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Where do I find the time?

Ah good question! If I had a shiny golden coin for every time someone asked me ‘Where do you find the time to do X!?’ I would be a very rich bunny.  For those of you who know me well, I most certainly do not have a problem filling my time. I like to discover new places, meet up with friends, stay active, make things, my mind runs at 100mph with ideas of new recipes I can try out. I am constantly in drive mode.

To add a bit of market colour I also have a full time job in financial services. I leave my home between 6:15-6:45 daily and return at 7:30-8pm. I also tutor part time to keep up my language skills and try to get to the gym/workout 5-6 times a week. I always cook and take in my own lunch everyday and don’t live with my parents anymore so have to do all the house chores as well – boo 🙁 And of course other hobbies include blogging, vlogging, baking and cooking!

So where do I find the time? Well, I think the better question should be where do I make the time? I love to use the analogy of juggling. If you want to learn to juggle you may start off with practicing throwing and catching one ball in the air to get the hang of the hand-eye coordination. That is great buuttt you aren’t really going to become a proficient juggler if you never move on to two balls. You then move on to two, get comfortable and want to add a third. This is where things get trickier. You have to focus your concentration of three balls at once and you don’t want to let one fall. During this moment in our lives we feel great, we feel like we have a challenge and it is something that is manageable. We can add more events/hobbies/commitments into our lives at this stage that will stretch us a little, like trying to throw the balls that tiny bit higher or we may even want to add a fourth ball. But, what we don’t want to do is end up adding a fourth, not being able to catch it and then subsequently letting all the other balls drop because our attention was distracted. This is me trying to be all airy fairy and say if you cram too much sh*t into your life you will burn out and then you won’t be able to do diddly squat!

You know you and so you do YOU. 

Everyone is different. I, for example, don’t sleep for as long as other people so I gain a lot of time there. I average about 6 hours per night during the week and perhaps 6 1/2 – 7 hours at the weekend. I don’t feel tired or grumpy, my body can just naturally cope with that amount of sleep. That having been said, I also don’t drink and never go ‘out out’ so I am in bed by 10:30-11pm every night. I also don’t watch muuuuch TV, I like to watch films but I am not one for reality TV (I did just finish Stranger Things though and oh my gosh that was worth it and I miss it already 🙁 ).

I am a firm believer in people being able to achieve anything they want, but really want. If we put our minds to it we can get/have what ever we want. Because we will either find a way or we’ll make our own way there. I know that if I want to get fit and stronger this year I need to make sure (and the key thing – I WANT to make sure) that I find time to do my HIIT sessions or get into the gym. This sometimes means waking up at 5am to get to the gym before I leave the house to go to work or means that I need to wake up at 7:30am on a Sunday to get to the gym and back before I start tutoring. These are all sacrifices I have to make.

There has to be a balance though. I know that at the moment I cannot juggle anymore balls and in fact I really need to consider at the moment the possibility of losing one before I drop them all.

Most importantly you need to think about what it is that is making you happy at this moment of time in your life. Or what isn’t making you happy that you need to change. If you feel a lack of achievement in your life, add in some goals to hit. If you feel exhausted take some time out and chuck away a few balls. If you really feel that you want to do something but ‘can’t find the time’ start prioritising your life. Keep a tracker diary for a week. Make note of how many hours you spend watching TV, or in the Pub or sleeping or cooking or out with friends instead of with your other-half (or vice versa!), find where you need to balance your time. Our lives can be thought of as trying to balance the books, our assets and liabilities need to be balanced. We can’t always give and not get anything back in return. The areas of life that drain us need to be balanced with those that fulfil us. I do feel physically exhausted sometimes at the end of a week but I make sure I have my moments of comfort. At the moment this is quite bizarrely a coronation chickpea sandwich smothered in chutney with a hot cup of tea followed by some dark chocolate! :L I know its weird but I have put the coronation chickpea recipe below in case you are also a weird specimen like me and view this as ‘comfort food’!

Recipe –> 1/2 can chickpeas washed and drained smashed with, 1 tbsp of raisins, 2 tsps of tumeric, 2 tsps of gram masala, 1 tsp of ginger, 1 tbsp of coconut yogurt and 2 tbsps of almond milk. Put in between two slices of wholemeal seeded bread smothered in caramelised onion chutney!

So don’t worry no one is perfect. Yes I do a lot, but there is also a lot I don’t do. After all, I am the boring Vegan who doesn’t drink… well I like a mocktail or two 😉

 

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Avo Lovely Day 27x27

Nat x

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Weight Training For Beginners #1 

So as alluded to in my previous posts and by My Fitness Journey videos on my YouTube channel I have spent the last two months adopting a weight training workout routine as opposed to one that is purely cardio based. I know I know what you are thinking, why would someone who is 5ft 1 (and a half…dont forget that half an inch!) want to start lifting heavy weights and get stocky!? There are many reasons for this and many myths that I would like to expel!

Firstly, weight training does not make you stocky and no that is not my aim. What weight training does do is make you stronger and build muscle mass. My aim for 2018 is to get lean which means building more muscle and losing excess body fat. This is very different to the ever sought after look of being slim or skinny. I have been there, I have run marathons, I have been ultra fit, or so I thought. During this period of my life I was what I like to call Skinny Fat!

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I was very small, inbetween a UK size 4 and 6! I was obsessed with cardio thinking this was making me healthy. Yet, my fingers would still get lost in some belly fat, I wasn’t toned or lean, I was squishy. If you squeezed me too much I would have broken. I was kind of like a sponge, so fragile.

