Phone security and lost keys top tips

locked your car keys in the car?
Locked your car keys in the car?

Here are a few tips that one of my friends passed on to me recently that made me breathe a sigh of relief.  I mean, just how do you get out of that embarrassing situation where you have locked the keys in the car?    Or how can you get your own back on the lout who just nicked your phone? Ask those questions no longer….  Did you know that:


The Emergency Number worldwide is 112?  If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network, and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked.


If you lock your keys in the car and your car has remote keyless entry then you can, with your mobile phone, phone another mobile phone of a person who may be near your spare set of keys.  Hold your phone about a foot from the car door and have the person at the other end get your keys and press the unlock button holding it near the mobile phone at their end.  This should unlock the car and distance is no object.   You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other “remote” for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the boot)


Your phone has hidden battery power? If your mobile battery is very low y9u can access hidden power by pressing *3370# Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time round.


you can completely disable a STOLEN mobile phone?

Check your Mobiles phone’s serial number by keying  in the following digits on your phone: *#06#  A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset.

Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. If your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

Unlock your car over your mobile

Did you know you can unlock your car by your mobile using the spare keys miles away? I’m fascinated.

Apparently if your car has remote keyless entry and if you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, you can call someone at home on their mobile phone from your mobile.

Hold your mobile phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end.

Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you.

Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other “remote” for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the boot)

Denise tried it out and it unlocked her car over a mobile phone.

7 out of 10 people over 45 have high cholesterol

All Cholesterol is not equal

Cholesterol cannot disolve but is carried around our blood stream by lipoproteins, it is these lipids which determine wheather the cholesterol is good or bad.  We know that not all cholesterol is equal, and to make it clear, in cholesterol terms LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is bad and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is good cholesterol.  So if you are suffering from high cholesterol levels (Hypercholesterolemia) in your blood it is the LDL’s you want to reduce.

Lets look at the goodies first –  HDL. Just over a quarter of blood cholesterol is carried around our blood stream by high-density lipoprotein. High levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack, whereas low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL) also increase the risk of heart disease. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body. Some experts believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque which in turn slows its buildup. I think we will all agree that that does sound good.

On the other hand –   LDL carries cholesterol in the blood, depositing it on the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result.

So how can we reduce LDL?

What you eat can have a significant effect on your cholesterol levels.  There are 5 main food groups that have been identified as being able to help reduce LDL cholesterol.  These are Oatbran or other soluble fibre, walnuts and almonds, oily fish with omega-3’s and plant sterols.  The first 4 are often mentioned so I wanted to tell a little more about plant sterols.

Plant Sterols may lower bad cholesterol by as much as 9%

Phytosterols may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by as much as 9%, according to a new study reported on by Dr Jane Hart.

Such plant sterols or phytosterols are naturally found in some vegetable oils, fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables, but in such small amounts that it would be difficult to get the sterols you need to reduce your LDL cholesterol just from a normal balanced diet. In fact it would take about 100 pounds of fruits, vegetables or nuts to get 2 grams of natural plant sterols. So some large margerine and dairy drinks manufacturers have added plant sterols to their wares.  This is commendable and does go some way to answering the problem but such foods containing at least 0.4 grams per serving of plant sterols would need to be eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 0.8 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol,and that may well reduce the risk of heart disease.

Another way to make sure you get enough phytosterols often enought and consistently enough to make a difference is to take them as a food supplement.



– a food supplement containg Beta-sitosteral a naturally cocurring plant substance.. Lestrin delivers plant sterols in a unique tablet form, meanig you do not have to uptake your diary intake to contribute to your sterols intake. Lestrin contains free sterols as opposed to chemically changed sterols and is suitable for vegetarians. Whereas most dairy products on offer with sterols contain  chemically changed sterols which have been shown to be less effective than ‘free’ sterols. Not only do plant sterols reduce LDL levels but also increase HDL levels and so bring relevant imporrovements in health.

Lestrin definitely offers an easier way to control cholesterol levels without having to uptake intake of certain food groups and maintain these changes long term.

