Always Trust the Label?*

Back in my teenage years when I was on the cusp of developing an eating disorder food labels were an all consuming obsession and spoke only the truth to my mind. If something said it was low fat then I equated that with healthy and serving sizes HAD to be obeyed…even one measly gram over was breaking some kind of food police set law (but actually who can eat just one piddly 30g of cereal?)

These days I’m thankfully no longer obsessed with what’s printed on the packaging and I’m not alone. A recent study conducted by Data Label quizzed 1006 people over the age of 18 in the UK and discovered that 31% don’t have confidence in food labelling on pre-packaged foods, 14% of which stating that they don’t trust them at all.


The most commonly given reason for this mistrust is that information appears complicated and it’s difficult to interpret. Personally I used to find this the case but since the introduction of the traffic light system in 2012 I’ve found it much easier to determine if a product really is healthy or if the low fat label is masking a ton of hidden sugar and preservatives (which I quickly learnt is very often the case).

There’s been a lot of scaremongering in the media in recent years too which further compounds the issue and fuels the mistrust and this has very much been the case with me (despite my reluctance to admit to it). I find it quite sad really, and to the side of me that is still struggling with anorexic demons quite scary that what I once took to be true might not be the case- from unclear serving sizes to hidden nasties I think better education should be provided and clearer guidelines set on what should and shouldn’t be on a label or in the food we eat.

You can read more on the article on the female first website. If you’ll pardon the pun it’s certainly given me food for thought and as this year is my year for getting healthy and kicking 14 years of eating disorders in to touch and moving on with my life I shall certainly be following this further and educating myself on how to get the best out of the information provided.

I’d love to know your thoughts on food labels, do you trust them or do you too believe there is often more than meets the eye? I think the traffic light system was a great step in making labelling more uniform and easier to understand but there is still a long way to go before there is a standard across the board.

I also refuse to buy in to the media hype any more, one week we’re being told all fats are bad, the next we’re being told that the only yoghurt we should be eating is full fat and that real butter is the way forwards…with such conflicting advice I’m going with balance instead and enjoying what I want, when I want (just all in moderation of course). I’m by no means a health obsessed eater, I might fancy a chicken and avocado salad one day but beans on white bread toast the next- our bodies are well tuned to what we need and if we take a step back and listen to them I personally believe we can regulate ourselves.


