Strawberry yoghurt – what’s the healthiest option?

strawberry yoghurt infographic

Yoghurt is often advertised as a health food. It’s full of “good bacteria”, vitamins and calcium. It aids digestion, helps your immune system and is high in protein. But not all yoghurts are created equal. To shed some light on this we’ve created an infographic to raise awareness of what’s really inside this popular dairy product (and watch sugar levels in soya versions too!).

We’ve compared nutritional information for three popular yoghurts to highlight the different options (values are per 100g). We know which one’s our favourite!


Standard strawberry yoghurt

  • Often advertised as a low fat option, turns out this is a low fruit and high sugar option as well! Low fat isn’t always the healthy choice. Increasing evidence is showing that it’s sugar that we need to watch to stay in shape.


Greek style strawberry yoghurt

  • Greek yoghurt tends to be higher in fat than standard yoghurt, but it’s also higher in protein. It has a thicker consistency and stronger flavour as it is more concentrated.


Natural yoghurt with fresh strawberries

  • You’ve guessed it, our number one option. High in fruit and surprisingly low in sugar, this is the most natural option. It might not carry a low fat or low sugar label, but it contains the fewest calories too!



Swapping ingredients to increase fruit and veg content in your meals and snacks, and reduce added sugar, is a great way to improve your health. Low fat diet advice is facing a lot of contradictory evidence, suggesting it isn’t always the best option. The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the nutritional information of what you’re eating to ensure you’re getting a balance of all nutrients.



What’s your favourite type of yoghurt? Have you checked the sugar content? Use Cook&Count on iOS or on Android to find out the nutritional content of all your favourite home cooked foods.

22nd March 2017 Tags: ,

Five healthy swaps for a healthy life

Hannah healthy swaps

Healthy eating advice and messages in the media can be confusing. We’re sold simple solutions when the underlying problems are far more complex. Content Manager Hannah shares her healthy swaps for a more balanced life and diet…

Since joining the Cook&Count team I’ve realised just how complex the world of health behavioural change is! It’s hard to keep up with all the contradictory messages and diet advice that’s out there. I’ve always aimed to live a healthy lifestyle, my biggest weakness being a sweet tooth (maybe that’s where my surname comes from!).

I read a lot of health news as part of my role in the team, and it’s pretty overwhelming. One week “all natural” is best, the next “butter leads to type 2 diabetes”. Then we hear “sugar is the enemy” but “artificial sweeteners increase appetite”. It’s hard to know what advice to pass on to friends looking to improve their diets.

While making a real effort to read up on the science behind claims and avoid simple messages, I do believe in simple switches and small steps leading to big changes. It’s all about habit forming. So here are my top 5 healthy swaps:


1. Squash to water

As a teenager I could never seem to get used to the taste of pure water, but after a short period of conscious effort I’ve come to drink barely anything else. My trusty bottle of water goes everywhere with me. Sugary drinks aren’t so good for hydration, as after the water has been absorbed, some of it must be used to digest the carbohydrate. Find some more sugar reducing swaps, plus learn about how sugar is affecting our kids, on NHS Change4Life.


2. Refined to whole grain

I automatically buy wholemeal bread and pasta and brown rice whenever I can. It baffles me why restaurants don’t often have the option of brown rice or pasta! Whole grains have more of the good stuff left in than refined grains. From vitamins and minerals to healthy fats, protein and fibre. It’s National Nutrition Month this March, so what better time to make the switch!


3. Milk to dark chocolate

I’m a big chocolate eater. I like to claim it’s for the iron and magnesium, but I really just like to end a meal on something sweet. It took a bit of getting used to, and it may be a little pricey, but 90% cocoa dark chocolate is now my top choice. Even 85% cocoa solids tastes a tad too sweet! And the sugar difference is surprising. While standard milk chocolate contains 56% sugar, some of the darkest chocolates contain just 7%. Here’s a nice infographic from Prevention.com examining the pros and cons of dark vs milk chocolate.


4. Step it up (swap the lift for the stairs and the bus for the pavement)

Walking, to me, is one of the most powerful tools for health and fitness. Few of us enjoy the gym, and walking is something everyone can fit into their daily routine. I know a number of people who’ve had huge weight loss success simply by increasing their step count. As a team we always try and take the stairs when we can! Check out the NHS 10,000 steps challenge to get walking more.


