ACID x FIT Food London

Best healthy brunch spots in London | Part one

Healthy brunch London

I didn’t eat breakfast regularly for about twenty years. No kidding. Whilst I loved sugary cereals and once ate an impressive nine bowls of Crunchy Nut at a friend’s house (her mum wasn’t impressed), I developed an unhealthy habit of eating too much in the evening and then ‘fasting’ until lunch the next day to make up for it. This lasted through university and into adulthood, and it’s only in the past six months that breakfast has suddenly become my BEST FRIEND. Really. I look forward to it when I wake up and it’s often my favourite meal of the day. Who’d have thought.

Anyway, around the same time I started getting into breakfast in a big way, I also discovered that brunch is one of the most fun things you can do on a weekend when you’ve cut down on booze. In fact, it’s probably the most fun thing you can do when hungover too. I’m now constantly on the lookout for new brunch options that don’t ruin all my hard work in the gym and get my weekend off to a healthy start, so here’s a few of my favourites along with some I’ve yet to try (but look amaaaazing).

Best healthy brunch spots in London

New Street Grill brunch
New Street Grill, Liverpool Street
I first visited this place with my mum a few years ago and we spent a long, leisurely afternoon making our way through the wine list in atmospheric settings. I’ve since been back a few times and I’m always impressed. Friendly staff, tasty food, and a nice outdoor terrace to sit al fresco in the summer. Brunch-wise, I’d go for the Honey & yoghurt pot, berry compote, and granola or if you’re feeling hungry the baked cod, white bean, chorizo, baby spinach, and poached egg sounds good.

New Street Grill, 16A, New Street, London EC2M 4TR. Tube: Liverpool Street. Phone: 020 3503 0785
http://www.newstreetgrill.co.uk/menus/restaurant/brunch/

Smoothies at Andina
Andina, Shoreditch
Located on Shoreditch High Street, this place serves brunch between 10am and 4pm on weekends and has a really cool vibe. I had a great afternoon here with the girls, and we sat chatting away for hours without feeling rushed. They recommend choosing three plates per person but I was happy with the eggs and avacado on sourdough toast – which left room for a cheeky Pisco Sour. I love the opportunity to try something new, so if you fancy Ceviche and Cau Cau alongside your usual granola, this is a great option. Ooo and they do juices, too.

Andina London, 1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DJ. Tube: Shoreditch High Street. Phone: 020 7920 6499
http://www.andinalondon.com/menus

Dean Street Townhouse Brunch
Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
The all day breakfast selection includes some of my favourites – fruit salad, ham hock hash with fried duck egg, eggs benedict, and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. Oh, and they have four types of bloody marys’ – technically more vegetable than alcohol so totally allowed – and a bakery in case you fancy a treat.

Dean Street Townhouse, 69 – 71 Dean Street, London, W1D 3SE. Tube: Tottenham Court Road. Phone: 020 7434 1775
http://www.deanstreettownhouse.com/food-and-drink

Granger + Co
Granger + Co, Clerkenwell
I haven’t yet made it to Granger + Co (particularly bad since I work round the corner) but the menu looks, quite frankly, incredible. Juices and smoothies, fruits and grains, eggs and sides, a bakery, classics and big plates. I have my eye on the almond milk chia seed pot, mango and coconut yoghurt, as well as the ginger cured prawn and spring onion egg white omelette with spiced salsa rossa. Looking through the list is making me hungry.

Granger + Co, Clerkenwell Green, 50 Sekforde Street, London, EC1R 0HA. Tube: Farringdon. Phone: 020 7251 9032
https://grangerandco.com/clerkenwell

Lima Floral
Lima Floral, Covent Garden
Try a weekend brunch with a Peruvian twist at Lima. Served on Saturdays from 10:30am to 2:30pm and Sundays from 10:30am to 3:00pm, give the ‘Andean breakfast’ set menu a go if you fancy trying a few different things! Options include quinoa porridge and bee pollen to start, potato pancakes and spring onions for mains, and dulche de leche or Amazonian chocolate mousse for dessert.

Lima Floral, 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9BJ. Tube: Covent Garden. Phone: 020 7240 5778
http://www.limalondongroup.com/floral/menus

Healthy brunch London
Fika, Roman Road, Bow
This is a really cute Swedish cafe on Roman Road, serving everyday brunch until 3pm. My favourite post-yoga coffee stop, you can just sit in the window and watch the world go by. Try the eggs on sourdough toast (with sourdough from the E5 bakery!) or the smashed avocado on sourdough toast with chili flakes and tomatoes. The latte is also really nice.

