Perfect Pizza

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Who doesn't like pizza? I'm all for the eating of pizza but last week I got a chance to make one at Pizza Express and it tasted all the better for my "efforts". In all fairness, it was a bit of a pizza cheat as we were given the dough so didn't have to worry about mixing up the ingredients for this but stretching it out was a bit of a challenge and far more difficult than the pizza experts made it look!

Once the difficult part of getting the dough in the pan was done, it was topping time - mine was topped with mini peppers, black olives, lots of spinach, chicken and the all-important cheese (not sure if this topping will be making it on to the menu any time soon...). The cheese should always go on last and the toppings shouldn't be piled on too generously otherwise the dreaded soggy bottom is a risk!

I am obsessed with the new Layout app from Instagram - it definitely helps to fill in the time on tube journeys when I probably should be reading or doing something a bit more productive. Seeing the finished pizza makes me want to eat it all over again although maybe I should have a go at one of those cauliflower base pizzas like this one?

Have you tried making pizza?

Dinner at Sticks N Sushi, Covent Garden

Sunday, 29 March 2015

I love sushi so when my friend S and I met up for a much needed catch-up we both suggested the Covent Garden branch of Sticks N Sushi for a Monday night dinner. The restaurant is tucked away on a side street off of the Covent Garden market and, yes, does take reservations!

The menu online does seem a bit pricey - a £100 sushi platter wasn't really what we had in mind for a Monday night catch-up - but there are affordable options and we had a decent amount of food for £20 each. Although I can imagine that on a Friday or Saturday night you could go a bit crazy here, especially if you had a few of the (pretty amazing) looking cocktails - maybe I'll have to return when I have something to celebrate!

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Review

We started with ebi bites to share on the recommendation of our waitress. These were so good - perfectly crisp and full of flavour but super light. They definitely tided us over while we browsed the book-like menu!

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Review

We both had the spicy miso soup - just the right amount of heat and with pieces of salmon this was the perfect winter warmer (because spring hasn't quite made it yet, has it?)

S had the tuna tartare which was beautifully presented and almost looked too pretty to eat!

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Review

I had the small chaos chirashi. Salmon and avocado is such a good combination - this was small but perfectly formed and a great wallet-friendly menu pick.

The staff were super friendly and great at explaining the dishes and pointing out there favourites (does anyone else get annoyed when serving staff have clearly never eaten the food themselves?). I'll be back to sample some of the "sticks" next time!

Are you a sushi fan?

Snack Ideas: Easy No-Bake Vegan Treats

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

I love a sweet tread mid-afternoon but hate the sugar crash that a lot of sweet treats result in. I'm always looking for ways to beat the 4pm slump which won't derail my healthy eating and these two are perfect. Super easy and quick to make, no oven or blender required and tasty enough to feel like a treat while being vegan and free of refined sugar.

First up, oaty cookies:

I adapted this recipe, leaving out the flaxseed and topping with my guilt free chocolate sauce (raw cacao powder mixed with melted coconut oil). The finished cookies will keep in the fridge or freezer and are perfect for popping into a mini tupperwear for an on the go snack or as a quick breakfast.

Next, crispie cakes.

These were one of my favourite things to make as a child - they're so easy and fun. This version tastes super indulgent and is definitely more of an afternoon snack or dessert. I used this recipe but with peanut butter rather than almond butter. After setting in the fridge, the crispie cake can be cut into squares and kept to hand for snacking or sharing. My parents loved this and couldn't believe that it didn't contain any butter or sugar.

What are your favourite healthy treats?

Being Single In Your (Late) Twenties

Sunday, 22 March 2015

If I had £1 for every time since the age of twelve that I've been asked if I had a boyfriend I would probably be typing this post from my penthouse suite while snacking on caviar. I'm turning 28 this year and since the age of twelve, the answer to the question asked by friends, acquaintances, work colleagues and family members has always been "no". Well, not a straight "no" but a "oh, um, not at the moment" or a "oh, not right now" sorta thing.

During my school and uni days I was able to fob people off with a "oh, no, I'm concentrating on my studies" type response which seemed to do the trick (you can see why I'm a big hit with grown-ups, eh?) but now I'm a little older I find myself struggling for an excuse or a reason for my single status. Some common responses:

"But you're really pretty!!" Um, thank you...but, wait, there must be something terribly wrong with my personality, then?

"But how are you going to provide for yourself?" This isn't Downton Abbey but just in case you think it is it may come as a surprise that despite being a girl I have a job, my own flat and am providing for myself just fine.

"But how are you going to have children?" Again, it may come as a surprise that not every woman necessarily dreams of having babies (Sophie's post here is a good read) and while a man might be a necessity for the whole "bringing a child into the world" part, a man isn't a necessity for being a parent - single woman can adopt or foster.

