{Review} M1lk, Balham

Last week I took myself out for breakfast as a treat before work. With all the deadlines I’ve had lately I was due a reward, right?

I’d stayed at my cousin’s house in Tooting the night before so just before 8am I strolled across Tooting Common through the morning mist to visit M1lk, my latest breakfast place of choice. Cat and I tested it out for the first time on Shrove Tuesday and it did not disappoint. Or rather, it did disappoint due to the fact the pancake batter wasn’t ready yet but it more than made up for it with a great atmosphere, friendly staff and epic coffee. We were happy. Very happy.

M1lk’s corner location means that, although small, it is light bright and airy. The perfect location to watch the world wake-up, after 8am that is ;)

I don’t have any pictures from my first visit due to a dead phone so I ‘borrowed’ this photo from M1lk’s Twitter account. Kicking off pancake day with sticky black rice, cacao nibs, blood orange and creamy goodness? Well okay then, if I have to.

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Anyhow, back to last week. I wandered in and didn’t even have to consult the menu to know what I wanted – Cat’s order from last time. Food envy is real folks. I ordered at the counter and sat down with my orange infused water and a glorious coffee to await my breakfast…

coffee m1lk

Just enough time for some blog reading, Instagram flicking and to enjoy my surroundings. All the important stuff.

M1lk BalhamApologies to the random guy for featuring the back of your head…

Then… it arrived. A beautiful tower of cornbread, pork sausage, scrambled egg, crispy bacon, and the best bloody sauce ever. Talk about a breakfast fit for a king (/queen).

The Convict M1lk

It’s called the Convict and usually comes with an English muffin but a highly recommend sweet talking them into subbing a slice of cornbread for you… There’s a small extra charge but I can assure you it’s 100% worth it.

Layers of protein goodness all on top of some delicious carbs and a sprinkling of fats to top it all off. Of course, I knocked the tower over to dissect it and eat it all individually, and then in different combinations. Because I’m adventurous like that.

M1lk makes me wish I lived in South London so I could go everyday… I think you should go on my behalf? When in Rome Balham and all that. It’s worth it if only to enjoy the good-looking barista behind the bar ;)

Where’s your favourite breakfast spot? Would you like the Convict?

Five sports to try before I’m 30

Once I find a sport I love I tend to stick to it and get pretty set in my ways. I’m definitely an all or nothing kinda girl, you won’t find me doing a different activity each day of the week, running and CrossFit is about as much variety as you’ll see around these parts.

Yet, going skiing again for the first time in four years has reminded me how much fun a sporty holiday really can be. You get to see a new part of the world that you might not necessarily travel to otherwise, plus you can balance out feeling active but refreshed all at the same time. And you’ll have even more room for all the holiday treats if you know what I mean ;)

Surfing

Wow I’m such a cliché. I have always wanted to learn to surf but still haven’t quiiiiiite got round to it… Partly hindered by my fear of open water… I’ve figured I have some requirements/specific specification for my surfing holiday. Not that I’m fussy or anything:

  1. Sunshine because, duh
  2. Warm water, wetsuits and me aren’t friends
  3. A sand beach, pebbles are a no no
  4. Someone to teach me?

This will be me in no time…right?

Skydiving

So I’ve already been skydiving and it was pretty awesome but you know what would be even awesomer? (Totally a word). Skydiving solo!

The rush is completely unreal, especially during the free fall, and obviously the view is kinda ridiculous too. I feel all that would be even better if doing it on my own, plus the added feeling of total freedom. I’ve looked into doing courses before but they all seem to be pretty pricey, definitely one to save up for!

skydiving taupoMe, skydiving over Lake Taupo, New Zealand in 2010

Yoga (Retreat)

Having gone to yoga classes on and off for a few years now, I have this image of me heading off to India (Indiaaaaa, anyone? Get it?) backpack and hippy clothes in tow and coming back a fully fledged yogi warrior. Realistically, that isn’t going to happen. Especially since I just typed worrier before warrior.

