Saturday, 31 May 2014

Homemade arancini with red onion and balsamic marmalade (using leftover risotto)

When dining at an Italian, arancini has to be one of my favourite starters! Delicious fried breaded risotto balls, stuffed with cheese, usually topped with a tangy marmalade of some sort. I am salivating a little just writing about these tasty balls [insert your crude joke here…].

Every time I have arancini, I feel like I want to try this recipe, but it just seems the kind of food that is going to be really difficult to make yourself so in all honesty I have never even considered it. But then I had quick google and realised that it is actually pretty simple!!! In essence, all you have to do is roll up some risotto, stuff it will a bit of cheese, coat in breadcrumbs and fry!

crispy arancini and onion marmalade 

Plus it is the perfect way to use up leftover risotto, because even though you can save risotto for leftovers, it can become quite dry when you reheat it. It is also quite a good starter to wow any dinner guests with – it is such a tasty dish plus you can prepare the balls before anyone arrives.

If you are looking for a simple risotto, then try my recipe that I blogged about a wee while back.

Here is how to make these easy balls of deliciousness. Be warned though – these are messy little buggers to make, and your kitchen will look like a little rice bomb has gone off on your kitchen counter!

oh arancini, I do love thee! 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Losing my Caribbean virginity at Jerk City, Wardour Street London

Something amazing happened last – I tried my first ever Caribbean food! I have been meaning to try this cuisine since I was at uni where there was a little Caribbean restaurant about 4 minutes walk from my house. Then again, when I was living at Tooting Bec, there was a little deli on the walk to Balham that was so close to my house yet still I never quite made it there either.

excited for my peppered steak!

So finally, I have tried Caribbean food....and I love it!

I am not one for chilli or spice so was a little nervous as I thought I was about to have my taste buds blown off but this was less horrible spicy and more delicious spice. The flavours in Caribbean food are the kind where you can tell that they have used a wonderful combo of spices and marinated it for ages.

so much to choose from! 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Apricot centred protein balls with a coconut crust

You might have seen already a few protein ball snack recipes on my blog (if not, check it out under the tag “snacks and savouries”). Protein snacks have become bit of a popular choice in the last few years although many of the shop bought ones can be misleading as they are not always as healthy as what you think thanks to the added sugars and other nasties. I much prefer to make my own. And the Boy much prefers eating them too.

These protein balls make a great post-workout snack, bursting with a sweet fruity centre and crunchy nutty coating, they are packed with Vitamin C.  Vitamin C helps you metabolise all the protein in the snack to help build muscle.

a zesty centre! 

This recipe has been adapted from Women’s Health magazine, although they also said to add 10g of baobab powder in with the recipe, but I couldn’t get my hands on any of that so skipped it.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Low carb, gluten free pizza (it’s a cauliflower crust)

I love pizza but let’s be honest it isn’t on the list of nutritious food is it?! I’ve been experimenting with making low carb pizza bases recently and I got to admit, some have been a disaster, such as my ‘soya flour’ base. But this recipe but this recipe from Nic’s Nutrition is tried, tested and an total success!

Don’t be put off by the main ingredient – yes it is a big fat cauliflower, but obnce you add all your toppings on to make your pizza, you’ll never notice it. It’s purely there to act as ‘breadcrumbs’.

healthy diet friendly pizza

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

3 easy hamstring exercises (no gym or equipment needed!)

For the past few months I have been back in physio for issues with my knee and hip (thanks to my inherited flat feet). But like many aches and pains, the cause of the issue isn’t where I am feeling the pain, nor is it those muscles that are weak. 

For me, the muscle areas that I am most weak in are my hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings. When I was told this, it did make a lot of sense, but how could I have weak hamstrings?! I do kick boxing once a week, the odd bit of pilates and a few lunges and squats every now and again. 

But my physio explained that in all the exercise I do, I don’t actually work the hamstrings that well. Cue me now incorporating hamstring exercises into my routine!!!

I want to share with you three easy to do but effective hamstring exercises! I have only been doing these a few weeks but I am already noticing the benefits. I also used to lean quite far forward (I am now guessing that was due to my weak hamstring muscles and my quads over compensating) but my standing posture is already a lot better! 

