18 June 2015

Recipe | Acai Breakfast Bowl

As my most well received Instagram post to date (at the time of writing, the picture had 59 likes which is nothing to some people but absolutely unheard of for me!) and one post that was actually requested (yes, this is for you Luce! x) I wanted to share my first ever acai bowl with you.

I am in no way a nutritionist as my diet probably conveys so I'm not going to reel off the list of benefits associated with acai berries, what I do know is that in my bid and try and improve my general fitness and nutrition I'm paying slightly more attention to what food I put into my body and after much research I decided that an acai bowl would be my kind of breakfast. You get the freedom to add whatever fruits and nuts suit your personal tastebuds, you can make it look pretty and it's actually super quick as well as being very good for you and leaving you fuller for longer.

I opted for the Bioglan Superfood's Acai Powder with Goji, Pomegranate and Blueberries which I picked up on a trip to Holland & Barrett. I was a complete rabbit in the headlights and grabbed the first acai powder I saw - I have to say I find health food shops quite intimidating and whilst the staff were lovely I just wanted to get in and out. Acai powder isn't the cheapest but you only need a tiny amount and if there's one thing worth investing in it's your health and wellbeing. 

What you're basically creating is a thick smoothie with toppings and the results are so delicious I might be waving goodbye to Pret breakfast muffins once and for all....

You will need
  • A blender, I used my Blend-Active to whizz up my acai base
Ingredients - for the smoothie bowl
  • 2 teaspoon acai powder
  • 1 and a half cup natural yoghurt (I used Yeo Valley 0%)
  • 2 bananas 
  • A handful of frozen berries (I used strawberries)
Ingredients - topping
  • Half a passion fruit
  • 1 kiwi fruit
  • 1 banana
  • Handful fresh raspberries
  • Handful fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • Handful fresh pomegranate 
  • Handful granola
  • Tablespoon chia seeds (I initially picked up the most expensive bag in H&B but then found a little diddy bag for £2.99 and I can see it lasting ages)

1. Add your natural yoghurt, bananas, frozen berries and acai powder to your blender and blitz for a few seconds. Don't over blend or it'll be too runny.

2. Wash, dry and prepare your fruit toppings.

3. Pour your acai smoothie mix into a bowl and add your prepared toppings. Obviously you can use the toppings of your choice and the possibilities are endless, use whatever suits your personal taste.

4. Enjoy and spend the rest of the day feeling very self-righteous healthy.

I hope you enjoyed my acai bowl guide; it's super simple and so tasty!

If you give this a go, please let me know - tag me in your Instagram pics!

Vicky x

16 June 2015

Lifestyle | How To Keep Your Cool On The Underground This Summer

If like me you're a) in London and b) use the tube to commute to work every day or if you're a visitor trying to navigate around our wonderful city, chances are you've encountered the underground on a particularly hot day wishing you were anywhere else in the world than stuck in a metal carriage which at the time feels hotter than the surface of the sun.

source: Google
Whilst we've yet to really experience the sort of heat that turns the tube into hell on wheels so far this summer I'm sure it's only a matter of time before those days are upon us and the only thing worse than stressed Londoners trying to get to or from work during peak times is overheating stressed Londoners trying to carry on as normal whilst resisting the urge to push everyone else off the train so that you can have all of the air!

Source: Evening Standard via Google
I'm one of those people that gets quite grouchy when I'm too hot, especially if I'm in an enclosed space with little air and the fragrant armpit of another commuter somewhere near my face - I'm selling the experience well aren't I? I can practically hear all of you non-Londoners scrambling to queue up to experience this on a daily basis. 

Source: Evening Standard via Google
With this in mind, here are my top tips for keeping cool and keeping your cool on the underground this summer because really, it's all fun and games until someone actually gets kicked in this shins (witnessed this last summer on the Central Line which is basically a free-for-all).

1. Carry water with you
The first, most obvious and most important tip I can give you is make sure you always carry water with you. Keeping water with you is important anyway but even more so when temperatures soar and tube carriages are notorious fainting grounds for those dehydrated souls who think they don't need water. Until there's a signal failure somewhere and you're held in a tunnel, at rising temperatures feeling like you're trekking across the Sahara without one of life's most vital things. 

