Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Rustlers Burger Hacking Challenge!

I have looked in the shops at the Rustlers burgers before and never actually bought them, I like burgers but I like proper meat in my burger and not just the rubbish cuts.  Rustlers state that they use 'quality chicken' so I thought I would give this challenge a go.  We were challenged to add to the burger to make a balanced meal that is also fun and creative.

I found a great website that had some recipes listed for healthier sides (http://www.eatthis.com/healthy-side-dishes) so I used a couple but I also made them my own:

Mediterranean Salsa

This was so easy to do and had some healthy pulses and veg in there too.  I used a small can of chick peas, black olives, tomatoes, red onion, basil, feta and tossed it all in a swig of olive oil and lemon juice.  This went really well with the sweet potato fries.

Veggie Kebabs

My daughter loves these, because they are on a stick it somehow is really exciting!  She enjoyed helping me put the veggies on the stick and also eating them!  Another great way to make veggies fun and you can use anything you want.  We had courgettes, tomatoes, mushrooms and aubergines, sprayed them with some Fry Light and into the oven at 220degrees C for 15 minutes.  Really tasty and went really well with the burger.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
Again an easy dish and because hubby doesn’t normally like cauliflower I have to try and make it tasty!  Split out some florets, put them in a baking tray, spray them with some fry light and crush some garlic over them with grated parmesan.  Into the oven with the veggie kebabs.  Super tasty!

Finally we put some carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes in the Actifry instead of chips, I am actually not that fussed over chips and my daughter is the same but she enjoyed all of these.

I think we created a really balanced meal as most of it was veggies and they had only had a small coating of oil, it also created a bit of fun with the kebabs which can be tailored to suit any taste. 

Rustlers Southern Fried Chicken Burger

The burgers were quick and easy, taking just 90 seconds in the microwave.   They are £2.50 for a Twin Pack, each burger is only small (140g) – about the same as a Mayo Chicken from McDonalds.  As I thought about this I thought I would compare how much ‘healthier’ the Rustlers burger was to a McDonalds as I expected it to be a healthier option.  I was surprised to find that the Rustler burger had 100 more calories, a gram more sugar, nearly a gram more salt, 0.6g more saturated fat but it did have a couple of grams more protein.  There is also nowhere on the Rustlers burger that states what type of chicken is used, the texture of the burger is quite lumpy and rubbery, they market the product as being quality chicken but it doesn’t actually state chicken breast anywhere and usually if it is it will be detailed as such, my idea of quality chicken is chicken breast.  McDonalds state their burger is Chicken Breast Meat and it has a lot better texture.   The burger coating on the Rustler doesn’t crisp up as it is only heated up in the microwave.  The taste of the southern fried chicken is good as some coatings can be a bit spicy and my daughter doesn't like that.  

We are a busy family yes however by the time you have done accompaniments to make the burger a balanced meal then it is not any quicker than cooking perhaps a chicken burger from frozen which will taste better, be crispy and you can find something made from 100% chicken breast.  These burgers are more for people like my husband who throws them in the microwave for a quick lunch at work.  I wouldn’t choose to feed them to my children again, they also work out expensive, if I buy two twin packs it is £5.  I could buy 4 (100% chicken breast) burgers from Tesco for £1.50 and 4 buns for 70p so a saving of £2.30 – which mounts up if you do that every week!  Our challenge stated ‘Rustlers provides a quick, convenient and affordable meal when mums need it most’ but I really can’t see that myself, it’s a quick, convenient ‘snack’ not a meal. 

This was a fun challenge it made me think about making mealtimes more fun, my daughter loves her veg so I don’t have to be that creative and this challenge made me be more creative and made dinner time fun.  I did want to love the burger but I just can’t see its place in a family meal, it still remains to me as a quick snack type lunch for someone at work or college.  Hubby has enjoyed taking the remaining burger to work for his lunch!  

Why don't you have a go at the Rustlers Burger Hacking Challenge, make yourself a quick meal! #RustlersHack

This post is an entry for BritMums Rustlers Burger Hacking Challenge, sponsored by Rustlers http://rustlersonline.com/

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Goodwins, Tettenhall

We visited Goodwins, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton a little before Christmas and I never did share our thoughts.  We walked in and had a warm welcome from a cheerful waitress who showed us to our table.  The décor inside is lovely, classy and modern.

