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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Get Ready For School With Nadiya's Lunch Box Hacks

With back to school just around the corner, BBC Good Food Show star, Nadiya Hussain, has shared her favourite lunchbox hacks.


Nadiya says:

"In between waking and dressing my three, lively children, preparing breakfast for the family, finishing emails and doing laundry, making up pack lunches in the morning is often a rather rushed job. I’m not a fan of filling their boxes, or their stomachs with junk food. I will not lie, there have been times where I have just given the kids the easiest option, a packet of crisps, a small bar of chocolate, a biscuit (or two) and I still do every now and again but these treats are saved for the weekend.

The reason being, I noticed when at home that the kids were like yoyos. After school they would slumped, tired and exhausted from the day on the sofa. As I would rush around preparing the dinner they had a quick sweet treat and would instantly become high as kites and excitable. This excitement would last for 30 minutes or so, and be quickly followed by a huge sugar crash. It then dawned on me that the same would be happening to them whilst at school and of course I didn’t want my food choices for them to affect their concentration and behaviour at school.

To save me time, I always have a few snacks ready in the fridge that I can to pop in, ensuring that they eat well whilst away from home. I also have some great suggestions for quick and easy bites that can be made in the morning.

Here is a list of a few of our favourites:

1. Hummus Celery Sticks – cut slices of celery sticks about 2 inches long. Fill the inside with hummus and wrap with cling film.

2. Summer fruit spring rolls – take a circle of rice paper and soak for a few seconds till soft. Squeeze off any excess water and place down. Add any fruit, the more colourful the better and warp like a spring roll. Wrap in tin foil for the perfect lunch box surprise.

3. It might sounds obvious but I sometimes pop in a hardboiled egg – I like to keep boiled eggs in the fridge during the week. They are quick, simple and nutritious and very easy to eat. Wrap in kitchen roll to ensure the kids have something to peel the shell on to.

4. Turkey ham wrapped cheese sticks – take a small stick of cheese and wrap around a slice of turkey ham! Simple and delicious

5. Apple and Peanut Rings – core and horizontally slice a green apple, spread the tops with smooth peanut butter and pop into a mini Tupperware box.

Nadiya Hussein
6. Mini omelettes – whisk up some eggs and add onion, cheese, chives and chopped peppers. Grease and pour the mix into a 12 muffin cupcake tin and bake in the oven until cooked. Once cooled these be stored for a week and my kids love them!"

These are really simple and look much better alternatives than biscuits when the kids come home from school starving.  You can find more lunchbox tips here.

Nadiya will be cooking live at the BBC Good Food Show London – Olympia 11-13 November and Birmingham – NEC 24-27 November. Tickets on sale now: https://www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com
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The Bad Mother's 21 Point Guide To Knowing When To Send The Kids Back To School

1.  It says term starts on a day in September somewhere on a piece of paper that has been in the bottom of your bag since July.  You will obviously have to check this rumour with all the other mums via Facebook.



2. Vast swathes of Valencia filtered holiday photos featuring happy children in water parks have started to appear in your Instagram feed.  Each photo is accompanied by a minimum of 20 hastags #OhPants.

3. You have watched every single episode of Horrid Henry and Mr Bean and now wince when you hear the opening music.

4. You cannot face another kids' meal containing battered cod or chicken.

5.  You have resorted to making rude faces with the sweets that come with the kids' ice cream - in the kids' ice cream.

6.  The kids have actually just read a book voluntarily

7.  You've put on 10 pounds from snacking with the kids - elevenses, three'ses and that strange half hour before tea where you know you shouldn't feed them but CAN'T TAKE THE MOANING ANY MORE.

8.  Having failed to deliver on 90% of the promises you made before the holiday started (yes we will canter through white capped waves at dawn before frying our own breakfast on a camping stove), you cave in and agree to take them to the local cinema for the latest kiddy flick and a £15 bag of pick 'n' mix.

9.  You are happily referring to red wine as "mummy's special squash".

10.  The bottom of your handbag is a sticky morass of spilt brown sugar from coffee shop packets which have combined to create a caramel so strong you could stick yourself to the ceiling with it.

This makes finding the bit of paper with the term dates on even more tricky [see point 1]

11.  Rather than Mary Poppins, you now resemble a woman on the edge after 6 weeks of terrible PMS and the only thing that is cheering you up is the fact that you'll soon be able to spend more time with adults somewhere that doesn't have a ball pit or carry the risk of deafness simply by entering the building.

12.  Reading weepy posts from mothers missing their children before 9 am on the first day back is making you question whether you accidentally took someone else's children home from the hospital.

