Abokado

By BBB

Abokado for BBB

In short

Slightly underwhelming in flavour but there are options for many dietary requirements

Review

It was a cold winter day and we were on the hunt for a warm, healthy option lunchtime option. Abokado was recommended so after feeling reassured by the website we trudged on down.

Their strap line is ‘hot, healthy, fast’ which they are. All that is lacking is flavour. Or more accurately put – good flavour.

Flavour aside, the menu offers a wide variety of sensible meal choices to choose from including wraps, salads, soups and sushi.

In addition, all the nutritional information you need, including an intolerance chart, can be found on their website as a downloadable pdf under the ‘Nutrition’ tab. The intolerance chart contains information for people who are dairy, wheat and/or gluten intolerant and also highlights which meals are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

What we tried

Teriyaki Chicken and Brown Rice

Teriyaki Chicken and Brown Rice

This is a poor menu addition in our opinion because of its high sugar content. Although it contains a good amount of fibre – courtesy of the brown rice and veggies – it was just too sweet for our liking. We even tried taking the edge off of the sweetness with teriyaki sauce but to no avail. This box has a lot of potential but we feel the recipe needs to be revisited.

 

 

Shrimp Dumpling Udon

Shrimp Dumpling Udon

Another establishment may have filled the container to the brim with noodles and popped in a couple of prawns for good measure but this dish had just the right amount of noodles – not too much and not too little. It tasted as though it was made with powdered chilli as opposed to fresh chilli, but at 336 calories you can’t go wrong. After finishing it we did feel like we had room for a little more but if you are watching your calorie and fat intake, this is an ideal dish to go for.

Sizzling Coconut Real Roast Chicken Pot 

Sizzling Coconut Real Roast Chicken Pot

This was our favourite of the options we tried as it was filling and the flavor balance was just right. Furthermore the carb-protein ratio left us filling content. The saturated fat content may be a cause for concern for some people, but it’s worth pointing out that a number of studies have shown that saturated fat from coconut is actually good for your heart.

 

 

What We Liked

Nutrition and Allergy is easy to find and understand
The wide choice available for people with special dietary requirements

What We Would Do Differently

Include a few more dishes with a better carb-protein ratio
Revisit the Teriyaki Chicken recipe

Who Can Eat Here

As there is extensive information on the site we will only make a few suggestions here:

Abokado BBB Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value For Money

Chicken Teriyaki and Brown Rice £4.99

Shrimp Dumpling Udon (Large) £5.49

Sizzling Coconut Real Roast (Large) £5.49

Locations

You can find your nearest store here:

Find Out More

www.abokado.com

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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!

 

Lupita East exterior

In short

Authentic Mexican restaurant that doesn’t patronise diners who have specialist requirements.

Review

Mexican food has been elbowing its way onto the London dining scene for the last few years with some hits and some misses so when we passed newcomer Lupita we thought we’d pop in to find out if it was a hit or a miss.

We visited Lupita East, which is located just a few minutes’ walk away from Aldgate East Station. The décor was minimal yet authentic, but the true beauty of the restaurant lies on the menu which offers a wide range of Mexican fare from burritos and tacos to soups and totopos Not only is the food authentic, it provides reasonable options for diners with specialist diet requirements.

You’ll find great options for vegetarians which include ingredients such as nopales (cactus), flor de calabaza (squash flour blossoms) and huitlacoche (Mexican truffles).

Coeliacs can request corn tortillas for dishes that are made with flour tortillas (except burritos). Our server explained that the restaurant will always try to modify a dish to meet your needs. However, requests should be reasonable – there have been requests in the past for quesadillas with no cheese…

Calorie counters can obtain calorie information on meals if you ask in advance. We took it upon ourselves to do a little enquiring and learned that the following dishes are below 400 calories:

  • Tostada Ceviche
  • Tostada Tuna
  • Tacos de Hongos ( Mushrooms)
  • Tacos Gobernador (asked with half portion of cheese)
  • Tortilla Soup, no avocado, no sour cream,
  • Sopa de Verduras
  • Prawn Nopales Salad
  • Ensalada Maya
  • Arroz ala Mexicana ( no sour Cream)

All in all this was a great Mexican experience and we would recommend Lupita to anyone who appreciates Mexican food – specialist requirements or not!

