Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gettin Over the Hump: Salmon Farms

I used to love salmon. I liked the hearty texture, its distinct flavor, I liked it raw, but equally enjoyed it well done. 

The past few months I've been researching aquaculture and salmon farms and I'm disturbed by my findings. Most of the salmon in supermarkets and restaurants comes from farms, enclosed pens set-up in fresh water inlets created to meet market demands and mitigate the overfishing of wild sea life. The problems and health risks associated with farmed salmon has literally put me off my fish and I wanted to share my research with you. If we want to be thriving in health, then we should know what's going into our food. So the next time you're in the mood for this pink fish, consider these things before buying:

If you're going to buy salmon, make sure it's wild. Here's a guide on how to tell the difference between wild salmon and farmed salmon.

Farmed salmon is riddled with disease, toxins and unnatural added ingredients.

The overcrowded pens are polluting our fresh waters and harming local wild salmon.

Farmed salmon is higher in fat than wild salmon and higher in omega 6 fats, which is bad.

(I devoured this open-face smoked salmon sandwich in a little country pub a few years back)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cashew Cream Sundried Tomato Pasta

It's been awhile since I've felt inspired to make something new, so I'm excited to share this recipe that I made the other night. Hub and I have been on a real pesto kick and I've been making batches of the traditional basil version for a while, but on Friday I thought I'd make a sundried tomato version. It ended up turning out more like a creamy cashew sundried tomato sauce, which was absolutely delicious and easy to make. It's also vegan and gluten-free! 

5 sundried tomatoes + 1/4 cup of sundried tomato oil • 2 tomatoes diced • 1/4 cup of roasted salted cashews, soaked in water overnight • 1 large garlic clove • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano • juice of 1/2 lemon • Bunch of spinach rinsed • 500g button mushrooms sliced • 1/2 red onion sliced • 250g gluten-free pasta • olive oil • salt & pepper

Start boiling a large pot of water for the pasta. While the water is warming up, prepare the cashew cream sundried tomato sauce. Heat up a sautée pan with a little bit of olive oil and cook the diced tomatoes over low heat until soft and mushy. Poor the tomatoes into a blender and blitz until smooth. Then layer-in the soaked cashews, lemon juice, sundried tomatoes and their olive oil, garlic clove and oregano. Blend until smooth and creamy and add salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.

For this recipe I used roasted salted cashews which is all I could find locally, but raw cashews would be fantastic in this dish. They would also be slightly healthier without the added salted and oil from the roasting process. 

This on its own was heaven, could eat it with a spoon.

By this point the water should be boiling, so add in your pasta and cook as directed on the label. Lately I've been enjoying gluten-free pasta and it cooks very quickly, so be careful not to overcook. I go back and forth on the gluten-free thing, but I find eating gluten-free helps with my sluggish digestion. However, any pasta will do in this recipe and preferably wholegrain. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. 

Taking the same pan used for the tomatoes, add a little bit of olive oil and sautée your onions and mushrooms until soft and nicely browned. Combine the onions, mushrooms, spinach and pesto into the pasta and mix until well coated, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper and voila!

This turned out so, so good! I've always loved rich and creamy pastas, so this was 
a real treat to have and no dairy necessary.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gettin' Over the Hump: Red Meat

One of Hub's New Year's resolutions was to give up red meat and I'm really happy for him. And I didn't put him up to it either, I was surprised when he came out with it - "I'm giving up red meat!" Although we never eat meat at home, Hub would eat red meat at restaurants and it's easily done here in Rio. Often times when we go out, we'll end up at a traditional Brazilian restaurant and people want to order picanha steak which is always to share. I think this is an amazing step for his health and if you are interested in giving up the cow, here are few good reasons why.

Eating red meat causes inflammation in the body and a chronically inflamed body is the perfect environment for cancer.

Farmers fatten up cows with hormones - usually estrogen - and we're still not sure if it's 100% safe, but the research so far is kind of worrying.

When we think of Type 2 diabetes we automatically think sugar, but eating too much red meat increases our risk for the disease too.

A great slide show with 10 Reasons to Quit Red Meat.

If you can't give up red meat then it seems like grass-fed organic is the best way to go, but be prepared for a hefty price tag.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gettin' Over the Hump: The Big 33

So I turned 33 a few weeks ago. Gosh, where did the time go? I can still clearly remember the days of frolicking around NYC with my best friend Jess in tow and wondering what life would be like in our 30s. Sometimes I still feel like I'm in my 20s, but my body on the other hand...definitely 30s.

