Friday, 31 January 2014

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 11

We are nearly at the end of our two week wholegrain goodness challenge.
This really has become a change that we will be sticking to. Even my hubby has automatically gone from wholegrain alternatives when he was out shopping!
We are loving the new flavours that the wholegrain alternatives are bringing to our meals. However we haven't really noticed any of the health benefits, I have noticed that I have not felt as bloated and that's about it!
But I am sure that it is doing us good!

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 11

Breakfasts

Everybody had their usual breakfasts and are certainly enjoying the wholegrain cereals!

Lunch

The twins and I had a finger food lunch of cheese on wholemeal toast and wholemeal Sunbites.
Hubby took his wholemeal sandwiches and a banana and oat wholemeal cake.

Dinner

Last night I made a delicious chunky vegetable spaghetti bolognese served with organic wholegrain spaghetti. We all enjoyed this for our dinner and love the added flavours that the wholegrain spaghetti gives!



Snacks

Joseph had a bag of wholegrain Sunbites for his after school snack.

Day 11 - Results

Twins - 4 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 3 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 4 wholegrain servings
Me - 3 wholegrain servings

Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Great British Budget - My Debt Story

When I saw the opportunity to join the bloggers panel for the Great British Budget campaign I jumped at the chance!
This was for a number of reasons.
I have lived to an extremely tight budget when I was on benefits.
I completely lost all of my budgeting rules when I returned to work and got into thousands of pounds of debt.
I, thankfully, managed to clear all of the debt with the help of my husband and now we budget week to week.
I feel that more people need to learn about budgeting to avoid bad debt.
I would like to think that someone may learn from reading my debt story about how easy it is to get into debt and take a different path to what I took!

My Debt Story

When my first son was born we lived abroad and returned to England when he was 6 months.
I was a single mum and was on benefits until I returned to work when he was nearly 3 years old.
During the time that I was on benefits our budget was extremely tight.
I remember each week, when I got my money, I would sit at the kitchen table and literally separate my money to cover the bills, electric tokens and gas credit for the pre payment meters. Each week I had £40 to spend on our weekly food. I used to walk around the supermarket with a calculator so I knew that I was not going to go over what I had to spend. They were hard times. I went without so that Joseph would not. But we got by and I was never in debt.
When I decided to go back to work I was lucky enough to find a job quite quickly.
I had to travel 20 minutes to get to my new place of work and the car that I had was quite old but it did what I needed it to do at the time. So I went to look for a new car but as I had no credit history my credit score was not good. The bank recommended that I get a credit card.
This was my down fall!
I always said that I would not have a credit card because of the temptation to spend what I didn't have.
But I got one.
I got a good credit score and I bought my car on finance.
My debt had started!
As I was working and had an income that I had worked for I found it easy to tell myself that the credit card would be cleared when I got paid.
However, I had other outgoings that I needed to cover. So I just paid the minimum payment.
Christmas came and I wanted to give Joseph presents that I knew I couldn't afford so the credit card came out!
Soon enough the credit card had reached its limit.
Instead of starting to pay off what I owed I took out another credit card that was offering 0% on balance transfers.
This cleared one credit card, but it also gave me more money that I simply did not have to spend!
I continued like this for 2 years. We had holidays abroad, designer clothes, I had nights out and did live way above what I could afford to.
Before I knew what had happened I was about £12,000 in debt, including my car debt.
When I actually dug my head out of the sand and tried to solve the problem my credit limit was so bad the banks would not help me. All I wanted was to consolidate all of my debt into one place with the one payment.
I found a company that would give me a loan but only for £3,000.
The interest rate was 30% APR which is quite a lot higher than what the banks were offering.
But in my panic to pay off a credit card I took out the loan.
This only resulted in me being in even more debt.
I honestly feel that some of the loan companies do not lend responsibly. I am just thankful that there were no pay day loans around at that time.
Each month I paid the minimum payment off the credit cards but the amount of interest that I was getting charged meant that only a small amount of the debt was chipped away.
I felt physically sick every time a letter came from the companies and I dreaded the amount that I owed. My payments were set up on direct debit and each month I went into my over draft.
The only way I can explain the way I felt at the time was as a drowning feeling.
I could see no light or help to get out of where I was.
Then I met my husband.
I kept my debt a secret for quite a while but when he moved in we had to sort out our finances.
It is then that I told him the trouble that I was in.
I broke down and told him.
I had been bottling it up for so long and had worried in silence.
I didn't want to admit that I had been so stupid with money, I worked in finance, I should have known better!
With my hubby's help we paid off some of the debt and took out a loan to pay off the rest of the debt.
The relief that I felt was immense!
I had finally told someone about my troubles and had escaped the trap of the credit cards.
It felt so good to cut the cards up and put them in the bin!
I learnt my lesson, but I learnt it the hard way.
Last year we cleared all of the loan and the only debt we now have is our mortgage and car payments.
We do still have a credit card each but mine will only come out in emergencies.
I hate using it now and I have a real fear of debt.
My hubby is great at budgeting.
He keeps a log of all of our monthly outgoings and money that we have coming in.
We now have two current accounts.
One is for all of our bills and direct debts.
The other is for the food shopping, diesel and weekly costs.
The shopping account is the account which I am responsible for.
It is with this money I have to budget for our weekly food.
I am always looking for ways to save money and make our money go further.