The March (2016) Degustabox

Another month has passed us by and it’s time to bring you the next round of Degustabox reviews. The March box was full of new and exciting treats- the team have been on the ball lately and picked out some super products most of which I’d probably ignore if I saw them on the shelves as I’m very much a creature of habit. It’s always a joy to receive one of these boxes every month, I still get them delivered to my parents’ address so my Mum and I can stick with our tradition of opening them together…it’s the little things in life and something we really enjoy!
I’m ahead of the game in getting my review up this month thanks to being on a week off, more time at home = more time to snack away on new treats, especially with Ben around to help out!
It wouldn’t be Easter without a Lindt bunny now would it? It’s become tradition that my best friend buys a mini one each year and if I’m lucky I get some bigger sized ones to keep it company. This white chocolate one was a most welcome addition, white chocolate is one of my favourite things to eat (because inside I’m 5 years old) and Lindt do it better than most! I must stock up on these before the Easter stock disappears for another year.
Theses pains au chocolat from Brioche Pasquier are the perfect indulgent breakfast treat for our week off. A mug of freshly brewed coffee and one of these gently warmed through makes for the perfect start to the day and an indulgent alternative to my usual vat of porridge. At £1.40 for four you can do far worse than give these a go!
Ok so these aren’t a new product in the slightest but as Chewits have always been one of my favourite sweets so I did a little dance of joy when I saw my two favourite flavours in this month’s box. I still very much mourn the loss of the vanilla ice cream flavoured ones (let’s get rid of those funky tasting cola ones in favour of these please…) but these are more than acceptable and the strawberry ones I find especially addictive…they’ve been around for 50 years now which means they are obviously are doing something right!
There was a bit of a breakfast theme to this month’s box and the drinkable contents were some extra protein containing Weetabix on the Go drinks and a carton of Good Hemp coconut. The Weetabix drinks were ok, more Ben’s kind of thing than mine as I just love eating my breakfast too much to not make time for it, but as I often end up packing him off to work with a smoothie these are a good alternative and not too bad on the taste front and ideal for the days where I can’t be bothered to get the blender out! As for the hemp drink, well, I’m going to admit neither of us were brave enough to try that. I’m sure it’s very good for you and all that but we just couldn’t get our heads around it.
Kallo make my kind of snacks, I’m one of those strange creatures that loves rice cakes- it was one of my favourite things to snack in with my Nan when I was a kid- a plain rice cake spread thickly with milky way chocolate spread and I still love them today. The milk chocolate rounds are delicious and great for packing in a tub to take out and about or even to work if they last that long. The Quinoa and Seeds multi grain cakes are also very good, lovely as a savoury snack with some soft cheese or dunked in my usual lunch time soup. Both of these will become regular fixtures in my food shop from now on I think!
Parle aren’t a brand I’m familiar with so I was intrigued to see what they could offer in the way of snacking materials. Turns out they are pretty good, and cheap! The Hide & Seek are India’s best moulded chocolate chip biscuits and I can see why, especially at 59p for the fact. I found these dangerously addictive. Likewise with the Monaco crackers, crispy savoury and delicious and if I see these on the shelves at 39p I’ll be grabbing a packet or six. I love finding new brands to try and that is the beauty of Degustabox.
Snacking in front of the TV is a must when off work and thankfully we’ve had Metcalfe’s skinny popcorn in cinema sweet to keep us going. I’ve long been a big fan of Metcalfe’s popcorn range and this is pretty tasty despite the use of Stevia which I typically cannot stand. Ben was more a fan of Piper’s Crisps in Cheddar and Onion, I let him devour these himself though as I’m not a fan of crisps in this form. The speed in which the bag went down was testament enough to their quality I feel.
Despite cooking my first roast dinner this week I haven’t yet found occasion to use the cranberry and orange stuffing mix from Kent’s Kitchen as it didn’t really fit with my plans for a traditional plate of roast chicken (sage and onion is the only way with this!). Hopefully I’ll find occasion to use this soon though as previous experience with this brand tells me it’s going to be good. I really love the idea of meze to go and this inclusion from Karyatis was super tasty- roasted red pepper and feta cheese dip with crunchy rosemary crackers made for one tasty night on the sofa but would be equally perfect as a quick and unusual lunch for work.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £6 off of your first box by entering the code BLDEG15 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand one and off over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.


The Dressing Gown Coat

I was so excited to wake up on the morning of Good Friday to find glorious sunshine and mild weather- what a perfect start to the ten glorious days off of work I had stretching out ahead of me! It also meant I could finally ditch the heavy winter coat and break out a new purchase from a few weeks ago (what clothes buying ban?) when I popped in to Cabot Circus with my Mum. I don’t often pay Urban Outfitters a visit but when I do I seem to always end up purchasing some real bargains.

Coat: Urban Outfitters | Jeans: New Look | Boots: c/o Lunar Shoes

Ben wasted no time in pointing out that this coat bears more than a small resemblance to a dressing gown but I personally feel like that’s part of the charm! I love the midi-length, nifty hood and belted detail. I also loved the price at just £15 reduced from £89! It pairs perfectly with the latest addition to my jeans collection (which is frankly just this pair at present) which were another bargain at £8 in New Look due to a bit of a stain on one of the legs that I soon managed to wash out. I’ve been in desperate need of some jeans to wear until I fit back in to my usual selection but as I aim to grow out of them before too long I didn’t want to spend much at all so these fit the bill perfectly. Add in my faithful brown ankle boots from Lunar Shoes and you pretty much have my weekend uniform until it warms up enough to ditch the coat completely.
I hope everyone has been enjoying the long weekend, it’s been a very lazy one here with a visit to my parents and cooking my very first roast dinner which made me feel oddly grown up (and so it should at almost 29 years old!). I still have another week before I’m due back at work with no idea what I might do yet, Ben’s on Easter break from his job in a school and although we had grand ideas of days out and productivity the reality is more likely to be a few sea front strolls and a lot of time on the sofa eating chocolate!


