Sugar free Jelly Worm Recipe

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Sugar is a big no no in our house. Don’t get me wrong, I have an obscene sweet tooth, but if the toddler so much as walks past the sugar bowl she becomes possessed by some sort of hideous toddler demon that is out for your soul! For a while I worried about ADD or hyperactivity, but it soon became clear that it was the sugary treats that was turning her into the very epitome of the terrible twos. Once I started to cut out pure fruit juice, chocolate, commercial ice lollies etc. we had our lovely happy daughter back. That is, until she goes to her grandparents and comes back kneed deep in marshmallows and chocolate buttons!

Of course, I don’t want her to miss out. Her diet was already slightly limited by her peanut allergy, so no sugar knocked even more items off her possible treat list. I started doing some research and found a wealth of recipes online. Unfortunately, the ones that replace chocolate recipes usual include peanut butter, so that’s a no go, but I did find one for jelly worms. She does love a gummy sweet, and she also loves worms, so I thought I’d give them a go. They were super simple and went down a storm. Now all I hear is “Can I have 1 wiggly red thing please mummy. No, two wiggly red things!”

 

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of sugar free jelly crystals
  • 3 packets of gelatine, or 3 leaves
  • 1 cup of water

Soak the gelatine leaves if you’re using them. Bung all of the ingredients into a saucepan and simmer until everything is dissolved. I then lined a lasagne dish with clingfilm and poured it in there. It should be a 1cm approx layer across the bottom of your container. Then out it in the fridge. It sets pretty quickly, I think it was in there for barely an hour. Then turn it out carefully and cut into strips. Hey presto, jelly worms. AND no more toddler tantrums! Bonus!

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My Japanese Potato Salad recipe

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As you can probably guess, we eat a lot of Japanese food in this house. It’s healthy, easy to cook, and absolutely delicious! One of my favourite things to have in the fridge is Japanese Potato salad. It isn’t necessarily very healthy, but it is incredibly scrummy, and can also be a great way of using up bits and bobs in the fridge! This recipe isn’t strictly the ‘proper’ way of making it, it’s just a simpler way of doing it that works for us! If you don’t have Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise for this recipe, then normal is fine, but there is a recipe here for Kewpie style mayonnaise that tastes pretty much the same!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • ham or cooked bacon
  • mayonaise (preferably Japanese if you can get it!)
  • spring onions

Peel and boil the potato whole. It is done when you can easily push a chopstick through it. This takes longer than you think! Mash together the eggs and mayonnaise. Slice the ham or bacon up into tiny rectangles and stir through.  Mash the potato and add the spring onions. You can also cook some cabbage or onion to add  to the spring onions. Mix the egg mixture to the potato until it is a smooth consistency, adding more mayonnaise if you need to. Feel free to add any cooked vegetable that needs using up!

That’s it! It keeeps in the fridge for a couple of days, but chances are, it won’t last that long! You can eat it however you want. I like to eat it from the fridge, with a spoon!

Home made Washing Powder

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I actually made this quite a while ago and I’m down to my last cupful, but I thought I would share this recipe with you as I’ll be definitely making it again. It contains borax substitute which isn’t particularly easy to get hold of. If you can pick it up from a local hardware store then that’s fantastic and it will definitely save you money. I had to get it from Amazon for around £3. This meant that the whole box (around 50 washes) cost about £5.50. That’s not as cheap as it would be if you could source borax substitute cheaply, but still cheaper than most washing powders. Not only that, but I know what is in it. My daughter and myself both have sensitive skin and allergies and have been fine with this powder, which is more than you can say for some of the big brands.

This powder is great, but you will have to use a stain remover or pre soak for tough stains. No different to commercial powders there really, but it does clean your clothes well and you don’t need to use as much. I use 2 tbs per load and it does fine. Also, you can add a scent to your powder in the drawer. Anything you like really. At the moment I’m using a strawberry diffuser oil thingy, but check that what you use won’t ruin your machine!

The recipe I use is

  • 500g of borax substitute
  • 750g of soda crystals
  • 3 household soaps
  • 3 cheap body soaps

You can use all household soap, or all normal soap. You can buy 3 bars of body soap for 50p in Sainsburys. You need to grate the soap so it is really fine. This will no doubt hurt your hands! It certainly did mine! If you find the soap pieces are a bit big then you can use a stick blender to break them up a bit. Mix the soap pieces with the other ingredients. Make sure that you are wearing gloves and that you don’t stand with your face over it, you will taste soap for days! Once it’s mixed together you can use it right away, all you need to do is give it a little shake everytime you use it to ensure it is evenly distributed. Et voilà! Home made washing powder!

Homemade Coffee syrup

I don’t like shopping at Sainsburys, some of their prices are ridiculous, but it happens to be the closest supermarket to my house, and if I need to pick up a couple of bits and don’t want to walk into town, I grit my teeth and go. I’ve been going more often recently, as they are the only shop that sells the Japanese ingredients I have been using.

On one of my recent trips, I noticed a few bits on the reduced section. They are usually very stingy with their reduced food, and they never reduce fresh food, which is suspicious. I did see that they had some baking goods, in particular cinnamon sugar, reduced from £2.99 to 39p.

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Ordinarily I’d whinge and moan about how I could make cinnamon sugar myself at home, but this time I bought it. I had something in mind. I had recently won a competition on Twitter and been sent a lot of coffee samples. Now, I like coffee, but I have a really sweet tooth, so when I saw this, I decided to make coffee syrup from it.

It was so quick and easy, I just added the sugar to the pan, and then used the pot to measure out the same amount of water, then I heated it on the hob until the sugar had dissolved. I then used this cut glass jug I got from a charity shop to store it in.

