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!


Monday 19 October 2015

Lululemon Manchester

Last Thursday Lululemon Manchester gracefully opened its doors to appreciators of fitness fashion in the North West, and I for one was keen to get involved.

The girls have worked so hard over the past few months to keep the store in the forefront of our minds, organising workouts like Circuits in the City, urban triathlons and yoga as well as a massive flashmob in the city centre, and the opening night didn't disappoint!

Circuits in the City

After ogling the rails in the shop, we started off the evening with a fast paced circuits session outside the store involving boxing, burpees and running, quickly turning a cool October evening into a sweaty one.

With the work out done, I could shop guilt free.

Cue my latest wardrobe favourite, this lovely little sports bra:

I can't even with the straps. So nice and neon. Needless to say I've been 'wearing it in' a lot the past few days..! 

Wahu, Wholesome & Raw and Just Bee looked after us with endless juices, protein pots and wraps (the breakfast juice from Wholesome & Raw was especially nice, I don't know what was in it (oats, PB, banana...) but I'd definitely get it again.)

One of the nicest aspects of the showroom is wall of fame; a creative space for recipe ideas, favourite studios and pin pointing local places of interest to the health and fitness community.

In true Lululemon style there's a real sense of community about the showroom, including free yoga classes for anyone who can get to the showroom for on Saturday mornings.

Big thanks to the Lululemon ladies, who will have my credit card bill in a frenzy over the coming months. 

Lululemon Manchester is at 3 Saint Ann's Place, M2 7LP. It's open Wednesday - Saturday 11-6.

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