Wednesday 16 December 2015

Quinoa inspired Kedgeree

If someone had told me a year ago I'd be using the words 'kedgeree', 'inspired' and 'quinoa' in the same sentence, I would have told that hipster to do one. But here we are. And this is a really tasty, hearty recipe that is great either hot or cold so ideal for lunch or tea.

I always thought kedgeree (flaked fish, rice, boiled eggs and curry powder) had its roots firmly grounded in Scotland but after googling various recipes I found out it actually purports an Indian heritage, and my spin on this dish is definitely Asian inspired, with cumin and turmeric powering the flavours.

I've replaced the rice with quinoa as it's a complete protein with all nine amino acids.

This recipe makes around 2 - 4 servings, depending on how hungry you are and what you're having it with.

I used:

3 x smoked mackerel fillets
250g quinoa
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon cumin
1 red onion 
2 garlic gloves 
1 lemon 
3 large eggs 

I have a love / hate relationship with mackerel. I go through phases of craving it, then having too much of it and not touching the stuff for six months. We're going through a good patch at the moment, I've eaten it twice in the past two days... If you don't like mackerel, haddock is widely used in kedgeree dishes.

Fry the onion and garlic in a pan for a few minutes until soft and brown, and then add in your quinoa and water (I used enough to cover the quinoa, probably about 750ml but did top up the pan throughout cooking to keep it moist and to stop it burning). Throw in your spices and allow everything to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed.

After ten minutes, boil your eggs in a saucepan and chop your mackerel. Once the eggs are done (I like mine a little bit runny inside still), peel off the shell and chop into quarters. Chop the mackerel too, getting rid of any bones if needed.

Toss the mackerel in the cooked quinoa and place the eggs on top, squeezing the juice of one lemon over the pan before serving.

Disclaimer: I don't know how you make eggs and fish and quinoa in this arrangement look pretty... don't judge this one on appearances.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Morning Workout Motivation

image credit:
I am not a morning person. By any stretch of the imagination. So you can understand why I find getting up for the gym in the morning before work a struggle. Especially in the winter when it's pitch black and bloody freezing.

..and your bed looks like this.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of getting up early before the masses; seizing the day and packing in a few extra hours of productivity or leisure (and isn't there something so unbelievably smug about doing this, hangover free, on a weekend?!), but I'd be lying if I said I found it easy.

Which is why I wanted to share my tips on how I drag my arse out of bed when the alarm goes off at an ungodly hour. I think it's especially relevant as we enter the festive period; there are post-work events and evening dos coming out my ears, tempting my post-work workouts away, making morning workouts all the more important.

1) Get everything packed and ready

Packing my bag the night before saves a good fifteen minutes of faffing in the morning (read, an extra fifteen minutes in bed), and means you can just throw your kit on and get out the door. 

I pack everything so my bag is ready to be grabbed in a bleary eyed hurry the next morning, without me having to think about whether I've packed a bra or deodrant (forgetting your towel and having to dry yourself with your sweaty gym leggings is never ok).

2) Don't wash your hair the night before 

Something I find that spurs on my morning gym routine is not washing my hair the night before. Is that gross?! I would never usually wash my hair on a weekday morning as it takes far too long. So, if my hair could *probably* do with (/really needs) a wash, I purposely won't wash it the night before, as it helps me get up and get to the gym, where I'll wash it quickly (for some bizarre reason I'm always about ten times faster in the gym shower than I am at home. Why?!?). Whereas if I have freshly washed hair I'm less likely to go. Bizarre, but it works for me.

3) Go with a friend

I went through a phase of going swimming before work, and my god it was made so much easier going with a friend. We'd arrange to meet at a particular time and go together. No one wants to be waiting on their own in the dark or cold, and no one wants to be that friend who lets your partner in crime down. 

