Tuesday, 27 January 2015

London Vegetarian Restaurant Review



2.jpg1.jpgOn my Birthday, I happened to be in London so thought id treat myself to a meal at a vegetarian restaurant. Having searched for the best veggie restaurants online, I eventually chose to try Amico Bio, Barbican. We booked in advance as we weren't sure if you could just turn up. We booked via email and they were very quick to respond, in fact we arrived early but that was no problem it was fairly quiet for a Saturday evening that early. The restaurant had a steady flow of customers throughout the evening but never feeling too busy.

First impressions, a relaxed rustic style. I couldn't wait to see the menu.... its not often I can look at a whole menu and order anything! Turns out its quite hard to choose when you have lots of amazing choice!!! One thing I loved was that the table settings themselves give you information about this eateries philosophy!





As it was my birthday, we decided to go for 3 courses. As it was going to take a while to decide what to have, we ordered drinks and sharing breads while we mulled over the menu. My hubby isn't vegetarian, but does often choose veggie options when we are out and eats mostly vegetarian at home, so I do like to find places to eat that appeal to him too. I tried a veggie red wine and my hubby had apple juice... now he is really fussy about juice and he loved this one. Its a thick flavoursome juice, but with no 'bits' so he was really happy!
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Starters, I had the bean and cabbage soup, sounds boring, I know, but it was really tasty, like a minestrone. My husband  had the ravioli and of course I had to give all his choices a taste test... and  I liked his choice too!






5.jpg6.jpgMain Courses. I had the veggie 'meatballs' with salad, now this was with a tomato sauce with cheese, but you could have it without the cheese for a vegan option. My hubby went for the tempura vegetables with a dip. He really enjoyed it but felt the portion was a bit big, so bit much of one flavour. He would have liked a smaller portion served with something else personally. I think it would have worked better as a starter.




7.jpg8.jpgDeserts. Despite the amazing choice, we both had the fruit crumble for desert, I had mine with chocolate cream, on recommendation by the staff, hubby had his with icecream. Both were great choices!!


Soya lattes finished off our evening, served with home made biscotti.  



There were vegan and gluten free options available on the menu. There is a sample menu on the website but the menu changes regularly, so many of the options on the night we visited were different to the website. There was also a little store in the restaurante so you can buy some ingredients for your own cooking. I also picked up some information leaflets which were by the staircase, on veggie societies.



I really love the philosophy here, an Italian restaurant serving organic, vegetarian dishes made with the fresh Italian produce. They are clearly passionate about food!

Im a featured Reviewer on The Besty http://www.thebesty.com/juliahubbard13986 Check out my other recommended restaurants from around the world.

 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Where is the positive support???

Little rant today. On social media, I joined a few groups for vegans and vegan bodybuilders. I thought id be joining groups of positive, passionate people who were willing to offer help, advice, their experiences to others who were thinking of making the transition to a compassionate healthy lifestyle. However, more often than not, I see someone ask a question, usually a vegetarian, about something to do with the diet or nutrition and although some advice is offered, it always seems to be pounced on my someone quick to put down the persons efforts, to tell them they are not doing enough, not vegan enough, that being vegetarian isn't enough. Its usually quite strong messages, negative and not very supportive... and to be honest, has made me leave a lot of these groups. We are compassionate people, we care about health, we care about the animals, should we not care about people who are trying to learn? Should we not offer positive encouragement rather than criticise? How does putting someone down encourage them to continue on the journey? Who are we to judge anyway?


A few years ago I was invited to a Vegan Dinner by a Vegan friend, the hostess I didn't know, but she knew I was vegetarian and was keen to show me how great Vegan cooking can be. I was really excited to learn more, and enjoyed a lovely meal, of Vegan wine and chips, Lasagne and salad and chocolate cake... I actually couldn't believe it was all Vegan,  I was totally amazed and enjoyed listening to her cooking tips as she prepared the meal and throughout dinner. At this point I was really struck by the evening and was thinking I would look up some more vegan recipes to try when I got home, it was so positive ... BUT then after dinner, the books came out, the videos, the lecture on dairy causing cancer, how she grafitis butchers windows at weekends... it all became too much, the positive evening had just turned into a lecture I just wanted to escape from. It was relentless and left me feeling negative. It was just a step too far. I know she was just passionate and wanted to get her message across, but the more she pushed, the more I wanted to run...