Where’s your favourite brunch spot in London? I have far too many to fit into one post so I’ll keep adding to this list!

Emma x

ACID x FIT Wellbeing

Ways to cheer yourself up when you have a cold

Ways to cheer yourself up when you have a cold

If you’re anything like me, you might feel like you’ve been living with a constant cold so far this year. No matter how healthily I eat or how regularly I exercise, I seem to have caught every bug that has made its way through the office in the past few months, and as we finally near the end of winter it’s got me good. I’m stuck in bed – frustrated and defeated.

With a bulging work inbox, missed meetings and cancelled yoga classes (sob), catching a cold is quite possibly the most frustrating thing that could have happened to me this week! If you’re stuck with a cold and feeling the same, here’s a few of my favourite ways to cheer myself up and fight off the bug when I’m sick.

Ways to cheer yourself up when you have a cold

Don’t set an alarm
I know this is an obvious one – but sleep. Give your alarm a break, email colleagues any urgent messages the night before, and rest until you wake naturally. Nap through the day and go to bed early. Hell, fall asleep mid-way through your Netflix binge if you feel like it. I often find it helps to imagine it’s Monday morning and I have to get up for work – the blissful feeling of being able to roll over and go back to sleep is a serious novelty.

Eat foods that nourish your body
You might fancy nothing more than a Big Mac and fries, but try to stay away from junk and processed food when you’re unwell. Whilst the temptation to chuck a ready meal into the microwave might be great when you have no energy, clean and nourishing foods are going to make you feel a whole lot better. Soups and regular, light snacks are also great alternatives to heavier meals, giving your body a chance to fight the cold rather than focusing on digesting processed food.

On the other hand, you’re ill and it sucks, so you might need some chocolate. If you’re tempted, go for dark. It helps your brain release endorphins and serotonin, can act as an anti-depressant, and reduces cortisol levels. Plus, the abundance of antioxidants and other minerals help make it a guilt-free treat.

Blueberries
Run a bath and treat yourself
This is one of my favourite things to do when I’m stuck at home with a cold. I run a really deep, hot bath, light a few candles, pick up a book and relax. It’s always tempting to stay in bed and avoid the shower (who cares when you’re in bed, right?) but sometimes a warming shower or a steaming bath can really brighten your mood. Even better, add a face mask and a hair mask and call it a pamper session.

Drink lots (and lots) of water
Everyone knows we’re supposed to drink lots of water throughout the day, but it’s even more important not to become dehydrated when you’re unwell. Plus, if you’re spending half the day asleep you need to make sure you’re drinking enough in the hours you’re conscious! Too many times I’ve slept until lunchtime only to wake with a pounding headache. Keep a bottle by the bed and keep refilling – you’re also helping your skin which is efficient multitasking when you can’t even get out of bed…

Drink tea
To count towards your water intake, why not try a herbal tea. Peppermint is my favourite when I’m feeling ill and is great for anything from the common cold to a sore stomach. Other good alternatives are Blackberry, Cinnamon (good for nausea), Juniper oil (add to hot water and inhale the steam to help relieve congestion) and Lemon (just add honey!).

Resist the temptation to work
Treat this as an unexpected day away from the office – that’s a treat, by the way! – and stop feeling guilty that you’re missing your 10am conference call. Your colleagues can make it through the day without you. I struggle with this one and tend to constantly check my building inbox throughout the day, meaning I never quite fully relax and end up with a lingering cold when I get back. Sign out of your emails, turn your out of office on and let the team know you’ll be back as soon as you’re feeling well again. There’s nothing better than knowing you’ve fully recovered and you’re ready to go full steam ahead.

Working in bed
Write a list to calm your mind
If the temptation gets too great and you start to worry about the chores stacking up around you, jot down a list of all the things you haven’t been able to do. I do this as things pop into my mind so I don’t forget them and then I close the notebook and continue trying to not work. Getting yourself better is your main focus, but keeping track of things might help you feel in control – it works for me. If you can, delegate the tasks that are building up (great excuse to ask your other half to clean the bathroom/do the shopping/make dinner) or take the list with you when you’re back in the office and tackle it with a focused mind!

Watch/read something that makes you happy
The novelty tends to have worn off after the first day of lounging around in PJs, so you might want to read a book or catch up on Netflix. A boxset binge is, in my opinion, a great use of your time when ill, but try to keep the viewing choices light and upbeat rather than choosing something that might bring you down more. 24 Hours in A&E is perhaps a no, then.

