Features

caribbean food week

It’s Caribbean Food Week! The UK’s BIGGEST celebration of Caribbean Food & Drink is well underway and Notting Hill Carnival is just around the corner. The Caribbean is renowned for producing vibrant music and equally vibrant food.

This bank holiday weekend you’ll be sure to find an array of Caribbean cuisine on the road this bank holiday weekend – jerk chicken, patties, roti and more.

So how does a Balanced Busy Body manoeuvre through a Caribbean menu? We’ve done some research for ya!

Rhythm Kitchen Jerk Chicken SaladTraditional jerk chicken is marinated with a variety of spices before it is cooked over hot coals and pimento wood. Many Caribbean restaurants in the UK restaurants are unlikely to be able to prepare their jerk chicken exactly as they would back home, but most do grill their jerk chicken, giving Balanced Busy Bodies a naturally low fat option when eating out at Caribbean restaurants. Rhythm Kitchen in Westfield Stratford City, pride themselves on marinating their meat for 24 hours before grilling. www.rhytmkitchen.co

Greenz Restaurant Vegetable GateauWe appreciate that not everyone eats meat, so you’ll be pleased to know that vegetarianism is common in the Caribbean. Whether due to the presence of Rastafarianism or the sheer abundance of fruits and vegetables in the region, vegetarians and vegans can enjoy Caribbean flavour – minus the meat. Greenz Restaurant in Tulse Hill specialise in vegetarian and vegan food inspired by their travels and their Caribbean heritage. Some items on the menu are also suitable for those on a gluten free diet. www.greenzrestaurant.com

KTmuttonIf you’re looking for an eat-in option, you should definitely get down to Sainsbury’s or Tesco and look for the Kingston Town Range. The range includes popular Jamaican favourites such as Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas, Curry Mutton with Rice and Chicken Fricassee with Rice and Peas.

The meals are free from artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and hydrogenated fats. The list of ingredients are easy in the meals are easy to pronounce which is always a plus in our eyes

Ocado are currently running a Caribbean Meal Deal promotion – buy 2 Kingstontown meals and 2 Port Royal patties for £8

Hope you all have a great Carnival Weekend!

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A growing number of people are taking special care with their diets. For some it’s because of a serious allergy and for others it’s because of a lifestyle choice. Either way, it’s becoming more and more common to ask for modifications to menu items.

Whilst some restaurants are prepared for these queries and happy to make changes, others are still adapting to their consumer’s requirements.

We took a chance at a popular high street coffee shop in London and asked if they would mind adding a bit of protein that we’d brought to the unsweetened blended coffee drink that we ordered and lo and behold – they said yes!

The moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to ask.

A few things to bear in mind when you are asking for modifications are:

Be polite. A little courtesy goes a long way.

Be realistic. If it’s the middle of the lunchtime rush and your requests are complicated, don’t be surprised if the establishment is not willing to accommodate.

Be prepared to explain why you are making a special request. If you have an allergy or intolerance, establishments are far more sympathetic than if you simply don’t like something.

Don’t take it personally if they cannot assist on that occasion. If for whatever reason you feel that your request was handled badly, take it up with their head office – don’t take it out on the member of staff who was dealing with your query.

Your nutrition is ultimately your responsibility. Restaurants aren’t obliged to accommodate you, but many make the effort because they want your business. If an establishment is not in a position to make an exception for you, be gracious and find another way to meet your nutritional needs.

 

Cinco de MayoCinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla and is a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. Mexican tradition and cuisine are becoming more and more established on London’s cultural scene over the last few years so if you choose your venue well, you’ll enjoy a full day of Mexican celebration – music, margaritas and delicious Mexican food.

Although the mainstream images of Mexican food tend to be laden with cheese and soured cream, there are many authentic meals that would be suitable for a busy body. If you have a specialist diet but would still like to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Mexican meal here are some options:

Grab a carb conscious bite at Tortilla by opting for a salad and topping with the meat of your choice. The burrito chain also takes pride in the fact that they serve slow cooked beans that are fully vegetarian and not refried.

Cinco de Mayo at Lupita

Lupita East will be hosting a Cinco de Mayo brunch celebration and after party with Latin music by DJ Paola (email east@lupita.co.uk to RSVP). We love Lupita because coeliacs can swap flour tortillas for corn tortillas in most cases for a gluten free option.

 

MextecaLondon’s modern Mexican restaurant, Cantina Laredo, is bringing the festivities to Covent Garden with a three-day fiesta of all things Mexican, kicking off on Friday 3rd May.  Wear a sombrero while dining and Cantina Laredo will give you a complimentary shot of El Jimador Tequila for your troubles. In addition, the magnificent Mexteca (the Mariachi band from Doritos TV advert) will be serenading diners on the evenings of Friday the 3rd and Saturday the 4th of May.

