Snackalackin’

First up in my little holiday and travel series comes snacks. You know that feeling, we all have it, when you’re on a long journey whether it’s the train, plane or car and you’re seriously bored. All you can think about is what to eat next, you need something to satisfy that nagging in the back of your mind. Sweet, salty, or a bit of both.  The need grows stronger the less you try to think about it until you have to give in and find something QUICK, however the next services are miles away or the only option you have is beige food. EW

I like to believe that snacks are my thing. No matter how long or short my journey out is, I will never be caught without something in my bag to nibble on. People always laugh at the amount of food I bring with me to places, but when lunch is still 2 hours away, I’ll just sit over here nibbling away, then you’ll be laughing. 

There’s always so many different opinions on snacking, what some people think are right and others think are wrong. That snacking between meals is bad for you, or that you should eat 4, 5 or even 6 small meals a day. You see, I like to believe that you do what feels right for your body, what makes you feel full of beans and ready to take on the big bad world, not lie on the sofa afterwards in need of a sleep. Personally I can’t handle eating three large meals a day, my blood sugar levels drop in between and I turn into the hulk, I’m not kidding. Also I love a good snack, maybe more than my actual meals. At the moment I have been trying to put a little bit of weight on to get back some shape to my body and try to build some actual muscles (no more 10 year old boy chic for me), so it’s been three meals a day and three snacks. Eating every 3-4 hours is what I like to do, but be intuitive. 

Think of whole foods when it comes to your snacks, nothing processed. It’s best if it doesn’t even have an ingredients list, but if it does make sure it only contains things that you recognise to be as food. No chemicals here please.

At snack times I try to follow the principle of always eating some form of protein, especially if pairing it with something sweeter. That way you have energy in a steady stream and no spiked blood sugar levels leaving you needing more only an hour or so later. 

Here are some ideas for ya:

  • Banana coins with peanut butter, cacao nibs and cinnamon
  • Apple slices with nut butter, almond or hazelnut is really good
  • Celery or carrot sticks with nut butter or tahini, add a few raisins for ants on a log styleee
  • Some yogurt with berries (coconut, Greek or goats is lovely, if you eat dairy try to stick to organic and full fat)
  • Chunks of cucumber with hummus, sprinkle on some paprika for a punch
  • Chunks of cheese with crackers or some crudités, also with apple slices 
  • A handful of nuts and seeds with some fruit or veggies
  • 1/2 an avocado with lemon salt and chilli, I like to eat this with crackers, a small piece of toast or with some seeds
  • Medjool dates stuffed with nut butter, sprinkle of cinnamon, a lil bit of pink salt. Do it with tahini, DARE YA!
  • Homemade muesli bars or energy balls (keep on reading for the recipe kids)
  • Some chia pudding, go crazy with the toppings, nut butter, fruit, sprinkley things from your cupboard
  • Maybe some banana bread toasted with butter or coconut butter or nut butter
  • Leftovers from breakfast lunch or dinner (yes I do like to eat cold curry)
  • Some boiled eggs with spinach or avocado
  • A little smoothie, not just fruit though, try to throw in some veggies and a source of fat and protein

I could go on and on and on….nothing is that special or trying too hard, just things found in the fridge or cupboard that fills the big gap between feastings. You’re probably thinking that I eat a lot of nut butter, well yes you’re right I do, it’s an addiction I probably need help. You only live once though, might as well enjoy the peanut butter whilst you can.

Find a peanut butter with no added extras, i like meridian and it must be crunchy!

Speaking of peanut butter, here’s a recipe that I threw together one day when I really fancied some peanut butter energy balls, with cacao nibs. Not like a cookie at all, but kinda sorta is, I’ll let you be the judge of that one. They’re not too sweet like some of these types of recipes can be, but will give you boundless energy and two will keep you going nicely.

 Peanut butter and cacao nib energy balls

Ingredients

100g oats

75g almonds

75g desiccated coconut

25g hemp seeds

2 heaped tbsp hemp protein powder (or any protein powder that you like)

1 tbsp maca powder (gives a sweet malty flavour and hella energy)

1-2 tsp cinnamon, depending if you like cinnamon as much as me

Pinch of salt

6 big squishy medjool dates (can use normal dates just soak first in boiling water)

3 big tbsp peanut butter, I like crunchy

3 tbsp coconut oil

Big handful cacao nibs

  1. First pulse the almonds in a food processor until broken down into smaller chunks
  2. Add all the other ingredients, except the cacao nibs and blend until the mixture has a sticky consistency and you can form it into a ball. If needed add more coconut oil, peanut butter or a splash of water if it still feels on the dry side.
  3. Add in the cacao nibs and blend until they’re evenly mixed in
  4. Squish into balls, I think I made around 15 smaller ones, but make whatever size you like bigger or smaller until you run out of mixture
  5. I rolled them in some extra cinnamon and maca (think posh truffles), or roll in more cacao nibs, desiccated coconut, goji berries, raw cacao powder or leave them naked and free. Whatever you want to make them pretty
  6. Pop in the freezer for 20 or 30 minutes on a plate or a tray. Now this is where I always go wrong and forget about them until 3 hours later. Then transfer to a Tupperware and keep in the fridge or the freezer. They keep best in the freezer, so take a few out at a time to thaw in the fridge ready for whenever you need a pick me up

Soft and gooey medjool dates are what you need here for that caramelly richness

Two ready to go for some poolside snackin’

If it’s snacks for a plane journey you’re needing you’ll have to stay clear of yogurt and nut butters, but the majority of the others will all travel well, especially energy balls ^^ hint hint. Get yourself loads of Tupperware boxes in different sizes to take things in so nothing gets squished or spills in your bag, then you’re just about set. Let the snacking envy COMMENCE!

