Health, Lifestyle

‘Feed Me Vegan’ by Lucy Watson. The Review!

So after the long-awaited delivery, last Thursday, Lucy Watson’s ‘Feed Me Vegan’ cookbook finally arrived through the post. I’ve been really looking forward to receiving this book, for a multitude of reasons. First of all – I love Lucy Watson. Alongside her great sense of style and serious eyebrow game, I admire how strong-minded she is, and how she fights for what she believes in and voices it. Second of all, after recently watching the Netflix documentary ‘What the Health’, it really exposed a lot around the meat and dairy industry, and not only how cruel it is to animals in the processes it follows, but also how bad it can actually be for our health. So I wanted to try to tone down the amount of meat and dairy in my diet. This isn’t something I have found particularly difficult – I love veggie food anyway, and I will often be the one who picks the veggie option when out for dinner. When I saw that Lucy was releasing this cookbook, instantly I knew I had to buy it, as this would instil me with an entirely new armoury of recipes to try, which were meat and dairy free for me to enjoy.

One of the first things I loved about this book, was the introduction. It gives great insight into Lucy’s childhood, her relationship with animals, and why she made the choice to go Vegan. There is nothing ‘preachy’ about her writing; it’s simply an explanation as to why she has made the choices she has, and has some encouraging words for what she hopes to achieve with her book. Again, she’s not telling everyone ‘you must go vegan’ it’s simply there to be an eye-opener into what’s going on in the meat and dairy industry, and if this book can help us make healthier choices, then it’s done the job.

Recipes

One of the biggest factors for me when cooking, is time. I have what you would call a typical working week – a 9-5pm job, I don’t usually get home until around 5:45, and by the time I get in the door, the last thing I want to do is slave over the cooker for hours on end with more ingredients than you can count. I also don’t want to be spending over and above my weekly food budget. Within her book, Lucy has an entire section called ‘Feed Me Quickly’. And this section is perfect, for just that. Minimal ingredients, minimal time, and you’re still sticking to a healthy and clean diet. The majority of ingredients, as you can imagine are fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, and a few dairy/meat replacements. I have placed some of my favourite recipes so far down below, so you can see what I’ve been cooking, the time it has taken me, and of course, how it tasted!!

Miso-Glazed Aubergine

This one is perfect for those of you who get in from work, really can’t be bothered and just want to throw something in the oven (I often have those nights myself!!). The ingredients are very minimal, and the time it took me in total from scouring the cupboards for my ingredients, through to sitting down and eating, was around 35 minutes. That’s pretty good going, if you ask me!!

Aubergine Ingredients

First of all, I cut the aubergine in half, scoured it and popped it in the oven for 25 minutes. Whilst this was cooking, I mixed together the white miso, the mirin and the caster sugar, and left this on side. At this point, I curled up on the sofa for 20 minutes and watched the first half of an episode of Homeland – ideal!!

Aubergine in pan and miso

When the aubergine was ready, which was true to the time in the recipe, I took this out of the oven, brushed over my miso/mirin/sugar mixture, and popped this under the grill on a high heat for 5 minutes. Whilst this was caramelising and crisping up, I chopped my spring onions.

Finishedaubergine

As you can see, the result was pretty great. And to my surprise – extremely tasty!! The glaze gives it a lovely sweet taste, and mixed with the salt, sesame seeds and spring onion, hits your taste buds with rich and natural flavours. A new favourite of mine for the ‘lazy work night’ kind of meal!

Pad Thai

This book is also filled with plenty of other recipes, and one which I made from the ‘Feed Me Feasts’ section, was Pad Thai. I absolutely adore Thai food, so I was really hoping this would live up to expectations. Again – the ingredients weren’t complex in the slightest, I could see the health benefits of everything going into my food and the nutrients they held, which made me very excited to try this one.

