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Three and a half years ago I became vegetarian. Three and a half weeks ago, anticipating a certain health diagnosis at any time, I also gave up all added sugar in my diet. My mother is of a certain generation and, although a very good cook, struggles to know what to offer guests with specific dietary restrictions. She once had a vegetarian and a coeliac for dinner at the same time, and nearly lost her reason! So, the idea for this blog was born. Every recipe that features here will be vegan (and, obviously, vegetarian), gluten free, sugar free, lactose and dairy free, and suitable for people on a low sodium diet. That's right, you read that correctly. Even if you have guests with each of these restrictions coming to the same meal, everything here is safe for them. And, before you expect weird and wonderful ingredients to make an appearance, everything I'm using can be bought in larger branches of all major supermarkets - you don't even need to visit health food stores. Try the recipes and tell me what you think!

So What's This Tweet Treats Thingy All About?

Watch the brilliant 30 second trailer below and all will become clear!

Tweet Treats Trailer from Catherine Ryan Howard on Vimeo.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Results Not Typical - A Blog Tour! And An Awesome Thing

You might remember a few days ago I promised you all a very cool thing indeed. Well, here it is - a fantabulous book trailer for Tweet Treats!

Tweet Treats Trailer from Catherine Ryan Howard on Vimeo.

And who is this Catherine Ryan Howard who made this fabulous trailer, I hear you all ask? Well. Not only is she a rather good writer, she's also a whiz at the whole self-publishing thing and pretty darn tech savvy, to boot! 

Catherine's first novel, Results Not Typical, has just been released and she's kicking off her blog tour right here on Tweet Treats! And to make things extra lovely, the Tweet Treats blog tour is starting today on... you guessed it... Catherine, Caffeinated :) So read on about Results Not Typical (which I highly recommend) then go here to catch the start of the Tweet Treats blog tour. Don't forget to read all the way to the bottom for a giveaway! 

About Results Not Typical:

The Devil Wears Prada meets Weightwatchers and chick-lit meets corporate satire in the debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard, author of the bestselling memoir Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida. Through their Ultimate Weight Loss Diet Solution Zone System, Slimmit International Global Incorporated claim they’re making the world a more attractive place one fatty at a time. Their slogans “Where You’re Fat and We Know It!” and “Where the Fat IS Your Fault!” are recognised around the globe, the counter in the lobby says five million slimmed and their share price is as high as their energy levels. But today the theft of their latest revolutionary product, Lipid Loser, will threaten to expose the real secret behind Slimmit’s success...The race is on to retrieve Lipid Loser and save Slimmit from total disaster. If their secrets get out, their competitors will put them out of business. If the government finds out, they’ll all go to jail. And if their clients find out… Well, as Slimmit’s Slimming Specialists know all too well, there’s only one thing worse than a hungry, sugar-crazed, carb addict – and that’s an angry one. Will the secret behind Slimmit’s success survive the day, or will their long-suffering slimmers finally discover the truth? 
Available now in paperback and e-book editions. 

Catherine, what compelled you to write a book about the slimming industry? Anyone would think you had vast experience of same.

Well, after ten years of trying to be an internationally mega-selling, filthy rich, highly-acclaimed author, I figured out that the main obstacle between me and my dreams was the fact that I hadn’t written a book yet. Turns out that’s kind of crucial. Further pondering revealed that the reason I hadn’t written a book yet was because I didn’t have any good ideas for one, and so my goal became to find one, and find one quick.

Around the same time, I had the misfortune to cross paths with a “behaviour modification clinic” who specialised in weight loss. As I specialised in eating, I signed up, handed over an alarming amount of money and embarked on what could only be described as twenty weeks of senseless torture: protein shakes, meals and bars, mind molestation and – worst of all – no caffeine whatsoever. (Nooooooooooo!) You weren’t even allowed cough syrup or throat lozenges because their sugar content was too high. I could go on and on about the horrors of it, but what stands out in my mind was their breakfast prescription: a bowl of not-completely dissolved feet-flavoured protein flakes in hot water. They claimed it was porridge and when I complained about the taste – it was so bad I’d gag on it – my appointed consultant said it was because I was used to porridge loaded with milk and sugar and so didn’t know what porridge actually tasted like. But of course, the problem was that I was used to ACTUAL PORRIDGE.

At the time I was working in an office, and when I’d tell the girls at work about I was dealing with it at the clinic, they’d fall about the place laughing. They couldn’t believe that it was even true, but I knew that it was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Ridiculous Ways to Lose Weight. Then it dawned on me: that might be a good idea for a novel...

