Come si dice…Peace?

I wish I could explain to her,
Why there’s so many wars, and peace is hard to find.
I’m ashamed to say I’m only 21
and I live a better life, than the majority of the world.
Hatred, shame, brutality, at the moment rule the earth.
I tell her peace will return, but I’m not sure if that’s wishful of me to think,
and I feel like such a hypocrite, explaining humanity’s suffering from a distance, out the thick of it, like I really understand how people out there live,
whilst sitting in my house, with running water made of brick.

Come si dice…Peace? – Elena Andrean 4/8/2014

Fools Gold

Sifting through the waters to find one,
A little stone, or a rare diamond
And suddenly you see one when the waves pull away
Not particularly bold or shiny,
But you take a shine to it.
When you look closer it’s edges are roughly outlined
and it’s not at all what you had in mind,
But it fits in your pocket.
A little stone, or a rare diamond
Washed up in what the waves left behind
A gem you expected to be the colours of Gold,
But instead, is slightly Green in hue
And slowly but surely it reminds you,
Of someone you knew

Fools Gold – 21/10/2014 Elena Andrean

When In Rome…

I just got back from Rome and I already have major holiday blues! I travelled over bank holiday weekend with family, partly to celebrate my sisters 21st birthday. My parents love Rome and have been about 4 times, and my Dad especially has always wanted to go back with me and my sister.

I felt like I walked hundreds of miles in 4 days, but I saw so much! It’s such a beautiful city for many different reasons and the Italian way of life certainly sinks into every aspect. Coffee houses and wine bars on each corner, the smell of stone baked pizza and the promise of sunshine every morning. I almost feel more at home in Italy than I do in London.

The Pantheon was the first historical landmark I saw, its breathtaking…

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Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma, Italy

What surprised me a lot about the City, is that almost all of the landmarks (apart from the coliseum) are tucked away in little squares or corners that otherwise you would not know existed. One moment you are walking down a narrow street with a few shops and restaurants, and with the next step you are amidst buildings of so much grandeur and beauty. I think this is most true for the Trevi Fountain.

We decided to visit this on my sisters birthday, so she could make a wish in the fountain on that day…

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Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma, Italy

A beautifully carved mass of white marble, situated between tiny streets running off of an even tinier piazza. The water is perfectly turquoise and the atmosphere golden. (disclaimer: Up until you want to take a photo at the bottom, then you will have to be prepared to fight for your space!!).

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Equally as beautiful is Piazza Navona.

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Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma, Italy

We were really lucky because the day we visited the skies were crystal clear blue, not a cloud in sight. There are ice cream stands all along the edge and plenty of restaurants to add to the buzz. I don’t think I would have known about this place if I didn’t travel with my parents, I had actually not heard of it before. Well worth a visit!

My dad knows a lot of restaurants in Rome, so most nights we went to eat in those, but i genuinely don’t think it would be possible to make a poor choice. I guess the food has to be up to scratch because there is so much competition. Now you all know I enjoy my food, and especially my pasta, so when I go away this is always a part that I look forward to. Rome also does seafood really well, and I ate a lot of Sea bass out there, which was cooked deliciously. Some of the restaurants I recommend are below

Il Giardino Di Albino – Via Zucchelli, 29, 00187 Roma, Italy

Trattoria Tritone 1884 Di Antonio Camponeschi – Via dei Maroniti, 1, 00187 Roma, Italy

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(Excuse my slightly pink shoulder) But this is the Seabass and Zucchini pasta with Tomatos in Giardino di Albino!

Food to die for out here! And we also celebrated my sisters birthday this night, so my Dad organised a tiramisu cake and the whole restaurant sang Buon Compleanno to her, so many good memories…

My Route To Health & Fitness…

Being a lover of health and fitness isn’t necessarily about having the best body, it’s about getting to know yourself, your strengths and limitations, working on them and loving them.

There are so many fitness blogs and Instagram’s out there, we are spoilt for choice, but I want to share my personal fitness story as each and everyone is different!

Below is me now, and I am searching for a ‘before’ picture to compare… easier said than done because I just used to delete all the ones I didn’t like – but – there’s bound to be one somewhere so watch this space.

