spicy vegetarian sort of salsa wraps (with crunchy nuggets!)

I cut up two chillis for this… and I’m still unsure if it was a good idea.

Hey there

This is just something I sort of made up as I went along using what I already had in the kitchen. Enjoy!

From the fridge:

A generous handful of spinach leaves

One onion

Roughly 10 Cherry tomatoes

Two chilli peppers

One Avocado

Half a palmful of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

One lemon (you’ll only need half really)

From the freezer:

Quorn nuggets

From the bread bin/cupboard:

2 whole wheat sandwich wraps

A big pinch of cayenne pepper powder

A pinch black pepper

A big pinch of mixed dried herbs

A pinch of garlic powder

Put the Quorn nuggets in the oven as per the instructions on the packet. They take about 18 minutes to cook. While the nuggets are in the oven, wash and cut up all the veg (leave the spinach leaves whole and set aside along with the avocado for now). Be careful with the number of chillis you use, as there will also be black pepper and cayenne pepper in addition to the chillis. I cut up two chillis for this… and I’m still unsure if it was a good idea. (I ended up sipping on almond milk to calm things down – still ate and enjoyed the wraps though).

Put the chopped ingredients into a bowl, and add the coriander, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder and herbs. Squeeze half a lemon over the mixture and stir all together. This is kind of like a chunky salsa of sorts – not a very authentic one, but still full of flavour and very good in the wrap.

Once you’ve stirred up the tomato and chilli mix, set that aside and put your wraps in the oven (just place them directly on an empty shelf) for a couple of minutes on both sides. You want to watch them closely as you want them to remain flexible when folding them into the wraps. While the wraps are in the oven, slice open the avocado and chop into chunks.

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When the wraps are ready, take them out of the oven (also the nuggets should be done by now so take them out too) and lay them on a plate.

Make sure the spinach leaves are well drained from the washing, and layer them on top of the wrap as in the photo. Spoon some of the tomato and chilli mixture on top of the spinach leaves in the centre of the wrap.

Add to this, the avocado chunks and chopped up Quorn nuggets. Now your wraps are ready for eating! **warning** they will be very spicy, so you can adjust the amount of pepper and chilli in the recipe to taste.

a review of Eternal Eden

Eternal Eden (Eden Trilogy, #1)Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Before I start, I have to say that unfortunately, this is going to be a rather negative review. It is my opinion, and I acknowledge that not everyone will agree with or appreciate my comments.

While reading Eternal Eden (EE) I had a hard time deciding whether it is meant to be taken seriously, or whether it’s intended to be a spoof-comedy re-write of Twilight. Looking at the text as a spoof comedy, this is hilarious. Trying to read it seriously (well, as seriously as books in this genre can be taken), as a legitimate YA paranormal romance is very hard indeed.

I won’t bother listing all the issues I had with the plot itself because that would take too long, but I will say it’s just a bad, ill-thought out re-write of Twilight and leave it there – so you know the story. Just replace vampires with ‘Immortals’. I don’t even like Twilight.

The characters as a whole are mainly unbelievable, and lacking any realistic traits of human nature. The things they say and do in reaction to events as they occur are just ridiculous. A perfect example is Bryn’s response when she is led to believe that William has left her. She decides to wade into the ocean fully clothed and attempt suicide – though in her mind it isn’t a suicide attempt – or so the narration says (but it is) … apparently, Bryn takes a stroll in the icy cold ocean because she believes this will make her feel closer to William (?), seeing as he’s abandoned her and all.. but she almost dies whilst doing so. It didn’t occur to her that hypothermia and drowning were likely to happen. And we readers are supposed to see this as normal behaviour. This is profound and moving. No. This is dumb.

To me, it came off as if the author was trying to romanticise suicide arising out of heart-ache. It’s not romantic and should not be promoted as a rational response to a guy leaving you.

