One of the specialties of the south of France is pastis, an aniseed liqueur which is usually diluted in chilled water and consumed as an aperitif. Pastis grew in popularity following the ban of absinthe and anise in 1915 – bartenders would concoct their own blends of a similarly tasting tipple and offer these illegal drinks under the bar to enthusiastic customers.
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I was recently sent a complimentary box of Alibi pretox drinks to review on the blog, so I thought I’d follow up from my health kick on the 1953 vintage diet to review them!
Now, I’ve never been on a detox in my life – I only occasionally eat rubbish with any regularity (usually during the party season) and I rarely drink, so detoxing doesn’t quite have the urgency to me that it might have to someone who really parties hard (but I am definitely up for trying a detox at some point!). So, the idea of a ‘pretox’ sounded great – prevention is better than a cure, right? And, if all you have to do is sip delicious drinks, then I’m up for it!
Alibi comes in two flavours, Sparkling Citrus and Sparkling Pomegranate – which, as you might have guessed, are both fizzy. The citrus flavour is heavy on grapefruit and lime, and very fresh, whereas the pomegranate flavour is a little sweeter. I have to admit, I much preferred the pomegranate when I first tried them, but the citrus has really grown on me. I guess I associate the flavour of grapefruit with health, so that added mental boost gives it a bit of an edge!
Of coure, there’s more to these drinks than just a nice flavour. They contain 11 vitamins (including 100% of your RDA of vitamin K), three minerals, five herbal extracts and beta glucan (to boost your immunity), making them a great supplement whether you’re dieting or not. The sweet taste comes from stevia – which is sweeter than sugar but contains less calories. I know that artificial sweetners are a bit controversial – I use them a lot, but I am always looking into alternatives, and stevia is definitely something I’ll be trying more of in future.
The whole concept of Alibi is that it’ll boost your body’s defences with its healthy supplements – and I’m definitely a supporter of the idea that dietary supplementation is wise, especially given that the average diet is fairly low on fruit and veg. Even when you’re actively trying to lose weight, it’s always good for your peace of mind to know that you’re still getting some vitamins and minerals from somewhere. Of course, you can’t just drink this instead of following a healthy diet, but it’s great to have an extra safeguard in place.
Unlike many other health or diet drinks, this isn’t low calorie, because it doesn’t contain anything artificial. Coming in at 99 calories, though, it’s hardly going to break your calorie allowance, and you can drink it without worrying about putting weird chemicals into your body!
I’ve been drinking Alibi daily for just under two weeks now, and definitely enjoy my daily dose! As for results, I can’t claim anything earth shattering has happened – but then, I’ve also not been feeling as run down after Christmas as I thought I’d be, either. It was definitely nice to be able to drink something ‘healthy’ that felt like a treat following the Great Christmas Binge, and if you already enjoy fizzy drinks (don’t we all?!) but feel guilty every time you pop a can, substituting Alibi for your normal soda mught be a good way to supplement your diet!
Alibi is available from many stockists in the UK (list here) including Waitrose, Holland and Barrett, GNC and more. You can buy online from Ocado for £1.59 a can, or in packs of 12 from Amazon for £11.99.
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Autumn is my favourite of all the seasons – and I love all of them already! But there’s so much great stuff you can do in autumn that I can’t help but love it. In order to help me get the maximum out of the season, I’ve created a check list for myself. I’ll be heading back every now and then to check my progress, too!
Autumn to do list
- Have Halloween party
- Have Thanksgiving dinner
- Make pinecone decorations
- Make a leaf wreath
- Make jam
- Walk through the leaves
- Gather chestnuts
- Make Christmas pudding
- Celebrate Bonfire Night
- Carve a pumpkin
- Cycle down a hill with my scarf flying behind me
- Make the best hot chocolate
- Make pickles
What’s on your to-do list this autumn?
