Everdine food box review

After reviewing the Gousto food box, I’ve partnered with Tornado to bring you yet another food box review from Everdine!

everdine review, everdine, food, food box

Everdine touts itself as “clean eating made simple”, with delicious meals delivered to your home or office that you can take from freezer to plate in usually just 10 minutes. You simply select a plan with 8 or 12 clean, wholesome gourmet meals in each delivery, with options for vegetarians too.

To be honest, I’ve always thought of “clean eating” as another dietary fad, a buzzword thrown around by fitness accounts on Instagram by smiling perfect women with “Live Laugh Love” tattoos in a minimalist font on their wrists or “Eat Pray Love” on their walls; a lifestyle that requires a lot of effort and money to sustain and upkeep (maybe that was a tad bit bitter, but I’m so envious of this lifestyle!).

I’d like to think I’m pretty good with making sure I eat healthily, since I dislike having too much fried food or things that just get chucked in the oven. However, I’m a pretty lazy person when it comes to cooking- especially after getting home after a long day, all I want is for food to be sorted in a flash!

Most of my regular meals involve some sort of stir-fry with various vegetables and sometimes a bit of chicken, or something that sits in a pot like stew or pasta that I can whip up quickly. If it requires a lot of steps or ingredients, I am usually reluctant to start it unless I have time on weekends. I often indulge in junk food during the day too, which is probably not the best for someone trying to stick to a healthy diet.

I was initially a bit iffy after hearing it was frozen, as you always hear about frozen ready meals that never taste very good and how unhealthy they are. Oh boy, I was definitely proven wrong.

I received 8 meals, which were:

Speckled lentil chilli with parisienne potatoes, Cajun blackened salmon, Cherry & hoisin duck with wilted greens, Mediterranean cod, Coconut katsu chicken, Falafel shawarma, Smoky chicken fajitas, Slow cooked beef & beetroot bourguignon

everdine review, everdine, food, food box

Some general observations about these dishes:

They were so convenient, and definitely perfect to take to work and heat up in the microwave- a full balanced meal without any of the fuss or washing up! I would definitely recommend this to people with busy full-time jobs- £55.20 might be too steep a week if you’re on minimum wage and only working part-time and in university most of the time, like most of my peers.

I would probably not use this every week/ every two weeks but I can definitely see myself subscribing to this every time I run out- I would like a one-off delivery option, which Everdine does not do unfortunately. It took me awhile to go through all the boxes as I used them to supplement my regular cooked meals/ when I was too tired to cook, and I think that these boxes are perfect to have as a “just in case”, if you forgot to make a lunch to take with you, if you were too tired to cook, if you ran out of fresh food and it’s too late to get some groceries.

Luckily, these boxes coincided with the week I got back from my 3-week trip from Europe (more on that in a separate post), and I had some lovely meals before I got around to doing any grocery shopping.

A lot of these meals were a little bland for my liking, which makes sense if they tout themselves as a healthy option. It isn’t difficult to add a little salt and pepper, and I added some soy sauce and sesame oil to the noodles that came with the cherry & hoisin duck dish, since it was unseasoned. Kale featured a lot in these meals given its superfood status now- I have never been a fan but I am now a convert!

Everdine definitely pays attention to what dishes/ ingredients are trendy at the moment- cajun blackened salmon has been featured in three food boxes I’ve seen so far, and firm favourites like falafel, fajitas, pasta, and katsu all are available to choose from.

What it looks like

It comes with a film you pierce/ peel off (if you have extras you have to remove). This was the coconut katsu chicken, which I thought was pretty nice- I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the greens were: soybeans, pak choi added a refreshing balance to the chicken, and stopped it from being too dry.

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Some of my other favourites- the beef and beetroot bourguignon was a delicious treat- I am definitely not a fan of beef and other heavy red meats due to the strong smell and taste (something I have not gotten used to from my 10+ years of being vegetarian). This meal was something I put in as a last resort because I did not want to try a meal I could whip up easily on my own. And gosh, it is definitely in my top 3 among all these lovely options! The beef is not too strong and the beetroot lends a bit of sweetness + tenderness to the meat. I am a huge fan of parsnips so the sides were excellent as well.

The cajun blackened salmon was also cooked to perfection and did not go to pieces when I attempted to flip it for a more even heating. This was seasoned just right and was really fragrant! The peppers on the side were chewy and sweet.

