Roast Dinner Pies: Sunday Best @ Pieminister*

Yep. You read it right, roast dinner pies! I was invited to try out Pieminister’s latest offering, the delicious ‘Sunday Best’ this weekend.

It’s basically a beastly stack of mash, pie of your choice, Yorkshire pudding, mashed swede and stuffing balls or pig in blanket and crackling. Oh and gravy. Delicious.

I opted for the ‘Wild Shroom’ veggie option which was asparagus and mushrooms in a rich creamy sauce. My friend went for the Free Ranger so we could see what the meaty option was like too.

The ‘Wild Shroom’ filling was gorgeous, really rich and creamy and went really well with the savoury gravy. It felt really indulgent for a vegetarian pie and isn’t a filling I’d thought of before, I’ll definitely be trying to recreate. The Yorkshire on top wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but the swede and stuffing balls more than made up for it. It’s a really unique way to enjoy a roast!

The Free Ranger chicken was equally lovely with its own chicken gravy (don’t you hate it when somewhere just has one standard gravy??) and soft leeks cooked into a creamy sauce with the chicken. Perfectly yummy and the pasty on both pies was exceptional!

It was a really different way to enjoy a roast, though we were incredibly full afterwards! If you’re looking for a new take on the roast, especially if you’re veggie, give your local Pieminister a go! They have a vegan option too and plenty other veg versions to choose from.

*Gifted meal in partnership with Pieminister

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A Winter Break in Barcelona

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see from my stories I was recently whisked away to sunny Barcelona for a couple of days. The trip was a complete surprise, I knew we were going away but not where we were going to! I was told to pack for ‘march’ weather and to bring my passport. Obviously, I was guessing for weeks before but Gary never waived, refusing to give any more clues. It was SO much fun to have kept the location a secret! I found out at security where we had to present boarding passes and I was SO excited. I’ve visited a few European cities but never done Barcelona properly and my first thought was all the friends I knew that had been and had a great time.

So off we went. We stayed at the Grupotel Gran Via which was just a stones throw from the bustling streets and restaurants of La Ramblas, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect location.

After a quick bag drop it was straight onto the vino and olives at a nearby outside cafe because well, Europe.

The first nights meal was only ok, I chose a carbonara that had blue cheese in it and Gary had paella. I didn’t get the name of the restaurant, it was hella cheap but nothing amazing to write home about tbh.

Breakfast the next day was simply amazing. We found this little cafe just near the hotel called Citizen. It was so quirky and quaint with fresh juices and amazing brunch menu. I had the eggs benedict and they were honestly the best eggs benedict I’ve ever eaten. Served on very crispy salty bacon, the hollandaise was thick and silky and with ever such a slight hint of chilli.

We spent the next day at Sagrada Familia, before the weather changed to crazy heavy rain and hailstones! Luckily there was a wine bar near by for shelter (and wine).

That night we ate at Ultramarinos on Las Ramblas, a really modern tapas restaurant with gorgeous cocktails best albondigas we’ve ever had! I’m used to having them in a spicy tomato sauce but these came in a rich, thick brown gravy served with a tiny handful of chips on the top. Absolutely delicious and so savoury we ordered a second round!

The rest of this night is a little blurry, we ended up in an underground jazz bar for a whole before calling it a night in a cheesy Rn’B club.

The final day we spent at the National Art Gallery which was really zen and peaceful, and then because the sun was out we decided to visit the beach. Barcelona has a fair few beaches, we chose Nova Icaria because it had the most going on in terms of cafes and bars. After spying a table in the sun we settled into La Barca Del Salamanca, a huge fish restaurant right on the marina. We enjoyed sangria (obvs) and a plate of patatas bravas and calamari.

That evening we ate at La Poma at the top of Las Ramblas, conscious that it was a Friday night and we were unable to book anywhere else. It was only ok and felt quite chain-y in atmosphere, but we both got pretty good pizzas.

It was back on the plane Saturday morning and back to reality now. A wonderful trip in a really beautiful city, and a great surprise!

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The Best Reusable Coffee Cups

The government has announced a 25-year plan to reduce plastic today. If, like me, you want to speed up that time frame, a great way to reduce your plastic ‘footprint’ is to swap disposable coffee cups for reusable ones. Pret are pioneering this movement, offering a hefty discount for anyone who brings in a reusable cup.