Lots of love, sunshine and happy travels

X

Sweet potato falafel and not your average tzatziki

So it’s Friday night. Every week for me, that means catching the train from Euston back to Manchester. Ma HOME TOWNNNN. I really do hate the trip though. Just thinking of staring at the departures board, waiting for the platform to flash onto the screen, it makes my tummy knot. Is it really necessary to sprint to the train, even when you have an allocated seat? I don’t believe so.

I could rant on and on about the trains. Ridiculously expensive, always overboked, the last off peak train of the afternoon at 3pm (who even finishes work early enough to be able to catch that), and trying to eat my dinner with someone elses bum in my face. No its not that fun at all.

Anyway, talking of dinner. That’s the one thing that gets me through the journey. Why hello Leon. A London based chain of fast food restaurants. But most definitely not your typical fast food joint, no greasy burgers and soggy chips here. Created by Henry Dimbleby, wanting to provide the hungry london hoards with healthy and nutritious food, but quickly. Not a big ask at all.

Expect warming tagines, meatballs, curries, or a fish finger wrap, a superfood salad, even oven baked waffle fries, Leon provides something for everyone at an affordable price. Sick of Pret and Itsu? Then head on over to Leon for a change, you won’t be disappointed. They cater for all diets: vegetarian, pescetarian, meat eater, even some for vegans. If you like what you see and eat grab one of their cookbooks to recreate the recipes in your own kitchen.

And onto the reason we’re all here. Sweet potato falafel. I’m not usually one to eat the same thing over and over. I always like to try something new, that way I can exerience as much as possible. However that has backfired on me many times. Anyone ever get super hangry, can’t make up your mind about two things and ALWAYS choose the wrong one? Done it! All too often.

The stress from catching the train for me is enough, I like to know that I will at least enjoy my food. So from now on, I’m sticking to what I know is good. Sweet potato falafel salad. It casues a lot of confusion as its not techcincally on the menu but hey, I do try to be special and awkward.

Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and quinoa topped with, baked not fried, sweet potato falafel, roast peppers and aioli. NEW DISCOVERY: ask for the chilli sauce and slather that on aswell, you will never turn back.

I am a huge falafel fan. If its on a menu it will most definitely end up in my belly. After trying it at The Good Life Eatery, Leon and also at the Mae Deli I’ve been on a mission to recreate some just as good, if not better. And there have been many attemtpts. Nothing has been a failure, but ya know, just not right. Either, too dry so it needs to be somethered in sauce (tahini FYI, it heals all things bad in the world), or too dense, or not enough flavour. Give me the issue, i’ve had it, eaten it, but not been completely satisfied.

So on this lovley sunny bank holiday Monday, instead of enjoying the sunshine I of course spent it in the kitchen. When you bake falafel, of course its not going to be the same crispyness that you achieve from deep frying but we don’t want those oxidised fats anyway. The sweet potato keeps them soft, so no dry and crumbly disappointments. Packed with spices and herbs and some sundried tomatoes to give that deep umami flavour that turns anything from meh, to MEGA!


Sundried tomato sweet potato falafel

Eat hot from the oven, or leave to cool slightly. I prefer them this way, or even cold from the fridge, we all know how I love to eat cold leftovers. Top a salad and some grains with a few of the falafel, wrap up in some nori, lettuce, perhaps socca or nibble as is for a snack when those 4pm munchies arrive. Full of protein from the beans and carbohydrates from the sweet poatatoes they’re a well balanced little ball of goodness. need i say more?

Ingredients

  • 2 small sweet potatoes baked until soft in the oven or microwave
  • Big handful coriander
  • Big handful parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp groundcoriander 
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 lemon zested 
  • 1 tin white beans (I used Cannellini but chickpeas or butter beans will work equally well)
  • 2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour (maybe 3 tbsp if your mixture is too sticky)

Method

  1. Peel the cooked sweet potato and put the flesh into a food processor with the two peeled cloves of garlic and blend to a smooth purée
  2. Add all the other ingredients except the beans and gram flour, with a big pinch of salt and blend again until fairly smooth and well combined
  3. Add your beans and pulse until mixed in but still a little chunky for some nice texture.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the gram flour
  5. Cover and put in the fridge for 30 mins to 1 hour to firm up slightly
  6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or 180 degrees fan and line a baking tray with baking paper
  7. Wet your hands slightly then roll the mixture into 1 inch balls, it will be sticky but this is what ensures a soft and squidgy falafel
  8. Place on the baking tray until you run out of mixture, I got around 16 falafels
  9. Brush each falafel with a little oil, and then put in the oven
  10. Bake for 18-20 mins until they feel slightly firm, still with a little squidge and then leave to cool
  11. Serve as you like, maybe with a dip like tahini, hummus or guacamole

Speaking of dips, how about a bonus recipe. Anyone else ADORE tzatziki? I don’t know what it is about the creamy Greek yogurt combined with grated cucumber and finely chopped mint, not forgetting the lemon spritz…it just hits the spot rather nicely.

