Keto Camping

For most of the time that I have been following the Keto lifestyle we have been in Covd19 Lockdown or similar and I have remained in complete control of what I eat. I did go on an All Inclusive holiday in September 2019 to Turkey but that was the last time I was away from home for any length of time. So how can I keep Keto and still go on holiday? To remain in control I thought camping would be a great start.

Now my best friend has a brand new camper van available for renting, so my first taste, as I’m not really a tent kinda gal, was a night away on quite a local campsite in the van with my friend and her two pre teens. It’s kind of a baptism of fire really being in close confines with other people’s children – but I was willing to try it……once!

We chose a campsite about 45 mins drive from home called The Old Dairy Farm in Cropredy and didn’t really know what to expect as I honestly have not camped since I got too old to be a girl guide! It was only £15 for 2 adults which I thought was a bargain.

Arriving at 8.30pm we had just enough light to get the really clever inflatable awning up and had just enough time for a quick look around site. You can tell we left in a hurry though as one of the children forgot to even bring his trainers with him but as the site is well kept it didn’t really matter!

The toilet block in the main field is new, clean and well stocked with toilet roll and even hand wash. It had 6 loos and plenty of sinks for washing and washing up, there was a bouncy castle up and a play area, and what the kids thought was another play area but it was for a different sort of kid! There is another block with showers but as we were there just overnight we didn’t investigate it.

The little part of the evening left was taken up with playing Uno with the kids in the van with the detachable table until it was time for them to sleep in the ‘top bunk’ while the adults pulled out the seats in the main cabin for the night. The dog came too and was perfect as a mini hot water bottle. The site did have a bar in a marquee and had burgers and stone baked pizza available until 8.30pm at night so if you can’t be bothered to cook you are still sorted too, and with Keto in mind I took my own bread roll but would have ordered just a burger if I had needed to eat.

Once the kids had settled in for the night they went to sleep really quickly, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I slept as I am not a good sleeper generally. The next morning we were super happy to see you could get a full English breakfast for a fiver on the site as well as toast and other options. It was simple and cheap and I have been told a bonus as most sites don’t have food available. We had a chat with one of the staff as we had breakfast and the venue was a wedding venue pre covid and now has branched into camping and caravanning and is friendly and family run and kept really well – it’s highly recommended. And with being Keto I just gave the toast to the kids and ate the sausage bacon and egg so I was sorted too!

The site felt really safe and the kids really loved the freedom of making friends in the play area. I remember as a child myself going camping and loving making friends and feeling free on a campsite. The staff do keep an eye on them too so if really felt like a lovely place to visit. And the van we were in made it feel like glamping not camping – so having said I would never go camping again I think I am coming round to the idea! This looks like the perfect place to go with a group of friends for a weekend. Top Marks. The van and awning was so easy to set up and pack up again too.

If you want to experience the same then keep an eye on MD Campers to be able to hire the van we used – we were in ‘Nikki’ . I believe they are planning an option to hire the van and drive to site yourself, or have the van all set up for you on the site ready so you just turn up and everything is sorted for you ! It really is glamping or glaravanning.

Review – Happy Nibbling Brownies

I am continuing my hunt for mail order Keto sweet treats as although I do make delicious cakes, though I say it myself, it is just nice to sometimes have something bought for you or a lovely treat that you haven’t made yourself.

I came across Happy Nibbling through the Keto Fitness Club as Carrie, who runs the business, is a fellow club member and a regular in the cooking classes. Carrie is launching her brownie business with Organic Coconut Brownies which are made without egg, gluten, grains, nuts or refined sugar. It has been fabulous following her on Facebook as she gets started on her new venture, and she already has had the required inspections and top hygiene rating which can give you confidence in this new sweet treat business.

I ordered the Raspberry Kiss brownies as they looked so good on a recent post. Currently you order from the Facebook page by sending a message and you can buy 6 or 12 brownies in a choice of Classic Dark or Raspberry Kiss, more options and flavours will be added in the future. It’s £12 for 6 brownies and £22 for 12 with £4 postage – so I just had to order 12 Raspberry Kiss – just for taste testing you understand! There will be a website in the future and a wider variety of flavours, but sensibly Carrie is building her business slowly.

