What they don’t tell you about going #dairyfree

People go dairy free for various reasons.  I have a milk allergy and have been dairy free for almost 2 years now and when I was first advised by the doctor to cut out everything containing cows milk and lactose, I thought ‘well I don’t like milk so this won’t be that difficult.’ I was so wrong ; it has been hard and it still is hard.  With an allergy if I accidentally have the smallest bit of milk, it can make me so poorly.  I have created a list of things that they don’t tell you when you become dairy free:

Milk is in everything 

Well not literally everything but almost everything, things that you wouldn’t even realise had milk in.  Examples of things that have made me ill where I didn’t realise: cooked chicken from ASDA, pre-packaged salad and baked beans.  Ok, so not all pre-packaged salads and baked beans contain milk but some do and therefore, you have to check the ingredients every time you go to eat something. It is also listed as many different things so you need to know what you are looking for.  Companies are also known to change their ingredients and sometimes they can be good at putting ‘updated recipe’ on the packaging however, this is not always the case. Therefore, you do need to check the packet every time you buy a product.

I have also found that a lot of the veggie options in stores contain milk as a substitute for another product.  I understand that Quorn do a vegan range which is perfect as most of their veggie stuff which I have looked at contains milk.  I am not 100% veggie as I do still eat meat on occasions so I cannot complain too much.  If I was a full veggie this would be very difficult.

Tablets contain milk 

I can no longer be on the pill because in the UK we do not produce or sell a contraceptive pill which does not contain milk, which I think is a disgrace.  Of course, there are other great alternatives for the pill but I still feel restricted in my options in this respect.

My consultant recently prescribed a medicine for my suspected IBS which contained milk, he later said that he knew this but wondered how much milk I can tolerate. Turns out I could not even tolerate this small amount of milk.  It makes it worse that there is not a suitable alternative he can give me.

I understand that they have to coat the medicine in something, of course they do, but surely they could manufacture alternatives, especially with something so common as the pill.

No one seems to understand what dairy is 

I cannot count the number of times that staff in restaurants have advised that a certain dish contains dairy when in fact it only contains eggs.   I personally think that staff should have better training in this regarding if they are giving advice as to what you can and cannot eat.  Often if you realise that it does only contain eggs and try to explain that this is not dairy it can be hard and uncomfortable.

It is expensive 

Dairy free foods specifically marketed as such are becoming much more common in the UK now, which is great. However, these often come as at a price increase.  It is often worth doing your research and looking at foods which is not marketed as being specifically dairy free but do not contain milk.  These are often the cheaper version of brands i.e. garlic bread which is made with oil instead of garlic butter etc.

It is hard to eat out 

I have done a whole post on tips when eating out, which you can find here.  It is hard having to ask for advice on the menu at every place you go, especially when you are in a large group of people or with people who you don’t know that well.

Your teeth and nails become weak

I have had to have so many fillings since becoming dairy free which the dentist has put down to the lack of calcium in my diet and I only have to look at my nails and they snap in two.  I have started having gel nails but if I have a gap in these then the nails still snap! I don’t think that the girl who does my nails can believe how often they snap.  It is therefore, important to find good replacements for the calcium and make sure that you include them in your diet at all times.

What are your tips for dealing with a good allergy?

Love, Minnie x

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Why I gave up Coca-Cola

They say it takes a month to break a habit….

I have always had an addiction to Coca-Cola, as a child it was all that I would drink and at University I practically lived on it, while limiting my food intake.   I had no health complaints, I was not over weight nor did I think that it was doing me any harm.  I stopped drinking it a few times over the years and slowly started again, but opted for the diet version as it was zero calories and like many others I actually believed that it wasnt that bad for me. I completely appreciate that there are worse addictions to have and so I am not complaining about my life in the slightest, I am just sharing my experience.

