Tag Archives: mediterranean

Food | Talking oils and nursing myself back to health

imageI’ve been writing a LOT about travel lately, and while I still have so much to share with you all from my month travelling around Europe and now Indonesia, I thought it would be a nice time to take a moment’s break to talk about two of my other passions. Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a big foodie at heart and that I love to stay fit and healthy – combining the two is a big love of mine and something I dedicate a lot of time to when I’m not travelling. We all know how hard it is to keep it going when you’re on holiday – well apparently my life is a holiday but if there’s something I hate, it’s getting ill while travelling. I’m actually writing this when my body is a wreck – too much partying means I’m now popping Vitamin C and painkillers to stave off every illness going and I know exactly why. It’s because my diet has suffered since being in Bali – I haven’t been eating as many fruits and vegetables since being away, I haven’t been eating enough and half the time I’ve had an upset tummy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a blast here, but it does catch up with you! So now I’m taking a few days of good, healthy food, fresh fruit smoothies and good sleep to recuperate.imageA few days off partying and sightseeing has given me time to use my brain a bit and talk to people, quite a few of these conversations have naturally led to one of my favourite products and one that is widely available in Asia – coconut oil. I love everything coconut – from the meat, the milk and the water, to the oils and natural products created from them. It is lifesaver for a girl with skin as delicate as mine – coconut oil is one of the few things I know I can use liberally without causing rashes both to eat and on my skin – it’s so pure that it can do no wrong. And one of the lovely things about buying it out here, is not only that it is so cheap, but that it has no preservatives or nasties added to it – it’s pretty much as pure as you can get it without the “health food” price attached. Even when I’m in the UK, I try to make sure I drink as much coconut water as possible and use coconut oil on my skin, hair and nails – it’s definitely a lot more pricey than it is out here but it’s worth it. Even long before it became “fashionable” I knew the value of using oils instead of lotions and creams that were packed full of things I could be allergic to. Trust me, once you find that out the hard way a few times, you become very cautious about what you are putting on, and in, your body.imageIf you do struggle with your skin like I do, particularly with eczema and dry patches, it’s a really good idea to take a look at your oil use. I’ve always alternated the use of coconut oil with olive oils to get the best results – both in my food and on my skin. While both have amazing affects when you add them to your diet, I notice huge differences when I also apply them externally. Often before going to bed I will cover my skin in coconut oil, or will coat any dry patches in olive oil, then allow it to soak in. By doing it when your body is resting, it has so much more time to really soak in and work it’s magic, trust me – as someone who has suffered with these problems for years – nothing has ever worked better than simple oils on your plate and on your skin. It’s also great to combine the oils with a body butter, if you can find one pure enough, that way the deeper layers of your skin absorb the oil while the butter moisturises the top layers. I personally find The Body Shop’s argan oil or cocoa body butters work really well this way, plus they smell amazing!imageIf you followed my blog over the last few months, you’ll know that I holidayed in Santorini with my parents for a few weeks. Greece is a big favourite with my parents – they love the food, the culture, the landscape, and after years of holidays there I can only agree with them. It’s a fabulous country and particularly when you get down to the islands, each one is completely different but still maintains the charm and traditions of Greece. One thing I really love about Greece is their Mediterranean diet, I do think Greek food is one cuisine that I could happily live off for the rest of my days. Maybe less of the bread, but throw all the seafood, salads and wine at me! We were living off the most delicious Greek salads, and even Santorini salads, dressed in the simplest of dressings, just the very finest olive oils and vinegar – so good they speak for themselves! When it came to seafood, the simpler the better. I’d have sea bass or bream, or even snapper, dressed simply in herbs and drizzled with olive oil before being barbecued. It was some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had and yet some of the simplest. The Greeks sure know the value of quality over quantity – they would rather serve just three ingredients but the very finest quality and flavours than have a whole plate of tastes that don’t quite get your palate excited.imageAt home we use a lot of olive oil in cooking and preparing meals, so if you’re struggling to think of ways of integrating more good oils into your diet it’s worth trying out some of my favourites. Salads are an easy way to introduce olive oils to your diet – drizzle olive oil and either balsamic or white wine vinegar over your salad, and the beauty of salad is that it doesn’t just have to be boring lettuce. You can mix it up and try quinoa, pumpkin, cous cous, spinach and all kinds of other tasty treats. If you like seafood, you can’t beat a nice bit of salmon wrapped in foil in the oven for 20 minutes, drizzle oil over it and add chilli or paprika for flavour – serve with sweet potato fries or minty potatoes. And if you need a little something for the side, why not add roasted vegetables? Just chop up loads of veg in a tray then drizzle oil all over it and season, stick it in the oven and roast for half an hour or until soft – perfect side dish. Or if you’re just cooking for one – do what I used to do at uni, roast loads then keep it in the fridge for wraps – yum! If you want to learn a little more about the different types of olive oil and what to do with them – you should check out this great infographic from Jamie’s Italian. It tells you all you need to know about how to cook with different types of oil to get the best results.jamies-italian-olive-oil-buyers-guide_57320f2dda035_w1500

