Yak & Yeti

What: Nepalese & Indian cuisine

Where: Magdalen Street/St Botolphs, Colchester
http://www.yakandyeticolchester.co.uk/
01206 767606

How Much: from £20 a head for beers, popadums and two courses

Overall: an undeniable 10/10

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Yak & Yeti in Colchester, check out those chairs!!!

It’s always nice to be asked round for dinner, so an inbox invite from a flourishing curry house in the home town just after Christmas was well received from this blogger. A little more research showed Yak and Yeti to have popped up in a just-off town centre location that has housed a number of restaurants over the years, most of which have carried a reasonable reputation. On first impression, the Yak and Yeti appeared to have pulled up the previous standard expected, and the new hat attitude is evident to see here. I will say now that I am talking about their Colchester incarnation, there are some sister restaurants across the country though it is not immediately apparent if they are run as a chain or some kind of franchise option. The decor in the Colchester site is unashamedly striking and lavish with bold, bright panels of colour and frankly fabulous chairs which I will have in my own dining hall when the Mr finally wins the lottery and buys me my mansion in Sicily. Where was I?

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Momo Nepalese dumplings served up with some style

Right, food! I kicked off with the traditional Momo starter- a Nepalese dish of steamed dumplings, stuffed with lamb (or you can have veg or chicken) and served with a chuffin marvelous vegetable chutney. I was steered towards these by the manager on the assurance that I would not find them anywhere else in town and afterall, one can get an onion bhaji anywhere!  I do love an onion bhaji, but I was happy to be overruled to get these delicately spiced and surprisingly light little parcels of goodness. I initially regretted the agreement with the Mr that we would go halfsies on our starters, although the tandor chicken trio was equally impressive with some punchy and cleansing chutney sides and a little pile of crispy bits of something which were possibly the best addition to a spicy chicken plate that could ever be dreamed up. Marvelous.
I arrived with the intentions of trying some of the impressive range of vegan dishes available but was unable to resist the call of a couple of meaty curries in the end, though I can shout out to veegs to go for the Daal Tarka- lentils, garlic, green chilli and coriander- which was utterly delicious scooped up with some paratha (ask if they can leave out the ghee if you’re not into animal produce).
The menu has a good range of meat, seafood and veggie curries ticking all the standard expected boxes from Korma to Jalfrezy and back again, plus some larger complete meal options of a curry, bread, side and rice. I will be back to test the value of these soon. For now, I can recommend the Lamb Xacuti for the hot heads out there. This is a Goan dish that predominantly starts with a strong fennel hit developing through anise and dark spices with a lot of chilli at the end. Wowza. This is exactly how hotter curries should be delivered- with a stealth punch of heat coming through from the surrounding big flavours. Fantastic.
On the milder end of the scale is the Ghurkali chicken, a mild but still busy dish of chicken cooked with tomatoes and super secret Nepalese herbs. I could have eaten this all day, if only to try and put my finger on what was in there other than mint and coriander. Very complex but mild, one for Korma fans who might dare to step away from the cream sauce.
The staple offerings of poppadums & chutney and pilau rice are all well executed and their bread basket option is a mild slice of genius for the indecisive- mixing up a few bits of paratha and different naans for those who can’t commit to a single dough source. It’s a good amount of carbohydrates though, and sharing one of these between two of us was ambitious at best, even for two greedy people on a Friday night. The Mr was almost weeping as he unsuccessfully tried to dust off the peshwari.

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You can’t beat a Gurkha beer!

And you wash it all down with a couple of Gurkha beers, because why wouldn’t you?!?!?! It is all very well for me to sit here and say This Was A Good Curry, you can get a good curry in plenty of places around Colchester but the overwhelming impression I have of Yak and Yeti is that this is the place to stray out of your comfort zone and try something a bit different. Head down there, spend some time looking through the menu and change it up a bit. Enjoy the decor and the friendly staff and don’t be afraid to ask for some help navigating away from your usual safety order. Or, if you don’t want to get dressed or sit up straight, you will find them on Just Eat for local delivery too. The Mr has asked me to give a final mention (as he mentioned several times at the table) to the meat. Specifically, the preparation of truly buttery, fall apart lamb in the Xacuti and particularly succulent chicken in the trio starter. As he put it, you don’t really need your teeth!

