Thursday, 30 April 2015

Nakd Bars Review*

The other day an email landed in my inbox from Natural Balance Foods asking me to try out some unusual cereal bars from them. As soon as I heard that they were Nakd bars, I immediately replied and said hell yes! Nakd bars aren't your usual type of cereal bar, they consist of just 3 or 4 ingredients cold pressed together to form a chewy bar of yumminess. Rich and I have started to try and eat cleaner lately, and these fit right into our new eating style.

They're all mostly made of dates, cashews and raisins, and they really pack a punch of energy when you have one, but in a completely natural way. Don't be put off if you don't like raisins though, my Dad loathes raisins but I got him to try one and he really enjoyed it. His face was a picture when I told him the ingredients, now I might be able to convince him to try other things with raisins in them!  Most supermarkets sell them now, and they are a little on the expensive side, but worth it for a treat. I got sent 10 different flavours, and have tried every single one so I can tell you what they're all like.

Berry Delight - The only one with other types of fruit in it, as it contains raspberries. It's very summery in flavour and a bit like a summer pudding, not very nutty at all. I give it a 4/5.

Pecan Pie - Very sweet, but then again, Pecan Pie might be, I've never tried it! Pleasant in general but a very generic flavour. 4/5.

Cashew Cookie - This one is very nutty, but you'd expect that from the name. It does taste quite cookie like, but without the chocolate chips. 4/5.

Cocoa Delight - We're into the chocolatey realms now, but when I first bit into the bar I got a very alcoholic taste, like when you try some whisky as a teenager for the first time. It went away quickly though, and was replaced by a very mild chocoaltey flavour. Probably a good one to try first. 4/5.

Caffe Mocha - As I opened this one I was hit with a very overwhelming smell of coffee. Luckily I now like coffee, so it wasn't bad for me, but I imagine if you weren't much for it you could be put off. There wasn't much of a coffee flavour to the bar, but I had the most awful coffee after taste in my mouth for ages. Even 2 tic tacs couldn't shift it! Only a 2/5.

Cocoa Mint - Now, I'm not normally a mint flavoured person. I often find that instead of being all lovely and minty, it tends to punch you in the face and make you think you're eating/drinking toothpaste. However, in the name of research for this blog post, I ate one and it was amazing! The minty taste was really subtle, but still refreshing, and it made the perfect after meal treat. Much better than After Eights! 5/5.

Ginger Bread - I'm also not really one for ginger flavouring either, I don't like gingerbread at all, but again, I tried it, just for you readers. Again I was really surprised, it was very subtlety ginger flavoured, but tasted more of the cinnamon and cloves which were used in the bar as well. I'd actually choose this one again. 4/5.

Cocoa Orange - It has chocolate flavours, it has orange flavours, that is my match made in heaven. It's stunning. Not much more to say really apart from eat it! 5/5.

Rhubarb and Custard - Another combo that I don't normally go for, but it was really pleasant, it had a slight hint of rhubarb, but not enough to put me off. Couldn't taste any custard, but was I really expecting to? 3/5.

Bakewell Tart - This one was hiding away when I took all my photographs, which is why it isn't in the arrangement above, but when I did find it lurking in my box I was so happy. The taste really reminded me of a marzipany bakewell tart, and as I love marzipan it was a very happy result! 5/5.

As you can tell from my ratings, they're all pretty damn yummy (apart from the coffee one - why such a strong after taste Nakd?) so well worth picking up for a super healthy snack if you need one. Now, other than these bars, fruit and nuts, what other snacks are healthy and will give me lots of energy?

Rachel x

I was given a case of Nakd bars in exchange for a post about them. All ideas and views are my own - they really are seriously yummy snacks, I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't really like them. Promise!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

On our rather epic Easter Bank Holiday Monday which I mentioned in my Easter Weekend post (and promised you this post soon... I won't mention that this is 3 weeks later if you don't!) Rich, my sister and I woke up to see a glorious day, so we decided to make the most of the first properly sunny day of the year and head to the Sculpture Park, which of course is somewhere I found out about on a blog. I can't remember who's it was though, but I thought it would be nice to go for a walk with something other than the usual picturesque Yorkshire scenery to look at.