None of the characters have much personality, except for maybe the villain – but he’s your usual cardboard cut-out cartoon villain, so no significant or particularly interesting character development there. The characterisation of Bryn and William as the two main people of interest in the book is bizarre. I thought the protagonist/heroine and her love interest are supposed to be likeable?

Bryn is chronically self-deprecating (to the point where it’s not endearing but just plain irritating). She is whiny, weak minded, weak bodied (she is constantly fainting, collapsing, trembling, palpitating – all of that 19th-century lady in a corset stuff), limp, lame and boring. She is obsessed and consumed by this inexplicable, came-out-of-nowhere love for this creep of a male lead who seems more like a daddy figure to her than her lover for all time. Bryn has no common sense and no semblance of rationality in her thinking.

William is a stalker. His fixation with Bryn is weird, to put it bluntly. He spends a lot of the time burning with an ardent desire to take her virginity, and this often clouds his judgement when making tricky life and death decisions about Bryn’s and his safety. He also tries to pressure Bryn on a number of occasions to sleep with him (knowing due to their circumstances it would result in a death sentence for them both), and yet the author presents this subtle ‘rapey’ nature of William’s as if it’s supposed to be romantic and swoon-worthy. It’s not.

The main source of the comedy for me in EE was the language. It is apparent that similes, metaphors and vocabulary are not properly understood here, and are therefore not well executed.

For example, there are 51 instances of the words ‘scream’, ‘screamed’ or ‘screaming’ in the book. I searched it on my kindle and that word was really used that many times in EE. The word is mostly employed in the metaphorical rather than literal sense, and each and every time, the metaphor fails completely. When describing how a peek of William’s skin is making her wild with desire, Bryn narrates, ‘When I lifted my eyes from the exposed skin that screamed its presence at me…’ – what? Really? The skin is screaming at you?

While reading EE I had to stop and wonder why everyone and everything is always ‘screaming’ due to the number of times it appears in the narration.

Another problem is the use of the word ‘speculation’. I am not sure the author knows what this word means. I will quote some lines from the text to demonstrate this:

‘He laughed after reviewing the speculation wrinkling my face.’

‘My face tightened with speculation when he offered me his hand to pull me from the water…’

‘Patrick lifted his eyebrows in speculation.’

‘Patrick throwing around profanities and speculations.’

‘I looked at him speculatively.’

‘I was questioning – more like speculating, given the tumultuous weeks we’d spent dodging disaster after disaster – that this cruel, merciless world we’d been born into, and would now reside forever, had decided to tempt us with the purest of loves to only have us fighting for it every day forward.’

Now unless the author is referring to the stock market or fishing prospects, I cannot for the life of me imagine what she means by ‘speculation’ in these lines. Furthermore, how many times do you need to use the same word (incorrectly) to describe the same thing in a book?

The last quotation also leads me to comment on the exaggerated melodrama the author employs in the narration. This book is packed full of it. Having to trudge through so many pages full of this incessant, moaning, monologue became very tiresome, and for this reason, I found myself skipping quite a lot of the book. The following is a perfect example:

‘I also wasn’t doubting something good created this man beside me, and by some incomprehensible miracle, I’d been made to one day be his. There was no denying this, but what if once created and set on our merry ways, that something good washed its hands of us and we were now fated to the whims and fancies of a world that dealt unfair hands to those that experienced a measure of happiness that didn’t naturally occur within this spherical mass rotating in the galaxy?’

Who cares? When you’ve read fifty pages of this kind of bleating, seriously, who really cares? And that last quoted paragraph is all just because they can’t sleep together by the way.

Then there are the nonsensical sentences, like this:

‘I tapped my foot, and while I’d thought it such an unusual response of impatience when I’d seen it performed by someone else, I could understand the relief people found in it.’

Can’t you just say she impatiently tapped her foot? The book was stuffed full of inane lines like this and I wondered how much shorter it would be if all the nonsense like this was edited out. And then there’s:

‘My body rose and fell in unison with his and his heart burst against my back with such force it shook my body.’

That was actually just a description of Bryn and William spooning. Yes.

