Sunday, 3 December 2017

A week of food with FoodSaver Fresh

In my last post I talked about my latest diet changes and discovery of the FoodSaver Fresh, which has made the transition to a more plant based way of living so much easier. 

Since then I've received a lot of messages asking about what I usually eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So I thought it would be helpful to document a week of food for you and how I actually store the food to make it stay fresh, reduce waste and save money!

Weekly grocery haul (minus the store cupboard staples)

Breakfast 
Protein zoats and all the best toppings 
My morning routine hasn't changed for years now. I'm a creature of habit and stick by the saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". You guessed it - zoats. They're my go to breakfast and you can find my recipe here BUT to make it completely vegan I now use 1 chia egg instead of egg whites. I find that this brings the dish together really well and still keeps me just as full as the voluminous egg whites would. 

I mentioned on Instagram that oats can have the tendency to make me feel a little weighed down. So if I'm training in the morning, I will make my sweet potato protein bowl, which can be found here. It says 'pudding' on the recipe but I have it for breakfast too. Because who doesn't like dessert for breakfast?!

My other option on early training days is a big protein smoothie filled with all the usual culprits - sweet potato, banana, spinach, greens powder, protein powder and almond milk. I also like to throw in some extra fruit if I have some such as berries or mango. 

A lot of the time I'm using up portions of fruit or vegetables and want the remainder of the packet or cut open fruit/veg to stay fresh until I need it again. The FoodSaver Fresh has been a great way for me to store this food in their vacuum packed bags as shown in the photos. No more soft, brown bananas/mangoes/courgettes. They're all much fresher for at least double the time than they otherwise would be using conventional storage methods. 

The FoodSaver Fresh is so easy to use too. Line up the bag, adjust the height of the vacuum head and press start as soon as the green light shows. 10 seconds later you're sealed up and it's ready to be stored in the fridge!

Left: pre vacuum seal
Right: post vacuum seal..! (obviously)


Lunch 
Typical lunchbox for me - Thai marinated salmon, quinoa and veggies
My lunch is simple and easy. It's often just left overs from my dinner! 

Recently I've been making an effort to make them completely vegan for a couple of reasons:

a) I'm now only eating fish for 3-4 meals a week 

b) because of the above I thought I'd be slightly kinder to my colleagues and stop making the staff room smell of fish..! So I'm keeping the fish to evening meals most of the time. 

So lets get onto these dinners..









Dinner
I like to cook up a few big batches of pulses or beans and then combine them with different veggies that I sauté each evening - just because they are so quick to fry and whilst I'm doing so, I can think about what else I want to eat with them - ultimate multi-tasking, right..?! 

I structure all my meals with a source of protein, carbohydrates (including lots of vegetables) and a healthy dose of good fat. I also have dessert every evening without fail. This is usually a bowl (or two) of all the good stuff - it's basically a slightly smaller version of one of my breakfast bowls..!

Bought two red snapper fillets so I can cook once and eat twice! Winner.

Curried salmon, sweet potato mash, veggies and tahini ofc
A few of my current favourite protein (and carb) sources:
1. green split pea curry and rice (recipe here)
2. lentils (usually red lentil daal or puy lentils)
3. basic rice and beans 
4. tempeh
5. roasted spicy chickpeas and wild rice
6. smokey sweet potato and pinto beans (accidentally made this recipe when I had cinnamon sweet potato mash in the same container as some smokey pinto beans. Thought I'd try it together and now I'm obsessed - it's just the best mix of flavours and textures!) 

So those are the main things that I cook in batches and will then store for 3-4 days (if I don't eat them all before that time!) The great thing about using the FoodSaver Fresh is that because my meals stay fresher for longer, I can cook a few more options than I otherwise would. Before FoodSaver I would pick one or two of these options and eat the same thing for a couple of days. Now I pick three or four and alternate each meal. It allows me much more variety in my diet, which keeps it interesting and exciting! 



The magical mistake - smokey sweet potato and pinto beans!
I'm addicted.
Storing fish has now also become a lot easier. I was actually amazed the first time I did this with the FoodSaver Fresh as when I took the lid off the container a couple of days later, I wasn't overwhelmed with the smell of fish as I usually am with standard tupperware (gross I know, but I'm just being honest..!) 

