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Light meals for summer


Summer’s in full swing. We’re loving the longer days, balmy temperatures and outdoor cooking and dining.

Not many folks want to be a slave to the stove on hot summer days, and my go-to meals are simple pastas, salads and food on skewers during the warmer months. And they’re all ideal for al fresco dining, too.

Grilled Lemon Salmon Skewers and Super-Light Chips

Who doesn’t love eating food off a stick in the summer? These tasty salmon skewers are drizzled in an easy-to-make garlic-lemon sauce and then grilled. The result? An unbelievable moreish, succulent lemon salmon that is absolutely delicious.

Combine the salmon skewers with some light, crispy chips, and you’ve got a heavenly (and uber-healthy) meal. If you don’t particularly fancy making the chips, why not cheat a bit with McCain low fat chips? They take just over 20 minutes in the oven and are still crispy and fluffy but with 30% less fat.

INGREDIENTS

Lemon Salmon Skewers
900g boneless/skinless salmon cut into 2.5-cm pieces
2 lemons, sliced
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
50ml olive oil
2 tsp salt 

1 ½ tsp lemon pepper

Wooden skewers soaked in water for roughly 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Super-Light Chips
3 medium white potatoes
Salt and pepper
Onion powder, garlic powder and mixed herbs

METHOD

Lemon Salmon Skewers
Mix the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and lemon pepper together in a large bowl. Combine the lemon slices and salmon chunks.

Fold each lemon slice in half, add a piece of salmon to each one, then thread onto the wooden skewers. Repeat until all slices and salmon are skewered

Warm the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the skewers, rotating sporadically and delicately, until the salmon and lemons have crisped up and thoroughly cooked through

Serve right away and enjoy!

METHOD

Super-Light Chips
Preheat the oven to 200˚C and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper or foil

Slice the chips into matchsticks, so they’re roughly 3/4cm in width. For a more rustic taste, leave the skin on

Season the chips with the salt, pepper and any extra herbs or spices you like.

Cook until the chips are golden brown, being sure to shake the tray occasionally. You want the chips to be light and fluffy on the inside with a golden coating

Serve and enjoy!

Creamy Pasta Taco Salad

Welcome in the picnic season with this moreish creamy taco pasta salad. Enjoy tender pasta drenched in a deliciously creamy taco dressing, tasty minced beef, complete with all your favourite taco toppings. It’s a must-have dish for those warm summer evenings – perfect for the whole family to enjoy.


INGREDIENTS

Creamy Taco Dressing
115g salsa
240g sour cream
60g mayonnaise
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Taco Pasta Salad 
1 small onion, diced
450g minced beef
2 tsp garlic (or 2 cloves)
450g macaroni or pasta
2 tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 tin sweetcorn
1 jar sliced olives
125g grated cheddar cheese
1 avocado, diced
13g crushed tortilla chips

METHOD

Using a pan, warm the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Combine the onion, minced beef and garlic. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Fry until the meat is no longer pink. Place the cooked meat onto a plate lined with kitchen towel. Leave to cool

Next, cook pasta in salted water as per package directions. Drain and put to one side. Leave to cool

When the pasta has cooled, gently stir in the minced beef with the pasta

In a small bowl, mix in the Creamy Taco Dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the pasta and beef mixture, stirring until completely covered

Gradually mix in the tomatoes, green onions, corn, olives and cheese. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

Garnish with diced avocado and tortilla chips just before serving.

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Bring a touch of oriental cuisine to your kitchen with this mouth-watering dish. Enjoy succulent teriyaki chicken wrapped in a crispy lettuce wrap – this is great as a light lunch or dinner. And the kids will love it, too.


