Monday, 21 October 2013

Bloggers Christmas Slimming Club

I have to confess, I've not really had my mind on this the last few weeks. I've been away from home on conferences, having a stressful time at work, the occasional night on the sauce and the odd meal out. Indeed, all the reasons that shouldn't really be a challenge if I was making decent lifestyle choices, but have been because I'm feeling tired, a bit sad and weak willed.

I'm blaming the change in seasons.

However, all is not lost. I am very, very lucky to have The Boy who has been doing his utmost to look after me, cook me decent food wherever possible and generally make sure I don't completely fall off the cliff into unhealthiness. Plus, in addition to that, I now know that my gym routine is totally entrenched. I don't even think about it and I've found myself at Step on a Monday or Aerobics and Tone on a Tuesday. The Boy and I are still working through our Bootcamp Groupon on a Wednesday and I'll maybe go Aerobics on a Thursday. Plus of course there's still the cycling. This morning was the first day I really had to cycle in through torrential rain to get to work, but weirdly, cycling home in the dusk from the gym I could just wear a t-shirt! Strangely mild, but long may it last so I can stay on the bike.

Lovely Boy-made haddock and veg lentils. Delish!

Anyway, I've probably cheated a bit, because I didn't have time for lunch today so all this is possibly an illusion, but I did weigh myself before Step and not after...

Today's weight was 58.9kg, so that's a kilogram loss since my last post. That's a total of 2.2kg lost, the equivalent of 5lbs. I am starting to think that another 9lbs by Christmas might be a bit optimistic until I get can myself back on track, but I'd be happy with another 2lbs off to be honest, taking me to half a stone lost. Then maintaining, getting more sleep and eating better would be great, to get me through another winter. 

I'm really starting to get fed up with the fat belly though, pretty sure that I've done enough sit ups over the last few years to have a washboard stomach though, but it's still there, poking out and shouting at people.

Must try harder.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Campaign for Real Salad: The product labelling swindle

I know people have been banging on about transparency in nutritional labelling for ages, but it is a good point that needs driving home. The way that pre-packaged salads are labelled is particularly baffling.

Tesco, for example, have decided, in their ultimate wisdom, to give the following nutritional information on
their website:

Tuna Layered Salad Bowl 440g- by 100g or by half a pack (220g). Now to me, the idea of a bowl would be that it is a convenient serving for my lunch. Especially since once opened, the advice is to consume within 24 hours. 

Eating this whole pack would set you back 26.4g of fat. For that you could treat yourself to 30 delicious grams of butter and still have change.

Prawn Pasta 465g - labelled 'Deli Salad' on the packaging. Tesco are happy to give you the nutritional advice for this delicious product by the 100g, or, wait for it... By the tablespoon. Yes, per 55g. Which of course doesn't divide into 465g. But naturally, all of this information is further down the page, where you would have to scroll down to see it. The nice, brightly coloured nutritional info at the top is just 'per serving' - would you have guessed they meant per tablespoon?

So thank goodness for the Complete Meaty Ham Salad. Labelled by 100g and (shock horror) per pack (145g). And it comes with its own little fork and everything. Not sure why it needs to contain a quarter of your daily salt intake, but I guess that's another post.

If you think this is annoying and unnecessary, please sign the Campaign For Real Salad petition.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Campaign For Real Salad: Tesco Bright Salad Bowl

Far be it from The Campaign For Real Salad to not acknowledge good work when it happens. The
Tesco Bright Salad Bowl contains no dressing and, surprise surprise, offers a good healthy choice for people looking to pick up a salad on the go. Well done Tesco - can we have more of this please?

32kcals and 0.4g of fat for the entire tub - with that kind of nutritional information you could go the whole hog and add half an avocado.

This is what the Campaign For Real Salad is all about, consumers being able to make quick, easy choices that are healthy and not slathered in unnecessary and fattening dressings. Sign the petition now. Once I get to 100 supporters, I will start addressing the supermarkets directly and asking for answers.