I’m currently reading ‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain de Botton which has been an amazing choice whilst I’ve felt unwell, as it focuses a lot on how the anticipation of travel and what happens in the mind is sometimes better than the reality of being there. Cue me closing my eyes and dreaming of my trip to Paris next month! On that note, book a holiday or search Pinterest for travel ideas – always does the trick.

Skip browsing through social media
FOMO sucks at the best of times, not least when you’re bed bound. Try to avoid browsing Facebook feeds or scanning Instagram or you may end up feeling more sorry for yourself. ‘I’m feeling unwell’ sympathy-garnering tweets are totally okay though.

Call your mum/nan/best friend
Who better to cheer you up when you’re feeling unwell? Plus you’re likely to have free time you weren’t expecting at your disposal. When did you last have time for a proper catch up call with your nan?

Open the window and get some fresh air
Unless it’s snowing or minus temperatures outside, some fresh air could do you good. I hate the stuffy, claustrophobic feeling of being stuck indoors, but sometimes just pulling up the blinds and cracking open the windows makes me feel instantly brighter.

Look at blue
Yes, really. I’m biased, but according to colour psychology, looking at the colour blue relaxes your mind. I’ve always said a blue sky makes me happy! If it’s a sunny day, once you’ve opened the window take a few minutes to stare at the sky. You might as well give it a try, you have time on your hands 😉

What do you do to cheer yourself up when you’ve got a cold?

Emma x

ACID x FIT Fitness Wellbeing

Nine reasons to workout (that don’t include a bikini body)

Reasons to workout that don't include a bikini body

One of the things I loved the most when I first started working out was the massive rush of endorphins I felt after every session. I was genuinely surprised by the change in my energy levels and the increase in my mood, and this kept me going night after night when I might otherwise have thrown in the towel. After years of losing interest in the gym when I didn’t see instant physical results, this change of mindset has made all the difference when it came to sticking at it – and funnily enough, the physical changes followed as soon as I stopped caring about them so much.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m out to get fit, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t important. I love watching my body changing. I love seeing hints of muscle in my arms, the feeling of clothes fitting that had been off-limits all year, craving banana and cashew nut smoothies rather than a coke. But more than all of that, and the fundamental difference this time round, I love the way I feel. I feel light. I wake up on the weekend ready to go, my mind is focused. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and that’s where the addiction to fitness lies for me.

So if you’re looking for reasons to get back to the gym that don’t include shaping up for summer, I’ve listed a few of my favourites! And if you happen to drop a few pounds whilst you’re there? Well congratulations you multi-tasker, you.

Nine reasons to workout – that don’t include a bikini body

Improve your mental health
I’d bought a SAD lamp last year convinced the dark nights were getting me down. After hours of googling and fretting over why I felt so damn low and tired all the time, I concluded it must be a lack of vitamin D and logged on to lumie.com to order myself some bright white light. I honestly believe Lumie lamps are great, but luckily for me it has sat untouched in the corner of my bedroom since last year.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health, and regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication – without the side-effects – and maintaining your regime can prevent relapse. That’s a pretty good reason to work up a sweat if you ask me.

Increase your energy levels
After an eight hour day of tackling client meetings and creative briefs, I’m usually just about ready to drop. I’ve been known to sleep on a weekend until it’s dark and my energy levels never really moved far above ‘awake’. These days I’m home from yoga before 11am on a Saturday morning, and that in itself is quite frankly a miracle. Whilst I can’t attribute this change solely to exercise (cutting out the sharing bag of chocolate on a Friday evening plays its part) I do know that working out regularly will fight fatigue and ward off sluggish feelings. NHS Choices suggests that ‘even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity.’

Improve your focus
Swap your early morning caffeine for some pre-work cardio and avoid the lull you get when the effects of the latte wear off. A report from the University of Illinois found that aerobic exercise in particular may improve immediate and long-term functioning of the brain in regions relating to attention. Handy if you have a long presentation to sit through.

Ramp up your sex drive
Ahem. Proven to improve sex drive in both men and women, an intense cardio session can significantly enhance physiological sexual arousal. A good case to schedule a post work trip to the gym, then. Plus the boost in body image and confidence that comes from regularly working out can’t help when it comes to baring all.

Boost your self-esteem
Which leads us on to body image. I can’t stress enough just how effective exercise is in improving our perception of ourselves. Even the simple act of turning up to the gym after a long day shows you’re taking charge of your body and your mind, and that in itself is seriously empowering.