INGREDIENTS

Lettuce Wraps
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 chicken breasts sliced into bite-size pieces
125g grated Monterey Jack cheese
teriyaki sauce (see recipe below)
8 pineapple slices
Romaine lettuce
spring onions, sliced
Teriyaki Sauce
100ml light soy sauce
60ml water
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp warm water


METHOD

Teriyaki Sauce

Pour in the soy sauce, water, red wine vinegar, sugars, garlic and ginger into a saucepan and warm over a medium heat. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved

In a small bowl, blend together the warm water and cornflour, making sure the latter is totally dissolved. Gently blend the cornflour mixture into the sauce and simmer until thickened. Take off the heat and put to one side until ready to use

In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Tip the chicken into the pan and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Fry chicken until it’s no longer pink inside, turning over each piece until they're brown all over

Mix in roughly two-thirds of the teriyaki sauce so it covers the chicken. Save the rest of the sauce for drizzling or dipping

Next, split up the Romaine lettuce leaves. Rinse and gently and pat dry

Drain the juice from the pineapple and fry in a pan until caramelised (optional)

Now you’re ready to create your wraps: Spoon a piece of teriyaki-coated chicken into one of the lettuce leaves. Garnish with the cheese, spring onions and a slice of pineapple. Top with toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Garlic, Tomato and Prawn Spaghetti

If you want a healthy, quick, no-nonsense summer dish, look no further than this prawn pasta meal. You can make it in a matter of minutes and it’s a delicious pasta dish to enjoy on a summer evening.


INGREDIENTS
250g cooked spaghetti
1 tbsp olive oil
150g prawns peeled and deveined (roughly 20)
75g diced onion
4 garlic cloves
120ml 100% apple juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
300g cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
grated Parmesan
3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
kosher salt

METHOD

Warm the olive oil over a medium heat. Combine the prawns in a single layer and add a pinch of salt. Fry until the prawns are bright pink, flipping every minute or so. Shift to a plate

Pour the onion into the pan and fry until onion starts to soften. Sprinkle in the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir regularly to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn

Pour in the apple juice, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, oregano and red-pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer then tip in the cherry tomatoes. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, stirring often

Coat the prawns in the sauce, then the spaghetti. Scatter over the grated Parmesan and toss gently. Top with fresh chopped parsley and serve right away

Enjoy the best season of the year with the above family-friendly, light summer recipes. They’re quick, simple and incredibly delicious. And all of the dishes will taste even better alongside an iced tea, Margarita or cold beer.

FAMILY SUMMER BUCKET LIST



With the first day of the summer holidays starting next week. Darcy and I sat down to put together our summer bucket list. I’m on a big mission this summer, to make as many fun memories with her as possible. Some things are free or cheap, others will need a bit of planning and a few extra pennie.

Although the summer holidays is about having a fun time, I think that it is important to keep Darcy’s brains stimulated over the next 6 weeks. I have included a few educational things, doing work little and often, will maintain her stamina and concentration that she built up during term-time.

So here is our summer bucket list 2019;





I’ve shared ours….I’d love to see yours. What will your family be up to this summer?

Sweet Dreams with Baby Annabell*





Let me introduce you to the newest member of our family. This is Baby Rainbow, yes Rainbow... (more commonly known as Baby Annabell’s Little Baby Fun). She arrived in our house a few weeks ago now to shrieks of excitement from her new Mummy, Darcy.

Darcy has been a fan of the Baby Annabell range for a while and even attended the launch of Baby Annabell Learns To Swim. One thing that I like about the Baby Annabell range is how realistic looking they are, I have come across a few scary looking dolls in my time. In terms of her size and weight, she feels very much like a real baby in your arms. Yes, Darcy has trusted me to hold her whilst she went to make her some lunch. The body is soft, which makes it perfect for cuddling in bed, she even says Mama when you press her tummy, she can be burped and snores in her sleep, along with other typical baby noises.



 

 

When i'm struggling to get Darcy to sleep, I use Rainbow as part of our bedtime routine, Darcy put baby Rainbow to bed exactly how she gets put to bed. Darcy loved getting her into her PJs, reading her a bedtime story and tucking her into bed. Which makes the process a lot smoother for sure. I told Darcy she needed to sleep so then in the morning she could get up and get her baby up too.