I have joined the Great British Budget because I want to highlight how important it is to budget.
I learnt the hard way and it is a hard way to learn!
I hope that I can help prevent someone else going through what I did.
Throughout February Your Wealth are challenging people to create a budget and to stick to it!
They have a great tool that is available to help you manage all of your outgoings which is available as an app for your mobile phone so that you are always able to control your finances.
Check out Your Wealth on twitter @yourwealthuk as they are running a photo challenge where you will be entered into a prize draw to win one of four £50 Love2Shop vouchers.
But its also a fun way to join in!
Don't forget to add #GreatBritishBudget to your tweets!

My focus during February will be to show you how to save money on your weekly shopping and I will be sharing some delicious meals which are not only taste great but are ideal for families that are on a budget.

So what are you waiting for?
Follow me and join Great British Budget this February!

Join the Great British Budget Challenge

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Days 9 & 10

We really are on a roll now with the wholegrain challenge and have changed our diets to include wholegrain.
This is how we have got on...

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 9

Breakfast

The twins are enjoying the Shreddies with bananas for their breakfasts.
Joseph had multigrain boulders and hubby had oats.

Lunch

The twins enjoyed haggis yet again with chicken and potatoes.
Hubby took to work his homemade wholemeal sandwiches.
I also had a wholemeal sandwich.

Dinner

I made one of our favourites this evening. I made tuna pasta bake but changed our usual white pasta for the brown wholegrain pasta. We have been enjoying the extra flavour that the brown wholemeal pasta brings to the dishes and are looking at making this a permanent change to our diets!
The twins enjoyed a wholegrain serving with their wholemeal egg sandwiches!

Snacks

I have made some wholemeal banana and oat muffins. Joseph enjoyed one when he got home from school.

Day 9 - Results

Twins - 3 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 3 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 3 wholegrain servings
Me - 2 wholegrain servings

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 10

Breakfast

The twins are enjoying the Shreddies with bananas for their breakfasts.
Joseph had multigrain boulders and hubby had oats.
I have some of my fruit, hazelnut and oat flapjack.

Lunch

The twins loved the wholegrain tuna pasta bake for their lunch!
The hubby had his usual wholemeal sandwich and a banana and oat muffin.
I also had a wholemeal sandwich.

Dinner

I made a meat and vegetable pie for dinner with a wholemeal pastry. Joseph has told me that he actually prefers the wholemeal pastry to regular white flour pastry. I tend to agree with his too! The wholemeal flour just adds more flavour and texture to the pastry.
The twins had beans on wholemeal toast.

Day 10 - Results

Twins - 3 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 2 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 4 wholegrain servings
Me - 3 wholegrain servings

Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wednesday Words - The Magic of a Book

Both the hubby and I love to read and I have always hoped that Joseph would enjoy books the way that we do.
However, at times he has found it difficult and, I think, has been put off by this.
But I still haven't given up on showing him how magical books can be.
When I saw that The Reading Chest were looking for bloggers to review their service I saw this as a chance to encourage him to read more!
We have just had our first week and I am so pleased with how he is doing I had to share this quote today!
“You can find magic wherever you look.
Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”
- Dr. Seuss
Our review of The Reading Chest and discount code is coming soon so keep an eye out! 

Wednesday Words is hosted by Emma at Crazy With Twins. Check out her reinvention quotes Crazy With Twins Wednesday Words

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 8

I can't believe we have completed day 8 already! This last week has gone so fast and I can honestly say that it is a change that I am really enjoying!
This is how we all got on...

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge - Day 8

Breakfast

The twins are enjoying the Shreddies with bananas for their breakfasts.
Joseph had multigrain boulders and hubby had oats.

Lunch

The twins had haggis for the first time! They really enjoyed the new flavours and I love it when they try new foods.
Hubby had his wholemeal bread sandwiches while I had some wholegrain Sunbites.

Dinner

As I had a lot of haggis left over from the weekend I decided to try a new meal. I stuffed chicken breasts with haggis and served with redberry sauce, neeps and tatties!
The twins had potatoes and vegetables.

Day 8 - Results

Twins - 2 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 2 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 3 wholegrain servings
Me - 2 wholegrain servings

Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

Fruit and Hazelnut Flapjack

This is my third attempt at getting this recipe right and it certainly was third time lucky!
I love flapjack but I find it hard to find a good quality one from the supermarket. Plus the really nice ones are often more expensive and when you are a family that has to stick to a tight budget it is cheaper and more satisfying to make your own!
This recipe is both delicious and cheap to make!
This is what you do...

