Fitness Journey, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness

Healthy lifestyle vs fad diets? What’s your view?

 

diet

As we all know, the news is full of the latest ‘death trap’ food that we mustn’t eat but what do we really think the definition is of healthy eating?

We live in a society which is obsessed with food.  I’m constantly hearing conversations about why sugar is the root of all evil, why carbs are a no-no or why we should liquify our food in a juicer because it’s good for us. Funnily enough these conversations are often had by the same people who binge drink every weekend and smoke 20 a day. But does any of it all really make a difference?

I would by no means class myself as a healthy eater.  I like chocolate a little too much,  I only eat about 3 portions of fruit/veg a day and I have been known to have the odd Macca’s here and there.  However, I always eat a healthy dinner, you can count the number of times I order chinese/pizza/indian/whatever takeaway a year on one hand and I drink a lot less than the average person my age.  Thankfully, I never have to go to the doctors (I actually avoid it at all costs) and aside from the odd cold I’m rarely ill.

I run 15-20 miles a week so don’t need to diet to stay in shape so why shouldn’t I eat a little bit of everything I like?  Yes, I probably should make an effort to eat a bit more fruit or veg but I have a healthy emotional relationship with food.  So easily people become so obsessed with what they should and shouldn’t eat, personally I find it exhausting!

So I guess my question is, is it best to live an active lifestyle with a little bit of everything you enjoy or should we be questioning every little thing that passes our lips?

D x

 

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Thai style chicken soup

The classic flavours of ginger, chilli and spring onions synonymous with Thai cuisine are some of my favourites so I love experimenting in the kitchen with them. During these winter months, I’m always looking for something warming and cosy so this Thai style chicken soup is perfect on a frosty day.

Ingredients:

  • One chicken breast per person
  • Chicken stock (I used two tubs of Tesco finest stock 300g each)
  • Spring onions
  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 red chilli
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Lemongrass
  • Soy sauce
  • Lime
  • Rice noodles
  • Pak choi

Regina Thai chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Finely chop 2-3 cloves of garlic and a good chunk of ginger. Place in a large saucepan with the chicken stock and top the liquid up with the same amount of water as stock.  Slice the lemongrass and add to the pan with the kaffir lime leaves, try to keep it fairly large so it is easier to remove later.  Add the chicken breasts and place over a medium heat and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 20 mins.

Regina thai chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Remove the chicken from the pan and using two forks, shred the chicken.  Also remove the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and discard.

IMG_5677 IMG_5678 Regina thai chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

3. Return the chicken to the pan with the chopped spring onions, sliced chilli, the juice of half a lime and a good splash of soy sauce. Simmer for 5 mins and then add the noodles and pak choi.  Stir well and simmer for a further 5 mins.

regina chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Ladle the soup into bowls with a little extra soy sauce to taste.

Regina chicken soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Recipe fave: My spaghetti & meatballs

It’s a classic, and one of my favourite meals of all time.  I’ve tried several different recipes for meatballs and in the end I found no individual one quite gave me the flavour I wanted so I began to experiment a bit.  I tried all kinds of different herbs, spices, and ingredients before settling on my tried and tested version below.  It’s definitely one of my favourites so let me know if you try it out too!

My recipe is based around this one by John Torode but adapted a little to suit my tastes.  That’s the great thing about meatballs, you can put pretty much anything you want in them depending on what you like.  I always serve mine with home made pasta. I learnt to make this on a cooking course I went on a while back and you can read how to make your own here.  For this recipe, rather than cutting it through the pasta machine, I rolled it out and cut it into thick strips to make papperdelle.

Regina homemade pasta

For the meatballs and sauce you will need:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5/6 slices of pancetta chopped into small pieces
  • 4 slices of bread, slightly toasted then blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • A good handful of parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Grated parmesan
  • Salt & pepper
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • Red wine
  • 2 x tinned plum tomatoes
  • Olive oil

Here’s what to do:

1. Fry the onion and pancetta until the onion is transparent. Add the chilli, garlic and breadcrumbs, season with the herbs and salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 mins.  Mix in the parsley then put the mixture in a bowl to cool slightly whilst you prepare the meatballs.

IMG_5655       Fry the breadcrumbs

 

 

 

 

2. Put the beef, pork, parmesan, egg yolks and half of the breadcrumb mixture in a large bowl and using your hands give the mixture a good squeeze to mix it all together.  You want to make sure all the flavours are mixed well through out so every little ball is packed full of flavour.  Some recipes recommend putting the mix in a blender but I find this method much easier.

