About Collette Naden

21 year old English literature student. My blog is about the life of a new vegetarian. Whilst it is about food and veggie-related things, it is also about friendship, fashion and general life. The harsh reality of the real world hasn't hit me yet. I'm hoping that an editor or publishing house will see my blog, decide that I am a great, witty writer and decide to give me a job. Find me on Twitter @LoueyVaTon

One year, one day: The End?

Hello – me again!
Haven’t seen you in a while.

Yesterday I should have been celebrating my year anniversary of being a vegetarian, except… I’m no longer a veggie. About six weeks ago, I started eating meat again. Some of you knew it wouldn’t last, other veggie bloggers are likely to be disappointed and most people I know are absolutely delighted that I’m a little less fussy again.

Thought I’d answer some of the questions that have been popping up:

Why did you stop being a vegetarian?
There are a few reasons.  I’m a vegetarian who wasn’t eating any vegetables. Hopefully I’ll start cooking soon, but my diet consisted of some form of a carb with some form of cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not clever, not healthy and certainly not good for the hips. Quelle horreur!

When I became veggie, I had no particular reason for making the change. If you don’t have a reason for making a choice, it can be difficult to stick to it. Eating animals sounds gross and it is. I’m completely against the way many animals are treated in slaughterhouses. However, I was still eating A LOT of dairy products. The dairy industry is just as bad, if not worse than the meat industry – so I can’t preach about one and ignore the other. Looks like the vegans have got it right.

Remember when I declared that I would always carry a cow? I was right, I’m still carrying the cow and walking in one two – so until I get my mitts on some Stella McCartney, my fashion choices didn’t suit the veggie ideal either.

What did you break your vegetarianism with?
I’m not proud, but six McDonald’s chicken nuggets.

Is this the end of The Silly Asparagus?
I hope not. I’m not going to start posting pictures of meaty meals on here, but it’s a great space to warble on about life. I’ll still keep an eye out for veggie related news and restaurants. I still think I’ll return to vegetarianism – I just need to start eating a better variety of foods first.

If you’ve got anymore questions then keep them coming.

In other news, I went to Budapest recently. If you’re thinking of a city break I would definitely recommend it. Look out for my city guide, coming soon.

With love,

The Silly Asparagus x

Hungary bacelet

Advertisements

Day 299: Time to catch up

Ouch! I can’t believe I have abandoned you all for so long. I thought it was about time we had a catch up.

Since we last spoke, I have been working hard, been in hospital, turned 22, survived another London Fashion Week, seen Plan B, watched Les Mis at the theatre, seen Biffy Clyro, eaten my body weight in halloumi… Yep, it’s all going on.

Firstly, work. I have been having a brilliant time interning with Cosmopolitan UK. I’m working on the student section of the website, Cosmo on Campus. If you’re a student, definitely take a look. If you’re not a student, there’s plenty to keep you occupied too. If you want to get involved or have any features that would be of interest to students, please get in touch. Although there are times when I miss university, I’m currently doing something I love and have always wanted to do. I’m pretty sure I’ve learned more at Cosmo over the last few weeks than I did during three years at uni. Regardless of what some might say, life isn’t so bleak for graduates.

In other news, I had a heart attack and nearly died. Okay, that’s an exaggeration and not funny in any way. I was in hospital, but I’m perfectly fine now. I haven’t been in hospital since I was four, so wearing a pink backless gown and no makeup for almost a week was quite a change to the usual routine. I’m not bringing this up to have a moan or get an ‘aww’ from you, it just brought a few things to my attention:

  • Nurses are stars. I was treated so well by the NHS and I haven’t got a bad word to say about them. They’re understaffed and do their best.
  • Never underestimate the power of Top Trumps. Sitting in hospital with your best friend, competing who is sillier out of Spongebob Squarepants, Squidward or Krusty Krab is incredibly good for the soul.
  • Life is short. Very, very short. Although I’ve always known this, when the lady in the bed opposite you dies, it definitely reminds you that no one is immortal (except Batman, obvs).

Okay, that’s enough of all the great revelations for one post. On to the entertainment… I turned 22. I shan’t dwell on getting old, but it was a lovely birthday. I went to see Les Misérables at the theatre. It was a stunning show and I would recommend that you go and see it. Warning: You’ll probably cry.

iTunes festival is currently on and I was lucky enough to see two shows. Plan B and Biffy Clyro. Both were good, but Biffy Clyro was INCREDIBLE. To say I’m in love with Simon Neil would be a massive understatement. That sweaty, tattooed, man is a beaut.