Raspberry Kiss Brownies

I paid via a paypal link over the weekend and they were sent out 1st class post on Monday and were with me in time for elevenses on Tuesday. Well packaged and protected in the box and bag it came in – on opening the pack the smell that hit me was divine.

I could not resist breaking my fast early to try one, and as someone who can often be sensitive to the taste of some sweeteners, all I tasted was moist chcoclatey goodness with a hint of raspberry. Each brownie has 1.7g of carbs so it’s a treat that needs to be rationed but I am freezing the other 11 brownies to enjoy over the next couple of weeks. OK – so I may have just lied – I have frozen 6 and kept 6 in the fridge just to make sure they are as tasty a few hours later – and the 2nd one I warmed and had with a drizzle of double cream – warming the brownie seemed to release the aroma even more. Bought brownies can often be dry and hard in texture but these were neither of these things and were divine.

The biggest bonus is a really cannot stand coconut. It is not a flavour I have ever enjoyed. Since Keto I have started to use coconut flour in recipes but if someone described something as coconut I would avoid. I could not tell these were coconut based at all – huzzah!

Happy Nibbling brownies are definitely going on my list of special treats for my family to get me for treats and birthdays – and I will also feel confident in buying them for my coeliac sister or Niece with a nut allergy.

Keep on Walking – with Adventure Geek

My challenge this year has been to Walk 1000 miles and with doing mostly 2 walks a day I need to keep things interesting and find new places to walk. In my last update and progress report I have been storming ahead with my walking after a health setback in February.

First we discovered this great website called Northamptonshire Walks where we can download and follow walks all over Northamptonshire and beyond. With my walking pack ( 4 adults and 3 dogs) we have done walk 1 – Castle Ashby which was our first foray out, walk 2 – Collingtree and a couple of other walks too. These work well if you download the walk from the blog and save it on your phone just in case you have a limited phone connection and there are handy pictures and pointers to keep you on the straight and narrow. There are loads to choose from on the website and you can download an excel file of walks too which tell you distance, terrain, dog friendly and if there are loo stops of pubs en route.

There is another local option in Northants too – Adventure Geek has walks on their website and runs guided walks both locally and longer adventures further afield if you really take to this walking lark. Julia Doherty, who I vaguely knew through business networking over the years, has been able to make her passion her business through starting Adventure Geek. My sister had been going on the local walks for a while but I was always busy – but this week I finally took the plunge and went on a new walk which included a walk through Kellmarsh Tunnel along the old Northampton to Market Harborough disused railway line.

Adventure Geek allows you to go on two walks free of charge so you can try before you buy, or you can then pay as you go £4 per walk or pay £10 a month if you plan to join them regularly. If you are at all shy or worried about joining ‘strangers’ for a walk then really don’t be – they made us very welcome, were mindful of covid protocols, and kept to a pace which meant it felt inclusive and fun for all. You can clearly see on the website the length of the walk and the terrain and also dogs and children are welcome if the walk is suitable. You can also download the walk routes as GPX files or PDFs to follow yourself if you don’t fancy a group walk.

I definitely enjoyed chatting to a few different people as we walked along, including Julia the Adventure Geek herself. It was interesting hearing about the adventures they have had walking the Camino Pyrenees and the West Highland Way which are some of the further afield trips Julia organises. I hear she has big plans to walk right across America too.

So if you want to break out and get walking but don’t feel confident exploring the countryside alone then joining with Adventure Geek walks is both cost effective and highly recommended as a way to explore new areas in Northamptonshire.

Just keep walking!

**New** Aloe Body Lotion

Another great product coming soon to replace the lotion known as the ‘blue’ lotion due to the colour of the writing on the old tube!

Gentle, powerful cleansing with skin-conditioning aloe.

