GETTING DIRTY AT SMOKE BBQ LEEDS // LEEDS BLOGGER EVENT!

Hey peeps

I hope you’re not too hungry, as this post will have you ravenous within a few paragraphs!  Just editing the photos is making me hungry!  I was invited along to Smoke BBQ in Leeds to try some of their yummy food and drinks and find out what they’re all about.

Smoke BBQ opened in October opposite the Leeds Arena, and they have a few other restaurants around the UK (such as their first one which opened in 2013 in Sheffield, and soon one in Glasgow as well).  They are all about good quality, authentic barbecue food.  I really liked the decor of the Leeds restaurant too – it was very industrial, pared back, exposed brick and metal (as you can see from my photos).  Now I might not be the obvious person to review their food as a vegetarian, but I took along a hungry, meat-eating husband to help me out!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Blend Bros // Savoury Blend Protein Sauces // Review & Recipe!

Hi guys

This may seem a bit of a random post on what is mainly a beauty blog.  Although you may remember a while back, I did do quite a few recipe and What I Ate Wednesday posts.  I’m not sure why they went by the wayside actually… do you guys still want to see posts like that?  Let me know.

I was offered some Blend Bros sauces to try (for free – however all opinions are honest and my own), and to review on here.  The reason I accepted is that I am vegetarian (for over 8 years) and as a veggie, it’s sometimes difficult to get enough protein in your diet.  It’s definitely do-able, but you do have to plan quite carefully and make good choices.  These sauces contain 20g of pure pea protein each, which is a super-easy way to add protein to your diet without having to think too hard.

DSCF5057

I was sent three flavours to try – Mexican Pibil Stew, Thai Jungle Curry and Spanish Tomato & Chorizo.  The one I’m reviewing here is the tomato and chorizo flavour, as that’s the one that sounded most appealing to me.  I miss the flavour of chorizo, as it’s something I used to enjoy.  This sauce gives the flavour of chorizo whilst staying vegetarian by using a blend of smoked paprika and red chilli.

DSCF5062

Although I’m vegetarian, my husband is not – he eats meat.  We tried this sauce with both regular pork sausages and with Tesco Meat Free Lincolnshire Style Sausages (I use these fairly often).

We pan fried some mushrooms, red and yellow peppers and red onion on the hob.  Once they were slightly cooked, we added the sausages/veggie sausages into our pans.  Once they were pretty much fully cooked through, it was time for the sauce.

DSCF5065

To make up the sauce, you simply mix 100g of the flavour powder with 300ml of boiled water.  Stir vigorously (it takes a good stir to make sure there are no lumps of powder left).  Once it’s mixed, you can simply pour over your food.

We poured half of the sauce into each pan, and warmed it gently through (it doesn’t need actual cooking but we wanted it to be warm).  Although not part of the instructions, I actually added some chopped tinned tomatoes to the sauce.  I found that it was a little too dry at first, and mixing these in helped the consistency and made it go further.

Then it was ready to serve!  We popped some fresh spring onion on top for added crunch.

DSCF5073

My husband really liked the sauce.  I quite liked it, but could detect a slight powdery taste (like you can with protein shakes etc, but not as strong as that).  I think that is probably unavoidable, as you can always detect it in any protein powder products.  It did have a nice, fairly deep flavour and I feel like it left me more full than I would have been with a standard sauce.

I think this will be an ideal way for athletes and bodybuilders to add more protein to their diets, as I imagine protein shakes get pretty old and repetitive (which is exactly what Blend Bros created them for).  For me, I will definitely try the other flavours I was sent.  I don’t think I would rely on it as a regular source of protein, but it’s a great option to have in the cupboard.

Other flavours available are Indian Kerala Curry and Sicilian Lemon & Oregano, with more on the way.  You can buy them here.  I think they will also be available in Holland & Barrett stores soon.


Do you use any protein supplements?  What do you think to the idea of high protein sauces?  Let me know in the comments!

What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) – 16 June 2015!

Hello and welcome to another What I Ate Wednesday!  As usual, although posting on a Wednesday, this is what I ate all day on Tuesday.

Now this is going to be a bit of an unusual one because without going into TMI territory, I was woken up really early on Tuesday with a bad stomach.  It calmed down in time for me to eat breakfast but then flared up again quite badly for the rest of the day.  I would never usually eat toast for lunch, but I just couldn’t really face anything ‘proper’ to eat, but knew I needed something to keep my blood sugars up!

