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 slump, 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 sound 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.

 

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’s latest book, Time To Eat: Delicious time-saving meals using simple store-cupboard ingredients, is available now.

Robinsons Fruit Shoot Fruit Bars – A New Fruity Snack For Lunch Boxes

Although Caitlin and Ieuan have school dinners, this hasn’t freed me from the ongoing challenge of finding snacks which aren’t blue, chemical laden or guaranteed to rot their teeth on contact – and that includes many children’s snack bars which are laden with sugar.

childrens snack bars - Caitlin & Ieuan with their Fruit Shoot Bars

Ieuan is constantly campaigning to take a packed lunch to school.  He has improved slightly in that his sandwich repertoire now extends to ham and chicken as well as peanut butter, but we’ve explained that this doesn’t mean the rest of his lunchbox can be filled with crisps and chocolate.

He’s not impressed with what would be left – just a sandwich and a piece of fruit, but there is a new snack choice that would make his daily lunchbox more appealing.

childrens snack bars - Robinsons Fruit Shoot Bars, Summer Fruits & Apple & Blackberry

Caitlin and Ieuan both grew up with Robinsons Squash and Fruit Shoot drinks and were intrigued to discover that there are now Fruit Shoot Fruit Bars.

Caitlin tried the Apple & Blackcurrant Bar Fruit, whilst Ieuan had the Summer Fruits Fruit Bar.  Both are packed with over 99% fruit and are high in fibre.  The bars are also free from added sugar, artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners and count as one of your ‘five a day’.

childrens snack bars - Caitlin enjoying her Fruit Shoot Bar

The bars have quite a dense texture from the fibre and added fruit and are satisfyingly moist and sweet. They are ideal for adding to a lunchbox as they are school compliant, or a kit bag for an after sports snack.

Robinsons Fruit Shoot Bars are available in five flavours; Apple, Apple & Blackcurrant, Summer Fruits, Peach & Mango and Tropical Fruit.

You buy them in a pack of five and it’s good to know that Fruit Shoot Bars have been certified by Sugar Wise and every bar counts as a serving of fruit. That’s good news for children’s snack bars.

childrens snack bars - Ieuan enjoying a Fruit Shoot Bar

The Fruit Shoot Fruit bars are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those on a gluten-free diet and will be available in Tesco stores and online from Amazon (RRP: 5 x 25g for £2.29).

We loved these and it’s good to know there’s another snack option when I’m pushed for time in the morning on the school run.

Ieuan claims he can make his own sandwiches but since currently the ratio of butter to bread is 3:1, I think we have a little further to go.

Find out more about these snack bars for kids at www.fruitshootsnacks.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/FruitShootSnacks/.

*PR samples were received for this post.

Speedy Kids’ Meals For Mums On The Run

If your house is anything like ours, you are bracing yourself for the next half term extra curricular rota, the likely arrival of colds and sniffles and the looming milestone of Christmas rapidly approaching over the horizon.

The clocks go back on Saturday 28th October and I don’t know about you but the loss of an extra hour’s daylight means there seems to be less time to do everything!

So what with school drop offs, football, ballet, Tae-Kwondo, shopping and looking after my elderly parents, finding the time to come up with a nutritious meal that the kids will eat (yes, I mean Ieuan), is a bit of a challenge.

I need meals and snacks that are tasty but nutritious and, ideally, can be prepped in about 15 minutes. Otherwise, it takes an age to get the kids fed and up to bed when we return after the kids’ sporting sessions.

A simple, tasty and nutritious solution to this is Princes Tuna and there is a great range of ready to eat Princes tuna Fillers (tuna chunks mixed with veggies and sauce) to help you knock up a delicious meal in minutes.  Plus you get the avoid the guilt of serving up pizza for the third time in a week (or is that just me)?!

For example there’s Princes Mexican Tuna Filler: tuna with kidney beans in a spicy dressing and Princes New York deli: tuna with sweetcorn and cool mustard mayo.  All the filler varieties are full of protein but low in saturated fat

Princes challenged us to try two quick and easy meals using their protein packed tuna and here’s what we came up with.

 
Ieuan’s Superhero Sweet Potato with Princes New York Deli Filler

Oven baked Sweet Potato with the potato skin rubbed in olive oil and well salted so that it is crispy, filled with Princes New York Deli Filler.  (Alternatively just pop in the microwave for extra speed!)

We served ours with a Superhero Side Salad of carrot batons, cucumber sticks and red pepper slices.  Your 5 a day right there if you include the sweet potato and sweetcorn.

 Terrific Princes Tuna Wraps

We made these using tortilla wraps and filling them with a mixture of Princes Tuna Chunks in Springwater, chopped baby peppers, baby tomatoes, grated cheddar and a light mayo.

