Recipe|| Marmite oatcakes

I thought I’d shake it up this week with a lunch recipe…

Yes I’m one of those people who likes to have lunch sorted for the week ahead, on a Sunday. It just saves money, and also time as I tend to wander round a supermarket on average 3 times before deciding what I actually want to eat. Nightmare I know!
I do like to have relatively healthy meals in the week, so that I can treat myself more at weekends. It’s just the way I work – it helps me rationalise the naughty treats on a Saturday or Sunday, like the cinnamon pancakes with caramelised Apple Alex made me for brunch last weekend.
This recipe is actually adapted the tiniest bit from one my Grandma gave me. She actually makes them for my mum for lunch too, so I thought I’d give them a whirl, but add my own touch.
Oat cakes can be a little bland, and I know it’s all about the toppings, but I wanted to add a little more flavour to the oats in the first place.  After rummaging through my condiments and spices, and searching my brain for ideas, it struck – Marmite. Yes that’s right.
Marmite Oatcakes Recipe
These oatcakes are super yummy, have a depth in flavour to them which normal oatcakes don’t have, and are delicious served with cottage cheese, or any of the standard toppings! Even Alex gave his approval and he doesn’t like anything dry and flavourless, he won’t even choose to eat a sandwich unless it’s toasted with melted cheese as he thinks bread is dry and bland, whereas to me bread is almost irresistible.
Marmite Oatcakes Recipe
So here’s how to make them:
Ingredients (makes approx. 12):
  • 150g oats
  • 75g plain flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Marmite
  • 50ml hot water
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a baking try with baking paper and pop to the side.
  2. Blitz 75g of oats in a food processor (or a nutribullet works too!) until they have the texture of coarse flour.
  3. Put the 75g ground oats, and remaining oats in a bowl. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and combine.
  4. Add the 50g butter to the bowl and rub in until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Pop to the side.
  5. Place 2 tsp. Marmite into a measuring cup/jug, and make up to 60ml with hot water. Stir well until the Marmite has dissolved.
  6. Pour the Marmite liquid into the flour and oats mixture and stir until it forms a dough.
  7. Roll out the dough to a few millimetres thick, and using a cookie cutter (or improvise – I used the Marmite jar lid) cut out your oatcakes. Re-roll the leftover dough, and continue to cut out your oatcakes until all of the dough is used.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until starting to turn brown around the edges.
  9. Let cool, and store in an airtight container for the week ahead.

Ta da! A quick and easy recipe for lunches for the week ahead.

As mentioned, I had mine with cottage cheese and some cucumber sticks, but they’d taste yummy with soft cheese or tuna mayo, or you could even serve them as a side for soup! The weather is getting colder after all.

Marmite Oatcakes Lunch RecipeMarmite Oatcakes Lunch Recipe

What’s your favourite lunch for the working week?

Chloe xx

Eating Out|| Lunch at Peyton & Byrne

By the time it gets to Friday, you’re ready for a treat right?

A couple of Friday’s ago, I decided that it’d been a long week, I’d been at client meetings, catching up at work after my holiday and I’d had a migraine to battle with too, so decided that I deserved a nice lunchtime treat. Out I popped, by myself, to find a nice little quiet spot to shut off from work and enjoy just a little self indulgence, and peace and quiet.
I literally got just round the corner before setting my heart on Peyton and Byrne. A couple of my colleagues are pretty much regulars, and are always on about how good the quiche and salad is, so I decided that it was about time I have it a whirl.
Peyton & Byrne, Covent Garden
There were a few quiche options that day (these change daily), and stuck between two I finally went for the ham and leek tart. There were also several options for a side salad, should you wish to add this to your quiche (again these change daily, and they always seem to have a good selection of different types from grains to veg, and leafy options). I was given the option to mix 2 of the salads to create one side portion, and so opted for a fresh bean salad and an aubergine dish to accompany my ham and leek quiche.
I did almost get a coffee, but as I was trying hard to give up coffee during the week (that didn’t last! In fact that Friday was my last successful day!), so I didn’t get a drink, I just helped myself to the tap water Peyton & Byrne have out on the side for customers.
Collecting my tart and salad, along with a set of cutlery, I found a nice little table in the window and settled in.
I obviously managed to get a couple of snaps before tucking in..
Peyton & Byrne, Covent GardenPeyton & Byrne, Covent Garden
The tart was delicious. With a crunchy and slightly buttery crust, and creamy filling, the tart had a strong leek flavour, and plenty of ham. The flavour combination of ham and leek always works well, and this is just another example. It really was as good as expected after all the shining reviews from colleagues.
The bean salad was crisp and fresh, and I loved the mixture of garden peas, French beans and mangetout. A delicious accompaniment to my tart.
Aubergine is huge at the moment. Did you know it’s actually being classed as the new avocado? Crazy I know! This aubergine dish was really tasty. The aubergine was soft and flavoursome, with a light oily drizzle. This also went extremely well with the tart!
I slowly ate my way through, savouring every minute of my peaceful lunch. It was lovely to get out and enjoy my lunch rather than eat sitting at my desk.
If you’re out and about in central London at the weekend, or if you work near a Peyton & Byrne, I highly recommend popping in for lunch. Everything is served fresh, there’s plenty of choice from sandwiches to salads and quiches, and plenty of cakes, the service is friendly and efficient and it’s also very reasonably priced for Central London – it was £5.70 to dine in with my quiche and salad, it’s slightly less to takeaway. I’m definitely going back!
Do you treat yourself on a Friday?
Chloe xx

