So the good old government has introduced free school lunches for all infants as of this September. Quite how some schools are going to cope with all the extra demand is unclear, but what is certain is that the packed-lunch-eaters are going to be in the minority.
Biggest (7) has always had a packed lunch and flatly refuses to eat a school dinner, which has obviously had an impact on Littlest (4) who is about to start school and, despite the offer of a free lunch, is adamant that she is having a packed lunch, too. I must confess, as much of a hassle as it sometimes is, I quite like them having a packed lunch as I a) know what they’re eating and it’s healthy b) I have to think of interesting things to put in it (this point can be good and bad) and c) I quite like all the packed lunch paraphernalia – lunchbox, cooler bag, drinks bottles etc. I think this taps into my food container obsession… (see my Twitter feed for more on this!)
I was, therefore, delighted to receive for review a Framboise Pink Yumbox – the UK distributor of these American-designed lunchboxes, which are styled on the traditional Bento box. The interior tray comprises six small compartments for different kinds of foods – grains, protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables, with an illustration and the name of each food group printed inside, as well as a small receptacle for dip, dressing or yogurt. I was quite excited to see you can pack wet foods (not liquid) in the Yumbox, as it’s leakproof, which is pretty cool.
My first impression was that is quite heavy. The plastic outer box is no heavier than your average lunchbox, but once you slot in the interior tray, and consider that it would then have food in it too, it is quite weighty in my opinion. Not off-putting, but heavier than the Sistema lunchbox I use for my son, for instance.
The next question was ‘Where does the sandwich go?’ – and this was my husband’s first question too. I can see this would be an issue for some, for whom a packed lunch equals a sandwich and few other bits. However, for my daughter, who while she is not a picky eater, doesn’t love huge sandwiches and prefers finger foods, I could actually see that this could really work for her. I like the compartments, which remind you to make the packed lunch healthy and interesting – ‘Have I added some vegetables?’ ‘What dip could I put in the little pot?’ – and the compartments are just the right size. Initially I thought they might be too small but they’re not, they’re just perfect for little ones (and big ones!) and this provides an ample lunch.
The first time we used the Yumbox was at the beginning of the summer. We went on a picnic with a group of friends, and I have to admit that it did get some ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ when I pulled it out the bag as it’s quite unlike anything else. All the other mums were very interested, and agreed that for little children in particular, eating this way i.e. a bit of this, and a bit of that, was very appealing. It looks really attractive, and filling the compartments makes you think about the visual look of the food and want to add a bit of colour from fruit or vegetables or add in different textures and interesting things because the compartments are so beguiling. Lunch becomes a visual feast and an exciting experience.
Littlest loved it – she actually ate more than she usually would – she is renowned for leaving half her roll or sandwich – and on this occasion she ate her cucumber and pepper, then her cherries and crackers and then the other bits and pieces and enjoyed dipping the vegetables into the mayonnaise.
I would say the Yumbox offers a new packed lunch or picnic experience and has its pros and cons. The interior tray is a bit of a faff to wash up, as you can’t really leave it to drain easily I found, as water gets in the nooks and crannies, so is probably best in the dishwasher (top rack). It is quite heavy, as mentioned, and it does require a different attitude to lunch, i.e. beyond the sandwich. Arguably this takes up more time, as you have to think what you’re going to put in the compartments, and some one-handed cooks (parents) may find that off-putting. But all in all, having gone on to use it several times over the summer, I think it’s great for the reasons above, not least because it makes you think about providing a balanced, healthy lunch and not just sticking a slice of ham between two slices of bread. I’ve used it myself to take lunch to work and it’s great if you are trying to reduce the amount of bread you eat, for instance.
For visual inspiration, go to the Yumbox website or look on Pinterest where there are a gazillion inspirational Yumbox photos – I am including a couple of photos of the lunches I made for Littlest over the summer, which are quite boring in comparison, but at least it shows that even with relatively ‘unexciting’ ingredients – ham, crackers, cherry tomatoes, olives, or cheese, cut-up rolls, beetroot and homemade chutney – you can create something visually appealing, healthy and portable. In short, lunch heaven.
The Yumbox retails at £24.95 and is available from the website in a variety of lovely colours.
With thanks to Yumbox www.yumbox-uk.co.uk for the chance to review this lunchbox.
More soon on my new obsession – jam-making and plums galore!
Disclaimer: I was sent a Framboise Pink Yumbox for free to review on The One-Handed Cook blog. All opinions are my own.
Ah, holidays… some see holidays as a chance to spend time together as a family, peacefully reflecting on the meaning of life, passing days quietly doing relaxing activities together… Hmm, not in this household. More like a chance to spend 24 hours a day together in a place that’s hotter than the sun (Spain), jump in swimming pools, eat far too many crisps, and cope with whining children who ‘just want to get this one thing’ from the tacky souvenir shop….
