Quick, easy, healthy – Spiced chickpea & spinach stew

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I never made a conscious decision to eat less meat and I don’t class myself as a vegetarian at all, but slowly over the past few years my diet has become 90% veggie. When I first moved out from home as a working adult and got into cooking, I started making more vegetarian dishes because they were cheaper, often quicker and I didn’t like cooking with meat. I hate chopping it and dealing with it raw, and actually I didn’t miss it when I ate it less.

As if anyone else needs to rave about chickpeas or talk about how good they are a veggie meal staple, but I’m gonna do it anyway. I LOVE THEM. I love chickpea curry more than any other curry these days and I make it frequently- but perhaps too frequently. I decided to try something different with them and take a break from the chickpea and lentil dhal I was having a relationship with (a very committed, happy relationship) and this was born.

I tried to base this on a recipe I found online but then couldn’t find it again to copy when I was in the kitchen, so I just chucked in whatever I fancied and it tasted heavenly.

Ingredients:

1 onion chopped

400g canned chickpeas (drained and washed)

400g chopped tomatoes

25ml water

One big handful of raisons

1 tsp of cayenne pepper (or two if you like things really spicy)

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp coriander ground

A shake of basil

Two big handfuls of fresh spinach

Some grated beetroot (I put about 50g in because it’s an easy healthy extra, but you could use more or none)

1 roasted and chopped tomato

Method:

Roast a tomato for about ten minutes on a low heat in the oven.Brown the onion for a few minutes with a splash of oil, then mix in the cumin, coriander and cayenne. I also add a pinch of salt but you don’t have to. Mix this up for 30 seconds, then add in your chopped tomatoes and water and chuck in some basil. Chop your roasted tomato up small and chuck it in (I think roasted tomatoes make everything taste better) and let everything simmer for about 4 minutes.

Then chuck in the raison, spinach and beetroot and leave to cook for another 10 minutes on a low heat. It should thicken slightly, but should keep a liquidy bast. I served mine with toasted pitta bread but this would go with rice too.

I doubled all of these ingredients and got 5 portions out of it- it’s perfect for batch cooking for your lunch. ENJOY.

 

 

Recipe: Lasagne sheet tortillas and hot sauce dip

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The fact that this actually worked and tasted really good amazed me. My mum originally saw the idea for this on @theslimmingwoman’s Instagram and since I was off work on Monday and she had me as a kitchen aid, we gave it a go. Essentially, I guess making tortillas using wholemeal pasta is healthier than eating the shop-bought kind as you bake them and don’t slather them in vegetable oil- plus you can flavour them however you want! The flavour is the reason I like this idea so much and they turned out better than I could ever have imagined and had the perfect amount of crunch.

To make…

We boiled the lasagne sheets for about a minute and a half, so they were still quite hard, but starting to soften enough that you could tear them, rather than snap them. Then we cut them into triangles with scissors, and laid them on a baking tray sprayed with Fry-Light. Once they were all laid out, we sprayed them again, giving them a light covering and then dusted them with Nandos Peri-Peri salt, which you don’t need much of as it’s so strongly flavoured. You could also try garlic powder or paprika.

We baked them for about 8 minutes (our oven is fan-assisted so things tend to cook quickly) but they could probably go for 9 or 10 if needed. Once they were out I ground a bit of black pepper on for a touch more heat. To dip them in, I mixed cottage cheese with hot sauce and whipped it up into a chunky sauce consistency. We made these to go with chilli con carne and it was absolutely delicious. Once you start eating you’ll forget they’re made of pasta.

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Mercato Metropolitano- London’s Italian market 


It’s rare to find a place in London that has that ‘wants to be really cool’ look and the whole pop-up vibe that actually works and isnt just an overpriced gimmick. I’m a sucker for all the seasonal city events and anything themed, but I never go back more than once. Places like that rarely live up to expectations and are often gone before you get the time to visit. 

Mercato Metropolitano looks like a pop-up, looks cool and I’ve been back three times now. It’s essentially a big indoor/outdoor Italian market nestled behind the Elephant and Castle roundabout. It’s permanent and open from 11am to 11pm. There’s fairy lights, stalls selling cocktails, £5 sourdough pizzas, fancy wine, incredible gelato and loads of craft beer. 

