Category: Food and drinks

Lunch Ideas Beyond Beans on Toast

beans on toast with melted cheeseI want to share some ideas for lunch at home beyond beans on toast.

I love beans on toast. I really love beans on toast with melted cheese and chunky Branston – yum. It is quick, cheap and easy to make. It is one of the plus points of being at home with my two year old daughter, who also loves beans on toast, thankfully. However you can only eat beans on toast so many times!

I often struggle to think beyond the most obvious lunches and forget about lots of quick and simple alternatives. Quick and simple is key when at home with kids. So this post is dedicated to thinking beyond beans on toast and giving some inspiration for alternative lunches at home.

Quick Lunches

Sandwiches are an obvious choice, but I like to go beyond ham and cheese when I can. How about egg mayonnaise with some rocket leaves, smoked salmon and cream cheese with rocket and a little lemon and pepper (ideally on a toasted bagel).

Eggs are so versatile, but I hardly ever make eggs for lunch. I love scrambled eggs on toast with a little brown sauce. Boiled egg and soldiers is great. Poached eggs are great if cooked to your preference, rubbish if not.

Cheese on toast is a nice lunch for a toddler. Stilton and lightly fried mushrooms on toast is amazing for me. I lightly fry mushrooms in some butter and add stilton until it just starts to melt then pour over toast. Alternatively you can add a little milk to the mushrooms in the pan, warm up and pour over toast.

Bit More Time

Pasta offers so many options for quick and easy lunches. The following are my favourites for a simple lunch. Simply cook some pasta and add a little olive oil and crushed chilli flakes. If I have left over bacon I will often fry up some of that and have it with pasta and passata (optional addition of onions and mushrooms or olives). I have done the same with left over sausages. I have added some cream cheese to pasta before, along with some pepper, which is ok for a quick lunch.

Omelettes are a filling option. I hardly ever make an omelette, but whenever I do, I think I must do this more often and then leave it another six months. My favourite fillings are cheese, onion and ham, pepper and mushroom.

Jacket potatoes are great when you fancy something filling and hot. I like a crispy skin so I cook mine in the microwave first then cover the skin in oil and salt and put them in the oven for at least 20 minutes. My favourite toppings are cheese, tuna mayonnaise, mushroom and stilton works well.

I hope this provides a little inspiration for lunches at home.

Like many Stay At Home Mums, I get digs from others about my life of afternoon teas and coffee mornings with the other Mums. I know that I am lucky to go out for lunch with my daughter fairly often, although lunch out with a toddler is far from a relaxing event. The reality is that my daughter and I spend a lot of time having lunch at home, normally eating beans on toast or ham sandwiches. Sometimes we have something a little more adventurous for lunch.

Any more suggestions for lunch at home would be much appreciated if you’d like to leave a comment.

Is Yogurt Healthy?

My kids love yogurt. They both always have. It is one of the few things that I have always been happy for them to eat as I’ve always assumed it is a healthy food and something to be encouraged. I think of the calcium, vitamins and protein, as well as the probiotics that I read are good for your gut.

More recently, however, I have noticed that lots of yogurts, many of them aimed at kids, are full of sugar. Now I’m not obsessive about nutrition and I’m fairly relaxed about my kids eating treats, as long as they are eaten alongside some balanced meals. However I am irritated that there are a number of food products, including yogurts, that are pretending to be a healthy choice, when really the kids might as well be eating ice cream covered in strawberry sauce.

My youngest daughter will happily polish off two of those small fromage frais yogurts from Petite Filous, plus a Danone Actimel Kids yogurt drink before tucking into her porridge for breakfast and she will frequently ask for another two yogurts for a snack later. She never eats just one, it always has to be two!

I was intending this to be a lighthearted post, but now I am starting to look at labels and get concerned about sugar levels so this is going to get a bit more technical. If you are easily offended by meddling guidelines on nutrition, then stop reading now, but if you have similar concerns to me, then you may wish to keep reading and find out more.

I have just had a look at the packaging and discovered that two mini Petite Filous yogurts contain 9.3g of sugar (recommended serving is two pots). The Yoplait Wildlife fromage frais pots are very similar in terms of calories and sugar. The Actimel Kids yogurt drinks each contain 11.2g of sugar so that’s 20.5g of sugar before my daughter has even started on her porridge, which normally has a little honey on. Eek – alarm bells are starting to ring.