4) Plan your workout 

If you know what you're getting up for, it instantly gives you more purpose and drive, I find. I tend to map out my workouts the night before, jotting down the areas of my body I'll focus on, and specific workouts to do. I find Instagram really useful for workout inspiration (hashtags like #wod, #workoutoftheday, #hiitworkout, and accounts like @thebodycoach are good places to start). 

5) Reward yourself with your favourite breakfast 

I always have a really hearty, tasty breakfast on training days. If I train in the morning I'll train fasted, and I always look forward to eating my overnight oats at the office! get to post smug Instagram photos such as the one below!

These points help me get up and at em on a weekday morning, you might have even better ones - I'd love to know if so!

Sunday 15 November 2015

Nutty Fudge

Oh my goodness. I came across this recipe on Facebook today, and set out to make it right away. I ended up tweaking a few elements and wanted to share my twist with you as it is obscenely good (and painlessly easy to make, ideal for lazy Sunday cooking).

Thank you so much to Kezia from Supernaturally Healthy for the original recipe - if you like the sound of this then definitely check hers out. As I sit here ploughing my way through this batch, it's safe to say you've made my weekend, Kezia!

I used: 

  • 150g coconut oil (melted)
  • 3 tablespoons smooth cashew butter (I use Meridian)
  • 3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (Again, Meridian)
  • 100g pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • Cacao nibs, to sprinkle on top. 

Melt the coconut oil in a pan. In the mean time, chuck everything else bar the cacao nibs into a blender - but don't turn it on. Once the coconut oil has melted, pour into the blender and turn it on, whizzing until everything forms a smooth paste.

I greased a tupperware box with coconut oil, but an oven dish will work here too, and spread your mixture out evenly. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and place on an even surface in the freezer. I kept mine in the freezer for two hours, but I think it would be fine after an hour.

These are a revelation for me; I crave something sweet after every savoury meal and the creamy, fudgey taste of these sweet nut butter squares is a god send.


Saturday 14 November 2015

Wedges & Weights Supper Club @ The Garden, Hale

If there's one thing I like, it's discovering healthy eateries. If there's another thing, it's spending a Thursday evening enjoying amazing food with a group of likeminded, lovely people (and it's always a bonus when the prosecco makes an appearance).

So when personal trainer, health coach and fitness blogger Hannah (aka Wedges and Weights) said she was hosting her supper club at The Garden, you could count me right in.

First thing's first. The food. Although the event was about more than 'just' food, I need to tell you about it because it was fan-bloody-tastic.

The menu theme was appropriately fitness related, and we started off with the 'Warm Up' course - the Power Plate - buckwheat tabbouleh with pomegranate, topped with falafel and beetroot hummus and a fresh lemon dressing. 

As you can see, a hearty portion size (girl after my own heart), and let me tell you - this was one of those dishes you didn't want to end. Perfect for a cold winter evening, the risotto like texture of the buckwheat was the perfect companion for a tangy beetroot hummus - the crispy outside of the falafel giving way to a fusion of warm spices (dramatic description, I'm aware, but it was so.good.).

Onto the main course - the 'Workout', if you will - Immunity Booster: chicken & sweet potato Thai yellow curry, served with cauliflower rice, spring greens & sauerkraut.

If you've read the post I wrote on my top five Thai dishes, you'll know that curry is one of my faves, so I was expecting great things. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed. The chicken was so succulent, and I would never have thought to put sauerkraut in a curry but it worked very well! The sauce was creamy and rich with a little kick, perfect for mopping up with cauli rice... and all of us round the table bonded over horror stories attempting to make cauliflower rice ourselves (I'd stunk my flat out for a weekend once using two tea towels to absorb the excess water.. and forgetting that they were sat soggy and unwashed in the washing machine - one of the worst smells imaginable...).

They say save the best till last and it was definitely the case for our 'Cool Down' course; Raw Indulgence - raw chocolate orange cheesecake topped with raspberries, drizzled in a homemade chocolate sauce (dairy and gluten free).

