Friends, cake, sweets, leggings… a few of my favourite things

My blog has been so behind recently. Since getting back from Dubai I’ve been a bit all over the place. So a great place to start is a post on some things I’ve been loving and trying lately (as well as a mini guest appearing from Papa Apple).

Starting with some seriously needed catch up time with my lovely friend, Charlotte at the weekend in Brighton. Seeing her (and her husband, Paddy!) was exactly what I needed. I was in need of a good chat and vent. She’d baked an obscenely good carrot cake with the perfect ratio of sponge to icing (basically 1:1).I had two slices – I had to be certain it tasted as amazing the first time ūüėČ I did have grand plans of doing a Brighton parkrun (ideally the Preston Park one, which I’ve yet to do) but my calf has been playing up (insert sigh here) so I played it safe and enjoyed a lovely lie-in.Charlotte and I headed into town to do some coffee drinking and shopping before getting to Food For Friend bang on 12 to get a table (they don’t take bookings at the weekend and they’re super popular). It’s a great vegetarian and vegan restaurant that has such a diverse menu.

We got a table and checked out the menu. The last time we went there we made a poor choice of both getting the same sweet potato cake things. They were nice but it was a lot of sweet potato and not much else. This time we were more savvy. We ordered a sharing platter of lots of different things, such as cauliflower fritters, hummus, halloumi bites and lots more. Charlotte ordered some chips on the side and I ordered tofu crispy bite things and some fried aubergine things.It was delicious! So many flavours, textures and good stuff going on. We ordered more halloumi bites though towards the end because they really are the show-stoppers. We decided to forgo pudding (shocker I know) and mosey about a bit more. We’d popped into a great sweet shop before the restaurant so we had a bit of sweet stuff to keep us satisfied.

The sweet shop was amazing. It’s called SugarSin. It was quite an amusing experience because we’d only gone in there to have a look as it was quite a colourful and fun looking shop. We browsed the pick n mix but really we weren’t going to buy anything. The shop owner asked us if we needed help and we did that British thing of “no no just browsing”. He asked us if we’d like to try any of the sweets‚Ķ any? Ooooh OK maybe just a try then. And then after telling us some information about the sweets (they’re from Sweden so not your traditional Candy King style affair) we’d grabbed bags and were loading up. Such easy prey haha!But let me tell you, the sweets are so good. Lots of different ones you wouldn’t see anywhere else. Worth it!So a very lovely trip to Brighton, as always. I went home feeling a bit more clear-headed and happy. What friends are for ūüôā

And another one of my great loves along with good friends and good food‚Ķ leggings! I was recently sent some leggings from the rather creative guys at Gear Bunch. Now if you’ve read my blog for even a tiny period of time you’ll know I quite like myself a pair of leggings. So when they offered to let me a try a pair of theirs I was more than willing, of course.

Their leggings are very jazzy indeed. I mean there’s no other way to describe them. If you want to make a statement at the gym or out running, these are for you. They have some truly fantastic designs and colours. I’m a little more subtle in my fashion choices so decided to choose a pair that weren’t quite so “out there” with the design. I quite liked the ombre effect and pink and black is a nice blend.They fitted nicely and were tight but not overwhelmingly so. They gave my bum a nice flattering look and didn’t sag anywhere. I could do lunges and use the bike in them. I would say with the colour I chose that underwear choice is something to consider wisely however as they can become slightly sheer when stretched.I imagine it really depends on the design you go for as to how much of an issue this is but with the pink colouring at the top I wasn’t able to wear black underwear (sorry if TMI but I’m being honest). They did require an occasional pull up though and didn’t feel like a second skin like say Lululemon or Nike.Overall I quite like them as a funky pair of leggings. I probably wouldn’t wear them on squat days just because of the sheer factor but all other stuff would be fine. I don’t know how they’d be for running however as I don’t wear leggings to run in that much at all!

There’s been a lot of social media hype regarding the recent release of the Halo Top ice cream. It’s a very popular ice cream brand in American. It’s a “guilt-free” ice cream in that it’s a lot lower in calories and it’s not full of artificial gunk and nasties. Now don’t get me wrong, ice cream is ice cream. It’s a supplementary item to your diet. If you want a pint of Ben & Jerry’s have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. It won’t kill you. But sometimes I want to eat a pint of ice cream on a Wednesday night and not feel like I’ve just filled my body with excessive amounts of sugar. I’m a volume eater so this perfectly fits into my persona. I’m sadly not one of those people who can have a scoop and put it away. It doesn’t work for me.

So Halo Top is a lovely compromise of not pushing the boat out but still getting a solid ice cream satisfaction. However it is expensive – ¬£5 a tub, ouch. The Chocolate flavour is delicious though and though it’s not as dense or full of all the chocolatey bits and pieces of a B&J tub, it is still very tasty.

