Category: Food & Drink

Fairtrade Bargain Knitwear

Does anyone else that winter is dragging its feet? I’m all for a good few snow days and huddling up in my favourite knitwear in front of the fire, but I’m bored of my winter wardrobe now. Fortunately there are still a good few sale bargains to be had. These are all from People Tree

People Tree Knitwear

[Cat Jumper || Fairisle Cardigan || Beth Jumper || Slow Fashion Jumper || Alison Loose Knit Cardigan]

One of my aims this year is to buy as many of clothes from sustainable and ethical shops as possible. I want to know that my shopping choices are helping to improve the lives of people somewhere around the world and that the clothes I wear aren’t hurting the planet. I’m a huge fan of People Tree and have been for a long time.

It’s fair to say my winter knitwear is looking a little sorry for itself and in the final throes of winter, it’s well worth picking up a few bargains that’ll tide you over until spring and will still feel brand new come next winter. Let’s hope that it won’t be long until we’re all basking in the spring sunshine eh?

Want to treat yourself to something from People Tree? Get yourself a 10% discount with the code CHAI10 and let your money do some good!

Review: Burger Shop, Bournemouth

A few weekends ago, the family & I headed down to Bournemouth for a bit of a family get together. Sitting round the breakfast table, trying to decide where to eat for lunch, my partner Phil came across the Burger Shop. A quick perusal of the menu to check whether the veggie burger was really and truly a burger and not one of those stupid portobello mushroom in a roll masquerading as a burger and we were on our way!

Nutella Milkshake

As we walked in, I clocked the milkshake menu on the wall. This little beauty is a nutella milkshake. It was pretty much heaven in a glass and I had to make myself slow down and not drink it all in one go. Definitely worth the calorie splurge!

Fat Chips Burger Shop Veggie burger

I ordered the veggie burger with mahoosive chips to go with it. I was not disappointed. The chips were epic! They are the chunkiest chips I think I’ve ever seen! Cooked to perfection, they were delicious. While my veggie burger allegiance lies with my local burger place, Atomic Burger, this burger makes a pretty close second place. The burger patty was accompanied with the standard lettuce and tomato, but it also had a portobello mushroom and slice of cheese. Read that faux veggie burger purveyors?! The mushroom was in addition to a veggie burger patty! It was delicious. I was a very happy veggie burger fan.

I really liked the Burger Shop. The staff were great and not intrusive or overly friendly – hate when restaurant staff treat me like we’re age old friends. I would happily go back there the next time I’m in Bournemouth. Well worth a visit if you’re making a visit to the seaside.

A Lazy Guide to Healthy Eating

I have been ‘dieting’ for about half my life. Some work while you’re on them, some don’t even work while you’re doing them, but none have managed to get me to change my eating habits so I don’t have to ‘go on a diet’. I’ve written before about how much I dislike cooking. Not only that, but the planning and shopping before hand, as well as the prep and the washing up (we don’t have a dishwasher) make me, more often than not, really resent cooking from scratch. But, I’ve learnt, that if you want to eat healthily, whether you’re trying to lose weight, feel better or just stop eating crap, cooking from scratch is really the only way to go. I would say that 90% of the time, we now eat food that is cooked from scratch, healthy and good for us. It’s not easy, especially when you live a stones throw from some of the best takeaways in town, but here’s how we do it.

