Confidence in the Kitchen – 4 Ways to Save Time and Effort in the Kitchen

Traditionally, a mother’s job was to stay at home and care for the children while dad went off to work. While mom’s home role hasn’t altered much; the chances are that she now also holds down a full-time job. In fact, over 70 percent of mothers in the United States either have a full- or part-time job. So, where do they find the time to cook, clean and care for their children?.Below are four ways mothers are saving time and effort at meal time.

They Use Non-Stick Cookware

We’ve come a long way from spending hours scrubbing pots to remove sticky residue and burnt food. Great quality cookware with non-stick coating will save you plenty of time and effort in the kitchen. Not only does it help your food cook evenly and avoid burning but it also stops food sticking – reducing clean-up time. While there are some who doubt the safety of such products, there is, in fact, no research to suggest it’s dangerous for your health. The old story about the canary dying from non-stick coating fumes is an urban myth.

They Color-Code Their Chopping Boards

Without a doubt, the most time-consuming part of cooking is food preparation. Vegetables have to be sliced and diced, meat chopped, and fruit carefully cored and cubed. While this in itself is time-consuming, it can be even more so when you’re constantly stopping to clean the chopping board between uses. After all, nothing ruins dinner as successfully as food poisoning!

For this reason, color-coded chopping boards can be a saviour for many. To save time, and reduce the risk of cross-contamination, utilize colored plastic chopping boards coordinated for the foods for which they are used to help make dinner preparation run with military precision.

They Use a Knife Block

Organization in the kitchen is critical, especially when you want to prepare dinner in a hurry. That’s why owning a knife block is a practical and attractive idea. While you’re rifling through the utensil drawer looking for that one particular knife, you could have had the food chopped and cooking! A knife block can cut food preparation time dramatically. Not only does it provide a storage facility for all your favorite blades, but it also incorporates a sharpening block to help you cut with better precision and ease. There is no shortage of stylish knife blocks available on the market that will also add a classy touch to your kitchen.

They Take Advantage of New Technology

Our parents before us would often spend hours on a task that now takes us five minutes. That’s not because they weren’t very good at it. Rather, they simply didn’t have the same technology available to them. If you’ve got the right appliances on hand, don’t be afraid to fire them up! Less time spent in the kitchen is more time with your family. Why not use a rice cooker instead of a pot? Or how about trying out a bread maker instead of kneading, proofing and cooking it yourself? Embrace technological advances and save time in the process.

We live in a fast-paced world that has enabled us to be parents as well as full-time employees. While this shows just how versatile and adaptable we are, it also highlights the necessity of having convenient and quality tools at our disposal in the kitchen. Your family is the most important thing in your life, so cutting down on your cooking time will ensure that they get as much of your attention as possible.

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in Family Life and Parenting Tagged with: , ,

Why I won’t be giving up my seat on the bus any time soon…

I don’t drive. I choose not to. I don’t like it and my anxiety makes driving incredibly stressful and not worth the effort. I don’t currently have a valid licence to drive. So I use public transport daily for journeys to work and activities with the kids and if I have to go anywhere, without the husband (who’m I agreed to marry when he promised to be my chauffeur. I may only be partly joking about this one 😉)

I use the buses local to us, in South West London. Most mornings and afternoons. They vary in their busy state and can be very crowded. The other day, on a busy bus, I was sitting, minding my own business, listening to my music on my headphones, not really aware of what was going on around me. I felt a tap on my shoulder and an older than me (let’s say I’m 40, she was maybe 60) was talking to me. I took my headphones out. “You need to give me your seat, so I can sit down” (no please I may add, let’s not go there on that one!) I looked around the bus (and of course everyone else is now pretending to be totally unaware of their fellow man) and then I said the following:”I’m sorry, I’ve had a fairly major knee operation, just a few months ago, and I can’t stand on the bus because if I fall over I will have a problem getting up and it could damage my healing knee, you’ll need to ask someone else”.

She looked at me and muttered something about “well you don’t look injured” but thankfully the man behind us decided to give her his seat so that was the end of that.