Ho ho. But seriously, Spain was great. We spent two days in Barcelona followed by eight down near Valencia, combining pool time with visits to the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, the waterpark in Cullera (fantastic fun) and, er, the local Carrefour. Yup, one of my holiday highlights was browsing the aisles in the local hypermarket – I spotted unusual bathmats, some lovely wicker baskets, some great clothes, and as for the kitchenware – there were gadgets I’d never even seen before (I didn’t think this was possible).
Frankly, you can’t beat a European supermarket. And what did I come home with from Spain? Yup, three mini storage containers in orange, yellow and green, ‘para las frutas’ – I couldn’t resist them, as I loved the bright colours. Truly rock n roll, baby.
Hasta la vista,
This fruit salad came together by accident – I had a lime that needed eating up and having had lunch at Mexican eatery Wahaca earlier in the week I felt inspired to give my fruit salad a bit of a Mexican twist, and we all loved it. We had it for breakfast outside last week – super-healthy and so delicious. The colours are simply amazing – look!
Warm weather seems to make it easier to eat more simply than usual and I’ve been whizzing up smoothies, throwing together delicious salads and keeping family food simple, just using delicious ingredients such as these fresh strawberries and ripe mangoes.
We’ve also been enjoying some lovely al fresco food on local picnics here in our little corner of south-east London, as well as barbecues on our recent camping trip to the New Forest, when we also toasted marshmallows and ate ice-creams every day. We were very taken with the wild ponies – what a beautiful part of the world!
Much-needed holiday to Spain soon – life’s been so busy lately, and we need a break. Catch up when I’m back :)
Quick 3-Fruit Salad
Enjoy making this – it’s so quick and easy and an absolute winner!
1 ripe mango, diced
1 punnet strawberries, hulled and diced
1 punnet blueberries
Juice of ½ lime
1 tablespoon maple syrup
What to do:
This one couldn’t be easier: simply toss together the fruit, squeeze over the lime juice and stir in the maple syrup. Let it sit for 20 mins before eating, so the flavours combine really well. Stir again before serving.
I thought it would be fun to pull together some of the photos I’ve taken for this blog over the past 18 months or so. As you can see, I try to illustrate my recipes and gadget reviews in a fun way! I love taking these photos, and have built up quite a collection of my own Playmobil and Lego figures, in addition to those upstairs in the toy box… You can see ALL my photos on my Pinterest page, The One-Handed Cook.
This blog is a fun place to come and find simple yet tasty recipes, and reviews of cool cookware and other kitchen-related things that might be of interest to any busy parent. My aim is to share easy recipes, shortcuts and tips – I know what it’s like juggling baby on your hip, or toddler at your feet, or whining 3-year-old, or older child with the appetite of a grown man, with LIFE!
I write as regularly as I can – being a busy working mum of two means it’s not always as often as I’d like – but I love the process of thinking about the post, planning and taking the photo, and then sharing with you. I also love being part of the wider parent- and food-blogger communities and have discovered some great blogs and met some great bloggers, which has been amazing.
So, if you enjoy reading my blog, please do spread the word! And do give me feedback on any of the recipes you try.
As long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.
Just wanted to share a bit of blogging love this Sunday evening :)
The One-Handed Cook x
We have a winner folks! And she wins an Oxo Berry Bowl set and an Oxo Strawberry Huller. She is… Maddie Sinclair from the blog Gammon & Chips (www.gammonandchips.com). I loved her comment about serving strawberries on a massive bed of meringue and, as she says, ‘You can take the girl out of Australia, but you can’t take away her love of a bloody good pavlova!’
Happy weekend all,
Who doesn’t love eating outside in the summer? Ah, bliss. Of course, in my head an al fresco dinner will be like it is in the movies – the family (all smiling, happy and sitting properly on their chairs) are seated round a rustic wooden table laden with delicious fresh food, a faint scent of lavender in the air, and a gentle breeze to keep us cool while we tuck in. In reality, my patio is tiny, my patio table is even tinier, and the minute I step outside with food, wasps head my way…
Small patio aside, I did recently make and enjoy a rather fabulous Quiche Lorraine, inspired by some rather lovely Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs and Spoiltpig bacon, which I was sent to taste. I have written about Spoiltpig bacon before, and the reason I like it is because it’s made using outdoor reared pork approved by Freedom Food AND it’s completely delicious. Animal welfare is important to me and I would rather buy less meat than buy low-quality meat of questionable origin.
Burford Brown eggs have the most wonderful deep sunset yellow yolks and will give your quiche a super colour, and again are free range and produced with high welfare standards in mind.
Now trust me, this Quiche Lorraine is seriously good. I am afraid that this isn’t a recipe to be made one-handed, but what is brilliant is that you can make it in stages – you can get your pastry base ready and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it, you can cook the bacon in advance – it doesn’t matter if it goes cold once it’s cooked as it goes back in the oven anyway. Get the different elements ready and then whip up the filling and assemble the thing when you have time. You will be pleased you did, as it’s pretty impressive!