Still, I love the idea of taking time out to do something else completely and utterly different. To step away from the intense exercise that I am used to and learn about my body in a completely different way. I just may need to find a beginner’s course.

Run a marathon

Although technically not a sport I still consider marathon running to be in a league of its own. The dedication and determination, not to mention the fact that you need to be seriously hardcore to get through hours and hours of non-stop running is something I’ve always admired. And I want to be part of that crowd to! I’m setting a half marathon as my goal for the next year or so (depending on where I end up geographically) and then once I’m settled it’s time to get serious ;) I shall be messaging this lovely lady for tips, that’s for sure.

Handstands

I’m seriously hoping that it isn’t going to take me 6.5 years to get to grip with a handstand but you never know… Seriously though, my gymnastics skills are…lacking which can be incredibly frustrating when it comes to CrossFit WODs. Give me burpees over muscle-ups any day. (As if I’m anywhere near doing a muscle up!)

Now that I have more time again as the craziness of assignments has finally died down I need to get my s*** together and commit to working out properly again. There, I’ve said it on the Internet, now I have to do it.
One day…
What would make your list?

Gone Skiing

Ladies and gents (do any men read this apart from my dad?), I’ve left you all for the land of snow, sunshine, fresh air and vitamin d. None of which are available in London.

This magical land is also known as the French Alps.

Back in a week. I’ve got a couple of posts scheduled for your reading enjoyment so try not to miss me too much.

Toodles.

Gettin’ Preachy With It

I’ve talked about this before but never dedicated a whole post to it… If you eat slightly differently to the rest of the population chances are you’ve received food judgement and been told that you “eat weird“. And during that you’ve bitten your tongue and said nothing because you choose your battles and sometimes it just isn’t worth it.

Well today, let me tell you it is worth it. Today I want to tell you how bloody awesome it feels to have a body that works properly (most of the time…). Yes my body is far from perfect and I’m still figuring out. No I’m not a health professional so take this with a pinch of salt. What I do know, however, is how much the simple things can transform your lifestyle.

Food

JERF – just eat real food. Proper wholesome food. Play around with it until you find what your body likes. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If chicken and veggies is your ideal breakfast, great! If it’s porridge and nut butter then that’s good too. Do what’s right for you, every body is different. Literally.

Don’t be scared of any food. Fats nourish your body, protein will help you grow stronger. And treats will feed your soul which, let’s face it, is 100% necessary.

Movement

Find the joy in what your body can do. Experience has taught me that you never know when that ability might run out. So use your body now, dance, surf, cycle, run, swim, lift weights, practice yoga. Whatever brings you that wave of happiness, just do it. Even if you feel self-conscious starting out you will adjust and some of the greatest friends you make may well be through a shared joy of movement. Appreciate your body, and most of all appreciate yourself.

But also rest, have days when you do sod all. Don’t worry about how many calories you’ve burnt or how many steps you’ve taken. Does it really matter? Are you going to look back when you’re 80 and think how glad you are that you did that extra workout? Take care of your body, it’s what carries you on your greatest adventures.

Sleep

Get a decent amount of sleep. 7-9 hours. Telling me that you “don’t have time for a full night’s sleep” doesn’t make me respect you any more. It is not a status symbol. Your body needs sleep to recover and function normally. Sleep deprivation is probably the biggest hindrance to your success, its a hindering your greatness.

Love

Love yourself. Love your friends. Love what you do. Go against the grain, or go with it. Just find that thing that you love and make it your reality. It might not be the easiest option but it sure as hell is the most valuable.

Quit loathing yourself. Fat is not a feeling. Do not tell me that it is. Nor anyone else for that matter. Stop the body shaming and be proud of who you are. I’m not my skinniest nor my strongest nor my biggest right now but I sure am are my happiest. I’m headed where I want to go, doing what I want to do. It’s not easy everyday but I’m getting there. Progress beats perfection. Every time.

