There’s no sugar in my coffee anymore!

I’m a zombie without coffee, and it usually takes a couple of cups to get me going in the morning – with warmed frothy milk and 2 spoons of sugar. And that’s just in the morning! I’m also a massive tea junkie, and will always have a mug on the go.

I track all my calories using My Fitness Pal, but I wasn’t logging how much added sugar I was consuming in my hot drinks, and I’ve been consuming so many empty calories.

Someone once told me it takes 3 weeks to kick a habit and for your taste buds to change. I won’t lie, it was tough (especially after the Christmas party and all you can think about it have a sugary coffee to get your through the day).

I didn’t go completely cold turkey, first I made the change to just using sweetener, and then from two spoons to only one. Then finally, this December I decided to get rid of it completely. Since cutting down sugar my skin has gotten notably clearer and I’m much more alert – no more 3pm crash for me!

Here are my top three tips if you’re considering doing the same:

  1. Drink loads of water and also stop drinking fizzy drinks, otherwise you’ll end up replacing your sugary hot drinks for those instead (which are just as bad!)
  2. When you cut out sugar you mind find yourself reaching for sugary cereals. Start your day with a healthy breakfast, I usually have Avocado on Toast or a bowl of Porridge.
  3. Use full-fat milk and dairy. The low-fat stuff is usually sweetened and has a lower levels of vitamins.
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A Break from the Daily Grind | Clerkenwell Grind

Earlier this week Grind opened their latest joint, Clerkenwell Grind. It’s spread out over two floors, and features their biggest restaurant to date and a late-night club/bar. Scott and I went during their soft launch and bagged ourseleves a table on a Wednesday night after work. It’s literally around the corner from where I work in the Barbican and Scott greeted me with one of their legendary Espresso Martinis.

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I love the look and feel of the the space, and is located in an old warehouse building on Old Street. You’re greated with one of their signature neon signs before heading into the restaurant which is decorated with beautiful plush pink velvet chairs, marble table tops, royal blue pannelling, which is all complimented with golden lights.

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There’s always bound to be a few hiccups during a soft launch, and there were quite a few items on the dinner menu which were no longer available. I was disappointed when I heard that they had run out of both the starters I had really wanted – the octopus and scallop, so instead I opted for the beef tartare and Scott went for the fig and black boar speck on toast. I love beef tartare and adored the gimmick of the egg yolk served in half an egg shell.

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Between courses we ordered a side of potato skins and unfortantely they weren’t crisp enough and tasted rather bland so we had to add quite a fair bit of salt.

Moving onto mains, I had the sweet potato harissa cakes topped with a poached duck egg and Scott had the bavette steak and had orginally ordered a side of chips. As the food was being served we were told that the chef was not happy with the chips so instead we recieved a bowl of sweet potato flavoured with truffle and garlic.

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My poached egg was perfectly runny but the sweet potato cake was a bit too oily for my taste. Scott was not impressed with his Chimichurri sauce either yet the steak was beautifully cooked and was served pink in the middle.

I love the fact this coffee bar is a five minute walk away from my day job so to say I was exicted by its arrival was an understantment, there’s not a huge amount of variety near the Barbican – I’m so spoilt by Pret and Pizza Express. I’ll never complain about a lack of decent places to eat and drink near the Barbican again and if I can drag my arse out of bed a bit earlier, I could always pop in for breakfast before work.

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Clerkenwell Grind, 2-4 Old Street, EC1V 9AA

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The Best Places for Matcha in London

Matcha, to most people, is just green tea. Over the past couple of month’s it has been one of those ingredients which has just exploded over the London food and drink scene – who doesn’t love a matcha latte? Their sweet, creamy and healthy, and they’re the perfect alternative to my morning coffee. In my bid to move away from the Pumpkin Spiced Lattes from Starbucks I’ve found some of the best matcha lattes in London.

EC1 Coffee House

I’ve been known to take a detour on my way to work and get off the tube a stop early to get my matcha fix from here. It’s a tiny space with a few seats but it’s the perfect spot to grab a coffee to go from.

Look Mum, No Hands

I love the concept of this cafe – it’s basically a cycling shop with amazing coffee and a great selection of beers. I love coming here in my lunch hour, loosing myself in a good book and sipping on a creamy matcha latte.

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Notes

If you’ve never had matcha before, Notes should be the first place to try it. Their lattes are fairly sweet – which is why it’s the perfect place for your first taste.

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Grind

If you can’t already tell, I seriously love Grind. They’ve only just started doing matcha lattes and they’re nailing it. I can’t wait for them to open up their Clerkenwell branch as it’s literally just up the road from where I work.

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Tombo

Now no London matcha post can be written without mentioning Tombo. They have both a Japanese Cafe and Deli in Chelsea, and a Poké Bar in SoHo. It’s not only matcha lattes you can get here – try their matcha soft serve, matcha brownies and matcha cheesecake!