I do love me a good yogurt. Not those ones aiming at kids with more sugar than a can of coke, I mean a full fat organic natural yogurt with probiotics, give the tummy some lovin’. I know sometimes I overdo the yogurt and the cheese, it’s easily done, but i now need to think of other ideas. The other day I was really craving some tzatziki, but wanted the creaminess without the dairy. So in steps Mr Avocado. No it’s not traditional, but you’re adding another portion to your 5 a day, and I mean come on, avocado, is anyone really going to be complaining.

Avocado tzatziki

Super fresh and herby, but with that cooling creaminess we all love from avocado, perfect for dunking your falafel into. Or dunking anything into for that matter. Pass me over a spoon, I’m hungry!

Serves up to 4 as a dip or spread, or up to two if eating alone for a snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, soft enough to mash
  • Small handful dill
  • Small handful mint
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Grate the cucumber on a coarse box grater onto a plate and add a big pinch of salt. Leave for a couple of minutes
  2. Meanwhile,scoop the avocado out of its skin, put the flesh in a bowl and mash it until really smooth.
  3. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the avocado and mix it in
  4. Finely chop the dill and the mint, put into the avocado and again mix in well
  5. Go back to the cucumber and squeeze over a sink so all the excess water is squeezed out
  6. Then add the cucumber to the avocado mix, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and taste for seasoning

Serve with smugness

And Enjoy

X

 

Cacao matcha smoothie bowl

It’s recipe time again! I’m declaring my love of breakfast by giving you a summer themed one to eat outside in those blazing sunny days that we’ve been having, HA, if only? If you’re like me and from the UK I’m sure that you’re pretty done with this supposed ‘summer’. Can Autumn come along already? Ok summer can be the best part of the year and we always look forward to it. Bbqs in the garden, picnics in the park, long daytime hours, ice creams and wearing dresses without tights. But in my case that means wearing a jumper and a big jacket on top to compensate, keepin’ those kidneys warm, I am the master layerer! 

However, let’s not get too down about things, the weather isn’t everything. Make the most of British berries whilst they’re at their best, drown them in cream and eat with a glass of Pimms. Possibly you’re sat on your sofa wrapped in a blanket watching the new series of The Great British Bake Off instead of in the garden, but no one needs to know, it’s our secret!

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So, summer weather breakfasts. For those mornings when you wake up and the thought of porridge just doesn’t get you going. You feel the need for something fresh and cool, but filling and sustaining. Welcome this matcha cacao smoothie bowl to your morning scene. Super thick and creamy, think along the lines of pimped up ice cream. There’s only a little banana for sweetness and a special other ingredient, so don’t be expecting a sugar crash 1 hour later, full of healthy fats from the peanut butter and avocado, and hello 1 serving of green veg before 9 am, GET YOU!!

stripped bare smoothie bowl, don’t forget the toppings!!

To be truthful, smoothies aren’t my favourite thing in the world. I like to chew my food, also chewing prepares your stomach for whatever is oncoming meaning better digestion. So I seriously advise making the smoothie super thick so you have to eat it with a spoon and then add toppings. Am I really having to tell you to add toppings, don’t be silly you were going to do that anyway weren’t you.

Please go mad with toppings, that’s what makes it fun. Ok don’t channel the froyo shops and crumble every biscuit in the tin on top and then half a bar of chocolate. I was thinking more along the lines of granola, fruit such as sliced banana or berries, coconut, seeds, cacao nibs, bee pollen, goji berries, chia seeds, whatever you fancy really. The kitchen cupboards are your oyster. Without further ado, I’d better give you the recipe before it starts snowing and we’re all back on the porridge bandwagon. Here you are, enjoy my lovelies!

that’s better. DIVE RIGHT IN!


Cacao matcha smoothie bowl 

Perfect for those summer months, or in the winter if you are mad and want cold food. A creamy dreamy smoothie bowl, that will keep you going all morning long and give you a little boost to get your day started. Try adding a handful of cacao nibs in once it has blended smooth, give it a quick final whizz and then pour into your bowl for a chocolate chip version. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas (trust me with this one)
  • 1 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
  • 1 tbsp protein powder (I use hemp protein)
  • 1/2-1 tbsp raw cacao powder (depending on how chocolates you want it)
  • 1/2-1 tsp matcha powder (again depending on your preference)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 50ml-150ml plant milk/ water (start with a little bit, if it won’t blend add a bit more until a consistency you like)

Topping ideas: 

  • chopped fresh fruit e.g. Banana, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mango, kiwi, choose your favourite
  • Cacao nibs
  • Coconut flakes
  • Chopped nuts
  • Seeds
  • Extra nut butter
  • Goji berries
  • Chia seeds
  • Bee pollen
  • Granola

Method 

  1. Freeze the banana the night before if you don’t already have any in your freezer
  2. Add all the ingredients to a blender. I use a nutribullet and I would recommend one of these or a similar strong blender if you want to keep it really thick. If you only have a stick blender or yours isn’t strong enough you will need to add more liquid and maybe leave the banana and peas to defrost slightly before blending
  3. Add a little squidge of lemon, this cuts through the bitterness you can sometimes get from green veg in smoothies
  4. Blend with the milk or water until completely smooth and you are happy with the consistency
  5. If you are very slow like me at making smoothies, pop in a few cubes of ice when you blend it to make it thicker and stay nice and cold.
  6. Pour or spoon into a bowl, then sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle to your hearts content
  7. Remember chew your smoothie! Your stomach with thank me later

Make the most of the last of the summer weeks, try something new, get outside in the fresh air and get those legs out in the sun, even if they’re pasty white and bruised don’t worry everyone’s the same, we’re British!