Pad Thai ingredients

One ingredient which I was extremely apprehensive over, was tofu. I’ve never tried it before, and it wasn’t something I could ever see myself liking. It doesn’t really have a scent to it, and the texture of it, I discovered was quite rubbery; so I was extremely worried that this was going to turn out to be a complete disaster. When the recipe asked for the tofu to be crumbled, which I found was surprisingly easy (basically just squashing it between your fingers!!) it looks like scrambled egg, which made me feel even more concerned about how this would turn out. However – I was pleasantly surprised. When sautéed with the onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric, it turned golden and crispy, and mixed with all of the ingredients, absorbed all of the flavours and tasted absolutely delicious.

Stir fry veg in pan

Time

In terms of time, as this wasn’t in the ‘Feed Me Quickly’ section, I prepared myself to be spending at least over an hour prepping and cooking this, through to sitting down to eat. However again – a pleasant surprise. Once I’d prepped all my ingredients, which took around 15/20 minutes, then through to cooking time, I managed all of this within 45 minutes! Which is perfectly achievable for a weeknight meal.

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And voila! This was the finished product on my plate. The addition of the peanuts gave that delicious nutty taste to complement the soy and the vegetables, and to my delight, I’d made enough for a second serving for my lunch the following day. The only thing I would probably do differently is not be so over-zealous with the lime – it made the dish slightly too sweet for me, so next time, I will definitely be holding back on that… and maybe adding more peanuts as a treat!

And finally…  Feed Me Sweet Treats!!

I have a real sweet tooth, and I often find myself reaching for the chocolate on an evening, so I want to be able to still treat myself, but in a slightly healthier way. As well as this, my boyfriend has a particular fondness for jam – so I decided to make these delicious jam biscuits, as at least that meant I wouldn’t scoff them all by myself!!

As per all of the other recipes I’ve tried so far, the ingredients were fairly minimal and easy to find at the supermarket.

Jam biscuits ingredients

In terms of time, this one did take longer than the others, however this was mainly due to the fact that once you’ve made the dough, you need to leave it to set in the fridge for two hours. Other than that, it took me all of 10-15 minutes to make the dough. Now I didn’t have a whisk, which the instructions do say you’ll need, however I found I managed to make the dough just as well using a spoon and my hands to mix!!

Dough

Once the dough was ready, I kneaded this and cut my circles out with a cookie cutter, as instructed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a cookie cutter small enough to cut out the hearts… so as you can see, these are a tad misshapen! I popped these in the oven for around 7-8 minutes, and then left these to cool on the side before adding the jam.

Biscuit halves

And voila!! My delicious jam biscuits!! They tasted absolutely yummy, and they were definitely favoured by my boyfriend as well. I will definitely be making these much more often.

Jambiscuits

As you can see, I’ve had lots of fun this week experimenting with these recipes. And I must say – this book has exceeded my expectations. Whenever I have made Vegan meals in the past, I have always felt that something on my plate was missing, and I wasn’t getting the nutrients or enjoyment out of the food like I should. This book has given me some great and tasty recipes where I feel completely fulfilled with what I’m eating, and again it has given me some great quick and simple recipes to enjoy during the week without sacrificing taste. I haven’t even noticed this week that I have been eating Vegan meals – which is definitely a positive sign!! If you haven’t already done so, I would certainly recommend purchasing this book, and if you already have, I’d love to hear your thoughts and which recipes you would recommend!

 

 

 

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Health

Bank Holiday Baking…. Madeleine Shaw Banana Loaf!

So after a glorious bank holiday weekend, where copious amounts of chocolate eggs have been eaten (it’s Easter, so it’s allowed right?!) I felt like I needed to get back on track with my healthy eating. One thing I do struggle with the most when eating healthy, is resisting sweet treats, especially when I’ve been consuming chocolate this weekend like it’s going out of fashion (no shame here). So in order to keep the sugar cravings at bay, I have once again, turned to the Queen of Clean Eating, Madeleine Shaw!! Her clean treats are so yummy and an absolute favourite of mine is the Banana & Cinnamon Loaf, which you’ll find in her book Get the Glow. It’s so easy to make, the ingredients are easy to pick up in your local supermarket, and it’s downright delicious.

