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I know this diet is controversial- people either love it or hate it. I find, personally, that it works very well for me for a number of reasons I shall outline after explaining the basics of the plan.
Essentially the diet was borne out of the understanding that refined carbohydrates cause weight gain. I know I used to rely heavily on carbs for quick energy-providing food. But Atkins explains that sugar from the carbohydrate enters the bloodstream quickly and to prevent our blood sugar rising too high, the body produces insulin. This allows the excess sugar to be stored in the liver and muscles, but then it converts the rest to fat. When we exercise we burn energy, but it is the carbohydrates that are used as fuel first. So, the idea is that if you drastically limit your carbohydrate intake your body will be forced to start burning its stores of fat, called ketosis.
There are 4 stages of the plan. During 'induction', which lasts 2 weeks, you are limited to 20g of carbs a day. This is when you will see the quickest weight loss and can even lose a stone in just 14 days (my partner achieved this!). Stages 2, 3 and 4 basically introduce you back to small amounts of carbs gradually. You can control the amount of carbs you eat as long as you are still losing weight. It doesn't mean you can start eating bread and cakes again, it is still mainly salad and veggies.
For me, this is a really effective and easy diet plan. When in 'ketosis' your appetite is reduced so I find I am not constantly thinking about food (which I do on other diets). I also find it easy to cook meals that are Atkins-friendly, and I manage to have a varied and satisfying range of foods. Some examples of what I eat:
Breakfast: scramled egg, bacon, mushrooms, omelettes
Lunch: ham, cheese, chicken, sausages, boiled eggs, salad
Dinners: fish and salad, roast chicken and veg, turkey and veg kebabs, lamb chops and roast veg
Snacks: nuts, cheese, peanut butter
If you are cooking for other people it is easy to simply adapt your meal by removing the carbs. For example, I could still make a full roast dinner for my family and I would just fill my plate with meat and vegetables.
Furthermore, you don't have to buy any special books or equipment, just keep to the principles of the plan (which you can easily find online).
There are, of course, some disadvantages. You do get stinky breath (due to ketosis) and it can sometimes make you feel lethargic. However, seeing the pounds drop off gives me a psychological boost to continue.
I don't think this is necessarily a plan for life, but it does really make you think about all the processed, refined carbohydrates you eat and how they affect your body. I think it is a quick fix and it certainly works if you have a few pounds to shed in a short space of time. I have stuck to this plan for 3/4 weeks at a time and lost approximately 10lbs. But there are much healthier plans out there - check out the GI diets for more long term healthy eating.
Having recently booked a holiday I decided it was that time of year to try to get fit again! Or at least lose a few pounds. I found this DVD in HMV for £10, although have since seen it loads cheaper on ebay. I was very impressed with how amazing Charlie looks on the front, considering she has had a baby. The beginning of the DVD shows her 'old self' getting on the scales, then her 'new self' weighing in at 2 stone less.
The DVD consists of 5 main sections:
Warm up- this is a fairly gentle introduction to some of the moves and gets your heart rate going. There's no complicated steps, it just gets you moving and stretching.
Disco- this focuses on dance steps and is a bit more complicated at first. However, because you are concentrating on your moves you don't get bored. Dee goes through the moves with you, then you basically just keep repeating them.
Combat- this is my favourite one and incorporates punches and kicks at a fairly intense level. I'd never done combat before but I love this because it's easy to follow and gives you a great workout. Tough on those bingo wings.
High Intensity- this is a fast, intense cardio workout and you really feel the effects. There are lunges, squats, star jumps...you get the idea! This one will get you very hot and sweaty.
Pilates Cool Down- uses mat work to tone the tummy muscles.
Charlie does all the routines with Dee Thresher, who explains everthing clearly as you go along, giving you plenty of time to understand what you are doing next.
I like the way the DVD is split into sections so you can pick and choose which routine suits you best on a particular day. I will often just do the warm up, combat and high intensity workouts, as they are my favourites.
I do have a few niggles though. I thought they would have some pop tunes to move to but the music is really dull. Also, some of the camera work is just ridiculous, focusing on the girls faces when you are trying to follow their steps just makes life difficult.
