Diet Chef: Week 3

Another week has started, and so another week of my Diet Chef plan has finished, and with less than a week to go before I finish off this 4 week plan and start another one, I’m feeling motivated as ever to shift the rest of this weight. I’ve only had a small loss of just over 1 pound yet again, the loss was actually a couple of pounds more on Friday, but with the weekend involving eating out on Friday, an overnight stay on Saturday and some fried food, it was inevitable that the weight wouldn’t completely stay off (the joys of having your weigh in day as a Monday eh). I’m going to do another quick run-down of my third week on the plan, allowing you to find out my favourites and my not so favourites, especially since I’ve had the chance to try out some new dishes (Diet Chef really do have so much choice so you won’t feel it being repetitive).

Through this plan I’ve realised I’m definitely not a fan of muesli, whether it’s the chocolate chip muesli bar or the luxury muesli with greek yoghurt, it’s just not for me. Granola on the other hand is definitely my thing and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more pink apple and cinnamon granola as I used up the few packets I ordered one day after the next due to completely falling in love with it. Just the other day I tried out the chocolate flavoured protein bar for breakfast and it was really tasty, I especially loved the crispy protein pieces throughout the bar which added some crunch to it, making me feel like I was digging into a bar of chocolate. This protein bar is super filling, I ended up having 1/3 for my breakfast, 1/3 after my lunch, and then 1/3 in the afternoon, as I couldn’t eat this all in one early in the morning. For lunch I’m yet to try the spicy beef and tomato soup, which is something to look forward to this week, but I’m loving my the curried parsnip with my usual slice of wholemeal bread. For my next 4 week plan I’m definitely going to order the cous cous to try, and more of the pasta pots as I’m missing them as my little break in between the constant soup. My one regret is ordering only a few bags of crisps as I only just tried the Paprika flavoured soya and potato snacks and they’re even better than the salt and pepper flavour (which I didn’t believe could be possible). This is what excites me about still having another 4 weeks after this plan finishes as I now know what I love, like and dislike and can use my preferences when placing my new order this week. For dinner I’ve developed a huge liking for the minced beef hot pot, which in a way makes me feel like I’m having a Sunday dinner as it tastes like a good wholesome homemade meal. I’m also pleasantly surprised by the lasagne, I’m a big pasta lover so I’m glad I can still have the foods I love the most on this plan without worrying about overindulging. With the meaty lasagne being delicious, this only makes me excited to try out the tuna lasagne, which will be a twist on the good old traditional lasagne, but I’m sure it will be a good one.

As well as trying my best on the Diet Chef plan, I’ve also really been pushing myself at the gym, I attended fat burn last week which was fantastically demanding, and I also went to Abs Blast last night which made me want to cry both mentally and physically as it was SO DIFFICULT and had me in pain from the get go (my body is currently struggling all over). I’ve also been increasing my own workouts at the gym by increasing the amount of time I spend at the gym, increasing the amount of weights I do, and making sure my workouts have a lot more variation and stay exciting. I’ve also started the 30 day abs and bum challenge, with one of my goals being to really start toning up and get rid of my jiggly bits (believe me I have plenty of jiggle). Although I can definitely see the difference in my body just my looking in the mirror I’m hoping I can get another pound or two off on my 4th week of the plan and notice a difference on the scales.

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Dining at Mezze

Being the major foodie that I am, eating out is one of my favourite things to do, whether it’s repeated visits to some of my favourite food places or expanding my horizons and trying out somewhere completely new, I’m all for it. After life got in the way to try out new restaurant Mezze back in June, just last Sunday following a lovely trip to the Girls Day Out I finally got to make that visit happen.

Mezze, a mesmerising restaurant and stylish bar, is located in the Rotunda in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre.  Along with 3 other restaurants all under the one roof, Mezze sits at the top and as soon as you walk out of the double doors you can’t help but mutter ‘wow’ under your breath. The shape of the building is dome like, and so walking into the restaurant you are welcomed by stars painted across the ceiling of the dome, almost as if you’re dining under the stars. The restaurant also features booths by glass windows looking out to the River Clyde, and on dark nights like these, it really is a lovely setting, and would make a create a nice little atmosphere for a date if you’re wanting to sweep that special someone off their feet. Opening early this year, Mezze offers dishes that will be sure to impress you if you’re a fan of Turkish and Greek influences, and even if Mediterranean style kebabs and char-grilled meats are something you’ve not tried before, you won’t be disappointed should you decide to give them a go. If you just forget for a second that you’re sitting in a Glasgow restaurant perched beside the SSE Hydro Arena you could almost imagine yourself in the likes of Santorini (minus the weather, Glasgow doesn’t experience a hint of weather like Greece), that’s the atmosphere that Mezze provides to its diners or those just popping in for a quick drink.