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Ingredients

As I have said, the ingredients are straightforward, and easy enough to pick up in your local supermarket. You might notice I have been a little naughty and snuck in a bar of Lindt 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate – I see this as ‘phasing out’ the chocolate rather than going cold turkey straight away!!  The most expensive item was the coconut sugar, which I paid about £6 for – however you only use half the bag, so you can get two banana loafs out of it which I do think is good value for money, considering the health benefits of it.

Ingredients

The Making of the Banana Loaf….

…It’s pretty simple. Chuck it all in a mixing bowl, grab your electric mixer and whiz away!! It took me about 3-5 minutes to get to the lovey cream consistency you can see in the photos below. I then broke up my bar of Lindt chocolate, popped that into the mixture and gave it one final whizz around the bowl.

Ingredients Mix

Once done, I popped it into a baking tin, baked it in the oven for 50 minutes and voila! You have yourself a delicious banana loaf. Now the recipe does say 50 minutes in the oven, however I like mine a little crunchy on top, so I baked it for 60 mins… I would say I may have overdone it slightly, so I’ll remember that for next time.

Cooked!

For more of Madeleine’s delicious recipes, I’d definitely recommend picking up her cookbooks as they are my go-to books when I’m in the kitchen and want to cook up something healthy and delicious.

I’d love to hear from you some of your favourite recipes, so please do let me know!!

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Health, Lifestyle

2016.. A Review

So what can I say about the year 2016… well, I would say that it hasn’t gone quite as swimmingly as I’d have hoped.. as I’m sure most of you’ll agree, and from what I’ve seen from some of the fantastically thought out meme’s that have been circling the internet, 2016 hasn’t exactly been the best year all round. We’ve lost many well-known influencers of our time, and after many political surprises, it has been an odd year, and myself, like most people are quite glad to see the back of it. However, even though there have been some peaks and troughs this year, I still thought as an end to the year, and to begin 2017, it would be quite nice to do a review of what has gone well, what maybe hasn’t gone quite so well, and what I’ve learnt along the way.

First of all, I thought I would look at the New Year’s Resolutions that I set for myself at the beginning of this year, and see how well I managed to keep them…

Eat clean and experiment with my cooking so I can enjoy healthy and delicious meals

I’ve been really good this year with experimenting with my cooking – not necessarily trying out wild and outrageous foods that I would never normally eat, but more so that I’ve been creating meals from scratch, with some exciting new recipes. One big influencer of this for me, has been Madeleine Shaw. She has such a positive outlook on food, and how it not only affects your physical body, but also how your diet can affect you mentally. I really struggle with anxiety, and one thing that has helped me with keeping this under control is focusing on eating well and keeping my body nourished. I’m sure you’ll have seen in some of my previous blog posts as well as my Instagram feed, the different recipes I have been trying out and experimenting with.

Now I won’t lie, I haven’t been completely on the band wagon with eating clean and healthy all the time. I have definitely drank far too much alcohol this year. Usually, I will eat clean during the week, and on the weekend is my allotted time to have a few well-deserved drinks and a few naughty snacks. However, this year I have found myself on several occasions having a mid-week tipple, which has inevitably led to bad food choices, such as morning bacon rolls to make my day at work more bearable, as well as heavy carbs such as pizza and pasta etc. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing I’m treating myself because I do think that you need a break, and when you really feel like you need the garlic bread, you should damn well have that garlic bread! But for me, I know that I feel at my best when I’ve been sticking to a clean diet, and this keeps me on track. I have also noticed that my biggest anxiety flare ups have been when I’ve had a heavy weekend in terms of alcohol and bad food. The bad food choices have also led to weight gain, bad skin and generally feeling a bit down in the dumps, so I know that in order for me to feel good again, feel positive and in control, I need to get my diet back on track.

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Catch up with friends at least once a month

Now this one, I have done much better than I thought I would!! I have made the time to catch up with friends, and whether that’s just going for a coffee on my lunch break with a friend I haven’t seen in a while, right through to spending a weekend away with my old uni friends, I’m really pleased with how well I’ve done here. This one was really important to me, especially as the majority of my really close friends lives quite far away, so I wanted to ensure I made a conscious effort to see this through, and I’m proud to say I have and I definitely feel better for it.

