Sunday, 19 February 2017

Upgraded Fajita Wraps



A few years ago at Uni, chicken fajita wraps were a staple treat meal, particularly to enjoy with friends.

That tradition has carried on and it's something me and James will cook at least every other week as one of our go-to dinners.

As much as I love it, it can get a bit boring, and so last week I decided to mix things up a bit and give the dish a bit of a makeover. I think you'll really like this one.

It doesn't take any longer to prepare, but adds a whole new dept of flavour and completely transforms the dish (in my eyes).



Here we have...

Lamb and chicken chipotle wraps with peppers, pomegranate, tzatziki & spinach, served with wholemeal wraps.

The below recipe serves four.

  • Four chicken breasts
  • 2x lamb chops
  • 1 large red onioin
  • 1 garlic glove
  • 2x peppers
  • Wholemeal wraps (however many per person)
  • 100g pomegranate seeds 
  • 30g mature cheddar per person
  • 1/2 jar chipotle paste
  • Chilli flakes
  • Paprika (I used a smoked paprika)
  • Tzatziki (shop bought or you can blend Greek yoghurt and cucumber)
  • Spinach 
Fry off your onion, garlic and peppers until golden and crispy. Chop your chicken and lamb (removing any excess fat), and add to the pan. Stir in the paprika, chilli flakes and chipotle paste. Stir the sauce so it coats all the meat. 

After about ten / fifteen minutes, heat your oven and pop the wraps in to heat them up (and get them to go a little bit crispy). 

Grate your cheese, and put pomegranate seeds and spinach into separate serving bowls. If you're making your own tzatziki blend this up now. 

Fill your wrap with the chipotle chicken & lamb and top with cheese and tzatziki. Sprinkle on pomegranate seeds and a handful of spinach. Roll your wrap and enjoy! 

It's a serious game changer. 




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An absolute favourite: Evelyn's, Northern Quarter


You know you have those places that you keep going back to because you love going there so much?

Evelyn's is one of those places for me. I love it.

I love the vibe - the laid back botanical decor (the white & green theme is so lovely), the gorgeous menu and the friendly staff, but most of all the fact that the food is delicious and caters for pretty much everyone.

I love that it fits the bill for breakfast with friends, a setting for a romantic dinner & the perfect place for catching up over lunch / tea with friends - it really is a one size fits all destination for me. I know I can go there and eat healthily if I want to, or order something far more indulgent if the mood takes me.

Chai latte, green juice or gin, Evelyn's offers it all - if you ask me, we need more restaurants like Evelyn's.



Here's a round up of my favourite meals I've had the past four or five times I've been.

You can't really sell the vibe of the inside through photos, so I thoroughly suggest that after you've read this, you go and check it out for yourself (if you haven't already!).

Here are my top picks:

Breakfast - 

Porridge with almond milk, hazelnuts & plums - this is gorgeous, so fruity and filling. It's a hearty way to start a weekend, definitely.

This photo is taken from their Instagram, as I didn't get a chance to take a pic of mine!


Their coffees are gorgeous & I'm a huge fan of their chai lattes - such a creamy hug in a mug!



The first time I went to Evelyn's was for brunch on a Sunday last January, and I went for the potato hash, fried egg, spinach, chutney and confit duck - and it was incredible. Seriously, if you're umming and ahhing about what to have, get this.


I think this is only on the brunch menu though, which is served till 5.

Dinner date - 

To start, I always go for their smashed avocado, pickled chilli & crackers. The avocado is limey and salty, and spread on crackers is the perfect appetizer.


(they'd run out of crackers in the pic, so we had toast instead)

For the main course...

The last couple of times I've been, we've ordered a load of small plates to share, as well as a main between two (..in order to try as many different dishes as possible!)

My faves here have to be; the duck salad - soo good - crispy duck, sesame and plum salad, and the portion size is really generous here.

Duck salad - centre
The Korean fried chicken with roasted chilli is definitely an indulgent treat but really worth it. It packs a punch though....so save some of the creamy avocado to have with it!

The sweetcorn fritters with tomato salsa are an absolute must as they go with pretty much all of the dishes and are a great 'filler'. Refreshing and really really tasty, they work well on their own too as the salsa gives it a lovely fresh kick. I would usually never choose sweetcorn but a friend recommended them and I've had them twice since.

Last time I went, we also got the steamed prawn dumplings with tamarind and ginger, and I'd definitely recommend them if you fancy something a little light.


