Archive for July, 2010

Night Cream Secrets…

OK, so a bit off topic here.

But recently in my post about Austerity Measures, I spoke about using JBL (Johnson’s Baby Lotion) as a facial cleanser, letting it soak in while I brush my teeth, then rinsing with water.  Provided I haven’t used any Kabuki makeup, it works GREAT.  Again, safe enough for a baby’s ass must be good enough for my face.

Additionally, I have found another little secret – Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter.  Wow.  I had recently started using NeoStrata AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) which can be very drying as they deeply exfoliate over time.

So, my skin was looking dry and while I could see the AHAs working to smoothen and lighten the skin, I was concerned that it wasn’t looking good in the short term.

Hunting around the house, I contemplated the labels of several items – and came upon some of my son’s Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter.  I had heard of a recent supermarket stampede to get the stuff for just this reason.

Ingredients on label:

Olive Oil, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Vanillin, Chamomile Oil

Hmmm…. I slapped some on as a trial, after washing of course with JBL.

In the morning I was surprised that my face did indeed look as smooth as a baby’s ass.  What I do now is use the AHA daytime cream during the day when I am out and about.  I use the stronger AHA all day when I am hanging around IN the house.  And Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter every night.

Get it on Ebay if you do not live in the UK.

Sweet dreams baby!!

Love to you all!
La Libertini


Don’t Let the Pezzonovante Feed Your Children

What would Vito Corleone say about our current crisis of childhood obesity?

Well, first imagine the voice of the great Marlon Brando.  Husky, smoky, the room is dark.  A few advisers like Tom Hagan lurk in the corners.

A man, Vincenzo, comes to visit him on Don Vito’s daughter’s wedding day.  He plans to ask for a favor. Because the Godfather cannot refuse a favor on his daughter’s wedding day.

Vincenzo says, “Godfather, my son, my daughter, they are, as you have seen, incredibly fat.  Godfather, I don’t know what to do.  My son, my only son, he looks like he may not live to be 30.  And I need him.  I love him, Godfather.”

“Yes, Vincenzo, your children – they are a disgrace.” says the Godfather.

“And Godfather, my beautiful daughter, what is she to become – who will marry her? She eats me out of house and home, and she eats even more at the school.  It is their fault.  They feed the children crap all day at school, Godfather.  I have no control.”

The Godfather pauses.  “Vincenzo, you come here to tell me you have no control.  You come here to tell me that you let the Pezzonovante feed your children.  Vincenzo, what is it that you want me to do?”

“Well, Godfather, you could make changes at the school.  You could use your power and influence.”

“Vincenzo, I could have a word with some people.  But these types of arrangements, these types of conversations, these will take a little time.  And they are not… well… normally the things we do.  Do you not try to influence them?  I don’t suppose you do, Vincenzo.”

Long pause.  The Godfather looks at Vincenzo with pity.

“For now, you and your wife are going to have to be strict.  Use your head.  And Vincenzo, don’t rely on the Pezzonovante in important matters.  Don’t rely on them to help you out, to be responsible for something as important as your children.  My God, Vincenzo has history taught you nothing?”

“So you will help me Godfather?”

“Vincenzo, don’t let the Pezzonovante feed your children.”

What My Kid Eats

Each day, when I pick up my son, they give me a little white piece of paper with details on what he ate, how many times they changed his diaper, what he did for play. I always focus on what he ate.

They give him Weetabix and whole grain toast for breakfast. A nice hot lunch of rice, potatoes or noodles with chicken, lamb, Quorn or beef and some vegetables. He is not permitted sugar so he has fruit for dessert, and for his afternoon snack, he gets bread and butter, or crackers and butter.

He can’t have dairy as he is intolerant.  He drinks soy formula and rice milk for now.

When he first went to nursery, they sat me down and went through the menu, I could ask about the way the food was prepared, I could bring in special foods, or delist foods from his menu. I delisted dairy, apart from a small serving of yogurt which he can tolerate. I delisted pork and sugar also as I think they are unnecessary for a small child. Children should not be given sugar – it really is irresponsible.

Anyway, isn’t it wonderful that I can impose my views and thinking on the nursery? (They don’t serve organic foods, but if they had the budget and more families demanded it I’m sure they would.) Being a control freak, I love this!

Now, as he gets older, this will change. I will have to educate him well so that he knows what to eat and why. I can only hope he will comply.

Will I trust his school to impart this knowledge? Uh, no. Should I? Uh, maybe.

You know, good nutrition isn’t rocket science. Its common sense. Yet, many schools continue to undo whatever good they propose to do by educating children, by de-educating them in matters of home, kitchen, nutrition, and gardening. Its like a totally separate process entirely divorced from engendering knowledge and intelligence.

And the whole issue of school lunches and dinners is so politicized. Everyone is hammering on about government regulations and subsidized food, the conversation is endless.

