8 photos of happiness

It might seem a bit voyeuristic of me but I actually love tag-style articles as I find them to be a really good way to get to know the person behind the blog (and the little Gossip Girl inside me finds learning secrets extremely satisfying!).

Ariel of Ariel’s Little Corner of the Internet recently created the 8 photos of happiness tag and was kind enough to nominate me. Thanks Ariel!

And while I was busy deciding which pictures to include, the lovely Helena of Helena’s Teabreak, and the darling Amanda of Amanda Bootes tagged me as well! Thanks both!

The rules are very simple: it’s basically about sharing 8 pictures that make us happy and then sharing the love (and happiness) with other bloggers by inviting them to join into the tag!

So here are my 8 pictures!

8 photos of hapiness tag | Cake + WhiskyThis picture of me and my brother when we were kids is the cutest one I have and it gives me all the feelings.Cake + Whisky | FamilyThis picture of my sister & me, taken on Christmas Eve 😂😂As you might have guess, Christmas parties are a bit wild in my family! 😂

I love those pictures with my siblings as they remind me of how great a time we have when we are together. Being away from them is probably the most difficult thing about living abroad, but pictures like that always make me feel better. Cake + Whisky | 8 photos of happiness tagA fantastic trip, Polaroid cameras and my ever-so-wonderful boyfriend who’s getting far too good at dealing with even the craziest sides of me and would’t even think of eating a bite before I’ve taken 25 pictures of anything that’s on a table… This picture says it all! ❤Cake + Whisky | Touring London's best coffee shops with The London Coffee FestivalCake. Duh.

Cake + Whisky | London's best ice cream at GelupoIce cream. Basically like cake but frozen and much more appropriate in a heatwave. I’ll take 1 scoop of each please-and-thank-you-very-much!Cake + Whisky | Ile de Ré France beachOh, I like to be beside the seaside! Pictured is my absolute favourite place on Earth; Ile de Ré, on the French Atlantic coast.

Cake + Whisky | A walk around London | Sunny Days & Pretty DoorsLiving in London. Yes, it’s too expensive and there are too many people and it takes you ages to go anywhere, but I love it anywayCake + Whisky | 8 photos of happinessSlow mail. The sure-fire way to put a smile on my face. If you’re unable to provide cake, that is.

And now I’m going to sit tight and look forward to seing those lovelies’ happy pictures!

Izzy of Qthee

Bella of The Other F Word

Charity of My Life’s Miscellany

Susie of Sequins and Strawberries

Ophélie of Cross my Heart and Hope to Die

Want to join in the picture fun? Don’t forget to tag me in so I can go check out your happy pictures! 

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8 photos of happiness

5 (more) quick, easy, healthy lunch ideas

Packing a healthy lunchbox can’t be a bit of a headache sometimes. Especially if you’re anything like me and 1. you don’t like sandwiches and 2. you get bored really quickly if you eat the same thing too many times in a row. Sounds familiar? That’s why I launched my Healthy Meal Ideas series (see #1), where I’ve been trying to come up with a bunch of ideas of healthy meals that’d be good enough to create serious food envy. In this second edition, I share a few of my current favourites!

Broccoli, avocado & radishes tahini salad (V)Cake + Whisky | 5 more healthy lunch ideasThis has to be my favourite salad of all time. It’s perfectly balanced both in terms of taste and texture, and it takes minutes to make. Oh, and it’s vegan too! #WinWin Toss a few handfuls of broccoli with some olive oil and sea salt and roast at 180°C until nice and golden. Chop 1/2 avocado and a small handful of radishes. Add your roasted broccoli. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of good tahini (I use this one), the juice of half a lemon, salt, black pepper and chives.

Smoked salmon & Jerusalem couscous salad Cake + Whisky | 5 more healthy lunch ideasI discovered Jerusalem couscous only recently and I’ve been obsessed since then. I love its springy, slightly cheewy texture and find it so much nicer than regular couscous in salads. Here’s my favourite to date. Follow the instructions on the pack to cook your couscous. In your favourite lunchbox, layer up some salad (I used iceberg lettuce, but I reckon watercress would be lovely as well). Tear up two small slices of smoked salmon and add it on top. Add about 3 tablespoons of couscous and one chopped up spring onion. Season with salt, black pepper and 2 teaspoons of tahini.

BLT Chicken saladCake + Whisky | 5 lunchbox ideas | bacon & Chicken saladYou gotta love a good BLT, right? Well, this is basically a salad version of it (no plastic-ey sandwich bread, yay! 🙌), but with added chicken. #WinWin Tear up some salad at the bottom of a bowl. Top with a handful of cherry tomatoes and a  small handful of quartered radishes. Pan-fry a small diced chicken breast (and a few slices of streaky bacon when you’re at it) with some olive oil and your favourite spices (I used smoked paprika, thyme, lime juice and Tabasco). Add on top of your salad. Dress with some good qulity olive oil, Maldon sea salt and black pepper.