If you are like me, and hate the gym, these can be done anywhere!

NOTE: I am not a physio, PT or doctor, so please be throw caution to the wind if you want to do these!   

Hamstring Curl
This simple exercise is like what you would do at the gym… but without the gym equipment. When I first started to do these I felt a bit thick...there was no way on earth this was going to improve my hamstring muscles. Oh how I was proved wrong. The next day the backs of my legs seriously ached.

So easy to do– simply stand up straight and bend your leg at the knee, curling it towards your bum. I like to steady myself with a chair and I sometimes pop on ankle weights to increase resistance if I am feeling brave

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Fine dining at "Jordan" in the winelands, Stellenbosch, South Africa

No trip to South Africa and Cape Town would be complete without a trip to the famous winelands - miles of glorious mountainous landscape and an obscene amount of vineyards and varieties of wine. I have already blogged about South Africa but we were reminiscing the other day and I realised I never actually blogged about our dining experience in Jordan, and being one of the best meals I have ever had, I have to share it! 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Three nights in Dubai (UAE)

A few weeks ago me and the Boy were in Dubai. Dubai is one of those places that hasn’t made it to the “must have” list (that is reserved for the likes of South America, New York and Japan) but it is somewhere I was curious to go to, simply because I know so many people I know have gone there!

So we decided that, seeing as we were flying with Emirates, we would stop by there on the way home from our honeymoon in South Africa.

The flights time from Johannesburg to Dubai is just over 8 hours, so with our night flight, we landed in Dubai at 5.30am. Luckily the hotel had organised a transfer for us and the hotel was only 25 minutes drive away (and yes I did sleep the whole way) so we had a quick check in and helped ourselves to the amazing buffet breakfast.

Having not slept, a nap was definitely in order but we never actually managed to get ourselves back out of bed until midday! We had already booked cocktails for 5pm at the Burj Kalifa, so spent the interim wandering around the Dubai Mall which is kind of attached to the Burj Kalifa. Although we didn’t really see that much of it, as it is absolutely huuuge – the world’s largest in fact! It even has an aquarium in it (albeit a small one). 

watching the rays being fed at the mall

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Looking after your eyes (especially computer users!)

Computer vision syndrome.

Sounds made up doesn’t it but it is actually a genuine condition and one that I was suffering less than a few months ago. Luckily for me, I was rescued by a three week break from my computer screen thanks to the honeymoon. At the end of our trip, whilst reading in Dubai by the pool, I realised that I didn't have my glasses on, but could read fine (up close admittedly). 

However I am fully aware that the symptoms could well return just as quick as they came on, so I have vowed to start taking better care of my eyes from now on!

picture from

So what is computer vision syndrome or CVS (as the cool kids know it as)???

CVS is the name given for eye problems caused by computer use. CVS is not actually one specific eye problem, but rather a term that encompasses a whole range of eye strains and pains.

The most common symptoms are: Eye strain, head aches, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, blurred vision etc. 
Sound familiar?

Probably! Research shows that computer eye problems are so common, that it is estimated that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms of eye trouble.

But luckily there is something you can do to help reduce the issue. Short of quitting your job or becoming a monk, there are a number of exercises that you can do (at your desk) to help reduce the strain. Here are three things that I am trying...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Avocado and spinach superfood smoothie (with date, banana and cocoa nibs)

Avocado is one of my favourite veggies (ok ok I know, it is really a fruit, cos of the stone blah blah blah) but I normally reserve the nutritious creamy green thing for salads and guacamole. 

But when I was in Dubai last week, I had a smoothie with avocado as the main ingredient. Admittedly it was a little too much for me, and on top of The Cheesecake Factory monster slice of red velvet cheesecake I had, it was all a bit too sickly.

creamy yet not sickly! 

But since returning, I have searched the web for an avocado smoothie to make! And this one from Mind Body Green is perfect! I have slightly adapted it for my taste.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mixed berry, frozen, no bake cheesecake - no butter, biscuits or cream cheese!