Get more sleep

Now I may have slightly over committed here…!! As someone who loves sleep, I definitely think I have taken this one to a whole new level!! During the week, I used to stay up until gone 11pm, and wake up in the morning feeling groggy and lacking energy. This year, I do think I have been much more sensible, and am generally in bed by 10pm at the very latest. Other than this, my weekends are absolutely my favourite time to get some well-earned sleep in – I allow myself at least one day on a weekend where I lie in for as long as I possibly can – as well as a few mid-afternoon naps sneaking in there!

Don’t take things too seriously (I’m a serial worrier)

Now this one, I haven’t completed to its full potential. Unfortunately, due to the fact I am quite a sensitive person, an over thinker and a serial worrier, I knew this one was going to be tough, as this is pretty much ingrained in me – however, I think this is more of a long term resolution that will take time to achieve, and I need to put certain measures in place in order for me to do this, such as making more time for myself and practising mindfulness. So I don’t necessarily see this one as a failure – but more of a working progress for me to actively build upon.

What else have I achieved this year? 

Other than looking at my resolutions and how well (or not so well) I did at keeping them, I thought it would also be nice to actually look at some of the key things that I have accomplished this year that weren’t necessarily in my resolutions.

Finished my CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing

This has been an absolutely gruelling two years. Whilst my friends were out partying, and colleagues were heading down to the pub for some after work drinks, I was cooped up in an office tuning into some webinars and burying my head in a text book. Whilst everyone was chilling out on the weekend doing fun things and relaxing, I was heading into the office to hammer out my latest assignment. Whilst the world was sleeping in on a Sunday, I was up at dawn with my laptop, with only caffeine to get me through. I sacrificed the majority of my free time for this, and I’m so glad that after all my hard work, I achieved this, with merit, at the end of it. It sent my anxiety through the roof, and at times I thought about packing it all in as I simply didn’t feel it was worth it, but I’m so glad I stuck it out and now have a great qualification to help further my development for the long term.

My sister got married

This was one of the most wonderful days to date, as I watched my sister marry my now brother-in-law. It was the first time in for as long as I can remember that my whole family spent the entire day together, and it was such a lovely occasion.

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We bought at house!!

After a year of searching, going from house to house on the weekends and evenings, me and my boyfriend have finally found our own house that will be completely all ours. I feel like this is jinxing it slightly as it hasn’t completely gone through yet, but I’m far too excited not to tell you all about it. As someone who is a lover of interiors, home-ware, and real ‘project homes’, as is my boyfriend, we both really wanted a house that we could completely strip back to the bare structure and rebuild so it was our perfect home, exactly how we want it. For so long it didn’t seem this would be able to happen, as all of the houses we saw were either far too expensive, or the wrong location, wrong size etc. We’d just about given up on finding this, until one evening we just decided to go and see a house, that we didn’t even think we’d like. We both absolutely fell in love with it, and we have finally got that dream home (almost!!). So I cannot wait to get the keys and focus on building this up, so you can look forward to some blog posts and pictures on this as it progresses next year!

Travelled to new places 

Another way my anxiety affects me is when I travel. It has caused me to not enjoy my holidays sometimes. It’s incredibly frustrating because I do really love the idea of exploring new places, and I don’t want to miss out, so I’ve been trying to overcome this by travelling to as many places as possible in the hope I will get used to it!! This year has been a good year of doing this, through several mini breaks I’ve managed to fit in with friends, family and my boyfriend. These included a romantic trip to Paris, which I blogged about earlier this year, a couple of great holidays to Portugal which has become my new favourite relaxing holiday destination, as well as a long weekend in Dublin and some lovely day trips to the likes of big cities such as Birmingham and London. I want to continue to do this next year, and one of the first things I have booked is Glastonbury, which I am SO excited for!! Now don’t get me wrong – it has still been quite tough for me visiting these places, and not every moment has been wonderful as my anxiety seems to catch me out of the blue at the worst of times, but it is something I am working on, and I’m so proud of myself for pushing through these moments, and coming out the other side feeling just a little better every time.