In my next post, I’m going to discuss veggie matters with you again. I’m currently reading a book called ‘The Meat Fix’ and I could be bringing you some big news. I just need to make some decisions first. Sounds ominous right?

If you’ve managed to read this whole post then thank you. It’s been pretty self-indulgent. I’m starting to share far too much with you. Please leave comments and thoughts. I love hearing from you.

Talk to you a lot sooner than last time.

Lots of Love,

The Silly Asparagus. x

Day 249: A Beginner’s Guide to Interning…

Hello, hello, hello!

It has been far too long since we last spoke. All sorts of wonderful things have happened. I have graduated and am now contemplating changing my title to The Clever Asparagus BA (Hons) – I joke!

Since leaving university, my days have consisted of commuting to London each day in an attempt to become the next Anna Wintour… it hasn’t quite happened yet, but I’m working on it.


My intentions were to give you a weekly update of the work experience and internships that I have been doing. However, having just completed internship no.3, I have far too much to relay and the last thing I want to do is bore you.

Somewhere along the line, I signed a confidentiality agreement, so legally I can’t divulge all the juicy gossip anyway. Hmm… am I working for magazines or MI5?

A Beginner’s Guide to Nando’s was quite a success, so I have compiled A Beginner’s Guide to Interning, with ten top tips. Some of this may seem really obvious, but it’s shocking the simple mistakes you hear about. Even if you aren’t looking to intern, this guide applies to many jobs…

1) You will probably be asked to make tea. Deal with it. If you aren’t asked, offer anyway. This is your opportunity to communicate with the whole team. It’s amazing how much a cup of Earl Grey can brighten someone’s day.

2) If you are affectionately known as the ‘coffee b*tch’, be the best darn ‘coffee b*tch’ the company have ever had. Take on the persona of Father Ted’s Mrs. Doyle – consider using an Irish accent if it helps.

3) Sent on errands that involve money? Always get a receipt – granted this might not be so easy if you’ve been sent out for illicit substances.                                           Disclaimer: I have only ever been asked to buy food, cigarettes and lattes!

4) If you don’t have a brilliant memory, write everything down. A request might not seem important at the time, but you may be taken up on it later on. It’s more efficient to look back at your notes than to continually pester your employers.

5) So, you didn’t write something down. You’re not quite sure what to do. Do ask. Asking is better than getting it completely wrong.

6) Keep it professional. Of course you should engage with the people around you. However, never give too many details about your personal life. You’re not on the payroll yet – your boss doesn’t need to hear about your sexual history or drunken antics – regardless of how hilarious you think your tales are.

7) This is the most obvious, the one you hear all the time: Be punctual!! Of course there will be days when your train is late. However, being late every day translates as unreliable. Unreliable equals unemployable.

8) Explore! If you’re in a beautiful city, like London, make the most of your breaks and take a look around. Just remember to come back on time.

9) Consider taking a packed lunch. As an intern, your pay will be low – that’s if you’re getting paid at all. Lunching at Pret every day starts to add up.

10) Stick it out and enjoy it. Interning is such a great opportunity to figure out what you want to do. Even if you hate your placement, don’t quit. The contacts you meet and the references you walk away with will come in really handy one day.

The Silly Asparagus is not claiming to be an expert, but following these tips should prevent you from making any major mistakes.

Some of you reading this will completely disagree with the internship system. But it’s unlikely to change anytime soon, so make the best of it. A majority of journalists will have been an intern at some point in their career. For every job you refuse to do, there are plenty of others willing to snap up the opportunity.

If you have any questions regarding interning at all, please leave me a comment below or drop me an email at: thesillyasparagus@live.co.uk. I’ll do my best to help.

On Wednesday, I begin a very exciting internship with cosmopolitan.co.uk. I cannot wait to get started. Wish me luck!

Talk to you soon.

Remember to send me your questions and I will feature them on here.

With Love,

The Silly Asparagus. x

Day 217: Manna

Hello my darlings.

What began as a blog about becoming a vegetarian has slowly morphed into a place where I share so many different aspects of the life of The Silly Asparagus. Soon, I want to tell you about non-veggie related things, such as work experience and graduation. So today, I want to make this post about the veggies.

On Friday, I ate at my first vegetarian restaurant. And wow, was it impressive. I thought I would review it and encourage you all to go.