Why are coffee cups so bad?

Disposable coffee cups are lined with a ‘single use’ plastic known as polyethylene that makes them waterproof. We use so many coffee cups, we can’t recycle them as quickly as we produce and dispose of them and they are clogging up our oceans and a having disastrous effect on marine wildlife.

Make a difference

If you’re big on your hot drinks, a small change you can make is to buy a re-usable plastic coffee cup to carry with you so can 1) still enjoy coffee and 2) look hella cool. Here’s some of my favourite ones on the market:

Alice Scott Hot Stuff Travel Mug, £12.00 (John Lewis)

Alice Scott Hot Stuff Travel Mug

I love this monochrome number and it’s witty message! Plus stripes go with like, every outfit.

KeepCup Brew – Cork Edition, £19.98 (Amazon)

KeepCup Brew Cork Edition

 

Isn’s this the most sophisticated coffee cup you ever did see? It’s made from tempered glass so super easy to keep clean as an extra bonus. I don’t think I’m grown up enough for this one yet though, but you might be.

Beyonda Kitten Insulation Flask, £14.99 (Amazon)

beyonda kitten flask

Like cats? Like keeping things warm? This is the flask for you! This is my personal fave, also because it keeps drinks COLD as well as warm, so you’re going to get double the use out of it in the summer. Also, cats.

Make Coffee Not War Take Out Cup, £12.99 (Paperchase)

Paperchase Make Coffee Not War

Paperchase have a great range of cups but this was my favourite. For those wanting to broadcast an important message while sipping on their PSL.

William Morris & eCoffee Cup, £12,98 (Amazon)

William Moris Ecoffee

Your favourite textile designer, but on a cup! William Morris have teamed up with eCoffee to design a whole range of William Morris printed cups. For the arty and sophisticated coffee sipper!

Will you be investing in a reusable coffee cup? Which is your favourite?

Disclaimer: This post did once contain affiliate links but then I took them out.

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2017 Life Lessons

So 2017 has been a crazy year and I thought it might be helpful to list out some of the things I’ve learned along the way. I think learning is such an important thing to reflect on – we never stop. I’m 29 next year (gasp) and still not quite sure where walnuts really come from. So there you go.

You CAN do it

One thing strength training has taught me is that my body and my mind are a lot stronger than I thought they were. Your biggest enemy can be your attitude, if you think you can’t succeed at something, you won’t get there. Believing in yourself and your own abilities, whether it’s in the gym or outside of it, is so important. I now weigh up difficult life situations against weights. I lifted x, so I can damn well do y.

Dried mushrooms are delicious

Can you believe I never cooked with dried mushrooms until this year? Well I did, and they’re life changing. Definitely worth the extra faff and expense. If you see some, buy them. And buy them for your friends too, spread the word.

If it looks like raw chicken, it is raw chicken

I was unfortunate enough to have food poisoning twice this year in the space of around five weeks. The first time was some cured meats at room temperature on a very hot day (restaurant’s fault) the second was from noticing my chicken satay from a food truck was a bit pink but eating it anyway (food truck + my fault). The gist is, be careful with your food, follow your gut (literally) and if it doesn’t look right it certainly is NOT worth the life ruining sickness.

Recycle your damn plastic

We all saw Blue Planet 2. We all need to change how we use and recycle plastic, and in general how we look after our planet. We only get one shot at looking after this place, so turn off the lights if you’re not using them, stop buying plastic wrapped food, take the bus or the train, get a plastic coffee cup. Small inconveniences to us will extend the life of our planet and it’s inhabitants for generations after ours. Let’s stop being so bloody selfish about it and sort it out.

Pressure cooking is GREAT

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’ve found an amazing opportunity this year and now work for High Street TV, a multi channel retailer with a whole host of amazing kitchen products. One of these is the Pressure King Pro and it’s truly changed how I cook. It’s like using a slow cooker, but FAST. I would never have chosen to use one but I can’t look back now and recommend pressure cooking to everyone, like some crazy pressure cooking person on commission (I’m not on commission).

