Eating the right food for your job – findings from the ‘pod-uctivity’ report

These days I do take a keen interest in diet and nutrition, so I was interested to receive a new report from Pod, London’s  healthy food-to-go chain of restaurants. The report looked at what to eat and when to eat it. Crucially, it also looked at how different jobs have different demands and matched them with the right foods to support productivity. The report identified four key job sectors: Creatives, Office Angels, High Flyers and Key Workers.

Being in PR, I fall into the Creatives category – here is just some of the nutritional advice the pod report had for me:

  • Breakfast is a must, containing some slow- release carbohydrate to provide energy to fuel the brain and lift the energy when needed. A mix of oats, nuts and seeds is a great start to the working day.
  • High sugar, high fat diets should be avoided as this will cause sluggishness. These types of foods may ‘accidently’ creep in if eating is not planned, especially after a brainstorming session when brain activity and stress levels have been high. Instead have a slow release carbohydrate snack before and a handful of antioxidant rich blueberries after. It might not sound as appetising as a quick fix chocolate bar, but it will work wonders.
  • Carbohydrates should be reduced through the day and eating late at night avoided, include foods high in tryptophan with dinner to calm the brain and aid sleep.
  • Ensure pantothenic acid intake is adequate to help deal with stress; chicken salad with avocado, a sprinkle of seeds and a heaped tablespoon of whole grains is a perfect stress-busting lunch.

I found it really interesting, I’m traditionally a breakfast denier (since my fast days have taught me to hold off as long as possible without eating). But perhaps when I finally start to feel hungry, usually around 11am, I should be choosing something like a healthy porridge.

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Pod’s Peanut Butter Power Porridge

I’m not a Londoner, so don’t have the option to get my nutritional fix on-the-go with pod but I do make regular trips to the capital. So next time I’m there I’ll certainly be taking the report’s recommendation and popping into the nearest pod for something healthy and delicious. The new menu sounds great (you lucky Londoners)…I particularly like the sound of: Salmon and Seaweed Caviar Scrambled Eggs, Peanut Butter Power Porridge, a Vitamim Hit Blitz and the Falafel Shawarma Wraps!

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Pod’s Salmon and Seaweed Scambled Eggs 

Pod’s founders say their menu reflects their customers ‘ambitious, health concious and smart’ and I have to say I agree. Check out the report for yourself here.

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A delightful dinner date at Vespers in the Apollo Hotel

I was recently invited a long to dine at Vespers, one of the restaurants inside the Apollo Hotel in Basingstoke. As many of you know, I don’t leave Winchester all that often to eat out, so it has to be good to get me there! I’m pleased to say the food at Vespers was delicious and the staff were very friendly and attentive.

I’d never been to Vespers before but liked the sound of everything on the menu, which included some fantastic ingredients including smoked garlic and a Surrey farmed 28 day aged rib eye steak.

I was out for the evening with my sister for a catch up and some good food, Vespers didn’t disappoint, we had a quiet, corner table and spent the evening chatting away. Being sat in the corner didn’t mean we were forgotten about though, service was excellent. I couldn’t fault the food either, great flavours, portion sizes and presentation.

I enjoyed citrus cured salmon with a tomato, chive, red onion and lemon zest salsa to start, which was very good. I’m a huge salmon fan so I finished it all, including flavoursome salsa.

Citrus Cured Salmon Vespers Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

A starter of citrus cured salmon

I did have a definite case of food envy over my dining companion’s starter of pan seared scallops with a saffron sauce and pomegranate salad. I’m very fond of scallops and these looked great, beautifully presented and just enough for a starter.

A starter of pan seared scallops

A starter of pan seared scallops

I followed my salmon with another fishy choice of baked fillet of white fish, Atlantic salmon, king prawns, finely chopped fennel & tarragon, topped with a creamed & herb potato mash. This was a generously sized fillet with elegantly piped mash potato on top. The flavours were lovely, creamy without being too rich

fish Vespers Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

My main course

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Our other main course was the rib eye steak, which came with a large onion ring and chunky chips cooked in beef dripping. Of course for the purposes of the review, I had to sample a few of the chips, which were huge and very crisp, a good accompaniment to a tender steak.