Convinced? Curious?

If you’d like to try out this box yourself, use this handy code for £25 off your first box! Here’s to a healthier diet with no stress or mess!

Gousto recipe box review

Everyone wants to eat delicious and healthy food at home, right? But this pesky thing called life often gets in the way. It’s not that easy to throw together an amazing recipe every day and if you don’t cook for a huge group of people, restocking the fridge is a decision that has to be made carefully.

I can’t count the number of times I find a recipe online and proceed to raid my local Tesco for all the necessary ingredients excitedly… and end up with a lot of fresh food that can’t last more than a couple of days. Cooking for one is tough! Luckily, I don’t lead a very hectic university life most of the time but many busy working adults will face an additional struggle to find the energy to buy groceries and prep home-cooked meals after work.

Recipe boxes like Gousto resolves all these issues: ingredients delivered right to your door in the perfect quantities, easy recipes with instructions laid out on cards. Can we get a hell yeah for convenience, no food waste, with a great variety of cuisines, every week?

Presenting…. the Gousto box!

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ta-daaaa~!

The trial box costs £5.49, which worked out to 4 servings of two different dishes. I chose the chicken cacciatore and the blackened cod tacos.

blackened cod tacos, mexican, food, gousto

Cod tacos

chicken cacciatore, potato, italian, food, gousto

Chicken cacciatore

It honestly was such a hard decision picking just two recipes- there was so much variety and they all looked mouth-watering. The menus change every week, by the way- so don’t worry about ending up with the same dishes week after week! Although, given how amazing my experience was, I wouldn’t mind eating the same thing every couple of weeks really.

cod, tacos, herbs, food, gousto

cod, tacos, food, gousto

chicken cacciatore, food, gousto, italian

chicken cacciatore, food, gousto, italian

My iPhone camera pictures don’t do justice to how delicious they are. I’ve been a bit more experimental in the kitchen as a result, and I’ve gone out to get ingredients to replicate the chicken cacciatore again this week!

(I had to tell them, I loved it so much)

The quality of their ingredients also deserves a special mention: they put effort into sourcing ingredients from British farms and vegetables are organic if possible.

The meat was delivered in a wool insulated bag filled with ice packs to keep ingredients fresh, and the ice packs remain cold throughout so even if you get back late the food won’t spoil on your porch. It was my first time seeing a wool insulated bag and my housemate told me I could probably make a cushion or something craft-y, but I don’t think I am quite that creative. I’d imagine you could sell it by the yard if you racked up an impressive tally of weekly boxes.

Who knows what you could do with it though. Maybe Gousto could do a recycling drive- if you send the wool and reusable ice packs back/ drop it off at a local collection centre, you get a bit of money off your next order? Being sustainable and eco-friendly and all that jazz.

I hope you enjoyed my review of the Gousto box! Remember, you get a huge discount off your first box (and second, if you stay) so give it a try if you’d like some kitchen inspiration.

Magnitone London Barefaced! Facial cleansing brush: Vibra-Sonic™ Daily Cleansing Brush

I’ve been eyeing facial cleansing brushes for a while now, ever since they exploded onto the beauty scene a few years back… I could scarcely afford the Clarisonic at an eye-whopping £155 (for the Clarisonic Aria)- and still can’t- I would be immensely reluctant to drop that kind of money on something I was unsure about.

I scoured Google for reviews and comparisons, hoping to find a more affordable alternative, and the Magnitone repeatedly flagged up as a good competitor- some reviews even claimed it was gentler and more effective. The price on Amazon was £50, a third of the price- which I decided was pricey, but not too pricey if it did leave me with toned, baby smooth skin!

 

Magnitone Lucid cleansing brush, mint, facial brush

Magnitone Lucid cleansing brush in mint

I recommend purchasing it on Amazon– it is £20 cheaper than the price on the Magnitone London site. The delivery person just left it outside my front door, in full view of the street. How is that even allowed though? I don’t have a concealed front porch this year and I wish we still did- it was so handy for leaving parcels out for collection and you didn’t need to arrange for redeliveries quite as often.

The facial cleansing brush arrived in a very pretty box, with all the essentials- charger, USB, ziplock bag, and a one year warranty card that you register on their site.

