Five Tasty Healthy Office Snacks

For the last few years, I have enjoyed a mid-morning and afternoon snack when working. The problem is that I often find a snack I like, eat it ALL the time and then get to a point where I can never eat it again. Sorry Bounce balls – I don’t think i’ll manage another one of you again. Now I have a variety of snacks on the go so that there is no R.I.P Bounce Balls take two.

Tip: Pack extra snacks at all times.

I always pop a snack bar/ piece of fruit in my bag in case I get hungry (often leading to hangry) and end up buying something I actually don’t want/ won’t agree with me/ will regret after. I learnt this the hard way when a Sainsbury’s chocolate chip cookie on a Friday afternoon ruined my weekend (I am gluten and dairy intolerant). So to avoid giving into cravings which don’t make you feel good, hopefully there is something here for you:

     1. Avocado with with tamari (gluten free soy sauce) 

Pack a full avocado (£1.20) in a lunch box and cut in half at work. Leave a bottle of tamari in the office. Creamy and satisfying. Job done.

   2. Meridian cacao peanut butter bars

Non-crushable! Great for a in-the-bottom-of-the-bag situation. (£2 for 3) Also delicious.

     3. Cashews, almonds, dried apricots and dark chocolate combo

Buy these in bulk from the supermarket and then mix at home. At about £1 a handful, it’s a much cheaper way to eat these mixes as opposed to buying expensive snack pots from health food shops or cafés.

     4. Why Nut snack balls

These are new on the block! There a bit different from your average snack bar because they’re balls. Great for slower snacking and on average £1 each.

     5. Coconut Collaborative yogs

These are on the pricier end of the spectrum (£1.50-£2) but rich and satisfying. I love the mango flavour.

I hope there is some inspo there for anyone who has either had a Bounce ball situation or just needs some variety!

Advertisements

Love Plantains Love Life

When I told my mum that I had developed a new addiction whilst travelling around South America, she prepared herself for the worst. PLANTAINS MUM! I cannot get enough of my yellow friends. Plantain crisps, fried plantain halves (for breakfast, lunch & dinner), plantain flour pancakes.. they´re everywhere! I am certainly not complaining.

Despite their association with the Caribbean and Latin America, plantains originated in Asia. They became popular in Latin America centuries ago when they were harvested and consumed by slaves. Nowadays plantains feature in almost every plato principal on the menu del día in Colombia and are often served for breakfast with rice and eggs across Latin America.

Delicious and nutritious, plantains are a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and have more vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium than their closely related friends, bananas. Plantains are a fibrous alternative to other carbohydrates such as potato or white rice.

So I went on a mission to make myself some delicious plantain containing food for breakfast lunch and dinner. When I whipped this plantain lasagne out of the oven in the hostel, there were a lot of envious hungry travellers!

R E C I P E S

Here are three recipes for..

1. Gluten Free Plantain Pancakes

2. Plantain Coconut Rice

3. The Famous Plantain Lasagne

 

GLUTEN FREE PLANTAIN PANCAKES

I’m really missing making pancakes at home and I love plantains so these babies were born. I boil all the plantains I use to reduce frying.

Ingredients (one person)
1 big yellow plantain

1 cup maize flower

1 egg

Coconut oil / olive oil

Vanilla essence (optional)

Honey to put on top! (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Mash the plantain and add a beaten egg to the mixture. Mix them until you have a liquid consistency batter.

3. Pour in the flour and mix thoroughly.

4. Heat up the oil and pour in enough mixture to make a fist sized pancake.

5. Flip and huzzah



PLANTAIN COCONUT RICE

A filling delicious lunch or dinner.

