Monday, 29 June 2015

The Great Orange Juice Conspiracy

What is the difference between ‘from concentrate’ and  ‘not from concentrate’ orange juice?

I like to think of myself as pretty savvy when it comes to grocery shopping and nutrition. Hell, I even wrote a book on the diet industry and all its trickery. However, what I recently discovered about orange juice from concentrate actually caused my jaw to hit the floor in disbelief (and it’s still there).

The other day I was watching Eat Well for Less with Gregg Wallace who suggested that:

 ‘from concentrate’ juice is NOT full of anything dodgy


is nutritionally nearly IDENTICAL to the very expensive ‘not from concentrate’ versions too!

This is something I struggled to get my head around; not from concentrate is EVIL and has to be avoided at all costs doesn’t it?

I wracked my (baby ravaged) brain to ascertain why I had come to the conclusion that ‘not from concentrate’ was so bad, and I couldn’t remember why. As long as I have been responsible for my own grocery shopping, I’ve been aware to avoid the cheap stuff and only ever go for the expensive ‘not from concentrate’ as pricey means it’s better for you, right? You pay more for good quality stuff, yes? I used to shout at my Dad for buying the value concentrated juice, and tell him it was “just full of shit this Dad!”

I’d obviously read something in a magazine and just believed it without doing my own research.

So here is what I've discovered:

How are they processed differently?

Concentrated orange juice (COJ)

Fresh orange juice is pasteurised, filtered, and evaporated to remove the water. This COJ, now around 65% sugar, is frozen. Because the volume has been massively reduced, transport and storage costs have been minimalised and this saving is passed on to us, the buyer. Before it hits our shelves, the COJ is rehydrated with water – it has been reconstituted. However, the orange juice won’t taste very orangey anymore, so flavour packs are added to trick our taste buds and give us that fresh orange smack we are yearning for.

What are flavour packs? Basically some scientists, who also design perfume fragrances, artificially create these flavour packs in laboratories, but because they are derived from orange (oil), and nothing else, the flavour packs do not need to be listed on the ingredients. Flavour packs don’t contain anything nasty, but I think it’s rather sneaky.

That’s all that concentrated juice is. It’s deconstructed than reassembled – all to save on costs. There is nothing sinister within, as I once firmly believed.

Not From Concentrate (NFC)

The fresh juice is also pasterised and some brands also addflavour packs' anyway. The larger volumes cost more in transport and we, the consumer, are hit with this charge.

That is the difference.

Only that.

I’m still in shock.

Time to investigate:

I popped into Morrisons and picked up the cheapest COJ: Morrisons Savers Orange Juice from Concentrate (65p 1L - 6.5p/100ml) and the most expensive NFC: Innocent Smooth Orange never ever from concentrate (£2.39 900ml - 26.6p/100ml).

Nutritional differences:

42 kcal
42 kcal
Saturated fat

The two juices are very comparable. I’d say Innocent just swings it with a smidgen more fibre and 1% less sugar, but I really am grasping at straws here; they are pretty much identical and not at ALL what I was expecting.

Comparing the two:

Ok, so I was expecting the cheap one to be fluorescent orange, reflecting the cheap and nastiness of it.

It wasn’t.

There was no marked difference between the colour or texture* of the two juices.

This is the biggy. How did they compare taste-wise? 

To me, they tasted so very similar, there was not much in it. At a push I’d say Innocent NFC had less of a strong aftertaste, and my Hubby (who did a blind taste test) preferred this one by declaring it more ‘fresh’ tasting, which is funny really when you think that neither of them are ‘fresh’ as they have both been in storage a long time.

I think it simply comes down to personal taste, which of the two you would prefer, but I bet nobody would notice the difference if one was secretly swapped from the other.

The only way you are ever going to get 100% fresh orange juice is to squeeze your own into a glass!

Will I be making the swap?

To be honest with you, with the current media frenzy about sugar consumption and the massive amounts contained within assumed ‘healthy’ foods, I’ve avoided orange juice of all varieties for a long time. When I do fancy a glass, I now buy cheap ‘from concentrate’ and dilute 50% with water.

But even better still…..

Have a glass of water.

And eat the damn orange.

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Note * - this comparison was for smooth fresh orange and not with 'bits'.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Silent Sunday #5

Pamper That Baby | Cussons Mum & Me

Cussons Mum and Me bathtime range

Wow, doesn’t it look like we are on a pebbled beach somewhere glorious?

We aren’t.

This is my pebbled driveway.

Pea-shingle if you're interested.

And BOOM, the illusion is shattered (and now I can’t get Paul Weller out of my head).