As a lot of plant based meals are naturally much higher in carbs, I don't often then add in a separate carb unless I'm just having fish as my protein. 

If I am having fish or tempeh, then my carb sources are usually:
1. quinoa 
2. sweet potato wedges or mash 
3. brown rice 
4. mashed parsnip (I love parsnip in the winter!)

Again, I used to hate having tupperwares of quinoa or rice and found my mash went a little bit weird after a couple of days. BUT removal of all air using FoodSaver preserves the freshness of these dishes so much more. It makes putting time into cooking seem that much more worthwhile when you know it'll last more than one day in the fridge!



Stackable FoodSaver storage - fits SO easily into the cupboard and fridge
I'm very samey with my fat sources:
1. nuts and/or seeds 
2. tahini (it goes on virtually every meal I have!)
3. avocado 
4. olive oil or sesame oil 

Now I use the FoodSaver Fresh for 90% of my food storage, however, there are a few things that it specifies cannot be stored using their vacuum sealing system. These include foods that naturally release gases including fresh mushrooms, raw onion, cauliflower and bananas. 

For these items I still put them in the FoodSaver containers but don't vacuum seal them. I just love how easily the containers all stack up and how neat it looks in my fridge - I think it's my OCD.

I haven't had a chance to buy a loaf of bread this week but is it weird that I'm excited to buy one, vacuum pack it in a FoodSaver container and not wake up to a rock hard sourdough loaf in the morning..?! Okay, yes, it's weird but I'm still excited to do it.

So that's a brief overview of my week of eating at home, however, I do go out for brunch and dinner about 3-4 times a week. This is another reason that I'm becoming a little obsessed with FoodSaver - I can prep food and know that even though I am not eating at home the day after or for the next two evenings, the food will be fine in the fridge and taste just as good in 3 days time.

Next week I will be researching some common food beliefs and looking into sustainability and waste I the UK. It's a topic I'm becoming much more aware of after previously being quite ignorant about it so stay tuned for the findings..!

Jess x






N.B. This post was kindly sponsored by FoodSaver but as always, all opinions are my own and 100% honest



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Saturday, 18 November 2017

Diet changes, my current obsession & FoodSaver Fresh

Over the past few months I've had a little bit of a diet overhaul.

To rewind a step - I've not consumed dairy for about a year now as it causes me to have terrible breakouts. Since doing this I've felt much better in myself and more confident in my own skin. It is from this small change and through greater research into the dairy and meat industry that I decided to continue transitioning my diet into a more plant based way of living.

Of course, I've also watched 'What the Health' and 'Cowspiracy' on Netflix. Who hasn't? To be honest 'Cowspiracy' didn't tell me anything I wasn't already aware of. However, 'What the Health' actually documented some pretty impressive statistics and cases of people reversing chronic illnesses through vegan diets. If you haven't seen 'What the Health', it's one documentary I actually would recommend watching. If you're conscious of your health in any way (which I assume you are if you're reading this), then it could change your opinion on a few things like it did for me. Either way, it's a brilliant educational tool into the meat and dairy industry if nothing else.

Meal of the moment - my green split pea curry and rice! 
Saying all that, I'm not vegan though. And I wouldn't want to label myself as vegan either because right now I'm very far from it. I still consume fish, especially wild caught salmon just because I love it and it contains essential omega 3 fatty acids. I also heave at the thought of consuming omega 3 supplements though.. So at the moment there is no way I'd consider giving up something I love like salmon in favour of fishy tasting tablets. Ew.

I also still consume eggs BUT I haven't actually bought eggs for months. They are just something I enjoy when I go out for brunch. (Because right now, the thought of giving up eggs and avo on toast is far too upsetting). However, that's my point right there. I'm not giving up fish and eggs because I don't want to. And I've vowed to myself I would never commit to a lifestyle where I felt restricted in any way. I've made changes and choices because I want to not because it's the latest fad on Instagram.