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Now I have delicious coffee shop grade drinks at an absolute fraction of the price. The syrup should last for quite a while, and it cost the same price as a shot of syrup at the coffee shop!

Extreme Food Planning

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Even though we are usually very careful with our money, we had a bit of a bad time with bills last month.We had an extra water bill, nearly £400 is gas and electric, car tax and I also started an online teaching assistant course. Nearly £800 all in all, is a pretty sizeable amount to pay in one month, whatever your income. As we only have one income it made things a little tight for us!

The only thing we really spend money on is our food, and it occurred to me I had been a little frivolous with our housekeeping money recently. I did the same shop every week whether we needed it or not. It’s not a massive shop, or an expensive shop, but we could do without it. I started worrying that we had no money to live on and we wouldn’t be able to buy food. I took my notebook and decided to do a full inventory of what we had, the fridge, both freezers, cupboards, pantry (read shelf) and dry food rack.

Well, we have a LOT of food. I mean A LOT!!! I seem to be a bit of food hoarder. We have soooo many packets of dried food, stock, sauce packets, loads of tins, freezers full of food. Suffice to say, once I realised I could have sushi once a week for the next 6 weeks without going to the shop, I started feeling a little less sorry for myself! We can comfortably eat for a while without doing a real shop or starving.

The whole thing made me think, we don’t waste any of this food as it can all be stored, but it’s so easy to bulk buy and shop out of habit, I can see how easy it is for people to buy so much food that they end up wasting it. I don’t want to become one of those families that throws away food because they just can’t eat it all! So, we decided to make a meal list of everything we can cook with the ingredients we have, and we have set ourselves a budget of £15 a week for bits like milk, bread, eggs, and fruit and veg. It helps that the toddler is now fully toilet trained as we are saving money on her nappies. We also gave up alcohol for lent, so this is saving us a bit too. Hopefully this will save us the money we need to get on track, and free up a bit of space in our kitchen!

Tips for reducing your food bill

Everyone knows that times are getting tougher, and most people are finding ways to reduce food bills as well as many other household costs. I wanted to share this particular shopping trip with you, and tips as to how I keep our weekly to shops down to around £30.

On a Monday morning I go through the fridge and the freezer and find what meals I can make with what we have. If I need a couple of ingredients then I make my list of ‘make up’ ingredients which turns what we already have into meals. Planning is a huge part of keeping your shopping costs down, and it’s not just about planning meals necessarily, but also knowing exactly what you have so you don’t duplicate or buy things you can’t use.

I leave pretty much as soon as the shops open, ensuring that I get the pick of reduced items. They are reduced more later on in the day, but a lot of the items are gone by then. Although it isn’t practical for most, I visit certain shops for certain items. For example, I go to Morrisons for reduced meat, but Aldi for fruit and vegetables  We live in a small town with lots of supermarkets. Even though I don’t drive, I have 5 supermarkets and several discount shops within walking distance of our house.

Even though I write a list for what I need, this doesn’t mean that the list is set in stone. The key to getting a cheaper shop is to be flexible with ingredients, and to have a large recipe repertoire (or to be handy on Google). If your recipe calls for chicken and £4 for a pack, but turkey or pork is reduced, then it makes sense to substitute.

This is the best Monday morning shop I’ve had

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Almost everything you see here was reduced or on offer. This shop came to a total of £28.34, which is a steal as there are multiple packs of branded items and large cuts of meat. The wraps were reduced to 29p a packet, and the hobnob flapjacks were 12p a packet. I didn’t go out planning to buy them, but they’re things we use everyday, so it makes sense to buy in bulk at that price. The packet food actually came from the discount store BnM. I used to work in a store like this before becoming a full time mum, so I know that the food they receive is usually food from supermarkets that is short dated and they wouldn’t be able to sell in time, or a product that isn’t selling very well at full price. The food is exactly the same quality as the supermarkets, just the price is often greatly reduced.

Of course, we do spend more than we should sometimes, and it’s taken us quite sometime to get in to a shopping habit that suits our budget, but this basic routine means that we always have at least a weeks worth of meals and other staples in the house on a modest budget.

Tricking the toddler into eating- the magic of bento boxes

It seems our love of Japanese food knows no bounds. I’ve gotten so addicted to the cuisine that I spend an hour at a time searching for new recipes and ingredients. One thing I definitely wanted to try was bento boxes. If you have never seen  bento box, they are really just a Japanese lunch box, but they include a wide selection of nutritional food, often leftovers with rice as the main staple. They are an every day part of life in Japan, but in the west we really only see the works of art like these

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Experimenting with new diets – turning Japanese

Recently I have been diagnosed with IBS after having a particularly bad few weeks. I have been told in the past that I might have it, and I worked out for myself that I was probably lactose intolerant, but after this particularly bad flare up I decided we really needed to do something about what we eat. Our meals aren’t ‘bad’, but not great either, and the snacks on top don’t help. Continue reading

Easy, thrifty sandwich filling

Just before Christmas, my parents brought us a mass of reduced food. They have a habit of doing this, and we’re usually inundated with things we struggle to use up. In this assortment was some sandwich fillings. Now, I’m not usually one for these shop bought fillings, but I have to say they were absolutely delicious! However, I wouldn’t dream of paying full price for them! I have been experimenting ever since, and this is what I’ve come up with (not rocket science I admit): Continue reading

Brussel Sprout Surprise

It is SO much tastier than it sounds! Honest! I had a look in the fridge for something the toddler could have for lunch, and this was all I could find.

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