Breakfast of champions: 10 reasons to eat oats (and 4 ways to pimp your porridge)

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As the mornings get darker it’s high time I dedicated an entire post to one of my favourite foods, the humble bowl of porridge.  Continue reading

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Copenhagen: pleased to eat you

If you’re up for a city break with a side order of healthy eating venues then Copenhagen comes highly recommended. Having spent 4 days in the Scandinavian city I was lucky enough to sample some Danish delights.

One of my pet peeves (along with animals dressed as humans) is arriving at a new destination and eating at any old place (which my friend Faye will vouch for having to witness my horror on many occasion when this has happened). Because of this I did my research and was able to visit some of the places I had checked online.

Our first food stop was Café Norden, which had been recommended by our friends Sarah and Nic as they made it their daily haunt during their visit and you can see why. The menu was extensive (although not very vegetarian or vegan friendly) with plenty of sandwiches, salads, burgers and cakes. I opted for the goat’s cheese salad with avocado, nuts, tomato, olives, rye bread croutons and honey (very Kings and Greens friendly). Rosie got the burger and Faye excelled in her choice of a smorgasbord of Danish delights.

norden salad

Supersize salad

The breakfast winner

The winning meal

In order to get in as many meals as possible during our visit we managed to squeeze in an afternoon cake stop at the small but perfectly formed 42Raw, which was top of my hit-list. As they explain on their website, “42°Raw is a celebration of food and drink served in their natural state. Naked, nutrient rich and delicious, just as nature intended” and they serve a huge selection of raw sandwiches, salads and sweet treats. We called here twice for coffee (almond milk chai lattes of course) and cakes but never got a chance to have lunch here so that’s number 1 on my list should I return.

Raw cake paradise

Raw cake paradise

42 coffe and cake

42Raw lunch menu

42Raw lunch menu

After an afternoon-turned-evening sampling the beers at The Taphouse (we managed to sample 6 of the 61 beers on tap so definitely need to return to Copenhagen to get to work on the rest of them) and Charlie’s Bar (great name) it was soon well into the evening and that dreaded time in every health food freak’s night: kebab time. We were lucky enough to stumble across Ahaaa kebab house which was actually amazing! They had a huge vegetarian menu and we all tucked into halloumi, falafel and avocado wraps with huge smiles on our faces. You don’t get that kinda kebab in Accrington!

Taphouse beers

Taphouse trio

Taphouse us

Beer bingo winners

kebab

Beats a greasy donner

The next morning brought us to Granola (after what seemed like hours trudging through rain, sleet and snow looking for The Laundromat café to no avail). This place had an old school French bistro vibe to it and would’ve been the perfect breakfast venue if they hadn’t seated two of the tallest girls I know at a tiny table being forced to play footsie with each other the whole time (even the toilet seemed to be exclusively for shorties). However the breakfast was amazing; yoghurt, granola (of course), pancakes and maple syrup, fresh fruit and the best cinnamon toast I have ever tasted. If we didn’t have to hot-foot it outta there for Faye and Rosie to stretch their long limbs I could’ve stayed for lunch and ordered the same again.

Granola brekky

Granola greatness

small loo

Toilet troubles

paleo

Paleo and interesting

Lunch brought us to Paleo, a fastfood/takeaway café, with normal sized seating, based on primal gastronomy (their words, not mine) aptly located next door to 42Raw. It was a tough choice but I went for the nuts and berries salad which came with stone age bread (which I’m hoping means made from a stone age recipe, not preserved from the stone age – either way it was yummy), Faye got bolo (spicy ragu on vegetable noodles) and Rosie opted for the chicken salad. They were all really tasty and I’d definitely return to sample more of their stone age dishes.

bolo yolo

bolo yolo

Not your average chicken salad

Not your average chicken salad

YUM

Lunch on the goji

Having had a late lunch (and my second 42Raw afternoon cake) and a fun-filled evening of beer and board games at the highly recommended Tiger Spilbar (with cheap beer and a huge selection of board games) we weren’t hungry until much later and although we were tempted to return to Ahaaa for another kebab we decided to try somewhere new. The fact that I can’t remember the name proves it was probably my least favourite eatery during the trip, although I did really enjoy the salmon fillet I had (although I opted out of the pre-dinner tequila shot that Rosie and Faye went for, maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much!)

