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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!

Jino’s Thai Cafe, Headingley Review

Jino’s has always been on my list to visit, having always heard amazing things about it. Despite living in a mile radius of this place for four years I didn’t actually make it until a couple of weeks ago for my dads birthday and it was everything I had hoped it would be.

It’s very small, very unassuming, with minimal decor inside – very much a cafe vibe. We had booked for 1pm and were the first people through the door, leaving us wondering if we should have booked at all. Our fears were quickly subsided though as it rapidly began to fill up with families and students. It’s BYOB, by the way.

We started with spring rolls, a couple of rounds of chicken satay and some sweetcorn fritters which for me were the star of the show. Deep fried, incredibly sweet and incredibly savoury at the same time, they were little rounds of puréed sweetcorn with a chilli dipping sauce. Gorgeous.

Then onto the mains. We like to share, so we got a few different plates and all dived in. We had a beef massaman curry, a special duck red Thai curry, a chicken pad Thai and a pork fried rice (Khao Pad). The pad thai was delicious, just the right amount of peanuttyness and a gorgeous, sweet sour sauce. The red Thai curry had a proper kick to it and delicious, well cooked duck.

My favourite though was the pork fried rice, it had that delicious smoky wok flavour and loads of fresh vegetables. Absolutely savoury and moreish!

All in all the food was absolutely delicious, properly Thai and excellent value. You can also bring your own booze, which again makes it a cheaper affair. I’d really recommend Jinos if you’re looking for Thai outside Leeds city centre.

High Street Falafel Salads: A Review

‘Never say no to a free lunch’ is one of my life maxims, and courtesy of the lovely folk at Greggs, I’ve been eating falafel salads all week! They asked me to compare their latest range of summer salads to their some of the others in the market. I chose falafel simply because I absolutely love it, making eating it all week pretty easy!

Monday – Greggs Falafel, Harissa, Roast vegetable and Grain Salad  


The falafels themselves are excellent, just the right amount of crumble, and a yummy savoury taste. The salad leaves were all really fresh and there were some lovely chunks of sweet roasted red onion in there too.  Packaging wise Greggs have nailed this – it’s easy to transport (no leakages), made mostly of cardboard (yay environment), and comes with a plastic KNIFE as well as fork. On the downsides, the yoghurt and harissa dipping sauces were both a bit too vinegary for me, coupled with the vinaigrette on the couscous and pearl barley it made the whole salad a bit well… vinegary. A sweet chilli dipping sauce might have been a better option. Vinegar aside, the salad looks excellent, tastes pretty good and looked very fresh.

  • Taste 4/5
  • Value for Money 5/5
  • Freshness 5/5
  • Nutrition 4/5
  • Aesthetics 5/5

Total score: 23/25

Tuesday – Pret a Manger Sweet Potato Falafel and Smashed Beets Veggie Box 

I don’t like beetroot so this wasn’t off to a great start, though it did look lovely and colourful in the box with a big old dollop of beetroot hummus right on top. I did try some for the purpose of fairness but it wasn’t for me so I scraped quite a bit of it off. If you like beetroot though it did add a nice sweetness. The rest of the salad was tasty with a pleasantly zingy green dressing. The sweet potato falafel had lovely, slightly curried flavour to them (probably from the turmeric) but you only get two which is a bit mean.  Brown rice and quinoa made for a tasty and nutritious carb, and I really liked the addition of pomegranate. It looses points on freshness though, the two avocado slices means this salad didn’t look fantastic after I took it out of the fridge, and the packaging just wasn’t as nice as Greggs.

  • Taste 4/5
  • Value for Money 3/5
  • Freshness 3/5
  • Nutrition 5/5
  • Aesthetics 2/5

Total score: 17/25

Wednesday – M&S Bulgar Wheat and Falafel salad 



This one was a winner on all fronts apart from the falafel. The bulgar wheat was delicious, with lovely fresh veg mixed in. There was a little corner of hummus hiding under it which was delightful, plus the crumbled feta on top took this salad to another level. The falafel itself was really sad though, it was soooo crumbly it had actually already broken up in the box before I ate it, so it wasn’t in lovely rounds any more – just in little pieces. Packaging and appearance wise this looked great, with the cherry tomatoes giving a lovely pop of colour. Shame about the falafel though.

