> The Beesley Buzz: February 2015

Harissa Chicken recipe from The Mood Food Manual

Here is one of our favourite family meals from The Mood Food Manual. You can find out more about how we got on with 'eating our way to happiness' here.

250g Tilda® Wholegrain and Quinoa Steamed Basmati rice pouch
4 skinless chicken breasts
2-3 tbsp harissa paste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 spring onions, chopped
¼ cucumber, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
200g kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
A handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
A handful mint, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 4
Smear each chicken breast with two teaspoons of the harissa paste and place in an ovenproof dish
Drizzle over the oil, season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through
Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and place over a medium heat for a few minutes to toast – remove from the heat as soon as they turn golden as they can burn quickly
Add 300ml of slightly salted water to a pan and boil.
Add the kidney beans for the last five minutes
Drain and then combine with all the remaining ingredients
Serve each chicken breast on a bed of Tilda® Wholegrain and Quinoa Steamed Basmati Rice

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Tilda. All the recipes can be found in the Tilda 'The Mood Food Manual'. 


Berry Oat Smoothie Recipe: From The Mood Food Manual

I've been taking part in a project with Tilda to test out whether certain foods really can help to boost your mood. One of my favourite and simplest recipes was this speedy Berry Oat Smoothie which was a breakfast meal in The Mood Food Manual meal planner (but I think it doubles up as a great snack when you feel in need of a boost too!)

50g frozen berries
200ml of rice milk
1 Banana
1 Tbsp oatmeal

Place a small chopped banana in a blender with 50g frozen berries, 1 tbsp fine oatmeal and 200ml rice milk and whizz together.

Find out more about how I got on with the Eat your way to happiness mood food challenge here and you can download your own copy of The Mood Food Manual here.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Tilda. All the recipes can be found in the Tilda 'The Mood Food Manual'. 


"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." ― Virginia Woolf

A few weeks ago I took part in a project with Tilda to see if it was possible to 'eat your way to happiness'. This involved monitoring regular food intake for a week along with mood, energy, stress levels and happiness. Then for the second week, I followed a specific meal plan from Tilda's new Mood Food Manual and again monitored my mood levels.

The meal plan has been developed with clinical dietitian Dr. Sarah Schenker and Dr Christy Fergusson, a doctor of psychology and nutritional therapist. Both experts in the field of how food intake affects our performance, mood and wellbeing.

Tilda have kindly permitted me to reproduce a few of my favourite recipes from the meal plan to share how I got on with them, so I hope to blog about those soon - If you can't wait, then they are all available in a free download from the Tilda website here.

Today, I'm going to give an overview of how I got on and give a little mention of some of my favourite recipes from the meal plan.

Overall the meal plan was easy to follow and I plan to carry on including some of the meals and certainly some of the mood boosting ingredients in my diet on an ongoing basis.
Herby scrambled eggs with wholegrain toast
Eating eggs for breakfast seemed to come as a bit too much of a shock to my body and made me feel a little queasy but I loved the other breakfast ideas including Blueberry brown rice porridge, Oat berry smoothie and Bircher musli.
Blueberry brown rice porridge
The meals were all filling and nutritious and I definitely felt like I was fuelling my body in a good way. Monitoring my food intake made me recognise that I have more of a sweet tooth than I had realised. So that's something for me to keep working on. I was pleased to see an idea for Chocolate Bean Brownies in the final version of The Mood Food Manual to help with those sweet cravings so that will be one to try in future.

One of our favourite meals was Tuna fish steaks with mango salsa. We had never tried Tuna steaks before and were delighted that they didn't taste too 'fishy'. The salsa contains yummy mango and also avocado which 'is one of the highest sources of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin, promoting feelings of happiness and relaxation. Avocados also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your risk of depression' according to The Mood Food Manual.
Harissa Chicken
Another big hit for all the family was the Harissa chicken. This was served with a pouch of Wholegrain and Quinoa Steamed Basmati rice. Quinoa being renowned as a superfood as 'quinoa is a complete protein. As well as being vegetarian it is gluten free and has a low glyceamic load, making it an ideal food for boosting your mood.' 