I've just started back to Weightwatchers after years of eschewing any and all product-driven slimming plans. Reading Results Not Typical is not helping! What do you have to say for yourself?

I think Weightwatchers is great, because they don’t want you to do anything stupid, they promote healthy eating and exercise and their product lines are only intended to help you – you don’t have to live off them, and in fact can do the entire program on real food.

My point about dieting is really this: all diets work if you do them, because all diets basically boil down to a low calorie intake and increased activity. But if you’re like me and were absent the day your brain learned how to deal with food the way a slim person does (i.e. only as fuel, not a reward, a way to pass the time or tasty Prozac), then it’s extremely difficult to stick to any diet plan. So you don’t and either stop doing it, or just about manage to do it and then put weight back on again later. Soon your body doesn’t know what’s going on because it’s had periods of feast, famine and healthy eating, so your metabolism slows. Maybe your blood sugar’s out too. Now, it’s easier to put weight on and harder to lose it. You start another diet, and the cycle of yo-yo dieting continues. Result: dieting makes you gain weight in the long run. I mean, if I was the weight I was when I first seriously undertook a diet back in 2002, I think it was, I would be deliriously happy. Now Me can’t even understand what Back Then Me was even doing dieting in the first place, because she perfectly slim. 

Personally, I think the only way to stop the cycle is to figure out what’s happening in your head that made you overeat or eat the wrong things in the first place. Otherwise you’re just treating the symptoms. Problem is, I have no clue what that is in my case – despite me watching every episode of Oprah since 1999 AND having the 18-hour, 20th anniversary DVD box-set. Answers on a postcard, please...

Results Not Typical is very funny, cynical, tongue-in-cheek. Are you ever serious?

I wrote Results Not Typical as satire just because I felt like that was the best way to do it. Us dieters have enough to deal with without reading misery food memoirs or sad-sack fat camp tales – and if you want to read those things, there’s plenty of them out there already.

The fact that it’s not serious is one of the reasons I couldn’t get it published, actually. But I’ll get to that in the next question...

I am occasionally serious if the occasion calls for it. Why, just yesterday I chaired a family meeting about how Hellman’s Mayonnaise is mayonnaise, and that thing Aldi calls mayonnaise is, in fact, NOT. It’s some sort of icky salad cream thing, and anyone would know just by comparing the consistencies. It’s, like, obvious.

And thank you for saying it’s funny. (Consider that secret contractual obligation involving a fiver and the postal service we discussed duly fulfilled.)

Why did you decide to go down the self-publishing route again? 

Results went to some editors at some very big publishing houses here in Ireland and the UK, and while they all had positive things to say about my voice and the writing, they felt the satire/comedy lacked the underlying “meatiness” that would make it suitable for the Irish/UK market. Right now, what’s doing well in women’s commercial fiction are books that make you laugh, but have real emotion behind them. (Some seriousness, if you will.) Therefore, they didn’t want to publish Results because they felt it wouldn’t do well enough to warrant them publishing it – and I completely understood.

But for me, there’s no financial risk, really, in self-publishing a book. I can generally recoup my upfront costs in about 500 sales. And when I self-publish, I don’t just sell to Ireland and the UK – I sell globally, mainly to the US. So taking into account the fact that I’ve already established a readership, online platform, etc. I decided to self-publish Results.

For traditional publishing houses the numbers didn’t add up but for me, they did. Let’s hope it’s not just because I’m bad at maths...

Is it still your ambition to be published traditionally, or have you decided you really like doing it completely your own way?

It is absolutely my ambition to still be published traditionally. That’s always been my dream, and it continues to be. I enjoy self-publishing and I’m thankful for all the opportunities it’s brought me but essentially, it just pays the bills. It may sound strange but it doesn’t satisfy any “I want to be a published writer” desires even though technically it should. I’m currently working on a novel that’s completely different to Results that I plan on submitting to traditional publishers next year. Here’s hoping!

You've brought out four books in just over a year! That's a hell of an achievement. Are you proud of yourself?

I am downright smug.

And also, my fingers are like claws. Claws, I tell you!