A dinner date with my mum is something I’ve not had in a while so this was the perfect opportunity for us to have some mum and daughter time all whilst being kept satisfyingly fed with some good food. We were lucky enough to try the Festive Menu that’s now in full swing with Christmas fast approaching. This menu involves 3 dishes and a side for £19.95, or 2 dishes and a side, as well as a dessert for the same price of £19.95. I chose the turkey keftedes (turkey meatballs in a tomato sauce), chicken skewers (grilled slouvaki chicken), a side of handcut chips, and for the dessert, well…we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. My mum on the other hand chose the king prawns in a wine and garlic butter sauce, Turkey keftedes (meatballs), lamb skewers (grilled slovaki lamb) and a side of rice. With a glass of Rose for me to wash my food down with and a white wine for my mum, we couldn’t wait for our food to arrive after a long day of pampering ourselves at the Girls Day Out.

So what were my thoughts of the food then? The food itself was delicious, the only downside was the wait between dishes, we’d hoped they would all come out at the same time so we could have the rice with our meatballs that came in a lovely tomato sauce, but each dish was brought out separately with a lengthy wait between them at times, meaning we’d finish one small dish and then be waiting on another. Like I said though, this was the only downside to the visit, and with our booking happening to be on the same night that Queen and Adam Lambert were playing at the Hydro just next door, I can only imagine that everything would be brought out all at once on a less busier evening. The handcut chips featured a touch of oregano making them all the tastier, and the meatballs were delicious with the tomato sauce they were perched on top. In terms of the chicken, I’m not used to grilled chicken so the chicken skewers were a new thing for me and they were good, all the more tastier and full of flavour so I may sway towards grilled chicken when offered on a menu in the future.

With Mezze offering a range of seafood dishes, it was only right that I got involved and tried something from the ocean. Despite myself not ordering a seafood dish, my mum did, and done well in persuading me to try one of her king prawns in a wine and garlic butter sauce. After some slight hesitation, I tried it and it wasn’t so bad after all, in actual fact I’d be tempted to try them again. This is one of the reasons I love trying out new restaurants because the majority of the time I end up trying new dishes that I otherwise wouldn’t try at all, so thanks Mezze for making my first prawn experience a good one.

Dessert. Dessert. Dessert. I ordered the Kormos which underneath stated was chocolate salami, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect (the thought crossed my mind that I’d possibly be getting a chocolate covered sausage). It came and to my relief it wasn’t a chocolate covered sausage, it was a dessert made from chocolates and biscuit, alongside a scoop of ice-cream. Apparently Kormos is the Greek word for tree log and this is why the dessert is called Kormos because of its shape (can you tell I’ve done my research?), so I can now add to my food list that I’ve tried a traditional Greek dessert. Overall I had a great time at Mezze and a lovely evening spent with my mum. Although my dinner was complimentary for review purposes, in terms of the price value I thought the dishes could of been a little larger, but Mezze would make a great location for a special occasion or a dinner prior to attending an event at the Hydro next door, like the many Queen lovers who were there that very night I was. I’m very intrigued by The Rotunda and due to it being home to 3 other restaurant in addition to Mezze, I’ll definitely be back to try out the other 3 and next time I’m back at Mezze, I’ll be sure to give their Halloumi fries a try.

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Best burger joint in Glasgow?

Just last week I visited new burger joint Smashburger in Glasgow after receiving an invite from the lovely little PR team behind this ‘smashing‘ place. Planting its seed in Denver, Colorado back in 2007, Smashburger soon came to dominate the burger industry with over 370 restaurants worldwide, making its mark in 9 different countries with room for extra. Just last month Smashburger landed on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow and I’d heard through the grapevine that this was one place not to miss. Here’s the thing though, you can go to any food place in the world and you’ll always see the word burger sprawled across the menu, so what makes the burgers at Smashburger stand out from just any other place? Well, this was exactly what I was going to find out on my visit.

