9 Foods You’ll Remember If You Were A 90s Kid

Features, Food, Quick Reads

It’s a strange old thing to think that even at the tender age of 30 there are foods I used to eat when I was younger that have now disappeared off of the face of the earth. I can remember if it was a gradual thing that Angel Delight worked its own way out of my life or if I simply stopped buying it because I became an adult. In either case, here are some foods that will TOTALLY take you back to the good old days of dressing up as the Spice Girls and trying no to choke on your Push Pop while playing pogs.

Custard

Custard

I get it – custard still exists. When you pass about 10 though, does it REALLY? I cannot remember the last time I thought “oh, do you know what, I’ll grab some custard at shopping”. What do you even eat it with as an adult? Can eating custard ever be as good as it was when you lost your shit over it being on the school dinner menu that day, or is it just banished to the world of nostalgia?

Tottenham Cake

Tottenham Cake

Admission time. For the entire time at school I had Tottenham cake I had no idea it was called that. To me it was just sponge cake with pink icing. Reason being, it’s just sponge cake with pink icing. A few months ago I was reading a Twitter conversation about foods people missed and I saw it named, with a picture. I don’t know how it got it’s name or if it is affiliated with Tottenham in any way but if it is I need to take a trip there because this is one food I truly miss.

Parma Violets

Parma Violets

Ok first of all can we just get something straight? If you feed your kid Parma Violets, this is child abuse. Seriously, what weirdo actually liked these? I’ll never forget the sheer horror and disappointment of getting a party bag with these little twats in instead of Fizzers. To a 9 year old that really is the end of the world.

Angel Delight

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I know you can still buy Angel Delight but I really feel like the 90s were it’s heyday. Such a versatile dish, so cheap, so easy to make. Was there anything more exciting in the whole world than coming home and seeing a big bowl of Angel Delight setting in the fridge? Usefully, it could either be a side or a topping to an existing dish, or a dish on it’s own.

Frubes

90s Foods

A lot of people don’t like or understand Frubes and while I am not one of them I can understand their sentiment. Pre-social media, Miley Cyrus and Trump, the idea of yoghurt in a tube was seriously controversial. Some Mums even went to the great length of banning them from their kids lunch boxes. The most hilarious thing is, there is absolutely ZERO difference between yoghurt in a tub and yoghurt in a tube. The launch of Frubes was probably one of the earliest forms of successful marketing, and you have to salute them for thinking outside of the box (well, pot).

Smiley Faces

90s Foods

As a long time potato fan, I like to think I have been around the block when it comes to foods formed of them. I’ve tried wonderful fondant potatoes in London restaurants, dauphinoise in truffle oil at a leading Thailand restaurant and also many, MANY forms of “posh mash”. But there will be nothing that beats a good smiley face. For a start, you cannot look at one and not be happy. This inevitably puts you in a great mood for the rest of your meal. Also, if you cook them right, they are the perfect balance of crunchy outside and fluffy inside.

Vol-au-vents

90s Foods

What ever happened to these? I look back on family parties and remember my Mum running around, flustered, stressed, and downing Martini because her vol-au-vent cases were not rising and there was no room to fit the filling in the fridge. EVERY party in the 90s served them.

Cress

Cress

Remember the days when cress used to be kicking about everywhere? I remember my Junior school being a bit like that film, “The Birds”, but with cress. it was everywhere. Not satisfied with growing it at school, I am pretty sure I made my Mum and Dad let me grow it at home. It took approximately 67 years to become long enough to be picked and used, and then when you did use it, it added NO additional flavour what so ever to whatever it is you were eating.

Capri Sun

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Not technically a food, but still up there with things that had a massive wave of popularity in the 90s. I think one of the things they succeeded in was creating packaging that could be squished down into a lunch box, thus leaving you room for more food. I’m sure everyone has had at least one incident where they have accidentally stabbed themselves with a straw, but it really made achieving the ultimate goal of getting it in the hole to actually drink it that much sweeter. Capri Sun still exists but they are bigger now and they have some ‘safe’ screw top lid. NOT THE SAME CAPRI SUN, NOT THE SAME.

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The Ivy Grill, London

Features, Food

The Ivy Grill, London

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A couple of weeks into my new role in Seven Dials, I flirted with the idea of getting off at Leicester Square instead of Covent Garden. You must realise that for a woman of my age throwing that into my daily routine really is quite the source of excitement. Having trained myself to learn every shortcut from Covent Garden station to the office since I started, a new station was like a whole new world to me.

Once I got off and realised where I was I found a charming little street that led me straight to the office. Charming mostly because I passed The Ivy and Dishes. Passing The Ivy was pleasant because I had heard of it and passing Dishroom was pleasant because it always smelled incredible. When a friend recently suggested meeting up at The Ivy after work I was keen not to pass up on the opportunity to see the inside, especially as it is so well hidden from the view of the proletariat like myself.

Although I am. life long fan of surprises, I find it terribly difficult to not look at the menu before I go somewhere. Between being pescatarian and not being able to eat certain foods for health reasons I always like to be prepared so that I do not faff and hold up the other diners. The vegetarian options on the menu at The Ivy were less than overwhelming.