I can no longer stay up partying till 4am and be fully functioning at work the next day. God that was amazing. To be honest I can barely keep my eyes open past midnight, unless there's 80's music to dance to. I've also noticed that I can no longer stay fit with cardio alone, as I did in my 20s. I used to be able to burn off an indulgent night out easily, but now it's getting a little bit harder. Our bodies start to really change as we approach our mid-30s and we can no longer pull off the shenanigans we did at 21. So I did a bit of research for us ladies in our 30s and here's the 411:

Which slows down our metabolism making it easier for us to put on the timber. F&*K.

Stamina also begins to decline, which is why I can no longer run as long as I used too.

But don't worry, not all is lost! By incorporating strength training into our workouts, we can rev up our calorie-burning metabolism and look good.

A few tips on simple changes we can start today!

(Picture of me at the tender age of 21)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Working in Rio

Working in Rio has been an interesting experience so far. I'm a chefe de fila or junior manager for a restaurant/bar at a posh hotel in Copacabana. It has been exhausting not only because I'm on my feet all day, but the work week in the service industry in Brazil is 6 days a week. After being a lady of leisure for a year this takes time getting used to and one day off a week is not enough rest. 

Part of my job involves managing schedules and vacations for my team and that has been truly eye-opening. What's impressive is that in Brazil employees get 30 vacation days, 30 sick days and about 25 public holidays per year. It sounds wonderful, especially compared to the US and UK, but it can be problematic at times. It's nice to know that I'm compensated when I'm sick here, whereas in all my previous restaurant jobs I didn't get paid if I didn't come to work. However, I do get the impression that people take the piss and abuse their sick days in this industry. On one hand they are there for the taking, but when you know people call in sick and aren't sick it disrupts the whole team. There is one catch though - in order to get compensated for your sick day you have to provide a doctor's note. I've never had to do that before and I hate going to the doctors.

It's also very difficult to motivate a bad employee. In Brazil if you want to dismiss someone for whatever reason, you have to pay 6 months salary compensation. Can you believe that! So apparently companies avoid letting go staff at all costs and employees know that they can get away with a lot of shit, especially in the industry I'm in. What's also challenging is that most of the people I work with aren't really into food or the restaurant industry. It's a stark contrast to my experience in New York and London, where people had to consistently perform well to keep jobs but there was also a kind of foody passion within the team. I really miss that.

I'm also aware that salaries and culture play huge factors. My income pales in comparison to London, but the cost of living here is really high. I make about a third of what I was making in my last job, but our rent is just slightly below what we were paying in Hackney. Also Rio's food culture is centered around butecos, dive bars and street food. I feel like the growing restaurant culture here is driven by the small percentage of gringoes like me and affluent Brazilians. 

On the positive side everyone at the hotel has been so welcoming and my Portuguese is really improving. I've noticed that I'm translating less in my head and able to speak more fluidly and naturally. Next week is the beginning of Carnaval, so that should be interesting. I'll let you know how working that goes.

Monday, February 2, 2015


I recently came across Australian fitness trainer Kayla Itsines Instagram feed and saw this post and felt totally motivated by it. When we flew back to Rio I planned to get into healthy mode and wanted to eat clean and stay off the booze until my birthday. However, that motivation kind of fizzled out after about a week and personally I don't feel like I've bounced back from the holidays. That's why I love this message, it's exactly what I needed to hear.

To be fair though January was a busy month with a new full-time job, a new puppy and we were hosting a few visitors. I've been trying to find a new balance with all these changes and now February is a new month. I look forward to sharing more about George, about working in Rio and our journey towards health living. Stay tuned.


(image taken from here)

Monday, January 19, 2015

George the Incredible Pug

Having George in our lives has surpassed my expectations. For the longest time I was dreaming of getting a dog and annoyingly stopping any stranger with a cute dog. Now I'm finally on the receiving end of stranger admiration, but I don't mind because it's nice that people are so taken away with George and of course, it's good socialization.

first ride home

I'm up to my eyeballs in puppy training and I find myself obsessively stressing out about it. Is this normal? As soon as George is up I'm already thinking about watching him at all times, is he doing a "I gotta pee/poo" sniff, feeding him at exactly the same times and then repeat. It's exhausting.

Having said all that, Hub and I are in love. It's incredible how this tiny little creature has brought so much joy into our life. I love how he goes into submission for a belly rub.


I love that he loves cuddles and kisses and yes I kiss my dog.

We basically love watching him sleep and have lots of photos of him just sleeping.

George gets his final vaccinations this week and we are so looking forward to taking him on his first walk and of course, outdoor potty training!

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