Thoughts… Do you choose your battles, or do you just say it?

Shopping Paleo in the UK

I always get super envious reading US food bloggers posts full of all the wonderful ingredients that you just can’t buy over here in the UK. It is so frustrating getting halfway through a delicious looking recipe post to realise that you can’t get hold of everything to make it… Talk about jealousy.

Not wanting to fall down at the first hurdle I started doing a bit more research and found that, actually, the UK isn’t so bad if only you know where to look. So I thought I’d give a bit of a run through of the ingredients that I use most often and where I buy them. Being on a student budget and also a fan of quick and easy meals I tend to keep it pretty simple, but then again isn’t that what paleo should ideally be?

Fruit and Veggies

This one’s pretty easy, if you’re lucky enough to live near a greengrocers I’d really recommend checking it out as there’s usually a much better selection that in supermarkets and better value to. Also keep an eye out for local farmers markets, typically on weekends, for great local produce that is in season and often organic too. Sometimes I’m lazy or busy and buy everything from the supermarket but that’s okay!

A slightly pricier but very useful option is the new range of organic food delivery services such as Riverford and Abel & Cole so check those out as well.

Meat, Fish and Eggs

For convenience obviously supermarkets are ideal but frustratingly a lot of them don’t seem to have free range as the standard options so be careful on that one, although as Cat has pointed out to me all beef in the UK tends to be grass fed so that’s a massive bonus. (Yes I had been desperately searching for a ‘grass fed’ description…) Again, try and visited local farmers markets for some great deals and a much higher quality of produce.

There is also an up and coming trend for organic food delivery services, as mentioned above, and you can now buy a whole cow/lamb/etc. and get it delivered to you in portions. There’s even a bacon delivery service with Cure & Simple.

‘Dairy’

Obviously dairy is a no-no if you’re strict paleo but if you like to dabble in the occasional goat or sheep milk yoghurt now and again, more and more supermarkets are stocking them.

COYO is probably the most popular coconut yoghurt option, even my corner shop stock it now, although it isn’t cheap it’s a great treat. COYO is also stocked in some Waitroses and I believe other supermarkets are catching on. The Coconut Collaborative is another coconut yoghurt option but personally I really didn’t enjoy it, I found it much runnier and thinner than COYO but that’s personal preference.

The Coconut Collaborative do, however, do a pretty good coconut milk ice cream which you can find in Sainsburys. I’m still dithering over whether I like coconutty ice-cream but with a few toppings this was rather nice! COYO also do a varient but I haven’t tried that yet so can’t vouch for it. My personal favourite however has to be Booja-Booja ice cream – made from just four ingredients (it’s got a cashew base) it is seriously amazing. Check out their truffles also for a little bit of heaven.

Whilst we’re on the subject of chocolate, Ayni also has a great range of handcrafted allergy-free chocolates that are on my wish list to try!

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Perfectly Paleo 

Perfectly Paleo is a great website stocking a wide range of UK paleo products (obviously). From coconut aminos to edible insects to flavoured nut butters to snack box subscriptions they’ve got it. Definitely one to visit for the more interesting, and slightly different, paleo options. They also have a sweet rewards system and, if you are referred by a friend, 10% off your first order (so let me know if you want me to refer you!).

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Wholefoods

Well this was obviously going to make the list but is pretty tricky if you don’t live in London or near one of the few other UK locations. It’s pretty overpriced but, as always, makes a nice treat. It’s also one of the few places that I’ve managed to find untouched (GF, chemical free, etc.) sausages and bacon for it’s worth a visit just for those!

Planet Organic

My love for Planet Organic has been growing of late. Ideal for Infinity Foods flours – coconut, tapioca, etc. – which tend to have the best price-quality ratio as well as Biona coconut products.