Recipe|| Buffalo Cheesy Chicken Bombs

These really went down a treat! We both enjoy a spicy meal, vindaloo, chilli con carne, jollof rice, you name it we’ll probably really enjoy it, so I couldn’t believe we’d never tried using buffalo sauce in a home cooked meal before.

I actually had the idea when craving a Bird (read my review here and you’ll understand why I can’t get it out of my head!) although my recipe is completely different to a buffalo wing.

Alex doesn’t really like the blue cheese sauce which is usually used to garnish a buffalo wing, so I thought I’d try a different twist as I think cheese does go really well with the spicy sauce, using cheddar tucked inside a piece of chicken breast, and then wrapping it in bacon before cooking, soaked in Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce.

Buffalo Cheesy Chicken Bombs Recipe

Served with rice, sweetcorn and peppers, it was a seriously yummy meal. The buffalo sauce offered the heat we enjoy, whilst also being really flavoursome, almost tangy. The chicken was tender, from being cooked in foil, yet the bacon had a slight crisp outer coating from the grill. There was plenty of sauce to drizzle over the rice too, making the entire dish come together.

So here’s how I made it…

Ingredients (serves 2 ):

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 rashers of smoked bacon
  • 75 cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 bottle Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce
  • 1 packet of boil in a bag rice
  • 1/2 198g can of Green Giant sweetcorn and peppers, cooked

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius. Line a crockery dish with foil and put to the side for later.
  2. Cut the chicken breast into smaller pieces, roughly 2cm square – very roughly, as long as they’re big enough to put cheese in. Pop to the side.
  3. Cut the cheese into enough pieces for there to be one piece for each chicken piece, and cut each of the bacon rashers in half lengthways. Pop to the side.
  4. Take a piece of chicken, cut a little slit in the middle and slot a piece of cheese inside. Take a piece of bacon and wrap around the chicken, covering the opening with cheese. Repeat with all of the pieces of chicken – You might find you have more bacon than needed, so you can always wrap two pieces around any slightly larger pieces of chicken, to help the cheese stay in.
  5. Place the bacon wrapped chicken pieces in the foil lined crockery dish, and cover with the Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce. Cover the dish with foil and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked.
  6. Whilst the chicken is cooking, prepare the rice, cooking in boiling water until soft, and mix with the sweetcorn. Keep warm.
  7. Take the foil off the top of the chicken bombs, and pop under the grill for 5 minutes until golden and slightly crisp.
  8. Split the rice, sweetcorn and peppers between two dishes, and top with the chicken bombs. Drizzle some of the remaining sauce over the rice to add some extra sauciness and flavour.

Ta da!

Buffalo Cheesy Chicken Bombs RecipeBuffalo Cheesy Chicken Bombs RecipeFussy Boyfriend Alert – Alex’s didn’t have any sweetcorn and peppers as he doesn’t them

I also served mine with a portion of green beans, for some extra veg – I do love green beans!

Enjoy!

Have you tried cooking anything different recently?

Chloe xx

Fitness|| Swimming with Swimming Nature – Lesson 2

Yesterday I had my second swimming lesson with Swimming Nature (If you missed my first lesson, you can read it here), and came out feeling so empowered and proud at the progress I’d made. I even mentioned it as a high of the week in our weekly team meeting at work!

This week Sam went through a bit of a recap with me, to get me used to being back in the pool and the feel of floating, and being under the water etc. – he was impressed that I’d practised at the weekend too! – before he continued to teach me how to do front crawl.
Obviously, practising at the weekend did help – the more you do it and the more you’re in the water the more you get used to it – but my leg motion had slipped a little. Whoops.

