Sunday thoughts: 8th June 2014

What an insane week! I feel like I’ve been all over the place this week.

Truth be told, it wasn’t actually all that busy, but all my timings were off – being away on Monday, having a couple of cancellations, training clients in different locations, and starting work with a new client – it’s all just put me out of my comfort zone for a bit. After a relaxing Saturday afternoon and an entire Sunday to myself (and Ben), I hope to be a little better prepared for the workload ahead of me this week. Basically, if I can get into preparing packed breakfasts and packed lunches again, everything will take care of itself!

New things I have learnt this week

I was kept on my toes this week, with open ears and open eyes, but nothing particularly educational and share-worthy, so to speak. I briefly read about the nutritional values of dates, I learnt a lot about Emirati customs (the welcoming of guests with fresh dates and coffee, the burning of incense and sandalwood in the presence of guests, and the shaking of your coffee cup before handing back to the host to signify not wanting a refill), I polished up a diet plan and refreshed my memory on the nutritional values of various ingredients.

Mainly, I am happy that I am reading again; another Bill Bryson… because even when you don’t feel like reading, you can always read a Bill Bryson book. And although it may mean less research at the moment, it has been nice to spend a little time away from the computer and in contact with real people and real books (made of paper).

New things I have eaten this week

  • A new client welcomed me into his home by serving me – according to Emirati customs – coffee and fresh dates. I had had cardamom-spiced Arabic coffee before but it was a grainy and bitter experience – this was the total opposite, with coffee beans and cardamom pods hand-selected, cleaned and ground by his own mother. However, I had never tasted fresh dates! I used to walk past displays of them every day on my way to work in Fulham, but I never dared buy any. I was shocked by how hard and crunchy they were at first bite, and although the waxy crunchy texture of them is so much less pleasant than the toffee stickiness of dried dates, their less cloying sweetness and delicate vanilla flavour was addictive!
  • I’ve had a strangely one-track-minded approach to my chocolate lately; having accumulated a number of different bars of varying quality and appeal, I ended up ploughing through one bar before finishing off another, rather than changing each day. As the stocks began to dwindle (do I really eat that much chocolate?), and as it was conveniently a Saturday night so a night to do something a little bit more special, I attacked the bar of Michel Cluizel 85% dark chocolate that neither Ben nor I can remember buying. It so hit the spot – no bitterness, not overly sweet, just sophisticated richness (said the girl in her pyjamas watching old Masterchef Australia online whilst fighting off sleep at 11pm on a Saturday night).
  • And I finally tried making cauliflower rice! I can’t even choose a link to give you, there are so many out there. The verdict? Well, unsurprisingly, it tastes of cauliflower, not rice. I was also a little wary of over-browning my cauliflower and making it very unlike rice, so it was a little crunchy. Basically, nothing like rice. But would I make it again? Absolutely. It’s a lovely way to get some more vegetables into a meal (not that I struggle with that as it is!) and it does the job that rice is best at: soaking up delicious juices from your curry or chilli, providing a bit of crunch and diversion. I’d probably favour using it in burritos or in a salad, where it is not left on its own in the spotlight for too long.

There were also a couple of huge improvised salads for the train back on Monday, nothing new but new combinations for me: a beetroot, artichoke, and cucumber salad with plenty of homemade vinaigrette, and a grilled zucchini and pepper, tinned spinach and flaked almond salad with a peanut-vinegar dressing. I’ve been all over the vinegar this week.

And then, of course, strawberry quinoa porridge.

Other highlights this week

  • Getting back home on Monday to see Ben, and getting back to work!
  • My delightful client Becky surprised me with the best housewarming gift – two cute pots of handpicked herbal teas! The chamomile is actually whole flowers, which I’ve never seen before, and is sweet and mild. The peppermint – perfect timing as I had just run out of peppermint tea – is refreshing and much softer and sweeter than the kind you get in teabags. So touched. 

    Best clients! #tea #littlethings #lovemyjob

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  • I have truly been spoilt this week; I came home after a busy Saturday morning to find a parcel waiting, a gift from a friend who I wrote a training programme for. As soon as I saw the word “Bambu” printed on the box I knew it was going to be a winner!

    New bamboo additions to the kitchen cupboard! #ethical #sustainable #fairtrade

    A post shared by Claire De R (@claireoftherocks) on

    Not one item did I get, but four adorable, colourful, ethical and sustainable little bowls!

  • Whilst strolling around the market in Kingston yesterday, we discovered Nature’s Goodness juice and smoothie stall. I decided to make my own, and asked for avocado, watercress, cucumber, pear, and kiwi (as they had run out of pineapple) – my policy is to always select ingredients I don’t have in the fridge and rarely buy. The juice was great – barely sweet, tangy, and just the perfect thickness. Today I wanted something more substantial so I chose their Gym Monkey smoothie: almond milk, banana, raw cacao powder, and hemp protein – again, not overly sweet but so refreshing and just what I wanted. Apparently I’m not very good at holding onto smoothies long enough to take photos…
  • A while ago I read a post on Cadry’s Kitchen on how Cadry stopped biting her nails, which totally resonated with me as I have also been a lifelong nail-biter but had recently eased off. No attempt I have ever made to stop biting has worked, except a couple of holidays where I relaxed enough for the anxiety-related habit to back off naturally. I loved Cadry’s idea of buying a new hand and nail product as a treat to mark each week without nail biting, I finally found one that wasn’t too expensive (Benecos, £6.95) and had colours that I liked – plus, it was made in Luxembourg so that must be a sign! I am so happy with my shiny new nails and now I am most definitely not chewing! 

Today has been absolutely lovely; a much-needed lie-in, a bit of work on the computer, fresh fruit, putting on shorts and a sleeveless top for the first time, wandering out in sandals, picking up a juice, sitting by the river to watch the ducks (will I ever get tired of that?). Then I found a market stall selling 10 avocados for £1 and I was given an extra one – and they are actually good!

I’m feeling great but I need your help with one thing – I have been looking up juice cleanses, both delivery programmes and home recipes, but I have yet to find anything convincing or less than extortionately priced. I know a lot of you out there have tried them so please speak up in the comments or by email and let me know if you have any recommendations!

In the meantime, I’m going to go and put together an avocado salad for tomorrow’s lunch, and maybe sort out some of the books on the bookshelves. I hope you have all had a happy week and a relaxing Sunday!


2 thoughts on “Sunday thoughts: 8th June 2014

  1. Cadry's Kitchen says:

    I really enjoy Bill Bryson’s writing too, especially since we have the same hometown. He wrote about it in The Lost Continent, which made me particularly fond of him.

    I’ve been meaning to make cauliflower rice forever. From what you described, it sounds like I should manage my expectations! 🙂 However, it’s good to know that it’s still worth trying.

    Congratulations on the nail progress! I’m so glad to hear that my post resonated with you! Your nails are looking lovely.

    • greatveganexpectations says:

      Thanks Cadry! I made the cauliflower rice again last night; added some smoked paprika and turmeric this time along with salt, but it was still just cauliflower – although a great way to soak up the juices of a delicious chilli, it had none of that great stickiness and mealiness that rice has, though it does look pretty on a plate 🙂

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