What could be simpler – or tastier?  These are great to foil wrap and take along for post sport snacks – much healthier than Ieuan’s general choice of Quavers, Oasis and any other substance guaranteed to give Jamie Oliver a fit of the vapours.

So there you have it. Having some Princes Tuna Deli Fillers (or tinned tuna) to hand should earn you some brownie points from the kids which you might, just might be able to trade in for 30 minutes peace and quiet while you watch Emmerdale, paint your nails or pair up the sock mountain lurking in the laundry basket.

But I wouldn’t count on it.  At least the kids will be well fed though.

One in Five Children Don’t Know That Milk Comes From Cows Says Cadbury

When Caitlin and Ieuan were little, most of their picture books featured animals, the noises they made and what they produced. They knew quite early on where their food came from.  We had to explain to Ieuan, for example that there is no fish which leaves the ocean covered in breadcrumbs.

Ieuan eating Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons

So reading that, according to research by Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons, one in five children don’t know that milk comes from cows is a bit shocking, and also a bit sad.

The research was conducted with the help of 1500 UK parents and their children aged between 4 and 8.  The survey discovered that 73% of parents considered that knowing where their food comes from is important to them.  That message doesn’t seem to getting through to our kids.

Caitlin drinking milk from a mini milk bottle

To help teach kids about food provenance, (particularly where the glass and a half of milk in each packet of their buttons comes from), Cadbury’s has partnered with Giovanna Fletcher to produce the video below.

Not only do 20% of kids not know where milk comes from, the survey unearthed some rather worrying facts too.

Over one in ten boys (11 per cent) believe milk comes straight from the supermarket

A fifth (20 per cent) of five year olds believe that chocolate is made from eggs.

Almost a third of children (29 per cent) believe a cow’s diet consists of sandwiches and pizza

The research also revealed that children are unsure of what is used to make chocolate, with over a third (32 per cent) of the children likening the ingredients to those found in a cake.

The top 4 ingredients children believe are found in chocolate are:

Eggs (20 per cent)
Flour (12 per cent)
Plants (9 per cent of four year olds)
Wheat (6 per cent of four year olds)

As Catherine Young, Senior Brand Manager for Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons says “Whilst some of the findings from the research are amusing, it has highlighted that more needs to be done to make farming and food provenance as important to children as it is to their parents.”

I couldn’t agree more. Check out the video and see what you think.

You can find more information on Cadbury’s Facebook and Twitter.

Mighty Little Thirsty Quenchers – It’s Ribena Minis

GIFTED: I’ve been wondering for a while why Ribena, one of the UK drinks brands I grew up with hasn’t produced their drinks in mini bottles rather than cartons.

I find the bottles much easier to carry and generally they contain a larger amount of drink which is important when kids are rehydrating after biking, Taekwondo or ballet!.

But now Ribena has launched Ribena Minis, made specifically for frantic family life with a specially designed ‘Less Spills, Less Mess’ cap on a brightly coloured plastic bottle (recyclable of course).

The caps have been developed, based on in-depth research with parents, to minimise spillage by allowing liquid to be released only when gently squeezed.

There are three flavours with real fruit juice and no-added sugar – Brilliant Blackcurrant, Oh So Yum Orange and Amazing Apple & Mango.

The drinks come in 2 sizes, 200ml and 250ml, ideal for day trips, lunches and after-school snack and if there’s a little leftover, the resealable bottles mean that they can be opened and closed whenever needed.

Caitlin tried the Amazing Apple & Mango and Ieuan tried the Brilliant Blackcurrant and they were happy to accept Ribena’s challenge to prove that the new caps are leak-proof by holding the bottles upside down over their heads for 5 seconds.

The flavours are what you would expect from Ribena and whilst we tested the 200ml size, Ieuan wanted a bigger bottle – he’s a blackcurrant fiend – so the 250ml would have been better for him.

The caps certainly do the job and little fingers would not be able to open them.  Ribena state that the caps are not suitable for children under 3.  You do have to push the cap in and then lift it and it took my two a while to get the hang of it because the caps are quite stiff. You might find that a grown-up is needed to open the drink for a younger child.

The Ribena Minis range is available in major supermarkets and the drinks are available in multipacks of 8 (RRP £2.99), 4 (RRP £1.99) and single 250ml bottles of Apple and Mango and Blackcurrant are available at RRP 85p.

It’s nice to have the option of a new drink for the kids’ packed lunches and day-trips.

You can find out more at @RibenaUK on Facebook and Twitter.

Pack A Healthier Lunch For Your Child With Flora

My two have school dinners but occasionally I am required to rustle up that nutritional challenge known as ‘the lunchbox’.