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Looking ahead…

As I said at the beginning of this year, I don’t want to set myself up for a fall, or encroach silly resolutions onto myself that I know I won’t be able to keep. I’d rather set some general resolutions, which aren’t so strict and that I can look at them in a positive way and be excited about, rather than be filled with dread at the thought that I’m going to have to give something up. So here are the general goals/resolutions I have set myself for this year:

Blog at least once a month

Blogging is something that I have found I really really enjoy doing. I love creating my own content, on areas that interest me, using my own photos and completely finding my own platform and outlet to be creative. I haven’t been great this year at keeping up regularly with my blog, and I really need to ensure that this year I MAKE the time to sit down, plan my blogs and find time to write them too. Too many times, I’ve been in bed about to go to sleep and have a sudden idea, and so I don’t forget it, quickly sit up for 20 minutes and write a rough draft, or I’m out and about and think of an idea, but then I busy myself with something else and completely forget it. I really need to put some time aside to develop these ideas, and ensure I keep up with my blog as much as I can.

Budget better

Now this year I managed to completely clear my overdraft from my university days, which I was so so happy about. It completely lifted a weight off my shoulders, as I knew that I was debt free in terms of my general day to day bank account. However, I made the rash mistake of applying for a credit card – my reasoning behind it was for any unplanned emergencies where I needed to pay for something, or if I was booking a holiday that I could pay off over a couple of months. This seemed relatively sensible at the time, however I’ve ended up using it for everything, so I’m pretty much in the same position I was in at the beginning of the year!! So in 2017, I plan to budget much more effectively in order to pay this off, and get that worry off my shoulders.

Make more time for myself

This is something I really need to do more of. I need to look after myself a lot more than I am currently doing, and set aside time to completely relax and chill out – whether that’s taking a relaxing bath to reflect on the day, attending a yoga class to relax myself and bring about positive energy, getting myself lost in a book – this is about taking my own time to be calm, self-reflect and ensure that I am feeling as relaxed and positive as I can be, and wind down in the best way possible. Again, this is something that should help to keep my anxiety under control, and I know from experience this has worked previously, so I am really looking forward to spending more time looking after me.

Start and end the day with a positive thought (write it down!)

I started this at the beginning of this year, and actually this really did help. Even if it was just 2 minutes of sitting there and reflecting on my day, thinking about what I was grateful for, really made me feel much better. It helped clear my mind about everything bad that may have happened that day as it helped to focus my mind on the good, so I really want to ensure that I practice this again. It really does only take 2 minutes to do, so I have no excuse not to stick to it!!!

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So there you have it – my year in review, and what I hope to achieve for 2017. I’d love to know your thoughts, and any resolutions you might have also.

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Health, Lifestyle

What a beautiful day to be outside… Beer garden, anyone? 

That right there, is the one sentence that absolutely cripples me, and my clean living lifestyle. Days like today, where it’s such a gorgeous day, are a rarity in the UK, so as a proud member of the British public, we all don our sandals and shorts and embrace the glorious sunshine. Weather like this, I truly believe brings the positivity out of the grumpiest of people. On a day like this, I wake up feeling happy and positive, soaking up the gorgeous surroundings. Going out for my morning run in this weather is a delight- there is still a slight frost and chill in the air, but the sun is just starting to rise and I feel like the morning is waking up with me, on its own terms. I can truly take advantage of the fresh morning air and the stunning surroundings at this time, and again this is another thing I love about running in the mornings- it’s extremely refreshing and rejuvenating, and I feel like I’ve had my share of the gorgeous outdoors, before entering an air conditioned office for the hours of 9-5.

This is the season where I enjoy ice cold beverages and summer salads, and being outdoors, so really it’s the perfect weather to complement my clean living lifestyle, which I thoroughly enjoy. However – there is one sentence, one suggestion, and one question that cripples all of my good intentions- “what a beautiful day to be outside – beer garden, anyone?”

This weather, although beautiful, mood-lifting and heart-warming, makes me crave a cold glass of rose in the sun, socialising with friends. Now, we all know how high and dangerous the sugar content of alcohol can be (I choose to remain oblivious when it suits me, I won’t lie to you) and how it can ruin that clean lifestyle a lot of us are trying to live.

