Review – Good Natured Salad

Being asked to review a salad is an excellent thing – while I love my chocolate and pizza and food which isn’t always the best for you, you can’t beat a nice fresh salad made with all the best ingredients – so I headed to my local Asda to pick up some ingredients to follow one of Good Natured‘s tasty recipes.

However, I was left disappointed. Our Asda didn’t have anything from the range in stock – at all.

I tried again two weeks later with a little more success, but again – not everything was available. In the end I bought some Tantalising Baby Plum Tomatoes, some Neat New Potatoes, an Awesome Aubergine and finally some Succulent Strawberries.

Good Natured Fruit and Veg

This meant we couldn’t really follow any of the recipes, however, that didn’t stop us having a fabulous salad – the potatoes were really fluffy and light and had a great taste to them – the aubergines were really nice and tasty too, the tomatoes were pretty damn fine as well. For afters we had some of the Succulent Strawberries with vanilla ice cream which were beyond delicious – they tasted so fresh, like they’d been picked that day – and it’s rare I’ll taste a strawberry quite so good.

Good Natured Succulent Strawberries

We were both impressed that each label had where and when they were picked – and are pesticide free. Good Natured use only natural predators (good bugs) to control pests (bad bugs) and disease, so you can be assured that the range is grown in tune with mother nature, completely pesticide residue free.

In conclusion, I wish my local Asda had stocked more of the brand so I could have reviewed this more accurately, though the food we did try was good, tasty and fresh. I’d definitely buy this brand again, especially the strawberries. I often try to buy my fruit on good deals, but I’d be willing to pay full price for these, they’re that good.

I was provided with a gift token to purchase the items for review – all opinions are my own

It’s also worth mentioning that from 30 July until 31 August, two lucky winners have the chance to win a luxury Glamping holiday for the family at one of the Feather Down Farms – see packs for further details!

Choka Blok Chocolate – Review

So I’m approached to review some chocolate – of COURSE I’m going to accept! We came across the Choka Blok brand last Christmas when I picked up some of their peanut butter ice cream – for that exact reason – wouldn’t you? It was delicious, but as we don’t get to Tesco very often (it involves a long-ish drive), we didn’t have an opportunity to buy more.

ChokaBlok bars
ChokaBlok bars – attacked by a toddler

We were sent four bars and a gift box and I’ve had to hold back, ration myself and sensibly eat one bar every few days (so as to keep in with my Thinking Slimmer SlimPod and eating less sugary things).

Oh boy. They’re good. We’re talking thick chocolate with plenty of chocolatey toppings. You know when you have chocolate and it looks like it should be too much and you’ll have a sugar overload? That’s what this looks like, but actually it felt like just the right amount – and it felt like a proper treat too.

There’s four kinds of chocolate you can get

ChokaBlok bars Cookie Crumb Mon-Star
Reach for the stars in every bite. The perfect combination of smooth and creamy white chocolate with a swirl of milk chocolate, loaded with crunchy shortcake biscuit balls, and finished off with dark cookie crumbs and milk chocolate stars.

ChokaBlok bars

Gold Digger Dynamite
Set your taste buds alight with this explosive treat. Chok-full of milk chocolate caramel cups and chunks of sweet honeycomb surrounded by milk and white chocolate, swirled together in a chunky blok.

The Chocolate Extremist
Indulge your inner chocoholic with The Chocolate Extremist. Not for the faint hearted, this chocolate blok is crammed with smooth milk chocolate swirled with rich dark chocolate, crunchy brownie pieces and milk chocolate malty balls.
ChokaBlok bars
The Rocky Road of Love
A blok for true romantics, the ChokaBlok chefs have created a divine mix of milk chocolate loaded with dark chocolate hearts, crunchy shortcake biscuit balls and mini marshmallows finished with a drizzle of dark chocolate.

ChokaBlok Gift Box
The ChokaBlok chefs introduce the perfect gift for that someone you love, even if that person is you. A bite-size selection of mini bloks has been created from a combination of our favourite ChokaBlok bloks. Each blok is hand topped with sweet treats and has a soft mouth-watering centre. Once you’ve tasted the best in mini bloks, it might just be time to treat yourself to the full-size ones.

