Monday, 30 April 2012

Raspberry Chocolate Orange Porridge {Recipe}

When Toby life chucks a smoothie at you...

Mean Mummy taking a photo...I had to laugh or I'd have cried as well!!

make porridge instead... (luckily there was enough smoothie left in the jug for Izzy and Toby, so I made this porridge for me when I had more time after the school run!)

Raspberry Chocolate Orange Porridge
(serves 1)
  • 35g oats (feel free to increase the oats and milk quantity - this is my Slimming World amount!)
  • 175ml milk (next time I would use the juice from the orange as part of the liquid)
  • 100g frozen raspberries
  • approx 20g cocoa powder (adjust to taste)
  • stevia/sugar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp chocolate orange spread (or just chocolate spread if you haven't been to Sainsbury's!)
  • zest of half an orange
I cook my porridge in the microwave, but you can make it on the stove if you've got more patience. Just mix the oats, milk/juice, raspberries, cocoa powder and sweetener together and cook until the porridge has reached your desired consistency.
Top with the chocolate orange spread and orange zest, and enjoy.

This isn't exactly a complex recipe is it?! But it was such a delicious combination that I wanted to record it so that I remember to make it again. Plus I needed something good to come out of the blender incident - not the greatest start to Monday morning!

I normally refuse to make smoothies for breakfast on school day mornings as in my head it takes too long to make/eat. But as the chocolate pb banana smoothie doesn't have any frozen fruit in it, I figured it would be quicker. Unfortunately I made the fatal error of taking the lid off to taste it, deciding it needed to be sweeter so going to the cupboard to get some maple syrup (all out of agave, sad times!), and in those few seconds Toby decided to press the 'pulse' button, getting smoothie everywhere!! As you can from the photo, he clearly shocked himself as well, poor little guy! I nearly didn't take a photo/post it as it did feel a bit mean, but I had the camera there already so it only took a second and, like I said, if I didn't laugh/turn it into a blog post so that there was some "point" to it, I'd have cried too!

I sent my Mum a text after I'd calmed Toby down, and her response was "the morning can only get better" but no, next minute - while I was tying Izzy's hair up - Toby decided to pour the whole glass of Liam's squash on to the carpet. Aaargh!! Bless him, he had conjunctivitis last week and he still isn't quite himself...well, either that or the 'terrible twos' have well and truly hit!!

Any other Monday morning disaster stories to share? Go on, writing it down might make you feel better!! I always struggle on Mondays to get back into routine after the weekend, and little "set-backs" like this one definitely don't help! Miraculously we still just made it to school in time to change Izzy's books before registration - success! And now Toby is having a nap, maybe the day really will start getting better!! ;-)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Weekend Highlights

Hello! Good weekend? We have mostly stayed inside sorting things out for the house move (well, sorting through things we won't be taking really - lots of too small clothes etc!) least the rain has forced us to make a start!

Despite the horrible weather, I have been craving smoothies/yoghurts/ice cream etc recently, I have a bit of a sore throat so that's probably why. This morning I satisfied the craving with an amazing milkshake - it might be a bit too cold for frozen fruit, but it's never too cold to blend banana, milk, cocoa powder, peanut flour and agave nectar...

A-mazing! Luckily I made double quantities of this with 2 bananas etc - I normally get 2 glass fulls when I make myself smoothies, but the children loved this choco pb banana milkshake so much that, despite making double, there was only enough left for me to have 1.5 glasses.

I've also been soothing my sore throat with some yoghurty snacks...

Alpro caramel dessert with tropical granola
Rachel's Pear & Plum yoghurt (really good!) with granola

And of course chocolate makes everything better...

This was yesterday. Today is probably the first day since Easter that I haven't joined in with the 'sharing an Easter egg in the afternoon' activity which seems to have become a tradition around here. I did sneak in some unpictured hazelnut chocolate though. And we do still have 4 Easter eggs left, so I'm not completely out of the woods yet!

There have also been some "proper" meals around here too. Delicious lunch on Friday - meat-free burgers, goats cheese, red pepper houmous, salad & pitta bread...

This was really good. I'd thought up the combo on Wednesday and had been dreaming about it ever since! It was super filling though, I could have probably done with just one burger and half the goats cheese.

