Meat free meals for meat eaters!

I’m not a fully-fledged veggie, vegan or even pescatarian (though I do opt for fish over meat most of the time). However, I do firmly believe the future has to be more plant-based. Eating meat every day isn’t good for us (especially red meat and processed meats) but more importantly is that is isn’t sustainable either (watch Cowspiracy people!). Of course, this message wasn’t the easiest to deliver to my meat-eating husband, but with a few carefully planned veggie meals he’s agreed to eating a few more of these each week. Woohoo! So, what were these magical plant-based options? Read on to find out…

HECK Bollywood Bites

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I’ve just discovered these in Waitrose and they’re delicious! I’d say they’re like curry-spiced stuffing balls, only no meat. Served with brown rice and stir-fried veggies, a cucumber raita dip – this went down a treat!

Sweet potato coconut curry

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There’s something about the combination of sweet potato and coconut that really works. They internet is full of recipes, I like this one. Or I’m partial to just combining a little Blue Dragon Red Thai Curry Paste with half fat coconut milk and some almond butter for a quick tasty sauce. Pack the curry with lots of other veggies like mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and you’ve got lots of lovely texture with each mouthful.

Frittata

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Okay, so being egg- based this isn’t the most sustainable dish, but baby steps, it’s an exercise in getting meat eaters to realise veggie meals can be very nice and filling. Plus, all the egg means it’s high I protein, so it’s good for gym goers. You can pop almost anything in your Frittata, I like mushrooms, Pappadew peppers, spinach, onion, broccoli and sometimes a little cheese. Herbs and spices and even curry powder are good additions here too – experiment until you get your perfectly flavoured Frittata! Or, there are some really great ready-made ones available on the super market shelves, I LOVE the ones by Higgidy.

Pulled Jackfruit Burger

Jackfruit is from the tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa. It is technically a fruit, but it has a consistency similar to that of chicken or pork. It has a fairly neutral taste, so it takes on the flavour of the sauce or seasoning you cook it with. It really is surprisingly meaty! When you pull it all apart and cook it in a barbeque style sauce it’s very similar to pulled pork. A bit of effort was required to get the consistency and flavour right, I followed this recipe from Ocado which worked pretty well. The effort was worthwhile though as the resulting burgers we’re really good!

What are your meat-free miracle dishes?

Those are four dishes currently going down well in my household…I’d love to hear more suggestions of yummy meat-free options that will please and satisfy meat-eaters!

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8 Things I don’t really understand about clean eating and nutrition

So these days I try to eat as little processed food as possible and follow what (I think) are good nutritional guidelines. But questions, thoughts and concerns continuously pop into my mind! These are a few of the thoughts I’ve had…if you’re up on your nutritional knowledge (and feeling generous), perhaps you can address some of these for me…

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Nutritional questions…

  • Am I getting enough fibre? What’s the best way to get more without carbs/grains? I’m trying to stick to a Whole 30(ish!) diet…so don’t eat many grains.
  • Speaking of grains…Is it okay to eat oats? I’ve been including these (just porridge made with water) on days when I plan to exercise. I need the energy for working out and I’m afraid fruits, veggies and eggs won’t give it to me! Is that wrong?
  • Does juicing fruits and veggies really lessen their nutritional value? Is this an urban myth? I’m having a green juice with lots of leafy greens (and not much else other than coconut water) most morning hoping to receive all the goodness of kale and spinach this way…will this work or am I wasting my time?
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Sharing a breakfast juice 

  • I know I need a daily probiotic, it’s all about the gut health! But how do you know when you’ve found a good probiotic supplement? I hear people talking about finding one that ‘really works for me’ – but I’m not sure what this means? I am taking Probio 7, basically because it had good reviews. Please tell me about other good ones?
  • Can we set the record straight on coconut oil? Good or bad? I use it to cook with because of the smoke point issues with other oils. But, should I be using it super sparingly because it’s still fattening or with abandon because it’s good for me?
  • While we’re on the subject of coconuts, what about ‘coconut nectar’ is this just sugar? I tried some grain-free paleo cereal with this as a key ingredient and it tasted way too nice to be good for me!
  • What about paleo friendly ‘cereal bars’ – so grain free ones like Primal Pantry, Rude Health, Nakd. The ones that are basically just nuts and dates smooshed together. Are these okay? I do find these a saviour as a quick on-the-go breakfast or mid-morning pick me up. Surely with no added sugar, no grains and being pretty clean with very few ingredients – they are okay? Please don’t say they’re not.
  • I have a new found love for oat milk, specifically a Oatly Barista, I have lots in coffee. Is this bad for me?

I’m off to Google a few of these – but do comment if you have any wisdom to share on any of the above!

 

 

 

 

 

National Tea Day: A Sneak Preview

I’ve just been told about the biggest Par-TEA of the year, The UK’s only dedicated tea Fes-tea-val – National Tea Day!

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How amazing does a huge celebration of tea sound?! Let me tell you it has a show-stopping agenda, packed full of prac-tea-ly everything you could ever imagine that involves our nation’s favourite drink.