Oh ANOTHER mushroom risotto. How lovely.

I’m surprised I did not see the appearance of the one food item that really is the last refuge of the unimaginative chef – the bean burger. So we changed it to The Ivy Grill which is a bit further in to central Covent Garden, just behind the market.

Outwardly and inwardly The Ivy is a cosy experience. We were shown to a little booth which was just about spacious enough for the four of us and meant I didn’t have to curb my regular foul language in fear of offending fellow diners. Our conversations about awful Tinder dates and our favourite drag queens were perfectly safe.

I opted for the fish and chips because despite the vegetarian menu being more limited but also more appealing here there is something inside of me from various trips to Southend On Sea as a child that just cannot pass up the chance to have a really good fish and chips. Spending half of your life dieting means you spend the other half being seriously invested in finding foods that have your entire daily recommendation of calories in them. The battered cod did not disappoint.  The batter was crispy and light and I couldn’t help but think how much less satisfied I would have been with a mushroom risotto. The fish was just about fish enough for me to imagine some poor staff member freezing their tits off at Billinsgate fish market that morning. The chips were the dictionary definition of “man chips”. If you do not know what man chips are I’m talking the thick, long crispy numbers that could fend off a burglar with one swing. It was a perfect hearty meal for a drizzly London evening. My friends had the duck curry and the shepherds pie and I certainly heard no complaints their end.

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While the food is pleasant and palatable it isn’t very experimental so if this is what you are looking for from your culinary experience in London then it is maybe not you. If however, you are sick of having your mashed potato spiked persimmon and pomegranate and you just want a simple, elegant meal, this is the place for you.If you don’t go for the food, go for the atmosphere. It’s a welcome little bubble of privacy in a place in central London where personal space is a about as common as a free lunch.

The Ivy Grill is on Henrietta street just behind Covent Garden market. Menu items on the A La Carte menu start from around £15. 

Five Of The best places To Eat In Essex, And One Of The Worst

Features, Food

It hasn’t escaped me that my posts relating to food are the most read. In 2018 I plan on giving the people what they want and focusing more on food and events around Essex and London. Kicking off 2018, I am going to tell you 5 of the places you simply must eat in Essex, and one of the places you should avoid at all costs. People may think Essex is all TOWIE and bling, but there really are some hidden gems when it comes to fantastic food.

Best places to eat in Essex

Andi Walker Pop Up at the Riverside Inn Chelmsford

Places to eat in Essex

A few months back I was invited to Masterchef finalist Andi Walker’s pop up at the Riverside Inn in Chelmsford. The Riverside Inn itself made a wonderful impression on me as despite always hearing good reviews I had never been before. Andi Walker had taken over the top floor with his pop up. I spent a lovely evening eating inventive, original and of course, tasty food. Andi uses locally sourced products that are in season at the time, so everything on your plate is as fresh as possible. One of the things I remember making a lasting impression were the leek haji’s – amazing idea! I’ve recently been invited to another evening hosted by Andi, so I am hoping this means he will be at the Riverside Inn for a lot of 2018.

Best for: catching up with friends over amazing food and wine.

The King William IV in Chigwell

Places to eat in Essex

No roundup of places to eat in Essex written by me would be complete without paying homage to The King William IV in Chigwell. Saying I like it is an understatement. I like it so much, I plan on getting a flat in Chigwell as one of my 2018 goals specifically so this is my local. I’ve visited loads of times but one of the main attractions here is the Sunday roast. You’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Essex that does a roast as well as these guys. I’m hoping I’ll be able to start next year’s roundup with a lot more visits to this place. They refurbished last year and the atmosphere is incredible. in the winter you can take advantage of how warm and cosy it is, but in the summer they also have a stunning outdoor area for food and drinks.

Best for: Sunday roasts

The Dukes Head in Billericay

Places To Eat In Essex

The Dukes Head, which is in the Little Burstead area of Billericay is one of my families favourites. It’s ten minutes up the road from Basildon which is great because let’s be honest there are absolutely no decent places to eat in Basildon. We recently went for a Boxing Day meal and it was perfect. They obviously put a lot of thought and effort into their seasonal menu and also what they can offer outside of the standard Christmas dinner. The produce isn’t just fresh, it’s also really good quality, and you can tell whoever is in charge of the kitchen has a hand in the process from start to finish.

Best for: special occasions

Sheesh in Chigwell

Places to eat in Essex

Another restaurant in Chigwell that has made it on the list. It really isn’t fair those guys get all of the good places is it? Can you not chuck a restaurant to Basildon so we have some decent places to eat please? Sheesh gets a lot of press for being a huge favourite of the TOWIE set, and I think that actually is a double edged sword to be honest.  Because it is seen as trendy, I think people forget how good quality the food actually is. The Turkish themed menu has a huge amount of choice and unlike other similar restaurants you actually get quite a good portion size. There’s also a bar upstairs so you can certainly make an evening out of it. I recently tried to book while they were closed for some refurbishment, so I’m hoping I get to go back this year. Aside from the food, there is a reason it is a celebrity favourite. The luxurious interior and five star service will make you feel like a famous face from the moment you walk in.

