Zero Waste Week 2016

This week is Zero Waste Week. What do they mean by zero waste? I hear you say. Well it is as simple as it sounds. The aim is to reduce or completely eliminate the amount you throw away. If you spend next to no time actually thinking about how much stuff you do chuck out, when someone tells you it is zero waste week you might be quite disgusted to think about what you do sling in the bin. 

The Jessop household has been on the case of this for a while. Emily has reusable nappies and we don’t use wet wipes at all. I’ve made the switch to cloth sanitary pads and have been really happy using them since my monthlies returned. We don’t use kitchen roll much any more and we even have reusable toilet roll (although this hasn’t been particular popular). So what can we pledge to reduce this week?

It turns out that the theme this year is food waste. This is perfect for us! We waste a ridiculous amount of food. Some of it is wasted at Emily’s hand when dinner turns into messy play. But most of it comes from us buying too much and then leaving it in the fridge or cupboard until it goes out of date. It’s quite pathetic really. Therefore this week I’m determined not to throw food away.

To do this we will be ensuring that we only cook the right amount of food, use up anything that is going out of date and rot as much onto the vegetable patch that we can. This requires a bit of creativity. Cooking the right amount of food is easy and if we make too much we can have it for lunch the next day.  Soups and smoothies are great for using up less than best fruits and veggies. Meal planning can help with this too as it stops you from buying too much food.  As for the vegetable patch that getting the benefit of all our used tea leaves and coffee grounds. 

I am open to more ideas and love new initiatives. So let me know what you are doing for Zero Waste Week. 😊


Adventures in Baby-led Weaning World

Emily’s first encounter with food came when she was 26 weeks old, just two days short of turning six months. This is the recommended age to start solid food and Dan and I have always been keen to listen to the advice offered by people who know their stuff. 

Dan booked the week off work and I prepared all the “accessories” that I thought we need for weaning. I bought high chairs, Doidy cups, plastic plates and bowls, bibs and a selection of Tupperware. It was wonderful, guilt-free shopping! Every time the postman would knock on the door to deliver another parcel, I just look at Dan, shrug my shoulders and say “What?! It’s for weaning!” Dan didn’t seem to mind then. 

The big day finally came and it was stupidly hectic, but we managed to fit in a spot of lunch. This was our first opportunity to see how Emily would respond to food. We strapped her into her high chair, put her bib on, filled up her Doidy with water and then placed two sticks of cucumber in front her. We both did our best to let her get on with and not stare too much. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long for something to happen. The cucumber sticks had barely landed in front of her when out comes a chubby little hand to redirect it into her mouth. And that was it. Emily’s first food! Granted she quickly pulled it back out again, looked it and then us with pure confusion, but it was back in the mouth in no time. 

For us there has been no looking back since. Emily has had a huge variety of food. For vegetables she has had potato, carrot, brown onion, red onion, a rainbow selection of peppers, parsnips, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes in all shapes and sizes, courgette, aubergine, runner beans, peas, mange tout. Fruit she has had apples, pears, strawberries, orange, satsumas, raspberries, melon, mango, plums, avocado, pineapple, banana. Meat she has had chicken, pork, beef, lamb, turkey. She’s even had more than one type of fish too, tuna and cod, which is shocking for me.

Dan and I have done our best to be as creative as we can when it comes to meals and aim to make things as exciting as possibly for everyone.  However, two months down the line and your culinary flare begins to falter. It’s not that I can’t think of good ideas, nor is it that I don’t have the time or even that I’m lazy. It’s just that after two hours of simmering a paella made from scratch with freshly bought, chopped, washed and fried ingredients to see it used both as a fingering painting set and to redecorate your kitchen breaks your heart a little bit.  

 Currently my day goes like so: boob, play, prepare breakfast, “eat” breakfast, clean up after breakfast, boob, nap, play, boob, prepare lunch, “eat” lunch, clean up after lunch, nap, boob, play, boob, prepare dinner, “eat” dinner, bath time, PJs, boob, bedtime, clean up after dinner, boob, sit down, boob, go to bed! And apparently I’m meant to fit some effing snacks in there somewhere too. Not mention meeting some developmental milestones and changing a few nappies. Weaning rapidly turns into a void in which you shovel all free time. 

That said I love baby led weaning! I love that we can eat out as a family and Emily enjoys the same food that Dan and I do. Plus the food provides a good source of entertainment. Smearing avocado over a table at Nandos will occupy an 8 month old for a good few minutes, leaving me free to eat chicken and hold a conversation. A hefty supply of said avocado can mean you finish your meal with happy faces all round. 