This is where we come onto the differences between Cardio and Weight Training. Lets start with the different forms of cardio. Contra to popular belief, Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISS) on its own promotes fat retension. Unfortunately the bad kind – visceral fat that is stored around belly area to protect our internal organs. Why would the world be so cruel? Well basically this is because whilst LISS it is excellent at burning fat, your body is intuitive enough to retain a certain percentage in anticipation for future workouts. If you run everyday of the week your body will quickly workout that it needs stored energy in the form of fat to be able to cope (not scientifically explained but you get the gist).

We now move on to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts are alternate periods of intensive moments, ones that raise your heart rate pretty much to it’s max, and short periods of rest. For example, 30 seconds of uphill sprints and 30 seconds rest, repeated for 10 minutes. This type of workout constantly raises and lowers your heart rate promoting increased fat burn. Basically you work harder not longer. Sounds good right!? Ha wait until you try a HIIT session!

You may not believe me until you hear some of the technical sciency stuff…so how does this all work? Studies show that HIIT improves insulin sensitivity by anywhere from 23-58%. This is crucial because insulin sensitivity helps to increase fat loss. Additionally, unlike LISS, HIIT promotes increased calorie expenditure post workout otherwise known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (E.P.O.C). Dr. Len Kravitz has noted that after a HIIT session, “oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure remain elevated as the working muscle cells restore physiological and metabolic factors in the cell to pre-exercise levels. This translates into higher and longer post-exercise caloric burn.” There are many studies that confirm the above so have a search for them.

Weight Training has also been proven to increase E.P.O.C. So you can go to the gym train those muscles, get your heart working with some HIIT and your body will be rapidly burning calories all day. Unfortunately with LISS you immediately stop benefiting from fat burn when you stop working out.

So how does Weight Training mirror the effects of HITT? Try squatting or bench pressing your max weight (at the moment mine is 60kg for squats and 25kg for bench) and you will feel your heart pounding. For those who are complete beginners weight training is broken down into Reps and Sets. A typical workout will usually consist of 3 sets of 12 reps per exercise (ish!). This however completely depends on the Weight you are lifitng and the exercise. In between sets you will have a rest hence the mirroring of HIIT.

Weight Training will of course build muscle mass. The more muscle you have the more energy your body will use to fuel those muscles and hence the greater your resting rate of calorie consumption will become! Sschimples 🙂

So these are just some of the benefits/differences between the different types of workouts. I will be covering food intake in my next post as this is as, if not more, important than our workouts.

But for now, the optimum workout routine is a combination of the above. Just doing LISS will NOT build muscle or get you lean. To see the increased benefits of fat burn from LISS you will always need to increase the length at which you are training and no one got time for that na na na!

Just doing HIIT will burn fat but won’t see you getting stronger and toned.

Just doing Weight Trainning will get you stronger but not necessarily leaner.

Therefore aim for a workout plan that combines all of the above and works for you!

Next up comes the exciting part about all the food you will need to eat to ensure you are seeing the benefits of this training!

Until then you fit folk!

Nat x

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Brownie Batter Oats 

Good Afternoon all and happy Sunday/Happy New Years Eve!

Has anyone else got that funny inbetween Christmas and New Year feeling – you don’t really know if you are coming or going, what day of the week it is, and what you want for breakfast! If you saw my Instagram post yesterday you would have seen that I opted for a 2 course extravaganza as I was feeling particularly indecisive 🙂

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That’s right for first course I opted for Smashed Avocado on Toast with Marmite! I know it sounds weird but it really is a match made in heaven. To finish off I had banana and peanut butter with agave syrup. You know what the worst part was? I wasn’t even full up after this, I went back for another peanut butter slice :O

Since I started weight training I have definitely noticed my appetite increasing exponentially.

I was feeling super indulgent this morning and had to go for these Protein Brownie Batter Oats for brekkie 😍 I thought I would get in one more blog post and recipe before the New Year so here it is…

Recipe:

  • 80g Rolled Oats
  • 35g Vegan Chocolate Protein powder (I used Tropeaka Boost)
  • 1 Tbsp of Raw Cacao Powder
  • 300ml Of Almond Milk
  • 1 Tbsp of Chia Seeds
  1. Mix all the above and place in the microwave until done, about 2 mins
  2. Top with whatever you like!! I used raspberries, flaked almonds, cacao nibs, agave syrup and crunchy peanut butter!

Macros…..

Carbs: 96g

Fats: 34g

Protein: 38g

Calories: 862

If you haven’t already done so then please subscribe to my You Tube Channel where you can also see this recipe in live action here! Also check out my newly vamped Hopscoff Shop. That’s right, I am now selling Vegan products such as….

 

If you have any designs you would like to see then please let me know. The Hopscoff design studio consists of me, myself and I :L!!

Have a brownielicious day and Happy New Year to you all!

Nat x

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‘Broaties’ – Breakfast Oat Brownies! 

Long time no see my fellow Hopscoff Friends! 

So let’s just address the elephant in the room (or on the web) first… yes I am well aware that apologies are coming in thick and thin from Hopscoff at the moment :/ But rest assured that blog posts will be flying in from now on! 
Let’s just say that Hopscoff and I have been on a journey of self discovery for a little while. 

If you have been following my Instagram @hopscoff (or my newly launched youtube channel) you would have noticed that there is less icing sugar and Bespoke cakes flying around and now instead you will find more baked protein goods and vegan recipes – why the change!? Well for the last year or so I have been adopting a plant based diet with the definitive decision to cut out all animal products back in June. Yes that means I am, in layman’s terms, Vegan. 

This having been said, no I do not go on activist protests, no I do not try to make you feel uncomfortable if you eat meat and also for the record no I do not eat honey. 

