Spring Seasonal Food: What’s Best Right Now and 5 Super Easy Recipes (GF, DF)

March is one of my favourite months because Spring is officially in the air. The sun is shining, it’s getting a little warmer and the seasonal food is just wonderful. Eating seasonably couldn’t be easier in Spring time, here in the UK. Between our fabulous farmers markets, and special offers in the supermarkets, eating the seasons is great value too. Plus there’s no guilt attached to excessive food miles.

Spring Seasonal FoodVeggies at their best right now include leeks, kale, cauliflower, savoy cabbage and spring greens. So much potential for awesome dishes packed full of flavour, not to mention nutritional goodness. 

Five super easy ways to eat seasonal food in Spring

– fry a finely chopped leek over a med-high heat in a little butter or olive oil until soft. Season to taste and add a handful each of finely shredded cabbage and spring greens. Turn the heat down low and cook with the lid on for about ten mins. Delicious side for any meat, fish or veggie dish.

– don’t discard cauliflower leaves. Thoroughly wash, then chop them up and use in stir fries, curries, stews. You might also like this recipe.

Eat Seasonably in Spring– instead of potatoes, try cauliflower mash. Chop up a whole head of cauliflower into florets, place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 mins until tender then drain, return to the pan and mash as you would potatoes. Season and add extras to your taste.

– when roasting up a tray of veg, add a handful of kale at the end for amazing kale chips. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season to taste, then roast for the last 5 mins with the other veg. Make sure you set a timer though, as much longer than 5 mins and they will burn.

– sauerkraut is a great way to preserve cabbage when it’s at its very best, and contains friendly gut bacteria which is oh so good for us. Thoroughly wash (and sterilise if you wish) a large glass jar, then fill it layer by layer with finely shredded cabbage. Sprinkle each layer with a tsp of sea salt. Pack the cabbage tightly in the jar and cover with cold filtered water. Leave to ferment in a warm place for at least a week, and store in the fridge once opened. You can read my full recipe here.  

Shortlist for the #BAPSAwards (I’m a Finalist in the Wellbeing Category)

Over the last few years I’ve watched in awe as blogging friends and acquaintances got dolled up and painted the town red at the BAPS Awards. These awards are to acknowledge those who are blogging about SEND (special education needs and disabilities). BAPS stands for bloody awesome parents, which makes these awards very special indeed.

Parents who are up for these awards aren’t just anyone. They are mama’s, dada’s and all out warriors, advocating for their children to have a brighter future. Stories behind these families range from the everyday to the inspirational to the truly exceptional. Which is why I am humbled and honoured to have made the shortlist in the Wellbeing category (click here to vote).

The wellness award is to celebrate bloggers who write about the health and wellbeing of their child or themselves. These bloggers share tips, advice and stories to help others, and has been sponsored by The Goldsmith Centre.

BAPS Awards

Where and when are the BAPS Awards?

If you would like to attend the ceremony, you can purchase your ticket from My Family Our Needs. The event will be held from 6:30pm on Thursday 16th May at the Windmill Village Golf Club & Spa in Coventry. Tickets are priced between £50-60 and will include a drinks reception, three course meal, entertainment and a chance to meet the host Carrie Grant. Click here for Ts & Cs, and here for the full list of judges.

Special rate rooms at The Windmill Village Golf Club & Spa have been secured at discounted rates (£85 single/£95 double). Should you wish to book accommodation, please contact the hotel directly on 024 7640 4040, explaining you are attending the awards.