We had more pitta breads for Saturday lunchtime. This time as a DIY, use everything up, meal with egg mayonnaise, basil tofu, goats cheese, houmous and unpictured cucumber which was added upon Izzy's insistence...I'd completely forgotten about the need for veg!

Yum, I love these type of meals. Egg mayonnaise and houmous did not go well together, but everything else was great.

We've also spent a bit more time on dinners this weekend. Things got a bit hectic last week so we ended up relying on pasta etc more than I'd like. I made paneer and pea curry for dinner last night (with white rice as Liam reckons he's "allergic" to brown rice and I didn't feel like dirtying an extra pan!)...

I love this meal, pretty quick to make too using curry paste and chopped tomatoes. The paneer wasn't as "squeaky" as usual as I'd had to stick it in the freezer when our fridge broke, and the defrosted version was a lot softer than usual. Still good though, and certainly better than wasting it.

Finally, Liam cooked dinner tonight!! Inspired by Amy's meal a few days ago, he made falafel burgers and sweet potato fries:

Yum! I was just about to write that the burgers could have done with a bit more spice, but we've just realised that Liam forgot to had the harissa paste which probably would have solved that problem!! We never manage to get oven-baked sweet potato chips to go crispy either...any tips? Still tasted amazing though, and such a treat to be cooked for, thanks Liam! :)

What was the best thing you ate this weekend? A toss up between the chocolate peanut milkshake and the falafel burger with sweet potato fries for me. Luckily I will be able to repeat both tomorrow - I've already pencilled in the milkshake for breakfast again, and there were enough leftovers tonight for me to have a repeat for lunch tomorrow - win!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Twinnings Review and Green Tea Biscuits

I don't tend to show photos of my drinks on the blog that often...well certainly not as often as I do my food anyway! Some of you may have noticed that the focus has switched from coffee to tea recently though. I still have my treat coffees but day to day I have been drinking a lot more tea.

The main reason for this is to increase my water consumption and decrease my caffeine intake, so when I was contacted on behalf of Twinings to see if I'd like to try some of their Green Tea range, it was perfect timing! There seem to be different opinions as to whether green tea does actually have less caffeine than black tea...any thoughts?

I had a look at all the green teas on Twinings website to get an idea of which ones I might like to try, but unfortunately I found the range much more limited in my local stores. I managed to pick up a box of green tea with lemon at Waitrose, and then also found a selection box of different green teas at Sainsbury's:

This was ideal as I haven't drunk much green tea before, so this was a good way of being able to try lots of different flavours. The selection box contained green tea with cranberry, green tea with apple & pear, green tea with pineapple & grapefruit, green tea with orange & lotus flower, and green tea with citrus. All the tea bags in this box came individually packaged and separated into different sections for each flavour - handy for popping a few in my bag so I can drink green tea when I go to other places as well as at home!

The first tea that I tried was the green tea with apple & pear. I normally sweeten my hot drinks with vanilla stevia drops, and I love the combination of pear and vanilla, so thought this would work well.

I did try to drink the tea unsweetened first, but found that just a few drops of vanilla stevia really brought out the flavour. I don't know what plain green tea tastes like, but the apple and pear was a lovely subtle flavour, fruity rather than what I imagine "green" to be!!

I'd seen Maria drink her green tea with lemon as an iced tea so wanted to give this a go. The weather has been terrible this week so I haven't really felt like cold drinks so much, but I decided to put on a jumper and get out the ice! ;)

I'm so glad I did as I absolutely loved this!! To be honest, I was a bit nervous about trying it as I'd made some iced peppermint tea a few weeks ago which was horrible, but this was completely different. The key is not to use too big a glass (I think the peppermint was way too watered down) and to add sugar. I brewed the lemon green tea bag in a little bit of hot water for a couple of minutes, then, after removing the tea bag, added 1.5 tsps of sugar. I then mixed this with some cold water and poured it over lots of ice. Amazing - this tasted just like lemon sherbet, my new favourite drink for when we actually get some summery weather!