X

Croatia

So, it’s time for my post on Croatia. I was hoping to write this sooner but stress levels recently for me have been pretty high. Taking a driving theory test shouldn’t cause as much bother as it has done, but the feeling of not being prepared, most definitely not wanting to fail because doesn’t everyone pass? And I spent my holiday learning the Highway Code, poolside reading can’t get anymore depressing than that. It is all a recipe for panic. But it all ended fine and THANK GOD I passed.

Ok I know it’s not really a big deal, it’s not like it’s even the practical test, but hey one step at a time, and I’m one step closer to being able to drive. Alone. On the road. <SCARY

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The square on the old streets of Pula

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So, Croatia. It truly is a beautiful place, it’s a loving relationship that grew and grew over the week. I’m sorry to say I landed in Pula a bit unhappy and worried that I wasn’t going to enjoy my holiday. It all started badly enough when the travellator stopped and we couldn’t get our cases for an hour and then we stepped off the coach into a HUGE hotel and apartment complex. So large that it had its own supermarket, kids running left right and centre, and aqua aerobics in the pool, basically not my ideal holiday. After a little wander by the coast overlooking the BEAUTIFUL blue sea, mum and dad eating a pizza in a grotty beach cafe (I tried to hover above the seats), we caught the bus into Pula centre. I wasn’t expecting great. I’d read it was an industrial town, and to be honest that’s what it was. Sometimes I need to stop reading into everything so much and be a bit more spontaneous, don’t think that everything is going to be terrible before I’ve even arrived. There’s beauty hidden everywhere sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for it to find you.

The roman amphitheatre , which is still being used to this day for open air concerts

THAT grotty caff, however it was the first day, so sunshine and cold beer were on the agenda

We quickly found the Green Market, always my first stop in a new city. surrounded by smelly cheeses, meats and the sweetest of fruits I was in my happy place. Piles of neon green lettuces, mushrooms of all varieties, the reddest tomatoes basking in the late sun, and what we all get excited about on holiday…STONE FRUIT! Dribbley peaches and nectarines that cascade down your arm, you’re dive bombed by wasps but that’s all in the pleasure.

Shrooms a plenty

Before I go away to a new place, I always research the best places to eat, tourist traps are a big no no. It’s local and traditional allllll the way. We know what makes a holiday a holiday, copious eating and drinking, eating some more and then taking the memories back home with you. Swearing you’ll recreate that paella or spaghetti dish but, it won’t taste the same will it!! From my googling and watching of Rick Stein (I recommend his Venice to Istanbul series) I’d learnt to expect very simple food, but seriously fresh fish and seafood, an Italian influence meaning tonnes of pasta, lots of truffles, brilliant olive oil, a ham called prsut not dissimilar to prosciutto, not lots of vegetables on menus, lots of potatoes and of course cheeseeeeeee! And that’s exactly what I found in Croatia.

Can fresh produce really get any fresher or more beautiful than that!

Quickly I discovered something that I ended up eating every night. Blitva! A Dalmatian (no it’s not spotty) side dish simply comprising of spinach and boiled potatoes sautéed together sometimes with a hint of garlic and plenty of that Croatian extra virgin olive oil. When I was in Athens i fell in love with wild greens, boiled leafy green veggies drowned in EVOO with hunks of lemon to squeeze over. That’s me done, I’m that weird gal who loves vegetables, I truly do. It’s the perfect thing to eat alongside fresh fish with a glass of Malvazija white wine in one hand and a hunk of freshly baked bread in the other. Maybe the ‘Adriatic diet’ will become the new ‘Mediterranean’?

A shop in the market selling Istrian meats carved off the bone and local cheeses

Ok maybe not, I don’t believe a whole veal shin between three people is recommended to eat on a regular basis, which one night we did indeed. In Croatia they have restaurants called konobas. Think of a Greek taverna no frills or fuss, fill it with locals, add badly translated menus (pasta with seaSHELVES anyone?), sometimes there may be rude service it’s all part of the charm, and that’s a konoba for you. I was desperate to make it to at least one on our trip, so after a recommendation from a taxi driver (always get into a conversation about food with taxi drivers, they’ll tell you the best places to go) the three of us ended up in Boccaporta.

There’s two types of cooking in Croatia. Nearer the coast you get your fresh fish and seafood, but venture inland and you’re thinking spit roast lamb and slow baked meats influenced by neighbouring Hungary. After all the previous nights having our fill of seafood it was time for some meat. Slow baked veal shin, for god knows how many hours, the potatoes cooked in all of the fat served with a green salad, homemade bread and most definitely blitva. Now this is proper food. Good quality ingredients treated well. That night we left with full, OK stuffed to the brim, but happy tummies.


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Croatia is just across the Adriatic from Italy, and where I was in Pula was just a 3 hour ferry from Venice. So there is a hugeeeee Italian influence. In many of the Istrian restaurants and konobas I can guarantee there will be pasta,  usually homemade and called fusi, or ravioli which we tried with a cream sauce, truffles and prsut. However I’m sad to say I never had a chance for the traditional ‘must try’ dish of cuttlefish risotto. Picture jet black oozy rice tangled with the salty but sweet cuttlefish, it only means a second visit right? Also with quality olives, their olive oil lives up to any you’ll find in Greece or Italy, with a real peppery kick at the back of your throat, the sign of a true Istrian Extra virgin.