Up until I was about 18/19 I didn’t have a clue about fitness. I knew that over eating and low exercise would eventually have an impact on my health, but I never really took an interest until I started reading about Nutrition and Weight Loss when I was at uni. Around this time, my uncle also passed away of a heart attack, aged 50, which shocked me into thinking about the control I had over my health, and the impact I have on my own body. To be honest when I started it was in dribs and drabs at first. I joined a weekly Zumba class with my mum, just because, and still wasn’t really cautious of the food I was eating – but I saw a slight change in my body, which quickly gave me the buzz that most talk about – you see the results and get ‘hungry’ to continue!

My mum has been a slimming world member since I was little, so just out of curiosity I started to pick up little bits of info from her, and the booklets. (The great thing about Slimming world is that you don’t deprive yourself of food – you just learn to control how much you are eating, and slightly modify fat and carb intake.) I did this over one summer whilst at uni, and I saw results probably after the first 3 weeks, my clothes fitted a lot better and I felt a lot better after eating. I didn’t get the bloat or cramps, which I now know is probably from a mixture of bread/carbs and sugar.

Naturally with anyone that looses weight (I think I lost about a stone all in all) there is a chance that you will start to loose muscle if you don’t exercise. When I saw results, I lost interest in exercise and put all my energy into eating the right foods, watching my carbs and fats. At the time this was fine for me, I didn’t really have the knowledge that I could sculpt my body in a way that I wanted to, I was focused on loosing fat (perhaps like a lot of women are).

Eventually after becoming complacent with a strict food regime, I joined a gym. After loosing weight, I realised my body shape may benefit from toning up. I have naturally always had muscle in my legs, but my upper body strength was weak, and I had no definition in my abs. The gym was daunting at first. I hadn’t worked out before, apart from doing generic abs bums and tums videos from YouTube, or going for a 20 minute run. Weights? It was scary. The first few times I went to the gym, I stuck to the running machine like glue. I would do a 40 minute run, sweat buckets, shower and go home. I wouldn’t step foot in the weights area. I didn’t think it would ever be for me. I had no idea how it could be beneficial, so I just wrote it off.

I think one of the ways social media can have a positive impact is in cases like mine and others who are able to look up different exercises or training ideas. Through my blog, which is like having access to an entire world of people willing to share their own stories – I started to read a lot about fitness and working out, nutrition and looking after your body. I took notice of positioning when doing weights, how to use food for fuel instead of greed, and how to combine a mix of cardio and weight training to create the look you wanted.

I know I said at the beginning of this entry that being involved in health and fitness isn’t all about how you look (and its not) – but it certainly helps to fuel you, it isn’t a bad thing to start to love yourself!

And it grew from there. One day I picked up free weights, trying out exercises that I had seen on blogs and videos. Then I moved onto using more of the gym equipment, squat rack, lat machine, leg press. Eventually if there was a bit of equipment in the gym I hadn’t tried, I was all over it. (I probably looked like a fool half the time). But like anything, the more you practice, the better you get.

Throughout this time, I’ve also had one of the best realisations, something that before I would have said in passing or agreed with as a general assumption without really realising what it meant for me – ‘Nobody is perfect’. Typing it now I do feel like a cliche, but nothing has struck me more. Everyone is perfectly flawed in their own way. Everyone has their own insecurities, parts of them they wish they could change, but no one has it all! Going through my ‘loosing weight’ stage, I wished the weight would come off of my legs – even now they are the biggest part of my body (just with a bit more muscle and a lot less fat), some things you just can’t change – embrace them.

(To be Continued…)

 

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Chilli Sauce & Coconut Oil Prawns

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Ingrediants
For Chilli Sauce
3 Red Jalapeno peppers
1 chilli
2 tblps Sugar
1 tbsp Vinegar
Water
Cornstarch
2 Garlic Cloves

Coconut Oil Prawns
Coconut Oil
250g King Prawns
110g Brown rice & Quinoa (Boil yourself or Uncle Bens).
Baby Corn
Spring Onion & Coriander (for garnish)

Method

Chilli Sauce
To make the chilli sauce, blend together (I use a food processor) the garlic, chilli, red peppers, sugar, vinegar and 2 tbsp water into a puree.

