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It’s not just babies who get meningitis….. #24youhavethepower

Sponsored by Pfizer

When my boys were little, and they started running a fever, one thing always popped to the front of my mind when they got to that unresponsive state that young children can go into while they’re ill.  With a glass, I’d stand there pressing it lightly on anything that resembled a spot, yet not really knowing what I was looking for.  All I knew was that meningitis was a very dangerous thing indeed for children, and something I needed to keep an eye out for.  In this post, I’m partnering with Pfizer to spread the word about meningococcal disease.

As a young adult, I didn’t ‘get it,’ that signs of meningitis are actually far more than a purple rash that doesn’t go away when lightly pressed to glass.  I think it was when I read about Victoria Beckham being diagnosed with viral meningitis in 2000, that I really took note and started to research more.  I’d been convinced that meningitis only really affected young children, with very rare instances of adults affected.  At that point, I learned about the difference between bacterial and viral meningitis, and how bacterial meningitis is the more serious of the two.

The difference:

  • Viral Meningitis

Symptoms such as headache, feeling sick, being tired and sensitive to light.  Symptoms usually clear up within a few days.  I suspect most people with this form would think they had a very bad cold or a flu, and are unlikely to know they’ve had viral meningitis.

  • Bacterial Meningitis (e.g meningococcal disease)

Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by the bacteria, Neisseria meningitis.   Even with treatment, death can occur as quickly as 24 hours after symptoms first show, or the disease can cause long-term disabilities.

The bacteria can be spread by kissing!!!!

Busy public areas, such as schools, theatres, cinemas, music festivals as well as being close to family and friends, can spread the disease, by actions as simple as sharing a cup or coughing.

Apparently, in the UK, up to around 1 in 5 adolescents carry the bacteria that can lead to meningitis.  They can carry the disease without showing symptoms themselves, but if the infection spreads to the brain through the bloodstream, the symptoms can become apparent.  That’s an incredible statistic when you think that at school, there might be up to around 30 kids in a class, and potentially, around 6 of those carry the bacteria.  Around 1 in 5 of my friends have blonde hair, which is incredible given that we’re all over forty…..but you know what I mean.


My boys are all at this age now.  Teenagers embarking on the first part of their lives without their parents around at all times, keeping an eye on everything and everyone they come across.  I watch them with their friends, laughing and capering, watching movies – 20 to a bedroom, while passing round the family packs of crisps and sharing bars of chocolate and bottles of juice.  What is that with teenagers these days, where they swig from the cola bottle and pass it along to their friends!!!  I’ve seen my boys sitting at the table with friends, where they’re all eating burgers, or pasta, or whatever I’ve put on to feed the hordes of growing boys, and there’s always one or two who polish off the leftovers from their friends’ plates.

I look at that behaviour differently now, knowing that kissing, socialising in groups and sharing eating and drinking utensils can spread the disease.  I also know that telling a bunch of teenagers that they’re potentially putting themselves at risk, is as likely to change their behaviour as my chances of winning a lottery that’s rolled over for a year…

What Can We Do?

#24youhavethepower is a social media programme designed to educate us.  If you would like to find out more information about meningitis and vaccination, please visit

As parents, adults and adolescents, we do have the power, to learn more, to know what to look for, and how to take the best precautions we can.


I believe vaccination is one of the biggest advances in medicine for our species.  It’s incredible that we can protect ourselves and our kids from some devastating diseases by little injections.  The research involved is life changing for us, and has even eradicated diseases in the UK, like smallpox and polio.  There are Meningitis vaccinations available for babies, teenagers and students too.  My boys did receive the MenACWY vaccine at school in S3, although it took a little persuasion for my middle boy to go through with it.

For me, it was worth persuading my boys to receive protection from a devastating disease, however it’s up to you, as readers to source the information, read the facts, and make your own mind up for your families.  As parents, all we can do, is make an informed judgment call.  Use this post as a means to research for yourself, talk to your GP, and make your own conclusions.

Know the Symptoms

Don’t wait until someone you know has the condition to find out more.

  • Early symptoms can be mistaken for colds or flu, such as fevers, aches and pains, feeling nauseous and vomiting, headaches and confusion.
  • More rare symptoms show up as a rash, stiff neck, aversion to bright light, and being confused.  Not everyone will have these symptoms.

