food

Butternut Squash Soup

This is a variation on a soup recipe given to me by my mum. She had followed their recipe as part of the diet plan she was on (I never remember which popular chain it was so I’m not naming for fear I get it wrong!) But obviously diet recipes are limiting to fit in a particular calorie or nutritional value, whereas I’m just interested in flavour!

This soup is vegan and the below recipe makes about 4-6 portions.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash
4-6 small potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
Vegetable stock
1l water
Thyme

Method

  1. Firstly, finely chop the garlic and onion and fry over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Then add the diced squash for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Mix the stock with 900ml water and add everything to the one large pot.
  4. Peel and quarter the potatoes and add them to the pot.
  5. Leave to simmer for 30 mins, ensuring the soup does not boil over.
  6. Add the final 100ml of water and some thyme to taste. Summer for a further 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste if you wish.

I’ve found this method makes at least 4 adult sized portions of soup and at least 2 toddler sized portions for our family.

Butternut-squash-soup-recipe

food, Lists

Best freebies for mums and mums-to-be

There are loads of freebies and samples available for mums and mums to be – you just have to know where to look to find them!

Here are a few of my favourites and where to find them:

Bounty
I 100% recommend the Bounty app and picking up their packs from ASDA if possible. The app contains screeds of information and resources from the moment you find out you’re expecting, right up until, well at least 11 months as we are still getting updates and information! Plus, as  your bump grows week by week, the app shows you how big baby’s foot would be at that moment – majorly cute! They offer multiple freebie packs, from when you’re expecting, to when your baby is born (that pack is usually handed to you in hospital) and for when your little one is growing. I mentioned getting their packs from ASDA – their packs are also available at Boots, and possibly still Argos, but especially when you get to the growing family pack, some of the freebies change. ASDA’s includes samples of their nappy and babycare range, as well as items from George.

Emma’s Diary
Similar to Bounty, Emma’s Diary offers a wealth of information and advice for mums. They have an app that I’d definitely recommend any expectant mums download. They offer goody bags for mums to be, new parents and as your family grows. You’ll often find Emma’s Diary at baby and toddler shows too. They are a must-bookmark resource of everything you could ever want to know about pregnancy through to taking care of a growing baby. They even have a baby names section if you’re struggling in that department!

Cow and Gate
Cow and Gate were one of the first freebies I came across – mentioned in mum’s forums and possibly also even by Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert). I signed up online with them, and within a few days I got a welcome pack through the post with information about the brand, what resources they have available online and over the phone. It also came with a pregnancy diary which was part-journal, part full of tips and reminders of things such as what to pack in your hospital bag, areas for name suggestions and more. Nearer to when Travis was born, I also received a wee Cow and Gate teddy for him, along with some milk vouchers. In fact, Cow and Gate are really good at sending out vouchers and samples, which are handy to even share with other mums if you don’t end up using their milk. They also offer money off their food products too, which have been a lifesaver for us.

Ella’s Kitchen
I love how handy the Ella’s Kitchen fruit and veg pouches are. There’s no denying they have been a great help in weaning Travis and are still useful to have around, to make sure Travis is getting the right amount of fruit or veg a day. However I could easily have overlooked them as a more expensive supermarket brand, had I not signed up to receive a freebie. Not only do they send a coupon for a free pouch, you also get a handy weaning guide, wall chart, stickers and more.

Arla
You may have heard of Arla on the TV adverts – you know the ones for the Skyr yoghurt? Well apparently they do a range of different milks too – and some are perfect for kids growing up (post 12-months it seems). in addition to offering various vouchers for their milk and yoghurts, Arla also give you a cute height chart for signing up to them, so you can mark your baby’s height progress as their bones grow healthy and strong from the milk presumably!

Pampers Baby Club
With the rate babies go through them, who wouldn’t love some free nappies? Pampers baby club regularly send out samples, starting with first size for newborns when you sign up. We’ve just recently received a couple of pairs nappy pants, along with a coupon for money off a full pack. Coupons are also a regular occurrence, along with some great rewards you can redeem on the Pampers Baby Club app. Scan receipts of your nappies to collect points and claim freebies such as magazine subscriptions, vouchers for nappies, baby books, toys and more.

Baby Box
Ok, so this is a slight cheat but by far the best freebie out there is the Scottish Government’s Baby Box. Unfortunately you’ll have to be living in Scotland, which your child being born here in order to get one, but there’s honestly nothing else you could need for a newborn that doesn’t come in this box. Clothes, thermometers, bath stuff, carrier – there’s so many good things inside I wrote a post dedicated to it last year.