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Velvet Lattes at Palm Vaults

When I first spotted Palm Vaults over on Instagram, they jumped straight up to the top of my ‘places to visit’ list. It’s a picture-perfect independent coffee shop and although the place only opened recently, it’s already bustling. I look the mini pilgrimage to Hackney with my friend Serena to check out what the all the fuss is about.

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It’s a house plant heaven, with pink velvet seats, pink marble tables, with touches of gold – a barbie’s paradise. It’s a beacon of pink against the mundane Hackney highstreet, and as you step inside you’re thrown back to Miami in the 1970s. I thought I’d find it quite kitsch, but I completely love it.

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I opted for their most instagramed drink, the velvet latte, along with a side of avocado toast. It’s made with beetroot and if you love matcha, you’re going to relish this. They’re also known for their eclectic menu of smoothies and juices – which are incredibility refreshing.

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We were also tempted by their variety of cakes and naughty treats, and Serena went for their avocado chocolate cake, whereas I went for the salted caramel banana cake (after all, I couldn’t resist). Their cakes were SO good, plus the portions were huge! I’m gutted to say I wasn’t able to finish it all.

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Palm Vaults, 411 Mare St, London E8 1HY

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One of my favourite brunch spots; Caravan

A couple of years ago if someone suggested to go to Kings Cross for food I’d think , ‘hmm, what’s there though?’ These days you’ve got the likes of Granger & Co, Grain Store, Vinoteca, and of course, Caravan.

Caravan is housed in the stunning old Victorian grain store and was the first restaurant to open within the king’s cross partnership development behind the station. The restaurant itself is completely designed with the building’s history in mind with a soft industrial dinning room and they’ve combined it with an open kitchen – which is visible but separated by a wire  mesh. It’s raw walls, an exposed ventilation system overhead, blond wood tables all add to the industrial feel of the restaurant. Behind the bar there’s a no-man’s land of equipment – presumably for roasting and grinding fresh coffee beans.

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It’s a hive of activity – I’ve been here once for a Christmas party and twice for brunch now. But brunch is what Caravan does best, and it’s no wonder you can sometimes wait up to an hour for a table.

They have simple options of toasts with toppings such as cheddar and onion jam, or crushed avocado with lemon and chilli – to jalapeno cornbreads served with fried eggs, salsa and creme fraiche, or confit trout, jersey royals, peas and a curry mayonnaise.

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Last weekend I have the pleasure of introducing my bestfriend from university to the delights of Caravan, as of course I had to show her some of the best London can offer. We were seated on a table the the door – but after a couple of belinis we could no longer feel the draught.

After pondering over their menu for what seemed like decades, I chose the sweet potato and cumin waffle which is topped with cucumber raita, mango puree and coconut. Emily went for the aubergine puree, poached eggs, sourdough and sausage.

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The flavours in my dish complimented each other perfectly – the sweetness of the mango being balanced by the cucumber raita.

Emily’s Turkish-inspired dish consists of a wonderfully smokey flavour which the sausage adding the needed saltiness. The eggs were overcooked but she raved about the food nonetheless.

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Their avocado on sourdough toast is also to die for – it’s just a simple dish but it’s done so well, and there’s no skimping on the avocado either!

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I honestly can’t sing Caraven’s  praises enough – it’s the perfect spot for brunch with dishes that will set you up for the whole day.

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Caravan, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA

 

Brunch at Fink’s Salt and Sweet

I have a confession. I’m addicted to avocado toast. I literally just love it so much. I have it everyday for breakfast without fail and Fink’s Salt and Sweet is the perfect place for me to get my avocado fix.

It’s an unassuming little place and is just a short stroll from Finsbury Park station. Scott and I arrived on early last Saturday and the place was already filling up quite nicely. We scored a perfect little spot by the window.

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The place itself is rather small and has space for around 35 people. The interior is gorgeous and welcoming, and they use beautiful turquoise crockery (I’d love to buy a set when I finally have my own place!)

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Their weekend menu is my kind of menu – it’s got alot of unusual combinations you don’t really see elsewhere, quality ingredients, affordable prices and no greasy fry ups. Of course, I opted for the avocado toast. There’s harissa spread on the toast which comes fresh from Balthazar, there’s a generous serving of avocado and then there’s a thick slice of chevre on each slice. It’s so perfect I’ve tried to remake it at home, and at £5 it’s crazy good value.

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Scott went for the Wiltshire ham and Snowdonian cheddar and apple butter on English muffins – from what I can gather it was delicious as he wolfed in down before I even got the chance to get my camera out.

I’ve heard people rave about their salmon board which comes with smoked salmon, salmon pate, beetroot, crackers, seaweed and goats curd – not your standard brunch option but I can’t wait to go back and try it.

finks popcorn

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There’s also some sweet treats to tempt you and their maple pecan sticky bun is a staple. Last weekend they were also serving a salted popcorn cake which I was seriously tempted by. Next time, I’ll definitely leave room for desert.
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Fink’s Salt and Sweet, 70 Mountgrove Rd, London N5 2LT