If you don’t prepare one regularly and aren’t a pro at assembling something Bento-style which is Instagram worthy and would find favour with Jamie Oliver, then you’ll experience the heart-sinking moment when you receive the school trip form which instructs you to provide a ‘packed lunch’.

I briefly consider whether jam sandwiches are actually an acceptable alternative to something involving seeds, nuts and a rather hefty boost to my Clubcard points.

Yes, you can exchange these for more pizza but that’s not really the point, is it?

So for Caitlin it’s usually a Ham and Tomato sarnie, a packet of crisps and something with too much sugar wrapped in too much plastic.

Ieuan will eat any sandwich as long as it’s Peanut Butter and Banana.  Or Ham if there’s a full moon rising in Pisces (picky, Ieuan?  Never!).

But, if you are a poor lunchbox packer, then you’re not alone.  Recent research commissioned by Flora revealed that a paltry 1.6% of children’s lunchboxes are meeting the school food national standards and only 1 in 5 lunchboxes, just 17%, contain any sort of vegetables or salad.

I’d add, given Ieuan’s fear of anything green, that you have to wonder how many of the veggies and salads in that 17% actually get eaten.

In order to do something about the nation’s below-par lunchbox packing, Flora has distributed 631,000 lunchboxes with handy recipe planners to retailers across the UK in a bid to help make packing lunches an easier task for parents, especially those with picky eaters.

We were lucky enough to receive one of these cute lunchboxes which contain some easy to make recipes to try out on the kids and a menu planner (the lunchbox builder) which shows you which items to add to vastly improve your nutritional score.

Flora suggests four combinations named after dinosaurs (who were all plant-eaters apparently).  There’s the T-Rex Lunchbox for monster appetites, the Florasaurus Lunchbox for herbivores, the Velociraptor Lunchbox (a beast of a lunch) and the Stegosaurus Lunchbox (the epic size lunch).

Each combination contains the best mix of carbs, protein, dairy, fruit and veg and healthy fats, in the form of Flora Spreads which are a lower saturated fat alternative to butter and provide a source of the essential Omega 3 and 6 fats that are needed to support the normal growth and development of children.

Flora comes in a range of tasty varieties – Flora Original, Flora Lite, Flora Buttery and Flora Freedom which is dairy-free.  We tried the Original and Lite varieties.

But you don’t have to go for sandwiches – sometimes it’s good to think outside of the lunchbox (sorry).

Flora suggests Pasta Tossed with Tuna and Fresh Herbs, Chicken Pittas or how about an Egg, Mayo and Pepper Wrap or something more exotic such as a Moroccan Couscous Salad?

And you could be a little more inspired with your fruit choices than just an apple – how about a small pot of fruit salad or a fruit kebab?  You could include some banana bread or flapjack which are both easy enough to make yourself.

Here are a few extra tips:-

*Buy bread and rolls in bulk and keep some in your freezer for emergencies.

*Prepare the lunchbox the night before and place in the fridge to keep fresh.

*Buy lunchbox staples in bulk and portion them up as soon as you get home. You can pop individual portions of snacks like trail mix into separate sandwich bags ready to drop into the lunchbox to save time.

*A healthy lunch will keep your child alert and able to focus at school so try to include a variety of food types. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients essential for optimal health, whilst proteins are the building blocks of cellular growth which also help to balance blood sugar levels and keep us feeling fuller for longer.

* The best drink to pack is water.

*Add some extra interest by packing each item separately so that the unwrapping creates a little fun, plus this helps keep food fresher.

*Use your freezer – batch cook on a Sunday so that you are ready for the rest of the week.

*In hot weather include ice packs to keep food cool and in cold weather why not add some warming soup in a thermos.

*Make sure that snack foods are as healthy as possible without relying on shop-bought sugary treats. Better choices include hard-boiled eggs, unsalted popcorn, a savoury scone, a granola bar, some yoghurt, fruity jelly and some nuts and seeds.

Be careful with granola bars as some of these contain more sugar than a chocolate bar.

Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring when it comes to lunchboxes.  A little preparation and planning go a long way when it comes to giving your child a lunchbox that tastes good, does them good and comes back empty!

Tips For The Perfect Kids’ Lunchbox

Now that the new school term is looming, many parents will be bracing themselves for the daily challenge of assembling a lunchbox for their kids that has the right balance of nutrition and excitement. Are you asking yourself “what should I pack for my child’s lunch?”

Children's lunchbox with a heart shaped sandwich, chopped veg and fruit and crackers

Pic credit: Melissa @ anotherlunch.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzymelibee/

Kids are fussy eaters at the best of times and it can be too easy to stuff a lunchbox with packets of crisps and chocolate, particularly when you’re short on time and haven’t done the weekly shop yet.

So how do you come up with a lunchbox whose contents will be eaten with gusto whilst making the preparation as easy on yourself as possible?

