Thursday, 28 April 2016

Degustabox | March Box

Degustabox, Subscription, Food, Drink,
If youve not heard of Degustabox, then where have you been? Its a food & drink monthly subscription box bringing you 10-15 surprise products, many which are new to the market. When you sign up, you get to fill in your very own profile, meaning a couple of the products may differ. Its actually the highlight of my week when this little beauty arrives on my doorstep so what was in March’s box?

·         A packet of Brioche Pasquier pain au chocolat
·         Two bottles of Weetabix On the Go
·         A carton of A2 milk
·         A packet of Metcalfe’s Skinny Popcorn
·         A pot of Kent’s Kitchen stuffing
·         Four (!) packets of Chewits
·         Two packets of Parle biscuits
·         A bag of Pipers crisps
·         A Lindt white chocolate Gold Bunny
·         Two packets of Kallo rice cakes
·         A box of Karyatis Meze to Go
Degustabox, Subscription, Food, Drink,
Let’s start with the drinks this month. I don’t drink milk (unless it’s dairy-free), so can’t comment on the A2 milk at all. I gave this to my parents and it’s still unopened and not in the fridge, so not too sure what that’s like. I’d tried Weetabix On the Go before and it’s a fairly decent substitute for when I don’t have time to make a breakfast smoothie, or any kind of breakfast. Although it’s quite sweet for my taste (I’m the sorta girl who doesn’t add sugar or honey to her smoothies), it’s packed full of fibre and protein, so is ideal for those on-the-go.
Degustabox, Subscription, Food, Drink,
The Pipers crisps went down so well with all the family. The cheddar & onion flavour was strong and these proper hand-cooked crisps were super crunchy. I’d go as far as saying they were better than the likes of Kettle Chips and Tyrells. Big ratings. Metcalfe’s was another brand I’d heard of before and tried. I love their Skinny Popcorn. The Cinema Sweet flavour was good, but not a patch on my fav, sweet cinnamon. That stuff is so lush. For guilt-free snacking during a midweek film, you cannot go wrong!
Degustabox, Subscription, Food, Drink,
I had mixed feelings towards the Karyatis Meze to Go. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept, it’s perfect for a working lunch. I loved the crackers that were packed full of rosemary. But I just didn’t like the dip, not with the crackers and not with the veggie sticks I had chopped. I would be interested to see what other flavour combinations are in the range. The first of the Kallo products were the savoury rice cakes, topped with quinoa and seeds. They were gorgeous with lashings of hummus and made for a substantial lunch. I would definitely buy those again.
Degustabox, Subscription, Food, Drink,
The other product by Kallo were the milk chocolate topped rice cakes – which were also amazing! They weren’t overly sweet or chocolatey and were the perfect afternoon office snack. I have to say on the treats front, the March box totally delivered! The bag of Pasquier pain au chocolat were another product I shared with the family – and we enjoyed the pastries on a Sunday morning. They definitely tasted better when warmed in the oven, too.
Degustabox, Subscription, Food, Drink,
Kent’s Kitchen are a brand that have featured in Degustaboxes before, yet I still haven’t seen any of their products in the supermarket. I gave the rustic red onion and herb stuffing pot to my mum – and I expect to see it with a roast beef Sunday dinner soon!
Degustabox, Subscription, Food, Drink,
And finally look at all these snacks – oh, Degustabox, you are spoiling us!  The Parle Monaco biscuits are supposedly similar to Tuc crackers, so I gave these to dad, as it’s all he seems to eat at the moment. I’m not really a savoury biscuit person. So obviously I didn’t share the Hide & Seek biscuits, also from Parle. These were chocolate chip cookies, in a small rectangle shape and quite frankly, I could have eaten the whole pack in one go. There were four packets of Chewits (two strawberry and two blackcurrant), which got me feeling all nostalgic. Anyone else wish they bring back ice cream flavour immediately?! And to coincide with Easter, there was also space for a white chocolate Lindt Gold Bunny. I’m not lying when I say this is much tastier than the original.

Degustabox have changed the way you can try your first box, with a £7 discount. Either follow this link. Or go to the website and enter my special reference code: LUCYW-2B19. Enjoy!

What were your thoughts on the March box?

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Restaurant review | Banquet 1408, Colchester

It’s no secret that I love Chinese food and five minutes from where I work, there’s a beautiful Chinese restaurant that everyone always raves about. Honestly, I don’t think a day goes by in the office without someone mentioning Banquet. I had been once with work and it was good: amazing food and a really lovely setting. After a busy week, Fran and myself decided we’d treat ourselves (thank you pay day!) and go for dinner on Friday after work.

One of the things I like most about Banquet is the menu – there are so many unusual dishes you can’t get from your standard takeaway. Who knew you could have lobster so many ways? Of course there are all the typical dishes, you’d come to expect, but those bonus ones are the ones you need to try! On my last visit, we were just sharing one of the set menus so I missed out on finding out what else was in store. I recommend checking out the website though, for a little insight!

