Thursday, 29 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Cheesy biscuits


I found this recipe in the savoury snacks section of the recipe book and as a big fan of cheese twists, I decided to give them a go. As they use coconut flour, the texture is quite dense, meaning you’re full after a couple. They are chewy rather than crispy or crunchy, but I can’t work out whether I like them or not. The recipe makes 18.
 Ingredients
  • 50g almond meal/flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 60g melted butter
  • pinch of chilli flakes or paprika (I went for paprika)
  • 225g grated cheese
  • 50g coconut flour
Method
  • preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • combine the almond meal/flour, eggs, butter, cheese and seasoning in a bowl
  • add the coconut flour and knead, to form a ball
  • form the dough in walnut size balls and put on a tray
  • flatten each so that they’re 1cm thick and cook for 20 minutes, turning halfway
I used cheddar cheese and grated some red Leicester on the top to add a bit of colour – and to crisp them up. Helpful tip:  if the mixture is too dry, add another egg; if it’s too wet, add more flour.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Restaurant review | Pizza Express


Where I ate:
Pizza Express, High Street, Brentwood
Friday 16th was my birthday and I decided to go out with Jake and our friends Sarah and Rob for dinner and a catch-up. They’d recently moved to Brentwood and I chose to go to Pizza Express because I had a birthday code for a complimentary bottle of prosecco and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like Pizza Express?!
I love it, although the Brentwood branch isn’t the best. The layout is so bizarre for starters and we were shoved right at the back of the restaurant, in the corner. It always seems overly busy as well and as a result, the service is never very good. But I was looking forward to the evening – although we were all running late.
What I ate:
Pollo and pancetta salad, with goats’ cheese
I always go for the Leggera pizzas because they’re so light and almost like a healthy option, if that’s possible? But for some reason, I was really craving a salad, especially one with goats’ cheese. It was definitely a winter salad, served with chunky dough sticks and luckily I could stay on-plan as the dressing was served on the side. The bowl was huge but there were so many textures, colours and tastes, every mouthful was amazing. It’s made me want summer to come back around as the summer leggera salad was to die for!
Like I say, I managed to stay on-plan – I left the dough sticks and dressing and although we had the dough ball platter to start, I only had one and the boys were happy to dig in! How lush is the sausage dip, btw? Unreal!
Sarah went for the Pollo ad Astra Leggera (my personal fave) and the two lads had Diavolo Romanas. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the evening at all, but everyone had a great time and really enjoyed their food. We didn’t stay for dessert, as the service was slowing up and by the time we left the restaurant, it was gone 10pm. Instead, we had a quick cocktail in the new Wetherspoons!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Simple apple pancakes


There’s no better weekend brunch than homemade blueberry pancakes, or a trip to Frankie & Benny’s for a giant stack of bacon and maple syrup. These sugar-free alternatives are absolutely amazing – and even better than the Blogilates banana pancake recipe (I tried it before and it totally didn’t work). This recipe makes 10 pancakes, so two for every day of the working week – they can be frozen as well and then just toasted in the morning!
Ingredients
  • 120g self raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • butter for frying
Method
  • combine the flour, egg and milk in a bowl
  • add the grated apple and gently stir
  • melt some butter in a frying pan over a gentle heat and spoon in five tablespoons of mixture
  • when the surface starts to bubble, flip
  • once cooked, leave to cool on a wire rack
As you can see, I served mine with some low fat natural yogurt and blueberries. They were divine and a great alternative for those that want a ‘naughty’ breakfast/brunch. Please let me know if you give these a go and how you served yours.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Week 3 review


I won’t lie, I really didn’t want to document this week as I feel like I’ve really failed. Up until Thursday, I did really well and stuck to my diet plan; Friday was the day I fell off the wagon.
All week, I knew I’d be going out for lunch and dinner on Saturday and potentially out for lunch on Sunday and all week I was craving Chinese so bought some on the way home from work on Friday – but I also had Mc Donald’s chicken nuggets for lunch. It was only 0.6g of sugar, but I felt so naughty. And so bloated afterwards. I honestly feel like I’ve eaten so much this weekend as my birthday celebrations came to a close – and I’m pretty sure the weight I previously lost has come back on. I’ll be doing my weigh-in tomorrow instead.
I’m determined to be more organised this week and really try to continue where I left off before this minor blip. To aid this, I bought a planner in Paperchase at Westfield today – it’s basically a 7-day chart which you write your meals in. There’s also a notes section and a shopping list pad which will come in useful at the weekends. It’s currently hanging on my bedroom wall, so I’ll be looking at it often.
I’ve also used my Breville Blend Active this evening and made a smoothie to have for breakfast before work – it’s something I can quickly chuck back and was half from a recipe, half improvisation. The colour isn’t the best but it tasted okay – as good as blitzed greens and seeds can taste anyway.
I made the cheese biscuits from the I Quit Sugar recipe book, so will be blogging that this week. There’s still a couple left, so I’ll be snacking on those and unsalted nuts in the afternoons and my morning snack will be satsumas again. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of restaurant posts coming up as over the last two weekends, I’ve eaten out six times. Some were good on-plan meals though!
Catch up next Sunday,

