Groceries for Myself

‘Ello eaters!

It’s been a bit of a busy day, but yesterday was another lovely Sunday, so let’s talk about that. I really think that Sunday might be my new favorite day of the week.

There’s just something about Sunday, which is when I go about getting myself ready for the week, that just feels so full of potential and good intentions.

Speaking of good intentions — yesterday I took a big step towards making good on my good intention of eating healthier.

I bought my own groceries.

Yes eaters, you heard that right.

As I’ve mention before, I was cooking for all my flatmates in exchange for them paying for the food. It may sound like a pretty sweet deal, but when everyone is on a different schedule, with different tastes and allergies, it gets frustrating. Add on top of that the fact that I like weird foods — you know, like quinoa and bell peppers and beans — and it ends up being far more of a struggle than it’s worth.

As a result of the struggle, I’ve barely been cooking.

Yes eaters, possibly the world’s most frugal ‘Baby has been eating out way way too much.

And that ends now.

I don’t need to be eating out everyday. I don’t need to be grabbing sandwiches and living off eggs and yogurt.

So yesterday morning, with Papa and Co in tow, I hit up Marylebone market.

And together we browsed and sampled and ate a fresh, juicy, o’m’gasmic (free range, organic) sausage and onion sandwich.

Oh, and I bought some food.

Loot:

Isn’t it all so pretty?

Organic kale, organic purple sprouting broccoli, organic free range eggs, organic double Gloucester cheese, organic pears, organic parsnips.

Did you notice that, eaters?

Everything was organic! And local! And I’m thrilled to death by it.

Next, I hit up Whole Foods for the other miscellaneous things that I needed.

Loot:

Organic soymilk, lemon x5, organic quinoa, honey, tofu, organic Dijon mustard.

Now who wants to take a guess as to how much all of this cost?

£24. Boom!

Yeah, I don’t quite know if that’s good. I’m still learning about how much things cost here, so I don’t have a set weekly budget, but I think this is pretty good.

At least it’s cheaper than eating out all the time, right?

Right!

And now I’m super excited to cook this week.

What about you, eaters:

What’s your favorite day of the week and why?

Do you shop at multiple stores or do you like a one-stop shop?

Later eaters!

Oh Bumpkin!

Hello sweet sweet eaters!

How the hell are all of you?

I’m doing oh so freaking wonderfully. It’s actually ridiculous how happy I am.

Ya see eaters, Papa and Co have been in town all weekend.

Having them in town has really made me realize just how lucky I am — not just to be in London but in my whole dang life.

And since tonight was the family’s last night in town, I felt it only fitting that I take them to what might just be my favorite restaurant.

This is an absolutely lovely restaurant right around the corner from my flat (though there are a couple of other locations around the westend of London). As you can see from the menu, their traditional English menu features almost exclusively local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients.

Did I mention how lucky I am?

Unfortunately, Bumpkin seems to be a bit of a victim to their sustainability, because both times I’ve been they have been out of about a half dozen items. That hasn’t hampered my enjoyment, but it could quickly get annoying.

Anyway…

We started the meal off with a round of drinks and bread.

Bumpkin lager.

Last time I ordered the Bumpkin Ale, so this time I went with their house lager. Call me uneducated, but I couldn’t tell much of a difference.

Lagers are supposed to be a bit heavier and darker than ales, right?

Oh well, it was still enjoyable, as was the bread.

Bread with flaxseeds, butter, and linseed oil.

But while carbo loading is lovely, I was most excited for my main.

While I don’t like how much meat I’ve been eating, I certainly couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have local venison. And believe me, I made the right decision.

Roasted haunch of venison in Dorston sloe gin and juniper sauce with buttered cabbage kale and honey roasted parsnips.

The outside had a nice crisp layer and the inside, while it was firm as to be expected from venison, it could still melt in your mouth.

And the sauce…Oh the sauce! Every bite had just enough (or maybe just not quite enough) to make it tantalizingly tangy and savory.