5. Watch your mood (swap snacking for sleep)

We all experience how tiredness and stress affect our mood and eating habits. When I’m low on sleep I’m always craving food to keep up my energy levels. It’s an obvious one, but the benefits can’t be overstated. Keep well rested to control your cravings! As it’s Sleep Awareness Week next month in the US, take a look at this video How much sleep we really need? from the National Sleep Foundation.



What are your healthy swaps? Download Coo&Count on iOS or on Android to see what changes you can make to your home cooked recipes to improve your health.

Ellie’s story: Home cooking for a healthy family

mother and teenage son

A working mum with two sons – including 13 year old Luke who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 10 – Ellie tells us how relaxing in the kitchen (and using Cook&Count app!) helps her to feed her family…


Healthy eating and home cooking

Healthy eating was important before Luke’s diagnosis anyway – we’ve always cooked healthily and had a healthy balanced diet. We’ve never been into any kind of fad diets at all, but when you have type 1 it is partly about making sure you can carb count accurately. We aim for a low fat, healthy, balanced diet, and the way to get that is home cooked food.

Part of why I enjoy home cooking is relaxation. I’ve always enjoyed cooking but I work so I don’t have time to cook every night. I usually just potter around in the kitchen on my day off and make a batch of food for the week. I enjoy cooking for appreciative hungry boys – they’re very easy to feed! It can get a bit tedious doing the same day in day out, so I like to mix it up a bit.


The importance of accurate carb counting (and the benefits of calorie awareness)

The reason I’m interested in knowing the nutritional content of my food is predominantly for carb counting. Even if you look at recipe books that have the carb content per portion, I’ve noticed they can be way off, or not include the portion of rice that it comes on the side. The information out there can be quite misleading, so actually doing it yourself is the best way to guarantee that you’re getting the carbs right. If you get it wrong when you’re matching it with insulin, you risk having your blood sugar shooting up or plummeting down. I was quite shocked when Luke was first diagnosed that his dietitian said that he needs to be within 10 grams of carbs of accuracy in what he’s counting. It sounds dramatic, but it is important.

I don’t diet at all and I don’t do fad diets, but I have to say that when I want to lose a bit of weight the only way that I think works is doing a calorie counted diet. So I’ve been using the calorie content as well which is an added bonus! One other thing that is important on the nutritional content is fat. It’s good to have an awareness of whether your food is particularly fatty.


Making life easier

I couldn’t believe the irony of Luke being diagnosed as my maths is really not strong. I had all these scribbles – ratios worked out on the backs of envelopes in the kitchen, and I would go through packets of rice and packets of sugar, working out whole recipes by hand on a calculator. This wasn’t particularly time efficient, but then I’d write them all down for future reference. It’s much easier to have it calculated for you.

I discovered Cook&Count app on Twitter. It was quite early days and Luke had only just been diagnosed. Cook&Count app is helpful if I’m doing a new recipe from scratch to work out the carbs. I recently went through a period of thinking I had it all sorted – I’ve got all my usual recipes off the top of my head now – but he’s growing all the time. When you’ve got a teenager with type 1, they suddenly start eating more and the portion is one and a half times the size. It’s being able to adapt the sizes that’s really useful. You think you can carb count in advance, but then actually you might want seconds and a bit more pudding, so it just gives you that flexibility.


It’s all about portion sizes

The most important thing for me is the ability to carb count based on weight and portion sizes. Sometimes you’re not going to be near scales, so you can just judge it by portion size and divide it up – that’s really helpful. I haven’t seen anything like it. I know other health and fitness apps have carb counting, but it tends to be more about takeaway and restaurant food rather than actually being able to create your own food at home.

The only thing to improve Cook&Count app for me would be to be able to use it online on my laptop – I think that would be useful!



Try out Cook&Count app for free for yourself from the App Store or Google Play.

Lemon heart biscuits for Valentine’s Day

lemon and chocolate heart biscuits

A tasty heartfelt gift for the one you love this Valentine’s Day – lemon biscuits dipped in dark chocolate – created by our founder Debs…

Visually striking, with dark chocolate part coating the buttery lemon biscuits. These crisp biscuits have a refreshing zing of lemon and rich chocolate flavour that go perfectly together.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 300g plain chocolate

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Line two baking trays with baking paper and leave to one side.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl before adding the lemon zest. Mix for 30 seconds then stir in the egg.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and keep stirring. Gradually add the milk to turn the mixture in to a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes if the kitchen in warm.
  4. Roll out the dough on a floured surface so it is 5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and transfer on to the trays. Bake for 15- 20 minuets, when turn lightly golden remove them the oven and transfer on to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a microwave. Half dip each biscuit in the chocolate then return it to set on a new sheet of baking parchment.