I was also recently asked to review a weight-loss supplement. Now I don’t need to lose weight so this wasn’t something I was going to try. However I asked my dad if he fancied giving it a go (he’s currently doing Slimming World) and he said he was game.

The product is called Maxislim BerryTrim. It has a high strength of Glucomannan which, according to the product is “proven weight loss and gut health”. I don’t now where these sources are though. It argues that the soluble fibre in the product will make you feel fuller for longer. I can understand the logic behind that. Glucomannan has a low energy density, which researchers (again, not sure who) say “can encourage feelings of fullness as it expands in the digestive tract“.

Gut health¬†is important, helping you have a good immune system and healthy digestive system. So that at least sounds like a winner. More fibre is definitely a good thing if your diet lacks it. The product also contains Inulin, a prebiotic that helps with gut health as well.I mean¬†personally I’m not a fan of weight-loss supplements but supporting gut health and getting the digestive system moving is a good thing. Each serving is 22 calories and contains a host of ingredients such as¬†L-Carnitine l-Tartrate, Green Tea Extract, Acai Berry powder, Barley Grass powder, Beetroot juice amongst others. It’s a vegan-friendly product. It also won the ‘Best Supplement’¬†at the UK Natural Health Trade Summit in October 2017.So my dad tried it for a few days. I got him to answer a few questions for me so I could write up his thoughts… He didn’t have a great experience it must be said.

  • How did it taste? It was inoffensive but the aftertaste lingered for hours ‚Äď it really left a poor taste, but it went down quite easily.
  • How did it mix with water (recommended way to consume)?¬†Mixed with water¬†very easy. Not lumpy but I preferred the sachets as more consistent than the tub [bare in mind, this is a man who doesn’t like faff]
  • Initial reaction? Texture was like a very cheap fruit powder drink. It had a weak flavour. Not one I looked forward to drinking.
  • Later reaction?¬†This was the real issue for me. After two days of these I experienced an upset stomach, very loose bowl movements and a general feeling of unwellness in the stomach. Yes it made me feel full but not in a good way. [This is more information than I’ve ever wanted from my dad…]
  • Could you see it working for others? Not if they have the same reaction as I did.
  • Weight lost? 1/2 lb in a week, but bare in mind I’m also doing Slimming World and consistently losing with that.

So that’s his honest thoughts. It sounds like it might be useful to some people who don’t get enough fibre in their diets and need to add a bit of “oomph” in but realistic you could just eat more vegetables.

Have you ever tried a weight-loss supplement?

Do you like patterned and jazzy leggings?

What’s your favourite pick n mix sweet?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the leggings and the weight-loss supplement for free in exchange for a review on my bog. All opinions are my (and my dad’s) honest one.**

Brighton Hove Prom parkrun and lots of food

So after I said goodbye to mum in London (continuing on from Monday’s post), I headed to meet my good friend, Charlotte, to¬†go to Brighton to spend the evening and Saturday with her. I hadn’t seen her in a few months (far too long) and I’ve always been meaning to do a Brighton parkrun so it seemed a good time to do.

Let’s ignore that I also had the London Marathon on the Sunday… London, to Brighton, home, to London again. It was all rather complicated and dependent on me getting my train tickets correct and adult head on. Spoiler: I adulted well!

I love Brighton. It’s like London but better because not only does it have the sea but it’s less crowded and busy but still has the cool factor, funky shops and GREAT places to¬†eat. Technically, Charlotte lives in Hove but it’s all walkable (as my dad and I¬†found for the Brighton 10k…we parked at Charlotte’s so we didn’t have to pay ridiculous money).

And what’s immensely cool, but would be seriously dangerous for me if I had such an advantage, is the fact that their house has lots of Deliveroo options within the area. So that night we got some tasty burritos and chicken salad delivered from the Mexican restaurant, JQ’s Kitchen.I had smokey chicken and it was delicious. My friend also blew my mind by eating a pork burrito. Ever since I’ve known her (we’re talking over 10 years here) she’s been a veggie. And there she was, nonchalantly eating PORK like no big deal!

The next morning we had a glorious lie-in until 8am and then made a gentle amble (a leisurely 20 minute walk) to the nearest parkrun, the Hove Prom parkrun (Brighton actually have four parkruns!).¬†She’s not a runner so she was there to support me, bless her, but I was still blown away by how close she lived to a parkrun! How convenient.I wore my Boston Marathon jacket and it contrasted nicely with the beautifully coloured beach huts. The weather was gorgeous. Barely any wind, lots of sunshine and just a very slight chill. Perfect parkrun conditions.