Yes there are days when Emily has carrot sticks because they make no mess. Yes there is food stuck to the underside of the kitchen table that I can’t remember having. And yes meals have been consumed with the entire family sat in the underwear to avoid doing the washing. But Emily loves foods and we love watching her enjoy it. Particularly when you see her swallow and that giant sized bit of broccoli disappears forever. Well not quite forever…

The Gluten Free Food Prescription Scandal

According to the Daily Mail yesterday, it is now the Coeliacs that are ruining the country. We officially join their list of people who’d they’d like to shove in a boat and ship off to some far away place where they wouldn’t dream of holidaying. To be honest I’m quite glad to be hated by the Daily Mail, it probably means I’m a nice, normal person. They’ve hated me before, that time for being a teacher and trying to defend my work-life balance. I quite enjoy it. It’s almost a hobby. 

Anyway this time they were whining about the fact that I can get food on prescription. Actually they were complaining that I get junk food on prescription, which is a complete lie. I haven’t found anyone who gets anything tasty and gluten free on the NHS. The main reason for this is that you have to try really hard to find nice gluten free food. I don’t mean home cooked dinners, or cakes baked from scratch; they are bloody lovely and I can eat what I want if I make it myself. I’m talking about the crumbly, holey gluten free bread or the gloopy pasta. Good versions of these foods are rare. 

I have had food on prescription before but until I became pregnant I paid for my prescriptions. This means £8 per item. I can get four loaves of white bread for that, which works out at £2 a loaf. That’s still not cheap. It’s more expensive than a decent loaf of normal bread and this bread is s***! You get a piddly little loaf, less than half the size of a normal one, and about 1 in 5 loaves will have a massive hole in the middle. And I mean massive. Like there’s the crust and half a centimetre of bread around the edge and the rest is hole. If it hasn’t got a hole in it then it is probably a pile of crumbs in the bottom of the bag. Neither is any good for toast. 

My dietician put me down for two 500g bags of pasta too. That’s a kilo of pasta for £8. And again terrible pasta. Obviously I didn’t pay these prices, I got prepayment card, but I never ordered more than I needed. I doubt I ever used it enough to make it worthwhile anyway. 

Lots of people have been saying that we shouldn’t be allowed this food on prescription because you can buy it in the supermarket. Agreed. You can buy it in the supermarket but every specifically gluten free item is £3 ish.  

That’s £3 whether it’s a pack of four rolls or a box of cereal or two choc chip muffins. It’ll be £3 ish. Today I bought a packet of six GF Oreos for £3.50 and had eaten them all before I got home from the supermarket. Poof! £3.50 gone. (Yeah I know I could’ve spread them out and it’s greedy to eat six at once. That said I had just carried Emily all around Tesco in the sling, whilst pushing a trolley fully of food. I was hungry!)

One major inaccuracy in the article was that coeliac disease is caused by obesity. No it ain’t. It’s an autoimmune disease that I probably inherited from someone. Many Coeliacs are worryingly thin from malnutrition before they are diagnosed. I wasn’t but I was hardly obese. They then went on to say that we get doughnuts and pizzas as part of the prescription service. So f****** what if we were. I can’t have KFC, Burger King, Subway, my McDonalds burger in a bun, Dominos do a gluten free pizza but their cross contamination is appalling so that writes them off too. I can eat at Pizza Hut but they only do gluten free pizza on a tiny little base. I can’t nip into Tesco Express for a sandwich. I can’t eat Krispy Kremes or even a Kit Kat or a Twix. Therefore if I want to pay £8 for one doughnut a month then why shouldn’t I? They also mentioned Battenburg. I can tell you this, if there was a gluten free Battenburg on the market anywhere, it wouldn’t be there for long. I haven’t had Battenburg for nearly two years. It is not available on prescription, that’s for sure. 

And finally, I’ve written this mostly because I’ve just been shopping and I remembered how much it costs me to eat like a “normal person.” £3s here and there soon add up, and this doesn’t include the food I have to buy because I’m lactose intolerant. But I buy it because it’s better for everyone that I stay away from gluten and lactose. Not to mention the cost I’d be to the NHS if I let my condition get out of hand. Also I wanted to stick two fingers up to the Daily Mail. The ignorant, racist, elitist pricks! (Not even gonna bother censoring that one.)


A sign of my gluten free times

  I have been gluten free for over a year and a half now. As soon as I got my coeliac disease diagnosis I made the change and have not even been tempted to have a sneaky bit of gluten. 

Everything at home changed first. I made Dan eat up all the foods that were contaminated with gluten. He didn’t object to this much (until I was asking him to eat things like garlic granules). We doubled toastered for a while but soon realised that it was just easier for us both to eat gluten free bread. All cuttlery, crockery, utensils, bakeware and cooking equipment were scrubbed down and denominated. Our house became a gluten free zone. 