  • Taste 5/5
  • Value for Money 3/5
  • Freshness 3/5
  • Nutrition 4/5
  • Aesthetics 4/5

Total score: 19/25

Thursday – Starbucks Falfel and Quinoa Lentil salad


This had to be the worst of the bunch. Lots of falafel, but it was very dry and bland, and the only dip provided was a beetroot hummus which didn’t add anything to the moisture. The quinoa was extremely minty and didn’t taste of much else. The cucumber was nice and fresh and probably the only bit I really enjoyed. Overall, this was really disappointing and I ended up getting some crisps from the canteen instead!

  • Taste 1/5
  • Value for Money 2/5
  • Freshness 4/5
  • Nutrition 4/5
  • Aesthetics 3/5

Total score: 14/25

Friday – Boots Carrot and Coriander Falafel Salad 


Not being a coriander fan, I didn’t expect to like this one but I was pleasantly surprised! The falafel was really flavoursome and the bulgar wheat was pleasantly simple and not covered in horrible minty dressing like the Starbucks experience. A nice little pot of mint dressing meant I could control the flavour myself. The salad also came with shredded carrots which were nice and fresh. The only thing was it was a little bit on the small side, I was definitely hungry after this one! But seeing as it’s part of the Boots meal deal you can treat yourself to a snack too.

  • Taste 4/5
  • Value for Money 5/5
  • Freshness 4/5
  • Nutrition 4/5
  • Aesthetics 2/5

Total score: 19/25

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?

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 🙂

The Olive Branch, Roundhay review

One of the things I love about living in North Leeds is the amount of bars and restaurants right on our doorstep. It’s so easy to step out for food if we can’t be bothered to cook (yes that does happen sometimes!) and a lot of the choices are quite healthy too.

We usually go to Banyan but felt like going further afield this weekend, so decided to go to The Olive Branch. Having been there once maybe 18 months or so ago for lunch, we wanted to see what their dinner offering was like and we weren’t disappointed! 

The Olive Branch is on Street Lane and is relatively small, seating maybe 8 tables or so, so do book if you want to go! It serves Turkish food with a great range of vegetarian options as well as ‘pides’ or Turkish pizzas.

We started with the garlic sausage, or ‘Sacuk’ and the babaganus dip. 

The garlic sausage was a really savoury, slightly spicy beef sausage served with mushrooms in a tomatoey ‘juice’. This was absolutely delicious and a really nice change from the usual chorizo I feel like I order and eat all the time in Mediterranean restaurants. The babaganus dip had a beautiful smokiness from the aubergine and tasted really fresh.

Next up for the mains, we both went for lamb kebabs. I ordered the Adana and Gary went for the Shish. Mine was minced seasoned lamb, formed around the skewer, whereas Gary’s was cubes of meat that had been marinated.


Both dishes were fantastic and served with rice, salad, wonderful cacik (a tzatsiki-like sauce) and salsa. The Adana was the perfect texture, not dried out at all, and expertly seasoned. The Shish was cooked to perfection, still slightly pink in the middle and a lovely cut of lamb, not chewy at all. 

My only complaint would be that the salsa could have been a lot hotter as this would have really brought some more life so the plate, but that’s just me I like a bit of spice! 

For around £40 we enjoyed a reasonably healthy, authentic Turkish meal with a glass of wine and a sparkling water. If you’re looking for something different in Roundhay that’s set away from the usual hustle and bustle this is a great place to try!”

The Lamplighter Dining Rooms, Windermere Review

What a couple of weeks it’s been! I’ve had such a busy run, with changing jobs, having a horrible cold. I start my new role tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited! Anyway, this trip we had to The Lakes this weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Gary had booked us the trip for my Christmas present, and I bloody love a surprise so I was really excited to see what he had in store. We stayed at the Howbeck in Windermere, just a 20 minute walk from the lake itself and from Bowness-in-Windermere. This had acccess to a little spa up the road which we were unsure about at first as it looked well, a lot more like a gym in a sports centre circa 1982, but actually on the inside it turned out to be really pleasant. 