I haven't actually bought meat since March and haven't eaten red meat this year! The latter is a big thing for me as I used to love steak night and comforting cottage pies or beef chillies. Yes, I've eaten chicken maybe once every 3-4 weeks when I've been out for lunch or dinner and there haven't been any other options - for example a Sunday roast. I'm still coming to terms with a meat-less roast dinner.. But to be honest, I just don't miss meat and actually find it slightly bizarre tasting when I do consume it now. Saying no to my mum's Malaysian chicken curry or to turkey on Christmas day will be the biggest tests though..!


Plant based experiments

Saving time, saving money and reducing waste - FoodSaver Fresh in action
Cutting down on my meat consumption has made me explore different plant based sources of protein. I actually had no idea how high in protein lentils, chickpeas and beans were! The one downside is that they can take a little bit more preparation than just throwing some chicken into a pan as many pulses that are not tinned require soaking overnight. However, it is SO worth it as I've made some of the most delicious and cheapest dishes I've ever had from some simple beans, pulses and rice.

This is where FoodSaver Fresh has been a God send! Because let's be honest, if something takes longer to soak and prepare, I don't want to be doing it every night. FoodSaver Fresh is the number one vacuum sealing system in the US and we are lucky enough to now have it launching in the UK. It keeps food fresh for up to TWICE as long compared to your usual plastic containers, zip bags or foil and cling film.

Due to the removal of air through the vacuum sealing system, FoodSaver not only saves us time and money but can massively help to reduce food waste. With around 7 million tonnes of annual food wastage in the UK, I think this is definitely something that can benefit both ourselves and the planet. If you're making lifestyle choices to become more plant based because of the environment, then it also makes sense to reduce energy consumption by reducing the number of times you're cooking. You have to cook less, you save money and you do a little bit for the planet - what's not to love?!

Side note but also huge bane of my life - ever cut open an avocado, wrapped it up as tightly as possible but it's STILL brown when you go back for the other half? Me too. ME TOO. But FoodSaver has changed my avo game and now there's no looking back to those soft, brown avocados! Hurrah! FoodSaver Fresh has revolutionised my cooking and storage by allowing me to bulk prepare so many of my meals and accompaniments such as homemade dips, hummus (and guac...!)


Now onto my favourite meal of the moment - green split pea curry! This recipe below I've used tinned tomatoes BUT the next time I cook this I'm going to experiment with coconut milk to mix things up a bit and see what it's like with a creamier texture.


Served up with fragrant brown rice and balsamic glazed sprouts, chestnuts and tahini!
INGREDIENTS 
(makes 2-3 servings)

  • 1 cup of green split peas, rinsed 5-6 times until water runs clear and then soaked overnight
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree 
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed 
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 leek, diced
  • 1cm ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Good grind of black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp liquid aminos or tamari 
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh coriander to garnish 





METHOD
  1. In a large casserole dish, heat the oil over a medium heat and add in the onion, garlic, leek and ginger with all the herbs and spices (chilli powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, thyme, bay leaf)
  2. Sauté until the vegetables have softened and slightly browned - add a splash of water to help cooking if needed 
  3. Drain the split peas and add them to the pan with the tomato puree. Stir well 
  4. Add the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, liquid aminos/tamari and red wine vinegar 
  5. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for around 50 minutes or until the green split peas are cooked through (the longer they have been soaked, the quicker they will cook)
  6. After this time all the liquid should have been absorbed and the curry should be nice and thick. If not then cook for a little longer until you reach this stage. 
  7. Once done, remove from the heat and serve with brown rice, sautéed greens and fresh coriander 
  8. Leave the rest to cool and then seal up using your FoodSaver Fresh to enjoy throughout the week!

Next week I'll be cooking more of my current favourite meals and using FoodSaver Fresh for a whole weeks worth of meal prep! So stay tuned for what's to come..!

Jess x




N.B. This post was kindly sponsored by FoodSaver but as always, all opinions are my own and 100% honest
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Monday, 25 September 2017

The Honestly Good Smoothie Company

I've never been one to make many smoothies - mainly because I run out of interesting flavour combos and most are too sweet for my liking. This was all until I stumbled across The Honestly Good Smoothie Company...






What is it?


The Honestly Good Smoothie Co. was founded by Vikesh, who after years of stomach problems, discovered that the consumption of whole, natural ingredients managed to completely cure all his ailments.