Here are my top tips.

Don’t buy single loaves.  If you can, buy a spare loaf or some bread rolls for the freezer.

Prepare the lunchbox the night before and place in the fridge to keep fresh.

Buy lunchbox staples in bulk and portion them up as soon as you get home. You can pop individual portions of snacks like trail mix into separate sandwich bags ready to drop into the lunchbox to save time.

A healthy lunch will keep your child alert and able to focus at school so try to include a variety of food types, fruit and veg, starchy food (for example wholemeal or granary bread), protein (sliced ham) and dairy (cheese).  The best drink to pack is water.

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients essential for optimal health, whilst proteins are the building blocks of cellular growth which also help to balance blood sugar levels and keep us feeling fuller for longer.

You can make things a little more interesting by packing each item separately so that the unwrapping creates a little fun, plus this helps keep food fresher.

Your freezer is your friend – there are plenty of places online to find lunchbox recipes you can freeze so that you could cook in bulk on a Sunday to be ready for the rest of the week.

For example:

Lunchbox ideas you can freeze from Planningwithkids.com

25 Freezer Friendly Lunch Box Ideas from Childhood101

Freezer Friendly School Lunch Foods from Super Healthy Kids

In hot weather, you may need to include an ice pack to keep the food cool and in cold weather, you could put a warming soup in a thermos.

Ring the changes by making sandwiches with different types of bread or substitute the sandwich for some pasta salad or a chopped vegetable salad with extra nuts and Chia seeds to add some extra Omega 3.

Pots of Hartley’s No Added Sugar Jelly are a great standby to pop in as a healthier sweet treat and at the moment if you collect 12 individual pots with the green promotional lids, you can exchange these for a fun bright yellow lunchbox and stickers for your child to create their own lunchbox with the Hartley’s Lunchbox Collector Scheme.

Make sure that snack foods are as healthy as possible without relying on shop bought sugary treats. You could include a selection of things like hard boiled eggs, unsalted popcorn, a savoury scone, a granola bar, some yoghurt, fruity jelly and some nuts and seeds.

Be careful with granola bars as some of these contain more sugar than a chocolate bar.  A Hartley’s No Added Sugar Jelly Pot is a better alternative with a banana or a small bunch of grapes.

The Hartley’s No Added Sugar Jelly Pots come in strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, orange, apple and tropical flavours and contain just 6 calories per pot (great for those of us watching our weight too).

You may need to check that your school allows nuts to be included in case of allergies.

The key to a perfect kids’ lunchbox is planning.  Why not sit down with your child and draw up a list of their favourites.  You could then create a lunchbox menu plan where your child gets to choose one item on their list each day if they also include one fruit or veggie choice. Caitlin, for example, loves olives and Ieuan loves carrot batons.

If you find that a lot of food is coming back uneaten then it may be that your portion sizes are too large or you need a more interesting mix of foods (whilst still keeping to healthier choices of course).

Sometimes kids get so involved in what they are doing they simply forget to eat but if you are finding that all the snack food goes whilst the sandwiches and more filling food doesn’t then it’s time to reduce the snack elements until the sandwiches start to disappear.

There’s no guarantee the local birds aren’t being well fed of course but at least you’ll be nearer to getting the balance right.

You could also involve your kids in the making of their sandwiches or snacks and get them to do it under your supervision.

Hopefully, this post has helped you to answer the question “what should I pack for my child’s lunch” and the more you can get your kids to do the better.

After all, you don’t want to still be making their lunchboxes when they get to secondary school now, do you!

This post is an entry from BritMums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge sponsored by Hartley’s Jelly.

Review: Nurture Fruity Water+ – A Healthier Children’s Drink

There has been much publicity lately about the proposed sugar tax on kids’ sugary drinks as a way of trying to halt the escalating levels of child obesity here in the UK.

You have probably heard chef Jamie Oliver talking about why this could make such a difference to our children’s health.

My view?  It’s really not as simple as that, however, anything we can do to reduce our kids’ sugar intake is to be welcomed – by parents, doctors and dentists.

We are all guilty of turning a little too quickly sometimes to bottled fruit drinks and squashes and equally we know that it can be quite difficult to get children to consume plain old water – no matter how many themed cups, bottles and novelty straws you throw at the problem.

I was interested to read about a new children’s drink which claims to be healthier because it contains lower naturally occuring sugars.

NURTURE Fruity Water+ which is targeted specifically at young children (from 1 year) also claims to support children’s immunity through its added nutrients, being the “first functional drink of its kind”.

These added nutrients are Vitamin B6, Folate (B9), B12, C, D and Zinc, as well as Calcium.  There is also 25mg of “Wellmune® Beta 1.3/1.6 Glucans 100% Natural Brewers Yeast”.