If you suspect someone has meningitis, get immediate medical help, as it is vital for survival.

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All I Want To Do Is Sleep…..

Yes, really.  All I want to do is sleep.  This has been me for the last few weeks.  As soon as it gets dark, my brain seems to think it’s time to climb that wooden hill.  It’s not something I’ve been terribly bothered by for a long time, but one of my boys has.

From what I hear, it affects all of us at some point in our lives.  My husband is one of those who is up with the lark every morning, and while I’ve never understood how that is even remotely possible for anyone, I learned to live with my fuzzy head and setting three alarms every day to get up, and always having one at the opposite side of the room, so that I have to get up to switch it off.  If the alarm is beside my head, I have a tendency to switch it off while I’m still in snoozeland.

I wouldn’t exactly call it excessive sleep as such, as if I fall asleep during the day, I end up awake during the night, which is never good, but I am struggling with the dark o’clock heavy eyes syndrome.

What I’ve learned so far:

Potential Causes

Meds and Medical Conditions

I have an underactive thyroid and fibromyalgia, and those tablets do sometimes interact.  Taking the fibro meds at bedtime might be much more beneficial for me.  Perhaps my thyroid has gone out of sync again, but since my review isn’t due for another few months, I’ll just have to suck this one up for a while.

Not Sleeping Enough

Hmmm.  I’m not convinced by this one, but then again, my sleeping pattern is often all over the place.  I have to get up for my mum during the night, and for middler on occasion, as well as chasing down the elder teens and constant lifts home in the wee hours.  Perhaps it’s not surprising that I want to snooze in the afternoon.  I often get three hours, then up for an hour, and back to sleep again.


Related to the above, and caused by broken and irregular sleep patterns, it’s possible that it is affecting me more than I realise.   I could on many days, easily sleep for 12 hours if I were able to…..


Well, I’m seeing a pattern here.  Not enough sleep at once, hypersomnia caused by irregular sleeping patterns, that exist for shiftworkers, and people with my patterns of sleeping.  It’s almost as if the body is trying to bank sleeping hours with the disruption in my circadian rhythm.


This is a definite no brainer.  Heavy stodge, stews and large meals definitely make me want to sleep.  I’ve never understood those who can eat heavy meals and don’t feel wiped out in the afternoons because of it.

Mental Health

This isn’t me.  Not unless you count stress with a disabled adult and a teen with mental health issues in the house.   Perhaps I need a holiday….  It is a 24/7 job caring for someone who has dementia and is doubly incontinent with full body disability, as well as working on top of it, which often sees me pounding the computer keys at 2am.  I am definitely not depressed, so that rules one condition out.

Sleeping Conditions

My youngest has been told he has insomnia.  I’m not convinced.  Like me, he struggles to get to sleep, but then struggles to wake up.  I think screen time is a problem for most teenagers and if he actually went to bed and switched off his phone, I think he would be fine.  Perhaps I should listen to that as well.

Youngest did have sleep apnea where he would choke when sleeping, stop breathing a little and wake up gasping.  After many tests and different doctors, he finally got diagnosed with kissing tonsils, ie with no space either side of the throat for tonsils to slip into, his would close up and block air getting through.  With a removal of the tonsils, hey presto, his sleep apnea and constant vomiting stopped.

I definitely don’t have narcolepsy, where sufferers fall asleep at all times of the day, it’s more a heavy feeling of wanting to close my eyes and drift off pleasantly.

What Can I Do?

I can’t change some things in my life, such as looking after my mum at all hours of the day and night, and not working isn’t an option, but I do need to be more disciplined with some other things around bedtime, that are just sensible, and would perhaps help others too.

  • I don’t smoke, but if others do, they could try to reduce nicotine before bedtime.
  • Try to chill out before finishing my bedtime routine, ie switching off the TV, laying down my phone and not reading a book.
  • Try and get to bed for a set time.  I know this is almost impossible with my family and work, but it doesn’t mean I can’t at least try.
  • Avoid caffeine for the last hour before bedtime.  I am really going to struggle with this, but given that I struggle to set a regular bedtime, it’s not a surprise.
  • Get back to eating more healthily.  I’ve not been great recently, which sort of goes with the sleep issue.
  • Pinch youngests daylight lamp for evenings.  It’s got to be worth a try to stop me wanting to zzzzz.
  • Try and persuade my GP to test my thyroid levels early.  Not holding out much hope for this one, but you never know.
  • Get outside more in the winter.  I’ve been hibernating recently.  Perhaps this is bad for me…

I suspect anyone reading this is having their own sleep issue, so good luck to all, and it’s time to bring on the longer days.  I’ve had enough of winter..