IMG_5658    Meatballs

 

 

 

 

3. This mixture will make a lot of meatballs – about 30-36.  I always double up when I make them so I can freeze a batch for a quick midweek meal.  Roll the mixture between your hands into small balls no larger than the size of a golf ball.

IMG_5662

 

 

 

 

4. In a large frying pan, brown the meatballs on all sides and then set aside.  In the same pan, add the remaining breadcrumb mixture and a good splash of wine to deglaze the pan.  You want to get off all the bits stuck to the pan from the meatballs to give the sauce lots of flavour.

Meatballs Meatballs

 

 

 

 

 

5. Add the two tins of tomatoes and a tin full of cold water and bring to the boil.  I then carefully use a potato masher to mash up the plum tomatoes to make sure they break down properly.

Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

6. Season the sauce and add the meatballs.  Leave to simmer for around 20 mins, stirring regularly.

Meatballs

 

 

 

 

 

7. Prepare your chosen pasta in the meantime and serve the meatballs with lashings of sauce, a sprinkle of parsley and parmesan according to your taste.

Spaghetti and meatballs

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious!

D x

P.S. I was lucky enough to bump into the man himself a while back so here is my shameless celeb snap 😉

Me & John Torode

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Review: Morrisons Cake Kit

Product: Chocolate Fudge Cake Kit

Price: £1.69, Morrisons

Following on from my Betty Crocker Cookie review, I thought I’d try out a few more brand’s cake mixes for comparison so you may see a few reviews over the coming weeks.  Next up was a chocolate fudge cake from Morrisons.

Morrisons Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix

First impressions, you need to add more ingredients to this mix which to me, kinda defeats the object of buying a cake mix.  I had to add eggs and measure out milk and butter which if I’m doing that isn’t saving me a huge amount of time or money than if I did it from scratch.  Plus the recipe calls for 6 inch cake tins.  NO ONE OWNS 6 INCH CAKE TINS!!!!!  I hate recipes that ask for this – the standard is 8 inch which means I’m going to end up with a very flat cake.

There are 3 packets in the box, cake mix, frosting mix and white choc chips.  First step was to mix the cake mix with some of the butter and milk and 2 eggs.  I reduced the amount of milk slightly as I was using large eggs instead of medium.

IMG_3965 IMG_3967 Morrisons Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix

Divide the mix into your two greased tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

The cakes baked pretty evenly which was good but as predicted were very flat!

IMG_3971 Morrisons Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix

Whilst they were cooling, I made the frosting.  Again you had to add butter and milk so all you are really getting is some icing sugar and a bit of cocoa powder.

Morrisons Chocolate Fudge cake Mix

I spread the frosting between the two cakes and on the top and sides then melted the chocolate chips in the bag in some hot water as directed, snipped the corner and drizzled the chocolate over the top.  Doing it in the bag was a bit fiddly to be honest so it ended up looking a bit of a mess!

Morrisons chocolate fudge cake mix

The cake itself was ok, it was chocolatey which is the main thing you want from a chocolate cake I guess! I probably wouldn’t buy this product again.

 

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Review: Betty Crocker Cookie Mix

Product: White Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix

Price: £1.35 Tesco 

I never really use pre-mixed cake mixes, I love baking so it feels a bit to me like cheating!  However saying that, there is definitely a market out there for people who don’t have a huge amount of kitchen equipment or store cupboard full of baking goodies at home and want to give it a try.  I don’t bake a lot of biscuits, I’m more of a cake girl so thought I’d start off with this premix from Betty Crocker for White Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix

 

Everything you need is in the mix, you just need to add water which is a huge bonus.  From opening the packet to the oven was around 10 mins so they were super quick to make.  This mix does only make 8 though so if you are a family of four or more you may want to consider buying a couple of mixes 🙂

The instructions are really simple to follow, empty into a bowl, add water, mix, divide into 8 balls and cook.  Couldn’t really get any simpler than that!

IMG_3956 IMG_3957 IMG_3958 Betty Crocker Cookie mIx

Bake for 10-12 mins at Gas mark 5, my oven is pretty slow normally so I left them for the full 12 minutes. Then, (fanfare du du du duuuuur) 8 freshly baked cookies in 22 minutes flat 🙂

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix Betty Crocker Cookie Mix

They tasted pretty good too!  They had a good amount of chocolate chips in which I was surprised by and had that great gooey cookie texture that you get from fresh cookies.