Fruit and Hazelnut Flapjack

Ingredients

75g dark muscovado sugar
75g light muscovado sugar
250g non salted sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
350g oats
100g dried fruit
50g dried apricot
50g dried cranberries
25g chopped hazelnuts

Method

Pre heat the oven to 150C fan

1 - Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup on a low heat

2 - Once the butter has melted and the sugar has all dissolved remove from the heat and stir in the oats, nuts and dried fruits

3 - Line a tray bake tin with baking paper

4 - Put the oats, nuts and fruit mixture into the tin and level off

5 - Place in the oven for 45 minutes

6 - Once baked leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then slice and leave to cool in the tin

7 - Once cooled store in an air tight container

These are not only delicious but the oats also provide some wholegrain goodness!
Enjoy x

 
I have shared this recipe with Honest Mum's Tasty Tuesdays. Check out Papa G's Spinach Rice recipe, it looks delicious!
I have also shared this recipe with A Mummy Too's Recipe of the Week. Check it out as there are so many delicious recipes!
 
Link up your recipe of the week
 


Monday, 27 January 2014

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 7 & Week 1 Round Up

On Sunday's we go to my mum and dad's for our Sunday dinner. ThereforeI knew that today we would not all be having our 3 recommended daily servings of wholegrain.
However I knew that we would have at least 1 serving!
Here is how we did...

Breakfast

The twins have had a wholegrain serving for their breakfasts. They have started the day with Shreddies and banana.
Joseph had his multigrain boulders and hubby had some oats while I had a mid morning snack of oat flapjack.

Lunch

We all had wholemeal bread sandwiches.

Dinner

As it was Sunday, we had a traditional Sunday dinner which had no wholemeal servings in. However I do not mind as we had wholemeal for the other meals during the day.

Day 7 Results

Twins - 2 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 2 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 2 wholegrain servings
Me - 2 wholegrain servings

Week 1 Results

After week 1 of the wholegrain goodness challenge I am amazed by how easy it is to include wholegrain into our diets. However, when I did the wholegrain shopping I was surprised by how much more wholegrain food costs. For a family that are on a budget it would be difficult, sometimes, to spend more on our weekly shopping. But to change the flour that I use for bread and to cook a mixture of both brown wholemeal products with white would be possible. I feel that the food companies should take a look at their prices. If we need to eat more wholegrain then they should make it more accessible for everyone, whether you are on a tight budget or not!
We are enjoying the wholegrain foods and hope to keep up with the changes after the challenge!

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Week 2 Meal Plan - Week Commencing 27th January 2014

Well we are now onto week two of the wholegrain goodness challenge.
Last week went well and I found it easy to incorporate wholegrain into our diets.
This is what I have got planned for our meals this week...

Week Commencing 27th January 2014

Monday 27th January 2014

When I did last weeks meal plan I forgot that it was Burns Night so we had haggis instead of stew pie!
As I had quite a bit of haggis left Monday's meal will be chicken breast stuffed with haggis and redberry sauce with tatties and neeps!

Tuesday 28th January 2014

Tuna pasta bake made with wholegrain pasta and topped with a crispy cheesy oat topping.

Wednesday 29th January 2014

Beef steak and vegetable pie made with a wholemeal pastry served with potatoes

Thursday 30th January 2014

Chicken and chorizo in a creamy sauce with wholegrain brown rice.

Friday 31st January 2014

Chunky vegetable spaghetti bolognese with wholegrain spaghetti. This sauce if full of chunky pieces of peppers, courgettes, onions, mushrooms and minced beef.

Saturday 1st February 2014

Homemade chicken curry served with wholegrain brown rice.

This is going to be another yummy week!

 
 
For more Wholegrain Goodness information visit
To read the feedback from the Wholegrain Goodness Challenge visit

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 5 & 6

Despite not being well these last two days we have kept up with our wholegrain intake. We are finding this challenge easier than anticipated.
Here is how we got on...
 
Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 5
 
Breakfast
 
Joseph had his wholegrain first thing in his Shreddies.
Hubby has changed his breakfast to oats to see if this will help settle his stomach a bit.
The twins have stuck to their usual breakfasts but they will be having Shreddies over the weekend.
 
Lunch
 
The twins had some Mediterranean stew and wholegrain brown rice for their lunch.
Hubby had his homemade wholemeal bread sandwiches.
As I wasn't feeling very well I just had a slice of wholemeal toast.
 
Dinner
 
I have tried a new dish for dinner. It is a wholemeal twist on a chicken dish that is one of our favourite. I made crispy oatmeal chicken. I soaked the chicken breast in some freshly squeezed lemon juice with fresh thyme. I then dipped the chicken in beaten egg and coated the chicken on oatmeal and wholemeal bread crumbs. I baked the chicken in the oven and served with potatoes and vegetables. Everybody enjoyed the chicken cooked like this and I will certainly be making it again!
The twins had soup and wholemeal bread.
 