I would not ordinarily be so scathing in a review. I would usually try to be constructive and highlight some positive points the author can build on. (I suppose the constructive element to my criticism would be to note all the negative things I have pointed out and just not do them in the next book?) I appreciate the author has taken the time and made an effort to sit down and write something. That takes courage. However, you are opening yourself up for some serious criticism if you’re basically going to re-write an extremely popular book series (the Twilight saga) with an equally, if not more popular movie franchise attached and well-established fan base – and then do it badly.

Here are some other quotes from EE (I may comment here and there):

‘Paul’s eyebrows peaked; mine followed suit…’

Someone does something with their eyebrows 46 times in this book. FORTY-SIX TIMES.

‘His eyebrows hardened on William.’

How does one harden their eyebrows? Is that a power?

‘…moving her eyebrows up and down like a jackhammer.

‘He twitched his eyebrows up and down in furious bouts…’

All of these people and their hyperactive eyebrows need botox.

‘…her cupid-shaped lips announced…’

Surely, she means Cupid bow shaped? If they were shaped like Cupid himself I’d recommend cosmetic surgery.

‘…he leapt from my balcony to the next one down, a good one hundred feet away.’

A balcony would not be one hundred feet below the one immediately above it. What buildings are built with one hundred feet between floors?

‘I let his words enter me and simmer with their implications.’

*Sigh* I just don’t know.

View all my reviews

simple all in one veggie roast

So one day I was swanning about the house in my PJs after coming home from work, and I knew I needed to make myself a good lunch for the next couple of days but I was feeling rather tired. I didn’t want to end up buying lunch while at the office so I thought up something simple but very healthy, low carb and tasty with the vegetables I already had in the fridge. I also had some Quorn sausages in the freezer so I thought I’d throw them in too. Behold, the birth of my all in one veggie roast.

Having looked in the fridge to see what was what, I saw that I had:

Cherry tomatoes

Mini Portobello mushrooms

Cucumber

Radishes

Shallots

Red onions

Garlic

From the freezer:

Quorn Premium Sausages – wild garlic flavour

From the cupboard:

Cayenne pepper powder

Powdered garlic

Black pepper

Mixed dried Italian herbs

Himalayan pink salt (optional)

Olive oil

You don’t have to use the same veggies or seasonings as I did, it’s really up to you and about using what you have, but the essential thing to help with the cooking of this dish is the olive oil and a decent array of herbs/spices for flavour. I also have purposely not specified amounts because again, it depends on what you want and what you have available. This is a very free and easy dish and it could come out differently every time!

Before you start prepping the vegetables, ensure you preheat your oven to around gas mark 5 or 6 (that’s 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius).

Now for the prep:

Get a chopping board and a big sharp knife, and peel, wash and slice all of the vegetables (except for the garlic cloves). When I was making it, I cut the radish and the cucumber into strips because I wanted them to caramelise and brown while in the oven. The onion, shallot and mushrooms I sliced into chunky rings and I quartered the tomatoes. You can cut the vegetables however which way you prefer and depending on what they are and how they’ll cook.

Take a large-ish (depending on the amount of vegetable) pyrex oven dish (a deep metal baking tray will also work) and drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into it and swirl/rub it around inside the dish.

Arrange the vegetables in the dish. I enjoyed putting them into little ‘areas’ in the dish. I’m weird that way.

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Just before going in the oven…

Crush the garlic cloves (I used a crusher) and sprinkle them over the vegetables in the dish and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Then add the rest of the seasonings – the peppers and the garlic powder (just a little) and the herbs (or whatever seasonings you’ve chosen). You can definitely experiment with this. If I’d had some, I would have grated some raw ginger on top and sprinkled a little fresh lemon juice as well I maybe would’ve used some chilli instead of cayenne pepper. Just put whatever you fancy.

Put the Quorn sausages in one corner of the dish and rub them with a little olive oil. Sprinkle them with the crushed garlic and seasonings.