Best for: glitz and glamour

Lifehouse Spa in Frinton

Places to eat in Essex

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “is she REALLY putting a spa as one of her best places to eat in Essex?”. I know it seems highly illogical but among my many visits to Lifehouse one of the times that really stands out is the time I ate there. The restaurant uses locally sourced food, and unlike other spa restaurant that take themselves far too seriously, it offers healthy food but also a choice of ‘treats’. If you can’t get down in time for dinner, I’d highly recommend having the breakfast the next day. If you are only visiting for a day then book the lunch. I had lunch there when I reviewed them for Spabreaks and the lunchtime buffet restaurant looks out on to the grounds which are an English Heritage site. Also, in case you need any further persuasion YOU ARE IN A SPA. I’m booking up to go back here in a few weeks and I’ll definitely be getting my hands on as much food there as possible.

Best for: relaxing

And the worst place to eat in Essex

Reids in Billericay

A few months ago, I visited Reids in Billericay for a friends surprise baby shower meal (yep, they are a thing now). We were to order off of the set menu but the lack of vegetarian options was astounding. Because there were no starters which catered for vegetarians I ended up with two pieces of dry bread which despite assuring me they wouldn’t, they tried to charge me extra for because they were not on the set menu and were a side.

I can’t have cream, so the main that was the ONLY vegetarian option was out of the question (side note guys, you have NO CHANCE of eating here if you are vegan). I ended up having to have fish which is not ideal but is my go to when restaurants are so poorly equipped to cater to vegetarians as Reids were. The lack of actual food was also astonishing.  Our party were so hungry afterwards some of us actually went to Mcdonalds. They have the sheer audacity to charge more than most of the places I have listed above which is laughable. To top the evening off the waiter made a huge mistake with our bill and instead of just getting a manager like a normal person he argued and argued for around an hour before a manager did come over and ascertained it was actually their mistake. They had just started a new system so one would assume that common sense would have prevailed and he would have figured out this was the issue.

Common sense, evidently, does not prevail anywhere within Reids bar.

I wrote them a TripAdvisor review and they advised they were to have a new menu coming out which would be a lot more vegetarian friendly. My Mum went to her Christmas meal there and said it was still lacking in choice significantly (she is vegetarian too) and the food is awful.

Spend your money on Nando’s instead.

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Flyte Energy Drink

Features, Food, Health & Beauty, Quick Reads

There are three things everyone on this God given earth wants more of. Time, money and energy. Unfortunately, until that time machine I am working on gets going I can’t offer you more time, and believe me after Christmas I cannot give you any money – but I can offer you a solution to the energy issue.

Energy drinks are one of my biggest vices. Despite the fact I know they are terrible for the numerous stomach problems I have, I still drink them all of the time. If they are available I’ll always go for a cleaner one with less calories, but it really isn’t often you find one. When Flyte offered to send me some of their clean energy drinks to try I was expecting a couple of bottle to rock up so I could give them a go instead of my daily Red Bull.

When I got home from Iceland there were two big boxes of Red Berry and Orange Clementine then Green Mango and Citrus waiting for me and after the most jam packed holiday ever I was more than eager to try them.

The first flavour I tried was the Red Berry because I am a girl and will automatically go for anything red or pink given the opportunity. I really liked the flavour and one of the things I liked was that it wasn’t syrupy or sickly like some energy drinks are. I tried the Green Mango one after and this is the same, if anything it is light and refreshing. I drunk my Flyte in the morning mainly because I am actually a weirdo and I’ll have a fizzy drink in the morning on the way to work and then water for the rest of the day.

I replaced one of my MANY pre-work coffee’s with Flyte and it definitely gave me more energy. In fact, one day I had two along with my regular vitamins and I was bouncing off of the walls! Flyte is 100% something I would recommend if you want more energy. The bottles it is packaged in are really convenient as well – how many times do you end up downing a Red Bull in record speed because you can’t do it back up and save some for later?

Because Flyte is made from natural, organic products and contains caffeine that is extracted from Green Coffee, you don’t get that slump you get after the huge sugar rush of other energy drinks. They also do a lot of work to ensure they are carbon positive so if you are looking for something a bit more ethical than standard then visit their website for more info.

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The Dukes Head, Little Burstead

Features, Food, Out & About

There’s a lot of horrific food knocking about in Basildon. Not content with having one of the poorest hospitals in the country, a giant mock “Hollywood” sign and the most unhelpful train station in the world, Basildon has a knack for taking crap chain restaurants and bunching them all together for the convenience of the inexperienced palette. If you have never heard of “Bas Vegas” or the Festival Leisure Park as it is actually called, then I am completely jealous of you. Sometime in the 90s, a board of people sat together and thought “let’s make things easy for the people of Basildon and bunch together as many cheap restaurants as possible in a car park with a cinema and a gym”.

Where to eat in Basildon?