Snacks
I have baked some oat flapjacks today which were delicious!
 
 
Day5 - Results
 
Twins - 2 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 2 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 3 wholegrain servings
Me - 3 wholegrain servings
 
 
Wholegrain Goodness Challenge - Day 6
 
Breakfast
 
Hubby had oats for breakfast.
The twins had their usual breakfast while Joseph had Multigrain Boulders which do contain wholegrain.
Even I had some Shreddies this morning.
 
Lunch
 
We all had wholemeal bread sandwiches for lunch
 
Dinner
 
As it was Burns Night we had a true Scottish meal. I cooked haggis, tatties and neeps. For pudding I made a cranachan which has toasted oatmeal in. Haggis also contains oats so we got two servings in this meal!
 
Day 6 - Results
 
Twins - 2 servings
Joseph - 3 servings
Hubby - 4 servings
Me - 4 servings
 
We are nearly at the end of the first week of Wholegrain Goodness and I can honestly say that I am enjoying the changes in our diets and I think that we will carry it on after the two weeks are up!
 
Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

20th January - 26th January 2014 - One Picture Everyday For 1 Year

This week has been an up and down week for me.
It is not very often that I don't feel very well but this week the bug got me!
Thankfully today I am feeling a lot more myself and am planning today's bakes!
Here is our week in pictures...

Monday 20th January 2014


Monday was day 1 of our Wholegrain Goodness Challenge. The challenge is for 2 weeks we eat at least 1 of the recommended 3 servings of wholegrain a day.
I planned the weeks meals and I included one serving in every evening meal for the next 2 weeks.
We also have wholemeal snacks and wholemeal breakfast cereal.
I will be baking a wholemeal cake this week which should be just as yummy!!

Tuesday 21st January 2014


Now that the twins are bigger their nap mid morning is getting shorter.
This was always my time to catch up on a bit of tv whilst doing the ironing.
On Tuesday I got the ironing out and managed to iron 4 items before Isabella was shouting.
So I tried a new ironing time and it worked really well.
Now that the twins can more or less feed themselves I am going to get my ironing done then and just have a late lunch.
I feel like Tuesday was a productive day and am pleased I've thought of a way round the ironing problem!

Wednesday 22nd January 2014


Wednesday was the day I started to not feel good!
The hubby wasn't well last week and it seems that he has passed it on to me!
I don't do poorly.
I've got too much to do to get ill so I was not happy.
Hubby came home, got me a drink for medicinal purposes, told me to sit down and took over cooking the tea.
This had to be my picture for today as I don't let him in the kitchen much these days!
But I was thankful that he took over!

Thursday 23rd January 2014


On Thursday I was still not feeling very well. If anything I'm felt worse.
So on Thursday Disney Junior was my best friend and helped me with the twins! Who I have got to say were both really good!
My mum even went to pick Joseph up from school so I could rest a little!

Friday 24th January 2014

 

On Friday I still wasn't feeling great so to try and cheer myself up a bit I did some baking!
I hadn't fancied much food but thought that some flapjack would go down well.
I made dried fruit with cranberries, apricots and hazelnut flapjack. I will be sharing this delicious recipe in the week.
As I thought it would, it went down a treat and is delicious with a cup of Earl Grey!

Saturday 25th January 2014


As it was Burns Night we went all Scottish on Saturday night!
We enjoyed haggis, tatties and neeps and finished with a cranachan with raspberries and blueberries for dessert.
It certainly was a delicious Scottish inspired meal that was washed down with a wee dram or two of Caribbean Cask Balvenie whisky!
Happy Burns Night 2014!

Sunday 26th January 2014
 
 

This is a rare picture that I took today of Joseph and I.
These days whenever I say "let's take a pic" it comes out with Joseph pulling a funny face or doing a fake "do I really have to have my picture taken" smile!
This will be a treasured mummy Joe-Joe picture x

Follow my year in pictures at Blipfoto
I'll be sharing my 365 Project with The Boy and Me
TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

I'll also be sharing with Make Do and Push's The Week That Was Captured

Silent Sunday

Friday, 24 January 2014

Mediterranean Stew


This delicious, warming dish came out by accident.
I started with the intentions of making a slow cooked beef stew. However when I got started I remembered that this week I had not bought any root vegetables. So I had a look at what I had got and came up with a Mediterranean twist on a classic British dish.
This is what I got...
 