The drinks are lactose and gluten free and are vegan friendly.

There are 2 flavours: Cherry & Strawberry and Orange & Pineapple and Nurture Fruity Water+ is made with 45% natural juice and 55% water.

Nurture Fruity Water+ contains no added sugar and less than 1 teaspoon of naturally occurring sugar per 100ml, making it exempt from the upcoming UK sugar tax relating to unhealthy sugary drinks.

It’s also school approved, and comes in a mess-free pouch for on-the-go convenience.

Caitlin & Ieuan taking a break after running around our local woods

Nurture was developed by parents Lucie and Derek Sanders who, with three children of their own, wanted to find a way to reduce children’s sugar consumption from an early age in order to halt the development of a sweet tooth and to encourage them to make healthier choices later on.

“Children’s immune systems are least developed and most at risk to germs and infection the younger their age”, says founder Derek Sanders.

“Nothing nurtures better than breast milk and all baby formula producers strive to replicate it. However, there is a gap in the market after children stop breast-feeding and formula, as there are currently no functional juice drinks with added nutrients available for children from 1 to 5 years. Nurture Fruity Water+ has been formulated to support children’s immunity and be part of a solution to help busy, on-the-go families stay healthy.”

We tried both flavours on a walk around our local woods and, whilst the quantity per pouch is a little small for older children (or at least children who have been running around a lot), both flavours are pleasant without having an obvious sugary taste.  I found Nurture Fruity Water+ to taste much more natural than some of its competitor products and there’s no artificial after-taste.

I liked the mess-free spout which helps avoid those moments when no matter how many times you tell your kids not to squeeze the juice box because the drink will slop out, you can guarantee it will happen anyway. You have to squeeze the Nurture pouch with a bit more force than usual to get the drink to rise to the spout.

I think Nurture FruityWater+ is an interesting alternative to the usual juice and squash brands but it is not the cheapest option on the market.  For those parents who are concerned about developing their kids’ immune systems and who are prepared to take a longer view in terms of developing good nutritional habits in their younger children, then the drinks are certainly worth a try.

NURTURE Fruity Water+ is available in 200ml pouches with a RRP of 99p to £1.49. Retailers include: Ocado, Whole Foods Market, and Holland & Barrett.

You can find more information at www.nurtureimmunity.com.

*PR samples were received for the purposes of this post

Enjoy More Water The Flavoursome Way With Robinsons Squash’d

Kids love water.  To be more precise, kids love splashing, swimming and water-bombing.  They love being sprayed with hoses.  Puddles, pools, rivers, streams and of course the sea – all fine.

Watching strange creatures flit across the surface of a pond shimmering with sunlight?  Check.  Spending so long in a paddling pool that the grass on your lawn takes a year to recover?  Check. Feeling the bubbling waters of a fast flowing river rush over your ankles as you jump across on stepping stones?  Brilliant.

Water parks, log flumes, lawn sprinklers – bring them on.  Ice cubes, ice lollies, ice cream – of course.

Have a glass of water?

No.

Now I have explained, as have their teachers, that our bodies are 70% water and that even a slight drop in the levels of hydration has a measurable effect on our cognitive ability.

I obviously translated this for them as in “you won’t be able to find your Shopkins or Star Wars Lightsabers”.

I have warned them both that if they don’t start imbibing water soon they will both look like a pair of sultanas on a day out in Marbella.  I mean the fruit, not the female potentate.

But, after two or three sips, glasses are cast aside.  Caitlin, in particular is dreadful for not drinking water. Weirdly she will drink a glass before she goes to bed from the upstairs sink because the water there is especially cold and she says it tastes nicer.

We have a cupboard full of water bottles in a variety of colours and featuring several of their favourite characters to encourage them to enjoy more water.

They will, however, drink squash and the whole family has drunk Robinsons Squash for years – after all they’ve been making it since 1935.

Robinsons polled 2000 adults and discovered that two out three (64%) parents say they do not know how much water their children should be drinking each day, and 42% say their children find the taste of water ‘boring’.

As a general guideline, kids aged 5-8 should be drinking 1 litre (approx 5 glasses), kids aged 9-12 need 1.5 litres (approx 7 glasses) and over 13+ the recommended amount is 2 litres (8-10 glasses). These quantities should be increased if you are exercising a lot or on a hot day.

We also try to instill into our kids the fact that when you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated so it’s best to top your water levels up regularly throughout the day.

So, in January this year, Robinsons launched the Enjoying Drinking More Water campaign and we have signed up to the #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge run by BritMums and sponsored by Robinsons.

We were sent a selection of  Robinsons Squash’d – little pods of super-concentrated squash which make up to 20 drinks when diluted with water, and a star chart to help track our progress.