  1. A lazy guide to healthy eatingBe realistic. Like most people, I’m busy. And there are a million other things I’d rather be doing than chopping veg, sauteing onions or washing up 3 different saucepans. So for us to eat well, our meals have to be quick, use ingredients that we use regularly and not require kitchen skills found only in michelin star restaurants. I also know that I can’t cook every single dish from scratch, so one of our regular meals is pasta with veggie sausages. It’s not the healthiest meal in the world, but it’s certainly not the worst and it’s definitely better than getting a takeaway. I usually plan it for when we know we’ll something super quick – 12 minutes in fact. I also make sure we have a huge salad with it, just to be on the safe side!
  2. Plan ahead. For me, this is the only way it works. I sit down once a week with my shopping list, Pinterest and meal planner. I don’t like eating the same things every week, because it’s boring and is a sure fire way of making me gravitate to the pile of takeaway menus. By keeping a record of all the meals that are quick, healthy and easy, it makes this whole process much quicker. It doesn’t always work, the best laid plans and all that, but on the whole we do eat what we plan.
  3. Include treats in your plan. In the past, I’ve tried diets and cut foods and treats out of my diet. All that happens is that I fall off the ‘good food’ wagon, usually landing on a pile of pizza, cake and wine! Plus I don’t want to live a life without cake! I make sure that we have one treat meal a week, whether it’s a take away, dinner out or something quick & easy like homemade pizza using shop bought spelt pizza base. I also plan in cake or other treats. It’s definitely worth researching the healthiest options available for your treat, but if there isn’t one, just make sure you enjoy it.
  4. Don’t overdo the fruits. I know what you’re thinking – but fruit’s healthy. Well, yes it is, but it contains sugar. Granted it’s natural, not processed, but when you’re thinking of your 5, 7 or 10 fruit & veg a day, you need to make sure you eat more veg than fruit. It’s frustrating because it’s easier to eat fruit on the go and way nicer than tucking into *another* salad. Obviously, fruit is going to better than a packet of biscuits or slab of chocolate, just make sure you hike up the veggies as often as you can.
  5. Get a slow cooker. This is one of humankind’s best inventions ever. Yep, I mean that. Why? You can chuck in a handful of wholesome ingredients in the morning and come tea time, your dinner is cooked! This is my kind of cooking. Minimal prep, minimal clean up, minimal time spent in the kitchen, more time playing with Poppy. Win win.
  6. Try tofu. Despite being a vegetarian for over a decade, I’ve only recently started making meals with tofu at home. It’s a great source of healthy protein that is very easy to cook, easy to handle and goes with almost anything. We use it in stir fry dishes, with plenty of added spice. My tip? If the recipe asks you to use sesame or peanut oil, do it. It makes all the difference.
  7. Learn how to cook quinoa. Not just quinoa, chia seeds, all kinds of beans and pulses. I’ve never eaten so many tins of chickpeas and I never thought I’d be eating chia seed porridge for breakfast, but there you go. Tinned legumes are essential for healthy eating. They can bulk up a salad, add some much needed protein to a meal and are just brilliant to have around. The same can said for quinoa. You can cook up a big batch and add it to salad, chilli, stew and in place of pasta. It’s saved my bacon on more than one occasion.
  8. Eat your greens. Whichever way you dress it up, vegetables are your best friend when it comes to healthy eating. If you aren’t a fan of them, you need to find a way to befriend them (though nothing on this earth will get me eating broccoli unless it’s well hidden). For me, its about adding spice to them and getting a variety. If I eat the same ol’ veg all the time, it becomes tedious. A good way to avoid this is to go for seasonal veg.
  9. Beware the overly processed. When you’re next doing your weekly shop, take a look at the ingredients of some of your favourite convenience foods. How many ingredients do you recognise? If it’s not many, that ain’t good. Natural wholefoods will be full of good stuff. Convenient foods, not so much. I know, I’m as disappointed as you are. I’m not saying never eat them, just eat them rarely. You’ll notice the difference, trust me!
  10. Be prepared to fail. Every now and then, life is going to be so busy that despite your best intentions, you just can’t face cooking. So when you’re standing in the ready meal section of the supermarket, find the healthiest meal you can, take a look at the ingredients. If there are things on there that you can’t pronounce, step away. Look for something that has recognisable ingredients. Make sure you eat some extra veg with it and don’t worry about it. In a perfect world, you’ll have made a ton of meals from scratch, frozen them and remembered to take them out of the freezer before you left for work. But it’s not a perfect world so enjoy a ready meal every now and then, just don’t beat yourself up over it.

Here are my favourite quick & easy meals. You can find all these and lots of others on my veggie board on Pinterest. Don’t just take my word for it though – Some of the best people to follow for more help, recipes and advice are Laura from Wholeheartedly Healthy, Natasha from Honestly Healthy and Ella from Deliciously Ella.