13.  Your book "30 minutes to a cleaner home" is now buried under a pile of school shoe boxes, crisp packets and guarded by Shopkins.

14.  Shopkins are everywhere.

15.  They are starting to look at you with their little evil eyes, particularly Linda Layercake which was apparently named after you.

16.  You develop an unholy terror of Claire's Accessories.

17.  Along with your terrible case of "Lego Foot".

18. You start to feel uncharacteristically wistful and even tearful at the thought of sending the kids back to school.

19.  Combined with an unearthly sense of jubilation that you have survived!

20.  You unearth your Ugg-alikes just to see the horror on our husband's face and you practise the 'mum bun' for the right degree of dishevelment.

21.  Weirdly,  you feel compelled to work out how many days until half term because, if you're honest, you don't mind the kids really, plus having them home is an excuse to eat crisps.

Celebrate your maternal feelings I say!  Have a great new term.
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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Review: Wicked Uncle Toys - Devilishly Easy To Use

When I was young, shopping for toys involved perusing the shelves in your local department store throughout the year or, come Christmas, dragging your parents around the overheated, fake snow and glitter filled grottos for Santa.

It's the heat I remember mostly.  There was always a pensioner having a fit of the vapours parked precariously on a chair just outside whilst the staff fanned them with a towel.  Air conditioning was just a distant dream.

As my sister Sarah and I got older, our relatives just gave up trying to guess what we liked and gave us vouchers.  Now fond as I am of a voucher, it's just not the same as being given a present which tugs at the heart strings because it's just what you wanted and it's right for your age.

Today, more than ever, matching the toy to the child's age requires a mathematical equation not dissimilar to getting the Hadron Particle Collider to work which is probably easier sometimes than finding a child's gift what will keep them entertained for more than 2 minutes.

So I was intrigued when the devilishly named Wicked Uncle wrote to me and suggested a solution. They have a website filled with an amazing mix of gifts for children of all ages, sorted by age, category or gender.

This is not only useful for buying presents for your own and other kids in the family but a very useful solution to that bane of parents' term-time lives - deciding what gift to give at a children's party, what budget is right (without being considered mean) and whether that gift is suitable for their age.

I frequently ask Caitlin and Ieuan "but what does so-and-so like?" to be greeted either by a shrug of the shoulders or 'Shopkins' (the modern day equivalent of the Tribble from Star Trek).

Wicked Uncle kindly gave us a budget of £40 to road-test their site and so Caitlin and Ieuan were given £20 to choose their own gift.

There was, in fact, so much choice that Ieuan was quite overwhelmed with it all and I had to choose for him.

The website is really simple to use -


Simply select the relevant criteria for the child you're buying for to be taking to an appropriate selection of gifts.


Then choose the category of gift you think they might like.  I particularly liked that the girls' gifts included as many science / maths / experiment gifts as the boys'.  Whilst there are enough 'traditionally girly' gifts to delight your average pony / kitten/ pink loving girl, there are equally plenty of gifts to stimulate their minds and help with the school curriculum.

Caitlin chose Shadow, a Lavish Lanky Cat  (£12.95) which is a gorgeously soft, floppy toy cat with baleful green eyes.




She also chose the My Very Own Fairy & Unicorn Torch & Projector (£6.95).


The latter is a fun torch that projects images of fairies and unicorns around your room. It has 24 colour images to project on to your walls and ceilings including fairies, unicorns and their magical homes.


The images project up to one metre wide and come on three slide discs you simply slot in. You can also use it as a normal torch without the slides in place and is useful for keeping on bedside tables to give comfort to children during the night.

I chose for Ieuan and got him the Night Goggles Spy Gear (£19.95).  These have tinted blue lenses to enhance night vision and a switch on full mode which gives directional beams of bright LED light, leaving both hands free to explore.

You can also flip out the scope with it's 2x magnifying lens to spot targets from greater distances.




Needless to say we have had to promise to take him to the woods at dusk so he can scare the living daylights out of any dog walker out for a pleasant evening stroll.

Our gifts arrived really quickly (within 48 hours) of ordering and were securely packaged.  There is even a rather cute postcard included in the box addressed to the gift-giver.


And, as for the acid test, both kids are still playing with their toys 3 days later and Ieuan has not managed to break his Night Goggles yet.



I was impressed by Wicked Uncle and I think their site will be a godsend this Christmas for choosing presents for kids which will pique their imagination without emptying your purse.

You can find out more at www.wickeduncle.co.uk.

*We were given £40 to spend at Wicked Uncle for the purposes of this review.
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