Thursday, 28 August 2014

Dr. Sarah’s Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School

The summer is drawing to a close so thoughts are turning back to school. *Boo hiss* ! I've just reviewed Nurture immune-boosting drinks, which may be one way to help stave off the back-to-school germs, but Dr Sarah Brewer has also provided some other Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School.


Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School 


When kids go back to school they will inevitably come into contact with a new batch of common cold viruses. These annoying infections spread rapidly from child to child and amongst family members. When children are in the peak of health, they can fight off infections with few, if any, symptoms, but when they are under par, they may develop one cold after another. And cold viruses are involved in 40% of asthma episodes in school children.

Boosting children’s immunity is not something that can be done overnight. But good nutrition can enhance their immune health, preparing them for the cold and ‘flu season ahead.

1.       Fruit and vegetables are important sources of vitamins, minerals and immune boosting substances which protect against infections. Encourage them to get their five servings of fresh fruit, vegetables or salad stuff per day.
-  Hide puréed vegetables in soups, stews, pasta sauces and swirled into mashed potato
-  Grate carrot into sandwiches and salads
-  Give raw veggie sticks with healthy dips (guacamole, humus) as a snack
- If your children won’t eat many vegetables, give them a multivitamin supplement designed for their age group.

A fruity drink made from unsweetened fruit juice and water, with no added sugar, preservatives or artificial sweeteners, is great for quenching thirst. I give my kids I Mune Nurture which includes key vitamins and minerals that contribute to immune function, plus betaglucans which reduce susceptibility to respiratory infections in young children. 

2.      Oily fish (eg salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards) contain essential fatty acids that help to maintain healthy, flexible cell membranes. This is especially important for helping immune cells respond to incoming signals.

3.      Vitamin D Kids with good vitamin D levels are less likely to experience a cold than those with low levels. Vitamin D levels tend to fall in autumn and winter when sunlight is too ‘weak’ to stimulate vitamin D production in the skin. Ensure their levels are topped up over summer with some sensible sun exposure – 15 minutes a day is all that’s needed. After that, ensure they’re protected by sunscreen (SPF 16+), covering up and staying in the shade. Avoid the hottest sun between 1am and 3pm.

4.      Probiotic bacteria help to stimulate immunity against both bacterial and viral infections, and can reduce the severity and duration of a cold if one should develop. These effects appear to be due to increased activity of T-lymphocyte cells which regulate immune responses. Kids love fermented milk drinks and live Bio yoghurts, so this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve!

5.      Moderate exercise enhances immune function and decreases the chance of developing upper respiratory tract infections. Encourage your kids to be active for at least 60 minutes per day. Running around playing with friends, ball games, cycling, dancing and swimming are ideal.

6.      Good hygiene is vital to limit the transmission of respiratory infections. Teach youngsters to:
-   use a tissue to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
-  use each tissue only once, then bin it.
-  wash hands regularly, before eating and after blowing their nose; using cold water and soap is fine but it’s essential to dry hands properly.

Did you know…

Using antibacterial hand wipes, gels or sprays will provide extra protection.
Wipe down door handles and light switches regularly - germs can survive on plastics and stainless steel for many hours.

Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir,RNutr, MBANT, CNHN is a GP, a Registered Nutritionist, a Registered Nutritional Therapist and the author of 60 popular health books, including the Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements (Right Way)

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Nurture Immune-boosting Kids' Drinks review


 Nurture is a newly launched children’s drink, whose unique selling point is that it is a drink designed to boost children's immune systems. Each 200ml pouch is packed with the optimum daily amount of vitamins for children aged two to five years. We received two packs to try out, with each box containing four pouches, in two fruity flavours - Strawberry/Cherry and Orange/Pineapple. 


I popped some in Pierre's backpack on our recent trip to Bodiam Castle and he gave them a try. Described as "fruity water", they are half fruit juice and half water, with no added sugar. I wasn't sure if they would be sweet enough to appeal but Pierre thought they were lovely and, after having had a taste, I agree with him.


As do his big sisters, even if they're out of the target age range ! The drinks provide vitamins B3, B5, B9, B12, C, D, calcium and zinc and they should help to strengthen the immune systems of children ages 2-5.