Yes eaters, this sauce was the definition of savory.

My only complaint with the dish was the kale. Maybe dino kale would have worked better. But there was definitely something about the chew of the kale that just didn’t mesh.

Despite almost cleaning my plate, I still had room for dessert. Because when you know what you’re going to get for dessert before you even sit down, you always have room.

The last time I was here was the first time I ever had sticky toffee pudding. (They were also out of the traditional vanilla ice cream last time, too.) so really, I have nothing to compare this to.

Carmel sticky toffee pudding with vanilla chocolate ice cream.

The only thing I know is that I love it, with every tastebud in my mouth. It was decadent and soft. The play of the hot pudding and the cold ice cream was almost literally orgasmic.

(Get your mind out of the gutter, eaters, I was with my family.)

The only thing that could have kicked this up to literally orgasmic would have been the lightest sprinkling of salt.

But again, I practically licked my plate clean so I really can’t complain.

And that’s all she wrote ordered.

Your turn, eaters:

What do you do when restaurants run out of what you were going to order?

What was the last almost orgasmic thing you ate?

G’night eaters!

A WFs How-To

Hi eaters!

It’s a lovely day over here. The family is here. The sun is shining. And I found another pair of clean undies, which means I don’t have to do laundry yet.

Does it get much better than that?

Well yes, it does, because this morning I got a budget friendly Whole Foods tour.

Yeah, remember that blog post I wrote a week or so ago about how I need to learn to shop frugally at Whole Foods now that I live near one?

Well someone from WFs at Kensington (the one closest to me, which also happens to be the biggest and first WFs in the UK) tweeted at me about setting up a private store tour.

Can you say blogging and social media FTW?!?!

(Okay, I’ll try to stop being an ass now.)

So this morning m’mate Cate and I met up with Jenny, a manager at WFs, to see all the ways WFs is affordable.

Blood oranges are a Market Deal this month.

First, no one in the UK ever calls WFs “Whole Paycheck.” Apparently, that’s strictly an American/Ex Pat thing. (As is putting the period inside the quotation marks. Yes, I am a grammar nerd.)

The first place that Jenny took us on our tour was the lobby, because that’s where the Market Deals flyer is. Every WFs has Market Deals, which are month-long sales. There are flyers at the front of the store and online (so you can plan ahead).

Yes, this store is three stories.

In addition to the monthly deals, WFs also has weekly deals, which you find around the store.

Big tip — Jenny said that the weekly deals change on Wednesdays. So if you want to be the first to get a sale item, then shop on Wednesday.

A sale on actually good meat is a beautiful thing.

From there she toured us around the store, pointing out orange sale signs.

I was actually pretty shocked by just how many sales there were, and Jenny says that it’s totally normal for them to have a ton.

Possibly the coolest thing that Jenny showed me was the Wine Hub.

Apparently this is a pretty new addition, and I don’t think they have them in many stores. But it’s a cool way to taste wines.

You simply buy a card, stick it in the machine, and try as much of as many wines as your heart desires.

Pretty darn cool, right?

Because as Jenny said, “If you’re going to spend £65 on a bottle of wine, you should get to try it first.”

So here are the bullet points:

  • Shop on Wednesdays to get first-pick of sale items.
  • Check online for the monthly Market Deals.
  • Look for orange and red signs — they’re everywhere.
  • Make bulk bins your best friend.
  • The aisle-heads (those big displays at the ends of each aisle) usually highlight sales, not impulse buys.

    A mountain of mango slices.

But possibly the most important thing I got from this morning — stop comparing WFs to other grocery stores. You can’t get the same quality and variety at Stop N Shop (or the UK equivalent — Sainsbury).

Oh, and in most big cities WFs offers free deliveries on orders over a certain amount. (In London, it’s over £50.)

So there you have it, eaters — a little how-to for WFs. And if all else fails, just eat giant meringues.

Oh giant meringues, you are so pretty.