Put the dish in the oven and bake until the vegetables have softened and browned slightly. Check and turn them as well as the sausages (the sausages will take a little while to brown).

You should end up with slightly caramelised, sweet and very flavoursome vegetables with very juicy well-seasoned sausages. The vegetables will have produced a lot of liquid at the bottom of the dish which would be great as a base for a sauce or gravy :).

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The end result

Introducing…

This isn’t just a ‘diet’. This isn’t just a phase of fitness obsession. This is about having a better quality of life for the rest of my life.

My name is Vee.

I was recently told that I was borderline type 2 diabetic in connection with a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). To help reverse my pre-diabetic state and avoid diabetes altogether I was advised to lose weight (about 10kgs/22lbs/1 and a half stone) and change my diet. I was encouraged by my doctor to join a local diabetes prevention group where I would be coached on the lifestyle changes I’d have to make in order to become healthier and reverse my prediabetes. To be honest, I wasn’t keen on the idea given my lifestyle and schedule, and I felt a little apprehensive about attending a group with strangers … so I determined I would lose the weight and change my diet on my own.

Thus begins a journey of self-discovery where I had to reconfigure my relationship with food and force myself to review my weight gain over the last ten years or so (I’d been in a bit of denial about that). A lot of googling workouts for weight loss, gyms, and diets to reverse pre-diabetes went on. I looked up information on the glycemic index, glycemic loading, carbs and sugar intake etc…. and to be honest, I was in a bit of a panic with all that information coming in. I kind of felt a bit overwhelmed. But somehow, I managed to figure things out and a major overhaul of my eating habits took place, along with implementing a more active lifestyle.

I took up training with a personal trainer once a week and started working out at home the rest of the time. After six months of doing this, I discovered I’d managed to lose about a stone in weight. I had another blood test and was told that my pre-diabetes had successfully been reversed. Of course, I was very pleased about this and quite proud that I’d pretty much managed to do this on my own, however, given my PCOS, I’ll always be more prone to becoming diabetic if I allow my eating and weight gain to get out of control. I still have a way to go yet until I reach my goal weight. So I’ve had to understand and accept that this lifestyle change has to become a permanent one. This isn’t just a ‘diet’. This isn’t just a phase of fitness obsession. This is about having a better quality of life for the rest of my life.

With all that being said, and me being me, I know that I’m susceptible to falling off the wagon from time to time and being rather lazy. So, this blog is a way of me maintaining some accountability for the way that I eat and the amount I spend on food (I previously used to spend an obscene amount on food from places like Pret A Manger, Leon, Wasabi, Itsu etc and I do like eating out at restaurants). This new way of living means I have to take the time to cook for myself more often and be inventive with it (I’m extremely fussy about the enjoyment of what I eat – if it doesn’t taste good, I’m just not eating it). While I do still eat out a lot, I’m more mindful of the choices I make and I have definitely cut down on the frequency of visits to those places.

I hope to share with you some healthy, (and very tasty) meals that I’ve adapted from things I’ve seen online or made up in my own experimentation in the kitchen with whatever I find in the fridge and cupboards. I’m not a fancy or complicated cook, but I do take flavour very seriously. These meals are what have helped me to lose fat, and have a better handle on my blood sugar levels. I’d also like to share and review the food products I’ve discovered for good snacking and treats between meals, that won’t have too much of an impact on blood sugar levels or weight loss and that I really enjoy.

I’m by no means a nutritionist or dietician, and I have no medical or health related degrees/qualifications, but the changes I’ve made have brought me to where I am now with my health, so maybe if you give it a try, it might work for you 😊.

I won’t blog about my workouts here – that’s something I’m still working on becoming a more permanent fixture in my life – I’m not always as consistent as I ought to be.  I really don’t enjoy working out haha … maybe at a later date, I’d be more willing to share that part of my life so that I can encourage others.

My other interests will probably creep in as this blog develops… but for now, we’ll just see how this goes.