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Music To Improve Dementia Care

My regular readers tend to know my mum has advanced dementia and also lives with us.  We’re always looking for ways to include her, and at the moment, it tends to work around her need to see children playing.  In a care home, that just wouldn’t happen, so she is best cared for by us, with council carers who come in and help, and some hours we pay for ourselves.  Although my mum does like the radio on, she’s very far gone with her dementia, and struggles to find meaning in music now, other than the simple instant company it gives her if she’s alone in her room while we are doing other things around the house.

Music as Therapy International has launched its #MusicCan campaign promoting the power of music in light of a report published 18 January 2018 by the ILC highlighting the essential role music has to play in the care of people living with dementia.  

Watch the video to see what a difference it can make.



Music as Therapy International have launched a campaign that highlights how music can help improve dementia care, by celebrating the ways music can improve lives and change the approaches to those in care.   They believe in the power of music to make the most of people’s potential, and helping to overcome issues like disability and trauma, as well as mental illness.

The UK charity has launched a #MusicCan campaign to highlight the ways music can help everyone.

The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with higher health and social costs than cancer, stroke and chronic heart disease combined.  That’s a powerful sentence when we consider that dementia is often such an isolating disease.

A report Utley Foundation sponsored report has been launched following a Commission on Dementia and Music by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC), which recognises the wealth of evidence supporting the use of music to improve lives of people living with dementia.

My father lives in a care home, without much in the way of support via music.  Actually, there seems to be little interaction with him as a resident, but he does spend much of his day with the radio on, which helps him as a dementia sufferer, but without conscious management of music as a supporting therapy.   Music is such a big part of lives of most of us these days, and it makes sense for it to be brought under an official banner of treatments and therapies to help those with dementia cope with daily life.

As families and friends, exploring the potential of music to help those who need support can only be a positive thing.  With my mum, it’s a soothing, comforting thing, rather than therapy, but any way to keep reaching out to those who seem isolated is worth trying.

Personally, I think music should be an option for all dementia sufferers.  Granted, there will be some who cannot abide the noise, but as an option, it shouldn’t be discounted.  As carers, if we can show the benefits and improvements to the lives of dementia sufferers with music in their lives, and we talk about it, perhaps we can persuade those who hold the budget strings to make music a more tailored option.  I’ve often witnessed the groups singing hymns, or some man bashing out old war tunes on a past it’s best piano, but I think I need to quote my own mum on this, not long after her dementia diagnosis, when she attended a day centre.

Why do they think everyone over 50 wants to sit around singing hymns all day.  If I want to sing hymns, I’ll go to church on a Sunday.’

The problem is, that when music is considered, I’ve found it as a one fits all attempt.  That rarely works.  Dementia sufferers, like all of us, have different tastes in music.  We shouldn’t think that because they refuse to join a group singing hymns, that they’re not interested in music.

I don’t find music therapy to be a much discussed option for those with dementia.  As with other potential aides, there is usually a limit on costs that can be spent to support our loved ones.  We are often powerless to help with things like physiotherapy, but music is something all of us can take on board as an action.

Anything that can help improve the quality of life of anyone suffering from any health condition is worth a try.  If you are struggling to help someone with anxiety, disability, depression, or any number of other conditions, give it some thought, and see if you can bring some tunes into their lives.  The music should be tailored to what individual people want and need, and actually enjoy.

Find out more at Music as Therapy International 

More about Dementia at Dementia Caregivers



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Where’s YOUR Happy Place?

In collaboration with SACO

Would you believe that one in four of Scottish people given a choice, said their favourite happy place is a white sandy Hebridean beach?  It’s a thought provoking finding, and I suspect it has absolutely everything to do with those white sandy beaches.  I don’t think anyone could say no to a sandy beach.