And finally…

Be kind

If 2017 has taught us anything though it’s how to handle ourselves in tricky times. Be nice to strangers, don’t push in front of people and look after your friends and family. We’re all in this mess together.

Stock photos from Unsplash.

 

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Christmas Foodie Traditions

For my family of foodies, many of our Christmas traditions revolve around food. In fact, nearly all of them revolve around food! Now we’re counting down to the big day, here’s a sneak peek at what happens in our household.

Christmas Eve prep
Christmas Eve is all about everyone mucking in and doing a big family food prep session for the big day. We’ll chop carrots, parsnips, leeks, peel sprouts, roll pigs in blankets and make the stuffing. There’ll be some celeriac remoulade on the go, and usually we’ll make some mince pies and ice the cake too. It’s a busy, bustling morning and any guests are expected to help out too.

Christmas Eve dinner and ‘the cheese’
Every year without fail we eat a kedgeree for Christmas Eve dinner cooked by my dad. It’s one of my family’s favourite dishes, brimming with hard boiled eggs, smoked fish, pancetta and comforting and creamy rice. After this we’ll have a cheeseboard (yes I know it’s weird after fish) where, since my discovery of it three years ago, we start to eat the Vacherin Mont D’or.

Nibbles
My mum loves baking and makes a mean loaf. She’ll prepare a couple of baguettes in advance and freeze so we can defrost on Christmas morning for our nibbles. Classically, we’ll have mussels on toast (rounds cut from these baguettes) and smoked salmon and scrambled egg oatcakes with champagne before the big meal.

Christmas dinner
Nobody in my family really likes turkey so we tend to cook a Capon instead (google it if you’re not sure) with all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pudding, mince pies, and trifle. Yes, three puddings.

Christmas tea
My favourite meal of the year is Christmas tea. We’ll have smoked salmon, cream cheese, crisps, celeriac and salad. I love this meal because everyone is usually too full to eat it but once you’re half way in it’s the best thing ever!!!

Boxing Day bolognese
Traditionally Boxing Day is a lazy day centring around a huge bowl of home made pasta and my dads spaghetti bolognese (recipe here!) followed by a big cheese fest.

And there we have it! Now it’s December I’m feeling super festive! What are some of your Christmas food traditions?

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5 Tips for Eating More Protein

Since starting the gym this time last year, my biggest challenge (apart from all those heavy weights) has been my diet. I’ve never restricted myself, I’ve always been one of those people that eats everything. Now I work out this isn’t really that different except I follow more of an 80:20 rule – that is, eat 80% healthy balanced stuff, 20% treats. I more or less stick to this, maybe on weekends those treats go up to 40% but hey we’re all human.

My main change has been about what I eat though, and with my strength training there’s a real requirement to eat more protein to help heal and build my muscles. I’m aiming for just under double my body weight in grams, so between 80-100g a day. It’s a pretty big ask but I’ve found a few things that help me that I thought would be good to share.

1. Get a good breakfast

Eggs are everything. A large egg has around 7g of protein, scramble two of those on some toast with a handful of mushrooms and or spinach and you’re 14g down and off to a great start to the day.

2. Make ahead snacks

Your body can only digest and use 30g or so of protein in one serving. Snacks are a great way to keep getting that protein in small amounts throughout the day and here’s some of my favourites:

  • Chicken drumsticks (~13g per drummer)
  • Beef jerky (~20g per pack)
  • Cottage cheese and crudités (~10g per 100g)
  • Peanut butter and apple (~8g/2tbsp peanut butter)
  • Crispy chickpeas (~7g/handful)

3. Lentils, beans chickpeas are your friends

Meat is expensive, not great for the planet and can contain bad fats and other nasties. Plus let’s face it, it gets boring after a while. Varying your protein sources stops boredom and keeps things fresh. Lentils are hella cheap and delicious (hello, lentil curry) and chickpeas you can add to virtually anything. Beans are so versatile, they can add extra bulk to lots of things, or even be a replacement for mash. Stock up on these cupboard essentials and you’ll always have a cheap, protein rich meal to hand.

4. Don’t forget fibre

Your body needs fibre to help you process the protein so don’t be afraid of including brown carbs and plenty of fruit and veg. Basically, don’t ignore the other food groups!

