He’s everyone’s favourite sweet treat and this week Percy Pig celebrated his 25th Birthday. I can’t quite believe he’s been around for twenty five years but it’s true! The deliciously, juicy little pig has been delighting kids and adults alike for a quarter of a century. A milestone that deserved a big party!

Now I’ve been blogging for over three years and in that time I’ve had some amazing opportunities and been lucky enough to be invited to some pretty awesome events but I must admit when I received this invite by Marks and Spencer I was super excited – and as you can imagine my two big girls were very jealous.

I’m not able to go to many events on a school night as we don’t have any backup childcare, so I really have to pick and choose my events carefully but I knew this was one not to miss.

It was a beautiful and fun night, that had a big emphasis on gorgeous food and wine from the past 25 years – with no pork in sight!

Here are some pictures from the event to give you a flavour of the evening…

This last snap was saved from my Insta Stories so please forgive the low quality.

On the night we were served ‘Percy on the Beach’ cocktails, made from Percy infused vodka. Here’s how you can recreate this deliciously fruity and refreshing cocktail at home…

Thank you so much Percy and Marks and Spencer for a gorgeous evening full of fun, flowers, food and lots of yummy sweets!

Last week Iris and I had the pleasure of welcoming the lovely Alice from Piccolo into our kitchen to cook for us. Alice is a Nutritional Therapist for the Mediterranean based baby food brand Piccolo. Iris and I have been big fans of Piccolo pouches over the past year (since she started weaning), Iris has loved the delicious taste of their vegetable and fruit based creations and I’ve been happy to know that she’s getting the nutritional benefits she needs from each pouch.

Piccolo is also a brand that gives back with their Food Education Foundation charity. With this charity Piccolo provide practical advice and help to parents (in disadvantaged areas of London) about baby nutrition and healthy eating. They run interactive and educational workshops to equip parents with the tools and knowledge to give their children a varied range of first foods – which will in turn help them establish a healthy relationship with food.

It was so interesting talking to Alice about their charity work, it’s great to hear that Piccolo is a company that’s not all about the money, they really are a brand that wants to give back and help.

Alice and I also spent time talking about food, her wealth of knowledge on nutrition and superfoods was fascinating and I felt incredibly lucky to have this brilliant opportunity.  She then cooked for us!

Here are a few of my favourite healthy, family friendly recipes from the day…

Cherry and Apple Yoghurt with Wholegrain Oats

Ingredients 

  • 2 Pink Lady apple, peeled and chopped
  • 10 cherries, stoned and halved
  • 150g natural full fat yoghurt
  • 40g rolled oats

Method

1.Heat the apple in a pan with a little water for 5-8 minutes until soft. For older babies (around 7 months), you can simply grate the apples.

2.Remove the apples from heat and add the cherries and oats.

3.Purée together in a blender. For a few seconds for a chunkier texture, longer for smooth yoghurt.

4.Once the mixture is cool, stir in the yoghurt.

 

Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

2 Corn or whole wheat tortillas/flatbread

2 tbsp Passata

Around 50g mix veg such as sweetcorn, peppers, tomatoes and/or grated courgettes

20g grated Cheddar cheese

 

Method

1.Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ Gas mark 4.

2.Simply spread Passata on one side of flatbread or tortilla. Add vegetables then top with grated cheese. Place in the oven for 8 minutes. Serve with cucumber and carrot batons.

 

Savoury Flapjack

Ingredients

200 g/7oz porridge oats

200 g/7oz grated carrot

200 g/7oz grated courgette

200 g/7oz Grana Padano or Cheddar cheese, grated

2 eggs beaten

1 tsp grainy mustard

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F/ Gas mark 5.

2. Grease a baking tray (Swiss roll tin size). Mix all the ingredients in the large bowl and press into the tray.

3. Bake 25-30 minutes, until set and lightly browned.

 

The HelloFresh boxes are full of tasty, healthy meals from across the world, we’ve had curries, koftas, kebabs, coconut rice and tabbouleh to name a few inspiring recipes.

I never normally make New Year’s resolutions but this year I promised myself that we will sit around the table together as a family more often, and turn off all digital distractions. We used to be so good at this but over the past year with a new baby, and a husband who’s often home late from work, our routine has seen a bit of a shift. So I was thrilled when HelloFresh contacted me to take part in their #DinnerTimeChallenge, as I knew this would be the perfect way to kickstart my ‘promise’.