Shopping was the next challenge. The first few shopping trips after my diagnosis were a tragic affair. I spent hours picking up foods that I liked reading the ingredients and then silently sobbing because it had malt extract or some other obscure ingredient. Occasionally I’d find something I could have and a sarcastic voice would pop into my head and say, “Oooh yay, you can have Dolmio bolognese sauce, so it’s not all bad then!” (Yes the voice in my head is a different person to me and yes it is sarcastic 90% of the time. ) Over time these shopping trips became quicker and now I know exactly what I can and can’t have and my diet is back to what it was before.

Dan embraces it too. At home he eats gluten free with me, although he does whine about the gloopy pasta and shit bread. When we are out he is even better at it than me. If he thinks there has been a cross contamination issue he will raise it with the staff and amongst friends he is happy to tell them how it all works. It makes it super easy for me. 

However, because it is now all so easy for me, I have forgotten that I’m almost impossible to cater for. This week I’ve been invited for lunch at a new mummy friend’s house and to a BBQ with some people we have known a while but who have never cooked for us before. I accepted both invitations without hesitations. What can I say I’m a sucker for good company and good food. It wasn’t until later that I remembered that I am a dietary pain in the arse. 

Thankfully both these sets of friends are wonderfully accommodating and have agreed to try and cater for me anyway. I never expected this of anyone so I’m very grateful when people offer to try. I’m lucky to know such nice people! In future, I might start wearing a badge that warns people in advance but then I’d probably never get invited anywhere. Damn my stupid digestive system!


Family friendly? You’d better be!

  Being a parent can put a significant strain on your social life.  In order for it to survive it has to adapt and evolve until it becomes more family friendly.  Luckily for Dan and I we have some very understanding friends who are willing to make the change too.  Some are a little too eager and suggest fun trips, such as the beach or picnics.  These people (and they know who they are) just need to hurry up and have their own kids.  They know they want to!


So, on Sunday, we arranged to meet with some of our closest friends for Sunday lunch at Nandos.  Classy eh?  I like Nandos.  It is gluten free and you don’t have to spend hours deciding what you want.  Everyone has chicken.  Also you feel absolutely no obligation to tip because you do all the bloody work for them.  There have been many occasions where I have seen my dinner sitting under the heat lamp and considered going and getting it.  This would entirely eliminate the need for the serving staff, who, on this occasion, turned out to be our biggest problem.


Our friends arrived a couple of minutes before us and informed the waitress that we would be needing a table for four plus space for a pram.  The waitress did a cracking job and found a table that was perfect.  Shortly, we rocked up with pram and plonked ourselves at the allocated table.  We have barely had time to tell the story of my terrible parking in the car park (I had taken several attempts to straighten the car up and in doing so had accidentally lent on the horn and drew the attention of everyone in earshot to the fact that I was making a pigs ear of it), when some youth came to evict us.  This man, who appeared to be in a position of seniority, said that we couldn’t leave our pram where it was as it was blocking a main walkway.  It really wasn’t!  There was space to get round and if they needed more space there was an empty table that they could have moved to one side.


Thus unravels quite a heated discussion between myself and this man about what we should do.  Emily is too young to sit in a high chair, hence why we had taken our pram so she has somewhere to sit whilst we had dinner.  Nandos seemed unable to offer us another table or any other solution.  AND just to heighten my frustration this guy used the phrase “I didn’t mean to piss you off”, which I think is completely unacceptable.  This was in front of my daughter and many other children in the restaurant too.


Now I have to confess that I can be a bit almost aggressive in these situations.  I don’t mean to be, but I get upset at confrontation and to stop myself from crying and losing face I get kinda angry.  So this poor fella didn’t get the best of me.  I feel guilty for doing it, as after 6 years of working on a customer service desk I know how he must’ve felt.  However he came over with absolutely no solution for us.  I found this annoying!


Well, we left!  We went over the road to TGI Friday’s who were the exact opposite. Warm, welcoming and completely understanding of our need for space around the pram and the manager even whispered as he took our order so as not to wake her.  If it hadn’t have been for the experience there I would have gone home completely disheartened.  I think it is quite brave for parents to take small babies out (I certainly still get nervous) and family restaurants, like Nandos should try their best to make this as easy as possible.  TGI’s were wonderful.  We also went to GBK earlier in the week (don’t judge) and they were superb, even offering to keep my dinner warm whilst I was breastfeeding. Sorry Nandos, but this time you just weren’t good enough!