Parents that care, we probably get some cut-through. I for one would not tolerate my kid eating crap, or crap food being readily available for his immature mind to select. Sugary soda, candy bars, pizza, processed food, potato chips, French Fries, low grade burgers – if this was available to my son in a school, I would go beserk.

But some parents don’t care as much. Or at all.

Then there is a large group of people (I am among them) who feel that schools must take the place of parents during the day, and facilitate education and decision-making about food. I agree.

Schools must be responsible and budget for trained staff who can cook and serve wholesome food, and only quality wholesome foods should be purchased and consumed in an educational environment. (Now, if the family wants to send the kid to school with his own pink milk and barbecue flavored potato chips – shame on them. Its wrong, but that’s their bad decision.)

Also, wherever possible schools should add gardening clubs to the curriculum, and add old fashioned home economics, nutrition and cooking classes back into the curriculum also. Food education is as vital as sex education. Or reading or writing for that matter.

Idealistic? Politicized? What isn’t?

To knock down the levels of childhood and adult obesity, and the eye-watering costs that are breaking health systems, this very basic issue of food must be addressed.

Parents who care? Make sure you scrutinize that school menu. Take it to a nutritionist – a team of parents can raise enough cash to take a school menu to a nutritionist for review. Take your findings back to the school. Insist they make changes.

Make your kid’s lunch. Tough but do-able. Try it a few times a week. Jamie Oliver has great ideas for kids’ lunch boxes. Although he endorses chocolate snacks and he cooks with a lot of dairy, sugar and white flour which could be avoided.

Ensure the school isn’t selling bad food in vending machines. No child should EVER have easy access to white sugar in any form. Sugar in any form is a poison. Ditto trans or hydrogenated fats.

Restrict your kid’s access to crap foods at home or on the move. Get all the junk out of the house, for everyone’s benefit. Just don’t buy it. If you don’t know what junk food is – print out my shopping list. There are no junk foods or processed foods on that list. Use it as a basis for your weekly shop.

Parents who don’t care? You’re probably not reading my blog, but if you are thinking about caring, or are trying to correct a weight problem in one of your children, please get informed and involved about what your kid is eating – at home and at school. Subscribe to my blog and print out my shopping list.

Everyone should read my post on our food culture, and also what foods should be avoided and why.  These are inspiring no-brainers.

School governors, teachers and administrators? I do hope that the success of a school will one day be measured on the health of its student body – weight and overall fitness. It is your responsibility to budget for the health of your student body. No money? Work to find alternative subsidies and get creative. You’re in the business of educating – make sure you’re doing your job.

Austerity Measures

I don’t need David Cameron or George Osbourne to tell me I need to tighten my belt. 

In January 2009, when I was 7 months pregnant, I was made redundant.  A certain diamond mining company found that it was suffering from the economic downturn.  Hmmm…. A freakish misogyny. 

So, one of the worst things that can happen in one’s working life happened to me.  It came as quite a shock, I was obviously very irritated, and still not sure how I got through it.  I managed to negotiate a reasonable settlement, and put myself on a very tight ration of cash.  But that ration would run out in 10 months. 

Thank goodness I am gainfully employed once more, but I have stuck firmly to my own self-imposed austerity measures – as you never know what can happen.

Here’s what I did:

Stayed home.  We used to eat out a few nights a week.  Or have a killer takeaway from Khans.  We started cooking real food – for ourselves.  Savings:  about £3000.00 a year.

Shopped at Waitrose.  If I’m staying in, I’m not eating crap from Tesco.  Quality organic foods are the only thing worth eating.  We don’t buy processed foods, and that also makes a difference.  Shopping well doesn’t have to be expensive – read this article from the Guardian about the goodness of Waitrose.  US folks, just get yourself to a decent supermarket. 

Made our own baby food.  He wouldn’t eat anything else, so we had to anyway.  Savings:  about £500.00 a year. 

I have always used Johnson’s Baby Lotion to cleanse my face.  I used to use Vichy or Lancome but ran out one day and found that lo and behold, I could get a very similar result by slathering on JBL, letting it sink in for a few minutes while I brushed my teeth, and washing it off with warm water.  If it is tested to be gentle enough for a baby’s ass, it must be OK for my face.  Savings:  about £500.00 a year.

Lost weight.  Life is a hell of a lot easier and less expensive when you can wear clothes with ease.  I was able to fit into more of the clothes I had already, so popping back down to a size 8 (US 2/4) saved me loads.

Also I bought virtually no clothes, shoes, handbags or makeup.  Like most reasonably well-heeled women, I have more than enough.  Frankly, I could probably get away with buying virtually nothing for a few more years.  I do a total wardrobe review every 3 months and I’ve tried to be more creative.  OK, the one exception was 2 pairs of skinny jeans from Nicole Farhi in Bicester Village.  I went there on Boxing Day or New Years Day and found that there is infinitely more stuff at Bicester Village than in London.  And a rather pleasant environment also.  I did buy an Alexander McQueen dress also (on sale at Bicester Village), but that was a Christmas gift to myself.  Savings:  about £3000.00 a year.