Where: Manna. Vegetarian Restaurant. 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London, NW3 3AJ.

First, I’ll talk you through the food. I’ll then tell you all the little details you should know. I went to the restaurant with Mr. Carnivore. I promise I wasn’t eating two dishes per course! Most of the dishes are also suitable for vegans. I’ll add a ‘(v)’ to the dish name if it is vegan-friendly. Apologies that the images aren’t great, but I only had my low-battery phone on me. The food looks a lot more appetising in reality…

To begin…

Organic Hummus and Bread (v)
Considering I have been veggie for over seven months, it may be hard to believe that this was my first experience of hummus. It was really, really good and the bread was fresher than fresh.

Starters… 

Savoury Basil Pancakes (v)
‘A tangy gram and basil pancake filled with a tamari and garlic smoky bean curd, mushrooms and garden peas.’ These were very soft and very delicious.

Basil and Cashew Cheese Croquettes (v)
‘Basil and cashew cheese croquettes served on a bed of watercress and pea sprouts, with homemade chilli jam’. Amazing, especially the chilli jam.

Mains… Mr. Carnivore and The Silly Asparagus both opted for the specials, which you won’t find on the menu.

Pasta in a creamy white wine sauce, with cherry tomatoes and broccoli.

Spinach, courgette and garlic pie. Accompanied by a pea puree.

A side of seasonal mash and gravy (v).

 Dessert…

Lemon Cheesecake (v)
‘Lemon cheesecake, served with stem ginger vegan ice cream’. The cheesecake was delicious, but it was the ice cream that stole the show. The ginger flavouring was so prominent and spicy. It seemed that some smart taste technology had been used to create it.

What you need to know…
  • It isn’t cheap. If you’re eating on a smaller budget, try elsewhere. The meal above, for two diners, cost just under £80. I feel it was worth every penny. However, a can of (organic) coke will set you back £3.
  • This is a vegetarian restaurant. They do not serve any meat at all.
  • The choice is brilliant and the dishes contain so much detail. Because of this, meat-eaters should not be put off. Try it!
  • So many of the dishes are suitable for vegans. There is also a great gluten-free variety.
  • BOOK! The restaurant is extremely popular. Unless you make reservations in advance, you are unlikely to get a table here.
Talk to you soon.
With Love,
The Silly Asparagus

Day 213: Thank You

Hello sweet cheeks.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you that voted for me in the ELLE intern competition. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. When the judges cast their votes, I had the most Facebook ‘likes’ in my category – which is definitely a plus. On 22nd August, the winners will be announced to the public. I’m excited to see who has won.

If I told you that I wasn’t disappointed then I would be lying. However, when I applied for the position, I had no magazine experience (– this has since changed). Perhaps I wasn’t quite ready to become Celebrity Editor.

I could now do one of two things. I could declare that ELLE is evil and never buy it again. Or, I can look at the positives and move on. I’m opting for the latter. I’ve got too much to give to let this dishearten me in any way. I love ELLE just as much now as I did before the competition.

Although I didn’t get the internship, I was able to communicate with so many other brilliant interns. I also got some really positive tweets from the ELLE team. One of my favourite ELLE writers, Stacey Duguid, called The Silly Asparagus “great”. The journalist who wrote the David Beckham interview, Alice Wignall, described this blog as “lovely”. Anne-Marie Curtis, ELLE’s Fashion Director, said that I sound “very passionate and dedicated”. So, it isn’t all bad.

Most importantly, I was reminded of how brilliant and supportive my friends and family are. From the likes, tweets and sharing my application link, I received so much support and positivity. Even people I hardly know would approach me on campus to discuss the competition. Thank you to those of you that helped. I am extremely grateful.

This week I have been interning at Celebs on Sunday, (The Sunday Mirror magazine). It has been a great experience and The Silly Asparagus can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Talk to you soon.

The Interning Asparagus. x

#ELLEintern2012

Hello lovelies.

Firstly, sorry to those of you who follow my blog for veggie-related business. For at least the next week or so, my blog is likely to be dedicated to the ELLE intern competition.