Flavour and concept-wise, they get a resounding thumbs up. We thought the 200ml pouches were quite big, especially given the target age range, but they are resealable so you don't have to drink it all in one go. The only thing that let them down slightly was the packaging - I don't know if some of the spouts are faulty or if they're just very hard to drink out of (you need to squeeze them with your teeth to get the drink to come out - while this prevents leaks and spillages, could a 2-year-old manage this?) but Juliette had great difficulty drinking from one of them, while the others were easier.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £2.99 for a pack of four 200ml pouches

available at more than 450 Tesco stores

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Go Create eco craft kits review


Tesco recently sent us through a couple of the eco-friendly craft kits available in their newly-launched Go Create range. The fun kits contain everything you need, except for common household items that would otherwise probably end up thrown away or recycled. They have been designed to be simple enough for kids of all ages to get involved in and they only cost £3.50 so they're great for keeping in the cupboard for a wet weekend. 


We received two kits, one for a Snack Tube Princess Desk Tidy which has been put aside for now because we didn't have any empty snack tubes, and this one for Milk Bottle Jumbos, which upcycles empty plastic milk bottles.


The kits contain a variety of crafting materials so, even if you don't have a well-stocked crafting cupboard, you can still come up with a creation that Mister Maker would be proud of.


I couldn't see how a milk bottle would be turned into an elephant but as soon as Sophie cut the top off the bottle, I could instantly see an elephant shape. I'd never have thought of it by myself and we thought it was ingenious.


I left Sophie to get on with it and after lots of sticking, here is what her jumbo looked like.


She was very proud of it and I can see why - it looks great !

Sophie has actually followed in my footsteps and started her own blog (a bilingual one no less !) so if you want to see more step-by-step photos of how she made her milk bottle jumbo, head on over to her blogpost here. I'm sure she'd be over the moon if you left her some comments.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £3.50

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Summertime Jam Recipes from Tate & Lyle


Jam making is fun and simple to do – and what you make now will last you through to winter, so be a little jammy and get making it early!


Mango & Passion Fruit Jam


A delectable tropical jam, delicious in cakes, on toast, spooned over natural yoghurt and served as a compôte with a crisp buttery biscuit. Use as a filling for the lovely coconut-lime cake recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2kg (4½lbs) ripe mangoes, about 6 medium
500g (1lb2oz) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Jam Sugar
225ml (8floz) passion fruit pulp, about 10 passion fruit
4 tbsp lime juice
You will also need some lidded jam jars and labels.

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

Peel the mangoes, slice off the ‘cheeks’ and remove the rest of the flesh from the cores then cut into 1cm (½”) dice. Put them in a plastic bowl, sprinkle over the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar, cover and leave at room temperature for 2 hours or overnight to allow the mangoes to release their juice.

Put 2 small plates in the fridge or freezer in readiness for testing the jam.

Wash the jam jars in soapy water, rinse and dry them in a low oven preheated to 150°C/Fan130°, 300°F, Gas 2 for 30 minutes.

Transfer the mango mixture into a preserving pan, place over a low heat and stir to dissolve the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the passion fruit, increase the heat to high, stirring from time to time to stop the fruit from sticking to the pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the jam starts to thicken, skimming off any froth. Test that it’s ready by putting a teaspoon of the mixture onto one of the chilled plates and allow it to cool. The jam is ready when it forms a skin that is firm enough to wrinkle when you push it with your fingertip. If it’s too liquid, continue boiling the jam and retest in a few minutes.

When the jam is ready, stir in the lime juice, turn off the heat and pour into the warm sterilised jars. Screw on the lids straightaway, leave to cool and label. Store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

To ring the changes and add some zing to the jam you can stir in: Finely chopped stem ginger, a splash of white or dark rum

Rhubarb & Vanilla Jam



Not only is this rhubarb jam perfect for toast and as a sponge cake filling, it’s also delicious added to an apple crumble or pie, folded into whipped cream to make a fool or spooned over ice cream for a simple pudding.

INGREDIENTS

2kg (4½lbs) rhubarb, washed, trimmed & cut into 2.5cm (1”) lengths
1.8kg (4lbs) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Jam Sugar
100ml (3½floz) lemon juice, about 2 lemons
200ml (7floz) orange juice, about 2 medium oranges
2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
You will also need some lidded jam jars and labels

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

In a large bowl layer the rhubarb and the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar together, finishing with a layer of sugar, then pour over the lemon and orange juice. Cover and leave for 2 hours or overnight at room temperature to draw out the rhubarb juices.

Put 2 small plates in the fridge or freezer in readiness for testing the jam.

Wash the jam jars in soapy water, rinse and dry them in a low oven preheated to 150°C/Fan130°, 300°F, Gas 2 for 30 minutes.

Transfer the rhubarb-sugar mixture to a preserving pan and put over a low heat for 10 minutes to dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil, add the vanilla pods and boil rapidly for about 25-30 minutes stirring from time to time to stop the fruit from sticking to the pan until the jam starts to thicken, skimming off any froth. Test that it’s ready by putting a teaspoon of the mixture onto one of the chilled plates and allow it to cool. The jam is ready when it forms a skin that is firm enough to wrinkle when you push it with your fingertip. If it’s too liquid, continue boiling the jam and retest in a few minutes. This is a softly set jam.

