Hacking the Rustlers Burger

As you all know, I’m a busy mum to a very, lets say rambunctious toddler. Fortunately, I have the luxury of being self-employed and therefore have the time to spend at home with him… which I love… but this of course is very tiring as you can imagine.

Dinnertime in particular can be a big challenge. Trying to be the perfect little wifey to my hardworking husband and have dinner on the table when he walks through the door is easier said than done. Especially when I spend the majority of my day making sure the aforementioned toddler isn’t diving off the furniture or eating my houseplants.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to make my life a little easier I jumped at the chance. This is where BritMums comes in. They are working on a campaign with Rustlers to make weekend family meals easier and more fun, especially for those of us who find there’s not enough hours in the day. Even better is that Rustlers offer not only a quality and super affordable choice of meals, but they are so convenient and take almost no time at all to prepare.

So this post is an entry for BritMums ‘Rustlers Burger Hacking Challenge’, sponsored by Rustlers.

Luckily for us, the tiny human actually enjoys chicken and so the Southern Fried Chicken Burgers were a fab choice. Now, given the fact that he is not only a toddler, but also on the spectrum, we decided that to avoid a messy disaster in the kitchen his dad and I would design his own little burger.

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We added a cheese slice and baby spinach to his burger, with a side of carrot batons, cucumber, celery and hummus.

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I’d say we were semi-successful in our endeavours with the tiny human eating the entire burger (even with the spinach) despite using the carrots as hummus dipped projectiles.

Regardless we counted this as a victory!

When the clock rolled around to 7.30pm, we promptly got the toddler down to sleep and began sorting out our own dinner.

Inspired by the tiny humans bravery at eating the added spinach, we decided to take the healthier route and ditch the fries and onion rings we had previously decided on.

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We toasted the buns and added a cheese slice, spinach and some sweet chilli jam. This was accompanied by spicy couscous and chickpeas, and a side salad comprising of spinach and cucumber with some of the Rustlers peppered mayo as a dressing.

It was a great combination of healthy and delicious, and genuinely tasted like a burger we would order in a restaurant.

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As a mum and wife I always get bogged down with the pressure of creating healthy meals from scratch, which for the most part I am happy to do. But come the weekend, when all I want to do is spend quality time with my family and enjoy our time together, being stuck in the kitchen for hours is the absolute last thing on my mind. So I encourage all of you mums and dads out there, to let yourself indulge in some quick and convenient meal ideas. Not only was this a fun thing to do as a family, but it was cost effective, delicious and not too heavy on the old calories.

Get yourself down to Tesco and check out the Rustlers section, there’s loads of delicious options to try from, and get creative in the kitchen with your family!

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My Favourite Instagram Accounts

Initially I thought I would share my Top 5 accounts with you all, but when I tried to narrow it down to just 5 I failed… Miserably.

My Instagram feed is a lot like my taste in music… Very eclectic… Or crazily varied if you prefer.

I have so many different interests and Instagram is just amazing for showcasing the very best examples of people with similar interests to mine.

As well as that, it is primarily about photographs and with me being a photographer it obviously pushes this particular “social media platform” into the Number 1 position!

So without further ado… here are my favourite accounts to follow, from least fave to absolute fave, and the wonderful things you can expect from them.

10.

Facts – Facts By Guff

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This is a wonderfully weird page filled to the brim with the most interesting Facts. That’s all. But if your a strange one like me, who enjoys the most random information, some conversation starters or just an excuse to one up the people around you with your obscure knowledge, then this page is a winner!!! 

An example of the kind of information you can expect:

“Google was originally called Backrub”!

9.

StaceyMarieMUA – Stacey McDonald

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Stacey is a Doncaster based Makeup Artist whos work is just incredible. Her artistry has attracted almost 100k followers and quite rightly so. She regularly posts videos showing her work in process and has an array of colourful photos on her page to admire. If you love makeup, this is definitely one to follow!

8.

CorbyCraigNewBuild – Craig Johnson

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Craigs page is jam-packed full of beautiful images of his newly bought & decorated home. His style is classic and clean, and if you’re a lover of home decor then you will really enjoy what he has to offer. I often flick through his images when I’m feeling stressed and it just calms me… It really does. Also, his InstaStories are pretty funny too. 

7.

WonderfulU – Megan Gilbride

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I first discovered Megans page through another Instagram account. She often models for a photographer I follow and there was just something about her style and presence that lured me in.  Her fashion sense is so wide and varied that she goes from Boho Chic, to High Fashion, to Simple Elegance all in one flawless stride. If I were at all capable of holding down any style at all, it would be hers!