Thursday, 22 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Anti-anxiety soup


This soup gets its name as chicken soup is good for the soul. Like when you’re ill and all that will make you better is a bowl of homemade chicken soup. Sarah explains it well on her website: it works like this: the collagen released when you cook chicken bones (in particular) for hours – preferably 24 – feeds, repairs, and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine. Chicken soup calms you. You can equally make this with any other kind of stock – preferably homemade.
This recipe makes 7 portions and can easily be divvied up into individual containers and frozen. Just remember to take out the containers the night before.
Ingredients
  •  1 ½ pints chicken stock (I used 1 ½ pints of water with 2 vegetable oxo cubes – we were out of chicken, boo)
  • 2 courgettes, cubed
  • 1 squash,  cubed
  • 2 handfuls frozen peas
  • 1 handful fresh herbs, chopped
Method
  • Roast the squash for 20-30 minutes and leave to cool before skinning and cubing
  • Bring the broth to the boil, reduce to a simmer and add the vegetables
  • Cook for 5 minutes
  • Stir through the herbs and serve with a crush of black pepper
  • Sip slowly
There you have it – this recipe is so easy to make and the real effort is in the prepping. Making your own soup is so much cheaper and nutritious than buying it in a can or pot. So warm yourself up and feel better on both the inside and outside.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Lucy Loves | Cherry Diva


I’m a lover of pretty, girlie things and it’s even better when it’s something not many people have. Which is why I love Cherry Diva – the company behind so much statement jewellery, quirky accessories and cute little bits. I’d seen a lot of talk on Twitter, so decided to follow them and within days, I was making my first order. It definitely won’t be my last! I was sucked in by the words Disney Princess and socks – yes, I know; how amazing?!
There’s so much on the website I love, I think I could have quite easily bought everything. You know how much I love costume jewellery and there’s so much choice, I was pretty much in heaven! There are a few more expensive items like bags (which also caught my eye – you can never have too many bags); while I don’t even wear socks but I must have all the character pairs!
I decided on three pairs of socks – two polka dot pairs, which are so inspired by Minnie Mouse and the absolutely adorable Snow White socks. I just love her frilly dress. I won’t lie, I’m devo’d there aren’t any Aurora or Belle pairs and Princess Fiona really isn’t for me. But if anyone knows where I can get those from, please let me know.
I head to the pick n mix sale for my jewellery, which had a selection of items for only a £1. I picked up a pair of mesh heart earrings, a double heart ring and a stack of 7 midi rings. I don’t really wear rings that much, but I couldn’t resist.
The ring stack is the cutest, although I think my fingers are too chubby and they don’t look as good as they did on the hand model. Of course, the love and crown rings are my favourite and I wore both on my pinkie. Unfortunately, one of them broke when I was at work because they’re quite fragile; but at a £1, they’re great value. The double heart ring is quite thick in comparison and easily makes a statement. I’ll definitely be wearing it more. Finally, the earrings are my favourite! I had some similar ones from ASOS which I lost when I moved out of my uni house, so I’m glad they’re finally replaced. I do love a chunky stud as well – the bigger, the better!
Have you heard of Cherry Diva? Will you be checking them out now?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Chia & quinoa parfait


They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for me, it’s my favourite. It’s a chance to get creative, combine flavours you wouldn’t normally and make something so decadent, it could quite easily be eaten at any other time of the day. I loved making overnight oats, so this recipe was totally up my street. It looks so pretty in the glasses – and believe me, tastes even better. This made 6 tumblers, but obviously will make more or less, dependent on the size of your glasses. I also made mine without the berry sauce, so will use my recipe. But just google I Quit Sugar grown up berry sauce for that recipe.
Ingredients
  • 140g quinoa
  • 6 tbs chia seeds
  • 750ml Almond Milk
  • 4 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 8 tbs full-fat unsweetened thick Greek-style yoghurt
  • 4 handfuls frozen berries, chopped
Method
  • Cook the quinoa according to the packet’s instructions
  • Put in a bowl and add the chia seeds, almond milk and cacao powder. Mix well and leave in an air-tight container for 2 hours
  • Layer each glass – begin with the chia and quinoa, add the yogurt, top with berries and repeat
  • cover each glass with cling film and leave in the fridge
The parfaits will keep in the fridge for up to five days, so perfect for making in advance and having every morning before work. Don’t they look pretty!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Week 2 review


