Making the most of any adventure

Travelling has quickly become one of the most popular pastimes over the last few decades. Considering that years ago people rarely left the same village or town, it’s quite incredible to think that it’s possible to spend so much of your life on the move; it’s a real privilege. Making the most of these opportunities can take some work (and forward planning!), and people don’t always know how to achieve this. I’ve found these tips have helped me when it comes to making the most out of life’s little adventures…

Research, and more research

Whenever I plan a trip to somewhere unfamiliar, the first thing I like to do is research the country I’m going to. Whether that’s the cultural traditions, the area I’m staying in or the food I’m likely to eat, I want to have a good idea of what to expect without taking away the element of surprise. Sometimes I’ll note down places I most definitely want to visit, and sometimes I’ll just go go with the flow. But one thing I always do is learn about the hidden gems and lesser-known places that make a country unique, like off-the-beaten-track beaches, shops or landmarks. You could easily go to a city like Rome and miss out on great attractions there simply because the most famous of them overshadow the rest. Research is your best friend when it comes to making the most out of your trip.

Money matters

While you’re away, having a daily budget is a good idea and using cash where possible. As well as the practicalities of getting you from place to place, having a budget in place will enable you to eat the food you want, and take part in the activities you’re excited about. Saving up for your trip beforehand can sometimes feel like a challenge, but with companies available like Buddy Loans to help help you fund your break you can make the most out of your holiday experience. 

Make it personal 

Many of us look forward to the luxuries of a plush hotel, but that can come with some drawbacks as well as being the more expensive option. You can become a little lazy to venture outside, only to realise you’ve run out time before seeing as much as you could have. Sometimes, I like to keep things simple with sites like Airbnb who make it possible to find local accommodation that gives you a more authentic experience. Essentially, it’s a home from and you can find some amazing gems in friendly neighbourhoods. Hosts often leave you welcome packs or area guides, and if you’re lucky enough to have a hosted experience, then you can strike up new conversations which is even more memorable!

Turning Your Passion for Food into a Career

Big dreams of turning your love for food into a career? Finding something you’re really passionate about is one thing, but how do you even get started with getting your ideas off the ground? The reality is that it’s entirely possible to make a living doing what you love. It might seem like a challenge, but here are just a few things that you can try in order to do just that…

Food blogging

If food is the thing you love to talk about more than anything else, then running a food blog might be an excellent career path for you that can open up new doors. Sharing ideas, recipes and restaurant recommendations with an audience all over the world is exciting. If you’re the kind of person who lives to talk passionately about food and you can do so in an engaging and dynamic way, then you may well have found your ideal career.

Opening a restaurant

Broms Karlaplan, Stockholm

If you’re in a position to make the kind of financial commitment involved in running a restaurant, this could be a great way to put your creative ideas and business mind to the test. Being able to choose everything from the menu to the decor can be incredibly gratifying. It’s worth remembering that there’s a lot more to it than just choosing great food! Everything from buying restaurant quality aprons to finding the right chef to choosing the perfect location are essential for a restaurant’s success. Never assume that you’ll be able to make it a success based on your passion for food alone.    

So, what’s next?

The most obvious thing to consider is that you need to make sure that you don’t overwork yourself to the point that you lose the passion that you once had. It’s easy to let this happen since it’s possible to dive head first into this kind of career without thinking about how to live a balanced life. Feeling inspired? Let me know some of the ways you would take your passion for food to the next level.  

In the kitchen: Five essential reads

For some people, cookbooks can seem like a little bit of a hassle. You buy them with good intention and then you look at the lists of ingredients and hours of preparation time required, and things go downhill from there. Instead, they sit gathering dust on the shelf and those wonderful recipes you envisioned never get made (except that one time… remember?). My mum springs to mind here, because growing up she always had a treasure chest full of books and magazines that lay dormant for “next weekend”. She is a brilliant cook might I add, so I guess she had no immediate need for those books but she would whip them out now and again have a quick read then they would go back to their nest, untouched. I’d read them in my spare time and I think visually, I started to appreciate food and food photography from there.

