Cooking The Books: Thug Kitchen Eat Like You Give a F*ck

I’m really glad I bought Thug Kitchen because some of the recipes just absolutely blew my mind. However, quite a few didn’t, so it’s a bit of a mixed bag.  And the swearing is just plain annoying.

It’s an american vegan cookbook and there is swearing on every page which feels a bit desperate and gimmicky.  However some of the food is epic, so I got over my irritation.

The biggest revelations for me were roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos and roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos with coriander and salsa – these recipes alone were worth the price of the book.  A taste sensation.

However I regret attempting any of their healthy cakes – they were really average compared to the other delicious ‘virtuous’ cakes I’ve been making lately in my attempt to give up ice-cream.

So here’s the lowdown on what we cooked.


  1. Roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos.  I will be cooking these again.  It was like having a flavour and texture party in my mouth.
  2. Smoky black-eyed peas with roasted sweet potatoes and collards.  I thought this looked like quite a boring recipe.  I was very wrong.  It packed a punch and tasted fantastic.
  3. Ginger sesame marinaded tofu and creamy peanut slaw.  Who needs meat or diary when you have marinaded tofu and peanut coleslaw.  Really interesting combo.
  4. Roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos with coriander and salsa.  I felt like I died and gone to heaven.  Everyone needs to try this dish.
Thug Kitchen Roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos
Roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos
Thug Kitchen smoky black-eyed peas with roasted sweet potatoes and collards
Smoky black-eyed peas with roasted sweet potatoes and collards
Thug Kitchen Ginger sesame marinaded tofu and creamy peanut slaw
Ginger sesame marinaded tofu and creamy peanut slaw
Thug Kitchen roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos with coriander and salsa
Roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos with coriander and salsa

The More Average

  1. 5 spice fried rice with sweet potatoes.  Actually this was pretty tasty, it just wasn’t up there with the cauliflower tacos.
  2. Maple oat banana bread.  This was quite nice, a little dry, but a bit of peanut butter spread on top perked it up.
  3. Blueberry and walnut scones.  Now I’m really into my healthy cakes so I was a bit disappointed that there was white sugar in this recipe.  However all the other ingredients were healthy, but unfortunately I was just a bit indifferent to the flavour.
  4. White bean and red lentil burgers and root veggie fries.  The burgers were just too dry.  The fries were good though.
Thug Kitchen 5 spice fried rice with sweet potatoes
5 spice fried rice with sweet potatoes
Thug Kitchen Maple oat banana bread
Maple oat banana bread
Thug Kitchen Blueberry and Walnut scones
Blueberry and walnut scones
Thug Kitchen White bean and red lentil burgers and root veggie fries
White bean and red lentil burgers and root veggie fries

I would definitely recommend this book, but don’t cook the cakes and stick to the mexican style dishes as that’s what they seem to be best at.  I am definitely keen to return to Thug Kitchen, because there’s clearly some magic going on with many of the recipes – the cauliflower tacos and brocilli burritos are two of the best things I’ve eaten this year.

I Bloody Loved Marie Kondo-ing The Hell Out of my House

Everyone should Marie Kondo.  Oh my god, I’m high on Marie Kondo!

For anyone who hasn’t heard of this lady, she’s a decluttering expert.  The main principle of her book ‘The Magic Art of Tidying Up’ is literally chuck out any of your possessions that don’t fill you with joy or that you haven’t used in the last 12 months.

This clear out challenge was week four or my six week reboot. So far I’ve done yoga, meditation and a week of drinking herbal tea and water, and without a doubt, this has been my most transformative week yet.

I was supposed to be doing 15 minutes of the Marie Kondo method per day for a week.  It didn’t quite work out as planned, but that was quite alright.

It went something like this:

  • Monday night: decluttered my bathroom cupboard for 15 minutes, chucked a load of toiletries out I don’t use. End result – amazing looking cabinet and easy access to all the products I use.
  • Tuesday/Wednesday: in Belfast for work.  Zero streamlining.
  • Thursday morning: spent 90 mins auditing, organising and colour ordering my wardrobe. Concluded that there are a number of clothing items that are nice enough, but as I haven’t worn them for 12 months they need to go to the charity shop.  Feel liberated.
  • Friday: 7am – 2pm embarked on a ‘tidying up’ frenzy.  I attacked my office – books, files, paperwork all came flying off the shelves.  If the books didn’t light a little fire in my heart when I looked at them, I put them in the charity pile. I found it addictive and exhiliarating to be just left with the stuff that truly sings to my soul.  I consulted Pinterest and figured out how to organise my bookshelf in a more aesthetically pleasing and inspiring way. Delighted with the outcome.
  • Saturday – no more Marie Kondo-ing required.  I peaked on Friday.
Marie Kondo Pinterest Book Shelf Inspiration
Pinterest research on organising a book shelf
Marie Kondo bookcase
Marie Kondo-ed bookcase
Marie Kondo Beautifully curated books
Beautifully curated books
Marie Kondo debris
Mid Marie Kondo debris. My method of chucking everything from my office onto the landing.