Games night

Games night

Tequila starter anyone?

Tequila starter anyone?

For breakfast the next day we were successful in finding The Laundromat Café, which as the name suggests is a Café-cum-laundrette that presumably serves the locals more than tourists as it was out on a limb a bit (I think it’s a chain but they all seemed quite far out of the city centre) but it was well worth the trip. They had a huge breakfast menu, with lots of both meaty (including The Dirty Breakfast) and vegetarian (including The Clean Breakfast) options. I opted for the clean breakfast and it was really good. They also do lunches and some vegan options too. There was a really relaxed atmosphere and you could easily spend a few hours here eating, drinking, doing your washing and reading from their extensive library.

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The clean breakfast

The clean breakfast

The dirty breakfast

The dirty breakfast

The breakfast for people with a small appetite

The breakfast for people with a small appetite

Rainbow reading

Rainbow reading

After a big and late brunch we had booked in for a big meal that night so decided just to have coffee and cake at Charlottenborg Art Centre (another great name) on Nyhavn later in the afternoon which had a really funky interior with a gift shop, art gallery and a really nice courtyard (although we didn’t see much of it in torrential rain).

Another cake break

Another cake break

We did in the end

We did in the end

Artsy

Artsy

Our final evening meal brought us to Salt, which is the restaurant at The Admiral hotel on the docks. It was a really nice venue with a tapas style menu (although the dishes were served one after another in the order we had ordered them much to our confusion) and I went for warm spinach salad with salted lemon and egg yolk, sand shrimps with broccoli and kelp and fried halibut with caramalised fennel and black pepper and they were all amazing. We rounded the evening off with a cheeseboard at Salt and a LOT of Tuborg at Rosie McGee’s irish bar (you can take the girls out of Accrington…)

Salt n pepper

Salt n peppa

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Too much tuborg

Too much Tuborg

Our final morning found us nursing slight hangovers with tasty brunches at Europa 1989. I had the vegetarian brunch which included yoghurt, berries, maple syrup, cheese, jam, potato rosti with poached egg and asparagus with an avocado, beetroot and grapefruit salad. Need I say more?

Hangover heaven

Hangover heaven

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One of the best things about eating in Copenhagen was how every menu suited all tastes and appetites. It’s rare to find anywhere where we live that serves a full English and meaty feasts alongside extensive vegetarian and healthy options but we were spoilt for choice here. The Danes clearly make more of a big deal about brunch as every brunch menu was packed full as were the cafes every morning. As you can tell eating was one of the main things we did and I don’t think I’ve ever been on a holiday that has had so many amazing eating venues. I’d definitely recommend it and there’s still so many places on my list that we didn’t even get to try, which just means I’ll have to return again soon :-).

Here are some more menus for your perusal.

Laundromat menu

Laundromat menu

Granola menu

Granola menu

granola menu 2

Paleo menu

Paleo menu

P.S I also had some pringles on the plane 😉

Friday fuel: a few ways with courgette

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I only ever used to buy courgettes to pad out a meal as a calorie saving initiative. I didn’t mind the taste but they were always just an addition to a meal that I could give or take. As Ali explained in her controversial and troll-enducing post about turning veggie, it was our first trip to Green’s vegetarian restaurant that made us realise that each vegetable deserves to be enjoyed in its own right and is more than capable of playing the lead role in any meal.

With that in mind we’ve taken on our next cooking corner challenge with the humble courgette and here’s what we did:

Courgetti with vegan kale pesto

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Courgetti is big these days – so big that Deliciously Ella even chose it as her cover picture meal for her cookbook. It’s so easy to make with a spiralizer (we got ours from UK juicers but if you want to be trendy Hemsley and Hemsley have released their own version too) but if you haven’t got one you can grate your courgette with a wide grater to make more pappardelle style strips.