I LOVE cheesecake. without a shadow of a doubt, it is by far my top choice of dessert. But whilst I love it, it’s not something I eat too often as its fatty and caloric thanks to the delicious buttery biscuit base and cream cheese filling.

However, last weekend I made an amazing frozen style cheesecake that requires NO butter, NO biscuits and NO cream cheese, yet still tasted utterly delicious!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

homemade nutty chocolate protein balls (5 min recipe)

I always have a batch of protein balls sitting in my fridge for those times when I need a small, protein filled, quick-release energy snack before I work up a sweat. Or alternatively when I need something sweet but not too bad for my insides!

This recipe for nutty chocolate protein balls fits the bill on both cases.

They taste utterly delicious and each small ball packs just over 4g of protein!!!

chocolatey and good for you! 

All you need is...

2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
½ cup of ground almonds
1 tbsp of almond butter
6 dried figs
1 tbsp of honey or agave nectar
2 tbsp of raisins (optional)

Makes 12 small balls

It is so simple to make these balls of protein fantasticness too!

packed full of protein, these are so filling!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Safari, Shamwari, South Africa (part 2) - "don't pretend you are an animal in the dark"

As you  know, I have recently  returned from a trip of a lifetime to South Africa which included three amazing nights at safari. It was such an blockbuster of a trip, for just those three nights, 
I  have had to split the blog into two parts. 
Here is part two, but read part one -  "Don't base your expectations on the Lion King" here

….To really get into the thick of it (as if being in a jeep 2 meters away weren’t close enough )we went on a ‘bush walk’… in a nutshell, we stalked some lionesses and cubs on foot. Seeing them without the safety of a huge vehicle is amazing (although he did have two guides and two shotguns).

look closely and you'll see giraffe in the back ground

When on a walk, you really wake up to what’s around you, becoming more alert to sounds and movements in the bushes. You’re pretty safe to be honest as the lions warn you with their gruff roar that you’re getting uncomfortably close into their territory!!! The worse thing that happened to me, was picking up a giant earth worm and it pooing on me (it is ok, I was wearing the Boy's coat, so just wiped my hands on that). 

the greenery of the scenery 
We had three nights on the Shamwari reserve, about an hour or so drive from Port Elizabeth, but to be honest, I don' really know as I was doing my best at being a navigator and was asleep for most of the journey. Anyway, Shamwari is a 25,000 hector area of land which helps protect, preserve, and rehabilitate the endangered safari animals, so as  well as seeing these beasts at their finest, you are also doing your bit to help conserve them!!!

Monday, 12 May 2014

How to tell if an egg is safe to eat?

Eggs are a great source of healthy protein and an integral ingredient in recipes from cakes to omelettes, they are a cupboard must have. But if you can’t get through a pack a week, how can you tell if an egg is safe to eat after you’ve bought the pack a while ago???

I had this question when returning from the honeymoon. I had a pack of eggs that had been sitting there for three weeks, with no obvious use by date, so no idea whether they are ,safe to eat.

how to tell if these eggs are safe to eat???

After a quick google, it’s actually very very easy to tell whether an egg is safe to consume or not. All you need is a bowl of water!!!

Place your culprit egg into a large bowl of cold water, with the water level about two times higher than the egg’s length...

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Spicy, crunchy chickpea snacks!!!

Back in April I blogged about my tips on how to survive a long haul flight, and top tip #4 was to take your own snacks! One of the snacks that I took with me were my spicy and crunchy chickpea snacks! 

the travel snack I took to South Africa, inc these chickpeas

This has to be one of the most easiest snacks to make, plus chickpeas are dam good for you – low in fat, high in protein, plus a source of fibre AND one serving (half a can) counts as one of your five a day!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Safari, Shamwari, South Africa (part one) - "don't base your expectations on The Lion King"

The main reason for holidaying in South Africa has to be to come on safari! It was totally the Boy’s choice, and in all honesty, I am not even the biggest animal fan, but the whole trip to South Africa was a travel adventure not to be missed so I was keen to have this as our honeymoon destination.

So, to finish off South Africa, we had three days of safari time, which means 6 game drives.

seriously close to this beautiful beast

blending in with the wildlife! 

