The term “clean eating” might feel overused, but I make no apologies for my love of it. For my little family, this means eating unprocessed, mostly organic food, and making almost all of it from scratch. I say mostly because it’s unrealistic to cook absolutely every single thing for the five of us, every single day. We have our pre-made cheats, but I scrutinise the labels to ensure there are absolutely no hidden nasties. I only have a handful of brands I truly trust, and my kids love the Organix range which comes with their no junk promise.

mostly organic

Eating mostly organic doesn’t have to break the bank 

I’m not exaggerating when I say food is everything to us, and top of the priority list for me is sourcing the very best quality ingredients. There’s no denying that eating mostly organic is expensive, and as much as my children are convinced otherwise, we all know money doesn’t grow on trees. I like to ensure I find the most cost effective ways of making our food without it being debilitating price wise.

Farmers Markets: My favourite place to buy organic food is from farmers markets. Although there will undoubtedly be stalls selling very expensive goods, there are also little gems to be found. I have access to a weekly market as well as a monthly one, and the main fruit and veg stall is run by the same people. Eating seasonally comes with a whole host of benefits, plus compared with supermarket prices, it can be a real bargain. I’ll often pick up double the amount of veggies for half the price of what they would have been pre-packaged and covered in plastic.

Bulk Buying: I can’t advocate more for buying in bulk, which always saves money. There are plenty of suppliers to scope out, in order to buy dry goods by the kilo, for a lot cheaper than they would be in smaller packets. The top of our kitchen cupboards are crammed with tins of coconut milk and packets of coffee and nuts. It’s also worth stocking up when the supermarkets have offers on your favourite products. The offers go live on a cyclical basis, and most will be doing some great deals right now for Organic September. In addition, both of the main budget supermarkets have brilliantly priced ranges of organic food.

Quality Meat: I order our free range meat from a London based butcher who delivers within the M25. They only sell ethically reared meat from the best British native breeds. The animals are reared on independent farms and smallholdings, and are always free from growth hormones, antibiotics and cruelty. I think it’s up to us all to start waking up to the devastating consequences of cheap meat. Personally I’d rather eat much less, but ensure it’s absolutely top quality.

mostly organic

What led me to a clean eating, mostly organic diet?

As I’ve mentioned before, I started coming away from refined sugars and processed food in 2007. This is a long time in faddy diet terms, but clean eating shouldn’t be a fad. It should be about making gradual life long changes, which lead to a healthier you.

My own journey began after being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and doing a ton of research into my new condition. I learnt about insulin resistance – which means my body doesn’t absorb carbohydrates the way it should – as well as the glycemic index (GI).

GI correlates to the amount of carbohydrates a food contains, and how they affect blood glucose levels. Everything we eat is considered either low, medium or high GI, and the lower GI the better for an insulin resistant body like mine. High GI foods are typically heavily processed, made from white flours and refined sugars. Medium GI foods are less refined – things like oats and other grains. Low GI foods tend to be meat, fish and some fruit and veg.

Healthy alternatives   

I took baby steps in those early days. I started buying more organic ingredients and made healthy swaps, such as using organic wholemeal flours and natural sweeteners. Rather than cooking from scratch being a weekend only occurrence, it became every day life. Once I’d established good habits in the kitchen, it got easier and easier. Now, eleven years later, this mindset comes without the slightest effort. Food should lift us up and revive us. It shouldn’t zap our energy leaving us feeling rubbish.

Here are a few of my failsafe recipes:

I only use raw organic honey or organic dried fruit to sweeten my baked food. Over time I’ve created some fabulous recipes with very little natural sugar in them. Check out these delicious paleo brownies, which contain just 1.5tbsp honey in a batch.

If you’re in the market for pancakes, but want to also boost your veggie intake (YES!) then you will love these. They’re my ultimate free from everything except taste pancakes.

For a superb savoury winter warmer, you can’t beat a good beef stew! I’ve challenged many over the years to make this dish and not have nice things to say, and no-one has yet. Check out this blog post for four easy paleo one pot meals, including a vegetarian option.

Do you have any great tips on eating organically? Tweet them to me @MummyTries 

**Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”We went to Wembley yesterday to see PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Not that I thought for a second that it might, but it did not disappoint! The children were absolutely enchanted from the second we took our seats until leaving the arena, and continued buzzing about the show for the entire journey home. Most children have a favourite TV program when they’re four, like Freddy is. It will supersede all other programs, and never fails to raise a smile. No matter how glum mood levels are, PAW Patrol is his go-to happy maker. Yesterday he was clad head to foot in his PAW Patrol get up, including undies! The sheer joy which emanates from this kid when he’s wearing his Chase costume literally makes my heart sing.

