Gluten free is a no-go for me

Gluten free. Saying “bye bye” to bread and cakes and everything in between – been there, done that, bought the Tshirt, ripped it up and now it is in the bin.

Nothing as drastic as that in reality, but in my mind that’s the relief I now feel.

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Being ‘gluten free’ in the UK is a common phrase. You could say, ‘it’s having a moment’. We overhear conversations in the street, see it on menus in restaurants, aisles dedicated to products of the kind are growing bigger and bigger in the supermarkets, and companies are using it on their packaging as a marketing ploy for people to buy it, as gluten free means it’s healthier….

HOWEVER if you are coeliac or have Crohn’s Disease, gluten most definitely should be steered well clear of. Thankfully for those of you unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with coeliacs diease the quality of gluten free products has improved drastically over the past few years, people are more aware of what it entails and being actually able to eat something other than lettuce leaves is proving easier than ever.

Back to the gluten free tribe. We seem to have had this idea hammered into our minds that a food with the gluten removed is virtuous. Gluten is the devil that is causing all of our ailments in this modern day. Bloating, constipation, leaky gut, headaches, weight gain, depression, you name it gluten will the reason and once removed you will be healthy and this aura of wellness will surround you forevermore. Scrolling through Instagram you see bloggers saying how they’re gluten, dairy and wheat free excluding it completely from their diets and vowing to never eat some sliced white again. In the news, guaranteed there is a headline at least once a week stating that cutting gluten from your diet will be the magic cure supposedly to cancer and Alzheimer’s (?!?!?). I used to believe, wandering down the free from aisle in Tesco, that I was doing myself some good. Picking up that gluten free bread, perhaps some bakewell tarts and a box of gluten free granola (all gluten and dairy free of course), that I was being healthy. Still eating toast with jam (more, jam with toast in my case), snacking on sweet pastries and cakes and baking with gluten free flours convinced that what I was doing was the right thing. As I’m sure many still do.

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In cafes we see cakes, cookies and brownies – without the gluten – appearing more and more frequently. I’d assume the thought passes through most peoples’ minds, that they wouldn’t dream of having a piece of normal cake, but that gluten free brownie is a no brainier. Compare the ingredients of your usual bread and its gluten free counterpart. First thing you will surely notice is the huge markup in price for something which is at least half the size, it feels like a dense rock and there will be so many unknown ingredients and added things you wouldn’t expect to see in bread to just keep it all stuck together. Next try the gluten free brownie, I’m reckoning the sugar content will be much higher as when you remove one thing it has to be replaced with something else to keep the flavour. And what’s cheaper than white sugar and vegetable fats?

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So what even is gluten? Well, it’s a protein. Gluten is not bread. Found naturally in wheat, spelt, rye and barley and added to convenience foods and sauces where it is used as a thickener. It’s what gives bread that good bounce and chew, and ensures your cake isn’t a pile of crumbs. So it is not the maker of all evil or spawn of the devil it is in fact protein. Perhaps by removing gluten from our diets we are missing out on a source of protein, which is something we all seem to be striving for more of nowadays?

If you’ve ever tried excluding something from your diet you will know how much of a shadow it casts over your life. You see the evictee everywhere you look, bread rolls shopping for milk, toast running for the bus, and croissants playing football in the street. You want it more and more, crave bread at every meal, spend hours in your day searching for where to eat with gluten free options, worrying about that pizza night your friends are planning and what you are going to eat and in the end probably end up crying into half a loaf of bread and butter.

Sucks to be gluten free.

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So, yes, of course if you feel like you have some digestive issues go and see your doctor or a nutritionist or dietitian to get that thing checked out. Don’t cut things out of your diet ‘cos your best friend told you to’, or you want to be as skinny as that blogger on Instagram and she doesn’t eat gluten. Think about the poor people who are coeliac and have to avoid gluten for the rest of their lives. It isn’t a choice for them. Don’t go on a ‘gluten free diet’ to lose weight, if the bread basket is placed in front of you and you fancy some, have some bread, it’s NOT going to kill you!