Here’s a sneak preview of what’s in store for the weekend (plus a few fun facts about tea!)…

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FOR THE FAMILY

Tea ‘n’ Treat Village – An entire village of treats, snacks, bakes and cakes and everything else delicious you can think of! This isn’t just a chance to delight in sweets galore though, there’s a host of celebrity masterclasses open to everyone. Mich Turner MBE will be teaching tea lovers how to bake and decorate the perfect tea accompaniment and Alana Spencer, winner of The Apprentice 2017 and Founder of Ridiculously Rich will be showing visitors how to pair cakes and bakes for the ultimate treat combination.

Tea Bazaars – This is the ultimate market place for lovers of great food, great drink and great homeware and the perfect place to find delicious and unusual new products. Each tent has a selection of unique sellers so whether it be artisan snacks or teas from all over the world you’re guaranteed to find something new.

The British Bou-tea-que – In honour of the Queen’s Birthday and National Tea Day itself, The British Bou-tea-que will be showcasing the best of Britain’s tea, treats and fashion. Not only will this area be filled with a bespoke selection of some fabulous British businesses, it’s also packed with activities for the whole family including afternoon tea etiquette lessons, selfies with Queen Victoria and a Chocola-tea parlour.

The Picnic Park – With riverside views, the Picnic Park is the perfect place for families to relax, refuel and enjoy all of their newly purchased goods. This area is also packed with activities including dance classes, an Art-Tea Zone and a Sparkling Tea Bar to help guests stay refresh and hydrated throughout the day.

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FOR THE HEALTH CONSCIOUS

The Vitali-Tea Garden – Set against the backdrop of the glorious ‘Italian Gardens’ this is a healthy experience to really savour. From anti-oxidant properties, to benefits for the guts to glowing skin the benefits of our nations favourite tipple are endless. Visitors can chat with health gurus and tea professionals, try and buy organic products and new to the event this year are a number of personal training and yoga activities.

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FOR THE SECRET SCEINTISTS

Masterclasses and Mixology – National Tea Day isn’t just about consuming tea but also learning about it and the ways it’s consumed all over the world. This is why the organisers have put together an agenda of masterclasses for visitors to enjoy and benefit from. Whether it’s using tea as an ingredient in cocktails or blending your own tea under the guidance of a tea master everyone has something to learn. Guests are invited to explore ways in which tea is so much more than milk and 2 sugars and how it can actually be the perfect complement to any food.

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FOR THE CULTURALIST

The Museum of Historic Tea ware – Perfect for anyone who appreciates fine tea, art or culture, The Chitra Collection showcases some of the finest and most historically significant pieces from the collection and spanning a thousand years of history. This exhibition, on display at Chiswick House for two days only, will highlight the importance and diversity of tea drinking customs across the globe.

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FOR THE PAR-TEA ANIMALS

Tea & Tipple Boulevard – With top entertainment including DJ Sammy Porter, The Tailormade, the Electric Violinist, The U.K’s very own Michael Buble Act and DJ No Sugar; the internationally renowned Dutch Female DJ’s, this is a line up which cant fail to get festival season started. Tea ‘n’ Tipple Boulevard is a mixture of The Strip meeting Mayfair as guests will have the chance sample tea cocktails and tea infused beer in a sleek and stylish setting.

To find out more about National Tea Day and to book tickets for the Fes-Tea-Val, visitnationalteaday.co.uk.

All images and stats in this post kindly provided by National Tea Day.

Gin Pairing Event at new Hampshire Pub

An exciting new pub and coffee shop is now open in the centre of Fleet – where the old Ask restaurant used to be. The site has had an extensive makeover and the new pub is called Hart House. It’s open throughout the day offering a place to enjoy drinks, snacks or meal crafted by its talented team of chefs. I have not had a chance to visit yet but it looks lovely and I’m hoping to pop in soon and sample the food!

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New pub for Hampshire – Hart House in Fleet

Something for Hampshire-based gin lovers to look forward to is Hart House’s forthcoming Sipsmith Gin Pairing Supper Club on 27th April. This event features three fabulous courses, each paired with a different Sipsmith Gin. Take a look at the pub’s events page for full details on the menu and how to book.

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I’m hoping to jump on the train to Fleet and check out Hart House in the not too distant future – look out for a review soon!

 

Why Kitzbuhel has stolen my heart

I’ve been to the Austrian town of Kitzbuhel before and knew I was fond of it but it was our most recent trip out there which really made me fall in love with the place. I like Austria for skiing generally, though I adore Switzerland, Austria is closer and the journey feels easier (when you fly that is).

 

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Kitzbuhel’s a fun town with some lovely bars and restaurants, especially at our hotel, the Schwarzer Adler. The restaurant is very special and known for fine dining, we enjoyed one meal here during the trip (preferring to keep it casual most of the time). Here’s a little look at what we did eat.

 

The evenings spent at the hotel bar were possibly the most fun of any trip. The bar staff are amazing mixologists and can make any drink. We were introduced to a popular twist on an espresso martini featuring Baileys – delicious!

