Friday, 24 October 2014

Maxwell's bar and grill, Covent Garden, London

Last weekend, before heading to the Prince Edward Theatre to see Miss Saigon (read my blog entry about this musical here), we needed somewhere in Central London to eat. Trying to think what was around Leicester Square, we decided to head 5 minutes further to Covent Garden, as I find that everywhere around there is just the same old same chain (if anyone does have any suggestions for cool eateries then let me know).

classic - burger and fries

I have been to Maxwell’s in Covent Garden once before but only for some pre-event cocktails with the girls. Although being a food perv, I had a good look around at what was on offer and it looked pretty good, so I decide to take the in-laws there.

the place was packed!

Maxwell’s is a large American style grill, serving up big hearty plates of burgers, grills and platters. The vibe is relaxed and friendly, filled with chatting families and groups of friends laughing away. 

The décor is kind of like an American diner (think wooden seats and booths) and dark panelling on the wall. The service was ten out of ten! They waitresses and waiters were all so friendly and even though rushed off their feet, made the effort to accommodate you and check that you were happy with the meal.

my dinner! 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sweet potato (and chickpea) falafels

I love falafels and I love sweet potato so when I saw this recipe on Tesco’s real food website I knew I was on to a winner. Thanks to the sweet potato, you secretly up another veg portion and it also adds a subtle sweetness to the falafels.

a vegan friendly dinner 

Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite staples and are so versatile to cook with. Plus they have more health benefits than the caste of TOWIE has had surgery (and that's a lot)!

Sweet potatoes:
  • Are a good source of vitamin C
  • Contain vitamin D which helps regulate mood and energy levels
  • A great source of magnesium which helps regulate stress
  • Assist in the production of collagen (vital for youthful looking skin)

inside is firm and textured 

The ingredients for this recipe to are pretty simple, and they don't take long to make at all, so would be easy to whip up a batch after work for dinner, I made a batch of these and popped several servings in the freezer for a later day.

chickpeas are a great source of protein 

To keep it healthy, just pop them in the oven to cook or fry them in a little oil - use spray oil as I did and it's only one calorie per spray.

All you need is:

2 sweet potatoes
Tin of chickpeas
Handful of parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp cumin
1 tbsp tahini paste
Squeeze of lemon juice

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Beautiful bold eye brows – benefit brow zings: review

Big, bold brows – love them or hate them, Cara Delevinge has officially made big bold brows something to talk about! Personally for me, I love bold brows. Obviously there is a limit tough - I think the “scouse brow” might be a bit too much for me. 

brow zings in dark 

Even if I am not wearing a full face of makeup, I have to have my eye brows filled in – it really helps frame the face and helps hide the fact that I have over plucked in my teenage years!

comes with instructions

just a few minutes on the browns makes such a difference

There are now a whole host of make up staples for your eye brows, but for me, it has to be Benefit’s “brow zings” kit (in dark). A touch pricey with a RRP £23 but it lasts for ages, about 9 months at least! I have just bought a new one though after only a few months because I accidentally dropped my open bag at a wedding as we were leaving the church and the brow kit came flying out, smashing on the floor. I was so pissed off! I had to scramble down from my 6 inch heels, on to my hands and needs, pushing the make up to the side so that the bride didn't get it on her dress as she left the church. Although I think that the 10 Royal Marines were a tad more annoyed as they were saluting with their swords at the church steps in the traditional military wedding style, holding this position still as I delayed the exiting of the guests! Opps. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Miss Saigon, West End London

Last night my lovely inlaws took me and the Boy to see Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre in the West End, something we were keen to see after we saw a snippet of the songs at West End Live (a free day at Trafalgar Square showcasing the top West Ends shows - see my blog here). If you like the music in Les Mis, then I think you'll like Miss Saigon as the music has the similar kind of dramatic, theatrical style of songs. 

the legendary Miss Saigon 

Seeing as I didn't know the plot at all before going, except that it was based on the Vietnam war, I was surprised (in a good way) about how political, how sad and also how sexually suggestive the show was! But all this combined made it up to be a really great production! 

waiting for the show to begin!!! 