Once blended, add to a saucepan and bring to the boil. The chilli, garlic and peppers should all start to soften, and the mixture will thicken. (I always taste as I am going along to see if it needs more sugar, vinegar etc).

Once you are satisfied it has thickened (roughly the consistency of a pasta sauce), combine the cornstarch and 2 tbsp of water in a mixing jug. Once combined, mix into the pan of peppers and sugar. Bring mixture to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Once you are satisfied, remove from heat, cool and store in the fridge.

Coconut Oil Prawns
(If you are cooking your rice rather than heating in a microwave, start this process as will take 20 minutes to cook thoroughly).

Add roughly 2 tsp of coconut oil to a pan, on a low heat. Once oil has melted, add the prawns and cook on a low heat until soft and slightly browned.

Sometimes I chop a red chilli and add to the pan with the prawns for added flavour.

Whilst cooking, heat a pan of water for your baby corn. Once boiling, add and cook for 5 minutes (leave the baby corn whole and chop after cooking). Once cooked, drain, chop and add to the pan with the prawns, this gives them a delicious buttery flavour without the fat!

Once the prawns are cooked, stir in a tsp of cayenne pepper, and season with salt and pepper. Leave on a low heat.

Heat up Brown rice and Quinoa (or drain cooked rice once boiled) and server on plate.

Add the prawns and baby corn mixture, take the chilli sauce from the fridge and pour over. Garnish with spring onion and coriander. (You will see in the photo that i also added pomegranate seeds, something I tried as I had them to use up, equally as good without them.)

Enjoy!

Elena xxx

Raspberry & Chia Seed Jam

Simple Sweetness without the Sugar!

This is my favourite berry mix that I put on top of oats, with yoghurt, or on peanut butter on toast.

Ingredients
150g Frozen Raspberries
150g Frozen Blueberries
150g Fresh Raspberries
150g Fresh Blueberries
1 Medium Orange – Juiced
2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds
4 Tablespoons of Honey

Method
Leave the frozen berries and chia seeds to defrost overnight in the fridge or for 4 hours at room temperature.

Once defrosted, add the rest of the fresh berries and the orange juice and lightly mash. I like to leave mine a little bit lumpy instead of too runny.

Once the consistency is how you like it, spoon in the honey, adding more for sweetness.

Leave the mixture in room temperature for another hour, and then serve!

Enjoy!

Elena xxx

 

Berry & Honey Muffins

I absolutely love baking, and working full time means I rarely get to cook for my own pleasure, it’s usually just a rush to eat something before the day starts or when I come home in the evening. Over the last few years, I’ve tried to incorporate baking, cooking & experimenting with my favourite foods throughout the week instead of waiting until the weekend.

As well as being a lover of everything sweet, I am also health concious and do try to modify traditional recipes so they suit the eating habits I like. Simple things like using natural honey and cinnamon instead of sugar, oats and brans instead of flour all make a difference in a recipes nutritional factor.

Today was Berries & Honey Breakfast Muffins (or a snack), I can make these on a Sunday and enjoy them for an on-the-go breakfast throughout the week, as they will keep for 5 days in an airtight container. So here’s the recipe, which can be adapted with different fruits and flavours depending on your taste :)

Ingredients

2 Large Ripe Bananas
250g Porridge Oats
2 Large Eggs
2 Tablespoons Greek Yoghurt
2 Tablespoons Natural Honey
1 Tablespoon Natural Peanut butter
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
1-2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Blueberries
Raspberries
(Make it as fruity as you want!)

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 4, and grease a 12 dip muffin tray.

In a blender, add the oats, bananas, Eggs, Greek Yoghurt, Peanut butter, and Honey. Blend until almost smooth (a few chunky bits will just give the muffins extra bite).

Once blended, pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the vanilla extract, cinnamon and chia seeds.

In a pan, add half the blueberries and raspberries that you want in the muffins, and heat up until runny. Once hot, marble the fruit through the Muffin mixture.

Spoon the mix into the muffin tray. Add the last of the berries on top, as these will slowly soften whilst in the oven.

