Easy Weekday Recipe: Chicken Pesto Pasta

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(Ok, it’s not clean and lean but it’s yummy, so just try it!)

This is a really easy weekday meal, just chop up the ingredients and pop them in a pan!

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Like my oak weathered ‘Bon Appetit’ placemat (used here as a quick chopping board)? It’s from Dassie.co.uk, an amaaaazing South African decor website – I want most of it!

Ingredients
2 x chicken breasts, diced
2 x courgettes, sliced
4 x mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp creme fraiche ( I used half fat)
olive oil
salt & pepper
serve with pasta: linguine or spaghetti work well

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Method
1. Season chicken and fry in a little olive oil.
2. Add courgettes and mushrooms and cook for 10mins or until soft.
3. Mix creme fraiche and pesto and add to the pan, ensuring it is not too hot. Leave to cook for a few minutes.
4. Mix with freshly cooked pasta and add more pesto/seasoning to taste.

Enjoy!

How many crunches can you do in a minute?

How many crunches can you do in a minute?

I am proud to announce that I am hosting Spogo’s #1PercentMore Challenge this week. Spogo.co.uk are encouraging people to get up and do just 1% more activity each day (That’s just 15mins!).

Why? Because as a nation we have stopped moving:

  • Nearly two thirds of UK adults risk their health through insufficient exercise
  • A University of Bristol-led study found 80% of adults in England failed to meet the government target of taking moderate exercise 12 times in a four-week period
  • If the whole nation was just 1% more active we could save the NHS £1.2 billion within five years

Spogo 1 percent more challenge

In order to raise awareness of this growing problem in the UK, Spogo are working with bloggers and fitness institutions to challenge people to get moving. So this week, I am challenging you to crunch those abs! How many crunches can you do in a minute? I managed 37. And I’m going to do it every day to see if I can better that! Follow me on Twitter to see how that goes.

Want to check how to do a crunch? Watch this video:

Let me know how you do on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below!

Introjuicing with Curry’s!

Currys Introjuicing blogging event

About a month ago, I popped along to a fun blogger event with Curry’s to find out more about the wonderful world of juicing. With juice cleanses and detoxes hitting the headlines in abundance over the past couple of years, Curry’s invited Derry from Urban Kings Gym along to dispel a few myths.

Myths such as juicing alone is not such a good idea! Despite the trends in juice detoxing, your body is not made to survive on juice alone and it actually makes a lot more sense to just include juice in your daily routine. Another thing to note would be to include mainly vegetables in your juicing recipes and just one or two pieces of fruit, in order to keep your sugar levels down.

Currys Introjuicing Event

The magical juicing lesson was followed by 45 bloggers all vying for the best beetroot/celery/orange/carrot to make our own super juice on a brand spanking new Philips juicer. There was quite a queue for this one in particular! Some were more skilled than others in the juicing stakes – mine was somewhat chewy as I definitely needed to add a little less fibre I feel…

I won’t bother explaining my fail of a juice, but here are a few juicing recipes for you to try out:

Tropical Cocktail
½ beetroot
2 carrots
1 stalk celery
½ cucumber
1 inch ginger
1 handful parsley
2 rounds pineapple

Derry’s Berry Mix
1 apple
10 blueberries
10 strawberries
8 raspberries
½ cup yoghurt

Ginger Cleanse
1 apple
2 carrots
1 stalk celery
1 inch ginger

Maybe I should have paid more attention to the following great basic juicing tips in order to improve my juice:

1. Apples, pears, berries, leaves and carrots can be put in the feeding tube without any prior preparation, although you do need to remove the stones, stalks and peel from other fruits  – Hmm, *note to self*…!

2. Always switch the juicer on before adding the ingredients, and make sure to only add ingredients into the feeding tube one at a time!

Urban Kings Gym London

After the juicing lesson, Derry took us all down to Urban Kings for an intense HIIT body conditioning session, where teams of bloggers faced off against each other in a series of circuits. It was actually an amazing all over body workout that allowed everyone to pull together as a team of sweaty-faced bloggers whilst at the same time encouraging people to work at their own pace. I really enjoyed it!

Thank you so much to Curry’s and Urban Kings for a great evening!

Plus, thanks to Philips who later sent me a fabulous juicer and a blender to practice my skills!

Do you have any great juice or smoothie recipes to recommend to me?

Menton, France: A haven on the French Riviera

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There’s something about Menton. From the moment we drove in, via Monaco and Monte Carlo, I knew I was going to love it. Still considered to be one of the best kept secrets on the French Riviera, Menton is the last stop on the French coast before Italy and as a result is a beautiful mix of the two cultures. The old town, with its winding streets and impressive Basilica is filled with pasta and pizza restaurants, plus French bistros serving up bouillabaisse and simple moules-frites. Of course, you find the usual tourist parts, mainly along the main beach where the Promenade de la Mer boasts a variety of good restaurants in front of a small beach covered in sun loungers and parasols, but there is still an air of European sophistication, long gone in other parts of the Côte d’Azur.

