Happy Birthday Whole Foods!

Hi all,

Hope you are well and had a good weekend. Especially those celebrating the first holiday of the festive season with friends and family! I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with David and my parents Christmas shopping and we had the most fantastic time! Big smiles, lots of laughs, good fun, amazing food = great memories.

As promised, today I would like to recap on my Thursday evening. It was fantastic!

Whole Foods

I was contacted by my local Whole Foods, who had read my blog and wished to invite me along to their big Birthday bash, celebrating 2 years in Glasgow. I was so honoured to be invited, as you all know I love my local Whole Foods so of course I wanted to attend. They were so kind and even stretched the invite out and put David on the guest list too so he could attend with me (as you can imagine, he was over the moon!).  So on Thursday at 6pm we headed over to Giffnock for an evening of fun, good food and frolics!

(Disclaimer – although Whole Foods invited me to this event, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own).

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We arrived to the red carpet waiting for us outside with some friendly staff to guide us in. Once inside, we were checked off the list and had the concept of the evening explained to us. Both of us were given a ‘party passport’. On this passport was a list of 6 street food dishes that we could sample while we were here, looking good! We were also told that staff would be on hand throughout to answer any questions or queries or simply if we just wanted to have a general chat about all things Whole Foods! We were then given a very nice glass of bubbly and on we went!

The bubbly supplied was Albet i Noya Cava and was delicious (this girl likes her bubbles!). Perfect being quite dry and not sweet, it would be brilliant for Christmas celebrations.  Lucky for me, top ups were provided, not so lucky for David who was driving!.

Our first stop was to sample the ‘In-House Smoked Seafood Skewer’. Whole Foods Giffnock have a actual smoker in store, so all smoked fish products are smoked on the premises. The skewer consisted of one hot and spicy prawn, one maple scallop and one BBQ prawn on top of a fresh, crunchy salad. Oh wow. I love smoked fish so this really was a dish made for me!

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There was a good smoke level to the shellfish, amazing flavour but not too overpowering. I must admit I didn’t detect any of the glaze flavours on either the prawns or the scallop, simply the delish smoke. However, I really liked that actually, the simple smoke meant you kept the flavour of the shellfish rather than it being overpowered by a potentially sticky sweet glaze. The seafood itself was outstanding. The prawns were from Asia and the scallops from Canada and were frozen directly from being caught. Although not local, Whole Foods look for the nearest, high quality, responsibly sourced product for their stores. So you know you are getting the best available produce. The fishmongers at the event were very open and honest about this and were very knowledgeable on where their product was from and how it arrived from boat to store. It was a fab start to our foodie experience!

The second stop was at the butchers counter where we could sample the Scottish Venison and Blueberry hotdog. I have always wanted to chat to the butchers about Whole Foods sausages and their ingredients, trying to find a sausage without gluten or rusk as a ‘bulking agent’ is a nightmare normally and I wanted to know what their stance was. So I had a good old chin wag with Ed who was great at getting me all clued up. Most of the sausages at Whole Foods do not have gluten in them, simply high quality meat along with herbs, spices, salt, pepper and water (if required). They cannot be labelled specifically as ‘gluten free’ as other gluten containing products are produced in the same environment (understandable if you have a severe allergy). However, if you want to know what is in them, just ask! I am so impressed that Whole Foods just keep to the good stuff, as it should be! The venison sausage for example just had wild venison, fresh blueberries and a small amount of blueberry juice in them. And the butchers were so proud of them, just as they were with all of the meat products on display. Ed really was a pleasure to speak to! Oh and the venison sausage (we didn’t have the bun), absolutely divine! I do love venison and this was of a very high quality (and I had mine the following day, they packaged it up for me to take home, I couldn’t have eaten everything in one go!).

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Next on our travels was the cheesemonger. Whole Foods had a representative from the Cheese Cellar in store to explain to us some of the cheeses that they think would delight any cheese board this Christmas season. The Cheese Cellar is an external company that deal with both small and large British/European artisan dairy farms and work with them to supply cheeses to stores and the hospitality industry. This allows producers to interact with companies, like Whole Foods, who they may never have had the opportunity to meet and get their product out there into the wider community. A great link between producer, seller and consumer! Win win all round really!