 

Real Mexican FoodIf you don’t fancy eating out, pick up the Real Mexican Food cookbook from Benito’s Hat and throw together your own Cinco de Mayo party. Benito’s Hat chef, Felipe Fuentes Cruz shares his family recipes so that you can make the best burritos, tacos, salsas, salads, desserts and margaritas.

 

 

We hope you enjoy your Cinco de Mayo whatever you choose to do!

Easter Treats

By BBB

Here’s our roundup of some great chocolate alternatives for you busy bodies to enjoy this Easter:

Cirillo

Cirillo BresilienneCirillo is dedicated to producing small but delicious batches of gluten free chocolate. The business was developed after the owners observed the frustration of coeliac children feeling left out whenever chocolates were being handed out. In addition to their gluten free varieties, their dark chocolate selection is also dairy free. Find out more here www.cirillochocolate.co.uk

Honeybuns

Honeybuns Milk Chocolate BrownieCakes, cookies and brownies are just a few of the treats you’ll find at Honeybuns. All of their treats are wheat free and many are gluten free. The award winning bakery sets their oven temperatures lower and longer than the rest in order to bring the flavours in their delicacies out. As well as on honeybuns.co.uk you can also find their products at Waitrose.

 

Fudge Kitchen

Fudge Kitchen Easter Fudge SelectionIf you’re after something a little different this Easter, you can try an indulgent slice of fudge from Fudge Kitchen. You only need a little bit to satisfy a sweet tooth and all of their flavours are gluten free. They even have a Dairy Free Toffee flavour. Pop into one of their branches to pick up an Easter Fudge selection.

Attitude to Food

Attitude to Food Raw Chocolate-BarsFor an Easter treat that’s even more off the beaten path check out the range from Attitude to Food. They pride themselves on creating delicious and nutritious guilt-free raw chocolates and Desserts. Their sour cherry chocolate bar is a tasty and nutritious option for Easter. Find out more here.

 

 

Happy Easter!

The tradition on St Patrick’s Day is generally to wear green but if you fancy eating green on the day here are a few suggestions:

 

Crussh Wheatgrass ShotWheatgrass shot from Crussh

Wheatgrass aids digestion, blood flow and helps to detox the body. It’s so potent you only need a little shot.

www.crussh.com

good-hemp-protein-powder-natural-raw

Good Hemp Protein Powder

What’s not to like about a protein powder that’s vegan, gluten free, has no dairy or sugar and is a great source of fibre. Did we mention that it’s green?

www.goodhempnutrition.com

 

Green SmartShakeSmartShake

The perfect product for busy bodies! You can use the two compartments to store anything from protein powder and supplements to car keys and earphones.           

www.smartshake.co.uk

You Me Sushi Seaweed SaladSeaweed salad from YouMeSushi

Low in calories, high in essential amino acids and rich in minerals, this is a great option for all Busy Bodies – carb conscious, calorie counters, gluten aware, vegetarians and vegans.

www.youmesushi.com

 

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

 

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching which means we are soon to be surrounded by promotions and offers on flowers, wine and chocolate.

While the first two luxuries are pretty manageable for some of our busy bodies, the latter can wreak havoc for the diets of most of us if we don’t plan carefully.

It is worth noting that unadulterated cocoa offers some pretty impressive health benefits. Dark chocolate specifically contains a significant amount of magnesium – which is necessary for your nerves and muscles to function correctly. It also contains flavanoids (antioxidants) which support a healthy heart. Unfortunately most of the chocolate that we find on the shelves has been through so much manufacturing and processing that the benefits are dwarfed by the added sugar and fat. Add to that the complexities of specialist diets and choosing chocolate can feel like more hassle than it’s worth.

Thankfully, the choice of Valentine’s chocolate for specialist diets is a lot wider than it used to be and you should be able to find a treat that fits into your lifestyle should you wish to indulge. We did some digging just in case you or your Valentine wants to indulge a little without compromising on your lifestyle needs.

Calorie Counters

If you’re prepared to try a Valentine’s treat that is off the beaten path, a small, chocolate frozen yogurt from Pinkberry may be just the treat for you. It may be a little unconventional for Valentine’s Day but will only set you back 150 calories. In addition to being low in calories, Pinkberry yogurt contains live and active cultures, so it’s a treat worth enjoying.

Carb Conscious

Carb Conscious busy bodies have the most challenging dilemma as the ingredient that really makes chocolate scrumptious is sugar which leaves you with three options – schedule your cheat meal for Valentine’s Day, try some raw cacao or go for sugar free chocolates.

Sugar free chocolates are not necessarily carb conscious per se, but they are made with sweetener instead of refined sugar which will inevitably lower the carb content slightly.