A lot of the recipes were quite quick and simple to put together and using Tilda basmati rice pouches made things even speedier.
Using Tilda pouches made meals so speedy and quick
We did need to stock up on some specific ingredients like Chia seeds. But once you've got them at home, you can add a sprinkle to salads, smoothies and meals for a nutritious boost. There is so much to say about the benefits of Chia seeds that I'm just going to point you in the direction of The Mood Food Manual to find out more. The manual gives details of how various foods are good for us and the benefits of having them in our diet - both nutritional and mood boosting benefits are explained.
Chia seeds in yogurt along with other mood boosting foods flaked almonds and pomegranate
I'm so pleased to have taken part in this project as it has really opened my eyes to just how much the food we eat affects the way we feel. I was really encouraged to see my scores increase across the board during the second week when I was following the meal plan versus the first week with my 'normal' food intake.

It has also given me lots of ideas for incorporating these healthy mood boosting ingredients into my diet. It was brilliant that the recipes were also filling, warming and comforting which is a must during this time of year.

We've always enjoyed Tilda Basmati rice but it was previously only the white basmati rice that was regularly on our shopping list. Now we will be including Tilda wholegrain basmati rice as well as some of the delicious flavours of Tilda basmati pouches like Coconut basmati and Tilda Mexican Chilli & bean rice.

Thank you Tilda for helping us eat our way to happiness. Look out for some of my favourite recipes from the mealplan here soon and find out more in the meantime on the Tilda website here

We were sent a selection of Tilda products to use for this challenge along with a supermarket voucher towards a small part of the cost for the additional ingredients. All opinions are our own. 


Chocolate Pecan Macarons: Kids in the Kitchen

As I've probably mentioned once or twice before, I am a rubbish cook. I never even attempted to bake anything from scratch until my late twenties and even when Bake Off fever first hit Britain, I'd simply watch, shake my head in disbelief that it was possible to create such wonderful creations from basic ingredients and gaze in awe at the TV screen knowing that there was no hope of me even attempting such things.

But as D turned out to be a natural in the kitchen, he has inspired me to have a go at baking things I would never ever have imagined myself baking and around a year or so ago I did in fact attempt to make Macarons. 'Never again!' I declared when I was left with a pile of crumbs that I literally had to scrape off the baking paper.

Half-term came around last week and for the first time in months, D picked up his cookery books and decided that he'd like to bake.....yep, you guessed it...Macarons!!!

I did everything I could to try to dissuade him, even in the recipe book it tells us that GBBO star Martha's most dreaded bake is Macarons and there he was on page 35 of 'The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking' that granny had given him for Christmas (yeah - thanks for that Granny) and he was insistent that he wanted to make Chocolate Pecan Macarons.

We got the ingredients ready and he was off.

And to my absolute amazement, he did it! Fabulous tasty Macarons.

If like me you've spent years wondering what the difference is between Macarons and Macaroons (and thinking that they are just saying it wrong on Bake off when they say macaron), then it is in fact that these are macarons, meringue like with a ganache sandwiched between. Macaroons are the chewy often flatter biscuit-like things, (often with dessicated coconut in I think?)

Oh and one last important job...Chef's priveledge is to lick the bowl of course!

Linking up with Kids in the Kitchen after not being able to link up for a while with everything that's been going on with Miss T. 
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The NEW Nintendo 3DS: Our family's thoughts

As a family, we initially had mixed feelings when we were sent the New Nintendo 3DS to review. The boys were hugely excited because despite having a Nintendo DS Lite and Nintendo 2DS, they have long wanted a 3DS too.