Shrimps in tomato sauce, called Buzara in Croatia. seriously DIVINE

Seafood pasta, the traditional Istrian shape called Fusi

Now what sticks in my mind most of all? Sorry to say it’s a dessert, actually I’m not sorry at all. I may avoid refined sugars and overly sweet things in my day to day life but life is for living, especially when on holiday. A lavender semifreddo with a hot fig and pine nut sauce sound good to you? Moussey but almost nougat like in texture and then the sauce, jammy and rich to cut through the malloweyness of the semifreddo. Utter BLISS.

I recommend if you’re a foodie and visiting Croatia, you must get a car. We managed without by walking A LOT, but there were so many places I wanted to visit that just weren’t possible. The best places aren’t in the centres of larger towns , but that’s typical of most tourist destinations. You need to visit the outskirts, they might look a lil bit dodgy, but you can always expect to pay less and eat better. Win win I say!

On the final night we went to a restaurant that I’m sure most tourists would pass by. Sitting at the side of a road on rickety metal table and chairs and no one around speaks a word of English. To order your food you walk into the kitchen point at what you fancy and that’s about that. The fish is all locally caught and changes from day to day, it will simply be grilled and served with salad and chips, don’t forget the blitva.

 

Of course we had mussels in a seafood restaurant. With obligatory bread for dunking!

And then came the main of squid, red snapper, langoustine, salad, blitva and chips

I really can go on and on about the gems we found. My favourite of them all, Vodnjanka. The best of the best in Pula. All local produce, organic wines and just two things on the menu, fish or meat. It has a feel of your grannies dining room and the food reflects that too. Everything handmade, using what’s best from the market that day and not trying too hard. For starters it was one of those plates, you know when you can’t stop eating? There’s so much deliciousness, where to start is a difficult decision. Both the fish and meat was such a celebration of all the tastes of Istria, that each mouthful we were all ooing and ahhing, saying ‘try this try that!’

We were guided through the courses by our lovely waiter, who explained what each thing was and gave recommendations of the best wines to go with the food. And of course he persuaded us to eat a hazelnut and ricotta cheesecake with a red wine and raspberry sauce. Along side some complimentary cherry grappa, that night I had my fill of alcohol, maybe I was pushed over the edge just a liiiitttleeeee…

 

A malvazijan white wine, organic and one of the nicest (few) glasses of the week

A starter of Istrian meat and cheese 

 

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So apart from eating, days were filled with a morning swim, shadow hopping (no tanning for me), wasp wafting and laughing at all the men attempting aqua aerobics who were ogling the girl instructors (classic), and getting slightly addicted to crosswords. By night we wandered in the cooler air around the charming streets of Pula, a haven for buildings with peeling paintwork and shutters galore. It was so nice to visit somewhere different, not the usual Spain or Greece and with only a 2 and a half hour flight. I would surely visit again, ideas for a tour along the coast spring to mind, and get to visit Dubrovnik after all then maybe on to Montenegro. If it’s a holiday with culture, sunshine AND nice beaches that you want? Then Croatia is the right place for you. Drop by pula, maybe only for a couple of days and wander round all the Roman remains. But make sure you get there quick, Croatia is increasingly becoming more and more popular for tourists. So before they take over, enjoy it for what it is, a country with undisturbed beauty and people with the kindest of hearts. And some seriously good grub.

 

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I hope you visit the country someday in the future, consider it for your next holiday. I’d love to know your thoughts so don’t hesitate to drop me a message, say hi!

On Instagram @theahudson

Much love and blissful holiday memories

X

Not so plain plane food

I’m writing this post about being prepared for plane journeys whilst I’m sat at the airport, delayed. No I don’t have much food to eat just some fruit, nuts and a Rawbite bar, so there’ll be a desperate stop off in M&S when we eventually touch down in England. Don’t follow my lead folks! 

Croatia has been the destination for my jollys this summer, somewhere a bit different and new to explore.

I was meant to be here relaxing, but that didn’t happen, instead it was spent learning my driving theory (pray to the road gods), but when I’m back on home turf expect plenty of nattering about noshing. Not gonna lie, the reason I like to go on holiday is for trying new cuisines and searching for some local gems, I prefer it more than the lounging around all day, that makes my legs ache. Until then I want to write a post about travelling whilst still remaining healthy and not succumbing to the dreaded plane food, or popping open the Pringles at 5 o’clock in the morning.

It’s a post that’s commonly found on lifestyle and wellbeing blogs around this time of year. Like me you probably read them to get lots of ideas, for snacks, how to avoid ‘little miss hangry’, things to pack for when you get there, the necessities that most definitely won’t be provided but make life a hell of a lot easier. It also means more time sunbathing less time shopping in supermarkets.

(Anyone else LOVE foreign supermarkets or is it just me? Maybe it is, it can be bloody hard to know what you’re buying half the time, you can never find organic produce, and no one speaks a word of English, but hey that’s the whole fun of it!)

I know, you’re sick of hearing it, but the only way to avoid the microwave mush is preparation. Just a quick little plan and food prep in some tupperwares to stick in your carry on for when that grumble arrives, and when it comes boy does it moan loudly.