The further research from SACO, found that visiting Loch Ness and walking in the Lake District were joint second place, while visiting the Roman Baths of Bath and enjoying fish and chips in Padstow harbour completed the top five happy spots for Scots.

It’s no surprise to me, that two thirds of the adults said some of their fondest memories of being a child were spent holidaying in Britain.  When I grew up, going abroad was just not an option for us.  Most of my kids holidays have been at home too, in caravans or latterly the motorhome before we sold it.  We still take holidays here in the UK, as the cost is what does it for us everytime.  I know that camping would be cheaper still, but something to do with the open air, hard ground and no en suite facilities tends to put me off…  As a tin tenter for years, we’ve taken our fair share of holidays at home, and we’ve all loved them.

We’ve stayed in Dornoch, Nairn, Cambridge, Devon, Montrose, Perth and many  more, always being part of the outdoor caravan site life.  At times it’s been luxury holiday site and at others, it’s just been us and a couple of other vans….  It was always different.  One of our favourite places to go, as a Scot, was up in Aviemore.  You can’t beat it for scenery and things to do if you’re an outdoorsey type.

Caravan Site John O’Groats – The Lone Van

In Aviemore, we’ve also stayed in their chalets, as there’s an enormous amount of good quality serviced apartments in Scotland.  One of the best we’ve had, was a one night to Edinburgh, where we got a last minute apartment on Princes Street itself, with all the mod cons and falling out onto the street.

I think I really do agree that if we could guarantee the weather, it’s unlikely we’d go abroad much.  We don’t go often as it is, but if we had great weather, it would be even less.  It’s the little things that stay in our memories.  I’m glad we managed to pass those along to our kids, and I hope they pass great experiences along to theirs.

You just never know what you might see on your travels.  We got stuck behind this little posse one year….

I must admit, that having our dog, was influenced our UK based holidays for many years, as we didn’t want to put her into kennels, and it was nice to take her to new places, and create great family experiences for the kids and the animals in our lives.

How I miss this girl being in our lives…..

We don’t have to spend a fortune for kids to have a great time.  We’ve rolled down hill, skimmed stones, dug holes in sand during a cold winter day and more….  It’s all about doing……

Have a look at the infographic from SACO, for more information on their research.  Where’s YOUR happy place?

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The 4GEE Community Cinema Club

We got the chance to give this a try.  It was a bit of a no brainer, as it involved gadgets and movies, which are the two biggest hobbies of almost all the Scottish Mum family.  I think most of us have heard of EE these days, and they launched a new Community Cinema Club for 2017.

This year, EE brought a series of 4G powered film screenings to rural communities across the UK, in partnership with BAFTA.

The first event was on the side of Gimmer Crag, a sheer cliff face in the Lake District, which has only recently become connected by EE and the 4G network.

I’ve obviously got no head for heights, as just looking at this picture makes me feel dizzy.

As a Scot, whose relationship with 4G was very patchy until very recently, when even the possibility of 3G working, seemed to be a distant memory.  EE is continuing it’s 4G roll out, with each newly connected community being given a 4GEE Community Cinema Kit to keep, which includes a 4G WiFi device, a state-of-the-art connected projector, wireless speakers, and a movie streaming voucher to host al fresco movie nights with BAFTA-winning films during the year.

Many rural communities which have just come online with EE, are pretty remote, and miles away from a cinema, although EE intend to connect 95% of the UK landmass by 2020,.  It’s also a lovely idea, to help communities make their own cinema club, with a kit that can be used outside and indoors too.

While the bigger competition for a full kit like mine is over, there is still the option of winning a smaller on the go kit to watch movies on the move.  On the 25th August, 10 lucky winners will be in with the chance to win one of these, so keep an eye out on their Twitter for the news, and details of how to enter.

We’ve been doing some renovations inside, and rainy weather convinced us to give our kit a try on a dark damp night, by stitching the canvas screen onto the supports of the new wall that’s going up.  It made a perfect place to hang the screen.

We used our box as the stand for the movie, which worked a treat.  As it’s the first time we used it, it took a fair few minutes to get it up and running, but how fabulous was that when we had half a whole wall to watch a movie with……..

I realise just how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to test this kit out.   With the canvas screen, the speaker and the projector, it’s a pretty good full blown cinema experience.  Outside, I think we’d have to try and find some trees to tie the screen to, but it’s worth a try to give it a go.