So everyone went absolutely crazy for this dish, you could see everyone's eyes lighting up as the staff teasingly brought each gigantic slab out one by one... politely smiling and chatting away as we patiently waited to start until all the table had had theirs, but inner monologues screaming 'PICK UP THAT SPOON AND GET IT IN YOUR MOUTH!'

I think that sums up how good it was. If not, just think rich, dense chocolate cream on a sweet, nutty base. God it was good.

Although the food was fantastic, we were also there to be wooed by words of wisdom from Hannah herself, who took us through her top tips on staying healthy over the festive period. It was refreshing, reassuring (and in my case, very realistic) to hear that balance and indulgence were two nuggets of advice, along with upping your daily water intake (especially with the extreme likelihood of a boozy month) and keeping to a routine as best you can; be it committing to a 20 minute home HIIT workout if you can't get to your gym over the holidays, or adapting to fit in with your surroundings, like getting out for long winter walks.

My favourite element of the evening though was being surrounded by a room full of funny, outgoing and really friendly girls - some I've known for a while now and others I'd only met that night, but regardless, the conversation flowed all night.

Vicki, Pam & I... Thanks for the pic Vic ;) (@vickimellard_pt)
There are loads of tweets, pictures and people's thoughts on the evening on the hashtag #WWGARDENSUPPER, so if you're a fan of screen-drooling over raw chocolate cheesecake, give it a click.

Massive thank you to Han for hosting such a fabulous evening (and for giving out an amazing goody bag!), to The Garden for having me, and to all the girls I chatted with - it was a pleasure!

Tuesday 27 October 2015

My Protein: #GIRLSONLY

Last Saturday, the girls at My Protein invited me and a load of other gurlz for an afternoon of protein, HIIT, and a bloody good natter.

The HIIT class was taken by none other than MyProtein ambassador and #GirlGains co-founder Vic Spence, aka @healthyfitvic and my GOD, it was a tough one (I'd been for curry the night before, so to say I was feeling a little 'heavy' is an understatement!)

We did three rounds of three exercises, forty seconds on ten seconds off. Each round focused on different body parts and there was no one move easier than the other; it really was a killer... sweaty, hilarious photos below to document...

How nice are Vicki's yellow & green leggings?! 

You know you've probably overdone it on the naan bread front when Vic singles you out, laughs and congratulates you for being so sweaty - a high point in my gym life, I will admit...

Once we'd sweated out shed loads, it was time to refuel and dose up on some serious 'gAiNz' in the name of salted caramel protein shakes and a mountain of MyProtein treats, nut butter and some amazing CAKE from Heebs:

We then had a bit of a q&a with Vic about her training regime, general fitness advice and how she found competing, and before long, all of us were sat cross-legged on the floor, eating treats and having profound conversations.

It sounds stereotypical, but the 'sleepover' feel to this part of the event was by far my favourite (over a post-curry HIIT session, really?!). It was so nice to feel comfortable and chatty with a bunch of like minded girls. We discussed our issues with the health industry, the perception of perfection in our social media saturated lives and the concerns around influencers preaching knowledge without the right qualifications (bloggers, aka me, included - I won't ever pretend to kid anyone that I'm a dietician or PT; I just eat and exercise what I feel works for me to stay healthy and happy!). There was no judging, no competing, just a group of girls putting the world to right!

It was such a refreshing, chilled afternoon, so massive thanks to Sarah, Lucy, Hebe and Laura for organising it.

They're also offering a cheeky 20% off all products on the site for the next month with the code: GIRLSONLY - so feel free to pop this in the checkout!

Sweaty Sequin This & I


Thursday 22 October 2015

Top 5 Foods from Thailand

In case you didn't know, I went to Thailand a month ago. Whilst I'm not sorry for the magnitude of Instagram pics, I am sorry for the fact that it's taken me so long to write about the incredible food I gorged on for ten days. In a more general sense, it was nice to get away from macros, tracking foods and all that jazz, and just relax without worrying about what was going into my body (plus 'posh' cocktails are around £2 so I think MyFitnessPal would've had a melt down...)