I do largely try to avoid labels as with an increase in ‘Flexitarians’ these days, I believe that everyone should be free to eat what they want when they want without having to conform to a label or feel subject to scrutiny. In additon to a plantbased diet I also try to reduce refined sugars and preservatives where possible, but I do still rustle up the odd fluffy and cesty Vegan lemon loaf that is full of sugar. As I said, I do try where possible! (recipe coming soon!). 

Right now that’s over with, on to quick update number 2. I have a goal for 2018, to get lean! This means building muscle, toning up and following a weight training exercise regime which is completely different to my previous heavy cardio running lifestyle. I am 6 weeks in and am feeling stronger everyday. I am adopting a long-term training plan which I am hoping will give me the results I want in a year’s time 🙂 This has been a huge lifestyle shift for me and has mentally helped me overcome so much in the last few months. 

This is why Hopscoff has undergone a bit of a transformation recently. I am however feeling extremely positive about 2018 and Hopscoff’s new direction. You will shortly see some new Hopscoff products coming to Market soon which I am extremely excited about! Thank you all for your support thus far and in advance for all your continued support! 🙂 

Right enough of the boring explanations, now on to today’s Hopscoff recipe! The Sweet Potato Chocolate Oaty Breakfast ‘Brownie’! I have dubbed it the Broatie Bar 😉 meh it kinda works! These are packed full of fibre, healthy fats, protein and antioxidants – a perfect way to start the day! 

Here is the recipe, feel free to top with whatever takes your fancy! 

Ingredients 

  • 500g Sweet Potato
  • 50g vanilla protein powder 
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsps apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tbsps coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsps chia seeds
  • 4 tbsps cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180/gas mark 4
  2. Mix the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. This will curdle instantly and will give you a ‘buttermilk’. Leave to one side.
  3. Peel and chop sweet potatos into chunks and either stem or boil until soft (about 40mins)
  4. Weigh out all your dry ingredients and place in a food processor.
  5. Once the sweet potatos are super soft drain the water (if you boiled them) and place them in the food processor along with the dry ingredients and ‘buttermilk’.
  6. Mix together until well combined.
  7. Place batter in a lined loaf tin and bake for about 1hour.
  8. Take out of the oven and leave to cool slightly. You can eat this straight away or leave to cool and then place in the fridge to enjoy later on 🙂
  9. I topped mine with raspberries, pecans and a dollop of peanut butter!

    This recipe makes enough for 3 servings. The macros for each serving (without toppings) are as follows: 

    Carbs: 107.2g 

    Fats: 8.6g

    Protein: 25.9g

    Cals: 583

    Have a Beau-TEA-ful day!

    Nat 

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    MasTEAry!

    So how much thought do you put into making your cuppa in the morning?

    I presume for many of you this daily (or hourly!) ritual has become nothing but muscle memory.

    Grab kettle. Fill kettle. Flick switch on kettle. Get mug. Plonk in the teabag. Kettle goes ping. Fill mug with hot water. Grab teaspoon (or aspestose forefinger and thumb). Swirl tea bag around. Dunk a few times. Lift out. Grab milk. Drop milk in. Swirl around one last time. Drink. Smile.
    There are of course variations of the above for those who God forbid throw in sugar. Or for those who put milk in BEFORE the tea :O. But you get the gist.

    For those who have found themselves in this vicious cycle have obviously not discovered the world of loose leaf tea. For those who have been following Hopscoff for a while now will know I am a huge advocate of living loosely 😉

    I know I know, a lot of you may be thinking ‘yes I know that loose leaf tea is a lot better but I just can’t be bothered with the ag*!(*agrevation/effort). If this sounds like you then read on as I introduce you to the world of T2.

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    I first discovered this Melbourne brand of tea whilst I was travelling around Australia and I am pleased to say that little over a year ago a store popped up at Bluewater.

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    T2 takes loose leaf to whole new TEA-ir! The store is equiped with not only teas galore but also funky equipment to make your daily tea intake as smooth flowing as it can possibly be. I was fortunate enough to be given a master class by the extremely knowledgeable Tea Masters to show me the ropes and get my tea skills up to scratch.

    I was firstly introduced to THE MOST revolutionary piece of tea equipment I think you will ever come across in your life, the loose leaf maker.

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    This is essentially a little contraption that allows you to put your loose leaf into the jug-like-teapot, pour your hot water straight into it and then allow to steep. Once the timer is up you place this over your mug and simply push down. The hot tea will filter through. No additional strainer is needed! You can then pop open the jugpot, as I call it, pour out the contents and then rinse out. There is even no need to wash it up thoroughly. I just allow it to soak every so often for an hour or so et voila!

    Now many people think of tea as your classic English Breakfast builders tea. But I will tell you something for nothing, this tea isn’t grown in England, it isn’t only drunk at Breakfast and it isn’t only drunk by builders! 😉 Time to open your eyes to the true world of tea. What about trying a tea that tastes of Bounty? or Ferrero Rocher?  Yup it is possible!

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    T2’s ‘Bounty Bar’ Tea

     

    Next up is the Ice Tea Maker. Thought you could only have tea hot? *Buzzer sound* you would be wrong! There is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold tea to cool you down.

    This Ice Tea Maker is perfect for both steeping and storing. It has a removable filter that allows your tea to do its thing for the required amount of time. You then pop out the filter and pop the tea in the fridge to cool down. Add ice, garnish with some juicy fruits and enjoy! Who needs Love Island when you have paradise awaiting in your own back garden 😉

    Drinking tea is most certainly a mastery. Before being educated by the T2 MasTEAers themselves I had no idea that white tea actually has more antioxidants than any other type of tea and that matcha tea is actually ground tea leaves which is why it is a superfood with some many health benefits.

