Archives for the month of: July, 2011

Grady Graduate

Silent Sunday

Mini G is a big fan of Ben 10.  He’s been watching the cartoons for about a year, ranging from Ben’s early years up to the later years of Alien Force, so when I was asked to review the Ben 10 Alien Locator iPhone app, we jumped at the chance.

Ben10AlienLocator

My family recently went on holiday to the Norfolk coast.  Unfortunately, the weather was less than stellar for a beach side visit.  This did, however, give Mini G and I a chance to check out the Ben 10 Alien Locator game on my phone.

The game is rated 4+, which is good because Mini G is 4 (going on 14), but I had a go first to see what it was all about and to show G how to play.

There are 15 levels of play and each one gets incrementally faster.  Mini G was find for the first few levels, but then gave up as it became a bit too difficult.  I played through a few more, and yes, it does go very fast.

Playinprogress

For younger kids, I think this game is great for memory association.  They have to look in the corner to see which Alien they need to tap (or locate) and then find the ones that match exactly.  For older kids (or adults), this game is challenging and keeps you playing.

This game will definitely stay in our app collection to be played by Mini G as he gets older, but I am sure I’ll be having a go every now and then for some Alien Locator fun.

Ben 10 Alien Locator iPhone App is available from the iTunes store for £1.79.

**This app was provided to me at no charge for review and these views are my own.**

Since moving to the UK, I have always been forced (for lack of a better word) to create my own Tex Mex deliciousness. I’m not fond of the El Paso or Discovery brands that line the shelves of the UK supermarkets. Most of those “authentic brands” are made in Denmark, not Texas or Mexico. Thankfully, we are able to source our own ingredients to make as close to traditional Mexican and Tex Mex as possible.

Last night’s meal, while originally going to be tacos, turned into a platter of healthy, tasty goodness: shredded chicken breast (from a leftover roast chicken), homemade black beans, homemade salsa, a tortilla and Total Greek Yoghurt (in lieu of sour cream). The sour cream in the UK is more of a pouring cream vs the sour cream in the states which is set. I find that Total Greek Yoghurt is closer to the US style of sour cream, just as tasty and much healthier.

Tasty Tex Mex

So, not only was our Tex Mex creation good for the waistline, it was also easy to make and easy on the pocketbook.

* I am reviewing Total Greek Yoghurt in a series of posts. I am not being paid to do so, but have been sent the yoghurt free of charge from Total. These views are my own. *

Silent Sunday Holiday Edition

Silent Sunday

In my quest to eat healthy and get fit, I have been eating a lot of Total Greek yoghurt for breakfast. One of my favourite things to eat is an adaptation of the recipe for Magical Breakfast Cream from Mireille Guliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.  

MBC ingredients

In my recipe, I use Total 0% Greek Yoghurt, fresh lemon juice, honey, ground almond and ground bran flakes.  According to MyFitnessPal it only has 268 calories.   A very healthy breakfast after a morning walk.

Lemon

The lemon is a great morning pick me up.

Honey

The honey sweetens it and adds a bit more luxuriousness.

Bran Flakes

And the bran flakes add crunch. This is one of my favourite breakfasts.

Additionally to mix things up, I’ve enjoyed Total Greek’s 0% Yoghurt with Strawberry with a bowl of Bran Flakes on the side this week.

Total Greek with Strawberries

Total Greek Yoghurt in the morning is a perfect way to start the day.

* I am reviewing Total Greek Yoghurt in a series of posts over the next week. I am not being paid to do so, but have been sent the yoghurt free of charge from Total. These views are my own. *

We didn’t travel much when I was young.  Our longest road trip usually consisted of the 2 1/2 hour drive to the grandparents.  We did go on a Caribbean cruise when I was a teenager, though. That was the first time I’d ever left the country.  Back in the 80′s kids didn’t have passports, they just travelled on their parent’s.  In fact, I didn’t have a passport of my own until I was 24 years old.

I love travelling. The thought of planning an adventure is always exciting.  My son has had a passport since he was 11 months old and has been away to 2 different countries.  He loves new places and understands that different countries speak different languages.

Last summer, Martin’s cousin got married in the Nantes area of France so this gave me the perfect opportunity to plan a French adventure. (I am a closet Francophile…)

Instead of going straight to Clisson/Nantes where the wedding would take place and staying in one area, I decided it would be much more fun to take the train to Paris (I’d never been!) then hire a car and drive along the Loire to our final destination.  This was the best road trip ever!  Mini G was a trooper in the car. For a 3 year old (at the time) he was very well behaved.  It was only when we were exploring he decided to act up.  That was to be expected though.  Old buildings and vineyards weren’t my thing either when I was a small child.

This photo sums up my love of France food, wine and especially the Loire Valley:

La Touriste

I left my heart in the Loire Valley.  I’m already counting the months until I can go back.

Here’s a gallery of our French Summer travels…

La Tour Eiffel

Spooky Notre Dame

Accordion Player
Chateau Chambord
Saumur

mini G vineyard

La Loire

When I was asked to review Total Greek Yoghurt, this was the first recipe that came to mind. Nigel Slater’s (Pistachio) Yoghurt Cheesecake. I’ve made it a few times and every time it just gets better.

