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Can you help me with healthy eating?

12 Apr

I started this year with great intentions of eating more healthily. I was frustrated that I wasn’t really eating five fruit or veg a day when it’s really not hard if you plan your meals right.

For breakfast I would have some juice, and cereal or porridge with dried or fresh fruit and I was getting 3 or 4 of my five-a-day before I left for work. I replaced more unhealthy snacks with seeds and crackers and planned healthy meals packed full of vegetables.

Our new years resolution helped because without the option of nipping out for take-away food I had to plan what we would eat and I had to cook every night. We wasted less food and saved money.

Sounds great, right? Well life tends to get in the way sometimes. Getting ill seems to have knocked everything off balance for us at the moment. I haven’t been cooking, I haven’t been shopping, I haven’t really been cleaning and my new years resolution has gone down the drain. I’ve just been rushing around dreaming of the moment that I can walk through the door and collapse into bed.

More annoyingly I know that it is a catch 22 situation. If I don’t eat properly then I’ll have less energy to get better and actually enjoy life. Arrggh!

My sweet friend Gill is currently taking part in a project called Raw Food Rehab which intrigues me. It’s an 11 week programme called Go Fresh! where you have to try and eat as much raw, fresh food as you can. I won’t be taking part as hubby won’t really want to play along, but it’s a good principle to be thinking of when you plan meals.

Anyway, in order to try and get myself back on track I need your help {and I need to sleep for a 1000 years}. Please can you comment or link me to some quick, simple but nutritious meals or let me have your tips for healthy eating in a rush?

Thanks friends! 🙂

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Strawberries and Cream

25 Jul

One of the things I love about summer is strawberries and cream. Plump, juicy British strawberries and lashings of golden Devonshire clotted cream. Yummy.

strawberry and cream

But when I started going out with Josh something weird happened. I found out that not everyone eats strawberries and cream like my family do. In fact Josh’s family found my strawberry eating habits hilarious.

But what could be better than simply grabbing a strawberry, dipping in a big dollop of thick golden cream, plonking it in some sugar and munching it on down. Mmm…my arteries are furring just thinking about it.

Who wants to spend time chopping up strawberries and sprinkling on sugar? And don’t even get me started on pouring on double cream. It brings me joy that I have converted Josh to my way of eating strawberries and cream…even if the only reason is that it makes less washing up.

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So, how do you eat strawberries and cream? Are you a fellow dunker, or are you more civilised in your approach?
Is there anything that you have done for years only to find out that other people find it weird and hilarious?

Happy Saturday!

Breaded Quandaries

10 Jun

How much is a loaf of bread these days? £1.20, £1.30? It’s been so long since we’ve bought one I don’t know anymore, I just hear people complaining about the hike in its prices. It set me wondering if it’s actually cheaper for us to make our own, or if we would be better buying it from the bakery down the road. Ok, well I’m going to attempt to do the maths (which I must warn you may contain a glaring mistake, it really isn’t my strong point!)

 

Yeast (I can’t remember the price but I would guess around 5p per loaf)

Flour = 60p per loaf

Butter = 13p per loaf

Sugar and Salt = Around 5p or less per loaf

Milk Powder (although I don’t use this because we ran out and I’m too lazy to go searching for it around town) = around 10p per loaf

 

So this suggests that it is cheaper to make our own…I don’t really have a clue about how much electricity would cost to run the breadmaker, but I guess it’s costing us about £1.10 for a large loaf of bread?

 

The thing I love about making our own bread is that we know what’s in it. I’ve read horror stories about supermarket loaves which are just filled with fat and salt to make them stay risen because they haven’t been given the full amount of rising time due to production pressures. Even if we were paying the same price –or more- I think that knowledge makes it worth it. I guess that goes for all the extra prices we pay to get organic or local food.

 

…although I must admit that we had Subway last week, which I know if all very uneco-friendly and probably full of gunk, but I had never had one before and they are SO YUMMY!

