Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Understanding Your Caffeine Boost – Is It Just Coffee?

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Image from Google

From sleepyhead to being alert, caffeine is known to excite, 'transform' and awaken the central nervous system.  Some are more sensitive than others to the effects of caffeine.  You may need only one cup to feel it’s effects whilst others two or three.  So what’s the cut off?

It is generally accepted that up to 3 cups of coffee per day are perfectly okay.  The results of epidemiological research even suggest that coffee consumption may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinsons disease and liver disease.

Moderate consumption of coffee of about 3-4 cups per day usually equates to 300-400mg of caffeine per day.  For pregnant women and mums-to-be, you are aiming for less than 300mg of caffeine per day.  The rationale behind this the need to eliminate any risks of spontaneous abortion or impaired growth of your baby.

Other Sources Of Caffeine
A good strong brew of coffee provides anywhere between 80-180mg of caffeine so for some of you, 2 cups for the day is plenty.

To avoid buzzing around the office like nobody’s business, consider the sizes of your takeaway coffees.  Are these small or grand?  Do you need the caffeine hit or do you just need more sleep?

Black tea provides between 43-60mg of caffeine per cup (250ml), whilst green or white teas will contribute 25-45mg per cup.

Herbal teas are usually caffeine free whilst a 250ml serving of energy drink can give you anywhere between 80-125mg.  A small bar of dark chocolate is another 30mg of caffeine.  If you are fond of chocolate covered coffee beans, bad news; there’s at least 350mg in a ¼ cup!  Madness, right?

The message of the day is know your limits.  If you love large mugfuls of coffee, do you need to stop at 2?  After all, high intake of caffeine has been associated with risk of hypertension but this risk was lowered when caffeine was consumed in the form of coffee, rather than tablets.  There may be other protective factors in coffee itself, but today, it’s still open to debate whether coffee intake may or may not be associated with hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors.

Either way, I like to err on the side of caution and stick to no more than 400mg of caffeine per day.  Now you too can calculate your total daily caffeine intake.  If in doubt, read the labels!

 What do you think lovely readers?

Monday, 30 July 2012

Let’s Number Crunch: How To Drop Half A Kilo In A Week

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 Clothes feeling a tad snug after the holidays?  If a kilo or two has snuck up on you over the holiday period, nip it straight away in the bud!  Get instinctive and reach for the fruit bowl rather than that gooey chocolate baking. 
I admit it, I do offer you many baking recipe ideas for a milk, egg, wheat and soy free diet on my blog, but anyone watching their weight must either enjoy these in what I now call ‘French like portion sizes’ or dismiss these entirely temporarily to get back on track to a lean you.

A loss of half a kilo or 1 pound per week is the recommended goal on an effective weight loss plan. This is realistic, achievable and won’t leave you starving (not too much...).

Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get it right and take ownership of your eating.  There’s no time like the present, let healthy eating grow on you and when you are ready, jump on the purple wheel of success.

Everybody else, get ready to start incorporating EASY and realistic steps.  To lose half a kilo per week, you need to cut back by roughly 500 calories from food or burn the equivalent in energy through exercise every day.  I like to accommodate a combination of the two. 

Here are a few tips to get you going.

If you usually eat toast with butter, not only is this meal smothered in saturated fats, two teaspoons of butter on a slice of toast provides nearly 70 calories (kcal).  If you add jam or honey sadly that’s extra. 
Purple Tip: Skip the butter or a use a thin scraping of margarine for poly-unsaturated fats only and save almost 50 calories.

Are you drinking orange juice for breakfast?  A cup of juice provides roughly 110kcal but the orange itself will set you back only 50-70 kcal.
Purple Tip: Choose to eat your fruit rather than drink it and save almost 60 calories.  As a bonus, you will also be locking in fibre, valuable vitamins and much needed minerals.

Morning Snack
Are you reaching for the biscuit tin?  Stop right there!  A chocolate digestive has at least 80 calories.  Have another with a cup of tea and that’s over 160 kcal.  There's very little fibre or vitamins and although takes only a minute on the lips, these really might end up being a lifetime on the hips.
Purple Tip: For a bootilicious bottom, choose fruit.  At most they only provide 50kcal like a cup of delicious strawberries.  These are what I call essential calories.  You will save up to 110 calories!

