Recent weeks have seen two food festivals come to our local area – the Penshurst Fair, and the Tonbridge Castle Food Festival. We managed to grab the time to go to both, and we always love seeing local vendors and picking up some treats. Let’s start with Penshurst, as this was the first of the two events to take place!
It’s always great to attend this fair, which has a whole food tent as well as other areas for arts and crafts, clothing, jewellery, and so forth. It’s a huge get-together for people from all around the county and is well-attended – this is our third time going and we’re always keen to go back. There is an entry fee, but some local publications will have free entry vouchers around the time, so keep your eyes peeled for those.
We have a few stalls that we go back to time and time again. There’s a lovely older gentleman who runs a roasted nut stall who is just wonderful – he gave us a free packet the first time we went and is always happy to have a bit of a chat. There’s also the speciality cheese, which we ALWAYS pick up at least three of as they are all so delicious. Then there’s the Kentish cobnuts stall – this time around we picked up some brittle, which is really good, and some fudge, which I have to say is probably the best fudge I have ever eaten of all time. Seriously. It’s good stuff.
Finally we also picked up some sauces this time – normally we try a different brand on every visit as there are so many to choose from. This selection came from Le Range Mesurier, with apple sauce, mayonnaise, and chutney in the mix.
The Penshurst Fair is a real favourite, so the Tonbridge Castle Food Fair had a lot to live up to. It was a lot smaller in scale – covering just the area of green space within the castle grounds – but there was a fair mix of diversity. We managed to grab some olives and stuffed peppers to take home, as well as enjoying a fresh crepe while listening to the live music (see the Vine below). It was good fun, though with not quite as much to do as at Penshurst. It was also a little disappointing to see the stalls closing up reasonably early while the entertainment carried on – we missed out on churros, which is never a good fate.
This week I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind lately. Blogging is something that a lot of people do out of joy, and a few for money. It’s much more likely to cost you than it is to earn you anything. It’s also a lot of hard work. So how are you supposed to juggle something like this along with real life?
It’s actually really tough, so sorry if you were expecting a sugar coat – I won’t lie! There are times when I just have nothing to write about, or when I’m so busy with work that I can’t fit in a post. I’m sure you have noticed a few times when I missed a post! But the important thing is to keep going and try to make sure you don’t miss another too soon. Here’s my tips for juggling blogging and real life.
When you have time to make posts, do as many as you can at once and queue them up
That goes for cooking too!
Make a recipe and film it the first time. If it doesn’t work you can make it again. If it does, you already have the video ready and this saves having to cook everything twice
Write posts on your phone on the bus or train or waiting room
Make quick notes right after eating so you can then type up the full review when you have time
Use Buffer to queue up your social media posts, and plugins to make those updates go to Buffer automatically
Take advantage of opportunities! If you are going out for a meal anyway, choose something that fits your blog
Blogging doesn’t have to be about who can spend most. Review cheap products that everyone can afford
Substitute expensive ingredients in recipes
Get in contact with brands who might offer you free samples in exchange for a review
Try free promotion opportunities, like Facebook groups and Project Wonderful
Follow other bloggers! Of course!
Look at your favourite celebrities in your niche. For example, I might check out Deliciously Ella’s latest recipes
Browse tags on Pinterest and Instagram
Use collection sites, eg TheKitchn for recipes
It’s not easy, but it is rewarding, and I love keeping my blog up to date. Have you got any more tips about fitting in your blog with real life, or stories about how you didn’t manage it in the past? I would love to hear them in the comments!
So this week I wanted to share with you some of the images that I’ve taken, available for you to use as stock. I sell through PicFair as their terms are great for photographers, so please do go ahead and check them out. If you’re a photographer yourself, you should consider signing up in order to see what kind of sales you can make!
A lot of my stock is still-life based, but recently I also added some fruit that will work great for food blogs and advertising. If you want to take a closer look, just head to my profile here. All of the images are available at a very low set price, and I plan to add more images on a regular basis going forwards – you can already see my newest set, which features rose petals laying on top of a wooden surface: great for backgrounds!