Organic Experiments – a review

8 Apr

According to my blog stats I get a fair amount people viewing my blog (particularly the organic experiments post) because they have been referred by search engines after asking questions along the lines of “do organic toiletries work”, “are organic shampoos worth it?” or “no aluminium deodorant”. 

Well, as people are obviously wondering about these things I thought I would give you an update on my organic toiletries as it’s coming up to a year since I first started using them. Here goes…

 

Organic Hair Care

I use Greenpeople’s Organic Base No Scent shampoo and conditioner. It has a SLS and preservative free formula and contains no parabens or perfumes. I started off using the Aloe Vera shampoo but changed to this type because (a) it was 50p cheaper and (b) I figured fewer additives couldn’t be a bad thing.

I don’t really think that these products leave your hair feeling any better than conventional shampoos in the short term, but I’m almost sure that the build up of residue on your hair is reduced – meaning that in the long run your hair ends up feeling softer and lighter. They certainly don’t have a negative effect, so the fact that you’re not rubbing lots of harmful chemicals onto your scalp and down the plug has to be a huge plus point.

Yes, it is expensive at £8 a bottle, but it also is more concentrated and lasts for a lot longer. I think I have bought 3 new bottles of shampoo in 9 months and I’m still on my first bottle of conditioner (that’s between two people, and I shampoo my hair everyday and condition once a week). I would recommend these products.

 

Organic Deodrant

I use Ice Guard Crystal Deodrant. It is a mineral stick which you wet and rub on and it works by suppressing the growth of skin bacteria.

I would recommend this to anyone, and already have to most people I know! Although it is not an antiperspirant (so doesn’t stop you sweating) I have not found it a problem at all. I have used it nearly everyday for 8 months and have never felt embarrassed or let down by it. In fact it means that we have to wash our clothes less because there is no stale smell left on our clothes from deodorant at the end of the day.

It is completely natural and doesn’t contain aluminium or other additives known to be linked with Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.

 

We also use…

Greenpeople’s Organic Toothpaste and Olivia Soap

 

The main thing I have found is that all the products that the ‘industry’ sells as necessary really aren’t. Perhaps that’s just me being slow and most people know it already but I used to spend so much on junk to make my skin amazing and my hair shiny and now I only use these few products and if anything, my skin and hair are in better condition! Funny that, considering I’m not smothering them in chemicals anymore…hmm…

 

Anyway, if you are interested in living a more ethical/organic lifestyle but are not too keen on trawling your way through scientific based books I would recommend ‘A life stripped bare’ by Leo Hickman. It’s an entertaining but informative read on pretty much everything you need to start off living a greener life.

Bottled Up

22 Feb

You may have heard all the recent hype and argument about drinking bottled water and wondered what is the world coming to?! Surely we have better things to argue about than bottled water. Well, I agree, but I’m still going to blog about it! 

Now, I have never been one to buy bottled water, except when I’m out and have got nothing else to drink.
There is currently a campaign to try and get people to order tap water in restaurants instead of buying bottled. Perhaps it’s just the fact I never go to fancy city restaurants where they turn up their nose at tap water, but the thought of paying £1 plus (£52 per litre for some brands!!) for a glass of water is ludicrous to me! Especially when a team of wine tasters couldn’t tell the difference between tap and bottled in a recent Panorama documentary!
 

Apparently bottled water causes 600 times more carbon emissions, costs 1000 times the price of tap water and less than 25% of plastic bottles are recycled so I can see why they are promoting it. 

However is it just me or is anyone else uncomfortable with the recent ideas of adding fluoride to water? I understand the potential health benefits (from better dental health to reducing the risk of fractures of the hip and vertebrae in older women) but the fact that some are suggesting links to cancer, Downs Syndrome and osteoarthritis scares me a little.
It’s just seems like another prime example of people going ahead with things without fully understanding the outcomes.
At least I have been able to choose not to use cosmetics and products that combine cocktails of chemicals, the effects of which we just don’t know yet.
But if they change our water, what choice have we got but to expose ourselves to it? I guess this is when having your own water supply comes in useful!