It’s a great alternative to spaghetti and if you’re just dipping your foot in the whole health food thing a great way to start is by replacing the spag of your spag bol. If you’re following the 5:2 diet as we are at the mo, courgetti makes perfect fast day fuel too as it’s about 18 cals for a medium sized courgette (enough to fill a decent sized bowl). Most importantly, spiralizing is REALLY fun to do. Jak swears he’s never seen Ali happier than she was the day her spiralizer arrived and she ate courgette for lunch every day for about a fortnight after (snapchats from our friends Kate and Mark recently suggested they had a similar experience).

If you’d rather keep it raw then it’s ready as soon as you’ve spiralized, but I prefer to sauté some onions, peas and mushrooms then add the courgetti to the pan for a few minutes. I usually use one courgette per person but if you’re extra hungry you can make two and you don’t even feel like you’re being greedy, the more the merrier when it comes to veg! Once it’s warm all you need to do is stir in the pesto (find our recipe for that here) and if you’re not avoiding dairy, pop a bit of goat’s cheese on top.

courgetti

Courgette and halloumi falafel

falalfel

We first had this at our friend Amy’s house as she’s an amazing cook. When Ali turned veggie rather than being put out she was actually excited by the challenge and has served up some delicious plant-based meals since then, which we invariably end up copying, like her beetroot and goat’s cheese risotto and these incredible falafels she whipped up from her Abel and Cole veg box using one of their recipes.

Al has made this a regular fixture on her weekly meal list ever since. It’s gone down so well in her house that it was the only meal Jak wanted to eat at one point (his record is 11 in one sitting), and the fact that she isn’t sick of it already after that is testament to how tasty they are (they were even given the thumbs up by our friend Jo’s veg loathing husband David so they are the perfect dish to convert a hater).

Ingredients:

  • 200g courgette, coarsely grated
  • 150g halloumi, coarsely grated
  • 100g breadcrumbs (we whizz up some wholemeal/gluten free bread in the food processor/Nutribullet but you can also use oats if you don’t have any bread in)
  • A large handful fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • A pinch of chilli powder/flakes or finely chopped fresh chilli
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Olive or sunflower oil for shallow frying
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

1. Grate the courgette then stick in a sieve with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, squeeze out some of the water with your hands then pop it into a large bowl.
2. Grate the halloumi in next then whizz up your breadcrumbs and throw in with the chopped up mint (lazy tip no 1: Al often uses the food processor for the mint too). Grate in the zest of the lemon then add a squeeze of juice, some chilli powder/flakes and the beaten egg (lazy tip no 2: Al also buys halloumi with added chilli to save herself an extra second).
3. Roll the mix into little falafel sized balls, smaller is better so they cook more evenly, the mix should make about 15 – 19 small ones or 10 larger ones. If it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it’s too dry, add more grated courgette.
4. Chill the falafels for a bit if you have time (they’ll cook better – you could make the mix the night before if you’re organised enough), if not don’t worry. They’re best pan fried with a bit of olive oil, it takes 5 minutes of turning them until all sides are golden. Alternatively, you can oven bake for around 15 minutes turning regularly. Ali serves these with wholemeal pittas, sweet potato wedges, sliced avo and homemade hummus but they’d go nicely with a quinoa salad too. Apologies for the rubbish pic, they never last long enough to take a decent one.
(Recipe taken from Abel and Cole)

Lastly on our courgette hit list are courgette fries which we’ve had at Gusto and Piccolinos but are yet to attempt ourselves and courgette cake, which we have tasted at various healthy cafés but is still on the K&G to do list. Keep your courgettes and eyes peeled for the results of these coming soon. Have you got any new courgette recipes we can try?

courgette and lemon cake

Picture from pinterest
Picture from pinterest

 All pictures taken by us or from Pinterest

Round our way: healthy eating in Lancashire

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Round our way the birds might be singing (couldn’t bring myself to type ‘are’ despite a hardcore teenage Oasis habit).