On arrival we were welcomed by the fantastic Gundy who explained the vision, mission and philosophy of Smashburger before telling us a few of his favourites on the menu, which is always a nice added touch and usually influences the decisions I come to make. News had spread about the famous local burger known as the Tagias Stack made with only the best Scottish haggis, bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg, showing that this American branch can fit in with the local culture too. Before I had even entered the place I had decided I was getting this, so I was slightly disappointed to find out they had no haggis that evening, but that didn’t stop me from indulging myself in a burger just as amazing as this one would have been.

After giving us some time to get our heads around the many options on the menu, David opted for a BBQ bacon and cheddar crispy chicken burger, whilst I went for the Bacon and cheese beef burger with….wait for it…a fried egg. First impressions can completely seal the deal for me so everything really came down to this burger. The first bite brought smiles all round, this was one good burger and for any of you who are questioning a fried egg being planted on top of a beef patty, just trust me on this one, it’s a game changer. These burgers are not only super fresh, but made to order, which I’m sure will go down well with all you burger lovers who like to experiment and enjoy a little bit of customisation.

For sides we got french fries, haystack onions, and even fried pickles, which Gundy kindly put on for us to try. Pickles are one thing I’ve instantly disliked, despite the fact I’ve never even tried them to know that I dislike them. Despite this, I gave them a try and they weren’t for me, that’s not to say they’re not good because EVERYONE at Smashburger loves them, I’m just fussy. Thanks to Smashburger though for even encouraging me to try them cause otherwise I never would have went near them. On the other hand, haystack onions are my new found love, they’re a whole lot thinner than normal onion rings but that’s what makes them so unique and tasty, my hand couldn’t stop dipping in and out of the basket for more.

As if I had just ate all of the above and could still have room for dessert, that can’t be right? Oh, but it was…as soon as I seen the word churros displayed on a card on the table I had already mentally ordered them in my head. It’s hard to find a good place that does decent churros, and after my first amazing experience with them at a lovely little Spanish restaurant years ago I’ve struggled to find anywhere to be on par with them…then came along the churros at Smashburger. Sugary, warm and with the most delicious little pot of chocolate dipping sauce, this was a great end to a great dinner. Smashburger is one to look out for if you’re in the city centre of Glasgow and looking for a burger stop, the service is great, but the burgers are even better. As Arnold would say, “I’ll be back.”

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The Counter: Custom Burgers

If you’re anything like me you’ll go to a restaurant and order something from the menu but ask for it to come without this, that and the next thing. Frustrating isn’t it? The menu isn’t the frustrating thing for me though, it’s more so being a fussy-eater, and worrying that you’ve mixed the waiter up and your order arrives and isn’t what you asked for. Well… there’s a new place in Glasgow where you no longer have to change your order and have such worries, you can build your order from scratch with whatever suits YOUR needs as the diner and this place is called The Counter.

The Counter are a custom built burger restaurant whose aim is to challenge the way individuals think about burgers, and rather than have them sticking to those same old repetitive burgers, entice them with their array of toppings, meats, sauces and so on in order for visiting diners to learn, experiment and try out. When I was invited along to their VIP event I couldn’t wait to see what this place really was all about and whether as a fussy eater, particularly when it comes to burgers, see whether this place was made for me.

Milkshakes at The Counter.jpgOn arrival we were greeted with a Butterscotch Java Malt milkshake, giving us the best of both worlds with the butterscotch taste, whilst a hint of coffee was flavoured throughout it. Now I can just imagine how good a full-sized one of these would be, a burger and shake…now isn’t that a great combination. The milkshakes range between £5 and £6 and being filled to the brim in mason jars and topped with some delicious treats, they’re well worth the money and could be a dessert in themselves.

After sipping on my mini milkshake, and snapping plenty of pictures of the array of burgers that were proudly on display, all of us that were lucky enough to attend this event sat down for a talk by CEO Jeff Weinstein to learn a bit more about The Counter. So what did I find out? The Counter started in 2003, with the first restaurant situated in Santa Monica, California. With 40 restaurant locations in America, as well as internationally, Glasgow is actually the first restaurant within the UK, go Glasgow. In regards to the food there are per one million possible burger combinations, as well as the meat being halal, in addition to vegan and gluten-free options available if required. After hearing some interesting facts about the place and how well Jeff is doing after starting with just an idea and a single restaurant in America, some burger building began. Two individuals from the audience were picked and got to create their own burger, starting with the bun, meat, toppings and sauce and after being satisfied with the taste it was time to get back to our booth and get tasting for ourselves.

