Pancakes, Frozen and Trains

As usual this morning, I reluctantly got out of bed. As soon as I was downstairs my daughter announced that it was pancake day and ‘where are the pancakes?’ I groaned and mumbled about doing it later but then decided I had no excuse and pancake were best eaten at breakfast, so, fuelled by a cup of tea,I set to work mixing and flipping. The children were happy pouring copious amounts of maple syrup on their pancakes and waaaay too much sugar. I later did the same for hubby and I for tea. The first course was bacon and maple syrup toppings and the second sounds vile, but was actually a scrummy combination of rhubarb, plain yoghurt and maple syrup. There is something about pancakes that leave your tummy very satisfied. I like them infused with things like berries and alternative toppings, such is there versatility. However, I estimate I have consumed at least 10 pancakes today so I am now very happy to give the a rest fro my diet for a while.

Another thing we have overdosed on recently is the film Frozen. We were invited to a ‘sing-a-long-a’ Frozen film party at a ocal cinema, complete with actors on stage, special effects and props. I have never seen so many Anna and Elsas in one small area and I was thankful my two children were not dressed up as I could easily spot them. Despite my 9 year old thinking it was a bit ‘uncool’, this didnt stop her joining in with all the dance routines and singing. My son was on the edge of his seat chanting ‘Run Sven RUN’ at the appropriate moments in the film.

But, for my daughter, the most exciting part of the day was when we stood on a railway bridge and waved at a train and she saw the driver wave back and then he sounded the trains horn – she was soo excited and said ‘its just like the railway children!’. It just goes to show the old stories are still the best.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Trees, bears and boys

Despite weather reports of rain, myself, baby boy and my daughter brandished our gold and silver paint pots and got to work on turning our little Hazel sapling plucked from the middle of the woods to a glammed up Christmas tree – yes we ‘upcycled’ a tree.

The trunk was painted gold and the branches silver then we left it to ‘dry’ while we set off to our nearest Cinema to watch Paddington Bear. It turned put to be quite a long film and I was very impressed how long baby boy remained in the booster seat contentedly munching on popcorn and slurping water. We all enjoyed the film and didnt feel so worried about spending the money to see it as the children went free thanks to a Warburtons promotion (where I became momentarily obsessed with purchasing Warburtons half and half bread to claim the promotional codes for tickets. I found the film all the more endearing as Paddington’s face reminded me of my dog.

There was also a teenage girl in the film who reminded me of my daughter except my daughter is nearly 9 and already developing ‘a thing’ for boys. When I mention this to other Mothers they talk as if my daughter is unusually young. I actually had my first crush when I was 8 so maybe its in the genes. He was a boy called Delwyn from Wales. You never forget a name like that.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Flcking the V sign to all things ‘vintage’

Since when did everything previously described as ‘retro’ or ‘had it’ or ‘one-way ticket to the dump’ become labelled with the rather glamorous term of ‘vintage’?

Vintage should be reserved for the best old champagnes, the best old cars and anything that comes under ‘luxurious but old’. But suddenly any old tat has become vintage in an effort to ‘upscale its worth.

This observation came after watching the Irish property developers programme ‘amazing spaces’, during which he described a delapidated old camper van and caravan as a genius conversion to a mobile ‘vintage tea room’. There seems to be a proliferation of businesses starting up mobile catering in ‘vintage’ modes of transport that are cramped and frankly toxic for the environment. Pizza, cakes, coffee, pies and even cheese on toast can now be served out of the back of an old VW or Citroen at a premium price across Summer fetes this year. No doubt I will lose count of how many variations of this ‘vintage catering’ trend i see at Camp Bestival later this year.

I say bring back the good old fashioned Transit van, but with maybe slightly better options than burgers and hotdogs. I dont care how it got to the venue, as long as the food tastes good and the best before date isnt ‘vintage’, its all good in my present day hood.

Vintage is so last season darling…..

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Testy tummies

Having quit sugar now for 8 weeks, i am starting to notice there are severe consequences if i deviate.

The other night i mentioned i had invited some friends round and ate more than i should in crisps and dips. While i didnt eat anything sweet, i probably ate more than my usual intake in sugar – I was as sick as a dog later.

My baby boy was then ill a few days later, so then i thought it must have been a bug.

Not so.

Yesterday I succumbed to  a small slice of my brother-in-laws cake. I felt so bloated afterwards i wanted my stomach to be pumped. This feeling continued through the night, into this morning and hampered my appetite for the rest of the day, making me feel slightly nauseous…….and that was one slice of cake.