Mediterranean Stew
 
Ingredients
 
400g casserole steak
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 red peppers, sliced
2 courgettes, cut into chunks and quartered
300g new potatoes, washed and quartered
100g pearl barley
100g wholegrain brown rice
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500mls beef stock
Oregano
Basil
Paprika
Cayenne pepper
Seasoning
 
Method
 
1 - Brown off the meat in a frying pan and then transfer to the slow cooker
 
2 - Add the red onions, garlic, peppers and a sprinkling of oregano
 
3 - Leave on a high heat for about an hour then reduce to a low heat for 2 hours
 
4 - Add the courgettes, tinned tomatoes, cooked pearl barley, beef stock
 
5 - Mix in a good sprinkling of some more oregano, basil, paprika and cayenne pepper. The amount that you add depends on taste so add a little, taste and add more if desired
 
6 - Leave to cook for a further 2 hours on a low heat
 
7 - Cook the wholegrain brown rice
 
7 - The stew sauce should by now be quite thick, if you like your sauce to be thinner add a little water, season to taste
 
8 - Stir in the cooked rice and serve
 

The herbs and spices that this stew offers certainly make this a warming stew and a dish that is a little bit different from the traditional version!
This is also lovely served with garlic bread.
Enjoy x
 

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 4

We have now completed four days of the wholegrain goodness challenge.
I have noticed that I am feeling bloated less often but the hubby has been having some stomach pains. But he does have a sensitive digestive system and suffers with excess acid. However during the last couple of days he has been having more than the recommended 3 servings. So we are going to cut down his servings and I am going to make a loaf of bread using half white flour and half wholemeal flour to see if this helps.
Here's how we did on day 4...

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge - Day 4

Breakfast

Yet again the twins had their usual breakfast, however I am going to start giving them Shreddies over the weekend now that their little tummy's have got used to the increase of wholegrain.
Joseph and hubby had some Shreddies.
Even I had a late breakfast of wholemeal toast.

Lunch

The twins enjoyed the last of the cottage pie from the other day.
As I am still not 100% I have not got much of an appetite. But whenever I am feeling ill the one food that I can always eat is crisps, luckily I have some wholegrain Sunbites so I did have my serving of wholegrain!
Hubby had a homemade wholemeal bread sandwich and also took the last of the wholemeal cinnamon and honey cake as a snack.

Dinner

I wanted to make an easy dinner today. So I bought some casserole steak as I can put it in the slow cooker and leave it for the day. I was going to make a stew but remembered that this week I had not bought any root vegetables so I gave it a twist. I made a Mediterranean style stew with red onions, red peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, herbs, spices, wholegrain brown rice and pearl barley. As this had been in the slow cooker all day the twins enjoyed a bowl of stew with a little added wholegrain brown rice for their dinner.

Day 4 - Results

Twins - 2 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 2 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 4 wholegrain servings
Me - 3 wholegrain servings

Unfortunately, with Joseph having school dinners, he is only getting 2 of his recommended 3 servings a day. I am going to bake some wholegrain muffins so that he can have one as his after school snack so that he getting the serving that he is currently missing.

Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Banana and Oat Cakes

As you all know, I am taking part in the wholegrain goodness challenge.
 
This has encouraged me to try some new bakes using wholemeal flour.
 
I thought that these cakes would be a great way to give both the kiddies and my hubby a yummy treat that has not only got wholegrain goodness in but also bananas for energy!
 
This is what we got...
 
Banana and Oat Cakes
 
Ingredients
 
225g wholemeal self raising flour
225g baking spread
225g golden caster sugar
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
100g whole oats
4 eggs at room temperature
1/2 tspn vanilla paste
 
Method
 
Heat the oven to 180C
 
1 - Cream together the spread and golden caster sugar
 
2 - Once they are light and creamy gradually add the eggs with a little flour to prevent curdling
 
3 - Mix in the vanilla paste
 
4 - Sift in the flour, adding the wholemeal that is left in the sieve, and mix
 
5 - Add the mashed banana and oats and mix until evenly combined
 
6 - Place the mixture in either cupcake cases or muffin cases for a larger cake
 
7 - Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean
 
8 - Remove from the tray and leave to cool on a cooling rack
 
These muffins are great little energy boosting, full of wholegrain snacks.
I have recently made some with added dates and walnuts which were equally delicious!
They are so versatile you could add nuts, raisins or any other dried fruit of your choice!
Enjoy x
 

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 3

We had yet another great wholemeal day.
We are enjoying the new food but I have got to be honest we are not noticing the difference eating the extra wholegrain. However, I don't think that you really notice any differences but I am sure that it is doing us good on the inside!
This is how we got on...

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge - Day 3

Breakfast

The twins had their usual breakfast while Joseph and hubby has Shreddies.

Lunch

The twins had the cottage pie that we had on day 2. They thoroughly enjoyed their lunch and they both had clean plates! At first I wasn't sure how any of the three children would be with the pearl barley but they all ate it with no problems!
We enjoyed he cottage pie so much even I had a bowl for my lunch.
Hubby had a homemade wholemeal bread sandwich and also took some wholemeal cinnamon and honey cake.

Dinner

The twins had an easy meal of spaghetti hoops on wholemeal toast.
As I wasn't feeling very well, hubby took over in the kitchen at dinner time! We enjoyed spaghetti carbonara made with organic wholegrain spaghetti.