As well as drinking the green tea, I really wanted to bake with it! I'd tried to google for some ideas, but most of the recipes used green tea powder rather than tea bags. Then I saw Maria's post where she made a green tea loaf cake, and it gave me the idea to search for just general tea baking to give me a starting point. I came across a recipe for Earl Grey Tea Cookies which sounded tasty. I'm really liking orange flavours in baking at the moment so decided to use an orange and lotus flower green tea bag in the cookies. I wasn't sure what kind of flavour the lotus flower would give, but decided it was worth a try! I also added some orange zest to complement the tea bags, but obviously if you decide to use a different type of tea bag feel free to leave it out. I wouldn't recommend adding in anything "chunky" as these biscuits come out really thin and crisp.

I don't like writing out other people's recipes on the blog unless I have made significant changes, however I can't bake using 'cups' measurements. So for my own reference, and to save anyone else from googling the conversions, I am going to write out the ingredients here, but for the method please see the original recipe.

Orange Green Tea Biscuits
(makes approximately 30 biscuits, depending on size)

  • 130g plain flour
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 35g icing sugar
  • contents of 2 Twinings Orange and Lotus Flower Green Tea bags
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp water
  • 113g unsalted butter
  • zest of half an orange

A lot of tea recipes have you brew the tea and then use that liquid, but these biscuits use the whole contents of the tea bag. I love that as it gave the dough a lovely speckled appearance, and also made the tea flavour a bit more pronounced.

The one thing I would say about the method, is that I found the cooking time of 12 minutes too long. Luckily I checked on my biscuits after 10 minutes and quickly took them out - the thinner cookies were already really brown, but the slightly thicker ones came out perfectly. The browner ones weren't burnt, but the flavour in them was lost. Liam loved these as they were just crunch, whereas I liked the paler ones so you could really taste the orange flavour. I'm not sure what the lotus flower flavour is meant to be like, but these definitely had a slightly "pretty" floral taste to them if that makes any sense!

I've never cooked thin crispy biscuits like this before. They spread more than I was expecting which is why they look misshapen, but the flavour and texture was perfect. Only problem is that they're so light that you can eat lots at once without getting full...not that that is a problem really! ;)

Do you like green tea? Have you tried any of the more unusual flavours before? The Twinings website shows all the different types of tea they sell (and you can also request a couple of free samples from a selection of their teas, although none of the green teas seem to be included there), and you can also check out the Twinings Facebook page for more information. I wasn't sure I'd like green tea, and still haven't tried it pure, but I really like the different flavour teas for a lighter, more refreshing drink.

I was compensated by Twinings for this review, but all the opinions written are my own.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

WIAW - Blogger Meet-Up

Happy What I Ate Wednesday!

Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting the party! I've been looking forward to writing my post this week. I decided to base it on yesterday - when I met up with another blogger for the first time.

First though, breakfast. I was going swimming yesterday morning so I made sure to eat a proper breakfast first. Porridge cooked with mashed banana and frozen blueberries and strawberry slices, topped with some chocolate orange spread:

I hate how the frozen blueberries make the porridge look grey, but the taste makes up for it! The chocolate orange spread made a change from peanut butter, really sweet, it tastes just like Terry's chocolate orange, mmm!

After breakfast, I did the school run and then came back home for about 20 minutes. Luckily during that time my first ever Riverford veg box arrived...

Everything looked so fresh and what I have tried so far has been fantastic. This week I received spring greens, purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, big mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions and carrots. Yum! I quickly packed these all away and then headed out the door to take Toby to creche/go for a swim.

Rather than rush to fit in both the gym and swimming while Toby was at creche, I decided to just swim so that I had time to get ready after. Normally I have to leg it from the swimming pool to creche to pick Tobes up in time but I wanted to avoid going to the blogger meet-up with wet hair and big red goggle marks! After I'd swum 40 lengths, I bought myself a latte and sat down with my Kindle for 20 minutes...bliss!

Then it was time to pick up the boy. Toby had such fun at creche that he didn't want to leave, but luckily I was able to tempt him away with the promise of meeting another baby...

Amy from Amy Loves Food, with her cute baby boy Rowan! We realised a little while ago that we live quite close to each other, and this was the first time we met up.

We went to Boston Tea Party for a quick lunch. I had a vanilla latte...

and a wrap with roasted sweet potato, feta and pumpkin seeds, which also came with tortilla chips and dips...