Breakfast

_20150616_111306          _20150616_111331

For breakfast, I had some raw (as in uncooked by me) porridge oats with an Activia Rhubarb yogurt stirred though.  I then chopped up some fresh strawberries and sprinkled them on top.  This is sort of what I switch to in the warmer months, when the thought of porridge isn’t appealing!  I really like the oats like this – the yogurt takes away the chewiness but having the oats keeps it filling and good for keeping your blood sugar stable.

I recently had a look at what was in season in the UK and tried to meal plan my foods around it a bit, and strawberries were on the list as being in season now.  You can tell, as even the economy ones taste really sweet and juicy!

Lunch

_20150616_135910

Definitely not my most photogenic lunch but hey, I’m being honest!  As I said, I had a bad stomach so didn’t really want anything to eat but I get low blood sugar if I skip a meal, and it makes me feel awful.  Marmite on toast is a bit of a childhood comfort food for me, and something I can still eat even if I’m not feeling great.  This was made with Hovis Best of Both and lots of marmite – I don’t believe in spreading it thinly!  With the whole Marmite love/hate thing, I can just imagine people cringing at the screen right now, haha.

Dinner

It was bad timing to get a dodgy stomach as we had tickets for a meal last night and would have lost our money if we didn’t go!  A local bar/brewery, The Refectory, were holding a 5-course tasting menu with a rhubarb theme and matching beers.  I absolutely love rhubarb so I was excited about this!  As I was so unwell around my 30th birthday, I didn’t get chance to celebrate with my  husband, so we decided to go to this as my belated birthday celebration!

We didn’t know what would be on the menu, but I had let them know I was vegetarian, so I knew I would be able to eat whatever I got.  Here’s what we had:

(This is the standard menu – where there is fish or meat, I had pretty much the same dish but vegetarian).

_20150616_190521     _20150616_203031     _20150616_202947

_20150616_202853      _20150616_202907        _20150616_203006

_20150616_211125  This is a rhubarb vinegar shot – yep really!

_20150616_202926      _20150616_211139      _20150616_213535

The food was all fresh, delicious and beautifully presented.  I didn’t manage all my matching beers, but my husband helped me out there!  I would definitely recommend The Refectory if you are local.


What do you think of my rather strange day of food?  Are you a fan of rhubarb?  Let me know in the comments!

Healthy Vegetarian Snack Ideas!

As you may know, I’m a vegetarian – so any recipes/food I include in this blog will be vegetarian because that is how I eat.  You can always adapt my ideas to add meat, if that is what you prefer.

I’ve always been a snacker.  It runs in my family that we are all really susceptible to low blood sugar levels if we don’t eat regularly.  For me, if I go longer than around 4 hours without eating, I can feel the tell-tale signs of starting to feel a bit disoriented, grumpy, weak and confused – not fun!  So snacking is definitely the way forward, although I like to keep my snacks healthy, as otherwise, the calories will easily stack up, leading to eating more calories than are necessary for the day.

Here are some EASY snacks I enjoy (easy is important for me – I am chronically ill, and often unable to spend long preparing food!)

Apple ‘Donuts’

IMG_20150604_220105

Cut your favourite variety of apple into four slices, removing the stubby end pieces and stalk.  You can either use a corer to remove the inner core and seeds, or simply trim round it with a knife, to create these ring-shaped pieces.  Then spread a small amount of peanut butter onto two of the four slices (natural, smooth or crunchy – whatever you prefer).  Sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon onto the remaining two slices, then simply put them on top of the two peanut butter covered rings.  Voila – a healthy and nutritious apple snack that takes about 1 minute to make!

You could also swap the cinnamon for mixed spice or nutmeg if you prefer.  My husband also likes a drizzle of honey on his (I’m not a honey fan!)


Kale Crisps (or Chips if you’re American!)

I absolutely love kale crisps!  I’m a fan of kale anyway, in smoothies or simply stir-fried with garlic.  But even if you don’t think you like kale, I reckon you’ll love them in this recipe.  They taste so different once they’ve been baked!  Kale is very nutritious – full of vitamins A, C and K, plus various minerals.

kale

The Simple Recipe

  • Take fresh curly kale (I tend to use the pre-chopped up bagged stuff from Tesco, but you can use any kind – if it’s whole, make sure you chop it into bite sized pieces first), wash if needed.
  • Spread the kale evenly over a baking sheet (or several – it shouldn’t overlap, so to make a decent portion, you may need a couple of baking sheets).
  • Drizzle or spray very lightly with oil.  I tend to use the One Cal spray oil, as it’s so low in calories, and spraying ensures even coverage, but olive oil or similar would be fine.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • Bake in the oven at 150C/130C fan/gas mark 2 for 18 – 20 minutes, until visibly crisp.  You can cook them on a higher heat for much less time (I have done them in 8 minutes before), but the slower method usually results in a nicer taste.