Count down to detox – 6 days to go

2 Feb

There are bound to be strong reactions to this.
I have found that either people think (a) it’s a ridiculous idea (the husband’s reaction), (b) they think it’s a good idea, but they couldn’t do it, or (c) they think it’s a really good idea and want to do it with me.
 I now have 3 other people doing the 7-day detox with me, and we are starting next Thurday.

I’m not doing a ‘proper’ detox that includes fasting or taking mixtures which improve digestion or anything – just eating healthily for 7 days, drinking A LOT of water, and cutting out meat, dairy products, wheat, alcohol, coffee and tea, processed food or sauces, salt, snacks and sweets. 

This shouldn’t be too difficult. I already eat the type of breakfast that they suggest in the plan (porridge made with water with fruit and yoghurt), and plan to make vegetable soups in advance for lunch. Evening meals, I think, will be a little harder as Josh will want to eat ‘proper’ meals.
However, I’m allowed potatoes, fish, quorn and brown rice so there are several staples we can combine with vegetables to make decent meals.
 

I’ll keep you updated!

Meet our new friend

17 Dec

We have got a new friend, although he doesn’t say much! We picked up a brace of pheasants from the local butchers on Saturday. After splitting the cost we a friend we came away with a beautiful cock pheasant for £2.25.

A bit of a bargain as it will be the meat for our “first married Christmas meal”. 

Pheasant Friend 

I must admit that I was (and still am) dubious about getting a feathered pheasant but Josh finally wore me down and I agreed. There is an obvious hypocrisy about people who hold their nose and grimace at animals hanging outside butchers if they then eat meat themselves, but that isn’t really the case here.
I just hope that there isn’t too much mess and smell in the confined conditions of our flat! It would be better if we had a large, clean, well ventilated area!

Although it saved us quite a few pounds having them feathered I’m not convinced it’s necessarily worth it to have to do all the prep yourself, but Josh assures me it should be an experience and hopefully some fun(?!). 

Kitchen  

Anyway, it’s been hanging off our kitchen cupboard for the last few days and we are planning to pluck and gut it tonight. I’ve been looking at several recipes but think we will probably just do a straight forward roast as by the time you buy all the extra ingredients included in some we will have cancelled out any money we may have saved! Will let you know how it goes! 

Josh also pickled some beetroot which were included in our veg box on Saturday and they turned out really nicely. Very fresh and crunchy. We have been enjoying it in salads with nuts and some lovely goats cheese we picked up at the farmers market. Yum!

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Not on the Label

17 Dec

I am always really bad at finishing non fiction books and as I have been really busy am still only half way through ‘Not on the Label’.

I think I may well just summarise what’s already been covered though otherwise the finished entry will be HUGE! 
By the way, I am only going to write what she has put in the book. This doesn’t mean that I agree with it, or am saying it is fact. She blatantly has got an anti-supermarket slant in the book, and always with these types of books you have to take it with a pinch of salt and remember there are two sides of the story, and no two stories the same. 

Having said that, Josh and I no longer shop at supermarkets. This isn’t a reaction to reading this book – instead it kind of prompted us to act on a desire to eat more healthily, sustainably, and to support fair trade and local growers that we have been thinking about for a while but never actually got round to following through. 

Anyway, back to the book (for those of you who haven’t read my earlier post, this book is about supermarkets and their food production practices)… 

Chicken
– chickens, whether free range, organic or battery farmed are processed in the same plants which are often not particularly hygienic – the book suggests that 50% of chickens in the UK are contaminated with campylobacter (can cause food poisoning, but bacteria are killed if you cook it properly). The ways the chickens are processed just sounds really horrible, I think, simply because it is done on such a mass scale.
Other reports I have read suggest that this isn’t necessarily true but considering you can get a whole chicken for the price of a cup of coffee, something has to give. She talks about broiler chickens that can not even stand up due to their excessive and unnatural weight gain, just so that they can produce meat quicker and cheaper.
 

