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Meat-Free January

Boston Tea Party, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Our Meat-Free January came to an end with a delicious date-night at Byron πŸ”, followed by a screening of the new Trainspotting film. And, just to be corny here, as T2 places itself firmly in 2017 as its prequel dates itself to 1996, I kind of also feel a bit like this marks a point in my life too.

I must admit, being vegetarian for January was never really about being vegetarian for good. It was more about breaking the habit of having meat for every meal, something that I know, having discussed with my friends over the course of this month, is something quite a few people feel like they should do.

Last year, we definitely changed up our diet a lot, as well as generally eating more balanced, healthy meals, we were also having more vegetarian meals. I guess the focus of January 2017 was to put that part of it to the extreme by cutting out meat entirely.

 

No Veganuary for us, we love eggs!

With the popularity of Veganuary, I feel like it’s been more accessible than before to read about the reasons behind being full-time veganism. We educated ourselves in diet with documentaries about clean eating and the vegan diet.

I do feel as though by not sticking with it, we’re being a bit selfish but from a realistic perspective, I don’t particularly feel like I need this extra guilt in my life. Denying myself meat forever when I enjoy it isn’t going to make a huge dent in the vast environmental impact that the meat industry has – and that definitely is a problem. However, if making a small change to my diet is achievable and enjoyable, then I don’t see why I can’t. I know that it isn’t necessarily the right view to take but I still see it as a step in the right direction.

 

Meat-Free January - Sweet Potato and rocket cous cous

 

Meat-Free January, start as I mean to go on…

With all of that said, I guess it could all sound rather negative but I’m certainly not continuing 2017 on the back foot. Up until the anticipation for Byron set in the previous weekend, I didn’t miss meat at all. Pretty much every meal we had was tasty, filling and left us without that unidentifiable sluggish feeling that you can’t quite put your finger on until it’s gone.

 

Meat-Free January - Broccoli and bean stir fry

 

Menu choices are smaller when you leave the house

I think the most limiting thing was probably going out to eat, and despite there being a much wider choice than I would have expected, there was far less choice than being able to eat everything.

We didn’t really have too much to worry about when it came to cooking meals for guests. Generally that was probably because we’re pretty good at cooking but also because, as I said before, we aren’t really friends with anyone who would turn their nose up just because the food features some kind of greenery. That said, Moon has sworn off chillis for a little while was they became a bit of a ‘go to’ for ease and flavour.

 

Meat-Free January - Vegetarian options at The Akeman Inn near Aylesbury

 

I think January and winter generally is a good time to take on this kind of ‘diet’ as it felt like much less of a shock to the system. We tended to still make the one-pot winter dishes we always have but with added beans or lentils and taking away the meat. Roasted corn soup was a firm favourite.

If it had been summer and we were suddenly eating just salad forever (I know it wouldn’t have been quite that extreme), I don’t think we would have been able to stick it out for the whole month.

 

Meat-Free January - Our famed bean chilli

 

I shared quite a few photos throughout January and was met with a lot of encouragement from friends and acquaintances for recipes and suggestions, which I think was another element of helping me stick to it. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it put pressure on me, but posting successes definitely made me feel good about the direction I was going in.

 

So, what’s next?

I’m entering February with some tasty new recipes in my repertoire, so reckon I’ll be cracking on, sans restriction. I did hear word of ‘Sugar-Free February’ but I think I’ve had enough of restricting myself for a little while – at least to the point where I’m cutting out entire food groups.

I know a month isn’t long but if the aim is to eat a bit less meat, I feel like that is definitely going to happen, and we’ve had a fair few vegetarian meals since the 1st February rolled around.

I was so looking forward to eating chicken again though and I’m so happy to have it back. πŸ”

 

Food Highlights: 😍

Food Lowlights: 😞

  • Nut Roast – Maybe it was the specific recipe (you let me down, Jamie) but if you told me that I wasn’t allowed to have it again, I’d probably be cool with it. For the length of time it took to prepare and cook, it wasn’t worth it.

Huevos Rancheros.


This is a new one, and a simple one, but a good one.

Eggs are my favourite, but sometimes a regular fry-up just won’t do. This is a little something that myself, and a very sceptical Moon whipped up one Saturday a couple of weeks ago. I guess he was sceptical because he doesn’t necessarily agree with tinned tomatoes for breakfast, or chilli for breakfast but I think he was curious in equal measure because Mexican food is king in our little house (after Chinese food, naturally).



This is so incredibly simple that it almost feels ridiculous to be sharing it with you but I hope it will inspire you to try a different kind of cooked breakfast this weekend, though this would also make a great brinner, particularly if you included a few black or kidney beans, yum!

