Amanda Ursell Favourite Recipe 2

June 7, 2011

Mini Apricot Scones

200g Self-raising Flour

25g Caster Sugar

½ tsp salt

30g butter

2 tablespoons ready to eat apricots (chopped)

125ml milk

Pre heat oven to 230 °C/ 450 °F/ gas mark 8

Sieve the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter cut into small cubes and lightly rub it into the flour mixture. Once a light mixture has formed stir in the apricots, make a well in the middle and pour in the milk. Fold in the flour crumble and once it is roughly mixed use clean hands to form a dough ball. On a floured surface gently roll the dough until two cm thick and use shaped cutters to make mini scones!

Bake for 8-10 minutes and cool before serving (should make about 12).

Don’t forget to send in your baby foodie photos for your chance to WIN Amanda Ursell’s New Food Bible


Amanda Ursell’s Baby and Toddler Food Bible

June 6, 2011

Amanda Ursell- a name famous in my family for bringing the GI diet and the great figures and healthy lifestyles that go with it to my parents a few years ago. Unsurprisingly then, I was absolutely thrilled to receive her new book “The Baby and Toddler Food Bible” in the post recently. Amanda, who trained as a nutritionist and dietician before having her children guides you expertly through from weaning to four years in this fantastic book. But what makes the book so special for me is that it really does perform the function of a friendly and exceptionally well informed friend, whilst recognising that a parents instincts are usually right with their own baby and letting you make your own choice. Amanda is careful not to dictate how you should feed your own child- but she is also here to help if you want it-ideal! From explaining your babies nutritional needs to fussy eaters; allergies and intolerances to recipes and even mum’s nutrition, this book really does cover everything.

So here’s the exciting part! You can WIN your very own  “Amanda Ursell’s Baby and Toddler Food Bible” in our JUNE COMPETITION!

Simply send in a photo of your baby at a meal time or  just a culinary creation that you have whipped up for baby and our favourite photo will be chosen to win Amanda’s Bible at the end of the week!

I’ll get us started…

Favourite Recipe Number One:

Banana Bread- a sustaining snack

75g butter

100g granulated fruit sugar

2 eggs

450g bananas (peeled weight), mashed

200g self-raising flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180 °C/ 350°F/gas 4. Grease and line an oblong loaf tin (about 8 inches by 4 inches). Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the bananas and beat again. Add flour, soda and salt. Pour into cake tin. Bake for 75 minutes. Turn onto wire rack and let cool before cutting.


A-musing on twins

June 5, 2011

Two of anything is generally better than one- unless we are talking parking fines or marriages or accidents, I mean two of any good  thing is generally better than one- two chocolates, two parties, two holidays or two babies for example. When babies are tiny they don’t really get that you are there, they know boobs are there and they want someone there but they do not look you in the eye and actually acknowledge your very being. Then, all of a sudden- they do. Usually around the time when you are thinking C’MON NATURE I really need to get something back from this baby right about now- your baby engages with you and THANK HEAVENS smiles at you-(and it isn’t wind.)

When this happens, possibly the first milestone that you can tell the world about- latching and pooping regularly aren’t such great crowd pleasers, it’s undoubtedly one of the best and as a result you can now expect baby, logically, to be able to take over the world OR at the very least to have gained a sense of what or who is going on around him– he might notice his twin perhaps?- not so. In my experience, and I am sure someone will have had different, twins are programmed to ignore their duplicate. Wave them in front of each other all you like- plonk them nose to nose- nestle them up side by side (they might snuggle) but they will not look at their twin. Positively avoiding eye contact they seem to turn their heads away from these contrived meetings and refuse to look at their reflection. Almost as if they are playing a secret game in which they have vowed not to look at each other except in secret. But then here’s the funny thing- they will look at their reflection- they LOVE their reflection and yet twin one wont acknowledge twin two- ATTENTION BABIES you look EXACTLY the same it is like looking in a real live (if malfunctioning) mirror.

Imagine then, if you will, the excitement, the euphoria I might go so far as to say, when twin one looks at twin two and laughs- not merely acknowledges existence but actually laughs too. Suddenly those little babies that have been made cuter by the simple fact that there are two of them are made even more delicious by their interaction- they find each other HYSTERICAL- we find it hysterical and everyone quickly forgets the time when the babies were giving each other the silent treatment- but let’s be fair nine months (or just under eight) with anyone is a long time to  bear!


