Just Eat with Eat First

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Food delivery services apps have really taken off in the last couple of years, which means getting a takeaway in London has never been easier. I love using Just Eat as I find it easy to navigate, reliable and with a great selection of restaurants to order from. Getting food ordered in no longer means greasy Chinese or unhealthy pizzas as Just Eat has over 27,000 restaurants to choose from including healthy eateries and some of my favourite London restaurants. I live in Southwark and was excited to find such a wide selection of cuisine such as Turkish, Peruvian, Indonesian and even French food from Toulouse Lautrec. In the end, I plumped for Eat First for my first Just Eat order.

Eat First

I recently attended a food entrepreneurs event and heard more about Eat First From Rahul Parekh, the founder. Eat First is one of the options available on Just Eat and provides healthy meals and snacks created fresh by London based chefs. This immediately appealed to me as I love trying high quality healthy dishes but sometimes you just don't want to move from your desk or sofa and go to a restaurant!

There are a range of dishes available catering for different dietary requirements and all are reasonably priced. I ordered a number of different healthy dishes, including the Salmon Teriyaki, Korean Chicken Wings (baked not fried), Super Beef Protein Salad, the Winter Squash Salad and a green juice. Ordering using Just Eat was a quick process and I received 20% off as my order was over £30 but I was a little disappointed to see the estimated delivery time for Eat First was 75-100 minutes.

I received texts and emails from Just Eat to keep me updated and to confirm my order and delivery. My order ending up arriving after only 65 minutes, which was a happy surprise.

First impressions- I loved the minimalist packaging and most importantly, there were no leakages! The containers were compostable and the lids recyclable. The dishes also came with cards explaining the ingredients and dietary information.

The food- The beef in the Super Beef Salad was perfectly cooked as were the all the other elements but the dish seemed like it was created by throwing lots of superfoods together rather than by considering balance of flavours and textures. The salsa verde was also quite anchovy heavy and in my opinion, would have worked better with more basil and left a little chunky.

Likewise, I found the dressing in the Winter Squash Salad too sweet and felt it was seasoned enough. There was also far too much frisee lettuce and the squash was overcooked.

The Korean Chicken Wings were my favourite as I loved that they were baked not fried and the coating was perfectly spicy and tangy. I also enjoyed the green juice as it as an excellent balance of texture and flavours and wasn't bitter like many green juices I've sampled.

I saved the Salmon Teriyaki for the next day. It lasted well as it was only part cooked and I liked the accompanying teriyaki sauce. I would have liked to have seen more vegetables rather than white rice to make it a healthier option but generally well-cooked and tasty.

Overall, I thought the food was good and I am interested to see what different dishes are available on Eat First in the future. However, there were some things I didn't enjoy about the dishes (and the long estimated delivery time) so I may be more inclined to try out different restaurants on Just Eat in the future or just stick to my favourites.
www.eatfirst.com
www.just-eat.co.uk

Posted in LONDON LIVING, REVIEW

Review of Kiln Soho

Posted on March 03, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Kiln Soho is a Thai barbecue restaurant from the brains behind Smoking Goat. This Soho based eatery has quickly gained a cult status despite being notoriously difficult to get into. Like many of London's most popular restaurants, it has a no booking policy for tables under 4 people, which means you're almost guaranteed a wait. Luckily, this doesn't mean queueing outside as their digital system qudini means that you can go grab a drink nearby and wait to be notified when your table is available. But trust me that the wait is truly worth it!

The restaurant boasts an open kitchen and bar counter which runs the full length of the restaurant and ensures that you're right in the middle of all the action. The atmosphere was buzzing and lively, and the staff were all friendly and knowledgeable. 
 

The menu is fairly short and simple comprising regional Thai food with some Burmese and Yunnan dishes and all cooked in traditional clay pots (hence the name Kiln). The wine list is similarly minimalist but featured a good selection of reasonably priced wines.

We ordered almost all the small dishes on the menu to share. My favourites included the Sour Yellow Curry of Red Mullet, the Beef Heart Laap with Makhwaen and the Wild Ginger & Short Rib Curry from Burma. I also loved the Isaan Style Mushroom Salad, which was meaty in flavour and texture yet full of fresh herbs. The Laap was particularly memorable as it wasn't as full of chillies as I expected but was beautifully and delicately spiced. 

