Saturday, 30 June 2012

Day 5 - Keep Your Body Moving In Eze

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Eze is easily one of the world’s most spectacular places.  Once you’ve climbed to the top, it bestows on you enchanting views of the Mediterranean Sea.  Situated on a cliff, you will be charmed by the lady statues, mystic cactuses and dreamlike ambience. 

I absolutely love visiting new places such as this.  Feast your eyes on these entrancing views.  Not only will you be mersmerised and hypnotised under goddess Isis’s spell, you’ll also keep your body moving with every step you take.

But of course you don't need to go on holiday to keep your body moving.  Use the stairs instead of the lifts at every opportunity you get.  Walk to the shops and ditch the car.  Jump off the tube a couple of stops earlier to sneak in extra steps daily.  Simple steps yes, but this may be all it takes to keep your heart beating in joy whist you keep your body moving!

Focus on the butterfly.  You want your body and mind to feel light, agile and stress free.  Exercise is one way of achieving this state of mind.

Remember, walking is still a great calorie burner.  

The trick is to do it often and regularly.  Perhaps a ten minute walk to the shops in the morning (instead of the car or public transport), 30 minutes exploring the shops, 10 minute walk back home, 30 minute walk in the park, 15 minute walk gained from hopping off the tube one stop earlier later in the day, and wow, what's happening?  

I think you've just spent over one hour and thirty five minutes on exercise that has accumulated over the day.  Well done to you! 

Friday, 29 June 2012

Day 4 - Why You Will Feast Like A King In Saint Paul de Vence

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Built on a rock this is a magical place in Provence if you appreciate art.  This village show cases a rich variety of paintings, jewellery, herbs and adorable restaurants with a stunning view.

As you make your way up the hill, enjoy a brief stop at La Cure Gourmande.  The biscuits are lovely and chic with a large array of flavours.  You don’t want to miss out on this buttery goodness, if only for a moment.  After all, you are on holiday!  Just try and stick to one.

When you are ready for lunch, pick a restaurant with a dashing view.  Ours had grape vines enveloping us, giving you the illusion of being in Italy.  The Italian border is not far and has a profound influence on the French cuisine.

As an apéritif or with your meal, why not try pamplemousse vin, a refreshing pink grapefruit wine.  It is bright, low in alcohol and adds a marvellous addition to your extraordinary meal. 

 Seafood is a favourite.  Risotto aux fruits de mer is definitely to die for, with calamari, crevettes, white fish and mussels.

You may also like to try this dish below which is comprised of tomate farcie.  This is stuffed tomato.  The regal ingredients include beef mince, onions, olive oil and garlic.  

You will also be offered pissaladière, which is a white pizza topped with caramelised onions, garlic, olives and anchovies.  The pissaladière on its own would make an excellent appetizer. 

The meal was not complete without ratatouille and tapenade.  The latter is a provençal dish consisting of chopped olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil.

Calzone could make a manly choice, oozing an explosion of marinated juices wrapped in indulgent soft dough.

What meal is complete without gelato for a fabulously refreshing experience?

If you enjoy grand views then make your way to Gourdon after lunch.  You won't regret it.  Tip - the roads are a little bit windy leading up to this little village.  Hold on!  It is worth it when you get to the top!

Day 3 - Do You Dare To Indulge In Monaco?

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You may laugh but I am not referring to the gorgeous black clutch featured with lion heads in Montecarlo's Gucci store.  Monaco oozes wealth and a high standard of living.  I have no doubt in my mind that some of the world's most sophisticated dining takes place along this part of the Riviera.  

If you prefer to skip the fancy meals and make your own, then select gammon off the bone from a délicatesse counter.  Pair this with marinated tomato slices and salads, and you may end up in the highest clouds of heaven.  These really are the perfect fillings for a sandwich.  Even the simplest food bursts with flavour in this part of the world.  

But be warned, you will be surrounded by treat foods in every corner.  Gorgeous pâtisseries will call out to your belly and taste buds.  You are on holiday, so why not try something.  I certainly could not resist the charm of this strawberry fraisier.  It's essentially a little cake that is filled with cream.    

This take-away pizza stand is a good example of ridiculous portion sizes.  Keep walking!  You will want to save your calories for pretty treats.

