It never fails to horrify me, (and it’s a fact I bore people with over and over again), that when Bee went to university, she was the only person in her flat of eight people who knew how to use a washing machine. 

Not cool.

It was the same with food. While her flatmates were trying to get their heads around the idea of cooking pasta and heating up a sauce at the same time, Bee was organising her tea drawer and fine tuning recipes for her food blog. I’d like to take full credit for this, and say that it was all part of a long term plan to help her develop basic life skills and a strong sense of independence, but I suspect the reality was just that I got bored of doing her washing and making packed lunches, and so she had to learn how.

Belle isn’t quite as forthcoming in the laundry department. I think there’s a part of me that’s doing that cliched thing of keeping your littlest baby a baby for as long as possible, and although I’ve never felt hugely maternal in a ‘Oh look at her in her school uniform!’ sort of a way, I do, especially as I get older, have a habit of wanting to potter around behind everybody, fetching them things and tidying up after them.

Belle does enjoy cooking though, and I know that I should exploit this. Mainly she likes to make sweet things – she makes a mean chewy cookie – and I tend to let her get on with it, seeing it as something for her to do while I work/water my plant babies, rather than a family activity. I know she likes it when I get involved though, especially when I do the bits she doesn’t like, like spooning batter into cake cases, and I should make more of this, and do more proper* cooking with her. View Post

I have some scary packed lunch news for you. Not ‘preschooler finds snake in marmite sandwich’ scary – statistically scary.

(Because maths is fun guys!)

Flora has been working with Leeds University to recreate a huge study that was first done 10 years ago, looking at packed lunches in schools. Back in 2006, the research found that only 1% of packed lunches were meeting healthy food standards. So basically, you could have gone into any school hall, and you’d maybe have found one lunchbox that wasn’t crap. In my day, that one would belong to the unpopular kid with the parents who gave him carrot sticks and home made hummus and make him wear faux-leather school shoes from a ‘specialist’ shop. But that was the 80s, and they were harsh.

Forward wind* ten years then, and you would hope that lunch box standards have improved. I mean, we’ve got Jamie Oliver now right?

Wrong.

(We do have Jamie Oliver, that bit’s not wrong, this isn’t some kind of creepy celebrity chef murdering confession.)

Ten years later, despite there now being about approximately 8.3 million pictures on Pinterest of kids’ healthy bento lunch box ideas**, according to Flora’s research, still only 1.6% of lunch boxes are meeting healthy food standards. We look at pictures of mini olive kebabs and strawberries cut into the shapes of individual Mr Men, and then we sigh, pour another glass of wine, and just whack in a jam sandwich, Penguin bar and a bag of Skips. 

healthy packed lunch ideas

Nope.

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For Belle, our recent lunch at the new Ivy Clifton Brasserie, Bristol, was less about the food and more about the opportunity to wear her new outfit, bought especially for my sister’s wedding. For me, it was definitely about the food. That, and the chance to look at Belle in her new outfit and sob quietly to myself about my lost youth. (Not that I ever looked like her even when I was 14, but I can dream.)

Here she is, getting in the way of one of my door pictures.

Review Ivy Clifton Brasserie Bristol

The Ivy Clifton Brasserie opened recently in Bristol, and Belle and I were going along to test it out. We make these sacrifices for you, you see. We went on the day before Belle’s birthday, so that even though we were there as guests, for the purposes of this review, I could make out that it was a fancy birthday treat. (I’m so thoughtful!) Actually, for the record, Belle did have a very fancy treat on her birthday, which I did pay for, all by myself, so I am thoughtful.

Anyway. View Post

Last night I ate three chocolate brownies.

Okay, even that’s a lie. I think I actually ate four, but somehow three sounds just a little less disgusting. They were about two inches square, so that’s quite a lot of brownie. Belle made them for me because I was hormonal and tired and they were delicious and chocolatey. I enjoyed eating them, but I also didn’t, because at the same time I was thinking about my thighs, and that took the edge off the fun of it a little bit.

To be honest, it scares me a little bit – my complete lack of self-control when it comes to food. I worry a lot about my complete inability to discipline myself, and what this is going to mean for me and my body over the coming years. That sounds very dramatic I know, but it definitely feels like an addiction. I have never taken drugs, and never been a smoker, because I just know that I wouldn’t be able to give up – I have no will power.

chocolate brownies self control over eating

I tested myself this morning. I had a bag of brazil nuts on my desk, and was eating them without really even thinking about it. I realised that that was probably a bad idea as it said there were 692 calories per 100g and it was a 200g bag, so I took our four and lined them up on my desk. I told myself that I would leave them there, and see how long I could make them last, that I would only eat them when I really wanted one.