There's an assumption that because I'm single I must somehow be devoting all my energy to the holy grail of "finding a boyfriend". Surprise news - I'm not. I'm always so busy and I'd rather spend my free time chilling with friends who I can actually relax around or doing a yoga class than going on a Tinder date with someone who won't even have the courtesy to reply to my WhatsApp. Life is stressful enough as it is and, believe me, I do not need that shit to complicate things. I've dabbled in the dating world and it just stresses me out - I have no idea what the "rules" are and despite a fair few of my friends finding success with online dating world, it just isn't for me (despite most of my friends being found online).

I'm actually happy being single. I know that might be hard for some people to believe and for years I didn't think it was possible either - I thought that I'd only truly value and like myself when I knew that someone else did. How ridiculous. Your self worth comes from within, if you don't think you're awesome then no one else will. I think we're wired to think that we'll be "happy" when we've lost 7lbs or bought a Mulberry bag but those things aren't going to fix anything in you that you don't already have. Nothing is going to make you more miserable than being in a bad relationship or being in one for the wrong reasons either.

So the next time someone asks me if I have a boyfriend, they'll get a confident "no" in response.


Breakfast Idea: Easy Baked Oats - Dairy Free, Healthy

Friday, 20 March 2015

Breakfast foods are my favourite and I'm definitely a sweet breakfasts kinda girl. Porridge, granola and pancakes are my high up on my list but all too often in the week breakfast is at my desk or at weekends is forgotten in favor of grabbing a coffee or saving myself for lunch plans.

Being at home this week was the perfect opportunity to give breakfast the attention it deserves and after Sophie told me about baked oats I had to give them a go. I don't have an oven in my London flat and am hardly a keen cook but I was so pleased with how these turned out!

dairy free breakfast baked oats

Ingredients (for one serving):

1/3 cup of oats
50ml almond milk
1 medium egg
Fruit of choice - I used frozen raspberries, frozen cherries and banana slices

Vanilla extract

This is so easy. Just mix everything together in an oven-proof dish and pop in the oven for 20 minutes until the mixture has risen and the top is golden. Serve warm on its own or top with a dollop of soya yogurt. The oats can also be made the night before for taking into work as a healthy desk-fast - just re-heat in the microwave for a minute.

dairy free breakfast baked oats

These are just as easy to make whether you are breakfasting solo or have a group to feed. You could also make one big portion rather than individual dishes if that's easier too.

dairy free breakfast baked oats

What is your favourite breakfast?

12 Unexpected Benefits of Training for a Marathon

Thursday, 19 March 2015

When I signed up to run the London Marathon back in October I filed it in the "things far in the future" part of my brain and life carried on as normal. I've run for the last few years but I have never felt like a runner runner despite racking up a few half marathons. I thought that running the marathon would bring me better fitness levels, slimmer legs (this is a fashion blog of sorts - I'm vain, ok?) and raise some money for a good cause. These are the benefits I wasn't expecting:

benefits of marathon training

1. A happier liver. While I haven't given up booze for the marathon I have cut down on my gin consumption a lot. I do all my training in the morning so a night on the gin followed up a 15 mile run isn't an appealing combination.

2. No hangovers. Related to the above. No weekend time is wasted feeling hungover, trying to piece together the goings on of the previous night from bar receipts and Uber emails or feeling paranoid about did I say blah, do blah and ohemgee do all my friends hate me now?

3. A happier wallet. When half my weekend is spent wearing running gear, there's less time and need for shopping. My running isn't yet at a level where I can shop on my phone while running. Thank goodness.

4. A whole new "sportswear" section of my wardrobe. I now have trainers in every shade of pink and purple known to (wo)man, a lot of running leggings and actually get excited about having a rummage in the hell that is a Sports Direct store for new gear.

5. That post-run glow. No amount of make-up and skincare can replicate the rosy glow that a long run gives. I read horror stories about running causing acne and wrinkles but my skin has been looking good (maybe also in part to the first point, too).

6. Food, glorious food. Sadly marathon running does not allow you to become a regular at McDonalds and still lose weight but a weekly slice of cake now doesn't trigger quite the same carb-related guilt as it once did. I have also re-discovered bagels and they are so good that I may have to sign up to another marathon so that I can continue eating them.

7. Abs. Yes, they are teeny tiny baby abs and they only make themselves visible in the morning but I now have abs without doing a single sit-up. Running works your whole body and burns fat but no I have not turned into a "eww gross muscle-y" man and nor have I ruined my knees. Ignore advice from anyone whose running experience consists of running for the bus.

8. JOMO (joy of missing out). Yes there have been nights out where I've felt envious of my cocktail drinking friends but there has been far more JOMO where I've not felt guilty about not going to an event where I'll be stuck talking about the scintillating subjects of is "how work going" or "do I have a boyfriend yet" or having to listen to someone paid goodness knows how many times the national average wage moan about their lack of bonus.