However, I still enjoy this DVD and more importantly it has been effective. I've done some or all of this DVD every day for the past 7 days and have lost 4lbs. Admittedly I have also been eating healthily, but I can feel the exercises toning my body up, especially my legs and bum.
When I first got into baking a couple of years ago I spotted this little book in WHsmith for £4.99 and thought it would be a good introduction. It is part of the Good Food magazine series of books, which I believe is now quite extensive. Seeing the recognisable 'Good Food Magazine' on the front of the book I felt like I could trust the recipes as they are well known and well regarded.
The book really is lovely. It's pretty tiny, not much bigger than a CD case, but thicker. I find the size a bonus as large books can really get in the way when you are trying to follow a recipe in the kitchen.
As the title suggests there are 101 recipes for large cakes, fresh fruit cakes, chocolate cakes and bakes, loaf cakes, small cakes and tray bakes and muffins and cookies. To start with I made a couple of the loaf cakes ('banana and walnut', and 'walnut, date and honey') which turned out beautifully. This then gave me confidence to try the 'toffee brownies' and 'coconut cake with buttercream' which were also yummy.
With 101 recipes you can expect a lot of variation and cakes for different occasions. For example, children's parties, lunchboxes, afternoon tea, dessert.
I only buy cookbooks if they have plenty of pictures and this does. In fact there is a photo of every sweet treat so you know what it is supposed to look like. Of course my end results are always a bit scruffier but that's the joy of home-baking. If your cakes are too perfect people wouldn't believe you'd made them!
Even though I've used this book a lot it still looks brand new and I put that down to the quality of the paper and the thick glossy cover. It is indeed wipeclean, perfect for messy cooks.
Furthermore, the recipes are easy to follow. The ingredients are listed clearly in metric and imperial and they provide no-fuss step by step instructions. At the front there are also some useful conversion tables for oven temps, spoon and cup measurements, etc.
I think because of all of these attributes this book would be perfect for a beginner, maybe even a child or teenager just starting to get interested in baking. It will increase their confidence in baking and they are sure to keep going back to their favourite recipes over and over, as well as trying more exotic ones.
Home Bargains has 170 shops and is currently one of the biggest privately owned companies in the UK. I am lucky enough to live in a town which has one of these shops and I love it!
Over 40% of what they sell is clearance or 'closeout' produce which basically means they buy products off businesses that want rid of them quickly so they can get their new lines in. What this means for customers is cheap, cheap prices.
Before a trip to the supermarket I always check out this shop and regularly buy a lot of my foodstuff, wine, toiletries and cleaning products. And it is all a fraction of the price of the supermarket. They also sell a lot of short dated items such as quality chocolate bars and crisps (like Walkers Sensations), often at approx 10p each. I always stock up on these and they often have a month or so left anyway.
The shampoos and conditioners are excellent value (I will never understand why people go to Boots or Superdrug and pay 3x more). They sell great quality products such as Charles Worthington, Loreal, Vidal Sassoon and loads more at approx £1 to £2 each.
Another bargain to be found in there is suncream. Garnier and other well-known brands are often £2-3 a bottle. I have seen the same suncreams in other shops at £10! Similarly, perfume is a great price compared to other high street shops. Great if you need to buy gifts but are short of cash.
They also have a toy section, gardening products, kitchen stuff, cards and gift wrap, baby items and pet supplies. It is always worth a browse because although they do have regular lines, a lot of their items come and go really quickly as people snatch them up. If you see something you want I would recommend buying it then instead of waiting.
I haven't really got any grumbles about this store. It is well laid out, they provide baskets and trolleys, there is a huge variety of interesting and different products, the shelves are always neat and tidy and staff are always friendly and chatty. Excellent!
I thought I would give these a try as I found them in my local Homebargains at the very reasonable price of £1 for 6 small bags (37g each). Supermarkets also sell a larger bag at 150g.
They are packaged in a very attractive shiny red foil bag, with the trademark Cadury's purple detail on the front. The front of the pack also shows you a picture of what the clusters look like, basically raisins and cornflakes covered in a very thick milk chocolate.