The hotel’s renowned Italian entertainer got everyone singing, dancing and making new friends too. Every night we were in bed later than planned – but holidays are about having some fun aren’t they?!

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I’m not going to go into the skiing in details – because I’m not an amazing skier and the ambience, atmosphere, food and drink is 50% of the trip for me anyway! I’m sure no-one will be shocked to learn I’m really all about the Apres Ski and the local cuisine. Here’s a yummy salad and an outdoor pool enjoyed on the trip as part of my apres ski activities (wish I had taken more photos)…

 

Being in Austria we tried a few local Rieslings and I came away with a bit of a liking for them – they’ve been a regular feature in my Ocado basket since. When in Austria there’s also a certain soft drink I have a penchant for (if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen it on my stories!) – it’s called Almdudler and it’s everywhere in Austria. Seriously, it’s as big as Coca-Cola but for some reason you can’t really get it other countries. It’s very refreshing with a sort of herbal sweet taste, yes I’m sure it’s not good for me, but it was a holiday. If you’re ever in Austria you should try this magical beverage!

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The town of Kitzbuhel itself is a lovely place, we liked restaurants Cuisino and Pipino’s but absolutely adored Bergdiele  – which had a huge selection of gins. It was a pretty cool place, with quirky but cool décor (do wish I’d taken more photos instead of drinking all the gins). We loved the food too, this monkfish dish (middle image) was very good…

 

For a little bit of local history Kitzbuhel also has quite a sizeable local museum, with some interesting exhibits. I didn’t get the chance to go this time but I’d been previously and enjoyed it. The shops in the local area are full of expensive ski wear as you’d expect but there’s also a few designer boutiques including a Louis Vuitton shop! I found the number of shops dedicated to selling traditional Austrian clothing quite fascinating – we’re talking Tyrolean hats, lederhosen and lots of green! Still it must have influenced me somehow as I’ve come home and purchased this skirt….it’s a little bit yodel-adle-eedle-idle-oo isn’t it?!

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Thank you Kitzbuhel – we’ll certainly be back!

xXx

 

This month: Celebrate Bob Marley’s Birthday

If you live in Winchester like me, you won’t have been able to miss the latest edition to its restaurant scene, the brightly coloured Turtle Bay! I attended its recent launch party and I think it’s fair to say the folks of Winchester gave the Caribbean restaurant a very warm welcome. Here’s a few pics from the fabulous launch…

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With the restaurant now well and truly open, this month Turtle Bay Winchester is commemorating Bob Marley’s birthday on 6th February. This means the entire month of February is dedicated to all things reggae. Plus, they also have a special 4-course Valentine’s menu for £25 and a special singles offer too (No Woman/Man No Cry).

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As well as a musical celebration of Bob Marley and reggae, Turtle Bay also has Marley-inspired Cocktails – ‘Marley Mojito’, ‘Jammin’’, ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and ‘One Love.’ Yum! There’s even a two-for-one offer on these special cocktails too. I’ll definitely be popping in to make the most of Marley month!

If you’re not already tempted to book a table, here’s some mouthwatering shots of the food on offer…

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Alpine Eating

A few weeks ago myself and a few companions set off on our annual pilgrimage to The Alps, shaking things up a bit this year and choosing France over Switzerland. Thank goodness we did make this change as our usual destination of Zermatt was pretty much snowed-in. Val D’isere was experiencing heavy snowfall too – but thankfully we managed to get out there most days.

Skiing was limited though thanks to lift closures and high avalanche risks. This naturally meant more time for eating and drinking. Being in the French Alps I was quick to tuck into a tartiflette, my favourite treat of mostly potatoes, bacon, cream and cheese.

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I also managed to tuck into crepes, chocolat vinnois and vin chaud. But the main agenda was cheese, cheese and more cheese…I actually had so much I’m sort of off it right now (can you OD on cheese?!). An individual (but still very large) raclette all to myself was quite a feat of cheese consumption, even for me! I also indulged in cheese fondue and cheesy croissants for breakfast, so definitely on a break from dairy right now.

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Our hotel Aigle des Neiges was a lovely cosy place with a roaring fire and delicious cocktails on the menu. It’s a good thing too, some nights while we were away a curfew was imposed so the streets could be cleared of snow safely at night, meaning we were glad of such cosy, boozy surroundings!

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Our favourite spots for food while out there were La Casserole, Restaurant les Tufs and Chez Paolo for pizza.

I hadn’t been to Val D’isere for 10 years, so it was like new with a few hazy memories of places here and there. And while my heart is most definitely in Switzerland, there’s something to be said for France and French cuisine. Plus it’s great being able to understand everything a little better (I have a good basic grip of French, but struggle with the Swiss-German spoken in Swiss ski resorts). The amazing convenience of the Eurostar ski train to Bourg Saint Maurice is a huge bonus too (just don’t expect to get any sleep on the overnight train!).

On the left above is Val D’isere in 2018 and right is Val D’isere in 2008. The big difference is helmets – why didn’t we have them 10 years ago?!

Anyway, farewell for now France, can I suggest you get more heated ski lift seats please?

 

 

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