Month: September 2016

Tomatoes and Mozzarella with Creamy Homemade Pesto (or toms on toast…)

Tomatoes and Mozzarella with Creamy Homemade Pesto (or toms on toast…)

Tomatoes and Mozzarella. An all time favourite; a classic. Easily adaptable but always juicey- it’s the Romeo & Juliet of the culinary world.

After publishing my recipe for Harissa-Roast Aubergine and Spiralized Greek Salad, I suddenly realised that the majority of my recipes, although uncomplicated in principle, seem to involve several ingredients and lots of fiddly tasks. Not to mention a whole load of washing up afterwards.

This salad (or sandwich if you opt for the toast version – which I’d advise that you do at least once) is the opposite. Barely any ingredients and nothing you wouldn’t necessarily have in a store cupboard (except, perhaps, the pine nuts). It’s as simple as it is tasty.

Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Tomatoes and Mozzarella with Creamy Pesto (or tomatoes on toast)

 

Ingredients

  • 4-5 Large Tomatoes
  • 150-200g Fresh Mozzarella
  • 2 Large Handfuls of Fresh, Washed Spinach
  • Toasted Dark Rye Bread, to serve (optional)

Tomatoes and Mozzarella

For the Pesto

  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 50 ml Olive Oil
  • 3 Large Handfuls of Fresh Basil
  • 20 grams Pine Nuts
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • A splash of water
  • Salt & Pepper to season

untitled-design-7

Method

Put the spinach into a bowl. Drain the mozzarella of any excess liquid and slice into circles, approximately 1cm in thickness/depth. Cut the tomatoes into similar rounds and arrange both the tomatoes & mozzarella on top of the spinach.

For the pesto, simply bung the whole lot of ingredients into a blender, and blitz until creamy. This is a cheat’s way of doing things, and creates a lovely smooth, sauce-like pesto. If you prefer something more traditional and chunky, you’d have to go for the old-fashioned method, with a pestle and mortar.

untitled-design-4

Drizzle the pesto over the tomatoes and mozzarella, and whether you choose a bowl or a slice of hot and crunchy toast, it’ll be equally delicious.

untitled-design

The thing to remember about homemade pesto is that all the ingredients are fresh, so the flavour is very strong; much more so than what you get in shop-bought jars. This means that you barely need any for the flavours to come across – just a few splodges here and there.

Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Workout like Beyonce – with Seen on Screen

Workout like Beyonce – with Seen on Screen

My best friend and I have this tradition that every year for our birthdays’, rather than buying a physical gift, we’ll organise a trip, or something to do together. It’s such a nice idea because it means that we dedicate at least a whole day to catching up, spending quality time together and doing something different and fun.

For my birthday, which was back in May, she booked our place in the London 2016 Summer Colour Run. The whole day was just so much fun, from the face-painting getting ready, to the actual multicolored madness that was the race-course, to the unlimited free skittles at the end.

This meant that the pressure was really on this year for me to find something for us to do that would be just as exciting and memorable.

Luckily, I found out about Seen on Screen just in time – about a week or so before Chloe’s birthday. Seen on Screen Fitness are a London-based company who run classes, masterclasses and workshops based on the choreography from popular music artists. The moment that I saw the timetable, I knew that this was the perfect gift for both of us.

Without hesitation, I booked both Chloe and myself onto a one-and-a-half hour weekend Beyonce workshop.

Workout like Beyonce with Seen on Screen

girlboss beyonce

The Location

Seen on Screen have a variety of studios and locations that they use across London – and they’ve also just opened in Manchester.

Our workshop took place at the central YMCA in Tottenham court road. As the largest gym in central London, this YMCA boasts four floors, a swimming pool and a huge, fully-equipped gym, as well as several studios and other facilities.

It’s a good thing our studio was so big because there were approximately 25-30 people in the class. This made for a great atmosphere, particularly at the end when we were split into smaller groups to perform the routine in front of a substantial, cheering audience. The only thing about such large classes is that there was minimal (if any) individual attention – and unless you stand right at the front it can be difficult to see the instructor and follow what’s going on.

Nonetheless, with a disco-ball and flashy lights, you could certainly get in the zone and have a truly different and exciting exercise experience.

Beyonce Studio

 

The Choreography

We had no idea what to expect when we first walked in. Both of us have significant, but very varied dance experience, Chloe’s street-dance, gymnastics and contemporary upbringing being vastly different to my own ballet-background.

The workshop offered four short routines to four different Beyonce tracks, which were merged at the end to create one long routine. It was a great way to do it, as you didn’t get bored of dancing to the same song for an hour and a half and really got your money’s worth of “Beyonce Girl Boss” – which is what we’d signed up for. I’d have liked for the workshop to be a little longer – perhaps two hours – just so that we could have spent a bit more time practising and perfecting each excerpt.

The tracks that were chosen were Bow Down, Run the World (Girls), Survivor and Freedom. This offered a nicely varied routine, with the first two tracks being more upbeat and the latter being much more lyrical and slow.

The actual choreography was easily adaptable for mixed abilities and completely open to individual interpretation. Most of all, however, it was just great fun – similar to dancing around in your living room but with a tad more structure and style!

