Category: Food

Food porn, recipes. I LOVE FOOD.

Whole 30: Week one in review

I have felt really good this week, light, bouncy and happy. Only on Wednesday did I have a slight headache, I think it was the change of having no sugar in my diet. It hit. But by Thursday it had passed, my tummy was feeling flatter (not thinner, but not bloated) and I was sleeping so well. Straight to sleep each night quickly, without waking up in the middle of the night. The dream (excuse the pun)!

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my meals this week. Taking the time and making an effort with dishes and recipes really does make a difference. I have found so many amazing recipes through Pinterest and Instagram – so many inspirational and creative people out there eating well!

Here are some snaps below of my various meals over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Click on some of the photos to find the recipe. I should mention that I am spoilt at work and have a kick-ass cafeteria on the 15th floor that serves up great salads every day for super cheap. So I haven’t had to prepare the three salads below, I was just excited about picking new things.

Coconut, lime & chilli chicken on cauliflower rice
Dinner – Coconut, lime & chilli chicken on cauliflower rice
Salmon & egg with an addition of avocado
Breakfast – Salmon, spinach & egg with avocado
day1-lunch
Lunch – Roast chicken salad with roasted cauliflower sprinkled in cumin
Lunch – Roast beef salad with fennel, walnuts and orange
Dinner – Salmon with an almond and macadamia crust, with broccoli and basil mash
Dinner – Roast veg pile – sweet potato, carrot, asparagus and kale, with a dusting of bacon
Salad with chicken roasted in lemon and oregano
Homemade bun-free burgers and sweet potato fries
Breakfast - egg, spinach, mushrooms and avocado
Breakfast – egg, spinach, mushrooms and avocado
Sweet potato nachos with salsa and guac
Sweet potato nachos with salsa and guac
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Dessert – Pineapple grilled with fresh lime juice and zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon
day1-breakfast
Breakfast – Smoked salmon, boiled egg, baby spinach and lemon, followed by an apple

I am really excited about week two and I’m hoping I can only feel better after day eight. I won’t lie, I was in a pub this afternoon and it was cold and bitter outside and I nearly caved and bought a red wine. I changed my mind before ordering and instead had a sparkling water and fresh lime. I was so close.  I can admit it – I’m human. I’m proud of myself for not failing though. Seven days down, 23 to go.

 

Whole 30: action time

One of my good friends is currently staying with us, having just arrived in London. Last night we enjoyed a girls night in watching trash TV, drinking red wine and eating pizza oozing with cheese. It was magic. But we discussed how blah we both feel, sluggish and heavy and not at our optimal health. We decided that starting Monday we would start a Whole 30 detox and body reset. It’s usually easiest to start on the 1st of the month, but I just want to get into action, not wait two weeks. My other half and I have social events booked in but I’m just going to make it work – there’s never a good time to be on a restrictive food plan, you just have to get on with it.  As previously mentioned I first completed a Whole 30 in January 2013 and loved the outcome; my skin was clear, I didn’t feel bloated, no sugar highs and lows, I slept better and I managed to lose a few kilos.

I have managed to persuade the other half to join in this time too. I can tell I’ll be pulling him kicking and screaming over the finish line in the first week, but hopefully he gets the hang of it and reaps the benefits early on to keep him focused.

Last week I spent time reading through all the information I had previously received when signing up for Whole 30, as well as perusing my friend Leah‘s website. Leah is a Whole 30 champion, she’s done it four times now and swears by it.

I also spent time mapping out my meal plan for first week as I think one of the most important things I learnt was how important it is to prepare. PREPARE. Otherwise you find you come home after a long day and reach for your Just Eat app on your phone. Which completely undoes anything good you’ve done.

Throughout I will post details of my meals and how I’m feeling, the ups and downs. Posting updates is the perfect accountability – no cheating or quick trips to the chip shop allowed!

I’m just so over being unhappy with my body. SO, SO OVER IT.

Penis pasta

If you have been to Venice or Rome you will have no doubt passed one of the many little gift shops dotted around the cities, where you can buy knick knacks and funny Italian themed items such as penis pasta (as pictured above). I brought mine back from Venice as a gift for my other half. I never actually got around to cooking it though as we broke up a week later. We’re back together now (long story, lots of toing and froing, neither of us could make our minds up), so last night I decided to add it as the pasta to my Minestrone mash up.