My original post can be found here, please take a look:

https://sillyasparagus.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/elle-internship-2012/

I do my best to avoid clichés, but to intern for a magazine as prestigious as ELLE would be an opportunity of a lifetime. Who knows what it could lead to in the future. When friends came for tea when I was younger, I would often sit them at the table with my felt-tip pens and make them contribute to my ‘magazines’ — pages and pages of white A4 paper, folded in half, full of my own garish designs. I soon realised from my badly drawn models that I was not going to be the next Karl Lagerfeld. Fortunately, I appeared to have better capabilities with words. I am one of those extremely annoying people who like to correct poor spellings made by others. If there is a typo in a newspaper, I enjoy hunting it down and pointing it out. That alone should make me Editor material!

I guess that’s enough of my life story for one day. I hope you like my application — I feel I have made perfect choices (read my application to find out what I mean: http://www.elleuk.com/internship-2012/celebrity-editor/(offset)/20). Please vote, it takes less than a minute and you don’t need to provide an email address or anything.

I am extremely grateful for the support so far, but please keep going!

Thank-You.

With love and kindest regards,

The Silly Asparagus.

ELLE Internship 2012

Hello darling.

I hope you have had a regal Jubilee weekend. I spent mine at a Coldplay concert and eating too much chocolate, at Cadbury’s World (I’ll blog about both soon). The focus of today’s post is ELLE magazine.

ELLE has recently begun their ‘Edited by the Interns’ project. ELLE want interns to be at the helm of their October issue and are offering ten positions: The Editor, News Editor (online), Fashion Photographer, Beauty Editor, Celebrity Editor, Art Editor, Features Editor, Make-Up Artist, Hair Stylist, Fashion Editor.

The second I saw this competition, I wanted to get involved. This is such a great opportunity. I have applied for the position of Celebrity Editor, as I feel my experience as a Casting Assistant has acquired me with skills that are perfect for the role. There is still time to apply for further positions, but I am more than happy with my choice.

If you know me, you will already know how much being an intern at ELLE would mean to me. From Lorraine Candy to Anne-Marie Curtis, to Stacey Duguid (please bring back ‘I Am Mademoiselle’) and Alice Wignall, the ELLE team is full of women (and men) I admire and who inspire me. I have been buying the magazine since I was 16 and I know it inside out.

As far as I am aware, voting is not based on the social media popularity of an application. However, receiving support can’t be a bad thing. Voting doesn’t seem to be working properly at the moment, but please keep trying. Here is my application (look for Collette Naden):

http://www.elleuk.com/internship-2012/celebrity-editor/(offset)/20

If you have Facebook, please like it. If you have Twitter then hit that Tweet button. Google+ it, send it to others. Thanks.

The task is to pick three cover star options for the October issue. I did not opt for my favourite celebrities, but women who suit ELLE and who would be relevant to the October issue. If I want to get competitive, I feel my application already stands out against some of the others. Some candidates have chosen cover stars who have already appeared, only a few issues ago. I also took into consideration who has recently starred in ELLE’s rival magazines. ELLE are leaders in what they do, they do not need or want to reproduce what their competitors have done.

There has been some negative response to the competition. Some people simply hear the word ‘intern’ and turn into the Incredible Hulk, getting irate about pay and worker’s rights. If you are not prepared to start at the bottom, I do not think you belong at the top. In fashion, interning is part of the industry. I understand that it is difficult to work for little or no money, but if you want in then you have to find a way. ELLE do pay their interns, but even if they didn’t, I would still find a way to support myself so that I would be able to do such a valuable internship.

I am lucky, because I am yet to have a bad experience as an intern. I have heard some horror stories, but so far I am unscathed. The ‘dreaded’ coffee run is not a bad experience. They enable you to talk to the team and you are providing them with the fuel they need to work. It is not just interns who get the drinks. I was once offered coffee from Kate Phelan, a woman I also admire. For those of you not interested in fashion, Kate Phelan is the Creative Director at Topshop, having previously been Fashion Director at British Vogue. Kate Phelan is an extremely influential woman. Even though she was surrounded by interns, Kate got the coffee. If she is happy to do it, so am I. If you don’t think you need to intern, that’s fine — it’s just less competition for me.

I have gone on enough today. Please do support my application. In a future post, I will write a Celebrity Special on vegetarian stars.

Keep your carrots crossed and wish me luck!

Thanks.

Best Wishes,

The Silly Asparagus

Day 176: The Very Silly Tomato

Hello Sunshine!

I hope this post finds you well and that you are enjoying the sun.  Today isn’t about vegetarianism but it is related to health: the health of your skin.

I nag people about their health.  I nag people for taking too many headache tablets or for not getting their prescription regularly checked for the glasses they wear.  I nag people about what food they should and shouldn’t eat — I have the nickname ‘food police’.  I nag people about smoking and taking drugs.