We also ordered the Clay Pot Baked Glass Noodles Tamworth Belly & Brown Crab meat, which was delicious and perfectly complemented by the zingy lime and green chilli sauce that accompanied it and the Stir Fried Cornish Greens & Soy we ordered.  

My only gripe is that I was a little disappointed that there were no langoustines on the menu as I associate them with Southeast Asian cuisine and believe they would be a welcome addition to the flavour and texture combinations at Kiln. 

Overall, I would love to return to sample the dishes I didn't try on this occasion and am interested to see how the restaurant evolves and how the menu changes seasonally. I would wholeheartedly recommend Kiln as a great place to go with friends or even on a date as the atmosphere is intimate yet lively and the food is absolutely delicious. 

Find out more and check out the full menu here.

http://www.kilnsoho.com

Posted in LONDON LIVING, REVIEW

BEST OF PANCAKE RECIPES

Posted on February 27, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Sweet or savoury, pancakes are quick and easy to make and Pancake Day is the perfect excuse to test out new recipes or flavour combinations. There are endless possibilities but I've rounded out some of my favourite pancakes recipes below. Happy flipping! 

Banana Protein Pancakes

Chia Blueberry Pancakes

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes

Chocolate Protein Pancakes 

Chocolate Pancakes

Posted in RECIPES

MINI CHOCOLATE ORANGE & ALMOND CAKES

Posted on February 19, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Chocolate Orange Almond Cakes

These moist cakes are full of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours and should be a reminder of sun-drenched days. Loosely based on a Nigella Lawson recipe, I love the combination of orange, almond and chocolate which creates a delicious gluten-free and dairy-free treat.

Makes 25

Ingredients:

2 oranges
4 eggs, beaten
3 very ripe bananas
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
75g dark chocolate

Method:

1. Wash the oranges and add to a pan of boiling water. Cook until soft which should take about 1 and half hours. Cool completely.

2. Preheat the oven to 190ºc/375ºc/Gas mark 5.

3. Cut the cooled oranges in half and remove the pips.

4. Place in a food processor and process to a smooth puree.

5. Add the eggs, bananas, almonds and baking powder and pulse until well-combined.

6. Pour the batter into a lined Swiss roll tray.

7. Bake until firm to the touch – approximately 40 minutes.

8. Cool completely in the tray.

9. Melt the chocolate in a bain mairie

10. Stamp cake into 20 rounds with a pastry cutter.

11. Brush the tops of the cake with the melted chocolate and allow to cool and set.

Enjoy!

Posted in RECIPES

REVIEW: ZEN SURF MOROCCO

Posted on February 12, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

I've always wanted to visit the Moroccan coast and when I read about a relatively new Surf and Yoga camp in Morocco, I was instantly hooked. Zen Surf Morocco is a small surf camp set in the South of Morocco near Agadir in the Taghazout area. The camp's tagline is 'awaken your senses' and focuses on relaxation and wellness to create a unique and relaxing experience. After a couple of particularly stressful months last year, I figured I could do with some well earned R & R and booked a week away for myself. 

Zen yoga camp

I'm a big believer in trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, especially when it comes to exercise and keeping active. Surfing and yoga perfectly complement one another, as yoga assists with building the flexibility required to perform surfing manoeuvres as well as helping with muscle recovery after a long day at the beach. Being by the ocean also provides a blissful and relaxing environment perfect for yoga or meditation. 

There are several different packages available allowing you to customise your trip based on your experience, budget and preferences. I chose Zen Surf Coaching, which is perfect for beginners or intermediate surfers as you have five 2-3 hour lessons from an accredited surf teacher throughout the week as well as supervised surf practice and wetsuits and boards included. I also had a yoga package, which included rooftop yoga every day. What is included differs from package to package but mine included accommodation, three meals a day and some transport. For further information click here.

Surf camp

The camp is surrounded by banana fields and set back from beach, by about 250m, off a rough track in a cluster of other homes and buildings. It has six bedrooms and is set out in typical Moroccan riad style with the rooms organised around a central courtyard with a flat roof terrace, two traditional caravans and an outdoor space. It is extremely beautiful and full of relaxing plants, coloured walls and cool open spaces.