Thai food is up there for me in ticking all the right boxes; saucy, spicy and so flavoursome. Here are the top five foods I lived on.

1) Fresh blended fruit smoothies

See above. Oh yes. These little babies were ideal in the midday heat, perfect to know you're getting a vitamin fix and tanning at the same time.

You bought these particular smoothies from a tiny little vendor shacked up on a track running into the village from the beach. Priced at 50 baht each (about £1), I couldn't just get one...

Mango & ice was my favourite of the holiday, but dragonfruit and ice was also a winner - I don't eat it often so I was glad to be able to try it so freely!

So simple, but so lovely.

Pad Thai on Koh San Road... the dream
2) Pad Thai

So I lost count of how many pad thai's I had, let's just say a lot. I absolutely love it. I love the peanuts and the chilli and the juicy prawns and the tamarind and fish sauce on the noodles... it's just amazing.

I've been looking out for tamarind sauce in the UK for weeks and can't find it anywhere. I really want to recreate it at home - so if you know where I can find it let me know!!

3) Warm, weird little coconut ball things

I don't know what these are called, or exactly what was in them but oh my god they made breakfast heaven. I'm guessing coconut milk, potentially a bit of rice? and then fried ever so lightly. They were gooey and sweet, but light enough that you could eat a plateful to yourself and not feel guilty.

Whilst we're on the subject of breakfast, this was the view each morning:

I know. Don't.

4. Chicken Satay 

Turning my nut butter obsession Thai... Chicken Satay skewers were my go-to starter. That peanut sauce. Juicy hot chicken. Enough said.

5. Thai red curry 

I couldn't miss this off the list could I?! We ate at the Jip Shop restaurant about four times; a really amazing beach hut style place in the village. The staff were lovely and friendly, there's a really chilled atmosphere and the food was bloody delicious.

This Thai Red was spicy but not mouth-numbingly so, brimming with chicken, peppers and local veg.

Are there any other Thai delicacies I need to try and recreate at home..? I've got withdrawal symptoms!

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Bacon, Fig & Feta Salad with a Maple Syrup balsamic

Fig is such an autumnal fruit, but I must admit that the thought of having salad for tea when it's been raining for twelve hours straight doesn't exactly connote the dinner of dreams however trust me on this one, it's a winner.

I like how the warm, crisp bacon melts the feta and combined with the sweetness from the figs and the dressing, offers a comforting mouthful.

For one serving you'll need:

2x rashers bacon (I used smoked bacon)
30g feta
2x figs
2x large handfuls mixed salad leaves; spinach, rocket & ruby chard work well
Half a pepper
10g chia seeds
Salt & Pepper

For the dressing:
10ml maple syrup
15ml balsamic vinegar

Chop your bacon and grill / fry. Whilst this is cooking, slice your figs, feta and pepper, and pile your plate with greens.

Top with the figs, feta, pepper and cooked bacon. Sprinkle with chia seeds, salt and pepper.

For the dressing, simply mix 10ml maple syrup (Buckwud is my favourite) and 15ml balsamic together and pour on top.


The Best Curry in the World

(First up, sorry for the picture quality - as you can tell they were taken rather hurriedly on my phone!)

After visiting the Great Kathmandu in West Didsbury for the first time in 2012 it's been a favourite place of mine to eat (I ate there last Friday, and the one before that, ahem...).

I love the atmosphere; the place is always buzzing and the windows are always steamed up from the delicious sauces hectically (but perfectly) being marched out of the kitchen on to your plate.

It's won loads of awards but don't go there expecting an immaculate, spick and span surrounding - its imperfections are what makes it so charming. The decor is fine, the chairs and tablecloths too; sometimes if dining for two you'll be paired up with another couple you don't know on a table of four but hey, everyone's friends when curry is involved.

