Monday, 6 April 2015

Spring Has Sprung

I'm not sure about you but I genuinely feel a sense of pride when I make it through the winter months. I was not born to live in the cold (apparently it's not socially acceptable to bring blankets and slippers to work). 

Getting to spring is no mean feat - well done Becca, we did it - this is how we must celebrate: 

a) I am justified in revamping my wardrobe (always one of my favourite pastimes) 
b) I can spring up my house with flowers in every crevasse
c) I must photograph every little thing - my iPhone photo album is growing by the hundreds - daily.

I love nothing more than a walk along the river at this time of year and when you've just bought a new trench coat how could you not want to take it out for a spin to enjoy the (rare) sunshine? Over this Easter weekend I visited Hampton Court Palace gardens and annoyed everybody by walking especially slowly to photograph every flower in sight. Yellow is my favourite colour and it is everywhere... so this makes me happy.


This was just a selection of my many, many photos.

Links to all things worn are below!

Trench: [x]  -  Pendants: [x][x]  -  Top: [x]  -  Sunglasses: [x]  -  Dress: [x]

Monday, 9 February 2015

Vegan Sushi: Maki and Hand Rolls

I feel as though in every post I mention my addiction to something - houmous, peanut butter, lipstick (obviously not edible). Maybe I am portraying a slightly addictive personality here, but I'm now going to add sushi to the list. I challenge you to accompany me past 'YO! Sushi' without us veering towards the door; the idea of walking past a sushi restaurant and not going in is just inconceivable.

A suffering, post-Christmas bank account, coupled with this current cold climate, meant that on Saturday some friends and I decided to try our luck at homemade sushi rather than braving the icy, public domain. I had heard that sushi chefs can train for up to 8 years - how hard could it be?!

A quick browse on Pinterest only left me more inspired (and hungry) so we decided to chance our own recipe. I was thoroughly impressed by my culinary skills, if I do say so myself, so I thought I would share.

Ingredients for both Maki and Hand Rolls:

For wrapping:
Nori Sheets

For filling:
1 Sliced Avocado
1/4 Sliced Cucumber
1 Sliced Carrot
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
...and whatever else you like

For rice:
250g Sushi Rice
3 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1tsp Salt
2 tbsp Sugar (optional)

For dipping:
Soy Sauce

Sushi Rice:

Wash 250g of sushi rice about four or five times to remove the starch, until it no longer makes the water cloudy.
Add 350ml of water to the rice and bring to the boil. Once boiling, simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.
Do not remove the lid after this point, and leave to cool for half an hour.
Add three tablespoons of rice vinegar, a teaspoon of salt and and two tablespoons of sugar (optional as I chose to leave this out, and in my opinion it did not affect the taste)

Making the Sushi:

We did have some sushi mats but there appeared to be a certain growth on one of them, so these were swiftly binned and we reverted to good old trustworthy plates.

Tip: Get a bowl of water to dip your hands in to prior to handling the rice or you will end up in total sticky chaos. I won't insert the picture of the assortment of rice and avocado in my hair (sushi pro), but I'm sure you can imagine the sight.

I added a thin and even layer of rice to the nori sheet and then arranged a line of fillings in the middle of the rice. I then added some sesame seeds, which I toasted in a pan on a medium heat until they were golden. The hard part was the rolling; you have to make sure that it is tight or else the sushi falls apart when you try to slice it. I found it helpful to add a bit of water to seal the nori, and to use a wet knife to slice it.

Next all you need is soy sauce, or your sauce of choice... and happy dipping!

I also used the same ingredients to make a hand roll, however I don't think I quite got the hang of the rolling. I've heard it's the easiest to make, so I'm pretty sure I just had a moment of gluttony and added too many fillings. Ignoring the fact that it looked like a bloated walrus, it tasted great.

Note to self: Next time, do not eat an entire week's worth of sushi in one sitting, so much so that you cannot bear to eat for your entire Sunday through a very real fear of bursting. Portion control, Becca, come on.

Next on my list are Inari pockets and a seaweed salad. I'd also be interested to hear if anyone has any vegan recipes for me to try!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

What can you actually eat...?

So, yesterday's post was pretty much me summing up how I plan to change every aspect of my life in the next few months. No biggie. Essentially I do, but I see it as more of a forwards leap than a complete u-turn. I mentioned that I want to get fit again and this week it has officially begun. As we speak I'm sitting here with aching legs and burning abs (or lack of). Let's also just take a moment to appreciate that my journey to the gym involves SO much traffic due to temporary lights. My favourite kind of traffic - so reliable and expected.

I feel like a bit of a fraud at the moment though, as I've had numerous people ask for health and fitness advice and I'm like "oh it's eaaasy, do this...", when really I'm trying to resurrect my gym identity myself. We are long lost best friends who must rekindle our flame. Knee injury gone (fingers crossed) so let the rekindling begin.