 

Lemon biscuits

 

Enjoy this sweet treat with someone special, or share the love with your friends, family and colleagues!

Check out the nutritional information in the app – you’ll find this delicious recipe in the Baking section.

 

Download Cook&Count for free now for lots more tasty creations, all with accurate nutritional information, available for iPhone/iPad and on Android.

13th February 2017 Tags: , ,

New Cook&Count Android release goes live!

We’re pleased to announce that the much anticipated Android release of new Cook&Count is now available!

Offering gluten and dairy filters for those with special dietary requirements, along with lots more tried and tested recipes, Cook&Count provides nutritional information for all your home cooked favourites.

Here are some of our favourite new recipes…

 

Baked herby falafels from the Fakeaways cookbook

Baked herby falafel

Falafel are a great fast food. They are a traditional Middle Eastern food, very nutritious and versatile. Serve with a flatbread, salad and hummus. They’re also great for snacking or served as part of a mezze tray.

 

Cheesy potato pancakes with mizeria from the Cheap & Easy cookbook

cheesypotatopancakes 710x440

Potato pancakes are a popular Eastern European staple. This is a Polish recipe, which we recommend you serve with mizeria, a yoghurt and cucumber salad. This makes a perfectly balanced meal.

 

Gluten free orange and almond cake from the Gluten Free cookbook

Orange almond cake 710x440

A classic recipe, first published in A Book of Middle Eastern Food in 1968. It remains popular nearly 50 years later. Easy to make, low in fat and gluten free. This works well as a dessert or cake.

 

Completely free to download, you can give Cook&Count a try by adding three of your best recipes and following many of our own. Then for just 79p per month (£7.99 per year) you can access the full range of recipes and save as many of your own as you’d like to.

Download the brand new Android version here, or the iPhone/iPad version here, and get cooking!

8th February 2017 Tags:

How cooking burns calories

calories-burned-while-cooking

We believe in cooking from scratch not just for healthier eating, but for a healthier life. Getting active in the kitchen requires a bit more effort, but you’ll burn a good few more calories too!

Here at Health Apps, the Cook&Count app team don’t believe in strict calorie counting, but we absolutely do believe in calorie awareness and portion control. We need to know what we’re taking in in order to adjust our portions and daily exercise accordingly.

So does shopping for, preparing, cooking, serving and clearing a meal really count as exercise? It certainly does.


Food shopping

Wandering up and down the supermarket aisles or around the local shops is a healthy walk. You can burn close to 90 calories simply on your weekly food shop. And over 100 calories carrying your bags home or up some steps. Don’t ignore the effect of this routine exercise. It’s not just about the calories, it’s the movement and activity that really counts.


Preparing the dish

Thought standing around in the kitchen while you chop veg was a waste of time? Think again. From fridge to oven to sideboard and back again, you’ll be burning calories you didn’t even know about. Put some music on and you might even find yourself having an extra little jig!


Post-meal tidy up

Food bought, meal prepared and you thought you were done. But there are still more calories to lose. Laying and clearing the table then washing up will keep you moving and burning energy. The numbers may look small, but they all add up to a more active life.



That’s a grand total of 337 calories simply from creating a tasty meal! And that’s just an average. Calories burned will vary depending on your weight, so take a look on CalorieLab.com.

Cook&Count app has some tasty recipes for you to try and will show you how many calories are in any size portion, plus lots more useful nutritional information. Download Cook&Count app for free now!

31st January 2017 Tags: , ,

Susan’s story: Cutting out the carb calculations

case-study-susan

Susan has had type 1 diabetes for 45 years, and was diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease and an overactive thyroid 8 years ago. But this wasn’t to be the last of her health issues. A keen cook who values healthy eating and nutrition, Susan discovered Cook&Count app while searching for an easier way to carb count when home cooking. She shares her story with us…



All was good until 2010 when I detected a breast lump which turned out to be cancerous. I’m glad to say, because I found the lump early, I’m alive and kicking!