Answers to questions like:

Why does the Tesco Complete Meaty Ham Salad, 145g serving, contain  180kcals and 13g of fat - 18% of my daily allowance and just 100kcals less than a Burger King cheeseburger (the fat is roughly the same)?

And while I'm on the subject of Burger King, how are they managing to produce a Grilled Chicken Salad for 126.6kcals and 2.9g of fat, when the closest similar product that Asda produce, the Chicken Salad contains 153kcals and 7.3g of fat per 100grams? The salad is 180g total...

Should I be defying all logic and heading to fast food joints when I want a quick, healthy lunch? I hope not.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Campaign for Real Salad: Sainsbury's Classic Salad with Creamy Chive Dressing

Have you signed the Campaign for Real Salad Petition yet? If you think that Sainsbury's classic salad doesn't need 35.2g of creamy chive dressing added to it, which takes the total fat in a pack to 19.2g, then you should sign it now.

According to the Sainsbury's website, the Creamy Chive Dressing contains: Rapeseed Oil, Single Cream (from Cows' Milk), Water, Pasteurised Free Range Egg Yolk, Chive, Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Lemon Juice, Salt, Mustard Flour, Mustard Seed Husk, Pimento, White Pepper, Mustard Powder, Turmeric.

That means that rapeseed oil and cream are the main ingredients in this dressing. And so much of it, for relatively little salad. On the website, Sainsbury's give the nutritional information per half a pack - but as I've said before, why make a non-reasealable tub, bowl shaped, just enough for one person if you're only supposed to have half. More to the point, why don't they include less dressing - let's say something that contains under 5g of fat say, rather than something that provides 27% of my recommended daily fat intake?

Why is salad not the fresh, healthy, convenient choice?

Why not provide us with less dressing (making the product healthier, and cheaper!) and make the dressing low fat? There are recipe ideas out there that taste just as good. What about this creamy chive dressing with non-fat greek yoghurt as a base instead of oil and cream?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Campaign for Real Salad: Waitrose Tuna Nicoise Salad

In continuation of my Campaign for Real Salad (sign the petition here!) I have moved my focus away from Tesco and decided to have a look at what other supermarkets have on offer. The Waitrose Tuna Nicoise Salad caught me eye as an example of a packaged salad with an unecessarily high fat content.

A single serve pack?
Here we find a calorie value of 258kcals per pack - not a bad total for a lunch when you are looking after your diet. Very commendable. But perhaps there is a little too much French dressing (water, rapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, parsley, garlic purée, black pepper) meaning this salad has nearly 13.5g of fat in it. Nearly a fifth of my daily fat intake. Admittedly, there is an egg, and 40g of tuna - probably containing around 4 or 5g of fat, so that means the dressing is adding 8 or so grams of fat to the dish. 

How about substituting with a tub of this little recipe from

Makes 3 tbsp
 2 tbsp lemon juice
 2 tsp white wine vinegar
 1/4 tsp salt
 1/4 tsp sugar
 1/8 tsp made-up mild mustard
 freshly-ground black pepper to taste
 Put it all in a screw-top jar and shake well. Keep it in the fridge
 and shake before serving.
If you think too much additional fat is being added to prepacked salads by the supermarkets, 
making the healthy option into a battleground for hidden fats, sign the petition here. 

Sunday, 6 October 2013


The Campaign for Real Salad

I am starting a campaign. It's been bubbling below the surface for some time now, but now I'm so frustrated that I need to get it out there and try to make a change.

I believe that supermarkets are mis-selling salad. You know how it goes, sometimes you just need to grab something while you are out and about, or at work, or whatever. And if you're anything like me, you think "I want something that's not too expensive, but reasonably healthy." You could go to the local 2 for 1 pub, or get a meal deal in the cafe but instead you think I'll nip to Tesco and grab a pre-packed salad. Convenient, fresh, what could be better?

Tesco Complete Egg & Cress Salad 185GWhich is why I am so disappointed that the vast majority of pre-packed salads are simply unecessarily full of fat and calories.

Take, for example, the Tesco Complete Egg and Cress Salad. At £2.00 it's not overly expensive. You get a good amount of salad in it, certainly enough to fill you up, not to mention the protein you get from the egg. I also had half a bread roll with mine, because a. I'm a carb addict and b. I didn't see the harm a bit of bread could do in addition to a healthy salad.