After a trip to the dentist in 2016, I decided that I would cut out all forms of coca cola including diet.  It has been over 18 months now and I am pleased to stay that I have stuck to it completely.  I cannot believe that it took me 26 years to break this silly addition. I have not even had one when I have been on a night out or on holiday for the fear that I would get addicted again.  It is hard as cola is such a good mixer for many drinks and I feel that this does kind of stop me drinking as much now which I am not complaining about.  I know that I can have a choice of cocktails which makes up for it.

Cutting it out completely was probably the hardest thing that I have done, I had a constant headache for about a week solid where my body was adapting to not having the sugar and it was hard.   The working day was such a struggle for a couple of months but I have done it, I no longer have the headaches and I feel so much better for it.  I did consider not stopping completely and just reducing to say one glass a day however, this would not have been realistic for me and would have made the whole process harder.

I actually drink my water at night out of a diet coca-cola cup that I got for Christmas a few years ago and I love it.  I find it sort of ironic!  I personally don’t think that I could physically drink cola now without throwing up and that shows me how far I have come in 18 months.

When I have eventually have my own children, I think that I will be carefully as to what food and drink I expose them too at a young age.  I know that this is difficult but I would not want my children becoming so addicted to cola.

It did take me a while to realise the benefits of not having cola on a daily basis and I am so glad that I only drink water now with the daily coffee and occasional lemonade. What benefits have I felt in the last 18 months:

  • Improved concentration especially at work
  • I am fully hydrated – I read that although cola gives your taste buds the sensation of dealing with your thirst, it doesn’t and you end up thirstier
  • Fewer headaches
  • My skin has cleared up
  • I now that any teeth issues is not caused by the excessive amounts of sugar etc. but rather the lack of milk in my diet which I am working on
  • I have more energy
  • I generally feel happier in myself
  • I am no longer embarrassed at the amount of cola that I drink.  I use to have a sense of feeling ashamed that I was so addicted to it and this has now been taken from  me.

Love, Minnie x

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How I spend a lazy weekend

I have been flat out recently, between work, family parties and a long distance relationship I have had no time just for myself.  I think that this is my first Saturday post!

This weekend is different, my parents are in Majorca, my sister is home alone and is fine with that and my partner is on a lads holiday in Estonia.  I honestly love an occasional lazy weekend by myself some of the girls at work think its odd but I can think of nothing better and if you cannot be happy in your own company how can you be happy with others.

It is Saturday today and I am starting the day right by using my coffee machine to make a Soya Cappuccino… Yum! I don’t often get time to make these during the week and often have my first cup of caffeine at work so this is always a treat I enjoy at the weekends. I always watch the news first thing in the morning at the weekend as I like to keep up to date with current affairs and spend time off social media.

 

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I then like to get all the boring house work jobs done, this doesn’t normally take too long as I am strict with myself during the week and make sure that I do a different job each evening however, I have been slacking.  After the jobs are done, I will shower and put on really comfy clothes, today it is black leggings with a loose fitting Adidas top.  I put on Mike’s* thick socks that I steal at any opportunity.

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I am normally hungry by then and don’t always like a big breakfast but today I am extra lazy and will make a brunch! I have to be careful as I am still a bit sore from the medication they gave me with my MRI.   I had a fry up after my parents party last weekend and have been thinking about how nice it was since so had to have a mini one today. I am trying to eat more veggie stuff to see if that helps my stomach so I have meat free bacon, beans with mini veggie sausages and toast.   I do find it hard to find good veggie alternatives that don’t contain milk.  YUM!

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Now I have the rest of the day to blog, watch Netflix etc. and generally chill.  I do still have some stuff to do, i.e. renew my driving licence, organise my makeup and sort my wardrobe  but that can all be done slowly.  I will also make another meal later in the day but as of yet I am undecided.  I don’t normally wear makeup on a lazy day at home but I have a few new things and couldn’t wait to put them on so I have a little bit on today.

What are your perfect lazy weekend plans?

Love, Minnie x

 

 

 

*my Partner/boyfriend/other half etc.

 

[Review] Waitrose Mini Jaffa Cakes

I often cave food which I haven’t had since my allergy and Jaffa Cake’s are one of them! They were always my favourite and although the Nakd Bar in Chocolate Orange does contain a similar taste – it really isn’t the same thing!  