I have most definitely stopped that gluten free escapade well in its tracks. I now struggle to get through a weekend without a visit to our local baker for a loaf of sourdough, and if that’s not accessible there’s always a stash of rye bread in my freezer. At work if there’s some Danish pastry going free, no way on earth am I going to pass that up, and I am never going to a pay a premium for gluten free oats when oats naturally are gluten free in the first place!! On the sourdough note, due to the grains being fermented it is far more digestible than breads using commercial yeast, never mind tasting better due to a longer prove, so sourdough sure is the way to go.

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When you switch to a wholefoods based diet, or even increase the amount of fruits, veggies, wholegrains and legumes on your plate, you will notice that as a result you are eating less gluten. I’m not preaching here, if you want to go by that label then please do, but for me I find it better to not put up any fences between me and bread. No I don’t eat it everyday, I don’t eat white pasta, or pizza on a regular basis, not for the reason that they contain gluten, more for the fact that I base my diet on lovely veggies, beans, nuts and wholegrains. When I have pasta it’s either wholemeal or spelt and if I go out for a pizza it will be a bloody good one (not one rummaed from the freezer).

This is one of the latest trendy diets, but just don’t fall for it. Save your money for an occasional treat, that coffee from your favourite café, a massage, a dinner out with a loved one, or visit your local shops to buy some local produce and cook up a mega meal. Lots of plants is where it seems to be at, and I reckon it will be sticking around for a long time. And this diet sure ain’t a fad, this one’s a keeper!

X

Some fashion week sustenance

It’s come around again, yet another season, 1/2 a year has been and gone. Something which first started off as a biannual event, has now spawned into hundreds of millions of shows new ones popping up each season, mens collection, cruise, couture, anniversary shows, pre collections, the fashion ‘week’ never ends for some.

From afar it seems a wondrous thing to be a part of – which it is when we eventually reach the following Tuesday and look back and say, ‘finally it is over!’ The slog though, it sure is a long and arduous one.

So the Monday before it officially begins on Friday we begin castings. Always one of the castings is the Fashion Scout event, a hall full of at least 20 designers where we must strut up and down, up and down, up and down until out little feet can’t carry us any longer. Add on top of that a good 5 or 6 castings and then crash on the sofa come 9 o’clock in a state of delirium.

And that’s only the first day!

Wake up and more castings again for the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Yayy no more on Tuesday!!). The list each day gets longer, castings start earlier and finish later and later and then the fittings, which can go well into the early hours of the morning as the teams behind the designers are putting the final touches to their shows.

All this running around, tube to bus, west to east and casting to show to fitting, it leaves us all rather hungry – ravenous fits the bill a bit more suitably. No matter how much the majority of models love you, Propercorn and Coconut water, I think we need some proper sustenance in our tummies.

So snacks are where it is at. Along with our heels, models cards and books (reading and portfolios) there will usually be a good array of snackage action in model handbags. I want to give some more ideas that stray away from said popcorn and popchips, because maybe they do fill that little hole but there’s not much in them to keep you going for very long. Things you can pick up quickly in supermarkets, cafes or have in your pocket for when that much needed energy dips. If you’re reading this and you’re not a model, they’re most definitely brilliant snacks to have on hand at anytime – the wait between lunch and dinner is hard enough to get though!!

 

#1 Squirrel sister bars

Find them in a trusty Boots, these fruit and nut bars are a delight. Sweet, but still full of nobbly nutty pieces that make it feel a satisfying snack rather than just a hit of pure energy. They come in four flavours: Cacao brownie, Raspberry ripple, Coconut cashew and Cacao orange, and each is portioned into two little finger bars, one for now and one for later, give one to a friend (if you’re feeling really kind), but most probably both at once because they are OH SO GOOD! If you can find it, make sure to get your hands on the cacao orange, I’m always out of luck as it’s sold out and it is definitely the best of the flavours!!