Your turn:

Do you shop at WFs?

What do you love most about WFs (if anything)?

G’night eaters!

WIAW: PB

‘Ello eaters!

Happy hump day to you!

Today is actually a pretty wonderful day for me, because Papa and Co are visiting! They decided that a semester was too long to go without seeing me to use me as an excuse to visit London and just got into town this morning.

Yeah, I’m thrilled.

But enough of my personal life. Time for real talk. By which I mean, WIAW.

(For some reason the cool graphic isn’t working.)

Breakfast:

This was spinach scrambled eggs and an orange.

I forgot to take a picture until I was done, but you all know what eggs look like.

Oh, and I’m absolutely loving oranges right now. I eat at least one a day.

Lunch:

After spending a bit of time in a coffee shop working, I met up with m’mate for lunch. We both got super excited when we passed this place that looked like a Chipotle-type place. And then we got our food.

Beyond lackluster rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, lettuce, guac, and salsas.

The rice was plain and watery. The beans were bland. And everything was so…small.

This may have been my first Mexican food experience in London, but from what I hear this is much what to expect.

Snack:

This is what a kilo of PB looks like.

On our way back from lunch Cate and I swung by WF to pick up peanut butter.

Yesterday was National PB Day and while I’m not in America, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate.

So I mixed pb (1 c), sugar (~1/2 c), and egg (1), spooned it onto a cookie sheet and after 10 minutes at 350F (~176C), I had a dozen delicious cookies.

Rest assured eaters, between my three ‘mates and I, that plate was clean by the end of the day.

And then we made a second batch.

Dinner:

Leftover vegetable, rice noodle soup with an egg.

I love leftovers. They’re really great.

And you can bet that some more PB cookies followed dinner.

So that’s about it, eaters. I ate a lot of varied foods in addition to a lot of pb. I actually don’t remember the last time I had any kind of nut butter, so this one was extra special.

Your turn:

Did you celebrate National Peanut Butter Day?

For those of you with peanut allergies, do you try to find substitutes (soynut butter, sunflower seed butter, etc) or do you just go without?

Later eaters!

FitFluential

Greetings eaters!

It’s a rainy day here in old London town. Normally, on a day like this — when it’s grey and wet and I don’t have class — I would be tempted to curl up on the couch with a cup of something warm and a full Netflix queue.

But I don’t have anything warm to drink in my flat. Oh, and I’m trying to be less of a lazy bum all the time.

Ya see eaters, I recently had what I like to call a “d’oh revelation.”

A d’oh revelation is when you get hit over the head with a realization that is so painfully obvious you’re almost embarrassed by it.

So what was my d’oh revelation?

Fitness is a lifestyle, not a state of being.

Like I said, it’s almost embarrassing.

Allow me to explain: If you had told me even a year ago that I would be publicly committing myself to a high-intensity, plyo-centric workout challenge, I would have called you a masochist.

A year ago I was still battling my shitty shins. A year ago I hadn’t even begun to battle my not good knee. A year ago I was still doing curls with a 5lbs weight.

Almost exactly a year ago.

But despite all of that, I thought I was fit. And I was fit…er than I had been two years ago.

And right now, I think I’m pretty fit. Last night I busted out 21 push-ups with my feet on a stability ball in 50 seconds. I also did 19 tuck jumps in 50 seconds. Both of those things seem pretty hardcore to me. I have a feeling, though, that by the time I’ve completed my 30 days, even those accomplishments will seem like something a toddler could do.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down, eaters?

There’s always room for improvement. I can always push harder and get stronger. AND that means you can, too!

Because, while I am working out for me heath, I don’t write about it for my health.

Oh no eaters, I write about it for YOUR health.

Ya see eaters, I hope that by seeing my struggles to workout, but my (usually constant) commitment to beasting it in the gym (and up the stairs of my sixth floor walk-up), you get inspired to do something, anything, to get your heart pumping.

If, through my writing, I can get one person to start upping their activity, I’ll consider all my hard work worth it.