Top marks, Yak and Yeti, thank you so much for having us!

clean plates all round

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Roast Carrot Hummus

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I think I’ve said before that New-Year-New-Youisms can bore right off for me, however I find myself in this early end of 2018 facing some needed changes in the kitchen, in particular by addressing my nutritional intake. Many sources agree that the end to my woes will come from more protein. About 25% of my daily intake of calories of protein, to be precise. That’s more than you might think, and not covered by my go-to vile vegan blend protein breakfast shake of choice. It’s not about dieting, it’s not about cutting carbs, rather it is about having cruddy weak leg muscles and utterly shit exercise recovery times. Need. More. Protein.

I am also blessed with a Mr who has let his winter culinary shortcuts get the better of him and subsequently requested a revision on our snack supplies, lest his current tummy expansion sneak into beast mode while no one is looking.

So we need more protein and less evil but still readily available snacks and we don’t have a budget (or inclination) to eat four chicken breasts and a head of celery a day each.  What then?

Hummus.

I bloody love hummus. I bloody love that it goes on all my favourite things- like toast and tortilla chips and carrots and I bloody love how easy it is to make a mass stash of it of a Sunday night and not have to worry about work snackage for me (or hometime binges from the fridge for Him) all week long.

For gym and slim types alike, chickpeas are packing in satiating protein and filling dietary fibre with bonus Iron, B6 and Magnesium levels. Tahini also adds about 5% protein by weight and also has a reasonable Iron and Calcium content. Yes, there’s some fat in there too, but I think we’ve stopped demonising that for a little while and I’m not asking you to eat an entire jar of sesame seed paste at a time. Unless you want to. Fill your boots. Plain hummus can get boring and strong, sweet flavours work well with the earthy umami of tahini and the sharpness from fresh garlic and lemon. Flash roasted carrots compliment it perfectly.

So here it is, my roasted carrot hummus, easy to make and keeps in the fridge for well over a week, perfect served from a little tub with some carrot sticks at your desk! I make roughly double the below recipe quantity to last both myself and his-self for a week of snacks and a bit left for Friday night. As with many nutritionally dense foods, hummus has a potentially high calorie payoff at up to 500 calories in a cup so watch your serving size if you are on a slimming mission.

Boomboom Roasted Carrot Hummus

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2 large carrots
Rapeseed oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 400g tin of chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
1-2tbspns tahini
extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt
black pepper
fresh coriander leaf –optional

Hummus constitution is a thing of great preference, so I would urge you to tinker with the levels of tahini, lemon and olive oil you use until you find your groove with this one.

Peel and chop your carrots and toss them with the cumin then roast in a hot oven (200C+) for about 30 minutes until they are soft and just starting to caramelise. Leave to cool- don’t drain off the oil.

Very finely mince the garlic and add to a food processor with the drained chickpeas and the carrots wi ththe oil & cumin they were cooked in. Blitz to a rough consistency then add the tahini, lemon and olive oil about 1/2 tbspn at a time until you have your preferred result. I tend to use 2 tbpsns of tahini, half a lemon and 1 tbspn of olive oil to a single tin of chick peas.

Season with salt and pepper then stir through as much finely chopped coriander as you fancy, if you’re using it. Serve. Boom.

Variations- weight watchers can sub the olive oil for the chickpea water from the tin but this alters the taste signiicantly. You could swap the carrots for roasted white or red onions. 

Shakshuka. Sort of.

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shakshuka (sort of) ready to go in to bake

Last week I read a very amusing article on BS slimming fads and how almost all celebrity fronted diet books feature some kind of chilli spiked eggs for breakfast. I was thus reminded about my much mused but never materialised intentions to do some huevos rancheros for Saturday breakfast at some point in my life. It has to be said that eggs, tomatoes and a bit of heat is always going to be a winning combination, and by the very definition of there being protein and veg in there it is going to win points with almost all healthy eating regimes unless you’re a vegan with a nightshade intolerance. So although this might be overdone, it is hardly a surprise that this is such a solid performer for various chefs trying to sell you their recent waist reduction techniques.  The constant content bulker of Mushrooms On Toast (f*£% off!!!) in so many cookery books is far more irritating to my mind.