So we went back to legs, going over the motion and doing several lengths. It’s strange because I can get the hang of the motion and how my legs are supposed to move when doing it on my back, but something changes when I’m on my front.
It may sound like it could be boring, going over the legs again but it’s really not. Sam was giving me tips and trying to help me get the feel for it – it’s all about muscle memory – and I was trying my hardest to remember everything and put it all together. There were moments when my knee decided it wanted to kick out, or feet were too rigid, but I started showing signs of improvement after a few lengths.

Once I’d managed to get used to the leg kick (well kind of) we moved onto body rolls, doing several kicks on my front, and rolling my body in the water onto my back to do several kicks before rolling back again onto my front. This is all progression for learning how to turn your body for the breathing aspect of front crawl.

Honestly, it felt so weird. Even with Sam supporting, I still forgot to breathe at times as I was nervous and concentrating on other things – It’s so hard to remember everything! But I could see why it helps with turning for breathing, and tried to get used to it – this is definitely something I need to practise!

Here’s some tips for if you want to give this a whirl:

  • Push your shoulder round first to help you turn
  • Don’t stop kicking, you want to keep moving otherwise you’ll sink
  • Always roll the same way – i.e. If you’re on your back and roll towards your right shoulder, use your right shoulder first when twisting again to be on your back
  • If you roll onto your front and your legs drop, don’t raise your bum to try and lift them – this doesn’t work (trust me!). Just keep kicking, with larger kicks, and you’ll soon be back up
  • Breathe out towards the end of the section on your front, and remember to breathe in before the end of being on your back

See I told you there were lots of things to remember!

We then moved on to just kicking whilst on my front, and learning the body movement for breathing whilst doing front crawl. I had to kick my legs, keeping one hand by my side and the other pointed out in front of me in the direction I was going, but not stretched out. After every three kicks I had to breathe out, and after the fourth kick I had to stretch the extended arm and twist the other shoulder back, bringing my head out the water to breathe, before starting again.

This was very uncomfortable at first, but I got a little more confident. It definitely helped having Sam stood in front of me, helping direct my hand and remind me of the movements.

This is a great way to learn how to move out of the water to breathe. Here’s some tips to think about:

  • When moving your head, you’re only twisting – keep your ear on the extended arm so your face just comes out of the water. If you lift your head out the water, your body will go down
  • Don’t stop kicking. You’ll need to do a little side kick when you come up for air – it’s not quite as strong but keeps you up in the water
  • Make sure your extended arm isn’t too out-stretched at the beginning when just kicking, or your arm won’t have anywhere to move when you stretch and twist
  • There’s a lot to think about, but don’t forget to breathe. Don’t breathe out too early when in the water or you’ll struggle towards the end and then panic (yes I did this!), breathe out after the third kick
  • Make sure you keep your other arm right next to the side of your body, to help keep you streamlined

We did a bit of work on breathing whilst doing breast stroke too, and to finish we did a little seated dive into the pool. This was a little fun, but super scary! I didn’t mind as the pool wasn’t too deep, but it just shows how far I’m coming – I used to be so scared about swimming, being even a little out of my depth and would not put my head under the water to swim EVER – way too scary for me back then, I always thought I wouldn’t get enough air.

So overall, a fab second lesson. I’ve already learnt so much in the two lessons I’ve had, and have become more confident too.

Practising last weekend definitely helped, but it really couldn’t beat a swimming lesson with Sam – it’s just so valuable. Having a professional there to tell me what I’m doing wrong, how to improve, and physically moving my legs to show me how my legs should be moving (so that I actually move and don’t just stay in one place kicking like a maniac) is something you can’t replicate on your own.

If you’re serious about improving a stroke and getting more confident at swimming,  whether you’re a total beginner or just someone who knows how to swim but think you could do with some guidance on improving, I couldn’t recommend Swimming Nature enough. They’re friendly, efficient and super helpful keeping your goals in mind whilst also helping you to develop areas you might not think need improving as much – they’re great!

Stay tuned for more swimming updates and tips.

Have you thought about doing swimming lessons?

Chloe xx

*Swimming Nature has provided me with a couple of lessons to get me going on my mission to improve. All views my own. 

Out & About|| London Fashion Week

Last week I had my first London Fashion Week experience! Definitely an experience to be had if you get the chance – it was really interesting. 

