Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Botanist's Vegan Menu

Last night, I was invited to check out the latest additions to the The Botanist's menu - their vegan options. With Veganuary done and dusted, they're keeping on a selection of vegan dishes 'veganually' so there's plant based options all year round.

Before I get on with the post, I just want to say sorry the photo quality isn't amazing - the lighting was quite dark!

I think it's great that restaurant chains are taking this food 'movement' (cringe) seriously. I truly think that plant-based options will become more and more mainstream and accessible and the norm as the environmental impacts of meat and poor factory farming ethics for animal products are more widely discussed. Anyway. Preaching over.

It's also nice to be able to go somewhere that's not exclusively vegan - I get that full on vegan only places can be off-putting, especially if you're trying to get your meat-loving boyfriend to go with you.

So, on to the food.

We got the truffle mushoom ciabatta and falafel to share. The truffle mushrooms were delicious. Meaty mushrooms, tasty onions and a lightly toasted ciabatta. Would make an ideal brunch dish! The sesame coated falafel were an absolute winner too - with whole chickpeas in, and an almost crunchy outer shell, they were so tasty. The peri peri dip was right up my street too, really spicy and tomato-ey.

James and I both said that they didn't taste 'vegan' - I think a common misconception of vegan / veggie food is that it's lacking something, second best, not quite 'right'. It tends to focus on what's 'missing' (so say), rather than the dish in its own merit. These dishes definitely did not taste like they were lacking in anything.

I went for the Malaysian vegetable curry with coriander rice for my main. It was fragrant, fresh and full of flavour. One of those comfort dishes that feels wholesome and tasty at the same time. The veg included baby new potatoes, peppers and courgette with chilli and beansprouts. I love spice, and this did not disappoint - if you're not a fan of spice maybe ask them to hold back on the chilli here!

James went rogue and got the chicken burger with sweet potato fries. Classic vegan dish. The sweet potato fries were delicious, and he got cheese and jalapenos and said it was great, so you can't argue with that!

We also got a side of their tenderstem broccoli to share which was delicious - would recommend this!

We had a smooth pinot noir to wash it all down, before choosing dessert. James got (non vegan) sticky toffee pudding (I don't like sticky toffee pudding, so I was fine with that...), and I opted for the banana, peanut butter and chocolate icecream.

This was the only thing that tasted a little 'vegan' and like it was lacking some cream - still really tasty and exactly the type of treat I'd make at home but with the other courses, I'd not felt remotely like I was being served a 'special' menu, whereas this did (only a little bit, I'd like to add. It certainly didn't stop me eating it all!).

I thought the menu was great and I was really impressed with each course. I'll definitely be back and hats off to The Botanist for making vegan dishes accessible all year round.

I'd also like to say that, perhaps quite naively, my previous thoughts on The Botanist were that it was a little bit 'chainy' - however, the MediaCity branch was LUSH. Live music, a load of plants and really bustling atmosphere - shout out to our waitress Jas who was an absolute babe too. I'm definitely a convert and will be back very soon!

Also full disclosure - as you might have guessed The Botanist invited me to try this new menu so it was complimentary, however, you know me by now, all opinions are my real honest truth.


Sunday, 18 February 2018

Ultimate podcast list

I am always looking for new podcast recommendations. I'm constantly scribbling down recommended listens and trying to remember the names of my favourites when people ask me for them.

I've never listed all my favourites out. When people ask what my favourite podcasts are, I can generally reel off a few (Serial (series one), MDWAP, TED Radio Hour), but often the more niche, or smaller / obscure gems go amiss, unless I happen to be listening to that particular one at the time.

As you all know I'm a #WalkToWorkW@nker so I get through them pretty quickly, and I also go through phases of listening to podcasts when I'm running, instead of music.

I've included a sentence or two about the key themes and what I liked (or disliked).

If there are any podcasts you think I need to listen to, give me a shout, I'm always looking for more!

And so, without further ado (and by no means in order of favourite - in fact this is probably more likely to be a chronological list as I add more as time goes on....), here is my current all time podcast listen list:

Ultimate faves

I couldn't write a post on podcasts and leave this bad boy out - TED talks adapted for audio. Inspirational, thought-provoking, fascinating.. each episode brings a new idea to life. I'm always uplifted and inspired when I've listened to these, so perfect whilst out on a run or making your way to work on a Monday.

My Dad Wrote A Porno
Started to listen to this on a run and had to stop multiple times from laughing so much. I'm an absolute hardcore raving fan now, and even went to see My Dad Wrote A Porno live. It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard - I challenge you to listen on public transport and not piss yourself with laughter. In essence, man finds dad has written awful porn novel and reads it aloud. It's so, so much more than that though. I also absolutely adore Alice Levine. Yaas.


I find crime / thriller / true crime stuff absolutely fascinating... although terrifying whilst out on a run when it's getting dark and you're paranoid someone is behind you....