So faced with lots of veg ends in the fridge and two leftover wraps I thought I would rustle up a sort of brunch yesterday to fuel a perilous shopping trip into the Mordor of these lands also known as Clacton. I did not have the makings of a huevos rancheros, but I did have a hefty casserole dish recently donated by the Mr’s Step mother drying on the side which reminded me of some kind of baked eggs and peppers thing I had half watched The Hairy Bikers make on telly once. I didn’t google it. I just threw it together, and in fairness I think it was a reasonable re-creation though not strictly speaking traditional. But hey, it is a multi cultural world we live in. Melting pots and all that. After some time I turned out a reasonably impressive and herty breakfast that the Mr declared as ‘bloody perfect’. This is high praise indeed as he puts ‘breakfast’ in the top five of his List Of Important Things most days. Possibly top three.

So here it is, great for a lazy Saturday, packed with nutrients, low fat and high flavour and I don’t care what you think about the tortilla bit, it was all I had available. And it was really nice.

Boomboom Sortofshakshuka

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sortofshakshuka, served on a toasted seedy tortilla

Serves Two, less than 500 calories per serving
4 free range eggs
1 white onion
4 vine ripened tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 cups curly kale
Chilli flakes to taste (or 1/4 tsp cumin seeds)
1 tbspn Apple cider vinegar
Splash of tomato juice
2x seeded tortilla wraps
Salt and pepper and hot sauce to serve
Rapseed oil or cooking spray
0% fat Greek Yogurt (optional)

Heat the oven to 190 degrees.
Roughly chop the onions and fry in the rapseed oil or spray with the chilli flakes (or cumin seed to go traditionally Tunisian) for a few minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the tomatoes and chopped peppers and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the vinegar then cook for another minute. Finally add the kale and a splash of tomato juice and cook through until the kale is just starting to noticeably wilt. You don’t need a lot of tomato juice- literally just enough to moisten everything but not enough to make it a proper sauce.
Transfer this into an ovenproof dish that you rescued from your In Law’s kitchen clear out- the mix should fill the dish without being spread too thinly. Carefully crack your eggs directly on to the mix, season well with salt and black pepper then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (check after 15 to avoid over cooking the eggs).

When the whites are opaque and the yolks cooked to your liking (I like them just on the verge of runny) take the dish out of the oven and set aside.

Heat a large, non stick frying pan on the hob and use this to toast your tortilla wrap for a minute on each side- they should be just starting to brown in parts but not stiffening up too much.

Line a plate with your toasted tortilla and spoon the veg and eggs on top, season well and serve with some good quality hot sauce and a dollop of fat free Greek yoghurt on the side just to really confuse things.

Variations- lose the wraps if you’re off the carbs or serve with sour dough toast instead. If you don’t like it spicy use the cumin or some garam masala instead. Green peppers instead of red and yellow will give a bit more bite to the mix and you could swap the kale or chard or even fresh spinach but in this case don’t cook the spinach through literally just stir it through the rest of the veg before the eggs go on. 

Cheat’s Cheesecake

Saturday night dessert action, best served with a juicy red and some Brookyln 99

Back in the days when we still cared what we thought about eachother, the Mr and I used to frequently take a Saturday Cookbook challenge and spend a bit of time mulling through my millions of cookbooks to pick a mildly tricky recipe to prepare for eachother for dinner. Awww.

It’s been seven years. We don’t really do that anymore.

This weekend though I found myself inspired by St Gizzi of Erskine with a chorizo meatball thing and decided that we would once more Make The Effort and do A Nice Dinner for which he would be in charge of dessert.

The morning went on, he read no books and he bought no extra ingredients at our German discount supermarket of choice when we went shopping. I wasn’t mad. I really wasn’t, because I made a storming dinner for myself as well as him, and we have a mortgage now which is too much hassle to get out of over a skipped apple tart and ice cream.
This doesn’t mean I missed the chance to smugly point out, after my bonza pasta efforts, that he hadn’t bothered to make any dessert and therefore I was winning at our relationship this weekend despite having a sore leg and a bit of a headache.
He looked at me. He looked at the telly. He looked at me again, then he went into the kitchen.
In less than 20 minutes time I was presented with what will go down in history as Jim’s Cheat Cheesecake. Sweet, rich and poshly presented in a little tumbler. It was bloody lovely. And he didn’t really think about it at all.

I hate him.

Cheat’s Cheesecake

Really quick, really simple, really lovely dessert.