So I’ve now completed week 2, meaning only 6 weeks of the detox left. This week has been a really mixed week – it started off well and gradually tailed off when I went slightly off-plan. But let’s start with the positives.
1) I’ve lost weight! I weighed myself this morning and I’ve lost 3lbs. My target weight was to get back to 9 stone 8 (my weight when I finished uni) and I’ve got a long way to go, but am so happy with my progress so far. It may seem like a cop-out, but one of the symptoms of PCOS is the inability to lose weight and when you gain it, it all stays around your stomach. This is my problem. I might start taking weekly measurements to see how much I’m losing as well.
2) My meal planning has continued to be organised. I prepared all my breakfasts and lunches on Sunday and they did well to keep all week (again, keep an eye out for those on Tuesday and Thursday). Unfortunately, I didn’t plan all my dinners on Sunday so by Wednesday, was really lacking inspiration. The book doesn’t have many recipes for evening meals, so I may have to start looking online.
On Friday it was my birthday and I was out for dinner with friends. We went to Pizza Express and I only had the chicken and pancetta salad with goats cheese – I even left most of the dough sticks. I did have the dressing though which was a bit naughty. We didn’t have dessert, but I shared a bottle of prosecco and then we went for cocktails. I don’t even want to think about how much sugar was consumed, but I don’t feel guilty – I mean, if you can’t have a treat on your birthday, when can you?!
On Saturday, I went for a Thai meal with family. Again, this meant coconutty sauces, sweet chilli dip etc etc. The restaurant didn’t have a dessert menu which was great as there was no temptation, but I did have a truffle with my coffee when I got home. Ah well, Monday is another week!
Other than Saturday, I’ve not had any cravings for sweet things – both confectionary and juices/smoothies. In fact, I haven’t needed to snack in the evenings at all and I think I’ve got myself in a really good routine.
I was going to start using my juicer for week 3 breakfasts but I’ve decided to hold off for another week, as I’ve made the apple pancakes from the recipe book. There are a couple of juice recipes but none of them have really stood out – so if anyone knows of any sugar-free juices or smoothies, please link me up.
Until next Sunday,

Friday, 16 January 2015

30 before I’m 30


So today’s my 25th birthday (eek, how old?) and it got me thinking back to my teenage years. Before I went to uni, I made a bucket list of 30 things I want to do/achieve before I’m 30. Now I’m midway through my 20s (that’s frightening), I thought I’d document them and then cross them out once achieved.
Personal
1) finish Uni and graduate
2) pass my driving test
3) buy a car new car
4) come off my medicine and have less PCOS flare-ups
5) buy a house/flat/apartment
6) get married
7) have children
8) re-connect with an old friend and meet up regularly
Source – Pinterest
Travel
9) ascend the Eiffel Tower
10) visit Venice and go on a gondola
11) see the Northern Lights
12) go to Disneyland Paris
13) take my mummy on holiday
14) visit every European capital city
15) cruise the Mediterranean
16) spend a long weekend relaxing in another part of the country
17) visit French Polynesia
18) go on a spontaneous trip
Skills
19) cook a full Christmas dinner
20) learn Spanish
21) learn how to mix cocktails
22) make a present for someone
Random
23) swim with dolphins
24) collect all the Disney Classics
25) visit every restaurant in my bookmarks
26) run a 5k (or equivalent) for charity
27) feed the giraffes at the zoo
28) read a book every month for a year
29) see Barnet play at Wembley
30) get lasered finish laser treatment
I’ll be adding this to the tabs so you can catch my progress.
Have you got a 30 before you’re 30 or bucket list? Leave your links below so I can find out what you’d like to do!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Chicken & quinoa salad


If like me, you lack any inspiration for lunchtimes and work nowhere near town, this is for you. I know it’s not salad weather at all, but this recipe is a real colourful treasure trove. You can make it all up in one batch and it lasts all week, as long as it’s in air tight containers. The beauty is, you can add whichever items you like – I actually followed two I Quit Sugar recipes and came up with this myself.
Ingredients
  • 60g quinoa (it can quadruple in size and will make over 200g in cooked weight)
  • 200g chicken (I just used leftovers from a roast)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 ½ peppers (I used three halves of different colours)
  • 100g cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cucumber
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 10 mint leaves, chopped
  • Bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
Method
  • Cook the quinoa, according to the packet’s instructions
  • Dice the cucumber, peppers and avocado and put in a bowl
  • Half the cherry tomatoes and add to the bowl
  • Add the quinoa, followed by the chicken and spinach and mix
  • Mix the oil, lemon juice and herbs in a separate bowl and season
  • Add to the rest of the ingredients and thoroughly mix before serving
Please let me know if you try out this recipe – especially if you adapt it, as I’m struggling for future lunches!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

I Quit Sugar | Coco-nutty Granola


This is the first recipe I tried out and it made loads – the recipe says it’ll make 425g, but I feel like I had way more than that and definitely way too much to feed me for a week! The rice malt syrup is optional, but I made mine without. Sarah recommends making two batches to see which you prefer, although I wasn’t looking to sweeten mine. I ate it with low fat natural yogurt but will definitely be trying it with almond milk as well.
Pre-oven
Ingredients
  • 175g coconut flakes
  • 250g chopped nuts (you can use one kind or a mixture)
  • 2tbs chia seeds
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 80-100g coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 3tbs rice malt syrup (optional)
Method
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 1 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and spread evenly on the tray
  • Cook for 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring halfway
  • Allow to cool and serve
  • Keep in an air tight container for up to two weeks
Post-oven
I found I cooked mine for a good 35 minutes, because the darker in colour the granola gets, the crunchier it is. You can even whack the heat up to gas mark 2, but obviously you don’t want the nuts to burn.
If you’re serving with yogurt, I recommend 2tbs to two handfuls of granola!