Acai Bowl Recipe

I discovered the delight of acai bowls (delicious smoothies thick enough to spoon, covered in a multitude of toppings) when I was in Australia during my gap year – the cafés on the Gold Coast were ace at serving up the most delicious (and most faddy, trendy) dishes. Since then, I’ve only found it at rather pricey London cafés so I decided to take the plunge and buy some acai powder from Amazon and experiment myself. You do need a food processor which is a bit of a faff but if you have one, acai bowls are really fun to make (although they do create rather a lot of washing up!). You can put on some summery music and kid yourself that you’re eating breakfast on a tropical beach!

A little note on the nutrition of acai…

Acai (pronounced ahh-sah-ee) is a berry from Brazil which has been credited as being packed full of antioxidants, substances that have been found to be protective against vascular disease, diabetes and cancer (1)(2). However, many of these studies have only been done in vitro (in a lab) and haven’t been replicated in human studies yet, or are pilot studies (have only used a small number of people so do not provide strong evidence).

The most important thing to remember, though, is that there isn’t a magic bullet to health – a well-balanced diet including a variety of fruit and vegetables of all colours, lean protein, complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats is recommended for optimal health.

 

Acai Bowl Recipe

Serves 1

100g frozen sliced banana

80g frozen mixed berries

1 tbsp acai powder

150ml milk (whichever type you prefer)

2 handfuls of spinach

Optional toppings: almonds, chopped fruit, mixed seeds, granola, chopped coconut, shavings of dark chocolate, cacao nibs – the list is endless!

 

Add all the ingredients to the food processor or smoothie-maker (like Vitamix) and blend at high speed until a thick and creamy consistency. You may need to stop blending a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the food processor. If the consistency isn’t creamy enough add more milk or water. Once completely smooth, serve immediately topped with your favourite fruits etc.

 

Beachy tunes whilst eating aren’t compulsory but highly recommended! (My personal choice at the moment: Summertime Music – Shwayze & Cisco https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UsPxcFcu8Q)

 

Sources

  1. Schauss, A.G., Wu, X., Prior, R.L., et al. Antioxidant Capacity and Other Bioactivites of the Freeze-Dried Amazonian Palm Berry, Euterpe oleraceae (Acai). J Agric Food Chem. 2006; 54:8604-8610. [Online]. Available at: http://www.vinosalacarta.com/monavie/estudios/2_antioxidant_capacity_and_other_bioactivities.pdf
  2. Udani, J.K., Singh, B.B., Singh, V.J., & Barrett, M.L. Effects of Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: A pilot study. Nutrition Journal. 2011; 10:45. [Online]. Available at: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-10-45

A weekend trip to the coast

I did it! I made it through what has felt like the most difficult revision and exam period so far. To celebrate finishing, my boyfriend and I escaped down to the Kent Coast with friends for a weekend. We stayed in Westgate-on-Sea, a stone’s throw away from Margate. I know what you’re all thinking – Margate for a weekend escape? But give it a go. There are some beautiful shops, cafes and restaurants to try, and let’s not forget the huge sandy beaches – and the fact that it’s only an hour and a half from London!

FullSizeRender
@annagregson

We were extremely lucky with the weather and had such a beautiful weekend that I wanted to share some our finds.

 

Margate

I highly recommend taking a stroll around the cobbled streets of Margate Old Town, home to some lovely little homeware and vintage shops, galleries and coffee shops.

IMG_5594
Margate Harbour: @dane_rock

 

Buoy and Oyster, 44 High Street, CT9 1DS

Looking out over Margate harbour, Buoy and Oyster offers stunning views, whether it’s a sunny summer’s day or stormy winter weather. This gorgeous restaurant serves seasonal fish and seafood with a modern British slant, as well as offering delightful-looking cocktails. The four of us ordered oysters (most of us trying them for the first time), a bottle of white wine and a main meal each, coming to a total of £29 per person, including service. Being used to London restaurant prices we practically skipped out of the restaurant, having enjoyed such a delightful lunch! I highly recommend the halibut on their current menu.

 

The Cupcake Café, 4-5 Market Place, CT9 1EN

Situated in a little courtyard, this café serves cakes, coffees and snacks all day. If you’re lucky you might be able to bag a table outside in the sun and people watch to your heart’s content! Next door is The Greedy Cow café, which we didn’t get to try, but about which I’ve heard very good things!

 

The Light Keeper, 8 Broad Street, CT9 1EW

A beautiful lighting emporium tucked away in Margate Old Town, this is definitely worth checking out even if you don’t need to buy a light fitting. The unique designs are fascinating and constantly updated.