It is a combination that really works. Thick, creamy tasting chocolate, chewy sweet raisins and crunchy cornflakes. They taste really moreish and one little bag was gone in a few seconds. But maybe that's because Cadbury's have been a bit tight with the portions....Having eaten a few bags now I have noticed there's an average of 6 clusters in each bag. The clusters are bigger and more substantial that minstrels or maltesers for example, but you do seem to get a lot less than the other chocolate snacks on the market.
If we take our own sweets to the cinema I would be quite satisfied with a bag of minstrels or similar, but a bag of 6 clusters would leave me wanting more. And 2 bags would make me fatter!
Nutritionally they are pretty naughty but that's no surprise. They are 175 calories for a small bag and 8.2 grams of fat. It's ok if you're only eating them as an occasional treat but it seems to be very calorific for the amount of food you are actually consuming.
Although they taste really nice I'm not sure they are worth the normal retail price or the amount of calories. The 150g bag is retailing at about £1.70 and the smaller 37g bags are 49p, although there are offers available making them a little cheaper. I would only buy these again if I saw them really cheap.
When I was considering buying this tent recently there were very few reviews online, so hopefully this will be useful. Although this is one of the more expensive tents on the market I felt it would last us many years so would be worth it in the long run. Having used it a few times now I am glad I splashed out.
If anyone has visited a tent sale or seen one of these tents up at a campsite they will know of its quality. The tent material is Outtex Airtech Polycotton, which is much heavier than polyester but has a number of benefits. It is breathable in hot climates, so no waking up in a sweaty, condensation-filled tent. It has strong UV resistance which means it will be protected from the sun for many years. And perhaps most importantly it stands up to heavy rain, which I can vouch for because I have survived a few thunderstorms in this tent. Furthermore, it is quiet. Polyester tents seem to 'rustle' in the wind but this is virtually silent, a godsend when you're trying to sleep.
The PVC groundsheet zips in separately and is much, much thicker than in a normal, cheaper tent. For me this feels so much more secure and I know it would take a lot to rip it. You can even buy a carpet made for the living area which feels very luxurious in a tent!
It is bright and airy as huge windows with full length mesh provide ventilation. As well as the doors at the front there is also a side door which can be opened up to create a small canopy, again making the tent seem really spacious and open. However, in the evenings when everything is zipped up you really notice the quality of the fabric. It feels really cosy and warm.
This 5 man tunnel tent is so roomy, 215 cm high (I can't touch the top-I'm 5'3"), 640 cm long and 360 cm wide. There are 2 bedrooms and a main living room. You can easily get a table and 4 chairs in the living compartment, plus other furniture. Although there are only 2 of us we wanted a decent-sized area, which it certainly provides. One of the bedrooms is larger than the other. We used the larger one to sleep in and kept our bags in the other.
There are a number of pockets, some underneath the windows and some on the outside of the bedroom compartment. These are great for keeping the tent tidy, but not really to keep anything heavy in because they can sag.
The zip-off porch is an excellent size, and provides enough room for a double-burner cooker and 2 chairs. It means you can still sit outside when it's breezy or drizzling because you are so well protected. There are also large windows in the porch so you don't feel cut off.
Now for the bad points:
It weighs an absolute tonne! Actually, 53kg but that's a lot for a tent! It's very bulky too so you really do need a decent sized car, or trailer/roof rack. We have a Focus and with the seats down we only just manage to cram everything in (including camping chairs, sleeping bags, etc). The pack size for the tent is 34 x 110 cm, for the poles 25 x 105 cm.
Because it is so heavy it is definitely a 2 person job to put it up. With a bit of practice we can now do it in 60/90 minutes, and that is in good weather. You do get a DVD with instructions so it's best to study this before you set off. Packing up is again time-consuming. The groundsheet zips out and has to be folded separately, as do the bedrooms and the porch area. We were a little jealous of people who just pulled onto the campsite and set up in 15 minutes. I think for this reason we probably would not use the tent for one night stays.
A further disadvantage is that you really don't want to have to pack the tent up when it is wet, as the size and weight increases significantly. Obviously you then have the ordeal of drying it off at home which is a bit of a chore.