If you have any ideas for food stock photography, or anything that you feel is missing from the world of stock, please do let me know. I’d love to provide images for all kinds of buyers, and it’s always exciting to get a chance to use my lightbox to create some beautiful food images. I’m planning to include all kinds of fruit in my stock photography in the future, as well as vegetables and perhaps some of the other staples we use in our cooking.
It’s time for a veggie living post today! I know we have a bit of a tendency to just shove everything in the fridge to try and keep it fresh, but sometimes that’s actually not the best option. Even if you have some leftovers that you want to eat tomorrow, storing them away in a cold place might not be the right thing to do. Here are five foods that you should never, under any circumstances, be putting in the fridge.
So most people probably don’t put a whole loaf of bread in the fridge – but what about leftovers? Are you guilty of putting last night’s pizza in the fridge to keep it fresh? The truth is, this is the worst possible thing to do with it. The time it spends in the cold will simply encourage the bread to go stale faster, so you will end up with an inedible crust and base in no time at all. If you want to keep it for longer, try keeping it in the pizza box or covering it with foil and leaving it out on the side. Putting in the freezer is fine however as this helps the bread to retain its moisture when thawed.
Melons are fruit, so they should be stored in the fridge, right? Wrong! They will actually do better outside until they are ready to eat. Once you cut them up, you can keep them in the fridge to prevent them from drying out too quickly. Most fruit actually slows down the ripening process in the fridge, so don’t put unripe fruit in there – but once it’s ripe, keep it cool so it doesn’t go off too quickly.
When you store a potato in a cold place, the starch starts to break down and convert to sugar. This makes them gritty and sweet, which is not what you want for your mash. They should be stored in a pantry or cupboard, preferably in a breathable paper bag. They want to be cool and dark, but not cold.
Honey has the advantage of being a natural preservative, meaning that you could still eat honey that was two hundred years old so long as it was kept in a sealed jar. You don’t need to do anything special to keep it going. If you put it in the fridge, however, the sugar will start to crystallise. This makes it harder to pour or scoop. If you’re having trouble getting your honey out, put it in the cupboard instead.
Another fruit that can’t sit in the fridge? Yep! Tomatoes will start to form ice crystals when they are kept at low temperatures, which changes their texture – and not in a good way. It’s actually better to keep them at room temperature. This is one of the reasons why they are so good to eat when hand-picked from the vine.
So this week I wanted to write a few lines about a little place to eat that we visit now and then, and which is definitely on my love list. Basil is a cafe/deli which serves beautiful food, much of it vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, in Kent. They currently have three branches: two in Tunbridge Wells, and one in Tonbridge – our favourite as it’s a short walk away!
This place is really great because it sells a lot of alternative food that you can’t get elsewhere here. They serve courgette cake which is absolutely delicious, and plenty of tarts, quiches, pies, and sandwiches which change daily. They also – and this is probably my favourite part – make gorgeous milkshakes with flavours like peanut butter, Snickers, and so on that turn a simple milkshake into a sin. In the kind of way that makes you want to be a sinner. Mmm. Actually, I might have lied: my favourite part might just be the desserts, which have to be tasted to be believed.
One of the things I had there recently was the butternut squash, spinach, and feta pie you can see above. It was just divine, especially with my Snickers milkshake. Their ready-made sandwiches are also delicious, and you can go right in and pick whatever you want from the counter.
The decor is so cute as well, with rustic walls combined with home-made touches and flowers. I absolutely love this place, is basically what I’m saying. If you want to impress me, you know where to invite me out for coffee!
As we are so close to Christmas, I just wanted to wish all of our readers a happy festive season. Here’s hoping that the presents you wished for are under the tree, Christmas dinner is cooked to perfection, and the New Year brings in the promise of an even happier 2016!
I’m signing off now until next week, as both J and I take a much-needed break to celebrate with our families. We’ll be back on Monday with a great Vine post which I am already dying to share with you. I’ll also be sharing images of my veggie Christmas and New Year food, as ever, so you can see just what we eat.