I often get asked how to stay slim yet eat so much (awkward - people are noticing that I always have a mouth full of food) and - especially once I admit I'm vegan - I can't count the number of times I've been asked to create diet plans for friends and even strangers I haven't met. Everyone is different, but I thought I would give some tips based on what seems to work for me. Prepare to gasp and say "what DO you eat?":

1) I don't eat meat or fish. Yes, I get the "but where do you get your protein?" questions on a regular basis... don't get me started. I've been vegetarian all my life: It started with a stubborn two year old, it now continues with an even more stubborn 25 year old. I won't go all Preachy Pauline on you, but there are so many reasons to avoid it; both for health reasons and for all the hippy 'I love the planet' stuff. Personally, the idea of eating an animal also makes me want to vom. Enough said.

2) I don't eat dairy. This was primarily due to an allergy but I wouldn't eat it even if given the choice. I know, this means no cheese, no chocolate, basically anything you would deem a treat. Trust me though, there are plenty of healthy alternatives, and your body stops craving things after a while anyway. I could do a whole post just on dairy, but just think: Why are we are the only species to drink another species' milk, not to mention into adulthood? It's not good for us - there are plenty of studies to back that up - and we can get calcium from other sources that are. It also goes without saying that if you want to be slim you should probably back away from the Camembert and bars of Dairy Milk.

3) Speaking of chocolate, I also limit my sugar intake. I'm conscious of the sugar content of everything I put into my body, and never touch sweets, fizzy drinks etc. It's not even deprivation, I actively dislike it. If anything, I feel disgust at the food industry for making this generation so addicted to something that is so bad for us. It makes me feel horrible and I think I only realised this once I actually decided to quit the white stuff. If I fancy something sweet, I stick to low GI fruits as they contain fibre for slow absorption and therefore don't cause that blood sugar spike. When it does, the body releases insulin... and insulin makes you store fat. This also works similarly for simple carbs (i.e. white bread) which spike your blood sugar much more quickly than complex ones (wholemeal - who doesn't love a seeded bread?).

On a side note, please do not replace sugar with sweeteners; they are just as bad and will not help you lose weight. That's without even mentioning Aspartame (google it).

Credit: Pinterest
I planned to go into what I do eat too, and trust me there's plenty, but my fingers are achin' and I fear I will end up with a novel if I keep going. More to come in a future post once I'm less of a zombie (must be that lack of protein making me tired...)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A cliché and belated 'hello' to 2015

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so they say. I'm sure that only works when you have someone to miss you though, and I'm pretty certain that no one actually misses my drivel. But if you do read these... hello, I miss you too.

Just as I was getting into my writing again, I had a mishap involving my laptop and a steep height. It was gory. After a dramatic Apple experience (I fainted in the shop - too much excitement?), I walked away with a Macbook, so now we're back on track. Finding the time to actually sit down and write since my purchase has been easier said than done though. I find that my creative juices are far from flowing after a 12 hour working day, however, at the moment I'm on jury service and there's nothing to relieve a creative drought quite like sitting in a waiting room for 7 hours.

All the waiting has given me time to think, or more so, confirm what I already knew. Not to sound all "2015 is my YEAR - I'm going to 'forfil' my dreams" (FULFIL.), but it is time to make some changes:

1) I want to move to London. I'm not the sort of girl to live the quiet life in the country; I like the hustle and bustle. Not that I even live remotely near the countryside, in fact I live just outside London, but I want to be immersed in it. I love to people watch - that'll be a mixture of the Psychology degree and a slightly judgemental attitude - and I take my inspiration from my experiences and the people around me.

2) I want a career change. At the moment, my job doesn't inspire me, but then I hear literally EVERYBODY say that. We're a generation of bored individuals. Geek alert: I love to learn, I love to write and there are so many things that do inspire me. My aim is to move towards a career which incorporates these things. And in London, definitely in London.

3) I am voicing some heavy clichés right now but you guessed it, I want to get fit again. I won't dwell on this because I'm pretty motivated when it comes to health and fitness, but I had to stop gyming under doctor's orders. I've been eating an apple a day, so goodbye doctor, let's do this.

4)  My aim not so long ago was to take a year off and travel the world, but it's strange how your priorities change, and I've shifted to a focus on career. My thirst for travel will never wane though, so my POA is to work hard all week and plan trips for the weekends. I have a looong, long list of places in Europe I want to see, and as soon as this damn jury service is over, I'm planning my first trip of 2015.

5) THIS. Yes, I need to start blogging more. And I will.

In general, it will be a year of new experiences. My New Year's resolution last year was to worry less and to say "yes" to every opportunity (within reason...), and I think it's a good one to carry forward to year numero 2.

If I fail at everything else (here's to positivity), number five will definitely happen, so watch this space.