We all absolutely loved this and I have made it twice during the last two weeks, so this is a must-have summer recipe as far as I am concerned. Oh, and I used bought pastry. I’m a busy woman!!
A classic Quiche Lorraine does not have cheese in, I’m told. But I always add it. Coz I am crazy like that. This is delicious warm from the oven (allow it to cool a little before serving) or at room temperature the next day – remove from the fridge half an hour or so before serving. Great with a crunchy green salad with a vinaigrette dressing or, for the kids, slices of cucumber and mini tomatoes.
Serves 6-8 depending on hunger levels
You will need:
1 pack ready made shortcrust pastry
184g pack Spoiltpig dry cured streaky bacon, chopped (I use scissors)
1 tbsp oil
320ml double cream
4 Burford Brown whole eggs, and 2 extra yolks
75g strong cheese, grated (Parmesan, strong Cheddar or Comté work well)
Black pepper, freshly ground
For the base:
- Roll the pastry out as thinly as you can and use to line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottomed fluted flan tin. Ease the pastry into the base and use a ball of pastry to press the pastry into the grooves of the tin (top tip!)
- Trim the pastry edges so it sits slightly above the tin. Prick the base with a fork and chill for at least 10 minutes (the quiche, not you).
- When ready to cook, put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200°C/180°Fan/Gas 6.
- Line the pastry case with cling film and fill with dry or baking beans and bake on the hot sheet for 15–20 minutes. Remove cling fim and beans and bake for another 5 minutes until the pastry is golden.
For the filling:
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon for around 8–10 minutes, until cooked through but not crisp. Drain and spread half over the hot pastry base.
- Put the cream and the eggs and yolks into a large bowl with a generous grinding of black pepper, and beat together slowly until combined. Add the grated cheese, and then give it a fast whisk for 30 seconds until frothy.
- Pour over the bacon, and then sprinkle the remaining bacon on top.
- Bake for 20 mins, then check. The quiche is ready when it has puffed up but still has a wobble in the centre. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
As mentioned in a previous post, I absolutely love summer berries and fruit – from strawberries and raspberries to blueberries and cherries – there’s just so much to enjoy! So when I was given the chance to try OXO’s new Strawberry Huller and Berry Bowl Set as well as some delicious Sweet Eve Strawberries I was delighted to test them. And what’s more, OXO have given me a set to give away to one lucky reader! Scroll down for info on how to enter and for my Summer Berry Cream Pots recipe.
The colander in the Berry Bowl Set is just the right size for a punnet of fruit – so rather than having to get out the large colander just to wash a few berries, this a great compact version. What’s more, once you’ve washed them, there’s no more dripping water everywhere, you simply sit the red colander in the white bowl – complete with rubber-grip base – and because it all looks so nice, you can take it straight to the table. If you don’t eat all the berries, you can tip them into the bowl, and store in the fridge with the lid on. I think this is a brilliant bit of kit. Perfect for Wimbledon fans :)
The Strawberry Huller is designed to easily remove the stalk from your strawberry. It is completely amazing – you just stick it into the top of the berry and twist, then pull out the whole stalk. If your strawberries are firm, it works a treat. Would be particularly useful if you were making jam or similar, and needed a lot of berries.
Berry Cream Pots
I used my berry kit to make Berry Cream Pots, very easy and very delicious! Littlest and I ate them outside in the sunshine. Summer heaven.
The lovely folks at OXO UK have given me a Berry Bowl Set and a Strawberry Huller kit to give away on the blog. If you’d like to win one, please comment on this post. To be in with a chance of winning a berry kit, you have to leave a comment below telling me your favourite way of serving strawberries – include pics!
OXO have other bloggers giving away berry kits, too, and once they have ALL the winners in, those winners will go forward to get the chance to win a year’s supply of strawberries! (This part of the competition will be administrated by OXO.)
THE GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED NOW AND I WILL BE SELECTING A WINNER SHORTLY.
Good luck and happy berry eating!
With thanks to Oxo UK for the prizes. All opinions on the blog are my own.
The small print:
1. Entry in to the prize draw will be deemed as acceptance of these rules.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident, aged 18 or over, who leaves a comment below telling me their favourite way of serving strawberries.
3. The competition ends at midnight on 15 July 2014.
4. One winner will be selected from all valid entries. The winner’s name will be given to OXO who will supply the prize and put the winner’s name forward to win a year’s supply of strawberries.
5. One entry per person.
6. The prize is one OXO Berry Bowl Set and one OXO Strawberry Huller.
7. The prize is non-negotiable, non-transferable, and there is no cash alternative.
8. The prize will be posted to the winner’s home address within 30 days.
9. If a response is not received by the winner within 30 days they will forfeit their right to the prize.
10. No purchase necessary.