Basically at The Counter you have a menu with signature burgers or a create your own burger menu, now I’m going to be focussing on the create your own menu. It’s almost a checklist where you go through all the steps as followed (included are some examples):

  1. Choose a protein – beef, turkey, chicken breast or vegan veggie (premium proteins include salmon or southern fried chicken)
  2. Choose a size – single or double
  3. Choose a style – on a bun (brioche, english muffin, ciabatta), or on fresh greens (lettuce blend, mixed greens)
  4. Choose a cheese – American, feta, mozzarella
  5. Choose a sauce – aioli, or dressing – garlic aioli, chipotle aioli, buttermilk ranch
  6. Choose your toppings – kale, tomatoes, carrot strings, boiled egg
  7. Add-on premium toppings – avocado, turkey bacon, guacamole
  8. Choose a side – fried onion strings, sweet potato fries, french fries, veggie skewers

So what did we get to devour? The first thing we tried was the burger in a bowl, which is a bunless burger placed in a salad bowl rather than in a bun, served with all your desired toppings. In our burger bowl was a beef burger, alongside American cheese, kale and a few other toppings which I can’t quite remember. The burger was cooked to perfection, my one concern when I visit burger joints and worry it’s not cooked the way I want it to be, but not to worry I wasn’t disappointed.

The Counter_El Segundo.jpgIf that wasn’t enough the lovely and attentive staff then came round again offering none other than more burgers. We tried out the southern fried chicken burger with chilli red devil cheese, jalapeños (chillies on the menu), honey dijon sauce and coleslaw. I’m a big southern fried chicken fan so this was a burger I took a liking to. Followed shortly after was the turkey chipotle burger, consisting of turkey, spring onions, chilli red devil cheese and chipotle aioli. I was so looking forward to trying the turkey burger and it exceeded my expectations, it made the perfect combination with the chipotle aioli and is definitely something I’d order again. I’m so used to ordering beef burgers so with The Counter offering the likes of southern fried chicken and turkey, I’d definitely like to experiment with these meats and the toppings in the future.

Now let’s talk sides as I got to try both types of fries on offer. First up were the french fries, and I prefer skinny fries so I was delighted to find out these were just that size. Accompanied by some honeyranch sauce these fries were delightful, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, but would the sweet potato fries steal my heart? Accompanied by apricot sauce these sweet potato fries were heavenly, although in all honesty the apricot sauce wasn’t something I’d order in future, it did go well with the sweet potato fries. With both options satisfying my tastebuds how could I ever choose just one type when I visit again? Here’s the thing…I don’t. The Counter must know their fries are so good and want to save the hassle of any tricky decision-making so offer 50/50 where you can get half a portion of french fries and half a portion of sweet potato fries, so no cause for conflict.

To end the event I had a Berry Mint Fresca mocktail which was served in a mason jar with a handle. I was in my element sipping on my cocktail in its cute little mason jar and wanted none other than 10 more of those mocktails. Costing £4.50 if you’re having a night away from the alcohol then a virgin cocktail is the way for you, just as tasty and minus the alcoholic effects. All I can say is thank you Jeff and the team behind The Counter for bringing the first UK restaurant to Glasgow, it truly is a blessing to the Springfield Quay and with offering customers the opportunity to build their own burgers from scratch I can guarantee this will be a hit with the public, and especially those fussy eaters like me. I might even give it a visit this weekend as I want to get my hands around some more mason jars whether cocktails or milkshakes and experiment with some burger toppings. If you could build up your very own dream burger, what meat, toppings and sauces would you choose?

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Cosmo: Food Heaven?

If you’ve read some of my posts on here then you would have figured out by now that I’m a major foodie and I love nothing more than eating out. Buffets? They have my name written all over them, so when I was invited to Cosmo Authentic World Kitchen I couldn’t say no and instead I spent the full week looking forward to trying out food from all over the world. If you haven’t heard about Cosmo before then get this written down on your to-do list because it’s a place not to be missed, but firstly for those newbies like I was, what is it? Cosmo is a Pan Asian buffet style restaurant which offers a wide variety of different cuisines from around the globe. Do you ever go to a restaurant and find it difficult just having a main course of one item because there was multiple things on the menu you fancied? Well Cosmo resolves issues just like this, allowing you to have as many plates as you want of whatever food you fancy, so not restricting you to the one dish.