You see, I normally give up my seat for the elderly, for people unable to stand, for mums with little kids, and pregnant women, because that’s the polite and considerate thing to do. It’s what I was taught and what I teach my kids. Because I’m not limping much, and am not waving my crutches about anymore, you can’t tell that I’m only on recovery month 3 from surgery that involved knee realignment, bilateral release of tendons, cartilage removal, and insertion of a piece of titanium inside my knee.

Because I’ve worked damn hard at rehab and because I rested when I was supposed to, and frankly because I have an excellent surgeon and am amazing physiotherapist, my knee is healing beautifully. By standing on a bus, with little or no support, if that bus stops suddenly or someone bumps into me and pushes me, I could fall over. If I fall, I could really damage my healing knee. I’m not taking that risk for the foreseeable future. I happen to know how much three knee surgeries, 11 MRI scans, multiple ultrasounds, steroid injections, physio appointments, visits to A&E to have my dislocated knee popped back into place, pain medication and not one but two specialist knee braces have cost (because my doctor told me and also because I see all the insurance statements) and I’m not prepared to waste all that time, money and effort that has gone into fixing what was an utterly knackered and constantly painful knee by injuring it, if I can help it.

So, when you get on your bus, and you see it’s busy and you need a seat, I won’t be offering. I’ll gladly ask other people to help you, but until my knee is fully healed, it’s getting a seat, and whilst I may not look much like I need that seat, it comes down to not assuming someone doesn’t have something wrong with them just because you can’t see it or they aren’t wearing a badge telling the world.

Maybe I’m being selfish? I regard myself as a high user of public transport and I can say that regularly people who need seats don’t get them, and a lot of those people sitting on buses could give up a seat but don’t. However, as the point of this blog is that you don’t always know what a person needs, just by looking at them, briefly on public transport in passing, and I’m in that place.

That’s my seat and no, I won’t give it up. You can’t tell, but actually I need it!

Oh and don’t get me started about people who put their bags on seats… that’s a whole other blog post!

Posted in Family Life and Parenting, Health

Chocolate making and tasting with Red Letter Days

If you love chocolate (who doesn’t??) like me, and enjoy tasting different kinds, and appreciate really good quality chocolate, and also fancy a go at making things with chocoloate, then you will want to hear more about a chocolate tasting experience with chocolate workshop.

You can’t really go wrong with an evening where you are served prossecco, shown how to make a chocolate based cocktail, and then you learn about what chocolate is made of, where it comes from, and how good quality chocolate items are produced. You get to taste different chocolate and learn what makes good chocolate and what is cheaper and not necessarily as nice. So far, sounds good right? 

chocolate martini? I won’t say no… 😉

You also get to play with chocolate and make your own chocolate goodies. The wonderful team from My Chocolate who show you how work with your chocolate are very passionate and talented, and made the evening very special, and I must admit when I watched them in action I felt a bit nervous about being let loose on chocolate with my minimal skills but they were so helpful, fun and encouraging and actually it was great to learn what to do and try it out. It was really interesting to hear about how chocolate is made and processed and you definitely learn a thing or two…

Learning about chocolate, where it comes from, how it looks before it’s magically made into the confectionery we all know and love to eat…

We started off by making simple chocolate shapes. Some people in our group got very creative. I was a bit nervous and just went with simple disc, with some details. The chocolate was flavoured with oils, and it was SO hard not lick our fingers or the utensils we were using. 

We learned how to make chocolate ganache and then how to shape it into chocolate truffles

Making chocolate truffles. There were MANY rude remarks about chocolate poo shapes but they turned out rather nicely, I think…

We also had fun experimenting with shaping fudge and coating marshmallows in chocolate. 

It was a very interesting and informative but most importantly enjoyable evening, and so much fun. It’s a perfect night out, for a group of friends or as a special treat for a chocolate lover, and coming away with a selection of goodies you have made just adds that perfect touch. 

I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed myself, and was rather pleased with my bag of treats that I took home (which I managed not to eat and my family actually got to try)

This would be a perfect gift for someone, or for yourself, if you want something really different. I would highly recommended it to anyone who is looking for an interesting and different experience. 