The company produces pre-packaged vegetable based smoothies, which are ideal for someone like me who doesn't really have a sweet tooth! Between the talented head chef, Blake Bowden and award-winning consultant nutritionist, Caroline Farrell, the company creates an amazing range of nutritionally dense, low GI smoothies.

Each smoothie concoction contains organic, locally sourced ingredients where possible (unfort mangoes and coconuts don't grow in abundance in our wonderful English weather.. so they are sourced from Soil Association Certified Organic Suppliers). Everything is made to order so is prepped, packed and air frozen at Vikesh's family home in Bedfordshire just hours before delivery. This ensures maximum freshness and maintenance of nutrient quality.

The name 'Honestly Good' extends beyond the ingredients of their smoothies. This company gives you the option to return your insulated packaging liners for free so that they can be reused in a bid to reduce waste. Not only that, but they also donate two meals to those in need for every smoothie box that is shipped. Incredible!                                           





How does it work?


The concept of the smoothie deliveries is super easy:

  1. sign up for your weekly delivery of 5 smoothies (you are not bound into a subscription)
  2. free delivery (they can be left in a safe place if you are out)
  3. each pack is super straight forward to prepare - place the contents into a blender, add the superfood sachet, pour in  250ml coconut water/water/almond milk (I did the latter for each one) and blend!



My Experience 

I have the world's smallest freezer so have only tried 5 of their smoothies so far. My favourite was 'the cacaonut one', which has an amazing mix of sweet potato, courgette and banana as the base. The superfood sachet was a mix of cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts and it makes for the most wonderful blend of flavours. 

I loved every one of their smoothies that I tried and 'the Christmas one' got me so excited for, well, Christmas..! (Never too early IMO). I adore my green smoothies so next up I'll hopefully try 'the grass is greener', which contains loads of amazing green veg (obv) and the 'clean green protein'. The latter includes tofu, green peas, protein power and spirulina. Sounds like the most crazy mix of flavours but judging from the 5 smoothies I've already tried, I trust this one will be just as good. 


For the variety of organic vegetables, fruit and superfood powders/nuts/seeds you receive, I think it's very reasonably priced at £27.50 a week. You would likely spend that on the ingredients anyway, yet it's all sustainably sourced and lovingly prepared for you so there's no need to do any of the work!


The only thing I would change is the incorporation of protein into the smoothie. If I had the smoothies as a snack, I didn't always feel the need to add a scoop of protein as I loved the flavour combinations as they were and didn't want to alter them. However, if I had a smoothie in the morning I would add in a scoop of protein to keep me fuller for longer and help power me through my usual morning training!


The company seem to have read my mind though as over the next few months they will be bringing out a new protein range, which I can't wait to try..! 




The unexpected change..

If you follow my instagram (@jesssriv), you will know I love to start my mornings with my infamous zoats. This is because I've always needed morning carbs for satiety and like to incorporate vegetables into my breakfasts. However, after a few mornings of these smoothies and feeling lighter and more energised than I have done in a long time, going back to zoats was like having a dead weight in my stomach for hours on end..! 

I literally could not believe the difference in how I felt resuming my normal routine. I was so much more lethargic, bloated and actually pretty nauseous!! I must have just become accustomed to this feeling but it was something I was now determined to change. 

I have since switched my morning carbs from oats to sweet potato in the form of smoothies like these or sweet potato bowls when it's just that little bit too cold to be starting the day with something frozen!

If it wasn't for The Honestly Good Smoothie CompanyI don't think I would ever have ever broken out of my zoat rut or even realised how good my body could feel and look being fuelled off such a variety of vegetables and fruit.  

I can hand on heart say this was completely unexpected but has been SUCH a welcome change to my diet. My energy has improved, my digestion is better and as a byproduct of this, I feel and look leaner (which is likely just less bloating from the lack of oats and increased variety in my diet!) I'm not saying I will never have zoats again for breakfast, who are we kidding here..? But I'll be saving them for those mornings at home when I can afford to feel like a sloth and doss around in my PJs all day..!

For a new start up company, it's great to see that Vikesh and the team have already received such positive and encouraging feedback across the board (not just from me!)