When the craving struck again, I decided to have a quick google as to dairy free alternatives and the suggestion which kept popping up was Waitrose Mini Jaffa Cakes. So I went onto their website and had a quick look at the ingredients to check that they hadn’t recently changed (isn’t that the most annoying thing) and they hadn’t!  What is even better… I work next door to a Waitrose store so I popped along at lunch time!

They did not disappoint and I have since re-purchased 3 times.  They are expensive at £1.00 for a small packet however, if I had more self-control these would last longer than the one day that they do!

Pros 

  • Affordable for Waitrose
  • Accessable – Waitrose is located in most towns in the UK
  • They taste really good!
  • Dairy free
  • Easily found as being dairy free too

Cons

  • Can be considered expensive compared to other own-brands of the same product
  • Contains wheat so you cannot have them if you have a gluten intolerance or are celiac
  • They are Waitrose own brand so cannot be found in all major supermarkets

Overall I am really happy that I found these.  As I only have a diary allergy they are perfect for me as I don’t have to worry about the other ingredients.  If you have no allergies then they probably are not worth the money compared to other supermarket’s own brand Jaffa Cakes especially if you are on a budget.  I will however, keep purchasing and hope that Waitrose don’t decide to change the recipe.

Love, Minnie x 

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[Easy] Slow Cooker Meal

You may have already guessed but I am the biggest fan of easy quick meals after a long day in the office.  It helps even more so if you can just get home to a cooked meal and smell it as you walk in the door.  I have used slow cookers for years and just had a standard slow cooker that I bought fresh out of Uni however, for my last birthday I decided that I also wanted a rice cooker and with limited space my parents bought me the Tefal 8 in 1 Cooker which literally changed my life.

This does everything (brown rice, white rice, quick rice, grains, porridge, desserts, steam and is a slow cooker) it also comes with a timer so the rice can be cooked ready for when you get home from work and it keeps the food warm so if you are slightly late or want it two days in a row it will keep it heated and is perfect.

I have tried most of the options now except white rice, quick rice and grains as I don’t often use these food groups.   I actually love this product and it makes everything so easy and quick.  I haven’t used the slow cooker setting in a while as I have had my boyfriend to stay and it has been hot very hot compared to the normal UK weather and decided to have more summer friendly meals such as salads.  This week, I decided that I only have 4 nights of cooking as I am at my parents again this weekend mainly for boring errands and it is also the last week before pay-day so I didn’t want to spend too much and therefore, a slow cooked veggie curry would be perfect for two days in a row.

Sunday night, I prepped the veggies, carrots x 2, tinned tomatoes, onion and sweet potato and put these in the slow cooker along with the curry mix I bought from Tesco.  In the morning I set the slow cooker timed for a few hours so the curry didn’t burn and then just the wait for the food to be cooked when I got home!

That evening the smell as I entered my flat was amazing! The curry tasted pretty good too but was a bit spicy for me personally I prefer things slightly milder! The curry did last for two days as it was kept warm and made working late one day particularly easy.

Overall, I will definitely be doing this again as it is a quick cheap dinner, I will however slightly adapt the recipe for my preferences.

Love, Minnie 

p.s I know the photo doesn’t look great but it really does taste good! 

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Newmarket Nights – Little Mix

Last Friday (23 June 2017) my boyfriend & I attended Newmarket Nights with Little Mix. This is an evening of horse racing at Newmarket followed by a performance by Little Mix. I really have mixed reviews of the evening in general so I thought I would do a post on it.  I know that Newmarket Nights is a series event with different performers each Friday throughout the summer so I am not sure if they are all like this or just because of the young audience that Little Mix attracts.

How we got there

We drove, it is just over an hour from my boyfriend’s parents house and just under an hour from my parents.  We did look at getting the train but this was going to take double the time and it was more expensive.  We looked at hotels too late and this meant that they were all booked up.  We would have liked to have made more of a weekend of it though so would be more organised if we were to go again.  There was plenty of parking but we did read some reviews that it can take hours to leave like with any event we left early so this wasn’t an issue for us.