We were surprised at the prices, we visited on a Sunday so we had the option of Sunday lunch.  The Roast Beef is £9.99 which I think is really good value compared to other upmarket pubs in the area whose service and food quality leave a lot to be desired!!
 I did go for the roast beef and it was amazing!  I don't normally go for beef as it is normally overcooked, chewy and dry, this was not.  It was beautiful and pink, so tender, lots of veg, home made Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes that were so soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.  The waitress was happy to bring us a drop more gravy for our meals.
 For dessert we had the Cookie Dough Cheesecake and Cheesecake Bombe (a rich millionaire caramel rolled in choc chips, then surrounded with creamy buttermilk cheesecake, rolled in crunchy golden oat biscuit crumb. Served with chocolate pudding ice cream).  I do like something different rather than the usual run of the mill desserts, these were lovely and good portion sizes too.  Coming in both under £5, they were good value for money too. 
As a summary, I would really recommend Goodwins, they aren't overpriced for a nice pub/wine bar in the area.  I would say they are priced about right, the drinks were good value too.  Service was exceptional it really was, our waitress was really attentive and pleasant.  It is one we will be returning too :)

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Santa Safari - Hawkstone Park & Follies

Last year we went to Lapland just before Christmas so this year we decided to go all out for Santa and just do one 'special' visit rather than a few at local fairs/town centres etc. We decided upon Hawkstone which is just north of Shrewsbury.  It is £17 per adult and £18 per child during daylight hours and £20 per adult, £22 per child during twilight. We decided to go during daylight as I thought I may get better photos but actually the majority of it was in the caves so it would have been nice during twilight.

You meet at the hotel for a cup of hot chocolate and get taken by land rover to the caves up at the top of the hill. You pass under the wishing arch and arrive at the top to be greeted by elves. I do feel the car ride could have been made to feel more festive. It would only take a few small touches such as playing Christmas songs in the car, the driver could have been dressed more festive, perhaps some tinsel in the car etc. It didn't feel the 'magical adventure by Land Rover' that they market it as.
Once you are at the top an elf gathers you together and runs through some health and safety. There are two reindeer in a small wooden box which I thought was a little odd as they looked a bit cramped and we were told you couldn't touch them. I felt a bit sorry for them, they could have had a bigger area to wander round in.
Families were staggered when entering the cave so that everyone didn't go through at the same time and there be a queue for santa. This was a nice touch.  As you walked through the caves there were different festive/wintery scenes such as Winnie the Pooh and friends, Minions where the children could have a go at remote control ice skating with them, Trolls, Unicorns & Fairies and Mario Kart where they had a little car race track and podium for the children to have a go with. At each section an elf greeted you and chatted to the children, leading you on to the next section of the cave again making sure everyone was staggered.

You came to a bench surrounded by festive trees where you waited for Santa behind a closed door.  Again an elf came to the door and lead you through to Santa who was sitting in a lovely big sleigh.  Everyone could sit in the sleigh and he had a box in front of him the children could sit on so they didn't have to sit on his lap if they didn't want to.  He was a fabulous santa, gave them a present but perhaps could have done with spending a little longer talking to the children though. 

You are then lead out of the back of the caves where you are met by a wonderful view of the Shropshire countryside.  Down a path (which was nicely lit and would look lovely during twilight) and back to the land rovers to take you back.

Overall it was something a bit different, the caves were fabulous, it could just do with a few extra touches here and there to make it worth the money as it is expensive when you have to pay so much for the adults too.  I am not sure it is worth the money? However it is a different experience you wouldn't get anywhere else.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Sportsdirect.com £5 Christmas Challenge

I decided to put myself forward to take part in the Sports Direct #sdfiverchallenge Christmas Challenge.  Which is basically finding Christmas presents for under £5. I do struggle to find little stocking fillers that are good quality but also a little unusual too.  I like to shop online and it’s difficult to get ideas.

On Sports Direct’s website you can visit this page: https://www.sportsdirect.com/christmas and then select a price range.  You can also select who you are buying for – male, female, child etc.  I just filtered for under £5 and included all types – I was a bit disappointed to start with as it brought back lots of football gifts and nobody in our family likes football (not uncles, in laws, hubby – nobody!)  However, once I scrolled past these there was a lot more choice, something for everyone from toolkits to chocolates to wrapping paper and even jumper debobblers!  

I was surprised at some of the children’s toys, quite a lot of Disney there – I bought the following:

Disney Up games are £4.99 and you can buy Princess, Cars or Frozen – I bought a Cars one and a Princess one for relatives.  These are great little games and are decent quality for the money, they are a great price and I couldn’t find cheaper elsewhere – Sports Direct claim they are usually £9.99 however I found them on Amazon for £6.89 as part of Prime.
The Spirit Of Christmas 13in1 Hammer Tool was £4.99 and an ideal stocking filler for hubby who is always looking for tools!  This hammer is a real hammer and includes pliers, wire cutter, knives, screwdrivers, a saw, a bottle opener, a wire bender, a file, and a nail puller.  Quality seems brilliant, knives are sharp and it is a nice heavy item.  He will probably keep it in his car as sometimes needs tools with his job but doesn’t want to carry a toolkit round with him. 