*I was kindly sent to try out the experience, but all images and opinions are my own*

 

 

 

Posted in Me, beyond just being "mum" Tagged with: , , ,

Inspiring Ways To Revitalise Your Living Room

If you haven’t decorated your living room in a few years, the walls may be looking a bit tired, the cornicing might have seen better days and the plush carpet that you thought was such a good idea at the time is now a little flat. When we think about home renovations, our minds immediately think about our kitchens and bathrooms. After all, these are supposed to be the rooms that sell houses. However, you shouldn’t neglect the room where your kids spend most of their time, where you enjoy movie night together as a family and where you put your feet up and enjoy some rest and relaxation. There are some easy ways that you can inject a bit of life into your living room and make it the hub of your home yet again.

Image Credit

Before You Begin

Beginning any renovation project can be daunting, and it can be hard to know where to start. Before you do anything, you’ll need to clear the space. This can be especially tricky when you have a vintage leather sofa, a recliner, and two large bookcases, not to mention your 72-inch flatscreen TV, Scandinavian coffee table and giant beanbag. Where on Earth are you going to put it all? The most convenient solution is to head down to a self-storage firm like Safestore and hire your own little storage unit that you can lock up safe in the knowledge that your items are secure. There are a range of sizes available, so even if you have a ridiculous amount of stuff, you’ll be able to keep it all in one place. Only once your living room is clear can you really begin to appreciate the space you’re working with.

Image Credit

Lighting

If your house is blessed with luscious amounts of natural light, then you won’t have to consider your lighting quite so carefully. On the other hand, if your living room isn’t south facing you’ll need to bring the outdoors in by utilising some nifty little techniques to brighten up your room. The most effective way to create the illusion of natural light is to use lots of sources of subtle lighting rather than one large source of light. Fluorescent strips or central chandeliers can look stark and clinical whereas lower wattage spotlights and lamps can be more muted and natural.

Reflect the light by putting up a couple of mirrors. This will help your room look larger and bounce the light that you have at your disposal across the room. Having a brighter room lifts your mood and can allow you to have a little more freedom to choose richer and darker tones when considering the colour of your walls.

Image Credit

Paint Or Wallpaper?

Some people cannot bear wallpaper because of its finicky nature and cost. However, a feature wall can lift a room and see it morph from normal to extraordinary. The standard white or cream walls are commonplace in living rooms up and down the country so it might be wise to add a touch of individuality and flair by choosing a retro geometric patterned or a textured flock wallpaper. You can then pick up on the tones and hues within the wallpaper and reflect these colours within your accessories such as rugs, cushions, and curtains.

 

Don’t use too many shades of paint within one room – two is plenty. You don’t want every wall to be a different shade of purple or blue as you will create a chaotic and confusing space. To develop a living room with identity it needs to be cohesive and feel homely at the same time.

Image Credit

Flooring

While lush carpet underfoot can feel luxurious and cosy, it can also be impractical especially if you have young kids. Imagine the heartbreak if you have just laid your thick deep pile carpet, only for your little darling to spill their blackcurrant squash and inadvertently tread biscuit crumbs throughout the plush fabric.

You may wish to consider a more hard wearing flooring that can be just as luxurious. You could venture to a local reclamation yard and hunt for some 1960s parquet or some Edwardian oak floorboards to add a touch of antique chic to your gorgeous new living space. If a more modern look is your thing, any of the high-quality laminated flooring styles available on the high street will result in a long-lasting and practical solution for your household.

The next time you’re planning on doing some renovations to your humble abode, don’t neglect the living room. With a quick lick of paint, new flooring and some clever lighting, you can give your lounge the much-needed facelift it deserves.

 

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in Home & Garden Tagged with: , , ,

Are you getting enough vitamind D?

I often make jokes about vitamin D and getting my daily dose when the sun decides to shine here in London. However, I do also take vitamin D consumption and how much we need seriously because actually getting enough into our bodies isn’t as easy as it seems. Vitamin D is really important and the UK government and medical professionals recommend we take a certain amount daily, to make sure we are not deficient. Adults and children need vitamin D for bone growth and health, and it’s not always possible to make sure that happens with diet and sunshine alone and  a lot of people need to add a vitamin D supplement to their daily routine to make sure they are getting enough. It is a concern of mine, because I am aware that too low levels of vitamin D can affect bone growth and health in my children and for myself, as I get older, and loose bone density, I need to make sure I top up to make sure I look after myself and my bones and body. 