Robinsons Squash’d comes in a variety of flavours such as Passion Fruit & Mango, Orange & Peach, Lemon & Pink Grapefruit and, Caitlin and Ieuan’s favourite, Apple & Blackcurrant.

Now obviously we are well aware of the importance of protecting our kids’ teeth, but I think that as long as they have good dental hygiene and are given a clean bill of health by the dentist, then there is little harm in one or two glasses of squash a day, provided that their teeth are not brushed immediately afterwards and are given at least 20 minutes to avoid damaging the tooth enamel.

And you don’t want little ones constantly sucking on a bottle or sippy cup filled with squash for this very reason.

But, as a way of getting them to enjoy more water, adding a dash of one of Robinsons flavoured squashes from one of their cute little portable Squash’d pods is a great way to get them to up their water intake – particularly since Robinsons Squash’d contains no added sugar or artificial colours or preservatives.

I would certainly prefer that they had squash rather than fizzy drinks which can do much greater damage to young tooth enamel.

So how do you get kids to up their water intake?

Use a reward chart

A reward chart works well and is a great way to measure how much they are drinking – if  you can get them to remember to add stickers. Hands up, we weren’t brilliant at this.

Have a jug of water on the table at meal times

You could have a jug of water with some pretty glasses on the table with each meal, perhaps jazzing the water up with some slices of lemon or orange.  We encourage our two to help set the table and filling the water jug is a great task to delegate to an older child.

Try a variety of water bottles

There are loads of different types of water bottle such as these which allow you to add a selection of fruit to a central reservoir in the bottle.  We tried strawberries and mint for example.

Get the kids to take bottled water to their exercise /sports classes

I make sure the kids have bottle of water to take to their ballet and Tae Kwon-Do as I find it’s easier to get them to drink plain water if they have been exercising.

Lead by example


As parents, we have to lead by example so the Husband and I make sure that we drink water with meals too.

Keep hydrated during shopping

If we are out together shopping, I will often carry a couple of bottles of mineral water for us and mix up some squash to take with us for the kids. Carrying a Robinsons Squash’d with you means you can mix up squash almost anywhere.

Keep a glass of water by the kids’ bedsides at night

We also make sure that the kids have a glass of water by their bedside each night. It’s part of our nightly ritual and oddly it is the one time of day they will happily drink it.

Make your own Squash lollies

In hot weather a simple to use lolly kit is a godsend because you can just freeze your squash to make an additive free lolly.

Give them a ‘grown up’ glass or bottle, or a fun straw

Anything which ups the fun factor is more likely to get them to drink.

Medicate with water first

If the kids complain about having a sore throat or a headache, our first piece of advice is always to have a long glass of water.

Keep hydrated when travelling

We never travel in the car without having some bottled water to hand which is really important in hot weather and we can carry one of the Robinsons Squash’d pods to make some impromptu squash to jazz things up a bit.

I hope you’ve found some of our ideas helpful.  Let me know how you encourage your kids to enjoy more water in the comments below.

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons.

Miniscoff – Great Organic Ready Meals For Kids aged 1-8+ & Giveway

When I weaned my kids it involved endless hours wrestling with a food processor, fruit and an selection of implausibly small freezer pots. I was a devotee of Annabel Karmel and would blend combinations of fish and spinach or mix up fruit purees to get as much goodness into the kids as possible.

Miniscoff Organic Meals

Nowadays, as readers of this blog know, my cooking is a little more, er hit and miss and there are times, particularly when the Husband is away on business, that I’d love to give the kids a proper hot meal with real family favourites.

The reality is that we dash home from school, dash straight out again and then come home to reheat a pizza or when time is really short to yet another round of sandwiches.

I always mean to get something out the freezer and cook something up in the slow cooker in the morning, but now I write full time (and am hopeless at getting side-tracked), I usually remember after lunch that tea is looming.

The kids are too big for baby ready meals and too small for adult ready meals which, being generally stuffed with too much sugar, salt and other additives are often a poor choice anyway.  Ieuan is still resisting baked potatoes, although he will deign to eat roasties so I was happy to find that there is a range of ready meals for kids which cater up to 8+.

Miniscoff is a children’s organic food brand founded by Angus Oliphant, who, as a working dad discovered that trying to cook meals from scratch was challenging and that healthy prepared meals suitable for kids were hard to find. He decided to create his own range of organic ready meals for parents that didn’t want convenience to mean compromise.

Ieuan Hobbis with Miniscoff Organic Sauces - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Ieuan weighing up the Miniscoff Organic Sauces

All Miniscoff dishes are certified organic and made by hand and the brand has recently received awards from Prima Baby & Pregnancy as Best Toddler Food Range and Best Children’s Food Brand from Junior Design Awards.