We saw PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” last year, which you can read about here. As you can imagine the excitement about seeing the pups on stage again was palpable. I probably don’t need to tell you how catchy the songs were, or how fabulous the outfits were. My wriggly little man stayed in his seat and was totally captivated, which says it all really.

I asked Freddy what his favourite part was. “Everything!” he replied, with the biggest smile on his face. Six and a half year old Clara’s reply was much more detailed, but is essentially a massive spoiler. At nine, Polly is of course far too old for PAW Patrol, but secretly enjoys it when it’s on the telly and especially on the stage (don’t tell her I told you that). It’s safe to say they had a blast.

For full details of the show, please check out the PAW Patrol Live website, or follow them on social media:

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PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

What to expect from PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Ditsy, loveable Mayor Goodway has been tasked with getting Adventure Bay shipshape for a huge Pirate Day celebration, when disaster strikes. Poor Cap’n Turbot falls into a mysterious cavern and it’s up to Ryder and the PAW Patrol to rescue him. Marshall, Rubble, Chase, Rocky, Zuma, Skye and newest member Tracker have to save him. In the process they happen upon a secret pirate treasure map leading them on an awesome experience.

The fearsome crew have to travel over land, across high seas, and under water in search for the treasure. They plan on giving it to Mayor Goodway, but naughty Mayor Humdinger also wants to find the treasure. He vows to find it first and keep it for Foggy Bottom. The pups set about saving the day the PAW Patrol way by using their problem solving skills, teamwork, and trademark heroism. They prove once again that no job is too big and no pirate pup is too small.

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure” includes two acts and an interval, and lasts around 90 minutes. The innovative costume approach helps bring everyone’s favourite pups to life on stage, and their vehicles and pup packs feature heavily throughout the adventure.

PAW Patrol Live! "The Great Pirate Adventure"

Confirmed UK tour dates for PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Saturday 28th July – The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Thursday 2nd August – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th August – SECC, Glasgow
Wednesday 8th August – Echo Arena, Liverpool
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August – Manchester Arena, Manchester
Wednesday 15th August – Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield
Saturday 18th August – Arena Birmingham
Wednesday 22nd August – Motor Point Arena, Cardiff
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August – The SSE Arena, Wembley, London
Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd September – Windsor Hall, Bournemouth International Centre
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September – Brighton Centre, Brighton

A few tips

There is a lot of merchandise on offer to purchase at the venues. If you’re trying to save money and your child(ren) already have tons of PAW Patrol toys, take some with you. That way they’ll have something to wave in the air and hold during the show.

Work out where the toilets are as soon as you arrive, so you can quickly dash there mid-show if needs be.

Check the venue policy on drinks, because you might only be allowed to take in sealed bottles.

Make sure you check in advance for other events going on around the venue. It can put a real damper on things after having a great time at a show when it takes hours to get home. If there are other events happening at the same time, you can avoid the mad rush at the end by leaving during the last song.

Take snacks, because, you know, kids 😉

**Disclaimer: we were given complimentary tickets in exchange for this blog post. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

paradise wildlife parkIf you’re in the market to see animals of all shapes and sizes, I’m pretty sure you’ll love Paradise Wildlife Park.

I can see why it’s Europe’s leading zoo, because I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen so much variation under one roof. From reptiles to big cats, penguins to zebras and a life size dinosaur exhibition thrown in for good measure, you’d be hard pressed to not find something for everyone. All three of my children (aged 4-9) were suitably impressed, which is saying something in itself.

The park is huge and it was amazing to see how much space the animals have to roam around. My memories of the zoo from when I was a kid always include sad animals pacing their tiny cages. The animals at Paradise Wildlife Park are clearly being cared for well, and they certainly seemed to be content within their surroundings.

paradise wildlife parkThroughout the day there are feeds and talks you can participate in, to hear the keepers talk about specific animals. They also have daily shows in the jungle theatre. I really enjoyed hearing all about the cheetahs, although it’s sad to think that in this day and age people still kill big cats for their fur.

Did you know that there were over 100,000 cheetahs in 1900, compared to less than 10,000 now?

Did you know that unlike other big cats, cheetahs do not roar, they purr like house cats?

Did you know that cheetahs are the worlds fastest land animals? They can achieve their top speed in just three seconds!

paradise wildlife park

 

Our favourite bits 

There are over 800 exotic wild animals at Paradise Wildlife Park, including five species of big cats. We wanted to try and see everything, and arrived nice and early so we could fit loads in.

The big cats have such a presence, but they were also really chilled out, just loafing around. It’s like they’re looking directing at you, and I find it rather exhilarating being that close to nature. The white tiger was particularly awesome and so beautiful.

paradise wildlife park

The reptile house was fascinating, and I sat watching the alligator for about ten minutes – his graceful moves were so mesmerising. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the cockroaches, because I have a strange and unfounded phobia of them, which my kids all thought was hilarious. Clara was in awe of them because she thought they looked like giant woodlouse, one of her faves.