Here's more of those mouth watering, calorie loaded desserts.  The key is to look and admire and select only one that can be shared. 

 With the hefty price tags attached, you may be satisfied just by looking alone!

Walk off treats along the coast and take in the mind blowing views.  This particular walk started in the Monaco / French border and finished not far from Cap d'Ail.

At the end of the walk you'll be greeted with a beach where you can enjoy a lovely swim.  Another excellent calorie burner.  You could also enjoy a picnic here.  There are plenty of restaurants that you'll walk past on the way if you prefer to dine indoors.

Lovely readers, how do you spend your day in Monaco?  Do comment below, I love hearing from you.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Day Two - What To Expect When Dining With The French In South Of France

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I've got a delicious selection of French dishes that are fit for a queen.  Feast your eyes on this rabbit that was cooked in cider.  Recipe to follow next week.  

Simply beautiful with a glass of rosé.  Rosé is a result of black skinned grapes crushed and then immersed in it's juice for a few days.  The orange or pink hues of the final drink adds gorgeous colour to a feast as outlined below.  

As an apéritif you may even get to try a wine made from the juice of orange.  This particular type was home made and complemented the orange hues from the rinds of orange in an Italian bolognaise recipe I tried today.

The pasta was home-made.  The sauce was cooked on low heat for five hours!

The rabbit was prepared with carrots, celery, shallots, garlic and many other ingredients.  It was pleasant but you may have to stop yourself from thinking about cute little bunnies!

Whilst the family take a nap (including the cat it appears), you may want to consider walking the dog or hitting the swimming pool to burn off a bit of energy.  After all, you've probably polished off your meal with cheese and more wine.

Your stuffed belly may scream but you'll start the next meal with salads of course.  This particular salad was prepared with radish, tomatoes, cucumber, salad greens and feta.  The dressing was olive oil based with balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and a dash of pepper.

A BBQ is of course not complete without a meat feast.

I love merguez.  Tip - add a sprinkling of cumin on top.  Boosts the flavour of the sausage.  If you don't believe me, ask the French!

My favourite cheese is Gargonzola.  The particular type that I enjoyed was very creamy and melts in your mouth.  This is an Italian blue cheese and is amazing with polenta.  I am afraid that in my excitement to eat it, I had forgotten to photograph this!

You may seal this beastly feast with tart au fruits rouge.  

If your belly feels like it may burst any moment, then it's definitely time to stop eating....

Stay tuned for day three in Monaco.  Good night lovely readers!

Day One - Picture Perfect South Of France

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It really is picture perfect in the south of France.  I am absolutely stunned and delighted that it's so sunny here.  The Frenchman and I decided to take a walk along the beach under the scorching sun.  We needed to stop very quickly for a gelato to cool off.  Don't ask me why, but pistachio is my favourite flavour!

We stopped along the way to admire these beautiful flowers bordering the sea.

By 4pm we realised that our brie and grape petit dejeuner from British Airways had kept us going for hours but we really needed feeding.  We settled for a lovely salad prepared by the Frenchman's cousin.

The salad was perfect and light.  It felt too hot to eat.  The tomatoes were juicy and sweet.  Phenomenal flavour for just a little bright red circle of vitamins.  The salad consisted of tomatoes, lettuce, raw mushrooms that were thinly sliced, feta cheese and tuna.  For a vegetarian twist, try avocado instead of the tuna.

The french dressing to go with it was prepared using dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

We then watched a concert put together at a school in Nice.  It was delightful!  We were following a particular little French actor and actress.

We then drove into Cannes, strolled on the beach and took in the splendid views.  We wined and dined 'lightly' and pretended to be film stars for the evening.

I've taken a particular fancy towards the Rose, it is giddily refreshing and light during the summer.  I especially like how the wine looks like it is 'blushing'.

More evening strolls, encounters of parties on the beach and spectacular bursts of firework displays that lasted forever!  Cannes was certainly as glamorous as I had imagined it would be.

A long drive back for a little feast of cheese and minted tea, followed by sleepy time for some much needed Zzzzzzz.

Stay tuned for details on a delicious feast of rabbit for a Sunday bakeoff.  

