Sunday, 26 January 2014

There's nothing to eat!

Does your fridge look like this?
This post was inspired by living at home with my parents and having the age old debate that there was nothing to eat, when in fact there was loads to eat, I just didn't know how to put a meal together. Once I moved out and realised how expensive life is, I learnt how to make something out of nothing. So, for those of you who always go and get a snazzy ready meal on a Friday or look at that lonely potato in the fridge and think there is nothing you can do with it – this is for you.

Think of a meal in layers
This way you can make many different combinations. For example I looked in my fridge and dry foods cupboard and thought 'I have nothing to eat', but looking closer, I had pasta, a few tomatoes, some old basil, a bit of parmesan, unopened pesto, pine nuts and few sugar snap peas.

Break it down
You've got your base: pasta, bread, rice, cous cous, noodles, eggs
Then you're protein: cheese, meat, fish, nuts
Next comes your veg: frozen, fresh, tinned
Finally think about your topping: herbs, seeds, etc.
So for my meal:
  • Base was pasta
  • Protein was parmesan and pine nuts
  • Veg was tomatoes and sugar snap peas
  • Topping was basil
See, it's really very easy! Leave me your tips in the comments below.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Homeware finds of the week – inspired by Whitney Port's home

Image from Domaine Home

So I've started to follow this website called 'Domaine'. It has so much interior design inspiration and it is a bit like Through the Keyhole, in the sense that it gives an insight into celebrity homes. This week I noticed that 'Domaine' had published an article on Whitney Port's home. It is unbelievably beautiful, I literally want everything in her home! Some of you may remember Whitney from The City, I was obsessed with that programme, and it is so nice to see Whitney is still as stylish as ever. Anyway, I had a look through the photos and realised that I had seen similar items to those in her home but cheaper, therefore I thought I had to share this with you all. Hope you like!

1. Celestial Coaster, Anthropologie. I have a confession to make. Despite saying in my last blog post that I wouldn't go to Anthropologie for fear of going in my overdraft, well I went. However I didn't spend a penny, but I did see these coasters, aren't they gorgeous!? I used to be completely obsessed with pieces of shiny rock – I even had a special collecting folder and magazine subscription. I think it was something like this: Ah, eighties kids!

2. Olive Wood Salad Servers, John Lewis. These are almost an exact match to the ones seen in Whitney's home, I love John Lewis, always great quality. 

3. Flamingo by Patrizio Belcampo, The Red Door Gallery. All I can say with this item is: WANT!

4. Blue Ceramic Urn Lamp, Fulham Interiors. Even though this item is still at the higher end of the price range, it is a lot cheaper than the one featured in Whitney's home and just as beautiful.

5. Pablo Glass Vase – Small, The White Company. This seems to be the background in every beauty YouTuber's video, white roses in a clear glass.

6. Indian Elephant Decorative Pillow, John Robshaw Textiles. This is the exact one in Whitney's house, very proud of myself for finding it! Not cheap though!

7. Moss-knit blanket, mustard yellow, H&M. Love the mustard colour of this blanket, such a thick knit, I expect it is very cosy, just what we need as summer doesn't seem to be coming any time soon!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Addicted to sugar

This post is partly a review of the recent Dispatches programme, 'Are You Addicted to Sugar?' and partly a post about how to cut down on sugar. At present I am seriously cutting down on my sugar intake as someone warned me I might be getting pre-diabetes. I had serious lows, for example feeling very light headed, and when I had a lot of sugar I became really hot and red in the face. I have found some further information on this online. However I cannot of course be 100% sure how reliable this information is, either way it is very interesting, if not a little worrying. So after all this you can appreciate how interested I was when I saw Channel 4 advertising this Dispatches investigation on sugar.

The programme starts with obese women, which I have to say is a bit misleading. I am not obese but still have an unhealthy addiction to sugar. It is a common misconception that only obese people get type 2 diabetes, not true, and there are many articles online supporting this, like this one:

The thing that I find really hard to work out is what the levels of sugar are in certain products, the Dispatches programme calls them 'hidden sugars'. For this reason I am trying to eat as much fresh produce as possible, e.g. this evening I had an omelette, roast potatoes and brocolli. I think that's ok! That's the problem, I just don't know! I don't even really know if sugar in fruit is ok, however I do know it is better for you than refined sugar. So if you are like me you might find the following links, some from the programme, useful.

Credit Suisse video

The World Health Organisation have been saying cut down on sugar since for a long time!

How much sugar is good for me?

Professor Robert Lustig's lecture 'Sugar: The Bitter Truth'.

Web MD, The Truth about Sugar Addiction

And remember the World Sugar Research Organisation is funded by the sugar producers!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The best way to cook asparagus

My favourite vegetable has to be asparagus. I love to eat it with salmon, in pasta dishes and just on its own. This is a very simple and easy method of cooking asparagus, which can be served as a starter or side dish.

You will need:
  • Asparagus tips
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional: lemon
  • Frying pan

1. Pour the oil into a frying pan – just a drizzle – and turn on the heat to a medium to high heat.

2. Add the washed asparagus tips to the pan – try and keep them together and in the centre of the pan as this is the hottest part.

3. Add your salt and pepper.

4. Cut your cherry tomatoes into halves and fry in a smaller frying pan, again a medium to high heat.

5. Your asparagus will be starting to sizzle now – cook for about 5 minutes in the pan and beware of the hot oil.

6. Serve with the cherry tomatoes on top of the asparagus and wipe the oil off the plate (not like me, oops!). A squeeze of lemon also adds to the flavour.


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Homeware finds of the week – pieces for my dream home

1. Zig Zag Throw from Design Vintage. At the moment I have two Ikea throws, one grey and one white, I like this throw as it would inject a bit of much needed colour into my living room.