I call it Minestrone mash up, because I didn’t use a recipe but followed the general idea of a Minestrone base with whatever I had in the fridge: carrots, onion, leek, mushrooms, garlic, peas, celery, can of tomatoes, bacon, veggie stock, penis pasta and salt and pepper to season. VERY simple but now it’s our favourite. It totally knocked my veggie soup off the top of the list.

I had to use up the penis pasta because next week is Whole 30 time and we won’t be able to use it. For Whole 30 I am planning to try out a chicken and mushroom and sage based soup and make it really thick so it fills us up.

soup

Sadly the penis doesn’t hold it’s shape once hot and wet (woah!). However, I can tell you this Italian penis pasta tasted mighty fine.

 

Veggie soup for the soul

I’m trying my best to be healthier, so after last night’s martini, gin & tonic, wine and pizza, I needed to be extra good tonight. I decided to try and make up a yummy vegetable soup. Both the man and I were pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it. As we were having just veggie soup with no pasta, protein or lentils I decided to add a potato which I ended up blending with a few of the other veggies to thicken it.

I was shocked at the colour, but who doesn’t love eating food that looks like it’s radioactive, but knowing it’s so damn good for you?! I brightened mine further by adding a swirl of hot Sriracha sauce.

Get involved:

  • 2 potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1/2 head broccoli 
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Vegetable stock

Sauté the garlic and onion in a little olive oil. Add cubed potato, carrot, celery and leek and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add your vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Next add the broccoli, bay leaf and thyme and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the stock and veggies until the veggies feel soft. Scoop out the veg into a blender (remember to remove the bay leaf and throw it away) and keep the stock simmering, pulse the veg until a smooth paste. Add mushrooms and peas to the stock to cook through while you’re pulsing the rest. 

Add back the veg paste to the stock and see how thick and rich your soup is now! Bring to the boil and stir through some freshly chopped parsley.

Serve with an awfully large glass of red wine. 

I can see this being an autumn favourite of ours. 

What’s your favourite vegetable soup recipe? I need some more!

BBC Bake sale

The biggest news to hit Britain this week: the Great British Bake Off sale. BBC have sold the rights to the show to Channel 4, a somewhat surprise given its success over the years. Turns out it’s not been a sale of choice, more that the production company in charge of GBBO pocketed themselves in the range of an extra £10 million.

I for one, am an avid Bake Off fan, having never missed an episode. The hosts, the innuendos and the soggy bottoms keep your drawn in. Also of course the nail biting moments when time is ticking down and 24 identical Cypriot flaoumas or a 30cm tall Bavarian clock tower made of shortbread must be completed and standing strong.

While Channel 4 insist they will work hard to keep the integrity of the show – will it be the same? Mel and Sue have stepped down from hosting, and Paul and Mary have walked away from judging. All four created the comfort and entertainment you want on a Wednesday evening, so the next team picking up the roles have big shoes to fill. There are rumours Jamie Oliver could pick up a spot on the new baking edition… no complaints from my side!

Come Dine With Me

A couple of girlfriends and I have embarked on our own Come Dine With Me (CDWM) challenge: taking turns to cook each other a three course meal. This is what we do now that we are proper grown ups, in our 30s. No nights out on the tiles, eating fried chicken and vomiting in the back of a taxi. But, damn those were good times last month.

Both the girls have already had their turns, highlights would include a succulent rack of lamb, mixing our own cocktails and playing Twister with a Butler in the Buff. On October 1st it’s my turn to host and I need to impress.

I’ve decided to go with a Jamie Oliver themed menu, as of course, I adore him. When they arrive I will start with a prosecco based cocktail and an hors d’oeuvres I’ve not yet decided on. The menu will then consist of:

Potted crab with asparagus
Seafood paella
Lemon pavlova

I figure my menu will be light enough that they will actually want to eat each course, they’re also technically tricky, but not impossible to make. It helps that I have made them all before on different occasions. The hard bit will be making sure I time them correctly, but with these girls, I know I can always throw a bottle of wine their way and it will keep them happy in between courses.

Recently I bought a new cast iron paella pan, as I was previously just using a large frying pan, so I now need to make at least one paella before October as a practise and to season the new pan.