Let's move on.

The fabulous people at Cussons kindly sent Arturo and I their range of  Mum & Me to review .

This was great timing as we had just ran out of all the gear we received in baby hampers when Art was born.

I am a firm believe that beauty products need a good week or longer for evaluation, so whilst Arturo tries them out, let Mummy show you what we received:

Sleep Tight Baby Bath
Ultra Mild Baby Shampoo
Ultra Mild Head to Toe Wash
Baby Bath to Comfort Snuffles

I’m really excited to try out this range, especially the snuffle-comforting  menthol bath as I haven’t seen a product like that before.

You may wonder, because I certainly did, why I was out in the garden taking photos of baby bath products?

I didn’t want to stage a bathtime set-up complete with rubber duck and a splishing baby, but I did want to get some fresh air and vitamin D whilst Daddy entertained Baby.

So these photos are out of context I know, but my argument is “I’m exercising my artistic licence!”

Have you ever used the Cussons Mum and Me range?

You can read all my BABY updates HERE
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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Rainbow Belt

This Little Bird by Jools Rainbow Belt adds a retro look to any outfit.

Only £3.00.

Jools can do no wrong.

You can read all my BABY updates HERE
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Monday, 22 June 2015

The First Father's Day

There are so many firsts to enjoy when you become a new parent, and the first Father’s Day was one I was particularly looking forward to.

Arturo is only 8 months old, but already I can see the strong bond he has developed with his Daddy and it is a truly beautiful thing watching their relationship grow:

The way his chubby legs kick in utter excitement when his Daddy picks him up; the way he shrieks with delight when Daddy tosses him into the air with a strength and confidence that Mummy never could; the way he sometimes suddenly stops what he is doing to gaze at his Daddy in wonderment.

My Daddy.

My hero.

manchester blogger bloggers

Of course, it was also a day to celebrate with my own Father. The man who has been there for me through thick and thin and every single up and down in my life, always on hand to offer a hug and a tissue to wipe away my tears (even at 30 years old).

So what to do with the three boys in my life on this special day?

We were lucky enough to be invited down to the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa to try out their ‘Daddy of All Breakfasts’ for Father’s Day as part of their Scottish Steak Club.


The Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa will always hold a special place in my heart because it is one of the very first places Pete and I stayed in when we were dating as I think he was trying to impress by taking me to Manchester's largest four-star hotel in the heart of Cottonopolis (with the city centre literally on the doorstep).

manchester blogger

However, with my Dad and son in tow, it was certainly a different vibe this time around.

That vibe was FOOD.

I was so excited to try the ‘Daddy’ after reading:

Award-winning Scottish Steak Club restaurant, serving the very best in 21-day aged cuts of beef sourced from Scotbeef and an array of flavoursome dishes prepared using only the freshest ingredients by talented chefs.


manchester blogger

On arrival we were brought tea, coffee, toast and butter, and helped ourselves to a glorious buffet of meats, cheeses, breads, croissants, cereal, fruit and juice.

I wanted to save myself for the main event so just had a small bowel of figs and yoghurt whilst Aruto enjoyed some mango.

Then our ‘Daddy of All Breakfasts’ proper arrived; a mighty meat-fest of Scotbeef rump steak, Macsween haggis, locally sourced black pudding and a Scotch egg.

The large steaks had each been cooked to our preference and seasoned beautifully. However, the one problem I had was that they were not very warm. I’m aware that quality steaks have to rest after cooking but the plate was also cold, and cold food in a restaurant is a massive bugbear of mine. However, we didn’t ask for them to be warmed (and I’m sure our fantastic waiter would have immediately obliged) because the restaurant was suddenly packed out with people from a delayed flight, so I will forgive them in this unusual circumstance.

After the steak course, the men then enjoyed premium outdoor-reared pork sausages, bacon, duck eggs and beans!

Overall it was a gorgeous breakfast spending it with my favourite people in the world and it was so nice to have the opportunity to enjoy something as special as the ‘Daddy of All Breakfasts’ in the lovely surroundings of the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa.

manchester blogger bloggers

manchester blogger bloggers

manchester blogger bloggers


You can read all my BABY updates HERE
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Photographs numbered 1 and 2 are not my property and are being used with the permission. All other photographs are my property. Please do not use without permission.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Another Last

Today, lugging an oversized baby changing bag on my bad shoulder and pushing one tiny boy in a mammoth trolley, I marched into Marks and Spencer with the sole objective of spending a whole lot of dollar on ladies clothes, and I felt sad.