As Kim’s plus one, we met early to pick up the tickets (Kim was invited along by The Fashion Council and The Sunglasses Hut) – we had tickets for the David Koma show – and headed over to check out The Blogger Programme near Holborn beforehand.
The blogger programme was a separate thing Kim was invited too – a chance for brands to sample to bloggers – and was so cool. It was based in a contemporary, white room, and they’d styled the room to be pretty much like a girls dream – it was as so cute! Loved the design, the balloons, cushions and sofas. If only I could make my flat so cute!
There were a few things going on there too, they had a little area where you could make your own dangly earrings, hair stylists, nail artists, someone talking about teeth whitening, another about an electronic facial cleanser and someone sampling the new Sarah Jessica Parker fragrance (which is unisex!!). Superdry had a rail of clothes from their new collection too, and Ninelives had some sort of photo shoot equipment at the back – I never really thought I had what it takes to be a model so stayed clear. Alex likes to remind me that I’m way too short too! Haha
There was also a fab little gif machine, which you stood in front of pulling four quick poses, and it made a gif of you. This was pretty popular and was so much fun! Check these out…
There was plenty of food and drink to snack on whilst there. I had one of the new (I think! Not seen them before) Evian waters and some jelly beans. Love jelly beans!img_20160923_122902
The Blogger Programme, London Fashion Weekimg_20160923_122824
We chilled for a bit on the sofas before heading over to Brewer Street.
I didn’t realise, but the new location for London Fashion Week is in a car park!! But they work it so well. It was set across three floors, the first home to an awesome cafe, with so many plants it almost felt like you were outside, the second floor the designer showroom, and the third the catwalk.
We had a wander round the designer showroom, spotting all the weird and wonderful designs coming up for spring summer, which retailers are most likely going to take inspiration from. There were some cool ideas, and as always others I wouldn’t have the balls to wear.
London Fashion Week 2016
At the far end were Maybelline, Toni and Guy doing hair styling and The Sunglass Hut who were showing off various sunglasses and inviting you to have a personalised London Fashion Week bag – of course we couldn’t resist!
London Fashion Week 2016img_20160923_122740img_20160923_122718London Fashion Week
Once satisfied that we’d covered the parts of the showroom we really wanted to see, we went to sit in the cafe for a little bit until it was time to head up for the David Koma show.
David Koma was running late, due to the over-running of previous shows, and also traffic (some of his team couldn’t get to the venue in time), so we were sat on the side for a while before anything started. Luckily, the first row didn’t fill up so Kim and I were asked to move forward, giving us a fab view for the show. Almost an hour later, the show started.
There were some awesome pieces in Koma’s collection – I loved the luminous greens, the puffy sleeves and the sandals were amazing too (I really want some of these!).
London Fashion Week 2016
There were some fab dresses, and lots of things I actually would wear out in public.
The show was done in around 5 minutes, which is probably the only down side as we waited an hour for that short amount of time, but it was really good to experience and really interesting to see what kind of things will be around next season.
I had a lovely afternoon, and would recommend going along if you get the chance, even if you do only go once. I’m not a huge fashion person myself, which I’m sure you’ll be able to tell although I do love the Clothes Show every year, but I still really enjoyed my afternoon!
Have you been to a fashion event like this before?
Chloe xx

Afternoon Tea|| Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea,

Surely everyone knows the story of Alice in Wonderland, at least vaguely. The first sight of a rabbit in a top hat you know its the Mad Hatter, who’s probably hosting a tea party, and the queen of hearts is the badass of the story, drink me potions make you small and eat me cakes make you big – ta da! 