You've become such a dab hand at this self-printing lark, have you ever thought of setting up your own publishing company? Everyone knows publishers are filthy-rich gatekeepers who keep out people with genuine talent, wouldn't you like to join their numbers? ;)

Good God, no! I’m only self-publishing because I have to – I am ready and willing, pen poised, to sell out to Publishing’s Corporate Overlords as soon as the opportunity arises. And I think everyone else should be too. Trust me: I’m not one of these precious types who’s all, “I prefer self-publishing because I have control over all aspects of how my book is packaged, etc.” Someone once told me that they self-published because they didn’t want to do readings in public, the implication being that their (mythical) publisher would force them to do that. I couldn’t even formulate a response. It’s like wanting to be singer and not auditioning for X-Factor because you don’t have space on your shelves for a Grammy. SPARE ME THE HORSE FECES.

Also if I did start a publishing company I would have to recreate the Black Gates of Mordor in my office because as you said, everyone knows publishing is an evil club that meets once a week to drink pig’s blood and laugh about all the aspiring writers they’re keeping out, and I imagine that would be expensive.

If you had just one piece of advice to pass on to new writers who are trying to figure the whole industry out, what would it be?

Don’t. This will save them years of heartache, headaches and a third thing that starts with “h” that I can’t think of right now, and – added bonus – reduce my competition.

If they insist on doing it though, I’d say you have to find your own path, to figure out what’s best for you and your work. The internet is full of evangelists who see everything in black and white – you’ll make a million self-publishing, print books are dead, agents are horned demons, etc. etc. – but the reality of the situation has many, many shades. What’s worked for me mightn’t work for you, but maybe something that hasn’t worked for me will.

(Or something. That was a very confusing sentence!)

Oh, and buy this.

So what's next for you? Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Between now and Christmas I’ll be focused on finishing the first draft of the More Serious Novel. Then just out of curiosity, I’m going to price those Black Gates... 

Catherine has also told me about a giveaway: if you visit here you can enter a giveaway to win one of five paperback copies of Results Not Typical. Open for entries from September 30th-October 31st. Open to all countries.

About Catherine:

Catherine Ryan Howard is a 29-year-old writer, blogger and enthusiastic coffee-drinker. She currently lives in Cork, Ireland, where she divides her time between her desk and the sofa. She blogs at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The REAL Reason To Buy Tweet Treats - Guest Post From MSF

Ok, all joking aside, there is one cast-iron reason why you should buy Tweet Treats - and that's because every copy sold directly benefits Médecins Sans Frontières. Today I have a guest post from Deirdre Mangaoang from the Dublin office of #MSF. 

"Yesterday’s announcement that Twitter will open its newest international office in Dublin is being greeted with joy across Irish air waves.  Dublin is now a front-runner for ‘social media capital’ of Europe and the prospect of new jobs is a really welcome bit of news.

Over here at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Ireland we’ve been fans of Twitter for a long while.  Twitter lets us get news out fast from our medical humanitarian projects all over the world.  The speed and global reach of twitter helps us to raise awareness about crises that may or may not be in the media spotlight, and this in turn helps in being transparent to our donors about what MSF is doing on the ground. 

Over the past year we’ve been tweeting about Ivory Coast, where MSF teams are treating civilians caught up in political violence.  We’re also tweeting about our campaign in remote areas of Congo to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of children against measles.  Since the conflict in Libya first took hold, twitter has been a great way to keep our supporters informed of the work MSF is doing alongside Libyan health staff to treat casualties.  We’ve tweeted about our medical supply line, rescuing war-wounded patients by boat, and performing trauma surgery.   And from Somalia, we regularly tweet interviews with MSF doctors and nurses who are caring for severely malnourished children at the frontlines of a worsening humanitarian crisis.  

Those are the serious reasons why we’re fans of the micro-blogging phenomenon.  But there’s another reason why Twitter makes us smile:  Twitter was the inspiration for a fantastically original, creative and fun fundraising project for MSF.  When Jane first approached us with the idea for Tweet Treats we scratched our heads for a bit and thought “could this really work?”  A book of recipes all comprising no more than 140 characters is a bit different from our usual fundraisers.  But Jane’s enthusiasm and energy quickly won us over.  We’re delighted that she chose MSF, we appreciate her patience while we got used to the idea, and we’re truly humbled by her generosity in donating all the royalties from sales of Tweet Treats to MSF.

Tweet Treats is set to launch on October 10th.  For those of you who can’t wait ‘til then, pre-order a copy by clicking on the link below. Every copy bought directly benefits MSF.  And you can keep track of how your money is being used to deliver emergency medical aid around the world by following us @msf_ireland."