Everyone shares a communal kitchen, dining room and bathroom, which gives it a really community camp or hostel-like feel. As I seasoned traveller, I loved this and it also made it easy to meet others and socialise. There was a diverse group of people, mostly professionals from Europe aged 30-35 who were looking to escape from their hectic lives and relax. The majority had not surfed before but like me were keen travellers and outdoors enthusiasts. 

The facilities were simple but clean and comfortable and attended to by a daily cleaner. There were also two live in staff members who were always around to help or answer questions or organise additional services such as massages. The camp offered a number of excursion options, such as visiting a local market on the Wednesday or going to Taghazout to party. The food prepared by the onsite cook was simple and hearty, there were amazing breads and olive oil with Amlou, almond butter as well as fresh fruit and traditional Moroccan dishes. There was also excellent wifi in all the areas. 

 

Surf camp

Here's an example of a typical day for me at Zen Surf-

8.30am Breakfast in dining room
10am Leave for surfing with surfing instructor for a 2 hour surf lesson. Transported to local surf spots depending on surf.
12.30pm Packed lunch on beach
2pm Beach time including free surf time supervised by surf instructor
4.30pm Return to camp
5pm/6pm Yoga lesson in camp or in Taghazout
7.30pm Dinner in dining room followed by free time 

surf camp

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience and would recommend it wholeheartedly. The staff were incredibly warm and helpful and it was clear that they were passionate about what they do. My surf teacher Hossain was particularly amazing and as well as helping me with surfing, also taught me a lot about the local culture and traditions. 

The waves were also great for beginners and intermediates and the beaches and surrounding area were beautiful and unlike typical touristy beaches I often come across when abroad. I already loved surfing after a previous trip to El Salvador but was unsure about surfing in the cold Atlantic in a wetsuit. However, I completely fell in love with surfing as it allowed me to get totally away from all my thoughts and de-stress as you have to be completely present, concentrate and just be with the waves. I would recommend it as a relaxing yet active getaway, particularly in the winter months when you're in desperate need of some sun to re-energise and reinvigorate. 

www.zensurfmorocco.com (Use the code ZENSURFANDFOOD for 10% off all packages.)

Posted in FITNESS, REVIEW

The Gut Microbiome- the Key to Health and Wellbeing?

Posted on January 28, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Gut microbiome

As humans, we live in symbiosis with both each other and millions of other organisms both around us and within us. Some microorganisms of these microorganisms are detrimental to our health and should be eradicated from our environment, whilst a huge proportion are beneficial to our health and well-being and should be nurtured.

The human digestive tract, particularly the lower intestines, host an enormous ecosystem of microorganisms, including viruses, fungi and bacteria which make up the gut microbiome. The huge surface area of the digestive tract is approx. 300 sq m (about the area of 2 tennis courts) and is the part of the body with the most direct contact with the outside world. The tract is incredibly susceptible to colonisation by a huge range of bacteria and the average human has at least 2 kg of bacteria in their guts alone. Most of the bacteria live in the lower digestive tract as the upper tract has contact with the stomach’ s digestive juices that are extremely acidic, and bile salts.

Intestinal flora

Initial colonisation takes place at birth as we pass through the vaginal canal of our mothers. As we are born, the bacteria in our mother’s body, mostly Bifidobactera, populate our gut. Those born by Cesarean section are exposed to skin bacteria instead so don’t get the benefit of populating their gut with beneficial bacteria during the birthing process. Whilst in adult life, 10% of intestinal flora are Bifidobacteria, through breast-feeding, 95% of all bacteria in the newborn’s gut are Bifidobacteria. Babies that are bottle-fed have less developed gut flora as they are less exposed to these beneficial bacteria and this can affect their immune system.

As we grow older and develop, we are exposed to more bacteria via contact with different humans, animals and foods, the intestinal flora changes. Each person has their own unique microbial footprint. So far, the Human Microbiome Project(1) have identified about 1000 different species of gut microflora over many different phyla. This is a huge ecosystem within you, which is almost as diverse and dense as the Amazon rainforest. Balance within this ecosystem is influenced by our actions and this balance maintains biodiversity to create health and wellbeing. Imbalance reduces diversity and creates illness.