How would I sum up the safari….
…totally epic!!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Bungee jumping off the world's highest bungee bridge! (you'll love these pictures)

Bungee jumping is one of those things that have always been on my bucket list (along with making my own jam, going to The Ritz for afternoon tea and learning the sax – it’s an eclectic list). Whilst I like the idea of the thrill of it, and plus the bragging rights, I am actually scared of heights. Ok, not so much heights but more have a fear of falling. Funnily enough, so does the Boy so I have no idea why we put it on our to do list for the honeymoon.

But it was on the list. And we have told people. So we had to go through with it!!!

the Boy, showing off and doing it like a pro

Waking up to a deep set cloud, so low we couldn’t see that far ahead of us, we weren’t even sure we were  going to be able to do it anyway. The weather was just so bad. We were meant to be jumping at 1pm but missed the fact that we were meant to get there an hour before so when we rocked up at 1pm, we were told we would have to wait for the 2pm slot.

Waiting around has to be the worst thing about the whole experience. 

Getting weighed (I put 2kg on in a week, damn good food) and getting kitted up took all of ten minutes so it was a long drawn out wait for our slot. It actually worked out well for us though, because by 2pm, the clouds had parted, revelling the valley and mountains before us. Although I am not sure if that is a good thing because now we could see how far up we were – and it was high. This is the world’s highest bridge bungee at over 200m!!!!

highest bungee jump from a bridge in the world!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Quinoa porridge - tasty breakfast option

I love a good breakfast or brunch, and no time have I made the most of this than whilst I was on my trip to the amazing South Africa. Pretty much most hotels we stayed in laid out a breakfast feast of cold meats, cheese, pastries, juices, savoury nibbles, breads plus all the cooked breakfasts you need from a fry up to eggs Benedict.

But now I am back home, the fun has to stop. Firstly I don’t have time to knock this up in the morning and secondly, I was eating so much, by the end of the three weeks, I had actually had enough of pancakes and pastries! Shock horror.

fresh quinoa porridge

So now I am back to cooking nutritious, fuelling yet tasty breakfasts for the morning rush! One great recipe I love for breakfast, is quinoa porridge.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Fat loss pills – do they really work? My month trial...

Why take them???

Prior to my honeymoon, I did my best to tone up. Although the holiday wasn't going to involve much beach or bikini time, as this is my honeymoon obviously I wanted to look as good as possible. Whilst I had been eating healthily (ok, there has been the odd treat but life would be boring otherwise!), I was lured in to the promise of losing the stubborn fat around my middle with some fat burning tablets, called garcinia cambogia …

With adverts promising to cut the flab and transforming my 'flat pack’ into a ‘six pack’, seeing results in as little as a month, I was sold!!!! Over the past few months, I kept seeing adverts online, in magazines and even pictures on Instagram of women that have used the tablets who wowed me with their transformations.

picture from

What made these “diet pills” even more tempting was that there always seemed to be a free trial on these! For just a fiver you would receive your 14 day free trial of these tablets. Seeing as the RRP is over £80, I thought ‘what the heck’ and I made the order for my free trial on line. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

St Francis Bay (and Jeffrey's Bay), South Africa

Being pretty much slap bang between Plettenberg Bay and Shamwari (our game reserve destination), we stopped off at St Francis Bay for two nights. On our first night, we didn’t arrive at our B&B “Sandals” until about 6pm, so we went straight to dinner. We ate on the recommendation of the guy who checked us in, going for seafood and sushi at “Christy’s Catch” a cute, down to earth, family run restaurant, two minutes walk from the B&B.

you can see our room's balcony top left
enjoying a kaluha 'don pedro' at Christy's Catch 
(ice cream and kaluha liquor)

Our hotel had a convenient location of being round the corner to the high street and main area, but when I say high street, this isn’t a hustlin’ and bustlin’ strip but a small collection of shops and eateries.

There is actually quite a bit to do around St Francis Bay, from boating activities, hiking, deep sea fishing and quad biking etc, a bit similar to Plettenberg Bay.

One of the reasons the Boy wanted to stop here though was for the surfing.