The essence of the show is the love story between an American marine who falls in love with a Vietnamese prostitute and vows to return to Saigon to bring her back to the USA. However, because no true love story can be without pain and a struggle to return to your loved one, the reunion of the two is not an easy one. I don't want to give anything away for those that haven't seen it, but the ending is certainly not one that I was expecting! This is not your standard happy ending, it is not all sunshine and roses! But because of this, it made it pretty refreshing and keeps the audience on their toes in my view! 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Raw, vegan and gluten/dairy/sugar free chocolate and coconut tart

A raw, vegan and gluten/dairy/sugar free chocolate tart???

I know what you are thinking, you are reading this recipe title and thinking either:
a) this girl is lying
b) it's going to taste as nice as a bit of cardboard dripped in cocoa powder

But honestly this chocolate tart is absolutely delicious - rich, chocolatey and smooth, just how a "normal" chocolate tart would be. This chocolate tart isn't just any chocolate tart though as it contains coconut oil and we should all know by now, even if you aren't sure why, that coconut oil is bloody good for you. Plus this contains no sugar, except the natural stuff and it suitable for those of you whose tummies can't hack dairy or gluten.

decorated with cacao nibs 

The recipe is simply two parts - a base and a topping/filling. And all you need is a food processor and a tart tin.

the food processor - the star of the show 


For the base:
1 1/2 cups of coconut flour (or another gluten free flour)
4 tbs of agave nectar
3 tbs of coconut oil
2 - 3 dried figs
1/4 cup of raw cacao powder

For the filling:
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
2 tbs of coconut oil
2/3 cup of agave nectar
tiny pinch of sea salt

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Peanut butter n chocolate "caramel" slices - raw & vegan but taste like snickers!

The combination of nuts, caramel and chocolate is a delicious one but whilst it excites my taste buds, let’s be honest this isn’t the healthiest option for anyone who is trying to cut down on processed foods, sugars or fats! However, I guarantee this recipe for my peanut butter and chocolate “caramel” slices will satisfy that sweet tooth without ruining your healthy diet.
These are a big hit of flavour.

gooey and chewy 

These are so good in fact, they actually taste like a snickers bar! When my mum lived in England, she loved them and whilst others left the Snickers minis in the tin of Celebrations, she would have them! Although showing her age, she still called them Marathon bars!

This recipe is vegan, gluten/dairy/additive free, just using natural sugars and ingredients! Even the “caramel” is just made of dates, vanilla extract, and coconut oil!!! I can’t believe that combines tastes so much like the real deal!!
This recipe is also ridiculously easy to make!

fun sized treats! 

The “nougat” base
2 cups of almonds
4 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp gluten free flour
A teeny tiny pinch of salt
1 tbsp peanut butter

For the “caramel” middle
¾ cup pitted dates
1/3 cup of water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
¼ cup of chopped peanuts

Monday, 13 October 2014

London Cocktail Week #LCW14

I first heard of London Cocktail Week last year but never got the chance to get involved, so when my friend suggested it this year, I jumped at it. For those of you that haven't heard of it, the organisers mark it as "a unique celebration of our capital's unrivalled cocktail culture. For seven days, 200 of the best bars throw open their doors to offer £4 cocktails to wristband wearers, plus there’s pop-ups, parties and tastings galore. A festival to inspire, educate and unite cocktail lovers across our brilliant city". 

A festival to 'educate'? Perfect! It is a legit way to get cheeky with come cocktails! 

We decided to make the most of it - start East and spend the afternoon (and evening) working our way into Central London and then back down to SW. 

Rachel, Charlie, Me  "cheers"

It is such a clever event, as it allows you to try bars and cocktails you never normally would. So for me, it meant exploring Shoreditch and finding out that after years wrongly snubbing egg whites in cocktail, it makes it really frothy and it delicious! 