The tent costs around £800. When you think you can get a tent for 1/10th of that price, it can take a while to get your head around the cost. But you really are paying for quality. If you want a tent that will last for years I would definitely recommend the Wolf Lake 5. On campsites so many people have commented that it's one of the best, most luxurious, warmest, sturdiest, attractive, comfortable tents they've ever seen.
I've been a fan of oats for years and have tried many brands. However, I have been converted to Tesco value oats since I first purchased them a year ago. Tesco value oats are brilliant for a number of reasons.
* They are very cheap, only 58p for 1kg.
* Although the packaging is basic, I find with a bag it is easy to just scoop out the required amount
* I reseal with a clip or peg which keeps them fresh. I have kept oats this way for a number of weeks and never found them to have 'gone off'.
* They are so versatile. I use mine in porridge but also cookies, crumbles, flapjacks, cakes...It makes eating naughty things healthier!
I have tried some of the instant oats on the market but find them to be very powdery and produce a very smooth porridge. I much prefer the texture you get from these oats.
I have also tried the more expensive 'luxury' brands and I really don't think it is worth paying the extra. In fact, the more expensive brands seem to be very chunky and chewy in texture. I prefer the value oats as they are somewhere in-between 'smooth' and 'chunky'.
Furthermore, porridge oats are so healthy. They are very low in sugar and salt and are truly a super food. We are always being told of their many health benefits:
* Keep your cholesterol low
* Control your blood sugars
* Protect against cancer
* Reduce blood pressure
* Maintain a healthy bowel
* Help maintain healthy weight
How many foods which are so healthy are so tasty? Oats are definitely one of the best tasting super foods. They also give you so much energy for the day ahead. I find if I have a normal breakfast cereal I am hungry again in a couple of hours but porridge keeps me full until lunch. My favourite way of preparing it is with semi-skimmed milk and raisins.
I have only just started using this product. I found it for 99p (for 750ml) in homebargains so thought that even if it doesn't work, I haven't lost much.
I was also attracted to it because it claims to clean numerous surfaces in your bathroom, i.e. bath, mirror, showerscreen, taps, tiles. This is a great bonus for a number of reasons:
- You don't have loads of bottles cluttering up your bathroom cupboard
- It makes cleaning quicker and easier
- Less bottles to dispose of
- Fewer bottles to replace when they run out
The bottle is really eye-catching. It's a dark blue plastic with a purple sticker with orange and white writing. The bottle itself has been designed well. It is shaped so you can grip the bottle easily when using it and it doesn't slide around it your hand. The spray mechanism is also well made and actually sprays every time. Some cheaper cleaning products I've used have only 'squirted' or been temperamental. Furthermore, you can turn the spray 'on' and 'off' and it does not leak like others I have used. Overall, this feels like quality packaging.
To use on bathroom surfaces you simply spray from 15-20cm, allow the foam to work its magic, then wipe away with a damp cloth. For more stubborn marks leave the product on for a minute or so. For mirrors, spray directly on and wipe with a dry cloth.
Having used this a few times now I am impressed and would definitely buy it again. Cleaning isn't really my thing, I certainly don't enjoy it like some people do, so to find something that really works and makes my job easier and quicker is great. The smell is clean and fresh and not 'chemically' and the product is very effective. I've used it on all areas of my bathroom (apart from the floor) and it does get rid of soap scum easily and leaves your mirror, shower screen and taps shiny. I was especially impressed that it cleaned the mirror so well as I have always used a separate vinegar-based cleaner for this, and I did not think this product would match up.
It is made by SC Johnson Ltd and I believe they also make a similar product for the kitchen which I plan on trying next.
I have two male adult cats who are quite particular about the tinned food they eat. I have tried them on most brands in an effort to save a bit of cash but end up wasting so much I've given up. So, it's back to the trusted Whiskas.
The brand is instantly recognisable, with it's attractive purple packaging and cute little grey cat on the front.The can itself is really easy to open, with a good quality ringpull design that takes the lid straight off. I use a plastic tin cover if there's any left and the food keeps well in the fridge for a day or two. You can then wash and recycle the can, but beware of sharp edges inside.