Anyway on to the eating. We ate at the Lamplighter Dining rooms after Gary had spied it on both TripAdvisor and The Guardian. It’s been going for over 20 years, and is attached to a B&B (as are most things in Windermere). 

It was a Friday night and most of the tables were busy. We had a very friendly, local waiter who welcomed us and read out the specials. Gary immediately went for the lamb ballotine – a slow roasted shoulder of lamb, shredded and served with the richest red wine gravy. I wanted the sea bass but they had run out, so I went for the plaice instead.

For starters Gary ordered the scotch quail eggs with black pudding and chorizo, I just had some olives because I wasn’t super hungry for a full dish.

The scotch quail eggs were wonderful with a lovely soft yolk inside, surrounded by the crumbly black pudding and chorizo sausage mix.


 The mixed olives were really good quality, a satisfying combination of Nocellara and Kalamata. Very moreish and great with my house white wine.

Next up came the mains. Gary’s lamb was the real winner here, it tasted incredible with rich flavours of blackberry, red wine and rosemary. The meat was shredded, and very tender. It came with a wonderfully rich gravy and mash potato. 


My plaice was excellent too, really delicately fried with a little dusting of flour. The chills were spot on. Our one gripe was the roasted vegetables that came with both dishes, there was nothing green, just a trio of parsnip, swede and what appeared to be more potato. A little bit of cabbage or broccoli wouldn’t have gone amiss.


We finished up with the sticky toffee pudding to share, this was absolutely great. Really intense toffee flavour and served in a salty caramel sauce with ice cream. It was spot on, and felt reminiscent of something your gran would make (I’m just guessing here, neither of my grans ever produced a sticky toffee pudding). 

Overall the Lamplighter was a great choice, serving no-fuss, simple and well made food in a really friendly and welcoming environment. The staff really made the meal, the service was impeccable from start to finish and we felt at home the minute we walked in. Definitely give it a try if you want something hearty and home cooked in The Lakes! 

Secret Garden, The Witchery Edinburgh Review

First off, this was the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever eaten in, I’m not kidding. Gary booked us this as a surprise for our trip to Edinburgh, and surprise it was. Just LOOK AT IT.


Candles and roses and beautiful statue things everywhere. I was genuinely surprised I didn’t see a single proposal because well, it was definitely that kind of place.

We sat down at our table for two and quickly decided that the set menu was the best way to go at £36 for three courses. There was a good selection within this with fish, meat and vegetarian options. I opted for the Scottish smoked salmon (when in Rome) to begin with and Gary had the ham terrine.

Both dishes were delicious, though the ham terrine was a little bit too cold, as if it had just been taken out of the fridge. My salmon was beautifully lightly smoked without being overwhelming, and served with tiny shallots and drops of beetroot.

Next up for mains, I went for the monkfish with curried black lentil dhal and broccoli, where Gary had the rump steak.



Both dishes were lovely but I was a bit regretful of not ordering the steak as it was like butter, beautifully cooked a really delicious piece of meat. The monkfish was great although it was slightly rubbery which was a shame. The black lentil dhal however was wonderful, just the right amount of spice and a really intense nutty flavour from the lentils. It also came with mussels which I’m not usually big on but added an extra layer of intensity to the dish.

Finally was the cheeseboard. We asked them what the cheeses were but they told us too fast for me to write them down, which was a bit of a shame. I would have liked to seen what the cheeses were on the menu or been given some labels, as I always like to know what cheese I’m enjoying!


All of the cheeses were great, and what I think was a goats cheese (the round cheese) was the star of the show. The best bit about the cheese board though was the oatcakes. Lovely, biscuity, crumbly Scottish oatcakes. AND when the waiter noticed I’d almost finished mine, he brought us another extra basket. Which was just darn nice.

Overall this was an incredible dining experience, the service prompt and friendly, and the restaurant itself absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful. Pleasingly, the food lived up to its gorgeous environment and I’d definitely recommend trying to get a table if you’re visiting Edinburgh.