Sunday, 30 January 2011

Review: Sainsbury's Diets

I was asked to review the Sainsbury's Diets website and I have to be honest I was a bit unsure at first.  If you read my other blog you will know that I have real problems around food and that being overweight and eating with no control are big problems for me.  Nearly 2 years back I found help in a fellowship for eating disorders and the ethos here is to change my behaviour for life rather than to diet.  This is why I was so pleased to find that the Sainsbury's Diets site caters for most tastes.  There are 2 different initial options: you can follow a plan of eating, where they supply you with a meal plan for the week and within this there are 8 different meal plans to suit your lifestyle and likes. Or there is also a food diary option, which is what I went for.

Before Sainsbury's will allow you to sign up for anything you have to complete a pre-screening questionnaire which is very good, it asks about medical conditions, eating disorders, pregnancy and then declines to allow you to join.  If you say you are breastfeeding it advises that you must speak to your GP before you join up and that you should not diet while exclusively breastfeeding.  I was pleased to see that a sensible approach is being taken here and that people with special needs or those who should not be dieting are not being encouraged to do so.

Click on the image to enlarge the meal plan image

Had I of chosen to follow a meal plan my preferred option would have been the Health and Vitality plan, as this includes foods from all the food groups on the Eatwell Plate to ensure that you receive a good balance of nutrients. Sainsbury's suggests that this plan will help you set healthy eating habits for life and that sounds perfect to me.

I route I actually chose to go down was to use the Sainsbury's Diets site to use as a food diary.  You have to register by giving some personal details such as your age, activity level, sex and then it asks you to choose a goal weight. It gives some very sensible advice around goal setting and suggests you aim for 10% weight loss initially and it does not even allow you to choose a goal that is more than 20%, it makes you do it incrementally.

I got set a daily calorie intake of 1400 calories and a target of burning 200 calories per day.  Apparently by consuming 1000 calories less than I do currently (it worked out I eat 2400 calories per day to maintain my hefty weight at the moment) I will lose 2lb per week and should be at my first goal on 5 May 2011.  That feels pretty real and very achievable - here's hoping!

How much is it and what do I get for my money?

Currently there are special membership offers running until 1 March 2011.  12 weeks membership costs £28.80, 6 months membership costs £52.00 and 12 months cost £78.00. Included in the cost are the following -
  • A personalised Meal Plan AND food diary - switch between either option when it suits!
  • A tailored Body Shape plan to help you tone up
  • Use of the Recipe Club
  • Access via Mobile Phone
  • Chat with others in the Diet Forums
  • Help and guidance in 'News & View'
You do need to be aware that this is a membership service and that once you join your subscription will renew every 4 weeks at the cost of £12.00 until you cancel the plan.

Click on the image to enlarge the lamb recipe ideas image

How did I find it?

I found it was generally easy to adds foods to my online food diary but as with anything like this there was a limit on the items available to me, under Museli there was only Co-op own brand available and under McDonalds (I know, I know that should not form part of a healthy eating diet!) the sweet chili chicken deli roll was not listed.  You can add items to the diary and I think if you are going to eat them regularly this would be worth it. Also to speed things up there is the option to copy items from one day to another and to put regular meals/ food items into your favourites.

Features I liked:

  • There is a running total each day of how many calories you have left, how many alcohol units you have consumed, how you have done on the 5 a day and how much water you have drunk - all very useful reminders.
  • You can also add diary notes and track your exercise/ activity level for each day.
  • There are good statistics for trends and information relating to what you have eaten and a nice visual graph tracking your weight loss.
  • Some of the recipes look super and will give you an extra bit of inspiration
  • And if you are the type who likes people around you to spur you on and motivate you then head over to the forums where everything under the sun food, diet and weight loss related is discussed.
  • It is also very useful that I can access the Sainsbury's Diets site from my mobile, thus making it much more likely that I would carry on with this.
  • In the first few days I also received quick email reminders of things to think about and some of the features on the site that I might not have used yet.
In all I found the site good, it was easy to navigate, it had plenty of options available and the current cost at £2.40 (based on the 12 week price) is far cheaper than attending any of the diet clubs which have a weekly meeting.  At least using a site like this you are able to pop in the forum anytime and ask for help!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Honest Mummy Reviews Official Launch Toys Giveaway

Most of you know me as Mich, blogging at Mummy From The Heart...  but here I am too sharing my reviews and making my family recommendations as the honest mummy that I always am.  This new site has been open about a month now and I have been pleased by how well it has been received but it occurred to me yesterday that really I have not had a launch for it as yet.  I ought to put up some balloons and streamers and make a bit of a hoo-har!   and what better way to do that than to share a giveaway with some of my fabulous readers.