BAPS Awards

Full list of BAPS Awards finalists. Click on the highlighted text to learn more

A Curious Journey (Best newcomer)
Autism Aware Bears (Best newcomer)
Feeling Upside Down (Best newcomer)
PDA Bubble (Best newcomer)
Stories about Autism (Best use of media and Truth about SEND)
I Am River (Best use of media and Truth about SEND)
Frankie Says Relax about T21 (Best use of media, blogger making a difference and )
Little Blue Cup (Best use of media)
Emma 4 FACS (Blogger making a difference)
Brody, Me and GDD (Blogger making a difference)
Our Altered Life (Blogger making a difference)
Faith Mummy “Reasons I don’t like people, thoughts from a 9yo autistic girl” (Blog post that made the biggest impact)
MS Parent Advocate “Inclusion” (Blog post that made the biggest impact)
Learning Curve PDA “Principles of a no demand or low demand approach, and how it worked for us” (Blog post that made the biggest impact)
Downright Joy “If the cap fits” (Blog post that made the biggest impact) 
Jeremy – Bethany’s Dad (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
Sarah Collins – First Touch (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
Paula McGowan (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
Jennifer Peters – Me Too & Co (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
A Wheelie Great Adventure (Travel & Accessibility)
The Inclusive Home (Travel & Accessibility)
Me, the Man & the Kids (Travel & Accessibility)
Autism Kids on Tour (Travel & Accessibility)   
Isla’s Voice (Truth about SEND)
Joseph and his Amazing Spectrum Coat (Truth about SEND)
Coraline & Us (Wellbeing) 
It’s a Tink Thing (Wellbeing)
Peace with PDA (Wellbeing)
…and little old me 🙂

Voting closes at midday on the 18th March. Click here to vote. Best of luck to all the finalists!

Flying Long Haul with Kids? Read These Tips First!

It’s not an exaggeration to say this time last month, the prospect of flying long haul with kids felt terrifying. Now that our wonderful trip to Thailand is starting to fade to delicious memories, those anxieties are already becoming distant. In all honesty, once we had conquered the outbound flight, the other four within our holiday got easier and easier. The flight home went so smoothly, the kids mostly slept.

flying long haul with kids

Flying long haul with kids: advance preparation (especially for additional needs)

As I wrote about in this post, we had a very stressful start to our trip, having completely overlooked the need to pre-book seats. One week before flying we were in the very dire position of all five of us sitting separately. Including our autistic daughter, Polly, who was tying herself in knots of worry already. Of course we didn’t tell the kids about our dilemma, it would have only sent their fragile nerves sky rocketing. Thankfully the lovely crew at Thai Airways took care of us, and the children will never know the anguish we felt when imagining how much harder that first long haul flight might have looked like.

My husband and I learnt a very humbling lesson in not making enough noise about our family’s additional needs. Going forward we shall always let the airline know about Polly’s autism as soon as we book our flights. They are geared up to help, and want to help, but have to know who they need to help in order to help. (And yes, I’ve written the word help four times in one sentence on purpose.) 

Miriam who writes at Faith Mummy advises this: “watch YouTube videos with the kids before you go! I flew with my two (birth autistic, son non verbal with severe learning difficulties) and we all watched videos of people going through security, what the airport looked like and sounded like and what the plane would be like. Prepare them for as much and more as you can think (bearing in mind they forget quickly).

My biggest tip is to create a plan your child adores. For example, my son loves lifts so when things were hard I could happily say ‘first walk here with mummy, then lift’ as I knew where the lifts were and he felt confident I was in control. Using his obsession helped so much. I also visited the car park, the airport and other places beforehand and took pictures to show the kids. It was all well worth doing.”

flying long haul with kids

Special assistance at the airport

All UK airports have provisions for special assistance. Be it lanyards or stickers to highlight hidden disabilities, quiet spaces or help from ground staff. It’s best to check the airport website, as things vary depending on where you are flying from.

Daisy who writes at InspireCreateDo says: “we have the sunflower lanyard which we got from special assistance in the airport. It’s been so great, the staff are discreet and friendly and make sure we are moved though the airport quickly and with no waiting. They have quiet lounges as well.”

Kristie who writes at Mamma Prada has this advice: “my 3 year old daughter has Type 1 Diabetes and has a device inserted into her arm which can’t go through the x-ray machines at the airport. Cabin pressure makes my daughter’s blood sugar levels plummet so it’s very common for us to have to manage a hypo mid-flight.

My advice is to take a GP letter with you (if you can) for any airport staff discussions. To let the air stewards know when you get on the plane so they know what to expect. I make sure I very openly discuss what I’m doing with my daughter (such as injections) and with anyone staring. That way their unvoiced questions are answered. I hate having to explain myself, but the more people understand conditions, hopefully the less negative their reactions will be.”

flying long haul with kids

Flying long haul with kids: entertainment and snacks

My family spent weeks discussing what the children would pack in their carry on bags. They each had a tablet, crammed full of their downloaded favourite shows and films from iPlayer, Amazon and Netflix. Each of them had their bedtime teddies to cuddle and some squishy toys to fiddle with. They also took activity books, books to read and colouring books. New felt tip pens were purchased ahead of the trip, because I didn’t want to risk taking pens that wouldn’t last the journey. We also bought them magazines at the airport, which I’m not the biggest fan of as a rule, but they paid for themselves a hundred times over. Not only were they super useful on the flights, they came in handy throughout the holiday. As did travel sized chess and connect four.

