Treated Like a Princess for the Night

Most days, I spend hours in the kitchen either cooking or cleaning. With four children, a husband, a dog, and various people popping in and out, there is always food to prepare and pots to wash.

This week, my children were away on a camping trip and my husband and I were in the house on our own. On our last night without the children, he locked me out of the kitchen and told me to have a nice bath and relax. 

When I got out of the bath and redressed, I couldn’t believe what he had done. He had prepared a steak, chips, mushrooms, tomatoes, and pepper sauce with a side salad. The table was set up with glasses of red wine and roses that he had bought for me. He had also lit candles all the way around the dining room. He even did the washing up and cleaned all the kitchen. 

My husband had decided I deserved a night off from the cooking and wanted to treat me like a princess. I felt well and truly spoiled. I am a very lucky woman to have a man like him who wants to give me a break and take care of me the way he does. 

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Is An Allergy to E Numbers My Problem?

I think that I have finally uncovered the mystery of why I have been having strange symptoms for the last few years. I can go days without any symptoms and then suddenly get all the symptoms at one. My symptoms have include rashes covering large parts of my body, bowel problems, joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, and swelling. At one point I was seeing a rheumatologist, a dermatologist, an oncologist and a haematologist.

Nobody could find out what was wrong with me but they did find several other problems. For example, I had a severe vitamin D deficiency and moderate levels of lupus anticoagulant in my blood along with raised red and white blood cells. However, none of this explained my symptoms. 

I began to wonder if my diet was having any impact on the symptoms as several doctors said that my rash looked like an allergic reaction to something. I have racked my brains to think what I have eaten that has triggered the symptoms and was even keeping a food diary at one point. 

Over the past few weeks, I have not had many of the symptoms and then this week, I have had two bad flare-ups. The first was after visiting my local Indian restaurant (for which a review will follow). I have eaten take away food from there on several occasions and usually order the madras.  The night I visited the restaurant was a special promotional event where they were giving away free food on a set food menu. We had a selection of dishes including a tikka masala, a rogan josh, and a vegetable curry. When I got home, my skin was in a terrible state, covered in hives. My bottom lip was so swollen that it felt solid.

The second flare up was this morning. Over the past few weeks, I have made several diet and lifestyle changes and this may be why I have not had many of the symptoms. One thing I have given up is fizzy drinks. At the shop this morning, I decided to treat myself to a bottle of fizzy pop that was on offer. I am not sure if I should name the brand on my blog, but it is bright orange and associated with Scotland. I will let you guess. Within minutes of drinking a glass of this beverage, I was itching all over and had huge hives all up my arms. 

I Googled the name of the drink along with the word allergies and thousands of results came up stating that people are commonly allergic to this beverage because it contains a coloring called E214, also known as cochineal. This made me think about the tikka masala I had eaten. Food coloring is often used in this dish to achieve the bright red color. 

The more I have looked into E numbers in food today, the more convinced I am that this may have caused my health problems. For the most part, I cook all the food in the house using fresh produce and use very little canned or pre-prepared food that is likely to contain additives, such as flavourings, preservatives, colourings and stabilisers. Anything that I have included in my diet in the past that would contain such things has been beverages, such as fizzy drinks and wine. As these are things I have avoided over the past few weeks, it makes sense that this is potentially the cause of the problems. 

I also found an interesting chart that identifies the most harmful E numbers, the alternative names for them, what they are used for, and the symptoms they are known to cause. If you are interested in this subject, you can read this here.

I think that it is also important that I add a DISCLAIMER at this point. This article is not intended as dietary or health advice. The information included is based on my personal experiences and not on any proven medical studies. My degree is in education and not in medicine or nutrition!

My Happy Boys on Holiday

 

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This is a food blog so most of my posts are in some way food related. However, this is nothing about food at all! I just couldn’t resist sharing these pictures of my boys with my followers on here. 

I posted earlier that we went away for a short break at Pine Lake Resort in Carnforth and I wrote a review of the Lakes Bistro at the resort. We also enjoyed swimming, crazy golf, and the amusement arcade at Pine Lake. One the first day we took a trip out to Morecambe and then visited Williamson Park in Lancaster on the second day. 

We had a great time spending time together as a family away from all the stresses and strains of life. You can see that Nathan, Alfie and Freddie had fun from the photographs. 

REVIEW: Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort

I recently enjoyed a short break with Mike and my boys at Pine Lake Resort in Carnforth. We stayed in a wooden lodge overlooking the lake. Although we ate breakfast and dinner in the lodge and spent the days out and about in the local area, we returned to the resort every evening for a quick swim and to eat dinner in the resort’s restaurant, Lakes Bistro. Initially, we had only planned to eat there once because we had a limited budget for our break. However, the food was so good we ate their both evenings. Here is a review of the Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort, Carnforth.

Children’s Menu at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lake Resort

My pet hate when I eat out with my children is terrible children’s menus and I even check out the children’s menus when I am eating out without the children. Thankfully, I was very pleased with the menu options at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lakes Resort. There were the usual options of burger, sausages, or pizza, but there were also other options, such as pasta dishes and salads. The children’s pizza was made on the premises in the pizza oven rather than the usual frozen option offered by many establishments. There was also a small eaters menu that had smaller versions of dishes from the adult menu. My youngest son opted for the pizza on both nights while my middle son had the battered fish and chips on the first night and the chicken nuggets on the second night.

