Archive for the ‘Food & Fitness’ Category

Borough Market Bonanza!

I have been dying to go to Borough Market since I arrived in London and I finally made the trek there today! I started the day off right by meeting up with four lovely ladies from my course for a mid-morning brunch near the market at The Table Cafe on Southwark Street. If you’re looking for delicious food in a perfect price-range, this place is definitely worth hitting up. We all had fantastic breakfasts (I got the eggs florentine — delish!) and it was around £40 for the five of us, including drinks (check out there delish breakfast menu here).

After we were thoroughly fed and caffeinated we hit up Borough Market! You may recall my visit to Spitalfields & Brick Lane earlier in the year where there was a load of amazing foods tempered with a fantastic mix of arts, crafts and vintage goodies. Borough Market is different from Spitalfields and Camden Markets in the sense that it is just food. For being a market dedicated to deliciousness, it’s actually quite huge! There are goodies to feed any appetite: ridiculous amounts of cheese, homemade jams, granola, meats, cakes, cookies and mulled cider on every corner. Here’s a bit of a pictorial tour:

{Row after row of nuts, dried fruits and chocolate-covered everything!}

{My friend, M., was like a kid in Costco on Saturday when she saw this stand.
I have never seen so many marinated goodies in one place!}

{Loads of stands selling fresh fruits and veggies! If I wasn’t heading to Malta tomorrow, I would probably have picked some up!}

{Mulled wine & cider on every corner for £3. Make sure you have some coinage handy — shopping is always so much better with mulled wine in hand.}

{How cute are these shortbread owls?! This stand had the most delicious looking cookies ever! I picked up some gingerbread and oat cookies plus some ginger flapjacks for my flatmate. Mmm!}

Now this stand below, Spice Mountain, was one of my faves in the whole market! Mind you, there were loads of great places, but I’m a sucker for cool goodies that you would probably only ever see on the Food Network.

If you’re like me and enjoy cooking in your free time, this stand has some seriously cool herbs, spices and specialty spice blends. Think things like mango powder, lemon grass stalks, spearmint salt, sumac and tamarind. Their selection is seriously endless, plus a great place to grab spice blends for ethnic cuisine night! You can also order online — they have some really cute gift sets, too!

Definitely a fun way to spend a weekend morning! Borough’s normally only open Thursday through Saturday (8A- 5P), but they actually have special hours for Christmas, with the market operating nearly every day beginning on the 20th of December. Check it out and drop me a comment to tell me what you think!

Anyone else have any favorite markets to check out?


Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday marked the first Thanksgiving that I have ever had to spend without my family. Despite missing my family like crazy, I think our expat celebration in the UK turned out quite well! It definitely brought a bit of home across the pond.

We made it a potluck celebration, so everyone brought their favorite Thanksgiving dish. I was slightly worried that we wouldn’t have enough food, but we actually ended up having leftovers, which was pretty amazing! Check out some of our goodies (wish I would have taken more pictures!) :

Lindsay’s Pumpkin Pie! Note to those celebrating in the UK: stores don’t sell canned pumpkin here. You have to buy a whole pumpkin and actually mash it and make a real pumpkin pie… a bit intense. Fortunately for Lindsay (and for everyone involved in the eating process), her lovely mom shipped a can + evaporated milk + crusts across the pond. Mmmmm!

Here’s Aaron cutting into his fierce Turbaducken, which was essentially a turducken (duck inside of a chicken inside of a turkey) with layers of bacon, andouille sausage, spinach and stuffing inside. It was definitely a feat (12 hours of roasting + ridiculous prep), but I think Aaron definitely ran away with MVP. His turkey looked great plus it fed EVERYONE there!

I made a vat of candied yams since sweet potatoes are my most favorite food in the world! Unfortunately, the bag of marshmallows were a mix of pink and white (the only ones I could find in the store!) and I had to use the pink ones because there weren’t enough white to cover everything. Thus, my potatoes look like a Valentine’s Day dish instead of a traditional Thanksgiving fare. Still quite good!

With Sean & Wen, a couple of our guests! :)

This picture of Ronan & Pooja is probably my favorite of the night! Love these two <3.

I’m so thankful for everyone that came and celebrated, it definitely felt a bit like celebrating with the fam. To everyone back in California: miss you, love you and hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving 2009!

