Friday, 26 April 2013

No Bake Cakes

Since I have a very little one (11 months) that's all I've focused on so far, so I thought it was time to include something for slightly older children! Baking and being creative in the kitchen is something children love to do, even toddlers love to help make things and will be on stand by for mixing/ licking the mixture bowl duty! As a child I really fondly remember baking at my Nan's house (and making paper dolls - but that's for another day!) and am really looking forward to doing lots of creative activities with Small when she is a little older.
It's often difficult to keep children interested in something for too long but sweet foods are often relatively easy to make and are usually the most popular among younger children. There are endless recipes to be found online, for example on the Channel 4 food webpage that can be easily 'veganised' if you don't already have your own. There are loads of options and I know plenty of children love to make chocolate rice krispy cakes but wanted to come up with something a little more 'fancy'. Chocolate refrigerator cake is something I thought I would give a go, and gives children a great chance for some sensory/ messy play depending on how you view it!

For the basic recipe you will need;
chocolate (vegan chocolate buttons melt very easily)
digestive biscuits
vegan margarine
golden syrup

The first step is to bash the biscuits into crumbs using a rolling pin (or even using your bare hands, which is more fun). Then, after melting the margarine and chocolate (it’s better if the adult takes care of that part), you mix it all together with the biscuit crumbs and raisins.
Roll the mixture into a sausage shape (also fun), wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for a bit more than an hour. When you take it out, it should have hardened and will be ready to cut into slices. You could also spread it about an inch thick in a high sided dish or cake tin so your finished slices resemble brownie slices.
Whilst you are waiting for the 'cake' to harden why not try a fun craft activity or some reading? For the impatient, Hotpoint fridge freezers can help the mixture to solidify more quickly, so that the time between creation and scoffing it down isn’t too long.
As soon as your refrigerator cake has hardened, it is ready to be eaten! You could try lots of variations on this idea - one of my favorites is using glace cherries in the place of raisins, you could even try adding vegan marshmallows for an 'almost' rocky road! Yum. This also works amazingly well with bourbon biscuits (you all know I can't stay away from them!).

Whilst You Were Sleeping....

This week I've had my first real experience of looking after a poorly child. It was nothing serious, just a little cold she caught from myself and Mr B - but I was really unprepared for it. She's always such a relaxed and happy child - it's amazing how much not feeling well changed that!
Whilst Mr B was away for 3 days this week I co-slept and Small literally never left my side. She joined me in the bath, when I went to the bathroom... EVERYWHERE. We cuddled and watched Charlie & Lola. She didn't want to play, so we didn't. I can't say I'm not enjoying her new-found affection though.
So... whilst she's asleep I'm taking the time to ... breathe! (and drink coffee, turn off Cbeebies and write this post!)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sippy Cup Success - Klean Kanteen Sippy

I feel like I've posted about various sippy (or not) cups quite a bit over the past 6 months. You see, it's been a bit of a battle. Small likes her bottle, and just wants her bottle. She loves water though so I've been trying to define the difference between the two by only letting her drink her milk from her bottle and water from a 'cup'. I've read in loads of places you are supposed to try and wean your baby from a bottle by 12 months of age - but as a first time mom I'm not entirely sure how realistic that is.
I have tried a LOT of different kinds to find something she would drink from, but it seemed any spout other than a bottle teat was a teething toy for her - and she got nothing to drink. At one time I thought I had success with Nuby's Grip N Sip but that lasted all of about a week. Then that too was just a new and interesting teething toy. I'd since been using a Doidy cup with her whilst she's in her highchair, but found it a bit impractical for use on the go. My search continued.

We had a little better luck with this 'First Beaker' stainless steal sippy from 'Steelsafe' - but it leaked a lot and she still wasn't getting much out of it to drink. They also claim on the packaging you can buy different teats for stages from their website, but they seem to have stopped this and I can't find them anymore.
I really liked the idea of stainless steel cups/bottles that require no liner. I'd stopped using my Sigg bottle for myself when I discovered their lining contains BPA - and despite their claims I always found my bottle held flavours no matter how much I cleaned it.
I'd heard about Klean Kanteen before and even flirted with buying one, but I'd never seen them in person and didn't feel like parting from money on something I didn't know the quality of. On my recent trip to NYC I spotted a Klean Kanteen display in Wholefoods and thoroughly checked them out, but only left with an 18oz sports cap classic for myself as they didn't stock the Kid Kanteen range. I REALLY REALLY wish Wholefoods in the UK sold them!

