Spice up your summer Thursday, Jul 11 2013 

Following my recent posts on Pimm’s and the virtues of ginger, this next post (a fusion of the two) is probably no real surprise.

I love ginger and need no excuse to consume it. Now I’ve found a new way in which to do so – and it’s a perfect non-alcoholic summer alternative to the Pimm’s.

This, my friends, is ginger juice, and it’s a Chinese classic. My continued love affair with the food of Ching-He Huang means I unceremoniously have swiped the (very simple) recipe below from her book. She serves it warm with a chilli and lime crab noodle dish, but I thought that as it was summer, an iced version would be more appropriate (as in the picture above – which sadly was not taken by me).

All you need to do is chop a 2-centimetre piece of ginger and bring up to boiling point in a saucepan of 500ml of water and two dessertspoons of brown sugar. Once you’ve reached boiling point, turn the heat right down and simmer for 5 minutes. Ching then serves it warm at this point, but I strained it and left it to cool before putting it in the fridge. A couple of hours’ refrigeration is fine, but overnight is even better. Goes brilliantly with food or just with itself – it’s refreshing, spicy, sweet and deliciously different.

I suppose you could jazz it up further with other flavours, such as lemon, lime, or coriander, but I decided to leave well alone and just stick with the classic recipe. Gan bei!*

*(“Cheers!” in Mandarin. My uncle, who’s lived in China for three years now, reliably informs me that “gan bei” is the most important phrase anyone going to do business in China can know.)

Pimm’s o’clock Tuesday, Jul 9 2013 

For many from the UK, the signal of a British summer is something like this:

pimms

While perhaps nothing can replace the original Pimm’s N°1, they have come out with another blend that could be approaching genius status this summer:

At £16 for a 75cl bottle, it’s only marginally more expensive than the normal Pimm’s (perhaps thanks to its ‘special edition’ status). Sadly, they haven’t sent me a free bottle (yet…Pimm’s PR, are you reading this?! :-p ). Premixed cans (Pimms Blackberry and Elderflower with lemonade) in a 250ml size are also reportedly available, although I haven’t spotted any yet. I tried some of my bottle as a pre-lunch apéritif with some ice-cold lemonade and fresh blackberries, and can happily confirm its deliciousness. I just fear that my supplies of it may go down even more quickly than my supplies of normal Pimm’s, as it’s even easier to prepare: rather than messing around with all that chopping, you just throw in a few blackberries and some ice cubes and you’re away.

Pimm’s o’clock may have just made itself an even more frequent occurrence in my life this summer. Oh dear…

Review: Lucozade Sport Lite Cherry Sunday, Nov 20 2011 

RRP: £1.06 per 500ml, or £3 for a pack of 4 x 500ml

–The blurb–

“New Lucozade Sport Lite is designed to give your workout, training or sporting session a boost with only 50 calories per serve. This calorie content is lower than most sports drinks and it is therefore ideal for activities where less energy replenishment is required and you don’t consume more calories than you burn. Lucozade Sport Lite contains electrolytes and fluid which help to keep you hydrated. It also contains B vitamins for energy release in the body.”

–The review–

I’ll level with you: I don’t normally buy any sort of energy drink, whether it’s Red Bull, Lucozade, or whatever cheap knockoff the supermarkets are putting out this week. Partly because I’ve never been into sports, so have never had any practical reason to consume them, but also because they generally have a reputation for being high in calories and/or sugar. If I’m going to drink a sugary drink, it’s usually of the diet variety. So when Lucozade contacted me asking if I’d like to test the diet variety of their drink, I was happy to oblige.

I was sent the cherry flavour, which was unfortunate in a way as I’m sure I would have preferred either of the two other flavours in which Lite is available (Orange, or Lemon and Lime). Nonetheless, fond childhood memories of cherryade at my gran’s house spurred me on. The Lite bottles are tinted the colour of the drink itself, which seems a little bit pointless, and to be honest I find the fact that you can’t see the liquid you’re drinking a little bit disconcerting (which is one of the reasons why, in general, I prefer to drink soft drinks from a plastic bottle rather than a can). However, you can tell from the residue left around the white sports cap that the colour of the cherry Lite is a fairly lurid pink, so you can probably expect something equally luminous from the other versions. Unbelievably, it doesn’t seem to leave your mouth and teeth looking like a Halloween exhibit.

The pressure of the suction from the sports cap is quite strong; I normally drink water from a Bobble, where you have to work a bit harder to get the liquid out, so this came as a bit of a shock, but makes perfect sense for consumption during sports. It also seems secure, allowing spillages or leakages to be avoided.

When I started drinking it, I felt a huge warm rush of energy straight away, which felt strange and neither pleasant nor unpleasant. That’d be the glucose syrup, then, which is present in Lucozade Lite in the second highest proportion after water. I can definitely see how it would give you extra energy during heavy-duty sports, but can’t see how it would be necessary for lighter sports (during which Lucozade Lite is designed to be consumed); when jogging, I have always got along fine with just water. I also wonder about the potential for sugar crash:  I personally didn’t experience this, but wonder if people would if they drank the recommended amount (half a bottle to a bottle before sport to hydrate, half a bottle to a bottle during sport to replenish fluid and salts, and one bottle after sport for the same reason).

In terms of the taste, it was just a little bit too sickly for me, but as mentioned above, there’s a good chance I would prefer one of the other two flavours.

After all of that, though, I am still not sure I would recommend Lucozade Lite for short periods of sporting activity. The sheer burst of energy it gives you just doesn’t seem necessary. I might consider using it if I was considering doing sports for more than one hour straight (but knowing me, this doesn’t seem likely), or if I was going to have a very long day at work with lots of meetings and without access to food (but as I am obsessive about keeping my snack supplies plentiful, this doesn’t seem terribly likely either). There is one other situation in which I would consider consuming it, though, and that would be if I was ill: if I didn’t want to miss work, this would definitely help to keep my energy levels up. If I was off work, perhaps the vitamins it contains (B6, B12, B3, B5) along with its ability to replenish fluids and salts would aid a speedy recovery.

But as for fulfilling its intended purpose? Sorry Lucozade – it’s not for me.

Introducing 30 Days of Food and Drink Tuesday, Apr 20 2010 

This May, all you foodies can enjoy 30 days of culinary bliss thanks to a truly awesome coalition of food bigwigs, including Good Housekeeping and Sainsbury’s.

Registering here will allow you to take advantage of fabulous offers, enter delicious giveaways, and hear about droolworthy gastronomic events, every day in May. Just for starters, you can enter to win a VIP tea party in London, then enjoying priority seats at a screening of Sex & The City 2. Now, who brought forks and plates?!