Maybe your flight is only a quick two hours up and down, or you’ve flown half way around the earth and lost an entire day. No matter how long the flight, you will have been up probably 3 or 4 hours before you even perch your bum on that airplane seat, it’s time for a nibble. QUICK

I’ve been recently to Manchester airport, so I know what shops are there and what options there are for that early morning breakfast. If you are ever in the UK you will probably be able to rely on Pret a Manger whether you’re gluten, dairy, sugar free or vegan, vegetarian or don’t care and want a bacon butty, they’ve got something for you. With two types of porridge on offer, one traditional and cooked with milk-SUPER creamy I can guarantee-the other a five grain which is both gluten and dairy free made from pinhead oats, amaranth, quinoa, brown and light flaxseeds all cooked in coconut water. There’s honey, a dried fruit and seed mix or berry compote to jazz it all up, and that’s a pretty good filling breakfast right there. There’s also breakfast sandwiches, pastries, yogurts and granola, fruit pots and açai bowls (which I am yet to try), the tea is lovely and I’ve heard the coffee is pretty darn good too. You won’t be spending a lot of money and will get something fresh and the majority is British and organic. That floats my boat. 

I believe if you know there’s a better option at the airport grab it whilst you can, maybe pick up a salad or grain bowl, some fruit or nuts. No you won’t want it then but you’ll wish you did a few hours later, or even plan further ahead for something to eat when you arrive at your hotel or apartment, you won’t know where anything will be and what shops or restaurants will have to offer, so something healthy and fulfilling to look forward to means one less thing to worry about. And for me flying is way too stressful as it is.

So, you’re flying from an airport where you know there are no decent cafes or restaurants, and you don’t want a plate of chips? Then meal prep away people!

If it’s breakfast I need to take then I usually go along the overnight chia oats route, but make it seriously thick. I’m terrified that one day they’ll take it from me so I’ll just have to gobble it all down at security. On my last flight abroad I discovered a new idea from Hemsley and Hemsley. It’s basically a Quaker Oats mug porridge but super charged and will give your body some lovin’. 

It’s so simple, just stick in a coffee cup and ask them to cover with boiling water, pop the lid on and wait for the magic to happen. Alright, it’s not going to be the prettiest looking thing, but is an English breakfast from Ryan Air going to be either? If you can top it with some fruit like berries, apple or banana and you have a balanced meal that will keep you satisfied much longer than any hash brown from Maccy D’s.

Quinoa Kettle porridge

This is a recipe from Hemsley and Hemsley’s book, Good and Simple. I made a batch to take away to Greece with me for quick and easy breakfasts but also took some for my breakfast on the plane. The original recipe calls for quinoa flakes however I didn’t have any of these at home, so for a purse friendly version opt for some simple rolled oats, or route through your cupboards and use a mixture of other flaked grains if you have them, such as brown rice flakes, buckwheat flakes, millet flakes, all will be good here. When I made the recipe I used a scant tbsp of maple syrup which hardly added any sweetness at all so I probably would add 2 next time. For a sweeter tooth add up to four, if you’re eating healthier wholesome foods they’ve got to be enjoyable, it shouldn’t be torture!
If you fancy a cold breakfast, I’ve also tried soaking this overnight in the fridge. Add 1/2 cup (or more if it seems too thick) of milk of your choice or water, stir and cover and leave overnight. In the morning mix it up adjust the thickness to your liking by adding more liquid and top with fruit.

Ingredients
120 g quinoa flakes or oats, millet, buckwheat, brown rice flakes
120g coconut oil

100 g ground almonds

50 g goji berries, raisins or dried cranberries are good here too

50 g desiccated coconut or flaked coconut for chunkier bits

2 tbsp cinnamon, I also added 2 tbsp maca for some extra sweet maltiness

3 heaped tbsp chia seeds

3 heaped tbsp ground linseeds (mine is a combination of goji berries, sunflower, pumpkin and linseeds)

2-4 tbsp maple syrup (optional) or try date syrup or rice malt syrup

A handful of cacao nibs (optional) I added these because I LOVE THEM, it’s not completely necessary though and up to you

  1. Spread the flakes in a large roasting tin or baking tray, no more than ½ cm thick, and pop in the oven to bake at 180ºC fan for around 10 minutes, or until smelling toasty and they are golden brown. 
  2. Take out the oven and tip in a bowl along with the coconut oil, the heat from the flakes will melt the oil.
  3. Mix in all the other ingredients and stir really well, taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Leave to cool in the bowl
  4. Store in an airtight container, or divvy up into 4 or 5 portions in sandwich bags ready to be grabbed for those rushed mornings.
  5. When you’re ready to eat spoon out 4 to 6 heaped tbsp or pour your measured portion from the bag into a bowl. Add half a cup of boiling water, cover with a plate for 5 minutes and wait for the magic to happen.
  6. After the times up, give it a good stir, add more water if you like it thinner.
  7. Top with yogurt (Greek, coconut, goats, sheep) add some fruit and enjoy.
  8. If you are travelling, put the porridge mix in a coffee cup from a coffee shop, ask them to cover the porridge with boiling water. Pop on the lid to wait for it to thicken and there you have a quick, tasty transportable breakfast.

So you’ve eaten your breakfast, had a snack whilst watching Jurassic park for the 100th time in your life (btw my last post is all about snacks with a recipe involving peanut butter, YES PLEASE). Next follows lunch or dinner. The liquid ban throws a bit of a spanner in the works for this one. Meaning no dressings. A salad without a dressing is just sad and wrong. So the best route around this is packing something that won’t wilt and can stand being chugged around in your bag all day. Maybe a grain or lentil salad?

