Friday, 29 May 2015

PRODUCT REVIEW - Little Chomps Messy Mealtime Smock

When Bree from Little Chomps got in touch asking whether I'd like to try one of her messy mealtime smocks, I jumped at the chance. Anyone who does Baby Led Weaning (in fact, anyone who has a baby, full stop) knows just how messy these little monsters can be. We often finish mealtimes with weetabix in our hair, mashed potato on the walls, and crumbs in the high chair. Anything that helps contain the chaos is more than welcome!

First, the technical stuff. The Little Chomps smocks are:
  • PVC and BPA free
  • Machine washable and wipe-clean
  • Breathable
  • Biodegradable
  • Suitable for ages 6 months to 2 years 
  • Available in three colours; bubblegum blue, raspberry red, and lollypop pink

First impressions were good; the smock arrived in a little zip lock bag which is handy for storage - particularly when out and about with your mucky pup- because it means you have can contain any food mess. I'd anticipated stiff, PVC-style material but it was actually much softer than this and very flexible which makes it perfect for folding up and fitting into a changing bag. It has two 'popper' buttons which come halfway down the back of the smock, making sure it stays put but still leaving plenty of comfort-room for full tummies.

The size is perfect for my fairly chunky 15 month old. The sleeves go right down to his wrists (which is not something any of our other bibs do) and it fully covers his lap when he's sat down. It also looks like there's plenty of growing room although obviously the fit would be slightly different on a bouncing two year old. The only downside is that the elastic around the wrists is a little too tight for my guy so it leaves small dents in his skin. I'll see how we get on and perhaps give them a snip to loosen them off if it bothers him (it hasn't seemed to so far).

We've given the smock a thorough road test with some of our messiest meals - it has performed admirably against beef casserole, yoghurt, and spaghetti bolognese. My favourite feature is that the material doesn't soak up much mess (unlike the towelling bibs I have) so it's pretty much as good as new after a decent wipe-clean. That said, I did throw it in the washing machine on a 30 degree wash after a couple of days for hygene reasons as much as anything else. It took a little while to dry but there was no shrinkage or loss of shape (a major beef of mine with baby clothes) so that was another big thumbs up from us.

All things considered, this is a great product and I'm happy to recommend it. Bree is based in Australia but posts to the UK for £4.50 (for 1 or 2 bibs) so given that the smock can be used several times before it needs a wash, it's a sensible investment and well worth the shipping cost in my opinion. I haven't seen anything comparable in the UK and believe me, we have more than our fair share of bibs!

For more Little Chomps action shots, you can find Little Chomps on Instagram as @littlechomps. To order, visit her website;

Happy eating!

Note - technical details are taken from Little Chomps' own website/literature.  

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

RECIPE - #InstaWeanTeam Challenge: Giant Cous Cous and Pineapple Salad

I'm pushed for time this week because we had an epic weekend with a 600 mile round trip to the wedding of our good friends - it was an absolutely perfect day but taking time off work means I'm now rushing to catch up with everything. My first thought for our pineapple challenge this week was to make an upside down cake. It's something my Mum used to make us as kids and I haven't had one for about 20 years. Unfortunately, timing and being a bit stumped on the baby-friendly element got in the way. Inspired by a gloriously sunny Scottish weekend, I opted to make a fresh summer salad. Of course it rained all day today but, hey, just put some sunglasses on while you eat this and pretend it's warm.

Fresh pineapple - a couple of rings is enough
Feta cheese - approx 3cm off a block
1 sweet potato
Giant wholeweat cous cous
Handful dried cranberries
1 Spring onion
Ground paprika 

Bah, I just realised I didn't measure my cous cous! The pack should give guidance on portion size, I just tipped some into the pan and did it by eye.

1. Add the giant cous cous to a pan of boiling water and simmer for around 20 minutes until soft and the water has disappeared
2. Peel the sweet potato and cut into small cubes. Toss in a little oil and paprika then lay on a baking tray and bake at Gas 5 for 20-25 minutes until starting to crisp.
3. Chop the spring onion
4. Cut the feta and pineapple into small cubes.
5. Put all the ingredients into the pan with the cooked cous cous, stir well and serve.

Minimal cooking, maximum flavour :) The pineapple is so sweet and juicy that the salad doesn't even need any dressing, making it super healthy.

Don't forget to check the InstaWeanTeam Facebook page to see pineapple recipes from the whole team

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

RECIPE - #InstaWeanTeam Prawn Spring Roll Challenge!