We hadn’t charged up the gadgets before use, so we had to plug in, but everything operates by battery.  I think we’re going to enjoy this very much over the next few weeks, while we learn to get to know it a bit.  In the end, it was fairly simple, with the EE 4G being used to provide the data, which allowed us to watch the movie by streaming it through the projector box.

Even the cat was interested in the box………

EE, is part of the BT Group, which means it’s the the largest mobile communications company in the UK, delivering mobile and fixed communications services to consumers.

EE pioneered the UK’s first superfast 4G mobile service in October 2012.

I have to admit, watching a film was the longest I’ve had our youngest in the room with us for about a year.  It must have been something about the size of the canvas screen, as we certainly did have the cinema experience.

Remember, make sure to keep in touch with EE on Twitter, to find out how to enter for the smaller on the move kit on the 25th.

We’re taking our kit outdoors next.  This will be interesting….

Thanks to EE for the opportunity to try the cinema kit.

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Having Wide Feet Isn’t Fair…….

Brought to you, in collaboration with Simply Be.

I think the name of this says it all.  I’m one of those people with boats for feet.  Really, when I was around the age of 10, I’d hit a size 7 in shoes, and was just touching five foot tall.  By the time I was 11, I’d gone into 7.5 and have fluctuated between 7 – 8 over the years, depending on the styles, manufacturers and widths on offer.

In an upmarket shoe shop, they once measured me as having a C width….  I don’t know about their tape measures, but standard shop shoes tend to be around a C to D width, and I’ve hardly ever been able to get anything with a heel on in a D width, unless the manufacturer has been very generous indeed.  Perhaps it’s my high instep that throws the width I need off, but I’ve always had to consider good width shoes.

I remember years ago, buying a pair of Sole Diva boots.  They were ankle boots, in black suede wedge, and a good height, at around 3 or so inches high.  They were like pillows on my feet, and I loved them.  Over the years, I’ve tried to find another pair that are similar, but never come up smelling of roses for this.  Simply Be asked me to take a look at their ranges for the new season, and the first thing I headed to was the shoe department, for obvious reasons.

I’ve not looked at these for a while, so it was nice to see regular shoes in EEE widths, as well as regular.  I’ve tended to live in trainers and fitflops over the last year, but that has to stop as I go into a new business venture for the future.  I do need footwear that will be a little smarter going forward.

I quite like the look of these silver mules.  in E width for £35.

These look quite comfy for standing about all day in, and cool enough to go with jeans on black trousers.

I’m very much a jeans with sandals girl in summer, and jeans and boots girl in winter.  Perhaps I shouldn’t say girl, given my age, but you know what I mean.  I also think it’s important for brands to design for women, not just for very skinny, boyish figures, which is why I’m not surprised that there are several online shops now that have good clothes, in a range of sizing.  For jeans, at the moment, I seem to very between brands, ranting from size 8 to size 12, depending on who makes them.

The one thing I’ve learned over the years, from being all sizes of clothes, is that if a size 10-12 model on the larger clothing ranges doesn’t look good in something, then it’ll look ten times worse on me.  I go for things I like the shape of, and try them.

These jeans have a great shape, and at £28, for a shape I like, is good value.  I tend to pay for shape rather than brand with jeans, which I think many of us middleaged people do.

Brought to you, in collaboration with Simply Be. Opinions are my own, and not reflective of Simply Be.

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The Spring Beach Clean – ps, it’s not what you think….

Every so often, as bloggers, we’re asked to share initiatives that are actually beneficial for all of us.  This is one of those initiatives, that I think we all need reminding of from time to time.

The #binit4beaches campaign team contacted me, and asked me to do a post, which I’m delighted to do.  They are a group of environmental campaigns and businesses, working together to reduce the pollution in the UK’s rivers and seas.

They say.

Did you know that there are approximately 200,000 sewer blockages throughout the UK every year, of which up to 75% are caused by fat, oil and grease poured down the sink? These blockages can cause sewage to overflow into local rivers and to the sea, places we all want to be able to enjoy safely with our friends and family.

What They Asked Bloggers

We were asked to become WATER AMBASSADORS, by informing all of you who read us, about the simple things we can do to help at home.

Remember that when you’re washing up, after making any of my recipes, DON’T pour oils and grease down the sink.