Day 3 - Results

Twins - 2 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 2 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 4 wholegrain servings
Me - 2 wholegrain servings

Another good wholegrain day, we are now on a roll and are automatically picking the wholegrain option. I hope that we continue this way.

Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 2

We have had a second day with added wholegrain goodness!
This is how we got on on day 2...

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge - Day 2

Breakfast

I kept the twins with their usual breakfast of wheat biscuits and bananas. I do not want to add too much wholegrain in one go for them. I feel that as they are younger it should be increased a little at a time.
Joseph and hubby started the day with a bowl of Shreddies!
As for me, well I had my usual coffee!

Lunch

The twins had some of the beef in creamy mustard sauce with wholegrain rice that I cooked last night and they loved it!
Hubby had his wholemeal bread sandwiches and a piece of wholemeal cinnamon and honey cake.
I had a wholemeal bread sandwich along with a bag of wholegrain Sunbites.

Dinner

Last night I made a wholegrain cottage pie. I used my regular recipe of minced beef steak, onions, mushrooms, kale, sweetcorn, tinned tomatoes, beef stock and Worcester sauce. However yesterday I added 100g of pearl barley. Firstly I cooked the pearl barley in vegetable stock for 45 minutes and the added it to my cottage pie mix to finish cooking. I topped the meat with a sweet and white potato mash covered with oats and cheese. I finished the dish off by grilling until the cheese had melted and the top was crispy.
This was the first time that I have used pearl barley in my cooking but I will definitely be using it again. We all loved what it added to the dish and the cheesy oat topping gave it a crispy finish!


Cottage Pie with Pearl Barley
sweet and white potato
with a cheesy oat topping


Day 2 Results

Twins - 2 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 2 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 4 wholegrain servings
Me - 3 wholegrain servings

Another successful wholegrain day has been had here!

Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

Our Perfect Day At Center Parcs Sherwood Forest

We have never been to Center Parcs.
After looking at all of their activities and what they have to offer this is how I imagine our perfect day to be...

This morning we woke up at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest to the sounds of the wind rustling in the trees and the morning birds song!
What a perfect way to wake up.
Today will be our first perfect Center Parcs family day!
Our perfect day did not start with a lie in.
Oh no!
We have early risers and no matter how quiet and tranquil the settings when they want to get up, they are up!
Even on holiday!
We all got up and spent some pyjama time together before the days adventures began.
First of all we settled down at the table for breakfast.
Usually hubby leaves for work before the children have had their breakfast so it is a real treat for us all to sit at the table together and enjoy this first meal of the day.
But we would not have a big breakfast today as we have planned a brunch treat at The Pancake House!
Just as we were going to get ready Joseph noticed that we had a squirrel on the patio. We had left out some monkey nuts the night before. This was the first time that the twins had seen a squirrel and they laughed uncontrollably at the funny little character as he nibbled on the nuts! Joseph quickly ran to get his camera, this was something that he wanted to tell his friends at school about!
Once we were all dressed and ready for the family day ahead we spent some time walking through the beautifully peaceful environment that Center Parcs offers.
I love how there are no cars in the resort to worry about, so the children certainly made the most of having a bit more freedom. Our stroll soon turned into a game as the hubby and I chased and laughed with the three children!
We made our way across to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise.
The twins couldn't wait to get into the water and splashed like mad whilst Joseph dashed off to experience Aqua jetting! As for the hubby and I, we treasured seeing the children having new experiences and creating magical memories.


After our swim it was time to go to The Pancake House that lies on the edge of the lake.
The children fuelled up with the Cheesy Rangers, while hubby indulged in the All Day Breakfast and I tried to be good by having the Farmers Omelette.

This set us up for a few more hours of fun!
We took the children down to the waters edge to experience the sand. They have never been to a beach before and feeling the sand squeezing between their toes was a whole new feeling for them. They were no too sure to start with but after they watched their big brother they were soon running around and kicking over the sandcastles that he had made. The sound of all three of them giggling together is one of my favourite sounds, my heart fills with pride!
After our sandy play it was time for Joseph's favourite activity.
A family bike ride!
We hired some bikes so that we could make the most of the safe car free area. We got three bike, one for Joseph, one for hubby and one for me. On the back of the hubby's and mine we had trailers for the twins to sit in. This was a great chance for them to sit back and relax a little as they hadn't stopped from the moment they had got up!
We cycled through the forest, stopping to admire nature at its undisturbed best.
This really is a magical place!
After our bike ride it was time for home!
We ordered a meal to be delivered after all it is my holiday too! The hubby and I had a delicious Indian meal whilst the kids devoured their pizza. The days activities certainly had worked up an appetite!
Then before we knew it the twins were ready for their bath and then bed!
Once they were tucked up in bed it was Joseph's time. We sat on the patio and played a board game and gave him the time that he often misses.
We tucked Joseph up in bed and told him to get plenty of sleep as we will be having another magical day tomorrow!
To finish our perfect day the hubby and I snuggled up with a glass of wine and enjoyed the peace and quiet! We talked about how perfect Center Parcs was and how they had helped to give us a perfect day!
We also sat and planned yet another perfect day, everyday would be a perfect day here!