Unpleasant delivery aside, I tried it out that very night and it left my face feeling oddly tight and toned. I had to apply moisturiser immediately since it was almost uncomfortably tight, but I guess that’s the difference for you. I already currently use a foam cleanser to get to all the dirt in my pores, but that probably wasn’t quite enough.

The description on their site states:

“Vibra-Sonic™ Daily Cleansing Brush deep-cleanses pores, tones and beautifully conditions your skin. For skin that deserves to go BareFaced! wherever, whenever. A combination of sonic oscillations + pulsed vibrations to deep-cleanse, massage and tone your skin at the same time, just like a mini workout.”

There are two modes on the facial brush- a normal one, and a toning mode that vibrates in short bursts. There is also an automatic timer that prompts you to move when you’ve been at a spot for too long, and after a minute it switches off completely.

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First-time users may experience breakouts as the gunk is cleared out, like I did, and it cleared up a little after three days. I routinely get bad hormonal acne, and this cleansing brush did leave my face feeling smoother and softer, but didn’t entirely eliminate all my acne woes. Granted, I have only been using it for a little over a week, and I will update this post after observing for a few more weeks.

The battery has good lasting power- I did not charge it at all when I got it, and it is still going strong! I just leave it in my bathroom and take it in the shower with me, and use it with my makeup remover and facial cleanser to take off makeup (it is entirely waterproof, so no fear of water damage!).

I like to use this with the innisfree green tea cleansing foam, as it is a thick paste that foams up beautifully with the brush and doesn’t leave the brush dragging over your bare skin (which might be too much for people with sensitive skin). It targets acne-prone skin as well, which is perfect! If your skin feels sensitive after using the brush regularly, make sure to apply lots of moisturiser, ensure there is enough cleanser and water, and reduce usage to 2-3 times a week or once daily until your skin gets used to it.

Be warned that you should avoid the sensitive eye area- I accidentally dragged it over my eyes once and lost about four eyelashes (laughs), and you don’t want it tugging at your delicate eye tissue either.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the results for the price I paid for it- and it is worth scouring eBay to see if anyone is looking to sell theirs for cheap. My friend got a secondhand one that was pretty much brand new at only £25! She paid an additional £14 to get two backup brush heads (for sanitary reasons, but you can well disinfect it yourself). There are other brush options like a larger brushhead for body use, and changing between them is very easy.

I hope this review was helpful- especially when you are dropping £50 on something, you want to do as much research as possible before purchasing it. Do let me know your experiences with this product- has it helped you just like mine did? 🙂

Pho Manchester visit

I was craving Vietnamese food and Pho was brought up after my housemate mistakenly assumed I was heading there (instead of I am Pho in Chinatown, on George St).

I looked at the menu online and saw they do a lunch deal from 12-5pm on weekdays, so I thought it was worth a try.

Unfortunately, I faffed about getting ready and made it to Pho just five minutes late 😦

Missed the lunch deal (£9.95 for a main and starter- menu here) but oh well, I’m sure I’ll be back for food next time.

I decided to get the Phở chín– tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth (£8.75). According to the description on the site: Phở, (pronounced fuh) is the Vietnamese national dish; an aromatic & delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please.

Phở chín- tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth, vietnam food, food, vietnamese, soup
Phở chín- tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth (£8.75)

Extra toppings like tofu, brisket, mushrooms etc. can be added on for £1/1.75.

I was quite glad to see that the beansprouts were served raw, as is traditional- too many places boil them before and it loses the taste and crunch.

It came with the usual other herbs: mint, coriander(?), chilli- I would have loved to have more coriander and mint, personally, but I think that’s an issue that you could settle by asking the servers for more.

The broth was quite flavourful but just a tad saltier than I would have preferred- still excellent and nearly just like the phở I had in Vietnam years ago!

I think when a dish is taken out of its country of origin, it can be replicated well, but somehow there is a little essence of something that is lost.

There are so many factors: water, ingredients, etc., but I think Pho Manchester does a pretty good job replicating this Vietnamese dish.

Pho’s website says: our broths are made in each restaurant by slowly simmering bones for a good 12 hours & it’s this authentic preparation that is key to phở retaining all its goodness & developing its own distinctive tastes & aromas.