6.

Actual Insta Homes

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This page is every home interiors lovers dream. It is a collection of the best of actual instagrammers homes. It is unbelievable and wonderful all at once. It both inspires me, and makes me feel bad about my totally un-insta-ready home! But well worth a follow. 

5.

MilkBubbleTea – Becky Hendry

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So the only way I can describe this page is Cosy Cosy Cosy! 

Becky lives in what can only be described as a white & pastel wonderland. Her home is filled with fluffy blankets, Disney inspired EVERYTHING, cakes & flowers galore. It is where I’d image Alice In Wonderland would live Happily Ever After, which is funny because Becky is not unlike Alice. If you’re looking for cozy vibes… get following.

4.

The Motherload HQ

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The tagline for this page is as follows:

“Celebrating the carnage of Motherhood” – this is absolutely the best way to describe this wonderful page. It’s not your typical polished Instagram page, instead it’s full of real life mummy moments and off the cuff humour. Its sole purpose I believe is to make us mummies feel less guilty about our sometimes less than adequate parenting. As well as bringing us mummies all together to celebrate those moments of victory (i.e getting the kids to bed unscathed, or getting them to eat all of their dinner). I love this page… It seems to pop up on my feed just when I really need it. 

3.

Mother Of Daughters – Clemmie Hooper

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Clemmie is my idol. I honestly don’t know how she does everything she does. She’s a midwife, an InstaMum, an author and a mother to 4 daughters (2 of whom are toddling twins)!!! She is my hero. Shes beautiful and funny and straight speaking. I love her InstaStories so much because shes just so normal. I can relate to her, as can most other women and mothers. She is truly brilliant. 

2.

The Mother Hen – Kathryn Hendry

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Ok so I’m not entirely sure where I first discovered this wonderful lady. But I’m so glad i did. She is from Belfast and has the best InstaStories. Shes a mum to 3 gorgeous boys, Adam, Finley & Hugo, as well as being married to the ever-so-lovely Daniel. She’s just so open and honest about parenting. She lets you into her life and shares in all the good and not-so-good aspects of motherhood. From celebrating Finley going to sleep at a reasonable hour to wondering how shes going to cook dinner whilst holding Hugo at the same time. She is just great. In fact, I feel like I know her, so much so that I’ve actually had dreams recently where Kathryn and her family have featured. Lol. A bit stalkery??? Maybe… but you should definitely give her a follow. Even if it’s just to hear her amazing Northern Irish accent. 

1.

Stacey Leigh From The Soul – Stacey Leigh

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Where do I begin with this amazing lady?!?! Stacey has been my saving Grace these last few months. She is a former Social Worker and mummy to Reika and Jacob. Jacob has Autism and she has shared in all aspects of his condition and diagnosis process. She has been invaluable for me and my hubby as our boy has recently been diagnosed with Autism too. She is just such a wonderful and caring person. She reaches out to her followers and makes an effort to connect with them one on one. I am sooo sad that she lives so far from me, because if we were closer I would make a point of connecting with her face-to-face. She is so positive and spiritual, and sees things in such a different way to other people. It’s uplifting to listen to her speak. Even if you don’t have any connecting to Autism, follow her anyway. She will give you a new way to look at your life. You will not be sorry I sent you. 

So there you go lovelies. A very small selection of the best my Instagram Feed has to offer. These really are great pages so get yourselves along to them and have a look for yourself… And feel free to let me know if there are any pages you follow that you love and want to share with me.


BritMums #EcoverLaundry Challenge

As with most mums I’d imagine, doing the laundry is definitely NOTamongst my favourite pastimes. In fact, I find it completely tedious.

I love the after effect and the beautifully fresh clothes, but the process of getting them there is one that I would happily give up.

As well as the monotony of doing the laundry, in this household we are also tasked with the rather serious job of ensuring our toddlers clothes are washed using Non-Bio, sensitive detergent, as he suffers from quite severe Eczema. Even the slightest whiff of ordinary perfumed detergent and he breaks out in the ugliest of rashes and is scratching for weeks.

As you can imagine, we’ve tried several different detergents and have luckily found a couple that don’t irritate his delicate skin, but we are yet to find one that is efficient in getting rid of stains at a lower temperature.

This is why I wanted to try out Ecover. Not only is it “dermatologically tested” but it promises to deliver “spotless clean results, even on a cold wash”. And as if that wasn’t appealing enough, it also comes with my all time favourite scent – Lavender!!! What’s not to love?