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Where we stayed
After reading a million reviews (I always think that doing your homework really pays off), I concluded that Hotel Napoleon would be the best choice. However, with nothing booked two days before, all they could offer was a 400€-a-night suite, which was a little out of our budget. However, one hotel that kept coming up on my radar was Hotel Prince de Galles on the seafront. I had originally discounted it due to its Best Western label, but after rereading the reviews (no6 on TripAdvisor), and noticing a last minute sea view room pop up online, I took the plunge and I am so glad that I did. We somehow snagged the best room in the hotel! With a corner balcony and breathtaking views of the Baie du Soleil, stretching over to Italy, I squealed as we opened the hotel door. I later noticed the sign outside the door that the room had won the ‘Best view from a hotel room‘ award. What luck! The room was clean and comfortable, the reception staff were very helpful and we managed to score free parking right outside the hotel for the entire weekend. My main tip would be to pay the surcharge and order breakfast to your room. Eating croissants and drinking coffee with a view like that was to die for (even is the coffee itself was a bit of a let down.)

Where we ate
Upon arrival on the Friday afternoon, like any good tourist, we drove around, spent an age trying to find a parking spot and then walked down the the beach and into a restaurant, Le Festival Plage. The food was ok, the service was ok, but the scenery was stunning and when all you want is a salad and a glass of rose on a hot summer’s day, it hit the spot.

For dinner, we did a little bit more research and went for Le Cirke, one of Menton’s best seafood restaurants. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a very good meal. We enjoyed a simple crustacean salad with asparagus, followed by their famous Grand Friture for 2, a plate of fried calamare, shrimp, fish, scallops and squid, all washed down with a lovely crisp bottle of Sancerre and a couple of espressos. Delicious. If I went back, I’d probably have to try a lighter, grilled fish however, as I didn’t eat a lot of the fried plate, as good as it was. For lunches, we found ourselves in the boulangerie grabbing a baguette to add to cheese and ham and a bottle of rose from the supermarket before heading down to the beach. There were two particular restaurants that we loved: Creperie Fleur du Sel and Little Italy. I thoroughly recommend Italian restaurants in Menton – Italy is literally next door!

What we did
You don’t need to do a whole lot in Menton to enjoy it. The atmosphere and climate are enough. However, a walk round the old town was fantastic, people watching on the promenade was also a favourite pastime – sometimes from our balcony, sometimes from a cafe – and an evening jog to the Italian border and back with the stunning scenery was amazing.

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What we read
With a looming half marathon, I read various running tips for the area, as well as a recent copy of Runner’s World magazine, plus a whole host of travel blogs and articles on the area.

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What we missed
We didn’t make it into the Museum Jean Cocteau, which I would have liked to have wandered around, but the weather was far too good to be stuck inside! We also umm’d and ahhh’d about Mirazur, a fabulous Michelin starred restaurant in Menton, but decided against it in the end.

What we thought
We loved it! I’d like to go back and visit the museum and hit a few more restaurants! It’s such a fabulous option for a weekend away, at only 20min drive from Nice Airport.

A boat on Lake Malawi

sunrise on lake malawi

On the last day of a recent work trip with Walkabout Foundation to Malawi, we decided to wake up super early and catch the break of dawn with a little boat ride on Lake Malawi to check out the scenery in the little time we had in our stopover at Njaya Lodge.

We were talked into the trip by Dixon, a lively character who has worked at the lodge for more than 20 years and somewhere along the way was nicknamed ‘lovely Jubbly’ by a tipsy Geordie and seemingly the moniker has stuck. For 20,000 Kwacha (about £30), four of us went out at 6am on a local fisherman’s boat to visit nearby coves as well as Fish Eagle where, as the name suggests, you throw fish to tempt an eagle to fly over you. It’s pretty spectacular watching them swoop over you.
Lake Malawi Eagle

The lake itself is really peaceful and each morning every cove seems to fill with women doing morning chores, kids playing and men baiting up their boats for the day.

Lake Malawi boat ride

I travel so much with my job, it’s nice to get a bit of time to enjoy the life of the country. I hadn’t really noticed the tourism in Malawi, until we got to the Lake. There are a lot of activities to do. A boat trip is definitely recommended!

Little Italy: Menton, France

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Sometimes you just see a place and think it would be the perfect place to spend a little time. That’s how I felt about Little Italy in Menton. We walked past this charming little place the day before just as it was closing for lunch and made a mental note to come back. And we were so glad we did.

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We ordered the house pizza ‘Little Italy‘ upon the recommendation of the waiter plus a salade italienne alongside a 0.5 pichet of rose and followed by a very generous portion of tiramisu (share it, I urge you!) plus two coffees. The food was fresh and delicious and there was a wonderful atmosphere on the quiet street. We loved the neighbourly interactions between the local store owners, swapping coffees for bread rolls, and the friendliness of the staff. It’s well worth a return and, having the delights in the table next to us, I’ll try the seafood pasta next time!

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My review on TripAdvisor can be found here.

Little Italy
7 Rue Pieta, 06500 Menton, France
+33 9 67 19 15 44

Vonage: From Blog to Business Workshop

vonage blogger workshop

I love getting together with other bloggers. It’s actually a huge community, even just in London alone and at every event that I go to, I meet new people with great blogs I’ve never heard of.