Getting enough vitamin D every day, all year round, is very difficult.

On sunny summer days, exposing your skin to the sun can provide your daily dose of vitamin D. But for much of the year, the UK sun isn’t strong enough for your skin to make vitamin D. Sun creams can block the rays that make vitamin D. And certain types of people need even more exposure to make enough vitamin D.

How much do adults and children need?

Infants

Children aged 1 to adults

Finding a supplement that works for the whole family can be tricky, so Fultium have come up with a solution and their Vitamin D drops are easy to incorporate into a daily routine and make sure we are all getting what we need. 

Fultium daily D3 Drops are ideal for children* under 12 years old.

They’re also suitable for vegetarians, and those who dislike swallowing capsules. They are free from artificial preservatives and sweeteners.

Infants under 1 year 
5 drops per day (8.5μg)

Age 1 and up 
6 drops per day (10μg)

Fultium Daily D3 is an easy one-a-day vitamin D supplement. Unlike other vitamins, Fultium Daily D3 is only available from your pharmacist, not in the vitamin aisle.

Fultium Daily D3 capsules contain 10 micrograms of vitamin D3 – exactly the daily dose recommended by the government’s guidelines.

It’s easy to take, and has no real taste, so it can be taken direcetly off a spoon, or added to water or juice. This makes it easy to give it to the children, without fuss (alwasy good) and I simply drop the required amount into a small amount of water to take it. No mess, no fuss and helping our bodies to get the vitamin D they need. The bottle is convenient and easy to open and measure out what dose is required. 

So, whilst I can’t make it sunny all year round so we can be outside absorbing natural vitamin D, I can at least top us up with a supplement that is simple to use. One less thing for this busy mum to worry about! 

*we were sent some products to review, images and wording are taken from site source*
*Always seek professional medical advice before starting to take a vitamin supplement*
 

 

Posted in Family Life and Parenting, Health Tagged with: , ,

Every Moment Counts – with Families Together #EveryMomentCounts

So last week I joined up with lots of other bloggers to share a moment each day with a theme sent to us by Families Online. Every Moment Counts was such a lovely way to look at the theme for each day and share a photo and some thoughts on that image. I had a lot of fun sharing mine and looking at the other images shared.

 

Day 1. Together

Day 2. Tradition

Day 3. Laughter

Day 4. 3 Things

Day 5. Colourful

Day 6. Love

Day 7. Reflection

You can find the full images and something I have written each day over on my Facbook page,

but you can also see a brief snapshot of them here…

Sometimes pausing to reflect and think really does make you appreciate those moments in life, and the people and things around you that you love and cherish. 

What moments count for you?

Posted in Family Life and Parenting Tagged with: , ,

Why Nursing Is a Great Career Choice for Women

Historically, nursing has been one of the few professions offering women a very good chance for career progression. Despite the advances we have made in terms of gender equality, women are still often overlooked for career progression opportunities in favor of their male counterparts. Nursing has always been a female-dominated profession, but it has changed a great deal since the middle of the 20th century. Whereas nurses were once considered inferior to the doctors they worked alongside, nursing is now recognized as a science in its own right and an entirely separate skillset. Below are some of the reasons why nursing continues to offer a fantastic opportunity for women looking for a new career.

To Learn Advanced First Aid

First-aid is an incredibly important skill, but it is still one that few people take the time to learn. It is useful for everyone to know first aid, but if you ever plan on becoming a parent then it is all but guaranteed you will get a chance to put it into practice. The first aid skills you will learn as a nurse will cover both basic and advanced triage, allowing you to respond to any situation correctly and promptly.

Of course, the higher the level you study nursing, the more advanced the skills you learn will be. The most basic levels of nursing degrees correspond to the most basic level of patient care, but the first aid here will still be of use in schools and other similar institutions and will cover the kind of injuries that people encounter as part of everyday life. As students advance through the various levels, they will encounter more advanced techniques and will find themselves able to deal with a variety of situations.