We grabbed a map from the visitor centre and headed out on a bimble around, trying to do a route which would take us past the most sculptures. Are you prepared for a self-indulgent blogger photo dump? Here we go!

 Random shapes stacked on top of each other.

A very apt bunny, considering it was Easter Weekend.

A screen with a running horse on it. Not all sculptures are static apparently.

A load of garden furniture on a tree made out of metal. Of course.

I actually really loved this piece because it was mathematical and square. I'm such a nerd.

Arty tree shot.

Stepping stones! Which I didn't fall off, much to Rich and Nat's disappointment.

Man on a tree.

Eerily realistic man looking at his phone. This says so much about society today, it was my other favourite piece, probably because it was the only one I understood.

We also managed to take some really nice pictures of Nat and I. We don't often get chance to take pictures of the two of us, so there aren't many, especially of us as adults. Even though we still feel like teenagers most of the time! I really did have the most amazing Easter weekend with Nat, I'm really lucky that we get on so well, considering we shared a bedroom for 18 years with many many arguments! 

I realise this has been a totally self indulgent post full of pictures Rich and I took at the Sculpture Park, but it is a really nice place to have a walk around on a nice day, so I do recommend that you go and visit. 

Rachel x


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Five Guys, Leeds

So, as promised in my Easter Weekend post, here is my post about Five Guys in Leeds, which I went to with my sister and Rich on bank holiday Monday. Can't believe that's over 2 weeks ago now!

I had read Kel'sSammie's and Simone's posts about the new Five Guys which opened at Kirkstall a while ago now, and I wanted to go and visit straight away. However, as Kirkstall isn't a place I ever drive near or had any other cause to visit, it was a really long time before I decided that enough was enough and I needed to experience that drinks machine.

Rather randomly placed in a retail park, and sharing a building with a Harvester, I was simultaneously excited and worried about how good this burger was going to be. Nat had been before though, so I was being reassured that it was going to be filthy and I was going to enjoy it.

The interior is typical American style, with an open kitchen and quotes all over the walls, just in case you didn't know how good your meal was going to be. We queued up on the right (after confusedly heading towards the counter first) and tried to decide what to order from the menu.

We all went for cheeseburgers, then went to town on the toppings. I loved that all of the toppings were free, so you could have as many as you like. I had mine "all the way" which means with all of the black text toppings; basically all of my favourite things. Aside from avocado. Five Guys, where is your avocado topping?

We helped ourselves to a huge portion of peanuts in their shells from the bags which are stationed around the restaurant and tucked into them whilst waiting for our order number to be called. The signs attached to the bags made me giggle, as they said that peanuts couldn't be removed from the store in case anyone is allergic to them?! Because the rest of the world must have no peanuts of course!

After not too long a wait our numbers were called and we headed up to collect our brown paper bags full of burgers and fries. Just look at that hunk of sexiness. I could eat it all over again right now. The burgers were juicy, flavoursome, and oh so messy. I rank it as a much nicer posher burger similar to a McDonald's in style. 

As the three of us are spice addicts, the cajun fries were the only way to go. The fries themselves were well cooked, but the cajun flavouring was just too much for me, as it pretty much totally masked the taste of the fries themselves. Nat and Rich didn't agree though as they had no issues polishing them all off.

Having heard so much about the magical drinks machine which lets you choose your own flavour of pop from a ridiculous number of choices, I made many trips over during our meal, trying as much as I could. Turns out that lemon Fanta Zero is my favourite, but raspberry Diet Coke is pretty good as well.

I loved how much the restaurant made me feel like a kid again, from having the unlimited drinks choices, to the variety of burger toppings and the notice boards where you could pin up your five guys drawings. It was a little expensive though for what is basically a better McDonald's. I'm glad I experienced it, but Kirkstall is just so far away. Open one in the city centre next Five Guys!

Rachel x

Monday, 20 April 2015

Monday Catch Up

Hello there my lovelies!

How was everyone's weekend? Full of fun and food I hope! I got up to quite a bit this weekend, and fancied doing a chatty post, so the Monday Catch Up has been born.