With these cookies I think I would definitely consider keeping a couple of packs in the cupboard for unexpected visitors or when you just get that cookie craving!  They are also so quick and simple that they would be fab to do with the kids.  Nothing better than cookies straight out of the oven 🙂

 

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

UK Coffee Week 7 – 14 April

So this week is National Coffee Week!  I don’t actually like coffee (although I do love the smell) so it may seem weird that I’ve decided to write a whole post about it but I was reading about the great initiative behind UK coffee week – Project Waterfall.

Project Waterfall in association with WaterAid is an initiative to provides clean drinking water to communities in the Mbulu district in Tanzania, one of the big coffee growing regions of Africa. Some of the big coffee shop chains such as Starbucks and Caffe Nero are supporting the cause as well as smaller independent ones to try and raise funds to lay necessary pipelines and infrastructure to support these communities to be self sufficient. 

UKCW14-logo-NoDate

To get involved you can take part in the 5 bean challenge, by completing 5 tasks to support project waterfall. You can then be entered into a prize draw to win coffee related prizes.   More details available on their website.

Or Nespresso lovers can support coffee farmers in Rwanda anytime by buying their refill pods from Fine Coffee Club.  20% of the price of the Rwandan coffee pods goes straight to supporting the Rwandan Farmers Coffee Company .

coffee

So coffee lovers everywhere, when you next order your half fat, tall, extra hot, extra foam mocha or what ever is your coffee of choice in Starbucks, take the opportunity to support the coffee growing communities of Africa.

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

The perfect movie night in

Every girl loves a good cosy night in front of a good movie and I am no exception.  Here’s my guide on how to create the perfect movie night in with the girls.

First you need food!

My go to snack for nibbles with the girls is always Nachos.  Quick, super easy and suits pretty much everyones tastes.

Nachos

First, pre-heat the oven to around gas mark 6.  On 2 oven proof plates arrange some nacho chips (I use Tesco’s value ones as they are a bargain and I think taste much better than Doritos!).  On top sprinkle some grated cheddar and mozzarella.  Put them in the oven for a few mins until the cheese begins to melt and then repeat with a second layer.  You could also sprinkle some jalapenos or chillis if you like a bit of spice.

Once the cheese is bubbly, they are ready 🙂  Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or whatever you like!

Nachos

Super easy, super tasty!!!  (Very naughty though)

And it wouldn’t be a movie night without popcorn 🙂  I’m not a huge fan of popcorn but I love the range by Portlebay Popcorn.  They have some fabulous flavours including personal favourites Wasabi & Sweet Ginger and Chilli & Lime or try Kracklecorn if you want something a bit more traditional.

Portlebay Popcorn

Then you just need something sweet to top it off, my fave – a big bag of Malteasers!

Pick a suitable chick flick to munch it all down to.  Some of my recent favourites include:

csl  Life_as_We_Know_It_Poster  BridesmaidsPoster

Enjoy!

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Top 5: Pancake fillings

So its one of my favourite days of the year tomorrow – PANCAKE DAY!!!

I love pancakes and this year I’ve decided to be a little adventurous and try some unuual fillings.  Here are my top 5 recipies from the tinterweb 🙂

1. Baked pancakes with cheese and ham 

Delicious Magazine

I love the sound of this recipe from Delicious Magazine . Stuffed pancakes filles with yummy ham and cheese goodness and baked in the oven with even more cheese on top. Yum.

2. Chicken and leek pancakes

chicken & leek

Yummy chicken and leek oozing with a mustard sauce makes this Good to Know recipe irresistible.

3. Chocolate pancakes with berries

Chocolate pancakes

Who doesn’t like a good serving of chocolate lovliness?  Give these chocholate pancakes over at UKTV Food a try with some yoghurt and berries to finish it off.

4. Dulce de leche

bonne maman

I fell in love with dulce de leche when I was travelling around South America last year and couldn’t get enough of it whilst I was there.  My rule is you can pretty much have it with anything so why not smother a pancake in it!  The nearest product I have found here is Bonne Maman’s Confiture du Caramel available from Waitrose, £2.19.

5. Of course….Lemon and sugar!

lemon

You still can’t beat good old fashioned lemon and sugar on a pancake.  It should always be freshly squeezed lemon juice (not from a plastic lemon shaped container) and a good sprinkling of sugar.  I am drawling just thinking about it!

