Thursday, 30 May 2013

Wrapped Asparagus and soft boiled Eggs

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We are slap bang in the middle of Asparagus season. Short lived, but worth every single bite and crunch of these tasty stalks, the end of May is the time to take advantage of this seasonal vegetable. They're everywhere in the London farmer's markets and if you head out to the countryside, they can be found growing in abundance!

The recipes that you can use asparagus in are endless - it is such a versatile vegetable. But with beach season and wedding season just about to start, a simple low fat carb free recipe that uses fresh free range eggs and a handful of parma ham, is a great way to use asparagus as a detoxifier to help get ourselves back into shape for the summer.

  1. Take a bunch of fresh asparagus, cut off the thick lower stem as this part of the vegetable doesn't cook well, and steam for three to five minutes.
  2. Once steamed leave to cool for a minute and then carefully wrap parma ham or proscuitto around the lowers of the stem.
  3. Fry an egg.
  4. And serve dipping the asparagus into the thick yellow yolk.

A few health properties of Asparagus:

Full of Nutrients: Asparagus is a great source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that aids the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.

Anti ageing: Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, helping to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This, apparently, may help slow the ageing process.

Anti-cancer: Along with Avaocado, kale and brussels sprouts, this plant is a source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that may help protect against certain forms of cancers.

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Kings Inn, The Cotswolds

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The Cotswolds are about an hour and half from London, and are a great escape for a weekend or day trip. Full of chocolate box villages, plenty of farm shops and some great country pubs they are a more than popular escape for Londoners!
A short way from Chipping Norton (one of the more popular towns) and close to Burford (a crumbly little old town full of antique shops and tea rooms), lies the quiet sleepy village of Bleddington. Its the kind of place where you'd expect to see a cart and horse trundle through.

Ducks waddle through the village, flower beds burst with color, chickens scratch in the courtyard and locals gather at the village pub... The Kings Inn.

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The Kings Inn is famous for serving outlandishly delicious food that is 100% seasonal. It is a secret institution for those in the know. Basking in the sun, after a big old dog walk across the rolling buttercup filled fields, we kicked back and washed down a pint or two of Hook Norton, the local beer.
Tucking into roast Cotswold lamb and steak covered in mint and pea puree, its impossible not to lean back soak up the sun, listen to the stream trickle gently past the pub and forget what the week holds ahead.

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But alas.... its not long before the wind picked up, the phone rang and it was time to head back into London.... so off we went, but not before picking up a chocolate eclair from one of the Cotswolds finest bakeries - Huffkins... sometimes you gotta soften the blow of heading back to London.

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Time out with the Anya Hindmarch notebook

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It's been a busy few weeks with wedding plans, events, meetings and sometimes, for all of us, the hustle and bustle of life can become too much. Invariably the best thing to do is step back and just take that time out.

And that is what I've done over the past few days. I've switched off, caught up and planned the next few weeks! The diary above is my best friends', its an Anya Hindmarch diary - a neat compact leather journal that is packed full of helpful tips and of course crammed with personal plans. It's possible to have this personalised with gold embossed writing on the front... a nice idea for a gift or to mark a special year.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Lemon and Lavender Sea Salt Scrub

This simple scrub is perfect for the start of bikini season which is eeking closer day by day. As the weather warms up, it's not long before it is time to bring out those legs girls.

The prepping and exfoliating done in the lead up to the "leg season" can make all the difference. Forget worrying about it though and embrace the possibility of smooth, silky pins. I can honestly recommend diving into the store cupboard, getting crafty and rustling up the lemon and lavender Sea Salt Scrub. It leaves you with fresh smooth skin and tackles those dry areas on your legs and feet wonderfully! Be warned, it is a tough and rough scrub, so if you have delicate skin take it gently.

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Half a cup of sea salt
Zest of one lemon
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of coconut oil
1 tsp of dried lavender or 1-2 drops of lavender

Melt down the coconut oil. Mix it all up and store in a jam jar. Use within two weeks.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Growing your own herbs

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Growing plants in London can be tricky, especially as most people aren't fortunate enough to have a garden - and if they do, it's invariably shared.
However, growing plants on a kitchen window sill is possible and as the weather gently warms up, keeping a set of bushy fresh herbs in the kitchen not only brings a burst of freshness into the room, they're handy to have  for cooking. They are on hand for making broad bean and mint bruschetta, add to mohito's or throw into  a host of other recipes calling out for flavours and textures - a set of smelly herbs is, in my opinion, one the easiest and best things one can have in the house.

