Blooming Delicious by Sophie Wright - Book Review

Blooming deliciousDelicious, Beautifully Photographed Recipes for Glowing Health, From Pre-Conception to Post-Baby

When professional chef and highly successful catering business owner Sophie Wright discovered she was pregnant, like many-mums-to-be, she decided to take a closer look at her diet. However, instead of keeping all her wonderful recipes to herself, she made the decision to publish them to help others also improve their diets from pre-pregnancy right up until post-baby.

Blooming Delicious is just that - a beautiful book bursting full of tasty, nutritionally balanced recipes, which, with the help of top nutritional therapist Henrietta Norton, ensure that both mother and baby will be carefully nourished. Alongside each section of the book Sophie has included lots of interesting information about what is happening developmentally to both mother and baby, before introducing many relevant recipes for the stage at which the mother to be has reached.

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The Five O'Clock Apron by Claire Thomson - Tasty Meals for Hungry Families


The Five O'Clock Apron

Claire Thomson works as a chef in her busy Bristol restaurant, Flinty Red where she is co-owner. She is also the author of one of the loveliest recipe books I've had the pleasure to review, The Five O'Clock Apron: Proper Food for Modern Families, a book which tackles the never-ending dilemma facing many parents every evening - what to feed her own three hungry young children! 

This is something I completely relate to as I have four children each with very different tastes of their own and much as I enjoy trying to feed them healthy home-made meals, often it's easier just to reach for a bag of potatoes, a few carrots and a packet of fish-fingers or chicken nuggets.

Many evenings I lament the fact that I rarely get to experiment with food these days as more often than not someone will find fault and spend the entire meal picking out minute slices of onion or pushing the tenderly prepared chicken to one side. Not quite what I want to see when I've laboured for half an hour peeling, chopping, cooking and wishing I hadn't bothered when I see the resulting pickiness!

As you might imagine therefore, I was delighted to have a beautiful book full of wonderful fresh ideas for mealtimes and all put together by a professional and highly successful chef! 

Catch-All Lentil Soup

For my first meal I flicked through the book, which is teeming full of absolutely gorgeous photos of highly tempting meals, feeling spoilt for choice. Should I try the delightfully fresh Summery Fattoush, the temptingly colourful Piperade or perhaps go for an old favourite such as Egg Fried Brown Rice? In the end I settled on a rather lovely sounding Catch-All Lentil Soup, one of the recipes in the book which didn't have a photo but for which I knew I did have all the ingredients.

 I set to work following the well-written and cohesive instructions. As I chopped and measured and finally began cooking the soup, the smells in my kitchen were most definitely stomach-pleasing and the resulting soup was a great success with all the family, much to my delight. The children used words such as tasty, delicious, scrummy and yummy when describing it for me and hubby and I thought it tasted beautifully rich and very moreish. In fact it was thick, flavourful and filling, like a well-made stew and could definitely be served as such if you are careful not to add too much liquid.

Already I have marked out several pages for meals to try over the next few days and weeks and am planning to make Roasted Crisp Chickpeas this afternoon for the kids to snack on before our dinner which this evening is Green Pea Pesto served with Pasta!

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Keep Calm - The New Mum's Manual by Dr Ellie Cannon

Keep Calm The New Mum's ManualKeep Calm - The New Mum's Manual by GP and mother of two Dr Ellie Cannon  is a new parenting book which hails as "the perfect antidote to guilt-inducing parenting guides". Having four children of my own, I was keen to see what this book offers that is different from the multitude of parenting books I've already read over the years!

Upon opening the book I was immediately drawn to the fact that Dr Ellie stresses this book is about mums and about helping them to become happy and confident mothers. It's not a book that is going to tell us what to do, when to do it or how to do it! Refreshing, to say the least.

Dr Ellie is very keen to stress to mothers that they should enjoy their babies and that they should learn to trust their own instincts and trust their parenting skills. She believes most of us are simply lacking confidence in our own abilities and that we get worn down and stressed by all the things we think we are supposed to know and be doing. She's right. I've lost count of the many times I ran to others seeking answers only to realise that my first instincts were usually what I ended up following anyway!

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The Blissful Baby Expert by Lisa Clegg

The Blissful Baby Expert
The Blissful Baby Expert by Lisa Clegg

As a first-time mother or father, having a baby often comes with a huge dose of the unexpected. How can such a tiny little being cause so much upheaval and mayhem and how on earth do they manage to thrive on what seems like next to no sleep? Do they really need so much stuff? How will I cope and bond with my baby in the early hectic days after birth? How and when do they need fed? When is the right time to wean onto solids and how should I do it? Is my baby developing at the right pace and what toys are useful during this time? 

Thankfully, a new book addresses all of the above plus many more of the concerns that millions of parents all over the world fret about every single day. The Blissful Baby Expert, written by mother of three Lisa Clegg, a qualified nursery nurse and nanny with over 15 years of experience, is teeming full of information that is written in such a way that you almost feel she is sitting at your kitchen table chatting to you over a cup of tea and slice of toast! The author comes across as knowledgeable, friendly and her advice is reliable and spoken in the tone of one who has been there, learnt the lessons and who is keen to pass on her wisdom.

Lisa helps parents of babies aged from 0 to 2years old recognise that each child is unique and to trust their own instincts, build confidence and to recognise what is best for their own individual child. With her help parenting will become a much more enjoyable and calm experience and you'll be rewarded with a blissful, settled baby!

To find out more about The Blissful Baby Expert, visit The Blissful Baby Expert.

Published by Vermilion, you can buy The Blissful Baby Expert now, priced at £10.99.