So if you have a celebration or a special occasion in Basildon you are pretty much limited to one of the three, yes THREE Nando’s we have here, Frankie and effing Benny’s or Coast to Coast, which has changed names more time than P Diddy. If you are a bit of a foodie, like me, the outlook is pretty grim. Luckily, quite some time ago, I had an interview at a wonderful little pub called The Dukes Head in Little Burstead. A few months later while choosing somewhere to eat I remembered the charm of this place and we booked up.

The Dukes Head, Billericay

I’ve reviewed it a few times before as I love it here, and this has now become the “go to” place for nice meals out and celebrations. For anyone in Basildon, The Dukes Head is ten minutes up the road and well worth the petrol. As my Mum and I volunteer together on Christmas Day, we tend to go out for a nice meal on Boxing Day so we can actually eat together and chat, so this was the obvious choice. The hearty Christmas Menu from The Dukes Head was everything you would expect from the festive season.

When it comes to starters I am the most boring, un-adventurous person in the world. Tomato soup is always a winner for me. People may look down their nose at that but I think there is a lot to be said for a bowl of really fresh, well-made tomato soup. Consistency is key. There is nothing worse than looking forward to a bowl of thick, creamy tomato soup and being delivered a watery monstrosity that mirrors the cup-a-soups you get on a Ryanair flight for about £5. The Dukes Head served up a simple, yet elegant tomato that was thick enough without being sludgy. Sludgy soup is also a no from me. They were also kind enough to serve up some oil and balsamic vinegar to accompany the ciabatta. A welcome surprise for bread enthusiasts like myself.

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No Christmas menu would be complete without a Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings. One of the things that keep me coming back to The Dukes Head is the fact that they put so much effort into the smaller details. The clementine stuffing balls for example. A slight twist on a classic that makes all the difference taste-wise. The mouth watering gravy. Lord only knows what they put in it but I need to find their secret. The other secret to their success is the cooking in general. If you are looking to fill yourself up with overcooked or undercooked mass-produced swill then maybe you are better off going to Bas Vegas. If you want to eat something that has been cooked specifically for you by expert hand then come here.

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Following on from dinner was the great dessert debate I engage in at every dinner. As someone who has such an intense interest in all things cheese – I’ll usually go for the cheeseboard at the end of a meal. But there was one word on the menu that caught my eye: gingerbread. Yes, ladies and gentleman of the company-owning world if you want to catch a bloggers eye, just add gingerbread. Gingerbread lattes, gingerbread creme brûlée, gingerbread toilet roll, whatever. It works. So in a break from my cheese tradition, I ordered the gingerbread creme brûlée with a nice, strong Americano just so I’d have the energy to walk to the car.

Anyone who indulges in pimple popper videos will probably, also enjoy the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of cracking the top of a creme brûlée and having the creamy underneath mixture pop through like a volcano. Not a proper volcano though, a less angry volcano. Miffed or mildly annoyed if not raging. The brûlée was served with a tiny gingerbread man and in all honesty, despite my constant battle to try and get the UK population to eat like they were raised by humans and not wolves, I did pick him up with my fingers and dip him in. It was what he was there for, and were I to eat him separate from the brûlée I would have felt that I was diminishing his entire life purpose.

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Is it nice at The Dukes Head, Billericay?

As well as the delightful food, the nice atmosphere, and the friendly service, there is another thing I absolutely love about The Dukes Head. Rolling to the car absolutely full to the brim.

The Dukes Head Boxing day menu was £25.95 for three courses.

Fairfields Farm Microwaveable Crisps

Features, Food, Lifestyle, Quick Reads

IMG_0085I consider myself an expert in all things crisp. A “crisp connoisseur” if you will. There probably isn’t a crisp on this earth I haven’t tried. Favourite flavour? Dil Pickle Pringles that I haven’t seen anywhere other than the Philippines. Favourite shape? Monster Munch claws. Favourite hot crisp? None as of yet, because I had no idea you could have crips hot until I heard Fairfields Farm made microwaveable crisps. Even the little numbers you get at the cinema are not hot themselves, so I was looking forward to trying something different.

So what’s the deal with a microwaveable crisp?

If you were to have crisps fresh from the fryer, they would be hot. Fairfields Farm are recreating this with their delicious “Heat & Eat™” idea. Even if you can’t cook or you have never used a microwave in your life you will be able to easily use Heat & Eat™. All you need to do is tear off the strip on the bag, microwave the crisps for 30 seconds and serve with the dip that comes with them (take the dip out of the bag before you microwave them, obviously).

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I tried the sea salt and the cheese and chive flavours. They came with a tomato salsa dip and an onion chutney dip. One of the main things I noticed about them being warm was that the flavours were a lot stronger. The great thing about Fairfield’s Farm crisps is that all of the potatoes come from the family farm. So from the moment, the potato is harvested to the moment you put it in your mouth it is lovingly handled by the same people. It sounds like a really strange thing to say about a crisp – but you can actually taste the freshness (I am fully aware I am making myself sound like an incredibly strange crisp enthusiast here).

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Another thing I loved was that because everything is made with tender loving care on the farm, they manage to avoid some of my crisp pet hates.

Soggy crisps

Absolutely hate a soggy crisp, but you do not get any of this with Fairfields Farm crisps. You may think that they would go a bit soggy when you microwave them, but this isn’t the case.