  • Gentle yet powerful cleanser
  • Removes dirt and oil to leave skin feeling clean and soft
  • Retains skin’s moisture
  • Maintains and promotes skin hydration
  • Leaves skin feeling clean and fresh

Forever’s Aloe Body Lotion is the perfect everyday moisturiser to soften skin and leave it feeling smooth, hydrated and healthy. Our lightweight formula absorbs quickly to deliver the benefits of pure aloe vera and other moisturising ingredients almost instantly.

We combined a high concentration of pure inner leaf aloe vera with plant-based oils and botanicals to put nature’s most powerful skin enhancing ingredients to work for you. Aloe forms the ideal base for our formula by moisturising and promoting healthy, youthful looking skin. Argan oil contains vitamin E and fatty acids that help soften skin while hydrolysed jojoba esters help promote appearance of firmness and skin elasticity.

The addition of macadamia seed oil makes Aloe Body Lotion an ideal choice for dry and mature skin due to its high palmitoleic acid content, which promotes healthy looking skin. But this formula isn’t just for people with dry or mature skin. Forever created this silicone-free formula for anyone with normal to dry skin by adding ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, which forms a protective barrier on the skin and helps retain moisture. Aloe Body Lotion also features a bright aroma featuring light florals for a scent that’s universally appealing.

When you need a go-to daily lotion that leaves skin feeling soft and silky, but never greasy, make sure you have Forever’s Aloe Body Lotion close by.

**New** Aloe Body Wash

Coming soon to add to the great Aloe family of skincare products is Aloe Body Wash. Personally I have always happily used the Aloe Liquid Soap but I am looking forward to trying this new product when it is released soon.

Gentle, powerful cleansing with skin-conditioning aloe.

  • Gentle yet powerful cleanser
  • Removes dirt and oil to leave skin feeling clean and soft
  • Retains skin’s moisture
  • Maintains and promotes skin hydration
  • Leaves skin feeling clean and fresh

Let the best of what nature has to offer nourish and cleanse your skin with Forever’s new Aloe Body Wash. This sulphate free formula features powerful yet gentle cleansing, with skin conditioning ingredients that will wash away dirt and leave your skin feeling soft and refreshed.

Aloe Body Wash is pH balanced to help retain skin’s moisture and promote hydration. Key ingredient, aloe vera, aids anti-ageing by promoting moisturising while vitamins A, C and E nourish and support healthy-looking skin.

Our formula features a rich, inviting fragrance of woods, amber and a warm blend of herbs for a scent that is universally appealing. You may notice something a little different about Aloe Body Wash’s unique colour. The pleasing shade of seafoam green comes from naturally-derived copper chlorophyll!

You’ll feel the difference right away as Aloe Body Wash forms into a rich, creamy foam that rinses away easily without stripping your skin of moisture. The gentle cleansing is made possible with ingredients like argan oil, arnica flower extract and hydrolysed jojoba esters, which help soften skin while increasing hydration and smoothness.

Don’t reach for another body wash that leaves your skin feeling dry or stripped of nutrients. With Aloe Body Wash, you’ll get the powerful cleansing you’re looking for with the perfect blend of ingredients to leave your skin looking and feeling healthy and refreshed.

My Hip Replacement Story

I was asked on a Hip Replacement support group to post my ‘story’ today as I posted a picture of me with my leg length difference and they wanted to see if my story was like theirs. I wrote it out in full and got thinking that I honestly forgot most of what went on until I sat to write it out. I decided I’d like to repeat my story here in an open way in case it can help anyone else going through similar issues…so here goes.

Left leg or right leg ? Spot the difference

I have rheumatoid arthritis triggered we think by measles jab when I was 16 months – first joints affected were neck and knees but I don’t remember any of that time or the 6 months it took my parents to get a diagnosis.

A rare picture from before my problems started.