I was really impressed with mine and have been using it nonstop, so hunted down a sippy model on a UK website when I returned. I'm really pleased with it, and so is small.

So yes, I still have to hold this steady for her and I DO wish it had handles - but she can actually drink from it, and happily at that! It states it's for 12 months+ and she's 11 months, but I'm sure she'll learn to hold this just fine. It's going to be a changing bag staple from now on!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

We All Needed A Day Out

It's totally accurate to say that planning a wedding takes up a huge amount of a person's time, and at certain points is downright stressful. Mr B and I really didn't want this to impact on Small and I think we both did a really good job in the weeks leading up to the big day keeping the balance right. Now all the excitement has died down and I'm back from our week long vegan tour of New York we were all ready for some relaxed family time.
Today the weather was just right for a picnic so we headed off to Charlecote Park which has previously been a favorite of ours.

Upon arriving we realised it was really busy! It took us ages to find somewhere to park and get everything together. We are used to finding pretty secluded and pretty spots for our picnics normally - however with it being open weekend and gloriously sunny there were people everywhere!

We did go out for picnics last year after Small was born, but with her being teeny tiny she stayed in her pram asleep most of the time, however this time she was ready to explore!

We all had a lovely day and enjoyed some much needed relaxation! Hopefully there will be lots more lovely weather this year so we can enjoy getting out and about. Small absolutely loves nature and was completely excited to see the very fluffy sheep and deer that were roaming the park.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sneaky Dad's Pudding

It's quite unusual for me to use other people's recipes, but I'd had a lot of good recommendations from other vegan parents about this one - and it's in 'Raising Vegetarian Children' (really good info & recipes book). You can read about this recipe on the original website HERE.

Taken directly from the book "Becoming Vegan" by Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

1 banana, cut into 4 pieces

1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons flaxseed oil

3-5 tablespoons nut butter

2-3 tablespoons orange juice (or other juice like apple or carrot)

2 tablespoons soymilk, almond milk, rice milk or regular milk

1/8-1/4 avocado

Puree everything in a food processor until a pudding like consistency. Makes 2 very large servings.

Small has taken to this well - I was worried about if she would like it as it has a few new flavours for her (cocoa powder). It's recommended for children over one, but at 11 months Small is almost there!

I've made this using both almond and cashew butter and always use Alpro Junior as the soymilk. I also sometimes use a mix of frozen strawberries and blueberries, and use extra milk instead of juice. It has always come out well and has been well enjoyed.

It's chock full of healthy fats and vitamins!

Monday, 8 April 2013

This Weekend I...... Got Married

I had the most amazing wedding. I haven't said too much about it before as I didn't want to give the game away before the big day - but as you would expect, it was all vegan.
The moment we saw Buckland Hall we knew it was where we wanted to get married. It's an amazing all vegetarian country house set in a beautiful national park. A surprising amount of venues wouldn't allow us to bring in our own vegan catering which was a must for us, but here we didn't need to worry!
I had a vegan wedding dress made by The Couture Company which is based in The Custard Factory. Jo was more than willing to source and use vegan fabrics - and I am totally in love with my red 50's inspired gown!
My hair & makeup was done by the wonderful Lynsey of The Vintage Salon. I'd seen them previously at Twinwood, and knew right from the start I didn't want a traditional makeup artist! You have to check out their amazing 'Black Cadillac' eyeliner - it's vegan friendly!
My beautiful bouquet and all the button-holes/ bridesmaid wrist corsages were made by the fabulous Jamball. I love that I can keep it forever.
We even had a vegan robot topped cupcake wedding cake!

Small had loads of fun helping with the bunting - all 90 meters completely handmade by my mum! She wore a pretty ivory bridesmaid dress complete with red Converse trainers. Loads more photos to come!