Daddy groaned at the idea of a 3DS as his eyes have never worked properly together due to a long-term eye issue dating back to his toddler years and he's never managed to see anything that claims to be in 3D so 3D pictures, movies, comics etc have never been a success with him.

Whereas I was just a little bit excited because the boys each have a handheld console (they received their first Nintendo 2DS for Christmas 2013 and then received one to review last year so they ended up with one each) so this could now be the grown-ups handheld console and as Daddy was unlikely to enjoy it because of his non-3D eyes, it could be mine...all mine...cue evil laughter....Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

But....alas it wasn't to be. Daddy took charge of doing the data transfer from the old 2DS and although he had to set aside a bit of time to do it, it seemed to be a straightforward process. And before I knew it, the kids just wanted to 'have a quick go' ... 'you see mummy, just to test it out' 'pleeeease'.

And it was really lovely watching them as they all had fun together gathered around this new exciting piece of technology. Often technology is blamed for creating division in families as each person isolates themselves with their mobile phone, tablet or games console - but actually they can also work the other way in bringing people together to chat about games and enjoy the new features of a new console.

So now would I get my turn?....Unfortunately for me, it turns out the amazing new 3D technology used in the 3DS, the Super-Stable 3D, happens to be compatible with Daddy's eyes and so he got very excited when he found he really could see in 3D!!!

And that was it. My New Nintendo 3DS wasn't destined to be mine after all.

As we never had the original Nintendo 3DS it's hard to make a direct comparison to it but from what I gather this really is a totally new console with the new improved 3D technology, a grey button above the XYAB controls called the 'C Stick', better controls on the back of the console with a ZL and ZR button as well as the L and R buttons, and better camera functionality. You can find out more about all the features here.

Just in case this is the first Nintendo handheld console someone is buying it is worth knowing that a charger (AC adapter) is NOT included in the box. But as the New Nintendo 3DS is compatible with the charger for the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 2DS it probably wouldn't be an issue for most people and chargers are pretty reasonably priced to buy separately anyhow.

We loved the changeable cover plates - We got a cool Yoshi cover to put on ours!

Ten year old J wanted to say a few words himself about it:

In the past we've had DS lites and two 2DS so we were very excited when we got our 3DS because we've always wanted one. That looks awesome in 3D when I created a Mii. You can do any game you want and play it in 3D which is really cool.
In 3D it feels like you can reach out and touch the things in the 3DS. It feels like it is actually around you in real life. The different thing is that the stylus, the power button and the cartridge holder are at the front. The epic thing is that the buttons X,Y,A and B are different colours. We have a cool Yoshi skin on our 3DS. I would really like to play Tomodachi life in 3D but, unfortunately, we have got a download code version of it on our red and white 2DS so I can't play it in 3D.

As Nintendo Family Bloggers, we were sent a New Nintendo 3DS for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.


Siblings - February 2015

I was determined to be a bit more timely with linking up to this months Siblings linky after leaving it all far too last minute for January so when the 3 kids hopped into bed with me this Sunday morning, it was a case of quickly grabbing the camera for a photo.
Why oh why is it so tricky to get a decent pic of the three of them together - J was moaning the flash was too bright!

I love this one of D and Miss T - even though its blurry it still captures the magic in the moment.

dear beautiful

The last thing I expected to hear

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. That's what the doctors believe is the reason for Miss T's swollen and painful foot. Having myself received a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis at the age of 10, I've spent my life frustrated at the lack of awareness that arthritis can and does affect children.

And yet the news that my little girl, only 2 years old, could have arthritis came as a total shock.

8 year old D has been experiencing incidences of severe hip pain since last Easter. He has intense pain for a short period of a day or two where he can barely walk and then totally back to normal the next day able to run around and play as normal.

That is what my experience of childhood arthritis looked like, gradually increasing in frequency until the arthritis took over my left hip joint completely and I was left unable to walk.