Ingredients (one person)

1 plantain

1 cup of rice

1/2 onion

1 bell pepper

1 handful of green beans

Paprika

Aji / spicy pepper

Coconut oil/ olive oil

 

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Boil more water for the rice and simmer for 20 minutes

3. Chop the onion finely, cut up the pepper and green beans.

4. Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes in the oil then add the pepper and green beans. Keep stirring the vegetables until cooked between 10-15 minutes later

5. Meanwhile they’re cooking, cut half of the plantain up into bite size pieces and the other half slice laterally.

6. Add the bite size pieces to the pan and the other larger circles brown off separately.

7. Strain the rice, put it back into the pan, mix in the coconut milk and cook gently for two minutes on a low heat.

8. Add the vegetables to the rice pan and add paprika and aji.

9. Serve the rice with the larger pieces of plantain on top. Ta- dah.

 

 

PLANTAIN LASAGNE

Just the best thing ever. Why would you ever have pasta when you can have PLANTAIN! And it´s gluten free.

Ingredients (3 people)

4 yellow plantains

500g minced meat

1 onion

1 carrot

4 tomatoes

1 egg

1 tbs tomato paste

Aji

Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

3. Chop the onions, tomato, carrots

4. First fry the onions for 2 minutes in oil, then add the chopped carrot and tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile slice the plantains into roughly 5mm strips. Cover the bottom of a 20 inch baking tray with the slices, making sure to leave enough plantain for 2 more layers.

6. Stir the vegetable mixture and in a separate pan cook the meat for 5 minutes

7. Pour the beef into the tomato mix and add the paste , aji and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes.

8. Pour half of the mixture on top of the plantain layered baking tray, top with another layer of plantains, add the remaining mixture then finish with a final layer of plantains. For a final touch whisk an egg and pour over the top covering all of the plantain.

9. Bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy the plaintain madness!!!!

How to do an overnight bus properly

If you’re travelling around South America on a budget, it’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself on a 15 hour (or more). However, there is no need to dread them! I’m a few long bus journeys down and I’ve cracked the code. Here are my best tips.
Booking

A simple A to B google search will bring up the right page to book online. However if you’re booking a bus from Brazil you will need a CPF number (a Brazilian identification number). So if you haven’t already made friends with the hostel staff, do! You can use a local’s CPF (with their permission) and then book your ticket in your name. Failing this, booking your bus from the terminal on the day is no issue. I have yet to be on a full bus, even on a Friday/ Sunday evening.
A word about TIMING. If you’ve got a 15 hour bus, don’t waste a day, choose over night. You can get a very decent night’s sleep if you choose the right seat.


There are various seat options online. From cheapest to most expensive the choices are: executivo individual, semi-cama, coche cama and promo cama ejecutivo. You’ll always want to choose promo cama ejecutivo “promo executive bed” where possible. This option is the most expensive but if you check the currency conversion, it is often only £5-10 more then economy “executive individual. Just think that you’re saving on a whole night’s accommodation!
If you are booking in advance, I have found it best to get to the bus terminal about 40 minutes before departure so you have time to brush your teeth in an actual toilet and change into some warmer clothes as the buses are often very cold, especially at night.


Essential items to bring

Pack for the artic. It is advisable that you have a couple of warm layers in your hand luggage. I get really cold so normally wear a thermal, t-shirt, jumper and a light jacket. I would also advise a blanket (I use my towel or beach sarong) and if you’re carrying a sleeping bag/ or sleeping bag liner keep that in your hand luggage too!
I have no shame in admitting that I sleep for about 9 hours on these buses! Most of the credit must go to my faithful neck pillow. I would recommend an inflatable one and always pick the softest! I also love an eye mask. The bus gets pretty light from 6am, even with the curtains drawn. Earplugs/ headphones are essential for drowning out the odd unhappy baby and general noise.
In terms of theft, i’ve personally never had a problem on any bus in South America. However, I do know people that have! To be on the safe side, I always keep all my money, cards and phone in my money belt which I wear the whole journey. I also padlock my rucksack shut and keep it by my feet.