NHS Guidelines on Sugar

NHS guidelines describe ‘free sugars’ as sugars that are added to food or drinks and sugars found naturally in honey, syrups, unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and purees. The guidelines suggest that the average adult should have no more than 30g of free sugar a day. Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugar per day. Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars in a day and there is no guideline limit for kids under 4 as they should avoid sugar sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it. One teaspoon of sugar is 4g.

See full article here – NHS Guidelines on Sugar

The packaging on the yogurt products is not really showing the full picture as you can only see the carbohydrate of which sugars figure, so there is no differentiation of the naturally occurring sugars (lactose milk sugars) and the added sugars. It is suggested that in a 100g of yogurt, the first 5g of carbohydrate of which sugars is typically natural lactose and the rest is added sugars.

So, the Kids yoghurts are not as bad as I first thought, in moderation, but it still seems a lot of sugar. I feel I need to start limiting the amount my daughter has and keep a closer eye on the sugar levels.

Off the Scale Sugar Levels

I used to buy Muller Corners, which are clearly not a healthy choice, but I didn’t realise how bad they were. Initially I bought them as a treat, but increasingly became expected from my eldest and my other half so I looked at the label and was quite shocked. The Muller corner strawberry shortcake flavour contains 17g of added sugar. That is on top of the natural sugar from the milk. This represents almost 60% of an adult’s recommended daily amount of sugar and 90% for a young child. One of these yoghurts contains almost the full daily amount of sugar that my 6 year old should be eating. I find that quite disturbing and these products should not be promoted and sold to children. Maybe they should even feature an over 18’s label or these manufacturers need to look at reducing the sugar levels.

Low Fat Yogurts

I steer clear of low fat yogurts as I have been warned these typically contain loads of sugar and whilst not always the case, I found that to be true of the ones I was buying. Some low fat yogurts have over 20g of added sugar per pot, which equates to three scoops of ice cream. I know which I’d rather choose!

My parents buy the Weight Watchers fromage frais and these are very low in sugar and in fat, but I personally find these very sweet. My girls like them. There are wide debates on the issues of sweeteners – save that debate for another day, but I don’t like something that tastes overly sweet and I don’t see how that can be a healthy option.

Natural Yogurt is a Healthy Food

There seems to be overwhelming acceptance of unsweetened natural yogurt as a healthy option. Many people feel that natural yoghurt can seem a bit sour and difficult to enjoy. Maybe because we’re so used to the sugar loaded versions. My girls and I do enjoy natural Greek yoghurt with raspberries and a little honey. Maybe that is a better alternative to the Kids yoghurt products that I have been buying and I will try to reduce the honey.

Shocking Sugar Statements

There are some very questionable statements about yogurts from the shocking tales of Mums on chat websites to the health claims of certain brands. No, there are not 8 teaspoons of sugar in a 47g pot of Petite Filous. Also, the people who are selling these yogurts to us are probably not the most reliable source for whether a yogurt is healthy or not. As always, it is a question of being informed and having things in moderation, but my view of yogurts has changed and I won’t be so proud to see my girls wolfing down yogurts.

I have tried to get some reliable facts while writing this and checked the labels of products for myself. I have no agenda other than trying to find out more about what my family are eating and drinking. Please do advise if you disagree with anything I’ve written or comment if you have something helpful to add.

A Note On Fruit Smoothies

I recently wrote an article about making fruit smoothies for my daughters and I’m now wondering why smoothies are on the naughty list. Is it possible that fruit smoothies are more harmful than the fruit ingredients that go into it.

I shall quote the NHS website as I wouldn’t trust anyone else on this one:

“The sugars found naturally in fruit and vegetables are less likely to cause tooth decay, because they are contained within the structure. But when fruit and vegetables are juiced or blended into a smoothie, the sugars are released. Once released, these sugars can damage teeth.

Limit the amount of fruit juice and smoothies you drink to a maximum of 150ml (a small glass) in total per day, and drink it with meals to reduce the risk of tooth decay.”