By lowering chelesterol levels, improvements in health are attained and heart protecion offered for the future.

Read more about lowering cholesterol

Don’t microwave water

Did you know that it can be dangerous to microwave water?

boiling water
boiling water

If you ever want to heat water on it’s own in the microwave you should put something else in the cup to diffuse the energy, like a wooden spoon or a tea bag (not metal).

It is fairly common, according to a doctor, for people to suffer minor burns from water that has ‘exploded’ on leaving the microwave after heating. Microwaved water and other liquids do not always bubble when they reach the boiling point. They can actually get ‘superheated’ and not bubble at all. The superheated liquid will bubble up out of the cup when it is moved or when something like a spoon or tea bag is put into it. Superheating can occur in a microwave anytime water is heated and will particularly occur if the vessel that the water is heated in is new, or when heating a small amount of water (less than half a cup).

What happens is that the water heats faster than the vapour bubbles can form. If the cup is very new then it is unlikely to have small surface scratches inside it that provide a place for the bubbles to form. As the bubbles cannot form and release some of the heat that has built up, the liquid does not boil, but continues to heat up well past its boiling point. What then usually happens is that the liquid is bumped or jarred, which is just enough of a shock to cause the bubbles to rapidly form and expel the hot liquid. The rapid formation of bubbles is also why a carbonated beverage spews when opened after having been shaken.

To prevent this from happening and causing injury, do not heat any liquid for more than two minutes per cup. After heating, let the cup stand in the microwave for thirty seconds before moving it or adding anything to it.

Shepherds Pie for vegans and everyone else

Vegan shepherd's pie
Vegan shepherd's pie

Shepherds pie with no shepherds in site. This meatless shepherds pie is certainly not tasteless. It will be a winner with your family, just don’t tell them what it in it until after they have eaten it or reach for a second helping. The basic recipe I pinched from a book called Vegan Fusion World Cuisine with a few little tweaks here and there.

Shepherd’s Pie

45 min prep / 1 hour 10 min cooking / 9″ x 13″ casserole

10-12 medium Potatoes cut into small cubes for quick cooking and easy mashing
200ml Coconut, rice or soya milk
2 tbspn Olive oil (this link takes you to a 5 litre can for economy, summer is coming after all).
150g Onion, diced
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
200g Carrots, ½” finely chopped or cubed
100g Celery, sliced thin
100g Red pepper, diced
100g Mushrooms, sliced thin
2 lbs Tofu, extra firm, crumbled
175g Peas
150g green beans chopped
50g Tahini
5 tsp Soya sauce or a wheat free tamari sauce
2 tbspn Basil, fresh, minced (1 ½ tsp dry)
2 tbspn Parsley, fresh, minced
1 ½ tsp Sea salt, or to taste
1 tbspn Thyme, fresh minced (½ tsp dry)
1 tsp Sage, fresh minced (½ tsp dry)
2 tsp Sweet freedom or other sweetener
1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground to taste

A pinch of chilli powder

¼ tsp Cayenne pepper, or to taste

A dolop of brown sauce (this link takes you to a gluten free one if you need it)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bring potatoes to the boil and cook until potatoes are soft, approximately 15 minutes. Drain well, place in a large mixing bowl with your choice of ‘milk’ and mash well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. While potatoes are cooking,  sauté the onion and garlic in the oil on medium heat , cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add carrots, celery, bell pepper and mushrooms, cook for further 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a little water or extra soya or tamari sauce if necessary to prevent sticking. Add tofu and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Place everything except the potatoes into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

3. Now place this mixture in an oiled 9″x13″ casserole dish. Place the mashed potato on top and gently fork over to cover the top completely. Make a pattern with your fork on the top. Bake until slightly golden brown and completely cooked, approximately 25 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Serve with Mushroom Gravy (see below).

