Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Dairy Free Review

or...disappointing dairy free apps

I was really looking forward to trying some apps on my new smartphone to help me continue with my dairy free pledge, but having had a good play with the ones that have been added to my phone, I must say I'm disappointed.

The premise of this is fab - scan a barcode while you're out shopping and it will tell you whether the product contains a particular allergen, in my case, milk. This sounded great to me, and would have been especially handy in the early days of going dairy free, when I had to check absolutely every label to see what was in an item. Nowadays I generally know what I can and can't have, so only need to check the labels if I want to try something new, but this still would have been useful for that. So I was looking forward to using this app, until I discovered that although the app itself is free, you have to sign up to the Foodwiz website, at a cost, for it to work. Well, as my maternity pay is about to stop, I don't want to be spending money on something I don't really need, so I will just have to stick to checking the labels myself.

Dairy Free Fast Food
Another good idea for an app, this lists major fast food chains, and then tells you which foods contain no dairy ingredients, however it does come with the caution that cross contamination may occur. In my early dairy free days, I did miss a McDonald's - until my hubby came up with the idea of checking the nutritional info on their website, which I think they have to provide by law. Thanks to this I have treated myself to the odd sweet chilli chicken wrap meal with fries and an apple pie, which seems about the only thing I can have! However, this app is American-ised, as the fast food chains include Taco Bell, Arby's and Wendy's, and the KFC and McDonald's sections show foods we don't have in the UK. Therefore, this isn't a very good app for use in this country, which is a shame in one way, however, it does mean I won't be too encouraged to eat more fast food to try it out!

Lactose-Free Guide
This app is also American. It contains a few links including lactose free articles, fitness and nutrition podcasts and lactose free videos, as well as a lactose free e-book. The problem is, I am completely dairy free, not just lactose free. Lactose is the sugar found in cow's milk, and it would be simpler if it was this causing Ryan's intolerance as it's easier to avoid, but he is intolerant to the protein in cow's milk, which is why we are dairy free, not just lactose free. The e-book would be useful to a lactose intolerance sufferer, as it explains all about the condition, and advice on preparing to go lactose free, and also includes suitable recipes, including one for lactose free ice cream!

I did try a search for dairy free apps on the play store, but nothing useful came up, so it seems dairy free people just aren't very well catered for in the app world!

In conclusion, there aren't many useful dairy free apps available, but if you're willing to pay a subscription, Foodwiz would be worth it, and I may well have paid for this when I first had to give up dairy as it would have been very handy when I was still trying to get my head around what I could and couldn't have. Dairy Free Fast Food is ok, but I would be worried about the cross contamination aspect, and feel it would be better to rely on the official restaurant websites for up to date nutritional info. Lactose-Free Guide would be useful for sufferers, but not for me!

This has been a disappointing exercise, however I have discovered other apps along the way to help with aspects of being a new(ish) mum, but I'll save them for another post!

Friday, 27 April 2012

World Book Night

or...spreading the joy of books!

As a library assistant I heard of World Book Night last year and was involved in distributing boxes of books to 'givers'. This year, with me being off work on maternity leave, I decided to sign up to be a giver myself.

Looking through this year's 25 chosen books the one I wanted to share immediately jumped out at me - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I read this a couple of years ago after it was recommended to me by a colleague. It's a bit strange as it's written from the perspective of Death, but is awesome, and I'm looking forward to reading it again.

The idea of WBN is that 20,000 readers across the UK give out 24 copies of their chosen book to people in their community, to encourage those who don't read regularly to fall in love with reading.

I adore books and reading, but since having Ryan finding the time to myself to just curl up with a cup of tea and a book is very difficult. In the first few months after his birth I went from reading on average two books a week, to reading about two in four months! (Although, to be fair, I did read a lot of baby related books which I don't really count as books I've read, if that makes sense!)

Because of this I thought it would be good to share my books with other parents who are probably in the same boat as me. I also decided to share some of my books with fellow ladies who enjoy my other favourite hobby - netball.

I picked my books up from Nantwich Library the week before WBN, and it was like Christmas for me, opening a big box full of lovely fresh books, and I couldn't wait to start handing them out and chatting about them.

My first target - parents! I volunteer at Nantwich Baby Group, so I sent out a message in our weekly 'What's On' email advising members that I had free books to hand out. It was a big success, nearly every parent / grandparent who joined us that morning took a copy home with them, and I had some lovely chats about the book, which led on to talking about other books people have read. I was right that many mums especially don't get time to read often anymore, and had one person tell me the only chance they get to read away from the kids is in the bath!

Target number two - netballers! I am a member of Ladyhawks Netball Club in Crewe, so put up a message on facebook to let them all know about WBN, and that I'd be bringing my books to our training session. This was very popular, and I didn't have enough books left for everyone who wanted to try one! They were all happy with the idea that once they've read it they were to pass it on, and I can't wait to start tracking my books to see where they end up!

Even though it's part of my job, I'm often a bit apprehensive about recommending a book, in case the reader doesn't like it and blames me! The Book Thief is a bit strange, and possible not to everyone's taste, so it reassured me that one of my netball friends put a comment up on facebook to say that she's read it before and loved it too! Here's hoping all the other recipients of my books enjoy it as much as we did.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Prize shiny new phone!

Although I'm not a massive gadget fan, unlike hubby who always wants the latest electronics, there's something about a shiny new phone that makes me go all a tingle!

However, I do like to keep things shiny, so before it even came out the box I was on Amazon ordering a screen protector and case for it.

3 had set the phone up ready to use, and downloaded some recommended apps to help with the 'mummy challenge' I wrote about to win the competition. I was also asked to arrange to visit my local 3 store for some training on the phone.

Initially thoughts on the phone:

It looks good, but is quite large. Now smartphones are the in thing, mobile sizes seem to have regressed! It wasn't long ago that smaller was better, but now they're designed to be used for surfing the net, watching videos etc, I suppose bigger screens are necessary.

The camera is really good. 8.0 mega pixels. This is especially important with a baby as it means I can take photos on the go without having to haul a camera around. And it's simple to upload straight to facebook to show him off to my friends. It also records video in HD, and as a HD convert this is fab!

The Play Store used for downloading apps, books and movies is very simple to use, you just type in what you're after and browse the results. A lot of the apps are free so I'm looking forward to having a proper play with that.

It also has the usual useful things such as a calendar and calculator, plus extras such as a sat nav, radio and music.

I'll start having a play with my dairy free apps and post some reviews!