Fretting over Baby Names? Never Fear, Best Baby Names for 2014 is Here!

Best baby names 2014Choosing a baby name, you'd think it would be pretty easy really. Go through a few lists, check out family names, find one that you like and bingo, your baby has a name, right? Wrong. For many prospective parents there's a lot more thought and consideration goes into choosing a name for their precious newborn and in some cases it takes a lot longer than most would imagine.

Take me, for example. As a mother to four children, three girls and one boy, I spent a long time choosing each and every name, with my husband of course allowed an input too! In fact, so long did I spend deciding upon our first baby's name that my husband ended up making the final decision. It was more or less the same story with each of our children, but the worst of all was picking our last daughter's name just a couple of years ago. It took me a full two weeks to finally settle on Sophia and even after deciding on it, I almost went through with officially changing it as I just couldn't settle myself as to whether or not it suited her. Thankfully, it grew on her and she is a perfect little Sophia now, but I must admit, knowing we were not intending on adding to our family probably made it harder for me to choose as I knew this was my very last chance.

Recently I received a copy of Best Baby Names for 2014 by Siobhan Thomas and it would have been very welcome in 2011 when our daughter arrived. Containing A to Z directories of 8000 traditional and modern names and their meanings, the first section deals with choosing the right name for your baby and has lots of useful tips about considerations such as matching first names to surnames, personal associations with names, pronunciation and spelling variations, choosing middle names, how to deal with hurdles such as your family, friends or partner disliking your choice, nicknames, common associations with names and even checking initials to ensure there are no unintended bloopers.

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New Annabel Karmel Quick and Easy Toddler Recipes - Tasty Food for the Whole Family!

Annabel karmel quick and easy toddler recipesI've been testing out a lovely book this week, Annabel Karmel Quick and Easy Toddler Recipes, the first in her Quick and Easy series.

The book is a 144-page, 100 recipe full colour book teeming full of healthy, balanced meals aiming to make mealtimes easier for hard-working families.

With a great choice of breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner recipes, many focusing on key food groups such as fish, pasta, poultry, meat, vegetables and fruit, as well as time saving tips and tricks to encourage children to eat well and experiment with different sweet and savoury flavours, this book is definitely one for the kitchen book shelf!

Having bought another of her recipe books in the past when my other children were younger, I was keen to try this new one to see if my latest addition would enjoy the meals I'd be preparing. And I'm pleased to report, so far so good.

With a family of four children and two adults, it can be difficult to keep everyone happy at times. My husband and I like lots of spicy foods like curries and noodle dishes, but as any parent can understand, the children aren't always so keen. I'm almost always presented with the dilemma of who to please at mealtimes and preferring for everyone to eat the same meal, rather than having to prepare two completely different meals, I tend to cook meals which everyone will eat rather than meals that everyone loves!

However, this week, with Annabel's guidance, we've all been happily sampling many new and interesting meals and with those I've prepared I'm thrilled to report so far everyone has been pretty happy.

The book, like others Annabel Karmel has written, has a huge array of meals ranging from snacks to main meals and desserts and is certainly a lovely looking book with lots of very appetising photos of meals within. To be honest, my main problem was actually deciding what to prepare from it as there is just so much choice. However, below are photos and rundowns of how I got on with several meals I cooked.

Hummus, Tomato and Cucumber
Hummus, Tomato and Cucumber Sandwiches
Hummus, Tomato and Cucumber Sandwiches

The first snack I chose to prepare was for the children coming in from school and feeling peckish. Normally, I'd make a few ham or cheese sandwichs or toasties, perhaps a shop bought pancake or scone but on this occasion I chose Hummus, Tomato and Cucumber sandwiches. Usually, I'd only serve hummus as a dip at parties so it was a novel and unusual combination which the children weren't too sure about at first glance.

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Introducing Baby Lit: Classical Counting and Colour Primer Board Books for Babies!

 Every once in a while I'm asked to review something rather special, something which I look at and think to myself, "Wow, that is a very good idea indeed!" This is exactly how I feel about Baby Lit books, a range of nine colour and counting primer board books based on famous works of classical literature but aimed at babies and young children.

As a literature graduate and English teacher maybe I'm biased, but if so I make absolutely no apology for it!

I truly think Baby Lit is a lovely and very original idea. Take a great piece of literature, one that has withstood the test of time, and turn it into something unique for little ones to enjoy. That has got to be a recipe for success. Not only is it a thoughtful way of introducing children to some of your own favourite works of literature, but it is also a very individual method of bringing colours and numbers into their lives too.

Having studied and throughly enjoyed Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre at university, I was more than thrilled to review the two Baby Lit books based on these original classics, namely Little Master Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet and Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre!

My youngest daughter is just 17 months so I was excited to introduce her to these very beautiful and stylish books. In fact, I must confess, I don't think I'll be leaving her alone with them any time soon as I might just want to display them as pieces of art on my old dresser later on!

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The Shack, by William P Young - A Book Review

The Shack, William P. YoungHave you ever found yourself drawn to a book only to find it's one of the most amazing and eye-opening pieces of literature you've ever read? Well, that's what happened when I found myself with a birthday gift voucher a few weeks back and I bought The Shack by William P Young with it.

I would never claim to be an extremely religious person but I've always believed that there is a God and an afterlife. I pray regularly, although more so in a chatty kind of way rather than in a very prayerful way. I often thank God for my family and lifestyle and I ask for help and guidance when I need it. In many respects I suppose I'm the same as many other believers! I'm not very fervent but I have a deep and fulfilling relationship with God in my own personal way.

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