After these two major occurrences, i then thought back to other occasions recently when my stomach felt uncomfortable and i have felt nauseous – like the time i sucked on some dark chocolate when it was time of the month.

This quit extreme reaction to sugary foods, after having cut it out for a while, surprises me. But when you think about how careful you have to be to alter the diets of horses and dogs (to avoid problems such as colic), it is no wonder that i have been feeling iffy.

Just like the IQS diet, i read an article in RED Magazine about Ella Woodward, whose reaction to drinking alcohol and consuming copious amounts of sugar while a university student, led to her being diagnosed with PoTS – postural tachycardia syndrome – a rare condition that affects the nervous system, causing nausea, exhaustion, dizziness and weakness. Now, like IQS, she has a diet of raw vegetables and unprocessed food and lots of green smoothies. Interesting recipes include sweet potato brownies and courgette noodles using a spiraliser gadget that you can pick up for £30 on amazon. For inspiration check out deliciouslyella.co.uk.

I’m feeling better already.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

 

Let’s hear it for the girls

Sorry I was absent last night. I hit my Thursday night wall again for the second time. I have this wonderful boss who is very charming and this helps in his powers of delegation. He askes me to focus on one project and then keeps adding to my task list, forgetting that I work 22 hours a week. I’m not the modern day Cinderella, my work more resembles the ugly stepsister trying to squeeze work into the petite shoe that is my part-time hours. I’m sure part-timers the world over are nodding their heads in sage agreement.  I also got a dose of what it is like to be a single working-mum, as hubby was away. Hence me hitting the deck as soon as possible. Single working mothers I bow down to you all in awe – hats off girls and keep up the good work!

Of course I also took advantage of hubby being away by organising a girls night in. I also gave myself a night-off from checking the nutritional info o the back of pre-prepared food, so just chucked some dips on the table and breadsticks and let the girls let rip. I had my fair share too plus a couple of glasses of wine. So I was incredibly puzzled when I found myself upchucking over the toilet bowl in the small hours – has my diet made my tummy completely intolerant of anything mildly rubbish? I don’t know, needless to say I haven’t touched the dips since, I am also a bit scared of the crisps …and rose wine.

In my bid  for the bed and rest, I missed the England Men’s football, what a shame….lost again.

But on the flip side, look how well the women are doing:

England’s Women are just one point away from next summer’s World Cup after a narrow 2-1 win in Ukraine.

Mark Sampson’s side have won all eight qualifiers to date and are five points clear of second-placed Wales with two Group 6 matches remaining. A draw in Wales in August will seal a place at Canada 2015. (source: thefa.com)

Read more here

I am already looking forward to next year when I am hopeful the women can show the guys how it is done….and on (shock horror) less than £300k a week (or whatever Rooney earns).

I shall tell that to my daughter when I pick her up from football after school today, she is gradually receiving more passes from the boys having inspired the girls to get involved, come on we are in 2014 people!

As I missed last night’s post another £1 to Unicef. If you can donate to the campaign – great!

Thanks for reading.

A bottomless pit

I have put on 5 pounds on the IQS diet. Dont blame the diet though. Before I reach for a spoon of sugar in my coffee again, it has dawned on me that i may have been eating more than the rda on peanut butter, which has an effect, even the reduced sugar and salt version. So over the next month peanut butter has been put on the naughty list and i will continue my mission to be sugar free in a bid to be healthier.

A magazine article on body shape featured a comment from a woman that struck a chord with me.  She said her focus wasn’t on her lumps and bumps but on healthy eating. So, i figured if i focus on health, the lumps and bumps will follow (or rather drop off). In the meantime i continue to be repellent to sugar, in the same way that a ex-smoker dismisses offers of a cigarette, today i declined chocolate muffins and mr whippy ice-cream.

However, it is hard to focus on health when all you really want to do is decrease the land mass of your rear-end. My baby boy has discovered it as a new form of entertainment to spank it so it wobbles, a habit inspired by the actions of both my daughter and husband. I am now wondering whether it is impossible to get rid of extra bum – if your born with it you have just got to sit on it – like Kim Kardashian.

Or is it years of bouncing up and down on horses’ backs. Maybe my body’s reaction was to create a buffer, hence the big butt.

Of course there are many more things to be worrying about than the size of bottoms. Us women have to shoulder the burden of achieving the ‘ideal’ figure but ‘ideal’ for whom?