Games, Games Games.

June 4, 2011

When I was asked to review a couple of kids games I thought- great, how easy will that be- there’s no way the little ones can complain about playing a game- I was right!

GAME 1: Pop Goes Froggio  (3+)

Pop goes Froggio is an active game where the children are encouraged to test their memory skills. Spinning the wheel and attempting to turn over the corresponding picture on the correct lilly pad they can reward themselves for finding the correct picture by stamping triumphantly on the lilly launch pad and sending Froggio flying!

I asked Molly (6) and her sister Lilly (3) to tell me what they thought- Molly wrote the review!

Did you like the look of the box?

yes, it looked interesting

Was it easy to understand – Did you need any adult help?

Quite easy, a little help needed. Lilly needed my help.

How long did it hold your attention?

We played it twice and didn’t get bored!

Did anything break?


Were there any small parts that would be dangerous for a baby?


What was the best bit?


It costs 14.99 Molly- would you buy it?


Do you think you will play again?

Play again!

Pop Goes Froggio got the thumbs up from Molly and Lilly then!

MUM SAID: Really good fun, simple game that keeps the kids active and entertained. Once familiar with it the kids could easily play this on their own without help and enjoy it just as much which is always a bonus!

GAME 2: Monkey Dunk (4+)

Monkey Dunk is the creative game that sees kids flicking little monkeys into “swimming holes”.

Molly agreed (though job) to review this game too.

She liked the look of the game, lots of colours and component parts that lead to a very simple game- flicking monkeys into little pots and getting “bananas” for successfully getting the monkeys on target. Elefun (an elephant that gets pushed down at the start of the round and pops up when the round is out of time) adds to the fraught but fun nature of the game. The period of monkey flicking is fairly crazy with monkeys flying everywhere but it is all very good fun for the kids.

The only downside that we could see was that it was quite challenging getting the monkeys on target- Molly was quick to point out that Sam her 4 year old nephew would have struggled!

All in all great games that the kids really enjoy playing!

(Un)Controlled Crying…

May 21, 2011

It has come to my attention of late- don’t ask!- that “controlled crying” has in fact been inappropriately named. There is after all, in my experience, nothing at all controlled about it. Let me set the scene: Bottles have been consumed, bed-time stories have been told, nappies have been checked, sleeping bags applied and the lights have been dimmed- baby is half way between the chest and the mattress of the cot when the crying begins. Not the tired sobbing of sleepy woes but angry “what the hell are you doing?” screams.

Sleeping through the night (accomplished early- if you count 7pm-6am, because 7am would be nice- greedy perhaps, but nice) is a thing of the past since the babies went on holiday and forgot how to sleep in their own cots.

SO there they are, screaming and there I am “controlling” their crying, except what I am actually doing is stroking their hair, or leaving them be, or cranking up the volume on the sheep making wave sounds and all the while wondering how much longer will it be before they vomit? As a human being, and not just a care giver, one cannot wait until this happens, so yes you can justify it, you can rationalise that if the baby is sick it would be cruel, and messy and give baby more awake time while you clear up and then there is the possibility of social services getting the call about the baby that cries until it is sick- as a human being you simply cannot let it happen.

Control then, is lost. Baby/babies are rescued and immediately stop crying and start muffled sobbing… you kick yourself for interfering because she is OK whilst cuddling her because you hate to see her so wet eyed and then you put her back- the screaming starts again and you are back where you were ten minutes ago only a little crankier and a little further from your dream of a long peaceful evening.

Try the pick up put down method, the stroke the hair method, the stand outside the door method or the drown out the screams with a lullaby method all you like: if baby decides to cry until she is blue in the face the only one with any control about this crying is baby. So when you read “controlled crying” try to remember who’s control it is likely to be and instead practice the “uncontrolled” parent and baby method that most families go through with sleep training and try not to feel to bad about it!

Delicious Immune Boosting Soups

May 20, 2011

So you have enjoyed some yummy HEALTHY muffins (see below if not) and now you need something EVEN more wholesome. In the wake of news of a series of minor illnesses being suffered by friends the past few weeks here are a couple of IMMUNE BOOSTING SOUPS to help you into the summer months smiling. Below are two recipes and the reasons why their ingredients are going to help you bust bugs!