First up for us was Hixter near Liverpool Street, with the Autumnal Orchard - a tasty blend of Tanqueray gin, sweet vermouth, apple juice and elderflower cordial. This was one of my favourites actually - good cocktail and loved the comfy sofa chairs and the super soft blankets. 

chilling outside Hixters 

Next up, was Barrio East which had such a funky, colourful vibe and the food looked incredible (I have told the Boy that he needs to take me there for a date night). If I am honest, the Island Jam cocktail was a little to sweet for me thanks to the vanilla syrup and raspberry jam, but the setting was great. They also do a daily happy hour until 8pm!

camper van seats at Barrio East 
adding the finishing touches 

Our third bar on our "cocktail Safari" as my friend Charlie dubbed it, was the Golden Bee in Shoreditch which was a right find! We found this totally by accident as we looked up and saw this cool roof top bar and just headed there with no idea what bar it was. Relaxed and unpretentious this was quite a cool spot although the cocktail however was Jack Daniels based which none of us liked except Frenchy, who courageously took it for the team and finished ours off! 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

No 7 micro-dermabrasion face exfoliator: review

This is not a new beauty buy for me, although I did get some as a pressie from my lovely brother -in-law for my birthday so I do have a brand new tube! My love in with this beauty product actually started when I bought a bottle in Koh Samui, Thailand in 2008!!!! And I still love it!

still a beauty fav...6 years on! 

This is more than just your average face scrub - this is a micro-dermabrasion exfoliator! This beauty bad boy from no 7 will slough away that layer of dead skin, rejuvenating the skin underneath to reveal fresher skin. 

this is hypo-allergenic 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Cauliflower tabbouleh recipe

Middle eastern food is one of my favourite cuisines thanks to the vibrancy of the food, colours and spices. This twist to the classic tabbouleh is bright and full of flavour, plus its raw, low carb and nutritionally filling! 

a low carb tabbouleh 

It's great as a main (I took it to work for lunch with a couple spoonful’s of quinoa)  but would work equally as well as a side dish, especially to filled fish or chicken (check out my recipe  for chicken kebabs here).

serve as a side or as a main 
packed full of veg! 

This recipe is soooo easy to make, I reckon even my dad could make it (hang on, forget that, he wouldn’t know how to put the food processor together).

Small cauliflower
1 medium red onion, finely diced
Small bunch of spring onions, chopped finely
3 large tomatoes, diced
½ small cucumber, finely diced
Large handful of parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp  extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp runny honey
¼ tsp or pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Marshmallow fluff and chocolate pie

Approximately 18 months ago, I found a recipe on the blog milk bubble tea for a marshmallow fluff and chocolate pie. The recipe and pictures looked amazing but I couldn’t make it straight away as I has no marshmallow fluff, surprisingly. 

What is marshmallow fluff? It’s a sweet, sticky, melted marshmallow like gloop that’ll rot your teeth but is so worth it. I found my jar in one of those retro sweetie shops that are ridiculously over priced but apparently it is purchasable in large ASDA stores.

crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle 

As a treat cos the boy was back for a bit from deployment, I finally got round to making this delight. It had been on the to-try list for so long, the marshmallow fluff had actually expired about six months ago, but being a big believer of ‘what wont kill you makes your stronger’ plus an inclining that sell by dates are the manufacturers way to sell more, I used it anyway.

wonderfully sweet! 

...Well we didn’t get food poising from the marshmallow fluff (think it is also right to add that I used baking powder that was two years out of date too) and this is the probably most sugary and incredible tasting dessert I have ever made. I beg you to try this recipe!!!

wrestling with the fluff! 

Its also a really simple recipe to make, so even if you’re not the next Nigella, you’ll probably still wow with this.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Paprika and garlic chicken kebabs (with kebab shop salad)

Think kebab and you'd be forgiven for thinking fatty, cheap meat and greasy... but kebabs don’t have to be that way. Oh no. 

My chicken kebabs here are low fat, full of flavour and full of health benefits!!!

a healthy alternative to the kebab shop 

It’s also a really simple dish to cook, and you can play around with the ingredients. I alternated my chicken pieces with onion and potato. Potato isn't usually something you see skewered on a stick I know, but it actually makes a good contribution to the kebab, a kind of healthy alternative to the chip. Onion is a staple for a kebab skewer in my eyes but I did then discover the Boy doesn't like large chunks of onion.

Play around with veggies too… perhaps add courgette or peppers? Maybe add hunks of chorizo for a meatier and spicier kebab?

