Monday, 4 July 2016

wagamama review

When deciding on a spot to grab some dinner, or to eat with friends, Wagamama is always one of the first suggestions. Offering up a fairly healthy cuisine, when compared with Burger joints my partner would prefer us to frequent, and plenty of variety on the menu, there's bound to be something to suit everyone and I tend to preference Wagamama for this reason.
I was recently invited to sample some of the new dishes Wagamama has to offer, so my partner and I popped over to the Spinningfield branch to give them a try!
Shirodashi ramen

In addition to the new main dishes on the menu, there are a couple of new fresh juices on offer: positive, power and repair. Personally, I love fresh juices, but would normally avoid having one with dinner because, well, I have a super sweet tooth and would rather save the calories on a dessert. But in the spirit of sampling the new menu, and because we've both been doing really well sticking to our current gym plan and eating (mostly) clean, we decided to indulge a little. I tried the positive juice and he tried the repair; both combinations of fruit and veg were super delicious, refreshing and surprisingly light which was a bonus as we didn't fill up too much before the food arrived.
First up, we decided on the pork ribs and Asian duck wraps to start. I quickly dug into the duck wraps as they just looked so god damn delicious, but realising I hadn't got that all important shot I required, I proceeded to shoot the ribs while my boyfriend waited patiently before digging in! But I'm sure he will say they were worth the wait... The meat was so tender and fell off the bone just as it should - not too fatty or dry - simply delicious!
Having whet the appetite, we were more than ready for the main event. My partner opted for the grilled duck donburi and I, the shirodashi ramen. Having sampled both dishes, I was slightly envious of his as the the duck was so tasty and the flavours really complimented on another, but I still enjoyed my ramen nevertheless. We also had opted for a portion of the pork gyoza - which, as usual, were very morish - and a portion of the wok fried greens. My partner thoroughly enjoyed his donburi and would highly recommend. Having wanted to get out of my food comfort zone as it were, the shirodashi ramen was a contrast to dishes I would usually opt for; often leaning towards more spicy, punchy flavours and with any meat other than pork. The shirodashi ramen comprises of slow cooked pork belly in a reduced chicken broth with miso and garnishes with pea shoots, spring onions and egg. Ramen is one of my favourite ever dishes; on a cold rainy day, as was the day in question, the broth is the equivalent of a warm blanket. Not too heavy, or stodgy, and pretty healthy which is always a bonus! I enjoyed this version of my staple go-to, the miso-soup like broth complimented the pork and was a great overall dish. However, not being a huge lover of pork, I will probably stick to my usual chilli chicken ramen in the future. I would recommend this to those who aren't too keen on the spicy dishes though.
Of course we finished up with dessert and let me just say the banana katsu was my favourite dish of the whole meal - but that's probably my sweet tooth taking over! Seriously though, it was bloody delicious!
Will you be sampling the new menu anytime soon? What's your favourite dish? 

Friday, 1 July 2016

Talking body confidence with Boohoo

Today, we’re talking body confidence. Regardless of the fact that it is now (technically) summer, body confidence should be something which is promoted throughout the entire year. When Boohoo asked if I wanted to take part in their body confidence campaign, I knew I had to get involved and share my experiences and thoughts on the matter and hopefully spread some positivity in the process!

Undoubtedly everyone has had some sort of body hang up at one time or another. Terms such as ‘beach body ready’ don’t help the matter much over the summer; the added pressure is enhanced by many a campaign and subliminal promotions which flood social media pages. I dislike the term beach body ready - it promotes the notion that you need to get in shape or 'skinny' for summer for it to be acceptable to grace your swimwear on the beach. Which is just ridiculous. I'm certain this must increase pressure on younger, more impressionable, women to look their best and which sometimes leads to drastic measures being taken or feelings of shame when you can't drop a dress size in 3 weeks like that magazine told you you could. Having said that, I am increasingly seeing more and more of the 'strong not skinny' campaign, and more awareness of leading a healthier lifestyle which boosts confidence over time - not just a quick fix for summer - something which I am pleased about.