When the jam is ready, turn off the heat and pour into the warm sterilised jars. Screw on the lids straightaway, leave to cool and label. Store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

To ring the changes and add some zing to the jam you can stir in: Finely chopped stem ginger instead of the vanilla pods, ground cinnamon or a generous grating of nutmeg instead of the vanilla pods, seville orange juice instead of orange and lemon juice, a splash of grenadine to enhance the colour, a splash of Grand Marnier or Cointreau.

Pomegranate Jelly



Terrific when combined with some extra virgin olive oil as a dressing for poultry, meat, feta or tabbouleh salads, it also makes a vibrant and beautiful topping for the pomegranate cheesecake recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1.2L (2pts) 100% pure pomegranate juice not from concentrate
1.15kg (2½lbs) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Jam Sugar
6 tbsp lemon juice, about 1½ lemons
350g (12oz) pomegranate seeds, about 2 pomegranates
splash of grenadine syrup, optional
You will also need some lidded jam jars and labels.

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

Put 2 small plates in the fridge or freezer in readiness for testing the jelly.

Wash the jam jars in soapy water, rinse and dry them in a low oven preheated to 150°C/Fan130°, 300°F, Gas 2 for 30 minutes.

Combine the pomegranate juice and the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar in a preserving pan over a low heat for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally.

Continue cooking over a lowish heat for about 1¼ hours until reduced to a thick syrup. Don’t boil the mixture or you will lose the lovely colour of the juice. Add the lemon juice and pomegranate seeds and cook for a further 10 minutes. The jelly is ready when it forms a skin that is firm enough to wrinkle when you push it with your fingertip. If it’s too liquid, continue cooking the jelly and retest in a few minutes. This is a very softly set jelly.

When the jelly is ready, add a splash of grenadine, if using, to enhance the colour, turn off the heat and pour into the warm sterilised jars. Screw on the lids straightaway, leave to cool and label. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

To ring the changes and add some zing to the jelly you can stir in: a splash of vodka, a splash of rose water or orange flower water, pine nuts or peeled pistachios.


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Monday, 25 August 2014

Madhouse Diaries : Cheers and Tears at the Amusement Park


You can't go to Hastings and not pay a visit to the amusement park on the seafront. (Well, we can't anyway !)


Now, if you ask Madhouse Grandad, he'll tell you that he only went on with the kids because he had to.


But just one look at his face shows that he was having as much fun as they were ! 


The next time we came down, Pierre wanted to get in on the action too.


So Madhouse Daddy was called in for reinforcements and accompanied Juliette.


Sophie stayed with Auntie Em.

video

It's a shame it was windy because you can't hear Pierre, who was giggling his head off non-stop !


On a roll now, Pierre was adamant that - as he was a big boy, as proven by the height restriction line - he wanted to go on the Hip Hop with the girls. I told him he wouldn't like it but it was impossible to put him off.


At first, it was all smiles.

video

But he soon lost his smile. Now I am such a bad mummy, you can hear me laughing all the way through this video - sorry !!


He needed a big cuddle to get over it.


But it didn't last long and he finished off with a gentler ride to get his smile back (while the girls went on the Hip Hop again !).


Guess who fell asleep from all the excitement when we got home - I'll give you a clue, it wasn't Pierre !!

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Bodiam Castle

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Picture book review : The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past - Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter


There were squeals of delight and excitement when a copy of The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past landed on The Madhouse doormat recently, and they weren't even coming from the Madhouse Mini-testers - it was Madhouse Nanny & Auntie Em who got the most excited, because they are both huge McFly and McBusted fans and knew that the authors, Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter, are members of the band. 



Having already read and enjoyed the two previous books, The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas (click through to read my review) and The Dinosaur That Pooped A Planet, I knew that the kids would like the cheeky sense of humour and fun illustrations. We've decided that Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter have a serious poop-obsession and should rename their group McFlyarreah or McConstibusted !


We had a good giggle at Danny's gran, who cooks up a nasty and very green birthday tea involving hard Brussels sprouts and broccoli eggs, which ends up being fed to the dinosaur when she isn't looking. This is what the Madhouse kids usually do with the dog so they thought that was hilarious !


A magic garden swing transports Danny and the dinosaur back to the past, but when it breaks, leaving them at the mercy of an erupting volcano, they have to think fast. Luckily, Grandma's iffy tea means that the volcano isn't the only thing erupting and the hapless pair manage to surf back to the present on a wave of ... you guessed it ... dinosaur poo !