I’m one of those weird people who gets all funny about ketchup. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but I have certain rules about it – which I’ve never really examined in too much depth, to be honest. For example, it is never to be squirted onto food – makes it soggy. Better to go on the side, by itself, so it can be dipped into. Also, it is never to be mixed in with things to create some hideous Frankenfood of soggy ketchup and ‘other stuff’. That’s just wrong.
So, with that in mind, it’s very strange that one of my most favourite and comforting foods should be omurice: the dish that breaks my cardinal food rules and somehow manages to rise above its offence:
Omurice is basically rice and veggies cooked with some ketchup, then coated in an omelette and served with another drizzle of ketchup on top. It’s comfort food for children, which makes it all the more weird how strangely nostaglic the dish is for me, a 28-year-old woman who has never lived in Japan… But nevertheless, there’s something very universal about its combination of starchy carbs, eggy protein, and lashings of tomato sauce.
This recipe makes four portions:
- 2 chicken thighs, boned
- 1 onion
- 50g carrot
- 1 green pepper
- 2 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 4 cups cooked Japanese rice
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp sake
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- 8 eggs
- Ketchup to serve
- Finely chop the onion, carrot, mushroom and parsley.
- Debone the chicken and remove the skin. Cut the thigh into small pieces, around 1cm in size, then season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion until slightly softened. Add the chicken and fry until the outside has gone white. Add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms and cook until soft. This could take as long as ten minutes. You need to ensure the carrot is tender, as it will not be cooked again. Add the parsley and remove from the heat, reserving the mixture and wiping out the frying pan.
- Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a frying pan and add the hot rice, stirring well. Add the fried mix along with the ketchup, sake and Worcestershire sauce. Season if needed, and keep warm. Do not over cook as this will dry out the rice.
- In another, shallow frying pan, heat 1 tsp butter. Beat two of the eggs, season with salt, then pour into the frying pan, spreading to cover the base. Put a quarter of the rice in the middle of the pan while the egg is still slightly raw. This helps to stick the rice mixture to the omelette.
- When the eggs are slightly set, wrap the edges over the top of the rice and turn out onto a warm plate. Don’t worry if you pierce the egg as you do so, as the edges are tucked under. Using a paper towel, shape it as in our photo, then squirt tomato sauce on the top. Continue with the rest of the eggs and mixture until you’ve made four omelettes.
You can also keep this for the following day, and serve it in a bento ala the picture!
Weird story – up until I tried this recipe, I didn’t like lemon in sweet things. Hated it. Thought it was weird. Maybe it was thanks to the dodgy lemon meringues that were knocking around when I was a kid, but I just couldn’t understand why people liked lemon in sweet things. Now I’ve been converted by lemon posset, I realise that it’s just that I don’t get on with the supersweet, barely tart kind of lemon puddings. I like my lemon desserts sharp and creamy! I’m not saying this isn’t sweet – it is – but it’s balanced by the sharpness of the lemons perfectly. I can say all this because it wasn’t me who invented it!
The recipe is supposedly based on a medieval dish of milk curdled with wine or beer, with spices added to it. The alcohol would curdle the milk, which was supposed to be a great cure for things like the cold. Even today, we drink hot milk to get to sleep, so I guess it’s evolved since then! It’s also mentioned in Macbeth, when the evil Lady Macbeth uses possets to knock out Duncan’s guards.
This recipe works on a similar principle – but instead of curdling the cream, the lemon acts to set it, creating a dense, smooth and creamy taste. You can add grated lemon zest to this, but I prefer to keep the smoothness of the cream totally uninterrupted by the nuggets of peel.
- 600ml double cream
- 140g caster sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons (at least 75ml)
- Combine the cream and sugar in a pan, and heat until scalding – but do not boil.
- Whilst on the heat, add the lemon juice and allow to boil for 30 seconds, whisking to prevent the cream from burning.
- Allow to cool before pouring into bowls and placing in the fridge until set.
Some people like to serve this with shortbread or other crisp biscuits, but I really don’t think it needs any additions!