Serves 2
250g quark (or other soft cheese)
4 stem ginger cookies
100g good milk chocolate
1 tbspn dark agave nectar
Tumblers or coffee cups to serve

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Smash up your biscuits into small pieces and put into the base of the tumblers. When the chocolate is melted, pour most of it into the tumblers (reserving about 2 good tsps) and mix with the broken biscuits then put the tumblers straight into the freezer.

Beat the quark with the agave until it is smooth then pour this into the tumblers and top with a splodge of the remaining chocolate. Put them back into the freezer for five minutes then serve to your girlfriend, taking careful effort to watch all of the smug drain right out of her.

variations- you could use any soft cheese for this; if you don’t have agave use icing sugar to sweeten; any crunchy biscuits would work for the base layer. 

The Skinny Thing- Carry On With Christmas

festive fruity salads to keep the Christmas spirit alive- recipe from Seasons Eatings by Gizzi Erskine

Ah, yes, January 2nd. Your gym is ram packed. Your work clothes are suspiciously tight. There’s a special joining rate at Slimming World and Joe Bloody Wicks is EVERYWHERE!!!! It’s the perfect time to embark on a strict low sugar low fat high cardio mindful double whipped nonsense of a total lifestyle change! Isn’t it?

No. I don’t think it is. Because despite these inspiring factors above, it’s cold, it’s dark, you’re skint from Christmas and just settling into the pain of a pretty epic cheese and vodka hangover. The world is quite literally pitched against your mere survival, let alone the prospect of meaningful self improvement. For me, this is the absolutely worst time of year to go extreme with anything other than sale shopping or wardrobe clear outs. A load of forced ‘healthy’ changes can be both physically and emotionally shocking after the (usual) chill and snooze options of the festive season,  yet still we all announce and encourage each other in our lofty plans of deprivation in the name of the New Year. It is as though a flip of a calendar page has erased the previous three weeks/months/years of being mere mortals with day jobs and a taste for cocoa solids.
It’s hard to drop eight pounds in a month when the fridge is still full of stilton and your favourite jogging route is too icy to negotiate without a pack of huskies. It’s hard to swap stuffing balls for quinoa salads. It’s hard to get up at 5 for that pre work yoga class when you’ve been flat out cooking for your family, sorting out the recycling and playing with your kids for ten days straight. It’s hard to refuse a cut price mince pie when your commute is suddenly busy again and it took you an hour to get home only to go to a spin class instead of curling up to a netflix splurge and the last of the Quality Street. And the harder it is, the bigger the fail potential, and the deeper the pit than runs along side your waggon for you to tumble into. Because if you have a diet fail day in March, chances are that there isn’t 3/4 of a Christmas cake still on the sideboard for you to console yourself with.
We are such extreme beings, taking an effortless slide from ten days of late nights and strong drinks into an additive free high fibre dry vegan meltdown of purity that we so often fail to look for the successful middle ground where we can have what we want and not ruin ourselves at the same time. But if you must rush headlong into January with plans of mass calorie cutting, quitting smoking, running a sub half hour marathon and writing that children’s novel about the talking fireplace you’ve been thinking of for years, I have one piece of advice: Carry On With Christmas instead.

Sex Up Your Salads.
I spent a full four hours in my kitchen on new years day for the sum total of four salads and a collapsing and sad looking ginger cake for the official End Of Festivities dinner. But those salads, by Jovi they were amazing! Because they are special salads, seasonal salads with posh dressing and pomegranate and all that stuff which is a crapton more appetising than a stack of shredded iceberg and three tomatoes smeared with weight watchers vinaigrette. I have a leftovers lunch for work today, and even with over estimation on my portion sizes I’m pretty sure I haven’t gone over 500 calories on a stonking first desk-lunch of 2018. Research your salads, and make good ones for your diet, put some time and love into them, like you do at Christmas!
Get a bowl and mix shredded red cabbage and grated carrot, dress it with 2 parts light mayo, 1 part fat free greek yoghurt and 1 part white wine vinegar plus lots of pepper. Quick and delicious.
Shred up some brussels sprouts for a nutrient packed salad base that is much more satisfying than more bloody lettuce (Seasons Eatings by Gizzi Erskine has some great variations of these).
Take that leftover cheddar and toss it with celery, tomatoes, cucumber and carrots for a crunchy lunch treat rather than just melting it over a ton of toast and get more fibre and less refined carbs for your efforts while you’re at it.