As cliché as it sounds, for me, body confidence comes from within. I like to do things which make me feel good about myself; work out so that I can enjoy the food I want to eat; dance; hang out with friends and family who make me laugh; watch my favourite shows and generally try and look after my body as best that I can. I believe, for me, this contributes to being more confident and thus being more comfortable in my own skin. Over the last few years I have slowly come to the realisation that in order to feel good about yourself, you have to embrace your imperfections; they are what set you apart. Which is totally a good thing. It doesn't matter if you're a size 6 or a 16, so long as you are confident within, you will shine. Now to be ready summer, all that's left to do is to pick up some sexy swimwear - check out boohoo's fab range here. I opted for this little number from the petite section which is perfect for my short torso - it fits beautifully! I wish it had arrived before my recent holiday to Crete so I could get a great instead I shot this pic for you from the comfort of my home. Also, can we all just take a minute to appreciate how bloody difficult it is to take mirror selfies... tips on a postcard please!
I'd love to hear your thoughts and what makes you body confident.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Summer styling

   H&M kimono, new look top and skirt, schuh sandals, olympus pen camera 

Starting off my leap back into the world, I thought I would share my go-to summer look for both day and night. I'm keen to share more petite style ideas/tips on the blog, as I feel this is something that I myself really benefit from reading online, and I think this look is super flattering for petites; mini skirts are great for lengthening the leg and the kimono just brings the casual/ boho look together. I tend to look for lighter, sheer, fabrics when layering since chunky items can drown us petites, and this H&M kimono was a steal I picked up last year - under £10 I believe - and it's my go-to item for creating a cute summer look. 
I'm off on holiday next week and this ensemble will be perfect for those sunny days wandering around town. The low-heeled sandals are super comfy and transition the look from day to night - with just a touch up of mascara and lick of lipstick required! Of course, I have my camera at the ready to shoot some pics from my vacation and the kimono to cover my pale skin from the sun, now get me on that plane!


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Eat pasta, run faster

I don't mention food enough on my blog, especially since I like to think of myself as a bit of a foodie!
When I heard Vapiano were running their campaign 'eat pasta, run faster' it sounded right up my street. So naturally, I just had to pop along to try their menu!

It was also my first time visiting Vapiano in the newly refurbished corn exchange, and I think Vapiano makes for a wonderful place to visit for a casual lunch with friends or family. Vapiano, derived from an Italian proverb meaning to 'relax and you'll live healthier and longer', have reinvented casual dining; offering freshly cooked Italian food with a self-service concept.The Manchester restaurant sits in a great location - the corn exchange in the city centre - and has a big, beautiful open space split over two floors.
Fresh herb plants are dotted everywhere around the restaurant, reminding you that their focus is on fresh, healthy, home-made food. 

Upon arrival you are handed a smart-card to scan when ordering food and drinks from the bar and the pizza/pasta/salad stations, where your chosen dish will be made freshly in front of you. You can wait while your pasta is being made - I loved this, as I enjoy being nosy - but the pizza takes a bit longer so you're given a buzzer to be called back once it's ready. 
Having your own smart-card means there's no fuss when it comes to settling the bill. You can just head to the host as you leave and pay for what you ordered on your card. Super quick and easy and perfect for large groups! 
We started with the antipasti to share. Washed down with a refreshing Aperol spritz for me and Peroni for him. We then took to reviewing the 'eat pasta, run faster' diet plan, created by Sarah Schenker, a registered dietitian and nutritionist. Sold by the campaign, we both opted for pasta dishes recommended by Sarah - bolognese and ravioli, as Sara recommends balancing your carbohydrate intake with plenty of protein. I was intrigued by this campaign, not least because I've been trying hard lately to eat healthy and I was hoping I could learn a thing or two!
I was glad I opted for spaghetti bolognese; one of my favourite pasta dishes - simple and classic, and oh so delicious! Cooked fresh on site, you are able to choose what pasta you prefer in your dish as well as customising the dish to suit by adding more or less: cheese/ chilli/ bread etc. 
Sarah recommends Bolognese as a great option for runners, as 'not only does it deliver plenty of carbohydrate to build stores of glycogen in the liver and muscles, the tomatoes deliver beta carotene needed to protect cells from oxidative damage (increased in runners) and boost immunity. The meat provides high quality protein needed for muscle strength and repair. It is also a good source of easily absorbed iron needed for the transportation of oxygen in red blood cells'. Winner! 
The ravioli is a superb recovery meal, as the ricotta cheese provides amino acids which help repair muscles and prevent soreness. I shall remember this as cheese is often the first thing I avoid when training as I know it's high in fat.

For those of you who may be currently training, or just want to get back to the gym and eat a more healthy, I have attached Sarah's 5 day plan below.

I'm personally slacking on the fitness front of late, but the healthy meal plan and tips suggested by Sarah have spurred me on somewhat. Although the dishes where recommended for runners, which I'm not, I'm positive that the plan is suitable for all those who are looking to stay healthy and get fit and can be incorporated into any fitness plan. I'm thinking of taking up dance again and this plan would be ideal to accompany a fitness plan of dance classes and weight training.

Have you tried Vapiano and if so what did you think? Also, let me know if you like the plan devised by Sarah and whether you will be trying it out. 

Thanks for having us Vapiano! 

Disclaimer: Our meal was complimentary of Vapiano but as always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 
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