So this is what you will receive -

A small bundle of toys for your little ones to enjoy or to keep and give away as gifts - I do not mind!
  • Brand new with tag ultra soft plush Atheneum Teddy
  • Sealed tub of ELC soft stuff (play doh type modelling clay)
  • 2 Little Miss story books
  • Horrid Henry's joke book (JJ will tell you this is hilarious, he has a copy!)
  • Doodles colouring book, large pack of colouring pencils and Toy Story 3 stationary set
Seeing as I am already giving away a bundle of pamper goodies on my main blog so that you can enjoy a nice pamper night in yourself.  It seems only fitting that I now now offer something for the small people!

How to enter -
  • Please follow my blog, either by using the google friends or subscribe to email/ my RSS feed
  • Leave me a comment below with an email/ twitter ID so I can contact you if you win
  • If you fancy an extra entry then tweet #Win some toys in #giveaway from @Michelletwinmum
Terms and Conditions -
  • The giveaway will close at 12 noon Thursday 3 February 2011
  • The giveaway is open to those in the UK or Ireland
  • The winner will be chosen at random by my little man JJ (he wants to get involved, bless!)
  • There is no cash or prize alternative

Good Luck

Congratulations to @cherylp59 you are the lucky winner.  Please email or DM me your address and I will post this bundle on Wednesday.  Thanks, Mich x

Monday, 24 January 2011

Review: Clifford James Large Halogen Oven (10 Litre)

I received this Halogen Oven last week and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to cook in it first, so I thought I would start simple and cook some oven chips.  Nice and easy but the kind of thing you can not cook in a microwave. Well, this Halogen oven cooks them quickly, crisply and it browns them too. How fab!  So being impressed with the simple I moved on to cook our Sunday lamb roast in the oven and that too was super, the fat dripped away and the meat cooked evenly all over thanks to the halogen lamp and fan assisted cooking.

At 10 litres the oven is a good size, you can use it for mostly anything - roasting, baking cakes, heating up ready meals, defrosting, steaming fish, grilling sausages, cooking a pizza.  The list is endless and quite unbelievable until you start to try it and realise it really does work!  You do need to make sure you have the worktop space available for it though, that was something I had not considered before!

Features I particularly liked -
  • Clear glass bowl so that you can see the food all round and do not have to open the oven and ruin your yorkshires in the process!
  • There is a high and low rack, so you can cook both meat and roast potatoes at the same time or even a pizza and oven chips at the same time.
  • The fat drains away from the food, making this a healthy cooker.
  • The time for cooking most foods is less than using a conventional oven.
  • The food stays very moist and juicy when cooked in this oven.
  • The bowl has a self cleaning feature.  You put some washing liquid and water in and turn it onto the wash setting.  However if, like me you are a bit of a clean freak the large glass bowl is dishwashable too.
  • 3 minute warm up time for the oven, no more frustrating waits for me!
So, all in all I was very happy with this oven and would recommend it to others.  I believe it would be a fantastic buy for someone living alone or in a small space and to have it instead of a massive traditional cooker - it can do all the jobs.

The oven costs £39.99 from Clifford James and that is a saving of £20.00 on the RRP.  You can also buy accessories to go with this cooker, such as a halogen cook book and lid extender to allow extra cooking room. Why don't you head over to the Clifford James site as they have a great short clip showing the oven in use, this will give you a much better idea of it's capability.

This is a review post, I received the oven free of charge to use and review honestly.  The words here are my own and I was not told what to write.  These are my own honest opinions.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Review of Exercise DVD: Debbie Rush's Bulge Buster Workout

Let me just cut to the chase straight away and say I liked this.  In fact I really liked it and I did not think I would.  I have no idea who Debbie Rush is as I do not watch Corrie but the pictures on the DVD were enough to get me interested.  Fat to fab....  that is always my aim!