1. Chinese Pak Choi and Chicken

Theory: Pak Choi- a lesser known member of the cabbage family offers brilliant all round protection against germs. Additionally the spring onions and garlic are immune boosting  (and also fantastic for fighting phlegmy colds) and this soup really packs a get well punch. 

What you need:

6 large spring onions

4 tablespoons of rapeseed oil

2 cloves of garlic (skinned and crushed- for removal from pan)

1.2 litres chicken stock

2 chicken breasts (skinned and shredded)

4 heads of pak choi

150g chinese noodles

1 teaspoon of soy sauce (low salt)

What to do:

Chop 4 of the spring onion whites finely, cut the other 2 length ways finely (put length ways ones to the side). Heat the oil and ass the chopped onion and garlic (sweat for 2 mins). Add in the stock, bring to a simmer and remove the garlic. Continue to simmer and add the chicken. Add the pak choi leaves and, noodles and soy sauce and simmer for five minutes. 

Serve with the set aside spring onion length way cuts. 

Add: Chillies and mushrooms if you fancy! 

2Creamy Watercress Soup:

Theory: Watercress is one of the most important immune-protectors you can eat. Said to reduce the chance of lung diseases (even cancer- highly recommended for smokers) there are additional benefits from protective bacteria in live yoghurt. These “good” bacteria help to keep the bodies natural defences high whilst also releasing chemicals that enhance the performance of the immune system!   

What you need: 

100g Unsalted butter

4 large spring onions, cleaned and finely sliced.

About 350-400g watercress

1 litre vegetable stock 

Bouquet Garni

200ml plain bio-yoghurt

What to do:

Melt the butter and sweat the onions together for about 3 mins. Pull off any thick stalks on the watercress and add to the pan briskly stirring for 1 min. Add the stock and bouquet garni, simmer for 10 mins and remove the bouquet garni. Liquidize to desired consistency and stir in the yoghurt.

Serve hot with croutons or crispy bacon. (if you want).

Delicious (and healthy) Moist Muffins

May 18, 2011

These muffins- which are the product of experiment (striving to feel less guilty about my love of cake)- are absolutely delicious. Moist, sweet NO FAT, fruit sugar muffins that you can enjoy with your kiddies- good for you and great for them AND so easy to make! The ingredients may sound weird but bear with me- they really do taste great. I have acquired a reputation for being quite handy in the kitchen thanks to these muffins- I am, in fact, not.

What you will need?

150g grated SWEET POTATO (this is instead of BUTTER!- making them no fat!)

100g white rice flour (can use simple self raising or wheat free etc flours- I have tried them all)

100g ground almonds (superfood)

2 medium eggs (free range please)

100g Fructose (fruit sugar) (can be reduced if you want to make them less sweet)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda


Whatever flavours you want…

I am going to use poppy seeds for their texture and fresh blueberries for their lovely anti-oxidants and moisture (I use as many as I feel like- adding more if the mixture looks sparse!)

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas mark 4 and place CUPCAKE cases into a tray (I use cupcake cases instead of muffin cases as you get a more manageable size for the kiddies and a guilt free size for you- you can always have seconds!)

Whisk the eggs and fruit sugar together (ideally with  an electric whisk as this takes some doing). You want it to be lighter in colour and fluffy- it can take up to  five minutes! Using a wooden spoon to mix stir in grated (and peeled) sweet potato (I use the smallest grating holes I can so that it creates a sort of orange pulp). The mixture will go a fairly ghastly orange colour- don’t panic. Add in the flour, ground almonds, bicarb, baking powder, and poppy seeds.

I tend to chop blueberries in half- then add them in.

TRY not to stir the mixture more than you can avoid as this can apparently prevent them rising properly!

Dollop them into the cup cake cases (remember they will rise) and cook them for roughly 30 minutes. I keep a close eye on them between 20-30 mins as I don’t like them to over cook!

Slightly naughtier alternative:

My absolute favourite flavour is white chocolate and fresh raspberries! I just chop each square of chocolate into four (hearty chunks) and slice the raspberries into four.

Experiment with flavours that your little ones love!