But the region’s eateries ain’t the kale-loving caverns we might dream of so we’ve become experts at tracking down the best of the bunch when it comes to both healthy and veggie options (the combo being the much sought holy grail).

We’ve put this post together with a lot of help from our comrade in the war against beige food, Jade – you can follow her healthy adventures on Instagram at @strawberry_moon_

1. Green Chimney, Colne

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Great chickpea burger, strawberry salmon salad with avo, sweet potato fries and a delish selection of vegan cakes. They do soya lattes (good to know) and we are yet to check out the breakfasts but they sound amazing – spelt toast, veggie eggs benedicts, pancakes and porridge. We’re actually off there tonight so check our Instagram to see what we feast on!

2. The Bear, Todmorden

latte

Top of our to-do list at the moment is Jade’s favourite veggie haunt in Todmorden. Ever since she Instagrammed this warm coconut milk we’ve been dying to try it so watch this space. In fact I’ve just spent a good 10 minutes ogling their menu so it’s becoming an urgent priority!

3. The Sanctuary, Langho

sanctuary

We were devastated to arrive here post-16 mile run last Friday to find they’d stopped serving lunch a mere 15 minutes earlier but everything sounded amazing and the cakes were tip top. I picked up some of this Primrose’s Kitchen beetroot and ginger muesli from the little shop in the cafe and it’s been getting me out of bed all week. So good!

Sadly they’re only open weekdays at the minute so worth a visit if you’ve got a day off or a ridiculous amount of holidays like Chaz (joking teachers! You work hard!).

4. Do-dah’s, Rawtenstall

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Chaz was beside herself to score a raw brownie here the other day. Check it out.

5. Garden Kitchen, Holden Clough

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Homemade granola, eggs and asparagus, squash curry, goat’s cheese burger (OK so not exactly healthy… but panko crumbed heaven) and a separate gluten-free menu, they have a great veggie selection and will also prepare vegan options if you call ahead. Famous for their afternoon tea picnic tables if you’re in the market for a gluten bonanza!

6. Roots, Lancaster

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Slightly further afield, but well worth a visit if you’re day tripping. Everything is locally sourced, veggie and seasonal. Just how we like it.

7. Whale Tail Café, Lancaster

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Lancaster veggies are spoilt as this place is another great spot for plant-tastic dining. Lots of vegan options and organic booze too.

8. Greens, Didsbury

prosecco pals

Since a surprise birthday treat last October we’ve been meaning to revisit Simon Rimmer’s Greens to explore the rest of their menu. Still thinking about the amazing Chinese-style mushroom pancakes!

9. Wokki, Accrington

Thai street food in Accrington?? You bet. Try the vegan soups to warm yourself up (spring still seems a way off) and ring to order ahead if you’re pushed for time as everything is cooked freshly to order.

10. Zakros, Blackburn Market

A Greek and Thai place Jade raves about for lunches. Who knew Blackburn Market was such a treasure trove of culinary finery!

11. Jim’s Café, Colne

Another on our East Lancs hitlist! Has anyone been?

We’ve deliberately not included central Manchester here as options are plentiful but we may do a separate post later if anyone is interested – all suggestions welcome!

Anywhere we’ve missed or any great tips? Please comment so we can feed our healthy dining addictions!

All images taken by us (or Jade)

Super Quinoa

First let’s set the record straight, it’s pronounced keen-wah. Don’t worry, we’ve all been through the kwinoa phase.

quinoa tesco

It’s a very trendy food at the moment and you really should believe the hype as it’s packed full of protein which is great if you’re avoiding or eating less meat as you need to make sure you’re hitting your protein goals in some way. It’s also gluten free so ideal if you’re wanting to beat the bloat.

Most local supermarkets now stock it (if not get us on the case, we contacted Sainsbury’s to ask them to stock it in their Arnold store and they’re working on it now) so you don’t need to go out of your way to get it and it’s even cropping up in restaurant menus (much to our delight).

