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New In The Kitchen: Spices, Fruit Shoot Jams and Eclairs

What’s new in the kitchen this week:

Vandotsch Speculaas Spice Mix – from £3.99
Why cook/bake boring cinnamon when you can use some direct from Sri Lanka and infused with cloves, ginger and six other spices. I’ve been using it in baking and sprinkling some on the kids’ porridge at breakfast.

vandotsch spice mix

Robinson’s Fruit Shoot Jam – £1.59
If you have kids you are familiar with Fruit Shoots, but did you know they also make squeezy jam? They are 45% fruit and made with 30% less sugar than your average jam/marmalade. They come in three flavours:

Apple & Blackcurrant
Strawberry & Summer Fruits

Use them on toast, on dessert or swirled through yoghurt and when the bottle is empty, they make a great water squirter. Look for them in the supermarket jam aisle.

fruit shoot jams

Cadbury’s Eclairs Velvets – £1.99
These chocolates are more of a grown up treat and as I’m lactose intolerant, I left them to my husband to review. He said they were delicious; he doesn’t usually go for eclairs as they are more caramel than chocolate but I like these because of the melt-in-the-mouth chocolate centres take them to another level! In supermarkets now.

cadburys eclairs velvets

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Event: Microsoft Windows Parents Approved

Last week I went along to the ultra swanky Microsoft apartment in Victoria, a stones throw from Buckingham Palace.

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Along with a case of apartment envy, I learned about new Microsoft Windows apps and devices and a bit about what Microsoft is doing to connect with families. A lot was covered, a lot went over my head, but what I thought was really good was the Microsoft Windows Safer Initiative.

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They have an app called Kids Corner which can turn your Microsoft Windows Device into an area set up solely for kids. This means they can’t access anything that isn’t in that area/under that login so you can hand over the device safe in the knowledge the kids can’t access anything you don’t want them to.

We have mainly Apple devices here and a drawback is when I hand over my iPhone or iPad, the kids move things around, delete things, add things, call people etc. If I had a Microsoft Windows device this wouldn’t happen; I could put all their apps and games under their login and that would be all they could access. Sounds great huh?

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With Windows you can go into the Family Safety Zone and check everything they’ve looked at, files opened, even sites surfed on that device. You can choose the number of sites they can look at, set a time allowance and times of day they are allowed on the device. These restrictions apply to the account and not the device so they can’t log in at a friends house and look at sites you don’t think are appropriate.

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Depending on the ages of the kids, you can apply different restrictions to different users. I love the idea of this; some may feel it’s a bit George Orwell but as a parent I feel it is my job to be responsible for what my kids access online, even something as innocent sounding as YouTube isn’t without its pitfalls. As well as full episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse there are also explicit music videos and content totally inappropriate for kids.

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So if you already have Microsoft Windows 8.1 and you have kids, look into the Kids Corner app, you won’t regret it.

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Gluten and Dairy Free Yoghurt From CoYo

If you eat gluten and dairy free like we do, dessert time can be depressing. Sometimes I want more than a fruit salad!

Enter CoYo – a vegan and dairy, soya, gluten, nut, egg, lactose, sugar and artificial additive free yoghurt made from coconut milk.

CoYo is very smooth and creamy and contains one whole coconut per 100g of yogurt (the pots in the picture below are 125g – the smallest available).


Coconuts are having something of a revival; every beauty blog boasts of the benefits for hair and skin and they’re just as good if not better for eating. Coconuts are nature’s richest source of medium chain fatty acids; they have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help make up a healthy immune system.

CoYo contains all this goodness plus vegan cultures which combine to make delicious yoghurt you can use in cooking, baking, smoothies and of course eating.

I usually have a pot with some homemade pan-fried granola – heat some coconut oil in a pan, add sweet freedom, oats and whatever nuts and seeds you have to hand – for breakfast and/or dessert.

The thing I love most about CoYo is that even just one pot is so filling! Breakfast is my most important meal and one I never miss but one pot of CoYo keeps me satisfied right up until lunch. And that’s an achievement because I eat a lot!

CoYo is available in natural, mango, pineapple, mixed berry, raw chocolate, vanilla and new Morello Cherry. It was a Great Taste Gold and Natural and Organic Diet Award winner in 2014.

There have been rumours of a CoYo ice cream so watch this space and I’ll report back when I have these confirmed.

CoYo is available from selected Waitrose, Whole Foods, Planet Organic and, from mid -June, Tesco.

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Review: London Activity Pack

As the summer break approaches, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to fill all that free time!

Even if you are jetting off to sunnier climes (jealous, moi?) it’s worth considering what is right on your doorstep. In our case, that’s good ol’ London town and the new London Activity Pack from Usborne Publishing will help us make the most of it.

Things to do in London

Presented in a hard carry case, the activity pack contains a London Colouring Book, London Doodling Book, Things to Spot in London Sticker Book and lots of London postcards to colour in and/or send. Get on a train and have a fun day out with these books. Or use them to kill time on long car/train/plain journeys. If you have any little visitors coming to you from another country, the London Activity Pack also makes for a great gift.

Things to do in London 2

London Activity Pack – £12.99
ISBN: 9781409577638

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Home With George at ASDA

With a decent summer around the corner and ‘project garden’ well under way we thought it high time we invested in some home and garden ware to make this summer a memorable one and what better place to start and finish than with George at ASDA‘s new Home + Garden range.

We were very tempted by the selection of BBQs on offer (they have a range of smokers too) but project garden did include a brick built one so we looked at garden furniture instead. The range is extensive with everything from folding chairs and parasols to top of the range complete patio and patio dining sets.

I think garden sets are a bit too advanced for us at this stage so our attention turned to the kids and what says summer more than a paddling pool. Again the range was extensive with small paddling pools up to full on complete with ladder type pools! With Thames Water informing us they will be installing smart meters shortly, we opted for the former.

As the summer holidays approach a good activity to kill the slow long summer days is baking. It’s fun, messy, educational and rewarding and George at ASDA has a great range for even the smallest of budding chefs. With great names such as Salter, Pyrex and Tefal as well as their own in house range, they really cover all bases.

George at Asda kitchenware

We stocked up on mixing bowls and spatulas (you can never have enough spatulas), a timer from Salter and various muffin tins and trays. Our money went a long way, especially when buying from George’s own range which offered very good value for money. We also got a clock for Kingston’s room, a laptop tray and hot drink and food holders – George really does sell everything.

The Gorge range is available now from ASDA direct online and at larger ASDA stores with most items qualifying for free delivery.

*Brought to you in association with George at ASDA*

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