The tortilla chips were a bit flavourless, but the wrap itself was really good. I've just been browsing the menu though and noticed that they do a homemade beetroot, carrot, courgette, pine nut and sunflower seed burger topped with halloumi, houmous and tzatziki and served with sweet potato time!

It was really nice to meet up with Amy and Rowan. Toby adored Rowan and loved playing with his tiny feet...

...and I really enjoyed chatting with Amy. It was so nice to be able to talk about blog stuff and recipes, as well as normal chat about children, where we live etc. I'm looking forward to meeting up for coffee again soon :)

Toby fell asleep on the way home (he was super tired yesterday!) so I stayed in the car reading my Kindle some more while he slept, and then went to pick up Izzy from school. An afternoon snack occurred when we got home - just 2 slices of banana malt loaf this time, spread with butter:

I love this, so delicious! I liked it with peanut butter as well, but it doesn't really need it, just a little butter (or even eating it as is) lets the natural banana flavour shine through better.

Dinner last night made use of some of the vegetables in the veg box. Even though all the separate components were really simple, this meal felt quite special, extra delicious! Good quality ingredients, cooked simply = win win!!

I stuffed the mushrooms with grilled pepper Philadelphia and baked them for 20 minutes, topping them with grated cheese for the last 10. The quinoa I cooked in water with a veg stock cube and the mushroom stalks finely chopped up, and I just stir fried the spring greens with a little oil, garlic powder and soy sauce. Yum. This was such a tasty meal, and after the previous couple of days I was definitely in the mood for some fresh veg!

I didn't take a photo of my evening snack, but I had a dark chocolate Alpro dessert with some desiccated coconut stirred to end on a sweet note!

Have you ever met up with any other bloggers? Or do you talk to your friends/family about your blog? Amy was the first blogger that I've met up with, I don't know of any other bloggers that live near me so I was really excited when I recognised photos on her blog of the local area! I do talk to my family about the blog quite a lot, and a few of my friends know about it, but I don't tell everyone that I meet. I don't mind people reading it but equally it's nice to be able to tell people my news in person - I'll quite often talk to my sister about things (usually just boring things like what I ate for dinner the night before!) and she'll cut me off saying "yes, I saw that on your blog already", haha, I'm a bit known for forgetting that I've already told people things at the best of times, without them reading everything online first anyway!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Sunday vs Monday

I was going to write a post about the difference between what I ate this past Sunday and Monday - hoping to show that, despite the extravagances of the weekend, I manage to get back on track on Mondays. That didn't really happen though - both days were surprisingly similar...


On Sunday I didn't really eat breakfast - I tend to either have a "weekend" breakfast like french toast or pancakes, or nothing much. This Sunday I just had a cup of strawberry and cream tea...

This had a really interesting ingredient list - lots of dried fruit and veg:

The box advised you to brew it for 8-10 minutes, and it smelt amazing. It tasted really good too, I drank it without milk, just with a few drops of vanilla stevia. Delicious.

Yesterday's breakfast was also strawberry themed, but a bit healthier/what I "should" be having for breakfast. Lots of fresh strawberries and pineapple, topped with a pot of 0% Total Greek yoghurt, sweetened with a few drops of stevia:

Toby "helped" me eat quite a lot of this - he adores fresh fruit!

For lunch on Sunday, we all ate bagels with dips - red pepper houmous and satay dip, plus some unpictured apple slices:

This was the first time I'd bought the satay dip. I liked it, but preferred the houmous. Liam adored the satay dip though...I don't understand how he loves peanuts in satay things, but hates them in sweet dishes, and also doesn't really like peanuts as a garnish for savoury food. So odd!

Yesterday I got to have whatever lunch suited me as Liam was at work and Izzy at school. I still ended up eating a bread-based lunch, but this time a sandwich with Philadelphia, basil tofu and cucumber...

Love this combination!

I didn't have any morning snacks on either day, but the afternoon was a different story. It was actually quite interesting doing this post, as I wrote it all down on my phone which highlighted the times of day when I eat the most. Mid-afternoon is definitely one of those times!

On Sunday the children both had naps, so Liam and I watched a film and during that time I snacked on...

An iced latte...

A slice of apple and ginger cake...

A Muller corner yoghurt...

And a share of this Easter egg once the children woke up...