We love dinosaurs in my house, so the mini train taking us through the World of Dinosaurs was a real treat. There are thirty life size, moving and roaring dinos in the exhibition, which opened recently. They are incredibly well made and a few are a tad scary because of how huge they are, we really enjoyed it.

paradise wildlife park

It’s always a pleasure to see penguins strolling around, who can fail to smile at these little guys? The camels were intriguing creatures, although hold your nose because they’re rather pungent. The zebra was meandering freely in his stable, and we are still trying to work out whether they are white animals with black stripes or black animals with white stripes. Have you ever pondered this?

paradise wildlife park

 

After the children had exhausted themselves inside the park, we went to the outdoor playground for them to tackle the obstacle course. They then had about ten minutes at the soft play area before it was time to start heading off. They would have happily stayed for longer had we not been watching the time so we didn’t caught in rush hour. It was a truly fantastic day out, and I’d love to go back again sometime soon.

Facilities

There are tons of picnic benches dotted around, and lots of clean toilets (including plenty of baby changes and disabled loos). We took a picnic with us, but the food looked decent, and the cafes serve a wide variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals. The park is buggy/wheelchair friendly, and all enclosures have viewing windows suitable for small children and those in wheelchairs.

We had a glorious day in the middle of summer, but there is also a huge indoor play area for not so great weather. They also have several other play areas, a giant paddling pool and adventure golf course to ensure everyone is kept busy.

You can book events and experiences, such as feeding big cats and shadowing the keepers. You can have champagne breakfasts at the park, barbecues, sleepovers and team building days with your colleagues. They also run volunteering days, and are a fully registered charity (see the video below for more details).

How to get to Paradise Wildlife Park 

Drivers will need to make their way to White Stubbs Lane, Broxbourne, EN10 7QA. There are several car parks, with capacity into the thousands, and apparently even on the busiest days there will always be room to park your car.

For the non-drivers among us (like my family), you’ll need to make your way to Broxbourne train station from London Liverpool Street, Hertford East or Cambridge or Tottenham Hale tube. Outside the station there is a phone number to call to request the Paradise Wildlife Park minibus collects you, to take you to the park. The journey time is around ten minutes and costs £3 an adult and £1 a child for a return ticket.

paradise wildlife park

I was so impressed by how quickly the driver arrived and the cost too, as it would have been three or four times the amount if we’d have taken taxis. The journey by public transport often puts me off going to places like this, as they can be monumentally difficult to get to unless you’re in a car. It’s nice to see non-drivers being so well catered for.

You will receive a small discount for buying your tickets in advance online, otherwise you can buy them on the day at the gate. Under two’s go free and other tickets range from £15.68 to £21. Annual passes start from just £5 a month.

For news and updates follow Paradise Wildlife Park across social media

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paradise wildlife park

**Disclaimer: we were given our entry in exchange for this honest review – all thoughts and photos are my own. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

 

 

I’m not the biggest jewellery fan, but I’ve always been a sucker for well thought out personalised pieces. If you are anything like me, you’ll absolutely adore the selection at Centime Gift.

Centime GiftTop quality sterling silver and gold plated personalised jewellery 

I couldn’t resist the stunning tree of life necklace pictured here on the left. I had it engraved with the five names of my family and it’s a real head turner. I get complimented on it every time I wear it.

The pendant is very weighty and well made, and it comes with a lovely thin chain. I opted for sterling silver, but you can also go for yellow gold plated or rose gold plated. It’s worth mentioning that the silver is not marked 925, but it is guaranteed. You get six options for chain length – 14″ to 24″ – I went for the 18″ chain which sits perfectly on my chest.

The ordering process could not be simpler, and there are size guides on the website to ensure you order correctly. All items come gift boxed with a cleaning cloth.

Free worldwide postage

Don’t you just hate it when you get as far as the checkout only to discover the website’s postage fees are extortionate? Well you don’t have any of that nonsense to worry about with Centime Gift. Although they are based in the States, they offer free worldwide delivery, as well as an expedited option if you need your order super fast. My items arrived an impressive eleven days after placing the order, through the regular postal service. Quite impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree.

A few ideas from Centime Gift

Mother and child necklaces to suit all styles. These beautiful necklaces are designed to let mums’ pride shine. Everything from the classic two pieces of the same heart, to more intricate designs such as baby’s footprints, intertwined rings and bar shaped tags. All engraved with the names of loved ones, there is something that will appeal to every mum.

centime giftThese gorgeous bracelets are engraved with handwriting, and can contain a message of up to twenty words long. You simply upload a file of the writing you want to use. It can be your own, a loved one or you could even take a photo of an old card or letter.