Miniscof meals are available from Ocado as well as the Miniscoff website and are also available on over 300 menus across the UK if you’re travelling.

The meals include 9 organic ready meals and 4 organic sauces:-

The Ready Meals

Ali Baba’s Shepherd’s Pie (lamb) (GM, Egg & Gluten Free)

Mr MacGregor’s Pie (beef) (GM, Egg & Gluten Free)

Curly Wurly Chicken (GM, Egg & Dairy Free)

Broccoli Bill’s Pasta Pie (GM & Egg Free)

Salmon Ocean Pie (GM & Egg Free)

Jolly Spag Bolly (GM, Egg & Dairy Free)

Planet Spaghetti (GM, Egg & Dairy Free)

Chilli Yum Yum (GM, Egg, Dairy & Gluten Free)

Creamy Salmon Pasta (GM & Egg Free)

The Organic Sauces

Chicken & Bacon (GM, Egg, Dairy & Gluten Free)

Bolognese (GM, Egg, Dairy & Gluten Free)

West Country Cheddar (GM & Egg Free) 

Cheese & Tomato (GM, Egg & Gluten Free)

We were sent a selection of Miniscoff meals to try and we tried Ali Baba’s Shepherd’s Pie, Curly Wurly Chicken and Broccoli Bill’s Pasta Pie.

Caitlin tries Miniscoff Ali Baba’s Shepherd’s Pie

Initially I wasn’t too convinced about the portion size but they were just right for my two.  You may want to add a side dish or two of extra vegetables if you have time to bulk the meals out.

We did find that, particularly with the Ali Baba’s Shepherd’s Pie, the omission of seasoning was noticeable, although only to be expected and that a pinch of salt and pepper improved the dish greatly. My kids are 8 and nearly 7 though so you would not want to do that for younger children.

The pasta dishes we tried, (the Curly Wurly Chicken and Broccoli Bill’s Pasta Pie) were preferred by my two who adore pasta and they both said the sauce had more flavour.

I found all three dishes to be tasty and with a natural flavour.  You can tell that there are no artificial additives in the dishes.

In fact, Ieuan actually cleared his plate which is practically unheard of in the Hobbis household.

Miniscoff have set themselves a challenge by coming up with organic ready meals for such a comparatively large age range (1 – 8+) but I think they have succeeded. I will be trying the organic sauces during the week and they will be ideal for a quick half-term holiday lunch.

I did find that microwaving two meals together required extra time for the Shepherd’s Pie but that is standard with microwaved foods.

As an option I think that the Miniscoff meals give you a hassle free choice of menu options to serve up without having to rely on pizza and fish fingers.

I don’t know about you but when the kids are off I find I really have to scratch my head to come up with lunch and dinner options that find favour!

You can find more about Miniscoff on their website, on Facebook or Twitter.  The ready meals retail at £3.50 and the sauces at £3.00.

Giveaway

If you fancy trying Miniscoff organic ready meals, I have a lovely hamper of 6 assorted ready meals and 3 organic sauces for one lucky winner.  Entry is via the Rafflecopter in the usual manner.  Terms and conditions apply.  UK entrants only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 17th June 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Refresh & Rehydrate Your Kids With Robinsons

Kids do everything at 100 miles an hour and, in their haste to pursue the next shiny thing, or toy, or chance to make a mess, sometimes things like drinking enough fall by the wayside. Just getting them to stop for a glass of Robinsons squash can be a challenge.

Robinsons Sparkling Orange & Ginger - recipe - motherdistracted.co.uk
Robinsons Sparkling Orange & Ginger

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We know that staying hydrated is vital for our health.  In fact, just a slight drop in hydration levels affects our brain and our performance. And, for school-age children, staying hydrated is even more important to give them the best chance to learn as much as possible.

So how do we encourage our kids (and the rest of our family!) to drink more?

Ideally, of course, the drink of choice would be water but, having regularly had to remove barely touched cups of water, it’s good that there is another weapon in the parenting arsenal.

Robinsons Squash is a regular item on the shopping list with eleven flavours including no added sugar varieties. Caitlin’s favourite is orange whilst Ieuan is an Apple & Blackcurrant fan.  They have to be different, don’t they? But there’s also Lemon & Mango, Orange & Raspberry and the more exotic Mango & Passion Fruit.

I drank Robinsons as a child too (yes I know that’s a few years ago), although I’m afraid it never improved my tennis.

Caitlin about to make her Robinsons drink
Caitlin about to make her grown up drink

This year Robinsons have a new recipe and are encouraging us to be a little more creative with their squash to encourage us all to drink more water in a tasty, easy to prepare way. All their squashes are now ‘no added sugar’ too.

So why not indulge your inner mixologist and see if you can come up with something a little more exciting than straight squash?