If you buy lunch, read your labels.  Do you know exactly how many calories there are in your sandwiches?  Choose sandwiches with wholegrain breads and lean meat, chicken or fish.  Better still, make your own.
Purple Tip: Believe it or not, by making your own sandwiches, you will have control over how much added fats and spreads go into them.  By removing visible fats off meat, choosing thin scraping margarine and only meat or cheese and not both you can save anywhere between 100 to 200kcal depending on the sandwich.

Afternoon Snack
It’s 4pm and the chocolate monster is out.  Before you indulge in that chocolate bar, a 50g serving can set you back almost 250 calories!  Madness!
Purple Tip: Yoghurt is a wonderful source of protein and calcium.  Protein promotes satiety and that feeling of ‘fullness’.  A low fat pottle usually only consists of around 100 – 150kcal at the very most.  By choosing yoghurt you will save between 100 -150kcal.

So how are we doing?  It’s not even dinner meal and we’ve already saved at least 400 – 500 calories today.

Eat your usual dinner but make sure you have plenty of vegetables to fill up on if you are hungry.

Did you know that you can burn almost 500 calories from a 9K run?  This obviously depends on your body weight but running is a fantastic calorie burner.

An intense aerobic class at the gym for an hour could also burn around 500 calories though again this completely depends on the class and how much effort you invest into the class itself.

Don’t forget that walking is still a great fat burner.  The total amount of energy you burn will depend on how long you walk for and your body weight.  Good news, you can build up 10 minute slots of activity through-out the day.  They all count!  

Every time you move your body you are burning energy.

Swimming – if you can swim you’ll be bad not to race to the swimming pool at least once a week.  This really is an amazing total body work-out without the added burden on your joints.  Couple this with strength training such as lunges, squats, burpees, press ups and crunches and you’ll be one fat burning machine. 

Remember, for every kilogram of muscle you gain you’ll increase your metabolic rate and BURN calories even when you are not working out. 

Please don't get bogged down by calories and numbers.  These are only a few tips and suggestions to shave off extra calories or unwanted energy in your diet.  Use this only as a guideline and don’t forget to read your food labels and nutrition tables.  For more information read Be Shopping Savvy: Nutrition Labelling Decoded.

And so lovely readers, it's time for bed, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do share below as I love and do read all of your comments.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Cherry-O-Olympics: Cherry Cake Adlington?

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Outstanding performance by Becky Adlington on her bronze!  Simply loving the team spirit exuding from the French.  Congratulations to them for securing their gold medal in the pool tonight.  
Wouldn’t you say that the first thing that you notice about athletes is their confidence and air of determination teamed with a winning streak?  It’s an insanely desirable trait.  I am sure that I am not alone in saying that I feel incredibly inspired by our athletes.  Such a talented group of people; yet it’s not just talent that got them where they are today.  Hard work, dedication and of course winning nutrition fuel them towards that winning medal.

Besides enjoying the lovely commentaries by Ian Thorpe, I certainly loved my friend’s comment ‘I feel a six pack coming already – magic!’

I am delighted that you are stimulated and inspired from this Olympic glory.  This brings me nicely to the topic of cherries.  I stumbled across an article on cherries in the Journal Of The International Society of Sports Nutrition.  It has been suggested that tart cherries which are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, may have a protective effect to reduce muscle damage and pain during strenuous exercise.  

This study trialled tart cherry juice in fifty-four healthy runners and concluded that drinking tart cherry juice for 7 days prior to and during strenuous running event can minimise pain after a run.  This is a very small study, but it’s interesting.  Nevertheless, eating cherries adds another purplish red goodness in your diet and variety is the key to any successful nutritionally balanced diet.

If you love cherries desperately, then tart cherries or not, you could either enjoy this stone fruit as a snack on its own, or in baking.  Cherry cakes could make a delicious snack pre-exercise or as a lunch box item for a child needing the extra calories.  If you are watching your weight, go for the ‘French-like' portion sizes, which are basically just – tiny.

This cherry cake is inspired by Delia Smith's number.  To view the original recipe see Delia's Old Fashioned Cherry Cake.  Here is my recipe suggestion for a milk, egg, wheat and soy free  version!


200g Pure margarine 
200g brown sugar
1 large banana mashed
160g gluten free self-raising flour
40g polenta flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100g glaced cherries, halved
120g fresh cherries, stoned and halved
50g ground almonds
10 - 12 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk (or use almond milk for a milk free diet)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Cream the margarine and sugar together.  Add in the mashed banana.  Mix well.
3. After sifting the flour and baking powder, fold this into the mixture.
4. Add the cherries and ground almonds.  Now add the milk but only use as much as you need to create a smooth mixture.
5. Pour into a baking tin and bake for 50 minutes, then for a further 20-30 minutes covered in foil.