Is there any wonder that this dish is Gordon Ramsay’s choice of a last meal? It is warm, savoury, intense, and filling (I could gush adjectives all day)- one of my favourite comfort foods.

I got Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee, £2.80) to accompany my main, and when it first came, the coffee was really watery, weak, and barely had any condensed milk in.

Cà phê sữa đá, Vietnamese iced coffee, manchester, vietnamese food
Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee, £2.80)

I didn’t want to seem like I was being fussy but I didn’t want to waste it- I spoke to the server about it and she sorted it out for me right away without any fuss.

The second try was perfect, good strong brew and sweet without being too cloying. Kudos for the fast and excellent service!

I will probably update this review when I come back for a second visit with thoughts about starters and desserts (eyeing the Gỏi cuốn [spring rolls] and Chuối chiên [banana fritters])

Granted, I’m a bit disappointed there isn’t much variety in desserts aside from ice cream, since a lot of their sweet desserts e.g. Chè Bà Ba, Chè Chuối, are flavourful and easy to replicate: sweet potato, banana, coconut milk make up the base for many of these and would really allow patrons to experience some local desserts that are popular at night markets and street stalls.

I was initially quite wary about visiting this restaurant since many restaurant chains claiming to do “authentic” food end up doing lots of ~fusion~ dishes catered to local tastes (not that there’s anything wrong with that, since that is the majority of their customer base, but it’s sometimes a little disappointing).

Pho has lots of good veggie or vegan options too (e.g. Phở chay: tofu & button mushrooms in a veggie broth), which is quite good for the diet-conscious who struggle to find variety while eating out.

Try great food that’s delicious & isn’t packed with calories at this popular @cornexchangeMAN eatery @ManchesterPho https://t.co/6skOw4rQ4k

— I Love Manchester (@ILoveMCR) January 24, 2017

They gave me a cute postcard with the bill and now I feel like I need to visit Pho in every city just to collect them LOL. Sneaky marketing hahaha

pho, manchester, uk, postcard, cute, journal

Pho Manchester postcard

***
Food: Very Good.
There is a lot of variety but would love to see more dessert options. Food is pretty authentic.
Service: Very Good. The staff were very friendly and helpful when I requested a replacement. Sometimes it can be difficult to get their attention even though there are a lot of staff standing around just chatting to each other.
Wait time: Around 5-15 minutes. Food was served very quickly and drinks immediately, so I did not feel like I was waiting around with nothing to eat. When I went the restaurant was nearly empty so no waiting around.
Affordability: Very Good. The prices are reasonable but if you are on a student budget i.e. in debt and scrimping to make ends meet, go for their lunch deal (£9.95, 12-5pm on weekdays).

Full menu hereLunch menu here.

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday: 12pm – 11pm

Saturday: 11:30am – 11pm

Sunday: 11:30am – 10pm

Tel: +44 0161 464 9779

Directions:

Edit:

I went back for a second visit for the lunch deal and was not disappointed by the spring rolls- I highly recommend getting the peanut sauce with it- it reminds me a lot of peanut satay sauce I usually get in Singapore hawker centres (oh, how I miss cheap hawker fare) and it was sweet and salty- very flavourful and was a perfect addition to the herby, tangy flavours in the spring roll.

My taste buds were in overdrive and I kept making all these ridiculous sounds, it tasted that good. There were so many flavours going on and I love how there was a perfect balance of greens, noodles, and they didn’t scrimp on the prawns like most places usually do.

I would probably go in for the spring rolls alone since it costs £4.95 and for 4 servings, I wouldn’t mind paying that. The size may be a tad smaller compared to I am Pho (in Chinatown) but given the proximity to the Arndale/Market Street it’s quite easy to pop in for a quick pick-me-up after shopping.

The Pho broth was not as good this time around and I was mildly disappointed given how much I sang its praises on my first visit. Also, real talk- why do they use ramen spoons for Pho?? The spoon was absurdly big, awkward to use, and entirely from the wrong cuisine. 

You use one of these:

 

 
Not this???
 
 
Hoping they change it soon because I couldn’t properly drink the soup off the latter (since you don’t actually drink the ramen broth, that makes sense) and the noodles were too slippery and went everywhere.
 
Pho- sort something out please. Replacing the spoons will only cost you a couple hundred quid, please get rid of the ramen spoons and donate them to Shoryu or Wagamamas or something.
 