My experience of The Honestly Good Smoothie Co has been faultless from start to finish. I envisage big things to come from these guys and I'm excited to see the company grow from strength to strength.

As always, any questions, either have a look at the FAQ page on their website or don't hesitate to ask me!

Jess x




N.B. This is a sponsored post, however, as always all opinions are my own and 100% honest


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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Sweet Potato Protein Pudding


I've said it before and I'll say it again, I always prefer my evening carbs in the form of dessert! This is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to enjoy sweet potato IMO and I have it at least a few times a week.

INGREDIENTS:

(serves 1)


  • 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato 
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • ground ginger, to taste
  • 1 tsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp lucuma powder 
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 scoop chocolate vegan protein (I've found Nutristrength 'roasted cocoa' to be the richest chocolate flavour, which works so well)
  • 1/4 scoop chocolate beef isolate protein (I get mine from Bulkpowders. Beef isolate gives the perfect blend of sweetness and most amazing consistency) 
  • almond milk (enough to make a thick mix)



METHOD:

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl

2. Place in the microwave for about 40-60 seconds

3. Add toppings! I used frozen raspberries, blueberries, hemp hearts, cacao nibs and matcha & pistachio muesli


As always, let me know what you think if you make it!

Jess x
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Friday, 16 June 2017

What protein powders do I use?

Two things I get asked a lot:

1. Do I take protein supplements and if so, when?

2. Which protein supplements do I use and why?


Simple answers to those questions:

1. Yes.

If you've seen my Instagram you'll know my favourite breakfast is protein zoats (the recipe is here). Breakfast and bed time oats are the only times I really use protein supplements.

I use it at breakfast because it's quick and if I'm running really late I can even just make it and put it in tupperware to eat on the way to work. Easier than trying to package up soft poached eggs with smashed avo on toast IMO.

After dinner I always have dessert and 9.5 times out of 10 it's a bowl of proats. The main reason I add protein to my oats on this occasion is for flavour and to help curb that late night sweet tooth. So usually it's only 1/2 a scoop of protein and 10 million toppings.

I will very rarely have a shake after training unless I can't have a meal for a few hours (e.g. when I've just finished a class in central and have some errands to run). If I can then I much prefer to eat within 30-45 mins of training. The general consensus is that it's ideal to consume some form of protein and carbs 30-90 minutes after training. However, my above time frame is mainly because I get extremely hangry if it's any longer than 45 mins..!)


2. Below are my favourite protein supplements to take. They're all vegan because over time I have found that whey supplements not only make me slightly more bloated but moreover they make my skin breakout and become more oily. I also find that vegan protein keep me much fuller for longer. I am literally hungry again in 30 mins after whey!

As I am not actually vegan, I will still have the odd protein bar containing whey just for convenience, as nearly all whey bars are higher in protein than vegan bars - very handy if you're on the go and really struggling to find a healthy-ish snack.

The switch over to vegan was somewhat difficult as you have to retrain your tastebuds to adopt the earthier vegan taste. I now love vegan protein though and find whey protein SO sweet that it's almost unpalatable! Each to their own though and this is just my opinion of what works for me and a pick of the best!



VIVO LIFE RAW PLANT PROTEIN & BCAA


FAV FLAVOURS:
Raw Cacao
Salted Maca Caramel
Acai & Blueberry

Vivo Life was the first vegan protein I fell in love with when I first switched from whey to vegan. I absolutely adore Vivo Life as a company and cannot praise them enough for the work they put into their products.

Every single ingredient has a positive impact on performance - from the anti-inflammatory turmeric to the rehydrating himalayan pink salt. Their proteins are not just vegan proteins but serious superfood products designed to enhance your performance and recovery to the max!

Their protein does have a slightly more earthy taste than other vegan brands. However, this is likely due to the superfood additions (such as chlorella and spirulina in the cacao flavour and maca in the salted caramel). For me, I love it. But if you're new to vegan protein you may notice it more!




MISSFITS NUTRITION PEA PROTEIN 

FAV FLAVOUR:
Vanilla

MissFits Nutrition have designed their range of protein specifically for women. However, of course men can use it too! I think their brand is a great concept to debunk the myth that women:
a) don't need protein
b) will get 'bulky' if they take it *eye roll emoji*

Again, they have some brilliant ingredients packed into there such as glutamine to reduce recovery time and zinc and bamboo extract to keep skin, hair and nails healthy!