I’m not a nutritionist so all these tips are just things that work for me and I have years and years and years of experimenting, as I have been battling with my diet for ever! My hatred of cooking, combined with the ease of ordering pizza have made me need to eat better. I know that in order for me to be well, I have to eat well. But it doesn’t have to be a chore. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat cake, takeaway or enjoy the odd gin, of course I do, just not as often as I used to. It’s just all in balance. Eating this way has been the best change to my diet that I could possibly have made and it’s been easier than other ‘diet’.

What tips have you got for healthy eating? What’s your favourite healthy recipe?

Quick and Easy Healthy Meals

I’ve noticed that I have a food pattern. I decide to make a change and eat more healthily. So I find a load of recipes, eat well, feel good, exercise more, lose weight and generally feel pretty good. Then, for some reason, it all falls apart. I stop exercising, eat junk, feel crap, put all the weight back on, eat more junk and so the downward spiral goes. I’ve pretty much been doing this since I started living on my own in my early 20’s. Part of it is because I don’t enjoy cooking, and cooking from scratch is quite a complicated process, which involves planning, time & effort. Ordering from Dominos is much easier, and I don’t even need to speak to anyone to buy their amazing pizzas. *drools*

However, I’m sick of this pattern. I’m sick of ‘almost’ fitting into half the clothes in my wardrobe. I’m sick of feeling crappy because I’m eating crap. I’m sick of my body being in pain because I’m not taking care of it. I’m sick of repeating the same ol’ shit. Enough is enough. So back in August, I decided that if this was going to work, I need quick, easy, veg based meals. If a meal is too complicated and take ages, then it’s not going to work, because I know myself. I’ll just get takeaway. So I headed to Pinterest and had a good look around. My Veggie Food board is my recipe book. I can search for things that take my fancy, define by ‘vegetarian’, ‘vegan’ and ‘gluten-free’ depending on what else I’m going to be eating that week, fill in my menu planner and do the online shop. Here are some our favourites:

Healthy Eating

Roasted Ratatouille Pasta // Spicy Red Lentil Soup // Zesty Pea & Parsley Fritters // Veggie Chow Mein // Chickpeas, Black Beans and Spinach with Poached Eggs // One Pan Mexican Quinoa // Super Simple Slow Cooker Channa Masala //
{All images found on Pinterest, via their respective sources. Original images can be found by clicking on the links above.}

I have learnt that tofu is super quick and easy to cook and once you’ve bought the rice wine, red pepper flakes etc, you can pretty much make any meal using it. I’ve also learnt that if an evening meal needs roast veg, I can just double up and have enough for lunch the next day with couscous & a can of chickpeas. Another thing I’ve learnt is that I do actually like black beans and that a slow cooker is one of the best inventions ever!

Another thing I’ve also made sure we have are treats, but instead of having something every day, we have one treat a week and one treat meal a week. We can still have pizza, just not every day. I’ve lost the taste for regular chocolate and don’t really like raw chocolate so that’s out, but I do love ‘healthy’ cakes. If a cake can be made with vegetables, be a healthy option and still taste decadent, then I’m all on board with that! With GBBO, we always have cake to eat while watching it. We’re very lucky to have Modern Baker nearby, who make the most delicious healthy cakes, meaning we can enjoy our treats, knowing that they’re the best choice of treat we can have.

Eating clean. Healthy eating. Getting enough veg. Whatever you want to call it. I know I feel better when I eat well, exercise regularly and generally take care of myself. It might sound obvious, but it’s not always easy, day to day. Having said that, I’m not interested in having courgette spaghetti or a cauliflower pizza base. I’d rather eat carbs occasionally than faff about with all that. It has to be easy to eat healthily and I’m learning that more often than not, it’s easier than I think.

If you’ve got any great recipes, then please let me know! I’m always after new recipes to try. What’s your secret to eating well? Or do you have your local Chinese takeaway on speed dial?