Mexican Chicken saladCake + Whisky | 5 lunchbox ideas | Mexican Chicken SaladCook your black beans according to package instructions, rince and set aside. Dice up a ripe tomato. Top up with black beans, a handful of sliced salad onions and a tablespoon of chopped parsley. In a hot pan, melt a bit of butter and cook a small diced chicken breast. When almost done, add in 1/4 of a can of corn. Season with salt, black pepper, lime juice, Tabasco and a dash of smoked paprika and fry until golden. Add on top of your salad and season with a tablespoon of good quality olive oil, more Tabasco, sea salt and lime juice.

Morrocan couscous stew with smoked almonds

Cake + Whisky | 5 lunchbox ideas | bacon & Chicken saladCut 1 courgette, 2 small turnips, 3 carrots, a small stick of celery and 1 onion. In a big pot, cook the onion in a bit of olive oil. Add in the rest of the vegetable and roast for a few minutes. Add 1/2 can of tomato sauce and 1/2 can of chickpeas, then some lemon juice, harissa, salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika. Cook until tender. Cook your couscous according to package instructions. Add in chopped smoked almonds and parsley and stir thoughroughly. 

What’s your favourite lunch recipe? Send me your links! 

5 (more) quick, easy, healthy lunch ideas

Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Salad

With Spring -FINALLY- settling in London, salads have become my new dinner staple. Even though I’m quite loyal to a good Caprese salad (yay, mozzarella!), there was some time last week when I simply couldn’t get the idea of a Bahn-Mi sandwich off my head. But since it is impossible to find a good baguette in London (believe me, I’ve tried!), I decided to go for a Bahn-Mi inspired salad. And it was delicious!Cake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn SaladFor two people, you’ll need:

  • one carrot, cut into thin ribbons (I did this using my vegetable peeler)
  • one lime
  • fresh chilli (I used about half)
  • one clove of garlic
  • mint
  • chives
  • 5 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons of fish sauce (+ some to serve)
  • 1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • about 10 radishes
  • 200g uncooked prawns
  • baby gems (to serve)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (to serve)

(Yes, that IS a lot of stuff. It just happens that my kitchen’s cupboards are better stock than most stores…)

Cake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn Salad1- Prep your (quick pickled) carrots: In a box with a lid, mix the carrot ribbons and a teaspoon of salt. Close the box and shake it off. After a few minutes, rinse off the salt. Add the rice vinegar and the brown sugar. Close the box and shake it until the sugar has dissolved. Leave it to the side until you’re ready to serve.  
Cake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn Salad
Onto the rest of the prep: Dice your garlic, cut up your chilli and slice off your herbs, your cucumber and radishes. Cake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn SaladAs it happens, rolling the mint makes it much easier to chop, in case you were wondering!Cake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn SaladMarinate your prawns: in a bowl, mix the prawns, the lime juice, the sliced chilli and chopped garlic. Add the fish sauce, mix thoroughly and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Once that’s over, pour the whole lot in a pan and cook until dry (the marinade should entirely evaporate).

Dress your plate as nicely as you can starting with the salad leaves and piling up all the other goodies on top (cucumber, radishes, pickled carrots, prawns). Add a bit of fish sauce (about one tablespoon will do) and a dash of sesame oil, as well as salt and pepper (and maybe a sprinkle of chilli pepper if you want).
Cake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn SaladCake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn SaladTop up with fresh herbs and admire your work… or you know, just tuck in!Cake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn SaladCake + Whisky | Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Prawn SaladWhat’s your favourite salad? Looking for inspiration, hit me with your recipes!

Bahn-Mi inspired Vietnamese Salad

5 Quick, Easy, Healthy Lunch Ideas

I’m one of those people who always, ALWAYS carry food everywhere they go. No matter where I’m going, it’s extremely likely you’ll find some sort of snack in my bag. And by “some sort of snack”, I mean enough food to feed a small army. For several days.

Of course, I am also obsessed with lunchboxes but I tend to almost carry the same things (mainly leftovers). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with leftovers BUT if I want to make sure I don’t get food-envy come lunchtime (and end up going down to Pret for some chocolate croissants), I clearly needed some change! So I’ve been working on some healthy-bunny recipes over the looooong weekend and here 5 of my favourite new lunch ideas!

No-carb Burritos with Broccoli & Avocado (V)
Cake + Whisky | Recipes | Healthy Lunch IdeasCake + Whisky | Recipes | Healthy Lunch Ideas
Inspired by a few of Chocolate & Zucchini‘s recipes (see links underneath).

(Serves 1) Prep your charred broccoli/avocado/tahini salad as explained here (I added chilli flakes and pomegranate seeds too). Make a one-egg omelette as explained here. Over-fill your omelette (isn’t that the only way to make a burrito anyway?). Serve with more charred broccoli.

Now that I think of it, I’m sure the salad would be lovely with hard-boiled eggs mixed in too (and probably more convenient to put in a lunch box…).

Warm green beans salad with Jamon and walnuts
Cake + Whisky | Recipes | Healthy Lunch IdeasInspired by Chocolate & Zucchini‘s excellent eponymous book.