One of my favourite main dishes to get (I've had it three times), is the chicken skewers, soba noodles, peanuts & citrus. The thai element is an absolute winner with me, I love anything satay style. The chicken is tender and the peanuts & the sauce is gorgeous! I love the side salad that comes with it too.


I really want to try the slow cooked lamb with freekah, cumin, greens & harissa pesto... guess that will be next visit's dish!

Something sweet...

Of course, more times than not I've made time for something sweet.

I've had the lime, avocado & honey cheese cake (really good, very limey), the cashew & berry parfait (again, lovely - but very 'cashewy' (no sh*t sherlock), so don't get it unless you really like cashew nuts), and the chai tiramisu with almond biscuits (my favourite out of the three I've tried).


I think it's safe to say from this post that I'm a fan of the place. I love how eclectic everything is, and the interior is absolutely gorgeous... if you haven't been yet, please go!

Check out their Instagram here for a grid full of mouthwatering photos, latte art and gorgeous flatlays... /.





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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Pho Bowl Chorlton


I'd heard a few good things about Pho Bowl, and after experiencing tasty things at the chain Pho, Vietnamese food was high up on my list of new favourite cuisines. I was excited to give this independent Vietnamese restaurant a go and so last week, we went across to explore...

Its simple interior (think a really laid back, wooden version of Wagamamma) was inviting and despite it being a Saturday night, we didn't have to wait long for a table.

I wanted a light, healthy-ish meal and they seemed to have exactly what I was after (prawn crackers aside!!).


I was really intrigued by their non-alcoholic beer (hi dry Jan) - it was so good, tasted exactly like 'the real stuff' but didn't have that lingering slightly bitter aftertaste. I'd absolutely order this again and will be keeping an eye out for it in other restaurants too.

To start, I ordered the duck rice wraps and James had salt and pepper chicken wings. I tried one, and they were gorgeous - light, crispy, peppery batter with a fresh fried peppers, onions and garlic.


My rolls hit the spot perfectly. Light rice paper with lettuce, raw vegetables and duck breast, and a gorgeous peanut sauce. It was delicious! The perfect starter.

We couldn't believe the portion size of the prawn crackers, and loved the spicy chilli dip it came with.



For our mains, James ordered pork skewers with noodles and a spicy sauce. The sauce comes separately and is cold, and the idea is your pour it all over the dish and mix it in, a little weird as a concept, but it tasted great.

I got the chicken pho bowl, a ramen based dish with noodles, broth, chicken, veg, chillies and beansprouts.

It was so big, I couldn't finish it. It was really, really tasty and I'd definitely recommend it if you fancy ramen, it was gorge.



With two drinks each, the bill came to around £40, which I thought was so reasonable for a really relaxed Saturday night meal.



To round the night off, at home we finished with some Eisberg wine. As I mentioned above I was doing dry January and they'd heard about my plight, so sent me two bottles to try - a  red and a sparkling white, both non-alcoholic.

I was skeptical.

I'd tried the sparkling white the week before and was actually really pleasantly surprised. I'd bought Co-op's non-alcoholic sparkling prosecco not long before which tasted exactly the same as Appletizer: not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not an alcoholic tasting, prosecco resembling drink... so I didn't have very high hopes for the Eisberg sparkling white.

To my surprise, it actually tasted so much like sparkling wine, I found it hard to believe I wasn't actually drinking alcohol. This would be a perfect bottle to take with you to a party or an occasion where drinking isn't an option - I'd highly recommend it.


The red was really nice, too. Again, I wasn't sure about it as I'm quite picky about red wine. My favourite types are oaky, smoked, full-bodied red rioja and tempranillo, and this was a cabernet sauvignon. It was a little too fruity for me, but it really wasn't bad at all and genuinely tasted like red wine. It was great with chilli con carne, as well as having it on its own, so again, I'd definitely recommend it.

They sent me one bottle of sparkling white and one bottle of red, and I've since been out and bought another bottle of red, to give you an idea about how I feel about it... definitely a great alcoholic alternative.

We'll definitely be back at Pho Bowl, there were a number of dishes I really wanted to try so Pho Bowl - save us a seat!
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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Introducing the "Why I love..." Series: Running



A lot of people hate running. I absolutely love it. I'm not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but I can run, and I love doing so.

I love knowing that because I've included running in my fitness regime for a number of years now, I wouldn't be phased if someone said I was running a half marathon tomorrow (a marathon would be a completely different story, FYI).

I've written about running a few times on here before (a few links here , here and here if you fancy it!), but wanted to talk about the main reasons I'm a huge advocate of it, and why I genuinely enjoy putting on my trainers and getting out to run.