What we tried:

Chicharron de Queso y Guacamole

A tunnel of cheese served with guacamole. Heaven for cheese lovers.

Chicharron de Queso

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nopales tacos with corn tortillas (top)

Flor de calabaza quesadillas with corn tortillas (bottom)

Lupita tacos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flan de cajeta (top)

Almond Daim chocolate tart (bottom)

Lupita desserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

The authenticity of the menu from start to finish

The guacamole was the best we’ve tasted for a long time

The staff have a great understanding of the menu and confidently responded to diet specific queries

What we would do differently

Add a little more kick to one of the salsas

Include more of the nutritional attributes to their website

Who can eat here?

Lupita profile breakdown (592x834)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value for money

Definitely. Two people can have a starter, main and drink for around £20 per head.

Locations

Lupita Central 13 – 15 Villiers Street, WC2N 6ND

Lupita East 60 – 62 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6LT

Find out more

www.lupita.co.uk

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Ned’s Noodle Bar

By BBB

In short

A noodle bar that serves wheat free and low carb noodles

Review

If you thought that leading a healthy lifestyle meant that noodles were off the list, you’re wrong. We’ve discovered a restaurant where carb watchers can have their noodles and eat them too.

Located just a stone’s throw away from the London Eye, Ned’s Noodle Bar serves up a variety of noodle dishes that should appeal to most taste buds and diets.

The restaurant itself is unassuming both inside and out, but you can watch your dish being prepared in the open plan kitchen just behind the counter. All meals, whether takeaway or eat in are served in pailor boxes which adds an eclectic touch to the experience.

In addition to egg noodles and soba noodles, this restaurant also serves rice noodles and low carb noodles.

We were impressed with the options for gluten aware and carb conscious Busy Bodies but we did feel that the nutritional information was not as forthcoming as it could be.

For instance, wheat free noodles are great menu inclusion, but there is no information as to whether or not the sauces are also gluten free. We sent an e-mail to their head office requesting confirmation of this but have had no response as yet so we would advise our gluten aware diners to tread carefully when ordering from here.

Also, their website states that ‘to the best of their knowledge they are GM free, use no MSG and prepare each dish at the time of ordering’. We would have preferred if the claim was definitive and not tentative.

What we tried:

Lo-carb beef and edamame

Beef and Edamame

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently, this dish can only be served by the restaurant cold. After we took it away and warmed it up in the microwave, though, we were impressed.

What we liked

The fact that they offer low carb and gluten free noodles

The original American pailor take out boxes

What we would do differently

Find a way to serve the lo-carb noodles hot

Be a clearer with nutritional claims

Who can eat here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value for money

Given the central London location the prices weren’t shocking

Chicken yakisoba £7.25

Lo-carb beef and edamame noodles £4.75 or £6.95 depending on the size

Also worth noting

They are halal certified

Loyalty card

According to their website they do have a Gold Loyalty Card and Silver Loyalty Card.

Locations

95 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UW

3E Belvedere Road, London SE1 7GQ

The Food Terrace Eastgate Centre, Town Centre, Basildon SS14 1EB

Find out more

www.nedsnoodlebar.com

 

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!

Barenaked Noodles

By BBB

 

 

In short

A GREAT, low-carb substitution for traditional noodles

Review

The first time we heard the term ‘low-carb noodles’ we thought it was a reference to Emperor’s New Food. We could only envision… air.

Never ones to miss an opportunity to trial something on behalf of our Carb Conscious readers we decided to give the noodles a whirl.

So we followed the instructions on the packet to a ‘T’, topped the low-carb noodles with a homemade chilli con carne and we were not disappointed!