Don’t groan, trust me with this, if done right they can be seriously good. To make it interesting roast up some veggies with paprika or fennel seeds, chuck in a load of chopped herbs like parsley, coriander, mint, basil, dill, anything you have lurking really, mix it all up with your chosen grain, quinoa or buckwheat is fab. Maybe with some cheese like feta or goats cheese, some beans like chickpeas. Add in something fresh such as tomatoes, chopped cucumber or pepper, top it with something crunchy like seeds or nuts maybe some dried fruit too. Mix everything up in a bowl then you could stir some hummus (LIFE), chilli flakes or tahini through or pesto or tapenade to bring the pizzazz, AND don’t forget s+p. Chuck in your Tupperware with a hunk of lemon to squeeze on when you eat it and you’ll have a dinner that everyone else will be jealous of. 

Sorry was that a bit confusing? Let me break it down for you:

Base (use one or as many as you wish, these are only examples if you have any other ideas I’m sure it will be great)

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Farro
  • Brown rice
  • Amaranth
  • Puy lentils
  • Green lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Butter beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans

Roasted veggies
I always like to roast my veg in ghee, coconut oil or rapeseed oil in a preheated oven on about 180, until caramelised.

  • Sweet potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Courgette
  • Aubergine
  • Fennel
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Beetroot
  • Celeriac
  • Parsnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Sprouts

Adding spices to the veg as it roasts is a seriously good plan, get experimenting to find different spice combinations you like. Try any of these and get mixing and matching.

  • Cinnamon
  • Paprika
  • Chilli flakes
  • Fennel seeds
  • Caraway seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Dried oregano
  • Ras el hanout
  • Garam masala
  • Turmeric
  • Sesame seeds
  • Za’atar
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Don’t forget good old salt and pepper

Fresh veggies

Adding some fresh veg gives your salad more texture and colour, think variety and remember that 5 a day!

  • Defrosted frozen peas
  • Chopped up pepper
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Raw fennel
  • Grated carrot
  • Grated beetroot
  • Avocado (beware it will go brown)
  • Cooked broccoli
  • Cooked green beans
  • Sweet corn 
  • Spring onion
  • Red onion

Flavour hits
Now comes the exciting parts. This is your substitute for a salad dressing, something thick enough to avoid that dreaded confiscation but makes your tastebuds happy. Try stirring one or more, if you’re feeling adventurous, of these through your salad:

  • Hummus
  • Tapenade
  • Pesto
  • Tahini
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Chilli flakes/hot sauce
  • Guacamole
  • Mustard
  • Any other dip you have on the go

And finally…Crunchy munchy extras, you should add just ‘cos

  • Raw or roasted nuts (anything from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamias you cannot go wrong)
  • Raw or toasted seeds ( eg. Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, hemp seeds)
  • Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, chopped dates, chopped figs, sultanas, chopped apricots)
  • Chopped fresh herbs (parsley, coriander, mint, dill, chives, basil)
  • CHEEESEEEEEEE (feta, cheddar, goats cheese, sheeps cheese, grilled halloumi). I’m going to stop there because it’s cheese and doesn’t need an explanation.
  • Roasted chickpeas, think of them like croutons
  • Hard boiled egg (consider your fellow passengers, or don’t if they’re tilting their chair back into your face)

So there you have it. A salad that can be taken anywhere, plane journeys, car journeys, picnics, work packed lunch, or just for lunch in your own home. Don’t let the fact that I’ve written it as plane food stop you!

Perhaps make it an extra large one, something to pick at later or if you’re on a long haul flight have the leftovers for dinner.

So relax, enjoy your flight and your holiday wherever you end up this summer.

One last thing from me, HYDRATE! 

X

Porridge from the gods

So, I was thinking what is a good way to follow a recipe post on porridge? Obviously a review of possibly THE BEST porridge cafe, like EVER!

I’m not exaggerating here

So, in the mornings I do like to make my meals that little bit special. Sprinkling on a little bit of bee pollen here, cacao nibs there, adding maca for some OOMPH. When I’m at home this is all fine and dandy, i have everything in my kitchen and my mum doesn’t mind paying for these things that make me happy (thanks mum!), however when staying away from home, i can’t fill my carry on case just with food. Ok ok i do do this, but I need some clothes to wear too. So food alll goes in the latge case, along with tupperware (my hero dressed in plastic), and clothes and shows into the carry on. Sorted.

Alas, when in London there is a saviour.

Sick of avo on toast, and nut butter on toast, I need some proper posh porridge in me.

In saunters 26 Grains, with serious amount of swagger, and porridge making credentials.

(The few times that i have visited 26 grains is when they were open in Neal’s Yard, but now they’ve moved to another location as of September 2016, so don’t follow my directions, you won’t find them there anymore!!)

Hop on the tube and get yourself down to Covent Garden, or if you’re like me WALK, everything is so much closer in London than you realise. Have a little wander over to Neal’s Yard, a little hidden oasis of calm. It is crowded but it sure ain’t rowdy. This haven is chockful of healthfood and wellness warrior hotspots. Spy Wildfood Cafe in the corner. A completely raw vegan cafe that isn’t all lentils and bird seed. Also there’s Neal’s Yard Remedies, a natural organic skincare company (its BRITISH TOO), where you can slather on the most beautiful smelling products whilst knowing that you’re not adding any bad chemicals into your body. Pick up some hippy health foods too, to recreate THAT porridge that you’ll soon be eating in 26 Grains.