Those are my top baby freebies I’ve found – well at least the ones that seem to be regular and stable, rather than flash freebies or sales. Can you think of any I’ve missed? If there are more good ones out there I am always keen to try them, so please share your wisdom!

food

Nescafe Gold – a pregnancy treat with no need to cheat

Caffeine (or lack of) is one of the first things mentioned by a midwife, well-meaning mother, and even complete stranger when it comes to pregnancy. Whilst it’s preferable to scale back the shots and dial up the decaf, us preggos are still allowed a little bit of caffeine in a day.

nescafe-gold-caramel-latte

And what better treat to enjoy on occasion than Nescafe‘s new Gold range?  I was given a variety of these for free to review and report back on – the unsweetened cappuccino, the caramel latte and the double mocha. Admittedly, it’s no Costa or independent roasted coffee, but a girl will take what she can get within the 200mg limit. Plus, we all need treats to brighten up the work day and what better than one which can be made quickly and easily in the afternoon tea round?

 

DIY flavoured latte

The instructions on each are pretty simple – boil the kettle, let it cool to about 85 degrees (or, like me, wing it after about 5-10 mins in absence of a thermometer) and pour the boiling water over the pre-portioned sachet of Nescafe Gold. The perfect caramel latte it seems is simple; stir vigorously for a minute or so, wait 20 seconds then go back and stir some more. Leave to let the milk settle and there you have it, a quick, easy, homemade latte fix, right?

The good news is that it definitely didn’t taste as awful as some of the other powdered or packet coffees available. In fact, after a couple of tries, it’s actually pretty good! Once you get the stirring action, consistency and standing time right, you feel like you’ve made your own shop-bought latte!

nescafe-gold-mug-latteThe caramel latte was without a doubt my favourite from the bunch that I was given to try. Don’t get me wrong, the unsweetened cappuccino was a great quick-fix and something I could see myself drinking regularly throughout the day (when allowed higher daily doses of caffeine!) but for a real treat, the caramel latte was a winner. The double mocha was certainly an indulgence, but not something I’d probably go back to until the wintry weather kicks in and I’m in need of both a heat and a chocolate fix.

The new Nescafe Gold range is definitely something I’ll be going back to buy again, especially now my trips to Costa and other coffee shops will be few and far between with a newborn to look after soon!

food

Top 5 Pregnancy Snacks

Touch wood, and all sorts of other superstitious stuff, I haven’t found myself fall victim to any weird pregnancy cravings – yet! However, in a bid to keep a balanced diet which is both healthy for baby and works for my IBS, I’ve found myself making some different and delicious snacks to keep me going throughout the day.

Celery and peanut butter

I love how crunchy celery is, and that it contains virtually 0 calories. But that’s not so great for baby. So, paired with peanut butter, not only am I packing protein into my snacking, I’m also getting one of my 5 a day. Plus, peanut butter makes anything taste great.

Crackers and cheese

Of course, you have to be careful what cheese you pair your crackers with here. I’m not fancy ,so cheddar and is fine with me, if not some creamy Philadelphia. The cheese contains a decent dose of calcium which is much-needed, and if you pair it with wholewheat or seeded crackers, you can get added fibre into your diet.

Fruit and yogurt

Not one for rocking the boat, the most adventurous I previously got with yogurts were Muller corners, or those ones with the fruit compote at the bottom. Now, just try stopping me from mixing it up! Greek yogurt is packed with protein, and can be mixed with pretty much any fruit to suit your preference. My favourites switch between strawberries, mango, pineapple or banana.

Grapes and dark chocolate

If, like me, you have a sweet tooth, chocolate is hard to resist. Dark chocolate is one of the lesser of all evils in terms of fat, milk and calorie content, but is still best enjoyed in moderation! To get my choco-fix, I have a few squares paired with a stalk of grapes, keeping me full whilst also squeezing another of my five-a-day in there!

Raw fruit bars

My go-to snack from Aldi at the moment is their raw fruit bars which come in a variety of flavours. Admittedly, they look as if they may be aimed at kids, but that doesn’t stop them from being delicious! Raw fruit bars come in packs of 5 (you can get individual bars at the till-points) and I’ve found them to be a handy snack to pop in your handbag if you’re on-the-go. Bonus points – they are a liquid-free yet healthy snack, so you can take them on the plane too!