Now that the British sun is out, it is time for me to nag about it.  I am pale and I am proud. If I am on holiday I will sunbathe, but once the tan has faded I get on with my life as Casper the friendly ghost.  There are nights out when I might rub some instant tan into my pasty legs.  I love expensive beauty products, but when it comes to tanning I care so little that the most I’ll splurge is around £4 for Primark or Rimmel’s bronze offerings.  I banned Mother Asparagus from sun beds many years ago, and get annoyed by teenage girls who go on them regularly.  I can’t imagine anyone wanting cancer, but if you have sun beds you are literally asking ‘The Big C’ to pay you a visit.  Tanning has taken the spotlight of the press once again in the last few weeks because of Patricia Krentcil.  Patricia is the ‘tanorexic’ mum who allegedly took her five year old daughter into a tanning booth with her.

When I was about 14, I went on a school trip to Italy.  With no parents around, I knew that I could tan to my hearts content.  This resulted in me getting a very nasty black blister on my shoulder.  I was saved by a classmate who offered his Factor 100 Sunblock.  From then on, I have been sensible with the sun.  I know a lot about the effects of the sun, tanning and melanoma.  Yet, as I write this article, my skin is literally burning.  Sometimes, we are all a little silly and ignore what we know.  Today, I have sunstroke and have had to delay my return back to university.  My face is red and puffy, my arms sting when I move them. No amount of aftersun or Ben and Jerry’s is making me feel better.  Yesterday I sat outside and mocked the British sun.  I am part Maltese and decided that if I didn’t get burned in Egypt, I would be perfectly fine in my English garden.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  The fact I added a few drops of baby oil to the equation makes the situation even more silly.

The laughter and puns that the parent asparagus are making each time they see my “beetroot” “Tommy tomato” face are not helping, and are discouraging me from ever being seen in public again.

After 21years of nagging people, I feel stupid.  You may think I am stupid too, which is fine. If you want to sit there, all self-righteous, saying that you would never do the same thing then that’s fine too.  However, from the amount of photos my Facebook and Twitter friends are uploading, I know that I am not the only burns victim of the last few days.

I am too embarrassed to post photographs of myself, so I will leave you with this retro YouTube video:

In a few days, I will be golden brown.  A few days after that I will be pale again.  In future, I will wear sun cream and be careful.  I do not want melanoma.

Dear Asparagus followers, don’t be silly, be sensible.  Please do not estimate the power of the sun.  It’s hot.

With Love,

The Temporary Tomato

Day 174: National Vegetarian Week

So, we meet again.

Firstly, HAPPY NATIONAL VEGETARIAN WEEK!!

Before I launch into what has been going on in the world of The Silly Asparagus, I want to thank the Vegetarian Society for sending me some great resources for the week:

As I am not holding an event, I intend to blog religiously this week and give you plenty of food for thought instead.

Apologies for leaving you for a while.  With a dissertation, coursework and exams all going on over the past month, I had to be un-silly for a while (no, you will not find the word ‘un-silly’ in the dictionary).  With the start of Veggie Week, I thought today would be the perfect time to be silly again.

Aside from results day and graduation, my time as an undergraduate is over.  This means I am continuously being asked annoying questions such as, ‘So, what are you going to do with your life?’, ‘What are you going to be?’… You get the idea.  I tend to answer with sarcasm, discussing my dreams of becoming an astronaut or a pilot.  It isn’t that I don’t know what I’m going to do, I just feel that it’s an exasperating question.  As I want to work within fashion and journalism I get all sorts of negative responses: ‘Oh, that’s competitive’. ‘Ah, that fickle industry’. ‘You’ll work for free and get treated like a slave’.  I’ve heard them all. That’s not to mention the patronising looks and head shakes that accompany their thoughtless answers.  Well, maybe leave us graduates alone.  Yes, we’re told daily about unemployment rates and how my generation will probably never own their own homes.  I will work incredibly hard to achieve my goals and could do without condescending people spouting ignorance.  Apologies if I’m ranting, it has been a while since I’ve had the time to write my own opinions and I know that it is a relevant issue for quite a lot of my friends.

