Category Archives: Food

Whole30 for Beginners: My Experience

My Whole30 experienceIt’s been 10 days since I finished my first Whole30 and as it was such a positive experience I wanted to share it here, in case any of you are thinking of trying it for yourselves. This is going to be a long post so grab a cuppa –hold the milk – and take a seat while I chat about Whole30 for beginners.

If you haven’t heard of Whole30 before, it’s basically a healthy eating program that focuses on eating only whole foods like fruit, veggies, eggs, fish and meat (and forgoing sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes) for, you guessed it, 30 days. It is a very restrictive diet by modern standards (no pasta or bread for a month? Eek!) but I wanted to try it for several reasons.

The first was that I wanted to curb the amount of refined sugar I was eating. I know it’s now fashionable to renounce sugar but with good reason – I was craving the sweet stuff after every meal and didn’t like how reliant I was on it to cheer me up. I also felt like I’d reached a plateau with my body in terms of how it responded to exercise – despite working out up to six times a week for the last six months, I hadn’t seen many physical changes. Finally, I wondered if my diet could be the reason why I often feel bloated after dinner and that my skin hasn’t looked so hot for the last year or so.

Before you read on to find out how my first Whole30 experience went, let me preface this by saying that I have never dieted or made significant dietary changes in my life. Before our wedding I stopped drinking alcohol and went from eating macaroni cheese five nights a week to once a week – that’s about as dramatic as it gets. My willpower, especially when it comes to food, is pretty much non-existent, so these observations really are from a complete Whole30 newbie.

Whole30 meals for beginnersWeek One:

I decided that if I could make it past the seven day mark that I could go the distance. This week was hard but not as hard as I thought it would be – I didn’t suffer headaches or notice any strong sugar cravings, but I did get tired very easily. I checked out It Starts With Food from the library, jumped on the spiralizer bandwagon and realised that cauliflower and I got off on the wrong foot – it’s seriously tasty as a sauce and as an alternative to rice.

The one thing I would say about the Whole30 is that it’s basically impossible to do without eating meat or seafood. I don’t really like meat or eggs and I think my tiredness was a result of not getting enough animal protein.

Week Two:

Having introduced lots more seafood to my diet I felt a lot better this week. I wouldn’t say that I had more energy BUT my energy levels were consistent in the same way that they were pre-Whole30 – minus the constant snacking! By the end of the week I felt like I’d hit my stride with the program. I kept waiting to feel starving or a craving for sugar, but found myself feeling full and satisfied after lunches of sweet potato wedges and guacamole, and dinners of veggie bolognese on a bed of ‘courgetti’.

Whole30 meal photosWeek Three:

Dining out on the Whole30 proved tricky for me as I don’t eat meat or eggs, but I had some success with delicious salads at The Hall on Market Street, Prada 22 in Upper Haight and Blue Barn in the Marina. During this week we went to a music festival for the day and luckily I brought some fruit and nuts with me as the only option I had was a plain baked potato – on the plus side the queue for this food stall was nice and short! This is also the week that I noticed my clothes feeling a little looser. I’m not a fan of scales so this, and waking up with a flatter stomach, were good indicators of how the program was working.

Week Four:

I couldn’t believe I’d made it this far but something about being so close to the end meant that resisting temptation was harder this week. Apparently the last few days are often when participants see the most changes in their body and while my skin looked great and well hydrated, I also came down with a cold – typical!

Cold aside, I noticed so many positives in the final week. Over the 30 days I lost at least seven pounds (no exact figure as we don’t own any scales, so this is based on recent weigh-ins at the gym/doctors office), I dropped a dress size and my face looks a little slimmer. I don’t find myself craving sugar, my skin looks great, my energy levels are consistent, despite going from eating/snacking several times a day to sticking to three meals a day (for the most part), and I don’t feel bloated after every meal.