A word of caution: if the packaging states that excessive consumption may have laxative effects, heed the warning and eat a sensible amount of the chocolate or you may regret it in a few hours.

One good option is a Cavalier Belgian Dark Chocolate bar which is sweetened with Stevia.

Gluten Aware

A gluten free chocolate cake from Gluten Free Delices is enough to knock the socks off of most chocolate lovers. It’s so rich and chocolatey that you only need a small slice to satisfy your sweet tooth!

A rich, gooey gluten-free brownie from Just Brownies made with Dove’s gluten free flour and dark chocolate will also do the trick.

If a good old fashioned chocolates are what you or your Valentine desires, try something from gluten free chocolatiers Cirillo. Their dark chocolate lollipops (left) are dairy free also.

 

 

Vegetarian

‘Surely all chocolate is suitable for vegetarians’, we hear you say. Alas, this is not necessarily the case. Whilst MOST chocolate is suitable for vegetarians it is fair to say that the higher the quality of chocolate you go for, the more likely it is to be suitable for vegetarians. We actually stumbled upon a pot of chocolate mousse from a popular manufacturer that contains pork gelatine. Whilst we won’t call them out, we will point out that chocolate from places like Green & Blacks and Montezuma are suitable for vegetarians.

Vegan

Hotel Chocolat have developed a range of chocolates that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike however, their website states the following: ‘our chocolate is made in the same environment as milk chocolate, we cannot guarantee that it is free from milk traces’.

If you want chocolate that’s free from caveats, try Moo Free Luxury Dairy Free Chocolate Pralines. These treats are dairy free, lactose free, gluten free and wheat free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Valentines!

Horses for Courses

By BBB

It’s no wonder that some people choose to become vegetarians. If you can’t trust a clam that a beef burger is in fact a beef burger, why even bother with meat at all.

We found today’s ‘Horse Meat Burgers’ headline more amusing than alarming to be honest.

Horse meat won’t kill you and I can think of a few people that would love to get their hands on a 100% horse burger. However, the abuse of trust is what is somewhat worrying.

The lesson here for many consumers is that we need to stop shopping absentmindedly.  Many of us hit the supermarket in zombie mode – happy to accept the claims on the packaging as gospel. If you want to truly be vigilant about what you consume, you need to read between the lines and ascertain what the manufacturers AREN’T saying.

For instance, the claim on the packaging in the image is that those burgers contain 8% more beef. 8% more than what? Granted, fillers are common in these types of products, but can any of us confidently state if the fillers in that burger are soya, potato, or something else altogether?

Why are we so quick to point a finger at the idea of horse meat, when we’ve been happily consuming slop without hesitation for a while.

If you buy 500g of mince at £2.99 and you can buy 20 ‘beef’ burgers for £2.99, do you honestly believe those burgers are solely made from mince? We consumers love a deal – even when it’s too good to be true.

So whilst BBB is curious about how horse meat ended up in beef burgers, we’re more curious to see if consumers will start forcing manufacturers to become more transparent regarding their products by becoming more vigilant about their food choices.

Sometimes making a conscious effort to lead a healthier lifestyle can feel like a financial chore amongst other things but new website Your Student Body was created to help people bridge the gap between finance and nutrition.

Launched by GB volleyball players Nathan French and Peter Bakare, the online student athlete magazine offers useful and practical tips on achieving the diet of an elite diet on the budget of a student. It’s no secret that funding was a challenge for GBs volleyball players, so in the run up to the Olympic Games many of the volleyball players had to take a creative approach to their nutrition. Some players attended university and others worked part time so time management was key to be able to train hard, eat correctly and also find time for study/work.  Without being able to afford the expensive suggestions made in some health magazines, some of our GB athletes had to quickly find ways to overcome the nutrition/budget challenge.

French and Bakare appreciate that many people are in a similar position to the ones they were in – people who want to achieve a health or fitness goal but genuinely don’t have the disposable to fill their fridges with designer meals and trendy superfoods.

YSB was launched so that they could pass down knowledge that may help other athletes – aspiring and professional – achieve their goals without breaking the bank.

We caught up with YSB to find out more about their approach to nutrition.

BBB: Tell us a little bit about your general approach to nutrition

YSB: Our diet is balanced. We tend to buy and eat the majority of the same things unless we see a new recipe that we fancy making.  We prefer to make larger portions and have left overs for the next day’s lunch/ dinner as it’s easier to cook in bulk.

Standard meals are usually composed of lean meats, whole grains and vegetables are pretty standard meals.  It can become rather boring and monotonous but eating in balance means that the occasional Big Mac can be enjoyed from time to time.

BBB: What do you look for when you’re eating out?