5. Sometimes you have to have shakes

A high protein diet shouldn’t be ALL protein shakes but if you’re trying to meet 100g a day, they become a bit of a necessity. Protein cereal bars (I like Eat Natural) are also good to keep on hand if you get in a bind. Overall though, you should try and get as much from natural food sources as possible, as you need the other nutrients.

Are you eating a high protein diet? Let me know if you found this useful!

Liked it? Pin it! 5 tips eating more protein

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My Dream Kitchen

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and for me, this really rings true. I spend maybe 75% of my home life in the kitchen! Sadly our current kitchen is VERY small and difficult to fit two people in, so it means we either end up cooking alone or constantly get in the way of each other. We also really lack storage space (all our pans are shoved into a drawer) and have no dishwasher. So now that we’re getting closer to buying a house, I’m thinking quite carefully about what my dream kitchen might look like. Of course, we haven’t found a house yet, but I can dream, right?

Lots of countertops

I like to have lots of surface room for chopping, rolling, and assembling dishes. There’s only two spots in our current kitchen for this kind of activity and one is right next to the sink so it’s super not ideal. My dream kitchen would have marble or natural wood counters (for the perfect insta shot, obvs). I love the idea of having flowers in the kitchen so even just a space big enough to display flowers would be great.


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A dishwasher

OK so I don’t know if this is just me but I really struggle with the smell of eggs once they’ve been cooked and eaten. Like the leftover egg smell on a plate after you’ve rinsed it. Eugh. It smells like wet dogs to me and I sometimes find myself re-washing things to try and get rid of the smell. We really need a dishwasher to get everything squeaky clean and not slave over the sink every night.


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Pan storage

At the moment all our pans are somewhat ‘shoved’ in a drawer under the oven. They’re out of the way, but they all clang together, fall out of the back of the drawer, and generally are a mess, so it’s not really working. I’d love to have somewhere to store our pans neatly and easy to reach, either on display or just… yeah.. neater!


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Storage in general

Some people fantasise about walk in wardrobes. I like to think about walk in pantries.  I would absolutely LOVE a pantry for storing all those cupboard or room temperature things like sauces, flours, pasta, rice, root vegetables… in a big walk in pantry.

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Spices everywhere

We have a big problem with spices at the moment which currently live in a little cubby next to the hob. They’re handy for cooking in this location, but also completely exposed to steam on a regular basis, so our powdered herbs and spices tend to clump together which is a nightmare. We also can’t easily see what we’ve got – which led us at one point to own three different jars of cumin. A kitchen with space for a beautiful spice rack would be perfect.


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I could go on all day! Check out my other kitchen ideas on my Dream Kitchens Pinterest board. What would you have in yours?

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What I Eat in a Day

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, inspired by fellow blogger sophielaetitia! I love seeing what other people’s routines are around food. For me, food completely structures my day and I’m constantly thinking about what I’ll eat next. I always eat breakfast, and then start counting down to lunch pretty much the moment I finish my morning commute. I like to take interesting lunches to work to look forward to. Then after lunch it’s all about pondering what I’ll have for dinner. And then repeat!

No two days are the same, but here’s the typical things I usually eat.

Breakfast

I used to be really bad at having breakfast. For maybe 2.5 years I was a desk-eater, and usually opting for Belvitas or a sugar-packed ‘breakfast bar’. Don’t get me wrong those things are delicious and I still buy them but as I’ve started to exercise more I’m making more of an effort to incorporate fruit and protein into my diet.

 

I’ll usually eat a mishmash of fruit and yoghurt with various additions:

  • 3-4 tbsp low fat Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • Handful blueberries, strawberries or a banana chopped up
  • 2 tsp flax seeds or superfood seed mix
  • Drizzle of honey

Sometimes I add a crushed up ginger biscuit (or any biscuit lying around) to entertain my sweet tooth, and/or some Ritter Sport Fine Extra Dark chocolate chopped up (seriously the BEST dark chocolate I’ve ever had).

That’s Monday-Friday. If it’s the weekend, it will usually be all about EGGS. We don’t get up til 10/11ish so we’ll make a big delicious brunch with eggs, cured ham, mushrooms, asparagus… whatever is in the fridge. Gary makes the perfect poachies.