Inspired by some of the best five-star hotels around the world, Cosmo offer constant fresh food as well as great choice, only making expectations of buffets higher. I’ve been to buffets before where the food’s not been that warm, nor has it been fresh, as well as there not being much left of what I want, but during my visit to Cosmo I realised this place is a whole different ball game when I seen the chefs constantly bringing out fresh food, refilling dishes and making sure nothing was going short.

You really won’t believe your luck when you find out what Cosmo have to offer:

  • World of Asia – tour the Asian continent with things like crispy duck
  • Teppanyaki and sushi – you can choose from scallops, steak, chicken and so much more and watch the talented chefs cook it before your very own eyes
  • House of spice – this is for if you fancy a full Indian banquet with multiple different curries on offer as well as appetisers like pakora
  • Continental – for the Italian lover who fancies some spaghetti and meatballs or a good slice of pizza
  • Tasting kitchen – offering some of the world’s most popular dishes if you fancy a little bit of everything, such as burgers, chilli con carne, shepherd’s pie.
  • Carvery – fancy a Sunday roast but on any day of the week? Well you can choose from turkey, lamb or beef alongside all your vegetables, and not to forget…Yorkshire puddings.
  • Deli –  fresh salads, cheeses
  • Desserts – from cheesecake to macarons, from ice-cream to jelly, but let’s not forget the CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN
  • Drinks – with the option of classic cocktails to spirits, free refills on soft drinks, or if you just fancy a nice hot drink to wash down your dinner then Cosmo has everything

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Now we know the ins and outs of this little piece of heaven, let’s talk about my very own experience. After being taken to our table by the manager James, we were then introduced to the lovely Stuart who’d be looking after us during our visit. Cosmo really know how to hire good staff, with Stuart being super friendly, attentive and informative, letting us know all that Cosmo has to offer and even some of his personal favourites and recommendations, which for a Cosmo newbie like me was just what I needed. So I headed over to the carvery and started off with some turkey, potatoes, carrots, a yorkshire pudding and gravy. You let the chef know whether you want turkey, lamb or pork and he’ll cut it up for you and pop it on your plate, that’s what you call service. This was one of my favourite things about Cosmo, the fact they have a carvery station and this is definitely the first I’ve seen at any buffet I’ve been to… so brownie points were definitely gained here.

After my carvery I tried out some pasta, going for some macaroni cheese and the pesto pasta bake, both were really delicious especially the pesto pasta as pesto has become a new favourite of mine this year. Following the pasta, I then had some crispy duck pancakes and these were amazing, I like the fact you build it up on your own so you get your pancakes, fill it with the duck, and add some spring onions if you fancy. The crispy duck pancakes were then followed by some curry, vegetable samosas, pakora, the lot – this buffet was made for me and had every type of food to keep me happy. I had eaten so much I didn’t have room to visit the teppanyaki experts, although I could tell I wouldn’t have been disappointed when I seen the constant queue and business over at that station, so that’s something to try next time.

Finally was dessert where I opted for lemon mousse, a chocolate cupcake, jelly and of course the chocolate fountain. You simply can’t go to Cosmo and not save room for the chocolate fountain, standing beside it popping your marshmallows or fresh fruit on the little skewer and then absolutely drenching it in chocolate. I chose only a few of the many desserts they have to offer, but wow, this is heaven for any individuals with a sweet tooth like me. Stuart who had been visiting our table regularly, taking our plates that we had finished with, making sure we were enjoying ourselves, came back to offer us a hot drink so I went for a hot chocolate and it really was the cherry on top for me. I walked out of the restaurant feeling a couple stone heavier, but happier than ever after such a great feed…and I only have Cosmo to thank for that.

Cosmo is definitely right when they state that this is a “food theatre that creates a sociable and buzzing atmosphere.” The place was packed and I’ve heard through the grapevine that booking is a necessity or else you may be left disappointed and not get a table. However, if you ever visit without a booking and have a bit of a wait, then wait it out because you’ll have one of the best dinners ever, or should I say multiple amazing dinners. Lunch ranges from £7.99 to £14.99 depending on the time and day, and dinner ranges from £14.99 to £15.99 for the same reason, but you can find more information on their website here. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat out but want a bit of everything then Cosmo is the place to go where you can pick from up to 150 dishes, I can’t wait for my next visit. Have you ever been to Cosmo before, if so what did you think?

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