YSB: Price/Quantity/Quality ratio! Cheaper and bigger quantity generally means the quality is poor which is not good.  Equally we wouldn’t bother if something is healthy but too expensive and the quantity of the main dish is like a starter.

BBB: What do you tend to avoid when you’re eating out?

YSB: Chips and fried foods are generally best to be avoided.  Sweet potato is great so we try to substitute chips for this or perhaps request extra vegetables.  Most restaurants will allow you to adjust your dish slightly so don’t be afraid to ask for any alternative. Also stay away from the fried foods.

BBB: Whats your favourite restaurant in London?

YSB: Wagamama. Their food is extremely tasty, filling and not ridiculously expensive.  Plus unlimited green tea is always a winner.

BBB: What you typically order at your favourite restaurant (including modifications) and why?

YSB: Yaki Soba- full of flavour with fresh meat and veg cooked from scratch.

BBB: If you could make one thing mandatory in London restaurants, what would it be and why?

YSB: Perhaps including the calories per dish inside the menu.  It would probably make the customer more aware of what they put inside their bodies and hopefully choose a less calorific meal.

In fact if they could publish the carbs and protein too that would be a bonus but we’ll stick to the calories for now.

BBB: What is your fast food indulgence?

YSB: It depends on where we are or what we are doing. Subway’s Turkey and Ham is always a safe bet but typically we look for cafes because a jacket potato with cheese and beans is a life saver. Can’t forget Nando’s!!

BBB: What’s the biggest mistake you see non-athletes make with their diet?

YSB: Taking supplements when they don’t really need too.  Why waste the money on supplements when your training regime is not fit for additional nutrition? Another mistake is trying to eat something healthy after you eat something not so healthy.  Eating an apple after a chocolate bar doesn’t eliminate the nutritional damage of the chocolate bar unfortunately.

BBB: Any tips for those with a weakness for fast food who would like to clean up their act in 2013

YSB: If you are short for time and unable to prepare a meal at home then find your healthy alternative.  Stick to lean meats rather than red meats and avoid sauces that are high in fat.

If you do have the time, prepare your meals a couple days in advance so you don’t need to worry about spending time cooking.

Also, some studies have proven that fast food addiction can be as addictive as heroin. Try to consume less and less fast food so that you don’t become addicted.  It’s a slippery slope.

You can read more of YSBs useful tips and stay up to date with their offers and competitions by visiting: http://yourstudentbody.com/

You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter:

 

 

Happy New Year everyone!

A few months ago we reviewed Rhythm Kitchen and reported to you all that the food was good but that we were confused as to why jerk pork and halal chicken were on the menu.

As many of you can appreciate, halal meat is largely consumed by followers Islam who actively avoid pork. We were concerned as to what assurances Rhythm Kitchen could offer to consumers that there was no cross contamination.

We were concerned that the inclusion of halal meat to the menu was a cosmopolitan move and not a conscious one, an opinion that deepened when we received no response to our query.

Thankfully, after an email and a handful of tweets, Rhythm Kitchen replied!

After apologising for the delay in response they informed us that ‘we offer halal jerk chicken which is prepared and cooked separately from the pork’.

Those of you who were previously curious should now be able to breathe a sigh of relief!

What we at BBB want to know is…. does it matter to you if certified halal meat is offered on the same menu as pork?

Let us know!

‘Gluten-free’ may sound like a buzz word, but for a growing number of people those words are the foundation of their daily sustenance.

Whilst gluten intolerance is on the rise, gluten free products have been slow to evolve. Although, some gluten free products can be found in mainstream supermarkets, some coeliacs felt that they alternatives were patronising and tasteless.

Gluten-free bakery, Gluten Free Delices, have stepped into fill the gap in this market by offering a range of sweet and savoury baked treats that are perfectly safe for a coeliac to enjoy.

Owner, Christelle Coulin, was conscious  of the limited options available to coeliacs and was certain that she could create a flourless cake that was as good as, if not better that a traditional cake.

She was aware that gluten free foods are often not attractive to consumers because they are presented in a way that links them to medical conditions. ‘I feel that a lot of gluten free manufacturers do not take into consideration the benefits gluten free food can bring to a person who does not even suffer with the common ailments associated to wheat and flour. People also forget that gluten and wheat free cakes often use less sugar as well’.

After some positive feedback from customers both with and without intolerances, Coulin is excited about growing the business. She has recently acquired a commercial kitchen in Wimbledon and is in the process of developing a new range of gluten free products.

Gluten Free Delices is offering BBB readers a 20% discount on a dozen cupcakes or brownies for your office. All you need to do to get your hands on a voucher is sign up for the BBB newsletter.

There are only a limited number of vouchers available and the offer is good until the end of November.

Good luck!