I mean look at her now, that is beyond me, but good luck to her!  I had to laugh thought when I saw her starting weight was 10 stone something!  Mine was 17stone something!  If I ever get to 10 stone I will consider myself slim, fab and fit! Maybe she is a real shortie! lol

Let me tell you what I liked about the DVD:
  • The instructor is Andy Titterall, Professional Rugby star and personal trainer.  He really does appear to know his stuff and I expect if you like muscly men he is fab eye candy!
  • Andy is very motivational, he keeps reminding you about your breathing, posture and tells you that you are doing a great job!
  • The music is very addictive, it made me want to work out but luckily as it has no words I could not get sidetracked and sing along.
  • Much of the moves are quite repetitive and thus making it good for a big unfit fattie like me. The approach is definitely simple, sports science based training rather than dance your heart out. Whilst I like dance your heart out, this controlled approach is probably actually much better for beating my bingo wings!
  • There are 7 different training circuits so you can choose to target different areas on different days and just dip in and out if you are busy and pushed for time.
  • The workout selector, you can tailor your workout to suit you by choosing the warm up, up to 5 training programs and the cool down.
  • Debbie has a section in the extras where she shows you her progress with the weight loss and training,  She is actually very likable and human, despite looking like a goddess in the end!
  • Lastly, just in case you are already one of those fit types - there is an advanced techniques section in the extras.  I have to be honest I did not even look in here, but maybe with time...
The DVD is sold as being suitable for anyone; whatever your fitness level it will suit you and I have to say I think they are right, you could adjust your workout as your fitness level and stamina increased.

Unfortunately YouTube's embed code is not working at the moment, so pop over there and use this link to get a sneaky peek of what Debbie's DVD is all about.

This is a review post, I received the DVD free of charge to review but I actually have to return it, so there is definitely no conflict of interest here.  As per always I remain honest in my writing.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Annabel Karmel Pasta Cookbook Giveaway & Review of Toddler Snacking Range

Some of you will have seen that I went to a special preview of the Disney film Tangled at the weekend.  We had a ball, you can read about it here if you missed it.

Hosting the event was the best selling author Annabel Karmel, this was because she has teamed up with Disney to use their popular Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh characters on the packaging for her new range of toddler snacks.  Because Disney are endorsing these products they are being made to stand up to the stringent nutritional standards set by Disney. I will be completely honest with you here and say I have not investigated this fully, I am quite a trusting kind of girl, that is just me.  I will look at the nutritional composition on the back of a pack and look at the ingredients and if nothing seems out of sorts then I will give the product to my children.  Some parents are different and that is fine, please feel free to investigate.

Basically this range has been devised by Annabel so that small people can still snack during the day but on more healthy or nutritious things than crisps and chocolate. The range is aimed at children of 12 months or more and the appeal is quite wide ranging my 7 year old adored the chewy bars and the 3 year old girls were more taken with the mini biscotti biscuits. Another favourite was the strawberry flavoured raisins. A strange idea as far as I was concerned but Miss E was taken with them, so who am I to argue?

The range also includes fruit crisps and rice and corn snacks but I did not get to try these.  I would say they are packaged in an appealing way, the size is just right for children and they were filling so I will buy these products again.  You can find them stocked in good supermarkets, I noticed Sainsburys had a third off at the moment! A pack of these corn snacks is currently 32p or 49p normal retail price, that is about the same as something like the children's Organix range.

At the event on Sunday we were lucky enough to receive some of these goodies to try and also 2 Annabel Karmel cook books.  One I have kept for myself to use and the I want to share my good fortunate with you, so the other I am giving you the chance to win. It is the to 100 pasta recipes and is full of lots of quick and simple ideas for family meals.

Image Credit

To enter -
  • Either follow me by google freinds connect or subscribe to my RSS feed and leave me a comment to say you have done so
  • If you want an extra entry tweet the giveaway with @michelletwinmum in the tweet so I know.
Terms and Conditions

  • Giveaway ends 12 noon Tuesday 18th January 2011
  • Open to all UK and Ireland residents.
  • The prize is not transferable or refundable and there is not a cash alternative.
  • I will pay the postage cost and send the prize to the lucky winner.
  • I will use a random number generator to pick the winner.
  • I will contact the winner within 3 days of the giveaway closing.
  • Please leave an email or twitter ID so I can contact you if you win.
Good Luck!