How about Warming Lemon & Ginger?  Robinsons Lemon with fresh lemon juice and finely grated ginger, served with warm water from the kettle?

Or, just right for Christmas, Mulled Apple & Blackcurrant? Apple & Blackcurrant squash with cloves, black peppercorns, star anise and ground allspice?  Just warm in a pan, simmer for 3 minutes and then set aside for 3 minutes to infuse.

Caitlin chopping an orange to add to her drink - Robinsons - motherdistracted.co.uk
Don’t Worry – I Was Supervising!

Caitlin’s new twist on her favourite orange squash was to combine it with ginger ale for a bit of sparkle and a touch more zing. Well, actually it was Robinsons’ idea but I hadn’t the heart to discourage her.

Adding the Robinsons Squash - motherdistracted.co.uk
Adding the squash

We used approximately 50 ml of Robinsons orange per glass and topped it up with sugar-free ginger ale and sliced of orange.

Adding the ginger ale - Robinsons - motherdistracted.co.uk
Adding the ginger ale – other brands are available!

The drink was really refreshing and Caitlin really enjoyed having a hand in making a drink she found a little more exciting.

You could add a few extra touches if you wanted to with coloured straws, glace cherries on sticks (I’m going back to the ’70s here) or even a cocktail umbrella.  Strangely the latter seems to have vanished from supermarket shelves.  Can’t think why.

Caitlin drinking Robinsons Orange & Ginger Ale - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin’s “Orange Fantasy”

We’re looking forward to mixing up some more combinations – next on the list is a St. Clements with orange and sparkling lemonade and I’m looking forward to warming some lemon squash and adding some honey the next time someone has a sore throat.

Why not give some of your own blends of Robinsons squash a try?

To find out more about the Robinsons range you can visit www.robinsonsquash.co.uk.

Review: Infruition Water Bottles

GIFTED: I was recently invited to try out these rather inventive water bottles from Infruition.

Infruition’s mission is to help people to drink more water naturally. The concept is simple: a standard re-usable water bottle with a chamber to store fruit, veg, herbs, tea – whatever you like, which over the day infuses your water with your chosen flavour.

Infruition kids bottles - Caitlin & Ieuan - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin & Ieuan with their Infruition Kids bottles

I am not a big fan of manufactured, flavoured bottled waters, many of which contain Aspartame – a controversial artificial sweetener which is said to be responsible for a whole host of health problems such as Tinnitus.

Aspartame is what gives the sweetness to many diet drinks, yoghurts and low-fat foods and it’s everywhere. The NHS refutes what it calls these scare stories but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.

Infruition adult and kids bottles - motherdistracted.co.uk
Infruition Bottles

 

Infruition Adult Sport Bottle - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Adult Size Infruition Bottle

Either way, giving your kids the pure, healthy goodness of fruit has to be better than a cocktail of sweeteners and additives.  And anything that encourages them to drink more water, such as these Infruition bottles, is a bonus.

The bottles are very sturdy and well made.  They are made from 100% BPA free plastic and stain resistant materials.

You can put the actual bottle in the dishwasher but the fruit chamber and caps need to be hand-washed.

Infruition Adult Sport bottle, lid, bottle & fruit chamber - motherdistracted.co.uk
The cap, bottle and fruit chamber

The bottles have a leak-proof design and a well-fitting lid.  The adult size bottles (700 ml) come in yellow, green, red and blue, and the kids’ bottles (450 ml) come in pink and blue.

The fruit chamber can be filled with a selection of chopped fruit.  We tried strawberries but you could add mint leaves and blueberries.  Or, you could try orange, kiwi and watermelon. You could even add a herbal tea-bag for, say, a cold mint tea in summer.

Much better than sugary drinks

I felt that the bottles could have benefited from an instruction leaflet but there is a recipe booklet on the way which suggests delicious combinations such as cucumber, raspberry and grape, kale and avocado or even lemon and lavender. I am assuming this will be available when you buy the bottles.

Also, there is a rubber bung in the lid which can be taken out and I am assuming it has to be in order to wash it but it wasn’t entirely clear.  The fruit chamber has to be screwed into the lid with care, being made of thinner plastic than the bottle.

You do have to turn the bottle so that the cap is on the side when you drink if you’re a glasses wearer.  (You know what I’m like about my glasses!).

Once the kids had drunk some water they wanted to get the fruit out and eat it, which was not a problem but it would mean dismantling the bottle when you’re out and about.

On the plus side, if my two drink more water and eat more fruit, that’s fine by me!

The adult Infruition bottle is £15.99 and the Infruition Kids bottles are £12.99. They are available on the Infruition website.

I think the bottles would make a great Christmas gift for the health-conscious family or your favourite gym bunny.