Category: Parent Stuff

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.

Mummy Moment

Mummy moment - sewing a bunny's leg after drinking wineThere are certain times where you look at your situation and think, yes, this is one of those ‘Mummy Moments’. Prior to kids, you can imagine certain inevitable Mummy Moments, such as the cuddles after a fall or playing in a park or walking your child to school. Others are less obvious and sometimes less natural.

Tonight’s Mummy Moment involved me sewing up a fluffy bunny after drinking wine. I promised my daughter that I would do it before I went to bed. She had questioned whether I would be able to do it. I said “Of course” as I walked away wondering whether, in fact, I could do it! I settled to watch a film and drank some wine, then remembered I promised, therefore, I must sew up the bunny as best I can.

So here I am. It is a Saturday night and my daughter is sleeping like an angel in her bed and I am sitting on the couch sewing up a stuffed toy while watching a film.

I can remember my Mum sewing items of clothing and making me dresses when I was a child and she seemed like she knew what she was doing. I just thread a needle back and forth and hope that it will suffice. Sewing isn’t something I’m very good at. However, it is quicker and easier than expected.

Before I went to bed, I placed the bunny in my daughter’s arms. She was fast asleep and I kiss her goodnight on her forehead whispering “night, night”.

The next morning, she rushed into my bedroom at an early hour and threw her arms around me, saying thank you for fixing her favourite bunny.

It wasn’t such a big deal after all and it is nice to be appreciated now and again!

W Sitting Alarm Bells

W Sitting position in childrenI have stumbled across various threatening articles about the dangers of W Sitting and the great risks to health and development of my toddler.

My daughter is 2 and she often sits in this W sitting position with her feet either side of her bottom. It does look a bit unnatural, but she seems happy enough to sit like this and can reach for things and play happily while in this position.

I have asked around for advice on this as I have struggled to find any medical advice from the NHS resources. I have asked a couple of health visitors and childminders and a physiotherapist, but none have been able to concur with the strong fears of the articles that I have read. My eldest daughter and I are a bit double jointed so I wonder if this is just a form of flexibility.

The only NHS article that I can find that makes reference to this issue is the Leg Posture In Children leaflet. Here there is a brief mention of W Sitting with the following advice:

“Children who intoe should sit cross-legged or side sit and avoid sitting with their bottom between their heels i.e. ‘W’ sitting.”

This is a specific issue for children who walk with their toes pointing in, but not a general issue.

There was an article in the Daily Mail last year with conflicting views one from an American Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon and one from a London based Osteopath. The article also said that sitting crossed legged was a danger and both positions could lead to pain throughout their lives.

My daughter manages to reach for things and does not show any signs of problems with her legs or posture so I am reluctant to stop her sitting in this position. It is difficult to change her position as she tends to revert back to W-sitting. It does look a bit unusual and I couldn’t sit like that, but until I see some clear advice from a credible medical professional, I don’t feel I should keep moving her out of this position.

The Toilet Training Race

little girl on trampolineFor some reason there are lots of people who feel the need to toilet train their little darlings as quickly as possible. I have known people boast about the joys of successful toilet training at just 18 months or two years of age. Often these people can be found walking round the park with a potty in hand. That’s not really my idea of toilet trained and I will not be found stopping every few metres to try for a wee on the potty while out and about.

I have no desire to rush with toilet training. My youngest decided about a year ago (before her second Birthday – whoop for me!) that she wanted to go to the toilet. She did this and she did a poo in the toilet at a local play gym. I congratulated her and may have even bought her a treat. The other parents were astounded and said I should be so relieved, so proud. I played it down. I was in no rush for toilet training. I have encouraged my little one to use the toilet or potty when she wants to go, but I haven’t declared the start of our potty training journey. Sometimes it is convenient, like when we are at home, but we’re not at home very much. I like to walk when I can, which sometimes means long journeys in the buggy and I would struggle to do this and get her using the toilet every time she needs it.

For me, toilet training with my eldest was the exact moment when I was no longer able to have a hot meal in a restaurant if with my children. My eldest still insists on going to the toilet at the exact moment my food arrives. Even when I have taken her to the toilet immediately after ordering food, in preparation for the inevitable toilet visit, she still insists on going as soon as my food touches the table. There are very few restaurants that have baby change in the male toilets so this is always my job. Now that my youngest is frequently requesting to go to the toilet, I have two daughters to take to the loo on a regular basis.

My eldest was using the toilet around her 3rd Birthday and it was a simple process with few accidents. She was also dry through the night at the same time, which I know is very unusual.

We went out for our tea last night and I must have gone to the toilet at least five times. My pizza was cold and a lot less desirable than when it was presented in front of me and everyone else managed to chat and leisurely eat their meal in peace.

I am not one to preach to others, but I do not see why people make such a big deal about having a toilet trained child. A few people have told me that I really should be working on toilet training by now and I just think no, I’d rather not. Nappies are so easy and convenient and pull-ups are a great in-between. I can see that the cost of nappies could be a concern for some and I understand the environmental issues, but as for convenience, I choose nappies and a slower progression with the toilet milestone. If I was relying on the old style of reusable washable cloth nappies, then I would certainly have felt the need to get my little ones toilet trained as quickly as possible, but I don’t see the need.

My youngest is now going to the toilet or the singing potty fairly regularly, but I have the back up of a pull-up if needed. We have tried knickers a few times as she loves the thought of them, but after the poorly tummy day where knickers were not a good idea, I have put them off for a while!

Good luck with potty training and don’t be pressured into it.