Christmas Preparations – Bread Sauce

Bread sauce really seems to divide opinion so love it or loathe it, here is a tasty recipe which can be made well ahead of Christmas Day and frozen until needed. As youngsters, my Mum always made Bread sauce from a packet mix, just adding milk. It became my little job to make on Christmas Day, I loved it! As an adult, I’ve learnt that it is so super easy & quick to make and the smells it creates are wonderful in the kitchen.

Give it a go! To serve eight, you’ll need the following.

Ingredients:

2 onions, halved

8 cloves

2 bay leaves

650ml milk

4 slices of fresh white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs

8 peppercorns

Grated nutmeg to dress

Method;

Start off by preparing the onions and bread crumbs.

Stud each half of onion with 2 cloves.

Place the onions into a saucepan. Add the milk, peppercorns and bay leaves and slowly poach on a low heat for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat, drain the sauce through a sieve. Return the milk to the pan and add the breadcrumbs, stirring gently. Add a splash more milk to loosen, if necessary.

Transfer to a bowl, and grate over Nutmeg if using within the next 5 days. If you want to freeze it (it keeps for 1 month) leave to cool and place into the freezer. When required, defrost in the fridge for 24 hours, warm up in a pan and if required, loosen the sauce up with a splash of milk or cream (it is Christmas, after all!). Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and grate over the nutmeg. Perfect with Turkey. Bon appetite!

Could you buy your next item of clothing second hand?

Not only could it save you money, but it could also help to save the environment.

A letter popped through our front door last week. It was from our lovely next door neighbour, asking my children to help save the environment and to help her join in and spread the message to her friends, and to be more environmentally conscious with their decisions.

Although it was a school initiative, my neighbour is an environmental activist at heart – she picks up other people’s litter, has pledged to help reduce plastic waste, and reduce the amount of water she uses. I think it’s a great approach, and it reminds me of when I was at school and we were trying to encourage people to recycle (it didn’t routinely happen then!).

It’s heartening to see that my neighbour is part of a wave of children actively looking to make a real difference to climate change. With recent protests showing that our children want to be taken seriously on the environmental issues which will affect their generation, we can feel quietly confident that the world will be in safer hands with their input.

But what can we do?

Firstly, we can remind ourselves of the fundamentals – turn off the taps when we’re cleaning our teeth, reduce single-use plastic when we shop and look for more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ways to heat and light our home.

The other thing we can do is to reduce the amount of things we buy. Only buy products when we actually need them, and make an effort to buy eco-friendly. Simple switches from things like cling-film to waxed paper (which is reusable) or plastic cotton buds for bamboo (you won’t know the difference). This is so important at Christmas, when it’s really easy to get swept up in the festivities – but does it need to be at the expense of the planet?

There’s a fab visual going round from Just Little Changes to help give you some ideas of gifts which won’t cost the earth.

A recent campaign I also saw from 1millionwomen also suggests that by buying your next item of clothing second hand, it could save a staggering 6 million kg of carbon pollution from entering the environment. If we all make a pledge to buy second had, just think of that enormous impact.

This also ties in with a campaign run by our lovely friends at Demelza Hospice Care for Children. They are not only encouraging recycling of items through their network of shops, and at the Demelza Superstore in Maidstone, but they are also trying to reduce the level of plastic they’re using, looking at solar energy and other ways to reduce their impact on the environment. You can find out more about their campaign, Dotty’s Green Spot here>>

We love a good bargain-hunt, and we regularly pop down to our local Demelza Hospice Care for Children shop. Our personal favourites are the fabulous shop in Rochester High Street, which has a wonderful boutique vibe (be warned – you’ll need a good hour to browse!) and also the Maidstone Superstore which is choc-full of furniture and other household treasures!

You can also find out more about your local Demelza Hospice Care for Children shop here too. Pop down, and help our pledge to buy your next piece of clothing second hand!

Happy shopping thrifty people. x

(We just want to make clear that this isn’t an advert, we’re not paid for our relationship with Demelza Hospice Care for Children, but we’re proud and priviledged to be able to support them in their work). x

Lower Back Pain? Go Back to Basics

So I’m sure you know I hurt my back in July, I’ve been bleating about it the whole summer.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself (ok, as well as) I’ve been seeing the wonderful Anna the Osteopath, and she’s taught me a few important things about exercise.

Think about these next time you’re working out – are all you muscles working, not just the larger ones? Are you creaking and clunking? It might be that you’re not using all your muscles to perform the exercises. So, next time you’re in the gym, or at bootcamp or doing your Davina DVD at home, think about your form.