    I urge you to head on over to T2 and try out some of the teas on offer. In store they have a brewing station and will offer to brew up any tea you would like to try – they will even pop it into a take away cup for you!

    But if you don’t fancy having a drink then why don’t you just go and gorp over the stunning teaware on offer!

    Happy tea drinking all!

    nat

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    Afternoon tea with AlTEAtude!

    For months on end we all thought the same thing – have they finished it yet?

    That spikey top that just looked perpetually unfinished. Little did we know, that was the artistic ingenious of it – the top is meant to look like ‘shards’ of glass piercing the skyline of London. I get it. It’s cool. It has grown on me.

    The glistening Shard has most certainly become a British icon over the last few years. The night-lit sky just won’t look the same without it, I think us Brits have become quite fond of the Empiresque State Building. Until last week, I have to admit that I had never ventured up the Shard, nor had it particularly appealed to me. Now if you ask me what are the top things to do in London, hopping up The Shard for a glimpse of London from above would be on my ‘to-do’ list.

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    The View from The Shard is definitely worth a visit. Located on the 69th and 72nd floors are the viewing galleries. One enclosed,the other in the open air protected by those ‘shards’. With a food and drink stall located within these areas, camping out on the floors taking in the views is definitely a weekend treat not to miss.

    If you are there for a while, don’t forget to go to the toilet – an odd recommendation I know. But, trust me, you won’t want to miss this view from the loo, literally!

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    The toilets even have phone chargers next to them – as if you would be on the loo for that long!? I know weird but pretty cool nonetheless! And, for the best bit, the toilet seats are heated! :O This place oozes luxury!

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    Of course though what I am really here to tell you about is the afternoon tea experience with alteatude.

    For those who have been to The Shard this will come as I am sure a relatable sentiment, and for those who haven’t a gentle caveat. Booking afternoon tea at THE Shard is quite difficult; difficult in the sense that there isn’t just one place to visit. The Shard should actually be renamed ‘The Shards’ since there are many different restaurants and bars located within the building. For afternoon tea you can in fact sip your cuppa within the Aqua Shard, Ting or Gong. For a contemporary spin on the classic afternoon tea head to the Aqua Shard on the 31st floor. For a luxurious afternoon tea head to the Gong, located on the 52nd floor. For an Asian twist on the classic afternoon tea head to the Ting on the 32nd floor.

    This just means we have to make sure we venture back to all of them – right!? 🙂 This time round we went to The Ting, an afternoon tea that will be sure to give you a scrummy Asian infused experience.

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    The afternoon got off to a slow start to say the least. Our table wasn’t ready in time and we did have to wait 45 minutes until we were offered even a glass of water 🙁 It was slowly turning into an afternoon with atTEAtude! However, we eventually got our menus and decided that we would get one classic stand and one Asian stand – so we could share of course! We were told we could order another complimentary round of savouries, scones and sweets if we wanted – delight to our hungry bellies that had now been waiting nearly an hour before a cuppa came into sight!

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    Our tea eventually came (oh and the bubbles for mother!). The milky China oolong tea is definitely worth a try, it was extremely refreshing on the palate, perfect for a hot day. The Shangri-La speciality breakfast tea was also very smooth – one of the nicest I have tasted in a long time. Your tea is also served with a stunning strainer, I have never seen anything quite like it before.

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    To accompany our beverages, a dry ice display was laid out in front of us. Extremely well done and impressive, all contributing to the Asian inspired atmosphere of the afternoon – just a shame we were not greeted with this straight away. We were already by this point feeling fed up and hungry. Luckily the tea was to die for!

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    Our food finally came and at this point we could appreciate how stunning the atmosphere and views were. The pianist was sensational, mesmerising, as we sat back and munched away. The Asian inspired savouries were de-li-scious! Savoury alternatives to your standard finger sandwiches are definitely on the trend these days. Spring rolls, crab tarts and such like accompanied by a peanut satay sauce nom nom. The full menu can be found here. We polished the plate and happily ordered another, as indicated we could, we also requested fresh tea. Little did we know we would have to wait a further 30mins before we had to ask again for more tea and our fresh round of savouries. By the time they eventually came we had already surrendered into the scones – a bit of a shame.

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    I will, however, skirt around the prolonged waiting times giving the benefit of doubt. Perhaps a lack of staff and recent events around the area had disturbed the service. Luckily, Sebastian, a delightfully chirpy chap saved the day and could not have been more attentive. Service you expect to find at a 5 * hotel.

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    Would I recommend going to The Shard for afternoon tea? Yes, I would. The food was great – I could not fault it – and I loved the Asian twist. Dining with breath-taking views of the City is definitely not one to miss. However, if views ‘don’t really do it for you’ and you would prefer not to venture to high alteatudes then I would save yourself the trip. I have had better afternoon teas in different venues across the capital – where the food AND service are both top notch. The Goring, Fortnum and Mason and The Berkeley are yet to be beaten in my opinion.

    Want a more real life experience about our trip to The Ting for afternoon tea? Check it out on YouTube now! Here is a sneak unedited preview to give you a taster of the atmosphere and menu 🙂

    YouTube tutorials and reviews are new to Hopscoff so please let me know what you think. If you like the videos don’t forget to hit that big thumbs up button and subscribe to my channel! Leave comments and share as many of you kindly do anyway 🙂

     

    Have a beau-TEA-ful day!

    nat

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    Officially warmed!

    So with a few weeks of  solid(ish) sunshine behind us we can safely say that summer is in full swing and the weather is officially warming. On the topic of new welcomings, it is about time I mention that Josh and I have moved in to our new happy little home! With our house warming party now taken place we can put the seal of approval on it!

