Wednesday, 24 April 2013

'Tis the season for HAY FEVER! AGHHH!

I love the Spring, I really do! All the sunshine and flowers... BUT, the only problem is that the hay fever season is upon us once again. The Hub was sneezing a fair bit on Sunday. I'm blaming it on the forsythia near the back door - so that'll be one plant that won't be making it into our garden when we move to our new house!! It's a bit if a shame though, as it has such a lovely brightening effect in the springtime... however, needs must!! For the same reason, although I love it, there won't be any wisteria either.

Forsythia can add such a lovely cheerful colour to the garden.

I was affected yesterday - I could feel my nasal passages getting sore. I must say, I was a bit annoyed - I was enjoying the fact that we were getting some sun, at last!!  I had been capitalising on this, by making a real effort to catch up with all my washing. I had also been getting into chillin' with 'Baby'  in the garden - whilst she happily pottered around watering the plants... grass... and weeds! 

'Baby' loves 'watering' the garden.

I have to say, I was also a bit surprised, as I'm not normally affected this early in the year - I'm more of a May/June girl myself - affected by grass, daisies and lime trees. Right now, the most common culprit is Silver Birch, which doesn't usually affect me. However, what with the cold, wet weather we've had, the reckoning is that the pollen is going to be particularly bad for us hay fever sufferers, this Spring, so maybe that's why I'm being affected.

So, if we are affected, what can we do? Well, as yet, there's no cure. I expect you might do something similar, but here's what I do:

1. Don't go out and keep the windows closed. This really goes against the grain when the weather is lovely, but it works... if you can stick to it!! When I was pregnant and unable to take anti-histamine, it was the best bet. That year we invested in an air-conditioning unit and a couple of decent fans. 

If I DO have to open any windows (sometimes you just HAVE to) I close the blinds/curtains as a barrier, to try and minimise pollens entering and use an air filter. I was skeptical about these, but ours (endorsed by Allergy UK) really does seem to help.

2. Hang washing inside the house, rather than out in the garden (we have a de-humidifier to help with this). That way the washing doesn't bring the pollen into the house. Of course if you have a tumble drier, then you can use that instead.

3. If I do go out, I try to do the following:
  • Wear sunglasses to protect my eyes. If my eyes do get affected, I have to really avoid rubbing them. Instead I wash them with water, or something like Optrex. 
  • Tie back long hair to stop pollen getting caught in it and... get ahead - wear a hat!
  • If I'm out without a hat, I might wash my hair when I get home (make sure you cover the heads of your kiddies too).
  • Shop in air-conditioned malls or supermarkets.
  • Change outer clothing (carefully, to avoid shaking the pollen everywhere) as soon as I get home.
  • Avoid routes, when walking, (if possible) that take me past plants which I know are likely to affect me.
  • Avoid going out in the evening (not really much of an option with 'Baby' around anyway), when the pollen, which has risen during the day, drops back to earth with the cooler temperature.
  • If I want to go for a walk, or enjoy being outside (and I'm near enough), I head for a beach - especially when the wind is blowing in off the sea (this was a whole lot easier when I lived near one). Apparently, going out very early in the morning (before 6.00am) or going to the mountains also helps.
  • When driving, I use air-conditioning to cool down the temperature in the car, rather than open the windows.

Other tactics:
  • Take 'Baby' to an indoor play area, rather than the park - pretty soon, our local garden center might see an awful  lot of me, as they have one near their cafe! The great thing about going to indoor play areas in the summer, is that they're practically empty!
  • Visit museums/galleries with air conditioning.
  • If you can (i.e. you're not pregnant/breastfeeding) take a good anti-histamine. I usually opt for Clarityn, as Piriton makes me wheeze. There may be other medication that you can take, but I tend to take as little as possible, if I can possibly help it.
  • It has been said that eating local honey helps, several studies seem to indicate otherwise, as pollens can blow many miles on the winds, but I love honey anyway, so have nothing to lose by eating it anyway!
  • Another tip is to smear Vaseline inside your nose, but I haven't ever done this, as I think the sensation of Vaseline in my nose would drive me to distraction!
  • You can also use eye drops, to help soothe those itchy eyes.
  • Apparently, there are some natural chemicals (found in food) that can also help you to fight the histamines. Read more about it here. Although avoid Butterbar - not that safe at all! (My thanks goes to Hannah for letting me know about that one!)

I have to say, I'm really hoping the 'experts' will be wrong on this year - that the season will not be as bad as we expect, but I hoped that last year and got it wrong. My worst day, last year, was on holiday, when I spent an afternoon near a wildflower meadow, with the wind blowing the pollen straight at me. As I was still breastfeeding, I was unable to take a single anti-histamine and just had to wait for the effects to wear off. 