Place into the oven and cook for 15 minutes! (Check and 10 minutes and then leave them for an extra 5).

Enjoy!

Elena xxx

The Day I Left My Home Pt.1

I think about returning
as I start to wake,
I let myself get lost in a golden haze
of soaring sun and childhood days
before I sink back into the unknown.
My daughter slumped on the back of her brother
across one border to another
lessening the load for his mother
as I attempt to fight our way,
over seas and ideologies
in search of a safer place for us to stay
which started that day
I left my home.

 

Christmas Baking – Crumbled Pies & A Cinnamon Swirl

Crumbled Pies

Ingrediants

100g Unsalted Butter
200g White Flour
Dusting of Icing Sugar
1 Grated Orange Zest
1/2 Grated Lemon Zest
200g Mincemeat

Topping
25g Ground Almond
2 Tsp Sweetened Cinnamon
25g Unsalted Melted Butter
26g Soft Light Brown Sugar

Method

Heat the Oven to Gas Mark 4 and grease 16 hole muffin tins. (I use one of 12 and one of 4 as this is what I have in the kitchen).

To make the Pie Pastry, rub together with your fingertips, the butter and white flour. You should do this until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Add the grated orange and lemon zest with the icing sugar.

To turn this into a dough, mix in a splash of water, around 3 tablespoons should do. You can always add more if it fails to come together.

Once it has formed, lightly knead and then set aside to chill – this needs to be about 20 minutes so the dough has time to develop.

Once time is up, roll dough on a lightly floured surface.

Once rolled, cut out with circular cutters until you have 16, re-rolling to get as many as needed.

Fill each hole with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat, I usually like to sprinkle some cinnamon on the top here, but this isn’t to everyone’s taste.

Topping

Mix together all the ingredients needed for the topping, ground almond, cinnamon, melted butter and soft light brown sugar. This should also resemble breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the mince pies. Drizzle with honey, or a sprinle of almond flakes, you can experiment with different flavours here!

Cook on Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes, checking after 10, when they are golden brown, good to serve & enjoy Hot or Cold.

Enjoy!

Elena xxx

 

Drinking & Dining in London Hot-Spots

London. One of the most vibrant cities in the world and yet most of us can’t decide where to spend our lunchtimes, evenings or weekends. From drinking in the cocktail bars of Soho to dining in five star restaurants of Canary Wharf, (or grabbing a pizza from an ‘eat with your hands’ takeaway) it’s time we tapped into all that London has to offer…

After working for a company that opened my eyes to the world of client entertaining, I decided (without much self-persuasion) to explore some of the cities culinary kitchens, sky-high watering holes, scenic hot-spots and hidden gems to bring you some of the all the venues I have found to be perfect for socializing on a reasonable budget. 

Oyster Shed

Angel Lane, Monument

What to try: Pearl Barley and Wild Mushroom Risotto, Red Cabbage Steak, Crème Fraiche

Tucked away beneath new office builds, The Oyster Shed sits quaintly alongside the Thames. On approach it’s difficult to determine what you are walking into, but the inside opens up into a spacious mezzanine dinning area that is light, bright and airy. The floor to ceiling windows stream in the cities’ sunlight. Quoted as a Gastro-pub, the Shed over exceeds with it’s adventurous specials menu, extensive wine list and fabulous views of the river. The delicious flavors of the pearl barley risotto were both soft and rich, and the red cabbage steak unlike anything I had ever seen – all presented with perfect precision. The laid-back friendly atmosphere is perfect for a working lunch or casual evening drink, and definitely worth the hunt to find!

Book Here →

Jamon Jamon

Soho, Camden, Islington 

What to try: Mixta paella (seafood and chicken), Parrillada de Carne (meat barbecue) 

The authentic taste of Española found in London. Jamon Jamon offers a fantastic range of Spanish dishes with plenty of kick. The Meat platters and tapas plates are particularly impressive served in generous portions by friendly attentive staff. Emphatic with intimate tables its better suited for a dinner with friends that a quiet date, but the happy go lucky atmosphere makes you feel like you are amidst a Spanish fiesta. I would recommend trying the sangria, but they boast a varied wine collection too, and the waiters will usually suggest one for your meal choice.