Tomorrow I'm launching the blog tour for Tweet Treats over at @CathRyanHoward's fandabbydoozy blog, Catherine, Caffeinated. Tune in then, as the silliness returns :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reasons to buy Tweet Treats, Volume 5

So your little darling wants to buy a Christmas present for her teacher.What do you buy? We're all familiar with the phrase 'an apple for teacher', but these days your discerning tutor expects a little bit more. There's always one child in the class who'll present teech with a ludicrously expensive gift, like perhaps something else bearing an apple logo... But you can give something much more thoughtful. And everyone hates that child and his mother, anyway.

There's another old saying that if you give a teacher an apple, she'll eat for a day; but if you teach her how to, um, "apple" she'll eat for the rest of her life. Or something.

So you think giving a teacher a book is a bit like teaching your granny to suck eggs, do you? But teachers love books, and even more than that, they love to encourage children to buy books. With its bright cheery chirpy cover, Tweet Treats will appeal to the kids as a gift, and its useful pages within will appeal to the teacher.

Actually, maybe you should give teacher an apple along with her copy of Tweet Treats and she can learn how to make something with that apple...

Sorted :)

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reasons to buy Tweet Treats, Volume 4

Well y'all, I hoped to be able to show you something really cool yesterday, but I'm not allowed. Yet. Boo, etc. In the meantime, here is yet another reason to buy Tweet Treats:

Sam the Scrounging Student. Ok, he's your big brother (by a whole year, big whoop - in boy terms that makes him at least five years younger, right?) and you love him and all, but he's a complete pain in the ass. He's just started at university and he's coming home at weekends talking about all the cool parties he's been to and dumping all his washing on your mum (while you have to do your own! Where's the justice in that, huh?). But to add insult to injury, he raids the kitchen every Sunday night before he goes back to college, taking all the biscuits, crisps and pot noodles to get him through the week because he "doesn't cook" and "the canteen food stinks". And your mum just indulges him!

So now it's coming up to Christmas and you have to buy him a present, 'cos your mum insists. Well, why should you have to spend your hard-earned pocket money on him? He'll get away with not buying anything this year, 'cos he's a so-called poor student. It's just not fair.

So, you're trawling through the shops, determined to spend less than a tenner on the layabout, and you see - like a little blue beacon - Tweet Treats. It's small, it's cheap, it's cool and twittery; and best of all, if you give it to Scrounging Student Sam, he'll no longer have an excuse not to cook for himself! Look, there are easy recipes, and recipes for people on a budget, and everything!

Even better, you'll have change left over to nip into the chemist and buy that little bottle of twitter-bird-blue nail varnish you've had your eye on. Blue is the new black, you know. And if your mum complains about the gift you've chosen, you can just point out that all the royalties go to Medecins sans Frontieres to help people in countries like Somalia and Haiti. There's no way she can complain about that without looking churlish.

Sorted :)

Monday, September 19, 2011


It's Monday, I got feck-all sleep, but I'm buzzing. Why? Because THIS arrived in the post! (Thanks Donna @OBrienPress!)

Sure, I'd seen the image dozens of times before, but there's something very special about holding it in your hands for the first time. Somehow it looks different (though still crazy cute!). For me, the best moment was this: 

It's been a dream of mine to have a book published ever since I was a little girl, and to finally see my name on the spine of a book... well, my eyes might have gotten a little moist. I'm only saying they might have, mind you, cos as we all know I'm tough as old nails. Ahem. 

Not only that, but as @barbarascully pointed out, I'm sharing the front cover with non other than Marco Pierre White! Ulp. It might sound bananas, but that had never really occurred to me before. It's a good thing I'd just eaten, or I might well have fainted :)

O'Brien Press have an amazingly talented in-house designer (looking at you, Emma!) who took the vague ramblings that passed for my attempt at describing how I pictured the layout of the book, and produced THIS! 

Pastel... Pretty...!

Anyway, enough of such gratuitous self-congratulation. I shall flagellate later in atonement. 

The important stuff - where can you buy this wondrous tome? And when? Well, it's available on 10th October, though you can pre-order now, and the book is available from all of these fab places:

and loads of great bookshops all over Ireland and the UK! 

Tune in tomorrow for some more utter fabulousness from a really wonderful person! Until tomorrow, you'll have to guess who that is :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reasons to buy Tweet Treats, Volume 3

Home-baked Betty. She's the office Mammy, the one who likes to mind everyone else; the one who always has paracetamol in her bag, or tissues, or wet wipes if you've spilled mayonnaise on your blouse. Betty is the one who instigated Fattening Friday, a day for home-baked cakes, buns and scones - always made by Betty.