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Tracy showed us three cheeses – a brie, stilton, gruyere and a cheddar. The brie was French and imported especially for Whole Foods. From Normandy, it was produced from grass fed cows (yay!) and as a result was a delightfully smooth, creamy cheese. I’m not normally a huge brie fan but I really enjoyed it. The stilton was Cropwell Blue, a potted blue cheese from Nottingham. Oh was this something special. Noted and on the Christmas food shopping list! The gruyere was tasty, a frequent cheese on the Whole Foods cheese board recommendation list and was very smooth. Finally the Isle of Mull Cheddar, sampled before but always a pleasure. Great to find a unpasteurised cheddar too. Would definitely recommend. It was fantastic to chat to Tracy about the cheese, her company and Whole Foods in general. Such passion in her voice and an asset for Whole Foods to have her there/ to work with her on bringing these amazing cheeses to us all!

One of the dishes on the passport was a cheese fondue. Sadly when I asked about how it was made I was directed to a packet mix at the side! The ingredients weren’t great and as we had sampled some fantastic real cheese with Tracy we decided to pass on this one. (And instead went back for another small cube of the stilton!).

It was at this point that I managed to meet the marketing team leader Emili, the person who actually contacted me and invited me to the event! And what a welcome I received from her! Bright, bubbly and ever so friendly she was really keen to hear my views and opinions and what I had sampled so far, and came back for a chat later on in the evening too. As expected, she is so proud of the store and the staff and was very pleased to hear the praise I had for them all. Emili really summed up the staff attitude when she said ‘when people are happy to go to work, it shows in their work’. So true!

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After chatting with Emili we moved on to the next food stop – Max’s Trio of Tacos!

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I love these guys! Friendly and full of banter we had such a good laugh, especially when chatting about our love of guacamole and the only other food on par, bacon! But anyway, back to the tacos! They were happy to provide the filling without the shell which was great and I loved the fillings. Spiced haddock (outstanding and flaky), veggie beans and pulled pork (tender!), topped with mango and lime salsa and guacamole! Holy guacamole can Whole Foods make good guac! They have carrot sticks and guac near the front of the store to sample, and yes we did on a few occasions throughout the evening, we couldn’t help ourselves! But I did enjoy the taco fillings, I may even have a taco-less taco next time I am in store for lunch (fish!), something I probably wouldn’t have considered before this evening.

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There were two stations left to visit. One was the bakery where they were supplying slices of spiced pumpkin cake. It was thanksgiving after all! We didn’t take any cake but instead admired the large birthday cake they had produced for the event. You could tell Findlay was pleased to be there and proud of the cake!

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The other station was sushi! So we decided to go and collect it and sit down at the cafe to enjoy. We were given three pieces of sushi – one prawn and avocado, one cucumber and avocado and one cucumber. We also took a few edamame beans to have with it! It was fantastic sushi – sticky rice with delicious fillings. The avocado was ripe and smooth, the flavour of the prawn shone through and the cucumber lovely and crunchy. Pair that with some edamame and what more could you ask for!

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The tables were decorated beautifully and they even had a DJ playing some great soul/ funk tunes. It really was a party atmosphere while being a great area of the store to chill out and chat in. We could have sat for quite some time chatting and enjoying the company of one and other and the staff, who all wanted to chat to us! But there were a few more things I wanted to see!

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Whole Foods have a fab selection of organic skincare, make up and general health products, for example supplements. Normally when I shop I don’t have the opportunity to really look around this area properly but tonight was my chance! And what a selection they have, I was so impressed at the variety and, to be honest, the affordability of the products (I had always incorrectly thought they would be too pricey). While I was looking around I got to meet a representative from Live Native Skincare. They are a company based on the Isle of Skye that produce handmade raw skincare products from oils, minerals and botanic ingredients. It was a delight to sample their range and see all what they had on offer. David enjoyed it too! Everything they create really is unique and feels so luxurious on your skin. Something special that you can use everyday – the costings were really reasonable. We decided to treat ourselves to the unisex moisturiser and I have used it now for a couple of days and am already noticing a difference on my face and neck – so soft!

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The evening, however, had to come to an end. We picked up a few bits and bobs to purchase on the way out (they had some fantastic birthday offers on!) and headed to the checkout, where we had more banter! And received our goodie bags!

