Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Review - Lizi's Granola



Much to my children's disgust, I'm a terrible Puritan when it comes to breakfast. If it was up to me, they would eat unsweetened gruel every day. I've never bought "children's" cereals coated in sugar or chocolate, and I'm always very conscious that any cereals I do buy are as unsweetened as possible. As we've never had chocolate spreads or frosted cereals in the house, my children have never really questioned this - and, at the risk of sounding terrible smug, I have to say that their favourite breakfast is either porridge with a bit of dried fruit or just a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Yes, there are health reasons for this, but also from a purely selfish point of view, I essentially buy what I like, and the rest of the family have to lump it. I'm a big believer that children should basically eat the same as adults as early as possible, and I'm very, very lucky that my children are not particularly fussy eaters.

Before you all think my diet resembles that of Gwyneth Paltrow, yes, we do have the odd treat at weekends - and that includes breakfasts, whether it's a fry-up, or a pain au chocolat. The children have always liked to have a bowl of what used to be called "crunchy oat cereal", but these days everybody seems to be calling it granola.

 My reluctance to allow them to have it every day has mainly been down to the sugar content, so when I got an email from the folks at Lizi's Granola telling me about the low sugar and low GI in their granola, I was intrigued.

Lizi's Granola comes in various flavours  - Treacle and Pecan, Pink Apple and Cinnamon, Organic, Belgian Chocolate and Original. We reviewed the Original flavour:


Taste:

The Original cereal contains (amongst other things) oats, coconut, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hazel nuts, almonds and walnuts. However, I have to say that the nut content is not immediately visible from the bowl above. I assumed this would be a good thing, as DD1 likes some nuts, but does have a tendency to pick out larger lumps. However, she did say that she didn't like the taste as she couldn't pick out those specific nuts she didn't like (so much for not being fussy...)

Personally, I liked the consistency this gave the texture - it didn't seem to have the larger lumps of oats stuck together that you get with other granola. I appreciate this may be a personal preference though.

It definitely tasted less sweet than the previous granola we had tried (which was a Sainsbury's own brand one), which is a no-brainer as it contains half the sugar content:


I found the taste just the right sweetness, however, I think I would end up adding a bit more interest to the flavour overall by adding some other bits of fruit (dried or otherwise) into it, which I fear may be slightly counterproductive!

"Fillupability":

Lizi's sells itself as having a low glycaemic load (as obvious from the prominent GL on the label), which, as far as I can tell is another way of measuring "good carbs". (You can find more about GL on their website) The simple theory being that these carbs release energy slowly , keeping your blood sugar stable and feeling fuller for longer.

I have to say I never really struggle too much with this as I eat a lot of oat-based cereals anyway, but in my unscientific use I definitely didn't feel any mid-morning hunger pangs, so guess it works!


Overall Value for Money:

This 500g bag retails at £3.45, so roughly similar to other "premium" granolas, so if I saw it I'd probably buy it again.

I quite like the fact that you can buy multiple bags online at a discount, both on their own website, and via various online eco stores, as well as amazon. It also retails in supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose.


Final Tin rating: 8 sardines out of 10 ;-)










Monday, 15 April 2013

London and the Law of Sod

I don't really do many of the "family day out" sort of posts that others seem to excel in. I'm obviously far too self-obsessed and intent on airing my own internal monologues for that. Plus I'm a bit rubbish at photography, which seems to be a useful sort of thing to be good at when visually documenting these things.
"Anyway", I thought, "this week will be different! This week I'm going to tell you all about our fabulous-yet-bargaintastic day trip to London."

I had it all planned out in my head-from the itinerary to what we were all going to wear, to how much we would enjoy things.

Then came the Law of Sod.

Sod's law dictated that the weather forecast that had looked so promising earlier in the week turned gloomier and gloomier the closer we got to the day. This of course meant urban chic flew put of the window, to be replaced by sensible tourist apparel. For the law of sod dictates that you can look stylish or be dry. Not both. Never both. Still, no matter, enjoyment was still going to be had.