Yikes! That looks even worse all written down!! I enjoyed it all at the time, but I was definitely eating for something to do rather than because I was hungry.

Yesterday's afternoon snack wasn't quite so full on! I found Soreen banana malt loaf for the first time on Saturday, and opened it up yesterday...

I loved this! I ended up having 4 slices - 2 with butter, and then another 2 with peanut butter. As the packet says, this really is super squidgy! I was expecting it to be more like the original malt loaf, but it has a completely different texture. I think I prefer this version, although it may be the novelty. Amazing!

Dinners on these two days weren't particularly great. I was waiting on a veg box delivery today (I'll blog about that tomorrow!) so we were a bit lacking in fresh vegetables.

On Sunday we had potato waffles, fried eggs, corn on the cobs and ketchup. Simple, slightly "junky", but tasty...

And Monday wasn't much better - it didn't even include any vegetables! Fresh pasta with ketchup and grated cheddar...

Both of these meals remind me of my childhood, but I have to admit I was happy to get back to lots of fresh vegetables tonight!

Despite the afternoon snacking, I ended up snacking in the evening quite a bit on both days as well. On Sunday I had a hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream (the best part!)...

and also shared a strawberry and lime cider with Liam.

Yesterday evening I was in the mood for more food - a random cheesestring as I couldn't decide what I wanted...

and then a bowl of strawberries with 30g peanut flour made into a paste with milk and stevia. Ugly photo as I was in a rush before Silent Witness started!!

I do love fresh fruit with peanut flour paste. I think if I'm going to snack then I need to make the effort to have things I actually enjoy. I appreciated the strawberries with peanut flour and the banana malt loaf much more than the long list of snacks I had on Sunday!

Do you ever eat out of habit/boredom/a reason other than hunger? Are there any times of day that you find worse for this than others? This has actually been quite an eye-opener for me. I've always been aware that the afternoon and evening were my snacky times, but I never realised quite how much I ate. A lot of the foods are things that would normally go unnoticed (indeed, the photos of the cheesestring and Muller corner were actually taken today as I ate them without thinking to photograph) and I am definitely eating out of habit. Even the banana malt loaf yesterday - the first two slices were delicious, but the last two were unnecessary really - I went into the kitchen to tidy things away and ended up cutting myself another two slices!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Grandma's Birthday Cream Tea

Hello! Have you all had a good weekend? We had a really quiet day today which was lovely, good to recharge our batteries. The children both slept for 2+ hours this afternoon which was just what they needed!

Yesterday was slightly busier though - in the afternoon we went out with both my sisters and my Grandparents for cream tea as it was my Grandma's birthday.

I was actually the only person who had a traditional cream tea. Everyone else had cakes or scones with butter/jam. I can't resist some clotted cream though, and the scones were really fresh, mmm! :)

Happy birthday Grandma!

Despite appearances, Grandma did know I was taking the above photo, but chose not to do an Izzy smile! My Grandpa on the other hand was quite eager to have his picture taken...!!

After we had all finished eating, the others all left and we spent some time playing in the gardens by the cafe. We were really lucky with the weather, it has been odd all weekend - sunny one minute, hailing the next - but it was sunny and relatively warm whilst we were outside, then started hailing just as we got in the car!! The children had a great time running around and looking at all the flowers...

We let Izzy run ahead to play hide & seek (ie she "hid" somewhere along the path that we were going anyway) - she was always so surprised and excited at being found!!

Semi-ok photo with me in it...well, the best of at least 10 attempts anyway!!

Izzy had fun running along with Toby, holding his hand to show him which way to go...too cute!

And then Toby decided he needed a nap! He does this a lot at home - just lies down on the floor/sofa and starts pretend snoring. We're not quite sure where he first picked it up from, but now he does it because he knows it makes us laugh - he loves the attention!!

And a final posing photo of Izzy...I can't think why my children are so used to/love being photographed so much...!! ;)

It was a really fun afternoon. Toby was a little challenging when we were inside the cafe, but as soon as we got out in the gardens he had a great time. He just likes to be able to run around and do whatever he likes!!

What was the best thing you did this weekend? Saturday afternoon was definitely my favourite part. We did also go to Sainsbury's for a big shop on Saturday morning - our new fridge/freezer is now fully stocked! :-D
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