    The last month has brought with it jam packed weekends and long evenings as we invest our time in wallpaper stripping and our money in endless amounts of teatowels, bin liners and those things that you put on the end of a washer-uperer that no one knows the name of! I never thought the day would come that I would get excited about things like orchid mist and a squirty mop that you don’t need a bucket for – revolutionary!

    Today’s post though isn’t just about sharing photos of newly found creeping magnolia covered love, but to also part some wisdom on some of the best desserts to make for a house full of 60 people that are not only scrummy crowd pleasers but also easy and economical to make!

    Unfortunately, this post also comes with a regrettable caveat. I haven’t got many photos to share with you of the desserts as they were eaten up too quickly! That is only a good sign though, right? 😉 Today I leave you with my go-to favourites – Terry’s Chocolate Orange no bake cheesecake and Banoffee Pie.

    Of course, no housewarming would be complete without some Hopscoff speciality made cakes! Hopscoff is now officially taking orders for bespoke celebration cakes. Please email me at natalie@hopscoff.co.uk for all enquiries or call 07411758729. My website will be revamped soon to include further details but until then please get in touch!

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    In light of recent events our warmest love goes to those who have been impacted by the recent terror attacks. Stay safe, cherish your loved ones, live each day to the fullest, treat yourself, eat cake! London we stand together <3

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    nat

    Terry’s Chocolate Orange no-bake Cheesecake 

    Ingredients 

    100g butter

    300g crushed digestive biscuits

    300ml double cream

    80g icing sugar

    250g Terry’s Chocolate Orange

    Additional Terry’s Chocolate Orange for decoration

    Method

    1. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed digestive biscuits.
    2. Press the mixture into a lined 20cm/8inch push bottom tin making sure that you go up the sides slightly. Leave in the fridge to set for 30mins or so.
    3. Melt the Terry’s Chocolate Orange and leave to cool slightly.
    4. Whilst the chocolate is cooling, using an electrical whisk, whip together the double cream and icing sugar until soft peaks are formed.
    5. Once the chocolate is cool to touch fold into the cream mixture.
    6. Decorate the top how you wish. I often use segments of Terry’s Chocolate Orange and sprinkles and sometimes use leftover chocolate ganache for the border.
    7. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
    8. Push up the bottom of the tin and place onto a serving plate.
    9. Enjoy on its own or with ice cream or cream!

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    Banoffee Pie

    Ingredients 

    100g butter

    300g crushed digestive biscuits

    1 tin of Carnation Caramel

    2 large bananas

    400ml double cream

    Grated Chocolate/chocolate sprinkles

    Method 

    1. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed digestive biscuits.
    2. Press the mixture into a 20cm/8inch push bottom tin making sure that you go up with sides slightly. Leave in the fridge until just before you are about to serve.
    3. Push up the bottom of the tin and place onto a serving plate.
    4. Spread the carnation caramel onto the base leaving a border of biscuit around the edge.
    5. Chop the bananas into slices and lay on top of the caramel.
    6. Whip the double cream until thick and creamy.
    7. Spread over the banana and sprinkle with chocolate.

     

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    Teatotal! 

    So it was during my family visits in Cyprus that I reflected upon my lifestyle choice to go teatotal. With the sun out on Easter Sunday, a φραπέ (frappé – a cold frothy coffee) to hand and a φλαουνα (flaouna – a savoury treat) to munch on, I was more than content reading my Women’s Health Magazine. In this month’s edition there was an article about the wave of predominantly young women actively choosing to cut out alcohol from their diet. It was an interesting read and gave me some comfort to know that I am not the only one among my generation who has decided to bin the booze.

    The article dubs it the ‘sober curious movement’…

     We are witnessing a new trend in the so-called ‘sober curious’: young ambitious people – mostly women – turning away from booze as an active choice without detriment to their social life.

    So how do you cut the booze but still maintain a social life as bubbly as a champagne flute?

    This is where my twofold teatotal lifestyle comes into play. Firstly, my innate love for tea and, secondly, my decision to ditch the drink.

    My not-so-fondness of alcohol festers from a) not being able to find a drink that I particularly like b) 1 too many drunken incidents (say no more) and c) for my-body-is-a-temple health reasons.

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    Reading about the ‘sober curious’ movement has made me reflect upon how my love of tea has grown over the years and perhaps out of a need to replace the social convention of turning to the bottle. Drinking alcohol is socially perceived as a way to relax after a hard day’s work or to have fun on a night out. But, I will tell you something for nothing, alcohol isn’t the only answer to troublesome days and pumped up nights. In fact, I guarantee you can most certainly feel calmer after a cup of camomile, sleep better with a hot rooibos, feel more energised after a morning matcha and be more ready to boogie after a spicy chai than with any alcoholic beverage.

    The point of today’s post isn’t to alcohol bash but to champion other choices. I ultimately believe that everything we do in life is self-fueled by our own habits. Sometimes we train our brain to get into autopilot good habits.  Conventional mealtimes are an example of this,  how we naturally always have breakfast, lunch and dinner as the time of day dictates and not necessarily our grumbling bellies. Other habits can be not so good, reaching for that glass of wine every evening to relax or, more so in my case, grabbing the nearest sugary treat after dinner to satisfy my sweet tooth!