On our way out, we were stopped by the team leader Darren who recognised us as regular customers! I explained that I had been invited along by Emili and he was delighted to put a face to a name on the guest list! The three of us had a wonderful chat and he was really appreciative of all our feedback. I especially wanted to talk to him about how passionate his staff are and how rare that is to find, they all make it a pleasure to shop in store. He promised to pass the feedback on which was fab, but I want to say again how fantastic it was to talk to them all and how special they made us feel, not only on the evening but every time we shop.

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It was such a good evening and we both had a lovely time. You could really feel the atmosphere of ‘we have good food, it makes us happy, let’s celebrate!’. Thank you Whole Foods for letting me be a part of your celebration, it really was an honour. The ethos behind the business is one that truly should be celebrated and I don’t mind shouting from the rooftops to all who will listen! Give yourselves a big cheer – you deserve it! And long may Whole Foods Giffnock and worldwide continue to be a success.

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Birthday Eats and Treats!

Hi all,

Hope you are well and your week is off to a swing.

I thought I would do a wee post today in honour of my fantastic husband and the fact that he celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday! (Picture of the birthday boy in his birthday hat!).

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As it was a week day and I knew he had to go to work, I thought I would make his day extra special with some of his favourite eats and treats! It was a tough choice for him to make and I know a lot of deliberation went into his choice of breakfast, lunch and dinner – you do, after all, only get your birthday once a year but he finally came to a decision on how his day would flow!

We began the day with Crossfit and I know David and I both enjoyed the energising morning workout! Once we came home David got ready for work while I prepped his breakfast. He decided on homemade granola with Greek yoghurt on top.

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In the granola were oats, cinnamon, dates, coconut, almonds and hazelnuts – mixed together with maple syrup. You cook it in the microwave until you hear the oats starting to sizzle, checking on it every 30 seconds or so. Then you spread it out on a board to cool down and harden. Tah da! Instant granola! It was gobbled up and very much enjoyed, I managed to sneak a couple of bits along the way, yummy!

For lunch it had to be something involving avocado, one of David’s favourite ingredients. He decided on a chicken and avocado salad which was choc to the brim full of delights – chicken, avocado, spinach, carrot, tomatoes, cucumber, mushroom, olives and a sprinkle of goats’ cheese. The picture below is of my version of the lunch as I forgot to take a picture before David left. It was similar to his though but I made my avocado into guacamole and didn’t have goats cheese or mushroom. We met up at our local Starbucks during his lunch hour so he could chow down on the tasties while enjoying a birthday beverage – his choice being a seasonal orange mocha (no whip). He really enjoyed that too; think he may be tempted by a few more of them before the season ends!

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When David came home from work it was time for cards and presents! I was so excited, I love giving presents and seeing people’s faces when they open them.

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While opening the presents we split a Thistly Cross Cider – this one had been matured in whisky casks and was divine. Think it might be my favourite one of them all! (Do you like the bottle opener David and I picked up while we were in Oman? Tacky but we love it!).

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Included in the mix of presents were a few foodie ones including some almond stuffed olives, 70% dark chocolate, Armagnac soaked prunes and kirsch soaked cherries (I knew I had to get the fruit when I saw them, uber yum!). We of course, had to sample them…!

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Then for dinner came a new recipe for us – paleo pumpkin pancakes!  With a ground almond base, these pancakes were just perfect and so full of flavour – pumpkin spice and cinnamon. I could of ate them as they were! Instead I topped one with a little almond butter and the others with maple syrup – David did the same. I think we both flew to pancake heaven! Won’t be long before we have those again! It was also fun spending time making them in the kitchen together and no flour equals very little mess – hooray!

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We sat down with dinner and the last episode of Downton Abbey that we had recorded the night before. Both of us can’t wait for the Christmas Special, so much going on!

And there we have it, the special birthday boy’s day of tasty eats and treats! Love you David! xxx

Crossfit – Remembrance

Hi all,

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Normally I don’t write up my Crossfit post from Monday until Tuesday, but seen as it is Remembrance Day and the WOD was Remembrance Day inspired, I thought I would switch things around.

Today is also David’s Birthday so a big ‘Happy Birthday’ to my wonderful husband! He was certainly very pleased to be starting off his day with an early morning energising Crossfit workout!

The session started off with a 440m row for me and a block run for the others. I was glad to be inside, it was that horrid ‘spitty’ rain outside so didn’t envy the others having to run in the cold, wet and darkness!