My boyfriend is currently not drinking for a year and is six months through raising money for The Dogs Trust and I am not really a drinker so decided that we could share the driving if needed.  We took my car and I did drive both directions.  I think if he was drinking, I may have been tempted into a drink too and then we may have looked at an alternative method.

What we wore

I wore a dress which my sister bought from Quiz Clothing. My sister actually bought this for her end of Uni ball but decided to wear something else.  I teamed it with a black Topshop bag and shoes from Dorothy Perkins.  I thought that it was the perfect dress for the races and also worked well into the evening.

We paid for premier enclosure tickets which were very affordable but had a dress code. I was shocked at the amount of people who didn’t adhere to the dress code and that the staff ignored this.  I saw men in shorts and women in dresses which I wouldn’t wear on a night out let alone to the races.  I think that Newmarket should really address this, either have a dress code and enforce it or don’t have one at all.  This was probably the worst thing about the whole event and it would definitely put me off going back.  My boyfriend goes to Goodwood every year and was shocked at the standard of the dress at Newmarket.   I am not sure why I worried so much at not wearing a hat!

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The food

I don’t like to risk eating at these types of events although I am sure that the staff are very knowledgable I am not yet brave enough to ask especially as the lines for food at all of the outlets were very long and I get annoyed when people take their time.  We had already popped into town at lunch time in order to get some last-minute bits and decided that we would get some food from the local pub which was lovely.  I find it odd when I have a week day off work but it is so enjoyable.  My boyfriend is hungry all the time and it wasn’t long before he wanted more food.   We found a small outlet just outside the premier enclosure selling pulled pork so he had a pulled pork bap and we shared a portion of chips.  I love Pulled Pork but this was too messy for my dress! This did keep me going but I was hungry by the time we got home and I felt 11:30pm was too late to then eat.  If I was to go again I think I would spend more and pre-book into a restaurant.

Races and Little Mix 

The evening started with 07 horse races, we were close to the finish line which was good so you could actually see who had won and then wander around to the winners enclosure for a look at the horses.   You have about half an hour between each of the races which means that you can get a drink coffee in our case place your bets and find your position to watch the races.  I found that there wasn’t really many places to sit nor was there anywhere inside or with heaters.  The weather turned a bit towards the end of last week and I was freezing!

Throughout all of the racing the crowd by the stage which was opposite the track got bigger and bigger.  We spend most of the racing wandering around until different positions and in the penultimate race we found ourselves within the growing crowd and guessed that we would get a good view of Little Mix.  However, as the crowd got bigger and anticipating that the gates between the premier and standard enclosures were also due to open at any time and people were already waiting there we decided that we didn’t actually need to see Little Mix.  We could soak up the atmosphere and music from the seated stands and even watch on the big screen. The stands were all next to the stage which meant that you really couldn’t see from this area; for us this didn’t matter in the slightest except it was a big concerning seeing kids on shoulders of parents in the stands which were fairly high up.   This was probably the best decision that we could have made and eventually we listened to a few songs before deciding to all it a night and head home. On the way out we realised that they had more screens and chairs to watch away from the track and that appeared a lot more relaxing.

Leaving early had so many bonus’ including that the food outlines were now empty so my boyfriend managed to crab a hotdog on the way out, the line for the ladies had disappeared and I hadn’t been prepared to wait half an hour for the toilet earlier in the day and we avoided the rush to get out of the car park.  I think that this means that we are really getting old now. 

The next day we saw so many bad reviews online about children who couldn’t see Little Mix and drunk adults ruining a ‘family event.’ I personally don’t think it was that bad and I don’t even think it was advertised as a family event.  The racing didn’t start until 6pm with Little Mix not starting until at least 9:30pm and I was shocked at the amount of kids who had attended the event in the first place and used it as a playground while the horse racing was taking place.  The prices were a lot cheaper than their stadium tour tickets however, I don’t think people realised that there would still be almost 25,000 people there and I have never been to any concern/gig where you can expect to fully see the band performing.  I really hope that Newmarket Race Course doesn’t return money to people as they should have known better when booking.