According to new research commissioned by HelloFresh, 40% of adults eat their dinner alone and over half of us parents don’t eat dinner with our children. The research blames our busy lives, digital devices, fussy eaters and a lack of food inspiration as the main reasons.

Here are some of the other findings from the research – along with how we fit in to the results…

  • 73% of adults say they no longer sit together around the table at meal times

Dom and I try our best to eat together most nights but of course there are nights when he’s home from work late, which makes it difficult to for us to have food together.

  • 69% of adults eat watching TV or whilst looking at a tablet

If I’m honest there is normally one night a week where Dom and I will sit down and enjoy a bowl of pasta on the sofa while watching one of our favourite TV shows. I won’t apologise for this, it’s one of my guilty pleasures!

  • 1 in 5 households eat different foods for dinner

On the whole the girls eat what we eat, I don’t like making more than one meal but there are nights when I’ll make them an early dinner and then make Dom and myself something different later in the evening.

  • 52% of adults blame long work hours for not sitting down together

Without a doubt we fall into this category. Most nights Dom is not home until the girls are in bed so (on these nights) eating together is just not possible.

  • 50% of parents admit to feeding their children before them

Yes, I’ve already admitted to this one! *covers eyes in shame…

  • Over half of parents questioned (58%) said their children’s fussy eating causes arguments in the house

Kids are definitely much more fussy than us adults, and I’d be lying if I said my girls eat everything but on the whole they are happy to eat what I make. To be honest, as long as they’re willing to try the food I’m happy.

  • One in ten said that their children won’t stay seated at the table

This is not a problem in our house, the girls won’t get up until they’ve been told they can leave. Yes, we’re pretty strict on this in our house!

  • 60% of children are allowed to eat their evening meal in front of the TV or a tablet

Eating dinner in front of the TV may be my guilty pleasure but this is not something I allow the girls to do. Their food is always served at the table.

The HelloFresh boxes are full of tasty, healthy meals from across the world, we’ve had curries, koftas, kebabs, coconut rice and tabbouleh to name a few inspiring recipes.

As I’ve already mentioned we’ve been taking part in the HelloFresh #DinnerTimeChallenge, which is an initiative to encourage the nation to spend 30 days eating dinner together as a family – as much as possible.

“We know life gets in the way and sometimes there’s nothing you want more than to flop in front of the TV with your feet up. But the news that 73% of the population think that sitting down for dinner is a thing of the past is really sad! We know we’re biased, but at HelloFresh we live and breathe dinner time and we understand the physical and emotional benefits of sitting around a table, discussing the day; food can bring people, friends and families together, so this is why we are launching the #DinnerTimeChallenge – to try and get people to commit to eat together as much as they can for 30 days and see the benefits”

– says Patrick Drake, head chef and co-founder, HelloFresh

The HelloFresh boxes are full of tasty, healthy meals from across the world, we’ve had curries, koftas, kebabs, coconut rice and tabbouleh to name a few inspiring recipes.

As part of the challenge we’ve been receiving a weekly family box from HelloFresh. If you’ve been following my Insta Stories, on Instagram you may have seen some of my deliveries and prepared meals. HelloFresh create ‘cook from scratch’ meals that are delivered straight to your door, with easy-to-follow-recipe cards and pre-portioned fresh ingredients.

The first thing I’ve realised from receiving the HelloFresh boxes is how limited and uninspired my dinner offerings were. I enjoy cooking but week in, week out I tended to make the same old favourite meals. The HelloFresh boxes are full of tasty, healthy meals from across the world, we’ve had curries, koftas, kebabs, coconut rice and tabbouleh to name a few inspiring recipes.

 

The HelloFresh boxes are full of tasty, healthy meals from across the world, we’ve had curries, koftas, kebabs, coconut rice and tabbouleh to name a few inspiring recipes.
The HelloFresh boxes are full of tasty, healthy meals from across the world, we’ve had curries, koftas, kebabs, coconut rice and tabbouleh to name a few inspiring recipes.

We’re now a few weeks into the challenge and we’ve managed to eat together as a family at every given opportunity. There has been nights where Dom has been late home due to work commitments but even on these nights, we’ve made an effort to eat together as a couple at the dinner table – and not in front of the television.