IMG_5603
The Light Keeper: @dane_rock

 

Qing Interiors, 3 Lombard Street, CT9 1EN

Unique and bespoke designs sit next to exquisite vintage oriental home furnishings. I highly recommend a visit to Qing Interiors – it couldn’t feel further away from what you’d expect in an English coastal town.

 

Etcetera Interiors Ltd, 35 Hawley Street, CT9 1QA

One of many beautiful homeware shops in Margate, they sell minimalist designs. I had to keep reminding myself that I live in a small flat and that I definitely don’t need any more cushions/throws/plants…

 

Turner Contemporary, The Rendezvous, CT9 1HG

This art gallery is situated on the edge of the harbour and runs various exhibitions throughout the year, most of them free of charge. With a lovely coffee shop as well, it can provide some entertainment or a couple of hours.

 

Whitstable

IMG_5597
Whitstable wall art: @dane_rock

Whitstable is an old fishing village, famous for its oysters in particular. Down by the harbour there are some fishing huts selling local crafts and sweet treats. If you walk further along through the harbour you come to the fish markets which, even if you’re not keen on eating fish, are well worth a wander round as they’re selling a huge range of produce. Many of the fishmongers may also be happy to let you try local delicacies such as oysters or cockles if you’ve never had them before.

IMG_5596
Whitstable Harbour: @dane_rock

 

The Forge, 1 Sea Wall, CT5 1BX

I’m going out on a limb here to suggest that this was the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten! The Forge looks like a converted beach hut but don’t be fooled. It serves the crispiest, fluffiest chips I think I have ever eaten with the usual selection of fish. The real secret of this place, however, is that it sells deliciously fresh oysters and lobster as well. The half lobster and chips with salad for £13.50 was such a treat! Eating it on the beach in 23 degree heat felt as though we were truly on holiday!

IMG_5595
Lobster on the beach: @dane_rock

 

I also recommend taking a wander round Whitstable village and having a look in the shops or admiring the beautiful cottages. And if pretty cottages and the beach won’t suffice, Whitstable Castle and Gardens are well worth a visit.

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, we tended to veer towards homeware shops on this trip – early twenties going on middle-aged, clearly! This is by no means an extensive list of what’s available to see and do in Margate, and this post is not sponsored – just a selection of our favourite finds from last weekend.

IMG_5583
Our beautiful holiday apartment

I hope you have a great weekend and enjoy the sun – let’s hope it lasts!

 

Main photo: @edenmorse21

Mental Health Awareness Week

“Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see differences of the colours, but where exactly does one first blindingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.”

This quote from Billy Bud, Sailor by Herman Melville beautifully illustrates the idea that mental illness may exist as a continuum of varying severity among many of us.

Good mental health allows us to feel, think and behave in a way that enables us to thrive – enjoying our lives, but many of us will be affected by poor mental health in some way at some point in our lives. It can be debilitating to a point of not being able to leave the house, and can steal all enjoyment from our activities.

It is a topic that is being more widely spoken about, and the Royals only made the conversation louder by leading the Heads Together campaign. Mental health is a tricky topic to discuss for lots of us, with a huge stigma still attached to it, but it is something that gets better when spoken about.

With only a small minority of people reporting good mental health (Mental Health Foundation), it is important that we speak about it more and also engage in positive steps to improve our mental wellbeing. After reading various mental health charity websites and documents I thought I’d make a list of a few things that we can do regularly (if not every day) to improve our general mental wellbeing. I have also included a list of the resources I used for information on mental health.

  • Spend time with friends and family – this increases our sense of belonging and can improve mental wellbeing
  • Going for a walk (or being physically active in any way)
  • Spending time on your interests (maybe this is gardening, painting, cooking etc.) – as well as giving us relaxation time this can also become an opportunity to join groups and meet people with shared interests
  • Getting enough sleep – poor mental health can cause poor sleep, and poor sleep can influence mental health
  • Eating healthily – this can improve mood and energy levels, increase positive feelings and enable clearer thinking (my post ‘Improving mood through diet’ can be found here)
  • Learning new things – this can help us appreciate the ‘small wins’ such as trying out a new recipe, or reading about a new subject, making us feel proud of ourselves and increasing our self-esteem

 

If you are struggling with mental health problems please seek help from friends and family, your GP (or other health professional) and or by visiting some of the following websites for more information. You don’t need to suffer in silence.

 

BDA Food Facts – https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/foodmood.pdf

CALM – https://www.thecalmzone.net/

Heads Together – https://www.headstogether.org.uk/

Mental Health Foundation – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/

Young Minds – https://youngminds.org.uk/

 

Laura Thomas also recently focused on mental health on her podcast, Don’t Salt My Game. You can find the episode here.