E-bay.  I sold a load of stuff on e-bay and made about £1000.00  I don’t believe in getting rid of very good clothes, but there was no way I was going to get into my 1987 leather biker jacket, or the horrifying 1991 purple Issey Miyake shift dress that I mistakenly wore to a suburban wedding…  Hello.  I felt I could be totally realistic about some of these “items” I’d been carting around for decades.  So, if it no longer flatters you, move it out!  I’m about to have another E-bay week, I’ll probably raise another £1000.00.  I try to save it all up at once and spend the weekend taking the pictures, setting it all up on E-bay, etc.  Good pictures and lots of verbage will ensure I get top dollar for my stuff.  Profit:  about £1500.00 a year.

Bought all the baby clothes on e-bay.  Well, Alex bought all the clothes – he’s obsessed.  I’ve never believed in paying retail full price for ANYTHING, but some people go bonkers when they have a baby and everything has to be brand new.  (Or worse – designer… There is nothing more horrible than a baby dressed in Burberry.)  Anyway, you can save a ton of money by shopping cleverly on e-bay.  Or in consignment shops.  And its recycling, which is good all around.  Savings:  about £1500.00 a year.

Found a new botox doctor.  There are some things that just cannot be cut out completely.  Sorry, but for me this is one of them.  There is only so much a girl can take.   I waited until after I stopped breastfeeding of course.  Bye bye Harley Medical Group.  Hello Cosmedoc – about half the price.  Savings:  about £500.00 a year.

Stopped buying little bits of tat and food on the go.  All these little micro-purchases of magazines, newspapers, bottled water, coffee, sandwiches, muffins, etc. etc. – these add up.  If you’re shelling out £5.00 a day on miscellaneous crap, it adds up to over £1500.00 a year.  Savings:  about £1500.00 a year.

Found a new pedicurist.  Imagine paying over £35.00 for a “light touch” pedicure.  Rubbish.  But that is what they want at some of these places in London.  I humbled myself and went onto the Edgware Road and found a lovely place with the proper massage chairs and where they remove all the dead skin from your feet with a razor.  Love it!  £20.00 instead.  Savings:  about £200.00 a year.

Stopped drinking at the pub.  Obviously you can’t spend time in the pub when you have a child, but to pay £4 or 5 squids for a glass of bad wine is silly.  Get a decent bottle and stay in with friends.  Once a month or so I do find that we are out in a pub, but not for long.  It really is a waste of time and money.  Depending on how much time you spend at the pub, by eliminating one average trip to the pub a week can save you £1500.00 a year.  Savings:  about £1500.00 a year.

Alex just chimed in – Eat offal!  Yes, in addition to eating at home instead of out all the time, we now eat lots of inexpensive organic offal.  Lambs hearts, ox hearts, ox cheek, ox tongue.  Yum – learn how to cook it and you can benefit from some of the best lean protein.  And nose to tail eating is so very lovely and austere.  If I compare the price to what I would pay if I were eating prime cuts, the savings would be about £2000.00 a year.  Wow.  But I would never eat that much prime meat.
Savings:  about £1000.00 a year.

Also UK ladies, if you are having a baby, make sure you are aware of things like Maternity Exemption for prescriptions, dental care, etc.  Get informed.  The amount I contributed in income tax and national insurance over the last 10 years makes my eyes water – do not feel guilty about getting something in return.

So, our total household savings was something like £14,500.00.  For you folks in the USA that’s about $22,000.00.

Pretty good, hey?

10 Skinny Techniques

Here are 10 skinny techniques that WORK. And not only do they work to help you lose weight, they are HEALTHY also. So if you are suffering from some preventable disease, they will help you out too.

1. Stop eating “diet foods”. NEVER eat pre-packaged meal plans or diet program foods. These serve to unfamiliarize you with real food, and you never learn good habits. Don’t fall victim to these horrendous scams. Eat real food.
Here is a GREAT shopping list.
Here are foods you should avoid.  And why.

2. Don’t eat breakfast the moment you wake up. Wait until you are hungry.

3. Eat carbs – in the morning. Have cereal or oatmeal with skim milk, fruit and a 4 seed mix.

4. When you are hungry, reach for a piece of fruit. Apples, plums, strawberries, melons, oranges, whatever, but no bananas for women.  Men can have bananas.

5. Have a good lunch – try a Superfood Salad or sushi. If you don’t have a decent lunch, you will screw up your whole day!