2. Enchanted Forest Decoration from Sass and Belle (I bought this in the Covent Garden store in the sale for a bargain £1.99, couldn't find it on the online store).

3. Latte Bowl from Anthropologie. I love love love Anthropologie homeware – I am not letting myself even make the journey to the store as I know I will go well into my overdraft if I even step foot through the door.

4. Natural World Plate, Bee from Anthropologie. I want this plate to put in alongside a mix and match of prints on a sort of statement wall.

5. Circular Metal Ship's Mirror on Rope from Rockett St George. Probably will buy this as it is such a bargain price for a mirror!

6. Puffins in a Handmade Recycled Frame from Fields of Blue. This print was shown to me and I love the recycled frame, the print says "One look was all it took".

7. Embrace Storage Unit from Skandium. If I had the money I would buy this as it is such a design classic.

8. 60s/70s Beautility teak sideboard from Vintage Retro. When I have a flat with enough space for a sideboard like this, I will definitely be contacting Vintage Retro as the prices are so reasonable.

'Homeware finds of the week' will now be my regular Saturday blog post. I aim to post on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday from now on. Sunday will be recipes and Mondays will be health/mind. I will also post surprise posts on art, craft, TV and film. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Tips for a healthy diet

This morning I noticed that all over the news people were talking about the obesity crisis and how the predictions for the future have been underestimated. As I can't do much to change this I thought I would share with you a few tips I use when trying to keep to a healthy diet. I wouldn't call these dieting tips, but just tips to keep healthy. If you are thinking of dieting do consult your doctor first.

#TIP 1
Try to cut down on what you drink as alcohol can have a high calorie count and confuse your blood sugar levels.

#TIP 2
When buying soft drinks try to buy water or squash that has the label 'no added sugar'. Drinks can be very high in sugar. Even better just have a glass of water with a slice of lemon or lime for flavour.

#TIP 3
If you have anything with pastry on just have the same but without, e.g. Chicken pie, just have chicken. Have a flavoured rice on the side to bulk out the meal.

#TIP 4
Try to eat broccoli with every other meal.

#TIP 5
Read the calorie count on products and make sure you remember to check how much of the product the calories are for, e.g. 240kcal for half the pack.

#TIP 6
Try replacing chocolate with sugar free sweets initially and then replace with yoghurt, nuts, seeds and fruits.

#TIP 7
If you find foods like cous cous or quinoa boring just add garlic, salt and pepper and herbs. Remember to flavour your food!

#TIP 8
If you are craving something sweet but aren't actually hungry – try a fruit tea – I am finding apple tea to taste a bit like apple sweets!

#TIP 9
Don't eat doughnuts – just forget about them, they are not worth it.

#TIP 10
Stop drinking coke – replace with fizzy water.

#TIP 11

Great savoury snacks are: salted almonds, breadsticks and toasted pumpkin seeds. Toast the pumpkin seeds in soy sauce to make them even more yummy!

#TIP 12
If you have a deep fat fryer, get rid of it!

#TIP 13
If you find it hard to not to buy biscuits or chocolate and eat the whole thing, just don't even go down that aisle. (If possible!)

#TIP 14
Try looking at the healthy food photos on instagram. For example

#TIP 15
Above all – make sure you walk to places as much as you can. Even if the bus comes just at that moment remember the walk can clear your head too. It is so important to give yourself thinking space.

#TIP 16
Make sure you don't go hungry though and keep to a healthy BMI.

Disclaimer: I am not a trained nutritionist and neither do I have any medical qualifications. These are just the things I try to remember when eating on a day-to-day basis. 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Healthy 'back to work' breakfast recipe

I don't know about you, but I always get hungry at work at about 10:30am and need a snack. Normally I reach for a chocolate biscuit, but this year I am trying to be healthier. Therefore I aiming to produce some healthy alternatives. This is my first attempt and it is inspired by the TTYL breakfast parfait recipe.

All you need is: a container, The Food Doctor savoury seed blend, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and 0% fat yoghurt.

Step 1: cut the strawberries into quarters.

Step 2: put the strawberries into the bottom of the container.

Step 3: put two tablespoons of yoghurt on top of the strawberries and add some blackberries.

Step 4: add another two tablespoons of yoghurt and a handful of blueberries.

Step 5: top with The Food Doctor savoury seed blend and ta-dah you're finished! Pop in the fridge until ready to eat! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Ballet: 'Jewels' at the Royal Opera House

On Monday I was lucky enough to go and see the ballet Jewels at the Royal Opera House. I am a big fan of ballet. Hang on, let me re-phrase that. I am a big fan of the Royal Ballet. I have seen The Nutcracker countless times (seeing it again on Thursday), Swan LakeLa fille mal gardée, Chroma/ The Human Seasons/ The Rite of SpringRomeo and Juliet, Onegin (probably my favourite) and countless other performances. But in all my years (probably at least 20) of going to the Royal Opera House to see the ballet I have never seen Jewels. It was exquisite. It is a triple bill, split into Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. I even got to see Marianela Núñez in Diamonds. There was a huge cheer for her, quite rightly. The costumes were so beautiful and I am pleased to say that I have managed to find a 'behind the costumes' video on YouTube, definitely worth a watch! I would advise anyone who has never been to the ballet to start off by seeing the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House. There is not a more magical place to see this awe-inspiring art form. You can buy tickets from £4, however I would say you might need to pay more like £18 to get a good view, but still, let me just see how much it costs to see Little Mix... the lowest price ticket is £26.55 in Birmingham. Just saying. 

P.S. Me and my oldest friend used to say when we were young that we would go to the Royal Ballet School in Richmond Park, like that would have ever happened!
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