My daughter is only a metre tall and she is on her knees - very small marble run!
I also bought Marble Mountain Game for my daughter, I can remember having one of these as a child and having great fun making different tracks and racing the marbles, the price was £4, claiming it was usually £8.  I have to say I was extremely disappointed with this product, considering it should have normally been £8 the quality is absolutely shocking – the plastic is really brittle.  The whole thing is tiny and the connectors don’t fit together well – the slightest knock and it falls to pieces, my daughter dropped a marble and knocked it over, one of the connectors chipped on the edge and it was not a hard knock at all.  This is not worth the money so I would avoid buying it.

Loop the loop doesn't fit flush and keeps falling apart
I do think Sports Direct are expensive when it comes to delivery as it is £4.99 flat rate and it wasn't free over a certain amount, even if you have it delivered to store it costs £4.99 although you do then get a £5 voucher to spend in store. So you do have to take this into account as it may not be worth ordering if you only have one or two items, however if you are buying several items it isn't so bad.  In future I will probably also stick to the branded gifts like the Disney games, the unbranded marble run was shocking quality and I am glad it wasn't a gift for a relative as it really wasn't worth the £4.

So all in all it is a great place to do some Christmas shopping at good prices and to get some gifts that you perhaps don't see every day.

This post is an entry for BritMums #sdfiverchallenge Christmas Challenge, sponsored by Sportsdirect.com. https://www.sportsdirect.com

Monday, 2 October 2017

ChileanEasyPeelers Challenge

We try to eat healthily in our house, right from day 1 I had said that when Macy started weaning that I was going to avoid anything sweet and she always had water or milk to drink.  As a result she does eat lots of fruit and veg and although does love her sweets etc she actually loves fruit more 9 times out of 10. 

I signed up for the #ChileanEasyPeeler Challenge, sponsored by Citrus Fruits from Chile along with Britmums.  We were sent some easy peal mandarins, which are low in calories and fat and full of vitamin C, a rich source of fibre, folate, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Easy peel mandarins have a high water content as they contain about 87 per cent water. No matter how much you encourage Macy to drink, she usually forgets and you can’t think about it all the time, so picking foods with a high water content like these helps to keep her hydrated. I find that during summer we eat a lot of fruit.
On the way to ballet, a snack for the car journey

Our challenge was to enjoy a summer day out as these delicious little oranges are easy to pack up for days out and lunch boxes.  However, our stumbling block has been that since the oranges arrived it has done nothing but rain and Macy has hot lunches at school!

Her face lit up when she opened the box and saw all the oranges.  She loves the fact that she can go and peel them herself, they are so easy to take out with us as they aren’t messy and she can eat them on her own.  They are a great little snack between school pick up time and dinner.  She often has swimming or a dance class so I don’t want to give her anything substantial but she is usually a bit hungry, these oranges are great just as a little snack that is light enough before she is swimming or dancing. 

This post is an entry for the BritMums #ChileanEasyPeelers Challenge, sponsored by Citrus Fruits from Chile.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Testing the New Ecover Detergent for our Laundry

The only good thing about washing is climbing in to a fresh smelling bed at night :)
Laundry – sometimes I feel like all I do is laundry!  With a 4 year old who has just started school, a husband who always gets filthy at work, 4 cats (and kittens at the moment!) and 2 dogs it is never ending.  It always falls on me as hubby works weekends and this is when the school uniform normally needs washing.

I came across the #EcoverLaundry Challenge in conjunction with Britmums and signed up.  What Ecover say about their new Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Detergent: 
“it delivers a powerful clean and features a new delightful naturally-inspired fragrance, Lavender & Sandalwood. From your baby’s first wash to the average bedding load, this dermatologically tested, plant-based Non-Bio formula delivers spotlessly clean results, even on a cold wash.  Pioneering a greener clean since 1979, Ecover’s new Non-Bio formula is now even tougher on stains, but just as kind on sensitive skin and is now Mumsnet rated* (with 89% of Mumsnet raters saying they would recommend to a friend), making it the perfect partner for all the family, as well as the planet. You can find Ecover on Twitter at @EcoverUK, and on Instagram at @Ecover_UK.”

When I look for a detergent I must admit I tend to usually avoid liquids as the caps get sticky and I find I get it all on my hands, so I tend to go for a powder as I find it less messy.  I want a detergent that cleans well and I do love to smell that lovely freshly washed smell on clothes.  However hubby isn’t keen on a smelly detergent at all so we tend to have to compromise somewhere along the lines.