Steak Onion Ring Vespers Restaurant Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

The steak main course, topped off with a giant, delicious onion ring

chips Vespers Restaurant Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

We both enjoyed the chunky chips cooked in beef dripping

We didn’t quite have room for dessert but enjoyed a cappuccino each, which came with everyone’s favourite (especially mine!) a Lotus Biscoff biscuit. A perfect end to a lovely meal.

If you find yourself in Basingstoke I can recommend a meal at Vespers, take a look at the menu for yourself on their website: http://www.apollohotels.com/ – you’ll also find details here of a special Valentines Day Candlelit dinner.

New Restaurant Review: Fish Tale Winchester

Winchester has a great new restaurant that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times recently. Situated where the Terracotta/Charles House used to be at the bottom of town (I like to refer to this as the hip end of town), is Fish Tale Bar and Grill.

As the name suggests it’s all about fish and seafood, so it’s right up myself and the boy’s culinary street. Prawns, fish and seafood are all firm favourites of ours, so we couldn’t wait to try it out.

When you step inside it’s got a lovely contemporary feel and looks nothing like the former Chinese restaurant that it once was. We found the cheerful staff to be super-attentive to which was really nice. Anyway, I’m sure you’re more interested in the food, so here goes.

We both felt something like light to begin with and there were some good choices to accommodate this, I opted for lobster consommé and my dining companion chose smoked salmon with asparagus and hollandaise sauce.

Delicious smoked salmon starter

Delicious smoked salmon starter

The lovely lobster consomme with some garlic toast and a tastylobster dumpling

The lovely lobster consommé with some garlic toast and a tasty lobster dumpling

For our main courses we didn’t choose quite such light options…

A sizeable surf and turf for Tom

A sizeable surf and turf for him

Sensational lobster burger for me!

And a sensational lobster burger for me!

We thoroughly enjoyed our main courses, I especially loved the lobster burger which came in a soft bun with bacon and crème fraiche. We both absolutely devoured our meals, so much so that there wasn’t any room for dessert!

I’ve been back since and enjoyed the pan fried salmon and the lobster thermidor, both very tasty. I plan to try something different each time I go until I’ve tried the whole menu!

There were some nice wines and fizz to choose from too, including one of my favourites Laurent Perrier Rose. And on my last visit we tried a Rose wine from a vineyard in Devon. Plenty to choose from to accompany all the great fishy dishes on the menu.

All in all, I give Fish Tale a firm thumbs up. It’s casual and relaxed yet has a refined edge to it, a pleasant place to spend an evening. The food’s good and there are a few choices for veggies and those who don’t do fish too.

Give it a try and perhaps I’ll see you in there next time!

Fabulous Frozen Food from COOK

Recently I was lucky enough to be sent some frozen ready meals from COOK – creators of ‘remarkable food for your freezer’. I was intrigued and immediately visited their website where I learnt that COOK chefs simply prepare tasty meals using the same ingredients and technology that you would at home, freeze them and deliver. So simple – but what a brilliant business idea! It reminds me of how mums’ send students off to uni with a hearty homemade lasagne for the freezer and I liked that, it’s just a lovely concept I think.

What appealed to me was the fact the meals from COOK really were homemade and not full of numerous, nasty ingredients that you can’t understand.

I was thrilled to be offered some samples to try, after a good browse I settled on some of the OMG Pots – a range of  smaller meals with less than 400 calories and 14g of fat each. With dishes like Prawn Tom Yum, Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Japanese Salmon they sounded delicious and seemed ideal for a fast day dinner or tasty lunch on a normal day. Needless to say I was very excited on a wet and windy Tuesday to receive this package full of scrummy sounding meals….

A bundle of frozen meals from COOK

A bundle of frozen meals from COOK

That evening I sampled the Moroccan Spiced Chicken and served up the Chicken Pad Thai to my other half Tom. We both really enjoyed our dishes, what I liked was how full of flavour my dish was. I’m a fan of anything Moroccan spiced and this didn’t disappoint. It was warming, tasted fresh and yes, home-cooked. It being under 375 calories was a nice bonus too! Tom polished off the Pad Thai pretty quickly, so that was a definite winner as well. I will add, these are quite small meals and probably more suited to lunch than an evening meal but for a quick, light dinner they would be perfect.

I couldn’t believe how simple it all was to have a nice,  nutritious, homemade meal. I just popped them in the microwave and ping, done!