6. Don’t skip meals, just eat small portions.

7. Try and do some exercise every day for 30 minutes. Even a brisk walk is good, but I advocate an aerobics class or run for those who are more inclined. Drink a cup of coffee before your workout. Allegedly it is best to work out in the am before eating, and having coffee helps you work harder. But an evening workout is fantastic too!  (Works for me!)

8. Dinner – eat fish and vegetables. Try my Fish Pho. Experiment with variations. NEVER eat dinner and go straight to bed. Allow at least 3 hours before you retire. And NEVER eat rice or pasta for or with dinner. Carbs after 6pm make it very hard to lose weight.

9. Sleep well. Sleep is critical for metabolism and ensure you are hydrated before you sleep – green tea or water is good.

10. Everyone has to work at being skinny – there are no miracles! So stick with it, each day, every day. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on! But aim to not fall off, aim to stay on!

Love to you all!
La Libertini

Monday – No Potato Day

White potatoes are among the foods that everyone could do with in strict moderation.


Mostly because they serve to limit the imagination.  Instead of eating more vegetables or experimenting with wild rices and grains, people consume white potatoes.

Baked potatoes, new potatoes, mashed potatoes, crushed potatoes, roasted potatoes, French fries, crisps, chips – every time a white potato is eaten, a chance has been missed to have a much better vegetable or grain, and a chance is missed to inject variety and color also.

This humble potato should be humble – it is a starchy crutch food that in particular when paired with meat or chicken, creates a very heavy meal.

In this day and age there is so much variety and so many other choices, that we have come to rely on potatoes in an unhealthy way – they are a crutch food.  Why not try something different!

If you eat meat, there is nothing more gorgeous in summertime than pairing your meat with a cold salad or watercress with a fantastic mustard vinaigrette.

Free yourself with:
Sweet potatoes (no sugars or syrups added please)
Wild rice
Red Camargue rice
Oat groats
Pearl Barley

Collard Greens
Mustard Greens
Bok Choy
Tomato and onion salad
Fennel salad

When you stop eating potatoes, you discover there is so much more out there!  And… curiously you will find that they don’t taste as good as before.

If you can comfortably find potato substitutes, why not extend your ‘no potato day’ to last a whole week long?

Here is a shopping list that includes, amongst other things, a list of great foods you can fill your kitchen with, instead of potatoes.

Love to you all!
La Libertini

Your Weight Loss Kitchen

A Better Kitchen

I think kitchens are best when they are simple.  Also when they are free and clear of all processed foods and junk. 

I have provided you with a shopping list.  In addition to shopping you will need to clear out all the bad food from your pantry, cupboards, closets, refrigerator and freezer

When you get rid of all the bad food, look also at the other “noise” in your kitchen, from appliances, to rubbish foodstuffs.  It should be enough for us to enjoy just a few simple things.  

My personal bug-bears are needless and largely unused appliances, which will eventually be buried in a landfill, or picked apart by some poor Third World child for the metal or other content. 

Among them are microwaves, and coffee makers that use a pod to make a cup of coffee

How is it at all environmentally responsible to use anything other than a simple cafetiere to make quality coffee?  More waste, more metal, more packaging, more junk!! 

Microwaves are also something that you should not need.  What are you cooking in there?  Chances are it is processed or pre-prepared food.  Lose it. 

The only thing you need in your kitchen are:

  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Stove
  • Oven
  • Tea kettle
  • Toaster
  • MagiMix / RoboCoup Food Processor (optional nice to have)
  • Quality wood cutting board(s)
  • 2 or 3 good knives
  • Vegetable peeler / scrubber
  • Knife sharpener
  • Pressure cooker (optional nice to have)
  • Cafetiere or your existing filter coffee maker
  • Stainless steel pots and pans
  • Iron skillet(s)
  • Wooden spoons
  • Ceramic baking dishes
  • Ceramic serving dishes
  • Plates
  • Cutlery
  • Chop sticks (optional nice to have)

Blenders rarely get used, but if you are using them to make quality vegetable juices or veg/fruit combos for refreshes, super – keep it.  At least the blender can do more than one thing!

Please do not cook with aluminum, and also avoid ‘non-natural’ cooking implements like plastic or Teflon.    

If you know that you will still need to cook for or eat with family who are not trying to lose weight, you will need to have a will of steel.  

I suggest separating your foodstuffs for the moment, and know that eventually your new way will be understood, or even adopted amongst children, spouses or partners. 

I do not condone separate eating or separate kitchens.  In fact, I believe that it is best that families eat together whenever possible, and at least once on the weekend for a family meal, preferably on Sunday. 

Even if you can’t for the moment, your objective must be to eventually live in a home that is completely free of bad food and bad ingredients, and brimming over with healthy grains, pulses and legumes, fruits, vegetables and organic lean meats and fish! 

Once you have this knowledge, and in particular when people see your results, you will find it easier to persuade others. 

Love to you all!
La Libertini