Now my husband has started to comment that my daughter’s bottom is ‘filling out’ and i instantly retaliate with an exclamation of what a beautiful butt it is.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when women are more relaxed about their body shape? Or is it a culture that will continue in perpetuity?

Maybe the way to address it is through a process of elimination, a bit like weeding out an allergy. For example what would happen if high-fashion was excluded from the public conscience for a year, or it was insisted that only plus size models (aka normal size) were used for all advertising campaigns?

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Duracell no added sugar

I am almost a month in to my ‘i quit sugar’ diet and i have found one benefit that i wasnt expecting. It is not to do with weight loss (although thankfully i havent put on any weight), it is actually energy levels.

Today I was like one of those Duracell bunnies. I kept waiting for a wall of tiredness to hit me so i just kept going and going. In fact now (21.23 pm) is the first time i have actually sat down. Every time i thought i had a chance to momentarily put my feet up, i kept saying, ‘i will just do the washing/ washing-up/ prepare dinner/ water plants/feed horses / dogs/ clean bathroom while washing kids in bath……and this is after power-hooping in the morning and walking round the countryside with the kids and dogs all day…..and while feeling below par with a grotty cold. Its not bad this cutting out sugar lark.

It makes you wonder what it is about sugar that zaps your energy long-term? A friend of mine said she couldnt quit sugar because she would feel too lethargic. When in fact cutting it out would be the best thing for her. I find my energy levels are consistent, i dont have the peaks and troughs in energy levels like i used to. So, where in the past i would turn towards something sugary mid afternoon and later in the evening, i dont feel the need for it.

Coconut is also my new best friend and the children both enjoy drinking coconut water, it is amazingly refreshing and more hydrating than water. I am looking forward to having a go at a sugar free bounty bar recipe as they were one of my favourite sweets.

A few times my husband has complained that there is not enough ‘unhealthy’ stuff in the cupboards and the children seem to have re-discovered fruit.

Not that we exclude treats, we went to the chocolate cafe yesterday and all three of them had chocolate (apart from me with my glowing halo). My husband couldnt finish off his brownie and i declined it so my daughter wrapped it up in a napkin and put it in my bag for later.

Later on that evening, i found an empty slightly chewed up napkin next to my rather sheepish looking dog, she is becoming a dab hand (or should i say paw) at rifling through my bag. Last time she did that she finished off a bag of maltesers.

I wonder if they do a ‘quit sugar for dogs’?

I am blogging every say for Unicef.

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Dredd in the South-east

I have she-flu but managed to muster enough energy for ballet boot camp but not enough for a vaguely interesting blog post. I figured it had been a while since I had put a pound in the pot to Unicef for a missed post so I took the opportunity yesterday.

I have lived in the South-east all my life, the only slight movements between four counties, but recently have found the walls of the region closing in. I am starting to build up a resentment to passing landmarks that illustrate my younger years (schools, nurseries, friend’s houses etc) and would like to ‘get out’ and live in an area where there are no memories. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with this admission.

The South-east is also over-crowded and full mostly of people who ant to commute to the ever growing riches of London. I wonder if this trend continues into the next few decades whether England will be closer to resembling the geographic make-up of Judge Dredd. I mentioned to a colleague of mine my concern that the rest of the country, particularly the north, was being left-behind. She said that she didnt care, as far as she was concerned, she had done ‘her time’ up north while living in Nottingham for 10 years, it was abysmal and has never looked back since moving o London.

Being someone who likes to do the opposite of the majority, i am getting more and more inquisitive as to what it would belike to live ump North and become, as the characters in the film ‘lock stock and two smoking barrels’ put it ‘northern monkeys’ as opposed to ‘southern fairies’.

A friend of my husband’s said, ‘you don’t want to move up there, they are all fat’. I believe obesity is a nationwide problem, a trip to any local supermarket proves that point (although the supermarkets themselves are assisting this trend with the increasing price of fruit and vegetables and the decreasing price of crappy processed food). In fact it is not until you step into the rest of Europe (or if you voted Ukip omit ‘the rest’ from that sentence) that you see just how fat a nation we have become. In France, for example, you would be hard -pushed to find an overweight person on a trip to the shops let alone and the same goes for Spain and the Netherlands.

I wonder if part of the reason can be attributed to the cost of food and what is offered to buy. The Spanish and French like to cook most of their food from scratch, this cutting out nasties such as added sugar, which is so prevalent n ready-made food. It is this belief in a return to home cooking that underpins the philosophy of Sarah Wilson’s quit sugar approach – cook like our grandparents used to, with ingredients rather than a fork and a microwave.