Rich was away this weekend mountain biking with some friends from home, so I had the whole weekend to myself, which is the first one since he's been back from his last work trip. I don't know if other people ever feel like this when their partners work away a lot, but after a while of them being around you really look forward to the odd weekend when they're not around. That probably sounds worse than it is, sorry Rich!

So, on Saturday I headed into York with some of the people from work to finally have a go at one of the escape the room challenges which have been popping up everywhere. In case you're not all that aware of them, they're basically like a room out of the Crystal Maze, you have to solve the clues to get out of the room, all within a time limit. We went to GR8escape York, which had 2 rooms, a spy school one, and a New York diamond one. I was in the group which did the spy school one, and it was fantastic. We were shown into the room, and told that our aim was to find the code to the safe, in which would be our spy school pass certificate and a doorbell to ring which would stop the clock. Sounds simple, right? Nope! As soon as the door shut we set to work ransacking the room looking for clues (in the style of Fun House, anyone remember that show?) and they seemed very cryptic.

I don't want to give too much away so I won't say what any of the actual clues were, but there were a few red herrings, once depicted by an actual plastic red herring falling out of a coat. We did very well until we neared the end, when we spent far too long over thinking the code to the safe. But, with just over a minute and a half to go, I input what we thought could be the code and the safe opened. It felt like such an achievement, we all cheered very loudly!

It was such a fun way to spend an hour on a Saturday that we're already thinking of going back, or trying one of the ones in Leeds. I think they can get a bit addictive.

Once we finished up and all escaped the room, we were very hungry, so to Bill's we went. I did a blog post before about their amazing breakfasts, so was eager to go again for a different meal. I had the crunchy kale leaf salad in the picture above, which I had with a chocolate brownie milkshake. Contrasting I know, super healthy salad with a very naughty drink, but they were both really yummy. The salad was unusual, but very filling and satisfying, in a "I just ate something really good for me" way. 

After filling our bellies, we did a lot of wandering around York, and I finished up the day by doing a huge food shop, because I knew that I wanted to do a lot of cooking on Sunday, to try out a few recipes and stock up my freezer. 

The first thing that I had on Sunday was chia seed and banana porridge, which was quite different from my standard golden syrup porridge that I've been eating every day for the last 3 years. I mashed the banana into my overnight oats recipe, along with a shot of chia seeds and then left it overnight in my fridge. When microwaved in the morning with a drizzle of honey, it transformed into this amazingly sweet, stodgy, creamy breakfast that kept me full for hours. Amazing. Also, a brilliant way to use up those soft bananas which you know will go completely brown if you attempt to take them into work.

For lunch I made The Londoner's Pad Thai Salad which turned out a lot better than I expected! I did kind of ruin my hands trying to julienne the carrot and cucumber, but it was so worth it. Apparently, when trying to julienne a cucumber it's best to start on the outside and work your way in, like how you peel something, not doing whatever cack-handed thing I was doing. It made a huge amount, so I took some of the leftovers into work for lunch today, and it kept very well.

For tea I made my biggest hit of the weekend, Deliciously Ella's Mushroom and Chickpea Stew. This was the first recipe of hers that I've tried, having only recently discovered her blog, but I am so impressed. The stew was perfectly thick, filling and flavoursome, and I think adding chorizo to it would make a meaty addition, in case you're not a fan of eating veggie. I wasn't prepared for how much of it the recipe would make though, as it made 8 portions! My tetris skills had to come in to fit it all into the fridge overnight.

I also tried cooking quinoa again, after briefly trying it a few years ago and not really liking it. Instead of following the pack instructions this time, I used the same quantities as Ella suggests and it made all the difference, it was perfectly fluffy, and we made egg fried quinoa out of the leftovers tonight which is now my new favourite food. In case you're not aware of quinoa, you pronounce it keen-wah, and it's a grain, but packed full of protein, so not as bad for you as pasta is, and as I'm trying to get more protein in my diet at the minute, it's perfect.