If you don’t want Italian food, you can also grab Vietnamese bowls, massive cheese burgers, fries topped with shredded steak and as much cheese and bread as you could ever hope for. 

The gelato is to die for- you need to try the sesame and the caramel as a matter of high importance. And while you’re at it, try the red wine from the Italian wine stall, they’ll let you sample as many as you like. If you don’t want to sample wine, sample beer. There’s beer for everyone- raspberry beer, sharp Italian beer, Camden ale, pale ale and you can also get fresh lemonade, mulled wine and bottle of fizz.



It’s at it’s best in the evenings after six but don’t be alarmed if you get there and the outdoors is empty- it’s all moved indoors after dark for winter. If you find yourself in the area during the day, you can get coffee and churros, big grilled sandwiches or a pizza to go. 

It’s 100% worth a trip for dinner- good for dates, good for after work drinks, good for lazy hungry Sunday afternoons- just good generally. There’s also a jungle themed cinema you can only access through a secret entrance and a cosy little wine bar with twinkly lights. Put it on your London to do list- and take a scarf while it’s winter, it’s a market after all. 

Some favourites on a Friday

Where else am I going to bore people with how much I loved a dairy-free yogurt I bought accidentally in a lunch break panic? Exactly. So buckle up for all things currently in favour in my life including tea that won’t upset your bladder.


The Coconut Collaborative 

This was the panicked lunch purchase I made when there was a queue of people building up behind me in the tiny Sainsbury’s in Waterloo. I wanted a yogurt, felt under pressure from lots of angry looking people in suits trying to squeeze past me, so grabbed this thinking it was natural yogurt. Well it’s better than natural yogurt. It’s delicious. So delicious that I went back the next day for more. Then also the next day. I probably will also go get one today. It’s dairy-free, made from coconut milk and is so creamy. Highly recommend it especially if you’re a dairy-free eater.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople 

This little indie film is absolutely incredible. I laughed so much I got pains in my stomach and I also did a small cry at one point. It’s set in the New Zealand bush, involves a dog called Tupac and a genius little kid in a variety of bright hoodies, who likes gangster rap and sausages. It’s hilarious and pretty heartwarming and if you can find it still showing in a cinema then go see it. Watch the trailer here.  I really want to go to New Zealand.

NYX Concealer stick

As basic NYX as you can get I’m sure, but this doesn’t make my eternally oily skin more oily, or make the random dry patches look like a beach on my face. Also, there is actually a shade that matches my skin tone, which is frankly miraculous for a pale-but-not-really-fair girl. You really can’t beat NYX.

Rooibos tea

This is caffeine-free tea which doesn’t taste like grass in a mug- miraculous. I try to not drink too much caffeine because of cystitis and general bladder problems and this is a good alternative. I tried to get into proper green tea and I can’t, but this is really nice. I’d never heard of it before I found it in the kitchen at work, but if you’re a hot drink lover try it. It’ll never be Yorkshire tea, but it’s not half bad.

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Adidas runners

I took my new running shoes out for their first 5k this week and after years of wearing Nike trainers for exercise, I’m a convert. I need a lot of ankle support when I run and shoes that are very cushioned for my hips (I am actually 100 years old) and these tick the boxes nicely. I got my immensely bright green ones abroad from the Central Adidas store in Cyprus, and they’re not online anymore, but if you’re looking for a change, I’d try Adidas. I’d always only been recommend Nike or Asics. Also go to Runner’s World (the store) and get on a treadmill and run- they can tell you which shoes you need based on the way you move. Science.

 

5 April favourites 

  
1) Waffles at Village East, Bermondsey 

I went here on my birthday for brunch with my family and considered getting a burger for about seven seconds, then obviously ordered these instead. If you have a sweet tooth and you’re into brunch, you need to experience them. The coffee was absolutely delicious too. 

  
2) Map floors

I saw a map floor a few weeks ago in a shop and then stumbled upon this in a pub in Waterloo during Friday night drinks. Just going to turn my house into one giant map probably.

  
3) Tesco gym leggings 

If you would never think of looking in Tesco for your gym clothes, well, you should. Dressing like the sky makes me happy and they were a total bargain at £9 in the sale. Their gym leggings are all pretty tasty right now. 