The other great thing is that you can swap tips with everyone, from the new kids on the block to those who have been around for a while. I’ve been in and out of this community for quite a few years now and as a result, I have a lot of longstanding knowledge but often have missed things along the way from when I was travelling or busy with life.

So when Vonage announced that they were hosting a blogging workshop entitled ‘From Blog to Business’ presented by the fabulous Emma Cossey of Freelance Lifestyle and Elizabeth Sellers of Rosalilium, I was excited to go along and meet them and pick up a few gems of wisdom from those who have managed to turn blogging into a full-time job.

We covered a variety of topics from legal issues and image rights to content calendars and fee pricing. I especially found the diversification section the most fun – how to turn your blog into a book, a podcast or an e-course. It’s funny how years in the ‘business’ makes you an expert on some level. There will always be people with less knowledge than you willing to pay to learn what you know!

The workshop was great and it really reignited my passion for blogging and blogpost topics. In fact, it must have been in the back of my mind for a while as I have actually decided to go freelance again, as a social media manager and copywriter. So, please do look out for more frequent blog posts coming soon!

About Vonage UK
Vonage is a brilliantly affordable way to add a landline number to your business card, giving you a dedicated second phone line with unlimited UK calls and international calls from 0p a minute! We also liked the fact that you can extend the service using an app on your mobile phone.

To find out more about the workshop, search #vonageworkshop online.

Creperie Fleur du Sel: Menton, France

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‘These are the best crepes that I have ever had!’

These are the words of my boyfriend who couldn’t believe how beautifully presented the savoury crepes were with their perfect eggs in the middle. We visited this restaurant after noticing it was No1 on TripAdvisor, as well as how busy it was.

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We had originally intended on simply sharing one savoury galette and one sweet crepe, but when we saw other people’s food, we couldn’t help but order more! We ate at 9.30pm on a Saturday night (we made the booking at 9pm) and ordered the ‘forestiere‘, the ‘provencale‘ and the house special – the ‘mentonnaise‘ dessert crepe made with homemade local lemon sauce, meringue and chantilly. Lemons are a speciality of the area, so make sure that you do not miss that! We also loved ordering a bottle of cider with the crepes, served out of tea cups to mirror the wide-open bowls traditionally used to drink cider in France. The price was also very reasonable, which made it even tastier.

Now all I have to do is work out how to make these babies at home!

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P.S. This review also appeared on TripAdvisor.

Bootcamp on the Heath with Spogo and BMF

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When invited to try out a fitness class, I usually say yes. When you tell me it’s practically on my doorstep, I’ll definitely say yes. Which means that when you tell me I’ll be jogging alongside an Olympic athlete, I’ll probably already be there waiting for you.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a British Military Fitness bootcamp on Hampstead Heath in association with Spogo. Spogo is a new initiative designed to get people up and moving. Their ambassador is Olympic sprinter Iwan Thomas. Check out the video below (and Iwan dragging me up a hill!)

It was an awful, dreary day with terrible drizzly rain. Not what you need for running around a park with a guy in army gear barking orders at you. And when he tells you to sit in the mud in your favourite workout clothes, that’s not what you need either. But you do it anyway. I did. And I loved it!

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Each bootcamp class lasts around 45mins. There are various locations around London and beyond. Hampstead Heath is my nearest – although Hyde Park is near my office, so I definitely have options. Plus, BMF just launched a variety of Saturday morning classes, meaning that even if a class isn’t on your doorstep after work, you can still go along at the weekend and give it a go!

Thank you so much to Spogo and to BMF for a fun, drizzly evening!

Read more about the evening on the BMF blog here and on Spogo here.

Such a fun weekend!

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I had such a fun weekend last weekend! Friday night, I had drinks and chats with a colleague before rushing home to find my friends at mine for a catch up!

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Saturday was a chilled day. I went for a jog on Hampstead Heath and then I met my boyfriend and his sister at the farmers market. He had just got back from a week away with work and she was staying with us for the weekend. We bought some ingredients for a Sunday BBQ and then headed down to Little Italy for a quiet lunch and a catch up. Saturday evening was a quiet one meaning that Sunday, we were ready to run!

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We caught the tube to Regents Park and started a casual 5k around the perimeter. I have been battling with speed recently – in that I don’t have it! – so I decided to run alongside Dyanne, Rob’s speedy sister, which helped me find a comfortable pace and a 5k PB, which in turn helped me with a 10k PB – I just couldn’t stop going! Very odd. But very proud. I got my 5k under 30mins and my 10k under an hour, all in one run and I was thrilled.

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I was also tired, so the next thing we did was sit in the sun with a juice before heading back to light up the BBQ and create some fabulous champagne cocktails. Another friend also joined us for dinner and a catch up before we curled up for an early night and a good sleep.

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Monday was all about organising my house and my blog and catching up on all if those niggling admin tasks. I also did about 6 loads of laundry. Rock n Roll. I enjoyed it though. Sometimes you need a day like that!

All in all a fabulous weekend!

What did you all get up to?