It is a 'complete pet food for adult cats' so you can simply just feed this and nothing else to your moggies. However, mine are completely spoilt and get biscuits, treats and the odd bit of meat/fish too.
The front of the can states that there are no artificial flavours or preservatives. The main ingredient is meat and animal derivatives and the analysis states that this adds up to 8% protein. The rest is vegetable protein extracts and minerals.
I think one of the main reasons my cats like this is the ratio of meat to jelly. Some cheaper brands I've tried really skimp on the jelly, and I have found that the food is basically one layer of jelly surrounding the meat on the outside. Whiskas is different because the meat is all cut up into quite small chunks and actually sits in the jelly. Therefore, my cats don't just lick the jelly off and get bored, they eat it all and really seem to enjoy it.
They really appreciate the different flavours too. I think cats like variation and there is plenty: Chicken, rabbit and chicken, duck, cod, salmon, sardine and trout. Mine personally prefer the fishy flavours but every cat is different and will no doubt have their favourites.
Whiskas also make food specifically for kittens and adult cats, as well as a huge selection of biscuits, treats, milk, etc. They also sell their food in pouches, but these are significantly more expensive.
The price of this food is approx £3.40 for a pack of 6 cans, which works out at 57p a can. It's not the cheapest on the market but if you bought some half the price and then ended up binning half of it, I think it's worth it!
It's worthwhile looking out for deals in the supermarket as they often have 'Buy 2 packs for £5/6' and stocking up.
I have just started camping this year so had an awful lot of stuff to purchase. This cook set was one of the most important things as I wanted a few decent pans that I was not going to have to spend ages cleaning.
You get 4 pans in the set, 3 saucepans all with lids and a deep frying pan. They are all non-stick and have handles which fold back round the pan when they are packed away. The sizes are:
15cm Saucepan with non-stick finish & Lid
17cm Saucepan with non-stick finish & Lid
19cm Saucepan with non-stick finish & Lid
19.5cm Frying pan with non-stick finish
You can see the design of the handles in the picture. One thing I would say is to make sure they are folded out when cooking because they can slip back and get hot.
The set comes in a tie string bag and is very compact as they all fit inside each other. When packing away I did worry about scratching the insides of the pans so I put paper towels inbetween each one.
I've used them quite a lot now so feel able to write a fair review. The non-stick is very effectve - you can cook a fried egg with no oil and it doesn't stick at all. I made curry, fried onions, beans, potatoes, bacon, sausages, pasta, rice pudding, etc and nothing stuck at all. They are incredibly easy to clean. They do not retain any smells so your rice pudding does not end up tasting like curry!
The sizes are ideal for us (just me and partner), maybe even a little large but I prefer that to being too small. I would say that the large pan would be big enough for a meal for 4 (like curry). They are also lightweight which is important when camping.
I think for the price they are excellent. We bought them for £25 from a local camping shop.
I received this book as a present and really love it. I love the retro cover and the photos inside are beautiful.
Jamie follows the seasons, explaining what to eat when. Within each season there is a section on a particular ingredient, such as asparagus, broad beans, rhubarb, lamb, etc. He provides a few recipes for each ingredient, e.g. asparagus soup, tart, grilled, steamed, served with fish...
With the vegetables he also devotes a couple of pages each to growing them (although that's not really my thing). There's also sections on bbqing, pizza, pickles, pastry...it's really quite comprehensive.
There's also a wide range of flavours as Jamie includes Indian, Chinese and Italian-inspired recipes. If you watched his accompanying TV series you will recognise some of the recipes. My personal favourites are: Rhubarb and sticky stem ginger crumble, Crispy and sticky chicken thighs with squashed new potatoes and tomatoes, and lamb kofta kebabs with pistachios and spicy salad wrap. His recipes are packed with flavour and always go down well at home.
There's a clear message within the book, that we should care more about the food we eat and where it comes from. Jamie includes a piece on battery farming (he now keeps ex-battery hens), and his emphasis on 'seasonal' produce is a great reminder in these times when supermarkets stock everything all year round (at the cost of our planet!).
You really get the impression that he cares about food and enjoys creating recipes for people to enjoy. I certainly do.