Fast forward 15+ years and I’ll spend hours rummaging through book shops, charity shops and online looking for inspiration from my favourite chefs and influencers. Things have taken a huge shift since the 90s and earlier 00s in terms of what’s available out there on the market. Authors know people want speedy, fresh, flavourful food that can adapt to working family lifestyles and those on both a budget and timescale. More bloggers and influencers are creating recipes for their online following. More of us are opting for alternative diets; plant-based, vegetarianism, gluten-free, dairy-free. Recipe books are offering up recipes as diverse as those who buy into them and I personally am so excited by this.

So, I’ve taken my time and sifted through my collection and here’s five of the best. I champion the vegetarian diet, so there’s a mix of books aimed to keep our health and wellbeing in balance. I hope you’re inspired to go out and try some of these!

Amanda Brocket | The Raw Food Kitchen

My latest addition to the bookshelf is The Raw Food Kitchen which I picked up in one of my favourite homeware stores, Oliver Bonas. Amanda’s philosophy on food and health is really refreshing and she aims to make raw diets accessible and appealing. She manages to break down the meaning of eating ‘raw’ beyond fruits and vegetables and talks about the benefits to the body, changes you’ll expect, ingredient lists and shares personal stories about her struggle with Candida and gut health. I can relate to this so I have enjoyed learning as I’ve flicked through the many beautifully photographed pages.

She also goes into lengthy detail about variations on everyday foods we enjoy (as not to alienate readers) as well as adding a nifty little meal planner before delving into recipes. If you’re on a new raw food journey and need some realistic inspiration, give this a try. Expect colourful salads, juices, snacks, stir-frys, ice-cream, breakfast foods and more.

new-1

 

Plenty More | Ottolenghi

Plenty More is the book I return to most often. It’s just one of a series of cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi and offers superb recipes and photography that focus on the humble vegetable with strong Mediterranean influence. In his introduction (so well written), he explains his journey to appreciating the vegetarian diet and his influences. Dishes are vibrant, daring and visually inviting, yet with minimal fuss. I think the pictures really speak for themselves! What’s nice is that every recipe introduction is a personal account referencing friends, colleagues and family.

If you get the chance, visit one of his restaurants and deli’s across London. Nopi is next on my hit list!

LEON – Ingredients & Recipes

An oldie but goodie. Londoners know the well-know chain that is LEON – offering naturally fast food and getting us through the hectic working week, but where did it all begin? This book focuses on the founders; Henry, John and Allegra who opened up the first branch in Carnaby Street mid 2004. This book is split into two halves essentially: the first touches on the A-Z of ingredients (this book includes meat and dairy) and the second is the recipe book. So for anyone wanting a thorough lesson in seasonality, sourcing, understanding ingredients, eating habits and local produce then this book will get you an A* grade.

As well as the retro visuals, smooth matte pages and colourful content, LEON does a wonderful job of sharing recipes from the LEON family and is not short on ideas or creative content. From hearty soups and stews, to superfood salads and puddings all in line with the LEON philosophy, there are recipes to see you through the seasons. Wholly worth the read.

Neal’s Yard Remedies – Healing Foods

I have a lot of love for this book. It is simply a fantastic curation of ingredients, recipes and knowledge on the power of foods to heal the body of ailments. It talks about dietary patterns, the western diet, seasonality and healthy supplements before going into an A-Z of ingredients and properties. Now, I thought I knew about food but this will educate even the most seasoned traveller and foodie out there!

Expect recipes from breakfast to dinner, snacks, condiments and a pretty clever recipe chooser which offers up a list of recipes from the book for specific problems like heart health or detoxing. All in all, a handy book that leaves no stone unturned. You’ll definitely reevaluate your next weekly shop!

Natasha Corrett | Honestly Healthy Cleanse

Alkaline, alkaline, alkaline. It’s the motto of this neat and tidy book from Natasha Corrett. It’s split into four sections: feel good, slim down, high energy and life changing – all designed to cleanse the body over a set amount of days – menu planner included. Natasha gently guides you though the rules of the cleanse, why our bodies should be more alkaline than acidic and answers common questions too. A quick ingredient list sets you up for the next few pages of simple, honest food that looks (and tastes) fab. I enjoy making recipes from this book and it’s one I pick up when I want a quick one week detox.

Summer style: In focus

It’s May and I’m so ready for summer! I’m wondering if I’ll get to pull out my stash of floaty fabrics gathering dust under the bed anytime soon? I guess during the warmer months, we tend to experiment a little more with our personal style. We stray away from monochrome and inject a pop of colour and personality into our attire. For me, I like to freshen up my mostly high street and vintage aesthetic with understated jewellery, bold lip colours and varied textures. I also love to accessorise with a great pair of sunglasses!