The good news is that pollen particles are quite heavy. So apparently they fall to the floor within minutes of getting inside. Then it's just a case of keeping on top of vacuuming and wet dusting, to avoid stirring up the pollen again.

What about you? What do you do, to minimise the effects of pollen, when hay fever season is in full swing??

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Zero Zebra Dairy Free Chocolate

'Baby' is just beginning to realise that money is not just fun to play with (The Hub has been known to give her the odd coin to play with) but has POWER. She was rather pleased, the other day, when I gave her the money to pay for something and prompted her to accept the proffered change. The change soon made its way into her pocket! Hmm! Not the outcome I was expecting!!

She was also pleased, although a little confused, when Grandma gave her a ten pound not the other day - in lieu of an Easter egg. She caught the excitement of her slightly older cousin, who was patently delighted with her ten pound note. Her cousin was obviously already spending it - in her head!

Baby sometimes gets gifts of money from relatives, which I am beginning to encourage her to spend on concrete things. Money that came her way at Christmas was spent on her ballet dress and shoes etc. when she began baby ballet lessons.  It was money well spent, as she took to wearing her ballet shes around the house and would have done the same with her ballet dress, if I'd let her!

The Easter money seemed to arrive at just the right time, as Baby, suddenly remembering the chocolate she'd been given at Christmas, had started asking for what she calls 'Zebra Zoo'. And here they are: 

Cute, cheeky chocolate characters

I came across these chocolates some months ago and mentioned them in another post (Sweets for my Sweet), but I decided to give them a mention all of their own, as although expensive, they taste sooo good. There's not much chance of me getting in on the act, though, as, having cottoned on to the fact that Mummy also likes these chocolates, Baby has given me strict instructions not to eat any!

They cost £3.99 from Ocado or online at sites like Free From for Kids and Shop Vegan. For your money you get a box of ten chocolate animals. As The Hub pointed out to me - that means that each animal costs nearly 40p. GULP! It seems that Baby and I have some expensive tastes. But we're not the only ones, as it has recently been much harder to get hold of from our normal source - Ocado!

So, as far as we're concerned, these really are just treats. We have bought a few boxes - one to try initially, one for Baby's birthday and one for Christmas and now this one. The chocolate, however, is amazing and not just because the chocolate characters cute. To me, it tastes just like the 'normal' milk chocolate, which, I have to admit, I've really missed. 

One of the amazing things about this chocolate, is that it declares that it is free of a number of major allergens, including the following: dairy, gluten, soya, nuts and eggs. Wow! It's also fair trade and organic, both of which to me, are a definite plus!

The ingredients are as follows:
Raw cane sugar 
Cocoa butter
Rice syrup
Cocoa mass

Please note: the package states that this chocolate is made in a factory that handles milk, but also that each batch is tested for allergens. See here!

If these are a bit pricey for you, there is plenty more dairy free choice out there - just check out the posts listed below :)  However, they're definitely worth a try!

Similar Posts:

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Koko strawberry drink

To be honest, I've never been a HUGE fan of milkshake. It may have something to do with the fact that many of them, despite the pictures of yummy looking bubbles and fruit taste so... well... artificial.

Mind you, most of the milk shakes I've tasted have been those that my Mum made me, when I was a whole lot younger - before the age of Mac Donald's. They were made with that powdered Nesquik stuff, that you can mix up with ordinary milk.

I don't know if my mum was a leetle bit lax about making them up, but they were always very sugary and never quite mixed-in enough. There was always a bit of what can only be described as 'sediment' at the bottom of the glass!

Anyway, as soon as I heard about Kara, (now Koko) making strawberry milkshake, I was desperate to try one. My problem? Although I knew that some Tesco Extras stocked them, mine didn't and still doesn't. Bah!!

I contacted Koko and they offered to send me a freebie, which I turned down. Why? Because I don't like the idea of feeling obliged to write something that the people at Kara would like to read and I don't like the idea that I have an unfair advantage over others, who, like me, are trying to make the most of living on a restricted diet.

So anyway, I had almost given up looking, when a trip to my health food shop finally resulted in success!! Huzzah!!

If you're okay with soya or rice milk, you may well be wondering what all the fuss is about - dairy free shakes made with these 'milks' have been around for ages. However, if like me, you can't have either of those, then you will understand exactly what all the excitement is about! 

Not having tried the rice or soya versions, I would be interested to hear from somebody who has, to find out how they compare. Baby has, but can't yet tell me in detail what she thought. All I know is that she didn't take to either, which was a bit disappointing as I was hoping to get her accepting some sort of dairy substitute, to up her calcium intake.

Alpro's shake has been around for a while

Now, down to business, what it is like?