I felt sad, not because the clothes weren’t for me to wear, but sad precisely because of who they were for.

I headed to the Classic section and imagined what she would have chosen. Pastel twin-sets went into the trolley and then swiftly out again. That wasn’t her.

“How about trousers?”

A cheerful shop-assistant tried to help.

No. She never, ever, wore trousers, and she wasn’t going to start on my watch.

I wiped a bit of baby sick up with one hand and searched for the purple teething bear at the bottom of the Poppins bag, cursing myself for not packing Freddie the Firefly.

“We didn’t realise she had no clothes you see?” I tried to explain myself to the shop assistant, searching for a sliver of empathy to hold on to. 

I needed it.

“Ah yes, my Mother was just the same. Never let us buy any new clothes for her!”


At last, a slight reprieve from the guilt I’d felt since yesterday after I’d walked into her bedroom to find her dressed in black trousers and a cerise cardigan with frills. What the hell? Whose clothes are these? Is it one big pile for all the women to rotate through?

I was angry.

“Your Grandma came with hardly any clothes at all, and many were rather tatty, so she’s wearing these as the previous owner passed away and we don’t like to waste things here”.

I felt sick.

Please don't think she isn't cared for, I thought, she's just bloody stubborn when it comes to spending money on herself.

Now she couldn't argue.

Now it was down to me and absolutely non-negotiable.

 “I’ll be back tomorrow, with nighties, skirts, cardies and blouses” I promised.

I wondered, does it really matter what clothes you wear, only for half of breakfast to be spilled down the front, followed by lunch, dinner and worse things?

Yes, yes it does matter.

It matters to me.

It matters that my Grandma looks smart and cared for till the very end, in clothes that are her, not some alien attire, because she is still in there.

My lovely Grandma.

I swallowed away the painful lump in my throat and tried to focus on the task at hand but my eyes felt wet.

In the middle of Marks and Sparks.

I cried.

Her voice in my mind : Don’t cry for me, I’ve had a good life.

I pictured the smiling, beautiful face I've known my entire life.

I can’t rewind time, or pause it, or take away the pain in those old bones, but I can do this one small thing.

For her.

I closed my eyes for a second and we were there, in a small back yard in Rochdale. Grandad sat on the red and white striped deck chair, knotted hankie on head, and my sister and I running back and forth between skirts drying on the line. Summers seemed hotter back then, but we were always prepared with homemade orange and vimto ice-lollies.

And I remembered.

Now it was easy.

I found a denim skirt and another with black and white print almost identical to ones she used to own. And I found even more. I found blouses and cardigans and finally, five pretty nightdresses.

Back at home, Arturo must have sensed his Mummy needed some time to herself as he went down for a long nap whilst I spread out my haul to inspect it.

Beautiful, smart and classy clothes fit for our Grandma.

Dignity restored.


I took a permanent marker and wrote her name on the label of each garment, feeling like a proud mother preparing for her child’s first day at school.

My wide, scruffy scrawl made the clothes seem less beautiful somehow.

Once a women, twice a child.

A 20 mile drive.

I was undecided whether to show her the new clothes or not; would the old Grandma chastise me for going against her wishes? Should I slip them into the wardrobe and she would be non the wiser?

Another day had passed and the deterioration was clear.

Slumped; eye’s shut; hollow.

“Grandma, it’s Jessica and Baby Art come to see you”.

One eye opened a crack.

“Hello love”.

Closed again.

I talked.

She slept.

I talked and talked and talked.

I talked so she didn’t need to reply, so she didn’t give me any inkling that she didn’t know me.

After I had ran out of words, I presented the clothes to her, one by one, fanned out on her tiny lap.

Occasionally her eyes would open, and twinkle at me.


She said she liked them all.

Her dinner appeared and I offered to feed her. I wanted to be alone with her.

I fed my Grandma vegetable soup with one hand and my son cheesy pasta stars with the other.

Once a women, twice a child.

After 6 teaspoons of soup she refused anything else and went back to her place between awake and asleep.

It was time to leave and I held Arturo to her face to gave her a kiss goodbye.

As I was strapping my baby boy into his pram, I decided in that moment that I wouldn’t bring him again. The heat of the care home made him whinge and his baby shrieks, I think, confused her. Plus the other residents needing considering.

Another last.

All these lasts happening far too quickly for me; the last time I visited her at her house, the last time we spoke on the phone, the last time I heard her laugh, and now this; the last time she kissed her Great-Grandson.

As I said goodbye and told her I loved her, I wondered if this too would be a last.

going into care home

You can read all my BABY updates HERE
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