First stop on the itinerary was the "Emirates Air Line", a cable car over the Thames next to the O2. It was fantastically unbusy when we arrived, so we pretty much hopped straight on. Sod's law of course dictated that we didn't have the cabin to ourselves, as had looked possible, but instead had to share it with the "enthusiastic" son of a couple whose male half was obviously "not good with heights", and who was asked by his wife on regular occasions if he was alright.

Sadly visibility wasn't as great as it could have been

Annoying cabin neighbours aside, we all very much enjoyed it, especially the somewhat overblown attempts to make the "flight" experience as real as possible, with talk of flights and boarding passes etc. (from memory, think this is a trick similar to the London Eye experience, obviously only sponsored by a different airline!).

You certainly get a great view of Canary Wharf and the Eastern part of London that I was not familiar with (including a great view of the Olympic Stadium). At a bit over 3 pounds for an adult single with an Oyster or Travelcard, it's also not prohibitively expensive.

View of the O2 towards Canary Wharf from the Emirates Sky Line

Once we had alighted on the opposite river bank, the plan had been to take the DLR to the Museum of Docklands. However, Sod intervened again by ensuring that the particular line we needed was out of action.
With hindsight, what we should then have done was simply take a replacement bus service and carried on as planned. Instead, we decided to detour to the Tower of London.

Sod's law says that at this point the particular tube train we were on had to stop due to a broken down train ahead, so we walked for a while. It turns out that tired children and "soaking up local colour" don't really mix, so we also managed to walk straight past Brick Lane (somewhere I've always been curious about) without realising.

We finally arrived at the Tower, but somewhat shocked at the price of an entrance ticket (£57 for a family ticket?!) we decided to give that one a miss, so I can't tell you what that is like either... What I can tell you is that a trip on a river boat two stops is quicker than you would think, and before too long we found ourselves at the "Clink" prison museum. It was raining quite heavily at this point, so we decided to pop in.
Sod's law says I didn't actually see much of the (admittedly rather gruesome) exhibits, as these proved rather frightening for the 5 year old... (Really? Who'd have thought? Oh well, hindsight...)

Our final mode of transport was the much longed-for double-decker bus...although sod's law says that the windows were so steamed up we couldn't see out of them...

The thing is, despite the odd hiccup and things not quite going as planned, we all still managed to have a great time and want to go back.

I like to call that London's Law.

Sometimes you just have to photograph random tube signs

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Hello, my name's Julie, and I'm a paperphobic.


“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”




We have a clean desk policy at the company where I work. It's a high tech industry where protection of company confidential information is treated extremely seriously. Security come round on a regular basis and check whether paperwork or laptops etc are left out, or any drawers are unlocked, and note the names of offenders, who then have to go undergo the shame of a big sticky note on their desk and a trip to security to collect the property in question. Together with working in an environment where pretty much everything has been as paperless as possible for as long as I can remember, I'm therefore used to a clean and decluttered working environment.

I mention this because you probably would not believe it if you saw my home office. The problem is not work clutter, but personal untidiness. You see, my biggest Achilles heel is:

Paperwork.

I can run a multi-national department of 70-odd people. I can deal with multi-million-dollar issues needing resolution, I can deal with an email influx of tens per hour, but ask me whether to keep or bin an old piece of paper, and I'm completely lost.

I dread it more than anything else. Even thinking about it fills me with dread, and the knock of the postman can bring me out in a cold sweat as I glimpse more potential things needing to be dealt with and filed. I can just about cope with paying bills, but once the immediate urgency of that is completed the responding piece of paper floats around my office mocking me and my general uselessness.

I've tried to combat it with more paper, and more lists. I've printed checklists, I have organisers and I've bought box files. Yet still the paperwork mountain evades me.

This weekend, my husband declared enough was enough. For three hours he sifted through the piles of paper on my office floor - sifting, filing, shredding and even opening unopened statements from 2008. The pile has now gone, and a weight has been lifted, for which I will forever be eternally grateful to him.

Since then I've tried to deal with each piece of mail as it has come in- two days in and it's not looking too bad. I'm taking it a day at a time, but I'm still searching for my 12-step programme...




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