As a result of my various health conditions, healthy eating and nutrition is really important to me. I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Though of course there are times when I’m in a hurry or have a low blood sugar when I tend to grab whatever I can.

I try as much as possible to make my own gluten free soup, bread, cookies and cakes with reduced sugar. When I make my own products I know exactly what goes into them, especially ingredients like sugar, salt and fat. I keep only gluten free flour and baking powder in the cupboard so I can’t ever get mixed up with normal flours.


The problem: Too many calculations!

Knowing the nutritional values of food was always important being a type 1 diabetic, but now more than ever as I’m on multiple daily insulin injections. It is imperative to know how many carbohydrates are in everything I eat before I inject. If I underestimate the carbs in a food, and so don’t inject enough insulin, it can lead to elevated blood glucose. While if I overestimate I can inject too much insulin, causing low blood glucose levels. I have often miscalculated in the past – there was a lot of guess work and sometimes I’d cook the same meals as I’d know how I was going to react.

I find it so annoying that many companies give nutritional values per 100 grams rather than per portion. Diabetics have to do constant calculations – see what blood glucose is, try and assess carbs in meals they’re about to eat, and then decide how much insulin to give. Other factors like alcohol, exercise and illness may need to be factored in too!


The solution: Save your sum-free recipes

In desperation I went to Google to see what I could find on counting carbs. There was loads of stuff on calorie counting but that was of no use to me. I often said to my husband you nearly need to be a diabetic to understand all the calculations that need to be done. I came across Cook&Count app, read some reviews, saw that Deborah is the parent of a Diabetic son and was sold!

The app makes life so much easier, especially for home baking. Many gluten free recipes have a lot of ingredients, but once you get into the hang of how the app works it’s a great resource. Some ingredients aren’t on the database but you can easily insert them in yourself. I love the fact that I can keep my usual recipes or even my favourite breakfast cereals saved there. It’s so great to type in the weight of the food you want to eat, which might not be the standard weight, and not have to do the sums!

I’ve been using Cook&Count app for a year now and overall I can honestly say it was a great find for me.



Try out Cook&Count app for free for yourself from the App Store or Google Play.

Ten top tips for a healthy lifestyle

Just in time for the new year, Cook&Count app founder Deborah Wilder-Wood shares her ten top tips for a healthy lifestyle in 2017…

Over the last two generations our lifestyles have changed dramatically. We can’t ignore this anymore. 60 years ago food was scarce and we were trying to get our hands on as much as we could. Now there is a lot of food. Most of it is cheap, convenient, and calorie dense. There are also so many labour saving devices, technological advances and home deliveries that most of us are not moving around enough. If we want to lose weight and be healthier, we need to forget about dieting and permanently change what we eat and how much we move.


1. Say no to ‘Good and bad’

Stop punishing yourself! Feeling annoyed because you’ve eaten something ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ is not going to help. Most people are eating too much sugar and could do with reducing their intake. But the occasional treat will not hurt. We just need to remember that we are animals. We need to eat and we need to move. We can have our cake and eat it. Providing we’re active.


2. Cook at home

Cook your own meals from scratch, rather than eating ready meals and takeaways. It will be rewarding, more nutritious and it’s a great way of controlling what’s in there – no chemicals, lower or no sugar, and so on. Aim to eat at least 4 portions of veg and 1 portion of fruit a day. Do not count fruit juice and smoothies – they contain too much sugar.


3. Snack on veg

Snack on raw vegetables like carrots, celery, beetroot and radishes. And try other nutritious foods, in smaller amounts, such as fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate (at least 70%), and grainy crackers. Do not starve yourself – if you miss meals your metabolism may slow down as your body tries to store all the nutrients because it doesn’t know when the next meal will come.


4. Physical Activity 5 x 30 minutes

Physical activity is not just for weight loss, it will help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. It will help keep your bones and muscles strong and your mood good. Do at least 5 thirty minute sessions of moderate intensity physical activity a week. Moderate intensity activity examples are: fast walking; hill walking; swimming; dancing, cycling; vacuuming; mowing the lawn; or digging the garden. To make it achievable and maintainable, fit as much of it as you can into your daily routine, such as walking and cycling to work. Stick to your intentions by writing down what, when and where you’re going to do something. Don’t be overambitious. And make plans together with a friend so that you can’t wriggle out of it. Check out the NHS One You page for some more tips on getting active.


