Sunday 15 December 2013

Expo Lounge

I always get a bit panicky when people suggest going for tapas, for fear that it won't fill me up.

So when a friend decided we try the tapas at Expo Lounge for lunch today, I was a little hesitant.

It's silly really because every time I do have it I love it, and am always waaay too stuffed.

Expo Lounge opened in July this year and it's been on my radar to try for months.

It was busy (good sign), but not overcrowded or too rowdy so we nestled down at a table by the window.

At £3.25 per dish, the tapas section is reasonably priced and more than extensive. We chose eight dishes (I know, don't). Your tapas also comes served with warm, crusty sliced ciabatta so don't forget to ask for some balsamic vinegar to dip in.

Patatas bravas. Sometimes this dish can go a little slimy but our potatoes were light inside with a crisp shell, and the relish was punchy.

Spanish chorizo in red wine & garlic, and prawns with sun blushed tomato, chilli & red pepper.
The sauce in the chorizo dish was incredibly rich, but not in a sickly way, in a really really good way. It was quite a thin jus so it was perfect for coating the ciabatta in. I think the prawns were my least favourite dish, but I have to be in a certain mood for prawns so probably not best to judge. Again, the sauce was great: chunky and full of flavour.

Pan-fried halloumi, courgettes & peppers with a rose harissa dressing.
Really light and 'zingy' - the halloumi was taut and flavoursome, rather than bland and squeaky like it sometimes can be.

Sweet potato and basil falafel with cumin and coriander yoghurt. 
This was the first dish I tried - gorgeous. Not too crumbly, but not too densely packed.

Lamb and mint koftas with tzatziki.
I love lamb & I love tzatziki and this dish didn't disappoint, but I would've liked the lamb to have been a bit bigger!

We also ordered roasted sweet potato and butternut squash with goats cheese and this was one of my top three. I'd never think to put goats cheese with a root veg but it worked really well.

The rest of the menu offers your usual; burgers, salads, 'dogs' etc, although I did spot a fruity looking Jambalaya and something called Lounge Dirty Baked Beans which sounds like an insane hangover cure.

I didn't realise but these guys have 'lounges' up and down the UK, so if there's one near you make sure you pay a visit! There are six in Bristol so I'll definitely be paying one of them a visit when I'm next home. 


Friday 13 December 2013

The Cabbage Soup Diet: part II

*** UPDATE: April 2015 ***

Naturally, as this is my blog the content is, as you'd expect, to be 100% my opinion. I'd say though, that opinions and views on things can change, especially as you educate yourself on a particular subject, learn and enhance your understanding of things - which is most definitely the case with healthy eating.

Therefore, I wouldn't recommend that anyone tries this diet for more than the seven days, or expect to be able to go on this diet every time they want to lose weight. It's not maintainable and certainly isn't too healthy for you, not to mention being very restrictive and anti-social. I wouldn't do this diet again.

The soup however, is pretty nutritious (full of vegetables), so it's a recipe I'd incorporate into a clean lifestyle.


As I write this, I'm eating a Christmas sandwich with chunky chips at The Met so the diet is officially OVER people. And I lost 6lbs!

I really wasn't expecting to lose so much but it just goes to show the effect that changing your eating habits and cutting out crap can have in such a short amount of time.

Do you want to know how I got on after part one?


Food: Your soup with beef & tomatoes & 8 glasses of water
(you can have chicken or fish instead of beef if you like)

I had my soup for breakfast and did all I could not to think about food. It was Sunday and I had nothing planned - which was a big mistake because it meant that I ended up just thinking about food. Very rumbly tummy.

I pottered about as best I could and watched LOADS of Christmas films on TV. I had two bowls of soup for lunch (the good thing about the diet is that you can eat as much soup as you want so I've been taking full advantage of that rule). 

