Sunday thoughts

It’s so strange to think that this time last week I was still on holiday – since being back I have had a viciously productive week, head down writing furiously to get all my holiday experiences down before I lost interest in thinking about a bygone holiday, trying to get back into shape, reconnecting with clients, catching up with friends, re-stocking the fridge and cupboards, getting back into cooking, cleaning and tidying the house, helping Ben move his office over to the new gym site… and trying to get my sleeping patterns back into a reasonable routine!

Although it sounds like I have just dived head-first back into everything, I am definitely feeling the benefits of a break in the routine, like a clean slate from which to start cooking better, tidy things more thoroughly, work harder. For now, at least. Moral of the story? More holidays!

New things I have learnt this week

Although I’m still reading A Short History of Nearly Everything, I have only managed to read about 30 pages in the last week – less than what I was reading daily on holiday! So I have no fun facts from there today, sorry (not that it’s any less interesting!).

  • However, I did read a great article in an old NSCA journal about the effects of stretching on sports performance. I have felt for a while that stretching is not necessary unless your sole aim is to become more flexible, and I have known it to be an injury risk if performed incorrectly at inappropriate times, but I had never thought that it may be detrimental to power output in certain sports. I want to delve more into the issue and write a full post on it soon, as I think it’s an area that is often overlooked.
  • On another note, I tried cooking up another batch of dried chickpeas today using bicarbonate of soda, which I have heard helps soften the skins thereby making them more digestible. I was surprised to see that all the skins actually came off the chickpeas altogether – every time I rinsed them after cooking they released a new wave of little translucent “chickpea ghosts” as I called them – or you may prefer “chickpea jellyfish”. As I tasted some of the chickpeas which had popped out of their delicate little shells, I can confirm that they were much softer than when I haven’t used soda bicarb – which makes me fear for their structural integrity when I cook them into vegetable dishes, but should be perfect for homemade hummus! (and I have just come across an interesting and helpful article about cooking chickpeas on the Nigella Lawson website)

New things I have eaten this week

  • Heaps from my UK Vegan Food Swap parcel! Fairfields Farm sweet potato crisps and a Maverick honeycomb chocolate bar and Goody Good Stuff sweets and Infinity Foods chilli almonds and a new variety of Moo Free chocolate!
  • We also took a detour via Kingston to the Montezuma’s shop where I got to try a couple more of their delicious vegan chocolate flavours – updates on my Chocolate pages.
  • I normally buy Joya yoghurts these days as their soybeans are European, and it’s a change from bigger companies, but I spied a special offer on the new Alpro 500g pots of Strawberry & Rhubarb yoghurts (2 for £1). I was so surprised by how good this was! Admittedly, I can’t really pick out the rhubarb flavour but maybe it is responsible for the fruity tang of the yoghurt, making it much more similar to what I remember cow’s milk yoghurt to taste like (not that I have liked that for about 10 years, longer than I have been vegan for!). Anyway – really tasty and I devoured a pot much quicker than I was expecting (needed to make room in the fridge…).
  • While we were in Kingston, we stopped in The Cheeky Pea hummus bar for a late lunch/afternoon snack/early dinner (what do you call a big bowl of hummus at 6pm when you haven’t had a proper lunch, and then end up not eating a proper dinner?). I ate in Hummus Bros last year and hated it – I was told at the time that their pita wasn’t vegan (?!), their hummus was bland, their toppings were insipid – so I was a little nervous, but I really enjoyed The Cheeky Pea. The Cheeky Pea£3.50 for a “small” serving of hummus topped with tahini and chickpeas, with a side salad (lettuce, cabbage, tomato, beetroot, tabouleh, cucumber, green olives, black olives, jalapenos – onions were also available but I opted out). White or wholemeal pitas available. We paid £16 for 3 dishes of hummus (two with chickpeas, one with chicken), 2 side salads (a third would have been included but was declined), 3 pita breads, 2 bottles of water and 1 green tea. And I then went on to not have any real dinner, so I’d say this is good value for money.

The Cheeky Pea

  • Ben made pasta tonight! He made (vegan, obviously) ravioli from scratch filled with a wonderfully rich and creamy roasted red pepper and cheese filling, using Vegusto No-Moo Melty cheese and a flame-roasted red pepper with some Tabasco and agave. I cannot describe how flavourful the filling was, and I enjoyed a plate of ravioli simply drizzled with some chili oil – simple pleasures!

Other highlights this week

  • Getting loads of writing done, and feeling really focussed and motivated upon getting back from holiday.
  • Hanging out at Gallery Café with friends, plenty of green tea, a hearty plate of three sausages with root vegetable mash and red cabbage, and a flapjack.
  • Seeing my friend Steph wakeboard for the first time since her ACL reconstruction. It is so rare to see somebody so happy and so appreciative of being able to do what they love, and it was humbling and inspiring – and fun!
  • Reorganising mine and Ben’s room, tidying some of my things into nice fabric boxes instead of the old sports bags and cardboard boxes they had been living in… and vacuum-packing Ben’s pile of clothes as a prank!
  • Giving my friends Eilidh and Aoife a good send-off as they leave London for new transatlantic adventures… I lived with Eilidh for almost 2 years when I first moved to London, and she was the reason I moved here in the first place. It just won’t be the same without her or Aoife, who has only been here for a year but is another one of my closest friends. It’s sad to see them go but I’m excited and happy for them.
  • Being able to catch-up on sleep on Sunday morning before spending a day tweaking little things on the blog, cleaning, and reading up on topics that interest me.
  • Making the most of my lack of motivation to train properly by mucking around – I gave myself a quick session of random upper-body exercises that left me aching for days, and did a lot of steady-state cardio which has no place in my training needs but which I very much felt I needed to do after a week of holiday. Sometimes it’s nice to just do what you want.

I think that about sums the week up – I have a few meaty topics I want to get my words around this week so hopefully I can deliver on that front, and I also have three tins of canned pumpkin to experiment with as I got fed up of all the beautiful and appetising pumpkin-based recipes on North American food blogs… So I’m looking forward to this week, and I hope you all have a great end to September and welcome in October with some Autumnal sunshine!

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