Nut Butters

I couldn’t not mention nut butters! It’s so much cheaper to buy these in bulk, 1kg tubs are easily available either from Meridian (via Amazon) or MyProtein. However, for portability the absolute winner (with the best name ever) is Pip & Nut with their new range of squeezy nut butters.

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Pret a Manger

So this isn’t exactly shopping to cook at home but when you’re caught in a rush Pret is ideal for a quick, easy, paleo emergency meal. Their chipotle chicken salad is amazing and they’ve recently started stocking coconut yoghurt, yes it has caramalised nuts on top but nobody’s perfect. Plus, they’re delicious.

I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed off this list but these are just some of my favourites! What would you add?

Disclaimer – all opinions are my own. I wasn’t compensated in any way for this post, I just really like these companies!

Riding the wave of life

So yesterday was a great day. Yesterday was my last day of lectures of my Masters degree – how on earth did that come around so quickly? Now just one presentation, three assignments, one 24 hour exam and one 15,000 word dissertation and I’ll be done ;) But seriously, it feels like I just started this course!

Yet, at the same time yesterday showed me how far I’ve come. In a nutshell my day went something like this – breakfast, finish transcribing an interview I had with someone in Brazil the other week for a uni assignment, a lecture on Syrian refugees with an incredible guest speaker, quick lunch, a ‘Syrian simulation’ seminar, a lecture on Hugo Chávez, a lecture with a guest speaker on Venezuela, a Skype lecture with a journalist live from Venezuela, home, dinner, FaceTime with my friend in the US who I met in Buenos Aires (a year ago…what?!), geek out on a Netflix human rights documentary, bed. BOOM. Not so long ago I wouldn’t have been able to do any of those things!

you only live once

Yesterday, it felt like I was riding the wide of life. I was at the peak. That moment where ask yourself “Seriously? Is this happening?”. It felt amazing, that this really is my life. This is what I’m meant to be doing.

Sometimes the wave will crash down, suddenly and without warning. The swell will settle and you will be faced with a flat calm again. But the water will still be moving. Slowly, gently, gradually you’ll edge your way, you will progress. And then another wave will come, it will pick you up and you will soar. Riding the wave of life.

Weekend Snapshots – The Simple Things

Well hello there. Once again today’s post is brought to you by a rather tired blogger… Deadline season is well and truly upon us and it has hit my mind, body and soul hard. I’ve been spending most of my time lately with good old Mr Mac… I think we might be exclusive.

*Ahem*, did I say I was tired? Bad laptop jokes aside, I’ve been trying to look on the positive side of things lately! Luckily I’ve got some beautiful friends to pick me up when needed! And this weekend I took the chance to pop back home for some intense working sessions, home cooked food and fresh country air…

Daffodils made me smile as I walked into my room… :)

Daffodils

Hereford’s best health food store reminded me of my quests not so long ago to hunt down coconut yoghurt and nut butters out in the sticks! I was pleasantly surprised to see it’s stock is slowly but surely expanding… Dare I say the UK is slowly catching onto the health food craze?

Fodders

The most exciting purchase has to be… Drum roll please…

chocolate booja-booja

Half a pint of cider in the pub on Friday night brought out the Herefordshire girl in me :D Then I saw the beautiful (and massive) moon on my drive home! This picture really doesn’t do it justice, it was stunning!

full moon

Home cooked food is the bomb.com. Moroccan chicken with apricots and toasted almonds for the win.

Moroccan chicken

I woke up to this view on Instagram on Saturday morning… Talk about holiday jealousy. I mean c’mon. That is what I need. Pronto.

instagram view

It’s not always perfect eating round these parts. I think there’s a tendency for bloggers to photograph and publicise the healthier stuff and ignore the rest. Well, sometimes a GF cheese toastie is 100% necessary.

gluten free cheese toastie

Did anyone else do this with snowdrops when they were a kid? Or was it just me… #simplethings

blue snowdrops

And what would a weekend home be without a roast dinner?

roast beef

It’s all about the simple things.