I opened the pack and that's when I saw it, the mayonnaise. Now I love a salad dressing as much as the next person, livening the flavours up and keeping the palette interested. I see the role in the world for salad dressing. My problem was that there was just so much of it. I put more than enough of the mayo on the salad to coat all the leaves, perhaps a little too much, and I had literally used about a fifth of the sachet of mayonnaise. Because I was at the office, there was nothing I could do with the rest, so it was thrown away, wasted.

"So what?" you may well be saying. Well this is so what - the nutritional information was thus:

Believe your eyes. That salad I picked up, that quick and easy option for a healthy lunch contained over a quarter of my recommended daily fat intake. Women should eat no more than 70g of fat per day, so you're really eating way in to that recommendation here. If you're trying to lose weight, you stand no chance.

And roughly how much of this is the dressing? Well, obviously the healthy boiled egg is providing the majority of the calorie and fat content besides the dressing and a small boiled egg (and the one in the Tesco salad is most definitely small) may be in the region of 57 calories and just under 4g of fat, with just over 1 gram of saturated fat. Which means that the mayonnaise must account for something in the order of 150 calories (leaving some account for the salad) and 15g of fat. Hopefully, because I only ate about 1/5 of the mayonnaise I only had 30 calories and 3g of fat - much more reasonable for my healthy salad.

Don't forget I added bread as well, perhaps another 70-100 calories on top of the potential 220 already in that salad.

And this is my campaign. I realise that most people don't bother to read the labels on their food - they are reliant on what should be the Bleedin' Obvious that a salad is a healthy option and a burger isn't. But this is not the case. I think people should be more savvy shoppers, but I also think that it would not be difficult to amend pre-packaged salads' composition so that there is less dressing, less calories and less fat. After all, I'm asking for less of the expensive ingredient to be added! It'd be nice if the price went down commensurately, but I'm not an idiot, I know how supermarkets work.

Incidentally, a McDonalds cheeseburger apparently contains 12g of fat. That's 7g less than the salad I bought.

Yesterday, I had a Tesco FinestSpinach and Pine Nut Pasta Salad. Currently on offer, at the time of writing, at 2 for £3.50, to encourage you to buy more. Now, I am under no illusions that this was not the best choice of 'salad'. The spinach content was low, and the other ingredients were pasta (carbs), pine nuts and cheese (fat) all coated in a pesto dressing (essentially olive oil). 

Here is the packet. You'll notice (despite my blurry photo) that the nutritional information is given by 'half a pack'. Well, this salad is 215g, provided in a convenient bowl shaped pack. And, having eaten one, frankly you need to eat it all to yourself. I ate mine at midday and I was ravenous again by 4pm, so it's not really a big comforting filler.

The website gives the nutritional information in a slightly easier to read format, so here it is:
Bear in mind that this is the same nutritional information as on the packet, but the website simply tells you that this information is 'per serving' without clarifying that they have deemed a 'serving' to be half the packet.

That means that if you eat the whole thing, you take in 520 calories (26% RDA) and 28g of fat (40% RDA). According to Pizza Hut, I could have had two thirds of their small Italian margherita instead for 460 calories and 17.2g of fat. Hell, for an additional 170 calories, but still 2.2g fat less than the salad, I could have the whole pizza!

Now I've admitted that pasta salads are not the best choice, but surely they should be significantly healthy compared to a fast food pizza. What could supermarkets do to make this product healthier? Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves for exhibit A:

Exhibit A: The Oil Slick

Yes, because I did not stir up my salad, indeed I actively tried to drain it as I ate, I was left with 2 or 3 teaspoons of olive oil in the bottom of the container when I had finished. Once again there is too much dressing. And instead of putting less dressing in, Tesco have just fiddled the nutritional information to make the product appear slightly healthier. The Boy was disgusted when he saw this as he realised he'd clearly just eaten all of that unnecessary fat. As I suspected, he hadn't thought (and hadn't read the packet) to discover just what he was ingesting.