(Serves 1) Cook green beans in salted boiling water. Meanwhile, make a grain mustard + olive oil + cider vinegar + black pepper dressing. Toss in the beans. Sprinkle with Jamon (I brought mine back from Barcelona!), walnuts and grated parmesan. 

Zucchini noodles alla puttanesca (V)Cake + Whisky | Recipes | Healthy Lunch IdeasCake + Whisky | Recipes | Healthy Lunch IdeasInspired by The Londoner‘s brilliant “Slutty Pasta but adapted to be vegetarian!

(Serves 1) Using a vegetable peeler (or a spiralizer if you have one of those!), make linguine-like ribbons with 1 big-ish zucchini. In a pan, cook 2 cloves of garlic into a spoonful of olive oil until slightly caramelized. Add in 6-8 sliced black olives, a spoonful of chopped capers and a pinch of chilli flakes. Toss in 1/4 of a can of tomatoes, 2 table spoons of soy sauce and let the whole lot reduce for a few minutes. Pour the sauce on your coodles and top with cracked black pepper, a little bit of olive oil and some grated parmesan.

Pan-fried kale, soft boiled eggs and parsley sauce (V)

Cake + Whisky | Recipes | Healthy Lunch Ideas(Serves 1) In a food processor, blend 4 garlic cloves, half a bunch of parsley , salt, pepper and olive oil until you get a fairly homogenous green sauce. Put a pot of water to boil. When it is, add in your eggs and cook for 5 minutes, then cool the eggs under cold water and shell them off. Pan-fry about a bowl of shredded curly kale in a spoonful of olive oil (add a bit of water if it browns too quickly). Sprinkle with salt, dried garlic, black pepper and chilli flakes. Top with the sauce. 

Vietnamese Prawn SoupCake + Whisky | Recipes | Healthy Lunch Ideas 1(Serves 2) In a big saucepan, fry some ginger, a few garlic cloves and the white part of a couple of spring onions. Add in two carrots cut into little straws, half a can of sweet corn and a few handfuls of bean sprouts. Add in some stock (I used some I made, but that would work as well!). Season with salt, chilli flakes, fish sauce and soy sauce, thenadd in your prawns (I used frozen un-cooked ones). Let the whole lot simmer for a few minutes, then pour the soup in a bowl and top with the green part of the spring onions, a small handful of chopped mint leaves and chives. 

What did you have for lunch today? Anything I could be inspired by? I’m always looking for new ideas!!

5 Quick, Easy, Healthy Lunch Ideas

The Anti Diet Project

You probably remember from my 2015 bucket-list article that one of my objectives for this year is to lose a bit of weight. I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on this since I wrote it and have come to the conclusion that what truly matters to me is not quite the numbers, rather the image I have and project of myself. It’s not as much about dropping a few pounds as it is about having a thinner-looking, stronger body. But I have no intention of giving up chocolate, thank you very much.

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Now, if you’re looking for the next fad diet, walk away now. I really believe those no-sugar-no-grain-only-meat-and-protein-shakes things are nothing but unhealthy, dangerous and a loss of time. I don’t think either sugar or fat are my enemies. I am however interested in building healthier living and eating habits. You know what they say… Anti-diet one day… And as far as changes go:

  1. Motivation: Even if I’m not one for drastic, quick changes, it is still important to me to be able to measure what is working and what isn’t. I don’t have weighting scales at home, nor am I really interested in investing in one. Instead, I’ll click before pics to compare myself towards, and take my measurement up. And then compare those up with the real me as time goes by.
  2. Plan ahead! I found out recently that if I write a list of ideas for meals over the weekend, and have all ingredients at hand before said week actually begins, it actually makes a difference in how motivated I am to cook healthy meals. The truth is, most of the time, I am too tired to improvise something when I come back from work, and even the idea of having to go to the supermarket on my way back home makes me craze burgers almost immediately. Same thing goes for lunch, if I don’t pack anything, I’ll either go hungry and eat everything I find when I get home, or grab something from the closest supermarket….
  3. Portion control. For months, my boyfriend and I had regularly eaten dinner from the same plate. It’s very romantic and all, but the trouble is, I eat faster than he does, so more often than not, I ended up eating too much. So we’re changing back to eating from two separate plates so that I’m no longer a griddy little piggy winning about being stuffed at the end of each meal!
  4. Swap grains for fruit & veggies. Just basic common sense, really. If you swap grains for fruit & veggies, you’re immediately eating healthier food. Easy peasy. When I’m at it, switch to healthier snacks. Basically, putting down the biscuits and sweets and replace them by something far, far more nutritious. I’m the kind of person who tends to eat little and often, so snacks are playing an important role in my eating habits. So expect kale crisps, roasted nuts and fruit salads on this blog 😉
  5. Drink more water. I used to be really bad at this. I think I’ve finally cracked it. Will write about it soon.
  6. Create an exercise habit. Now, working out’s really not my thing. But I want to get into the habit of exercising 5 times a week. I’m currently trying a few things out and will let you know how they’re all working (and more importantly, if I miraculously managed to keep up with the habit!) in my next update.

What are you doing to become/stay fit? I’d love to hear your tips! 

The Anti Diet Project