I have given the detergent a good test.  Our bedding is delicate and it cleaned this well, it came out smelling really fresh and that stayed for a couple of days – the usual detergent seems to stop smelling after just a few hours.  My husband also didn’t hate the smell so it is obviously just a very fresh, neutral smell.

Benji finds the washing more interesting than I do lol!
I washed some of Macy’s white PE shorts on a 30 degree wash with the detergent and it didn’t get the mud off them so I did have to put them through on a 40 degree wash and it cleaned them no problem.

I did really like the fresh scent of the detergent and if they were to do it in a powder form I would buy it.  I do find I tend to end up dripping liquid down the bottle after using the cap for meausuring it and then it gets all over my hands.  I would recommend it to someone who uses liquid detergent though as it is good and the smell is lovely.

This post is an entry for BritMums #EcoverLaundry Challenge, sponsored by Ecover.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Eating Healthily with Red Meat

In our house we try to eat healthily, I usually do vegetables and meat for dinner most nights, the meat aspect however does tend to usually be chicken or fish most nights and sometimes a couple of nights we have red meat normally in the form of beef mince (always 20% less fat) in a spag bol or pastor pie.  I never really pay attention to the media when they shout about such and such being bad for you, causes this that and the other etc etc.  I believe in ‘everything in moderation’ so we never tend to cut anything out particularly and try to have a bit of everything. 
Recently there has been a lot of bad press about red meats (lamb, pork, beef) and yes it does tend to have a bit more fat, however you can still enjoy it with less fat – Tesco sell both lamb and beef mince in a lower fat option.  We have enjoyed pork steaks recently with a marinade and I have cut the fat off – I don’t actually enjoy fat so I don’t miss it.
In light of this the Meat Advisory Panel (an independent group of health and nutrition experts) has partnering with BritMums to promote red meat in the diets of children.  So the #HealthyRedMeat challenge was born!  Red meat provides a range of important nutrients that are often low in toddlers and children – including iron, zinc, and B vitamins, selenium and potassium.  I really liked the sound of the challenge as I do try hard to provide us all with a healthy diet.

Our trouble is getting our 4 year old to eat red meat – she just doesn’t seem to enjoy it, perhaps we should have encouraged her more when she was weaned.  Dr Emma Derbyshire (a public health nutritionist and mother) says: “Including a small portion of red meat in the diet a few times a week after weaning can help to bridge nutrient gaps and so help to maintain good health through childhood and beyond.”  I think Macy is just lazy with chewing, the only red meat she will eat is in the form of mince!  So that leads nicely on to the recipe we used, it had to be fairly quick and easy as I have a house full at the moment and work as well, so I found "The ultimate makeover: Shepherd's pie" By Angela Nilsen on BBC Good Food.

For the filling
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 thyme sprigs
2 carrots, diced (total weight 300g)
250g lean minced lamb (we used 10% fat)
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder, made up to 350ml/12fl oz stock with boiling water
227g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
400g can green lentils with no added salt, drained
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the topping
650g Maris Piper or King Edward potato, roughly chopped
250g sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes , roughly chopped
2 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

Heat the oil in a large, deep sauté pan or saucepan. Tip in the onion and thyme sprigs and fry for 2-3 mins. Then add the carrots and fry together for 5-8 mins, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to brown. Stir in the mince to break it down. Fry for 1-2 mins until no longer pink. Stir in the flour, scraping the bottom of the pan in case the meat sticks, then cook for another 1-2 mins. 
 Pour in the stock and stir until thickened. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée, lentils and Worcestershire sauce and season with pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 mins, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Drop all the potatoes into a large pan of boiling water. Bring back to the boil, then simmer for 12-15 mins or until the potatoes are tender. Drain well in a colander then tip back into the pan. Mash with a masher or, briefly, with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Beat in the crème fraîche and milk with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Spoon the meat into a 1.5 litre pie dish and remove the thyme sprigs. Top with the mash and smooth over with a knife. Use a fork to create a ridged pattern on top. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 mins until piping hot and the filling starts to bubble around the edges. If the top is not brown enough, pop it under the grill for 5 mins or so until the mash is crisp and golden. Let it sit for 5 mins then serve. 
I amended the recipe slightly as I didn't use Creme Fraiche (seemed wasteful to buy it and use 2tbsps and leave the rest) so I just used butter and milk. I also put in some garlic as I do believe it has good health benefits. What I also liked about the recipe was the fact that it made use of veggies such as tomatoes, carrots, sweet potato and lentils.
This post is an entry for the BritMums #HealthyRedMeat, sponsored by the Meat Advisory Panel.