Going out to buy my steak was definitely the highlight of my day (I know, sad). I chose a 21 day aged rump steak and bought a vine of tomatoes to go with it. I fried it up and seasoned to taste, popping the tomatoes in the oven for twenty minutes before hand. It tasted amazing. Best day of the diet so far. 


Food: Soup, with beef (again) & any veg you want

I cheated with breakfast this morning and had a banana. I was off to the gym really early and didn't have time to cook any courgettes & mushrooms (what a shame...).

I snacked on carrot batons (sans hummous today!), and ate my soup for lunch. I'll be honest with you, I was getting sick of the stuff by this point. BUT, my dad was coming up for dinner and I knew just the place.

If you haven't been, The Grill on New York Street is lip-lickingly delicious. They do juicy steaks, crisp & fluffy fries, seasoned veg and plenty of full bodied red wines. My idea of heaven. I need to do a proper review post on this place when I'm not on a diet because it's soo good.

Obviously, I couldn't get the chips, the sauce, and definitely not the wine, but I was willing to compromise. 

I went for naked rump steak (again) and French green beans. Dad also persuaded me to have some wine, deeming the diet ridiculous and that I could "bloody well watch him drink the wine alone", so I caved. It affected me more than usual and after three glasses I was well on my way! Time for an early night....

DAY SEVEN (the last day!)

Food: soup, plus brown rice & vegetables

I gymmed it again this morning so had another banana. I know it kind of defeats the point of not eating certain food groups but I wasn't prepared to work out on an empty stomach. I weighed myself and was so surprised to see that I'd lost 6lbs! 

I could tell I'd lost a little bit, especially on my arms, shoulders and tummy but almost half a stone was an amazing result.

It felt so good to eat a carbohydrate at lunch. I'd cooked aubergines, courgettes, peppers & mushrooms up the night before (with a splash of soy sauce, shh!), and mixed it in with the rice so it tasted fantastic.

I wasn't able to eat my soup for tea as I had to work really late, so I kind of just stopped the diet then. I was happy with the result, felt good, and to be honest... wanted some chocolate!!


  • Good for a detox - you'll feel cleansed after it
  • It's also really good in terms of making you think about the food you're consuming and why we eat certain food groups. I'm definitely more snack-conscious now too.
  • It makes you realise the difference between boredom snacking and hunger (and helps cure cravings the former)
  • You can lose weight fast so it's perfect if you want to slim down for an event
  • It lets you get creative with your food
  • It's only seven days!


  • Er, the name? Are they trying to put people off on purpose?!
  • It can be expensive, especially if you need to buy a blender
  • You need lots of distractions (that don't involve restaurants and bars)
  • You need to find an empty social week in your calendar
  • I got so sick of soup by the end

I'm pleased I did this. I wouldn't go so far as to say I enjoyed it whilst I was taking part, but I didn't find it awful. If you are going to do it, I'd recommend doing it with a friend for that added motivation.

Have you done the cabbage soup diet

Saturday 7 December 2013

The Cabbage Soup Diet: part one

I’ve never followed a ‘fad diet’ before. Instead I’ve always tried to eat healthily, go to the gym (…and inevitably binge from Thursday night to Sunday). So why, I bet you're thinking, did I decide to follow the Cabbage Soup Diet two weeks before Christmas?

I wanted to try and lose a few pounds before the festive fun really kicked in.
I figured that if I’d lost a few pounds in time for Christmas then it would negate some festive weight (basically trying to do my January-self a favour). A friend from work introduced me to the concept and we decided to battle it together.

Grab a cup of (fruit) tea and let’s delve into my diet diary…

  • Soup will form the main basis of your meals for seven days 
  • You eat one (or two) other food groups alongside your soup, and it's different every day
  • No alcohol (you're on a detox silly), or any other drink other than water or fruit tea

Sounds simple, yes?

Before we start, I’ve got a confession to make. I haven’t been eating cabbage soup (it sounds rank). Instead, I’ve been blending, roasting and mixing all the vegetables under the sun.