  
4) Brixton Village Market

My boyfriend had a photoshoot here and I tagged along to look around and the market has changed so much. It’s full of cool and quirky little breakfast places and weird and wonderful clothes and food shops. There’s also an amazing beer garden if you walk out of the back and go right with live music and cocktails every weekend. 

  
5) Glasses from Firmoo

I got these last week and having never even considered getting my glasses online, I’m so impressed. The frames are amazing value and the process and delivery was so fast. They also came in a free leather map case with cleaners. Highly recommend. Their sunglasses range is also pretty amazing. I’ve got my eye on these babies for my summer stint in Cyprus. 

  
*sometimes items get sent to me, but all opinions and feedback are honest. 

My favourite blogs

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I use blogs to research everything these days. Mortgages, travel, make up, face wash, bedding, shoes, exercise, food- you name it, I read it. I never used to actually read blogs at all apart from the odd one if I saw it on Facebook, but when I changed jobs last year and had a week off I did some serious blog reading, and I have done ever since. I trawl through Twitter most evenings before bed looking for something to read, and these are my most visited:

The blog I’ve been reading for longest is Hannah Gale, number one because her nostalgia lists are top notch and always make me chuckle and number two because she let me sleep in her bed A LOT at uni and we once learned to rap every word of Eminem and Rihanna- Love the way you lie. Of course.

Sophie Cliff’s blog is another firm favourite. It reminds me of reading a life diary parallel to my own life and I like it a lot. The travel posts are really, really good and there’s always stuff about good food and drink that makes me want to up sticks and move to Leeds.

For general lols and all the gorgeous photos, sharp wit and bluntly honest opinions I read Nettle and Blackberry by Imii.

Queen Beady is the second blog I ever read and now I read all the fashion posts and all the stuff about life, homeware, working, aspirations and the lovely looking north!

Lily Pebbles, because she tries all make up that exists so I don’t have to.

While I’m Young and Skinny is my favourite travel blog and Danielle has the kind of life I’d love right now- she’s living in Dubai and is sun-drenched and having what looks like a right time of it. There’s loads of good travel posts about Asia and I LOVE her New York stuff.

If I wasn’t saving all my moneys I would be out buying everything Robyn wears and posts about on Phases on Robyn. Like, ALL of it.

I’m always looking for news reads so leave me so links for my Sunday bed blog situation that I’m really excited about.

Life edit: January, February & March

 

I’m writing this at 4am because I can’t sleep and it’s raining so hard outside it’s possible that the only way I’ll be getting to work tomorrow is by boat. Anyway, I haven’t had much time to turn my attention to this blog lately and I’ve also been low on ideas, which started making me wonder if it was all going to burn out. I checked my stats yesterday though, and apart from a few days, they’re still high. 2016 has been a year of high stats so far, and I can see from search engine info that people still search for this blog every day. People are also still coming to it by searching ‘in the shed’ which will confuse me forever and ever, but who am I to argue?

So since I don’t have a notebook full of ideas like I did back in January, I’m going to do some insomniac rabbling and see if anyone reads it.

Jan, Feb and what we’ve had of March so far have gone insanely fast. I thought the start of this year would go by really, painfully slowly as my only plans were to work and save like mad, but they’ve flown, and they’ve actually been pretty nice. I’ve discovered a few new favourite things:

Wild thing Paleo bars– I got sent these and when they came I didn’t eat them for ages because I was busy enjoying a diet of pasta and crumpets, but now I’m back on my usual, mostly healthy diet, these are big news. They’re flippin’ delicious. If you’ve tried a Naked bar (Cashew Cookie is to die for) you should try these. They’re tasty, natural, vegan and packed with nuts and seeds.

Ember Yard Tapas in London– easily the nicest tapas I’ve ever had in London and so reasonably priced. It’s near Oxford Circus and is one of Time Out’s top 50 places to eat in the city. I can also credit them for my first sushi eating experience which didn’t make me vomit. Win.