Or, if you’re feeling like treating yourself, why not click here to book a table at Jamie’s Italian and let the pros show you how it’s done?

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Pinocchios Restaurant proved too good to be a nose-grower

pinocchios-restaurant-sliderI know, I know guys, I’ve got to stop talking about food. I don’t know about you lot but I’m making myself hungry! This is a review of a fantastic restaurant I discovered when I went to Norwich a few weeks ago with the boyfriend. We have a bit of a obsession with discovering new places to eat and although we find some pretty delicious places, we always try to stop ourselves from revisiting places when there are so many more we have yet to try. I did a bit of research into local restaurants ahead of our trip, to make sure we had a couple of restaurants up our sleeve if we had time to try somewhere new and amazingly we managed to fit two restaurants into one weekend! These ones were so good, I just couldn’t resist sharing them with you, so here is my review of the first.

We started off on the Saturday night be heading to Pinocchios Restaurant on St Benedicts Street. This Mediterranean brasserie is in the heart of the city and is easy to find, with convenient free parking right outside. Best of all, it is an independent restaurant, which I always try and stick to just to support local retailers rather than bigger chains. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but I think it is something we should all aim to do. From the outside, the restaurant is warm, inviting and really cute – it has the old-fashioned charm of a Lady-and-the-Tramp-style Italian but with a more diverse menu that incorporates some delicious dishes. The restaurant is very spacious so perfect for a romantic dinner for two or a large group for a birthday, there were several different groups in there when we were eating with plenty of room for all of us. The staff were attentive and looked after us well, bringing us pepper and drinks as we needed them, but leaving us alone to enjoy our food. The restaurant also had a lovely upstairs area with more seating.photo_5We were in the mood for some comfort food and this was the perfect place to enjoy delicious and tasty dishes reminiscent of a home-cooked Italian, but with some slightly different and more exotic flavours. To start, we shared squid in tempura batter with aioli and salad, and a peach and Italian cheese bruschetta  with balsamic and salad. Both were gorgeous dishes and complemented each other well, they made a great combination and really allowed us to try a mix of flavours. The aioli was delicious and really added something new to the squid dish which I had tried previously in other restaurants, it was great to see them putting a different spin on the dish. The bruschetta was delicious, it wasn’t something I would have usually ordered, but I fancied trying something unusual and I loved the combination of balsamic and peach, they worked really well together.

For mains, I had a gorgeous carbonara – not usually a dish I would order, in fact it was the first time I had ever eaten it out, but I was just in the mood for a creamy pasta with plenty of flavour. It more than lived up to my expectations and I ate every scrap of the bowl. The portions were of a healthy size, much better than when you go to a restaurant and have three pieces of ravioli brought out to you. But most importantly, the sauce was delicious, it really combined the cream with the bacon well and with a light dusting of pepper it was pretty perfect. Mark had a parpadelle pasta with lamb in a tomato sauce. His was absolutely delicious, the lamb added a hearty flavour while the tomato kept it fresh and light, he loved the dish and I enjoyed a taste as well.

We had a lovely meal, accompanied by some gorgeous wine and sadly couldn’t manage desserts. But I would really recommend this restaurant to anybody, whether you are after a romantic candlelit meal for two, a group meal or a big party, their menu has something for everyone and their service is faultless. I really enjoyed my evening with them and was even more impressed by the prices, if you are on a bit of a budget, this is a great restaurant for you. I genuinely cannot understand why anyone would rather go to the Pizza Express that is further up the street than dine in an independent, great priced and fantastic little restaurant like Pinocchios!

Have you eaten at Pinocchios – what was your meal like? Have you any other Norwich restaurant recommendations?

Ab Lucy sign off