Ask my boyfriend (Alex) if he can give you one fact about the story, and he’s stumped. I was shocked.
So when I went for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea recently with Kim, I had to talk him through what was linked to what in the story as I showed him all my pics from my afternoon out. It was hilarious.
The afternoon itself was lovely. We arrived at the Raj hotel, St. James’ court, where we had to wander through the courtyard at the back of the first bar to get to where we needed to be for our tea. It was so pretty!
Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' CourtAlice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' Court
We were seated at this incredibly cute table for two in the window, dressed with flowers, playing cards, really cute crockery, and there was a hat in the window as well as a broken clock. They really had made such an effort with design!
Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' CourtAlice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' CourtAlice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' Court
We shortly received a whole menu full of different tea options, and were notified that they would start bringing out our afternoon tea soon. A little overwhelmed by the options I opted for a chai tea, to make sure I went for something different to those I would normally choose.
Our teas arrived in adorable tea pots – They actually reminded me of some of my Grandma’s crockery as she has some beautiful sets! Once sat for a little, I poured myself a cup of chai tea, added a drop of milk, and took a sip – it was delicious. I normally take sugar in my tea but you don’t really need it with chai, which I think is down to the spices and cinnamon flavour – I would say healthier but we were just about to eat lots of sugar in the form of cakes and treats!Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' Court
Sandwiches arrived, little crust-less finger size portions, in 4 different flavours all with their own names – cucumber and cream cheese on beetroot bread (named Alice), chicken and sultana on carrot bread (named Bird in the Tree), tuna mayo (named Fish Footman) and yarg (cheese) and tomato with red currant jelly (named Lory).
Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' Court
They were all yummy but my favourite had to be the cucumber and cream cheese on beetroot bread. It was just so different (I’d never had beetroot bread before), soft and flavoursome, it really added something new to an afternoon tea.
Soon after our sandwich plate was cleared, and we’d had another couple of cups of tea, our cakes and treats started arriving. Believe me when I say, there were lots….
Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' CourtAlice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' CourtAlice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' Court
Our selection included (each):
  • Drink Me: Strawberry Potion (strawberry yoghurt)
  • Pocket Watch: Bubble Gum Macaron
  • Caterpillar’s Mushroom: Raspberry Marshmallow
  • Queen of Hearts: Mango Tart
  • Dodo’s: Watermelon Jelly
  • Tea Cup: White Chocolate Mousse
  • Scones – one plain, one chocolate chip and one sultana, with jam and clotted cream

We also had an iced victoria sponge to share too!

Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' Court

They looked amazing. So much thought into the design and creativity in each and every one.

I tactfully tried to choose my way through, to make sure that I got to try all the treats I wanted – All of the little treats were just the right size, tiny portions so you could try them all, although I knew deep down that I wouldn’t manage it all! I mean look how much there is!

Although I do LOVE marshmallows (I really really do!), I think my favourite had to be the mango tart. The pastry wasn’t quite crisp which was perfect and the mango filling was thick, juicy and sweet. The little crown on top was flavoured marzipan, and it also had a  little white chocolate plaque, which had hearts on to finish off the design – I mean how cute? It was absolutely delicious.

The macaron (Pocket Watch) I think was my second favourite. Once again, I loved the design! The bubblegum flavour was quite prominent, and the macaron was slightly crisp on the outside, with a softer, light middle and a creamy filling – it was on par with my faves from Paris!

The scones were yummy too, especially when topped with the Cornish clotted cream and jam. The chocolate chip ones were a nice change – I’d never had them at an afternoon tea before – and really went down well.

Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea, The Raj Hotel, St. James' Court

I was so full but really wanted to try the strawberry potion (I’m sure you all know I love yoghurt), so just managed to fit it in. It was really creamy, yet slightly refreshing after all the sweet treats and sugar. A great choice to leave until the end.

We continued to drink our tea – I lost count as to how many cups I drank – before heading off for the rest of our afternoon.

Overall, I had a fab time – our Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea at The Raj was incredible. There was so much food, all really thought out and detailed yet super yummy, the service was fab and friendly and the choice of tea was exquisite.

I have spotted that there are a few places in London now offering an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, but I highly recommend this one! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Where’s your favourite place for afternoon tea?

Chloe xx

Recipe||Gnocchi Bolognaise with Leftovers

Alex and I now take it in turns every other week to cook dinner, and it works so well at making sure it’s equal as I was always the one who thought about dinner first – I’m just super organised and like to have my food shopping done.

During my cooking weeks, as I’m getting some of my exercise done in the mornings and lunchtimes, I’m trying to get a little more creative in the kitchen with the extra time I have in the evening. But even when time is cut short, I’m trying not to resort to the same old recipes which work time and time again (the simple,easy route).

So I thought..to give myself more motivation to get a little more creative for lunches and dinners I would share my recipes with you guys, once a week, on Sundays – so watch this space.

First up – Gnocchi Bolognaise with leftovers.

Gnocchi Bolognaise Recipe - Homemade

Routing through my freezer I found that I had a couple of leftover beefburgers, and I also spotted half a tin of chopped tomatoes in the fridge from the previous night, so I got thinking about what I could whip up to impress the boyfriend.

I didn’t want to just cook the beefburgers – too simple and I wasn’t feeling it – so I decided to use the burgers as minced beef. We hadn’t had bolognaise in ages,as we always opt for chilli con carne (both with a love of spicy food),so I decided I’d do a simple bolognaise but served with something we don’t normally have – something Alex had actually never had before, Gnocchi.