Enjoy!

D x

Fashion & Beauty, Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Rio Carnival inspires the high street

I was lucky enough to travel Brazil last year and seeing all the pictures from the Rio Carnival this weekend has bought back all the memories and feelings of the Brazilian spirit.  It’s infectious and you can’t help but get swept away by it – it’s possible my most favourite place in the world so far!

So it was great to see so much of the fun and colour of carnival on the high street today.  Here are just a few of my favourites from todays shopping trip.

River Island

Print Bodycon dresses from River Island, £32.99

Accessorize

Rio Ultimate Necklace £22.00 & Parrot bag, Both Accesorize

Kurt Geiger

Elvie sandals by Kurt Geiger £75

New look

Gold beaded bib necklace £9.99 New Look

Mula

Mua Glitter palettes, £4 Superdrug

Nail wraps

Bling up your nails with some 3d Nail wraps by Eye Candy and Elegant Touch.

And I even found a little bit of Brazil to wake me up in the mornings with the fabulous scent of the Radox Brazilian Fusion Shower Gel currently on offer in Tesco’s 3 for £3 🙂

Radox

So once you’ve cleaned up in your Brazil scented shower, got your carnival inspired glad rags on and a bit of sparkle on, you’re going to need some refreshment right?  And there’s only one way to do that in Brazil – CAIPIRINHAS!!!!!!! Yes, anyone who has been will have drunk copious amounts of these sugary cups of heaven and probably not remembered much about it.  You’ll need limes, Cachaca and sugar and thats pretty much it!  Try it yourself with this recipe.

Caipirinha

If you’re the designated driver you can still get into the party spirit with Lucozade’s limited edition ‘Brazilian’ Mango and Mandarin drink.  It’s super fruity and will keep your energy levels pumping all night 🙂

lucozade

D x

Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

Taste test: Berry fruit teas

I don’t normally drink fruit tea but often think I should cut down on the amount of caffeine in my 7 or 8 daily cups of tea so thought I’d give them a try. Here I focussed on berry based fruit teas from 4 different brands: Clipper, Teapigs, Taylors of Harrogate and Twinings.

fruit tea

Twinings Echinacea & Raspberry, £1.49 for 20

tea bagbrew

I was keen to try this tea as I’ve obviously heard about the healing powers of echinacea and have recently been fighting the germs that are surrounding me at home and work with everyone being ill!  The tea when brewed was the palest of the four teas that were tested, and had a very subtle raspberry scent.  There wasn’t a strong fruity flavour coming through but I did enjoy it as it had a comforting, warming flavour that I think would be quite soothing when you are feeling  a little under the weather.  I would definitely  drink this tea again but due to its lack of fruitiness I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5.

Clipper Strawberry & Rhubarb Organic Infusion, £1.49 for 10

clipper IMG_3620

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing I noticed about this tea was how much it smells like strawberry jelly 🙂  It reminded me of my Dad making Bird’s packet trifle mixes when we were younger and the smell when he was making the jelly layer (definitely a guilty food pleasure!).  This tea was a rich red colour when brewed.  The first taste was quite sharp, the rhubarb flavour was very prominent.  I didn’t find it easy to drink and didn’t enjoy the flavour. It was my least favourite of the four teas.  Because of it had an awesome scent but less enjoyable flavour I’m giving this tea 2 out of 5.

Teapigs Super fruit, £4.15 for 15

teapig

teapig
 

 

 

 

 

 
Teapigs was the most expensive tea of the bunch, I’ve heard really good things about them so was keen to give it a try. The scent is really bugging me – it smelled like sweets from my childhood but I can’t quite put my finger on which ones, regardless it smelt good!  It was very smooth to drink and had a nice subtle fruity flavour.  Although I’m a newbie to fruit teas, this one seemed to be a good all-rounder and was therefore my favourite of the bunch.  I’m giving it a whopping 4.5 out of 5.

Taylors of Harrogate Blackberry & Elderflower, £2.99 for 20

taylorstaylors tea
 

 

 

 

 

 
This was the sweetest tea and having a bit of a sweet tooth, it made it quite pleasant.  It had a more distinctive taste than the other teas so its probably one you will love or hate.  The bags were individually wrapped and endorsed by Kew gardens.  It was less fragrant than the Teapigs or Clipper tea but overall I thought it had a good flavour.  I’m giving it 4 out of 5.

So the winner of this taste test is: Teapigs!