Broken crisps

Every day I shove a bag of crisps in my bag (Marmite if you must know, I save them for the train ride home so people won’t sit next to me), and they end up as nothing but dust. Fairfields Farm sent me my crisps to try by post and not only did they survive but they were completely in tact thanks to their packaging.

Flavourless crisps

Supermarket’s own brand crisps are usually the worst offenders for this. There isn’t anything worse than a flavourless crisp and if there is I don’t want to know about it. Fairfields Farm crisps really pack in the flavour.

Would I recommend them?

Definitely. They make a lovely change from tortillas and dip and there are still a lot of people out there who prefer the great British flavours like sea salt and cheese and chive, so they are a perfect addition to any girls night.

We Heart Mondays Christmas Food Festival

Features, Food, Out & About

Because the We Heart Mondays launch event was so good – I really didn’t need much convincing to go to their Christmas food festival. After trying all of the yummy treats on offer at the launch event, there was no way I was going to miss out on a event they were holding that was specifically about food! Based in Hackney, the We Love Monday’s HQ really isn’t that hard for me to get too and I found myself with enough time to sample everything on offer to ensure I could write an in depth review. Yep, that’s the reason I’m giving for making myself so full I felt sick and I’m sticking with it.

Afia’s Samosa Shop

Afias Samosa Shop

Occasionally, I’ll find a product or service through m blog that absolutely blows me away so much that I know I’ll end up being a customer for life. Afia’s Samosa Shop is one of those companies. Afia’s is a small company based in Birmingham that sells delicious Indian food online that is free of wheat and gluten. This is an amazing accomplishment because not only are Afia’s Samosas wheat and gluten free, they are also egg and dairy free. This means if you are a vegan or cannot have dairy (like me) you can still enjoy them. One of the things that struck me was how light and thin the pastry was. Anyone who has ever picked up one of those greasy samosa monstrosities from a garage will appreciate what I mean. Without making the pastry too thick – you can enjoy the flavour of the filling (either meat or vegetarian). I eat Indian food all the time and this is the nicest I have ever had. We also kindly got some Parathas and Onion Bhaji’s to take home which were easy to cook and delicious. I really wanted to film myself cooking them for my Youtube but unfortunately I couldn’t navigate my exceptionally rubbish phone while cooking them, so I will leave you with Afia’s video to show you how easy it is.

Biskgetz

Biskgetz

Not only were the ladies at the Biskgetz stand super fun – they were offering mocktails and vegan biscuits. Due to the dairy situation, I gravitate towards a lot of vegan food. Despite enjoying a digestive now and again, being as dairy free as possible means my days of coming home on a Friday and doing a whole packet of ginger nuts to myself are well and truly over. Not only are Biskgets vegan, delicious, and GMO free but they are available in a super handy pot so you can take them to work for your desk for a Friday treat.

Burley Fudge

Burley Fudge

Nestled in the small village of Burley in the New Forest, Burley Fudge are on a mission to take back control of mouth watering fudge treats that are packaged perfectly from all of the big brands muscling in on the market and getting it wrong. Their fudge literally melts in your mouth and if you know a fudge lover that is also keen on not eating animals they have a vegan offering which is just as tasty and packaged just as lovingly as the other offerings. They also have a “Fudge of the Month” club, which if I am being honest, sounds like a club I want to be in. They have an online shop, so you don’t need to hot foot down to the New Forest just to get your fudge fill, although I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to as it looks beautiful.

Karaway Bakery

Karaway Bread

The thing about bread is, everyone loves it. I don’t eat it too much but when I do I really enjoy it. We’ve had it drummed into us by various ‘health experts’ and fad diets that bread is the absolute devil when you want to try and be healthy but that really isn’t so. Rye bread is actually a lot more healthy than refined whitebread, and I am here to tell you that the Karaway Bakery make the most delicious rye bread you will ever put in your mouth. One of my favourites was the dark rye with nuts and raisins. The ladies were kind enough to give us some loaves to take home and I have been eating it all week. You can find them on Bourough Market, and although I haven’t had a chance yet I’ll be popping down before Christmas to stock up.

Nazani Tea

Nazani tea

If you read my blog on a regular basis you’ll know I’m an avid tea fan. So much so that I spent my last Friday night in Mei Leaf with a pot of Jade Star. Nazani Tea are cornering the tea market with the original idea of luxury herbal tea’. One of the main draws is that they put a lot of work into sourcing their tea and they can track the journey of it start to finish. Anything that passes your lips has been sourced and nurtured by Nazani directly. They grow tea in some really interesting places like Scotland and Greece and some of the brews are ones that you wouldn’t naturally appoint to herbal tea. One of the ones I liked the most was the Barley tea as it was a mild taste and really refreshing. Excited to see what they do in the future.