Snacks

Like any office worker, I love my snacks. I try to keep them healthy, but I cannot say no to afternoon chocolate with a cup of tea. During the morning I’ll usually have a banana with a cup of tea around 10.30-11ish, or I take a big bag of clementines into work and eat those.

I also keep a snack drawer of things that don’t go off, it’s usually more full than this, but I was actually eating some left over Easter egg chocolate at the time of writing.

Lunch

Lunch is usually leftovers or meal prep from the weekend. I try to have different things every day because I get bored. So Monday might be a slice of this delicious quiche (pictured) with salad, Tuesday could be a tuna sandwich, Wednesday might be quiche again.

I do a lot of meal prep and think carefully about my lunches during the week so I’m not caught out – we only have a small cafeteria downstairs that isn’t very nice so it’s essential I bring something every day.

Some of my favourite recent lunches have been:

After lunch I like to drink a green tea to settle my stomach, and I usually have a bit of dark chocolate or other small treat just to curb my sugar cravings. I don’t believe in ‘bad’ or ‘good’ foods but I try and keep sweet treats in moderation.

Dinner

In Yorkshire we call this ‘tea’ and in our house it’s usually very unorganised. I’d love to say I cook something beautiful every night but honestly on weeknights it can be a real struggle. Depending on gym routine, if I’m not on a rest day I will eat when I get back from the gym, and it will usually be something quick and high protein like scrambled eggs and wholegrain toast, chicken and pitta, avocado and poached eggs, or leftovers from the freezer.

If it’s a rest day and I have time, I’ll cook something a bit more adventurous like Sweet Red Pepper and Goats Cheese Pasta or Sweet Chilli Salmon with Spicy Vegetable Noodles, or use up any extra veg in the fridge with a spicy stir fry. We don’t eat much meat in the week but I’m always conscious of hitting my protein intake so I tend to pad dishes out with egg or fish.

After dinner I’ll usually round off with a camomile or herbal tea, often with a bit of honey if I’m craving sugar again. If I’m still hungry I’ll have some toast or biscuits with it. Or chocolate. Or all three.

That’s it! I’d love to hear what everyone else eats – let me know 🙂

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Going From Slim to Swole

So, as none of you will really know, I’ve been on a bit of a fitness journey for the last couple of months. It’s been a bit stop-start due to a rib injury (long story short: don’t let your big handed boyfriend pick you up under the ribs). Now I’m back on the horse, I want to share this journey on my blog. My story is a bit different to the usual fitness, clean living or weight loss stories we see so often (though there’s nothing wrong with those). I want to be BIGGER.

People have joked to watch out for a breeze or I might blow away. There’s never been anything on me in terms of muscle, and a (free, albeit huge advertising gimmick from a local gym) body composition test in my last job told me that my muscle mass was incredibly low for my body weight and size (I was less than 17% muscle).

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever done a body composition test, but those things are UPSETTING. They look inside your body and tell you everything that is wrong with it. It told me a bunch of scary stuff like my visceral fat (the internal fat between your organs) and my body fat. Oh and also that my right leg was heavier than my left (who knew?). I came home and did what any rational person would do. Cry about it.

Tears subsided, I decided the best course of action was to change it, and join the gym. Stop crying over pieces of paper and get strong instead. Before this happened, I’d been doing Pilates once a week and the occasional Zumba class. Enough to give me some energy but not anything that would make me strong. I didn’t know where to start, so I got a PT.

If you’re new to exercising like I am, I really recommend getting a PT. The knowledge she gives me is invaluable. We go through 4-6 different exercises in one hour and once I’ve done anything once, I can repeat without her. And exercising with someone is FUN. I look forward to my sessions and it keeps my gym routine different because I always have something new to do.

I’ve had 6 weeks off with the broken rib but returned to training this week and I’m so excited to get back into it. And y’know what? I’ve completely stopped worrying about the body composition thing. Seeing my body change and the gains I’m making is motivation enough, and I’m coming from a really positive place – working out because I love my body not because I hate it.

Are you training right now? What keeps you motivated?

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