Gnocchi Bolognaise Recipe - Homemade

So here’s how it’s made:

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 2 quarter pounder beef burgers
  • 1 1/2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 1 tsp. all purpose seasoning
  • 1 tsp. mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic (I use Very Lazy, such a fab store cupboard essential)
  • 8 button mushrooms (I only used 4 as Alex doesn’t like them, so also added them just before serving)
  • 1 pack of Gnocchi (tomato flavoured if possible)
  • 50g grated cheddar, for serving
  • small handful of chopped herbs (parsley), to garnish

Method:

  1. Chop the red onion finely. Fry the onion and garlic until the onion is golden.
  2. Break the beef burgers up into pieces and fry until browned. Use the spatula to continue to break the beef up as it cooks, so it looks more like you’re using minced beef.
  3. Once the meat is browned, pop in the mushrooms (if you both want them, if not, fry them separately later on and add them at the end) and fry for a minute longer.
  4. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, add the crumbled beef stock cubes, herbs and seasoning, stir well and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. With less than 10 minutes to go, prepare the Gnocchi (it takes under 5 minutes to cook in boiling water). Drain the Gnocchi, split between two dishes, top with bolognaise, a small handful of grated cheddar, and a sprinkling of parsley.

Ta da! A simple yet tasty home made meal (ok, apart from the Gnocchi – maybe next time I’ll try from scratch), in about half an hour – perfect for mid-week and great for using up leftovers. You can also serve with a few veggies – I had some green beans and sweetcorn with mine (I always have to have lots of veggies!)

Gnocchi Bolognaise Recipe - Homemade

What’s your favourite thing to do with Gnocchi? I’m definitely going to be having it again.

Chloe xx

Fitness||Swimming with Swimming Nature – Lesson 1

You guys might have noticed in my recent post on tips for ensuring the perfect way to start the day (you can read it here if you missed it), I mentioned that I was going to start swimming in the mornings.

Well I did it.

Yesterday I was up at 6am, hair up, swimming costume on, fully dressed and out the door 10 minutes later. A new record set I reckon!

I actually had a swimming lesson booked for 7am with Swimming Nature at Fitness First in London Bridge (note: you don’t need to be a member if you book a lesson with Swimming Nature), which definitely helped with the motivation to get up – knowing I would be letting someone else down if I didn’t get my lazy bum out of bed. I made it to London Bridge at 6.50am, with plenty of time to strip down to my costume, safely pop my stuff in the locker and head out to the pool to meet my instructor Sam at the pool side.

Sam was ready to get going, wet suit at the ready, and we were soon in the pool after some jokes about why I was taking so long to get into the water – I blamed how early it was 😉 

After having a quick chat about what I wanted to get out of my sessions – so you all know, my front crawl is dreadful, so I want to improve this and feel generally more confident in the water – we started from the basics.

I actually have a little fear of the water too, mainly being out of depth and not being able to breath. It’s getting better, but it takes time, and as I gain confidence in the water and with my strokes, this fear should shrink into the background. So I’m hoping. Psychology knowledge kicking in there!

So we started with just getting used to the water – splashing our face, breathing out into the water and finally submerging under the water, before going onto floating.

Floating was interesting – I always say I don’t float. And on my back, I was proved right! I don’t float.

Apparently it doesn’t matter as many professional swimmers don’t naturally float (I definitely didn’t know this!), and I can float on my front (with my head in the water – therefore bringing up the whole breathing thing, but we’ll see how this goes), but it does mean I’m going to have to work harder for strokes on my back, to make sure that I stay up. We’ll see how that turns out later on.

After getting a bit more confident floating, we did some push and glides. These look a bit like this:

Swimming Nature - Swimming lesson

These are great at getting your body streamlined – and yes, I did feel a bit like I was back at school, but I was never really that good back then either, so going back to basics is just what I need! Sam watched and gave me some tips:

  • Don’t tense – make sure your arms and hands are relaxed too to set the tone for the rest of your body
  • Keep you bum down – yes, I stick my bum in the air too much, making my legs go down, not a good shape for swimming
  • Keep your head down – my head was a lot lower in the water than ever when swimming, but it did help me to glide farther, which shows how important streamlining is (I did feel a little uncomfortable doing this, but it was OK as I could see the floor wasn’t too far away and I could just stand if I needed to breathe)

Next up was legs. Now this is where I struggle. Sometimes, if only using my legs, I can go nowhere! Seriously, I mean not a single inch. I told you I was dreadful.

We started at the side, and even sat up on the edge talking and practising the movement of the legs, before getting back in to practise gliding with the leg action.