Justify your ever-expanding lycra collection
Just saying.

Get to know your body
It seems strange now, but when I started working out I wasn’t at all aware how much weight I’d put on or how often I was covering up in baggy clothes and hiding from the world. I still looked presentable, if I do say so myself, in oversized COS and Whistles turtle necks, so no alarm bells rang for a long time. When I finally admitted to myself that I was unhappy with my lifestyle and the fact my confidence had fallen off of a cliff, it was a bit of a shock.

These days I feel far more in tune with my body. I’m starting to embrace the bits I can’t change, I recognise when PMS is making an appearance (yes, there is an app for that), and I don’t stress when I put on a pound or two because I know I can lose it again. Going to the gym makes you focus on yourself and on your whole body – how it feels at certain times of the month, how far you can push it in a yoga class – and I love this sudden awareness.

Realise how strong you are
Realising your own strength is a similarly amazing feeling. Lifting a set of weights you never thought you’d get off the ground feels really satisfying, and reminds you your body isn’t just there to look pretty.

General positive vibes
You know the old Instagram saying… ‘I really regretted that workout’ said no one, ever.

What keeps you motivated to exercise? Is it mainly to see a physical change or for the way it makes you feel?

Emma x

Beach Travel

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

Taghazout Bay sunset

Selfie in MoroccoHyatt Place Taghazout Bay double room
Food at Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Burger at Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Last month I was lucky enough to travel to Morocco with work, alongside some amazing travel bloggers and competition winners from the UK and France. With a weekend of sun, tagines and souk visits ahead of us, we flew out to Agadir and travelled onto Taghazout Bay, a small town on the south-western coast of Morocco.

Within easy reach of Marrakech and a drive along the coast from the resort of Essaouira the area attracts surfers and sun seekers alike, and was the perfect spot to unwind. The weather was incredible whilst we were there, and I genuinely couldn’t believe we were only a 3.5 hour flight away from the grey and miserable London we’d left behind. I can’t stress enough what a novelty it was to drag my shorts and sandals out from the depths of my wardrobe and forget about thick winter tights for a few days. For anyone desperate for a bit of winter sun (as I so often am at this time of year) Morocco is absolutely the place to visit, with temperatures often in the mid 20s into November.

Palm treesPoolside at Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Taghazout Morocco
Our hotel for the weekend, the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay, was beautiful and genuinely one of the most instagrammable places I’ve ever been. Every area was beautifully decorated, from the palms and pillows by the pool to the details in the bedroom or unexpected touches in the lobby areas. Needless to say I took an alarming amount of photos in the time we were there, and I won’t mention how long it took to reduce them down for this post.

The hotel has free wifi (priorities), a gym, sauna, restaurant, free breakfast for all guests and an outdoor cafe and cocktail bar. Each evening we sat out by the pool watching the most incredible sunsets whilst sipping on pina coladas and enjoyed working our way through the menu – the meat tagine was amazing and nice to tick off the list. It may not surprise you to hear we never made it to the gym but it seemed a good size and well equipped, although you could make like our more active travel companions and head off into the mountains for a hike in the sunshine instead.

Pool reflection
SplashPoolside BBQ Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
From a warm welcome and Moroccan tea on arrival to arranging poolside BBQs and tips on the local area, every single member of staff went out of their way to accommodate and make the trip special. I got the sense that everyone was genuinely happy to be there and happy to help – which doesn’t come across in every hotel you visit – and I had some lovely conversations with members of the team who told me how much they loved working in such a beautiful place.

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay restaurant
Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay interior design
Hammam Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay
Looking at these photos on a cold and rainy December evening I literally cannot wait to go back and explore more of Morocco next year. I’ve always wanted to visit Marrakech so would love to combine a city break there followed by a few days relaxing by the sea here in Taghazout Bay. I couldn’t fit all of my many (many) photos into this post so will post again with an update on the excursions the hotel can arrange in the area, including a trip to the local souk in Agadir and an amazing trip through the mountains on quad bikes!

You can see reviews from some of the other guests here:
The lovely Solli from Solli’s Lifestyle gives her take on the trip here
Anna Cossack took some beautiful pictures for her blog here
See how Emilie from Lovaine.co.uk took advantage of the great surfing in the area here

Emma

We stayed at the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay on a comp basis so another massive thank you to the team for having us and making our stay so special. All opinions expressed are an honest review of the hotel and entirely my own.