My Favourite Flavour Variations

I rarely make kale crisps plain, I like to experiment with flavours.  My favourite are:

  • Still lightly spritz the kale with oil, then drizzle soy sauce over before baking.  No need for salt, as the soy sauce is already salty.  The soy sauce goes all sticky and lovely once baked.
  • After drizzling with oil, sprinkle over a pre-made BBQ flavoured powder (or make your own if you have time!).  This makes wonderful BBQ kale crisps that are so savoury and tasty!
  • After oiling, squeeze a wedge of lime over the kale crisps so they are lightly covered in the juice, then sprinkle on chilli flakes, to taste.  This can be as subtle or as hot as you like!

Bean Hummus with Crudite

This is almost sacrilege as a vegetarian, but I’m not a huge fan of hummus.  I don’t mind the flavoured varieties but I’d still rather eat something else.  I love eating raw vegetables as snacks (I prefer most veg raw to cooked) and it’s nice to have something to dip it in.  I could eat sour cream & chive dip all day long, but obviously I need to eat something a bit more nutritious and less calorific!

butterbean hummus  (This is not my photo, as I haven’t made it recently!)

I found something similar to hummus but made with beans instead of chickpeas.  You could probably use any kind of cooked beans, but I used butter beans.  For ease, I chose pre-cooked canned butter beans – you can always use dried, but make sure you follow the soaking instructions carefully.

  • 1 can of butter beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic (this can be adjusted to taste, I like garlic so prefer to use 2)
  • Olive oil – around 4 tablespoons, but keep adding a little at a time until you get the desired consistency
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (you can use regular, but the smoked gives a lovely flavour)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Simply take everything apart from the oil into a blender (I use a Ninja, which is really handy for this recipe).  Add 1 tablespoon of oil and blend everything up – keep adding the oil, using only enough to get the right consistency.  Serve in a bowl with raw vegetable sticks.  You can also toast and chop up some pitta bread too, if you’re having it as a meal.


Healthy Snacks On-The-Go

Obviously you may not always have the time (or desire) to make something yourself.  Sometimes you need handy, portable snacks that are still nutritious.  Some of my favourites are:

Nakdbar          nuts

  • Nuts – eaten in moderation, these are a good source of protein.  They are an easy snack.  Although they say you should only eat raw, unsalted nuts, I tend to find these a bit bland.  I would prefer to eat roasted or salted nuts less often!
  •  Popcorn – it is easy to find small portion-controlled packets of popcorn these days.  These are a good low-calorie snacking option and come in a variety of savoury and sweet flavours.
  • Nakd bars – these are one of my favourite snacks.  They are made solely from natural ingredients, including fruit and nuts.  They come in some lovely flavours, my favourites being Cocoa Orange and Rhubarb & Custard.  Of course they have a relatively high sugar content, but are more natural than their equivalent cereal bar, packed full of sugar but with little nutrition.

What are your favourite healthy snacks?  Will you be trying any of my recipes or suggestions?  Let me know in the comments box, or follow me on social media!

What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) – 10 June 2015!

I haven’t done a WIAW post in a while!  As I’ve been pretty ill with my ME and fibromyalgia, my diet has been a bit up and down.  I usually like to eat healthy, vegetarian food but when I’m too unwell to cook it can be difficult.  My husband does most of our cooking and is really good at it, but if he is out or something, I often resort to snacking instead of having a proper meal.  I often just don’t have the energy to cook any more!  It’s a shame, as I used to do almost all of the cooking, and really enjoyed it.

I decided last week that I need to try and ensure I am eating more regularly and nutritiously, as I am gaining weight at the moment – partly due to inactivity (I am often bedbound)  and partly due to some of the medication I am taking.  I made a meal plan and did an online Tesco shop to make things easy for my husband.  We’ve been enjoying some lovely meals, packed with fresh vegetables and nutritious ingredients.  Here is what I ate all day yesterday:

Breakfast

Ooooops!  Bad blogger.  I totally forgot to take a photo of my breakfast.  In my defence, mornings are the worst time for my conditions!