Spending the week paring down my office and wardrobe, leaving me with just my favourite possesions has utterly focussed my mind and inspired me.  Because I’m starting a business and my worklife is starting to get busy and exciting, this couldn’t have been better timed.  With my new sparkly edited office and my spangly minimalist wardrobe, I’m ready to take on the world.

My next week’s challenge is to have a phone curfew from 8pm to 7am.  A pretty scary thought for me!  I’m hoping it will make me more relaxed in the evenings and help me sleep soundly.

My blogging friend Debbie is rebooting with me.  This week she gave up alcohol which took her off on an unexpected and positive tagent – read all about it here: Proper Foodie 

Marie Kondo wine
All the wine Debbie has missed out on this week!

Sitting Cross Legged Hurts: a Week of Yoga

It’s week three of my six week reboot and this week I threw myself into yoga.

I thought ten minutes of yoga a day would be a doddle.  It wasn’t!  But neither was it hard. And I’m glad I did it.

My friend recommended ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube as a gentle introduciton to yoga.

Initially I found Adriene very American, overcheery and annoying.  She says ‘hey-o’ a lot.  Oh yes and she’s enviably hot as well.

However with time, I warmed to Adriene, she was actually funny, playful and great at explaining how to do the moves without being too prescriptive.

I was supremely lazy in my approach to my ten minutes a day.  Most of the time I just did the same easy introductory ten minutes of Adriene’s session, which involved sitting on the floor cross legged and doing a few stretches and breathing exercises.  On two occasions I advanced to the next ten minutes of her session where she gets on all fours and does some back arching and a downward facing dog.

I’ve discovered sitting cross-legged is now painful for me (gutted – I must be getting old!), I improved the situation a little by sitting on a pillow.  And although the stretching and breathing exercises were all very simple and unstrenuous – I did feel the benefits.  I think yoga, like meditation, slows you down and grounds you, and as a stressy, excitable person this can only be a good thing for me. My brain often becomes a hurricane of ideas and worries and I don’t know how to stop the spinning and obsessing.  Ten minutes of yoga a day helped.  Even just having to work out how to do the bloody stretches and moves shut my brain up for a bit.

It was a reality check discovering how unflexible I am.  I pride myself on exercising a lot and being quite fit.  But sadly my body doesn’t appear to be very bendy. I’d definitely like to continue with yoga to get more supple.  And I’d like to persevere for my mental health and to improve my relaxation.  I suspect if I did a few yoga moves every evening it would help me wind down for sleep.

yoga i like this stretch
I like this stretch!

It’s been an eye opener to discover that I can actually do a yoga programme at home.  Getting out of the house in the evening and going to a class is a bit unrealistic for me.  So now, I really don’t have any excuse.  We’ll see. Fingers crossed I’ll keep it up at least once or twice a week.

My blogging buddy Debbie is doing the six week reboot with me, and has been attempting yoga as well this week.  She’s more of a yoga pro than me though. Read how she got on here: properfoodie

yoga debbie does yoga
Debbie doing more advanced yoga moves than me

And if you’re interested – as promised in my last blog post I’m managing to maintain giving up decaf coffee and sugar-free squash.  I can barely believe I’m still at it.  Chuffed, but the earth isn’t really moving in terms of feeling dramatic health benefits, other than sleeping really well, which is great.

Next week’s reboot challenge is to Marie Kondo my house. For those who haven’t heard of her, she’s a decluttering guru.  The main principle is to chuck out anything that doesn’t give you joy. I’m going to dedicate 15 minutes a day to the method. I must say, I’m really excited about this one, I can’t wait to dump stuff and get my house organised.  I’ll let you know how I get on.