It’s also important to mix up your exercise – my marathon earlier this year meant my muscles were doing a lot of forward-motion movements, but not many side-to-side moves (which can be lots of reps of small moves) but that are also really important. Things were looking (and feeling) pretty manky…

It’s only since suffering an injury that I’ve started thinking a lot more about strengthening my smaller muscles which support the more major muscles (and how some muscles can take over, leaving the others struggling to work in the way they should.) It’s pretty much the reason my back did what it did. (Was that the record for the most mention of muscles in one paragraph, I wonder?)

Modify, don’t just keep plodding on

Don’t worry, your exercise regime isn’t over. It might need to change for a while, but it’s important not to keep doing the thing which is causing the injury/pain. That’s not to say you can stop exercising BTW!

What’s helped me is seeing the rather fantastic Osteopath Anna who has worked on my body manually to manipulate and guide things back in to the right places. She has also referred me to another, equally brilliant wonder-woman of a Pilates instructor, Ellie from City Way Health Clinic, who is helping me with my movement and flexibility with Reformer Pilates (the one using machines). You can read more about the health benefits of Osteopathy and Reformer Pilates on their website here>>

Personally, this combined with some killer glute exercises, and I can already see the changes happening (both physically and cosmetically) and I can see real improvement in my back pain. I’ve been working on my Spin technique to keep up the Cardio, whilst working on some smaller stretches, Pilates and Resistance Band work. I feel like I might be winning, and that I’ll be running again in January (hooray!).

Want some inspo?

There are a few other sources of inspiration for me. I’ve been using Arena Resistance Bands & exercise cards to help me work on my Glutes, and they have been incredible. Great quality product and also work out cards (as well as a free membership area too). Just so you know, we earn a small commission from any links to Amazon that we share, so by clicking on the product links and buying, you are helping to feed the family 🙂

There is also my personal fave online trainer, Cori from Redefining Strength. I’m currently working through her Glute Burner programme which is exactly what it says it is. It burns. It hurts. It works.

Remember to always ask a qualified professional before undertaking any remedial action, but don’t suffer in silence, you can take positive action to help alleviate pain and rebuild your strength. If you’re local, you might even want to pop over and make an appointment at City Way Health Clinic.

Happy Wednesday lovely people, Tahlia x

Something For The Weekend – Banging Burgers

Looking for something quick and easy to knock up this evening? Look no further than these Pork & Egg burgers. It’s been a busy week here at Mums In Real and as a result, I resorted to trying a food delivery company called Gousto. I wasn’t convinced as I like to make everything from scratch when possible, but a friend convinced me of the benefits. I’ve been very impressed! My order arrived in a big box, all of the produce was super fresh and from an environmental perspective, there was very little plastic. Big plus from me already!

The meal still needs preparing from scratch, Gousto (others are available) provide you with almost all ingredients and a step by step recipe card on how to prepare and cook the food. It’s also really easy to replicate (if you already have the provisions to hand) so I can use these recipes in the future. Also, my children had a great time looking at the recipes and helping me pick out 4 days worth of dinner. It’s a thumbs up from them! It really is a great alternative for busy parents and whilst I can’t see myself ordering on a weekly basis, I certainly recommend it. Plus I received a really nice wooden spoon, which I wasn’t expecting!

Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients;

500g Pork mince

2tsp dried sage

2tsp dried oregano

30ml soy sauce

50g panko breadcrumbs

20g fried onions (I used shop bought but these are easy enough to make from fresh)

Mustard ketchup

Salt & pepper to season

Method;

Mix the mince, herbs, soy sauce and breadcrumbs together and season well. Separate the burger mixture into 4 generous patties and place on a baking tray. Refrigerate for until needed (place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes as this helps them hold together when cooking).

When ready, place a non stick frying pan onto a moderate heat and drizzle with oil. Pop in your burgers and cook on each side for 5-6 minutes. Once cooked, place into a plate and cover. Meanwhile, add a bit more oil to the frying pan and cook the eggs.

Whilst the eggs are cooking, lightly grill the burger buns. Now plate up! Spread some sauce of choice onto the buns (I used mustard ketchup), pop in the burger and place an egg on top. Sprinkle the fried onions over the top and enjoy!

Bon appetite!

Throw Back Thursday – Breakfast Bircher Pots – Morning Hack

For those of you who need to grab and go with your breakfast (snap!) I’ve been trying out breakfast pots, which you can make up the night before and grab from the fridge to eat whenever you get a sec on the train/bus/school run/at work. Continue reading “Throw Back Thursday – Breakfast Bircher Pots – Morning Hack”

Parma Ham Chicken stuffed with Mozzarella & Pesto

Whilst at the supermarket, my trolley of food was complimented by the friendly cashier. We got chatting and she told me of her quick go to recipe. This is it. I’ve had this loads of times, minus the mozzarella. This is for you lovely lady – love the fact that anywhere around the world people share their love of food & recipes!

first off, lay some Palma ham underneath each Chicken breast and then simply slice the top of chicken breast fillets (skin off) 3 times.