9. Extreme Netflix-ing. Practically a counter-sport to running, a good Netflix session is the ultimate preparation the night before a long run.

10. Unlikely friendships. When you tell people you are running a marathon, the people you least expect to even own a pair of trainers will tell you their story of running one too. N'awww.

11. Time flying by. Adult life can feel like groundhog day without end of terms and exams to add a bit of variety. Add in a scary challenge at the end of April to your diary and time literally skips past.

12. That superwoman feeling. I don't spend every minute of every run feeling awesome but the feeling when you realise you've finished an 18-miler or run further from home then you ever have done is pretty hard to beat. Don't trip on my invisible cape, please.

Have you ran a marathon? Or is your sanity intact?


City Pharma: French Pharmacy Essentials

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Armed with a list of products to purchase, last Saturday afternoon saw me make my first visit to City Pharma. I usually just pop into whatever pharmacy I can find to pick up my essentials but having heard a lot about City Pharma I wanted to visit - I planned to browse the aisles, taking pictures of the products for this post, deliberating over what to buy...

The reality was quite different. The place was rammed. Tourists shouted, pushing their way through the narrow aisles, knocking products to the floor as they went. French women with poodles in tow muttered angrily at the tourists. The poodles saw the noise as an excuse to start barking (I am terrified of dogs so this was not ideal really). It was chaos. I made my way around the aisles as quickly as possible, shoving everything into my basket thinking that there was no way I would ever be returning so I might as well just buy it all now. I now know how my dad felt being dragged into New Look when I was a teenager.

So here is what I bought and my recommendations for when you're next visiting France. A lot of these products can be bought in the UK or online (try La Guide Sante) but they are cheaper in France and money spent on trips doesn't really count as spending, does it? Also, the pound to euro exchange rate is pretty good at the moment - I obviously didn't check before I left but when working out the prices I now wish I had bought a few more bits!

1. Bioderma
The holy grail of make-up removal for many. I have used this for the last few years and other eye make-up removers pale in comparison. I also use it to take off my face make-up if I'm feeling lazy or at a festival and have no running water (so much nicer than using wipes). I haven't tried any of the micellaire waters available in the UK (Garnier's seems to get good reviews) so I have no idea how it compares to those but I love Bioderma and will be sticking with it for as long as I can keep my supplies up. This massive bottle was around £4.90 (although this one is for Sophie as I already have 2 back-ups).

  2. Biafine
Elodie recommended this one - its a healing balm used for sunburn and skin irritation so a great one to have to hand. I have really sensitive skin so thought this sounded ideal - it is completely fragrance free and feels so soft and silky on application. It's gentle enough to use on babies and perfect for my dry winter skin which has been suffering after too many long, cold outdoor runs. This was £8.50 for a double pack.

3. Embroylisse
The exfoliator is for Hannah who recommended the range for sensitive skin and the cream is for me. This brand is an essential for many French women. It's so gentle and perfect for dry skin. The cream is a super-rich moisturiser which calms and soothes the skin. It can also be used to remove make-up or as a hydrating masque so its the perfect multi-tasker. One for using at night and popping in my handbag. I got the limited edition gold packaging but it's usually in a white and blue tube. £8.50 per product.

4. Avene
Mummy Lipstick and I both love Avene and have used the products for a few years now. We both have sensitive skin and the products are all fragrance free and super gentle. The moisturiser is a favourite of both of ours for being super light and containing an SPF so it's a great everyday product for normal-combination skin. There's a "riche" version for drier skins too. Mummy Lipstick was on the lookout for a new eye-cream so I picked up this one for her to try. £15 for the two. Moisturiser and eye-cream are both available at Boots (although exchange rate made these much cheaper in France).

5. Nuxe
Sophie recommended this lipbalm and it's another cult product that gets raved about in the blog world. My lips are so, so dry whatever I seem to put on them at the moment so I'm hoping that this helps. It smells lovely, too and for £4.60 it's a bargain. It's available in stick-form from M&S in the UK.
6. Bioderama hydrating spray
French pharmacies are packed with hydrating spritzes - Evian make a great one which I've tried in the past but while waiting in the ridiculous queue this feel into my basket. I love mists for calming my skin after a workout or for a quick refresh if I'm not wearing any make-up and this is perfectly handbag sized for the summer - I used to use these on French holidays as a cool down while sunbathing so holding out some hope that I'll use it in the UK this summer. 
7. Cattier
Another Elodie recommendation. This old-school French brand is amazingly good value - I picked the pink clay masque for sensitive skin and it's absolutely lovely for a pampering ritual. The green version for oily skin sounds great, too.

Want more French essentials? Elodie has written a great post here (she's actually French so knows her stuff) and this article from The Cut has a great guide, too.