I had a smoothie for breakfast, which I made the night before and left in the fridge overnight (for the same reason I just mentioned, that I’m usually bad in the mornings and if I rely on making something then, I would often go hungry!)  We just added frozen mixed berries, fresh grapes, fresh strawberries, a banana, a ripe nectarine, some V8 vegetable juice, ground flaxseed and a spoon of peanut butter, topped up with water.  I’m trialling some ‘clear:skin’ powder supplements at the moment, so I added that into mine before drinking it.  An hour or so later, I was still hungry, so I had a banana.

Lunch

_20150609_134031       _20150609_134125

Lunch was so tasty!  This is something I’ve made in the past but not for a long time.  I took some gem lettuce leaves, which act like little boats, and filled them with mixed beans in a spicy sauce, quorn tikka chicken pieces and baby plum tomatoes.  After I took the above photos, I then decided to drizzle them with a little fat-free greek yogurt – final outcome below!  I really enjoyed it and will definitely be making it again soon, yum!

_20150609_133931       _20150609_133820

Dinner

_20150609_202903 _20150609_202946 _20150609_203000

For dinner, we had mediterranean couscous with added shallots, tomatoes and baby sweetcorn, more of the spicy mixed beans from lunchtime (protein), and some butternut squash, baked with sage and sea salt.  Yum!  I also had a small glass of white wine and another nectarine (they needed eating before they went too squishy!)

Snacks

_20150609_134106

Not long after lunch, I had a fresh nectarine (so rare to get them whilst they’re properly ripe in this country!) and some berry squash.  I drink an absolute ton of water (and sometimes squash) throughout the day.  I’ve always drunk a lot naturally but my medication these days does dehydrate me, so I make even more of an effort to drink enough now.

_20150609_140904     _20150609_140836

In the afternoon, I had a lovely cup of herbal lemon tea.  A friend in Canada sent me two boxes of Stash tea as it’s absolutely gorgeous – my favourite is the apple & cinnamon one, closely followed by this refreshing lemon one!  They are both caffeine free.

I also shared some popcorn with my husband whilst watching a film later on!


Have you tried any new recipes recently?  Do you try and follow a healthy diet, or is it too difficult, if you’re a fellow chronically ill person?  Let me know in the comments box!

Rare Restaurant (Leeds) Review and Photos

DSC_1621       DSC_1622

Around two months ago, I went to Rare Restaurant on Lower Briggate in Leeds.  The surroundings and food all looked really good, so I took some photos with the intention of blogging about it…. it is now several months later and I have only just come round to writing the review.  Hopefully I can still remember enough to tell you all about it!

Rare is fundamentally a steak-based restaurant, but offers other meats, some seafood and a veggie option.  They offer many different cuts and weights of steak – they say, “our steak boards let you decide on the cut and size of your steak, giving you control of your dining experience and ensuring you get exactly what you want out of your time with us”.

Rare’s website also mention that they use high quality ingredients from suppliers with high-welfare produce.  I am glad to hear that is something they take into consideration, as if you do eat meat, I really think you should consider its welfare.

DSC_1620

Now if you’ve read other food posts on my blog, you may know I’m a vegetarian.  So Rare would seem a strange choice of restaurant, given that it is mainly centred around steak!  I didn’t choose the restaurant, my meat-loving husband did.  But I do like to still review meat-centric restaurants on here as other veggies will have occasions where they will be invited to these sort of restaurants and will be interested to know what is available to them.  And the meat-eaters reading this will at least hear about what the others ate!

We were a little early as I have to get taxis everywhere so we got a couple of drinks whilst we waited.  I got a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc and my husband got a honey beer.  They have a good selection of beers on tap and also some bottled ones in the fridges.  The bartender was approachable and friendly.

DSC_1619

I can obviously only speak for my food, which was great, but everyone else (all meat-eaters) said their meals were really good too.  I didn’t really have a choice of vegetarian starters and mains, so had to get the one option they had, but luckily I liked the one option available anyway.  Vegans would not have had anything to choose from – I can only hope they would make you something up off-menu if you asked.

DSC_1623

My starter was a deep-fried egg served on a bed of asparagus, and was really tasty.  I absolutely love asparagus in any form and it was nice to have the added egg for some protein.