So what did I learn from this evening. Well. Leading by example and providing positive experiences and advice can go a long way, but you have to gauge where the person you are talking to is at so you don't scare them off! I definitely respond better to positive experiences rather than being told I am wrong, not doing enough etc- this person went from being a positive role model to a radical extremist in a matter of hours and maybe did more harm than good. Its kind of why I started this blog, to offer positive advice, thoughts and experiences, not to lecture and judge. Im still not Vegan yet, but im on that path at my own rate! Have you experienced a great role model or someone who just put you down or put you off the lifestyle? Comment below, im interested to hear if its just me that's noticed this?

Friday, 23 January 2015

Prepped and Packed!

A few weeks ago i was approached by a company who have produced a product to help keep you on track
when trying to eat clean and healthy. Anyone who travels a lot, works long hours and likes to eat healthy will know its not always easy on the go... the new Prepped and Packed bag offers a fantastic solution. The company asked me if they could send me a bag to trial and it arrived in the post this week much to my excitement. I've been using the bag for a few days and these are my thoughts so far!

The bag is very stylish and compact so convenient for travelling. It has freezer packs to keep fresh food chilled, space for 3 meal containers that come with the pack, a shaker bottle, drink or snacks and a supplement holder. The bag is compact and feels durable, so hopefully it will last me well!

For most people i think 3 meals is enough and helps keep the bag size and weight reasonable. I usually have my breakfast and evening meal at home so 3 meals a post workout shake and some space for fruit / snacks or another drink is plenty for me!

My biggest tests for the preppack bag is coming this weekend when i embark on a 24 hour ferry to Spain followed by an 8 hour drive across country. I usually struggle to pack enough food to avoid the convenience foods you are surrounded by when travelling, but this time it should be a lot easier!!!

The bag also comes with a fantastic recipe book with lots of ideas to help you eat clean, healthy nutritious meals! Containing Wheat, dairy and gluten free recipes! I cant wait to try a few of them out!

Want one of your own? Available in the UK, the website launches Friday 23rd January!! Today! Use my special promotional code for a discount at checkout!!!! preppack2t6





Thursday, 22 January 2015

London Restaurant Review

The Handmade Burger Company, Wembley.



There is so much to love about this place...
Firstly, the service, all the staff appeared genuinely happy, chatty, friendly and helpful! Really going the extra mile.






Secondly, their ethos, I had never come across this company before but was advised by the staff that everything from the burgers to relishes and everything else is prepared and cooked fresh each day on site.  Very refreshing!







Thirdly, the food, The Vegetarian and Vegan choices were fantastic, lots of variety to choose from. Gluten free options are available too. I chose the Spinach and Lentil Burger, and it was the tastiest burger I think ive ever had!!!! You can taste the freshness, the real ingredients. Natural foods with natural flavours, It was yummy! The relish was great, you can really taste the difference between a freshly made condiment and a processed one!



They are clearly passionate about food, fresh, quality produce and obviously I don't eat meat but I was happy to hear that the beef is from cows reared traditionally, grass fed traceable scotch beef.

This is a restaurant where a veggie or vegan can enjoy a fantastic meal with their meat eating friends, knowing that the meat is more ethically reared. I just really enjoyed my meal, the atmosphere and the modern and natural approach. Definitely highly recommended!


Heres the current Vegetarian/ Vegan menu from their website. I felt they offer good value for money, considering how fresh, carefully and well the food is produced!



CAJUN VEGETABLE & BEAN* (v) (n) £6.45


Handmade burger relish, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato & red onion

THREE CHEESE & BABY LEEK* (v) NEW £7.25

Bramley apple chutney, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato & red onion

FALAFEL* (v) (n) £6.95

Traditional spiced Moroccan relish, freshly made raita, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato & red onion

GOATS CHEESE VEGGIE STACK (v) NEW £6.95

Chargrilled mixed peppers & flat mushroom, goat’s cheese, caramelised red onion relish, mayonnaise & watercress

SWEET POTATO & BEAN* (v) (n) £7.45

Mango & ginger salsa, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato & red onion

SPINACH & LENTIL* (v) (n) £7.45

Handmade burger relish, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato & red onion

CHICKPEA & QUINOA* (v) (vegan) NEW £7.45

Handmade burger relish, lettuce, tomato & red onion


Not a bad choice considering this is not primarily a veggie or vegan restaurant. I highly recommend and cant wait to vsit again to try more off their menu!

Visited? What did you think? Im a featured Reviewer on The Besty http://www.thebesty.com/juliahubbard13986 Check out my other recommended restaurants from around the world.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Morning Detox / Alkaline & anti Oestrogen Drink!