To store, you could slice this into individual portions, wrap in cling film and store in the fridge.

Lovely readers, how do you enjoy cherries?  Do comment below, I love and read all of your comments!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Caipirinha With Brown Sugar

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After champagne this has got to by one of my favourite drinks.  This cocktail is absolutely delicious, refreshing and perfect for our Olympic season celebrations.  What better way to rejoice than with a gorgeous citrus cocktail.  

I have used only 15ml of Cachaça for this cocktail as I plan to have another!  If you prefer, you can use the full 30ml quota that would usually be used in this cocktail recipe.

Did you know that reducing sugars and phenolics are the main antioxidant compounds found in lime?  Limes are also rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, particularly in the peels.  As an antioxidant rich fruit, this is another great reason to choose Caipirinha as your party drink of choice.

Never use pre-packaged lime juice for this drink.  During juice processing, you can expect some vitamin C losses.  To reap the full benefits of citrus fruits, prepare this drink using fresh gorgeous green limes. 

Why be bothered about vitamin C?  Vitamin C plays an active role in the absorption of non-haem iron found in plant foods.  What this means for you is that if you are enjoying a vegetarian meal, vitamin C found in citrus fruits and other fruit and vegetables will promote the absorption of iron from these plant foods when consumed at the same time.

Here’s a recipe that I have been taught by a lovely Brazilian friend and also a Frenchman.  Hope they'll be proud!

1 lime
3 teaspoons brown sugar
15ml Cachaça 

1. Roll the lime on a hard surface like the kitchen worktop.  Press lightly using the palm of your hand.  Repeat for a couple of minutes.

2. Ensure that the tips of the lime are orientated at a vertical angle.  Slice the lime in half.

3. Now slice the lime half next to it's center along both ends.  You want to cut out the central core of the lime.

4. Place ¾ of the lime wedges into a jar or glass.  I used Bonne Maman’s jars as they are brilliant as a shaker.

5. Add the sugar and Cachaça.  Crush the lime and sugar together and then add crushed ice.  Screw on the lid and shake in celebration as you are done and good to go!

This delicious Brazilian based cocktail tastes best once the ice has melted a wee bit.  It’s just so good...enjoy!

Happy Olympic fever season everybody!  How do you enjoy limes lovely readers?

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Your Ultimate Inspirational Guide To Running

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Image from Google

Ladies, you are going to love my first recommendation.  Being a woman, it’s no surprise that I think a shopping spree is in order to get your running outfits organised.  And who doesn’t feel inspired and energised after an excellent day at the shops?

It’s finally sunny and the department stores are heaving with the madness of sales.  So hit the high streets and stock up on cotton or Dri-Fit  t-shirts, shorts, leggings or whatever makes you feel good and comfortable when you are out running.

Don’t forget to pop into your favourite sports store for a pair of well fitted shoes.  I love the Asics range, I always have.  BUT I am definitely not impressed with the enormous toe hole that keeps recurring above my left toe.  Perhaps a shoe re-fit is in order!  I usually find that if I keep getting fitted by the same pair, then I can purchase this for a significantly lower price at Lillywhites in London.

Now the only other single most important item that you will need (other than your motivated and inspired self of course) is energetic music to make your running experience truly unforgettable.  Running is about time for you.  This will quickly become your chance to de-stress, gather your thoughts, reflect about your day (if you run after work) or to plan ahead if you are an early riser.

For confidence and direction, always plan your route.  I love WalkJogRun for help with planning routes and calculating distance.  If you are a creature of habit, then you may end up choosing the same routes after work for that truly relaxing experience when you are out pounding the streets.  Mix your routine with hills and beautiful scenery for a change in the weekends to avoid boredom.

Preparing playlists that are dedicated to your favourite running tracks are essential for a smooth running experience.  No one wants to be interrupted by Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ when you are deep in thought, enjoying the giddy sensation from the lovely endorphins that running can shower you with.  We do love Frank Sinatra but he is definitely not appropriate as running tracks.  Instead, choose plenty of upbeat music with great rhythm.  I do love remixed tracks for that extra speed in my stride.

I rarely listen to music when I am not exercising, so I really do look forward to exercising for this reason alone.  Always be prepared.  So remember, gear up, plan your route, organise your music and then out that door you go.