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    Whether you feel like you eat too much junk food or drink too much alcohol, your lifestyle will never change unless you commit to breaking the habit and there are three fundamental stages to doing this successfully:

    1. You have to want to break the habit. No one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. You have to decide. If you set out half halfheartedly from the beginning you are highly unlikely to follow through.
    2. Find alternatives. Whether you are cutting back on the alcohol or reducing your sugar intake, finding alternatives that you can turn to to stop yourself from falling off the wagon are essential.
    3. Be honest with yourself, set realistic goals and stay motivated. If you set a goal that is too ambitious from the start you are going to find it difficult and quickly loose motivation . Focus on gradually cutting back until you reach a desired state that you are comfortable with and then look to stretch your goal from there. If you find yourself going through a tough patch, remind yourself of your goal and and keep it in mind to fuel your determination.

    These three stages will work for all habits that you are trying to break whether that be drinking less alcohol, eating less sugar or quitting smoking. Your alternatives for all of these can be a hot cuppa or even cooler alternatives like refreshing smoothies and ice teas.

    Coming soon will be more posts related to my teasential alternatives. Which teas best pair with certain foods, certain times of day and best matcha your mood. So get your strainer and best teacup to the ready – whether you are teatotal curious, semi-sober curious or just want to expand your tea palate get ready to try something new!

    For now though, if you are interested in trying out some new teas but don’t know where to start, why don’t you head along to teatourist. You can get a great selection of teas straight to your front door. Want to know what I thought about this month’s selection box? Check out my review coming soon.

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    Watch this space – Hopscoff will be featuring on YouTube soon under Hopscoff Reviews, reviewing a wide variety of teas for you to enjoy at home 🙂

    Until then – Happy Brewing!

    nat

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    The Tiny Teapot

    The Tiny Teapot

    23 High St, Biddenden, Ashford TN27 8AL

    07817 375475

    5 teacups

    So it has been a while since I have posted a review about local places that serve some finger-licking-good sandwiches, some scrummy scones and some tempting treats. This most certainly doesn’t mean that I haven’t been hopping around, it just means I have been doing a lot more scoffing than I have writing so I have a bit of catching up to do 🙂

    I have my tea next to me and am ready to fire away, so hold on to your slippers….

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    Today’s post sends us to Biddenden home to The Tiny Teapot tearoom, which is indeed very teeny tiny. Whilst some keen afternoon tea connoisseurs are not fans of extremely intimate settings, others will go to the ends of the earth to find the cutest places to sit in and natter away.  Based on the quaint high street of Biddenden, The Tiny Teapot is the most perfect cosy setting and is often frequented by locals and passersby. Just opposite the road there is a traditional pub and a lovely Michelin star restaurant, and the calibre of the tearoom most certainly matches.

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    The tearoom has quite a few tables inside and the odd one outside for if you manage to nab it up on a sunny day. The decor inside is traditionally vintage with lace table covers and the quaint feel continues with little teapots hanging from the ceiling and blackboards displaying the extensive menu. The menu is certainly big enough to offer lots of variety which I wasn’t expecting from this petite place.

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    In the end I had to sample the afternoon tea. What I love most about afternoon teas is the variety – you get a bit of savoury, a bit of sweet and a bit of scone that straddles in between 🙂 I also had to go for the full shebang as Josh picked the afternoon tea and I often suffer from food jealousy and end up stealing his 😉 We did choose different cakes though with the idea of ‘sharing’ them both. In hindsight this never goes down well – inevitably we both end up liking the same one an incyyy bit more!

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    What I find so refreshing about afternoon teas away from the capital is that you can ask for ‘non-traditional’ afternoon tea things like squash woo 🙂 On a warm day I need something to quench the thirst before I dive into the tea and I don’t think you could ever ask for squash in Fortnum and Masons 😉 At the Tiny Teapot you will get nothing less than a smile if you ask for whatever is on the menu – regardless of your age!

    Another pleasant surprise about the afternoon tea at The Tiny Teapot was that you got served a slab of cake of your choice. Petite patisseries that are normally served with most afternoon teas are excellent to get a variety of flavours to try but sometimes you just know what you want 😉

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    So if you are in the area or fancy a little trip out, hop along to the Tiny Teapot. I have given it a 5 teacup rating; I thought it was great value for great food and a lovely setting. You know what they say, all good things come in small packages 😉

    Have a beau-TEA-ful day!

    nat

    5 teacups

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    Bitter Sweet

    Lemons are one of those enigmas of the fruity world that send our taste buds into sensory polar extremes. They are renowned for their sour powers, inciting bitter and sharp tastes that make even a new born purse their lips. They ooze zesty and refreshing fragrances that make us think of homemade lemonade on a hot summer’s day or fresh fish and chips by the seaside. Their baked aroma reminds us of home cooked comfort foods ranging from lemon meringue pie to crispy lemon infused roast chicken. The opportunities to cook and bake with lemons are endless, and dare I say it quite overwhelming.

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    Hopscoff has an enticing, aromatic, sensational, and irresistible collaboration to announce with JOYCE, an online magazine for curious people who have quite frankly seen enough photos of avocado toast. Today’s post celebrates life’s 5 greatest joys – our senses. Our taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing allow us to experience life to the max and JOYCE and Hopscoff hope to guide you and accompany you along your own sensational journeys.

    JOYCE is a happy space, but it was born from a place of sadness; the ideas forming in hot and hungry nightmares in which I wrestled with an eating disorder and a fear of food. Without sites like Hopscoff, and their unashamed commitment to appetite, indulgence, and a great slice of cake, JOYCE might not have happened. That’s why I’m so excited to be collaborating with Nat, and with Hopscoff, this month (Rachel, founder of JOYCE).

    Today, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone has a sweet tooth, not everyone likes cake, not everyone may even God forbid like tea. But, it doesn’t matter, we are all different and have different taste buds and different preferences. What does matter is that teatime is a time for all of us. That should be enjoyed together.