How was your weekend? What simple things have you been loving lately?

International Women’s Day 2015

Happy International Women’s Day friends! Yep, it’s that time of the year again. The one day I allow myself to write about a couple of my other passions on here – human rights, and women’s rights. This year, I want to talk about the f-word. The world that gets us all riled up.

Feminism.

What even is feminism? The word seems to have such a stigma attached to it nowadays, all too often it’s become associated with man hating… Thinking that women are the ‘better sex’… Wanting women to be more powerful than men… This is all absolute rubbish.

Feminism is quite simply advocating for women’s rights, and we need this because no country in this world has achieved gender equality. Nope, not the USA, the UK, or whatever ideological society you’re thinking of. Name me a country where a woman can walk down the street and not be cat-called. Where women are always paid the same as their male counterparts. Where nobody is told to ‘man-up’ or ‘grow some balls’ in a call to get them to toughen up, because men are the tough ones right? Every single country in this world is a patriarchy.

We need feminism because we need women and men to be equal.

We need feminism because women’s rights are human rights.

We need feminism because female rape victims are still blamed rather than their perpetrators.

We need feminism because one in four women are expected to experience violence in their lifetimes.

We need feminism because women are objectified in the media on a daily basis.

We need feminism because no is not enough.

We need feminism because no woman should ever be scared to leave her house.

We need feminism because a woman should be able to be whoever she wants to be, whether that is an engineer, a waitress or a wife.

We need feminism because FGM still exists.

We need feminism because a wife is still expected to take her husband’s name when they marry.

We need feminism because the sexual abuse of women is used as a weapon of war.

We need feminism because men still achieve a higher standard of education than women.

We need feminism because a woman should be able to wear whatever she wants to wear, she isn’t asking for anything.

We need feminism because 700,000 to 4 million girls are sold into prostitution each year, and no the majority do not have a choice.

We need feminism because women and girls aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than they are from war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents.

We need feminism because nobody will talk about these problems.

We need feminism because nobody should feel forced to conform to gender norms. Being feminine and male should not be an issue.

We need feminism because we need to be whoever who want to be.

We need feminism because a woman should not need to walk with a man to make her feel safe.

We need feminism because we need choice.

We need feminism because of this.

Plumbers, Chocolate and Country Music

Well hello there! It’s getting rather late and I’ve been working since 7.30am so excuse me if this doesn’t fully make sense… but I wanted to write and luckily Amanda lets us Think Out Loud on Thursdays so it’s all good!

1. The highlight of my weird things that I’ve seen in London this week just has to be the dog being taken for a walk with a Go Pro attached to its collar… I’m sorry but what? Maybe I’ll understand when I finally get my puppy (in approximately three years time) but until then that’s just strange. I mean, does the owner sit there and watch a whole day’s worth of footage to see what little Baxter got up to?

2. My coping mechanism for my current assignment stress (life re-begins on 19th March, just so you know) seems to be in the form of chocolate and country music. I’m getting slightly worried I’m going to turn into a fat country and western singer…

chocolate cookieA GF cashew chocolate cookie? Well if I must…

3. Separately from the aforementioned chocolate love – none of which I have eaten with regret – I so nearly had my first binge in forever on Monday. It’s been pretty rough lately and combining this with exhaustion and probably a slightly haywire body due to my increased sugar intake lately was not exactly great. You know what I did instead though? I went for a run. It was a beautiful sunny (windy) evening and I donned my shoes and shorts, popped on a podcast and escaped for five glorious kilometres. How’s that for progress?

clissord park run

4. I think someone’s playing pranks on me this week. Monday – the tap falls off the shower and water won’t stop flowing for 3.5 hours. I have to wait up for the emergency plumber to arrive till 11pm. Tuesday – my train gets cancelled halfway to CrossFit, then the bus terminates early, then the bus stop is closed. I arrive at CrossFit an hour late. Wednesday – a fire alarm goes off in the middle of a workshop at my volunteer work, we have to evacuate the building. Thursday – watch this space.

plumbing

5. Coffee. Thank God for coffee.

coffee

6. I ordered more Quest Bars as a present to myself… This uni lark’s getting expensive. Actually maybe I should blame Ashley for recommending such deliciousness to me. Chocolate chip cookie dough for the win.

