July Recommendations

So I feel like the past few months have completely got the better of me, I missed June (where did that even go?) and now we are half way through July and the year is flying by! So here are my recommendations for this month: a book, a restaurant and two products I am loving.

Evelyn’s Cafe and Bar

If you’re in the northern quarter part of Manchester you really must check this place out. Evelyn’s Cafe and Bar offers neighbourhood dining in a slacker chic interior that is full of energy and decor as eclectic as the food. Their menu is based on a variety of original dishes many of which appear to have asian inspiration. It caters openly for a variety of dietary requirements, such as gluten free, vegan and vegetarian.  ‘Healthy’ is clearly at the centre of the style, however, this does not undermine the abundance of taste and flavour. Even the token burger is dressed with kimchi and sirachi mayo, allowing it to fit with the style whilst also appealing to the masses.

Every time I have been the menu has been different and I believe this is a testament to the creative ethos. I have tasted a few dishes, including the fritters, masala hake, crispy tofu (which the chef made gf for me with gram flour), green wrap and chicken skewers; all of which have been unique and flavoursome.

The service is attentive and enthusiastic and makes for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. With prices at around £10-15 for a main course dish, it is also affordable.

I would highly recommend popping in if you are in the area, I am looking forward to heading back to try their brunch.

Bfree Foods Oaty Bread

I was recently sent some of Bfree foods products, and after being a frequent user of their sweet potato wraps, I was keen to give more of their goods a go. My personal favourite has been the Oaty bread: which is made out of 45% gluten free oats, and 2 slices is the equivalent of a bowl of porridge.

The bread is dense in texture, which I really liked it, but it didn’t feel heavy on my stomach. I have toasted it and made it into French toast and both worked really well. In particular, the thick slice soaked the egg for French toast nicely and in my opinion worked better and was easier to fry than other breads.

It definitely was not dry as gluten free bread has a tendency to be, and it is not bland. The bread has a pleasant oaty taste, and this and the texture are a testament to it being an oat bread rather than just trying to be another gluten free bread.

The only downside is that it is narrow, the slices are thick and of normal width but there is not a lot of height, making them quite small. Therefore, I don’t think it would work as well for a sandwich. However, I am not sure that would be the best use for this bread anyway, it is more suited to toast; as an open topped sandwich; or topped with an egg. BFree’s other white bread would be a better choice for a sandwich.

I will definitely be buying the Oaty bread in future and I am excited to try the other products Bfree have on offer.

 A Little Life

So I thought I would throw in something a little different, and here is a book recommendation. Recently a good friend recommended A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to me, a book which was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2015.

At 700+ pages long, it stands as a formidable feat. However, once you start reading, it isn’t long before you’re begging the pages to multiple and the book not to end.

A Little Life follows the lives of four friends after they graduate from college and discusses a variety of difficult themes. Despite the mediocre-movie esque concept of four post-college male friends, this book is anything but that and battles through discussions of homosexuality, abuse, friendship and love.

The book is harrowing, endearing, heartbreaking and loveable. It takes you through a plethora of emotions and keeps you thoroughly engaged with the lives of Jude, Willem, JB and Malcolm. The book is a slow starter, and does at times you leave you confused by the gaps that take some time to fill. However, not only is it worth the perseverance, but it is also part of the charm. Yanagihara has cleverly structured the book to wander through different times in the characters lives and to drip feed information about their pasts and they mature and understand these elements themselves.

It is by no means a quick holiday read, but for anyone who wants a book to read this summer that will enlighten and grip you, then this is the book for you. It is a modern classic and I would be surprised if we do not hear more and more of it in the future.

Delicious Alchemy Gluten Free Rice Flake Porridge

Bored of plain old porridge for breakfast? … No me neither. But Delicious Alchemy do bring something new to the game without straying too far from your favourite breakfast. Their rice flake porridge is something a little different. I find it feels less heavy than regular oats, which can sometimes upset my stomach. Therefore they may be ideal for some IBS sufferers or gluten intolerants and coeliacs. I also find they keep my full through out the morning.

The texture is comparable to oats, although somewhat different, however, it very much does the same job. It works in a variety of contexts, from regular porridge to overnight oats, super oats and some baking recipes – although I have to try them in oat based recipes such as breakfast bars or flapjacks.  When left overnight after cooking, e.g. for super oats they really absorb the liquid which creates a great texture.

I have compared the macros as well: they are similar in terms of calories, with the real difference being that the rice flake porridge (right) has negligible fat and more carbs, therefore would be a better option than oats (left) for someone on a high carb, low fat diet. However, for those of us less concerned with the minute figures, they are in essence very similar.

I will admit I was sceptical about rice flake porridge, but was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I would definitely recommend them to be used in place of oats for a slight change. I particular like the satiety and spongey texture. Give them a try!