DSC_1625

My main course (again, the only veggie option) was roasted butternut gnocci served with butternut puree, roasted tomatoes and topped with salad leaves and parmesan.  It was delicious and extremely filling!  I also tried a few people’s sides – the triple cooked chips were immense and the avocado, papaya & mango salad was a delicious combination.

DSC_1633

I was too full for a proper dessert but still wanted something a little sweet.  Rare had the perfect solution – the dessert menu contained a small selection of dessert cocktails!  I chose the Peanut Butter Cup which was bourbon, peanut butter, cream and chocolate.  I don’t even like bourbon usually but this cocktail was amazing and left quite a few of my fellow diners jealous!

IMG_20150404_144031   DSC_1632

Although most people did enjoy their desserts, my Mum is a real dessert person (she’d rather just skip the main meal!) and she was a little disappointed with hers.  It was a white chocolate pannacotta but she said it didn’t really taste of white chocolate, and was quite bland.  Other people really enjoyed their crumbles and trio of ice creams though.

Rare also offer a decent cocktail menu and are very knowledgeable about the drinks if you have any questions.  Here are some that were enjoyed by others at the table…

DSC_1629          IMG_20150404_144109

The service was really good – we were seated on time and the waitress introduced herself to us.  We also received complimentary ‘amuse bouches’ – I couldn’t eat them as they were mini cocktail sausages with homemade brown sauce, but apparently they were pretty good.  We also got some homemade bread whilst waiting for our food.  It was served with salted butter and topped with fried crispy onion bits – it was gorgeous!

The only thing I would mention which was a bit misleading and confusing at first is that when you are handed the drinks listat the table, there is a section near the front with white, rose and red wines.  You read it and assume that is all the wine available.  I was surprised how expensive the wines were and asked the waitress if there was a house dry white wine.  She said no but showed me to a section much later on in the drinks list which included much more reasonably priced wines. I felt this was a bit confusing, as you would just assume the first few pages of wine were the whole selection.  It would be easy to order more expensive wine than you necessarily wanted to as it looks like that’s all that is available!  Perhaps they just need a reshuffle of the drinks menu.

Here is some of the food enjoyed by the others:

DSC_1626     IMG_20150404_144049  IMG_20150404_144123

DSC_1624


Overall, we had a really nice dining experience.  It isn’t somewhere I would rush back to until there is a new veggie option available, as otherwise I would have to eat the same meal.  My husband, however, has already been back already.  You can find their website here.


Have you been to Rare?  Did you like it?  Let me know in the comments or follow me on social media!

What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) – 28 April 2015

Happy Wednesday!

I am having a much-needed rest day as I don’t work on Wednesdays.  I’ve been getting back to work after being really unwell with my ME and Fibromyalgia, so the return has been exhausting.  I’m really pleased that I’m making some small improvements though 🙂

My usual disclaimer, these photos are from yesterday.  So without further ado, here’s what I ate!

Breakfast

IMG_20150428_175915

For breakfast I had a strawberry Activia yogurt (interesting side note – until a few years ago I couldn’t have these as they used to contain a non-vegetarian colouring agent called cochineal, which is essentially crushed beetles…!  Thankfully they changed the recipe a while ago).  I also had some red and green grapes and a slightly under-ripe banana (I don’t like them very ripe but this was a little on the crunchy side haha!)

Lunch

IMG_20150428_175859

I was going straight from a blood test to work so I needed to take something portable and easy to eat, so I had this 4 bean salad from the Tesco Finest range.  It’s one I’ve had many times before and it’s really tasty!  It comes with a herby dressing and is quite high in protein, so I’d definitely recommend it for any fellow veggies (or vegans!)

IMG_20150428_180021

I also snacked on this original three seed “protein top up” from Graze.  My mum-in-law sent me a surprise Graze box which contained about 12 of these little squares – half were these three seed ones, and half were cocoa & vanilla.  They are a fab snack for veggies/vegans as they contain over 4 grams of protein.  They are also really tasty!

Dinner

DSC_1856

I had “bangers and mash” using Quorn vegetarian sausages (I usually prefer Linda McCartney ones but this is all we could find in the small Tesco near us).  The mash was a combination of regular and sweet potato.  I also had some green beans, baby corn and asparagus (I love asparagus!).  My husband made some mushroom and onion gravy but I put it on after I took this photo, as despite tasting nice, it doesn’t look too appealing!!