Thursday, 6 May 2010

30 Day Beach Body Challenge

The time has come to start trying to fit into my dress. I've stepped it up a gear at Boot Camp and joined the 30 Day Beach Body Challenge.

A challenge which guarantees results I can measure...

So, the deal is I go to Boot Camp as much as I can, fit in other exercise around it (e.g. going on runs with other Boot Camp goers) and keep a food journal.

After 2 weeks of writing a food journal i've realised just how much booze I drink and how much all the picking during the day adds up. Anyway, the point of this story is that i've started really considering what I eat at lunch. My aim is to be healthy during the day so I can indulge in the evenings (I know its not the right mentality).

So far my lunches have consisted of cous cous as normal but with wholewheat cous cous and lemon juice instead of pesto and a lot of fish.

Here's an example of a 30 day challenge lunch;

Smoked mackerel on seeded Rivita with Butternut dip with Mrs Balls Chutney and basil on top.... Delicious (but not filling!)

To find out more about the challenge go to

Friday, 30 April 2010

No Heinz Beanz

A winter warmer for the rainy work days.

Hot bean salad.

Choose a bean, any bean and include. We had;

  • Kidney beans
  • Edemame
  • Lentils
  • Lloyd Grossman's tomato and chilli sauce
  • Chilli
  • Feta
  • Basil
  • Mushrooms
And here's the result.......

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Love it, I definitely love it

Technology restored, we can all breathe again and more importantly enjoy the aesthetic pleasure of the most talked about sandwich in this office this year - that's some title. Here it is people, call it what you want but don't knock it until you've been brave enough to try it...

But let it not be said that we at Let's Grab Lunch are not impartial. For all those gherkin haters, you can log on to here.

Only £1

Mussel meat is one of those things that ordinarily goes unnoticed (or noticed but not considered because it looks rank). But not in Tesco's with a huge great £1 sign on it. It's hard to resist.

So, what to do with your box of cheap mussel meat???...... cous cous of course!


Edamame beans
Pesto (has to be Sacla, tried Jamie's & it's not good)


Friday, 16 April 2010

Booming Basil

The world of pesto seems to be on the rise and Sacla is at the forefront of the basil-based revolution. Their slightly dubious link with England's Lawrence Nero Bruno D'allaglio (who cries when he sings God Save the Queen) isn't necessarily the subject of the high praise they deserve - although the partnership does seem to be working for them. What they are doing brilliantly though is getting to their consumers through really simple recipe sharing forums. Check out their Italian Food Lovers Facebook page which has over 26,000 fans at the time of writing this where people passionate about Italian food are sharing their Sacla-inspired recipes.

Their website continues the theme of hearty, simple and tasty Italian food and for a brand site, it's well worth a look here.

So, 'bravo!' to the basil boys at Sacla - brilliant stuff.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Love it or hate it?

I've been wanting to post the lunch we discovered the other week for a while, but I can't seem to get the photos from my phone. I still haven't managed to so i'll just leave this one up to your imagination for now. For most people they'd probably rather not see the photo anyway!

We discovered a true love it or hate it dish which had everyone in the office divided. I LOVED it. But I think maybe I loved it more because other people had a true hate for it (most people).

The dish was gherkin and smoked salmon pitta

Here's how it went;
Toast the pitta, in the meantime slice the biggest gerkins you can find (we got ours from M&S), cut feta into small chunks, break off slices of smoked salmon.
When the pitta has toasted, slice it down the middle, spread some hummous on it, add chillis, place the gherkins, salmon and feta into the pocket, add some spinach for the greenery and voila - potentially the best or most disgusting sandwich you've ever tasted!

Love it?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Better than a toasted sandwich maker..?