Accessible to New Moms

Online degrees have made studying for a nursing degree possible for anyone. Previously, single mothers and new moms would have found it hard to enter the nursing profession, but now online degrees make them affordable and available for much less than a campus course. After studying to the level of earning a masters degree (MSN), students can then study an MSN to DNP online; the DNP is the highest qualification level available for nurses. Another advantage of online doctoral nursing programs is that they can be completed over a longer time period, making them more suitable for those who don’t have time to devote to a full-time course. Making education available to a more diverse range of people is one of the most significant changes online degrees have made to the education landscape.

Improve Your CV

Even before you earn your nursing qualification, you will learn a number of skills which will look great on your CV. First aid is particularly valued by schools and businesses alike. There are often legal requirements to have first aid trained personnel on site if there are a certain number of people in a building and providing this training can be expensive for businesses.

Nursing is a noble profession, one that offers a long-term career path and rewarding work making a real difference to people’s lives.

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in Family Life and Parenting

Mum of tween fail!!!

So, of course, I am the perfect mother. My house is immaculate, and I have life incredibly well organised, my children only ever eat organic, fully home made foods, never any junk food or treats, they do all their homework, we are at the school gate on time, they cheerfully help with chores, sleep beautifully, never fight with each other or argue back at me, and their behaviour when we are out and about is perfect. They only ever watch educational programmes on tv and screen time is tightly monitored, I never shout at them and motherhood is just a dream. Yup…

Ok, I am totally lying there, and if you know me in real life or read this blog, you will possibly have wondered for about 30 seconds if I had finally lost track of all reality. I was just click baiting you there! 

Because I like to keep it real and honest, here on this blog, I will tell you about a bit of a parenting fail of mine, that recently happened, with the tween.

 

I can kind of justify it, because frankly, tweens and teenagers can be hard to read and sometimes you just don’t actually know what is either going on in their heads, or why they are behaving the way they are (ok, often) and they can be frustrating and annoying (ok, adorable and lovely, for those who not yet in tween stage and want to be in denial still that it really is worse than toddlerhood!) But it still was a fail, and now I have recovered my sense of humour and come off my guilt trip, I can share. 

The tween was a bit grumpy, and not quite herself. She has had a bad couple of days at school (tween girls are a whole species of their own, and let me just say that playground politics and emotions are fun when they aren’t working well!) I put her moodiness down to that and the fact that she has a violin exam coming up which is stressing her out slightly. We have all had a slight cold, and we have had a few late nights the past week due to some social activities that are out of the norm for us. 

So she was grumpy and a bit whiny, and moaned and complained about being asked to do things, a bit more than usual and also kept commenting that the house was either too hot or too cold. I put it down to hormones, (we have had a lot of that lately) and also the tween grumps and mood swings. She seemed to be managing ok, and was eating normally and getting on with life, but she was getting a little annoying with the extra stroppiness. 

It dawned on me, at the end of the day, that it was rather unusual for her, to be so tetchy. Because I had had a particularly busy day, and had been out and about for most of it, I hadn’t actually been around her much, but the husband had (and he had been messaging me also being whiny about his tween’s behaviour, there is a whole other blog post there about Dads and tween daughter emotions!!) but she came to me and told me her back and legs were sore, and was very grumpy, but I took one look at her, and suddenly realsied that she actaually may not be very well. I can usually tell, with my kiddos, they get a look about them, that they cannot fake, that I can usually spot a mile off. I pull out the thermometer (she had taken some medication earlier claiming she had a headache, so she didn’t feel hot to the touch) and lo and behold she had a fever, and it was quite high. So, nurse mum comes into action, and she is medicated and despatched to bed with a cup of hot tea, a hot water bottle and I stopped telling her off for not doing enough daily violin practice. I did ask her why she hadn’t told me she wasn’t feeling well, and she said “I didn’t know, I just thought I was tired and had a sore head, and had worked too hard at swimming and PE this week!”