I dealt with my first bout of homesickness this past weekend. I haven’t really felt incredibly homesick since my arrival in London, but this past weekend I was Skyping with my mom, dad and sister as they were preparing some Thanksgiving deliciousness in the kitchen. My mom was dressed in full Betty Crocker garb, food processor whirring, showing me her homemade dough for pie making… for the first time, I felt really homesick. I have never spent the holidays (Thanksgiving or Christmas) apart from my family and this year will mark the first time in my entire 23 years of existence that I have to be without them. Normally, I head over to my parents first thing in the morning on Thanksgiving day to begin food prep with the ladies while the guys chit chat, set the table and prepare for football (stereotypical… I know!) This year, I’ll be living in a community that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving so I, of course, have decided to bring Thanksgiving to the UK! My friend Aaron and I have organized a Thanksgiving event involving loads of Americans (and some Europeans) who want to get together to celebrate the holidays!

{This totally captures our Thanksgiving mornings: PJs in the kitchen preparing deliciousness!}

We have reserved our dining hall and are planning on decorating a bit to get everyone in the Thanksgiving spirit! Since there are quite a few of us (30 – 40 possibly), we’re making it a potluck wherein everyone gets to bring their most favorite Thanksgiving dish to share! I’m bringing sweet potatoes – my favorite food in the world! – and Aaron is going to be attempting a Turbaducken (duck inside of a chicken inside of a turkey with bacon between each layer… clearly anti-vegetarian.) Although I don’t get to see my family, it should be a blast having everyone get together, bringing their favorite homemade dishes plus introducing a bunch of internationals (we have people from Germany, Thailand, China, France, Italy, etc.) to a bit of American culture!

We’ve requested that our bar be open for the evening, but we can’t bring our own drinks to the actual dining hall, so I’m thinking about bringing a vat of spiced cider to get everyone into the holiday spirit. I love the holidays!!

Here are some delicious Thanksgiving recipes for anyone looking for some new deliciousness this year:

Hot Spiced Cider: Mmmmm…. such a delicious holiday drink!

Turducken: A cool endeavor for a chef that needs a challenge! Not for the faint of heart!

Pumpkin Cheesecake: If pumpkin pie didn’t have enough calories for you in the first place, why not make it a cheesecake? I made mini pumpkin cheesecakes for Chris’ birthday last year and they were a hit! Really delish!

Candied Yams: I don’t think sweet potatoes need any dressing up, but if you like marshmallows and butter, this is ahh-mazing!

Is anyone else excited for Thanksgiving?!

PS. Miss you mom, dad, nana, punk & Tiffy!

Does Food Here Really Suck?

I was perusing the aisles of Sainsbury’s on my way home from class yesterday and starting filling my mini basket up with groceries for the week when I realized that I have fallen into a routine. There are some things that I absolutely love here; my go-to items, if you will. All, in all, I find that aside from produce being a little lackluster, some of the stuff here is actually pretty great! My new favorite things:

1. Cauldron Mushroom Burgers: Pure deliciousness. I was slightly afraid that the British grocery chains wouldn’t be as accommodating for vegetarians, but I discovered quite the opposite! The Cauldron Mushroom Burgers are absolutely ahhh-mazing! I could seriously eat them every day without question. They were out of stock yesterday and I could nearly feel tears welling in my eyes.


2. Innocent Veg Pots: I’ve never seen these bad boys in the US, but they’re probably one of my most favorite inventions ever. They’re perfect for students because they take 4 minutes to microwave and I managed to snag two for 5 pounds yesterday! They’re really low-fat and low cal (most are under 300 calories) + they have three servings of veggies and are pure amazement. The Moroccan Giant Cous Cous is one of my faves!

Hot Chocolate3. Options Mint Madness Hot Chocolate: Hot chocolate is the ultimate comfort for me, but real hot chocolate is way too sugary and has too many calories for me to actually enjoy. Swiss Miss has their low-calorie stuff (25 calories per pack), but it just tastes like brown water and splenda. Options Mint Madness hot chocolate is amazing and it’s only 34 calories per serving. They actually sell their stuff in individual packets (the only way you can purchase it at Sainsbury’s) and I think the lady thinks I’m crazy because I purchase between 5 and 7 every single time I’m in. Yes, they’re THAT good.

4. Cauldron Marinated Tofu Pieces: Delish! I’m always wary of marinated tofu because the flavors can be a little off, but these guys have it down pat! A little salty, but they work well in recipes or mixed into stir-fry! Mmmm.