Last but not least, ensure that you eat a light snack an hour before such as a banana or a delicious large orange.  Ensure that your usual lunch or dinner meal is at least a few hours earlier to give you plenty of time for easy digestion. 

Finally, drink up!  Stay hydrated and smile knowing that you will sleep like a baby after your refreshing date with yourself out in the park or on a treadmill.  All you ever need for a brilliant run is you, a bit of fuel and good music.  It doesn’t matter if you run for 20 or 50 minutes, just get out there, enjoy and move your body!

Lovely readers and runners, do you have any tips to share? 

Image from Google

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cereal - Your Low Fat Chocolate Fix?

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You may laugh, but the Frenchman insists that the best things in life are foods that he loved as a kid.  This is apparently so good, that he is not willing to share his box of gold.  It's actually been labelled as 'precious' and so this unopened box of chocolatey cereal stares at me untouched.

All this fuss over a box of sugary cereal got me thinking.  Do you remember your days as a student when you snacked on cereal after a long day of lectures?  Similarly, this would make a really good snack when a chocolate craving hits, don't you think?

I've had a look at the nutrition panel and this is 4.8% fat (under 10%), high in sugar at 37% (over 15%) but surprisingly has a decent fibre content at 5.9%.  A 30g portion with semi-skimmed milk will set you back 178kcal.  This is probably similar to Coco Pops, except that Coco Pops Original is composed of 2% fat, 35% sugar and 2% fibre.  To check this out yourself see Kellogs Coco Pops.

I am not saying snack on chocolate cereal.  Or am I?  What I am saying is, compared to a 50g bar of chocolate which will set you back over 250kcal, you are likely to gain a wider range of vitamins, minerals and fibre if you do end up indulging in chocolate flavoured cereal instead.

Other snacks to comfort a sweet tooth are fruit of course.  A deliciously juicy wedge of melon or strawberries are not only nutritious but taste great too.  When this really does not suffice and you feel like banging your head against a wall unless you are drip fed chocolate, then consider making yourself a low fat chocolate drink.  Use cocoa powder, a teaspoon of sugar and skimmed milk.

If all this fails, then a small portion of cereal just might have to be your chocolate fix.  Just make sure that it's not part of a daily affair and that you are not replacing healthy snacks such as fruit with cereal.  Always eat your fruit and reassess your 'death by chocolate' mood again in 20 minutes.  You may feel sunny and quite content..

Enjoy this gorgeous hot weather and don't forget to tell me how you feed your chocolate craving.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Savouring The Bite - A Food Journal Of A 3 Year Old Princess

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Pauline is one of our favourite French princesses..

She may not like 'bits' in her yoghurt but Pauline sure does love her food.  It's an ambitious project, but I followed little Pauline around for a couple of days to carefully document her usual intake.

I must admit, as I was on holiday this weekend, Pauline was up much earlier than I so I missed breakfast with our little princess.  I've been told that her usual choices are cereal, crepes, fruit or little morsels of bread with jam.  She feeds herself and does enjoy a chat whilst she eats.

Lunch usually commences with a salad of some description like cucumber or delicious pieces of melon.  These were especially sweet and juicy.

Pauline chatting away during her starter...

The main always consists of meat with vegetables.  This may or may not be accompanied by puree (potato), pasta or rice.  She's brilliant to feed and will happily eat her portion of vegetables such as spinach or a salad consisting of carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes or cucumber.

It really was a delight to see Pauline enjoying her greens so much.  She's a natural model and was more than happy for me to photograph her in exchange for chit chats whilst she ate her meal.  She really does love telling stories and is a bit of a chatter box, so she does benefit from a little bit of supervision to ensure that there is more 'eating' than 'story telling' at the dinner table.

Let's verify that the spinach did make it in..

Yes I think it's safe to say that it has.  Isn't she a brilliant model?

The meal is usually sealed with fruity yoghurt or a slice of fromage - two of her favourite things!

Speaking of favourite things, she does adore sweets.  Strawberry sweets are her favourite flavour (or so she tells me).  I must confess that I did offer her a couple whilst we worked on a puzzle.  She likes to take little bites at a time to savour each bite of her treat.

A short nap later, Pauline will be found zipping around in the garden in her chubby 'leg motored' wee car.  She will stop often for sips of water and a snack of bread with cheese or fruit.

The evening meal is very similar to lunch, consisting of meat with vegetables.  The meal is always followed by yoghurt, cheese or fruit as well as lots of play in the garden with her sister.  There's the trampoline (she thinks it's tram-pauline and named after her)! So no surprisingly she loves the 'tram-pauline' and her little car.  She's a very active little girl.