Until then, if you want to know what I’m getting up to, just head over to Twitter. I’ll see you next week – have a good one!
Eating healthy is all about making the right choices at the right times. Unfortunately, however, your body also needs to eat – and sometimes you get hungry in-between meals. It is tempting to deny yourself food in order to try to stay slim, but really, the best course of action is to choose healthy snacks. This prevents hunger and allows you to stay healthy, keeping your body fuelled up for longer and helping you to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
There are many types of snacks that you can go for while still staying healthy. A lot of the time, it’s about choosing a healthy alternative to whatever you crave. Instead of a sugary mousse, why not try a snack like the Pudology pots, which are gluten and dairy free? This also lowers their calorie count and makes them a much better choice. You can also find popped crisps which can be as much as half the calorie count as traditional crisps. Nuts and fruit are also great snacks that you may find will help you to avoid cravings.
A debate which rages in diet circles is whether you should go for several small snacks or one big one. Personally I’ve always found that many small snacks is a better option. This satisfies your cravings and leaves you feeling more full. It’s also a great way of avoiding a situation later on where you are still hungry but have already eaten something big. If you want a big snack, however, make it count. Cutting up a veggie burger (which is always going to be more healthy than the meat version) with some salad in a wholemeal wrap is a mini meal in itself, but it is guaranteed to leave you feeling full for much longer. If you want more, always use fruit, vegetables, and salad leaves to pad it out rather than adding more “bad” food.
Another way to get your snacking under control is to go for Graze boxes. These are all portioned out properly so that you cannot eat too much at once. I’ve been using Graze for years now and I’m still in love with their snack range. If you want to try them out, I have a discount code here which will allow you to try them for free.
It’s really hard to avoid high-calorie food or overeating when you are really hungry. But think of it this way: allow yourself to eat unlimited fruit and vegetables instead of limiting yourself. You may well find that this freedom, which fills you up without the guilt of adding hundreds of calories, really helps you to settle into a better routine with food.
So, the summer is almost over. There are maybe a few days of sunshine left to us, but as the nights draw in a little each week and the air gets colder, it’s easy to feel summer slipping away. Let’s go for a last hurrah of a summer barbecue – the kind that a vegetarian can enjoy!
There are often a lot of difficulties involved in barbecues for vegetarians. Honestly, when I get invited over to someone’s house for a barbecue, normally I just decline. It’s a lot of hassle – the whole garden will stink of meat, no matter where you sit, and everyone is eating it as they chat. You will see them eating sausages with their fingers, and then feel the horror of someone going to shake your hand or pass you something… eugh. Not only that, but there’s also the danger of the well-meaning friend who gets you some veggie burgers or sausages and then sticks them right on the same barbecue as the meat – it’s difficult to have to explain to them that you can’t eat them!
Making a barbecue veggie friendly is not too hard, though. Your main tool is going to be tinfoil. With tinfoil in hand, you can make defences against all contamination. Just wrap your food up in a nice little tinfoil nest, giving room for the smoke to escape but stopping any fat from spitting in. Pop that on the barbecue and you are good to go, no matter what else might be sitting on the grill.
So what can a vegetarian eat at a barbecue? All of these pictures are from a recent family barbecue, and every single item is vegetarian friendly. We had veggie burgers, potatoes in garlic, halloumi cheese, and sweetcorn, as well as some sausages and Quorn products. All of this cooks very nicely on the barbecue and hardly takes any time at all. The best part? It won’t be dangerous to eat if you get the timings wrong and don’t cook it all the way through…
You can also try making your own skewers with tomatoes, cheese, olives, roasted peppers and onions if you like. Or how about putting a tray of garlic mushrooms on? You can make all kinds of different veggie burgers, and top them with crunchy, fresh salad.
The food we ate on this sunny summer evening was absolutely delicious. I’ve already spoken about the melt in the middle Quorn burgers that we ate, but my favourite part had to be the sweetcorn. I just love hot, buttery corn eaten fresh off the barbecue! It’s one of my favourite side dishes and takes barely any preparation at all – plus it’s really fun to eat. If you are planning a veggie-friendly barbecue, I really recommend it!