Stuff each pocket with green pesto and then add in some mozzarella. Lay some fresh Thyme across the chicken and then wrap with the ham.

Pop into a preheated oven (170•C) for about 35 minutes, until the chicken fillets are cooked through.

Whilst cooking, make up some mashed potato, add a couple of spoonfuls of mustard and plate up. Serve with your vegetable or salad of choice and enjoy!

Christmas Preparations – Week 2 – Sloe Gin

Our Christmas preparations are in full swing and we are loving it. Next up is Sloe Gin – we’re a few weeks behind in the Gin department but it should just be ready in time for Christmas Day, if not then definitely for the New Year. Fingers crossed.

Ingredients;

100ml Caster Sugar

700ml Gin

450g Sloes

Method;

Wash the sloes and remove the stalks. Prick each sloe a couple of times & freeze the batch over night.

Once frozen, place the sloes into a sterile container. Add the sugar and gin and store in a cool, dark place. Every couple of weeks, gently turn the containers to mix it all up.

Once ready (normally 3 months), use a Muslin to strain the drink and store in sterile bottles. You could also decant into smaller sterile vessels and give out as Christmas presents.

Enjoy!

My truth about Yoga

Here’s the thing. I first did yoga back in 2001. I was 22, overweight and totally inflexible ( I still struggle to touch my toes now). I spent the whole class berating myself for not being able to hold the poses, for not being flexible enough, for what I’d not done at work that day. You name it, I was blaming myself for it that day. After what seemed like an hour of torture, the class finally ended and I left thinking about what a yoga failure I was. And that was it. For 10 years I thought my yoga days were numbered.

And then I got pregnant. 10 years later, and I found myself wandering in to a yoga studio full of other slightly nervous expectant mums (lots of us first-time and completely and blissful unaware about what was going to unfold over the coming months and beyond). My yoga teacher was a Doula (private midwife) and she eased us gently into the world of prenatal yoga. I have to say, my favourite part at this point was the Shivasna or final rest at the end of the class – basically an excuse to lie still, in the dark for a few minutes. (Still always a class highlight)

I did yoga until right up until my first little bundle of joy came screaming into the world, and screamed all the way until he reached a year old. That saw the end of my yoga for a while. During my subsequent pregnancies, pre-natal yoga seemed a bit of a fantasy as my over-worked hubby balked at the idea of coming home to me bolting from the door with my yoga mat tucked under my arm.

What seemed like a million years after my third (and final) baby was born (in actuality, probably about 7 months), I finally decided that I needed some me time – I needed to do something about my car-crash of a body, and my tired and addled baby-brain desperately needed some quiet time and reflection. Enter postnatal yoga…

The first session was actually a disaster. I failed spectacularly to be able to hold any kind of plank position, and on further inspection was told by the teacher that I had diastasis recti (other known as a bloody-great big gap between my stomach muscles) which could fit around three fingers in. I left feeling a bit dejected and berating myself for letting myself get into such a state. Great start.

The thing was, on reflection I actually quite enjoyed myself. I was surrounded by a group of like-minded mums who showed patience and kindness when I was struggling to keep up, and who showed me how to get into position (despite not being able to hold it). And Pippa, my lovely yoga teacher telling me to go with my body, and do what felt right (and not what looked great, or worrying about whatever anyone else was doing). Being present, and clear about what I could achieve. Aspiration to what I’d like to achieve (being able to hold plank position for starters). Acceptance from a group of like-minded people.

The other pretty life-changing thing for me was taking time to meditate. Taking time to reflect on what was important, and letting go of things which were weighing me down. Growing my self-belief and sense of worth. Showing myself that I can achieve things with my body that I never thought I could. I felt like this was a real turning point in my fitness journey, and also in my life. Growing self-belief, learning to let go of things and taking time to evaluate what was really important to me. Pretty powerful learnings.

I’m not sure I ever told these people how much they did for me, so thank you. If you’re reading this, thank you. Thanks for starting my journey back to fitness, back to self-belief and back to finding myself again. It really has meant the world to me. Namaste. X

Want to get in to Yoga, but don’t know where to start? My tops tips for finding the right yoga class for you are:

Take time to find the right style class for you – try a few until you find once which feels right. There are so many approaches and styles of teaching – it’s not one-size fits all.