Hove Promenade parkrun is quite a simple course. You basically run up and down the promenade (surprise, surprise). Because of this, it’s very flat. There are four turnarounds though which can break the flow, but really it’s a very good PB-potential course I’d say. Not that I was aiming for that the day before a marathon!There was a lovely happy buzz about the place as the Brighton & Hove Albion football team had recently got promoted to the premier League (the first time in a LONG time apparently) so lots of people had worn the blue and white colours to celebrate. The Run Director was very funny as well so made the start an enjoyable experience. It’s always nice when it’s a bit more relaxed and jovial.

I had intended on aiming for the 24 minute mark but on a flat course and feeling good, I realised I would be aiming for a faster time. I wasn’t going to bust my lungs or ruin my legs, but I did want to blast it out. I’ve done this before marathons previously so I didn’t feel in danger of doing anything too stupid (or at least, stupid relative to my usual Annerisms).Charlotte stood on the sidelines cheering us on and snapping some photos. It was nice to see her a good number of times as we ran up and down the prom (you basically run up and down twice, with the start/finish in the middle).If I’m honest, the course is a little dull. The sea views are beautiful but it’s all on the flat concrete path of the promenade and you’re running up and down… which after about 10 minutes can feel quite monotonous. That said, the final finish bit is quite cool. Once you turn around for the final stretch, it’s about a quarter of mile to the finish. It’s¬†a fair way¬†but I had enough gas in the tank to power past several people and keep working until I reached the end. That final push really did take it out of me though and I had that horrible “oof feel a bit sick feeling”.

I got 21:40, which I’m so pleased with. I’m loving seeing these 21:xx’s at the moment. I feel in a good place. I know when I’m super fit when I’m hitting 20:xx’s though, but I can’t see that happening soon without extra speed sessions.

And EVEN better than the short walk to the parkrun was the short walk to the nearby Starbucks. What a luxury! I had a delicious SF hazelnut Americano as we walked back to Charlotte’s¬†house. We stopped in a couple of shops en route where I clocked a pair of Nike leggings that began a mental battle in my head about whether to buy or not (I did not) and we overheard a bunch of runners talking about London, which made me rather nervous!

I quickly showered and we headed out again (skipping breakfast as it was now past 11am) and walked into Brighton. We were aiming for lunch at Food For¬†Friends, which I’d heard sooo many good things about (especially from Maria). We got there in perfect time for lunch and they thankfully had room for us (apparently they get very busy).

We were both quite hungry by this point so decided on having some starters as well. The majority of our choices were influenced by what we saw other people ordering.For starters I had¬†Goat‚Äôs curd, caramelised pear and hazelnut praline (yes I did copy that from the website). We also shared some paprika halloumi bites which came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, which were incredible.We both went for the crispy sweet potato cakes for our main but we agreed we may have made the wrong decision. We saw so many delicious and varied plates go past us to different tables, so when our three potato cakes came out they looked a little bit…well, boring. Don’t get me wrong, they tasted really good and they were lovely and filling but there wasn’t much variety to the meal and a whole lot of sweet potato. I wish I’d have chosen a salad or something a bit more exciting. I did enjoy it though and the carbs were very welcome pre-marathon.

On the subject of necessary carbs, after lunch we moseyed about the cool vintage and unique shops while keeping our eyes open for a potential pudding opportunity. And lo! and behold, in the middle of one of the streets we spotted a beautiful array of delicious-looking treats.Straight away I knew I wanted the peanut butter and salted caramel cookie. It looked incredible. I’m actually not a huge peanut butter fan, but mixed with the salted caramel intrigued me. Plus walking around eating a cookie would be easier than trying to cram a slice of cake into my mouth (don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t necessarily¬†hinder¬†me, but for the benefit of all those around me I thought it would be a nicer experience to just attempt to eat a cookie). Charlotte got a brownie, which had chunks of Oreo cookie inside (an “Oreo Mosaic” apparently). Usually I’m a big brownie fan, but I prefer them warmed up with ice cream (I know, such a cake diva). I also managed to persuade Charlotte to share a chocolate “crinkle”¬†cookie as well. It was only ¬£2 and it practically jumped into my hands I swear.

The cookie was really dense, soft and crumbly (the ideal cookie consistency in my humble opinion). Very tasty. The chocolate crinkle cookie thing was very dense and soft. It wasn’t dry but it did suck the moisture out of your mouth. I also tried (and then later finished off…) Charlotte’s brownie, which had a great texture of soft and crunchy. Basically I was in cake munching heaven.We walked around a bit more, saw some cool graffiti, and then after grabbing another Starbucks because wellllll, one must when with fellow Starbucks lovers, I headed to the train to go back to my parent’s house. I’d walked far too much and eaten far too much sugar, but I was very happy indeed.

What’s your favourite kind of cookie?

What would you choose as a vegetarian meal to eat?

Have you done any of the Brighton parkruns?