I feel the north/south divide has become so defined that contemplating a move upcountry is not dissimilar to emigrating, hence its appeal on the ‘grass is greener front’.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Taking candy from a baby is as easy as taking candy from a baby

So far so good with quitting sugar for life. I am in my third week and have been impressed with my resistance fending off cheesecakes, cadbury’s chocolate and iced buns without a backward glance. In her book, Sarah Wilson states that as you cleanse and r-train your palate the urges for sugar lessen. For me this has extended to even avoiding a little bit of honey during ‘time of the month’. I am doing so well on this diet that I fear even a little taste of sweetness is going to set-off all the cravings again. In many ways it is like nicotine addiction (I gave that up about 5 years ago and have certainly never looked back).

My children too are benefitting from this and I have noticed this crazy thing that has happened….if you don’t put sugary snacks in their lunch box they don’t ask for them. Instead I have been putting in far healthier ‘sweeter’ snacks such as pure fruit and fruit based snack bars (which do have a sugar content but nowhere near as bad as a biscuit or a cake) and i haven’t heard one complaint. I keep waiting for the moaning to start and it doesnt happen. I have given them ice-cream for pudding occasionally and I don’t prevent them from eating chocolate if it is given to them but i am now resisting the urge to give them a sugary treat favouring the far healthier alternatives – i just  didn’t believe it would be so easy. It just goes to show how much,  as parents, we unwittingly guide our children down the same nutritional path as we follow as well as the eating habits. If your child sees you comfort eat, chances are they will become a comfort-eater too. Just like so many things in life it is lead by example.

One big change I have noticed in my fridge since beginning the no sugar campaign is the lack of yoghurt and juice. I was astonished when I glanced at the nutritional content of a low fat yoghurt and saw the amount of sugar contained in one pot. Yoghurts are now in my’ do not buy’ category and I avoid them like the plague. Once again I feared my children’s reaction to no yoghurt on the menu but was surprised to find they didn’t even miss it let alone ask for it.

This goes to show that Western children are not really that fussy about eating. As long as they have a healthy appetite (ie not fed crap every 5 minutes to the extent that they never feel hungry enough to eat a proper meal), then kids will eat most food offered to them when given a steer as to the right foods to eat by the family (home cooked meal versus mcdonalds).

Check out some good recipes on www.iquitsugar.com

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

£10 million to change the world?

So, what would you do with £10 million to conquer some of the world’s biggest challenges. That was the question posed by the BBC tonight when they launched the concept of the Longitude prize, a historic award that had previously achieved revolutions such as putting Greenwich and worldwide timekeeping on the map, thanks to a grant given to a carpenter and watchmaker, who succeeded in making a watch that would keep time at sea.

The Longitude is essentially about humanity and sustaining humanity for the future. The biggest issue facing us and our outlook for the future is climate change so this featured highly in the options. I was tempted to vote for the search to find a carbon neutral power for flight, as planes do the most harm to our environment. However, the winner of The Longitude prize would only have to enable a flight capable of a distance from London to Edinburgh, which I don’t think is enough to make a significant change. I am also unconvinced that aviation companies would be falling over themselves to adopt this new energy as there would surely be significant cost implications and we all know how squeezed profit margins are on airlines already. For this work it would take some Government intervention to put pressure on airlines to adopt the cleaner fuel.

I voted for a sustainable and nourishing food source that could be easily farmed, highly nutritious and wouldn’t cause pollution and waste to create it. The current alternatives are insects – which actually looked quite good and ticked all the boxes in terms of nutrition. For 1kg of beef, 22kg of cow feed needs to be produced – for 1kg in insect meat, only 2.2kg feed is required to give to the insects. I can also see insect farming providing a source of income for farmers in the developing world too. This idea had been developed in the Netherlands and they said the challenge to adoption in the West is changing people’s mind set. I think Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall should step forward and come up with some cunning insect recipes – it would all get us grazing on grasshoppers in no time. The other option is GM food, which has received so much bad press it is hard to understand whether it is good for us or not, apparently it is and is far more nutritious. Whoever wins the prize if food becomes the goal will ave the power o improve people’s diets world-wide, help to eliminate the harmful consequences of malnutrition, such as rickets and scurvey and help those countries who suffer from famine because they are unable to source nutritious food. It may also provide a new source of income and transform farming and agriculture plus reduce pollution as it has to be a sustainable food solution.

If you live in the UK and want to cast your vote, visit the website on the Longitude Prize.

This blog is for UNICEF.

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