ChokaBlok bars
ChokaBlok chocolate bloks and gift boxes are now available at Tesco stores (RRP £1.59 for the bloks and £3.99 for the gift box) – and for chocolate this good it’s not breaking the bank either. Give them a try! We’ll definitely be buying more.

We were sent the chocolate to review, all opinions are our own.

Nando’s – Sutton

First off, we paid for our meal, no freebies of preferential treatment was had by us. It’s possible if there had been we may have had better service. Uh-ohhhh….

NandominosIt wasn’t bad – in fact there were some cool things – H got her first temporary tattoo which she quite liked, and a decent goody bag which meant I could teach her dominos (or rather, Nandominos) – although she got a bit bored. Fortunately for children under 3 (like H) there’s also some colouring in to keep them occupied – and plenty too. The back of each picture has another frame to draw things which kept her busy, anyway.

So, food options? Same old fare, although looking at it with toddler eyes, we went for the junior meal deal they do – around £5ish for a burger (choice of five, two veggie options) and one regular side (H chose mash). Not the most healthy of options, but a safe bet. I got a veggie pitta and chips, Shaun got a chicken and some chips. Tomorrow we’re eating lots of vegetables…

Nandos Child portionThey arrived, and while they were tasty, I was a bit surprised that the child portions were almost as big as mine – had we ordered H’s in a pitta our meals would have been identical – hers possibly with slightly more.

She’s not quite three yet, so takes her time eating – so while I’d finished first, Shaun ploughed through his animals and took quite a while, H slowly went through hers – with me taking half of her veggieburger in the end (I was hungry).

Our table was right under a speaker which didn’t help my tinnitus and lack of hearing very much, annoyingly – though we didn’t ask to be seated elsewhere which is our own fault.

Nando's Colouring inOnce H had finished, the final part of her meal deal included an ice lolly or some bottomless yoghurt. We opted for the lolly when paying for it (at the start), but when the time came they’d run out – so we went for the frozen yoghurt, only to be told that they’d also run out of that but were re-filling the machine. All good, but when you’ve a tired toddler getting slightly more cranky it’s not great. We were told they’d bring us the yoghurt (BIG mistake!) and when they did it was piled up high in the tub. Probably too high… we’d have only put a tiny bit in, as we know how slowly H eats – so a bonus point to them for finally delivering, even if it was too much.

Not to worry, we’ll go and get two more spoons and help her eat it – except they’d run out of spoons.

I did actually resort to sticking my fingers in the yoghurt at one point, if only to get home sooner (try taking some food from a toddler who is possessive about what she eats, it’s not easy, thank god for the distraction technique).

Anyway, we eventually left, the whole thing came in at a very reasonable £25, but I kind of wish there’d been better portion sizes for me vs H – and that we hadn’t had such a long wait. Also, I wish I’d asked to move tables, which was an issue when we first got in and it was quite full. Our table was clean (or rather, cleaned when they realised it was still mucky and we were being seated), and the food was good.

Don't mess with the toddlerWhat would we change if we go back? Rather than mash we’ll do a side salad. H didn’t want her beanburger in the end. If we do take the burger route it’ll be in a pitta bread as it’s easier to pick up when you’ve only got little hands. I’d probably order something I could share side-dish wise with H so she doesn’t spend too long on just one part – which would definitely be a salad as I felt we ordered quite stodgy things.

So yes, 6/10, could do better.

Discovery Fajita Kit

We’re fans of Mexican food in this house – it’s easy and doesn’t take too much time to prepare which suits our busy lives right now. We were sent a Discovery Fajita Kit to try out, and having used the Discovery brand a lot, we were more than happy to!

Bearing in mind it was me cooking and I’m vegetarian I switched the meat suggestion for Quorn, and didn’t use the amount suggested (it felt like a lot for three of us) – I padded it out a bit with some edamame, sweetcorn and kidney beans.

You get one sachet of seasoning in the kit, one large salsa sachet and eight wraps. It’s suggested you use two peppers and an onion, but we left out the onion thanks to having a cranky nap-free toddler who was getting angry about everything.