A Purrfect Duo

So now I’m the owner of two cats there’s a bit of sharing that has to happen every now and again. I was recently sent another box from the folks at Purrfect Box which up until now has always gone directly to Mae. This time I felt a bit mean keeping all of the spoils for her so decided that she could have the toys (as Tobias largely ignores his) and he could have the treats (as Mae turns her nose up at anything but Dreamies most of the time!)
I just love how expressive Mae is, I always seem to capture some daft expression every time the camera comes out. It does however show exactly how much she loved the toys in the March Purrfect Box- her toy stash is huge these days and apparently Mum is forever coming home to find her latest favourite rooted out from the basket leaving everything else strewn around the house.

As for Tobias, well, needless to say he loved the food- I’ve never known a cat go as crazy as he does for snacks and meals- this morning he even got in to his cat food and dropped a sachet at my feet as a subtle hint that breakfast was needed. He went absolutely mad for the chicken tenders by Trixie, so much so we had to hide them on a very, very high shelf as he has been known to rip through layers of packaging in the past. He also enjoyed the hairball control treats from Purr by Wagg which we seemed to not have got a photo of. These are brilliant as he has such long, thick fur which needs all the help it can get!

The Purrfect Box is a monthly subscription which costs £19.90 a month, or £14.90 per month if you take out a years subscription. The contents of the box are guaranteed to be worth at least £30 with 4-6 premium products inside so it’s a pretty sweet deal, especially as each box is catered to your feline’s needs and preferences. Let me know if you decide to treat your feline friend to a box; I’ll be picking up a few on a one off basis throughout the year, I can’t afford it on a monthly basis but as an every so often treat I think it’s wonderful.

If you’re tempted to give it a try then you can claim an impressive £5 off of your first box with the code ukb1xlvr. Let me know if you give it a go…


In the Zone

…The comfort zone that is as today I am back in one of my staple kind of outfits of a few years ago. Until I discovered the joy of jeans or a jumper dress I lived in floral dresses with bright tights and ankle boots. These days my floral dress collection is vastly diminished (something I massively regret) so when I saw this one reduced to something silly like £12 in Urban Outfitters a couple of months ago I made a hasty purchase.

Dress: Urban Outfitters | Boots: Quiz Clothing | Tights: Primark

This dress is a bit of an updated version of those I used to live in. Instead of a standard high neck (or if feeling brave, perhaps a v-neck) it has a really very plunging neckline that is held together by a bow to keep things decent. The sleeves are gloriously floaty and the fabric heavy enough to hang like a dream.

I don’t wear these boots nearly often enough, for some reason I have in my head that they might be uncomfortable but after a solid six hours in them the other day I can confirm otherwise. I’ve become very guilty of sticking on the same old flat boots or trainers these days, I ought to get my shoe mojo back and pop on some heels from time to time.

I wore this outfit on Mother’s Day when I popped over to my parents’ for dinner and a catch up with my parents. I think that now I’ve moved out the time I spend with my parents is definitely more quality time, I know I was guilty of taking their presence for granted when I lived at home. It’s lovely to pop round and actually sit down for a proper chat instead of hurried greetings and shutting myself away. I also love having Mum over to the flat to charm the cat and go shopping in the rather fabulous local shops…

Are there any styles you’re revisiting? How did you relationship with family change or develop when you moved out?