Overall, I wasn’t overly impressed with the event but we both had a lovely day and it made a change.

Love, Minnie 

Eating out with a food allergy

Can you believe that it is Wednesday already?!  I have a date night planned with my lovely boyfriend tonight so I thought that I would share my eating out tips. 


I never thought that my biggest anxiety would be the ‘lets pop out for lunch?’ or ‘fancy lunch today?’ questions.   Although it can be hard at work I do try to avoid these situations.  If I know someone’s birthday is coming up in the office then I try to guess where they will be wanting to go. I hate having to make a fuss* especially in front of people who I am not comfortable with and would rather avoid the situation all together.

I do eat out though and probably more than most people so I thought that today I would share a few tips with you.

  • Check the menu online 

Most places now put some form of their menu online and often place an allergen menu alongside it.  This is perfect if you have never been to the restaurant before or are completely unsure where to start.  I often check a menu and find out that the only food I can eat is salad which is fine for me but it is nice just to have a look as you may be surprised.

It is important to remember to check the restaurants online menu for updates every time you eat at that place.  They do change their recipes and ingredients and I have been caught out more than once!

  • Recommendations

I often use tips that my vegan friends have when eating out, is there any places that accommodate vegans? Do they have a vegan menu? Although I am not vegan, I do occasionally eat meat I try to limit this to 2 days a week, and I eat fish. my allergy is to milk so if I don’t fancy ‘making a fuss’ (*I know it’s not actually making a fuss and having milk can make me really ill but that is how waitresses, chefs, friends, colleagues see it sometimes) I still to the vegan option.  It is often something I wouldn’t have necessary chosen and very tasty.

Also go back to places where you know they are good with allergies and can accommodate them well.  This does make things easier when you are there.  I have eaten at a place where they made the meal dairy free and then put cheese on the top, I don’t think that they really understood the issue and I will not choose to eat there again.

  • Telephone / Facebook / Twitter etc. 

Social Media is excellent where restaurants/cafe’s etc. are active on the same.  I often contact several places when I am looking for somewhere and ask whether they can accommodate a dairy allergy.  Most of the time they can with notice and sometimes they even ask that you book your food in advance.  This is fine with me as I like to plan what I am going to eat before actually getting to the restaurant if I can.   Some places don’t reply and I don’t know whether they are not actually that active on social media or simply can’t accommodate you but either way, plenty do reply and I just book one of these.

If you know you are eating somewhere and the restaurant is not active on social media then you can just pick up the old-fashioned telephone.  Most restaurants will be happy to help over the phone and you can then book the table while you are there.

  • Mention the allergy when booking 

This is important, if I booking to eat anywhere I make sure that the allergy is mentioned when booking. I have even done this before a meal and they had lost the note and I was actually questioned about how I booked and whether I mentioned the allergy, which I found very unproffessional.  Restaurants are getting better at dealing with food allergies however, they are not perfect and many places do expect advance notice.  I love it when you do tell the restaurant and they make a real effort when you arrive and make special dishes especially with dessert!

  • Make sure that the staff understand your allergy

Unfortunately, some staff in restaurants don’t really understand food allergies and they cannot understand everyone’s specific allergy even if they wanted to.  I have had people tell me that I cannot have a dish because it contains eggs when eggs is not dairy and I will be fine eating that dish. I have also had food which has been cooked in butter.   I have also pre-ordered food and when I have arrived the waiting staff don’t realise or give the wrong dish, this does make me panic even more but I am getting better at asking staff. Also, be brave and ask that the waiting staff check with the chef if they seem unsure, sometimes they are trained in the ingredients but often they are not.

You shouldn’t stop enjoy eating out just because you have a food allergy. It does make it more difficult and you shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to just ask questions of the restaurant most places are very good!

Do you know of any places which accommodate allergies well?

Love, Minnie