Watch this space for the follow up and reviews I receive post meal from my hopefully sizzled friends.

Isle of Harris

Over the weekend, my other half and I went to visit his Uncle and Aunt on the Isle of Harris, Scotland. The place is phenomenal. The break from London was well needed, the fresh air incredible and the hospitality likened to the Kiwi’s.

When you see the views, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the UK – although the bitter wind that picked up on the odd occasion soon reminded you that you weren’t on a tropical island in the Caribbean. But the sea sure gave the same turquoise beauty.

While we were there we enjoyed the local seafood which is so fresh it reminded me of the treats from the sea in New Zealand. Unfortunately London based seafood, no matter the price you pay, just doesn’t compare to seafood by the coast. I gorged myself on all seafood at every moment I got; scallops, monkfish, seafood linguine, fresh mussels and prawns. We ate at a bunch of beautiful spots that I would recommend; The Anchorage, The Crown Inn and Skoon Art Café to name a few.

It’s becoming more common for people to have stay-cations (holiday in their own country) and I completely agree with it. Why not see the beautiful places right on your doorstep? Not that the Isle of Harris is on anyone’s door step, the dodgy flight from Glasgow in a tiny aeroplane seating 30 people was not a highlight for me. But get out there, see the country you grew up in.

Since being in the UK I have managed to hit all the corners; Pembrokeshire in west Wales, Brighton in south England, Southend on Sea in east England, and now Stornoway in north Scotland. Really, the next spot I need to visit is Ireland, then I would have completed the four corners of the UK plus a trip to the island.

mussels linguine

Lemons

Lemons are a magical fruit. Not only are they cheap and pack a punch of flavour, but they can clean limescale from your taps and more importantly they provide a whole bunch of health benefits.

I’m not talking about doing a lemon water cleanse/diet, because they scare me. I’m simply adding a cup of hot lemon water to my morning routine – before the tea or coffee. Even Gwynnie swears by it, however she’d have you cut out the coffee which is just crazy talk.

So what are the benefits of drinking lemon water? It aids with digestion, strengthens your immune system, aids weight loss, helps to detoxify and cleanse your insides, and does wonders for your skin and hair, among other things.

A couple of slices per cup does the trick for me. But I do find the fruit here in the UK turns very quickly, so as a tip, I slice up the whole lemon and pop the slices into a freezer container so they’re ready to go in the morning when I add them to my boiling cup of water. They defrost right away and cool down the cup so it’s ready to drink.

Try it, and if you don’t enjoy, simply use the frozen lemon slices in your gin and tonic instead.

Apparently large volumes of kale makes your number two’s green.

I did my first Whole30 back in January 2013 and felt fantastic afterwards, the protein and vegetable combo with the odd bit of fruit and nuts worked for me. I’m keen to get back to that amazing feeling, post detox when you may give yourself the odd cheat snack or glass of wine, but generally you feel so good you just don’t want to break it.

I’ve decided to embark on another Whole30 in October. Unfortunately I’m away three weekends out of four in September so it was just going to be too tricky to stick to it. I have even managed to wrangle my other half into giving it a go. I’m not sure how long he’ll carry on, especially without the odd pint, but I know that if I cook him some yummy dishes he will be a happy man.

Cookbook inspiration

I’ve always been a lover of cookbooks. I buy them. I store them. I read them. I drool over them. But I never bloody cook anything from them.

I picked up Daniel Green’s The Paleo Diet in January and can now confirm I’ve cooked a total of five recipes from it – with another three in the pipeline to trial. It’s a brilliant cookbook as the recipes aren’t too fiddly and the ingredients required cover a lot of the recipes and are easy to find. Meaning you’re not sent on a wild goose chase for a teaspoon measure of Espelette Pepper. Instead you can pick up everything local, and without breaking the budget.

To date, two favourites of mine and the man’s are meatballs in a rich tomato sauce with basil, and sesame steak with broccoli and basil pesto.

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I have already decided that I’m going to pick up another paleo cookbook to try out further recipes. Potentially Daniel’s second book. It’s becoming a bit of an addiction – searching out paleo recipes. Although, as far as addictions go, it’s certainly not as bad as the two glasses of wine every night of the week habit I’ve been enjoying all year!