Mushroom Gravy the roux way

10 min prep / 15 min cooking

1 tbspn Olive oil
1 medium Onion, ¼” diced
150g Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
1½ Tbspn Garlic, minced
450ml  vegetable stock or bouillon
50ml or so soya or tamari sauce to taste
Pinch Cayenne pepper

Pinch Paprika


2 Tbspn Spelt flour or gluten free flour if you want to avoid gluten)
2 Tbspn Olive oil
1 Tbspn water

1. Create a Roux by placing spelt flour in a small bowl. Add 2 Tbspn olive oil and 1 Tbspn water and whisk until a thick paste is created. Set aside.

2. Place 1 Tbspn of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients except roux mixture and cook for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add roux mixture and cook until gravy has a thick consistency, approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Knowing your lettuce and onions

I remember the first time I ate fresh organic lettuce. During a visit to the BBC Good Food Show my friend and I stopped at a stall hosted by an organic farmer. The lettuce had been picked that morning and it tasted incredibly good. The leaves had this wonderful earthy taste to them. I can’t even remember what variety of lettuce it was (not an iceberg okay), but I can still remember the flavour. And so I had my first introduction to organic food.

The popularity of organic produce has increased considerably in recent years, yet the argument over whether it is actually better for you still goes on. As a humble consumer it can be difficult to understand the scientific explanations as to why this method or that method of farming is more suitable. But I do know I can tell when something tastes delicious.

As I said before I haven’t really paid much attention to the organic market and yet I was horrified to discover that the Soil Association were closing down, their website for consumers. I had only recently found the site and felt reassured to know that here was an information service which would explain to me the issues and values which the organic farming community hold dear. Even in the backwaters of my limited understanding I’d come to realise that the Soil Association’s attention to quality was the touchstone of the UK’s organic revolution.

All is not lost however. The Soil Association are going to continue to provide for nieve shoppers like me through their main website,, which is undergoing a redesign and should be launched in the next month or so. If I pay enough attention I may be able to learn my Bridgemere from my Cocarde.


By Dee Pfeiffer

It’s hardly surprising that veganism is on the increase. It’s a diet that can be extremely healthy, beneficial to the environment and it’s a compassionate way of living that refrains from killing simply for the sake of food when there are alternatives.

The number of vegans has risen by an astonishing 200 per cent over the past decade. There are now over 300,000 vegans in the UK alone, including famous figures such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Heather Mills and Morissey.

What is a vegan?

Becoming a vegan is a positive step, but many find it difficult to make that transition. Unlike vegetarians (who simply avoid eating meat, fish and poultry) or lacto-veggies (who avoid the same but also refrain from eating eggs) vegans avoid all animal products including milk, cheese, cream, eggs and even honey. Why honey? Well, according to the Vegan Society, bees undergo treatments similar to farmed animals, such as artificial feeding routines and drug and pesticide treatments.

Vegans also steer clear of ‘hidden’ animal products such as gelatine, which is added to many foods – and also rennet, the enzyme used in making cheese. Some wines and beers are also out since their production involves finishing and clarifying; to do this they use ‘fining’ agents, commonly made of egg albumen or fish bladder.

Vegans will not wear leather

Also, whilst some vegetarians will wear leather shoes or clothing, especially those who adopt the diet due to health reasons alone, vegans will not wear leather, and dedicated vegans will refrain from wearing silk and wool, as well as refusing to use products that have been tested on animals.

Why be a vegan?

So what encourages someone to go vegan when at first sight it seems that vegetarianism already covers the killing of animals? There are various reasons. Firstly, the treatment of farmed animals (including bees) is often cruel. For example, hens are often kept in cramped and unhygienic conditions with little room to move. Beaks are clipped which sometimes leaves their faces maimed. Also, egg and dairy production requires only the female of the species, so surplus males, deemed unnecessary, are killed at birth or at best when very young. Such killing is sometimes done in a most inhumane way– by putting the young male chicks into a huge ‘mixer’ similar to a kitchen mixer but big enough to kill thousands of chicks in a most horrific manner.

Are vegans healthy?

Since many vegans eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, they are naturally healthier than the general population. In general, they also tend to be better cooks, since they have had to learn to cook from scratch rather than exist on ready meals, which often contain diary derivatives. For those who are willing to experiment in the kitchen and have the willpower to stick to a vegan diet, the rewards can be immense. On the downside, even the most strong willed vegan can sometimes be up against difficulties in a society that rarely caters for such a diet.