So, there's my weekend in a nutshell. Yep, it was mostly food based. I did watch If I Stay though, and cried, and did an awful lot of housework. It was #photoanhour yesterday, which I took part in, and where my food photos are from. There have been a few lately that I've forgotten to blog, so I'll do some sort of round up post of those soon.

I hope you haven't minded the very long chatty post, I just had a lot to say! 10 house points and a tip of my hat if you made it all the way to the end.

Rachel x

PS - Have you noticed my new website address? I now have a .com. Exciting!!!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Easter Weekend Through Instagram

It was Easter Weekend last weekend which meant a whole glorious 4 days off work (lets not talk about the insane amount of work that had to be fit into 4 days instead of 5). As my little sister works in London now for a production company instead of in retail, it meant that she also had the 4 days off, so she came to stay! I was so crazy excited that I was going to spend 4 whole days with her, as we are both so busy I very rarely get to spend that long with her anymore.

So, we did a whole load of cool stuff together, and when I do cool stuff I Instagram it. Obviously. So to catch you up, and before I do a couple of in depth posts about what I got up to on Bank Holiday Monday, I thought I'd do a post showing my Instagram pictures from the weekend. If you already follow me @inelegantwench then this will be old news - sorry!

We started out Friday with a big long lie in and catch up - then headed into Leeds to do some shopping and to eat lots of sushi. Standard. When our oishii buns arrived they looked very photogenic, and bigger than they look on the menu. They're also really really good, the buns are the most squidgy soft thing in the world. 

We had a bit of a pamper day on Saturday, I'd bought an argan oil hair mask from Poundland a while ago and not got round to using it, so we did that, nails and a face mask each. Nat had never done a face mask before. I was so shocked and did feel a little as though I had let her down as a big sister! It was really funny as it dried, as Nat had never experienced the lack of being able to move your face, then giggling and cracking it.

Saturday night was fondue night, and not just any fondue, cheese fondue! I don't know if I've mentioned this before but as a family we always had oil fondues on New Years Eve, and I really enjoy them. Rich bought me a fondue set for my birthday last year, and I was so excited to finally try out a cheese fondue. Well, 10 months later I finally did it. I looked in my fondue recipe book and found a recipe for mexican cheese fondue, which sounded right up our street! We served it with chopped up steak, homemade tortilla chips, peppers, sweet potato wedges and cocktail sausages. It was amazing, pure heaven.

Easter Sunday started out the right way, with dippy egg and soldiers! Lots of Easter eggs, and then a proper lamb dinner at lunch. It was only my third ever roast dinner I'd made, so was a bit of a faff, but with lots of help from Rich when I needed an extra pair of hands, we did it. It tasted so good, even if I do say so myself!

On Sunday evening we headed over to Xscape, where I'd seen a while ago that a trampoline park opened. It is called Gravity and it's upstairs where the indoor surfing used to be. We booked online and went for quite late, when we figured it would be quiet. We were right, and after donning our socks and stowing our stuff away in a free locker, we headed onto the trampolines. They're so much fun to bounce around on, they have ones which go up the sides of the walls, basket ball hoops, a big dodgeball arena and a foam pit. The foam pit was great to fling yourself into, but so difficult to drag yourself out of. I lost my socks so often in there and had to go diving to get them out! It was hard work trampolining, I quickly realised how unfit I am, as well as not really being able to do anything cool other than a seat drop, after trying all session! We snuck to get my phone out of the locker and took a few pictures trying to get cool aerial shots, and I failed, as you can see!

On Monday we woke up to glorious sunshine, so decided to head out for a walk to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I took my big camera with me so got a lot of pictures, which I'll do a proper post on soon, but it was blissful getting some vitamin D and having a wander with Rich and Nat.

Before taking Nat to the coach station to head back to London, we went to Five Guys, as I have been desperate to try there for ages and we all fancied a good big burger! I took my big camera here as well, so I'm going to do a proper review post on it at some point soon. In short, it was really good, and every time I see the pictures I begin to really want another one. 

Sorry for the photo heavy post, but I got up to a lot, and wanted to update you all! Hope you all had a great Easter weekend full of family, food and laughs!

Rachel xx
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