Cheesecake ingredients

As I am on a health kick at the moment, I cut out the pistachios to save a few calories and pennies at the same time. In my opinion, you don’t miss the nuts. This recipe was originally printed in the Guardian as part of a spring menu, but here’s my version:

Yoghurt Cheesecake
Serves 8

What you’ll need:
20 cm pie or cake tin

Biscuit base:
10 digestive biscuits
50 g butter (melted)

Cheesecake filling:
75g butter
75g golden caster sugar
500g mascarpone
2 egg yolks
6 heaped tbsp Total Greek Yoghurt*
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
30g sultanas (or dried cherries) – chopped
50g ready to eat dried figs – finely chopped

Crunch up biscuits until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in biscuit. Tip into 20 cm pie or cake pan and press down lightly. Refrigerate while you prepare the cheesecake filling.

biscuits crunched

With a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the mascarpone, egg yolks and yoghurt. Stir in vanilla extract.
With a large spoon, fold in the chopped figs and sultanas until well mixed.
Tip filling onto refrigerated biscuit base and smooth out. This is not meant to be perfectly flat like a baked cheesecake, but more like a creamy topped pie.

Folding fruit
Filling Cheesecake

Finished cheesecake

You can either serve immediately as a pudding or leave to stiffen in the refrigerator overnight.

Dig in

This is an amazing healthy option for traditional cheesecake. You won’t need a topping or coulis. It’s just clean tasty goodness. I can’t wait to dig in.

* I am reviewing Total Greek Yoghurt in a series of posts over the next week. I am not being paid to do so, but have been sent the yoghurt free of charge from Total. These views are my own. *

This weekend, my mother in law was hosting a family luncheon.  Being the dutiful daughter in law, I offered to bring something.  Normally I would be in charge of dessert, but this time was given the task of pre-lunch nibbles.  I like a challenge, so I gratefully accepted… but I had no idea what to make!

I went through a few ideas in my head, discussed some with colleagues and eventually my husband, but none of them seemed right.  I’m not even sure what made me think of it, but my mother’s recipe and standard “nibble” for family gatherings popped into my head… of course! A cheese ball!

This recipe goes back to the early seventies and was passed around by the ladies at  ‘Ma Bell’. It’s super easy to make and very, very tasty.  If made in the US, it is best served with Wheat Thins, but since they are hard to find in the UK, I served them with Carr’s Melts.

The ingredients:

12 oz/340g Cream Cheese

1/4c or 60g Mayo

1/3 c or 20g Parm Cheese (finely grated)

1/2 tsp Ground Oregano

1/8 tsp Garlic powder (optional)

1/2 cup or 100g  Walnuts (coarsely chopped)

Cling film/plastic wrap

cheeseball mixture

The recipe:

Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir together with a large spoon until combined. Form into ball shape and wrap with cling film/plastic wrap. Chill overnight to set.

mix on clingfilm

ball of cheese

When ready to serve, put coarsely chopped walnuts on a chopping board, waxed paper or baking parchment. Unwrap cheese mixture and roll in walnuts until covered.

walnuts before crushing

unwrapping the cheese

rolled in walnuts

To serve, place on a plate or in a shallow dish surrounded by crackers and a knife.

ready to serve

In this instance, I went really retro and brought out my Tupperware chip n dip that is from the 70′s.  In fact, my mom has this exact set that is still used today at family functions.  I loved it so much that I found one on Ebay for my own household. The butter knife pictured was liberated from my parents house when we visited last.  It was a truly retro “nibble” for the family luncheon.

cheese ball on display

Snoopy

Silent Sunday

I am getting myself back into shape. But let’s go back to the beginning…

On and off throughout my life since adolescence I’ve battled weight issues. I managed to get thin in high school, only to gain the freshman 15 (and more!) into college. Then in my late twenties, I got thin again. This lasted for a few years and then I moved to the UK. As I adjusted to a new live in a new country, I fed my insecurities with the deliciousness that is comfort food like stodgy meat and potato based food or tasty puddings and cakes. Then I got pregnant and had to adjust to a new way of life so I turned to food once again. But back in February I looked at myself in the mirror and did NOT like what I saw. I’d really let myself go and it was time for a change.

I recently read (for the second time) Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat. This was the kick start I needed. I could do this, for real this time. I wanted to get fit.

I consciously changed my eating habits, not by extreme dieting but by cutting down on the calories. I didn’t cut out my favourite foods, I just ate less of them. I even got social with my regime by downloading a fitness app to my phone to help me keep track of what I ate and the cardio exercise I did. And although I’m only halfway to my goal, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since February.

One of the changes I made to my diet was eating more yoghurt.

Totalyoghurt

A very healthy recipe my husband and I put together was a Spiced BBQ chicken with Total Greek Yoghurt, cucumber, beetroot and pita on the side. This meal feels indulgent, but is very low in calories.

chickenwithyoghurt

The Menu: The chicken was skinless, marinated with cumin and smoked paprika and grilled served with diced cucmber, diced beetroot with fresh coriander sprinkled on top, a dollop of Total Greek yoghurt, one pita grilled and sliced in half  and garnished with fresh mint from our garden.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up flavour, in fact over the past few months we’ve found the opposite. I definitely feel better about myself for the change in diet. But as I said before, the metamorphosis is only half complete… (watch this space)

** I am reviewing Total Greek Yoghurt in a series of posts over the next week. I am not being paid to do so, but have been sent the yoghurt free of charge from Total. These views are my own. **

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