In the morning Darcy came into my bedroom with her baby in her arms. It was great to see that she had remembered and wanted to carry on playing with her baby. I love toys that encourage imaginative role play and helps Darcy be more responsible and empathic. 





There are also many accessories available to buy separately. Darcy received an extra outfit and a sweet dreams bed. Which comes with a musical mobile that plays "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" lullaby and starlight tulle canopy, and a beautiful pillow and blanket with the signature sheep print.

I definitely think more outfits are going to be on Darcy’s Christmas list this year! She has loved including her into her bedtime routine. I think Baby Annabell
Little Baby Fun would make a fantastic Christmas gift! (It's never too early to plan for Christmas!)

The Baby Annabell Sweet Dreams range can be bought from stores such as Smiths Toys and other high street stores.

*We were sent the Baby Annabell brother doll for the purpose of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own.

Afternoon Tea with Whittard of Chelsea*


Did you know that June 8th is National Best Friends Day? I am truly blessed to have a really wonderful circle of friends around me, especially Karina who has always been so supportive of me. Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Whittard Tea Bar in Covent Garden for an Afternoon tea experience with her.






The Tea Bar is a great space for a tea, coffee or afternoon tea stop amidst the bustling Covent Garden Piazza. Its a cosy space with lovely decor. We started with tea-infused Pimm’s whilst we browsed through teas, coffees or flavoured hot chocolates on the menu. There’s a huge range on offer (100 teas!), including black, green, as well as fruit and herbal infusions. If you're not sure what to drink, don't be afraid to ask for suggestions - the staff are great and helped us choose. I went for the Ceylon Orange Tea and Karina opted for Masala Chai Tea both were perfectly brewed thanks to a lovely Tea Timer.

We went for The Grocer's Tea, which consisted of a selection of sandwiches, savouries and some sweet treats too. It was presented like your typical afternoon tea should be, on three tiers. We started on the sandwiches and savouries (of course), which were lush. There are other options available too, such as The Whittard Tea (a traditional afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and desserts) The Chelsea Tea and The Piccadilly.






The mini sweet treats were an ideal size too, given that we were stuffed from the sandwiches and spinach and feta tart, spinach rolls and beef rolls already!



Whittard’s also gifted us a few treats to take home with us - including a beautiful Aqua Freya mug, Apple & Elderflower and Sleepy Tea. Overall, the afternoon tea experience was really good. The food came out quickly and generally, it was really tasty. If you’re in Covent Garden, I’d highly recommend.


*We were provided with a complimentary meal in exchange for this review but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Toby Carvery Snaresbrook | Review*



Last week we were invited to Toby Carvery Snaresbrook which has recently been renovated, we love a carvery and I fancied a day off cooking so of course we jumped at the chance.

We have never been to the Snaresbrook branch, which is suprising as it is only a 25 minute drive away from us. Located a stone's throw from Epping Forest and only 2 minutes' walk from Snaresbrook Tube Station, it is really easy to get to.

When we arrived the restaurant was buzzing, there was a wide mix of people. From friends meeting up for a drink in the bar, to families having dinner. Even though it was busy we were greeted and shown to our table straight away.

We normally go for the traditional four roast which includes; roast gammon, roast beef, roast turkey and roast pork. Alongside roast potatoes, Yorkshire puds and unlimited veg. On Sundays they also offer Slow cooked Lamb. 



However this time we decided that we would order off the menu for a change. The starter menu was packed with choices.We opted for the Toby taster platter (£9.99), which is new on the menu. We were shocked when it arrived as it was huge!! Mini pigs in blankets, southern fried chicken strips, cheesy garlic ciabatta, stuffing balls, roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings served with gravy and BBQ sauce. All three of us shared the platter and still left some food on the plate.