Start the day as you mean to go on! So much can happen during the day to get in the way of your good intentions, but I find if I do something right as soon as I wake up, the rest of the day is more likely to go well. And if I mess up, well it didn't ruin my day, and my morning drink will already have counteracted some of the bad... and if I go wrong, instead of writing the whole day off and falling off the wagon, I just accept it, move on and try and make my next meal better.


 Since New Year, I’ve been squeezing half a lemon, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and pomegranate juice diluted with some water as it’s quite strong and drinking this while I take my greens (I’m using green tablets at the moment) Why? I have been getting a swollen tummy- like a pregnant belly some days!, stomach pain and general digestive problems for ages, I have been tested for coeliac and that came back negative and I will get food intolerance tests done in case something is aggravating my stomach but until then, I thought id try and relieve the symptoms naturally. All these ingredients have been shows (in tests or anecdotally) to aid in digestive health so I thought I’d try it... and in the last couple of days, ive had no pain, no bloating and my abs have started showing again!

SO why this combo?

 Lemon juice

Although its acidic, it actually has an alkaline affect on the body, so it is like doing a morning detox! Some of the well known benefits of lemons are: Its rich in vitamin C, immune boosting, great at this time of year. It also contains citric acid (helps antioxidants work) potassium (helps nourish brain and nerve cells) calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and pectin fiber which is beneficial for colon health. It balances pH levels in the body, helps flush out toxins, It aids digestion, Its antibacterial, It strengthens the liver, It helps balance the calcium and oxygen levels in the liver, so can relieve heartburn, It benefits the skin, It helps maintain eye health. Lemon juice also helps replenish body salts after hard exercise, so it’s great to add to your water when you train or drink after training

 Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar has an alkalising effect on the body. It contains acetic acid (kills bacteria it’s may help with weight loss by increasing feeling of being full and as it has an effect on by regulating blood sugar. Unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar aids digestion as it contains bacteria that aid digestion. It contains potassium; helps prevent dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, helps with high blood pressure, arterial and heart health.

Pomegranate Juice

High in antioxidants & has been found to be hormone balancing, inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to oestrogen. It plays a vital role in the secretion of enzymes which aid digestion and its one of your 5 a day.

Greens Powder

super foods, fruit powders and algae, including; Spirulina, Wheat grass, Acerola Berry, Broccoli, Spinach leaf, Pomegranate, Apple fibre, Tomato, Elderberry, Blueberry and Chlorella. Providing antioxidants, helps ensure I'm getting enough fruit and veg in my diet. (5 a day probably isn't really enough for ultimate recovery and performance for an athlete). A natural way to take a multivitamin & mineral.

So that's my day off to a great start! All these ingredients have other healthy properties but these are the main reasons why I have them in the morning.

I really love the alkaline diet, as it’s about moderation not extremes. Its 80:20 rule means you don't have to restrict or removed any food groups, you just make sure 80% of the food you eat is alkaline and 20% can be from acid forming foods, so it’s just a case of moderation of the foods that can be bad for us. (More on alkaline coming soon!)

I started to introduce anti estrogenic foods after I started to have a problem with watery fat / cellulite on my glute / hamstring tie in... a common side effect of excess oestrogen apparently. I started to do that a few months ago and definitely noticed a difference. I have also helped clients who have had similar issues with this approach and got great results. (More in this in another post coming soon)

Don't fancy this? Try squeezing lemon in your green tea for a simple morning energising and alkalising drink!

(apple cider vinegar should never be consumed undiluted as it is acidic until it reaches the digestive system, to protect your teeth from acidic drinks, use a straw!)
 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Going Vegetarian

People choose to become vegetarian or vegan for many reasons, the main ones being Firstly, the love of animals & Animal Welfare and secondly, the Health Benefits.

But once you have decided to make the lifestyle change, whats the best way to go about it? Cutting out Meat, poultry, fish, or other animal products / byproducts can seem like a daunting task... especially for an athlete! When I travelled with the Bobsleigh Team, I don't think a single meal went by without a discussion about my food... usually centered on whether I could get enough protein, put on muscle or even whether it was healthy. It could get annoying being told constanly that I really should eat meat, but it was a great chance to talk about why I ate how I did and its good that people are interested and curious!

In my experience, people pick up and stick to new habits better when its done gradually - too much of a shock by cutting everything at once, can just seem to hard and people easily give up. So I thought id put up my top tips for switching and sticking to it!
If you are just starting out or thinking about it... good luck and please comment if you have any questions or topics you would like to see covered.