I could relate to the video "An Adventure With Little Ones".
We love being away so that we can spend quality time together as a family but it is equally important for the hubby and I to have "our" time too once the children are in bed.
Take a look and see why this video inspired me, you might be inspired too!



Disclaimer:
Photographs have been used from Center Parcs website as we do not have our own of this resort.
This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 January challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Beef in a Creamy Wholegrain Mustard Sauce with Brown Wholegrain Rice

For our first day of the Wholegrain Goodness Challenge I wanted to try a new dish!
When we stocked up with wholegrain food at the weekend I made sure we also got a jar of wholegrain mustard.
I love the bite that adding wholegrain mustard gives to a dish.
This is what I got...
 
Beef in a Creamy Wholegrain Mustard Sauce with Brown Wholegrain Rice
 
Ingredients
 
350g beef steak, cut into strips
1 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
125g closed cup mushrooms, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
300 mls double cream
Salt and pepper to season
Brown wholegrain rice
 
Method
 
1 - Cook the rice as per instructions
 
2 - Dry fry the beef streak strips until browned
 
3 - Add the red onions, peppers and mushrooms and continue to cook over a medium heat until the meat is cooked through
 
4 - Once the meat is cooked through add the wholegrain mustard, stir through and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly to allow the mustard flavour to spread throughout the meat a vegetables
 
5 - Gradually stir in the cream and cook for a couple of minutes
 
6 - Season to taste and serve!
 
This meal is both full on flavour and wholegrain goodness. It was a winner all round!
This will be a dish that I certainly will be cooking again!
I served with wholegrain brown rice but you can serve it with white and it will be equally delicious.
Enjoy x
 
I have shared this recipe on Honest Mum's Tasty Tuesday's check out the other delicious recipes and Papa G's Greek Chicken Casserole 
I have also shared this recipe in A Mummy Too's Recipe Of The Week
 
Link up your recipe of the week


Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Day 1

We have completed day one of our Wholegrain Goodness Challenge and we have all had at least one serving of wholegrain.
To be honest, changing the way we eat was not as hard or as challenging as I thought it would be.
Just substituting plain, white options for brown, wholemeal gave us the servings that we needed.
This is how we did...

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge - Day 1

Breakfasts

The twins and hubby stuck to their regular breakfast of wheat biscuits and banana.
Joseph kick started his wholegrain day with a bowl of Shreddies!
As for me, I'm naughty and don't have breakfast, just coffee!

Lunch

Joseph has school dinners so he did miss a serving of wholegrain at lunch.
The twins and I had a lovely lunch of savoury pancakes made with wholemeal flour filled with turkey, tomatoes and cheese! I also had a packet of wholegrain Sunbites!
The hubby, who takes a packed lunch, had his serving of wholegrain with his sandwiches made of homemade wholemeal bread.

Dinner

The twins didn't have any wholegrain in this meal as they had leftover vegetables from the Sunday dinner.
I cooked a delicious meal of beef steak strips in a creamy wholegrain mustard sauce on a bed of brown wholegrain rice (the recipe will be in the next post!). The wholegrain rice has a lovely nutty taste and I found to be a lot easier to cook. I really do not like cooking white rice as it can often go sticky, whereas the brown rice stayed separated and had a lovely texture! This will be a dish that I will be cooking again!

Snacks

The twins shared a bag of wholemeal Sunbites as a snack and Joseph also had a bag as an after school snack! Hubby had a snack of my homemade wholemeal cinnamon and 2 honey cake.

Day 1 Results

Twins - 2 wholegrain servings
Joseph - 3 wholegrain servings
Hubby - 3 wholegrain servings
Me - 3 wholegrain servings

We all had our minimum of 1 serving so far so good!
We'll see how today goes.

Disclaimer: The Wholegrain Goodness Challenge is in association with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness. I received a shopping voucher to purchase wholegrain foods but all of the views expressed are my own and 100% honest.
To read some of other feedback visit Mumsnet Wholegrain Goodness Challenge
To read more about the health benefits of wholegrain visit Wholegrain Goodness

Monday, 20 January 2014

Wholegrain Goodness Challenge Week 1 Meal Plan - Week Commencing 20th January 2014

Today we start our Wholegrain Goodness Challenge with Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness.
For the next 2 weeks we will be eating at least one of the recommended three servings of wholegrain a day.
At the weekend I went shopping a stocked up with plenty of wholegrain alternatives.
So this week all of our evening meals will contain at least one serving of wholegrain. I have also baked some wholemeal bread and used rapeseed oil to make it even healthier!
During the week I will be trying some new wholemeal bakes and if I make any pastry I will be using wholemeal flour!
This is what delicious wholegrain dinners we will be enjoying this week!
 