I have to say, talking about it and actually doing it are completely different. Several times I pushed by bum up too much (what is up with that body reaction?), I made my legs too stiff, I bent my knees too much, I didn’t have enough movement in my feet, my left leg kicked out/round a little knocking me off balance – I can definitely say, it took me a few times to get even close, but after a few goes up and down, with Sam watching, coaching, and supporting, I was starting to get the hang of it. There’s so much to think about though!

Sam had some fab tips for this too:

  • The kick should come from the hip, not the knee, but the legs should still stay fluid, moving a little to help push through the water
  • Your body might move a tiny bit, from kicking from the hips, but you shouldn’t be turning
  • There should be some movement in the feet, they shouldn’t just be rigid
  • You should break the surface of the water with your kick (I’m sure I was always told not to splash too much :P)
  • Most importantly, when kicking, you should hear a rhythm as you break the surface of the water (1,2,1,2…), you should try and stick to the rhythm. This definitely helped!

It soon came to the end of my hour, and time to quickly get sorted before heading to work (I even arrived 5 minutes early, go me!).

I felt super productive for having gotten up early for swimming, and really do feel like I made progress – even though it’s the smallest of things, they all add up! My leg kick was pretty poor for front crawl, and now I’ve started getting the hang of it, it’s going to be all about practise.

I think I’m going to have to practise a little before next week, but I already can’t wait for next week’s lesson – I’m so eager to improve for holidays and my own fitness and wellbeing.

If you’re not a super strong swimmer, I hope these tips help a little, but if you can afford a 1:2:1 session, nothing really beats the help and support Swimming Nature offer in their lessons – as I said earlier, talking about it is completely different to actually doing it, and it’s definitely helpful to have someone watch your technique so they can tell you what you need to do.

I’ll be letting you know how I get on after my next session too, hopefully with some more tips to help you improve a little – so keep an eye out for that!

What’s your best swimming tip?

Chloe xx

P.S to all my family who are reading this – I told you I don’t float (on my back) 😛

*Swimming Nature has provided me with a couple of lessons to get me going on my mission to improve. All views my own. 

Eating Out|| Breakfast at Jackson & Rye, Soho

Guys, I have to tell you about my breakfast at Jackson & Rye. Now be warned, you might get food envy…

A couple of weeks ago, just before my holiday, I had a breakfast meeting at Jackson & Rye in Soho. It was a recommendation from one of my colleagues, but had also been on my own list to try out for a little while.

I turned up early so managed to get a quick snap of the inside – it’s pretty cool, with an old-school, yet sophisticated, American diner feel.

It wasn’t too busy on the Tuesday morning either, so perfect for a catch-up. Some of these places get super busy and pretty noisy, especially being so centrally located. But this was perfect.

I sat pondering the menu whilst I waited for my meeting buddy, getting stuck between so many options. They have some fab choices including pancakes, salt beef hash and all the normal egg choices (benedict, royale, florentine) but with Avocado instead of a muffin, and toasted seeded bloomer on the side.

Once we were both ready, we ordered a couple of drinks, I went for the coconut water – lovely and refreshing to start the day – and our breakfasts, both going for the Avocado Royale.

This is how it was served…

How good does it look, right?

It was such a nice change to have the eggs and salmon served on top of two Avocado halves, instead of muffins. I love an eggs Royale, but can never choose between that and any dish with Avocado – yes, I’m a sucker for that trend! Sorry if I disappoint you conforming to the majority of those who dine out for brekkie, it just tastes so good! – so it was great to have a combination of both dishes.

The eggs were runny (perfect!), the Avocado nice and fresh, and a great texture (nice and ripe) and the salmon was succulent and flavoursome. The dish was drizzled in hollandaise sauce, but there wasn’t too much so it didn’t overpower everything, making it just right.

The toasted seeded bloomer was pretty tasty too, crunchy and bronzed. It was nice to get this as a sort of side to the Avocado Royale.

I might have left a little toast, solely from being so full, but we were soon done and more than satisfied.

I’m definitely going back. It was a fab place to go for breakfast, with seruously yummy food and friendly service. There’s so many other options I want to try too – particularly their pancakes which are meant to be amazing.

Have you been yet? Where do you recommend for breakfast?

Chloe xx

Lifestyle|| The best start to the day

I realised recently, just how important it is to start your day right.

I don’t just mean breakfast (which I learnt a while ago is super important) but also the things you do from when you wake up to when you get to work.