Within two minutes I had eaten all four.

That’s not really okay is it?

(At this point I thought about taking four more brazil nuts out of the bag, lining them up on my desk, and taking a picture. I couldn’t take the risk though – no way would those brazil nuts go back in the bag – so instead I had to find a calorie-free stock image.)

brazil nuts self control over eating

I blame mindfulness. I’m so damn busy living in the moment that I find it hard to picture the future or make decisions based on long term consequences. All I can think about is how the brownie will feel in my mouth for those few seconds. And then afterwards of course I feel wracked with guilt and spend the half hour in bed before falling asleep fantasising about liposuction. 

I’ve even gone as far as to say that if I had one wish, I would wish that I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, without it ever having any negative consequences on my health or body. World peace? Pah! An end to child poverty? Nope. Calorie free brownies for me please.

Does anyone else feel like this about food? Does anyone else scare themselves with their complete lack of self-control?

Images – Igors Rusakovs and P-fotography from shutterstock

I have to admit that when I think of Ryvita, I think of my mum on a diet in about 1989. I wouldn’t normally think about Ryvita as an everyday sort of food.

Oh how wrong I am.

Did you know for instance, that Ryvita do an apple and cinnamon flavour?! It’s immense. Even Belle, who really prefers just to just eat Weetos and Fry’s Chocolate Creams, will happily munch on these, dry, as a biscuit alternative. I prefer to smear mine with a thin (i.e. thick) layer of peanut butter, but either way, they are really tasty. There are in fact 12 different flavours to choose from, so there is bound to be at least one that takes your fancy.

I’m as guilty as Belle of eating a fairly restricted diet, in the sense that although I’m always happy to try new things, (unlike Belle, who made a retching noise at the weekend when I put some samphire near her), I just don’t ever really get around to it. Every day I fall into that classic office lunch trap of boring sandwich, a cup of tea… you know how it works. In my mind I want to be eating a delicious vegan quinoa salad with fresh herbs and pomegranate, but I just can’t be arsed.

Ryvita though. I feel like I could get creative with a Ryvita, (so long as there is no quinoa involved), and so I have taken up the #MyVita challenge to liven up my lunch, by coming up with some new topping ideas for my Ryvita. I had a browse of the Ryvita website initially for some topping inspiration, and must say that I was pretty impressed with their take on the classic fish finger sandwich. It looks pretty ace doesn’t it?

Ryvita fish finger recipe

Image – Ryvita

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easy pasta recipe with peas and pancetta and bertolli

As regular readers will know, I’m not really a natural in the kitchen. ‘Fridge pasta’ is one of my specialities, which consists of pasta, with whatever I can find in the fridge. Sometimes the pasta doesn’t match either, as it’s the dregs of three or four different packets.

This pancetta and pea pasta recipe is a variation on my famous fridge pasta, but created by chef Gennaro Contaldo, and with better instructions than just ‘ergh, let’s see what we have in the fridge – half a cucumber and some dry cheese? That’ll do.’

The full recipe for pasta with pancetta and peas is here, and I’ve recreated my version in this post. You might like to have a look at the other pasta recipes on the Bertolli site though, as they really are dead easy, and tasty too. 

So, first up, ingredients. This is what you need to make your very own pancetta and pea pasta. It will serve about four, and only takes 20 minutes from start to finish: View Post

We have a long standing Prezzo-related family joke. It’s not funny, I’ll warn you now. It’s so unfunny, that it barely counts as a joke, and I feel bad that I’ve even mentioned it now, when reviewing Prezzo. So bad, that I’m considering making up a funnier joke, just so as not to disappoint you. I can’t think of anything though. So, whenever we talk about Prezzo, we call it ‘Pressos’, in a strong Somerset accent. (We’re from Somerset so it’s okay.)

That is the entire joke.

I’m so sorry I put you through that. 

Anyway, Belle and I went along to Pressos in Taunton a couple of weeks ago for dinner, as Prezzo wanted us to sample their new menu and let you know what we thought. (I’m stopping with the joke now, partly out of shame, partly for SEO purposes). Even though we’ve been back in Taunton for a couple of years now, I’ve not eaten in the Taunton Prezzo in all that time, so reviewing Prezzo in Taunton was a treat. (Weirdly, I have eaten in the Bridgwater Prezzo.) I don’t quite know why the Taunton version isn’t on my radar, as it has a very central location and, as I discovered when I went to the toilet, an outdoor seating area that would be lovely in the summer – definitely one to keep in mind for a cheeky summer lunch with a glass of wine.

I’m going to start with the pudding, as who doesn’t look at the puddings first and use that to plan their main course? No? Just me? View Post