But does it deliver real results???

The answer is a great big YES!

It worked wonders for my boys Chocolate and milk stained clothes… even delivering at the aforementioned low temperature!

As well as this, the gentle scent was mild enough that my boys skin was left protected and unscathed.

I am delighted.

Not only has it converted me to liquid detergents, which I never gave the time of day until now, but I know, beyond doubt, that it is both effective and gentle enough for my beautiful… grubby boy!


BritMums – “ChileanEasyPeelers” Challenge

I had so much fun taking part in the last BritMums challenge that I thought I would give this one a go too. Only this one was going to be an even bigger challenge than the last.

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I have given Matthew citrus fruits to try before and although he really does love the orange flavour, he absolutely detests the texture and often gets very upset with me for giving it to him.

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However, with his weekly Special Needs group being back after the Summer, and with an attempt at giving him a much more nutritious diet, especially on those days where he is exhausted after his class and therapy sessions, I decided to dig in and try to come up with a way of incorporating this fruit into his diet.

Much like the Red Meat challenge, the aim of this one is to get more vitamins and essential nutrients into our little ones. These Chilean Mandarins are packed full of Vitamin C and are a great source of fibre, calcium and magnesium, all things that Matthews current diet really lacks in.

However, this is where it gets difficult.

Matthew doesn’t have the motor skills to get inside these mandarins, despite how easy they are to peel, and although he was happy to play with one like a ball when I gave him it, he had absolutely no understanding that this little gem was packed full of deliciousness on the inside. So mummy had to help.

As well as this, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve already tried him with citrus fruits before and he loved the taste but definitely not the texture. So this left me with a bit of a conundrum. How do I present this treat to him, without him knowing what it is, but making it appealing to him all the same?

This is what I came up with.

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I had to give him it in a form that he didn’t recognise and with other tastes and textures he comfortable with, so that he could enjoy it.

Now this may look like it is packed full of sugar and insurmountable fats and salt. But it’s not.

Matthew is already on a pretty restricted diet, so we are always very careful about what we are putting in his body.

I chose a few simple ingredients and recipes to make these little snacks and i’ll share them with you now.

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This first idea was super simple. My boy loves chocolate (just like his mum & dad) and so I thought I’d be clever and disguise some mandarin segments with some chocolate. Et Voila… The chocolate dipped mandarin.  I used a Free From (Dairy, Eggs, Gluten & Nuts) bar of Kinnerton Just Chocolate, melted it, and dipped the mandarins halfway in before leaving them to set in the fridge.

My boy loved them… As did I!

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The next thing I made was these little fairy cakes from Sainsburys. They are part of their Deliciously Free From section. It is a vanilla cake free from Dairy, Wheat & Gluten.

I topped it with a mixture I made of Vegan cream cheese (Violife), a few teaspoonfuls of icing sugar and the juices of one mandarin. Topped with 2 individual segments. It was both healthy and delicious.

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And finally I made these little treats. These are Free From (Gluten, Wheat & Dairy) pastry cases from Tesco.

I used the remainder of my melted chocolate, mixed it with the aforementioned mandarin icing and plopped a dollop in each case. These were my faves… Healthy Chocolate Orange pastry tarts! Yummy!

Unsurprisingly… these were also Matthews faves! 🙂

So there you have it… Not entirely simple… But definitely not difficult little snack ideas to get some delicious fruit into your kiddies!

I understand that most children would’ve been happy enough with a  juicy little mandarin they could easily open and enjoy, but with my little monkey comes extra challenges and as long as hes eating all of this delicious good stuff, I’m more than happy to keep coming up with fun and yummy ways of getting him to!

“This post is an entry for the BritMums #ChileanEasyPeelers Challenge.”

BritMums – #HealthyRedMeat Challenge

So as most followers of this blog will know, I am the mummy of a very boisterous toddler. He is the light of my life, the apple of my eye and all that nice stuff. But he is also a very challenging little monkey.

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He has several Sensory issues and as I’ve shared many times before, we are currently going through the ‘Autism Diagnosis Process’. Because of this he has quite a severe aversion to textures and in particular certain foods that aren’t smooth. He eats well in the sense that he will eat as much of something that he loves (like mash potato and fish fingers) but to this day he still really struggles with any sort of meat, particularly red meat.

This is a worry not only in the sense that his diet isn’t very varied, but also because he is missing out on all of the goodness that comes from red meat like potassium and iron.