    Therefore, today Hopscoff leaves you a recipe that hones in on as many of the sensory adventures that our citrus friends give us. This zesty-refreshing-sharp-creamy-comfort cake gives you the perfect excuse to take a trip down memory lane, to bake with or for your loved ones. This recipe is simple and easy to follow and is great for everyone – even baking novices, those with little’uns and for those whose spare time is a luxury rather than a given. Therefore whether your in it to bake it, in it to eat it or in it just to lick the bowl – everyone can get stuck in!

    These days I have fewer nightmares and eat more cake; I lick the crumbs from my fingers and dream of sponge and sugar. Hopscoff and JOYCE suggest you do the same. You might like to start with this lemon cake, and a cup of hot hot tea (Rachel, founder of JOYCE).

    So, take the recipe and make it your own creation. Have no boundaries. Have no fears. Add poppy seeds for added textures, swap the lemon curd for orange curd, throw in some blueberries for additional fruity flavours, swap lemons for limes – whatever you wish!

    …there are only two conditions 1) serve your finished masterpiece with a hot beverage of your choice and 2) never leave a crumb!

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    Let us know how your baking experiences turn out by commenting below, sharing your photos on Instagram @hopscoff or by saying hello at natalie@hopscoff.co.uk.  Make sure you don’t miss a post by subscribing below and to JOYCE.

    Happy Baking!

    nat

    JOYCE

    Lemon Curd Cream Cake

    Ingredients

    Cake

    250g butter

    250g golden caster sugar

    250g self-raising flour

    1tsp baking powder

    4 large eggs

    zest of 3 lemons

    juice of 1 lemon

    1tbsp of milk

    Filling and Icing

    1/2 jar lemon curd

    zest of 3 lemons

    juice of 1 lemon

    250g butter

    500g icing sugar

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and line 2 8inch/20cm sandwich tins.
    2. Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
    3. Add in the eggs one at a time whilst continuing to beat the mixture.
    4. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
    5. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold until well combined.
    6. Add a tbsp of milk and stir the mixture one last time.
    7. Divide the mixture into the two prepared tins and bake in the oven for 20-25mins until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
    8. Whilst the cakes are cooling make the icing by beating together the butter, icing sugar, lemon zest and juice until light and fluffy.
    9. Once the cakes have cooled remove them from the tins and place 3-4 heaped tbsps of lemon curd on top of one of the cakes. Spread the curd out evenly.
    10. Then pipe or place the lemon icing on top of the lemon curd.
    11. Place the second cake on top and repeat (I would advise to only put a thin layer of lemon curd on the top cake).
    12. Decorate the top how you wish!
    13. Enjoy with a nice hot cuppa 🙂

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    The DeChox Challenge

    Ever heard of the DeChox Challenge? If you haven’t then you are probably in safe territory and will never have to come across it! If you have, then you probably know where today’s post is going…

    The DeChox challenge is the painstaking process of agreeing to give up chocolate for the whole month of March – that’s right anything that contains cocoa is a no no! Chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits even the chocolate sprinkles on your cappuccino!

    My colleagues and I thought it would be a good idea to accept this seemingly impossible challenge and endeavor to say a BIG fat sugary goodbye to chocolate in order to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (https://dechox.bhf.org.uk/).

    Now, many people’s first reaction when they find out about the challenge quite undoubtedly places them within one of two categories: 1) the ‘there is noooo way I could ever do that’ type of people or 2) the ‘why would you want to do that?’ kind of people.

    The first set will either embark on the challenge anyway thinking they won’t be able to have the will power to resist the temptation to eat chocolate and essentially have given up before they even started. Or, alternatively, initially think they won’t be able to and what makes them accept the challenge is the inner curiosity and determination to trial their inner strength.

    The second category of people simply do not care. Either they are just not fussed about chocolate (I know these weirdos do exist in the world- shock horror :O ) or 2) they live everyday to the full and cannot see why they would deprive themselves of something they love and enjoy! Probably a sensible viewpoint to have.

    I, unfortunately, have always been doomed to test and trial myself, I have always tortured myself with the ‘save the best till last‘ mantra and this time is no exception. My theory is that come the day I can eat chocolate again, it will taste so good in that moment that it would have been worth waiting a whole month for it – kind of like Christmas day 🙂 … Yet, isn’t the best thing about Christmas the build up and the festive period as a whole, and not the actual day?

    Before I find myself sliding down the slippery slope into category two, I do think that testing our inner strength, integrity, will power and determination is important, every now and again. OK, so it may not have to be as extreme as giving up chocolate but I do encourage you to think of something that you enjoy and could perhaps do without for a little while. This will force you to not only open your mind to the wider options that are available to you but also increase your notion of gratitude, which is absolutely fundamental.

    During the DeChox challenge I have been taking advantage of the lack of chocolate in the house to find other ingredients to inspire my baking. With spring now officially upon us I have turned to fruity alternatives that are not only a healthier option but are also naturally sweet…to help satisfy those cravings 🙂 If you are after a chocolate free dessert this weekend try my Lemon, Blueberry and Raspberry Meringue cake. Or, if you want something completely refined sugar free and also gluten free try Deliciously Ella’s Orange and Polenta cake.