Our table was booked at 6pm, which gave us enough time after finishing work. At this point, the restaurant wasn’t exactly busy, but it soon filled up as the evening went on. We sat in one of the corners, in a booth, which was so much more comfortable than sitting at a table. The plush leather seats were so comfortable; I didn’t actually want to leave. And our spot was ideal for people watching – and getting food envy! The service throughout was good, even as it got busier. Our food came out quickly, but to the extent of us being rushed, the staff were efficient and very attentive. I don’t think anything could be faulted.
To start, we shared the dim sum platter. There’s actually a dim sum menu, with steamed, baked and fried options, which will be well worth a go another time. Fran had never had dim sum before and I’m constantly talking about the Ping Pong chain at work, so needless to say we were both excited! We ordered the chef’s selection, which were eight steamed options. Each was so flavoursome, even though I think the majority of them were prawn. Looking at the menu, I think we tried the prawn chive dumplings, the prawn dumpling with diced bamboo shoots and possibly, the pork siu mai.
To follow, we both selected some dishes to share and of course, I chose one of my favourite dishes ever – fillet steak Cantonese style. This was honestly the best version of the dish I’ve ever had – overtaking one of my favourite little restaurants (Tim’s Palace in Ingatestone). The steak was poured onto the hot plate at the table, immediately spitting away and sizzled for ages. The sauce was sweet and sticky in equal measure and the pieces of fillet were plentiful and so chunky. I accompanied the dish with egg fried rice, which soaked up the sauce nicely. Fran selected chicken with green pepper and black bean sauce, which was also very tasty. You can’t really go wrong with black bean, but this wasn’t too saucy and instead, was packed with veg.

We also shared a portion of the mixed seafood crispy noodles, which are another of my favourites. Whenever I’m at a restaurant, I’m always inclined to go with any other noodle than chow mein, whether it’s crispy, rice or udon – and Tim’s no longer serve crispy seafood noodles, so this was a no brainer. They were packed with prawns, scallops and squid, as well as pak choy, carrots and mushrooms. The noodles stayed crisp, despite being covered in oyster sauce and were a meal in itself. I’d definitely go back just to have a plate of noodles. Banquet certainly don’t scrimp on the portion sizes. I hadn’t even had lunch and we struggled to eat everything!

Despite being totally full, we did have a quick look at the dessert menu and it was interesting to see things other than fritters or coconut ice cream listed! The ‘Hedgehog Surprise’ intrigued and I’ll have to find out more next time. The golden bean sponge and water chestnut cake also sounded very nice.

Booking is recommended, especially on a Friday or Saturday – and children aren’t permitted after 7:30pm, no matter what day it is. That said, it’s a great restaurant for families, friends, or even for business. It’s definitely my new favourite Chinese and I’m already planning my return.

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Shake it Slim with Forza*

Forza, Supplements, Shake it Slim, Boots, Holland & Barrett, Meal Replacement, Diet,
Forza, Supplements, Shake it Slim, Boots, Holland & Barrett, Meal Replacement, Diet,
When the lovely people at Forza sent me their Shake it Slim Starter Pack* for review, I could not wait to get started. I don’t think I eat particularly badly and I’ve certainly cut down the snacking, but I find shakes the perfect way to kick start weight loss.

Before being sent the product, I didn’t really know too much about Forza, but as well as shakes, they also sell supplements, superfood capsules, protein powders and more. It’s all available on their website. The Shake it Slim sachets can be bought from either Boots or Holland & Barrett as well, so they are easily accessible from the high street if you’re not planning on an online order. I take multi-vitamins daily anyway, but I would definitely be inclined to try some of the other supplements from the Forza range.

Back to the starter pack, which consisted of 14 sachets (a seven-day supply) in three flavours: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. I was also kindly sent the shaker so I could get started right away (handy, as I gave my last one to a work colleague!). I have to admit, I didn’t have the shakes twice a day as recommended, because 1) I get far too hungry, 2) I’m currently doing Lean in 15 and 3) I don’t actually have that much weight to lose. But it worked for me. If you want two a day, go for it.
Forza, Supplements, Shake it Slim, Boots, Holland & Barrett, Meal Replacement, Diet,
I don’t drink milk (unless it’s almond or coconut) and Wayne at Forza suggested I mix the sachets with water anyway. I used around 250ml and added the powder before shaking. The powder mixed so easily, there was very little shaking involved. There were no lumps and there wasn’t that powdery taste you get with other brands/products. Best of all, the shakes were super creamy – I was pleasantly surprised by all three flavours. Sometimes products like this taste artificial, metallic or too sweet, but these were perfect. The strawberry flavour actually tasted like McDonald’s milkshake (not that I ever drink that, ha) and the vanilla, just like my favourite milkshake in Spain. Because they are so creamy as well, they feel totally indulgent and not like a ‘diet’ or ‘meal replacement’ product. The strawberry was by far my favourite.
Forza, Supplements, Shake it Slim, Boots, Holland & Barrett, Meal Replacement, Diet,
I had my shakes for breakfast when I got to work, so between 8:30 and 8:40 – and they kept me full until lunchtime. That didn’t stop me having my standard mid-morning berries or grapes, but I wasn’t actually hungry. You can see my lunches and dinners here, if you’re wondering what my other meals consisted of.