I believe supermarkets should use less dressing. Nobody needs an oil slick of olive oil, or an egg salad that is literally dripping in mayonnaise. It is too much. It doesn't taste good. And it lulls people into a false sense of security that they are eating well when they are not.

I believe supermarkets should not manipulate nutritional information. If a product is unhealthy, make it clear. Let us know the facts so we can make informed decisions.

If you agree with me, you can sign up to my Campaign For Real Salad petition on

Tesco salads are the only ones I have featured so far, but I have no doubt that there are other culprits out there. What salads are in your fridge and how much is the additional dressing adding to your waistline?

Zatchels and Jacky Tsai Collaboration

Wonderfully tactile: Lava Metallic Range
 I had a pretty busy day down in London on Thursday this week, what with various meetings and exhibition launches and whatnot, but before all of that began, I managed to make time to nip down to W1 and get a sneaky preview of the latest range Zatchels are producing with Chinese graphic artist, Jacky Tsai.

Jacky was a fascinating guy to talk to. He aims to blend classic Chinese (and other) motifs with Pop Art colours and techniques. This is how he has created the bold visual style that he is famous for - you may have already seen the floral skull that he produced for Alexander McQueen.

He works in a range of media, telling me that he enjoys using a range of media to keep himself inspired and to keep challenging himself. He has used a range of historic Chinese techniques as well as modern print techniques and digital graphic work, for example, but he said that the key thing in his work are the vibrant colours. Looking at his portfolio, this examination of colour truly seems to be the root from which all of his work flows.

Jacky and his new Limited Edition range
And it is no different with the new collection that he has designed in conjunction with Zatchels.
The range of three satchels and saddlebags has bold designs, eye catching colours and a wonderful iridescence which apparently is achieved by the ingeniuous method of the designs being printed on to silver leather, giving an additional dimension to the way the pieces catch the light. 

The skull print is given from multiple angles, all carefully selected by Tsai to fit perfectly with the shape of the bag, respecting the fastenings and curved edges. The petrol print, for my taste, is the real fashionista special, with an amazing iridescent quality from a distance that then merges into the brightly coloured detail of traditional Chinese designs, the figures and trees being similar to those you would see on screens, fabric or wall hangings. Finally there is the virus print, which is possibly my favourite (although I loved all three!) - but sadly this is the one that looks least impressive in photo reproduction. The almost neon virus forms are random and unbalanced and that clever technique of printing on silver really shines here, literally. This gives a gorgeous, luxurious texture to the print that I have really not seen elsewhere.

Mini Satchels
If you just have to get your hands on these pieces, they will be on sale from Zatchels from the end of October 2013 at £85 for the saddle bag and a choice of 13" or 14" satchels for £165 or £180 respectively.

Zatchels were also showcasing their other new ranges, including bright pastel duffel bags, made in an extremely fine, soft leather. They are reminiscient of the small duffel bags that were SO popular during the mid 90s, but the design has been refined and made considerably more high end. I think they will be a great summer accessory for SS14.

I also had a little looksee at the mini satchels, hopping on the coming trend for micro bags, as well as the fun and colourful Carnival Collection which will be available from the Westfield London boutique at the end of October 13.

Finally there were more metallics, other Zatchels brand merchandise such as luggage tags and ipad covers and the 'high end' quilted collection, for ladies who want an expensive handbag that is actually a satchel!! Their new ranges show a good deal of creative thinking as well as demonstrating that once again Zatchels have their fingers on the pulse of the way design trends are moving at the moment.

And a quick shout out to their sponsors - my Burts Bees lipbalm from the goody bag is aleady a staple in my bag when I'm out and about and having the delicious bubble tea from Milk Tea and Pearl took me right back to being in Singapore - it's such a cutesy, Asian style of trend that I had not foreseen someone bringing these sweet little bubble drinks successfully over to the UK - but clearly I was wrong!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


These are great. Massive corn. Crunchy. Garlicky. And the packaging talks about Cuzco, a place I love. What's not to like?
You're glad I shared aren't you? Crazy snackage.
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