If I can get one person to step away from the elliptical and pick up a weight, I’ll be through the roof ecstatic.

If I can get one person to make commercial breaks into fitness breaks, I’ll be so freaking jazzed.

If I can be even the least bit fitfluential, I’ll know that I’m doing something right.

That’s why I write all this eaters — to try and inspire someone, anyone, everyone to do just a little bit more. And soon I hope to branch out from this wonderful little nook to bigger things.

Now, that’s not my way of saying that I’m in anyway leaving FoodBaby. That’s my way of saying that hopefully, sooner rather than later, you’ll see my name in all those wonderful magazines that always offer tips to firm this and tighten that and shrink the other thing.

I may not have an inspirational story about getting my body back after having triplets or got motivated to amp up my workouts just in time for my class reunion.

But hopefully I know enough to give you eaters the confidence and know-how to work harder, or start working out; to eat healthier and realize that cardboard isn’t included in a healthy diet.

Because, believe me, if I ever get the chance inspire people to beast it on a huge scale like that, super jazzed wouldn’t even begin to cover it.

So big cool magazine editors, don’t you want me to write for you?

And awesomely cool eaters, don’t you think it would be cool to see me in print (that is, besides when you print off my posts and tape them to your fridge because they’re just that wonderful)?

Later eaters!

Beer Me, Please

Hi eaters!

No time to talk tonight. It’s been a long day. Day 3 of the BodyRock challenge coupled with endless steps and stairs has left my body beyond exhausted.

So exhausted, in fact, that I passed on going to Chinatown to see all the Chinese New Years festivities.

Instead, I’ve got a date with these two.

A couple of British IPAs.

And maybe some of this.

We eat entirely too much cheese in my flat.

Because sometimes, you just need the pub to come to you. And carbs are good for refueling after a workout, right?

Your turn:

What are you doing tonight?

What was the last good beer you had?

Later eaters!

I Have Accepted the Challenge

Hiya eaters!

It’s Sunday afternoon/night (depending on where you are) so I guess it’s time to start getting back into the swing of things.

I’m actually looking forward to a week of my quiet routine, because after a weekend of dancing too much all the time and staying up until the wee hours, I’m craving bedtimes and spinach scrambled eggs.

(I’ll try and muse about this soon. And by soon, I mean as soon as my ‘mate uploads her pictures.)

But you’ll be happy to know that my exhaustion and need for proper fuel isn’t entirely because I party hard.

(Will you be happy to know that? Maybe you actually find it amusing that I’m a bit of a happy hot mess sometimes. I really shouldn’t make assumptions about you, eaters.)

Oh no eaters! One of the major reasons I’m glued to my couch today and lamenting my sixth floor walk-up flat is because I started…drum roll…the BodyRockTV 30-Day Challenge.

You know, so I can look like this.

No, I probably won’t end up looking like that. But I’m always up for a little body improvement. And considering that I normally don’t do anything like what’s in BodyRock workouts (tons of plyo and body weight moves), I will almost definitely see some results.

Actually, I’m so thrilled about the possibility of seeing a noticeable change in my physique (o’m’gah, I just used the word “physique” like a figure competitor. Someone help me), that I even took pre-challenge pictures.

Yes eaters, I am getting serious about this.

I’ve never done a workout challenge. I’ve never really done any kind of health challenge, unless you count my Veek. I actually am a bit of commitment-phobe.

(Did I ever tell you that manly friend wasn’t officially my boyfriend until we’d been dating for almost two years?)

Yeah, so the fact that I’m actually officially doing this is pretty big.

And I am actually going to be doing this (to the extent that my not good knee can handle). Because, let’s be real, I don’t want to spend too much of my limited London time cooped up in a gym. So these relatively short HIIT workouts are just what I’m looking for.

So, wish me luck?!

What am I getting myself into?

What about you eaters:

Have you ever done a fitness challenge? How did it go?

What’s your favorite way to train?