Instead wait for the oil or grease to cool and either wipe with kitchen roll into the bin or create a fat trap in an old jar to throw away later, either way; make sure these products go in the BIN, not the SINK!  I’m actually really good for doing this now, but a few years back, I’d have just turned on the hot tap, and let it swish down the plughole, never thinking where it would all end up.  Clean pipes, mean a higher chance of clean beaches.

Oils and grease can cause sewer blockages, which can overflow into homes, rivers and finally to the sea.  And we all want our beaches to be places we enjoy safely, especially if we have children and dogs with us.

This Easter make the change and #binit4beaches.”

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Update & The Twiddle Mitt for Dementia

Those of you following my blog, know my mother has dementia and has been in hospital for a while now. With the wrong medicine initially, and the trauma, her hearing and sight are now fairly badly impaired, although at a medium distance, she can still make things out, but not close up, even with glasses.  They missed her retina scan at the hospital, and I’m hopeful they actually take her to the rescheduled appointment this week as I’m working, but apart from that, she gets to rest a lot more and is generally much happier.

She’s had a rough time, but she came home for a visit today.  A few days ago, they told my husband they’d changed her care package to help me with her, apparently, from something different to what I was told, but nobody has told me what that is yet, and at the home visit today, they told me there’s no care……

She didn’t seem to recognise terribly much, and it’s clear the OT etc had no understanding of how little she could do before she went into hospital.  She’s seen as a significant risk of falls, which really isn’t any different to before, but with her dementia more advanced, her confusion is very sad.

The poor thing was frozen in her wheelchair when they got her here.  The OT who came with her looked a bit taken aback when I asked why she didn’t have her coat or any socks on, on a cold breezy day.

Social media, however, is amazing.  People regularly message me and ask how she is and one of my Twitter friends sent me a gorgeous twiddle mitt for her.  She’ll get more use of it at home than in hospital, where they don’t give it to her, and she only gets it if I’m in, but it’s a fabulous thing.  I’d never heard of them before.  With lots of stitched in little bits, and a wooden toggle inside, it’s great for warming hands and fiddling with.  The lovely purple mitt that I was sent, has tinsel wrapped around it, and a couple of little bells, and some fancy stitching.  It’s simple, and lovely at the same time.

I’d never heard of them before, but I’ve since seen them on e-bay, as I’ve been looking, and some hospitals have been asking for them to give to patients.  It was one of my Twitter friends who was knitting twiddle mitts for her local hospital, who knows about my mum, and very kindly sent me one.  The kindness of strangers is often overwhelming.

The blanket she has on her in this pic, is one I made when I was 15 – several decades ago…..  She used to recognise it as something from home, but I’ve taken it home and given her a thicker one, as at the moment, she doesn’t seem to recognise much from her old life, and is always cold, so the thicker blanket it is.  She’s getting thinner and thinner by the week, as she hardly eats anything, although she seems brighter than she has for a while.

Thanks to everyone who reads me, and sorry for the sporadic posts these last few months.  I am still here and pottering away with a few different things.  I hope to let you all know more soon.







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Pear and Apricot Stilton Stuffed Pork Loin

I was lucky enough to be asked to provide a pork recipe for Quality Meat Scotland.  As part of that lovely challenge, I got my meat from John Davidson, a local butcher to me, who provides great quality, and devised this lovely dish, which photographed a treat.

The carrots prepared like this are absolutely amazing  To find out how to make it for yourself, head on over to the website to find the recipe. 

See it for yourself, as well as lots of other recipes from bloggers like myself.

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Single Pot Cheddar Cheeseburger Casserole That Will Blow Your Mind

Guest Recipe by Chidinma of Fruitful Kitchen.

Who doesn’t like burgers?

I think there are very few people out there who truly don’t enjoy one. But today, as I was getting ready to go out and buy a burger, I realised how unhealthy that is. I thought of making my own burger, which isn’t hard, but then I wasn’t in the mood to go and get the ingredients.

In comes the one pot cheeseburger casserole! Sounds weird, right? Well, it’s actually delicious and fairly easy to make. I came across this idea because I already had ground beef, cheese, veggies and pasta…why not make something out of these?