MissFits started out having just pre portioned sachets but they now have larger bags of protein. I still do love their sachets for travelling though and have taken them on all my recent holidays - they're lifesavers post holiday workout or when protein is few and far between on aeroplanes!

Using code jesssriv5 will also get you £5 off your first order.




PURE BLEND CO. WHITE HEMP PROTEIN 

FAV FLAVOURS:
Raw Cacao
Matcha & Madagascan Vanilla


Needless to say that Pure Blend Co won me over straight away with their matcha flavour! I also love the creaminess of this protein.

They also do whey versions in the same flavours, which are delicious. I'd recommend these too if you take whey as its such high quality protein that it's actually lactose free. They produce their whey using double milk filtration at cold temperatures so it doesn't contain any of the cheese derived peptides or enzymes that many of us react to. This gives it a superior amino acid profile compared to so many other whey proteins and is what makes it lactose free.

So why don't I use this whey? All in all, I still prefer the taste, texture and satiety vegan protein provides. I also prefer my protein a little less sweet. If you don't though - this whey is the dream!




NEAT NUTRITION VEGAN PROTEIN

FAV FLAVOUR:
Naked

Bizarre I know, but the naked flavour is genuinely my favourite from Neat Nutrition. They use thaumantin to sweeten this protein and I think this and the xanthan gum addeded for thickness gives it such a great taste and texture!

The naked flavour also allows you to customise it as you wish - or just leave it naked as I prefer to do!










VEGA CLEAN VEGAN PROTEIN AND VEGA ESSENTIALS

FAV FLAVOUR:
Chocolate 

Vega protein has been my latest discovery and quite possibly one of the best! They do two types of protein - both of which I adore.

The more 'complete' of the two is Vega Essentials, which is amazing in the morning and so delicious in oats or smoothies. It contains ingredients made from leafy veg and green algae too, which makes it higher in minerals and vitamins. The flaxseed also gives it a great boost of omega 3 and fibre. Moreover, it's one of the best proteins I've tasted!

The second of the two is Vega Clean Protein. This is lower in calories than the Vega Essentials but also contains BCAAs so is perfect as a post workout protein but can be used any time of the day as I do.

I do also love the vanilla flavour in both the Essentials and the Clean Protein. Great products!



All opinions here are my own and are completely unsponsored. I hope you've found it somewhat useful and as always, if there's any questions I haven't answered, don't hesitate to ask in the comments or via email.

Jess x
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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Reset Luxury Fitness Retreat, Marbella



This time last week I was experiencing my first ever fitness retreat with Reset Retreats in Marbella, Spain. I was so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to travel somewhere like this as I actually won the trip via Lilly Sabri's 100k Instagram giveaway. I never win anything so the 3 days spent at the retreat were literally 'pinch me' moments!

I took one of my good friends, Max, and we arrived on the Wednesday evening so we were ready to start the day at 7am the next morning with some fasted cardio.. (I know, I was petrified/horrified at the thought of this too)

Arriving at the villa was literally like coming into a hotel as not only was it absolutely beautiful as you can see, but we were also warmly welcomed by Lilly and the two main hosts, Dean and Michael. We were then treated to some amazing refreshments and a light meal before bed, all cooked by the unbelievable domestic goddess, Mia. More to come about her wonderful culinary skills later!




Training 

Post morning cardio endorphins kicking in!
The day started with morning cardio at 7am with some pre workout and coffee ready and waiting for us. There was also some fruit or energy balls for those that wanted it but most of us just went for the pre workout to get us pumped and ready for the jog followed by hill sprints!

I'm not going to lie, as someone that doesn't run, the thought of this was HORRENDOUS, especially after a late flight. When that 6.30am alarm went off (equivalent of 5.30am UK time), I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep more than anything! But I was only there for 3 days so I needed to get up and experience the retreat in full.


Boy am I glad that I did.