Later eaters!

Brussels Sprouts Pasta Carbonara

‘Ello eaters!

Today has been another lovely day in my neck of the woods. How about for you?

Are you getting a little thirsty? Or just keeping your head down until tomorrow at 5?

I really hope you’re not just waiting for the weekend. That just seems like such a ho hum way to go through life.

And speaking of ho hum lives, let’s talk dinner.

I always hear talk of people lamenting having to make dinner at night. Or people forgetting to eat or just eating cheese. Or people who just eat take out night after night after night.

And believe me, I understand. There have been more than a few nights where I’ve eaten cheese or an apple and pb or crackers. And now that I’m cooking for other people — meaning I can’t cook whenever or whatever I want — making dinner is getting to be more of a hassle.

But with how much I’ve been eating out lately (more on that next week), I desperately need to eat flatcooked meals.

And really, when going to the market is this lovely (and I don’t ever have class past 4pm), I have no excuse to not cook.

So the other night I rolled up my sleeves and started making magic in the kitchen.

And by magic I mean…

Brussels Sprout Pasta Carbonara

~2/3 lbs bacon

~2 ½ c (whole wheat) pasta

salted pasta water

1 bunch Brussels sprouts, shredded

3 egg yolks

2/3 c parmesan cheese

a lot of fresh cracked pepper

Slice the bacon into little bits before adding it to a medium-hot pan. Cook the bacon until it’s crisp, stirring occasionally to cook evenly.

While the bacon is cooking, bring the pasta water to a boil and add a heavy sprinkle of salt.

Once the bacon is done remove it from the pan, saving a couple of tablespoons of the grease in the pan, and set it aside. By this point your pasta water should be boiling so toss in your pasta.

Lower the heat of the pan to medium and drop in the shredded Brussels sprouts. Toss everything to coat and stir occasionally as the sprouts cook.

Does it get any better than brussels sprouts cooked in bacon grease? I think not.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cheese, and as many cracks of pepper as your little hands can handle. T

his will yield a thick sauce. It’s not necessary, but highly recommended, that you add in about a ladle worth (~1/3 c) of pasta water. Whisk this together, along with the bacon.

Once the pasta is done, drain off the water and return it to the hot pot. Add in the soft sprouts and the sauce. Toss everything until it is all evenly coated. And then serve, preferably with another couple of cracks of pepper on top.

Now, it did take me a minute or two to whip up this dinner, but I blame that entirely on the painfully dull knife (I say painfully because it’s more a blunt object than a razor sharp precision instrument) and the fact that I had to do some amateur butchering on my very fresh, very au natural bacon.

Were it not for those two hang-ups, though, this dinner would have taken barely longer than it takes to cook pasta.

Oh, and it’s beyond delicious. Even my vegetable-averse ‘mates liked it.

Your turn:

How often do you cook dinner?

Do you have a weeknight cooking time limit? Like 30-minute meals or as long as it takes to cook a pizza.

G’night eaters!

PS- I think I should stop saying “g’night” because while it is night for me, it’s probably the middle of the afternoon for you guys.

WIAW: Personal Prophecies

Hi eaters!

I realized that I have been in London for two weeks now. I don’t really know if it feels like it’s been two weeks.

Maybe if I’d been on vacation (or acting like it), I would be exhausted or sick of it. But since I have finally wrapped my head around the fact that this is my life for the time being, it feels pretty great.

And since this is my life, let’s get down to regular life things.

Breakfast:

Plain yogurt with pear and sunflower seeds.

I’m having a bit of a time finding plain low fat/fat free Greek yogurt here. Granted, I haven’t been looking that hard, but the few places I have checked haven’t had it.

Green tea.

Thus, I’m eating regular yogurt.

Lunch:

After class a bunch of us went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which is a nifty little chain around the corner from my flat.

The burger was a pretty run of the mill burger (which is pretty hard to find around here), with a side of shoestring fries (which are called skinny fries here).

