A Touch of Taste

Things have been pretty quiet on The Gem Word lately and that’s because I’ve been re-evaluating the direction I want my blog to do in. While I love beauty and lifestyle content, it is the food side of my blog that brings me the most joy. I’ve decided to make a leap into a self-hosted blog and I would like to introduce to you, A Touch of Taste.

A Touch of Taste is an all-things food blog where I’ll be posting recipes, tips/hacks, restaurant reviews and others. All with the ethos of easy, delicious, versatile and nutritious food. Whether you are looking for new everyday recipe inspiration, want to up your fruit/vegetable intake but don’t really like them or want some tips to save you time, and money in the kitchen, there is something for everything.

What will happen to The Gem Word? I think two blogs is too much to take on so if inspiration hits, you may see a few more posts but when my plan runs out, I have no plans to review. My food content generally gets the most traffic so I’m hoping if you love The Gem Word then you’ll follow me to A Touch of Taste.

Social Media

Instagram – @_atouchoftaste
Twitter – @atouchoftaste

I really hope you decide to join me on my next adventure and want to thank you for taking the time to visit The Gem Word.

Quick, Easy and Healthy Lunch Ideas

Quick, Easy and Healthy Lunch Ideas

When you’re busy, quick, healthy and filling lunches can be so difficult and sometimes half of the problem isn’t lack of time, but lack of inspiration. Since I’m been working from home, I eat differently than I did when I was in the office. Rather than not eating until lunchtime, I now eat around 10.30 and then have my lunch around 2, but I eat lighter. It’s so easy to just turn to toast, particularly if I’m busy, but I then get tired in the afternoon so these quick, health lunch ideas are staples in my weekly lunch routines.

Speedy Tomato Soup

Serves 2

1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tin of White Beans (Butter, Cannellini, whatever you have in the cupboard)
2 Spring Onions (finely chopped)
Basil Leaves
Tbsp of Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper & Seasoning of your choice (I recommend Paprika, Oregano, Nutmeg, Garlic and Chilli Flakes, but it it is to suit your tastes)
Optional:Cooked Chicken or Chorizo

Blend all ingredients with a stick blender until smooth. Warm over a medium heat until piping hot, check the seasoning and add more if required. You can serve with extra Basil, Chicken or Chorizo and a slice of sourdough. The quantities above will make two portions and you can store it in the fridge overnight.

I’d never thought of using tinned chopped tomatoes for making soup, but they’re so delicious. This is one I can prepare throughout the morning while I’m making tea/coffee and then just heat it up at lunchtime. The beans should keep you full throughout the afternoon but I’ve added the optional meats for more protein if you like.

Creamy Spinach and Pea Soup

Serves 2

100g Frozen Spinach
200g Frozen Peas
1 Garlic Clove
1 Stock Cube (chicken or vegetable, whichever you prefer)
Salt & Pepper
900ml Boiling Water
6 Basil Leaves (plus extra to serve)
Tbsp of yoghurt (to serve)

Add all the ingredients to a pot, along with 900ml of boiling water. Bring through the boil and then cook over a medium heat for 18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool for a few minutes and then blitz with a hand blender. Portion it up and then finish with a spoonful of yoghurt (greek, free from, natural, whatever you prefer) and a few basil leaves.

One of my absolute favourites, and so easy to make. It’s full of goodness and the use of frozen veg means you don’t need to worry about having fresh ingredients or any preparation work. Simply throw it into a pot and away you go. If you wanted to take this to the next level, you could add pancetta or cooked chicken for extra flavour and texture.

Egg Wrap

Serves 1

2 eggs
Tbsp of cold water
Salt & Pepper

Filling of your choice – I love salsa and avocado; chicken and tomato; Quorn sausages or carrot and hummus.
The majority of things you would put in a toastie/ sandwich, will work with this.

Whisk the eggs, water and salt/ pepper together and then heat in a pan over a medium heat. Run your spatula around the edges of the egg as it cooks until it comes away easily. Once it’s cooked enough, flip and cook the other side for a minute. Leave to cool slightly and then add your topping. If you’re only looking for a snack, you can cut down to one egg if you have a small pan.

Eggs are a staple in my diet, I must eat them at least five times a week because they fill me up and they’re quick. We don’t eat a lot of bread in my house, so it’s not always in the cupboard so what bread is to others, is what eggs are to me. I love that this is so versatile and works for either breakfast or lunch.

I hope that has given you some inspiration, please leave a comment below if you’re planning to try out any of these recipes. What are your favourite weekday lunches?

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Dairy Free – Pure Heavenly Chocolate Review

Dairy Free – Pure Heavenly Chocolate Review

When I decided to cut dairy from my diet, I had a fair few moments of panic realising I would be saying goodbye to some of my favourite foods – cheese, cake, ice cream but most of all, chocolate. A self-confessed addict, a day doesn’t pass that I don’t have at least a nibble of chocolate. I knew I would be saying goodbye to to my dietary staple, or at least in the sense I knew it, and I made it my mission to find a decent dairy free chocolate.

I scoured the supermarket free-from isles, read lots of blog posts about accidentally dairy free treats (hello, Bournville) and searched the internet, which is where I came across Pure Heavenly. The brand interested me as it was aiming to be a healthier alternative to the sweet stuff with only 2% surgar, and around 128 calories per 30g (a standard Dairy Milk is 45g for comparison). The brand is also 100% vegan, dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, GMO and Palm Oil free. So you might be wondering, what actually is in it? The chocolate is made from cocoa butter, rice cream and sweeteners.

The variety of flavours available really was what piqued my interest. A variety of flavours including salted caramel, banana, strawberry, coconut, mint and orange in the milk chocolate variety. The dark chocolate collection has flavours including coffee, raspberry, cherry, sea salt and ginger. Bars can be bought in 85g or 3g size, they also do selection box style gift packs if you can’t choose or like a bit of variety.