The texture was different from your normal spaghetti or egg noodle, but the texture was sturdier than expected given that these noodles are so low in carbs.

One pack delivers just over 4g of carbohydrates and less than 40 calories, which meant that our lunch was low in carbs and high in protein. Add to that the fact that they had no fat and are a decent source of fibre, we were sold.

It’s worth noting that a level of discipline is still needed with these noodles. Whilst your taste buds will be satisfied with the texture of the noodles, your stomach may not be fooled as easily.

However, if you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your diet and can’t face another plate of grilled chicken and veg, these noodles will hit the spot without throwing your diet off track.

Barenaked foods also do a protein noodle which provides 39.7g of protein  and1g of carbs, which is great for those who have a specific amount of protein they want to consume daily.

Nutrition breakdown per 100g

 

 

 

 

 

What we tried

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low carb noodles with homemade chilli con carne

What we liked

The clean, sexy packaging

The fact that they actually taste like noodles

The noodles are incredibly convenient and easy to prepare

What we would do differently

Get ‘em into the supermarkets and fast!

Who can eat these?

All of our Busy Bodies can eat these noodles.

Gluten Aware Busy Bodies should be made aware of the fact that the noodles contain oatmeal flour which might contain Avenin

Value for money

At £2.49 per pack they are not ‘cheap’ per se but not prohibitively priced. Good, quality food is rarely cheap!

In January and February of 2012 you can buy protein noodles for £1.90 per pack

Find out more

www.barenakedfoods.co.uk

 

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!

In short

Great tasting pies, but the gluten free recipe could use a revamp and nutritional info could be more transparent.

 

Review

Although not renowned for their nutritional value but for their comfort factor, a pie is definitely a staple British meal. Pie chain Square Pie appears to have taken the high road regarding dietary inclusion and 1) created a gluten free steak pie and 2) published some nutritional info.

Not ones to pass up an opportunity to tuck into a good meal we decided to sample the gluten free steak pie to see how it stood up against the others.

One opinion came from someone who isn’t a celiac and one who is. Unsurprisingly, opinions on the gluten free pie were split.

The non-coeliac said, ‘Point blank, the gluten free was disappointing, the crust was reminiscent of a thick tortilla chip – crispy, not flaky and the filling was salty. So disappointing was the gluten free pie that the mash, gravy and peas were a better gastronomical experience than the main’.

The other opinion, which came from a coeliac was far more favourable: ‘Although not as attractive as the other pies, it was a good alternative. The steak could have used a little more seasoning and I would have preferred if it was a classic pie and not a pot pie. However, given that I generally have no access to this type of treat it’s great to know that this is now an option’.

Personal opinions aside both testers were impressed when they were informed by staff that all sides are gluten free.

Responsible Nutrition

The provision of nutritional information was promising at first but on closer inspection was a little disappointing. Information is currently only available for the Mushroom and Asparagus Pie, Chicken, Leek and Ham Pie, Steak and Guinness Pie and Lamb and Rosemary Pie. The information is provided per 100g and pies are either 280g or 180g in weights so you will need to grab a calculator to establish what the true nutritional value of your pie is.

We were only able to find nutritional information for the Steak and Guinness pie we sampled for which we were able to calculate the following values:

 

 

 

 

 

So although they claim that their pies only have 13g of fat per 100g is true, it is worth bearing in mind that their classic pies are considerably larger than 100g. If you fancy a pie for a cheat meal but don’t want to go overboard, you’re best to opt for a small pie which weighs 180g

What we tried:

Gluten free Steak pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steak and Guinness Pie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we liked

In keeping with its reputation, these pies genuinely filled the hole

What we would do differently

Revisit the gluten free recipe Bite the bullet and publish the nutritional information for each pie, not for a fraction of the pie.

Can you eat here?

 

 

 

 

 

Value for money

The classic pie is £4.80 The gluten free steak pie meal deal is £7.20

Loyalty card

None

Locations

Bluewater, Spitalfields, Canary Wharf and Westfield

Find out more

www.squarepie.co.uk