Ok, so my #InstaWeanTeam Chinese Food challenge isn't the most photogenic this week but it definitely tastes good. Next time I make these spring rolls I'll brush them with melted butter instead of egg, I was just curious to see how egg would turn out this time! (I've put butter in the recipe below instead because I think this will give them a more even colour). Mr BLWMamaUK and I had these for dinner with a stir fry. Little Dude had his the next day as an afternoon snack. Nom :)

1/2 Tsp Chinese Five Spice
1 Small Garlic Clove (crushed)
1 Tsp Sesame Seeds
1/2 Tsp Low Salt Soy
1/2 Tsp Mirin Rice Wine
1/2 Cup Cooked Prawns
2 Cups Mixed Stir Fry Veg - I used pepper, beansprouts, carrot and onion
Unsalted Butter (melted) 
2 Filo Pastry Sheets
Organic Coconut oil for frying (or your usual oil)

1. Put the oil, spice, seeds, soy and rice wine in a pan with the prawns and veg. Fry for 3-5 minutes until softened. Set aside to cool.
2. Lay a filo sheet out length ways on a floured surface, cut vertically into 3 strips.
3. Cut across the strips horizontally so you have 6 rectangles of pastry.
4. Lay a blob of filling across the bottom of a pastry strip. Gentle roll it up and into a sausage shape. Seal the end with a little melted butter.
5. Flip the pastry roll over and paint the ends with a little more butter, fold them over to seal them.
6. Lay the spring roll on a greased baking tray and brush lightly with melted butter.
7. Repeat until all your mixture is used up - mine made 8 spring rolls.
8. Bake at Gas Mark 5 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

** Note - rice wine does contain alcohol. I was happy that I heated it enough to cook it out but if you're not comfortable, skip this ingredient**

Don't forgot to check the InstaWeanTeam Facebook page to see what the other ladies made this week!

Friday, 15 May 2015

RECIPE - Curried Yoghurt Chicken

Last night I had one of those 'What the hell do I cook for dinner?' moments. I'm not doing my weekly food shop until tomorrow so I had to make do with the contents of our (alarmingly empty) cupboards. The one thing I can always rely on is having a packed spice rack so I cobbled this mildly curried chicken dish together. And you know what? It was GOOD!

400g Diced Chicken
1 Tsp Garam Masala 
1/2 Tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Tsp Ground Turmeric
1/2 Tsp Almond Butter
4 Big Spoonfuls of Natural Yoghurt (sorry, I didn't measure!)
Pinch of Paprika
Pinch Black Pepper

1. Mix the spices, yoghurt and almond butter in oven proof dish
2. Add the chicken and toss in the sauce until it is completely coated
3. Cover the dish and bake in the oven at Gas 5 for 25-30 minutes
4. Once the chicken was cooked I transferred it to a wok and blasted it for a couple of minutes to dry the outside (I wanted to keep some for L's lunchbox). I don't think this is necessary though as long as your chicken is cooked through.

I served mine with some cous cous and veggies - it didn't photograph particularly well but it tasted good, honest!

Friday, 1 May 2015

RECIPE - Baked Chicken Bites

I can't believe it's taken me so long to make these because they were SO yummy. Crunchy, chickeny (surprise, surprise) and pretty healthy because they were baked, unlike the pre-prepared breaded chicken you can buy. I've been meaning to try something like this for a while so when the I spotted a pack of Panko Breadcrumbs in the supermarket this week I decided it was time to take the plunge. My only worry now is that I'm going to start breadcrumbing everything in sight now I've realised how easy it is. These took about 12 minutes to prepare and another 25 to cook. And the verdict from my most important taste taster? 'Nom. NOM!'

300g Diced Chicken
Approx 5 Tbs Plain White Flour
1-2 Beaten Eggs
Packet of Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 Tsp Cumin
1/2 Tasp Black Pepper

1. Get three bowls and put the egg in one, the flour in another, and some breadcrumbs in another - start with one egg and about 1/3 packet of breadcrumbs, you can always put more in if you run out.
2. Add the spices to the breadcrumbs and stir well.
3. Using tongs (or your fingers if you're brave, I hate touching raw meat!), roll a piece of chicken in flour until it is lightly coated.
4. Drop the chicken into the egg and coat on both sides.
5. Roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs, making sure it is completely covered
6. Transfer the chicken to a baking tray greased with a little unsalted butter
7. Repeat. Lots.
8. Bake the chicken at Gas 5 for around 20-25 minutes until it is cooked through.

Enjoy - don't forget to take me on Facebook or Instagram if you try this one out :)