RiverSide delights

Have you ever been to RiverSide Walk in Kingston-upon-Thames? If not, you really should do, especially if you like good food and stunning views.

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How’s that for a view?

I was invited to “Taste the World” with RiverSide a few weeks ago, and I still find myself thinking about the tasty treats on offer there! A word of warning – not all of the food there is strictly healthy, but the quality is well worth the justification of a “cheat” meal.

The first restaurant we visited was Cau, and it was also my favourite of the night. Their contemporary Argentinian cuisine features so many delicious cuts of mouthwatering meat. Their steak and chorizo in particular was mind-blowing, and their chicken was so tender! I’m dribbling a little just thinking about it.

The next restaurant on the menu was Comptoir Libanais. I’ve been to different branches before, but this one is lovely and, as with all of them, adorably decorated with bright coloured prints and authentic Middle Eastern design. Not only is Lebanese food delicious and so full of flavour, it can also be very healthy if you opt for aubergine-rich baba ghanuj, houmous and grilled meat, such as chicken and lamb. As a non-drinker, I was also delighted by their vast array of fresh and fruit juice option – the Roomana (pomegranate and orange blossom) was a definite favourite.

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Last, and certainly not least, we visited Côte Brasserie. At this point, we were absolutely stuffed, but there’s always room for pudding, right? Especially with their Dark Chocolate Mousse and signature Crème Caramel on offer! If you like French food or are keen to try some, Côte is an ideal choice.

Even though I was invited along and treated like a Queen (HUGE thanks to Ushma and the gang), I promise I’m being 100% honest when I say that Riverside is a beautiful place to visit and all of the restaurants there are fantastic! There’s something for everyone, and I can’t think of a better place to visit in the summer sunshine for a delicious meal and stunning scenery. You’ll feel more like you’re abroad on holiday than in a London borough! Get down there.

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My 5 Favourite Sweet (and Healthy) Treats

One of the biggest stigmas around healthy eating is that you have to deny yourself. I certainly used to think that. In my mind, being good meant cutting out anything that tasted good, especially if it’s sweet. Thankfully, this is not the case. We’re entering a golden age where there are a wide variety of treats available to buy that are not only delicious, but are also nutritionally beneficial. And that’s not even counting the ones you can make yourself. What a world!

At this point, I feel I should say that although these foods are healthy, they should be considered and consumed as “treats”. Too much of anything isn’t good for you, and natural sugars are still sugars at the end of the day. Enjoy them every now and then as part of a balanced diet, and you’ll be fine and dandy.

As someone with a powerful and all-consuming sweet tooth, I’ve made it my mission to try a number of the options available from fine establishments such as Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods and even the internet. Here are a few of my favourite sweet treats:

1. Pulsin Raspberry & Goji Berry Raw Choc Brownie

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These don’t have the same texture or consistency of a “normal” brownie, but they taste just as decadent. The richness of the raw cacao is perfectly balanced with the gentle zing of the raspberry. They’re vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and contain no added sugar or other nasty stuff. They also go perfectly with a cup of tea!

2. Buff Bake Protein Peanut Butter

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If you work out or need more protein in your diet, Buff Bake is the most delicious way to get it. Their range of protein nut butters is not only vast and incredible, but they’re also full of good stuff! Made with added whey protein, chia and flax seeds, they contain no added sugar and are also gluten free. I’ve tried a few of their flavours now (for research purposes, of course…), and I can safely say that they all taste amazing. They’re a little bit pricey, but totally worth it. I like to add a spoonful to a post work-out shake with a frozen banana – it tastes even better than a chocolate milkshake!

3. The Giving Tree Strawberry Crisps

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I love strawberries, but eating fresh ones on the go can be a little bit messy. Enter The Giving Tree with their lovely and convenient bags of freeze dried ones. There are no added ingredients – just beautiful strawberries that are dried whole. Each bag equals one of your 5-a-day too, so they’re definitely a better option than a bag of regular crisps. Add them to desserts or eat them on their own – the possibilities are endless!

