Friday, 27 February 2015

Product Review: Cocobella Kids

In our family hubby is the sugar nazi when it comes to what we can give the kids to eat and drink (he gives me the evil eye when I pop a jar of nutella in the shopping cart). He conscientiously reads nutrition labels and compares sugar content from everything from fruit juice to yogurt. So when I told him that I was going to get some samples of Cocobella kids coconut water to review, his first question was "How much sugar is in it?"

Turns out, there is very little sugar in these little packs. 6grams per 100ml compared to 10.8g from the "Nothing but apples" juice currently in our fridge.  So it passes Hubby's strict restrictions on sugar content. The benefits of coconut water/oil/pulp/essence is all the rage right now with health advocates recommending it for use in everything from eating to rubbing into face/hair/nails. I'm no nutritionist so I'll let them tell you all about the health benefits.

Personally I love coconut water simply for the refreshing taste and partially because the kids don't usually end up hijacking my drink after taking an initial sip. So I was a little dubious about how a coconut water drink would go down with little kids. This reluctance of little people to try straight up coconut water must have also occurred to the makers of Cocobella kids because they've mixed up their coconut water with fruit juice, Apple & Berry or Mango and Pineapple.

So when the samples arrived I gathered up my focus group. 4 kids aged between 3 to 4. Friends of my little man who had come over for a playdate. They were each allowed to pick which flavour they wanted (which they did based on their favorite colour rather than the actual ingredients). By coincidence 2 picked the red (Apple berry) and 2 picked the yellow (Mango Pineapple).  My little man who picked the yellow decided after 2 sips that he wanted the red one and some exchanges had to be negotiated after that he decided that the Apple & Berry flavour was the only way to go.  In fact all the kids eventually swapped to the Apple and Berry after taste testing each others packs.

It looks like Cocobella has surprisingly managed to work their coconut water to fit a kids palate with the addition of tried and true fruity flavours to produce a refreshing low sugar option for snack times and lunch boxes. My little man refers to these little boxes as coconut juice boxes and raids the fridge for them just like he does for straight up juice or yakult he still prefers the Apple and Berry flavour but will just as easily have a Mango and Pineapple one if it's all he can find in the fridge.

I'll be perfectly honest and say that two or more of these juice boxes have found their way into mummy and daddy's work lunch boxes as well to er... keep the sandwiches cool... yeah thats the reason... ok so maybe we find them pretty yummy as well. Why should the kids have all the fun! In our house at least the adults prefer the Mango Pineapple flavour, which works out well with the kids' preferences of Apple Berry.

The ecomum in me automatically raged at the use of single serve juice boxes (we never buy these usually), However it has been somewhat satiated by reading on the box that the package was fully recyclable. And that the juice were packed at the source which reduced the amount of transportation of materials.

In summary, the kids enjoyed them (especially chilled on a hot day) and maybe for once mum and dad can hijack the kids drinks instead of the other way around.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Tuesday tip - don't cook occasionally

That's right, you heard me - don't cook. It's a terrible thing, but people need to eat ALL the time. Especially small children; mine are particularly fond of declaring "I'm hungry" approximately 3.141592653 seconds after I've cleared away the last meal.

In our household we have a veg*n, a die hard carnivore, a picky toddler and a nursling, as well as two hounds. That makes for a lot of meals. Although we try to eat in themes - for example, on Mexican night there is a mince option and a bean option, it still makes for a lot of leftovers.

Now I'm frugal and I hate waste. So once a week or so, we schedule a hunt and gather night.

What that means is that we don't cook anything new, and instead we scavenge around the fridge and the freezer for leftovers and make up a meal. First in gets first dibs (unless one of you is pregnant or PMSing, that's always trumps!).

By not cooking and scheduling in a night where you forage in a modern manner, those leftovers get eaten and there is much less waste come bin day. Wins all around (except for the hounds who then have to eat proper dog food because there isn't any human food for them to beg for). Ha!

Read more about how I meal plan here.

Monday, 23 February 2015

How does your Garden Grow: HELP my tomatoes are taking over!

Inspired by this gardening series from I've decided to provide my own little sneak peek into my adventures into veggie growing.

Remember my Egg Shell seedlings? That seems like such a long time ago but since then the combination of bright sunny days inter-spaced with heavy rain has resulted in the tomatoes totally taking over my little veggie patch.