“So, you’re not doing the cabbage soup diet at all then?” has been the confused, standard response I’ve been getting from people. Well, technically not, but it's the liquid element of the soup that's the most important thing, so it still works in principle. And it’s much, much tastier.

  • A blender. You can't do this without one. I picked one up from Clas Ohlson for £19.99 and I think I'm in love. 
  • A heap load of fresh vegetables. You're probably going to stock up at least three times.
  • Fruit teas (these Strawberry, Cranberry & Raspberry teas from Sainsburys actually taste like juice, unlike others).
  • Motivation. IT'S ONE WEEK PEOPLE. Just seven days of your life. 


Food: your soup, plus any amount of fruit except bananas.
It’s Wednesday and I’m on my way to work. I’m a little worried because as you know, I love a hearty breakfast. But armed with my plums, blueberries and grapes I’m willing to give this a shot.

11 am: It’s ok. I haven’t passed out from hunger and I’m still functioning at work. Plus, snacking on grapes whenever I want makes me feel a little bit like a Roman empress – without the robes or servants.

Lunch: Excited to try my soup. I used a WHOLE onion in just one blender batch though, so it tastes waaaay too oniony (mental note for the next batch). Feel disgruntled.

By about 4pm all my fruit has gone, but on the plus side I don't feel too hungry. 

Go to the gym as normal, come home, have my soup again.

Climb into bed feeling like this:


FOOD: Your soup, plus any amount of vegetables. In the evening have a jacket potato with butter.

Woke up this morning wanting to do this:
I feel like an absolute wazzock heating up sautéed courgettes and mushrooms in the office microwave for breakfast but whatever, all in the name of health. It doesn't taste too bad, but at 8.20am, it’s not what my tummy wanted (sorry gut).

Lunch: today my soup is much better.

I’ve been snacking on carrots and I can’t keep it from you any longer – I bought a mini pot of reduced fat hummus (I know, send me to hell). But it’s fine, as it kept me going till dinner.

Went to the gym as normal and then got to DEVOUR a baked potato with a generous helping of Lurpak. Melt in the middle and ooze around carby, lovely goodness. It was great. Who knew potato was so good with just butter?!


FOOD: your soup, plus any vegetables AND fruit (except bananas)

Today feels like you've rediscovered food because you can have fruit and veg. I think this diet is great for making you appreciate different food groups so I’m going to work happy knowing that I can have both.

I’m definitely getting better at this soup malarkey too because today’s lunch was (if I say so myself), really nice. I had loads of fruit and herbal tea too so left work feeling motivated and cleansed.

It’s tough now though because it’s Friday. There’s a cinema trip on the cards and I LOVE popcorn. After my soup for dinner I stocked up on dried mango and chewy banana to take to the cinema and I didn’t eat a morsel of popcorn (I don’t know how...) You’re technically not allowed bananas on this day but screw it, whatever.

FOOD: soup, plus only bananas and skimmed milk.
Ok so this is where it starts to get weird. I blended together banana and loads of skimmed milk for my breakfast. It was a really nice smoothie but didn’t fill me up so I had another one. You can have up to 8 bananas and 8 glasses of milk.

I went about my usual business for a Saturday, and made some insanely tasty soup (recipe to follow).

This is where I’m up to. I’ve just finished my soup and had another (thicker, more banana-y) smoothie for pudding. I also added one teaspoon of peanut butter because it’s a Saturday and I went wild (I’m totally eating another as we speak hehe).

I’m over half way through now though!

How do I feel?
It feels good! It’s tough; I’ve definitely felt more tired and lethargic and you need lots of distractions (I went shopping every lunch break oopsie!). But overall I feel detoxed, healthy and cleansed.

Have I lost weight so far?
I’ve definitely noticed I’m less bloated, and around my shoulders, arms and hips I definitely feel more toned. Bring on the next 3 days!

Have you ever done a similar diet? Any tips for a first timer?
I’ll post my soup recipes and tips in the next installation!

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