Turkey Sandwiches!
img_6472Turkey breast is one of the leanest meat options available and high in energy boosting B vitamins, you don’t have to give it up after boxing day! If you can’t be doing with roasting a whole bird every week look for it minced in the shops and turn into meatballs or burgers with fewer calories and negligible fat content vs pork or red meat. Turkey is also a great canvas for taking on other flavours so get experimental with some anti oxidant rich chillis and garlic or fresh squeezed lemon juice and green herbs rather than sugary ketchup or mayo.

Go Nuts.
There’s always a bowl of nuts about over the yuletide, but come January we all seem to be back to shunning these little kernels of goodness because of the potential calorie count. Whilst I won’t advocate a year round diet of chocolate Brazils, there is plenty of room in any diet for some nutty goodness and they may even help your weightloss and fitness goals. Yes, nuts tend to be fatty but these are those famous ‘good fats’ that are satiating and nutritious and contain all manner of mood and immunity boosting components. Chuck some pistachios in that sexed up salad to enjoy extra magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. Grab a handful of almonds in the morning to make porridge less suicidal. Soak some hazelnuts overnight in apple juice and add them to that early morning green smoothie if you must. Nuts are good for you, and nuts are tasty, just watch your portions. Go nuts, but don’t go nuts if you know what I mean.

Pop Your Cork

A glass of champagne has about 95 calories (that’s less than an average banana). A pint of beer more like 180. A medium latte about 130. I’m not saying swap all other fluids for champers, but by all means keep the fizz in your life past New Year! A little treat does you good, it makes you feel special and is actually nowhere near as bad for you as you think, in moderation of course.

Spice It Up!
I must confess I don’t love traditional Christmas spices, but cinnamon is delicious and wonderfully good for you. It is a source of manganese and calcium and has been linked with improvements in blood sugar stability (to stop you craving the Cadbury’s). Its natural sweet flavour makes it a virtually calorie free sweetener for porridge or hot milk and mixed with chilli peppers and cocoa it makes a wonderful base for a rich bean chilli if you are joining the Veganuary hoards. If your newyearnewyou punishment of choice is to cut down on caffeine then cinnamon based teas make a great, warming substitute- I really like the Pukka teas Vanilla Chai which is weirdly more cinnamony than vanilla………

vanilla chai tea from Pukka teas

Get Social!
Less daylight, lower temperatures and the associated stress of the festive season can leave you open to all manners of seasonal affective mood issues and emotional burn out through the winter months. Being sad saps your motivation to be good and whilst a quiet night alone on your sofa is probably very appealing a little bit of company for a meal or two can be quite the mood booster too. We all get sick of our family or our inlaws or Karen from accounts sometimes but maybe if we weren’t so antisocial through the year then the Christmas extroversion might not be as painful by comparison.
Host a leftovers party. Take that box of Celebrations into the office so you don’t eat them all yourself (take all the Malteeser ones out first and keep for yourself, obviously).  Make some biscuits with all those walnuts that didn’t get eaten and take them round to Mick’s to catch up on the Eastenders special together. Pop in and see your Nan for tea, she might not have any more presents for you but odds on she’d love to see someone and she’s still got a bit of brandy somewhere…..

Get to bed!
Who had a couple of lie ins over the festive period? Ah, that snoozy heaven. And who sneaked off blissfully early to bed one night after a mince pie too far? Wonderful.
Being well rested isn’t just good for your eyebags- sleepy time allows your body to heal and your brain to chill out and process exactly what it was that Auntie Shirl meant about you being ‘the real Christmas cracker’ this year. Getting a full 8 hours a night has also been observed to yield greater fat loss results than those seen in dieters eating the same food but only catching 5-6 hours of zeds. Who doesn’t want to sleep for ages and wake up skinnier?

Sometimes the laziness and the excess are the best bits of Christmas but they really aren’t the aspects you should keep up all year, regardless of you weight loss goals. It doesn’t all have to be a shameful bump back to earth though and you can drag out that Yuletide spirit without buggering your skinny jeans goal completely until the days  start to get a little bit longer and that aerobics class and green smoothie bowl make you want to cry a little bit less.