I’ve just got back from holiday (I promise I’ll tell you all about it soon!) and I’m obviously thinking about getting back into my morning routine next week. So it was perfect timing when Rachel’s, the producers of organic yoghurts, challenged me to tell you all my tips for the best way to start my day.

For me, the most important thing is not to get stressed the moment I wake up, but there are a number of things which make a fab start to the day for me:

Exercise – Ok, I promise this post isn’t all about getting up and getting sweaty before sitting in the office all day. But I do love a run or weight session in the morning. I recently got into doing a couple morning workouts a week, and going at lunchtime on a couple of days too, meaning then I didn’t have to use my evenings for exercise  – obviously a win, win (fab morning, free evening!).

The release of endorphins before I start my day at work helps set me up in a positive state of mind, as well as making me feel motivated and so proud for already having done a workout.

I’ve been trying to improve my swimming too, and although I haven’t had chance to get into the habit of morning swim sessions yet, due to being ill and then on holiday, this will soon become the norm too.

Breakfast – Not just having breakfast, but I think that the actual breakfast is really important. I think that shaking breakfast up stops it from becoming boring so you can enjoy it day in, day out.

I always look forward to breakfast – it might actually be my favourite meal of the day (well, maybe not always).

I love to change things up with my breakfast, so that I have something different every couple of days, but it normally comes down to a few core ingredients – yoghurt, fruit, seeds, nuts and oats.

It sounds simple, but take a look at this…

How yummy does that look? This was a breakfast sundae made with Rachel’s Rhubarb Yoghurt, fresh strawberries, oats, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and some chopped almonds. All layered into a glass to make it look appetizing too (I serve it like this when I’m not taking pictures too, I promise!).

I’ve fallen in love with Rachel’s yoghurt. It’s creamy, just the right consistency, has some bits in the fruity ones and is so flavoursome. There are also lots of different flavours, so you can pick a different one depending on what you fancy, and it can really change the breakfast.

My favourite changes every week – I love the vanilla and rhubarb (both low in fat), and the new low fat Limited Edition Caramel Latte yogurt (which is to die for! I even had it for dessert one evening too – I’m hoping it gets made permanent!), but I’ve currently got the Peach and Passionfruit Greek Style Rachel’s Yoghurt in the fridge, and I must say, it’s going down extremely well!

Yoghurt and fruit is also super easy to take to work and prepare in the office kitchen – Simple yet satisfyingly delicious. Rachel’s also has some brand new Greek Style Breakfast Pots – greek style yoghurt (natural or with honey) with crunchy granola – which are perfect for work, I think all you need is a spoon and some fruit then it’s the perfect desk brekkie.

They’re also great in smoothies! I made a berry smoothie, with banana and rhubarb yoghurt in my boyfriend’s Nutribullet one morning…

I popped in some seeds and plain nuts too for some added protein, and it was super creamy and thick, tasting indulgent yet really healthy. I do love a nutribullet smoothie!

I normally like to add in a handful of green veg too (like spinach or kale) but didn’t have any in the fridge before holiday. I’m sure it’ll be just as good with a bit of green in there too!

Time to prepare and chill – I only realised recently how impactful this can be. On days where I’m not up early exercising, I like to be ready roughly 20 minutes before I have to leave so that I can just sit down with my breakfast, watching breakfast tv or checking on my blog, and making sure I’m relaxed before the day ahead.

As I’m not whizzing out the door straight after rushing around getting ready, I seem to be able to ensure I don’t leave the house all stressed, which really helps with the start of my day.

Do not snooze – I hardly ever snooze. I always set two alarms without fail, one five minutes after the first just in case (I think this is the natural worrier in me thinking I won’t wake up), but try not to use it. If you snooze, you don’t fall back to sleep properly, and if you do only just fall asleep you’ve started a new sleep cycle and so you’ll just feel even more groggy – not good when you’re starting a day! So I always aim to get up at my first alarm.

Choose an outfit the night before, or even in the shower – I like to have an idea in my mind of what I’m going to wear that day. This part of getting ready takes the longest by far if I haven’t already decided, and it definitely adds unnecessary stress when I can’t decide what to wear.

So there you have it. It really depends on the morning, whether I’m up exercising or not, but trying to keep stress at bay and having a good brekkie come top no matter how I’m starting my day.

What are your top tips for the perfect morning?

Chloe xx

*Rachel’s Yoghurt challenged me to tell you all about my top tips for the perfect start to the day, providing me with product. All views my own – I have since bought my own Rachael’s Yoghurt so that I could keep having it for brekkie – it’s just so tasty!