me you've done so.

(3) I've recently created a facebook page for Madhouse Family Reviews so I'd love for you to become a follower on there too - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Madhouse-Family-Reviews/144910798898626

(4) *New!* Subscribe to my blog by email (near the top of the right-hand sidebar) so that all the new posts pop into your inbox in a handy digest every morning

(5) follow my blog with Google Friends Connect (over on the side bar on the right)

UK only. Closing date : 6/4/11. Good luck.

Other current giveaways you may be interested in :

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Swish Fish Dishes ! Tilapia recipes

I thought I'd share these fish recipes with you. It sounds funny to talk about a new fish being launched but I must admit, I'd never heard of this one. Let me know how you get on if you try them out. I know nobody would eat them in my house if I served them like this - I'd have to chop the heads off first !!


Tilapia is a new fish that was launched last year to consumers and is currently sold in Tesco’s and Morrison’s. It is easy to cook, providing a tasty alternative to sea bass and can be grilled, barbecued, fried or baked. Tilapia is a delicious firm-fleshed white fish, with a mild taste that can carry flavours from around the world, from Mediterranean to the Caribbean.


Cajun Roasted Tilapia with Sweet Potatoes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Serves 4

900g sweet potatoes, cut into 2cm dice
1 red onion, sliced
75g pecan nuts
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
4 whole tilapia, gutted, cleaned and descaled*

*ask the fish counter to do this for you

Preheat the oven to 200oC, gas mark 6.

Place the potato, onion, nuts, maple syrup, oil and 2 tsp Cajun seasoning in a large roasting tin and toss together.

Make 3 slits in each side of the tilapia and sprinkle each fish with 1 tsp Cajun seasoning. Place the tilapia on top of the sweet potatoes and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the flesh is cooked and the potatoes are tender.

Serving suggestion: Serve with freshly cooked green beans and broccoli

Cook’s tip: Try using butternut squash and almonds as an alternative or replace the Cajun seasoning with BBQ seasoning

Did you know? Fresh tilapia fillets are low in fat and high in protein


Mint Baked Tilapia with Greek Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Serves 2

4 sprigs fresh mint
2 whole tilapia, gutted, cleaned and descaled*
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 romaine lettuce heart, thickly sliced
¼ cucumber, diced
100g baby plum tomatoes, halved
50g pitted black olives
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

*ask the fish counter to do this for you


Preheat the oven to 200oC, gas mark 6.

Place 1 sprig of mint in the cavity of each tilapia, make 3 slits in each side of the flesh and place in a roasting tin. Finely chop the remaining mint and sprinkle over the tilapia then drizzle over 1 tbsp oil and season. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the flesh is cooked. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile mix the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and olives in a bowl and toss in the remaining oil and vinegar. Serve with the cold tilapia as a salad.

Serving suggestion: Either serve the fish whole or, once cold, remove the flesh and serve on top of the Greek salad. Great served with toasted pitta bread

Cook’s tip: Try adding diced feta cheese and croutons to the salad for a more hearty meal

Have you tried? Making slits in the flesh of the fish when marinating to allow the flavour to penetrate


Grilled Lemon & Herb Tilapia with Avocado Salsa

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

4 whole tilapia, gutted, cleaned and descaled*
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20g parsley, chopped
2 ripe avocados, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp sweet chilli dipping sauce

*ask the fish counter to do this for you


Preheat the grill to medium high.

Make 3 slits on each side of the tilapia and place in a grill pan. Mix together the lemon zest and juice, oil and parsley, season and pour over the fish to coat evenly.

Grill for 10 minutes, turn the tilapia over and grill for a further 5 minutes or until the flesh is cooked.

Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients together and serve the salsa with the grilled tilapia.

Serving suggestion: Great served with a fresh green salad and drizzle a little extra sweet chilli dipping sauce over the fish before serving

Cook’s tip: Swap the lemon juice for the juice of 2 limes and use chopped coriander for a different flavour

Did you know? Tilapia is high in phosphorous, selenium, vitamin B12


Grilled Tilapia with Horseradish Potato Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

4 whole tilapia, gutted, cleaned and descaled*
2½ tbsp creamed horseradish
750g baby new potatoes
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
100g radishes, thinly sliced
3 tbsp low fat mayonnaise

*ask the fish counter to do this for you


Preheat the grill to medium high. Make 3 slits in each side of the tilapia and spread each with 1 tsp horseradish. Place on a rack over a foil lined grill pan. Grill for 10 minutes, turn the tilapia over and grill for a further 5 minutes or until the flesh is cooked. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until tender, then drain and cool. Cut into bite sized pieces if needed. Mix together the remaining horseradish, spring onions, radishes and mayonnaise, stir in the potatoes and season to taste. Serve with the tilapia.

Serving suggestion: Either serve the fish whole or once cold, remove the flesh and serve on top of the potato salad

Cook’s tip: Sprinkle the tilapia with chopped chives before cooking for extra flavour or try using hot horseradish sauce for an extra kick

Have you tried? Finding a delicious selection of easy tilapia recipes at http://www.cookingtilapia.co.uk/


Pan Fried Tilapia with Capers And Tartare Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves 2

2 whole tilapia, gutted, cleaned and descaled*
4 tsp capers
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 gherkin, finely diced

*ask the fish counter to do this for you


Make 3 slits in each side of the tilapia and fill each cavity with 1 tsp capers, season.

Finely chop the remaining capers.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the tilapia on a low heat for 10 minutes, covered. Turn the tilapia over and fry for a further 5 minutes, covered or until the flesh is cooked.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise with the mustard, gherkin and chopped capers and serve with the tilapia.
Serving suggestion: Serve with new potatoes and a green salad

Cook’s tip: Try squeezing lemon juice over the fish before serving for extra flavour. The tartare sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge

Did you know? Tilapia is a source of omega 3 fatty acids


Poached Thai Tilapia with Jasmine Rice

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves 2

2 whole tilapia, gutted, cleaned and descaled*
1 tbsp oil
1 red pepper, sliced
2-3 tsp Thai green curry paste
3cm piece fresh ginger, grated
400ml can coconut milk
200ml semi skimmed milk
150g Thai jasmine rice

*ask the fish counter to do this for you

Make 3 slits in each side of the tilapia and season.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the pepper, Thai curry paste, ginger and 2 tbsp of the coconut milk for 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining coconut milk and milk.

Add the tilapia and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Turn the tilapia over and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until the flesh is cooked.

Meanwhile cook the rice according to the pack instructions and drain.

Remove the tilapia and set aside, bring the sauce to the boil and cook for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly.

Serve the tilapia on top of the rice and pour over the sauce.

Serving suggestion: Serve garnished with chopped coriander

Cook’s tip: Try adding shredded pak choi to the sauce for the final five minutes

Have you tried? Making slits in the flesh of the fish when marinating to allow the flavour to penetrate

For further information, visit http://www.cookingtilapia.co.uk/

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