4. The Raw Chocolate Co. Organic Raw Chocolate Raisins

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If chocolate is your weakness, you have to try these bad boys. Raw chocolate is so much more rich and chocolate-y than a bar of Dairy Milk could ever dream of being, and as a result it’s so much more satisfying. They’re also vegan, gluten free and kosher, so they can be enjoyed by all!

5. nakd Bakewell Tart bar

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I don’t know how they’ve done it (witchcraft?), but the clever folks at nakd have managed to make a raw fruit and nut bar taste EXACTLY like a bakewell tart – and it’s one of your 5-a-day! They have a wide variety of different flavoured bars available, but this one is definitely my favourite. All of their bars are made from 100% natural ingredients with no added sugars or syrups, and are also wheat, dairy and gluten free. In your FACE, Mr Kipling.

What are your favourite healthy sweet treats?

Chocolate Banana Pancakes

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Happy almost Easter! Or, as I like to call it, Eat-ster. It’s hard to be healthy on holidays that are so centred around food, especially this one. Who doesn’t love a good chocolate egg? There are healthier ways to enjoy them (dark chocolate and the like), but it helps to at least start the day right with a nutritious and breakfast. That being said, this doesn’t mean it can’t be decadent!

I make these pancakes all the time, but I never thought to make them chocolatey until now. The rule is one banana and two eggs per person, which will make a stack of three or four depending on how big you like them. They’re so quick and simple to make (only three ingredients), are gluten-free and full of protein. If you don’t like chocolate, they’re just as delicious with vanilla. As you can see, I had these with the cherries left over from my Cherry and Cacao Chia Pudding recipe, but you can top them with whatever you like. I do highly recommend fresh berries and maple syrup or honey though. They almost taste too good to be healthy.

Chocolate Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

1 banana
2 eggs
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp coconut oil (with a little extra on standby, just in case)

Method

In a blender, mix together the banana, eggs and cacao powder. You can do this by hand if you prefer, but I’ve found the pancakes taste better when the batter is good and smooth.

Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and melt the coconut oil. Spread it all around the pan so it’s well-coated, and ladle in a big spoonful of the batter. As there is no flour to bind these, the pancakes will be more delicate than the normal kind, so many sure they’re fully cooked on the bottom before you flip them – this should take roughly two minutes. Repeat this process until you use all of the batter and have a sexy little stack (I’m bringing sexy stack). You might need to add more coconut oil between pancakes. Add your toppings of choice, and eat them all up. Enjoy!

Cherry and Cacao Chia Pudding

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It feels like a bit of a cop out to post a chia pudding for my first recipe as they’re so easy to make but after having it for breakfast this morning, I knew I had to share it. With chia pudding, not only do you get all of the brilliant benefits of Omega 3, protein, iron and antioxidants, but you also get the smug sense of satisfaction that comes with preparing meals in advance. I had it for breakfast, but it could really be enjoyed any time.

There’s something very decadent about cherries, isn’t there? It could be because they’re slightly pricier than other fruit (although I got a great deal on mine from my local grocer), but I think it’s mainly because their flavour is so subtle and rich.They go so bloody well with cacao too. The fact that they’re also chock-full of health benefits is just an added bonus.

Cherry and Cacao Chia Pudding with Cacao Nibs and Coconut

Ingredients 

1 cup of fresh cherries (1/2 for blending, 1/2 for chopping. Obviously remove the stones.)
1/2 cup of chia seeds
1 cup of hazelnut milk (it’s amazing with the cacao, but any dairy-alternative would work)
1 tbsp of cacao powder
1 tsp of raw cacao nibs
1 tsp of desiccated coconut

Method

In a blender, mix together half of the cherries, the hazelnut milk and the cacao powder until nice and smooth. In a jar/some sort of appropriate vessel with a lid, add the chia seeds and pour the chocolatey cherry milk on top. Close the lid, and shake it like a polaroid picture. Pop it in the fridge and leave it for at least 3 hours. Overnight works too.

When you’re ready to eat the damn thing, open the jar (it should smell amazing in there) and decant the contents into a bowl (because so it’s easier to eat. You can keep it in the jar to save on washing up if you like). Fold in the lovely chopped cherries, and sprinkle the cacao nibs and coconut on top for texture and prettiness. Eat and enjoy!