Vegans on the move

For example, it is very rare to find a fast food eatery that caters for vegans. Likewise, if you enjoy having a cuppa in a cafe during the daytime, it’s unlikely that the café will have soya milk available unless it is a vegan or vegetarian outlet, although Costa Coffee have a soya milk option. Vegans who travel have many setbacks unless they go prepared. As a vegetarian who prefers to avoid eggs and who dislikes mayonnaise, I have sympathy for the vegan traveller looking for a sandwich whilst on the road. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve looked for something suitable for vegetarians, only to find either cheese (high in saturated fat), egg or various ingredients with the seemingly staple mayonnaise mashed into the said sandwich.

As for supermarkets, whilst some are now doing halal and kosher meats, it seems that vegans are a forgotten minority. Already, lacto vegetarians (who refrain from eggs) find it difficult to find meals at the supermarket. Imagine having to find meals that are also devoid of dairy. Of course, all supermarkets have their tubs of houmous and sticks of broccoli, but who wants to exist on that?

The health food shops are a good alternative and a haven for vegans.  GoodnessDirect allow you to choose vegan as an option and then everything that appears on your shopping pages is suitable for vegans. Also, Planet Organic food emporium in London has a whole wealth of vegan foodstuffs. Marks & Spencers and Boots have aduki bean and other vegan wraps, salads and alternatives. Tesco sell Naked chocolate bars and Humdinger non-diary chocolate bars, both suitable for vegans. If in any doubt, The Vegan society have a up-to-date booklet for finding places that cater for vegans while travelling or eating out. They also sell The Animal Free Shopper, a must for every vegan and small enough to fit in a handbag.

What does a vegan eat?

Whilst at first sight it seems that there is relatively little a vegan can eat, the truth is that there is a whole array of different products that are suitable for vegans, and tasty and nutritious as well. Some of these include:

Lentils, grains, beans, nuts – to boost protein levels


Tofu (Cauldron’s smoked tofu is delicious and versatile)

Oat, rice, soya milks (Alpro soya milk has a creamy taste and is perfect in hot drinks)

Linseed, pumpkin, furikake seeds

Japanese seaweed (full of antioxidants and amino acids)

Cheatin’ slices (Redwoods are vegan, and irresistible on sandwiches)

Vegan sausages/falafel (once again, Redwood foods do these)

Miso, tempeh


Cheezly (Vegan cheese)

Fruit smoothies

Vegan wines

Bacardi Breezers!

What should vegans avoid?

Other than the most obvious things a vegan can’t use or eat, here are some less obvious products that you must refrain from on becoming a vegan:

Guacamole – a Mexican dip that is sometimes, but not always, made with double cream

Beeswax candles – made from wax secreted by bees

Silk garments – involves the killing of the silk worm

Quorn – a meat substitute that is partly egg based

Margarine – often made using whey powder which is a by-product of cheese making.  Look for non-dairy spreads.

Crisps – some flavourings contain lactose which is a form of sugar found in milk

Some beers – its production often involves using fining agents commonly made of egg albumen or fish bladder

Beauty creams and moisturisers – many contain lanolin, a by-product of beeswax, look for toiletries without lanolin.

Condoms – they’re often made with latex derived from the milk protein casein

Being a vegan doesn’t mean hardship

Remember, a vegan diet doesn’t mean hardship or that you’ll never be able to eat much again. In fact, most vegans tend to eat more than the average person, but because it’s healthier and more nutritious, they don’t put on weight as easily. For many people, just increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet will improve health and energy levels, and the increase in fibre will produce a full up feeling so that you’re less inclined to snack on unhealthy foods. Instead of looking upon becoming vegan as being about what you can’t eat, think about it in terms of what you can eat. One look at the ‘allowed’ list above will prove that there are countless tasty and nutritious options, some of which you might never have tried before. Learn to experiment with different products and new recipes, read up about veganism so that you become passionate about why you have made such a choice, but most of all, enjoy your new compassionate and healthy diet!