How do you spend your holidays in the south of France?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Italian Banana Loaf With Polenta, Walnut & Coffee

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If you are wondering why I’m baking with bananas today it’s because I’ve got a bowlful that needs to be eaten very quickly!  I am always on the look-out for gluten and wheat free recipes.  I think I’ve been too naive about what goes into recipes in the past.  So I’m very excited to try this recipe using polenta which I have eaten millions of times, but never cooked with before.

Polenta is naturally wheat and gluten free.  It is made by grinding corn into flour and is a staple in Italy.  Uncooked polenta in baking results in a moist product.  It also adds a grainy dimension that is tasty and most of all, a wheat and gluten free dish.  It is also cheap and readily stocked in most supermarkets.

 5 small to medium bananas, mashed
100g walnut pieces

Dry ingredients
110g plain gluten free flour
110g polenta
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon mixed spice
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
140g dark brown muscovado sugar
Pinch of salt

90g *margarine or butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 tablespoon strong black coffee

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius.
2. Mash bananas and set aside.
3. Roast the walnut pieces on a baking tray for 7 minutes.
4. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.  Using your fingers, break up any lumps of sugar.
5. Add butter, vanilla essence and fold in the bananas and walnut pieces.
6. Finally add the coffee. Beat the mixture until it is smooth. 
7. Pour into a baking tin and bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before serving with a freshly brewed cup of tea or coffee.

This recipe is milk, egg, wheat, gluten and soy free.  If you are avoiding milk, ensure that your margarine is vegetable based and read the ingredient list.  Butter is not free from milk.  If you don’t need to avoid eggs, then simply replace one of the bananas with an egg.

Lovely readers, how do you cook with polenta?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

La Petite Birthday Celebration

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I woke up yesterday morning knowing that some of the most fearless eating would be done on this special day.  I sure was terribly excited!  I love birthdays because I get to spend time with my favourite people.  Being born in June, there’s usually sun and there certainly was plenty of it after a whole month of non-stop rain!  I really cannot complain.

My cocktail party is not till early July but I knew that I could sneak in one or two.  What is it that I hear you say – calories don’t count on birthdays?  Love it; I’ll take your advice on this.

What did the purple girl eat?
I started the day with my usual oats and brown sugar whilst I read my gorgeous birthday card from colleagues.  I considered something loaded with sugar as a breakfast option but I just couldn’t face it.  Not yet.

A few hours later, my eyes rested on a nearby box of Toblerone from France.  I didn’t even hesitate.  Two large triangles vanished whilst I chatted to a mum on the phone about potassium.

I am pretty sure that I nibbled on Irish barmbrack which is fruit bread filled with sultanas and mixed peel.  It is loaded with sugar thanks to the sultanas and heaven knows what the glycaemic index of this food is, but does one really care on their birthday?

Lunch was quite boring really – vegetable soup.  The weather behaved so I got to enjoy this on a rooftop.  Heaven. 

The afternoon is a bit of a blur.  I seem to recall a chocolate biscuit or two!  Meetings and plenty of feed manipulation for my children.  I was definitely pumping on sugar but continued to buzz about with constant chatter and number crunching.  Surprisingly, a very productive day of work after all.

At five o’clock I decided that this had to be cocktail o’clock, but had strict instructions to meet the Frenchman in central London.  I was dreaming about cocktails only to be very rudely reminded about exercise as I walked past the large Nike shop.  Decided to take a peek as I was early.  Mental note to purchase something new later to stay motivated with my running.

Ah the Frenchman arrives.  We decided to continue the shopping pre-dinner.  The Frenchman wasn’t complaining so I took advantage.  I admit it, I ended up in Dior and lingered ‘ga ga’ eyed for a very long time at the counter.  There were three irresistible pieces that wrenched at my heart.  Surely as the day of indulge, I should do exactly that? Indulge!

Alas! They didn’t have the perfect piece that I was after.  Perhaps duty free on Saturday.  Or perhaps I should settle for the more appropriately priced ‘Michael Kors’.  Tough decisions to be made on a birthday.  I talked myself out of an indulgent purchase (or the Frenchman’s purchase for me really) and mulled over it at dinner.