As we reached the final page, the giggles and sniggers turned into an oooh of surprise as I noticed that one of the quotes on the back page is from my review of the previous book - how cool is that ?!

All kids love toilet humour so this is bound to be another great hit, providing endless laughter at bedtime - probably not just from the kids either !

star rating : 4.5/5

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Red Fox (14 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782951784
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782951780
  • Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 23.6 x 0.6 cm

RRP : £6.99



Disclosure : We received the book in order to write an honest review.

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Globe-cooking recipe : Paçoquinha (Brazil)


In this month's Brazilian-themed Kitchen Trotter box, we discovered Paçoquinha which is a sweet, crumbly, peanut-flavoured treat made with manioc flour that Brazilian children apparently love.


It comes in individually wrapped little squares that can be eaten in one bite - you have to or it crumbles everywhere ! You can also crumble them over ice cream.


We loved the sweet peanut flavour, similar to peanut butter or the inside of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, so I decided to go and look for a recipe.

Here's the most UK-friendly version that I could come up with, based on various recipes that I found online :

 Paçoquinha


Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 cup peanuts, toasted & lightly salted
1 & 1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup manioc flour (you should be able to find it in Asian supermarkets but you could use cornflour if you can't get hold of it)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup condensed milk 


Blitz the peanuts with the sugar, salt, and manioc flour in a food processor until it looks like sand. Add a tablespoon of condensed milk and blitz for a further 30 seconds. Check if mixture is starting to come together by pressing some into a ball with your fingers. If it is still too crumbly, add more condensed milk and process again.

Press into a shallow tin lined with baking parchment and press down firmly, then cut into squares, or roll into balls.

That's it ! The only tricky thing about this recipe is finding some manioc flour to use !

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Friday, 22 August 2014

Madhouse Diaries : Squirrel Corner


Whenever we're in England, the kids always want to go to the park to see the squirrels because there aren't any in France. (This is something that still surprises me.)



Alexandra Park in Hastings is squirrel heaven and they're really tame so we always head down with a bag of peanuts for the squirrels and bread for the ducks - the squirrels invariably end up eating both !


If you're patient and manage to stay still long enough, they'll even come and eat out of your hands.


This was a source of great excitement !


It's great to get this close to wild animals.


This cheeky one stole a whole slice of bread.



Then he sat on a nearby tree showing off and eating it !


This one came right up to my foot while I was taking a photo of his friend !


I even managed to film the kids feeding them on my camera.



I love Juliette's face at the 10 second mark !


I glanced at a nearby plaque and noticed that we were at McCabe's Well.


Juliette was very tempted to taste the water but I wasn't so keen !


Sophie quickly found a geocache that I remembered was there, even without a GPS - no treasure in this one though.



We finished off with a stroll along by the Buckshole Reservoir.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Geocaching Around My Childhood Home

Thursday, 21 August 2014

My Apple Tart of Hope #readcookeat challenge


Some books just make the #readcookeat challenge incredibly easy and my latest read, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald's The Apple Tart of Hope was one such book. You can read my review here, and you can also read my review of her first book, Back To Blackbrick (which also inspired a recipe - Smoked Salmon Pâté - for the #readcookeat challenge).

I decided to make a super-duper apple tart that Oscar would be proud of. It started off based on a classic French tarte aux pommes, then I added my own twist, making the filling from my baked apples into a gooey topping.

My Apple Tart of Hope


ingredients :

1 pack of ready-made puff pastry
2 pouches apple purée
2 apples, cored and very finely sliced
3tbs salted butter
4tbsp caster sugar
a handful of walnuts
2 handfuls of raisins
1tbsp vanilla paste
1tbsp cinnamon
1tsp allspice


Roll out the pastry (Oscar would make his own but I was short on time !) on a baking sheet. Squeeze out the apple purée and spread over the pastry.


Lay the apple slices around the edges then work towards the middle.


In a small saucepan, heat the butter and sugar, stirring constantly, until they melt and start to caramelise. Reduce the heat and add the vanilla and spices, then the raisins and nuts. Keep stirring until it reduces and gets nice and sticky.



Drizzle the caramel mixture over the apples.


Bake in a preheated oven at 180° for 20 minutes until the apples are soft but still slightly firm. Leave to cool before eating - it can be eaten warm with a scoop of ice cream or cold.


Fancy "cooking the books"? Head on over to the #readcookeat challenge at Chez Maximka and Cooking Around The World




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#readcookeat challenge : Greek cuisine (inspired by When The Cypress Whispers)