7. I’ve started up Spanish lessons again! A liiiiiiittle (read a lot) rusty but I am so loving speaking español again. Plus, my walk there takes me past this view so who’s complaining? London sure has a habit of making me smile when I least expect it.

London

8. I’m going home this weekend! Yay! Cue the best bed in the world (mine), country air and family time. Heaven.

Thinking-Out-Loud2

Any randomness from your week? Tell me something out loud.

Feeling Limitless

On Friday morning I woke up pre CrossFit feeling a little on edge. In the back of my mind was the knowledge that that day’s WOD was inspired by the 2014 CrossFit Games Triple 3 event – the event that had Rich Froning walking – and was going to go as follows:

– 1 mile run

– 150 double unders (or 450 singles)

– 2km row

This was to be my longest row since my injury 2.5 years ago. I had been in two minds about whether to go that day but my back and shoulder had been feeling pretty good so I decided to feel the fear and just do it.

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When I was rowing, 2km ‘tests’ would have such a build up around them. It would play on my mind the week before as I knew that one score, that one moment, was going to be judged. Then the day would arrive and I’d want the warm-up to go on forever, to delay the inevitable. The intensity was real.

But Friday was different. Our session started out with the usual strength component – bench press that day – before heading into the WOD. No fuss, no drama, we just headed out on the run and got going. I let go of my fear and just counted myself through each component. My aim on the rower was simple, keep a steady pace, solid tekkers and put everything I had left out there at the end. My PR on a 2km is 7.30, set when I was 18 at free rate. On Friday my score was 8.04.2 at 25 strokes per minute. Oh and I was 23 ;)

As a rower I probably would have been pretty derogatory of that score but now? As people high fived me and congratulated me on my row I felt amazing. After 2.5 years of no rowing, no rowing training and a strength work out followed by the first part of the WOD I was still about to pull 8.04.2? Well that’s not too shabby is it now. As I cycled home that day a smile kept popping up across my face, after all my body has gone through it can still be pushed to its extreme… It can still achieve. I felt limitless, anything was possible.

I’m not sure when I fell out of love with rowing exactly, probably somewhere around the 1293th injury or when counting calories became more of an obsession that the sport, but I know for sure now that my heart’s well and truly gone to the CrossFit side now. It was there when I needed it, a new sport to follow, a new way to push my limits. Yet it’s also given me balance, as assignments and studying have taken over lately I’ve been able to prioritise my studies and I know it’s not the end of the world. It’s a temporary change and I cannot wait to get back into training more regularly and see what I can do.

Because that’s what sport’s all about really, and for me why I CrossFit.

To exceed your expectations.

To open your mind and heart to things you never thought possible.

To do ignore everyone who tells you your sport is a ‘cult’ and do what’s right for you.

To learn to trust yourself and scale/push as necessary for you.

To listen to someone else who knows more than you.

To ditch your ego and learning that perhaps you’re not quite as great at everything as you once thought.

To find the one thing that terrifies you (going upside down) and edge a little closer to achieving it each day.

To find community and strength in others as you realise that you don’t have to do everything alone.

To quieten the mind because who can realistically think about anything else in the middle of a WOD?

To find patience and determination because sometimes style comes before substance (hello double unders).

To connect with your body and thrive off the sheer joy of movement.

To feel yourself gaining stronger each day and to prioritise that over any desire to loose weight.

To ride the greatest kind of high, and feel totally limitless.

To make your heart pound, set your lungs on fire, to drip in sweat and feel completely and utterly alive.

Why do you do what you do?