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A few health properties of herbs:

Parsley: A famous detoxifier and helps freshen your breath. Helps to reduce blood glucose and has even been suggested as a cancer fighter

Rosemary: A mood lifter, anti inflamatory and used to help strengthen the memory

Basil: As a source of Iron, Calcium and Vitamin C, this herb is also anti inflamatory, anit bacterial, helps skin and hair and supports the immune sytem

Garlic: A great antioxident that has been shown to help cholesterol, is an anti inflamatory, is anti viral and helps the heart, being a unique food to support cardio conditions.

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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Sprouted Kitchen: Cauliflower Capellini

There are a few blogs that I have fallen in love with and am an avid follower of. One of them is The Sprouted Kitchen. Not only for the photography and the beautiful writing but also for the food and use of fresh produce, straight from the ground, picked from the tree or just off the mill.

Following the success of their blog, Hugh and Sara, the couple behind it, published a cook book which has one of my all time favorite recipes in - cauliflower capellini. Fresh enough to eat as a lunch or post work dinner on a hot summer's day, but can also double up as the perfect plate of healthy comfort food on a drizzly winter's day.

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While this dish can only be found in the book (you need to go and buy it and it's worth it, promise), there are plenty of similar dishes Sara has developed that can be found on their blog here.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Riding House Cafe

This place eeks coolness.  An eatery where the novelty of brunch never wears off and you always leave more than a little satisfied. Stomach full, taste buds content and on a caffeine high, The Riding House Cafe which is popped behind the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street on Great Titchfield Street, is a mouth-watering go to for brunch.

With a laid back vibe, you’ll be transported somewhere between the realms of a New York warehouse, a Victorian kitchen and if you head to their private dining room a stable yard.

Booking or no booking, saunter in sometime before 12.30 as brunch will switch to lunch. 

Hang your coats up and find a seat. 

Nestle cosily on a scruffy sofa, take a chair at the bar or find a space on the long dramatic table. There’s something for everyone here; whether you’re on a date, with a partner, a friend or meeting mates.

Scan the menu and order your drinks! Smoothies come served ingeniously in glass milk bottles and coffees are more than a little strong.

Reasonably priced, brunch dishes range from health kicking muesli to full on fry ups, and the list is endless so no matter what your body needs... you'll find something.

We went for the Titchfield Street Mueslli and ordered several plates worth of eggs with chorizo hash browns! 

These hash browns are potentially the best in town; crunchy and toasty on the outside but rich and soft on the inside, oozing with the tastes and smells of a good fry up.

Devour your breakfast and natter away, you’ll easily lose track of time. Once finished and set for the day settle up your bill - in total we normally spend £10-£15 each and leave more than content with our breakfast. If you’re feeling energized by the gentle buzz of the place, pop off to shop on Oxford Street or stroll over to Marylebone High St, the options are perfect.

Perfect for dates or the “morning after” breakfast. You can chill out relax and not be spotted. Brilliant for groups. Not ideal if you’re positively reeling and in need of a dark silent room.
-         Try it out for dinner as it turns itself into a great wine bar and restaurant by night, plus there’s a fantastic private dining room for hire too!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


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If you go down to the woods today... its impossible not to be bluebell-er-rised.
When the weather is nice its hard not to head out of town for the countryside, leaving London and the rat race behind. Bird song, sun and woods carpeted in bluebells.

On a spring weekend, Poppy and I set off on a healthy  walk to some woods just by my parents home where growing up my brother and I used to play swallows and amazons, hide and seek and tag.

At this time of year it is awash with bluebells. Rich in colour, these small flowers sleep through the winter and at the first sign of spring burrow up to cover the English woodland floors. With Poppy trotting by my heal, the sun glinting through the leaves, a wood pecker tapping away and the odd bumble bee busily buzzing past we hung out in the purple woodland wandering past ponds, stepping over logs and finally kicking back in the shade before heading home for a good 'ol cup of tea. Nothing says British spring time quite like a sea of bluebells.

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