Collagen – will this make me look younger?

Collagen – will this make me look longer? It possibly will! There does seem to be a trend for all things collagen.  I was given some lovely gin, with added collagen, from Collagin for Christmas.  I met the makers at a show and sadly they weren’t guaranteeing any health or youth enhancing benefits, but it is a lovely smooth gin.  There are also a selection of collagen powders out there which do promise benefits for your skin.



What is it?  Collagen is the protein in our bodies, found in our tendons, muscles, bones, blood vessels, digestive system and skin. It gives skin it’s elasticity and strength. We naturally produce less collagen as we get older and then start to see wrinkles appear. The suggestion is, and there are a few studies to back it up, that if we take a collagen supplement it will help with our skin’s elasticity as well as helping with our joints. There are different types of collagen which target specific areas, so you would need to research which one is best for you.

Where can I buy it?  Greens Organic offer a powder. Amazon also have a variety of products on offer.

Any recipe suggestions?   Add it to your smoothies in the morning or a muffin mix to make it palatable. A bone broth is the most direct way of eating it. This is not a vegan friendly product.

Conclusion: There are a lot of powders out there at the moment offering various solutions to our ailing bodies, I am still of the school of eating and drinking a balanced diet as the best remedy for now.

It’s only chocolate, but not as you know it

It’s only chocolate, but not as you know it…  With the ongoing trend for healthier alternatives,  as highlighted in the BBC’s trend picks for 2018 with the continuing growth of veganism and a healthier millennials diet, cacao has found some new friends to mix with.

The upside of this trend is that it has provided a lot more variety for anyone with food intolerance’s, particularly dairy,  or who are vegan, who wouldn’t have been able to have chocolate before.

PUSH chocolate buttons
PUSH chocolate buttons

What does it taste like?  It depends what the producer is using to replace the dairy element.  Push Chocolate combine Colombian chocolate with rice to produce a high protein vegan chocolate button in Mylk, Dark and Orange flavours, the orange flavour has a distinct Terry’s chocolate orange vibe.  Goodio Chocolate use “low production temperatures to ensure a rich taste that honours the cacao and its origins” . They are gluten and soy free, have no additives and are suitable for vegans.  The coffee version I have been munching on uses cashew nuts to give it a creamy taste.

Where can I buy it?   Push Chocolates store is coming soon, sign up on their website for the launch date. Hotel Chocolat have a selection of vegan chocolates, the chilli penguins being my favourite! Goodio can be found at Planet Organic or Revital stores as well as on Amazon.

Any recipe suggestions?  Try my easy cacao truffles for a delicious treat.

Come and try a fruit named Jack – Jackfruit

Jackfruit, scary to look at but when you get over the size (35kg), and through the spikes, the golden flesh is delicious! I tasted it’s ripe, sweet seeds in its home of Southern India a couple of years ago.

a picture of ripe jackfruit
Ripe jackfruit

It’s become trendy, as in its unripe and green state it hasn’t much flavour, is fibrous and is being used for its meat like texture in vegetarian and vegan dishes. The Guardian wrote about it in 2015 but with the surge in veggie options (The 3rd Veggie Pret recently opened, Wagamamas with their first vegetarian + vegan menu, and the Food Foundations Vegetable Summit) and the continuing rise in flexitarians who want to reduce their weekly intake of meat, but like the texture, it will be coming to a table near you soon!

What does it taste like? The ripe jackfruit seeds taste like very ripe pineapple.  The unripe fruit tastes more like artichoke.

Where can I buy it? For the sweet option try out this from Asda.  Amazon has both the ripe, unripe and fresh, canned and dried versions.

Any recipe suggestions? I have adapted a Malay lamb recipe from the The Ginger Pig Farmhouse Cookbook .  The unripe jackfruit takes on the texture of the slow cooked lamb neck fillets from the original recipe. – Malay jackfruit recipe

And to drink? With this recipe try Empress Ale, a golden ale, craft brewed to complement spiced foods. You can order online at Empress Ale.

