Friday, 31 January 2014

Something for the weekend: Local Hero, Kingston

One of the two branches of Local Hero is tucked away on Thames Street in Kingston. It is a tiny cafe bursting with attitude ... and healthy food.

Now, an admission, I went in craving pancakes, however they were 'out' (given how simple pancake batter is I am not sure how this is possible but hey ho). I therefore opted for a dense quiche with a Greek and a quinoa salad with a mixed berry smoothie.

Amazing mixed berry smoothie

The Greek salad was just the right mixture of feta, olives and lettuce leaves.  The quinoa salad was tasty, tangy and wholesome.

dense quiche with an amazing salad selection

There was a fantastic range of sandwiches, soups and cakes as well.

The downside; it was some of the slowest service I have come across but the food was worth it.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Beef and beetroot stew

Inspired by a recipe card in Waitrose, this was tasty and nutritious whilst staying low in fat. It was simple to make and kept really well for reheating as well.

Cous cous is a fantastic source of lean protein and fibre and beetroot is packed with potassium, magnesium and iron; this really is a superfood infused meal.

400g Beef casserole steak
1 organic beetroot
1.5 litre beef stock
I tin tomatoes
1/2 red onion
75g cous cous
1tsp oregano 
1tsp mild chili powder
1tbsp olive oil

Unglamorous close up!
Fry the onion until brown and then add the beef to brown.  Add the beetroot.  Pour the stock over the beetroot and boil until soft.  Add the tomatoes followed by the spices and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cous cous and simmer for another 10 minutes then serve.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

2013: a year in review

2013 started in a bad place health-wise for me.  I had collapsed in November 2012 and my thigh muscles and knee were still recovering.  By recovering, I mean I could not put any weight on them.  This obviously posed a lot of problems in terms of running.  Thankfully, cycling was ok, when the weather permitted so I was able to keep some level of fitness up.  It was not until late March that I could even contemplate running two miles.

I therefore set myself a far more tame run challenge than I would have liked; getting fit for an 8.2 mile run in October. I made it, but my goodness was it a journey.  It was greatly aided by the Change 4 Life running course in Kingston which I took (I would strongly recommend this to anyone thinking of trying to improve their running).

The most fun piece of exercise I did in 2013 however was the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle.  10 miles cycling around London'a greatest landmarks including...
I cannot wait for the 2014 one!

Eating out:
By far the best food I ate in 2013 was in Marrakech, however in the UK #Challenge2013 led me to some truly superb meals. There really were too many highlights, but one place I visit over and again is South Bank Market which never fails to deliver a healthy meal. The variety of healthy food is second to none and it is very affordable.  I only wish it was more sit-down!

I have been so fortunate in 2013 to visit two amazing countries and have a number of weekends away in the UK, visiting some amazing parts of the country.

Iceland was an activity-filled getaway, with lava caving and glacier walking.  Fresh air, excellent fish and exercise was fantastic... here are a few snaps from our walks which I have not yet shared on this blog:

Marrakech was a foodie haven, full of healthy main meals and naughty treats (I am STILL thinking about the pistachio brulee I had).

The UK travel bought me to some fine food, especially in Sherbourne, which you can read about here.

My home-cooking came on leaps and bounds in 2013, really learning how to adapt recipes and getting to the point where I can whip up and authentic ... meal without looking at a recipe!

By far the recipe I am most pleased with in 2013 however was my adaptation of a Waitrose recipe for Mauritain Chicken.  I literally have not had anything but really positive comments on this.  It is healthy, clean and delicious!

On the sweet side, the most successful batch of baking I did was using a Harry Eastwood recipe for this Raspberry, White Chocolate and Cinnamon cake (made with Butternut Squash)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

#Challenge2013 - festive alternatives this December

December is renound as the month we over-indulge, our waistline gets out of control and our liver can start to ache.

For me however, that happened in November, as the Christmas party season started early, so eating out in December was about trying to stay on track and avoiding too many gin-fuelled lunches in the guise of 'networking'. You will notice a strong Surrey bias to the restaurants this month and trust me, each is worth the trip out to zone 6... and beyond!

Maru, Esher
This is a fantastic Japanese restaurant which sits on Esher high street but is some what hidden. My first and certainly not last visit to it came mid-December with a colleague who swore blind to me it was some of the best Sushi I would find. Having eaten Sushi in Japan, I was not disappointed.

I opted for this box which was one of the set meals. A fantastic selection of tuna, salmon and prawn. Not anything special on the face of it, but there was something in the preparation which made the fish juicy, the rice a perfectly sticky consistency and the whole experience divine. This was paired with perfect, light jasmine tea. We left feeling good about ourselves and very satisfied.

Newley opened in its current incarnation, Langley is located on the Ewell Road (where l'esperence used to be). I have eaten at this location a few times over the years but I must say, Langleys is my favourite of the set ups.

For this festive lunch I opted for Pork Belly- it has stiff competiton from the Duck which my colleagues went for but it was worth the punt. The meat simply melted in the mouth and it was served with expertly prepared mash and vegetables. Sadly I was not able to photograph it for you, but trust me, it is worth a trip to Surbiton to taste it. 

They offer a range of lunchtime deals and excellent service in gorgeous settings. I would highly recommend a visit here.

The Bear, Esher
Clearly on a health kick when I ordered my Christmas Lunch I opted for a simple parsnip soup and a nutroast with vegetables for lunch.  Divine.