I’ll start with a little background information first. Alex set up 26 grains first as a pop up and then they opened up their first shop through Crowdfunder. Whilst living in Denmark, Alex grew to love their sense of ‘hygge’. It doesn’t really translate to English directly, but means warmth and cosiness. Does a bowl of steaming porridge sound familiar? So she wanted to open a cafe serving porridge, full of wholegrains, not just oats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, cooked long and slow to retain all the goodness and give anyone eating it a lovely glow. THAT she has definitely achieved.

hygge

Whether its breakfast, lunch, a rather hefty snack or an early dinner you are wanting, 26 Grains can cater for that. It ain’t all sweet either. Savoury porridge is a DAMN GOOD THING

I’ve now visited 26 Grains 3 times (hello mini fan over here), first all by myself at lunch time, the second on a day out with my mum (thank god, i needed someone to talk to) and the third with a friend for a little early breakfast date. The shop is a little space, with outdoor seating if it’s a nice day (we are in London though so its probably raining), or the option to take away. The menu is written on a large chalkboard on the wall, there’s jugs of water to help yourself as you take a perch at a wooden table to make your decision.

In the tiny Neal’s Yard shop, usually there are three people working in the smallest kitchen i have seen. They cook on little stoves, surrounded by a crazy array of toppings, rude health milks and steaming bubbly porridge.

First up on the menu and for my first visit it had to be the classic, Hazelnut and Butter. This is where my love affair first began. You’re probably thinking,”BUTTER IN PORRIDGE? EW!” It’s incredible. I’m telling you. And makes it even creamier. As Renee Redzeppi once said, “The only dish I go back to is porridge every morning. I cook it in milk, and it has to be steaming hot, I add a dollop of butter that melts all over it. I sprinkle flaky salt on it and if i have it, add thin slices of pork. That’s the breakfast of champions”.

I think he has got it about right.

So I visited for lunch. Picture, almond milk oats, topped with toasted hazelnuts, a nice sizeable amount of butter, cinnamon coconut sugar, and some slithers of apple. Put it in a beautiful bowl, eaten on a cold rainy day and HEY MAMA! Porridge coma here I come!

Picture6

On the next visit with my mumsy was over a spot of lunch. As we were sharing, we thought we’d get a savoury bowl and then a sweet, for a little bit of pud. So it was a bowl of crispy brown rice (something I MUST recreate) with coconut curry chickpeas, kale, aubergine pickle and coconut yogurt. Not spicy just full to the brim of flavour. One of those dishes where every mouthful tastes that bit different so you keep going back for more, and more…and moreeee.

Next up. The sweet stuff. The bowl we’d been eyeing up. Both of us admitted afterwards we were trying to eat the savoury as quickly as possible so we could dive into this! It was one of the seasonal bowls, as we were just coming out of winter into spring it meant blood oranges. Those purple tinged citrus that stain your face as they drip down, marvellous beauties. In the bowl was a toothsome (I don’t know why I’ve written that word its awful) mixture of spelt, rye and oats to make up the base. Then a topping of blood orange compote, cacao granola, pistachios and greek yogurt. Heavenly. We left nicely satisfied with a big grin on our faces. No brisk winds and pelting rain could stop us…

Picture4

And then there was the third visit. With my friend Hannah for an early breakfast. I mean I woke up at 6:30 in order to get there, dedication or what? We both opted for something sweet, Hannah had the blood orange that i had the previous time, but I had my eye on a little coconut rice concoction. Toppings consisting of cacao nibs, toasted coconut chips, lime zest, black tahini, date syrup and some extra lime to squeeze, I mean what more can you ask for. Like my childhood memories of Ambrosia rice pudding in a much more body loving form. The best by far.

kkdl

Alongside Hazelnut and Butter, Banana and Cacao and Nordic Spice are regulars on the menu. The seasonal specials don’t stick around for long, but some past members have been Blueberry Almond Butter, Rhubarb Buckwheat Cardamom Granola, Matcha Cacao Coconut, Raspberry Cacao Tahini Fennel and Apple Beetroot Cranberry. I could go on and on but I’d like to leave some element of surprise for you.


So onto the savoury is the favourite of Egg and Kale (yesss egg on porridge, think of the oooooze) also some avo on there for good measure, but past creations have been Indonesian Chicken, Sticky Teriyaki Mushrooms, Orange Buckwheat Feta, just to name a few. There’s a Bircher muesli and smoothie bowl for those wanting something on the colder side, banana bread, bliss balls, smoothies, juices, brilliant coffees and matcha lattes. Basically anything superfoodie, they’ve got it.

So what’s to come next? Alex has a book coming out soon. I’m expecting lots of porridge recipes and food with a scandi influence. The pages will probably smell of cardamom. They’re moving out of the Neal’s Yard store to a new location which opens in September, I can’t tell you exactly where yet because I don’t know! So if you’re ever in the vicinity, please don’t hesitate to stop off at 26 Grains. You’re looking to spend around £6 for a sweet bowl and about £8 for a savoury, you can’t get much for that price in the big smoke and you’re guaranteed to not be feeling hangry 1 hour later.

If anyone visits please let me know about it, I want to hear your experiences too. I’ll definitely be back to visit the new store when it opens, so look out for some pics on my instagram. In the meantime, don’t mind me as I’m now off to cook, porridge for breakfast lunch and dinner anyone?

Love, bliss and full tummies

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