So here’s the overview of the mammoth table of buffet food – we had about 20 people in all, so we didn’t want anyone to go home hungry! We nearly ran out of sandwiches, but other than that, we beat the stomachs and ended up eating leftovers for a couple of days…
We had a variety of sandwiches – smoked salmon and cream cheese, Belgian ham and dijon mustard with salad and baby tomatoes, caramelised onion chutney and cheese, egg mayonnaise, and of course, cucumber (boring). I love a good sandwich!
We also made Jamie Oliver’s mackerel pate from his British Picnic menu from 30 Minute Meals. People went nuts for this, but I really wasn’t keen. I thought I’d love it, but it sort of made me squeamish!
We also bagged Heston’s special royal trifle from Waitrose. It was incredibly pricey, and wasn’t a real trifle. All in all, it was a bit of a miss for me – vastly overshadowed by a family classic called Rennie’s Pudding, which I’ll talk about in a minute.
Heston’s trifle was really pretty though! Caramelised nuts, freeze dried strawberries, rose petals – lovely! Only trouble is, because it was topped with meringue, sitting on cream, it was pretty much destroyed as soon as you tried to take a spoonful.
I don’t know where this pudding came from, but we’ve always had it in our family and it’s blimming delicious – and so simple! It’s just fresh fruit, covered with cream, and then topped with sugar caramel.
I also made a gin and tonic jelly from the delicious Nigella Lawson – how English can you get, right? I’d never made jelly before, although I have made panna cotta, so it was an interesting experience. But it uses a remarkable amount of gelatine – more leaves than they even sell in one pack from the supermarket I shop at. Wowza. Maybe because it contains A QUARTER OF A LITRE OF GIN? That’s right! That’s a lot, I think. This jelly also made me realise I actually do like gin and tonic as well. But I’ll always be a Pimm’s girl at heart…
It looks very innocent, but you should not attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery after eating this jelly…
Sitting proudly on top of the most expensive cake stand I have ever, and hopefully will ever, buy in my life is a Victoria sponge – a real classic. It was spruced up with some chantilly cream and blueberries and strawberries, just to give it patriotic colours. To be honest, we could have done without it, because it’s sort of, shall we say, restrained, compared to some of the outrageous puddings on offer, but I HAD to use my cake stand. This sucker cost me about £50! I’ve had my eye on one ever since I saw it on a blog somewhere – I think it was Bakerella’s, maybe. But I recently suffered a tragic loss in my life after every single damn cake stand I owned fell off the top of the fridge and smashed. I was gutted. The whole collection, gone at once. So I had to replace them, and this cake stand will hopefully last longer. I spent the whole day before the party, and the day of, shrieking at people ‘DON’T BREAK THE CAKE STAND. DO NOT TOUCH IT. IT WAS VERY EXPENSIVE’. It didn’t really create the atmosphere of relaxed, casual and classy hosting that I wanted to project, but you know, it’s still in one piece, so it was worth it.
This was also a new purchase just for this party (I know, ridiculous – I am still literally paying this off) – a cute cake stand from Cake Stand Heaven. You may remember me drooling over these before – LOVE them! I bought this one in green to match my nan’s china, which I inherited from her last year. Unfortunately, I also had to shout at people about this too, as you are expressly NOT supposed to pick it up using the handle on the top, as it can smash the china plates – it’s not a weight bearing handle. So of course, anytime anyone wanted to move this baby around, they used the handle on the top. Tsk.
My mum added these beautiful flowers to the cup right before we ate – a really nice touch! She’s also responsible for the pretty flower display on the table, she did an awesome job!
So, that was our buffet! Do you guys have any memories, photos or blog posts to share to do with your Royal Wedding party?
- Heston Blumenthal creates Royal wedding trifle (telegraph.co.uk)
- The ultimate sandwich ideas for a royal wedding watching party (distractedgourmet.wordpress.com)
- Sweet treats for your Royal buffet (distractedgourmet.wordpress.com)
- The definitive list of Royal wedding party food to buy (distractedgourmet.wordpress.com)