This is also the perfect dish to make up earlier on the day as the longer you marinate the chicken the better it will taste.

preping the sauce 

I served my chicken kebabs with homemade wholemeal pitta and “kebab shop styles salad” (aka shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced tomato, cucumber, white onion and a few pickles and gerkins).


2 tbsp of melted coconut oil
2 tsp of paprika
½ tsp of chilli flakes or powder
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 large chicken breasts, diced
2 small potatoes
3 small onions
(small veggies are best so that the ratio of chicken to veg is more even)

You’ll also need bamboo skewers

Serves 2-3

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

My sugar diary - how easy is it to give up sugar for a week?

Last week I set myself a mini challenge… could I go a week without sugar?

My interest with sugar started earlier this year when I learnt during my nutritional course that sugar is the enemy of a healthy diet, as well as for developing early wrinkles and erratic moods and it has even been linked to depression and high blood pressure. 

So since then I have been doing my best to eliminate sugar from my diet. All was going well – I was feeling healthier inside, my skin was clearer, I had more energy (even in the mornings and I am NOT a morning person) and I even lost a dress size!

But then the summer hit. 
Ciders in the park, sunny holidays and overall over-indulging meant that sugar has sneakily crept its way back into my diet!

So for the last week, I have started to cut it back out again. 

cocktails - the curse of my low sugar diet! 

The recommended maximum for sugar per day is just 25g. When you look at the labels of your favourite foods you’ll be shocked at how little this is and how much there is in processed foods. It is lurking in your cans of baked beans, granolas and ketchup! 

So here is my food diary for the week, and my honest opinion of how easy it is to cut sugar out...


  • Avocado, spinach, kale and protein smoothie
I did add half a banana for added sweetness and it also makes the smoothie so creamy! The protein powder, although sweet, has a really low sugar content so all in all, pretty good start. My recipe is here.
  • Feta, beetroot, spinach and broccoli salad with calamari at the Durell Arms
I didn’t know what to drink as even diet fizzy drinks are not great for you, so I opted for plain old water.
  • 4 malteasers
I didn’t meant to eat these but I dropped them when I was tidying up so I ate them! Opps.
  • Leftover fajita chicken with coleslaw, sweet potato wedges and a sprouted salad
Although the mayo means that fat content is high, there is only about 2g of sugar per heaped tablespoon. Not bad.

I love an avocado smoothie! 


  • Porridge 
A pretty good breakfast with less than 1g of sugar per bowl!!! A good start for me. Need topping inspo... check my blog post out here.

  • Avocado and feta salad
Cheese is actually very low in sugar. With the high fat and protein content it will also help you keep fuller for longer.

  • Tomato, edamame beans, cucumber and hummus 
As long as you steer clear of caramalized or Moroccan topped types, hummus is actually a decent healthy, low sugar snack.

  • Slice of my raw blueberry ‘cheesecake’ 
Sweet but all natural sugars. Yay. Find my recipe here.

  • 2 veggie sausages ,runner beans, red cabbage, kale and gravy – was a bit worried that as a processed food the veggie sausages would be really high in sugar, they could be better but 4.4g of sugar per sausage isn't too bad. 
  • Buttermint tea 
Curbed sweet craving with this Twinings sweet tea!

my lunch at work


  • Smoothie made with a frozen banana, protein powder and maca powder
  • Quinoa porridge with soya yoghurt, blueberries and cinnamon find my recipe for this easy quinoa porridge here.
If you love yoghurt then try to switch to soya. Even natural yoghurt is chocablock full of sugar, with up to 14g of sugar per 100g wwith some brands!!! Soya yoghurt only has about 2-3g per 100g. 

  • Slice of rye bread, light phily with avocado and prawn salad with two spinach falafels
Also had an extra half a egg may sarnie and some crisps that were left over at a meeting in work! Opps. Rye bread does actually have more sugar than normal sliced white (2g per slice compared to 0.8g) but it has less additives and salt, plus I think it tastes better! 
  • Cucumber, pepper and carrot sticks
  • Salmon, salad, coleslaw and potato wedges
This was the healthiest thing I could get at the evening work event and it was actually pretty tasty, healthy and sugar free.

this lunch cause food envy in the canteen