I ordered the Milk Taster Gift Box which cost £12.50 and you get 8 30g bars in the following flavours: Banana, Orange, Silk, Coconut, Mint, Hazelnut, Strawberry and Salted Caramel). The flavours I was most excited by were banana, salted caramel, orange and silk, as the majority of supermarket free-from chocolates I’d tried had a somewhat grainy texture.

I started with the Silk and I can confirm it is smooth and silky that other free-from chocolate is just not achieving. It’s quite a mild taste and is sweet, without being too sweet. I was most excited about banana and actually, I was a bit disappointed as I wanted that artificial banana milkshake type flavour but it’s a much more natural banana flavour. My favourites were the salted caramel and orange flavours, I really liked the coconut and hazelnut too because they had flakes on the bottom so it was nice to have some texture.

My taste buds are definitely changing and moving on from the sweet, sugary chocolate to looking for deeper, rich flavours so I’m going to try the dark chocolate taster box next. Sour cherry, sea salt, coffee and ginger sound heavenly!

If you’re looking to cut down on your sugar, or have a diet free from dairy, gluten, wheat or soy, and are looking for a sweet fix, then I’d totally recommend giving Pure Heavenly a try.

Please leave a comment below if you’ve ever tried Pure Heavenly, or if there are any other free from chocolate brands you’d recommend.

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Why I Went Dairy-Free | April 2021

Why I Went Dairy-Free | April 2021

I was always aware of the link between what you put into your body, and your overall health. I knew I shouldn’t eat too much fat or sugar, I knew I should eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables and encorporate a balanced, variety of foods into my diet. I knew I should drink lots of water and limit my caffeine and alcohol, and I knew that If I ate rubbish then I’d feel rubbish. I’ve never been able to get away with a poor diet. Whether it be to maintain a healthy weight, or for energy, my body wouldn’t be long in reminding me that I wasn’t fuelling it properly. Despite feeling hard done to as a child, while my friends would live off beige foods and chocolate where as I could only have those foods in moderation, it meant when I became an adult and had control over my diet, it was a much easier transition. It also gave me an interest in nutrition and the relationship between how you fuel your body and how it affects you.

I was diagnosed with a connective tissue disease in 2019 and while it was a sight of relief, knowing there was something wrong with me for so long but not knowing what, it was a new thing in my life to manage which I felt powerless too because it’s incurable, and unpredictable. As I managed the first two years of my diagnosis, my body got used to the medication and it took me to a point where it was under control and we were as far as we could go in terms of medication. I was still frustrated because I was in a lot of pain at times, fatigued, and felt like I was losing control. I’d thought about a homeopathic route but in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt it was too much money to part with for a Skype call. The other thing I wanted to explore was the effect my diet could have on managing my condition. I’d read stories about how diet modification could improve conditions. Ella, from Deliciously Ella turned to a plant based diet to help with her conditions, and Nic Chapman from Pixiwoo has credited her diet in keeping her MS under control. I had read article after article about various diet options but as I have a sensitivity to dairy, I can eat it but if I eat too much I don’t feel great, I was interested to see if cutting it out completely would improve my health.

I made the decision fairly quickly so going cold turkey, seemed like a set up to fail. I decided for the month of March and up until Easter weekend, I would cut it out as much as possible but have the odd cheat day here and there for Mother’s Day, Easter, occasions. I also didn’t want to hassle anyone else with my dairy free diet while I was still tinkering with it. That would give me a solid fortnight off dairy to learn, settle into a new routine and see if I noticed a benefit.

I studied the free from sections of the supermarket and other than them being (at times) eye-wateringly more expensive, there wasn’t anything I found that I could haven’t have a dairy free alternative, which was assuring. From cheese, milk, yoghurt, chocolate, even condensed milk, there were options. Having a sweet tooth, I was nervous about giving up chocolate and even though I’ve found dairy free alternatives that I like, there is also some ‘accidentally’ dairy free products I’ve found which means I can still eat some of my favourite treats, like Bournville and Bourbon biscuits.

I cook a lot so found it pretty easy come mealtimes, but I did do a stock take and was surprised at some of the ready made foods that contain dairy like tinned soups and even some chicken sausages. I swapped cows milk for oat milk, switched cheese for free-from cheese which is coconut based and surprisingly delicious, I started blending cashews to make creamy sauces and swapped ice cream for soya based products. Dairy provides lots of vital nutrients so to supplement this, I made sure I was eating a vast range of veggies, I added more nuts, seeds and pulses to meals and nutritional yeast. I also take Vitamin D supplements so switched to Vitamin D + Calcium and now take a multi B vitamin daily and that seems to be working well so far.

Within the first week, I definitely felt better within myself which was a real positive and I didn’t find the dietary change difficult. My joint pain is definitely calmed down which is a huge benefit (although I’m pretty sure the dairy free has a lot to do with it, these conditions are unpredictable so I can’t say for sure that’s what it is). I’m not crippled with fatigue right now, but I haven’t been since Christmas so I haven’t noticed any direct impact, I suppose I’m moving more so should feel more tired, but I still feel pretty good.

After an indulgent Easter, I now have no interest in dairy products so feel like I’m in a good position to give it a real go and see if it makes a difference to my life. I am slightly worried about eating out, many foods contain hidden dairy so don’t want to eat it unknowingly, but I don’t have an allergy so I’m not as worried about cross contamination as someone with an allergy should be. Time will tell how I get on, but if it’s going to improve my quality of life, then I’m willing to try anything.

I plan to post a lot more dairy free content including things I’ve learned, accidentally dairy free treats and recipes so if you’re interested in that, or have any tips then please leave a comment below.

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