Steaks at Lakes Bistro

Steaks are my go-to choice when eating out, so both my partner and I opted for the rump steak on the first night. This was served with chips in a trendy little basket, oven roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine and a flat mushroom. The steaks were cooked a little more than we would have liked, but they were delicious and tender nonetheless. We also ordered a side of onion rings. I hate it when places serve frozen onion rings with a reformed onion centre, but that wasn’t a problem at Lakes Bistro as these were real onion rings made to order with a delicious, crisp batter. I also ordered a port and stilton sauce to accompany my steak. I usually opt for pepper sauce, but I thought I would try something new. The sauce was a little thin but absolutely gorgeous. My partner also had a steak on the second night and said it was just as good as the first. 

Pizza and Pasta Dishes at Lakes Bistro

After seeing my youngest son’s pizza on the first night, I decided to try a pizza on the second evening of our stay. This is not usually a dish that I would order as I am very fussy about the pizza dough being cooked correctly. I ordered the Americana pizza, which was topped with pepperoni and jalapeno peppers. It was oozing with cheese and very spicy, which is just how I like it. My oldest son ordered the spaghetti carbonara on both evenings as it is one of his favourite dishes. He described it as creamy, full of flavour, and cooked to perfection. 

Atmosphere

Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort has a contemporary look with walls in a bold red color, wooden flooring, and wooden furniture. Despite this dark color choice, the restaurant is filled with light and is bright and airy. The tables are nicely spaced out so you do not feel like the people at the neighbouring table are sitting on your lap or listening to your conversation. A very relaxed and comfortable vibe.

Customer Service

The staff at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lake Resort, delivered an outstanding level of customer service. Really friendly and welcoming, quick service, and just the right level of attention. 

Price

Reasonably priced venue considering the quality of the food served. Some examples of the prices you can expect to pay are:

  • Steaks- £15-20 price range
  • Pizza and pasta dishes- Under £10
  • Children’s meals- £4.95 or £ 6.95 for small plates
  • Side orders- £2.95 for sauces, chips, onion rings, etc. 

Check out this restaurant for yourself at https://www.resortpinelake.co.uk/dining

Progress with My Healthier Lifestyle

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A few months ago I posted that I was embarking on a healthier lifestyle and I was hopeful that I would lose weight in the process. The great news is that I have already lost 16 pounds!

I haven’t started a strict fitness regime or started a restricted diet; I have simply made a few changes to my lifestyle and eating habits. Here are the changes I have made to achieve this weight loss:

  • Cut out fizzy drinks
  • Cut down on wine intake
  • Walk back from the school run every morning
  • Stopped eating snacks in bed

Something that has helped is the sugar tax being implemented in the UK. I disagreed with this initially but it has prompted me to stop buying fizzy drinks and to drink water instead. 

If I continue with these few simple lifestyle changes, I am hoping that I will continue to lose weight and lose another 16 pounds before my birthday in November. Wish me luck!

Developments in My Garden- A Space for All the Family

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A few months ago, I wrote about starting a small herb garden in my garden and attempting to grow a few fruit and vegetables, too. I only wish that I had some before photographs to show you of how my back garden looked before. It was all concreted over with a few overgrown shrubs in the borders. There wasn’t a proper area to play for my children and it generally looked unkempt. My amazing partner has completely transformed the space.

He removed all the overgrown shrubs and created proper borders with raised wooden areas in one corner and around the tree. He then added canes and built boxes in which I could grow herbs. I have parsley, coriander, mint, basil, thyme, rosemary, strawberries, peas, and tomatoes growing at the moment. I have used all of these in my cooking. 

He created a play area for the children by designing and building a climbing frame with a den and monkey bars. Below this, he added astroturf and rubber matting for safety. There is even a ramp from the decking to the play area for them to play on their scooters, bikes, and skateboards. They play on it every single night after school and all day at the weekends. 

So that we could all eat outside together as a family, he created a small decking area with a fence and dining set just out from our conservatory. We have already eaten in this space many times as there has been fantastic weather in the UK in recent months. As a freelance writer who works from home, I have also started using this as what I call my ‘afternoon office’, which means I take my laptop outside with me to work. 

The garden is a practical space for my partner and my eldest son, too. Nathan, my eldest son, is a bicycle, car, and motorcycle fanatic and loves to tinker with parts while my partner does odd jobs for people and enjoy building things out of wooden pallets. He has made two separate sheds for each of their hobbies and built a small playhouse for my younger boys from the side of one shed.

The photos show the amazing work he has done and they do not do justice to how hard he has worked or the fantastic transformation he has made of such a small space. Thank you Mike x.

My Food Blog in Numbers

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I have noticed lots of blog posts recently regarding various blogging achievements. I don’t think I have had this blog for long enough yet to get too excited about my progress, but reading these other posts did make me think about how I am doing so far.

On the whole, I think the blog is going really well. I am only doing this in my spare time as I work full-time and have four children. I am definitely making progress, though. As I once worked in the Maths department of a secondary school, I am a fan of numbers and statistics. I thought it would be fun to assess my progress so far in terms of numbers. Here goes!

182– Number of followers on this blog.

567– Followers on Twitter.

14- Followers on my new Facebook page that I have recently set up. Feel free to add to this number!

3,000– Number of views on my blog so far.

16– Weeks I have been posting as The Fruity Tart.

155– The number of posts I have published so far.

2,000– Likes I have received.

252– Comments on my posts.

1– Award Nominations

9– External backlinks to my blog (not including ones that I have created).

Thanks to everyone for their support so far and I am looking forward to many more months, or years, of blogging.