Pollen + Grace

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Is there anyone else out there with a food allergy and stomach condition that struggles to find stuff you can eat, remain a healthy weight and not have to eat stuff that tastes like wallpaper paste? Because, SAME. I honestly end up eating food I know for a fact that I shouldn’t for the pure fact that I just can’t find dairy free alternatives that are up to my taste test. Pollen + Grace do convenient, pre-packaged vegan food pots that will do you for breakfast, lunch and dinner without too much effort. I tried the Dahl which was absolutely amazing and then I had the Chia pot to take home with me. I really struggle to find nice things for breakfast so it was a welcome treat and certainly good for me. The great thing is they are stocked in Whole Foods, ad considering Whole Foods are popping up everywhere but the Venezuelan Amazon you are never too far away from a quick and easy vegan meal.

Seamore Food

Seamore food

The first few months I was a vegetarian I couldn’t have cared less about eating meat and it didn’t even enter my head. I’d watch my friends devouring burgers and have absolutely no feeling about it what so ever. Six months down the line – I’m struggling. Seeing as there really isn’t a way to eat meat without killing animals (believe me, I’ve looked into it), Seamore’s seaweed bacon was a completely welcome idea. The best bit? It actually does taste like bacon. They also do seaweed tagliatelle for those who want a healthier option to pasta.

Coconut Collaborative

Coconut Collaborative

Another reason I love We Heart Monday’s is that they are all about finding brands that can be enjoyed by everybody. There is always so much dairy free food on offer at the events and they are one of the only places that hold events where I don’t feel like I have to miss out. Coconut Collaborative make delicious coconut milk yoghurts and desserts, and they also have other treats available on their online store. If you want a top tip, stirring in the chocolate dessert to the vanilla yoghurt is the nicest treat you will ever give yourself for breakfast.

Gosnells

Gosnells

Gosnells mead is quite an innovative idea that stemmed from a genuine interest in mead and how it could be brewed in a way to give a different taste to products that are currently on the market. Fermented from honey, mead gives a light, crisp taste that is something more refreshing than similar products on the market. As I don’t drink I didn’t try it, but my Mum did and she thought it was awesome, which is a great testament to them as she is the fussiest woman on earth!

Why Essex ‘ProseccoFest’ was a HUGE Rip Off

Features, Food, Lifestyle, Out & About, Travel

Having made my peace with the fact that I do not drink alcohol, and my friends do, I was under no illusions that going to a prosecco festival for my friends 30th birthday would grant me the same experience as everyone in the group who was drinking would have. That being said I am absolutely shocked that the event itself was so bad. I’ve always heard great things about Best Parties Ever and I’ve always loved Barleylands so I am obviously surprised either company would allow themselves to be associated with something that is quite clearly a scam.

The tickets for the event on the 18th of November set us back £19.70 each. You can get them online through Eventbrite, and as someone quite rightly pointed out – they do not profess to include anything in the ticket price. Fair enough. No one from our party was expecting anything free but the basics were not even supplied and the drinks in there were so grossly overpriced I’m not at all left wondering why no one was even remotely tipsy by the end. 

When we arrived, we were quite abruptly told that we would need to wait until 11am because we were ten minutes early. We actually ended up getting let in about 11.10am, so they can’t be that particular about timings. The venue itself was beautiful if not a bit empty. The tokens were 3 for £10 or 20 for £60 and that doesn’t sound too bad until you find out that ONE glass of prosecco is 2 tokens and a bottle is 10 to 14 tokens. If you can’t do that math that means a glass works out at £6.66 and a bottle works out to £33.30 on the lower scale.

For a non-drinker you would think that the day would be less expensive, but unfortunately a cup of flat coke from a bottle will set you back a token, and so will a water.

Staff were incredibly unhelpful on the day. We were turned away from a number of bars after asking for advertised drinks with staff either telling us to go to another bar or point blank that they did not know why they were advertised as they were not available. To be honest it’s lucky we spent so much of the day chasing things we couldn’t actually buy because there was sod all else to do.

One of the main problems only occurred to use after about an hour after we had all started to getting serious leg cramp. There was NO WHERE to sit down. Yes, customers are expected to stand for the full five hour session. We resorted to sitting on the floor. So for £20 we got a band for ten mins, some cheesy disco music and to sit on a cold hard floor in the middle of a farm. Great success.

After the event, I put across my views of the day (as did many others) on the Facebook page. Unfortunately, ProseccoFest have been snidely deleting anything negative from their page. This is an art form mastered by scammers – the reason they are doing this is because there is an event next week and they just want to scam the next lot of unsuspecting idiots out of £100s.

To make this article fair, I looked for some contact details to ask if a manager wanted to explain some of the reasons for the above complaints. There were none. You can only find their email address if you go right into their terms and conditions, and in true scammer style they have not answered me. Many people have been saying they are going to ask for a refund, but it is obvious they are just going to take everyones money and run.

Thankfully, a few people I know and who are active on the page have said they are not going now next week because of all of the negative reviews. Hopefully this will be the last time Best Parties Ever and Barleylands let themselves get associated with something that is quite clearly dodgy.

If you do not believe just my opinion, here are some of the Facebook comments I screenshotted before they get a chance to delete them. I’ve edited out names as I have not had time to contact everyone and ask if I am able to use their first name and last name in a post.