For our meals Darcy choose nuggets and garlic bread (£4.99) from the children's menu, her Dad went for the new Toby Signature Sliced Roast Beef Burger, sliced roast beef from the carvery in a bap with lettuce, tomato, burger sauce and topped with aged Cheddar cheese sauce. Skewered with a mini pig in blanket and served with roast potatoes which was really cheap at £5.49.

I was stuffed so fancied something light (so I thought) and went for the Ploughman's (£7.99). Sliced gammon with a pork pie and sliced Cheddar, served with salad, free range boiled egg, pickled onion, bread, pickle and English mustard. My eyes were too big for my belly and the waitress, suggested that I take it home with me.


 
 After our main course, we were full to the brim however we were offered puddings. Darcy of course has always got room for pudding and went for her favourite Raspberry Arctic Roll (£3.89) which is coated in raspberry crunch served with raspberries in sauce and freshly whipped cream. I opted for a Giant Sticky Salted Caramel Cake Cakeaway (£4.49). Less than 5 minutes later,it arrived, carefully boxed up, ready for us to take home.

As well as great food, we received fantastic service from all the staff especially Lucy, who was such a joy to be around and was amazing with Darcy. She is a credit to Toby Carvery.

Our meal came to just over £40 for the three of us, which I think is amazing value. We are lucky enough to have two Toby Carvery's local to us, but we will definitely be coming back to Snaresbrook again.

*We were provided with a complimentary meal in exchange for this review but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Dexa Scan for Osteoporosis*


Osteoporosis leaves bones brittle and prone to fractures. A large proportion of people who suffer with fibromyalgia may develop osteoporosis. The bone density is lower especially at sites like necks, spinal columns, and hips.

Those who have family history of osteoporosis are generally at a greater risk of getting the condition, also people of the BAME community are in addition at a greater risk.

Your doctor may recommend that you have a DEXA scan if they suspect you may have osteoporosis.




So what is a DEXA scan? you may be asking yourself. Also know as‘dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry’ uses x-ray technology to determine the distribution of lean muscle, fat, water and bone in your body. The DEXA results are highly accurate and highly reproducible. It essentially works by passing two safe and very low dose x-ray beams at differing energy levels through the tissues of the body. The amount of radiation that passes through the tissue is measured by a detector.

The computer then determines how much of your tissue is muscle fat water or bone and where it’s all stored.

If you have any concerns about, or are simply curious about getting a scan that gives you a fully accurate picture of your bone health and your body fat ratio, a DEXA Scan is the way to forward.

You can read more about DEXA Scans, including the available locations and pricing here.


*sponsored post

Moj Moj – Itty and Crunch Series – Review*



Welcome to the world of Moj Moj, the latest in collectables toys from MGA - the same people who brought us NumNoms and LOL Surprise. Darcy has watched her favourite Youtubers unbox Moj Mojs so you can imagine her excitement when we were sent some to review.








First off we unboxed the The Moj Moj Ittys which are miniature squishys! With 5 tiny little characters in each colourful pack openng these are guaranteed to be exciting. Darcy loved opening them up and giving them a big ole squish.

There are 150+ to collect and each jelly squishy comes in a mini form. There are also rares and ultra rares that you can find. Darcy found the BIG KAHUNA ultra rare that is part of this itty series.

The new Moj Moj Crunch series! Each Moj Moj surprise container transforms into a house for your Moj Moj that can be pinned to a wall or stacked in a tower. These collectible cuties come from Scrunchies, Cosmic Crunch, Krispitties, Star Beams, The Captains, and Softees clubs. There are over 30 Moj Moj Crunch characters to collect filled with glitter, crunch, foam, sand, or jelly balls





The Crunch series are Darcy's favourite, she loves the sound of them and said they felt very relaxing. I love that the Crunch series come with little cube, so they can be stored away nicely.

Do your kids like blind bags and mystery toys? Yes? Then Moj Moj are the toy for you!

* we were sent these Moj Moj in exchange for a honest review