At the tender age of 35, it's rare that you get a birthday present that you are genuinely excited about. But that's exactly what happened this year when a Glass Panini Press landed on my desk at work. Sensational. It obviously meant that, like an excited kid at Christmas, I got it plugged in and heated up as soon as I could. Here it is:

So simple it doesn't have any buttons and therefore no instructions this is the ultimate boy's lunch gadget. A hasty trip to Tesco (as I didn't want to be apart from my new best friend for too long) to pick up some panini rolls, chicken, spinach, coriander and mushrooms and the Panini Press was making its debut. And what a debut it was. In all honesty the preparation could have been given a bit more love and attention but the main point was getting them into that press as soon as we could. A generous dollop of pesto added to the ingredients and they were in. Imagine our delight when we lifted the lid to reveal these little gems:

Not only does this thing make perfect paninis all on its own but it cleverly makes you feel like some kind of professional genius at the same time. And all that from a hot plate with a lid. The things modern machines can do! The point of this blog is not to bang on about cost or be smug and self righteous in what we do, but when you consider that the £9.50 we spent in Tesco will make 4 lunches and cover the daily spinach requirements for the rest of the week, then it can't be a bad investment. Especially when you walk back to your desk with food you've made and your plate looks like this:

So, is the Panini Press better than your traditional toasted sarnie maker? Horses for courses, of course, but I think it very well might be...

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Wrap it

Its only just occurred to me that we haven't posted the most simple working lunch yet, THE wrap.

Forget paying £4.95 per wrap from a chain cafe - here's where its at.

8 x wraps
1 x lime
1 x tin of tuna
1 x pack of feta
1 x jar of pesto
1 x pack of spinach
1 x bunch of coriander
= £7.91

BUT it makes at least 3 lunches and all you need to stock up on after that for the 4th is the tuna. So about £2 per lunch.

Also tasty as hell. Check it out

Lunch courtesy of Katie Caldesi

Working with Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi means food is even more central to our thinking than ever before. We are lucky enough to have in our possession Katie's new book - The Italian Cookery Course. It's an amazing collection of recipes, masterclasses and ingredients from Katie's experiences of travelling across Italy. So, the immediate thought was 'what can we cook for lunch from Katie's book?' - I stepped up and accepted the challenge of going first and didn't hesitate to choose Stufato di salsicce, fave e patate as the first dish to serve up. Sausage, broad bean and potato casserole to you and I.

Katie's brilliant book which you should all get a copy of...

Sunday afternoon saw me in creative mood in the kitchen, photocopy of the recipe close by and all my ingredients ready to go. Without claiming to know anything or everything about Italian cooking, it seems to me that great ingredients prepared simply to provide the maximum taste and flavour is what it's all about. And this is exactly what this recipe was. It's essentially two simple stages - first you make your lampascione - potatoes, onions, pancetta and rosemary and then it's all about getting the sausages in your casserole dish, adding the potato recipe your tomatoes and cook it for 30 mins in the oven. I'd like to make out it was far more complicated and it took culinary skill beyond the mere mortal to come up with the end result, but that would be wildly misleading and actually far less fun. The best way of judging this is that I was able to prepare and cook this at home without either of my two eldest boys coming in to complain as to why I was in the kitchen and not playing football outside in the garden - so no excuses for not having the time to make it!

Lampascioni a la Gerry Williams!

And here it is - more than enough for Sunday's supper and Monday's lunch and such a short, easy list of ingredients makes it a really inexpensive but massively tasty meal. I made one small change, not being the biggest fan of broad beans, I swapped in butter beans and I'm pretty sure it worked ok...

For lunch, something so hearty needs nothing more than a simple side salad. So that's exactly what we did - spinach, avocado, feta and balsamic vinegar.

It's not the lightest meal to tackle in the day, so the 8 mile run home ensured that any guilt or shameful feelings of greed were balanced out. But to be honest, eating such flavour-packed, delicious food is a pleasure and one that we thank Katie for immensely. Just as impressive for a dinner party, this is one of the most flexible and fun dishes to make.