That would be great, if Betty's buns weren't about as appetising as Hagrid's rock buns. Poor Betty, she's just so busy being mother hen that she doesn't have time to read recipes properly. The last sponge cake she brought in was more like a lump of asbestos, and just about as good for your health!

Do Betty a favour, give her a copy of Tweet Treats. The recipes are so short, sweet and easy to use that even Betty can bang out some light and fluffy scones, or a really tasty banana bread.

This banana bread was made from a recipe by @mduffywriter, and it's yum!

While you're at it, get yourself a copy of Tweet Treats too, and give Betty a run for her money. Try some golden syrup cookies, or orange biscuits maybe... You'll surprise yourself and realise how quick and easy it is to throw together some home baking when you don't have to wade through pages of ingredients, method and guff about the history of a recipe!

Sorted :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reasons to buy Tweet Treats, Volume 2

Dear old "Agony" Aunt Agatha. She means well, I suppose, but secretly she just wants everything her own way. Remember last year, when she said there was too much suffering in the world, and that she didn't want any frivolous Christmas presents? Remember how you went online and bought a goat, put the certificate in a charity Christmas card and presented it to her proudly on Christmas day? Remember her face when she opened it, and how she kept sneakily looking in the card as though she was sure she'd missed her real present? And will you ever forget her counting up her presents at the end of the day and complaining that everyone else got more presents than she did?! So much for €50 worth of goat.

There are some people who, despite their best intentions, just really want to receive a physical present to look at and ooh and ahh over. This year, buy "Agony" Aunt Agatha a copy of Tweet Treats!

 It's pretty, it's useful, it's cool and funky. It's flat and book-shaped, therefore much easier to wrap than a goat. Every copy sold directly benefits Medécins sans Frontières so that Aunt Agatha will feel that she's doing good in the world; and at €7.99 or £6.99 you'll have plenty of change from €50 to throw in a couple of chickens or even a beehive to match Aunt Agatha's hairdo. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reasons to buy Tweet Treats, Volume 1

Oh god, it's that time again already, which comes earlier and earlier every year. The Christmas chocs are already on the shelves in Tesco (yes, really!) and any day now someone is going to tell you how many shopping days are left till Christmas. (No, it won't be me. I hate those jerks.)

Inevitably, it'll be Secret Santa time in the office, and who will you draw this year? None other than Halitosis Harry, the man who has brought egg and onion sandwiches to work every day for the last twelve years. What on earth do you get for the man who smells of everything? Why, Tweet Treats of course! There are enough alternative sandwich suggestions in Tweet Treats to persuade even Harry to try something new every day, and hopefully he'll end up with a new favourite that's altogether less stinky.

At the very reasonable price of €7.99 or £6.99 you'll even have change from a tenner to throw in a packet of breath mints. Sorted!

Of course, if you happen to receive a copy of Tweet Treats from your Secret Santa, don't be alarmed; you've obviously received it because you're cool, happening, trendy and discerning. If, however, this awesome gift is accompanied by a packet of breath mints, you should probably take the hint. ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Press from my hometown

Just a very short post to thank Brian Byrne of The Nationalist and Kilcullen Diary (the blog he runs in my hometown) for a lovely piece he wrote about Tweet Treats - you can read it here.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Afternoon all!

I know you haven't heard much from me for some months now, but I have been sworn to secrecy. *pious face* Now, however, I can reveal all - Tweet Treats will be out soon! Those fantastic folks at The O'Brien Press are publishing Tweet Treats, which will be released on 10th October, four short weeks from today. You can pre-order it here or here or here... or look for it in any good bookshop from Oct 10 :)

In addition, the good people at Knorr have agreed to sponsor the book, and the superstar who is Marco Pierre White has very kindly donated the foreword! As you can imagine, I am currently dancing like this. :)

As I always planned, I'm still donating all royalties to the incredible organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). They are on the ground at the moment in disaster-struck places like Somalia, and every copy of Tweet Treats sold will directly benefit them.

I want to thank once again every single one of you who donated recipes, told other people about the project and helped to spread the word. Now it's time to ask you all to dig deep once again - buy a copy of Tweet Treats! Hell, buy two. Or ten. Give them to everyone you know for Christmas! G'wan, you know you want to :)

And watch this space for updates!