As quinoa as mustard with my menu choice

As quinoa as mustard with my menu choice

As well as being a super tasty super food,  it’s also really flexible and can be used in so many ways. It’s easy to make and I usually batch cook a load on a Sunday to form part of various meals throughout the week. Make sure you rinse it thoroughly as it can taste bitter if you skip this step. I also cook it in some veg stock (I like to use bouillon) and add some seasoning to give it a bit more flavour. You can also squeeze in some lemon and lime while it’s cooking but I usually do this just before I serve it.

If you’ve got some pre-cooked quinoa in the fridge making a salad bowl out of it is so easy. You can put it together with pretty much anything. My usual lunch is quinoa with kale, avocado and hummus topped with chilli flakes. I also made a big batch of quinoa for a Jacob’s join at work recently and teamed it with roasted pine nuts, grapes and chick peas (I was planning on using pomegranate seeds but didn’t have any in and found that grapes worked just as well). For a post-run midweek tea last week I put some with tinned tuna, spinach, grapes and a sprinkle of tahini.

quinoa jjquinoa tea

If you’d prefer it warm there are lots of recipes around. Deliciously Ella’s roasted squash and pine nut quinoa is a favourite of mine and she also has a brussel sprout, portebello mushroom and pomegranate recipe that I’ve been meaning to give a try. Quinoa can also be a healthy equivalent to rice in any risotto recipe so if you’ve got any suggestions let us know!

If you’re feeling adventurous it doesn’t have to end there! It can also be used to make pizza bases, pancakes, muffins, bread and Ali does a mean porridge with it following a recipe by Madeleine Shaw. If you fancy a challenge Buzzfeed has got 32 recipe ideas (aptly titled 32 ways to eat quinoa and succeed in life) that sound amazing. In their words, quinoa is more than just a grain, it’s a lifestyle.

32 ways

Catcher in the rye: weekend brunching and post-run munching

xmas day brunch

Rye bread is a real saviour for the health nut. Usually made without any wheat – therefore gluten-free to banish that dreaded bloat – it’s packed with fibre and has a low glycaemic index, which means it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels like evil white bread does and keeps you full for so much longer.

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Don’t be fooled by those thin slices – they’re densely and deliciously packed with all the nutrients to make you bounce through the afternoon. Plus – a lot of varieties also contain other tasty seeds and grains that are great for fuelling hungry bodies. We usually buy Biona’s because it’s available in our local Tesco, but many Lidl stores do great versions as do health shops.

biona

So it’s little surprise this wonderbread is the base of choice for regular post-workout snacks for our super marathon running friend Euan. He asked us for a few new topping ideas to alternate with his usual mackerel and avo combo to tick those carb, fat and protein boxes in one tasty sitting.

Here are a few ideas we came up with – enjoy toasted or as it comes.

1. Smashed avocado with chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime

2. Mashed banana with cashew nuts (raw or toasted in the oven or pan fried for 5 minutes), sunflower seeds and a drizzling of agave syrup, honey or maple syrup

3. Poached eggs, spinach and baked asparagus

4. Smoked salmon and scrambled egg

5. Almond butter with sliced banana and a sprinkling of chia seeds (great for rehydrating after long runs)

6. Healthy nutella with Himalayan pink salt

7. Mozzarella, sliced heritage tomatoes and fresh basil

8. Beetroot and feta

9. Kale pesto with cherry tomatoes

10. Homemade classic hummus

11. Raspberry chia jam and peanut butter

12. Sundried tomato spread – delish on its own or you could melt some goat’s cheese on top for a quick healthy pizza slice

13. Sliced pear, stilton and chopped walnuts

14. Mashed sweet potato (chop and steam/boil for 5 minutes then drain) with black beans and sour cream (vegan alternative if you prefer)

15. Roasted red peppers, basil leaves and sliced avocado

16. Goat’s cheese, walnuts and honey

These are all meat-free and many vegan but most would work well with added meat if that floats your boat. Any other bright ideas? Post in the comments, don’t be shy!

Images from our own Instagrams and Tesco online