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After that we worked on some hip mobility which was fantastic as I really felt I needed it. The stretches were tough and we worked on them for about 15 minutes but it was totally worth it. These muscles we use so often in Crossfit and I want to keep them strong and as flexible as possible. The reward is totally worth the stretch pain! And the more I do them the less it will hurt! Coach tries to impress upon us the importance of doing mobility exercises every day and I do try – at least the ones with the foam roller. David is a lot better at doing them though – teacher’s pet!

Back squats were next – always good. We were to work on doing 6 rounds of 6 reps at 70% of our PB. The point was not to increase the weight but instead focus on technique and making all those reps count. My 1 RM was 27.5 kg so I went for 22.5kg. It certainly was tough but focusing on my breathing and using it to keep my core strong and tight was such a major help with my squat then lift. It was nice to have the ability to work on this, keeping with a heavy weight but not having to think about upping it.

The main WOD was named “Remembrance Day” and was a WOD that was being done up and down the country today. It was difficult, required focus and rightly so. We were after all doing this WOD to commemorate all that have fallen and all who serve our country.

18 minute AMRAP

11 hang power snatch

11 burpees

11 thrusters

11 pull ups

Then on the 11th minute, we would pause in silence out of respect and to remember.

By the end of the WOD I was like jelly! My arms and legs were so wobbly and it certainly took a lot out of us all. Taking that 1 minute out to stop and think was a very poignant moment for me. I felt very emotional, a combination, I believe, of thinking about why we were stopping and to the extent to which we were pushing our bodies at the time. I could go on about how tough it was etc etc but instead I am just going to state how happy I was to be able to do it – in honour of those who deserve our uttermost admiration and to proud to be a part of the Crossfit community who understand the importance of remembering.

My Birthday!

First of all I must apologise for the fact that my ‘weekend’ post has taken until Thursday to write. I really don’t know where this week has gone! Does anyone else get that, where certain weeks just fly by and other take forever to pass? How/ why does that happen?!

Anyway… on to actually writing about the weekend! Or Sunday in particular as it was my Birthday!

On the 28th of July I reached the ripe old age of 28 and I had a day of wonderful, exciting things that were just ‘perfectly me’.

David and I started the day with a quick indoor tabata workout. What?! A workout on your birthday?! I can hear some of you exclaim now! Yes it is my birthday but I love working out and that feeling of starting the day getting your heart rate going so in my perfect day, a workout appears! Here was our workout

  • Warm up – 1 minute of jogging/ jumping jacks around the apartment
  • 1 minute of crunches
  • 1 minute of squats with weights
  • 1 minute of seated twists with weights
  • 1 minute of lunges
  • 15 second rest
  • Repeat

Then we did our plank workout which consists of

  • 30 second elbow plank
  • 10 leg reps on right side plank
  • 30 second straight arm plank
  • 10 leg reps on left side plank
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • Repeat then warm down.

I was buzzing after that!

I then spoke to my parents on the phone while making breakfast. They always like to wish me a happy birthday first thing which is lovely.

Afterwards it was breakfast in bed watching cartoons with my husband = Sunday special : – ) you are never too old for cartoons!

I then had a card and present opening session (forgot to take photos, whoops!), and then we got ready for our friends coming. Some of our closest friends were able to make it to meet us for lunch which was brilliant as we hadn’t seen most of them since our move to Glasgow.

They arrived at our apartment for some celebratory champagne and nibbles before we headed off for the short walk to one of our favourite bars – the Hillhead Book Club.

The bar is a converted old cinema which makes the most wonderful setting for a vintage theme bar. Here is a picture of the gang all enjoying the cocktails we had just ordered. I can’t remember what mine was called but it had fresh melon, tequila, vanilla vodka, honey and lime in it and was just delicious!

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My lunch was pretty tasty too – I went for the grilled sardines with fennel, orange, olives and rocket. A great combination and very tasty.

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After lunch we headed into town for another wee drink before folk had to get there train home. It was so lovely to see them all and I appreciated all of them travelling to celebrate my birthday with me.

The evening was chilled out, just my David and I, with some of my favourite fruits and a couple of episodes of Mad Men. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

 

How do you like to celebrate your birthday? With a partner, friends or family?

 

PS – Sorry the pictures are a bit blurry, the lighting wasn’t great and we were using camera phones!