To my mind, it's pretty much like milk mixed with Nesquik powder!! Though perhaps with a little extra sediment thrown in!! That said, I enjoyed it enough to want to buy some again, for when I fancy a bit of a change. However, it may not be all that often, as the drink comes with a fair few ingredients, which I personally find a bit alarming. If you want to see what else (besides coconut and strawberries) is contained in the drink, see here:

Filtered water, Coconut milk 6.8%, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Calcium phosphate, Emulsifier: Sucrose ester, Strawberry juice concentrate, Natural flavourings, Thickener: Xanthum gum, Sea salt, Sandalwood extract, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12

I've heard of most of those ingredients before, but I must admit, I was a bit surprised by the sandalwood! Just in case you too were wondering what on earth sandalwood is doing in a strawberry drink, well it's basically there to add colour to your drink. Well I never! I thought Sandalwood was an ingredient in perfume!

Now, if (like me) you are keeping a eye on your calcium intake, you may well also be interested in the following extra nutritional info:
Calcium 120mg 
Vitamin D2 0.75ug
All 15% of RDA (adult)

Children 1-3 require 350mg of calcium a day and 7.5 - 8.5 mg of Vitamin D a day (UK guidelines). So if Baby would drink a carton of this drink, each day, she would get around a third of her calcium and all of her Vitamin D for each day that she did so. That said, her teeth might suffer, so maybe it's for the best, for now, but should she change her mind, a carton as a treat, now and again should be fine.

Previous posts about dairy substitutes can be found by following the link below:
Dairy Substitutes

Further reading about Calcium and Vitamin D:

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Vegan Devonshire Klotted Kream (or 'Mimilicious' as it's now known)

Hmm! It's a dilemma! Now, do you call a scone 'scone' as in 'gone' or 'scone' as in 'cone'? I never know which it's supposed to be, but I'm pretty sure that the correct accompaniment, along with some jam (preferably homemade) is cream as in clotted!

Gluten and dairy free cream tea, anyone?
I have to admit, I've felt rather glum, at times, when coeliacs have drooled over a gluten free something or other that they've found - it's often been accompanied by some long last product from the land of dairy. One such has been cream teas. 

Now, I can manage to source a dairy and gluten free scone - they sell them in the Free From section of places like Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco and I've even made my own! I have also found dairy free creams that I can use and like, which I have posted about previously. you can read about them here. But! Dairy free clotted cream?? However, thanks to a link posted by Hannah Banana Bakery (a vegan bakery) on Face Book. It seems that it might be entirely possible.

The other month, up popped a link to Klotted Kream - a vegan version of clotted cream. At that point, it was yet to be, but has since been released. I inquired by email to find out how 'gluten free' it was. Update May 2013: At that time, I was informed that it was below 20ppm and so I sampled this product based on information. It now looks as though this information has been changed. Unfortunately for coeliacs, it's now below 100ppm, and is now classed as 'low-gluten'. If you're OK with oats being tested as below 100ppm, then you should be alright. Should you wish to contact them and ask your own questions, they were very good at getting back to me very promptly. 

Naturally, I wasted no time in ordering some to try. And here it is:

Gotta love the cow on the label!!
If I'm completely honest, although on first inspection it certainly bore a resemblance - minus that honey crusted coating that you can find on a fully dairy pot of clotted cream, my first impression was that although not bad, it could still perhaps do with a little bit of tweaking in the taste department. For one thing, I thought it tasted a bit salty. I say that, though, thoroughly aware that to develop this concoction, the people behind it have spent hours and hours lovingly toiling over it, just to get it to this point. And although the taste might need tweaking, the texture seemed just right - with those little creamy lumps of resistance that you find when you eat 'real' clotted cream.

The texture certainly feels right
Now, you don't usually eat clotted cream, just by itself, do you? Although I must admit, given half a chance, I probably could! So I blobbed some on to a scone, together with some raspberry jam, made by my Dad. And actually, I have to say, it improved the experience an awful lot! In fact, I thought it worked rather well.  

So I think I would order some again, come the summer, for that clotted cream tea experience  but for a treat, as does work out quite pricey. A 4 oz. pot like mine costs £1.99 plus £2.95 post and packing. There is a special offer on delivery at the moment, but I'm unlikely to be needing six pots of cream, right now, although they can be frozen!!

If you're interested in the ingredients, they're here:

Water, Pure Oats, coconut Oil, Rapeseed Lecithin, Sunflower Spread (sunflower oil, vegetable oils,* emulsifier (mono and diglycerides of fatty acids), Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Colour (natural carotenes), Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12), Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt

* 'vegetable oils' were not soya, when I first enquired. 

Important Update May 2013:
Due to unexpected influx of orders, Klotted Kream were restructuring, to keep up with demand. This meant Klotted Kream was temporarily unavailable. However, rebranded as 'Mimlicious' it now appears to be available to order once again.

Similar post:

The Creme de la dairy free Creme

Other posts about dairy alternatives can be found by following the links on this page of the blog:

Dairy Substitutes