Thank you so much to princess Pauline and her parents for featuring on the blog.  It's so wonderful to know a little girl with such a fantastic appetite for food and life!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

How I Lost 20kg - The Harsh Truth That No-one Tells You About Weight Loss

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Armand is a young man of 18 years and has battled with his size for most of his teenage life.  Losing weight is not just about reducing his body size, it's about improving his risk factors for disease and changing how he eats.  Keep reading to discover his journey through his weight loss.

How do you feel after losing 20kg?
I feel better.  Life is easier.  It's now possible to play sport.  Even the simple task of moving and just living life in general is easier.  What I really enjoy about the weight loss is that it’s easier to buy clothes.  I have more choice with a smaller size.  Smaller clothes are more trendy and stylish.  I especially love being able to wear my brother’s clothes now that I am almost closer to his size.

How long did it take you to lose the weight?
Two months.  I lost 15kg in the first month and then a further 5kg during the second month.  The hardest part during this process was to not regain the weight.  Losing weight was the easy part.  Having said this, I found the process of weight loss extremely difficult on my body.

What diet did you follow?
The Dukan diet, which originated in France by Dr Pierre Dukan.  It consisted mostly of protein foods for 2 weeks, followed by 2 weeks whereby vegetables were introduced.  I then introduced carbohydrates at lunch, but never for dinner.  For the evening meal, I ate only vegetables and I ate one serving of fruit.  After the second month, I started to increase this to two servings of fruit per day.

I found this diet useful as it was the first step that I needed to start losing weight and decreasing my size.  Learning to control my appetite and portions was the next learning phase.

Did you see a dietitian?
My neighbour and family friend is a dietitian.  I casually chatted with him one week after commencing the diet.  He was not a fan of the diet but he suggested that I continue with the regime since I had already committed myself to this.  

As I was following the 'protein' only phase, he advised me to increase the variety of the foods that I was eating.  He suggested that I cook using olive oils as he explained that it contains essential oils for hair and skin.  He also suggested that I slowly introduce my 'usual foods', with careful attention to portion sizes.  A tip that he gave me was to eat no more than 100g of uncooked pasta or 250g of cooked pasta per day.  As I can eat pasta twice in the same day, this was a very useful suggestion.

How did you find the first two weeks on the diet?
I found that the diet zapped my energy, especially as the Dukan diet consisted of very little energy or calories with limited vitamins and minerals.  Due to my size it was also very difficult to play sport or participate in any type of activity.

Are you currently participating in sport or regular activity?
I play football once a week and I plan to cycle to work.  Considering that I have never played or participated in activity before, I am really happy to be able to join my friends for football.

How did you learn to limit your portion sizes?
On the Dukan diet it was impossible to overeat as I was always full.  I would not recommend this diet if you want to lose ‘a little bit of weight’ for the summer.  This was about a lifestyle change for me and I work very hard to not overeat every day.  This journey is about teaching myself self-control.  This is not the first time in attempting this diet either.  At the first attempt, after the initial loss of 8kg, as soon as I returned to my previous eating habits I regained the 8kg plus an additional 4kg.  

What advice do you want to share with others?
Consult with a dietitian.  They are the experts and I found the little practical pieces of advice really useful and still follow them today.

I feel like my body still carries the 'scars' from the Dukan diet.  I remember days when I could hardly climb out of bed as I felt extremely tired from the lack of energy and calories.

Be sure that you want to lose weight.  For me, I was 30kg overweight and although the Dukan diet is ‘dangerous’ and rough on your body, I believed that it was more dangerous to do nothing about my weight.  I knew that I had higher risks for diabetes and heart disease.  I needed and wanted to take the risks of following the Dukan diet to start the journey of improving my health and reducing my body size.

This is not a miracle diet, I still need to learn how to ‘eat’.  This was especially important after the weight loss as I do not want to regain any weight.  This was the first step and the trigger that I needed to initiate the weight loss.  As I shed the weight, I found that this also motivated me to continue and stick to the diet.

It’s the period after the Dukan diet that’s the most difficult (after the initial four weeks).  As I started to eat ‘normally’ or socialise with friends, I've found that it's extremely tempting to have just that 'little bit more'.  

Always pay attention every single day to what you eat.  Be aware of what you eat and how much you eat.