Cooking The Books: Jamie Magazine

I bought a copy of Jamie Magazine a few weeks ago and I’ve literally been hooked ever since. It’s a bright, contemporary, inspiring magazine.  Whilst I subscribe to Delicious and really enjoy it, I way prefer this. Delicious actually feels quite old fashioned and stuffy in comparison. I’ve never cooked a single recipe from Delicious magazine, but I opened Jamie Magazine and I wanted to cook everything.  And we nearly did!  I think it helped that it was a ‘feel-good food’ issue – definitely my cup of tea – delicious food that I don’t need to feel guilty about.  I was particularly enamoured with a section on healthy baking and ended up cooking three cakes.

Here are my opinions on the all eight dishes we attempted:

The Favourites

  1. Mushroom and lentil pappardelle bolognese.  I cooked it for Jamie and my friend Michelle and they adored it.  And if I do say so myself it was a real cracker.  Sweet, rich and complex, you definitely didn’t miss the meat.
  2. Creamy lentil bowl with garlic mushrooms.  I’d just got back from a hilly hike in the Peak District and Jamie (my boyfriend not Jamie Oliver!) prepared this for me.  It was the perfect wholesome friday night treat, with the bacon adding a bit of indulgence and extra flavour.
  3. Squash and greens lasagne made with leftover veg from our fridge.  We didn’t use squash or greens! We just adapted this recipe to use up all the old veg in our fridge.  We roasted the veg as was required of the squash and followed the recipe exactly apart from that.  It was fabulous! Much tastier and more interestingly seasoned than a standard lasagne. And the toasty breadcrumbs on top provided a lovely bit of crunch.
  4. Apricot and root veg cake with honey and yoghurt frosting.  This was a revelation! Made with parsnips, beetroot and carrot, maple syrup, spelt flour and rapeseed oil.  This made me so happy to have this cake in the fridge.  Although it didn’t last long.  It was a very interesting sweet earthy flavour and the yoghurt frosting really was ‘the icing on the cake’ he he.
  5. Banoffee pecan muffins with coconut clouds and date caramel sauce.  Another very imaginative cake.  It was very faffy to make and I got a bit annoyed with all the different stages.  But it was well worth the effort.  There was no sugar in these muffins at all – all the sugar came from dates and bananas.  The date caramel sauce and the whipped up coconut cream made the experience extra indulgent and fun.
Jamie Magazine Mushroom and lentil pappardelle bolognaise
Mushroom and lentil pappardelle bolognese
Jamie Magazine Creamy lentil bowl with garlic mushrooms
Creamy lentil bowl with garlic mushrooms
Jamie Magazine squash and greens lasagne made with leftover veg from our fridge
Squash and greens lasagne made with leftover veg from our fridge
Jamie Magazine apricot and root veg cake with honey and yoghurt frosting
Apricot and root veg cake with honey and yoghurt frosting
Jamie Magazine banoffee pecan muffins with coconut clouds and date caramel sauce
Banoffee pecan muffins with coconut clouds and date caramel sauce

The Also Very Goods

  1. Beef shin ragu and polenta.  This was a handy one for us to cook as we had some spare beef shin in the freezer.  The only problem was that I didn’t register that this recipe was in the pressure cooker feature! We don’t have a pressure cooker, however we improvised with our slow cooker, and it was a lovely rich, flavourful dinner.
  2. Indian chicken lentil traybake.  We mucked this up a bit.  Somehow we ended up with a tray bake drowning in watery sauce – so we stuck it on the hob and boiled as much of the water away as possible and threw in some extra spices and seasoning and all was good.
  3. Rye pudding-loaf-cake with hazelnut crumble – made with about 20g of brown sugar and all the rest of the sweetness came from apples, apple puree and sultanas.  A really delightful cake with a lot of depth of flavour and a bit of added excitement from the crumbly topping.  Rye flour was used instead of white flour, whilst it’s not gluten free, it’s much more nutritious.
Jamie Magazine beef shin ragu and polenta
Beef shin ragu and polenta
Jamie Magazine Indian chicken lentil traybake
Indian chicken lentil traybake
Jamie Magazine rye pudding-loaf-cake with hazelnut crumble
Rye pudding-loaf-cake with hazelnut crumble

I think the simplest way of demonstrating how much I enjoyed Jamie Magazine, is to tell you that I’ve subscribed to the magazine and I’ve bought the Clean Cakes Book written by Henrietta Inman, the lady who developed all the lovely healthy cake recipes. Jamie Magazine hits the spot for me.

Giving up Decaf Coffee Took me to a Dark Place

This week as part of my six week reboot plan, I gave up decaffeinated coffee.  To be precise I replaced all my drinks with either water or herbal tea.  The odd wine and beer were permitted though!