These Steve Madden heels ❤ ❤ ❤

Rotherhithe, which is currently my favourite little corner of London with the coolest views and most amazing looking flats and hidden pubs. If someone fancies dropping me a few mil, I’ll move in. It’s really good for photos round there too as it’s so quiet. Oh and speaking of photos lots of exciting things are happening around this website which have been keeping me and my boyfriend occupied during our spending hiatus.

Since January I’ve also posted a couple of my most-read blog posts to date including one on first world problems (brought about by a tantrum  I casually had in Waitrose) and one on things you probably didn’t factor in when you were about 16 and planning your adult life.

I also went to a wedding where I drank all of the gin in the land. Weddings cheer up winter.


Due to saving money like it’s going out fashion I’ve also taken to finding ways to spend time for free. I’ve done a lot of wondering the streets of London with friends, been to loads of places I hadn’t even heard of before and discovered ultimate love for Franco Manca pizza. So cheap. So delicious.

My health hasn’t been amazing so far in 2016. I’ve had flare ups of Ehlers Danlos and right now I’m brewing a sexy little eye infection, so I’ve tried really hard to massively up my healthy eating game. I make healthy choices 9 times out of 10. I’m one of those weird people who gets shunned for not liking bacon and I’ve never eaten a fry up (I know, shock horror), but I do binge on chocolate and sweets when I’m in the mood. Since a good diet is needed to keep me upright and feeling human, I’ve got into spiralizing. I mean, yeah, courgetti is not and will NEVER be spaghetti, but once you douse it in homemade pesto or a nice tomato sauce you can barely tell the difference. Also carrot noodles. Very orange. Very healthy. Very 5 a day.

Oh and my skin has not had a pleasant March so far. It’s been pretty good for ages now but I woke up last week with loads of spots and loads of dry skin, so I’ve been using this as a little boost and it’s all kinds of magic:

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Right now I’m basically counting down the days until I can disappear to Wales and eat massive breakfasts, drink wine, go on walks and lounge around with my friends playing cards against humanity. Probs going to tinker off and eat something now so if you made it this far, BYE.

 

 

19 things that rescue a really bad day at work

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1) Going for a lengthy walk where you talk to no one, smile at no one, don’t look at your phone, don’t engage in any human contact and just breathe deeply.

2) Carbs. In a big way.

3) That thing where you go to the toilet purely to sit in silence and gather your thoughts and maybe reply to some texts.

4) Scheduling in treats. At 2:30pm you WILL go and buy a very bad for you coffee with a ludicrous amount of syrup in.

5) Encouraging office chat about absolutely anything that’s not work. Babies. Trees. The weather. Gardening. Vodka.

6) Someone walking in and slapping down some biscuits or an M&S cake just when you thought the end was nearing.

7) Having an aggressive WhatsApp chat with a friend about how awful both your days are and how much everything is terrible and the world is bad place.

8) Deleting A LOT of emails. A clear inbox = a clear mind.

9) BuzzFeed.

10) Looking at your annual leave calendar just to remind yourself annual leave is a thing and it will come and you will lay in bed until lunchtime.

11) Googling ‘T-Rex making a bed’

12) Checking your 345 emails for the ones with discount codes in and embarking on a new wardrobe between tasks.

13) Planning an FSMWCC for lunch- family sized meal with chocolate chaser.

14) Texting everyone you know to see who wants to meet post-work to drink wine and whinge with you.

15) Abandoning everything and going out out for lunch. Byron. Nandos. Wagamama. Leon. GBK. Wahaca. Go big or go back to work still sulky.

16) Emergency desk snacks. Nothing says lifesaver like some m&ms hidden among notebooks you never use and pens that ran out months ago.

17) Establishing that you don’t want to speak to anyone and don’t care about what your colleague might do on Friday night so you can out your headphones in for the next 5 hours.

18) Getting in on a tea round at exactly the right moment.

19) Getting the hell out of the building at lunchtime and having five minutes that involve yourself, a hot drink and calm thoughts about Friday night wine, baths and pizza.

 

Recipe: pastry-free green veg and baked cheese pies

  
I’m never going to be the type of person who dances around the kitchen throwing kale in the air like I just don’t care. I’m also not going to be posting photos of myself doing yoga next to a cup of green tea anytime soon, but last week I discovered something green and delicious and idiot-proof in the cooking stakes.