Although I will focus on vegetarian issues for the rest of this week, The Silly Asparagus is going to become a lot more varied.  I embark on work experience at the end of June and until then I will be enjoying the books I didn’t have time to read during my course, seeing lots of films and going to some exciting places.  I want to share these things with you, whether they are relevant to vegetarianism or not.  Having been veggie for almost six months, food-related choices come naturally these days.  Don’t worry veggie readers, I still have a lot to say on vegetarian and vegan issues, so I won’t be alienating food followers completely!

It’s good to be back and I shall say goodbye until tomorrow.

With Love,

The Silly Asparagus.

Day 141: ‘Kreativ Blogger’

Hello darlings.

Sorry that I have abandoned you for a while.  Deadlines are fast approaching and I didn’t plan on writing any new posts until all my work has been handed in.  However, today someone passed me a Kreativ Blogger award.  That someone is Becky, from http://veghotpot.wordpress.com/ and I wanted to say thank-you.  I really enjoy reading veghotpot and it is filled with some brilliant veggie and vegan recipes that I must try, especially all the chocolate related ones.  It also has some lovely restaurant reviews (through reading these, I discovered that we must live fairly close to one another).

The Kreativ Blogger award is to encourage people with their blogs and to let them know that the blog is being read and appreciated by others.  There are rules to the award, which makes it seem similar to a chain email.  However, I would love to share some wordpress blogs with you.

So here are the rules (feel free to break them):

  • Thank the nominating blogger and provide a link to that blog.
  • Spread the love by nominating seven other bloggers, including their links here.
  • Tell your readers seven things they may not already know about you.

Seven things about myself:

1) When I was about five, I won a talent competition in Tunisia for my rendition of a rhyme about rabbits.  I don’t think this poem exists anymore, as I was unable to find you a copy.

2) I chose ‘Ursula’ as my confirmation name.  After the saint, not the sea witch from the Little Mermaid.

3) My favourite film is Pulp Fiction.  Combine this with my love of nail polish and you will find that Uma Thurman wears Chanel no.18 ‘Rouge Noir’ on her nails for the film.  (Some argue that she wears the ‘Vamp’ shade).

4) As an English literature student, I couldn’t possibly pick my favourite book.  Thomas Hardy and Sylvia Plath win my award for poetry.

5) I think that wearing ball gowns and tutus should be acceptable every day behaviour.  Yes, I want to go to the supermarket wearing Vera Wang gowns.  Elie Saab would suffice.  Ditto Valentino Haute Couture.

6) Writing on each side of a piece of paper makes me feel nervous and ill.  I will avoid doing so at all costs.

7) Frank Ocean’s voice completes my life. If you want specifics, listen to ‘Acura Integurl’.

Blogs I nominate:

1) http://bariatricbeginnings.com/  My reason for choosing this blog is that it is incredibly well written and funny.  The title summarises what the site is about.  The blogger has found blogging to be a form of therapy, as they share their journey to a healthier life. Bariatric beginnings talks about things such as weight loss and depression.

2) http://foodimentary.com/  I love this blog because it provides the history behind popular dishes such as eggs benedict. Today (18th April), he is celebrating National Animal Cracker day and there are some great images.

3) http://merrylittleworld.wordpress.com/  A simple, but relevant fashion . lifestyle blog.

4) http://hungrycupcakes.wordpress.com/ The title says it all!

5) http://morethangreens.wordpress.com/ Quote: “There’s so much more to vegetarianism than rabbit food”.

6) http://domesticdivamd.com/ Providing the world with recipes and humour.

7) http://2busybrunettes.com/ Some very original arts and crafts ideas.

For my UK readers, some of the blogs above are American.  This means that recipes can be confusing (we don’t use the ‘one cup of…’ measurements).  But, they still make a great read.

That’s it from me today.

Blog Love,

The award-winning Asparagus.

Day 134: Self-Esteem

Good day to you.

I hope that you have had a lovely Easter and are suitably filled with chocolate eggs. Today’s post is not linked to vegetarianism, but it is related to health and well-being.

A few days ago, an advert caught my eye and I wanted to share it with you.

The Silly Asparagus can relate to the advert, having suffered from low self-esteem for as long as I can remember.  When I was younger, I used to go to dance class.  I was a chubby child, and memories of putting on a green unitard twice a week still makes me shudder.  My feet also grew a lot faster than the other girls.  I would dread ordering new dance shoes and would delay doing so, because I knew that my dance teacher would make her usual jokes.  I made it through the worst (being a teenager), but when I approach a mirror I still have to make a very conscious effort to look at myself with a positive attitude. I know that I am not alone and suspect that you could share some similar stories.