Whole30 mealsI’m currently in the middle of the reintroduction process, which I can blog about later if you’re interested in a Whole30 update, but for now my advice to anyone thinking about undertaking their own Whole30 would be to just do it! Also, pick up a copy of It Starts With Food by Whole30 founders Melissa and Dallas Hartwig before you start, as there are lots of detailed explanations in there as to how to get the most from the program and why certain foods can make you feel the way they do. If I can, you can, and even if the outcomes aren’t as dramatic as the ones in the book, giving your sugar addiction the boot has got to be a good thing, right?

Would you consider trying the Whole30? Perhaps you’ve already tried one and seen the benefits? Let me know in the comments!

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Girl vs Food: MvF San Francisco Edition

Man vs Food San Francisco resturantsA few years ago Man vs Food used to be my guilty TV pleasure. I wasn’t so much a fan of the challenges at the end of the programme – they always seemed grotesquely extravagant – but I loved seeing all the mini reviews of each American city’s best ‘pig out’ spots. Not exactly high brow I know, but what can I say? Seeing a slice of pizza the size of small child makes my mouth water.

Naturally, when I found out that we were moving here, I may have TiVo’d the Man vs Food San Francisco episode and watched it once or twice, not to mention scribbled the address of each participating establishment in our SF guidebook.

Blogging is about nothing if not documentation so I figured it was my duty to road-test each MvF eatery in the Bay Area. Here’s a mini review of San Francisco’s ‘best pig out’ spots, according to Adam Richman…

Ike’s Place / Sandwiches

The holy grail of sandwiches, I remember the queue snaking around the block for this unassuming sandwich shop on the show, and IRL it was exactly the same, both times we visited. The 10 minute wait was so worth it though – Ike and his crew know what makes a good sandwich. Both our sandwiches were epic in size and flavour and Ike’s has become one of our favourite lunch spots if we’re in the Castro. A word to the wise; make sure you’re really hungry before visiting – the portion sizes are huge!

Ike’s Place, 3489 16th St, Castro

Taqueria La Cumbre / Mexican

I was really looking forward to trying this mexican Mission joint, known for it’s supersize burritos, and although friends had said it had gone downhill a bit since the show aired, I was still eager as ever to try a (regular sized) burrito. Unfortunately the veggie burrito I plumped for (with refried beans, rice, salsa, cheese and guacamole) was distinctly average and nowhere near as nice as some of the other mexican delights I’ve had in the city. For want of a better word it was sloppy and lacking in flavour, so unfortunately Taqueria La Cumbre gets a thumbs down from me.

Taqueria La Cumbre, 515 Valencia Street, Mission

The San Francisco Creamery / Ice Cream

Technically in Walnut Creek, the home of the ‘kitchen sink’ challenge is east of the Bay, about an hour away from San Francisco. We stopped here after spending the day hiking up Mount Diablo so two huge scoops of ice cream (with hot fudge sauce and cookie dough pieces) felt like a very worthy treat indeed. While there I actually saw several sweet-toothed customers attempting the challenge MvF’s Adam took part in, and not one came close. I wish the SF Creamery was closer to the city as the ice cream selection is huge, there’s a great atmosphere in the restaurant (which serves savoury foodstuffs, too) and the staff were so friendly and helpful – letting us dithering Brits try as many flavours as we wanted from the ice cream bar.

San Francisco Creamery Co, 1370 Locust Street, Walnut Creek 

Please tell me I’m not the only one with a thing for Man vs Food? We’re off to New York next month so I may have to revisit the MvF New York episodes…

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Lazy Sunday Breakfast: Avocado & Pancetta Toast

Avocado toast recipeI think in the year and a bit that I’ve been on Instagram, I’ve posted avocado related photos around a thousand times. Shop-bought guacamole aside, I only tried avocado for the first time last summer, and since then I’ve become hooked on the stuff, most notably in the form of this recipe, which is my favourite breakfast to eat on a lazy weekend morning.

This recipe is super simple and although avocado toast seems to be quite fashionable at the moment, I can assure you that this recipe is far better than just using an avocado like butter, and came about by combining two over my favourite foods – cheese and avocados!