1 Make a Gradual transition.
Theres a couple of ways to do this
- vegetarian day. Pick one day a week to go meat free, one day can seem more do-able than trying to plan a whole week! after a few weeks pick two days... gradually increase and in no time you will find yourself eating meat free all week
- gradually cutting out animal products. Maybe cut meat first and when that's become easy then poultry, then fish, if you want to go further and cut out other animal products, tackle one at a time. this gives you chance to research alternatives, find recipes and build new habits etc, The gradual approach gives you time to work things out so you are more likely to make good healthy choices and stick to them.

2 Do some research.
If you decide to go veggie or vegan, to ensure you are getting a balanced diet and do it in a healthy way, you need to look up recipes, find the meat free section of your supermarket, visit some health food shops, read some books, magazines or find blogs with advice and recipes, information is power!

3 Be prepared.
Before you switch, armed with some information from your research, go shopping, stock up on supplies, make sure you have all the ingredients for a few recipes so you don't get bored eating the same all the time.

4 Try the meat alternatives.
The easiest way to transition is to straight swap meat for tvp /soy / quorn fillets, burgers for garden burgers, sausages for veggie bangers, roast meat for nut roasts. You can get tvp / quorn / soya alternatives for most food that you are used to eating. This helps if you want your meals to look similar to other family members, especially if they are not so supportive of your decision, as your meal will look similar to theirs!

5 Start reading food labels.
Its suprising how many foods contain animal products that you might not want to eat. Yoghurts, and many chilled deserts and even some chewing gum have beef or pork gelatine in them, so if you want to cut animal by products, you need to get familiar with label reading!

6 Supplements.
While you are getting to grips with your new lifestyle, it might be good to supplement to ensure you are getting all the nutrition you need. For athletes and anyone participating in a lot of exercise especially, we need more nutrients than the average person, as we use more nutrients to workout and for recovery from exercise. The main nutrients id recommend vegetarians and vegans need to be mindful of as we are commonly found to be insufficient on are B12, Iron, Protein and Creatine.

7 Finding Alternatives
Rather than thinking I have to cut out all these things... find alternatives to replace it with. There are so many alternatives, i'll be posting a list of suggestions in another post, to help you find alternatives to make the transition easier!

8 Small changes add up.
If you are finding it hard to give up certain foods, try making more ethical choices. For example, Switch from factory farmed eggs for Free Range. If you cant totally give up meat totally but are cutting down but want to make a better choice Visit a local famers market, talk to the farmers, maybe see if you can visit the farm. Theres a farm in Devon that are organic, the animals are free range, they are not transported live, if you can find a farm that helps you make choices you are happier with and limits any animal suffering, that's better than doing nothing!

9 Don't beat yourself up!
So you have been living the veggie lifestyle for a while.. and crack and eat a bacon buttie... does that mean you are not vegetarian any more and should just give in because its too difficult? NO WAY!!!!
Just because you crack once or twice, doesn't mean you should give up... but maybe your diet is lacking in something that's making you have a craving, or maybe you need to find an alternative food  for when you feel like cracking.... Just do your best, everything you do counts towards your health and limits the impact on animals, so just get back on the veggie waggon and do your best!

10 Who makes the rules????
People feel the need to have a label
vegetarian, Vegan, Pescatarian, Ovo lacto, lacto, rawfood, fruitarian .. the list goes on...and then seem to argue over who can call themselves what. At the end of the day, you choose what you want to do, how far you want to go... based on your reasons for deciding to 'go veggie' . At one end of the scale someone gives up meat and fish at the other end, a person gives up meat fish, eggs, dairy, animal by products and products that animals may have been mistreated in producing a product. Its your choice but my advice, is to go straight to the more extreme end, can be daunting and hard to stick to, so tackling one item at a time might help! Be proud of what you achieve!



Ive been vegetarian since I was 18, from 15 to 18 I still ate fish.
Since I was 15 ive also avoided animal by products such as gelatine and rennet. I eat eggs but only free range, I am currently transitioning away from dairy- limiting it as much as possible even if I cant eliminate it completely. I see it as a long term journey and im gradually transitioning towards vegan at a rate that I can manage!


At the end of the day, you decide what you are happy with, what you can manage to stick to and whatever you do, whether its reducing your intake or cutting it out completely, it all makes a difference!
Did this post help you? Please comment with your thoughts, suggestions and questions!