This is a review post and as such I received the toddler snacks and cook book free of charge. My review is honest and my own words. No review was expected from me in return for these goods but as our family enjoyed them I am happy to recommend.

Congratulations to @01momonawire . You are the lucky winner.  Please email me or DM me on twitter and let me kow your address and I will post this book out to you.  Cheers, Mich x

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Photobox Canvas Print Review

This post originally appeared on my other blog:  Mummy From The Heart... but seeing as Photobox are doing loads of great January Sale deals now I thougth I would post it over here too!

So there is a photo of a photo!  Well actually it is a rather large canvas print now and it is hanging in my dining room at the moment but later today when dh is home to help me with his 'eye' we will be hanging it in the new playroom. A fabulous addition - don't you agree?

When Photobox contacted me to sample one of their products I could not say YES quick enough, I love canvas prints and have always wanted one but could as yet never justify the cost. So the chance to try this out with a hefty discount, well yes please!

I was pleased with my experience of using Photobox. It was very quick and simple to set up an account and then uploading the photo was easy. I could see on the screen how the different photos would look on different size canvases. If you want to edit your photo before sending it for printing Photobox redirect you to picnik and you can make all the amends there. I did find this quite a lengthy process, so seeing as picnik is free I think I would prefer to edit my photos first and then upload the perfect one to Photobox for printing.

The Pros - The actual product is great, it was easy to make, it arrived in good time and was well packed, I made use of an extra £10 online discount and them seem to have specials all the time!

The Cons - I was asked if I wanted the print to wrap around the sides of the canvases and I chose yes and this was stated on my delivery note, however it did not and this spoilt it a little for me. I could have contacted customers and spoken to them as they have a 100% customer satisfaction promise but to be honest I am busy and it is not that important. The print actually looks perfect on the wall.

I would definitely recommend using Photobox for their canvas prints and in fact I am plotting where my next one will go....

This is a review post: I received a £40 discount to make my canvas print. I have reviewed the product and as per always I remain honest.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Girls Recommend: ELC Styling Head

Hands up, who owned a Girls World when they were little?  I for one did and I adored it.  I was a really girlie girl and I loved to colour her hair and do her make up.  So I was thrilled when Father Christmas bought Miss M this super styling head from the Early Learning Centre for Christmas.

The head retails at £20 and you get a good sized head with very pretty hair, make-up in a CD case, brush, comb and lots of hair accessories.  Here are the girls happily playing together on Boxing Day -

Whilst they have used most of the lip gloss in their 3 or 4 plays since Xmas there is loads of the powder shadow and blusher still and I intend to just get them some cheap gloss from the market to use in the future.

I think this could provide hours of fun and at £20 I was very pleased.  This would make a fab gift for a little lady with a birthday in the coming months.  Keep an eye out for when ELC do those special times when they have 10 or 20% off everything.

This is a recommendation post and as such we have received nothing for free and have not been asked to write this post.  I am just recommending a product to you dear reader that our family give a big thumbs up to!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Orchard Toys Review: Post The Most Family Game

Before Christmas I was lucky enough to win a super game from Orchard Toys, Post The Most.  I am not obliged to review this as it was a prize, but as you know I adore Orchard Toys and it is such a lovely game so it would be a shame not to share with you dear readers.

The game is aimed at children age 5 upwards, they state 5-12 years but my husband and I have played it with JJ a few times and we both enjoyed it too!  As always the actual quality of the game is fantastic, the cardboard is really thick and sturdy and the little stand up buildings are hardy and colourful. I also like the fact that Orchard Toys boxes are just that bit more durable than other game or puzzle boxes.

It did not take us long to get the hang of this game and it took us about 45 minutes in all to play it.  JJ loved posting the little letters in the buildings, whilst dh enjoyed the strategy of deciding which route to take. I just had fun and on our first play I was the winner! yay

The game is fun as you have to deliver letters, special delivery letters and parcels to the different houses around the island and as each different type of delivery has its own set of rules this makes for a fun and interesting game. Just what Orchard Toys do best - education in the guise of fun.
This game costs £15.50 from the Orchard Toys website and I would say it is worth every penny. It is another lovely family game that I know my girls will enjoy too when they are older.