5. Limit booze

Stick to the recommended maximum 14 units a week for women and 21 for a man and make sure you have at least two days off a week. This limits can be tough because the alcohol content of many wines and beers has increased. And serving sizes too, with the standard size for a glass of wine now 175ml. Which means there are 2.3 units in a standard glass of wine with 13% alcohol! Take a look at the World Cancer Research Fund Alcohol Calorie Counter to find out the number of calories in your drinks.


6. Cut smoking

At the moment e-cigarettes are very popular, but as they are so new there’s little research into their long-term side effects. They are not approved or regulated and recent research shows that this kind of nicotine use could lead to heart disease. If you are using one that contains nicotine, make sure you gradually reduce the strength of the vapour. See it as a tool to quit smoking rather than replacing one dependence with another. Just because e-cigarettes are ‘healthier’ does not mean that they are healthy.


7. Take a break

Get out every day for a brisk walk, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t convince yourself that you’re too busy – a few minutes getting some fresh air, burning off some adrenaline and releasing some endorphins will make you feel more energetic, clearheaded and happier!


8. Ditch the scales

Give them to the charity shop, or take them round to a friend’s house and use them no more than once a month. Your weight is not about a number, it’s about how you feel and look. And remember that if you’re doing more exercise, you may be building more muscle which weighs more than fat.


9. Deal with stress

Stress isn’t always a bad thing – in the short term it can provide mental alertness, motivation and efficiency. Focus on the things that are within your realm of control. Live in the present and the future, there is nothing you can do about the past. When you do feel stressed, burn off the extra adrenaline by taking exercise.


10. Do a job you find fulfilling and challenging

Our work takes up most of our waking hours. If we don’t enjoy it, it will spill over into the rest of our lives and may lead us to become negative, demotivated and stagnant. Challenge yourself and be proactive about taking responsibility for your life. Do not say “I’ll try” or “I’ll see if I can”. You are already setting yourself up for failure. Say “I’ll do that” and then do it!



The Cook&Count app team wishes you a happy and healthy 2017! And for top tip number two, download Cook&Count app for free from the App Store and get back in the kitchen!

Wholemeal mince pies: A Christmas recipe

wholemeal-mince-pies



Our favourite Christmas recipe – wholemeal mince pies – from our lovely recipe analyst and researcher Caroline…

The supermarket shelves are full of mince pies. I find them far too sweet and prefer to make our own tastier, more wholesome wholemeal version. By baking them yourself at home you can cut out a vast amount of sugar and get creative by doing different lid designs. It’s a really fun way to spend an evening, pop on some Christmas tunes and start feeling festive.

Depending on how thin you manage to roll the pastry, the size of your cookie cutters and how efficiently you cut the pastry this recipe will make up to 30 mince pies. You do not have to cook them all at once as the pastry and mincemeat will keep well in the fridge for several days. If you are pushed for time you can always make the pastry dough the night before and you can even prepare it in a food processor. We recommend using a hard margarine like Stork for making the pastry, but butter will also work.



Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 17 mins


Ingredients

  • 200 g – Flour, plain, wheat, white, soft
  • 200 g – Flour, wheat, wholemeal
  • 250 g – Stork, margarine, block
  • 60 ml – Water, tap
  • 100 g – Suet, vegetable, reduced fat
  • 300 g – Dried mixed fruit
  • 50 g – Dates, dried, flesh & skin
  • 50 g – Sugar, dark muscovado
  • 1 tbsp – Syrup, golden
  • 1 tbsp – Brandy
  • 200 g – Apples, cooking, raw, flesh only, peeled


Method

  1. Mix the hard margarine and the flour together in a large bowl. Rub the mixture through your fingers to blend until it forms a sand like consistency.

  2. Gradually add the cold water to the mixture, stir and kneed the dough. You may not need to add the full amount of water. Once the dough has formed then roll it in to a ball, tie it up in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

  3. While your pastry is chilling it is time to make the mincemeat. In a big bowl add the vegetable suet, dried mixed fruit, dates, muscovado sugar, golden syrup and brandy together then stir. Finely chop the cooking apple then add to the mixture.


  4. wholemeal-mince-pies-in-progress


  5. Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface. Make sure the pastry is an even thickness and approximately 5mm deep before cutting out the shapes. Use large circular cutters to create the base of the pie and smaller shapes to make the lids. A simple design of holly leaves and berries is quite effective.