2. Keep a facial mist in your bag
I always carry a travel size of the Avene facial mist with me when temperatures rise so that when I am, quite literally, at boiling point because somebody is leaning on the doors and the train is crawling along at a snails pace, I can give my face a little spritz, a physical action that not only cools me down but also gives me something to do with my hands that doesn't involve bodily removing said door leaner from their position! 

I really like the Avene mist because it comes in an aerosol type cannister so I pop it in the fridge the night before so it's cool on the way to work and then into the fridge at work so it's cool on the way home. It'll never stay completely chilled but it's always cooler than I am which is what I want/

3. Apply something cooling to your pressure points
This is my fail safe, I don't just use it on the tube I also used it quite a lot in Australia and if it cooled me down in 45 degree Aussie heat then it certainly works on the tube. Take your water bottle (another reason to carry one apart from the obvious), facial mist or something cool that you have in your bag and apply it to a pressure point (I like my wrists for this) and wait for the magic to happen. 

I find this works so much better than fanning yourself with a copy of the Evening Standard for example as you're only circulating the hot air if you do this and you're using unnecessary energy which will make you even hotter. 

4. Wear and remove layers
This is probably the second most obvious tip but remove your jackets! The amount of people who fight to stay in their jacket on the tube when they are quite literally melting inside it baffles me! I know with our notoriously unpredictable weather what can look like the greyest day of the year in the morning often turns into a mini-heatwave by lunchtime and you're desperately clawing your way out of your opaque tights and considering lunchtime shopping trips to change into something cooler - just me? Either way, the key here is layering. Layer light clothes when it looks chilly and remove layers when you're too hot - it really isn't a complicated concept. 

5. Stand in less crowded spaces
Final tip here from Captain Obvious but again, it's a good one. If you commute regularly and you're as sad as me you'll know what spot to stand at on the platform that both suits your position in proximity to the exit at your stop and maximises your chance of getting a seat or at the very least, space to breathe. If you're on a packed carriage try and choose your spot wisely, the front and end carriages tend to be emptier as more people opt for the middle; there's usually more space to stand/breathe/generally end up not despising humanity if you choose to stand in front of the people sitting down rather than all bunching up by the doors or desperately clamouring to stand near a window that brings in hot air... 

I hope my tips come in useful for when the tube heatwave eventually strikes, if you've got any tips that I may have missed, please share them in the comments so that we can all get through this summer together!

Vicky x


2 June 2015

Recipe | Homemade Panna Cotta

I absolutely love Panna Cotta, if it's on a menu then chances are I won't even look at what else is on offer I'll just go straight for that. Despite the fact it's my go-to dessert of choice I'd never considered making it myself until recently and I was surprised at how easy it is!

The perfect dessert to make if you're trying to impress or just fancy something a little special yourself.

You will need
  • Tumblers to serve
  • 480ml double cream
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Half vanilla pod
  • Half tablespoon unflavoured powdered gelatine
  • 2 tablespoon cold water
  • 130g frozen raspberries and blackberries
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 15g jam sugar
  • Teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1. Combine the double cream and 50g of the caster sugar in a saucepan on a medium heat. 

2. Cut your vanilla pod down the centre and scrape the seeds out, add them and the pod to your cream and sugar mixture and bring the cream to a simmer. Make sure you stir continuously to help dissolve the sugar. Remove the vanilla bean pod and turn the heat off but leave the saucepan to take in any residual heat.

3. Add the cold water to a medium sized bowl and add the gelatine, leave the mixture to sit for 7-10 minutes, make sure you do not stir it.

4. Pour the cream mixture into the bowl with the gelatine and stir until the gelatine has dissolved, 

5. Pour your cream mixture into tumblers and put into the fridge for a few hours to set. You can leave them overnight if you want to.

6. Add your frozen berries to a saucepan with your vanilla bean paste, jam and caster sugars and heat on a medium to high heat until the berries have started to melt and fall apart to form a compote and the sugar has dissolved. I like to leave a few berries whole so I don't mash my berries or forcefully stir them. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

7. When you're ready to serve your panna cottas remove them from the fridge and top with your compote before serving.

Super simple and really tasty, the recipe above will make 4 panna cotta.

If you try this I'd love to know how you get on.

Vicky x 
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