Now one of my biggest downfalls is the minute I have a lovely glass of my favourite summer beverage, all willpower goes out the window and I find myself tucking into a glorious portion of nachos, thinking “oh I’ll be okay tomorrow”.

How very wrong I am. I suffer the consequences when I wake up with a dull head, a horrid heavy feeling in my stomach and craving a bacon sandwich, and to me, there is no worse feeling. I absolutely love waking up feeling fresh with a clear head, ready and raring to put my trainers on and tackle the day ahead, and this groggy feeling completely gazzumps any plans I may have previously had.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for relaxing, letting my hair down and if I really want that refreshing glass of rose, I’m going to have it if it’s the last thing I do!! But I do need to remind myself how I feel afterwards, the after effects the next day, and the repercussions of this questionable habit.

Now, how do I get past this, do you ask? I know it sounds silly but, as long as I have a beverage of some sort in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. A cool glass of lime and soda provides me with a satisfying refreshment, as well as not feeling like I’m missing out on socialising. I arrive home at a sociable hour, resist the cravings of greasy food, and I don’t wake up feeling up feeling groggy and moody. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I won’t every drink socially again. But what I am saying is, you don’t always have to feel like you need to join in the bad habits to have a great time socialising with friends, and compromising your own wellness journey whilst you’re at it.

Now that’s one of the ways I choose to avoid those tempting yet unhealthy scenarios, and I’d love to hear yours.

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Health, Lifestyle

Ready Steady Glow- Madeleine Shaw 

I pre-ordered Ready Steady Glow in February, and after Madeleine Shaw’s first book, Get the Glow, I had extremely high hopes. Get the Glow was my food bible, and  I was hoping this book would bring me even more tasty, healthy recipes. One of the things that excited me the most about this book, was that it contained quicker and easier meals to make during the week, and this is exactly what I needed.  Madeleine Shaw is a health coach that I am completely and utterly inspired by. Her entire outlook on life, food, and the way you treat your body is completely inspiring, and I truly believe that wellness and nourishment comes from within. Ever since I started eating clean, my skin has been so much more radiant, hydrated and brighter. I have felt more energised and awake, and most importantly, much more confident and happy. The first recipe which took my fancy, was the Goan Chicken Curry recipe.

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Ingredients

First of all, this is one of the recipes, where, as Madeleine states in the introduction to this recipe, the majority of ingredients will already be sat in your cupboards. I only had to buy a couple of fresh ingredients to make this, so it was relatively inexpensive. One thing that I do come up against quite often when making fresh and clean meals, it can be very expensive! So I was really pleased to find that within this book, there were a lot of recipes whereby most of the ingredients were already sat in the cupboard, and if they weren’t, they were relatively inexpensive, and easy to find at your local supermarket.

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Prep & Cooking Time

The overall prep/cooking  time stated 15 minutes – perfectly manageable after a long day at work!! This was relatively fuss free, and took me about 5-7 minutes to slice the vegetables  and chop the chicken.

Whilst this was all cooking, which took around 7-8 minutes, I prepared and cooked my cauliflower rice. I fried this off in some coconut oil, and put some ground cumin, all spice, cinnamon and a dash of soy sauce in. I let all of this cook for a further 3-4 minutes, and by this point, it was then ready to serve.

And voila! All in all, this took me about 15-20 minutes to prep, cook and serve. One thing that frustrates me so much when you are using a cookbook, is when it gives an ‘approximate cooking time of 30 minutes’, however you end up flustered and chaotic, rushing around the kitchen for an hour and a half! This is what I love about Madeleine’s book- honest, delicious, and her time-scales are accurate!!

 
Tastiness

And what can I say- DELICIOUS!! The coconut milk, spices and array of ingredients create an amazing variety of tastes and textures – a creamy yet flavoursome and oriental taste to the dish, with an added crunch from the sugar-snap peas.

All in all, an absolutely delicious dish, quick prep time and inexpensive. Thank you Madeleine, for another amazing creation!!

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