The main benefits I’ve noticed…

  1. As a family we’ve eaten more healthy meals, made from scratch with less food being wasted.
  2. We’ve spoken more about our days and had conversations that we might not have had without this is special time.
  3. The girls have helped to make some the meals, which has encouraged them to try new favours and textures.
  4. For the whole challenge I’ve only made one meal per night, which saves time, money and stress!
  5. I now have lots of new mealtime ideas and inspirations to add to my repertoire.

Why don’t you try the #DinnerTimeChallenge? I’d love to hear how you get on.

Disclaimer: This is a collaborated post. I’m being sent the HelloFresh boxes to promote their #DinnerTimeChallenge.

I’m always trying to find different ways to make my kids’ diet a little healthier, while keeping it interesting and tasty for them. I want the girls to have a good relationship with food and not be put off by dull, uninteresting meals and snacks. My eldest daughter is a big fan of fruit and vegetables, so I know her diet is pretty healthy and full of vitamins but my middle daughter won’t eat any fruit. As a result her diet needs some work, I have to try hard to find different ways to get those missing vitamins and minerals into her diet.

BEAR Alphabites are a healthy breakfast cereal with no refined sugar, salt or ‘nonsense’.

Breakfast has long been regarded as the most important meal of the day, and for me it’s important to send the girls off to school with a good breakfast in their tummy. I recently offered the girls BEAR Alphabites cereal for the first time and they were a big hit!

BEAR Alphabites are a healthy breakfast cereal with no refined sugar, salt or ‘nonsense’. Instead of artificial sugar or sweeteners, they use coconut blossom nectar to sweeten the cereals, which is naturally low in GI and contains a high amount of calcium.

They’re available in two varieties; multigrain and cocoa and they’re made of six ingredients…

Wholegrain ground wheat

Ground oats

Ground corn

Ground Rice

Wholegrain ground barley

Coconut blossom nectar

BEAR Alphabites are a healthy breakfast cereal with no refined sugar, salt or ‘nonsense’.

I’ll be honest and say that the girls are very fussy when it comes to breakfast, some mornings all they want is toast, other mornings they want cereal, snacks, cereals and more! But so far since I’ve been offering BEAR Alphabites, they’ve both been happy to get their bowls and spoons and quietly eat their alphabet shaped cereal. And of course, I’m happy knowing that they’re eating a good, tasty, healthy breakfast.

BEAR Alphabites are a healthy breakfast cereal with no refined sugar, salt or ‘nonsense’.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. 

Iris is now eight months old and is enjoying the weaning process. She’s trying new flavours and textures everyday and loves watching the rest of us eating together at the table. She’s also starting to taste food from our plates and exploring some baby-led snacks. This got me thinking about making some family meals that can be whizzed up in the blender for her to enjoy too.

As it happens our favourite baby food brand Piccolo were having the same thought and sent us this recipe to try at home.

Piccolo baby food and recipe for the family

Sweet Tomato Ricotta Spaghetti with a pinch of Basil 

This Italian inspired dish combines little pieces of spaghetti with a rich, sweet tomato and red pepper sauce, cooked in olive oil with a pinch of basil and made creamy with a little ricotta.

Ingredients

Glug of olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

½ a red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)

1 tbsp of tomato paste

fresh black pepper

100g ricotta

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

20g fresh parmesan grated

200g pasta (spiral or spaghetti)

 Method 

  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic and sauté these until they are transparent (around 8 minutes). Add the chopped red pepper and carrot and cook for a further few minutes.
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato paste and a few twists of the black pepper mill and stir. Increase the heat slightly and let the sauce start to bubble away for a few minutes, then reduce the heat.
  3. Put on a large pot of salted water and bring to the boil, add pasta to water and cook until’al dente’ approximately 8- 10 minutes.
  4. Add the ricotta, parmesan and basil to the sauce and stir through.
  5. Either puree or leave as a chunky tomato sauce.
  6. Chop up the pasta to little pieces for babies.

 Suitable from 6 months (ideal for freezing)

Makes around 8 baby portions or 2 adults and a baby

Iris loved this meal! She obviously shares our passion for pasta, which is a good thing because we do have pasta on a regular basis.

Piccolo baby food and recipe for the family Piccolo baby food and recipe for the family

Thank you Piccolo for sending us this recipe and the ingredients to recreate it at home. The whole Piccolo range is now available at Asda and other retailers nationwide.