Avocado and pancetta toast ingredientsAvocado & Pancetta Toast

Two slices of wholegrain bread
One whole avocado
Six slices of mature cheddar
A handful of pancetta 
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to season

Mashed avocado with salt and pepper1. Toast the bread of your choice – I use Soya & Linseed bread by Burgen, but any will do. While the bread is toasting, fry the pancetta in a dash of olive oil until cooked.

2. Halve the avocado, discard the stone and scoop the contents into a bowl. I like to use a whole avocado in this recipe because I’m greedy, but if you prefer you can just use half.* Add a little salt and pepper and drizzle the bowl with olive oil. You don’t need much, as avocados are packed with natural oils, but this just helps loosen it a bit. Take a fork and lightly mash the avocado.

3. Once the bread has been toasted, layer it with slices of cheddar, then spoon on the mashed avocado and spread evenly across each slice. Add the cooked pancetta on top and now you’re ready to serve your avocado toast!

Avocado toast on Sophie Conran chopping boardWhen we have guests I whip out this beautiful board, sent to me by Sophie Conran, to serve the toast on, and although its purpose in life is to be chopped on, I think it’s far too pretty, hence why it’s become my favourite serving platter**.

The boards are actually a collaboration between Sophie and the Bristol-based company T&G, and come inscribed with ‘made with love’ and ‘make every day a beautiful day’, both of which are perfectly suited to serving home baked treats on. Any excuse to make another batch of brownies…

*Seriously? You don’t want the whole thing? You have more willpower than me. If you want to find a way to stop the other half of your avocado going brown and funky, check out this post by A Thrifty Mrs.
**You know you’re getting older when you start professing your love for serving platters…

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Hummingbird Bakery Brownies

Hummingbird Bakery brownies | Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion

It seems the humble chocolate brownie is experiencing something of a moment in the blogging world, as I’ve seen several delicious-looking recipe posts recently! Becca gave hers an Easter twist, and Sophie combined brownies with creme eggs – how good do they look!?

I find baking quite theraputic, particularly on Sunday evenings. It’s calming, takes my mind off the pre-Monday blues and it results in plenty of sweet 3pm treats for the week ahead. My go-to is baking a batch of The Hummingbird Bakery brownies. They’re simple to make, rich in flavour and ridiculously gooey.

My twist on the recipe uses half unsalted butter, half Stork (it’s a throwback ingredient to the days when my mum and I used bake together every weekend) and while this recipe is for traditional brownies, I sometimes like to add in broken up Kinder bars, Oreos or even peanut butter, for that sweet/salty taste.

Brownies on floral side plate | Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion

Hummingbird Bakery Brownies

  • 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g unsalted butter + 75g Stork
  • 325g caster sugar
  • 130g plain flower
  • 3 (medium) eggs
  • Optional extras: 6 crushed Oreos, 4 roughly chopped Kinder bars (or eggs, what with it being Easter weekend and all) or 2 table spoons of peanut butter

Preheat your oven to 170°c and line a 16in x 16in baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Put the chocolate, butter and Stork in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and leave until melted. Crack your three eggs into a separate bowl and whisk until smooth.

Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Add the flour until well incorporated and then add in the egg mixture. Use a spatula to remove any mixture clinging to the side of the bowl and stir until all mix is thick and smooth.

If you’re using any optional extras, pour half the mixture into your lined baking tray and evenly spread your Oreos, Kinder chunks or peanut butter across the brownie mix, before pouring the rest of the mixture on top.

Place in the oven. The official HB recipe says to cook for 30-35 minutes but I bake mine for 25 minutes for a gooey finish. Leave to cool completely before turning out onto a plate – paper doily optional!

These brownies are so tasty and the perfect cure to mourning the end of a four day weekend. Have you tried any Hummingbird Bakery recipes? If you have a brownie recipe you swear by let me know in the comments below.

Gooey Hummingbird Bakery brownies | Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion

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