To learn loads more about Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, click here to go to their website and don't wait too long to visit one of their restaurants or create something from their vast array of amazing Italian recipes.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Kitchen Italia

If preparing your own lunch isn't the dish of the day then you can do a lot worse than get yourself along to Kitchen Italia. 'Dishing up delicious pasta' is their promise and they do exactly that. The layout of the restaurants is a la Wagamama - casual long benches or comfy booths if you want a slightly more private group, this is a place you can scoff and go or linger for longer. The food is all freshly prepared so you need to be ready for dishes to turn up when they're ready rather than everything coming in one go, but this is easily overlooked when you taste the food. Pasta dishes for under a tenner and a great range of side salads and dishes to compliment your choice means you can mix and match to your heart's content. Place mats that explain the different pastas are a neat little idea and are actually quite helpful in envisaging what you're ordering. Friendly (if not over enthusiastic staff) complete the package.

We've eaten tiger prawn, spicy sausage with fennel breadcrumb and aubergine pasta dishes - all packed with taste and flavour. The rocket and aged parmesan salad is a perfect distraction and easily enough to share. Birra Moretti in the fridge and carraffes of affordable white wine means all the essentials are here for a quick bite, a client lunch or a bunch of you going out for dinner. Currently in Covent Garden and Westfield, let's hope more Kitchen Italia's appear soon.

One for the boys this one...

Fresh basil on the table is a nice authentic touch

The portions are generous - ideal for sharing

Relaxed but stylish means Kitchen Italia can provide a great venue for a wide variety of occasions

Learn your pasta!

The original (and the best)

So, here it is. The 'original' dish in all its glory. The most tasty, satisfying creation yet with only the help of a few ingredients, a kettle and a microwave. Admittedly the original has been... adapted since its first introduction, but its always kept its core - cous cous, spinach, feta, tuna, pesto and coriander. Since Gerry's a spice lover this one includes loads of lazy chillies then soya beans to compliment the taste. Pesto and chilli - I know, doesn't sound good on paper, but try it. It's delicious.

This is our most regular lunch time dish & the one that gets us excited when we're making it. Its also the one that makes us feel most sleepy after so beware... You can always change the portions.

Because its such an adaptable dish I won't bore you with the details of how to create it. Here's a photo of some of the key ingredients (ignore the baked beans, they're for a hungover breakfast). If you want to know more, or have any good tips for cous cous let me know & we'll give it a go.

It doesn't get easier than this!

Half price Silverside of beef in Sainsburys is simply too good a deal to pass up on - makes lunch on Sunday for the Williams family and leaves loads left over for simple suppers and lunches in the week. Couple of slices chucked in the work bag on Monday morning only leaves some rocket and watercress and an avocado to pick up and you'll be back at your desk having had an amazingly tasty lunch before you know it (not necessarily a good thing!). Add some parmesan and balsamic vinegar if you're feeling flash. The epitome of less is more.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Toasted Chicken & Pesto Sandwich & Fresh Salad

In this little treat is chicken, pesto, spinach, mozzarella and spicy chilli chutney on granary seed bread. So simple and no frills - pack it with grilled chicken and all the other ingredients and squeeze the lid down! Whilst you wait for the sandwich, roughly chop some avocado and baby corn, pile a bit of the spinach on the plate add some cherry tomatoes and a tasty salad is yours. Roll a lime (to make sure you get as much of the juice as you can) squeeze it over, sprinkle some black pepper and that's it.

To make lunch as cost effective as possible, we have some key ingredients to use in a variety of simple dishes. Pesto is perhaps my favourite of all these. In cous cous or sandwiches, with tuna or chicken, pesto is an absolute winner. Green and red are equally brilliant with lots of different ingredients and the beauty is that you don't really need many more flavours - if you don't want.

The options for a quick and easy toasted sandwich are obviously endless. In this one we've used the ingredients that we use in lots of other dishes - so a little bit of thought and creativity (not too much required) helps to make the food go as far as it can. This lunch is a classic example of very little thinking or skill but so much taste. Happy days.