For some reason, most styles I try on suit me which is a great confidence boost but not so great for the purse strings, you know? They really elevate a look into something effortlessly stylish and individual. Like a vintage bag or great pair of shoes, they instantly become the centre piece of the outfit and meaning you can essentially ‘build your look’ around this single item. Good news for those fashion conscious folk who are rushed for time!

Buying glasses online can be a challenge because you can’t always determine how they might look in person, but buying online is a smart and savvy way to find special offers and exclusive styles! It’s also a great place to find new online retailers, share with your friends and read genuine customer reviews. These super sleek Wayfarer frames from Glasses Shop are my new favourite accessory this spring/summer! The two-tone detail and shape really frame my face and the muted browns go with so many outfits without being OTT. Whether you like an eccentric Cat Eye or a squared oversized frame, there is a style to suit every taste. Their range of high quality, light and durable frames extend to prescription sunglasses too which are amazingly affordable, so you can get holiday ready in no time!

Glasses Shop offer customised lenses and coatings, and ship internationally so you don’t have to miss out on a stunning pair of cheap glasses this season! Get 50% off your order using the discount code GSHOT50. Excludes sale items.

This post is in collaboration with Glasses Shop. Check out the full range online.

Come with me: BBC Good Food Show

 

Photo credit: Shara J

Picture credit: Shara J

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to the much anticipated BBC Good Food Show, held annually in my home city of Birmingham. The four day Winter edition at the NEC was as expected, full of festive food and drink, and an energetic buzz as people shuffled around the arena in the Christmas spirit. Anyone looking for gift ideas would have been spoiled for choice this year. On Saturday, a few of my fab friends and bloggers got rather special treatment at the event with access to the press room, personalised press passes, seriously good refreshments and free reign to take as many snaps as we wanted throughout the event – safe to say we had a fun filled day taste testing, filming, chatting with exhibitors and enjoying the live demos by celebrity chefs. It was something different but definitely worth doing, and as Not Without Cake is new off off the ground, it was a great networking experience for me. I’m certainly excited to be involved with more events like these.

With over 400 exhibitors, the venue was full of amazing fresh and locally sourced food and drink, homeware and techy gadgets for the kitchen from brands including Braun, Kenwood and Hotpoint. Everything from homemade beers, cheese and bread, to festive hampers, decadent chocolates and confectionery filled several stands. There was no shortage of hot food either; Moroccan mezzes, Spanish Paella and good old British burgers were on offer in the food courts. The thing I love most about these kinds of events is the variety – smells, colours and flavours. You certainly come away with new food knowledge as well as that empty purse!

Over at the Colgate hub, we enjoyed some amazing mixed berry ice cream after sampling their new Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste. It reminded me of a science experiment at school with puffs of smoke and men dressed in white. Another highlight was Heathers Harvest, offering award winning jams, pickles and preserves handmade in Shropshire. I’m a huge fan of homemade preserves so their sweet and spicy carrot chutney was a clear winner for me. And the packaging, ohhh.

Colgate Hub

Heather’s Harvest

We also enjoyed Praana’s range of delicious spiced herbal and fruit teas, Sponge Cakes (try them and thank me later), artisan cakes from Tarte and Berry and not forgetting Joe and Steph’s Gourmet Popcorn. Amongst all of these independent brands and big electrical names, well known favourites including Knorr, Ocado, Lurpak Cook’s Range and Costco Wholesale also featured at the event. Oh and just when we thought things couldn’t get any more delicious, we stumbled upon Merangz produced by The Little Round Cake Company – seriously impressive free range egg meringues traditionally made in Shropshire – giant Swiss pistachio, passion fruit bites and hazel nut praline nests amongst so many other flavours. Need I say anymore? Food heaven.

Did I mention the best part? I met acclaimed TV chef and Belling brand ambassador that is Brian Turner. Talk about star struck! That’s certainly one to tick off the bucket list. Until next year, then.

Merangz

The Cheshire Cheese Company

Shara, TC and Jade

Shara, TC and Jade

Delicious macaroons!

Farrington's

Farrington’s Mellow Yellow