Needless to say, she was given grace for her grumpiness and my mum guilt kicked in that it hadn’t hit me earlier that she was actually unwell and NOT just being a horribly grumpy, unreasonable tween. She also hadn’t told me that four of her classmates had been off sick with similar symptoms last week, so I hadn’t put two and two together to work out that she was coming down with a bug. 

It wasn’t serious. Just a viral thing, nothing a day in bed, fluids, pain relief and soup can’t cure, and she will be back at school tomrorow (she’s back to eye rolling at me, arguing with her brother and eating normally, signs she’s feeling better!) but it just goes to show that not all tween grumpiness is simply because of age and stage,  does it, and yes, I still feel guilty I didn’t work it out sooner…

I am off back to practice at being a perfect mother again, I will let you know when I have cracked it and written a book to tell you all how I manage it… 😉

After The Playground
Posted in Family Life and Parenting, Parenting into tweenagehood and beyond... Tagged with: , ,

Kick starting autumn with SML and a giveaway….

 I don’t know about you, but I don’t find the summer break condusive to eating that healthily or resist all the lovely food and drink that tends to come my way, with summer parties, weddings, picnics and all. Also, this summer for me has been particulary challenging because I haven’t been able to exercise at all, whilst recobring from my knee surgery, so I have found that a little bit of unwanted weight has crept back on, and whilst winter is always seen as a time to just ignore that extra few pounds and hide behind comfy winter clothes, I want to get back to eating more heathily and shift that extra weight and get back into better eating habits. 

I tend to meal plan and eat sensible portions, limit my carbohydrate consumption, add lots of fresh vegetables, salads and healthy snacks and restrict processed sugar, but I like to kick start my weight loss with a week or two of low calorie meal replacment plans, this helps me to get motivated, start my weight loss and get myself into a frame of mind to continue. 

The diet plans and meal replacements from SML are something I find incredibly helpful and because their plans have worked for me before I am using their products to get myself back on track and hopefully loose some weight. I find the system of a VLC diet easy to follow and to stick to, and it helps with the intial phase of weight loss, for me. If done properly and as instructed it can be a safe way to loose weight. Of course, as with any diet or major lifestyle change, it’s advisable to seek medical advice from a qualified practioner, beofre you start a meal plan diet like this. 

Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD’s) have been available to slimmers for over 30 years. Used both in the NHS & the private health sector, they are an effective, sustainable way to lose weight quickly and safely. 

What is a VLCD? 

A VLCD involves participants consuming maximum of 1000 calories per day.  They also contact the recommended daily requirements for vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients and proteins. VLCD’s offer rapid weight loss to the slimmer due to the low amount of calories consumed and because of a process called ketosis that is achieved when the body consumes a reduced amount of carbohydrate. Due to these factors, it is not unusual for slimmers on a VLCD to lose on average 1 stone per month (sometimes more depending on initial body size).

With the SMLDiet & our products, we have formulated our meal replacements so they can be used as a TFR (Total Food Replacement) so you can use them on their own or with food as part of our weight loss plans. Our slimmers find our weight loss plans easy to follow as they take unhealthy food taken out of the equation. This means they can concentrate on their weight loss & reaching their ideal weight.

I find the system is easy to use and the shakes are far better than any other’s I have tried (in fact, even when I am not in diet/loose weight mode, I always have some on hand for quick breakfast drinks on the go, because they taste so good and fill me up and are balanced with minerals and vitamins added. The meals themselves are easy to make up and tasty, and I add in a meal replacement bar for my sweet treat and snack. For my evening meal I keep it simple with protein and vegetables or simple salads with no dressings or extra bits. I find the first day or two challenging as I adjust to lower calories and less food, and I have to be really strict and make sure I am drinking enough water and not running around too much, but by day 3 I feel good and it’s easy to carry on. All the meals are balanced and contain what you need, so whilst it does feel a bit challenging, if you are following the plan, you should loose weight and feel good at the end of your week. They also offer full support and input on their site and social media and are very helpful if you need any advice or information. 

I am looking forward to loosing that bit of weight I have gained over the rather indulgent summer break, and getting back on track, and I am delighted to say that SML Diet and I have a giveaway to share with our readers. This is a great opportunity to try their products and see how they will work for you. 