It has even swallowed up a healthy brown onion plant which survives only because it's leaves are tall enough to grow above the tomato plants. All other seedlings (carrots and zucchini) planted in that garden bed were completely consumed.

At least we're have a bounty of Tomatoes!

I wonder if Ms Fork will swap me some eggplants. Since I can't seem to get those to grow no matter how hard I try.

What should I do with all of them? Any ideas?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tuesday Tip: Save our knees

Today's tip comes from very extensive experience. Many many sleepless nights of experience. Forget saving our sleep.... that is an impossible dream... but at least we can save our knees.

Getting a baby to sleep is exercise. Serious exercise. It works out your arms, core, thighs and legs. Hours of bouncing and swaying and rocking it can be hard on the joints. Personally I found that my knees fared the worst (those are the days I feel way too old to be a mum). However put my in a situation where the baby is almost asleep and my legs are burning and shivering from the effort and I'd rather my legs fall off than stop bouncing.

I also have 2 little ones who don't seem to like rocking motions and prefer to be bounced up and down so the rocking chair we got doesn't do the trick of getting them to sleep.

But we can save our knees.... with an EXERCISE BALL! Yep. This handy little air filled ball is great for bouncing on and getting the little one off to dream land. And you can also get some incidental core exercise in at the same time without serious overexertion. Just remember to keep your back straight and and use the ball to do your bouncing for ya. Far less energy and probably better for your back and knees than the awful posture carrying a wriggling baby naturally puts you in.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Recipe: Apple, Bacon and Maple Muffins

In our house we love bacon. I think the kids get it especially strongly from their American Daddy.

One day while being stuck under 2 sleeping kids I had the inspiration for trying out Bacon and Apples together in a muffin. My testers really loved the result but a couple of days after, my husband comes up to me and says... you know those apple and bacon muffins you made.... would it still work if you added maple syrup into it. I just had to try it and after a few measurement trials I think the recipe below perfectly balances the salty sweet and crisp flavours that is Apple Bacon and Maple Muffins,

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tuesday tip - take a rain check

Did you know, that if a supermarket is out of an advertised special, you can ask for a rain check? No? Neither did I, but you can! And this little tip is a gem!

Ask for rain checks on specials

If something you want is out of stock and an advertised special, you're entitled to a rain check. You can have up to four that you can use anytime within the next TWELVE months! Genius!

Quinoa reduced to $3 from $15 (example may be exaggerated) but none left on the shelf? No worries, just ask at the checkout / service desk and you will get your rain check - four of them if you ask actually. And you can then buy that item at the reduced price any time within the next 12 months by presenting your rain check.

Winner, winner, quinoa dinner!

Have you gotten any bargains lately?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tuesday Tip: The no scrub method of removing mould stains

I don't know about you but I hate cleaning wet mess. Give me a messy library to sort through and I'm happy. However things like dishes, handwashing clothes and cleaning the shower and toilet are like yuck. So I'm always on the look out for short cuts to getting these unpleasant jobs done fast and with the least amount of physical contact (from me).

Since moving in to our current house I've had a huge problem with our shower. The previous shower leaked and left a yucky mould patch on the shower floor. I spent an eternity scrubbing all the mould off with alternate applications of vinegar, gumption, sweat and tears. I was pretty sure I got all the mould off but it left stains which looked like they had actually seeped into the plastic and grout itself. I consulted professional cleaners (who suggested bleach), holy men (who suggested exorcism) and soothsayers (who suggested burning various herbs). I tried the bleach and went back to scrubbing but to no avail. The stains would not budge.

Then I met Mr W, a professional cleaner whose services I was very fortunate to win in a fathers day photo contest. He suggested that instead of scrubbing with the bleach, I should lay sheets of paper towels on the shower floor and splash it with bleach and just leave it for a an hour or so. I was dubious given the amount of elbow grease I'd already put in that a simple leave and soak would work. So I tried it and OMG... it worked! And I didn't even have to scrub a thing!

Bleach Soaked Paper Towels. Corners have been left to show contrast. 

And the Difference! The bottom half is nice and white while the top corners still need a treatment. 

Caution: I used gloves for all parts of this process because bleach on hands is yuck and possibly dangerous. Also make sure the area is well ventilated. I did this all on a nice windy day when the kids were out of the house.