2018- The Dinner Resolutions

2018

Ah, hogmanay is upon us, and I feel this morning like 2018 may continue very much as 2017 is ending. Basically that means sore footed and snotty (you are dead to me Jon & Kerrie) whilst trying to devise ways to eat good dinners and keep the Mr away from anything with lemon in it.

Ah, it’s not all bad, it’s just early.

In review, I made quite a few ticks on my 2017 list and will infact be seeing out the year in one of my promised venues from last year, The Kovalam, which has become our celebration restaurant of choice. I didn’t make it to Lily Vanilli’s and the bloody Man Behind The bloody Curtain didn’t materialise for a number of booking conflicts but they will bump on to my renewal wish list at midnight. I kind of hope that this is all that thumps about as the year flips over this time.

Confession: New Year is not traditionally a happy time for me. Take a ticket and get in line if you fear this is some kind of attack on any NYE I have spent in your company. It has nothing to do with you- frankly I enjoy drinks and celebrations at any time of year but the actual entire New Year concept is often something of a gloomy weight for me. There’s a bunch of reasons for this, but the biggest is that the end of the year is a time to look back. To reflect. To add up all the little notes and failures and embarrassments and slights and underachievements that have dragged me another twelve months closer to the grave. Woe is me.
OK fine, not really, I don’t need a Samaritans intervention and I really don’t need to spend any more time agonising over my Nine Of The Best instapost. Time to look forwards.

I don’t want to be that bore who bangs on about wellness and feelings and all that but just for a moment let’s get bored about wellness and feelings. I’ve seen a lot of pleas this year to think of those who are alone at Christmas and think of those who might not like the holidays (disgraceful term) and this gets right on my festive tits, not because I don’t wish to think of these people but because I can’t believe people still need to be reminded to be nice to eachother and lay off the emotionally fragile once in a while!

What the AF has this got to do with a food blog? I will tell you. The world sucks. The world contains misogyny scandals and factory farming and everything dark and selfish within humanity that has allowed a demented gibbon to rise as leader of the free world. There isn’t much I can do about those things, and it is easy to become massively depressed about the state of the world, or massively depressed about the state of yourself. When you can’t wave a magic wand to change the world, you can take a peek inside yourself and make some changes there which nudge the world as a whole in a better direction and quite frankly cheer you the hell up.

I’m going to wager that you eat every day, I know I do, so I’m going to start there, and do my best to start looking at my dinners as a way to make a softer and possibly kinder world that isn’t quite so depressing.
I am absolutely not going vegan.
I am also not cooking tonight. It has caused me enough stress to calculate the perfect ‘casual’ new years day dinner for visiting parentals and a work weary Mr alike, if I had been planning a blow out NYE dinner too it may well have destroyed me. The pressure. The vegetarians. The wonky oven. Horrors. So screw it, I booked a table and everyone can have exactly what they want and if I hadn’t I would literally not be sitting here to type this now. I would probably be crying in the kitchen on my third Scotch. Herein is my first resolution for 2018 and it comes under Be Kind To Yourself. This is a bullshit self help slogan but I’m hijacking it. It means taking that long bath or that cheeky sick day. It means saying no when you need a rest and yes when you need a laugh. It means a slice of gingerbread latte cake and a pornstar martini but it also means a kale salad and a run around the block too. There is only one you, and you should look after you. Don’t feed yourself crap, in an emotional sense yes but in an actual one too. Give yourself a break. Masses of sugar, endless espressos and litres of high fructose corn syrup infused frankenfoods scarfed in a darkened room might sound great but they will make you feel shit. Just stop living off shit all the time. Get up, get green and get outside for a bit of fresh air. Then fine, eat the cake later but not the whole cake. Treat yourself. No really, think about that word, and treat yourself. Look at what is on your plate and think about what it is going to do to your innards. Your innards run your outards, you know. Be nice to both of them.