If you categorically despise running, are new to it, or literally love it like I do, I hope that this post inspires you to get out and run, no matter how small the distance. The endorphin's will thank you!

So, why do I love running?

Taking my cardio to Thailand...
Me Time

For me, going on a run is a place where I can focus on myself. I used to run a lot with friends, and maybe every other week James and I will run together but more often than not, it's just me.

This gives me time to be with just myself to gather my thoughts. It doesn't always feel like a conscious decision either - even if I've gone for a run with nothing specifically 'on my mind', I come back feeling clearer, refreshed and more focused (even if that focus gets directed to sitting on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon watching Netflix).

It also gets me out of the house and spares me from having that 'cooped up', restless feeling I can sometimes get if I've not got much planned over a weekend.

I used to be an avid music listener when running, creating playlists that reflected different routes etc, but I found that after a few years I'd get so used to knowing how many miles in I was depending on the song, and that bugged me.

Now, I mainly listen to Podcasts. I find it such a good way to listen to something without being distracted (I don't know about you but even when I'm watching something really interesting on TV my phone always sneaks a way into my hand and distracts me...), and I feel like I'm learning something new, rather than just the same old songs. Some of my favourite podcasts include: TED Talks, TED Radio Hour, The Inquiry, Serial and My Dad Wrote A Porno (funniest audio yet.. try listening to it and running - laughing whilst running makes you look mad.)

Clear My Head

Following on from that, I think this deserves it's own section as I really do find that running massively helps with stress relief. When I go on a run, 'something' just clicks and puts everything into perspective, which allows me to clear the 'fuzz' in my head and prioritise things that need to be done. I can literally run off stress, which never ceases to amaze me.

10k in Cornwall

Explore

I love being on holiday and getting out for a run in the mornings to explore my new temporary home. I know for a lot of people running on holiday would be seen as an absolute chore but I really, really love it. I find it such a great way to explore new surroundings and run on different ground, whether that be in the countryside, on a beach or a new city.

Running to explore Barcelona
Running in the Algarve
Running along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Portuguese running

Portuguese Running

Fitness Levels

I love running because it keeps my general cardiovascular fitness in tact, allowing my body to consistently perform and keeps me fit. It's a great weight loss 'tool' and has 100% been behind the weight loss I've seen on myself.

For me, running is my 'bread and butter' exercise, along with HIIT training, circuits and cheeky resistance workouts. I know that I need to incorporate more stretching in to my routines, and I'm working on this (via yoga...) for this year.

Movember 10k

Free 

Aside from the cost of your kit, running is absolutely FREE. No memberships or contracts, just yourself and the terrain you choose to run on. That's one thing I massively respect about Parkrun. It's a free 5k run that happens in hundreds of parks all over the UK every Saturday morning at 9am.

I've done it in Bristol, Manchester, York, Sheffield & Keswick and think it's an amazing way to get the community into running. The atmosphere is incredible and really psyches you up - hats off to the incredible volunteers who give up their Saturday to make it possible for us. Parkrun definitely inspired my parents to get back into running, so much so that we were 'that' family who ran 5k all together on CHRISTMAS DAY. I can't express how unlike our family that was, and if you'd have told me that a year / two years ago I wouldn't have believed that we would've done it. But there we are.

Who would've thought this was MANCHESTER?

ENDORPHINS

I cannot stress enough how powerful post-run endorphins are. That wash of happiness as you hit 'end workout' on your running app, or come to a stop when you've hit your mile marker, is one of the best feelings in the world. The sense of accomplishment is immense (which is only heightened if you do this in the rain, hangover free on a Saturday when most people are still in bed..!). Seriously though, I love how good it makes me feel.

Buttermere Lake

Treadmill or Outdoors?


As you've probably guessed from the rest of this post, I'm a huge fan of running outdoors. I find running on a treadmill S-O- B-O-R-I-N-G and dull; I constantly look at the clock and find myself wishing the time away, something I never do when I'm outside (mainly because I'm so nosy at everything going on around me).


That being said, I absolutely loveee doing sprints on the treadmill. I try and do one or two sessions a week where I'm running at full speed (around 17.5kph at the moment) for 45 seconds, then 30 seconds rest, and do that for 20 minutes. I find the speed so invigorating, and a perfect way to shake the stress of a day away, release steam and feel really really powerful.

Running outside in Cornwall
The 'Why I love...' series is something I've started here as a way to share my personal highlights and favourites of particular things- at the moment I'm keeping it to exercise but might do food and just general healthy lifestyle posts too...
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