Samantha Brick has been causing quite a stir in recent weeks — I’d be very surprised if you haven’t heard of her.  The gist of the story can be found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2125138/Samantha-Brick-Daily-Mail-writer-goes-viral-controversial-Im-beautiful-article.html?ito=feeds-newsxml.  In a matter of hours, Samantha became a laughing stock. Social media sites turned savage, tearing the woman apart for her confidence and appearance.  I too found myself staring at this woman in disbelief and laughing at her comments.  Yet, if Miranda Kerr or Rosie Huntington-Whitely had said the same thing, we would all agree with them and admire their beauty.  Maybe we all need to be a bit more like Samantha Brick?  Maybe everyone should stand up and recognise their good points.  I often want to shake sense into my friends, when they call themselves fat or ugly. Continuous self-deprecation is not a desirable trait, is often untrue and is irritating for everyone involved.

In the past, Dove have featured ‘real women’ in their adverts.  Their new campaign focuses on improving the self esteem of young girls.  Their website states that “The Dove Self-Esteem Programme was founded to ensure that the next generation grows up into happy and content adults, free from misconstrued beauty stereotypes and the burden of self-doubt.”  Dove will donate money from their products to charity.  The website also provides helpful resources for children, parents and teachers to use (http://www.dove.co.uk/dsep/support-tools/workshops.html).

There are always debates about what causes low self-esteem and issues with body image.  Because it is continually being discussed, I feel that people are becoming bored or  desensitised with the topic.  The problem is only getting worse, so brands like Dove bringing the issue back into the spotlight will hopefully help combat problems.

The only negative aspect of the campaign is that it is aimed solely at females.  Whilst things such as eating disorders are more prevalent amongst females, males also suffer.  Plastic surgery figures amongst males are continuously rising.  There are items for sale like ‘guyliner’ (eyeliner for men). Males also feel the same pressures to look good and ‘improve’ themselves.  However, the charity that Dove are supporting, Beat (http://www.b-eat.co.uk/) does help people of all ages and gender.

I hate to sound cliché, but remember that you are beautiful.

With love,

The Silly Asparagus

Day 129: Dairy Débâcle

Hello darling.

If you haven’t guessed from the title, this post is about dairy.  Last summer, whilst on a diet, my skin became quite bad.  Through a process of elimination, I realised that it was milk and certain cheese that angered my face.  After cutting out these products, my skin showed an instant improvement.

My findings were strengthened in Elle UK.  The April issue of Elle features a brilliant article about dairy products, ‘Truth About Dairy’. There are so many quotes I would love to share with you, but that will have to wait until I get my copy back — I left it at university and Elle May is now gracing the shelves.

What the article outlines are the reasons that cow’s milk is unsuitable for humans.  I am not a scientist, but the general gist is that a lot of humans do not have enough of the enzyme, lactase.  Lactase is needed to breakdown lactose (the sugar found in dairy).  Approximately 70% of people show some degree of lactose intolerance (it does not have to be severe).

Since January, my diet has not been particularly healthy.  It is time to replace my love of bagels for breakfast, with Weetabix again.  Ah, but what to pour over them asked Goldilocks?

Soya milk? Too typical.

Rice milk? Too high in carbohydrates.

Almond milk? Just right!

I very much enjoyed my first encounter with almond milk today.  It’s slightly sweeter than cow’s milk, which is great because I no longer need to cover my Weetabix in sugar (The Silly Asparagus has a very sweet tooth).

Almond milk is suitable for vegans and high in antioxidants.  Other benefits include being lower in fat and calories than semi-skimmed milk.

If you are anything like Mother Asparagus, you will start defending cow’s milk.  What about calcium? Almond matches semi-skimmed to the milligram when it comes to calcium.  Foods like sesame seeds and nuts contain more calcium than cow’s milk.  Okay, B12? Eggs contain more B12 than cow’s milk.  If you are a peschatarian, clams and mackerel are extremely high in B12.  Protein?  Pumpkin, squash, nuts and cheese are just some of the products that have higher protein levels than milk.  For Vitamin C, think peppers, broccoli, kiwi and orange.

I have not even reached the ethical questions that surround the treatment of animals in the dairy industry.  I won’t discuss ethics now.  However, I remember vegan tutor (learn more about him here: https://sillyasparagus.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/day-4-im-spartacus/) shuddering over dairy, stating that “The dairy industry is even crueller than the meat industry”.