Freddy (5) is a very fussy eater, so it was important to pack enough food for him. Even though the list of special meals you can request on a long haul flight these days covers just about any dietary restrictions you could imagine. If you do need one, you absolutely have to organise it in advance on the airline website. The photo above is of one of our meals: Pad Ka Prow with rice and a fried egg, cheese and crackers, bread roll, banoffee pie. For each meal there was a spicy and non spicy option. I found the main meals very tasty, and avoided the bread products or puddings.

Anna who writes at Popitha has this advice for travelling with twin toddlers: “buy some new pound shop toys, maybe wrap them up to keep them amused just that little longer. Also, fill a small lunch box/bag full of snacks. When they say they are hungry, hand it over and let them choose. It will save you diving into your bag every 2 minutes.”

Emma Reed says: “we wrap up activities to do or new toys. Each time our child was getting agitated we brought out a ‘gift’ to unwrap and investigate. We took things like snap, colouring books, magic trick set, maze game. Similar toys that you’d get in a party bag, so they were easy to play with on the tray.” 

Great advice from Anna and Emma. I’d also say check out your local charity shops ahead of your trip, as you might find some great quality old toys in their 20p/50p basket.

Flying long haul with kids with additional needs 

Geraldine Renton has many useful pieces of advice for parents travelling with children who have additional needs. “We created a step by step book to explain what was going to happen in advance. We showed our son what an airplane was like (online), and contacted the airline and airport in advance. Packing everything that he loved also helped. He still had a meltdown but the second, third and fourth time he had less meltdowns and became somewhat of an entertainer. Each time the plane took off he’d roar: ‘up up away, I’m superman’ and when landing he’d roar: ‘no crash’ – like a man who had experience in such an accident.

Regardless of how prepared we are, the first time flying will always be that much more difficult. I found it difficult my first time on a plane and I have no extra needs. My son is no longer able to go on a plane, so I now look back at that time of flying with him fondly. I wish I hadn’t been so anxious and laughed with him when he was roaring out while taking off and landing.”

flying long haul with kidsMy conclusions after our first long haul with kids

I’m pretty sure flying long haul, for the very first time, will be super hard for any family. All children, especially those with additional needs, will have worries that can only be fully put to rest through the experience of flying itself.

Short flights just aren’t the same. The planes are smaller, there’s much less leg room and there is often a rocky take off or bumpy landing to factor in. My kids had flown a handful of times on budget airlines, which meant they thought the almost twelve hour flight to Thailand was going to be the same.

Thankfully, they couldn’t have been more different to our previous experiences of flying. Both our long haul flights were great, and I can’t wait to book our next adventure!

**Thanks so much to the bloggers who contributed to this piece.

Paleo Hidden Veg Pancakes: 3 Ingredients, Super Healthy and No Sugar!

paleo hidden veg pancakes

The idea of these paleo hidden veg pancakes might sound strange, but bear with me! 

We adore eggs in my family. They make for a wonderful start to the day, and provide a great source of energy and nutrition. If I could give a person feeling the mid morning slump one piece of advice, it would be to switch to eggs for brekkie. As I wrote about in this post, a mostly protein based breakfast helps our bodies to start burning fat instead of sugar. Which is optimum for our health.

My paleo hidden veg pancakes have just three ingredients, which speaks volumes before we even begin to discuss their merits. They are enjoyed by all my family, and friends are usually shocked when I tell them what they are eating. Perhaps the very best part, is my 5yo son Freddy, who is a very fussy eater, will happily scoff them down along with everyone else. If I’m honest, adding anything to his limited menu is a massive win.