I have two adult male cats, and one will only eat 'wet' food, the other likes to have both. So I have to buy both. Out of all the biscuits I have tried this does appear to be the favourite.
They do look quite appealing, with different coloured bikkies and little nuggets. Supermarket-own biscuits look quite boring and 'dry' looking in comparison.
My biscuit loving cat also really likes variation in his diet. He loves the different flavours whiskas make and gets quite excited when he goes on to a new box (I have a couple of boxes open so he can chop and change). He loves the chicken, lamb and tuna varieties.
The food also offers 'dental protection plus' which basically means that the biscuits are slightly abrasive to help clean the cats teeth. I'm not sure if this really works, whenever we go to the vet he manages to scrape a load of plaque off his back teeth.
However, I feel happy feeding this to my cat. There's no artificial colours or flavours, it's a 'complete' food so has everything he needs and he really loves it. Of course he still gets loads of treats - pilchards are a big favourite!
Whiskas are more expensive than supermarket own brands but no-where near as expensive as Iams, so it suits me and my budget. I tend to stock up when they are on offer. The ones I have recently bought from Sainsburys have nearly a years expiry date so they won't go off anytime soon.
This really is a fantastic book. Unpretentious, real, enjoyable recipes.
There's something for everyone, from spicy curries to traditional roasts. Everything is explained in detail and there's loads of pictures to help you follow the recipe which I personally find very useful.
I like the fact that he's used affordable ingredients too. There's a whole section dedicated to mince!
The recipes really are nice too. The meatballs are to die for - I've made them again and again. The curries are great and once you've got all the ingredients you can make them a regular part of your meal plan. There's also a really good section on casseroles and what alcohol and herbs to cook with different meats.
I think it's a great book to give someone the confidence to learn more about food and eventually get creative on their own, which I suppose is what Jamie had in mind.
If you are looking to buy a cookbook for a beginner/student then I would say this is perfect, although I am neither but still really enjoy it!
I visited Brighton a few weeks ago and was really keen to got to Momma Cherri's. We booked in for my boyfriend's birthday - they said they would decorate the table for him.
When we arrived there was a laminated piece of paper saying 'happy birthday' and a limp balloon on the table. I almost wish they hadn't bothered!
We ordered the soul in a bowl and were thoroughly unimpressed. The portions were tiny and the meat really greasy. They say that you get a selection of dishes from the menu so you get to try a bit of everything. I think it was about £13 each and we shared 4 bowls for starters and 4 for mains. However, the bowls were more like ramekins and one of the dishes was coleslaw! Also, we had chicken wings for starter and drumsticks for main, so not much variation.
Some of the dishes were nice - there was a lovely spicy butternut squash and the chocolate brownies were gorgeous.
But definitely not worth the money. There are some beautiful places to eat in Brighton, find one of those instead!
I bought this breadmaker as an introduction to breadmaking, thinking that I could upgrade to a posh model if it was a success. However, I haven't needed to.
The size is perfect if your kitchen is small or you prefer to keep the machine in the cupboard. I just leave mine on the counter as it's pretty unobtrusive.
I find that the size is just right for 2 of us. If you have a big family it may make more sense to get a larger model.
I've made loads of different types of bread in it. I started with the bread mixes but then moved on to buying the ingredients separately which is a lot cheaper. (You can even use plain flour instead of bread flour, its much cheaper).
It makes gorgeous wholemeal and white loaves. It has a 'bleep' to tell you when to add seeds/grains if you want to make granary. I've also made fruit bread and coconut loaf. There is a 'dough' setting if you want to make pizzas or bake your bread in the oven (as a french stick or rolls). All you need is a good book or scour the internet for recipes.
You have to be really organised though because the bread takes about 3 hours, so you need to plan in advance for when you need it. I get into a routine of making a loaf early evening, then eating it the next day. Depends on your lifestyle/work, etc.
The loaf can sometimes be difficult to get out but if you have greased the tin usually a good shake will loosen it.
Also, to get a softer crust wrap the loaf in a tea towel as soon as baked - this stops it getting too crusty.
Definitely a good buy, worth it for the smell of bread baking alone!