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*UPDATE*

ProseccoFest have now changed their prices and are still refusing to refund those of us that have paid full price already.

Fortunately, you CAN complain about the event. 

Had a reply from the council:
  

We Heart Mondays Launch Event

Features, Food, Lifestyle, Out & About

image2-5.JPGRecently I was invited to the launch of an innovative new workspace in London that is available for female influencers to use, socialise and find out more about brands who have teamed up with the company running the space. Co-working spaces are a hugely popular idea at the moment, so I was interested to learn more about the set up and what the main idea was behind the way they were going to use the space.

The Premise

The premise of We Heart Monday’s is a group of female influencers from all different backgrounds who support each other and share ideas. In We Love Monday’s own words from their website:

“If you’re a blogger, social media influencer, freelancer, or you just love the idea of being your own boss, we are here to provide you with both virtual and physical spaces and community to help you be creative, work, grow, network, plan and accomplish your goals, collaborate, learn and provide you with the tools you need to love what you do so much, that you’ll no longer dread Mondays.”

The Workspace

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The shared workspace is a beautiful room in Hackney. The closest station is Hackney Wick and although the underground isn’t particularly close (about a 20 minute walk from Bow Road), there is a bus stop directly outside of the industrial estate that takes you to both the nearest underground and overground stations (I commute from Essex and you can get to West Ham to get the C2C).

For the launch event, the space was obviously set out so that people could make use of the tables and chairs but also still have a wander and look at all of the brands that were attending stalls. When it is a workspace there will obviously be more in the way of practical desk space, and there is also a cool room with a TV monitor that you can use to film Youtube videos.

The Launch

The launch was at the actual space in Hackney on a Monday which was perfect as I had spent the day in the city going to and from job interviews. When we arrived all of the various brands were setting up their stall’s and not only were there loads of food treats on offer but there were also opportunities to have your make up done and do a bit of blogger speed dating. I did a bit of blogger speed dating with the lovely Sammi from Always Rains Glitter and the questions were really hard! One of them was “would you rather give up showering for a month or social media?”. Seriously, how can you answer that?

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One of the things that struck me about the launch was how inclusive they made it by picking the right brands. I’m not meant to have dairy in large quantities but because some of the stuff was dairy free it meant I could enjoy a huge milkshake just like everyone else without worrying about being struck down by stomach pain on the way home. Another great thing was that all of the people on the stall representing the brands were super friendly and helpful and we were able to find out a lot about the products and how to use them.

I had my makeup done by the MLA Make Up academy and I could not be more gutted as my pictures didn’t come out too well. They did a luscious glittery nude eye though and I loved it. If you are in doubt about how good they are you only have to check out their Twitter to see how good they are. I was really thrilled that they listened to me and kept it subtle as I had to get a bus and a train home and was a bit worried about looking a bit hooker-y.

The Brands

The brands that the guys pulled together for the launch were great and from what I can gather they have ongoing relationships with them so there will be plenty more treats in store for anyone using the space.

Biotiful Dairy

Kefir is hot right now and Biotiful Dairy have loads of different products allowing you to get your fix.  Not only is it nutritionally good for you but there are loads of health benefits from drinking Kefir. They have a range of products but my favourite was definitely the Raspberry Kefir smoothie.

Bounce Foods

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You have probably seen Bounce Foods without even realising as they the makers of bounce balls. They sell these at my gym and I usually have the coconut one and I had absolutely no idea they did a peanut butter one. Packed with protein – this is one treat that actually gives you energy rather than a sugar rush and a mid-afternoon slump. I got to take a peanut butter one home and I think I’m going to harass my gym to stick these asap!

Coyo

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By far one of my favourites, Coyo create dairy free yoghurt and ice cream with coconut milk. Again, I can’t have cows milk so this immediately caught my eye. While chatting to the guy about the products he gave me a pot of the plain coconut flavour and told me it was really good in curry. this was great as although the coconut milk is fine I am usually unable to put yoghurt in my curry. Because this was a mixture of both products and dairy free, I made a korma with it a couple of days later and it was delicious!

Lucy’s Dressings

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Lucy’s Dressings had a stall where people could taste test – so I obviously went for the spicy one as that is seriously my thing. I don’t actually like mayonnaise or many of the traditional salad dressings – but I tried the Asian Dressing and it was amazing. They do cute little packets that are perfect for taking your salad dressing to work which is handy as I have had a tobacco smashing in the bag situation before and it was NOT pretty.

Pink Parcel

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The guys at Pink Parcel were another one of my favourites. This is an amazing idea – a subscription box for when you are having that time of the month. Not only does it include practical sanitary items that you can chose and personalise yourself – but it also contains treats like make up and chocolate. We got one to test and it had LOADS in it, so I looked up subscribing online and it is only £12.99 per month, which is amazing for what you get in it.

Cupcakes and Shhht

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Cupcakes and Shhht are an amazing, vegan, dairy free cupcake company that do loads of tasty treats including milkshakes. I had a freakshake with two cakes and some cream and it was amazing to me that it was fully vegan. It was so pretty and tasty! Their stand can be hired for events and special occasions like birthdays, and you know, Tuesdays.