I ended up under a Juvenile Chronic Arthritis specialists in the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Taplow in Buckinghamshire, Dr Barbara Ansel, as local Drs near Liverpool wiped their hands of me when parents couldn’t get a diagnosis. I don;t think I realised how lucky I was to be treated by her and her team. I managed to live a more or less normal life just with 6 monthly visits to Drs, aspirin moving to Naproxen for treatment when I had a ‘flare’ which was 2 to 3 times a year and a long stay and intensive physio in hospital 200 miles from home at 7. I think it was 9 weeks and it was both huge fun and really hard as I was away from my family for most of that time.

I never had full rotation of my right leg – I remember being told to cross my legs when sat on the floor at school but it just didn’t bend that way so right leg always stuck out straight. From I think around 11 I used to have my right leg give way on me regularly with a moment of pain but nothing really debilitating. My neck was the joint which caused me most issues and I used to wear a collar when it was bad. Then from early 20s my left elbow became the most troublesome joint and I lost full use of it and couldn’t straighten it anymore. It was always a pain with one leg not rotating and one arm not straightening as it made it really hard to reach my right foot properly.!!!

I met my husband at Uni and married and had kids quickly as I was always worried about when I might get bad with the arthritis – it was a case o let’s go for it now while I am ok – both kids were c-sections which was a relief as I was dreading child birth with an immobile hip – then with running round after kids my hip got a lot more painful and I had crutches to help but with the elbow issue – left elbow – right hip – it made it difficult. I remember a trip to Disneyland Paris with the kids where we hired a wheelchair otherwise I could not have kept going for 3 days solid. If I had an active day I needed a few days rest to compensate.

Disneyland June 2003

The Rheumatologist I was put under when I moved to Northampton was lovely and suggested hip replacement and supported me in approaching the surgeon when I was aged 35 and at 36 in 2007 I had my surgery after 6 months on the waiting list. Those 6 months were actually the most pain free I had been in ages but I had to think abotout how I was on my worst days and go ahead with the operation and I am so glad I did.

First time standing on my own a few days post op Feb 2007

There was never any mention of leg length discrepancy but when I was recovering from the operation I noticed my right knee stuck out further then my left. They also broke my femur during the operation as I was too brittle – I guess it’s from having active arthritis so young when I was growing it just never grew properly – so I couldn;t weight bare for 3 months after the operation – more crutches which was a real pain. At my 6 week check, I challenged the surgeon and he showed me the xrays and said the hip was in the correct place but my pelvis internally was twisted and physio would fix it.

The loop is holding my femur together on the left !

3 free visits to physio on NHS and they signed me off with exercises that did nothing. My parents helped me out with money and for 2 years I saw an excellent physio and acupuncturist and he tried everything but after the treatment, I’d feel straight and then on the car drive home it’s like my muscles went back to where they were comfy. In the end the guy admitted defeat and I just wanted to get on with my life and not keep obsessing about the leg length difference.

How I first noticed the leg length difference. Those are my knees !

I sang in choirs and found standing still for a concert really hard so I’d put a book under my left foot which made it much easier. In the end the NHS gave me an insert for my left shoe and they built up some sandals for me. The surgeon had said that was a bad idea as it means my back is weak where my spine meets my back due to the twist but enough was enough.

Now in the last few years I don’t really have an arthritis flares and I hardly need the Naproxen which I’d been on for 30 odd years. I now drink aloe vera every day, take a bunch of supplements, from Forever Living and more recently moved to a keto diet which means I don’t eat foods likely to cause inflammation and 14 years post op I am just hoping to prolong the lifetime of my hip and reduce the chances of other joints being a problem. I walk 4 miles at least every day, I have an elliptical standing bike, I do pilates and I eat home cooked meals – I work for myself and make sure I have a good work life balance and I’ve just given up hope of ever being straight. I now weigh 3.5 stone less than when I had the operation though – Keto really suits me !

Out on one of my daily walks.

Once at a networking meeting a guy who did bone/muscle type manipulations saw me as a challenge and was determined to help me – in the meeting he made me move in a way that made my hip crack really loudly and I couldn’t weight bare without pain for a couple of days – that scared the bejeesus our of me and made no difference so I am just living with my twisted body and enjoying each day and sod it !!!