– Supermarkets, and companies that produce items containing chicken are increasingly finding ways of getting their costs even lower. This includes doctoring the chicken (even to the extent of pumping it with 50% water, using hydrolyzed animal proteins recovered from animal pork and beef waste to hold it in place). Lawrence suggests “if you’ve ever eaten a takeaway, a ready meal, or a sandwich containing chicken, the chances are you have consumed chicken adulterated [by adding water, and using additives to hold it in]”. 

– I was especially shocked at Lawrences suggestion that supermarkets are packaging meat as ‘British’ when it’s not (arguably this is the suppliers, not the supermarkets, but they blatantly know it goes on!).
She claims that this happened in the factory where she worked undercover.
This is one of two main reasons I decided not to shop in supermarkets anymore. I always try to eat British meat – but I can’t even guarantee what I’m eating! I guess unless you’re producing your own food you can never prove what you’re eating but I suppose I do trust smaller businesses more not to exploit their food.  

Salad
In the same way vegetable production is always being made cheaper. If you examine a 99p bag of salad you may well find that it only really contains a few salad leaves.
Would you even enjoy those if you knew that they were several days old, washed in chlorine solution twenty times the concentration of a swimming pool (ie a mild bleach), have a marked reduction in vitamin and micro-nutrient content, and that the rise in the sale of these washed salad leaves is linked to a sharp rise in E. coli and salmonella outbreaks?  

However it wasn’t really the amount of chemicals that are pumped onto our food that disgusted me, I already knew that. The thing that made me feel awful is the fact that so many people are being exploited just to bring me a packet of salad, or those mini-corn placed in a tray. Lawrence suggests that in this country much of the veg preparation is done by illegal immigrants who live in terrible conditions, forced to do so by gang masters, and coordinated by organised crime, keeping control through fear and violence.
Farmers, although they don’t necessarily want to use this labour are often forced into doing so because of competition and low prices that supermarkets want to charge. Everyone seems to know about this aswell…the supermarkets, the growers, the packers, even the local authorities (although they are often powerless to stop it due to ridiculous red tape)
 
Likewise, Lawrence discusses the huge vegetable growing areas just behind the tourist strip on the Costa del sol, which are not only destroying the environment through heavy pesticide use and monoculture, but are worked on by destitute people (many immigrants from Morocco) who just live in the rubbish tips surrounding the polytunnels, queuing up day by day hoping to be picked for work. 

Beans, Bread and Apples 
These chapters were about all sorts really. The main ideas though… 

1.  In today’s society we demand perfection from our food, but in real life food doesn’t always look perfect and therefore there is huge amount of waste and tampering with food.Supermarkets have distorted our view of food so much many people think that a soil covered, or slightly deformed vegetable is going to taste horrible. For example on one farm, for every 30 tonnes of carrots harvested just 10 tonnes were used, likewise a third of all apples are thrown away (many just because they haven’t got the right colour balance on them).  Just think how many extra starving people we could feed with this food!Also, because people expect perfect food the amount of pesticides and chemicals that are used is huge. An apple may have been sprayed up to sixteen times before it reaches your table. I’d heard that statistic before but it is still gross to think what we are putting into our bodies. 

2. Supermarkets are centralised and therefore food is no longer eaten where it’s produced. This means that food is transported miles around the country which adds to climate change, pollution and road congestion. She gives the example of a plum farmer who can see a supermarket from his farm and could cut his food wastage dramatically (they have to be picked eaten within a certain time) but it couldn’t be worked out.Food is older and less nutrient rich as a result and people are becoming isolated from food production. We’ve all heard the story about the kids who don’t know milk comes from a cow… 

3. Local shops are suffering, and as a result local communities. Seven out of ten English Villages don’t have a local shop. These are places where neighbours who might otherwise not meet bump into each other, where elderly and those with children can get out and about a meet with familiar faces. By loosing these roots we are undermining the whole fabric of communities, and are instead left with bland shopping parades filled with charity shops, fast-food outlets graffiti and litter. I read somewhere else the other day that Tesco takes one in every eight pounds spent in the UK, and as a result independent retailers in the UK are at crisis point.  Anyway I think that’s enough for now…really recommend this as an interesting read. I obviously haven’t got even started conveying how much information she has got in this book!