Next up, Be Kind To Others. Give to charity. Have some buddies over for a meal because it’s nice to have dinner cooked for you- especially if you are usually the host. Most people are much easier to please than you might think and they would love a chance to sample that funny trifle with ginger nuts and dream topping that your nan taught you how to make. Plus you can get rid of one of the eight Pannatones still in the cupboard from Christmas and you know they will bring some wine with them, so everyone wins.
Take your friend out for a long walk or a short stack of pancakes and talk to them. They might need it even if you don’t. Believe it or not just listening to the thought of others is a kind of therapy, it’s called Giving A Shit. It is important to give a shit about other people because it helps you give a shit about yourself. It is easy to focus on the success of others and the failures of yourself too. I do this constantly. I frequently tell my mates not to beat themselves up whilst mentally listing all of the reasons why I should die alone in a hovel whilst self flagellating with some dried brambles. When you care a bit about the pain in other people they become less Super Human and a bit more like you. And life is not all pain of course! You can share the funny and the triumphs too and even if your life hasn’t gone to shit it’s still cool to see someone else doing well. Hang out with other people, and be kind to them.
Give to your local foodbank because some people literally cannot afford to heat their home and eat in the same day. In a world where you can spend £300 on a gold leaf vintage brandy cocktail, this still happens. It is a disgrace. Help them out. Look up your local one here: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/ways-to-give/donate-food/
Take one of those tubs of Celebrations into work even if you do share an office with a bunch of pricks. Everyone likes Celebrations.
Stop buying cheap, mass farmed meat because those chickens die scared and filthy. Look for the welfare assertions. Ask about origin. Ask about people. Sorry, what? No, I don’t expect you to start cooking with organic hand reared fillet of Caucasian, but food is about farming too and the little creatures aren’t the only ones to suffer for your dinner. At the very least, move your coffee and chocolate to Fair Trade only. Ask where your avocados were grown and research living conditions there. Take a very hard look at where your nuts and spices come from and cut out palm oil out wherever you can because the origin is so hard to assert. Check out Farm Africa and send them a fiver. Be Kind To Others. I will try to.

Finally, Be Kind To Your Planet.
Seriously, you don’t have anywhere else to live, why the hell would you contribute to pollution or global warming or mass extinction?
Eat more plants, because we need plants. Sorry, what? Right now, masses of energy and effort goes into growing plants to feed animals to later kill those animals to make burgers, and we are running out of clean air and topsoil because of this. Google it if you want more info. Eat more plants, and grow more plants. Lay off the meat a couple of days a week. Petition against idiot councils hacking down trees to appease wankers who don’t like cleaning bird poo off their shiny cars. Walk to the shops once in a while. Grow your own potatoes and stop wasting the food you already have.
If nothing else, please buy a long life reusable water bottle. Recycle. Put a jumper on and turn the heating down a degree. Put a bug hotel in your garden and an aloe vera on your windowsill. Nature makes you feel better, it really does, and it needs some help. Be Kind To Your Planet.

So these are my dinner resolutions- less meat and more kindness. How dreadfully pious and self-congratulatory , right?
I am literally about to eat shortbread for breakfast then nip out to fill up my gas hog VW with hydrocarbons as an 18th birthday treat for the old tank. Then I’m going to get smashed and stuffed with curry tonight and probably feel like crap tomorrow which will make me grumpy and disrespectful to my mother. I am not perfect. You aren’t either. Maybe we can do better, maybe we can’t, but we can do kinder.

I wish you all the best in 2018, for you and your people and your planet. Happy New Year, up yer bum, etc.

The Green Tea Thing

GT

I’m on the challenge wagon again, and this time it’s Green Tea. Green tea is from the same plant as your standard black or white tea, just harvested at a different stage of growth, and it is widely held to contain a good amount of antioxidants and diuretic metabolism boosting properties. It is basically eastern magic in a mug and will make me a skinnier, happier, faster running guru of intestinal peace, allegedly. And it’s not as bad for you as coffee is.

I drink a lot of coffee. Too much coffee. I have been know to hurt people who suggest that I cut down on it because it’s mine and I like it and can’t you just LET ME HAVE THIS ONE THING!!!!!!!!!

OK so it isn’t the coffee that is bad, rather the caffeine. For quick reference- caffeine is a naturally occurring compound which directly acts on the central nervous system as a stimulant. Basically this means it wakes you up and gets you going with a jolt to your general alertness. It is a drug, and in excess can cause headaches, insomnia, stomach problems, muscle tremors and a rainbow of anxiety issues. In a sensible amount, as in maybe 2 cups of coffee a day, it isn’t a big deal, but it is still a drug. Green Tea contains roughly 1/3 as much caffeine as coffee does with the added bonus friendly chemical EGCG which is currently showing signs of anti viral, anti carcinogenic and cholesterol lowering behavior in medical research programmes. Bonus.