He already gets daily doses of vitamins for all of his other deficiencies and the idea of adding in, for example, iron or zinc supplements is just an absolute headache.

Like everything else is at one point, red meat has recently been the subject of scrutiny in the media, and experts fear that the nutritional benefits have been overshadowed by misleading negative views. For this reason, and in order to improve the public perception, the Meat Advisory Panel, is partnering with BritMums to promote red meat in the diets of toddlers and young children, as well as shedding some light on the benefits of it in all our diets.

So, when BritMums got in touch to tell me about the challenge I thought “Yeah ok, let’s give it a try”!

They sent through a gift voucher, which we were to use for purchasing our ingredients for a family friendly red meat dinner.

I chose Pork, simply because it’s soft enough that Matthew could swallow without any issues and light enough in colour that he wouldn’t necessarily notice it mixed in amongst the other elements of his meal.

I wracked my brain for ideas using Lean Pork Mince and came up with a twist on an old classic dish… Sweet Potato & Pork Cottage Pie.

I know that both Matthew and my husband love Sweet Potato and felt like it was the best way to get some extra goodness into the dish without Matthew noticing.

So with my Pork, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots & an Onion I set off on the challenge of a lifetime… getting my toddler to eat a meal without gagging, throwing a tantrum or simply launching his plate across the room.

I used a few extra ingredients to make it all taste delicious which I’ll list here, as well as my cooking method:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Paprika
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Thyme
  • Pork Stock Cube
  • Dairy Free Spread (Matthew has a Dairy intolerance) – which i used to add to the mashed sweet potato. 
  1. I chopped and fried off some onions in a pan, using Sunflower Zero Calorie spray.
  2. Once the onions were translucent I added salt & pepper and then the pork mince.
  3. I browned the mince for about 5-7 minutes and added paprika, thyme and garlic.
  4. I then added a melted pork stock cube, dissolved in 300ml of boiling water to the mince and onions, added chopped carrots and set the hob to a simmering temperature.
  5. I let this simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  6. This is when I added my peeled Sweet Potatoes to boiling water for 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes I added my mince mixture to a ramekin and topped it with mashed sweet potato.
  8. This went in the oven for a further 20 minutes to cook through and crisp the top.

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Easy peasy and super yummy, even if I do say so myself. But the best part… Both my hubby and my fussy little boy finished every last bite of it!

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In fact, it was so successful that since testing out the recipe, I have made it a further 3 times, with some of my family even requesting the recipe from me.

Saying I am one happy mummy is quite simply the understatement of the century!

“This post is an entry for the BritMums #HealthyRedMeat, sponsored by the Meat Advisory Panel.”

Trying, Trying, Trying…

My husband and I have been together (off and on) for 16 years. We were High School Sweethearts. He is the best person I have ever known. Kind, considerate and everything else in between.

I knew, despite the many fall-outs, that he was my person. By that I mean, even on the occasions where we had called it quits, I still wanted to tell him everything I was going through, even if that were about another (I say it loosely) “love interest”.

It was then that I realised, there is nobody better than this man. He’s as good as it gets!

We were married in 2011 and immediately began trying to get pregnant (something that we would have happily accepted even before marriage).

It was the most frustrating period of our lives, and despite doing everything right (buying ovulation kits and working out all of the nonsensical mathematics of it), it just didn’t happen.

In fact, we just struck out, time and time again.

On one occasion I woke up in dreadful pain. Bleeding heavily and doubled over with cramp in my stomach. Michael being the angel he is, took me to A&E and there I was advised that I may be having a Miscarriage.

This happened again.

And again.

It was heartbreaking.

My doctor advised me that we were to keep trying. It can take time. He didn’t want to even consider IVF until I was 30.

By this time however, we had given up. We spoke at length about whether or not we would be enough for each other. Just us two.

I felt strongly that Michael and I could have a wonderful life on our own. He did too, but he clung on to hope that one day it would happen for us. He’s like that. It’s one of the things I love most about him, but also one of his most annoying qualities. I just wanted to put an end to it and enjoy our lives as they were. For at least a short period of time we did this.

However, in my head I needed a distraction from it all.

I joined my local Weight Watchers and began a healthy eating/ exercise regime. It was a great focus for me and I found that I simply forgot all about our baby making woes.

I lost a great deal of weight within a very short period of time, and backed up this weight loss with a pretty rigorous exercise regime.

I felt the best I had in years. I was happy and I was content.

It’s amazing how looking back you realise how much you were in fact kidding yourself.