So far the doctors believe D's condition is likely to be hyper mobility or growing pains. The 'growing pains' sounding like the familiar story I was told prior to diagnosis.

But Miss T's situation is different. Her foot went from fine to swollen so suddenly that we believed since the start of this year that she was suffering from an injury or possible break. Not pleasant but at least short-term and something that would soon be over.

The huge swelling, feeling hot to touch continous pain did not match up to my experience of childhood arthritis and so the thought did not even enter my mind. Yet apparently this is a common way of it presenting itself in younger children.

I know she is lucky that it has been picked up relatively early on. I know we are lucky that it is not anything worse. I realise that these days there are ways of stopping the disease progressing. But the thought of these drugs with such potentially nasty side effects terrifies me. Having to make decisions about her treatment worries me. And because she is so young, she will need to be sedated for the further scans she needs and that breaks my heart as I know she'll be brave but I just want to make this situation go away for her.

And yet I know God's hand is in this situation as coincidences like what happened only last week don't just happen otherwise. I was asked to speak at a conference about my own experiences of arthritis as a child. The others at the conference where some of the leading experts in juvenile arthritis presenting their research findings.

I was fascinated by the research and how even all these years on arthritis is still considered an old persons disease. A lot of GPs will not even consider it as a possibility in children and that can lead to delays in diagnosis. That makes it all the more incredible that Miss T's doctors are taking steps to consider arthritis as a likely explanation for the inflammation and swelling.

I am so grateful to those experts in that conference last week, as I would otherwise have a million and one questions about Miss T's condition but instead I feel I have some clarity about possible treatment options going forward. I am grateful for the team at GOPO for arranging the conference and for involving me. One of the amazing opportunities that came out of blogging was to take part in the GOPO trial and I found it to be beneficial to my own arthritis.

We are now hoping for Miss T's tests to happen in a timely manner and any onward referral to happen swiftly.

In the meantime, Miss T is continues to be extremely brave. Although her plaster cast was removed last week, the swelling is worse than ever and she is struggling to walk at all. Her foot is too swollen to wear shoes. Her knees are dry from crawling so much. And yet she smiles her gorgeous smile and hasn't once complained about the countless X-rays and blood tests she has had. 

I just wish I was as brave as her.


The Deadly 7: Who needs friends when you've got monsters? By Garth Jennings (Book Review)

Nelson's school life was pretty naff; No mates and having to play the role of Hitler in a school play - could things get any more lame than this! At least he had a cool big sister who he was really close to. But little did he know that life was about to get a whole lot worse.

When Nelson's sister goes missing on a school trip, no-one could anticipate the turn of events that would lead to the creation of 7 monsters, a trip halfway around the world and some bizarre events from the past wreaking havoc with the crazy events happening in Nelson's life now.

We were very excited to have received a pre-release copy of this book for the purposes of review. It's taken us a while to read so it is now available to purchase from Panmacmillan.

This book took us on quite a journey and was one we really looked forward to reading each evening.

One moment the events seem quite ordinary and the next we're sharing in a fantastical adventure which seems beyond belief.

Our version of the book was so much of a proof copy that it didn't have many of the sketches included but was so well written we could picture the things described in our minds. (Although I have heard that the illustrations are great too). 

Without wanting to give too much away (as we found this book to have a quite a few unexpected twists and turns) I will leave you with a few cliff hanger questions as J likes to do when reviewing books...
Will Nelson's life improve?
Will his sister ever be found?
And how do monsters fit into this story anyway?

We found this book to have a number of poignant moments as well as moments that had us laughing out loud: Baggage hold. Monsters. Queen Elizabeth. That's all I'm going to say so if you want to know more, you'll have to read the book for yourself.

A couple of quotes from the book testers themselves:
'It was brilliant and funny' - J aged 10

'It was really good' - D aged 8

The Deadly 7 is available here from Panmacmillan. Psst...You can also find details of a fab competition ending on 6th March 2015 on that page too.