See full article at the following link – NHS Guidelines on Sugar

I thought I had found a good solution with fruit smoothies, but again I’ll have to watch the amount we have and try to have fruit smoothies alongside meals.

Fruit Smoothies – The Only Way We Can Get 5 A Day

Kids loving fruit smoothiesFruit smoothies are the only way I can get my kids to enjoy fruit. I have tried and tried to make fruit fun and a treat and normal. My eldest is ok and likes a few fruits, but my youngest just will not eat fruit – or vegetables – without a battle.

I find that fruit smoothies are an easy way to get a lot of fruit into them without complaints and they actually love them. I used to buy them in cartons, but now I let the kids choose what fresh fruit they want and I get them involved in preparing the fruit and whizzing up the mixture. We experiment with different fruits and I spend a lot less time worrying about how little fruit my kids are eating.

It is quite a handy way of using up fruit as well as we are all a bit picky about fruit being just right when we eat it, but it can be a bit past its best and it is still fine in a smoothie.

I do have a smoothie maker, however it is a great big piece of kit and it is a pain to wash up after use. My preferred method is simply using a tall measuring jug and an electric whisk. I am a bit nervous about the whisk so the kids know it is my job to do the mixing with the electronic whisk but they can have a mix up of the fruit with a fork or spoon.

You can use all sorts of ingredients, but our favourites are oranges, bananas, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, apple, blueberries, blackberries, pear. We have added yogurt and milk to strawberries and banana.

You can use frozen fruits as well and I often buy the frozen packs of forest fruits or berries and throw them in. I do find that if I put the frozen bits in last I often end up spreading frozen bits of fruit around the kitchen, which isn’t ideal so best to get them in first and cover with fresh fruit. We have also added juice sometimes when it is a bit thick and cranberry juice, orange juice or pomegranate juice are all great to thin it down and sweeten it.

I wish I had realised sooner what a big hit fruit smoothies would be. It really is quite simple and I like the fact that the kids are getting involved and talking positively about fruit.

This week I managed to get my eldest daughter to get dressed for school and down for breakfast in record time as I promised her a smoothie if she could get down quickly enough. That will be a useful trick to remember on those days when she isn’t feeling very motivated.

My next challenge will be to try adding vegetables such as carrot and beetroot. When they were little tots I did add a bit of spinach now and again to blended fruit. I couldn’t taste it in and amongst stewed apple and oranges so that was a handy hidden ingredient. I can just imagine the reaction if I attempted that now and the dark green colour would not go down well.

 

Where to Eat Fish and Chips in Seahouses

When we stayed in Northumberland last year (click to read post about Embleton, Northumberland) my Mum suggested we get fish and chips in Seahouses. She said she there was a lovely chippy and we should check it out. We all love fish and chips and one miserable, grey day we decided to head out for our lunch. So I Googled “fish and chips seahouses” and was surprised to see that there are at least three fish and chips restaurants in Seahouses. It is quite a small town so you wouldn’t expect to stumble across three of them there, but it is right by the sea and a fishing harbour.

I do like to research before making a decision about food or fun so I decided to check out the Trip Advisor reviews to see which one was rated best with the general public.

According to the Trip Advisor reviews all three were generally pretty good, with mainly positive reviews from customers. However there were some slightly negative comments (as you would expect) on each of them. What amused me was the responses to the comments from one of the restaurants. A quick check on Trip Advisor turned into a long session of me laughing out loud at the comments made on behalf of the restaurant. The restaurant is Pinnacles in Seahouses and I had spotted that the Hairy Bikers had endorsed this one, which made me think it must be pretty good.

Click on the link below to read reviews of restaurants in Seahouses:

Trip Advisor – Seahouses Restaurants

After much reading of reviews – and responses, I decided we had to go and see Pinnacles for ourselves.

Unfortunately Pinnacles was closed that day. So we went to the Neptune restaurant opposite. It is a cafe style fish and chips restaurant. We all enjoyed our fish and chips. We sat inside and the staff were really friendly and it was a really good meal. I can certainly recommend Neptune Fish restaurant for a good hearty fish and chips meal for the family.

We went on a boat tour that left from Seahouses and you can read about that by clicking on the link to Farne Islands Boat Tour.