Last night I tweeted about how I had just washed down a multivitamin with a gin and tonic. I was pretty proud of myself for achieving such balance in my life. Very zen.

Legend of the Lost replied saying that it counted as a lifestyle cocktail.

‘A lifestyle cocktail??,’ I said. ‘Did you just make that up? Please tell me it’s not a real thing. (If it is I’m doing a blog post about it.)’

‘Just made it up,’ he replied, ‘I own it! But you may borrow it. Because you’re my favourite.’

So I am. Right now.

Here are six lifestyle cocktails I came up with that are basically guilt-free because they are just so goddamn good for you.


Vodka and Berocca

This was a suggestion from Nathan Dennis and it seems totally legit to me. No messing about – right to the good stuff. The only trouble is coming up with a name for it. I was trying to think of something that merged the names, Brangelina style, but all I could think of was The Verruca. I’m not sure it will catch on, except in swimming pools.

I’m picturing it a bit like this, but with bits of crumbled Berocca on the rim of the glass?

lifestyle cocktails

Photo by lindsay Cotter on Unsplash

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There comes a point in your life when you start to get excited when you see NEW things happening. A few months ago for example my neighbours opposite me had a new boiler installed, and I spent quite a lot of time at the kitchen window casually making a cup of tea or washing up or just sort of standing.

‘They’re bringing out the old boiler now,’ I’d shout into Belle in the living room.

She would answer me with silence because she is 16 and hasn’t reached the age yet where she cares about anything boring.

I’ve had a similar sense of excitement over the last couple of months every time I have driven through Taunton and seen work progressing on the new Hubbox restaurant. The space that it’s taken over has been empty for a long time, (I knew it as Wimpy, which I think says a lot), and it’s in a pretty prominent location, so it’s lovely to see it coming back to life.

We went along to their launch night a couple of weeks ago and were blown away by the size and the scale of the restaurant. They’ve knocked through into what was also the shop next door to Wimpy, so there’s masses of space downstairs and a first floor too, which has a slightly more casual vibe, with some comfy looking sofas and armchairs that would be ideal for day time coffees and sandwiches.

(My friend Paul did a little tour video on the opening night, in which I wave, so if you want a proper look inside then that’s worth a watch.) View Post

In association with Red Tractor

Hoorah! It’s here! October! I can now officially start to get excited about Christmas, (possibly in secret as I’m not sure everyone is ready for it), eat warm apple crumble for breakfast, and generally embrace the deliciousness of autumn. Cooked apples and hot pudding are about as autumnal as it gets without actually putting on a halloween costume, which I why I choose to make an apple tarte tatin for this blog post.

apple tarte tatin with rough puff pastry

Let’s skip back a bit though, to an email I had a little while ago from the people at Red Tractor.

‘The Red Tractor logo is ace,’ they said, (I’m paraphrasing*), ‘but we want more people to know more about it! Can you help?’

‘Of course!’ I said, rolling up my virtual sleeves and putting on my imaginary pinny. ‘Show me the meats!’

‘Well that’s just it,’ they said, ‘it’s not just about meat…’ View Post

Dairy free chocolate pancakes recipe in association with Planted

‘If I make some chocolate pancakes with a peanut butter sauce,’ I asked Belle one day this week, ‘will you eat them?’

‘Will I eat some chocolate pancakes,’ she said, looking like she might have misunderstood the question, ‘if you make them for me right now?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Well yes,’ she said, ‘obviously.’

And so I did.

dairy free chocolate pancakes recipe

I’d been trying to think up something to make with the cartons of Planted I’d been sent to try out, and who doesn’t love a chocolate pancake? I felt like a dairy free chocolate pancake recipe was in order.

If you tend to look for dairy free alternatives, Planted could be worth trying the next time you’re shopping. It currently comes in two flavours – oat drink with banana and coconut drink with cocoa – and two more flavours are on the way along with smaller, ready to drink cartons.

Both flavours are vegan approved by the Vegetarian Society, and are fortified with calcium (for maintenance of normal teeth & bones), vitamin D (for absorption of calcium & phosphorous) and vitamin B₁₂ (for normal function of the immune system). They also tick the conservation box – a donation of 2p for every 1L carton sold goes to the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity.

How to make dairy free chocolate pancakes

This dairy free chocolate pancake recipe is super quick and easy to make. All you need for the pancake mix is: View Post

In association with Breville

Smokey prawn quesadilla recipe

Belle is very much a creature of habit. She knows what she likes – Netflix, pizza, chocolate chip brioche – and she tends to stick to it. You will NEVER catch Belle browsing Prime Video while eating a burger. Just never.

She is also what I would call a fussy eater.

I’d always imagined that she would grow out of fussy eating. I thought that one day she would turn around and proclaim a new found love for courgettes, or request fresh fish for dinner, but it doesn’t seem to have happened. Sometimes she surprises me though and eats something that I would never have put her down for, like the sweet potato and peanut butter quesadilla at her favourite restaurant in Taunton, (Eat The Bird), which is served with avocado and sriracha chilli sauce.

Really Belle??

Ask her if she likes avocado and she will say no, but mashed up in a tortilla with some spicy sauce and apparently that’s a different thing entirely. I have tried making it at home a few times, but I’m not sure I ever get the balance of ingredients quite right. At Eat The Bird she always gets half of her quesadilla to take away and that isn’t as much fun either when you’re already AT home.

I also tend to mess it up a bit because I have to do it in a frying pan and then flip it over. (Not one of my many talents.)

When Breville sent me one of their Ultimate Grills then, and asked me to create a recipe, I knew exactly what I wanted to do – a quesadilla. No more flipping, authentic Eat the Bird style griddle markings – what’s not to love? I decided to branch out from Belle’s filling of choice though and make something that was speedier, (i.e. no sweet potato roasting required), and that showed off the grill a bit more.

I settled on prawns because they are delicious, (obvs), and super easy to cook on the Breville Ultimate Grill. View Post

In association with Lancashire Farm

Lancashire Farm full fat natural yogurt

I have a reputation in my family for being competitive.

I’m not entirely sure where it has come from. I mean I did TELL Belle she should have been on my team for that family football game. Of course she was going to go down in the tackle, she was only eight.

I had been thinking that I was mellowing with age, but then I went on a writing course recently where we played an Articulate style team game with celebrity names in a hat and I may have got a bit carried away trying to describe Boris Yeltsin through the power of mime.

This weekend though we played Toppers, a fun game sent to me by Lancashire Farm to encourage us to be a bit more adventurous with yogurt. (Ooer). All Lancashire Farm yogurt is made with 100% free range milk. They make one kilo tubs of natural and Greek style natural yogurt, both also available in fat free versions, as well as coconut, strawberry and mango flavours of low fat bio yogurt. View Post