So that’s my story, or how I remember it now at 50.

Review – Heavenly Chocolate

Continuing my series of review posts on Keto treats this time I decided to try a Taster Pack of Pure Heavenly chocolates. These went down a storm on Dragons Den and although not clean Keto, no chocolate really is, these seem like an excellent alternative to my old favourite chocolate bars.

The Ultimate Taster Pack = 16 bars from the ‘milk’ and ‘dark’ range

I decided to just go big and get the larger of the 3 taster packs available. You can get ‘milk’ or ‘dark’ or the ultimate combination of the two. I was never a dark chocolate fan before Keto but now when I have tasted the old milk chocolate I loved it is way too sweet and my tastes have completely changed.

The website was easy to navigate the to pay, and my delivery came really quickly and was well packaged with all the bars whole and undamaged. Each bar is 30g so about the size of a mini Cadbury thin bar. There is a lovely wide variety of flavours including fruits (banana, Strawberry, orange and cherry) and nuts (hazelnut and coconut) and standard favourites like salted caramel and mint.

I am taking my time with sampling the flavours so at the time of writing this I have only tried 4, and I bought the box 3 weeks ago so I am really exercising control. I went for Strawberry first, and the smell as you snip open the bar is divine. Like I’ve found with other chocolates I have tried the smell is stronger than the taste, but the taste was really creamy and very much like milk chocolate. The Orange flavour reminded me of chocolate orange and the salted caramel was also delicious. The only one I have not been so keen on so far is the Dark Cherry, but I am never a keen fan of cherry flavours so it’s not really a surprise.

The chocolates vary in cocoa strength depending on if milk or dark, they are all dairy free, egg free, gluten free, wheat free and soy free and also they don’t use palm oil. There is full nutritional information on their website and they use inulin and erythritol as sweeteners. The ‘milk’ option is higher in carbs than the dark, just like other chocolate, so this wouldn’t be an every day treat for me on Keto, but definitely a much better alternative if I want a break from the norm at Christmas or Easter or on a Birthday!

I am having fun on Tiktok recording my taste tests for all the flavours so if you want to see more then follow me using the link below.

Heavenly Chocolate do give you a 10% discount on your first order, but also once you have ordered they share with you a referral code so your friends can get 20% off their first order and you then get a discount on future orders too – so my discount link is http://pureheavenlymember.refr.cc/alisonmead if you want to try your own Heavenly Chocolate – and please come back and comment about your favourite flavour when you have tried your own.

Review – Shokoladi Keto Chocolates

Through a business networking Facebook group I am a member of, Spaghetti Besties https://www.facebook.com/groups/SpaghettiBesties I heard about a artisan bean to box chocolate maker, and since turning Keto I was interested to see if she made Keto chocolates.

There were Keto options on the website, not many and quite expensive, but with a quality product for special treats I decided I’d like to trial them and see what they are like. This wouldn’t be an everyday purchase for me but a special treat on occasion.

Irma, the chocolate maker, has a facebook group where she keeps you up to date with what she is making, and the production runs are short so when it’s gone it’s gone. She had posted about Keto Hazelnut and Butterscotch chocolate using erythritol as the sweetener and mentioned she had been experimenting with the recipe to reduce the cooling affect of the sweetener Not everyone gets a cooling effect from Erythritol but I tend to notice it a lot which makes some sweet treats unappetising for me.

When I placed the order via email, as I had a specific request rather than using the website, Irma was quick to respond with the options and I chose to have 6 small bars for £21 with £4.25 postage. The flavours I am trying are Butterscotch and Hazelnut, White Coffee with Walnut and Dark Berry Crumble. I sent the payment via Bacs straight away to confirm my order.

I was gloriously surprised to find the order arrived the very next day – even though it was 1.30pm when I placed the order. That’s a big tick for customer service and delivery as other Keto stores I have used before I have taken weeks if not months to deliver.