I thought it would be easy.  Yes I’d miss my milky comforting mugs of decaf during the day, but herbal tea would be fine.

decaf sour cherry tea
My go to drink all week – rather delicious sour cherry tea

But no, it was AWFUL!

Unfortunately, bad luck meant that this week also happened to be my most stressful week of the year, so giving up decaf coffee and sugar free squash on top of that just finished me off.

From monday to wednesday I was tired and bad tempered.  Poor Jamie could not do a thing right.

Thursday I lightened up  a bit.  By mid friday I was perky, by saturday I was totally fine.

I’m not a scientist, but I have been speaking to one.  He advised against drinking decaf coffee because of the dangerous chemicals used to strip out the caffeine from the coffee beans.  I’m also aware that the aspartame in sugar free squash maybe be pretty unhealthy too.

So, was I addicted to the chemicals in these two products? Or was I addicted to the habit?

I don’t know, but I’m going to reconsider whether I want to return to these products.  If I do, I’d like to think it won’t be my usual five plus cups of decaf and two big glasses of squash a day. Because with all that herbal tea and water I’ve been drinking this week, I feel nice and properly hydrated and good.  Ok it took a few days to get to the feeling good stage, but now I’m here I don’t want to undo my good work.  I may try and keep it up for another month – I’ll let you know how I get on.

My blogging pal, Debbie, is doing this six week ‘well being’ reboot with me.  This week she’s been embracing slow cooker meals, to try claw back some quality time for her evenings.  Read how she got along here: Proper Foodie

decaf slow cooked ragu
Debbie’s incredible looking slow cooked ragu

Next week’s reboot challenge was supposed to be me doing 15 mins of Marie Kondo decluttering a day.  But, I’m now working in Belfast for a week, so I don’t think decluttering a hotel room is going to bring me a lot of joy! I’m going to replace it with a yoga challenge.  I haven’t done yoga properly for years, but when I do do it I really love the relaxing effect it has on me.  I think a week of yoga will do me the world of good.

I’ll be back next weekend to tell you all about it!  If you have any tips or thoughts about the reboot, do comment below.

Six Week Reboot: A Week of Zen

I must admit I was looking forward to this challenge.   I suspected that slipping ten minutes of meditating into my day would be an easy, enjoyable task.  For many years I’ve intended to bring meditation into my life as whenever I have tried it, I’ve found it profoundly relaxing and positive.  Finally this could be my opportunity to make it a habit.

And it really was easy.  My friend is a huge fan of Tara Brach so I had a look online and found a Tara Brach ten minute meditation and every morning, generally around 8am I’d sit in my office on my comfy ergonomic chair and get stuck in.

Meditation Tara Brach
Tara Brach, American pyschologist and meditation guru
meditation katya meditating in office
Meditating in my office

It mainly involved a lot of deep breathing and being quiet and being soothed by Tara’s lovely calm voice.

Whilst I wouldn’t call it life changing, I could feel that it was doing me good.  Life can feel frenzied at the moment.  Starting a business means that I’m torn in multiple directions and don’t have a consistent routine.  So a dose of meditation was a welcome break and helped me feel more grounded and confident and able to make better decisions.  I find my best decisions always come from a place of calm.

And the ten minutes a day has given me a taste for meditating.  It’s left me curious and wanting to delve deeper and discover more.  I believe that reaching a deep sense of quiet is incredibly good for mental health and it’s excellent for creativity which is the holy grail when you are an entrepreneur.

So I’d like to try some longer meditations and see how I get on.  I will let you know.

And this week my reboot partner in crime, Debbie, has been mastering the Bullet Journal.  The hope is that the journal will help Debbie organise her time better.  Check out how Debbie got on: Proper Foodie Bullet Journal

Meditation Debbie's Bullet Journal
Debbie’s Bullet Journal

Next week’s task for me is to drink only water, hot water with lemon and herbal tea for a week (although the odd glass of booze is ok!).  The motivation behind this is because I mainline decaff coffee and diet squash.  Both of which I know are full of chemicals, so shouldn’t be my main form of liquid consumption.  I think it will be good to just have a break from squash and decaff coffee. I’m curious to see if a) it makes me feel better and b) if it affects my palate at all – will I be able taste more?

I’m not looking forward to this one like I was meditating.  This is a toughie as I get a bit grumpy without my squash and coffee.

See you next week for another update! And if you’re giving anything up or embarking on new healthy habits do comment below – I’d love to hear about it.