It was simple enough – cook everything, add the seasoning, heat up your wraps (they’re microwaveable as a lot in 45 seconds, or otherwise warm in a grill or in a dry frying pan), add the filling to the warm wrap and serve.

 

PicMonkey-Collage-300x300The great thing about it is choosing your filling – with only getting the seasoning it’ll suit everyone. I’d have probably put a bit less in there (as I used less Quorn than their suggested meat amount), though I enjoyed it – H found it a bit too spicy at times for that reason. Also, I’d recommend having some guacamole or soured cream to go with it – I wasn’t prepared at all (see, Nick from The Apprentice’s business idea would have saved my memory here  – he’s still doing it – excellent!)

Anyway, to sum up, it probably took around twenty minutes to get ready – another perfect post-work food when you’ve got limited time. What impressed me the most was the tortilla wraps were really lovely and soft, and came rolled – so they pack into the cupboard (and space is limited in our house) not taking up much space at all. Everything is recyclable too.

There’s four kits in total – three Fajita Kits (Original – medium heat, Crispy Crumb – mild heat and Mexican BBQ – mild heat), and one Enchilada Kit – all have a rrp of £3.19 and are available in all good supermarkets.

Excuse the photos, they were taken on my iPod!

Cooking with Tilda Kids

We were given a great opportunity to try out some Tilda Kids basmati rice pouches – and fortunately they arrived at a perfect time. We did Baby Led Weaning with H, so always eat together for our meals, so it’s rare one of us eats alone with the others later – however, I’ve started a new Pilates class, and had a social evening, so within a week we had a chance to try a couple of them out.

Tilda Kids Rice Pouches

Tilda have introduced a new character – Tilli the Elephant – who is helping promote the rice and veggies pouches – which come in Cheese & Tomato, Sunshine Vegetable, Sweet Vegetable & Wholegrain and Mild & Sweet Curry flavours.

Each pouch is 125g, and takes 40 seconds in the microwave which was great as I was rushing to get ready as well as get H’s food ready – it was convenient and healthy – it counts as one of your five a day. The sachets can be stored in the cupboard and don’t need to be kept chilled – and there are no preservatives involved – Tilda use a steaming process to part cook the rice, with the packs then hermetically sealed, so none are needed!

They’re not designed to be eaten on their own – you’d prepare your food as normal but there’s the convenience side – I tend to prepare a load of vegetables and some Quorn to use over two nights (as we have about 40 minutes from getting home to eating).

Open the sachet

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There’s also some purée in the sachet hidden away if your little one is a bit fussy, as well as small pieces of vegetables in each pouch.

As each sachet is basmati rice, (and having had gestational diabetes I know this is the best kind of rice to have as far as carbohydrate intake goes), they’re much less starchy than other kinds of rice which is a huge plus point.

Now – the result. H wasn’t sure about them to start with (she does like rice) and initially picked out and ate the vegetables she liked – but this was more due to it being a new flavour for her – and she’d soon tucked in. I’d say there’s more in a pouch than you’d use for one portion, so I helped her finish it! Would I buy these? Definitely if I have another week like this one – the convenience of having the food ready quickly is something which I need.

You can buy the Tilda Rice Sachets from Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Ocado and Asda, each pack has a rrp of £1.15

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We were sent the rice pouches to review, all opinions are that of H and I!

We were sent a couple of recipes to try out – we’ve not had a chance yet, but with the long weekend looming I’m sure we’ll get a chance…

BEANS MEANS BOATS
(Makes 14 boats)

Ingredients
1 pouch Tilda Kids Cheese & Tomato Rice
1 tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil
1 pack (160g) chopped flavoured chicken, for example barbeque
1 small tin BBQ baked beans (200g)
1 pack Taco Trays
Salt & Pepper
Grated cheese or cheese strings

Method
Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
Roughly chop the chicken pieces and add to the oil.
Heat through for 2-3 minutes
Add 1 pouch of Tilda Kids Cheese & Tomato Rice and stir in.
Add the beans and heat thoroughly for 3-4 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Follow instructions to heat Taco trays.
Fill each tray with the beany mix and top with your favourite cheese or shredded cheese strings.