Our intestinal bacterial flora are an essential component within our bodies which we cohabit. Our relationship with the microbiome is symbiotic - our bodies house the bacteria and provide food whilst the bacteria participate in our health
in several ways:
  • Breakdown of complex carbohydrates– our bodies lack several enzymes to degrade plant fibres freeing up the sugars that fruit and vegetables contain which we can then use for an energy source.
  • Produce vitamins and minerals-  the metabolic activity of intestinal flora leads to the production of vitamins K, B12 , niacin, pyroxidine and folic acid which we are unable to produce on our own (2).
  • Produce short-chain fatty acids– our gut flora ferment fibre to produce short chain fatty acids which are both an important energy source for the cells of our colon along with regulating the immune process, healing, reducing inflammation ad protection from cancer and other diseases.
  • Protect against pathogens– as the first line of defence, intestinal bacteria work by stimulating the immune response to protect against pathogenic bacteria. In addition, lactobacilli and bifdiobacteria can transform substances rich in fibre into lactic acid when there is no oxygen. Lactic acid acidifies our intestine and slows down proliferation of pathogenic bacteria.
  • Train our immune system– intestinal bacteria can selectively suppress the immune response so that we can tolerate some substances in our environment, which is important for preventing autoimmune disease and allergies. The bacterial genes can also regulate local and systemic inflammation (4).
  • Support detoxification– the gut flora are able to degrade toxic metabolites formed in the liver from metabolisation of our food. These metabolites are carried by the bile to the intestine, where the bacteria can degrade and safely eliminate them.
  • Regulate the nervous system– the latest research demonstrates a connection between our gut microbiome, digestive system, nervous system and brain. These interactions might influence everything from behaviour, mood, and appetite regulation (5).

Our gut microbiome is essential for balancing day to day body functions via both their metabolic activity and impact on the immune system. This system requires delicate balance to maintain optimal health and well-being and any imbalance could have a profound impact on our weight, health and quality of life. Imbalance of lack of biodiversity of the gut microbiome from nutrition and lifestyle choices could contribute to many diseases including including risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, allergies, mood disorders and inflammatory bowel disease.

If you would like to find out more about how your gut microbiome may have gotten out of balance and how to improve, please contact us for personal nutritional consultation or join one of the nutrition and cooking classes.

1. Peterson et al– The NIH Human genome project : Genome Research 2009; 19,
2317- 2323
2. Leblanc et al– Bacteria as vitamin suppliers to their host: a gut microbiota
perspective: Current Opinion in Biotechnology 2013; 24, 160 - 168
3. Layden et al– Short chain fatty acids and their receptors: new metabolic
targets: Translational Research 2013; 161–131-140
4. Ivanov et Honda– Intestinal microbes as immune modulators: Cell Host and
Microbe 2012;12–496-508
5. Rhee et al– Principles and clinical implications of the brain-gut-enteric
microbiota axis: Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2009; 6–306-314

Posted in NUTRITION

SPEEDY BEEF PHO

Posted on January 26, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Speedy Beef Pho

Nothing beats a bowl of steaming hot pho on a cold winter day and whilst I usually love spending time preparing the stock for the soup from scratch, sometimes you just have a major craving and not much time to satisfy it. It was one of those days last week and so I turned to the trusty Borough Broth Co to create a quick 'cheat' version. Their Beef Broth is organic and free from additives and makes a great base for a whole host of recipes. Check out their website for more recipe inspiration. 

Serves 1

Ingredients: 

300ml good quality beef stock ( or 1 Pouch Borough Broth Co Beef Broth)
2 star anise
1 small thumb of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 small head of Pak Choy
1 spring onion, sliced on the diagonal
50g bean sprouts
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
some sprigs of fresh coriander
80g beef fillet
50g flat rice noodles (or substitute for protein noodles)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Juice of ½ lime

Method:

1. Heat the beef broth gently in a pan with the star anise.

2. Meanwhile, marinate the beef fillet n the soy sauce and garlic.

3. Cook or soak the noodles according to the instructions – each brand is different. I used Oomin protein noodles for an extra protein hit.

4. Heat a frying pan and sear the beef fillet until it is browned on the outside but still pink and tender inside. Allow to rest.

5. Meantime, wilt the Pak choy in the same pan.

6. Heat the stock up until almost boiling and then pour into your serving bowl.

7. Add the Pak choy, noodles and ginger matchsticks.

8. Slice the beef and arrange on the broth.

9. Garnish with the bean sprouts, chilli, coriander, spring onions and drizzle with sesame oil and lime juice.

Enjoy!

Posted in RECIPES

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