Don’t worry, even if it sounds complicated, making this casserole only requires a few steps, some easy-to-find ingredients, and it can be done in one single pot at a time, just make sure you have a sturdy and big pot.

Let’s get cooking this crazy but yummy take on a cheeseburger!

One Pot Beef Burger Casserole With Cheese

Servings: 6/ Prep time: 10 minutes/ Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 1 ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • ½ tbsp mustard
  • 1lb rotini pasta (or any small pasta such as mini penne, mini fusilli, or conchiglie)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step-by-step Directions

  1. Pick a large pot and add olive oil, let it warm over medium heat. While your pot is warming up, chop your onion into small squares.
  2. Place onion and let it cook until golden or transparent. Once it looks cooked enough, add ground beef and increase the heat a little bit.
  3. Let the meat cook until browned, for about 3-5 minutes. Make sure you mix the beef and onions as it cooks, add the minced garlic and mix again. Finally add salt and pepper to meat as it cooks.
  4. When meat looks brown, stir in diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Mix together for about 1 minute. After, add ketchup, broth, mustard, pasta and water and stir well so everything mixes together.
  5. Cover your pot, turn down the heat to low, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until your pasta looks tender.
  6. Remove from heat and sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top. Cover again for about 3 minutes, or until your cheese melts sufficiently.
  7. Serve with your favorite toppings, such as lettuce, fresh tomato or even pickles. Enjoy!

Ready to Try This Deconstructed Burger?

I know it seems bizarre at first, but I promise you, once you have tried this casserole, you will be in love. This is the perfect recipe for cold weather, or for a group of friends. Try accompanying it with some baked potatoes, or oven-roasted potatoes if you have a large group of friends coming over to try this dish.

If you are vegetarian, maybe use some mashed chickpeas, or lentils, instead of beef. And if you want gluten free, skip the pasta and use rice pasta, or simply use diced potatoes instead.

When making this recipe, you can add different veggies, I picked these because they are usually the ones that go with burgers, but you can change them up for something more Italian, like olive oils, or something more Mexican, like corn and hot sauce. Give it a try, but always allow your meat to cook first before adding your veggies and sauces.

What do you think? Does this seem like a good, easy recipe to make perhaps this weekend? Let me know what you think and if you have tried it!

Author Bio: Chidinma is the founder of Fruitful Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious recipes and lifestyle tips. Most of her recipes help women with fertility issues, especially fibroids, PCOS, and Endometriosis. Sometimes, however, you will find other interesting recipes, as well as cooking tips and tricks there.


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Healthy Food for January

I don’t know about all of you, but after Christmas and New Year, one of the things I look forward to is getting my food back under control and being organised in January.  I’m at a point where much more weight loss isn’t really what I’m after as I’d like to recomp, ie add a little muscle but stay roughly within the same weight range, give or take 5 pounds or so.

I don’t want to drop too much more weight, as it will go from my face, instead of where I’d like the last of it to go, ie my belly, but I don’t like looking haggard.  I’ll trade a bit of belly for some flesh on my face.

Hopefully some of the belly will go as I try to decrease body fat in total, but if it means my face gets too thin, I’ll put a couple of pounds back on again.  It’s all about being stronger as I get older, rather than fitting into the smallest size clothes.

So, for the rest of this month, I am back into focussed mode, and that means eating as healthy as I possibly can, while increasing the amount of exercise I do.  Over Christmas, I’ve only done a few runs, and most were on a treadmill.  I don’t mind admitting, that two days ago, my first run outside for a month was punishing.  It took a km for my lungs to settle, and at 4k, the tops of my legs got still although easier to run.  I stopped around the 5k, as I didn’t want to risk getting injured.  I can still pound out 10k+ on the treadmill, but outside is different, especially if there’s some wind.

My internet connection is pretty rubbish at the moment, so I can’t upload the new videos I have sitting waiting, but in the meantime, I’ve added posts that have some of the food I’ll likely be eating. I’m aiming for 1300 calories and 100g protein a day.  As I don’t eat that much meat at the moment, finding protein in lower calorie foods is a challenge, hence my choices below.

My Go To Foods This Month

  • Protein Powder – My choice is MyProtein, due to how easy it is to get and value for money.  Want to get a discount on your first order? Click here to use my referral code and get 25% off your first order if it’s over £25.
  • Protein Bars – Again, I go to MyProtein, and get their High Protein version as it’s nearly 30g protein in each bar.
  • Dried Mango.
  • Medjool Dates.
  • Skyr – Various Flavours.
  • Mixed Berries.
  • Persimmon and Banana.
  • Milk.