I like veg, I really do, and I like healthy food A LOT, but I have little restraint for carbs, fizzy sweets and biscuit binges. I’ve also spent all of my adult life so far being a slave to a condition that messes with my entire body. One of the most important things I can do to feel well and keep myself upright is eat a good diet. It helps with all manner of symptoms and we all know how vital eating well is, regardless of what’s going on with our health.

These little pots of joy (not to be confused with the chocolatey, deliciousness that is a Cadbury Pot of Joy) are my new favourite, low maintenance way to up my intake of good food. They are also going to be my new staple for lunch (I need to probably consume less soup and rice cakes before I start looking and bleeding soup and rice cakes) because I am behind anything that tastes as good cold as it does hot. And I don’t care much for the microwave queue at work. Very few good times are had in the microwave queue at work.

I don’t really know what to call these, they are groundbreaking and they were a kind of happy accident, so I’ll go with mini vegetable pie bakes.

The best two combos I’ve made so far are spinach, parsley, spring onion, leek and kale, OR kale, leek, courgette and green pepper.

Whatever you use, chop or shred it up pretty small before chucking it in a pan with a little olive oil and sauté until it’s all soft (and shrunken). If you use corugette, just chop it thinly into slices and leave it to one side.

For 4 portions about 1 large leek, 100g spinach and 80g of kale is enough.

  
Once you’re done with the veg, put it into an oven-proof dish, or mini dishes if you’re making small portions. Crack some eggs in a bowl (about 3 for a pie that’ll give 4 portions. I used one for the two little ones below), whisk them until combined and pour over the veg. Use a fork to make sure all the liquid soaks through. If you use courgette, layer it on top at the point.

Then the best bit- THE CHEESE. Crumble feta or goat cheese on the top of your greens, chuck some black pepper on, then bake.

About 25 minutes is sufficient for little pots, but if you make a big old batch, it might need longer to make sure everything cooks nicely inside. The egg sticks everything together, and makes a glaze that keeps it all whole, and the cheese makes a nice crispy topping- once it’s brown it’s likely ready to exit the oven.

Bloody delicious. 

14 things to do, eat or treat yo’self to this Valentines

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I’ve never been a big V day person and I definitely will not be found on Sunday rolling around in rose petals eating heart shaped things and wearing pink underwear. My boyfriend genuinely sent me an iPhone calendar invite for a meal on Sunday. That’s where my life is at. Romance is not dead, and on Sunday I intend to eat my bodyweight in Turkish food and then nurse a food baby on the sofa.

Through the years though, it’s given me some great nights out, hilarious ironic cinema trips (all the single ladies) and most importantly- damn good food. Even if you aren’t going to be rolling through town on a whirlwind of romantic drinks, candlelit dinners and cocktails with your significant other, here’s 14 V day bits to do, eat or treat yo’self to:

1) Breakfast for dinner at the Breakfast Club. Nothing says true love like a stack of pancakes as big as your head.

2) Cocktails at the Shoreditch Grind.  The apple of my eye martini is well worth a purchase.

3) THIS JUMPER– My boyfriend is so handsome looking all invisible and shit

4) All of the chocolatey goodness and tips to make someone VERY happy from Thorntons.

5) Anti-Valentines nights out. Because sober Monday mornings are overrated.

6) Battersea Cats and Dogs home- feline lonely? Hang out with cats, get some complimentary bubbly and find the little kitty of your dreams.

7) Flight Club, Shoreditch. For anyone who wants to forget about love and throw sharp things. This is place is ridiculously fun.

8) Bottomless brunches in London. This will make someone love you if they don’t already, or just please mates enormously.

9) Proper tasty– I’ve just discovered these food geniuses and basically want to stay in forever and make every single recipe. You do not need to go out to eat well.

10) Bloody Valentines Cabin at The York and Albany. Twisted, anti-love fun. No romance, just a blood-spattered room and food to die for.

11) This ASOS heart sweater, just because.

12) Documentary day indoors with your one true love- bed.

13) Rock N Rose red rose flower crown because you should be able to wear flowers on Valentines day. Or just buy and save for festival season, obvs.

14) The Hotel Chocolat Hearts and Truffles box. Aside from their Gin Puddles, the truffles are the BEST sweet treats they do.