Watching that incredible sunrise at the top of the hill was just breathtaking. Combined with the sense of achievement from doing something I would never ever normally do with a group of people that were also in the same boat as me was just amazing. 





Watching that sun rise after surviving the hill sprints - just unbeatable
We jogged back to the retreat ready for a stretch session with Lilly followed by breakfast. Never has a breakfast felt so well earned as that one!

There was then some time to yourself before lunch where we hung around the pool topping up the tan and listening to music through the multi room sound system in the villa. Epic.

The next session of the day was weights based and was with one of the PTs you're assigned to before your stay at the retreat.

I was with Ingmar, which turned out to be the perfect match with my aim to strengthen my posterior chain and this being his speciality!

I learnt things I've never been taught before, which shows that even when you've been training for some time (including training with various PTs in London), there is always room to broaden your knowledge. I know my weaknesses in training but I've not always known how to improve them until Ingmar showed me. I got to sit down with him on the last day and write down everything we had done and everything I needed to work on. It completely inspired and motivated me to smash my training as soon as I got back to London - the learning never stops and this was great proof of that.

The weights session was followed by 15 minutes of abs with the queen of ab work - Lilly Sabri. Lilly showed us how to properly activate our cores, which proved to be invaluable. Exercises that I have always done suddenly became 10x more difficult because I was now engaging the correct muscles rather than absentmindedly contracting my abs and hoping for the best! Lilly is in the process of getting together some incredible content for her new YouTube channel and website. I can't wait to follow it through after the taster I had at Reset Retreat!

After this session we then had more time to relax before dinner. The last session of the day was stretch and meditation at 9pm on the roof of the villa and it was literally the perfect end to the day.

Each day followed a similar routine but I had an old hip flexor injury which prevented me from running (not really complaining..!) So in the mornings (to avoid FOMO) I still got up at 6.30am and got driven up in the car to the top of the hill to join in with the HIIT workout before driving back down. Slightly less energy expenditure but for someone that only trains 4-5 times a week, I think training more than once a day anyway was quite enough exercise for me!


Nutrition 

Herby salmon and avocado lentils - UNREAL.
The meals at Reset were SO delicious I can't even begin to explain! 

The chef, Mia, was amazing at catering to our dietary requirements and came up with the most magical meals. 

Breakfasts ranged from overnight almond, coconut and chia oats with stewed fruit to eggs and the most incredible paprika roasted potatoes I have ever had.

An example lunch would be chicken and turmeric quinoa as shown below.

Dinners were also wonderfully varied. One of my favourites was this dish on the left - pan fried herby salmon with avocado lentils and asparagus. I took down the recipe and made it the day after I got back. It's just dreamy!

There was also healthy dessert made each evening - one of my favs was this dark chocolate rocky road.


Better than your average: turmeric quinoa and chicken
Steak, butternut squash mash and turmeric roasted cauliflower


What did I gain?

I went to the retreat expecting to just enjoy some sun and train more than I usually would!

However, what I gained from the retreat was so much more than that. I have met some amazing people and shared experiences with them I never dreamed I would (yes, I'm still talking about that morning cardio!)

I have been completely and utterly inspired by Lilly and Ingmar especially, as they were the two people I spent the most time training with.

Ingmar has given me tips and tricks to improve my form and technique in a way that will no doubt accelerate all my posterior chain work from here on out. Hellooo booty gainz *waving emoji* *peach emoji*


Stretching out those sore muscles whilst watching this sunrise - amazing



Lilly has taught me to activate my core in ways I haven't done once in 25 years! 

Small, simple movements that okay, I still won't be looking like Lilly any time soon, but I can really feel the difference already. I know I will become so much more mindful of this in every day life, not just during training, which will hopefully pay off in the long run.

Lastly, I am so grateful to Mia for giving me a huge passion for creativity in the kitchen again - I have already made that lentil and salmon dish twice and Ive only been home three days..!!

I really can't put it into words how much I've loved and benefitted from this retreat. 

As I said at the start, this post is obviously completely unsponsored and all opinions are 100% honest, as always. So when I say it's been good, it's been bloody good!





Would I do it again?
In short - absolutely. 

I've seen numerous fitness and wellbeing retreats and heard lots of feedback from people that have been on them. However, with Reset, I feel like they're breaking the mould and completely stepping up the game when it comes to fitness escapes.