So in the name of self abuse of the highest foodie order, I’m going to try to dump my coffees for green tea because it might be really good for me and after my own recent rant on food waste I can’t really in good conscience ignore this open box of Knightsbridge tea bags on my desk any longer. Here Go.

Day 1:
Coffees drunk- 1 nespresso first thing, 1 instant in the office.
Green Teas- 2
I remember again why I dislike green tea so much, it just tastes of No. Sour, rotting old grass, bleaugh. The key to success today is going to be remembering to take the bag out promptly and not let it get too strong.

Day 2:
Coffees drunk- just the 0630 nespresso
Green Teas- 2
My brewing method is improving, by which I mostly mean shortening and I am reminded of previous green tea interludes when I became convinced that it was dehydrating. I laughed that off as anecdotal/a good excuse to stop before but must overshare with you today that I seem to be peeing very little. Any metabolism boosting properties were certainly not evident on my Wednesday night run.

Day 3:
Coffees drunk- 1 nespresso first thing
Green Teas- 3
I am desperately thirsty today. Still not much action in the pee department. Mild compulsion to kill at 2pm. According to the Livestrong guide these 3 green teas have equated to the caffeine I would have had from a single coffee, so perhaps this is some sort of withdrawal rage though I suspect it might be more to do with men being idiots.

Day 4:
Coffees drunk- Half the early nespresso because I got up late
Green Teas- 3
I cannot stop peeing and my mood has improved, though this is likely to be entirely Friday related.

Day 5:
Coffees drunk- 5. It’s Saturday and there’s no green tea in the house.
Doses of caffeine containing cold and flu medication taken: 4
Hours slept- roughly none.
Incidents of suspected heart palpitations: 3 (but Ben Barnes was on the telly so…..)

Day 6:
Coffees drunk- 2, both weird ginger spice variations with almond milk.
Moscow Mules used to soothe Snow Fear and isolation- too many.

Day 7:
Coffees Drunk- Half an early nespresso
Green Teas- 3. I already hate the taste much less than I did last week.

In Summary:
You know, as much as I love a cup o’ Joe, I think my obsession/addiction/over consumption issue is actually just hot drinks in general. I am something of a massively habitual creature, and an early coffee is something I enjoy pretty much every single day, usually in the company of the morning headlines and there is no acceptable substitution for this. Ever. However, once this initial caffeine fix is met I am actually quite happy to rock on through the day with all manner of warmed hydration fixes and I’m going to ditch my weekday workdesk coffees for good. I’m also going to put some limits on myself on the weekends too, when my worst caffeination damage occurs.

A week isn’t time enough to prove that the tea did it but I’ve lost just over a pound in weight this week without much real effort and managed to rid myself of a uncharacteristic acne outbreak.  I’ve also put my general fluid intake up by about 20% as I now don’t fear that mid afternoon cuppa will keep me awake all night. All good things, but the biggest player in my coffee dump decision came from a joyless night home alone over the weekend. Saturday kicked off with a back to back americano binge which then clashed in the afternoon with a full on attack of the Manflu. Having shit to do and places to be, I dosed myself up on cold and flu tablets and tried to soldier on. Each of the 4 doses taken added effectively another espresso on my intake. By the time I lay twitching in bed at 1am with a godawful stomach ache, staring at the ceiling and contemplating life, love and whether or not Dorian Grey would be able to share his selfies in a modern day interpretation, it occurred to me that actually caffeine is really not very nice for you.

So I lost a bit of weight and some spots, what else? I wont say I feel desperately more energetic or clean or any of that but with the exception of that skittery night of roughly 90 minutes rest at the weekend, I have slept better in the last week than I have for some time. More specifically I am getting to sleep a lot sooner, having retained the same bedtime, and consistent quality of sleep is something that impacts on many aspects of health and in particular successful weight loss. Also, sleep, hello! I like sleep! And I want to kill the Mr much less if I’m not awake to be disturbed when he starts snuffling and talking about saucepans in his dreams, which he actually does quite a lot. So there you go, Green Tea may also be proven in time to be a martial aid of sorts.

I still like coffee too, so that early nespresso is staying but other than that, it’s going to be mean and green all the way.

 

Some extra reading if you fancy it: https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/the-face-off-coffee-vs-tea