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    Lemon, Blueberry and Raspberry Meringue Cake
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    Deliciously Ella’s Orange and Polenta Cake

    So have a go at trying some new today – go on test yourself 🙂

    Let me know how you get on by commenting below or saying hello at natalie@hopscoff.co.uk 🙂

    nat

    Lemon, Blueberry and Raspberry Meringue Cake

    Ingredients

    100g butter
    300g Golden Caster Sugar
    5 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla bean paste
    2 tbsp milk
    150g self-raising flour
    juice and zest of 1 lemon1 punnet of blueberries
    50g flaked almonds
    300ml whipping cream
    1 punnet of fresh raspberries
    Icing sugar, for dusting
    Method
    1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and  line 2 x 8″ cake tins
    2. Beat the butter and 100g of the sugar together in a bowl until pale and creamy
    3. Add in the juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1 egg, vanilla and milk and mix until well combined
    4. Sift over the flour and add the punnet of blueberries and gently fold in
    5. Divide equally between the prepared tins
    6. Place the cakes in the oven for 10 minutes
    7. In the meantime, whisk 4 egg whites in a bowl until they form soft peaks
    8. Gradually beat in the remaining 200g sugar to make a glossy meringue
    9. Remove the cakes from the oven and gently spread the meringue over the sponge mixture. Bake for approx 10-15 minutes until the meringue has turned golden
    10. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins and in the meantime whisk the cream to form soft peaks
    11. Once the cakes have cooled, remove them from the tins. Place the cream over one of the cakes, top with raspberries and place the second cake on top
    12. Scatter over the flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar
    13. Enjoy with a hot cuppa!

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    I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!

    Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Sanderson

    50 Berners St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3NG

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    It is fair to say that my trip to the Sanderson Hotel for afternoon tea was long overdue. I had been waiting to experience the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for what seemed like forever. Yet, ‘how long is forever? Sometimes just a second‘. With Spring upon us and Mother’s Day looming, it was the perfect excuse to hop along and taster all of Alice’s potions and lotions.

    Unfortunately, the Mother’s day afternoon tea came with a bit of a premium which wasn’t justifiable with the quite underwhelming entrance and lack of attentive staff. Therefore, my first top hopscoff tip is don’t go on a Bank Holiday or for Mother’s Day, you will be charged an additional £10 for nada. At the standard price of £48, you must still expect to pay a fair amount. Yet, for the creativity of the afternoon (which I have yet to find elsewhere in London) I don’t think this is unreasonable for a special treat. The whole experience is playfully scrumptious and will leave you right up to your bursting threshold.

    Upon arrival you will be thrown straight into the rabbit-hole, fumbling around trying to work out what to do and how to order. It turns out that the book on the table is actually a menu – just make sure your mum doesn’t put it on the table next to you as soon as you sit down thinking it was a bible! The napkin most certainly sums us up…

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    Once you have crawled out of that hole you dug yourself in, you will feel like Alice herself testing and smelling all the teas on offer that at just screaming one thing at you – DRINK ME! The best thing about London afternoon teas is the tea is unlimited and you can tester and trial as much and as many different teas you like – we of course sampled all of them. Our favorites were the Cheshire Cat and Queen of Hearts  which are both infused with chocolate tones.

    Once we were waiting for our teas to arrive, our plates of savoury goods came. Having missed breakfast and lunch we were somewhat quite hungry and were a bit shocked when we were just presented with this…

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    … I think my year 5 school lunches were bigger than that! We slowly nibbled our way through the lot (the smoked salmon, quail egg and caviar scotch egg was to die for!) and at this point no tea had arrived 🙁 After some more nattering the lovely gentlemen brought our tea and did explain to us that we could order as many rounds as we liked and our sweets and scones would be served separately – thank goodness! The beautifully presented teapots and refreshing tea kept us pleasantly entertained in the meantime.

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    The afternoon tea stand was the part that we had been waiting for. It certainly does not disappoint and you will even find edible treasures hiding in the grass growing out of the teacup. The attention to detail is unreal and flavours are certainly not compromised.

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    Now, with any afternoon tea I always expect to have scones. For every passionate afternoon tealover there are always two big mind-boggling questions: 1) fruit or plain scone? and 2) jam or clotted cream first? My answers are fruit and jam! However, the Sanderson was not thinking along my wavelength 🙁 Each guest was only presented with one plain scone and just one tiny pot of jam to share. I did, however, immediately ask for more jam as I do plaster it on!

    All this having been said, these scones were by far the nicest scones I think I have ever tested – and I have tasted quite a few in my time 🙂 They came out so fresh and warm; they just melted in your mouth.

    I am also not a big fan of clotted cream, but the Sanderson clotted cream was pumped with something uuuber delicious. By this point, half an hour had passed from when I asked for extra jam and to be honest I hadn’t really thought much of it. The young gentleman was so apologetic that he came over with an abundant supply of jam and two extra scones to apologise! This was of course a bonus for us but also a a downfall in disguise – we were both getting full yet couldn’t leave the fresh scones! Eating my way through another scone seemed impossible at the time but ‘sometimes I’ve believed in 6 impossible things before breakfast‘.  The impossible became the possible.. and more.. mum left half a scone and I had to eat that one as well.These scones were not to be scoffed at, just scoffed up!

    Moving onto the ickle treats, I only wish I had more room to munch away at them all, but I had reached my limit. They were so beautifully presented that you could even gain pleasure by just looking at them. To top it all off, we were given an extra little treat towards the end – a passion fruit flowerpot ice cream topped with Oreo crumbs and honeycomb shards.

     

    After a long overdue wait to attend the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. The tea and food could not be faulted. Highlights included the gorgeous scones, the scrummy scotch egg and the tasty tea! We left pleasantly stuffed and rolled ourselves out with a little goodie bag of leftovers. The hopscoff review would have given the afternoon tea four teacups if only it wasn’t for long waiting times and lack of attentiveness. Don’t let the three teacup rating put you off though, do give it a go! It may just be me being ‘entirely bonkers. But, I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are‘ 😉

    Happy Wonderland exploring!

    nat