  6. Grease the trays of muffin tins with margarine and then sieve flour over the tray so that you will be able to get the pies out easily when they are cooked. Place the larger base shapes into the tin, push them down before spooning in the mince meat. Do not over fill your pies otherwise the mincemeat might bubble over in the oven.

  7. To finish assembling the pies put the smaller shapes on top of the filled cases and press down gently. Brush the lids with milk to help them go golden brown in the oven. If you are doing the holly design then brush the holly leaves with milk first, then roll up small bits of dough to make the berries and roll each ball in the milk before sticking them on to the holly. This will prevent the berries from falling off in the cooking process. Place the trays in to a preheated oven and cook for 17 minutes at 180° Fan / 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6.


Nutritional values per serving

Carbs – 21.8 g
Calories – 170
Fat – 8.7 g
Protein – 1.8 g
Sugar – 10.0 g
Fibre – 1.1 g



Check out the nutritional values! 21.8g of carbs and 170 cals each compared with 32.2g of carbs and 217 cals in the shop bought version. So much less sugar and so much more taste than the average supermarket brand. It’s a no brainer… get baking!

Why not download Cook&Count app now to try some more of our recipes?

22nd December 2016 Tags: , , ,

Honeymooning in hurricane season – Deborah’s JDRF fundraising cycle

JDRF fundraising cycle

Our founder and CEO Deborah and her new husband Dieter decided to do something different for their honeymoon in Cuba, but as it was hurricane season things didn’t get off to the best of starts!

 

An unusual wedding gift

 

Dieter and I got married on 1 October 2016. Instead of the traditional wedding gift list, we decided to choose a challenge and ask for charity donations to JDRF. This is a cause close to our hearts because we understand how type 1 diabetes can affect peoples’ lives. Our son Solly got type 1 diabetes suddenly when he was 10. It has drastically changed his life, and ours too.

We want to do what we can to support the JDRF in their mission to find the cure for type 1. We decided to help by doing what we do best – cycling long distances and exploring! Yes, it was our honeymoon. And no, we weren’t going to do much lazing around on beaches. We had chosen to spend our honeymoon in the saddle, doing a tandem bicycle tour of southern Cuba.

 

Hurricane Matthew hits Cuba

 

The lead up to our challenge was … challenging. It was hurricane season in the Caribbean and Florida. Just as we were leaving the UK we heard that one of the biggest hurricanes for decades was heading towards Cuba and then on to Florida. So instead of spending the first couple of days relaxing on Caribbean beaches before our ride, we had a three day delay boarded up in Miami waiting for Hurricane Matthew to wreak havoc.

Eventually we managed to get to Cuba to start our cycle tour. The first morning we got straight on the bike. Riding long distances in 35C heat was not easy, particularly due to the lack of food, water and shade. The roads were in a very poor state and in many areas they had collapsed into the sea. Over long distances we came across only the occasional ‘cafeteria’ but all that was on the menu was rum, cigarettes and sometimes beer.

By the third day of riding we started to enter in the area that had been hit by Hurricane Matthew. While holed up in Miami we had been watching the news and social media to get as much information as possible about how Cuba had been affected and whether it would be safe to go there. It was shocking and saddening to cycle through an area of nearly 200km in which most of the houses had lost their roof and palm trees were strewn across the landscape like boxes of matches. Electricity was down and water and food was scarce. After five days we emerged from the destruction zone, dirty, tired and hungry. And we managed to complete the final few days cycling in relative normality.

 

The aftermath

 

Despite recent stories of Cuba changing so much, becoming commercialised and being overtaken by tourists, we saw no other tourists or travellers for days. In many places the horse and cart was still the most common vehicle. Where we did see cars, many were still the beautiful, colourful 1950s American cars that people imagine when they think of Cuba.

We rode 712km over nine days. It was much tougher than we imagined and we definitely feel like we earned the brilliantly generous donations to JDRF of over £2,000 that we’ve received. We are really grateful for all the support friends and family gave for this very important cause.

 

Why not plan a big fundraising adventure yourself? We highly recommend it! Few people had come across the idea of doing charity donations instead of a wedding list. But many people have so much ‘stuff’ these days. So instead of receiving yet more plates, towels and cutlery, why not put money to good use by supporting research to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes. We challenge you to a challenge!

Dieter and Deborah

19th December 2016 Tags: , ,