If you’ve tried similar products and not been feeling them, I recommend Forza. In the last five years or so, I’ve tried numerous brands including Slim Fast and Celebrity Slim and in comparison, the Shake it Slim sachets are much better. And it’s not just the powder, the shaker is amazing as well. It’s easy to assemble and use, and more importantly, it’s easy to clean! I honestly couldn’t be without it – and when I’m not shaking, I’ll be using it for my smoothies.

I’m hoping to put up a progress post soon, or maybe even when I reach target (which should be in the next month – eeek!) but in the meantime, follow @officialforza for more information.

Love, Lucy xx

*Forza sent me the Shake it Slim Starter Pack & shaker FOC for review purposes but images and opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Instagram #3

Mariah’s birthday selfie – Day 2 of Forza: Shake it Slim – Lean in 15: chicken & new potato hash – Shaking it Slim (again!) – New KG bag love – Barnet v Luton – Daddy/Daughter day – Easter Monday football OOTD – New shoes – The Birthday Girl #Mariah25 – Yet more pre-London selfies

In my last round-up, I got as far as the Easter weekend and I had such a good (and busy) four days off work. On the Saturday I was out celebrating the beautiful Mariah’s birthday. We went for dinner at Ping Pong, before moving on to Zebrano for drinks. I had such a good night – even if the Sunday was a write-off!

On Easter Monday, I went to Barnet with my dad. He hadn’t been to The Hive for about a year and I promised I would take him this season, if he was feeling better and up to it. His friend picked us up en route and then dropped as home afterwards, which was good. You may have seen my outfit post [if not, click here].

My two current loves are my Chi Chi London mule-esque heels and my Kurt Geiger handbag (which is my new everyday/work bag). I had lusted over the shoes for months, but still haven’t worn them yet. The bag was a bit of an impulse buy from Shoeaholics, but it’s so beaut and you can never have too many handbags, right?

I’ve continued to be inspired by the recipe ideas in the Lean in 15 book [food diary available here]. It’s so easy to get bored with having the same meal every lunchtime and prepping/cooking from scratch every night after work, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. Bar one recipe that went slightly wrong (who knew you couldn’t fry brown rice because it turns to mush?), everything I have made, I have enjoyed. A couple of my favourites are the lamb kofta for lunch and the chicken & new potato hash for dinner.

The lovely people at Forza Supplements also sent me the Shake it Slim starter pack. Because I’ve been following the Body Coach, I only had these for breakfast, rather than twice a day. But they really are lush – much better than Slim Fast and Celebrity Slim to name a couple of others I’ve had before. Expect a review post soon, but in the mean time, find out more here.

What have you been up to lately?

Love, Lucy xx

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Lean in 15 | My food diary

Those that follow me on Instagram will know that I recently bought the Lean in 15 book, by The Body Coach, Joe Wicks. And I haven’t been able to put it down since! The recipes are so easy to follow and I find the meals really inspiring – and in some cases, are things I’d never dream of preparing or combining. A lot of the meals actually take longer than 15 minutes, prepping is recommending but I don’t find it any more time-consuming or hassle in comparison to my usual prepping and cooking.

My lunches I often prep in advance and for the week, or at least two/three days at one time and more importantly, I don’t get bored of eating the same thing five days solid. The majority of the recipes serve one or two, so I often just cook for myself – although occasionally, my brother will also have whatever I’m making. He’s like my guinea pig and has given me some really positive feedback as well, which makes it all worthwhile, after commuting/working 11 hour days!

I thought I would quickly share some of the dishes I have tried and if you want to see any individual recipes, please leave me a comment below – or alternatively, tweet me @Luuuce_x. I’ve adapted quite a few of the recipes that I’ve tried, but they’ve all been a success – barring one. Just as a quick side note, Lean in 15 isn’t for you if you’re counting calories – I have found that I’ve been consuming more calories and fat (the good kind!). That said, I still log everything into My Fitness Pal and by following the ‘diet’ (using that term very loosely) and exercise plans, I’ve lost weight and am beginning to tone up.

For breakfast, I’ve recently been sampling the Forza Shake it Slim shakes, but prior to that, I was making overnight oats and smoothies. I don’t have the time to cook eggs or protein pancakes in the morning, unfortunately.

Lean in 15, Body Coach, Lifestyle, Meal Prep, Foodies, Foodspiration
Clockwise from top left – cheesy chicken & chorizo; lamb kofta with Greek salad; prawn & lentil curry (mild); tuna niçoise

Lean in 15, Body Coach, Lifestyle, Meal Prep, Foodies, Foodspiration 
Clockwise from top left – chicken & new potato hash; teriyaki trout with courgetti & tomatoes; pan-fried duck with Asian greens; tortilla pizza

Lean in 15, Body Coach, Lifestyle, Meal Prep, Foodies, Foodspiration
Clockwise from top left – chicken noodles; bacon & spinach with eggs; oaty chicken, paprika potatoes & broccoli; sausage ragu with gnocchi

Have you tried Lean in 15 – how have you found it? Don’t forget to tell me which recipes you’d like to see and also let me know your favourites too. Meal prep beckons...

Love, Lucy xx