All set and ready to go, with all the bits I need to keep on track with the plan.

We have two weeks worth of their products, worth  £67.98 (which is 56 packs) to giveaway to one lucky reader. All you need to do is tell us in the comment section here what helps you kick start a diet and why would you like to win this SML giveaway and then follow the rest of the instructions via the Rafflecopter link. 

Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

No cash prize alternative. Prize is as stated and cannot be exchanged.
Winner will be contacted via e mail and has 14 days to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
Spam entries will be disqualified.
All entries must meet the requirements to qaulify.
Winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter
Ends Tues 17th October 2017. 

Posted in Health Tagged with: , , , ,

Warming winter slow cooked chilli

I love autumn, for many reasons, including the colours as the season changes, and the excuse to pull out warmer, fluffier clothes, and also because it means I can pull out my slow cooker which has been gathering a bit of dust over the summer, and start making warming and comforting meals again. 

The slow cooker saves my sanity on busy working days, and it also makes it easier for me to pop something fairly substantial on, that cooks all day, and means we have a healthy, and warming meal come dinner time. I tend to make a lot of stews and casseroles, because they are simple to prepare and economical for family meals, and any extra I make can be frozen for spare meals or for lunches in the week.

We are meat eaters in our family. I am a firm believer in balance but also making sure that our bodies, particularly those of my growing (and permanently hungry, it seems, anyone else have this problem??) children get all the nutrients they need. So meat plays a role in my meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. 

Did you know that?

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.

Red meat has been in the spotlight recently, and experts fear that the nutritional benefits have been overshadowed by misleading negative views. To cut through the confusion, the Meat Advisory Panel, an independent group of health and nutrition experts, is partnering with BritMums to promote red meat in the diets of children.

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.”

One of my favourite things to make when the weather gets colder is chilli. The husband and children love it, and I don’t make it too hot spice wise (the husband adds extra chili and pepper sauce to his) so it’s a family meal  the whole family can enjoy and it freezes and reheats well too. We typically serve it with baked potatoes, corn tortillas or rice, and it’s filling and delicious if I say so myself. This is a gluten free meal base, which is also handy, as a family with food allergies and intolerance.

This recipe feeds 4-6 people but can be doubled if you want to make it for more or to freeze extra. It can also be cooked in a casserole dish in the oven or on the stove top. 

You need:

500g of lean beef mince. 

Two tins of chopped tomatoes

1 tin of kidney beans (drain them and rinse them)

2 red peppers, chopped

1 onion chopped (I like mine chopped in chunks, it gives it more texture, also when I am in a hurry, it’s quicker)

1 clove of garlic chopped

1 tsp of mild ground chili powder (you can use a hotter one if you prefer)

1/2 tsp of ground paprika

1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper. The tomatoes are salty so I don’t add salt.

1 glass of red wine (no, not for you to drink, although feel free to pour yourself a glass too)

Brown the mince, and add the onion and garlic. 

Add the chili powder and paprika and stir it through. Add the wine, and let it simmer for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a low boil if on the stove or set it on your slow cooker to low and let it simmer away for two hours. You may need to stir it and depending on your cooker, add a little water or stock (whatever you prefer) to make sure it doesn’t dry out)

After about two hours, add the kidney beans and peppers and cook for another two hours on low. Again stir if needed (I find it doesn’t usually)

Smells and looks good, a perfectly hearty meal for a family dinner!

Serve with rice, tortillas or baked potatoes and we enjoy ours with slices of avocado, and grated cheese, or sour cream, as well as some salad. The husband tends to crack open a jar of jalapeno chili to give his extra oomph and heat. The kids LOVE this, and usually from about 4pm, when it’s cooking away, is “when is dinner going to be ready?” or “can we eat it yet?” and it’s a great meal to get them eating meat but also full of flavor and taste. I find I have to make sure any extra I want to put aside has to be done as I serve it, otherwise there is none left once second helpings have been demanded and served.

It’s an economical meal, too, and works within our family food weekly budget. 

“This post is an entry for the BritMums #HealthyRedMeat, sponsored by the Meat Advisory Panel.”

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