Beyonce

The Teacher

Kelechi Nwanokwu was our instructor for Sunday’s workshop, and when it finished, both Chloe and I walked out of the studio and immediately said, wow, she was amazing.

Completely chilled and funny, she didn’t seem to let anything faze her. The class was fast paced, but not rushed, and we were immediately launched into an energetic warm-up/stretch routine that got us ready and raring to go. During the choreography, each move was explained clearly and with enough detail- but the focus was very much on feeling and style, rather than precision or technique.

If anyone was embarrassed or self-conscious at the beginning of the class, this quickly disappeared with Kelechi’s carefree attitude. By the time we did the final routine, everyone’s inner-Beyonce-diva was clearly on display.

Overall

I would absolutely recommend Seen on Screen for anyone living in or visiting London. Whether you’re looking to get fit, try something new, or if you’re a dancer who feels a bit out of practice, this is a fantastic way to keep fit, develop your coordination and unleash your secret pop-artist all at the same time. With a range of classes to choose from, it’s up to you to choose between a dance class, a fitness class or a mixture of the two.

Believe it or not, it’s a bit more fun than dragging yourself out of bed on the weekend to go to body pump. After all, I know few better ways to spend a Sunday than dancing around to Beyonce with your best friend.

Beyonce Workout

6 Reasons to Workout in the Morning

6 Reasons to Workout in the Morning

I have always been a morning person. It’s when I’m the most alert, the most productive, the most energetic. I was that annoying kid who’d be bugging their parents in the early hours of the morning because I couldn’t sleep – so why should they?

Often, even when it’s the weekend and I’m allowed, for once, to lie in and relax in bed and do nothing all day, I still find myself up, showered, dressed and faffing about all before 8am.

It’s because of this, of course, that most of the time my daily workout is done and dusted before I even get to work. Not always, of course, but I have genuinely grown to love my morning workouts and I do miss them when they get skipped or surrendered.

I know that this is where I differ from a lot of people. My boyfriend is one of them- he’s still lying in bed whilst I’m bouncing about like the duracell bunny and then in the evening he’s completely smashing out his sets whilst I’ve run out of battery.

Nonetheless, there are some genuine, solid reasons why that morning workout is a great addition to your daily routine.

 

6 Reasons to Workout in the Morning

Morning Workouts

1) You don’t have anything to think about

I mean that’s obviously not quite true – but what I mean is that it’s your first activity of the day – the first thing that you’re focusing on. You’ve not got those niggly work emails still in the back of your mind and you’re not worrying yet about that to-do list that you haven’t quite ticked off. It’s just you, yourself, and your training and that’s all you need to worry about. Really focusing in on your sets and your technique will ensure that you have a truly productive session.

2) It gets it out the way

If you’re not a morning person and you can’t think of anything worse than setting your alarm for 6am, then think of it this way – if you workout in the morning then that’s it. Done. Out the way. I mean, sure, you might decide to be truly hardcore and go again, but anything more is just a bonus. Working out first thing in the morning means that by the time you’re done with work you can go home and relax – or be social and say yes to those after work drinks.

3) It makes you appreciate the small things

2016goals

 

This is a bit of a convoluted point, and maybe it’s just me, but there is something really refreshing about getting up at the crack of dawn and doing some good, old fashioned exercise. I’ve been getting up super-early and walking 45 minutes to the gym over the past week or so. It’s been long, but I’ve actually really enjoyed it. Even though, living in London, the streets are never completely deserted there’s still this peaceful tranquility at that time in the morning. It’s like the calm before the rush-hour storm and you can actually appreciate the sun rising instead ofbeing preoccupied by the hasty commute to work, trying to do your make-up and eat your breakfast whilst precariously hanging onto the handles on the bus.

 

4) You’re more awake

Everyone thinks that exercise is tiring, which in a way is true – especially if you push yourself to fatigue. But really think about what exercise is doing to your body. It increases your heart rate, it gets your blood flowing, it warms up your muscles. This is why after refueling and recovering from your session with food, water and protein you often feel much more energised and alert. I know that for me, I am ten times more productive and awake at work if I’ve been to the gym in the morning. It’s actually on the days that I lie in bed a little longer and skip the workout that I end up falling asleep at my desk, still groggy and half-dreaming. Plus, making sure you fit a good workout into your day means you’ll sleep better at night- allowing you to fully recover and feel full of beans the next day.

 

5) You’re more positive

When you exercise you’re putting your body under a form of stress. This triggers the brain to release endorphins, which is our bodies’ way of responding to that stress. These endorphins reduce our perception of pain, and are responsible for that elated, euphoric feeling that you get after physical exertion.

What better way to start the day than with a big release of “happy chemicals”?

Morning Workouts

6) The gym is less busy

Call me antisocial, but this is without a doubt one of my favourite reasons for going to the gym in the morning. With the current fitness trends that are booming all over the world, it’s pretty rare to be rewarded with a completely empty gym floor especially in a busy city like london. Even at 6am the professional-gym bunnies are sweating away on the treadmill. Still, in my experience I’ve found that the morning rush hour is significantly less crowded than the evening, post-work rush hour. When you get on all the machines and equipment that you want right away then you don’t have to waste time thinking of variations…plus I hate having to queue for the showers.

Morning Workouts