It was a lovely lovely meal of hummus, flat breads, salads, delicious saffron rice and grilled lamb.  I didn’t want anything rich; I knew that I had to save myself up for Nice.

I took my distended tummy home to finish the evening with cocktails.  One or two was surely allowed?  A perfect day...a perfect evening..  But wait, who is this at my door needing to crash after far too many work cocktails without me?  My naughty girlfriend. 

It’s after midnight and it was no longer my birthday so I decided to let her in.  It was lovely to see her.  More chatter and laughter and I’m soon dreaming away of Dior and holidays to Nice.  Oh I do love birthdays!  Don’t you?

Monday, 18 June 2012

Are You Carb Smart - Screening Bread Made Easier

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A low carb diet may be your plan for your beach body but are you giving up the right carbs?

You don’t need to be a carb loather to have a fabulous body.  Give it up now and you’ll only probably end up over eating or over-compensating at a later meal. 

You may think that it’s easier to distance yourself from this vital energy source, but before you turn your back on all carbs, consider what you are going to replace these with.  If it becomes apparent that your bread in sandwiches or toast are traded in for scones, biscuits and cakes then you may just want to re-consider. 

Trading in low glycaemic index carbs or slow releasing carbs for sugary and high fat snacks could be you committing food suicide.

To make the journey back to carbs easier, let's practise our nutrition screening tool.  It really is a quick way of analysing your bread.  See Be Shopping Savvy - Nutrition Labelling Decoded.

I picked up this ‘purple’ version of Tesco’s Finest Multiseed Farmhouse Batch as it really is one of my favourites.

The fats are below 10g/100g.  The ingredient list tells me that the fats are likely the heart loving types from seeds such as sunflower seeds, linseeds, pumpkins seeds and so on.

I am very pleased with the fibre content of this bread, it’s a whopping 7.5g/100g I am definitely happy and confident purchasing this little treasure for my breakfast or lunch.  I don’t eat bread daily so I am not too worried about the salt content. 

If salt is important to you, then instead of getting bogged down by the numbers, simply choose a brand that contains the least amount of salt per 100g (after you've applied our golden nutrition screening tool of course)!

This high fibre bread sure kills the hunger pangs.  Why not team this with tomato, cucumber slices and reduced fat cheese for a savoury snack option.  

Remember, portion sizes are key if you are trying to restrict your energy intake for weight loss.

So get trending with the right carbs.  The smart carbs.

Lovely readers, what's your favourite type of bread to eat?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Wholesome Oaty Chocolate & Hazelnut Slice

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If you read my Food Diary then you know how much I love oats!  I eat it almost daily for breakfast.  It's a fantastic source of fibre and usually keeps me going till about noon.  

This recipe is 'wholesome and fabulous' as my friends called it yesterday afternoon.  It works well with a glass of wine or a hot cup of freshly brewed Ceylon tea.  The agave nectar is purely because I've still got a bottle in the cupboard (read my article The Sickly Truth About Agave Nectar).  My first choice would normally be honey so please don't feel that you need to go out and get some.

For a delicious twist, I've thrown in chocolate with hazelnuts.  It adds a rather scrumptious crunch to your afternoon tea party!  

I couldn't find my square tin so I threw the batter into a round tin yesterday!  We ate it with reduced fat custard.....delicious.

This recipe is gluten, wheat, soy and egg free.  It is however, not milk free.  Please check your chocolate to ensure that this is soy free if you need to avoid this.


100g margarine or butter
200g chocolate with whole hazelnuts
25g agave nectar or honey (optional)
100g reduced fat condensed milk
225g oats
110g gluten free self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
30g pecan nuts or walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
2 medium bananas, mashed


 1. Melt the margarine with the chocolate and agave nectar (if using) over a low heat in a saucepan.
2. Mix in the condensed milk.  If you do not want to use condensed milk, then use additional honey or golden syrup.
3. In a bowl weigh and mix oats with the self-raising flour and salt.
4. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour and oats.  Combine well.
5. Add nuts, cinnamon and ground mixed spice and mix well.
6. Add the mashed bananas to the final mixture and pour into a square tin.
7. Bake in the oven for 170 degrees celcius for 45 – 50 minutes.  Leave in the oven for a little longer for a lovely golden colour.