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I don’t have any pictures. But since it’s right around the corner and they have a pretty sweet frequent buyer card, I doubt you’ll have to wait long before I get a picture.

Afternoon fun times:

The street that my gym is on has a ton of great shopping. And a lot of those stores have sales going on right now.

Needless to say, I’ve had the shopping itch for days. So today some of the ladies and I went out shopping.

I scored a couple of cute things, including this new sweater and some great boots.

My inability to pose is the real reason I'm not a model.

Both were on super sale, which is about the only way I shop.

Snack:

Organic pear from the Marylebone market.

Yes, this does make two pears today. But they’re perfectly ripe and juicy, so I’m going to keep devouring them until they’re gone.

Dinner:

Slightly cheesy rice and sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts.

While I haven’t eaten this yet, when I do get hungry I’m going to eat a hodgepodge of leftovers. I’m the only person in my flat that eats leftovers (or really anything other than cheese and/or pretzels), so you’ll be seeing something like this more often than not.

Exercise:

This is something else that I haven’t done yet, but tonight I am going to Body Pump.

Yes eaters, I finally get to join in on the fun. The gym I joined only has one Les Mills class, but it’s the one I’m most interested in, so I’ll take it.

So there you have it eaters, what I’ve done or will do today. I’ll be sure to let you know if my personal prophecies come true.

Your turn:

What are you going to eat later?

Do you make personal prophecies that come true?

Later eaters!

It’s A Party!

G’day eaters!

Today is a pretty special day in the ‘Baby world.

Any guesses what it is?

Oh come on eaters, how could you have forgotten?!?!

Oh right, because I actually forgot until a couple of days ago. And really, that’s about as bad as forgetting my own birthday.

Any guesses?

Today is FoodBaby’s 2nd birthday!

Can you believe it?!

I certainly can’t. Somehow FBB has been a part of my life for two years! More importantly, this wonderful little blogosphere, and all the wonderful ladies and gents that make it up, have been part of my life for two years.

Honestly, I couldn’t be happier.

This year has brought a lot to FBB.

The beginning and end of PT.

I finally introduced you to manly friend. Oh, and to his roommate Will. And then I subjected you to mountain food.

I baked a lot of desserts that you all seemed to like. Including my absolute favorite treats that I so need to make again — Beyond Bitchtastic Brownies and Platonic S’mores Cupcakes. And I conquered a fear of mine — pie crust — in a tiny, air condition-less apartment in July.

And some healthy things, too.

I moved to London for the semester.

Oh, and I wrote my first ever negative product review.

Yeah, it’s been one hell of a year (and that’s not even half of it). And what better way to celebrate a wonderful whirlwind of a year, than by sharing some cake with the lovely ladies that patiently wait for me to take pictures of their food before eating.

Yes, my friends do look like dessert. Yours don't?

Just down the street from our flat is Hummingbird Bakery, which seems to be the British version of Crumbs.

I went with a classic — chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting — mainly because I loved the frosting color and sprinkles.

Aren't you pretty.

The cupcake wasn’t the greatest.

I snagged a bite of my ‘mate’s raspberry cheesecake brownie.

From bottom to top: brownie, cheesecake, raspberry mouse.

It also wasn’t the greatest.

(Oh, and the girl behind the counter wasn’t that nice either.)

But the company — and the reason for the celebration — couldn’t have been better. So lackluster cupcakes be damned!

Really, the only thing that could have made it better was if you guys could have been there.

Yeah yeah, I’m getting all sappy on you, but it’s true. You guys have made this another great year and without you I would just be talking to myself it wouldn’t be as much fun.

And while I would lovelovelove nothing more than to send you a cupcake, I’m all the way in London so I don’t think that would work.

How about I just eat a cupcake in honor of you. Each of you. That’s the same thing, right?

What do you think, eaters:

What do you want to see more of?

What do you want to see less of?

What’s your go-to cupcake flavor?

G’night eaters! And thanks.