My Favourite Murder
Ok, caveat, the downside with this one is that they legitimately talk about nothing for 45 mins. I know a lot of people like that as they're getting to know the presenters (it does feel a bit like you're all sharing a car), but I personally think there's too much waffling. Nevertheless, the morbid curiosity theme throughout is gripping, and each episode, they both choose a true murder case and talk through it - it's fascinating, terrifying and weirdly... funny?! You'll know what I mean if you've listened!

Serial - Series 1 
I absolutely loveeeed Serial. I think it's investigative journalism at its best, and really makes you question your beliefs. Adnan Syed is accused of murdering his girlfriend in high school and is currently serving a life sentence in prison for it. But each episode you're presented with new / contradictory evidence and anecdotes that make you question everything.

They Walk Among Us
Each ep discusses a true UK crime story, from the sinister to the surreal. Some eps are good, others are average. The host's voice is really irritating (sounds like the IT guy from The Office?!), but if you can get past that you're good.

Another true crime podcast but this time covers stories from all over the world. I've listened to a few really scary Australian episodes (the narrator is an Aussie guy), and an interesting few episodes on the Moors Murders.

Listened to this after Serial series one, and was bitterly disappointed. Friends have loved it though, I just found that in comparison to Serial, it was slow and underwhelming. It's an interesting investigative journalism listen though, but don't expect amazing things.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt - 5 live
This historical murder / death story is also known as the Staircase murder and there have been documentaries and books released about it. Another one of those 'did he / didn't he' cases, and the episodes are quite short.

Health / Wellbeing

Don't Salt my Game - Laura Thomas, PHd
If you don't follow Laura on  Instagram, you should. She's helping lead the body positivity / anti-diet culture and is spot on with her thoughts.

Scott Baptie - The Food for Fitness podcast
One of the first fitness podcasts I found. I really love Scott's mantra: "consistently good, not occasionally perfect" - it absolutely sums up what I believe in in regards to diet and exercise. He's got some great interviews on there, and really helpful tips too. One of my faves.

No Meat Athlete
This is a really good podcast to listen to if you've just started to eat less meat. Talks about all things food and fitness and muscle and basically everything about vegetarian diets and exercising. V interesting.

3 Dumbells
Fun, no-nonsense chat about the gym / diet culture. Basically three mates having a laugh. Good gues interviews. Can be a bit wheeey lads lads lads at times (lol).

Fit and Fearless - 5 live
My fave gals Zanna, Tally and Vicki talking body confidence, fitness etc with great interviews, hosted by 5 live.

The Reluctant Vegan
Aussie couple go vegan. Their 'journey'.

Ben Coomber Radio
Ben is a really science driven, evidence based PT and chats all things health and fitness - he talks a lot about performance and is a good person to listen to if you're in need of some motivation.

#EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias

The Model Health Show
I first found out about this podcast by accident as I searched for a podcast on sleep:
Why sleep is the ultimate fat burner and Sleep Smarter are good episodes.
Shawn's got a really interesting background - he was diagnosed with an incurable spine condition at 20, changed his diet up totally and started exercising and managed to alleviate all pain. It can be very 'American' at times but some good eps.

The Vegan Body Revolution
Very very very 'bro' but a great podcast to listen to if you're eating less meat / going a bit more plant based and want reassurance that you don't need meat and animal products to look lean or build lean muscle. Often gives simple recipe ideas / protein sources / low carb high protein vegan inspo.

Business / motivation

Kat Horrocks - Put Yourself First
My friend Kat, a life coach, has just started a podcast on self-care, business and motivation and it's really inspiring. Topics include self-love, freelance life, body confidence and it's just an all round great podcast that supports women in business.

Hashtag Authentic
Was recommended to listen to this podcast at a blogging event and need to listen to more episodes but it's a greeeat one to listen to if you use social media to market your business.


The Inquiry - BBC World Service
I lovee this podcast. Each episode is around 20 mins long and is centered on one topic (all current affairs based, so great if you want to feel like you're learning and bettering your general political knowledge!). The topic in question is then debated by four different people, from completely different stand points, who are able to offer their opinion on the subject. It's fascinating. Examples include 'What are IS doing in the Philippines?', 'How did we get hooked on plastic?', 'How powerful is Facebook's algorithm?' etc etc etc.

Coffee Break French
Some of the episodes date back over 11 years and so quite often the two hosts talk about listening on your MP3 player (loool), but it's comprehensive and really really useful. The series are split into units, and each episode is clearly labelled so you know what you're going to be covering. There are hundreds of episodes though, so when I'm done, Coffee Break Spanish is next!

The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson
Another investigative journalism piece. This one looks at the porn industry and the global effect 'free porn' sites have had, from lots of different perspectives.

I will no doubt be adding to this as time goes on so please, send me your recommendations!

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