My favourite thing about the Kathmandu is the family behind the name - it was set up by Gopal Dangaol and is run by his generations that followed. Gopal is a regular at the restaurant, and often comes in and makes his way round the floor chatting to guests and asking how their food is. You can tell there's so much passion there, which is definitely conveyed in the food.

When we go, there are a number of dishes we can't bear to not order. We always, always start with a mountain of poppadoms and demolish the pickle tray (mint yoghurt, onion relish, mango chutney and chilli lime pickle).

We don't usually do starters but the last couple of times we've ordered the Chicken Chewla and my god, it gives a kick. It's really hot. Like not even a 'ohh-that's-a-bit-spicy-why-don't-i-eat-a-spoonful-of-mint-yoghurt-to-counteract' kind of hot, but very, VEEERY spicy - and absolutely flavoursome too. It's a dry dish 'cooked in Nepalese herbs and spices'.

Without fail we'll order a chicken shak-shu-ka (top dish in the pic) - this is a weird sounding one but it tastes divine. It's essentially chicken cooked in spices and sauce with mince meat and green herbs. We were recommended it on our first trip and haven't gone without it since... 

We were also recommended the 'award winning' makan chara (third dish down in the pic) - I can't even begin to explain this dish to you. It's creamy like a tikka masala, but it's also got this smokey, tomatoey, spicy and a little bit cheesy (but don't let that put you off!) flavour. It's my favourite dish. Mopping up the sauce with a peshwara naan is bloody heaven. 

I love the place so much, when Millennium Hotels asked if I wanted to take part in naming my favourite 'hidden gem' restaurant in Manchester in exchange for a Taste card (thanks!) I had to say this place.

The graphic they created includes a load of other people's hidden gems, so it's worth checking out if you're stuck for food places.

The full infographic can be found here - it's a bit small to read everything below, and it's worth a peruse.

Got any other hidden gems in Manchester I can check out?


Tuesday 20 October 2015

Healthy Restaurants in Spinningfields

The Supergreen Juice from Wholesome & Raw

I was walking through Spinningfields the other day, and it suddenly occurred to me how many healthy restaurants there are clustered around each other. It's great!

I've tried most of them and thought I'd give a whirlwind review of my favourites.

First up, Wahu.

I went to Wahu for the first time for pancakes with the one and only SpamellaB, and have been back god knows how many time for their infamous lunches. The atmosphere is chilled and friendly, and despite the queues backing out the door on weekday lunchtimes, I've always found a place to sit. The addition of the outdoor seating (and the sturdy awning for when it occasionally rains) is a massive bonus.

Must try: Salmon teriyaki with rice, broccoli and peas (sauce on the side).

Wholesome & Raw

Nestled in the Kitchens area of Spinningfields, Wholesome & Raw is a great place to pop in to on a lunch break to grab a quick juice and an energy ball. The staff are always so friendly, and their juices are massive, so you don't feel like you're being mugged off paying nearly £5 for one. I keep meaning to try their raw pad thai, too...

Must try: their super green juice hits the spot just right (wheatgrass, spirulina, avocado, kale, spinach, apple, pineapple, celery, ginger and lemon).

Rust & Stone

Rust and Stone sits next to The Lawn Club and attracts a business clientele, think women in sharp suits, blokes on business meetings and friends out to enjoy a delicious, 'consciously healthy' lunch. It reminds me of a clean Philpotts; when you walk in you're made to feel special, which is always nice.

I absolutely love it here, although there aren't too many seats indoors - so get there early!

Must have: their salad bar changes a lot but if I were you I'd ask for a little bit of everything to sample it all. Oh, and the maple carrot detox juice is bloody lovely (carrot, ginger, lemon, turmeric & maple syrup).

Salad bar on @rustandstone Instagram

Juices on @rustandstonemcr Instagram

There's also Giraffe - their halloumi starter is lush, and their bunless burger is good, as well as good old Pret, your best friend in the morning if you want an egg & spinach protein pot along with your caffeine fix!

© Frankie's Weekend. All rights reserved.