Ingredients: (feeds 2)

  • 1 x tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x tortillas
  • 2 x fresh tomatoes (cut into thin slices)
  • 2 x cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • Β½ bell pepper
  • Β½ red onion
  • 2 fresh chillies
  • 4 x large eggs
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Cooking oil of your choice, I use coconut
  • 1 x avocado (optional)



Method:

  1. Heat your pan and add your oil before adding the garlic, red onion, fresh chillies and bell pepper and cooking until softened
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes to your softened vegetables and bring to a simmer before reducing the heat
  3. Stir in the chilli powder and salt and pepper to taste
  4. Place the fresh tomatoes over the top and crack the eggs in, you’ll want them to have a bit of space so don’t do them too close together
  5. Put a lid over your simmering frying pan and allow your eggs to cook through (5 – 8 minutes)
  6. While your eggs are cooking, toast the tortillas – this can be done either by folding them in the toaster (like we did) or sprinkling them with a bit of water and popping them in the oven for 5 minutes
  7. Cut your avocado into cubes ready to go on top
  8. Once your eggs are ready spoon the mixture into a bowl containing your toasted tortilla, add fresh parsley and avocado and enjoy



Did you know?: Chillies are metabolism-boosting, so having them with breakfast is actually a pretty healthy way to start the day!

What are some of your favourite ‘cooked breakfasts’?

Review :: Chocolate in the Post.


So, of all things that you can get in the post, chocolate has got to be pretty high up there, particularly when it’s dreamy, creamy Lindt chocolate.

Back in August (yes, August) I was lucky enough to receive free samples from Lindt’s ‘Hello My Name Is…’ range, a cute new collection of chocolate sticks and bars in an array of tasty and exciting flavours. Designed for indulging yourself and sharing, it goes without saying that after this little care package, I was stocked up on chocolate for a little while.



Overall, while tasting luxurious, none of the chocolates were as dense or rich as I thought they would be and were really easy to eat. That sounds a bit silly because who doesn’t love chocolate, but as someone who doesn’t have all that much of a sweet tooth, getting five large bars of chocolate when I probably wouldn’t get one that size more than once every six months, it was a bit daunting.

I thought my favourite from the off would be the Salted Caramel and I was right. There was just the right amount of caramel with a slight hit of salt towards the end, I can’t get enough of anything salted caramel recently and I know it’s pretty trendy but I personally think all the hype is for good reason.


I think the two biggest surprises were the Crunchy Nougat and Caramel Brownie. I think it’s generally because these chocolates are so good anyway that any flavour combination was going to be delicious but I did worry that the nougat would be too ‘nougatty’ and the caramel brownie would be too chocolatey but both flavours were more there to enhance texture while only hinting at what variety they were, something I quite liked.

These were definitely a winner for me, offering a bit more than a bog-standard chocolate bar without having overpowering flavours that take away from the fact you’re eating chocolate, I hope that this range is around to stay.

Hey Joe, Whaddya Know?


After an early breakfast and a stroll into town a couple of weekends ago, Moon, our friends, Richard and Fran, and I decided sampling Gelato Joe’s would make the perfect pre-lunch, post-12pm treat.

I’ve eaten at Gelato Joe’s before in its previous form, The Bite Company. I believe they’ve now moved on to the bright lights of Reading and while the interiors remain the same in the Parkway Centre, the menu is now a simple one of ice cream, waffles, crepes and shakes.



One thing I’ve always agreed with when travelling around the rest of Europe is that we just don’t do ice-cream as well as the rest of them, Gelato Joe’s might be a good contender though. With my favourite, salted caramel, they can’t really lose but there’s such a great range of choice, from bubblegum to Nutella, that it’s easy to see why in the height of summer the queue was out the door.










I adore the quirky, industrial-style dΓ©cor and I think they’ve really made the most of the small space (an aspect of interior design that I love). I’ll have to sample the rest of their menu, their waffles looked delicious, and it will certainly be a great place to take guests in the summertime. I’m so pleased that Newbury’s ice cream parlour is so much more than just another coffee shop, which Newbury has by the bucketful.

Gelato Joe’s will actually be opening their second store in Bristol soon so it looks like the future is very bright and I’m really glad about that.
I know summer is winding down and autumn is on its way, but there’s always time for ice cream. ♥

Follow Gelato Joe’s on Twitter or ‘like’ them on Facebook.

:: Have you entered my giveaway to win tickets to the Royal Berkshire County Show on the 20th September? ::