Entertainment

I am confident to say I have officially aced overnight bus entertainment. It’s all about the pre download. Spotify, BBC iplayer and Sky app’s have become sacred for these journeys. Although technically speaking you cannot get access UK TV apps abroad, I have heard that you can download Tunnel Bear app, pay a monthly fee of £3 and get unlimited VPN (i.e hiding your location). You can download endless films and episodes before you leave. Before I started travelling, I was not a TV person. However I have come to realise that it is a successful way of escaping the reality of a long bus!
I also always bring a book but its often too dark to read and turning your light on tends to light up the entire bus of sleeping people. It just depends how many evil stares you can stand..

Food

Last, but certainly not least, food for the journey. Long buses often make stops every few hours. However the food available in the service station is often wheat based, fairly unhealthy and very expensive.

Whenever I can, I prepare some food ahead. Most hostels have kitchen facilities and tupperwares are easy to find in any supermarket. I normally prepare some dinner, snacks and maybe breakfast. Not all food travels well. Including bananas. Which i found out the hard way. Here are some of my healthy faves to take on the bus.
Dinner:

Quinoa

Cooked veg (peppers, aubergine, tomatoes, carrots)

Salad (make sure it has been cleaned with filtered water as drinking the tap water can make you ill so washing lettuce leaves in it is not to be advised)

Sweet potato fries

Snacks/ breakfast:

Unsalted nuts

Popcorn 

Apples

Tangerines

Quinoa with peanut butter, dark chocolate (absolute FAVE)

I’ve grown to love a good overnight bus. A couple of hours of relaxation, often no wifi and sleep.
Feet up, belly full, David Attenboroughed out, I wish you a beautiful night’s sleep!

Restaurant Shout Out, Rio de Janiero

Flavoursome organic and gluten-free food in Rio.

In my previous post I recommended some great eateries I had visited during my time in Rio. However, Celeiro deserves a post of it´s own.
You can find Celeiro (and I recommend that you do!) in Leblon. Leblon is the wealthiest area of Rio. There are plenty of restaurants on the same street offering anything from fillet mignon to ceviche.

Celeiro is a little special. For starters, everything is organic. My lunch at Celeiro has to be one of the most flavoursome I’ve had. The pesto pasta has so much TASTE. The chefs pimped the traditional basil flavour with some extra garden herbs (and nailed it). Flavours aside, no pesticides means no consumption of extra chemicals. Happy taste buds, happy tummy!

The menu offers zingy fresh juices to homemade soup. I particularly recommend the salad bar which costs around 15 brl (£4) / 100g. My favourite part was the variety of the hot gluten free options. The gluten-free quiche, croquettes and pesto pasta which I tried were phenomenal. Celeiro separates all sem gluten options from gluten containing foods so it’s safe for Celiacs. For cold options, feast upon quinoa salads, roasted pepper and homemade guacamole. If you’re looking for quality ingredients, you’ve come to the right place.

Celeiro is also diary-free and vegan friendly. You’ll be spoilt for choice. I highly recommended treating yourself at Celeiro! It has been my favourite lunch in Rio so far.

Celeiro, Rua Dias Ferreira, 199

Backpacking with intolerances and allergies

Daunting. To leave local shop shelves stacked plentifully with wheat and dairy alternatives was no easy decision. Neither was saying goodbye to my nutribullet, juicer, steamer and cupboard full of ingredients.

I get a lot of enjoyment from cooking. Whether it’s whipping up a gluten and dairy free quiche or some raw brownies. I appreciate great tasting food (which is always that little bit more delicious if you’ve made it yourself). Even more important still, is the satisfaction of filling my body with maximum nutrition and avoiding those foods which do not agree with me (wheat, dairy, onions, apples..). The last few years I have relied on my diet to keep me in good mental and physical health following personal illness. Although my diet is important to maintain, it shouldn’t stop me from travelling around South America!
In fact many packaged “superfoods” we see on our shelves are from in South America. First stop Rio, home of coconut water and açai!! Looking forward to trying some Yucca and cupuaçu.

Stay tuned!

img_3526