Week Commencing 20th January 2014
 
* Beef Steak Strips in a Creamy Mustard Sauce on Wholegrain Rice
 
I dry fry the beef steak strips with some red onions, mushrooms and red peppers. Once the meat is cooked through I add some wholegrain mustard followed by some double cream. The beef steak and sauce is served on a bed of wholegrain rice.
 
* Spaghetti Carbonara with Wholegrain Spaghetti
 
This is a lovely, tasty, quick easy meal! I fry up some smoked bacon, garlic and onions. Once cooked through I add the cooked spaghetti, pour over a mixture of eggs, milk and grated cheese. Cook for a couple of minutes and serve. Quick and easy!
 
* Cottage Pie with Pearl Barley and a Cheesy Oat Topping
 
I will make my usual cottage pie mixture with minced beef steak, onions, mushrooms and carrots but will also add some pearl barley. I will be topping the cottage pie this week with mashed sweet potato and finishing it off with an cheesy oat topping that will be grilled.
 
* Lemon Chicken coated in Oats and Thyme
 
I will soak the chicken breasts in the lemon juice then will make an oat and thyme breadcrumb. This will be served with new potatoes and grilled courgettes and peppers
 
* Beef and Barley Stew
 
I love a good slow cooked beef stew and dumplings! So I will be making my usual stew recipes but will add pearl barley. This will be served with wholemeal dumplings!
 
* Beef and Barley Stew Leftover Pie
 
One of the best things about stew is the leftovers the next day! These make a lovely pie which will be with a wholemeal pastry.
 
I am looking forward to the challenge of adding wholegrain to our diets and trying some new dishes!

 
Our Wholegrain Goodies

 
For more Wholegrain Goodness information visit
 
To read the feedback from the Wholegrain Goodness Challenge visit
 
I am linking up my weekly meal plan with At Home With Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday. Take at look at some other meal plan here...
 


Sunday, 19 January 2014

13th January - 19th January 2014 - One Picture Everyday For 1 Year

What a week we have had!
As always it has been busy, I have baked, cooked and played!
We have had some fun days and some challenging days.
Here is our week in pictures...


Monday 13th January 2014


I try to give the twins plenty of variety with their meals. But as all parents will know this can be difficult. Thinking of new foods for them to try. Worrying about whether they will like it or not. Will they eat it?
At lunch we had a carpet picnic!
I did a bit of a finger food buffet for them. I had the same so that they could see me eating it too. We had red pepper slices, cheese, ham, cucumber, bread and bread sticks. I also had some Greek dips that we had at the weekend that I thought I'd try with them. I was so surprised by how much they loved dipping and tasting the new flavours. I'm going to have a look at dip recipes after this successful lunch!

Tuesday 14th January 2014


 


We have a time out chair! Unfortunately this was used quite a bit by Miss Isabella! Today she has bitten poor Taylor out of frustration because he had a toy she wanted.
Its times like this that having twins is difficult as they don't always get on but I guess you get that with all siblings whether they are twins or not.
So I am trying to tackle this.
I just hope that the time out chair will work...

Wednesday 15th January 2014



What a horrible, dull, wet day we woke up to!
Thanks to the rain the twins had to stay inside while I went to feed the chickens and collect the eggs.
The garden is getting so wet and boggy it is getting hard to take the pushchair down. I can't wait for the nicer weather to arrive.
However, every cloud has a silver lining, when its like this I have the perfect excuse to put on my beautiful lilac Hunter boots that hubby spoilt me with!

Thursday 16th January 2014

This is my lovely little lady Isabella!
I had to share this picture because she looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth! This week she has been such a little tinker! No has become her favourite word and she has spent many a minute in the time out chair this week for biting and not listening. Sometimes she has me at the end of my tether, but then I get a moment like the one that was captured in this picture.
Those eyes are why I can't be annoyed for long.
She is my beautiful little girl, my only girl, the little girl I prayed for when we found out we were expecting twins.
No matter what, I love her and this picture is going to be one that I will treasure ♥


Friday 17th January 2014


I had a really busy baking day! The days I love! I made bagels, puff pastry and this lovely banoffee pie.
I love the Great British Bake Off and when I saw it being made the other evening I knew I had to have a go at making it!
Fingers crossed it tastes as good as it looks!

Saturday 18th January 2014


We have had yet another visit to the garage for the cars!
We had new tyres and work done on my car over Christmas which cost a fortune today it was hubby's cars turn. 2 new tyres for the Volvo were not cheap!
Fingers crossed that will be the last we have to spend on either cars for a good while!

Sunday 19th January 2014


A rare picture of all 3 of my babies together in a picture! But then again they are all so still because they were in the car!!
But still they are my pride and joy!!!

Follow my year in pictures at Blipfoto
I'll be sharing my 365 Project with The Boy and Me

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

I'll also be sharing with Make Do and Push's The Week That Was Captured

Silent Sunday