Where can I eat it? Go to Mooshies London and try the ‘Pulled Mooshie’ with BBQ sauce and coleslaw. Or a jackfruit Scotch egg with masala mayonnaise in the recently opened Pickled Fruit.  Club Mexicana have a pulled Jackfruit Tinga with pumpkin seed puree, avocado salsa verde and pink onions, at their Shoreditch site.

Top facts – Jackfruit is grown in Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa in lowland, tropical areas. It is from the fig, mulberry and breadfruit family.

Environmental – A mature tree can produce 100 to 200 fruits per year. It is resistant to pests and drought. It is a meal in one, green unripe for savoury dishes, ripe for desserts and the flour can be used for anything from cookies to chapattis.

Nutritional facts per 100g – 0.2% total fat, 1.5g of dietary fibre and 1.7g of protein, it is a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C and high in potassium.

Dublin – food and drink tour

Grey skies and rain were the weather highlights from our trip to Dublin over Easter.  Thankfully the food and drink and Irish hospitality were fabulous.  Everywhere we visited, pub, to cafe, and restaurants, all supported local produce and could identify their suppliers.

Our first stop (I went with my husband, a rugby game on Sunday was pivotal to our trip!) was the Guinness Storehouse.  There were hundreds of people traipsing around the shiny happy store.  My husband remembered it from 25 years ago when you saw the actual brewing process, this is a bit more of an ‘experience’.

Five floors of brewing theory, history and the iconic adverts, with a pint of Guinness at the top floor where you can admire the view on a clear day.  Worth a visit to get out of the rain but if you want to learn about the brewing process go and visit your local craft beer brewery.

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse

Our restaurant of choice that night was Drury Buildings, such a cool building with limited signage that we walked past it!  It is lovely when you get in, the downstairs bar and atrium area had a great atmosphere and were busy.  Upstairs the Italian restaurant was quieter, the food and service were excellent and the set menu great value for money.  Mark’s roast guinea fowl with cep, hisip cabbage and wild garlic was the stand out dish.

Drury Buildings
Drury Buildings

We struggled to find great coffee on our visit, a cappuccino we ordered came with a 2 inch layer of whipped cream rather than milk, a bit like an Irish coffee but sadly missing the booze!  The Bestseller in Dawson Street was as close as we got.  It’s a lovely environment with everything you can see for sale, including the flamingos.  They serve coffee, tea, wine and cocktails and some cold snacks.  A very easy place to chill out and read the papers.  Cafe en Seine, on the same side of the street, is worth a pop in and drink to admire the over the top French decoration.


In a celebration of all things potato, you must visit Gallahers Bistro in Temple Bar.  They have a platter of potatoes three ways, chips, bread and dumplings. In 1988 Mr Gallagher developed the Leitrim Pan Boxty, which is a pancake mix that maintains the traditional 70% potato content.  This is then used in either a boiled, baked or pancake version.  The chips are actually grated raw potato, cooked mash and flour, made into a batter with fresh milk and slow cooked in a pan until golden brown, they are delicious and very moreish.

Gallahers Bistro
Gallahers Bistro

Our final meal in Dublin was at Chapter One who have just had their 25th birthday.  The food and service were excellent and you can absolutely understand why they have won all their awards, including a Michelin star.  We had the set menu, which was such fantastic value for money that in my professional capacity I can’t see how they are making any profit out of it.  The providence of the food was outstanding in its detail, from the smoked bacon from Fingal Ferguson down to the butter from Cuinneog.

Chapter One
Chapter One

A couple of places to try that we didn’t manage to get to, for celebrity spotting, Sam Smith was at Chez Max the day before our visit. Bunsen is a local burger business which always had queues out the door.  They support local produce and suppliers and have four sites around Ireland.

We enjoyed walking around and visiting the historic sites in-between our food and drink stops, but will plan to visit in the two day window of summer next time!