Paleo hidden veg pancakes

This recipe is quite literally bursting with goodness. First off we have tons of protein, good fat and vitamin D from the eggs. If this isn’t enough, my favourite nut the cashew brings the happy factor to the party. Did you know cashews have been compared with prozac for helping to boost serotonin? Then there is potassium and anti-oxidants to be had from the courgette.

I sometimes add a dash of vanilla and honey to the mixture, or a handful of berries for added colour and flavour. These pancakes are perfect to have with my coconut oil based chocolate sauce (recipe below) drizzled over the top. You’ll need a blender or food processor to make this recipe.

Paleo hidden veg pancakes: free from all grains (including gluten), dairy and sugar

Ingredients for 10-12 small pancakes:
6 free range eggs
2 small courgettes, top and tailed (if organic keep the skin on as that’s where lots of the nutrients sre)
100g cashew nuts

paleo hidden veg pancakes

Chocolate Sauce
6 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method: 
– whiz together the eggs, courgettes and nuts until they form a batter

– heat the oil of your choice in a non stick pan, over a med-high heat

– cook in the exact same way you would regular pancakes

– for the sauce: mix all three ingredients in a small bowl until well combined, serve immediately

Paleo Hidden Veg Pancakes

How Thai Airways Customer Service Saved Us From A Disastrous Start to Our First Long Haul Adventure with Kids

Thai Airways Customer Service

My husband and I are long time fans of Thai Airways Customer Service. We travelled South East Asia extensively between 2002 and 2006, and chose Thai Airways many times over, because their customer service is second to none. Nothing is too much trouble for them, and we’ve always been exceptionally well looked after onboard.

Planning our first long haul flight as a family

We’ve been on a handful of European (mostly package resort) holidays since having children, and always said when Freddy was five, we’d attempt a big adventure. Clara and Freddy both have February birthdays and the 19th was our tenth wedding anniversary, and fifteen anniversary of meeting in Cambodia. All things considered, it felt fitting for our first long haul to be to Thailand.

Once the location was confirmed, we knew instantly who we’d fly with, and we booked our flights six months in advance of our trip. Unfortunately, neither myself or my husband had the first clue about booking seats in advance!

A very near miss

When we logged into the Thai Airways website a week before our flight, there were only six available seats on the whole plane. And none of them were next to each other. Considering Polly (9) is autistic, Freddy (5) has major sensory issues and Clara (7) was worried enough about flying, making our kids sit alone on their first long haul flight would have been an unmitigated disaster for our family.

As our discovery took place on a Friday evening, there was literally nothing we could do there and then. We decided the most logical course of action would be going into the Thai Airways headquarters in Mayfair first thing on the Monday morning, and begging them to help us.

Thai Airways Customer Service

A little help from my friends

After a sleepless night, and waking up with several new wrinkles, I decided to ask some blogging friends for their advice. Fortunately for us, the very lovely Carrie who writes at Flying With A Baby told me what to do to avoid a catastrophe. She’s ex-cabin crew, and knows this stuff like no one else I’ve ever encountered.

She said we needed to speak to the Thai Airways Customer Service desk at Heathrow airport, because they would have access to the system required to change our seats.

These people are clearly phenomenally busy, and it took me hours of phoning with the line ringing out before someone picked up. I started calling at 8am and had given myself a 2pm deadline before going to Heathrow Airport and sorting it out in person.

Thai Airways Customer Service to the rescue

I finally got through to angel-in-disguise Angie at 1:30pm. We were on the phone for a good ten minutes, and she took all the details of our flight, assuring me she’d take care of us. Now I know from my previous travelling experiences, that when a Thai person gives you their word, they mean it.

My mind was instantly put to rest, and I knew we had nothing to worry about. As a precaution, on the day of our flight, we got to Heathrow nice and early, and checked in via the special assistance desk. Angie was absolutely true to her word. She had reserved us a block of four seats on the upper deck of the plane, with the fifth seat just to our left. Lucky Hubby not only had no one next to him, but it was an emergency exit with extra leg room.

A heartfelt thanks to Angie at Thai Airways

I cannot extend enough appreciation for to wonderful woman, she really did save us from an horrendous start to the trip. In the future we will ensure we book our seats in plenty of time!

Should you find yourself in a similar pickle, the Thai Airways customer service desk at Heathrow Airport can be reached on: 020 8976 7915.

Thai Airwarys Customer Service

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