Book Here →

Haz

Bishopsgate, St Pauls, Premier Place, Houndsditch

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What to try: Kalamar (Fried squid rocket and yoghurt sauce), Cevizli Kasarli Kofte (Grilled minced lamb with walnuts & halloumi cheese)

Turkish cuisine with a elegant twist. With all authentic ingredients, Haz turns a simple kebab into a meaty masterpiece.  The menu displays all the cultures classics including mixed meze platters, charcoal grills and a sizable selection of seafood including fried sea bass and grilled swordfish. The venues itself is stunning with a spacious dinning area that overlooks the professional kitchens and abundant wine cupboards. Genuine hospitality, scrumptious food and generous portions.

Book Here →

The Blues Kitchen

Camden, Shoreditch, Brixton

AITXyOzVHd7Sobc8SE1nEh_vjjhy8e2QiXFYWcZNurw-610x406What to try: Catfish Jambalaya (Pan fried catfish fillet & prawns served with rice & peas & a Cajun spiced crayfish sauce), Three meat BBQ.

A boasting blues bar serving “Cajun comfort food”! This lively kitchen plays host to several musicians/bands throughout the week that fill the venue with life and soul. Their ever changing ‘Burger of the month’ will entice you to choose the same thing over and over again. If you are feeling adventurous the menu offers Cajun delicacies or Texan BBQ all smoked by in-house smokers with a blend of hickory, oak, mesquite and fruit woods. With the atmosphere just as inviting as the food, this is a must-visit if you are looking for a night of smooth entertainment and a satisfied stomach.

Book Here →

L’anima Cafe

Appold St, Shoreditch

LanimaCafe045What to try: Agnolotti all’ anatra (braised duck raviolli)

Translated as ‘The Soul’, L’anima deliciously lives up to its name. As one of the leading Mediterranean spots in London’s city, it offers an experience that oozes sensuality. The perfect balance between food & drink, it offers a great wine selection and lots of Italian classics with a twist. Perfect for an evening drink or meal, L’anima boasts a beautiful bar area with elegant booths and low lighting for luxurious ambiance.

Book Here →

Buona Sera

Northcote Rd, Wandsworth

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What to try:  Linguine Allo Scogliolinguine with prawns, baby squids, mussels, cherry tomatoes, garlic and chilli

The family run Italian restaurant is the picture perfect embodiment of Mediterranean food, hospitality and lifestyle. Set in the middle of South London, Buona Sera is it’s own namesake offering authentic, cosy Italian evening where friends and families dine at large tables. Reminiscent of Sicily, the menu is made up of all cultural staples and a large selection of seafood. The linguine allo scoglio is a spicy melody of prawns and pasta in a rich tomato sauce, so stay away if you don’t like the heat…or alternatively cool yourself down with the restaurants amazing selection of gelato…chocolate, hazelnut, cappuccino, orange, lemon, coconut, vanilla, strawberry..the list continues!

Book Here →

Aqua Spirit/Aqua Kyoto 

Regent St

What to try: Green tea wasabi yuzu prawn tempura

Aqua Kyoto serves contemporary style Japanese food with a side of beautiful dining in an ultra glossy rooftop setting. This is the perfect place to go for a drink as the Aqua Spirit bar is adjacent to the restaurant.The quality of the sushi is exceptionally high with explosions of flavors and presented so delicately you are almost sad to ruin the plate. The cocktails menu is packed with all the classics and served in elegant new world style glasses, perfect for a high-end evening. The rooftop terrace overlooks London’s skyline, perfect for a summers night or an evening of entertaining.

Book Here →

Dirty Martini

St Pauls, Monument, Islington, Covent Garden

What to try: New Collection Dragon fruit & pomegranate martini, Espresso martini

Located in several spots around the city, Dirty Martini is the perfect place to mix it up in drinking terms. At the heart of London’s nightlife scene, the venue itself is perfect for an evening of drinking and sophisticated socializing with friends. With an array of cocktails included in extended happy hours and platters of finger food to choose from it makes entertaining in the city seem an easy breeze.

Book Here →

 More to Explore…