Neatly Boxed

The box when opened (they came in a small cardboard box) smelt heavenly of the caramel and even though I had not broken my fast yet I could not resist having a taste.

Before Keto I was not a dark chocolate fan, Although I use 85% dark chocolate in recipes I never would choose to eat it as is from the packet. I tried the Butterscotch and Hazelnut first and although the butterscotch flavour didn’t come through in the taste as much as the smell did, it definitely scratched my ‘I want chocolate’ itch.

I tried the coffee one next, which I didn’t expect to like as I am not a coffee fan – it was ok but smelt a little too strong for me so I will pass it as a gift to a coffee loving keto friend.

The Berry bar was quite dark but the berry taste came through beautifully so that was a hit too.

Ingredients

It is so nice to find a treat of a keto chocolate bar which can be eaten which I haven’t had to make myself, and I will definitely buy these again for a treat or pass the web address on to friends and family – and I am sure Irma will be experimenting with new flavours in the future too so I will be keeping an eye on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ShokoladiMalvern for more options and perhaps chocolates rather than bars in the future. The website to order is https://shokoladimalvern.co.uk/.

Irma has offered a special 10% discount on Keto chocolates to any of my blog readers until the end of September 2021 – just email shokoladi@mail.com and mention my name, Alison Mead, to get your discount.

Elliptigo Eliptical Bike

5 years ago I read about Elliptigo elliptical bikes on a hip replacement Facebook page I’m on. I was looking for an alternative to cycling as I wasn’t very comfortable on a traditional bike with my arthritic neck issues.

I wrote this blog post all about it when I first got the bike. The first couple of years I did get out on my bike quite often and managed to build up to a few 20 mile rides heading off into Milton Keynes and exploring some of the red ways and paths there.

In the last couple of years though I have been struggling with elbow and shoulder aching when I’m on the bike too long. And although I have never fallen off the thing (touch wood), starting up started to make me nervous and I haven’t been going out as often in recent times. Busy junctions mean I need to dismount and start from stopped and it’s hard to find a route with no junctions.

So today I decided no more excuses. I need to get back on my bike, even if its just a short run out, and I went out for half an hour and did 4 miles.

The bike always gets my heart rate up into peak for at least part of the ride, and the upright position means you get great views out in the countryside too. It’s a great running style workout without the impact of running. I need to remember that and get out more often.

What’s your favourite form of exercise and how do you motivate yourself to get out there and move?

Elliptigo launch

Keto Sweet Treats

Today I had a tub of double cream in my fridge which goes out of date soon so I decided to have a go at Orange Jelly Cake Bars as the main ingredient in the cake I love is double cream.

I love taking recipes from the Keto Fitness Club recipe library and tweek them to either use up the ingredients I need to use or changing slightly as I’ve really learned what I do and don’t like with my Keto baking.

My favourite basic cake is the Classic Vanilla Muffin which is in the WTF cookbook (Where’s The Fat) and I’ve used this to make Victoria Sponge, Lemon sponge, and orange jelly cakes too. I recently bought new mini cake molds so I wanted to see what the vanilla muffin mix would be like there.

I made the jelly first in the molds and once set saved them in the fridge while I made the cakes. The full recipe is again in the free recipe library and in the Creative Bakes book.

The classic vanilla muffin mix worked really well in the mold, I just trimmed the tops off and halved them before adding the jelly and drizzling on melted chocolate. The effect was stunning and they are perfect bite size mouthfuls of orangey goodness.

That left a bowl of cake offcuts.. Now what could I do with those? The perfect answer is again in the Creative Bakes book, and I made the Tiffin with my offcuts to replace the microwave cookies which appear in the recipe.

So that’s two great cakes made. Now to prevent over eating I always freeze my cakes, and most need a short time to defrost or taste really great straight from the freezer. It just means I don’t sit and eat cakes all day. And when my husband inevitably brings home his favourite chocolate or cakes I can just grab my pre made treats from the freezer.

What’s your favourite Keto cake? Please share recipe links as I love trying new things.