Fruit n Fiber

5. Kellogg’s Fruit n’ Fibre Cereal: It’s really weird seeing the Kellogg’s name on cereals I’ve never heard  of, but this Fruit n’ Fiber cereal is actually legit! I was a bit thrown off the first time I tried it since the fruit part of the equation constitutes dried fruits and raisins, but it’s actually quite delish with a bit of soy milk (which Brits refer to as soya milk…hmmmm.)

5. Hummous. I love all things chickpea, so the fact that hummous is ridiculously prevalent and inexpensive here pretty much makes my life. I can snag them for 1 pound each at Marks & Spencer (low cal versions, too) or I can get them 2 for 1.50 at Sainsbury’s (no low-cal that I’ve seen as of yet). Absolutely delicious with carrot batons!

Most of the food has actually been pretty good here. Granted the fruit isn’t quite as fresh, ripe or juicy as we’re used to/spoiled with in California, but for the most part, I have found some awesome things to stock my fridge and pantry with!

Anyone have any other amazing British goodies that they’re loving?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

New Toy.

Crock Pot

Whilst shopping at Argos for a coffee maker a few days back, my eyes landed upon a mini 3L crockpot in the kitchen section. I quickly began daydreaming about the days when I owned a slow cooker… I was a champion at making (meatless) chicken tortilla soup and veggie pots of goodness. As luck would have it, Argos’ basic crockpot (not an investment piece) was a mere £7.50. Now that I have this bad boy in my kitchen, it’s calling my name. For anyone looking to save some cash and make super simple meals at home, here are some awesome (and inexpensive!) recipes that I’ve run across:

Crock Pot Curried Rice & Lentils
{courtesy of Jolinda Hackett}

1 cup rice
1 tbsp curry powder
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup lentils
2 vegetarian bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 onion, diced


Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Makes four servings.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 309, Total Carbohydrates: 6.4g, Dietary Fiber: 9.0g, Protein: 14.6g

Sweet Crock Pot Butternut Squash


2 butternut squash
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins

  • Preparation:

Peel squash and remove the seeds. Place the squash in the crock pot or slow cooker, then add remaining ingredients on top. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.

Rice Pilaf


1 1/2 cups seitan, cut into pieces {non vegetarians can use real meat!}
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup green peas
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 3/4 cups rice


Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large carrots
2 large celery stalks
2 onions
2 400g cans low sodium chicken broth
5 cups water
200g egg noodles (or any other variety of pasta)
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
½ tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper


Cut carrots, celery, and onions into small pieces and place into slow cooker.
Cut chicken into one-inch pieces and add. Add broth, water, bay leaf, and all of the spices to the slow cooker.
Set the slow cooker on low, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 hours.
When soup is almost done, boil noodles in separate pot until they are al-dente (slightly firm).
Drain noodles and add to slow cooker.
Set slow cooker on medium and cook for thirty minutes or until noodles are tender.

Super easy & cheap! I’m gonna see what’s up with the Curried Rice & Lentils tomorrow night!

Signature Stamp - Shannon


I just received my first package today and I am such a giddy schoolgirl right now! I had mentioned to my parents that I have a love of FiberOne bars and I can’t find them anywhere in London!


When I opened my package, there were six boxes of Fiber One bars hidden underneath some clothes, a lint brush and some air freshener! So amazing!

Dad & Company — if you guys are reading this: Thank you! You made my year!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

The Garrick — my new favorite place.

The Garrick

So, I’ve decided that I’ve mentally placed a claim on this joint. The Garrick is officially my most favorite place on campus. For anyone that hasn’t experienced its glory yet, it’s a super clean, inexpensive cafe on campus that serves loads of food: sandwiches, salads, muffins, yogurt, breakfast bites and a variety of coffees and teas to keep your brain functioning properly. You can easily grab lunch and a coffee for under £5, plus it’s a seriously great place to congregate. For being such a small campus, I was surprised to find out that there are a load of on-campus eateries including a couple of student pubs. Although there are six or so other joints, I have probably been to The Garrick every day that I’ve been on campus, either to grab my caffeine fix or to plug in and do some work. If you want to find me on campus Monday through Wednesday during non-class hours, that’s probably where I’ll be! Note: The tomato & mozzarella sandwich (heated up) at lunch is delish!

Anyone else loving on this joint?

Signature Stamp - Shannon