Category Archives: Family cooking

A new term of takeaway temptations

It seems to have come around quickly but as soon as the cold breeze hit me, I knew it was true. Summer has ended. But with a final panicked shopping trip to buy the last pieces of missing school kit, we were ready for the new term. That is, at least, in theory. Because it is not easy adjusting to the long-forgotten routine of simply trying to get your child to school in the morning. Especially after enjoying a summer of being able to do several hours of work first thing in the morning without interruption. During the sunny mornings, I could get through mountains of work in utter silence, bar the load purrs of an attention-seeking cat. My noisy teenage children used to only emerge from their lairs when hunger finally forced them out of bed. But now with the clattering of dishes and blast of BBC Breakfast everybody is up early and our kitchen has become a feeding hub of activity in the early hours. And where I once prepared the coffee peacefully and slowly started the day, the daily breakfast battles for space are in full swing.


Of course, the return to school also means a return to school lunches and the controversial topic of whether your child packs a sarnie or buys their lunch from their school canteen. Many families have strong views on whichever option is better for their children and cost can also play a factor. Others may not have a choice as their child’s school provides meals and does not allow packed lunches. But no matter how your child is catered for at lunchtime there is one thing that all families have in common. Everything changes when your child enters the beginning of the last two years of secondary school, aka Sixth Form in the UK. Once your child hits Sixth Form, parents will have to contend with a much bigger problem: the temptation of the lunchtime takeaway.

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Top 10 unexpectedly tasty BBQ foods

As we approach the end of summer, there’s still time to fit in some last-minute BBQs before the weather truly changes. Barbequing is always a bit of a production with all the time spent preparing the food, cooking and serving everything. Not to mention the to-ing and fro-ing from the kitchen to the grill. But all that effort is worth it. When a BBQ goes well, it’s almost magical and time seems to slow down. As you stand outside close to the burning heat of the grill with a cold drink in your hand, you can imagine that you are on holiday somewhere sunny and relaxing. There’s no hurry as you cook and soak up the smoky fumes as your mind wanders. This is what life is about…If only you lived somewhere where you could do this all the time. Why don’t we barbeque more often?   

Of course, even if the weather cooperates, it doesn’t always go according to plan. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you run out of fuel or the coals fail to stay hot enough to finish cooking everything without getting food poisoning. As you abandon a pathetically lukewarm grill you are suddenly awoken from your once blissful relaxed state to find yourself in the default position of parental provider of grub. Having to continue ‘barbequing’ in an oven while being hounded by hungry children and family members who want to know when it’s going to be ready is hardly magical. By the time you’ve cooked everything to perfection and triumphantly sit down to eat, they have already ploughed their way through the all of BBQ sides and crisps and are no longer hungry. Yet they still have room for s’mores, if you’re asking…

Beetroot and black bean burgers with Avocado mayo and Coleslaw with fennel dressing
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Keep cool and carry on? 4 rules for heat-exhausted runners

With the appointment of the new Marmite-like Prime Minister in the middle of the UK’s sweltering summer, it may feel impossible to be keeping a cool head. Whatever your political affiliation or views on Brexit, one thing is for certain: it is a struggle to carry on as normal in temperatures more akin to the tropics. Somehow, even if many of us look forward to being in the same temperatures when we’re on holiday, when we are at home trying to get on with our daily lives, a heatwave makes it seem utterly unbearable. Of course, there will always be those amongst you who are perfectly comfortable blissfully soaking up the hot sun. They are the same people who appear effortlessly cool on the Underground without a single bead of sweat in sight. And I shouldn’t complain when if given the choice, I will always opt for taking on the heat rather than facing cold weather because it is my personal Kryptonite. However, this summer I am failing miserably to cope with the heat when it comes to running.

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Juicy news

You couldn’t help but notice the tabloid headlines last week featuring the juicy news. No, it wasn’t a press release announcing the launch of a new Tory edition of the Deal or No Deal boardgame to the public. Nor was it the news that Labour had solved their conundrum of how to climb down two sides of the Brexit fence simultaneously without doing themselves an injury. It wasn’t even speculation about whether Love Island couple Maura and Curtis would really last on the outside. All the same, the juicy feature spread across the newsstands involved an unhealthier re-coupling of sorts. The story broke with the newsflash that fruit juice has fallen from its healthy pedestal and joined the ranks of fizzy sweetened drinks. 100% fruit juice has been exposed as not being the health elixir it once was. New evidence has shown that the consumption of 100% fruit juices is associated with a higher risk of developing cancer.    

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Is the vegan label pulling a fast one on your health?

While on an enforced a two-week break from running to recover from the Milton Keynes Marathon, I had the chance to catch up on some work. Or so I thought, because like all parents, the moment you have a little morsel of time is when it is magically taken away by some other priority. Usually involving children or animals. The other day, my work was interrupted by one of our cats who proudly announced herself to me by depositing an enormous pigeon by my desk which she had brought into the house. How she managed to fit it through the cat flap whilst still clenched in her locked jaws was beyond comprehension but it was very much alive and furious. I spent the next while trying to herald the pigeon outside the house while wrestling my cat away from it as she persistently pounced like a lion. Unfortunately, my frantic calls for some help from my children were only answered by our second cat who eagerly joined in with the chase.

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