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There were a few other brands who’s stalls I literally didn’t have a chance to get round – but they are all long term collaborators so I am sure I will at future events.

Bloggers I Met

Always Rains Glitter

Kanndiss Riley

Eat Sketch Love

Rasa Podertye (London College of Style)

All lovely ladies, give them a follow!

 

How To Lose Weight Like A Pro

Features, Food, Health & Beauty, Quick Reads

Scales

As I stepped off of the scales during my gym induction, I tried to work out where it had all gone so wrong. I’m a vegetarian and I can’t stand meat substitutes so my diet consists of a lot of vegetable based meals including at least one daily dose of vegetarian sushi. When I mentioned this to the personal trainer at my gym he asked me how much alcohol I drink.

Erm. A lot?

The nail was firmly hit on the head. Despite the fact that I live on vegetables and walk from Fenchurch St to Bank and back every single day, I was unwittingly drinking about 5000 extra calories a week. You really don’t need to be a big drinker to fall into this trap. Even that one glass of wine a night adds up to about 2100 calories if you do it every day. I know how shoddy my willpower is. If I were to say I’ll only drink now and again, now and again will become more and more often until I fall back into my old habits.

So I overhauled my life. I gave up alcohol, joined the gym and downloaded MyFitness Pal to track my calories. It’s now been six weeks and these small changes have worked in a big way – I have so far lost half a stone. It can seem super, super daunting when you start your weightless journey so here are some tips on how to be successful.

Think about giving up alcohol

If the thought of giving up alcohol absolutely horrifies you – then you are probably one of the people that could benefit from a break the most. You don’t need to give up alcohol forever, but having a clean break from it when you start your weight loss journey will changes your relationship with it enough to help you to make more sensible choices in the future. If you really are intent on losing weight then feeling headachy and hungover on weekend mornings is not going to help you motivate yourself to go to the gym and the junk food you will be tempted to eat certainly won’t help either. You could even change your mind about it so much that you decide drinking just isn’t for you now that you lead a more healthy lifestyle.

Make small changes to your daily routine

As Miranda Hart says, the simplest key to losing weight is to eat a bit less and do a bit more. The ‘do a bit more’ part is actually achieved quite easily. So you may not have time to go to the gym as often as you would like to, but there are definitely ways you can up your physical activity. Get off the bus a stop before you need to. Go on a walk for your lunch break. Take a trip to the toilets on the other side of the building. It all adds up.

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Treat yourself when it comes to joining a gym

There are plenty of inexpensive gyms around nowadays but if I have learned one lesson it is that you really do get what you pay for. My gym cost’s me £50 a month but it has a swimming pool, a sauna and a steam room and the staff create a personal fitness plan and help you track your journey. For one thing the lure of a sauna and steam room after my workout really gives me a push to exercise harder and also I don’t track my swimming as exercise on my calorie counter so it all adds up as a little bit extra. If you cannot afford to join a gym that has the little extra’s take your time and ask for a tour of all of your local ones in your price range. You don’t need to jump into a decision just because the first gym you look at is nice and affordable.

Have a cheat now and again

I would absolutely go crazy if I couldn’t ever eat crisps again. The same with pizza. Sometimes you just need a little bit of junk food and that’s more than ok. I have found my main triggers for wanting to eat food that I know is terrible for me is when I am anxious or when I am ill. Luckily neither of these things occur very often – so when they do I treat myself and eat whatever I want. It is near on impossible to put on weight in one day so if you do have a day where you feel a bit rubbish and want to eat everything in sight just get back on the wagon the next day. Obviously you can’t let a little cheat day outweigh the diet days but you would go crazy if you didn’t eat a little bit of what you fancy every now and again.

Find an exercise you like

Just because you don’t like Yoga it doesn’t mean that you are not going to be successful with exercise. There are so many fad exercise plans around like high intensity work outs but not every single thing works for every single person. Find a routine that you like and won’t get bored of that mixes up a bit of cardio and weights. I actually don’t mind spending 40 minutes on the treadmill for the pure fact that my gym’s treadmills have Netflix and it’s an episode of Gossip Girl. After that I do a few weights circuits and it works out perfect for me.

Don’t Skip Meals

I’m terrible for eating breakfast. It takes me so long to be hungry I literally forget. Unfortunately this isn’t a good weight loss plan. Your metabolism needs to keep working to keep working, if that makes sense. So because lunch is usually my first meal of the day, I’ll eat dinner and then snack afterwards on something healthy. This way I’m still getting my three meals – I’m just having them all later. Eating little and often is a proven method to keep your body healthy and happy.

Monitor your portion sizes

My worst habit is inadvertently making enough food for 387 people. Although we save a lot for lunches etc it is still massively tempting to pile my plate really high when I overcook. the worst offender for me is mashed potato. I literally love mashed potato so much I’ll easily get through a serving fit for 2 people. When I realised this I actually realised that all of my portion sizes were on the large side. The thing is – as humans we will just literally eat what is put in front of us without question. This means that no matter how small or large your portion size is you will put it away without thinking, so decrease it by a bit and see how it goes.

 

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