Terrible photo! But the Moroccan Chicken really was lovely

Terrible photo! But the Moroccan Chicken really was lovely

It’s not just healthy, light meals on offer from COOK either, there’s a whole range of tempting sounding meals from classic fish pie, to curries, family meals and food for entertaining. I’m certainly going to be trying out a few of the other dishes! Whilst I do enjoy my attempts at cooking from scratch, it isn’t something that’s possible every night of the week and it’s great to have a nutritious, natural option in the freezer for these occasions. And for people who live alone, I think COOK meals are a simply a fantastic idea – no need for gross supermarket ready meals that costs a bomb, look nothing like the picture and are full of unrecognisable ingredients!

If you’d like to find out more about COOK and the meals they offer visit there website: www.cookfood.net.

Thanks to the guys at COOK for the samples and introducing me to the range!

Last weekend’s foodie highlights

Well, the title says it all really…

Last Friday night’s visit to the Chesil Rectory was a lovely last minute treat. The menu was great, just look at these yummy starters…

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Portland Crab, Secrett’s Beetroots, Avocado, Mayonnaise         

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Treacle Cured Salmon, Brixham Scallop, Pickled Ginger

And of course there’s the beautiful Cottonworth rose to enjoy when at the Chesil Rectory. This English sparkling wine is every bit as lovely as something like a Laurent Perrier Rose. It’s local too, if you haven’t tried it already, it’s a must! You can also get it from Wine Utopia in Winchester.

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On Saturday I ate at an old favorite that never disappoints, The Bugle Inn, Twyford. The tasty bacon chop on their menu at the moment is highly recommended! It comes served on a bed of bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top and some gorgeous cauliflower cheese – it was heavenly and certainly very filling! No pictures due to me being a greedy guts and scoffing it all without thinking of my blog!

You wouldn’t think I could eat more food in one weekend…but I did. To celebrate my dad’s Birthday a fabulous family party tea was put on at home. Featuring afternoon tea, triangle sandwiches, my sister’s yummy mocha cupcakes and a scone or two, it was a fine birthday feast! Here’s a snapshot…
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Definitely a few fast days need this week after a full on weekend of food, glorious food!

xXx

My weekend in food

It occurred to me that I do my most interesting eating at the weekends, whether I’m out and about or attempting to create a little of my own kitchen magic. So I thought I’d start to report of my weekend nourishments, foodie moments and culinary catastrophes…and as it’s a Sunday, I’m starting now …

Friday’s used to be all about going out for me, but now I long for the opportunity to stay in and cook something lovely, possibly watch a film and wash it all down with a glass (or bottle!) of something equally lovely. So this Friday saw me and Tom creating that most indulgent of comfort meals, home-made burgers. The nearby shop stocks local minced beef, which I blended together with finely diced red onion and a few herbs and spices. Isle of Wight cherry tomatoes helped me make a salsa to spread on a lovely wholemeal bun, with salad and cheese…oh and a little extra indulgence, garlic mushrooms! I wish the film we watched had been as good as the burgers…

The Saturday was more of a wishful, food wanting day. As I wandered into Winchester, with the Christmas lights on the famous Christmas market now open, the city was absolutely crammed, with everyone of its eating establishments packed out with people – but I did manage to squeeze a quick visit to the newly opened Caracoli – an excellent coffee shop with amazing foods. I am big fan of it’s well-established Alresford branch, so popped into to the new Winchester to store to pick up one of their artisan scotch eggs as a treat for Tom.

Saturday night saw us catching up with a few friends in The Bridge at Shawford, where the boys enjoyed a rich winter special of pheasant with sweet potato mash and I had a rather nice piece of salmon. What was also great was the interesting selection of beverages behind the bar including Kopperberg fruit ciders and Liefmans fruit beer – just right for the walk between The Bridge and The Bugle Inn!

I’d like to say that night ended quietly there, and not that we ended walking home at 5.30am…but, we did, and that about brings me up to date on weekend food, aside from this morning’s bacon and mushroom sandwich (hangover heaven).

What’s next…well Tom’s pushing for a Rimjhim’s King Prawn Coconut Curry – we’ll see.

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-Update, he’s just brought me a cup of Earl Grey – love him.