  • DON’T compare yourself to everyone else. Go with an open mind, set your intentions for the class and enjoy yourself. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you struggle with a pose – go home and work on it!
  • Try and practice yoga at home. There’s a fab YouTube Channel from Adriene Mishler aka @yogawithadriene with an enormous selection of yoga to try at home (no equipment needed other than a mat!) https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
  • If you want to improve flexibility, strength and technique you have to work at it – you won’t improve by practicing just once a week so stick with it if you want to see results!
  • Try and find someone to go with – it’s much less daunting than going alone, and you can motivate each other to keep going regularly.
  • Get some clothes you feel comfortable in but make sure it’s not too baggy – loose fitting tshirts can be a pain when you’re doing downward facing dog or inversions (basically anything upside down!)

Christmas Preparations – Week 1 – Yorkshire Puddings

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s never too early to start preparing for feasts that are coming our way. This week we’ve started with Yorkshire Puddings – my family go crazy over these – I’ve made a few batches and they are now in the freezer. On Christmas Day, I’ll pop them onto a tray and they’ll go straight into a hot oven for 4 minutes. This is such a time hack and removes unnecessary stress when preparing your Christmas meal.

I have tried numerous Yorkshire recipes over the years and this is my tried and tested, fail safe method.

Ingredients:

4oz plain flour

2 medium eggs

300ml milk

1/2 tsp salt

Oil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan) has Mark 7 and pour enough oil into the Yorkshire pudding tins to cover the bottoms. When the oven is ready, pop the Yorkshire tin in to heat up the oil (usually takes about 7-8 minutes).

Measure out the flour and place into a large mixing bowl. Mix in 150ml milk and beat in the 2 eggs until smooth. Season well and add the remaining milk. Transfer to a large jug.

Remove the tray from the oven and place over a medium heat on the stove. Evenly pour the batter mix into the tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes until well risen, golden and crisp. Leave in tins for a couple of minutes and then place on a wire rack. If freezing, leave to completely cool before bagging up and placing into the freezer.

Enjoy!

Easy, hearty and delish leftover Chicken Stew

Happy Autumnal Thursday lovely people. After sharing the snap of my a scrummy chicken stew dinner on Monday night a few of you have asked for the recipe, so here it is.

(Those of you who know me well will know I’m a chuck-it in kind of girl, so the measurements are down to your individual cooking style!).

  • Cooked chicken carcass (from your roast – mine was stuffed with lemons and garlic so leave any stuffing in for flavour and I also like to pour over any left over gravy for flavour too)
  • Stock pots (one chicken one vegetable)
  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Left over veggies (if you have roasties chop them up small they’re a great thickener)
  • Green lentils (mine were tinned) or Pearl Barley
  • Sweetcorn (canned or frozen is fine)
  • Salt & Pepper and a bay leaf to season

Method

  1. Put your chicken carcass and any gravy in a large pot. Boil the kettle and pour over enough water to mostly cover the carcass (it’s ok if some isn’t covered, they’re tricky shaped, those chickens)
  2. Add any chopped left over potatoes, parsnips or sweet potatoes at this point as they will dissolve and help to thicken the stew. Also chop the celery finely and add now too.
  3. Add salt and pepper and a bay leaf and simmer on a low heat for about two hours or until the chicken comes away from the bones easily.
  4. Leave to cool (just enough so you don’t burn the skin of your fingers) and pick out all the chicken bones and assorted bits you don’t want to eat. I like to do this with a large slotted spoon and have a big bowl ready for all the discarded bits and pieces. Make sure you check really thoroughly for small bits of bone in the stock.
  5. When you’ve been through the pot and are pretty sure that everything is edible, then you can add your stock cubes and I also add the sweet potato here so it completely disappears in to the stew (mostly to avoid the accusatory “What’s that, Mum?” from the eldest bundle of joy). If your tiny humans are a bit less fussy then pop this in at the end with the carrots.
  6. Cook for about 45 mins until the offending sweet potato has pretty much disappeared from sight and then add the potato and cook for 5-10 minutes and then add your carrots and sweet potato here. Cook for about 20 mins until almost cooked through. If at any point it’s running a little dry, add a few splashes of boiling water.
  7. Pop in your canned lentils and sweetcorn to cook. Season to taste. I also popped some chopped parsley on mine which adds a lovely freshness.
  8. Serve with a lovely wedge of buttered bread and enjoy that lovely warm hug in a bowl.

A note of caution – trying to serve this two days in a row did not go down well with fussy eldest bundle of joy. “Why do we have to eat the same thing two days in a row? It’s not fair”). Fortunately the other two happily scoffed the rest so my eldest joy didn’t have to put up with it three days in a row. Shame.

Happy Thursday lovely people.

Tahlia x