What further changes do you need to make to your diet?
I need to start eating more vegetables with lunch and dinner.  This is the most difficult change for me as vegetables are time consuming to prepare and they are not foods that I would necessarily choose to eat first.  I do enjoy eating fruit and will continue to eat 1-2 servings per day.

I understand that eating breakfast is something to work on, but breakfast is a struggle.  I really cannot face eating in the morning.  I will work on it!

Do you plan to lose more weight?
I would like to lose a minimum of 10kg.  I plan to achieve this by increasing my activity through cycling.  I also plan to increase the portion sizes of vegetables for dinner.  For lunch I plan to eat a serving of meat, carbs and vegetables but with attention to the portion sizes.  I find that it works well for me to eat a filling lunch but a 'light' meal for dinner.  I plan to limit starchy carbohydrates for the evening meal.

What motivates you to achieve your goals?
A friend offered me a football t-shirt from the Dutch team but it's too small for me.  I would like to be able to wear it.  This is one of my motivation.  I want to work on my fitness so that I can improve my performance at football with friends.  Finally, I want people to notice me not because I am ‘large’ but because I am ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’.

My motto
It’s not about motivation but the obligation I have to myself to get healthy.


Paella Catalane With Mussels, Squid & Crevettes

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There can't be many foodies who are not fans of the paella.  This is one my favourite meals and it sure makes a wonderful summery change to the usual Sunday roast.  Take your first look at the delicious rice based meal which makes it naturally gluten and wheat free.


3 tablespoons olive oil
25g butter
10 large mussels
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs 
500g fillet of pork, diced into small pieces
50g jambon, smoked (pieces)
200g deep red tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1.5L water
500g long grain rice
200g chorizo
8 large crevettes
200g petit pois
Freshly cracked black pepper


1. In a paella pan heat the olive oil and butter.
2. Add the chicken legs or thighs and cook until brown on both sides.

3. Next add the pork pieces and jambon and continue to cook on medium heat.

4. Whilst this is cooking, bring a pan of water to boil and cook the mussels for 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

5. Next wash the tomatoes and add them in a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Prick each tomato at least once when it is in the water.  

6. Rinse the tomatoes in cold water, then peel the skins.

7. Cut the tomato into 4 wedges then under cold running water, remove its seeds.  If you prefer you can skip this stage.

8. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the paella pan.  Stir into the meat pieces.

9. Whilst this is cooking, cut your squid into small pieces and add to the paella.

10.  Add the chopped onions and 1.5L of water and simmer.

11. Next add the rice.  After 15 minutes, add the sliced chorizo and crevettes.  Stir often to ensure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

12.  Finally add the petit pois, freshly cracked black pepper and the parsley.  When it is nearly done, add the mussels and cook for a few minutes.

This beastly feast will serve at least 10 people.  The paella is ready once all of the liquid has been absorbed.  Serve with white wine or rosé.  This meal was delicious underneath a bright yellow sun.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Do You Grow Your Own Vegetables?

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It's true, I am in France again for a long weekend, but instead of the South of France, we are not far from  Paris where the weather is very similar to England.  There was a bit of sun today so I shouldn't really complain.

What I really want to share with you today is that the flowers on the table are from the garden (except for the white bouquet) and the cucumber salad are also home grown.  Isn't that super? 

There must be so much pleasure from growing your own little vegetable patch.  I have not grown anything myself but if you are needing a little bit of inspiration, then you may be motivated after viewing the photos below.

The home grown wild cucumber depicted above was delicious and incredibly flavoursome.  Who could have thought that cucumber grown with tender loving care can taste so good?

I was terribly impressed with the courgettes, simply amazing!

The French green beans were splendid to view and equally delicious.  Brilliant idea.

The peach coloured roses were summery and complemented the rose vin beautifully at dinner!

The purple and white flowers are unusual and yet so delicate with a wild beauty.  They are also from the large garden.  If you know what they are called, please do comment below.  Would love to know it's name.

If you've got that green thumb and you are considering growing your own vegetables, then I do encourage you to do so.  Gardening is a great way to de-stress and you will no doubt take so much pleasure from the fruits of your labour.

This cucumber salad was simply delicious.

If you are worried that any attempts at a vegetable patch equates to plants that perish secondary to neglect from day one, perhaps you'd like to start with herbs instead.  You may prefer the thought of growing basil or chives.  How hard can it be, right?

If you do grow your own herbs or vegetables, then please do give me any tips or advice that you would like to share!

Have a wonderful weekend, lovely readers.