FUNNY FACE FRITTATAS

Makes 24 Frittatas
Ingredients
1 pouch Tilda Kids Sunshine Vegetable Rice
1 small onion, finely chopped, about 50g
50g, cooked broccoli, cut into small pieces
4 tbsps canned Sweetcorn, drained
100g grated cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
A few snipped chives
Salt & pepper

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 200°c, 180°c fan or Gas Mark 6
Empty contents of 1 pouch Tilda Kids Sunshine Vegetable Rice into a large jug and stir in the onion, cooked broccoli, Sweetcorn, cheese and chives.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs together.
Add the eggs to the rice mix.
Season well.
Grease a non-stick 12 hole mini muffin tin
Use half the mix divide between the 12 holes
Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
Cook another batch.

Delia’s Christmas Cake Baking Exercise

We bought a Delia’s ready-measured ingredients cake mixture from Waitrose last week, what with it being reduced to £5 in store. These opinions are my own, and I wasn’t paid vast sums of money to post this, nor given any freebies.

 

It felt a bit like we were cheating, buying it so late – but time was running out and I’d read it was fine to prepare your cake a week before the big event – so here we are. Actually, I felt like a complete fraud, but H loved helping to mix everything together, so it was extremely handy for that – and definitely a three-person job. First off, when Delia says to check the manual on your oven if it’s fan-assisted, she means it. If you then start to check once the cake is in the oven, only to find out an hour later you’ve put it on ‘defrost’, you’ve only yourself to blame (thanks, husband!). I remain guilt-free.

 

So, we laid out our sachets of stuff on the table, our butter we’d bought the previous day still not quite ‘really soft’ like Delia said, but we figured we’d work with it.

H sifted in the flour and spices, while I added butter, salt and eggs – and we stirred. And stirred. Oh, and a little more.

In the end, husband helped us out with the electric whisk as it was pretty tough, and our collective arms were a bit tired, which did the trick and the gloopy butter-speckled mixture resembled more of a cakey kind of thing.

 

After that we stirred in the pre-soaked fruit “ooooh raisins!” said H, and added the treacle. It was only then we couldn’t find our string to tie it all up in the oven, so I had to run to the shops leaving husband and H grating some orange and lemon (while listening to The Wiggles, good cooking music).

That was it. Crikey, that wasn’t too bad, and H did quite a lot to help too (we did the important bits).

 

So in the oven it went, the first hour was a write-off (see previous mention about checking your oven, Delia is not wrong), but actually after three and a half hours ours was ready (well, four and a half in total, so maybe the defrost setting does something). It took forever to cool, in fact, until this morning. We have some marzipan and some icing ready to go, I just need to get some jam to seal it (I’m guessing blueberry won’t do). We’ll have enough left over to make some icing snowmen to stick on top… stay tuned for a final photo…

 

In summary, while I think it was extremely lazy of us to take this route, getting things prepared beforehand wouldn’t have happened, so it was nice to have everything there and ready, although at a £10 regular price it’s a bit much for what you get – especially when you can end up spending another £10 or so to get the extras to go with it (brandy bumps that up a bit). I’d do it again if I was short on time, but would love to be a bit better organised and have time to be able to do it a bit more ‘properly’ in future – it’s definitely a good place to start if you’ve never made it yourself before (raises hand) – and definitely worth getting while it’s down to £5 – wonder if there’ll be further reductions next week? There were quite a few in-store….

Vines Bar & Grill, Carshalton

This place has only just opened, although (and this is a guess) is probably owned by the people who had the Greek Taverna in Carshalton – which is now closed.

There’s good buggy access, and already some good deals – buy a coffee and get a free croissant, buy a meal and get your child’s one free. The menu is a good selection of regular and meditteranean foods, and a good selection of vegetarian meals.

The downside – at this point there’s no baby changing, although the man I spoke to said they’re converting an office, so that will happen soon.

There’s also an outdoor area at the back.

Although I’ve not dined here, it looks good, it’s reasonably priced, and definitely worth checking out. Open now (just!)