Quite often, I’m asked questions like “what do you eat?”. Non-vegetarians don’t seem to have any concept of what can be eaten without including meat, but actually it is a lot more simple to follow a vegetarian diet than you may think. Those who crave meat replacements can enjoy Quorn, tofu, and alternative recipes, and if you don’t mind, there are a million things you can eat without any form of meat or meat substitute.
But what about making sure you eat healthy, even when you’re on the move? As a veggie, it’s easy to end up buying fatty sandwiches from the supermarket or just opting for a bowl of chips when you eat out. It’s always possible to make a healthy choice – even when you’re eating lunch at work. Here are some of my tips for things you can eat at work. The important thing is to keep your energy levels up, feel satisfied, and get the nutrients you need, hopefully whilst not spending too much money.
One of my favourite options to make a homemade lunch is a wrap. You can get wholemeal or even gluten free wraps as you prefer, and you only need one to make a good lunch. Fill it with leaf like iceberg lettuce or spinach, or even rocket. Add a little cheese for some healthy calcium and great taste, and some Quorn or tofu for a bit of protein. I like to slice up sausages or tear up the sandwich Quorn slices, and you can also get strips of “chicken” breast. Or ditch the meat substitutes altogether and fill your wrap with veggies: crunchy bell peppers, spicy jalapenos and chilis, sharp red onion, earthy olives, and fresh sweetcorn are all great choices. Avocado can also add a great flavour and texture. You can line your wrap with houmous, pesto, or peanut butter for an extra level of texture too.
You can also go for a salad, but don’t for a second think that means it has to be boring. Lots of fresh vegetables and leaf are always a great idea, and you can add a low fat dressing as well to complete it. Houmous is a great one to use here again. Add something a bit more exciting like black beans or hot sauce to freshen things up. Make a salad composed of tastes you enjoy – don’t just pick ingredients because they are healthy or because they are supposed to go in a salad.
Sandwiches don’t have to be unhealthy. Choose granary or seeded bread, or a pitta for a smaller and healthier option. Pack it with spinach, mango, and Quorn chicken for an exotic, tasty, and healthy option. It’s also very satisfying. If you need a bit more substance, try adding an unusual cheese, preferably something a bit soft and crumbly which will almost melt into the other ingredients. This is sure to keep you going through lunch time and beyond.
For snacks, try popped crisps instead of the normal kind. They have a lot less calories and lower fat content. Look out for the calories in a packet as a guide: you’re doing well if you can find a packet that has less than 100 calories in it, as a general guide. This allows you to try something that feels a bit naughty without actually compromising on the healthy side of things! Rice cakes, crisp breads, and similar snacks are also really good for this. Just find a flavour that you like – don’t stick with seeded varieties if you find them boring, as you will end up reaching for something else to satisfy you. My favourite rice and corn cakes at the moment are paprika flavoured, which gives them a bit more of a kick and a lot more tastiness.
I also like to keep up my dairy intake, as I know that I’m prone to brittle nails if I don’t get enough calcium. A yoghurt is a staple part of my working lunch. You can buy individual yoghurts, something a bit more exciting like the Muller corners, or buy in bulk. Rachel’s are some of my favourite big pots as the flavours are great. All you need is a flask, small lunchbox, or Tupperware container and you can portion out half or a third of the yoghurt at a time. You can add muesli, dried fruit, or even a few small flakes of chocolate to make it more exciting.
Finally, for those who like to snack, consider the small Quorn picnic items. Mini veggie sausages, veggie scotch eggs, and even just “chicken” chunks work well as snacks. You can also go for Graze boxes if you want something different every day. I get a variety box every two weeks, and I find that having a little Graze snack every now and then stops me from getting bored with my lunch routine. Click on the link above if you want to try one for free with my discount code.
What do you do at work to avoid spending too much money on supermarket meals and get healthy? Let me know your lunch suggestions in the topics – I’d love to see some new inspiration!