My Trusty Filler Recipes

 Cream of Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup                 High Protein Chocolate Pudding


Chunky Mediterranean Vegetable Soup                   Veg


Broccoli, Sweetcorn & Asparagus Soup                      Frozen Mango Yoghurt





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Skavi & Ray Alkoholfrei Prosecco and Lush Bahlsen Christmas Goodies

Thanks to Scavi & Ray, and also to Bahlsen for our Christmas samples.

Scavi & Ray Alcohol Free Prosecco

I have to say, that I haven’t understood the Prosecco thing.  I’m pretty much teetotal, but not through deliberate or sustained choice.  I’ve had times in my life when I’ve drunk alcohol, it’s just that it hasn’t been that often, and I rarely ever found a drink I actually enjoyed.

Wine for me, is a bit hit or miss.  I rarely drink it in company, as it tends to be either very dry, or to me, pretty bitter.  I’m usually a cheap fizzy wine girl when I choose to imbibe, as I have absolutely zero alcohol class, and because it’s rarely on offer, I usually say no.  I’d been quite negative around the Prosecco culture, but I hadn’t ever really tasted it, nor had I understood why it’s talked about so much.

Scavi & Ray asked me to try the Alcohol free version, so I gave it a go.  I also have to say, I’ve never understood the put the kids to bed and have a glass of wine thing that goes on in blogging circles. I’d rather have chocolate……  Perhaps it’s just the younger ones, but hey ho.  The times I do miss having a drink in my hand, is at the Christmas dinner table, or at New Year.  I usually end up having to drive, so it’s often fizzy grape juice, but you know how it goes, there’s often someone, who’s usually had a drink or two, and they’re trying to push ‘just one,’ glass on you.  It annoys me that they push, and it annoys them that I don’t take.

The bottles really do look like a real bottle of wine.  I received two sample bottles, in a perfect size, and immediately – my Xmas and New Year problem is solved on the fooling those who are drinking into my actually taking one.  Unless they scrutinise the bottles very carefully, they’re not going to know.

Tasting some of my wine, I realised it’s a sparkling wine, and is refreshing, almost as sweet as grape juice but it looks like the real stuff.  I have no idea if this tastes like the alcoholic version of Prosecco, as I’ve never tried it, but if it does, I understand why it’s popular.  I have also realised the attraction…..and it’s that many people who drank wine, used to pretend they like the other stuff…….   This non-alcoholic Prosecco is fizzy wine, and doesn’t have a name that’s frowned upon.  It’s also very easy to drink…

I don’t think I’d be persuaded to go down the alcohol version route, as I don’t fancy a hangover with my daily routine.  There are no days off when you have 2 people with disabilities in your house, and you need to be able to get up during the night when the need arises.  Available from Amazon.

Bahlsen Christmas Goodies

This type of Christmas food, is something else I hadn’t ever tried, so is the main reason for choosing to feature these on my blog.

Our samples were:

  • Lebkuchen Mischung – An assortment of spiced lebkuchen cakes with chocolate.
  • Mohn-Stollen – A Christmas stollen with a poppy seed filling.
  • Zimtsterne – Star shaped cinnamon spiced, hazlenut cakes.

My favourite is the Mohn-Stollen.  I honestly thought the crunch was nuts, but it’s the poppy seeds.  I don’t mind either way, as it was delicious.

The Zimtsterne and Lebkuchen Mischung tasted very similar to me, but with slightly different textures than I expected.  From the shape and size, I expected crunch biscuit, but they really are a cake like texture in the middle.   I believe Waitrose, Amazon, Ocado, Asda, Morrison and Tesco stock Bahlsen goodies.  The cakes tasted cinnamony to me, but my youngest is convinced they are ginger based.   I checked the packaging and I was right. That’s why I liked them, as cinnamon is my favourite spice of the season.

Sadly, I opened the Mohn-Stollen early afternoon, and it was half gone in less than an hour.  I can’t see this hanging around for long.

I hope you all enjoy your own pick of Christmas goodies when you go shopping this month.

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