#rantover

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Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro Makeup Primer

critiquesofacriticrimmelprimer

Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro Makeup Primer in 002

Usually I can’t use any primers with my Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation as it is a VERY fussy and nitpicky foundation- just smears and slides and looks awful!

I’m so so happy with this 🙌🏼 definitely recommend! Think I got it on Amazon UK for £5+ so it’s VERY affordable. I’ve tried Smashbox primers over the same Estee Lauder foundation and it didn’t work out either 😞 and this is literally 1/4 the price and works so much better!

It goes on so smoothly and does not leave any chalky residue like the W7 Prime Magic Face Primer did. I got the W7 primer on Amazon UK for £3 and it does leave your face feeling deliciously smooth and covers all your pores really well, as if it has been airbrushed, but any application of liquids makes it flake right off. Which is reaaally not ideal. I use it only if I can’t be ars*d having foundation on, but still want my skin to look smooth.

The W7 primer is very similar to the TONYMOLY Egg Pore silky smooth balm and The Body Shop all-in-one instablur, which I did a review of previously here.

It helps manage my oily skin too, which is a huge plus point. In fact, I had to go over with the Mario Badescu facial spray and skip a setting powder because it started looking a bit dry and I didn’t want it to end up cakey.

selfie with rimmel primer

yes my liquid lipstick smeared go easy on me hahah

PRODUCTS LIST

Primer: Rimmel Fix&Perfect makeup primer 002
Foundation: Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation in 2W0 Warm Vanilla + Maybelline FIT Me! Liquid Foundation in 120 Classic Ivory
Blusher: Albeit Cheek Stick in Nectar
Contour: Sleek Contouring and Blush palette
Mascara: Clio Salon de Cara Mascara (Volume x Curling) + Maybelline the Rocket Volum’Express
Lips: Sugar tinted lip balm in Rose under Kat von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita II
Brows: The Body Shop Brow & Liner Kit (03)
Eyeshadow: TBS brow powder + Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher Concealer (03)
Spray: Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, herbs and rosewater
Tools used: Real Techniques sponge + Real Techniques brushes core collection

Thoughts on the 2016 US Election

Whenever someone says “stop being so PC“, “they’re only words” or anything along those lines, it makes my blood boil. Apparently calling someone out on their behaviour is being “over-sensitive”?

If it was a single person ranting on Twitter I can simply block and ignore it, and even if I respond and they continue spreading hate their pool of influence is considerably smaller. The President of the United States carries considerable clout and influence, and can instigate violence/ ill-will (as we have seen throughout the campaign) with his inflammatory words even if he does not introduce any questionable policies.

Not only does dismissing this as “bloody ignorant brainwashed Liberal bullshit” spread the message that this type of speech is okay and acceptable, it tells kids that if they want to grow up to become the president, inflammatory speech is the way to go. People in positions of power and in the public eye are held to higher standards of morals than the general public*.

(*LOL I knew slaving over Media Law in first year would come to use someday, right to know and injunctions and all that jazz)

Even if he does not actually act on any of his claims that got him his presidency (and it seems to be looking that way), it has made some bigots think that being openly abusive to minorities is alright and justified, that the administration approves of it. Already seeing the rise of hate crime in the US because the 72% feel oppressed.

If you voted for DT and say “I’m not racist, I don’t support his type of speech or behaviour..” etc, I have some news for you- you already have indirectly supported that! “I’m not racist” or otherwise.

You just cared more about yourself and what you thought you would gain than the fallout along the way from your own fellow supporters who are willing to go to even more extreme lengths.Because hey- you can bet if DT doesn’t try to “get rid of immigrants” or “kill Muslims” or make people undergo conversion therapy… some of his supporters are pretty much ready to do it themselves. 👌🏼

P.s. Just like the defenders of unborn fetuses who wait in front of Planned Parenthood to shoot women (because if the fetus is gone, might as well kill the mother too eh? Never mind that some women killed were there to get counselling/ family planning advice etc).

P.p.s I doubt anyone I’m friends with actually supports him but y’know just go along with it I wanna rant. Can’t believe I have to put disclaimers bec inevitably someone will be like “WELL NOT EVERYONE” blah blah blah

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Ending off with this. I’m proud to be a “bloody Liberal”.