For the Granny’s in your life, Centime Gift have a fab range of necklaces to keep all the names of the Grandchildren close. My favourite is this one, made up of five intertwined rings which is able to hold up to twenty names.

Good core values

I loved reading about the founder of Centime Gift’s story. Ginny and her team are completely committed to producing unique, quality pieces. It’s evident they love what they do, and it shines through in the designs.

“Hi, I’m Ginny. I started Centime because I was sick of generic, branded gifts with no soul. As I have always loved to make my own jewelry and gifts, I dreamed of creating handmade gifts with a timeless appeal and personal touch.

Centime was born out of that dream, and I am grateful to be living my dream everyday. All the posts in this blog were written by me, using years of experience as a jeweler so that you can pick out the perfect gifts that are not just gifts but symbols of everlasting love. Love for keeps, we call them.”

Follow Centime Gift on social media  

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**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post. For my full discloser policy, click here.**

There is much talk about omega-3 fatty acids, but what is all the fuss really about?

Along with omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are vital for humans to function healthfully. They are known as essential fatty acids, and they contribute largely towards maintaining the structure and function of our bodies cells. They help us absorb vitamins and minerals, promote nerve function, aid in the production of hormones and not only prevent, but treat disease.

omega-3 fatty acidsOur bodies can not naturally produce these essential fatty acids, and unfortunately mainstream Western thinking largely deems all fat to be bad for our health (even though it’s now been proven that there are good fats we need).

If you are among the many who are not consuming enough omega-3s through diet alone, you might want to consider taking a good quality supplement such as OmegaBrite. After an independent study conducted at Ohio State University, OmegaBrite became the first omega-3 clinically shown to reduce stress in a normal population.

Not all omegas are created equal

Omega-6s are found plentifully in grain based oils and lots of enriched processed foods. While we need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, most westerners consume far too much omega-6 and not nearly enough omega-3.

Our diet has massively evolved over the last few centuries, and it’s knocked our nutrient sources and ratios out of whack. Back in ancient times, it was thought that they would consume a 1:1 diet of omega-3s to omega-6s. Nowadays the average person consumes a diet consisting of twenty to thirty times more omega-6 than they do omega-3.

This adaptation has occurred too fast for our bodies to adjust, and is believed to be a huge factor in causing many ailments including inflammation, arthritis, skin disorders and depression. As with all vitamins and minerals, the best way to give ourselves a boost is to eat more foods containing them.

omega-3 fatty acidsFive foods that will naturally boost your omega-3 fatty acids

Mackerel: not only is this oily fish a great source of Omega-3, it’s also rich in vitamin D, protein and selenium. It’s said to help our chances against cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, as well as age-related vision loss and dementia.

Walnuts: these crinkly nuts have always been seen as brain foods, which makes sense, given how much they look alike. As well as their omega-3 benefits, walnuts contain vitamins C and B6 as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate. They also contain minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.

Chia seeds: these tiny black seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant, a relation to mint, which grows natively in South America. Chia seeds were a staple for the Aztecs and Mayans, and have shot to fame in recent years for their ability to provide sustainable energy. They’re small but mighty, and in addition to omega-3 they contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3.

Flaxseed: is high in dietary fibre, but low in carbs and high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Flaxseed helps to make our skin and hair healthy, and can lower cholesterol. Flaxseed are naturally gluten free and rich in antioxidants. They support digestive health, and could assist us with preventing certain types of cancer.

Egg yolks: I could personally talk about the multiple benefits of eating eggs all day long. As long as they come from a quality source, eggs are an incredibly versatile wonder food. Egg yolks are easy to digest and contain vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, along with omega-3.

This fantastically detailed article by functional health guru Dr. Josh Axe details the top 15 foods we should be eating to boost our omega-3 intake.

omega-3 fatty acidsAbout OmegaBrite 

OmegaBrite is an extremely pure 90% Omega-3 Supplement, physician formulated by a Harvard trained psychiatrist to promote cardiac and joint health and an overall positive mood. OmegaBrite’s unique EPA:DHA ratio 7:1 is available in an easy to swallow 500mg gelcap that delivers powerful anti-inflammatory effects and promotes overall better health, as well as improving cognitive clarity.

Produced using Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), each batch of OmegaBrite is third party tested before, during and after production to guarantee quality and purity. Each gelcap is manufactured using nitrogen blanketing to prevent oxidation, resulting in an odour free, no aftertaste capsule.

For more information on pharmaceutical grade omega-3 supplementation, and comprehensive research sources, head over to OmegaBrite.com.

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**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative piece, click here for my full disclosure policy.**