I like a bit of luxury when I go away and this retreat was definitely that. I mean look at that villa! Michael and Dean really have put everything into it and considering it was their first ever retreat, it was brilliant.

Going forward, Reset will be hosting retreats at different locations around Europe and I believe their next one is in September. To get in contact with the organisers, you can email Michael and Dean at info@resetyourself.co.uk or DM them on Instagram.

They can then sign you up to their mailing list for information and exclusive offers on the upcoming retreats - I know I will be..!

Any more questions about my experience then please don't hesitate to ask or use the contacts for Michael and Dean above.

Jess x
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Sunday, 28 May 2017

teapigs Matcha Terrace @ Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge


Yep, you heard right - a MATCHA TERRACE! 

To celebrate teapigs' 10 year anniversary at Harvey Nichols, they have taken over the 5th floor of this flagship store and set up a gorgeous terrace to serve an all day matcha-inspired menu. 

teapigs have worked closely with the chefs at Harvey Nichols to create a menu designed to show people that matcha green tea is extremely diverse. There are so many ways it can be used - from your usual lattes to the more experimental eggs Florentine and matcha cheesecake!

Myself and one of my best friends, Max, headed down to the terrace on a gorgeous sunny afternoon and here was our verdict..




Atmosphere: 5/5
Buzzy, cosy and an absolute sun trap! We absolutely loved the terrace transformation into a teapig matcha haven. The retractable roof was amazing - we enjoyed our lunch in the shade before the waiters withdrew the canopy for us to enjoy a couple of hours soaking up the sun! 


Food: 5/5
From the left: matcha mint iced tea, matcha latte, matcha energiser smoothie
This really was dreamy - not just for a matcha lover like me, but even for people that are new to matcha as the flavours are so wonderfully subtle. 

I went for the matcha marinated chicken skewers to start followed by the pan fried salmon with matcha sauce and a matcha mint iced tea. 

The chicken was deliciously tender and the salmon was cooked to perfection. We shared a matcha energiser smoothie (but I ended up finishing it myself as it was so damn delicious..!)

Max had the sautéed prawns with a matcha mayo followed by the black quinoa and asparagus salad with a matcha dressing and an almond milk matcha latte. 

I tried these dishes as well and they were all so yummy. The salad was very well balanced and the dressing brought everything together really well. I've had a lot of matcha lattes in my time but this has to rate as one of the BEST. The frothy cinnamon topping was to die for and it gave the latte a perfect sweetness without the need to add any sugar. 


Close up: salmon on the left and sautéed prawns in the forefront
teapigs only use whole leaf, whole berries and whole herbs/flowers in their teas. Therefore, it doesn't come as a surpise that their matcha is made from 100% premium organic green tea leaves. This provided a great flavour to all the matcha dishes and ensures you don't get an overpowering bitter taste coming through, which you can often do from poorer quality matcha powder. 

The only criticism I would have of the main dishes is that on their own they were slightly incomplete. My salmon just came with some seasoned cucumber shavings, which even though delicious, wouldn't have filled me up if I hadn't have had a starter and the drinks.

As it was, I was very satisfied with the meal but if you're going just for one main dish, I would recommend ordering a side such as quinoa and of course, one (or more) of the amazing drinks they have on offer!

We were quite full after this little feast but had we have had room, the desserts also sounded amazing!


Service: 4.5/5
The staff were all extremely friendly and helpful as soon as we arrived. The service itself could be slightly quicker as I was so parched when I got there due to the hot weather that waiting 15 minutes for some water seemed like a lifetime. However, they were completely full and every table was occupied both inside and out, so I'll let them off this time..!

Once this initial blip was over, it was onwards and upwards from there so a big thank you to the staff and manager for being so accommodating to us.



The matcha terrace opened on the 3rd May and will close on 25th June so get yourselves down there to enjoy some of the amazing dishes they have on offer. The perfect accompaniment to this glorious weather! 


Of course, you can purchase teapigs matcha at Harvey Nichols but you can also do so directly from their site: https://www.teapigs.co.uk/matcha

If you do make it down to the terrace, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Jess x
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