Well, I hope that has given you some food for thought.  Time to get back to my Weetabix.

The Silly Asparagus

Day 127: TACO!

Hello darlings.

Today, I made dinner without the use of a microwave!  Things are looking up for The Silly Asparagus.  I made Quorn tacos and they were delicious.  The best part of the meal was when Papa Asparagus told me that I had cooked the chicken well.  Ha!  “IT’S QUORN”, I shouted with delight.  Victory for Asparagus everywhere.

Here is the recipe, which serves 2 (wow, I’m spoiling you this week):

You will need:                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon olive oil                                                                                                                  1 small onion, chopped                                                                                                      175g (6oz) Quorn chicken style pieces                                                                                    1 garlic clove, chopped                                                                                                      230g can of chopped tomatoes                                                                                    Sprinkle of dried chilli flakes (add more depending on how hot you fancy it)                        4 taco shells                                                                                                                          15g (1/2 oz) reduced fat grated cheddar

Serve with green salad and 2tbsp tzatziki

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and Quorn pieces and cook for 5 minutes (until beginning to brown).
  • Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and chilli.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes, until pulpy and fairly thick.
  • Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200 /fan 180°C.
  • Heat the taco shells for around 1 minute in the oven.
  • Spoon the Quorn mixture into the taco shells and sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Return to the oven for around 3 minutes.
  • Serve 2 tacos each, with salad and tzatziki.

This recipe was taken from a Weight Watchers magazine.  For those counting points, there are just 8 ProPoints in what you see above.  I will certainly cook this again.  For the recipe I have given you, I have lowered the amount of time the taco shells are put in the oven.  This is because mine went quite soft and split.

For dessert, I combined frozen yoghurt, meringue nests and strawberries.  Again, this is a Weight Watchers recipe and there are 2 ProPoints per serving.

I love strawberries, and I am now mature enough not to cover them in sugar.  I continuously praise Marks and Spencer, and it is easy to see why when it comes to strawberries…

Left = Standard Strawberry. Right = M&S Strawberry.

That’s all from me today.

With Love, The Silly Asparagus.

Day 126: Pat-a-cake…

Over the weekend, The Silly Asparagus finally spent longer than five minutes in the kitchen. Before you get excited, I did not cook a vegetarian banquet.  Instead, I baked around 40 cupcakes for the birthday of Uncle Asparagus.  The cupcakes turned out well.  I did not take a lot of photos of them though, as I feel they could have been decorated better.  I definitely found some cute candles though…

Cupcakes are one of the most simple things to bake, and they are definitely still having a moment.  Until I went to university, I thought it was impossible to make a bad one.  I was wrong.  During my time in halls, people would make cakes and leave lovely signs that read ‘EAT ME’.  These signs should have said: ‘DO NOT EAT’, or ‘EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK’. These darling cakes will not go wrong if you follow my recipe:

To make 12 cakes, you will need:    

115g Unsalted butter                                                                                                         115g Caster sugar (sifted)                                                                                                 115g Self-raising flour                                                                                                              2 eggs (make sure they are free-range)                                                                                  2 teaspoons Vanilla extract                                                                                            Splash of milk

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350) Gas 4.
  • Once butter has softened, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl, until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and milk.
  • Spoon the mixture into cake cases.
  • Bake in the preheated oven, for around 15minutes.
  • Allow cakes to cool before decorating them.

For the vanilla buttercream:

85g unsalted butter (at room temperature)                                                                       225g icing sugar (sifted)                                                                                                          1 tablespoon milk                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                                                                                 Food colouring of your choice                                                                                       Choice of decoration, e.g. sprinkles

  • Put the butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  • Gradually beat in the sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add drops of food colouring until you have reached the desired colour.
  • Mix well.
  • Swirl the icing on top of the cupcakes, or pipe it on.
  • Decorate.

Unfortunately, this recipe is not suitable for vegans or those watching their waistlines.  If you are looking for a British touch to add to your cupcakes, I would recommend these paper cases (from Sainsbury’s).

If you prefer to buy your cakes, visit Candy Cakes (http://www.candycakes.com/).  There are four Candy Cakes outlets in London, and their flagship is in Windsor.  If you can’t get to one of their bakeries, they deliver to anywhere in London.  Their cakes are delicious and their window displays aren’t too shabby either:

As a lot of Candy Cakes have sweets on the top, make sure you check which ones are suitable for veggies!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s visual feast.

With love,

The Silly Asparagus.