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#2 Hippeas

The new crisp on the block. These chickpea puffs are perfect for when you can’t get that bag of skips off your mind. The come in four flavours; Pepper Power, In Herbs We Trust, Sweet and Smokin’ and Far Out Fajita. Nicely savoury with a good puffy crunch. Thanks to incredible marketing and advertising I’m sure you’ve already heard of Hippeas as they’re so easy to find in the majority of healthfood stores around London, but also Whsmiths and Waitrose. Listen to the guys and, ‘give peas a chance’!

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#3 Deliciously Ella energy balls

Brought to you from the famed Deliciously Ella, these balls which currently come in three flavours popular from the blog, can be found in Starbucks, Waitrose, Sainsburys, The Mae Delis and various health food stores. They are very sweet, from the dates so will be perfect for a quick pick me up alongside your mochachococcino. The three flavours are Hazelnut and Raisin, Cashew and Ginger and Cacao and Almond, each made from only a few ingredients but all wholefoods, just fruit and nuts and some spices.

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#4 The Giving Tree, Broccoli crisps

Now for another savoury snackaroo. Little green broccoli trees which are vacuum fried and just a little salt is added. They are super crispy and munchable, you’ll find your way to the bottom of the packet in no time. There are a few options in The Giving Tree crisps, a mixture of sweet and savoury, the sweet ones are freeze dried and the savoury ones are vacuum fried both ways retaining all their nutrients.

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#5 A piece of fruit

Couldn’t write a snacks list without some fruit. I tend to opt for oranges, pears and apples because bananas usually end up as a big mush over my heels. Full of natural sugars, fibre and loads of vitamins and minerals, which are much needed as our tired-out bodies are pushed to their limits, all in one portable package.

 

#6 Trail mix

Another oh so simple one. I like to make my own up as it’s cheaper and I get to choose what goes in the mix. Chuck in any of your favourite nuts, seeds, dried fruit and perhaps some coconut flakes for a quick energy boosting snack. The protein and fats in the nuts should keep you sustained for a good while (at least hopefully until you get some proper lunch or dinner). Try a variety of nuts, not just your typical almonds and cashews for some interest. Also, if chocolate goes in there, I won’t tell.  Fashion week is a devilish time and chocolate soothes everything.

 

#7 Emily’s Fruit/Veg Crisps

Another of the vacuum crisped crisps.  My favourites are the Root Veg crisps and the French beans, Sugarsnaps and Black Edamame. Munch on the bus or add as a lunch topper for some crunch. Also available are fruit crisps in flavours such as pineapple, apple and banana.

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#8 Rawsage

An unassuming snack bar I received once in a Lifebox. If you’re like me and crave something savoury to add to your snacking instead of all the sweet fruity based bars, this will be your new go to. A raw vegan version of the popular salami snack, Peperami, indeed a raw sausage! It tastes pretty fab, brazil nuts, sundried tomatoes, herbs and spices combine for a flavour full of umami and even a very similar texture to the original. Find it in Planet organic, and give it a try!

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#9 Rude Health ‘The Oaty’

A lot of the time I am sick and tired of fruit and nuts, and need a little biscuit, reminiscent of a Digestive but so much tastier and wholesome. The oatcakes from Rude Health are a great handbag snack and the best of the oatcake bunch. They come in a few variations, The Oaty, The Spelt Oaty, the Rye Oaty, the 4 Seed Oaty and the Ginger and Turmeric Oaty. In the box there’s portioned packets ready to take on the go. My favourite, the Ginger and Turmeric Oaty is lovely with a cup of milk, or perhaps a golden milk for a double turmeric hit, as a bedtime snack – the slow releasing carbs will help you with a restful sleep. In my humble opinion, the best oatcake out there, I’ve tried a few and these most definitely have no similarities to cardboard!!

 

So don’t let fashion week get you down, and don’t let boring snacking get you down either. There’s plenty of options out there, just pick something that you enjoy and that will help you keep on trudgin’. Also make sure it stands the handbag test, noone wants a mass of crumbs in the bottom or an explosion when you go to find your purse. Tupperware is the saviour in this scenario, oh and baby wipes!!!

Happy Fashion Week to you All, and GOOD LUCK!!

X

 

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

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! 

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