A question often asked to me and my fellow food / lifestyle bloggers is: ‘How do you eat all that food yet stay slim?’ On my blog you may have seen tucking into multi-dish tasting menus at Chotto Matte, an epic Indian feast at Trishna or a sugar-packed afternoon tea at The Intercontinental Westminster whilst still fitting into my dresses.
Well the answer is: I don’t eat like that all the time. I like to adopt an 80 / 20 rule (80% good days and 20 % treat days). So generally during the week I’ll be as good as gold, eating healthy home cooked meals that are nutritionally balanced and doing lots of hard core exercise. Then at the weekend I’ll have my splurges! I don’t really eat junk food so a splurge will be a feast of sushi, a gourmet dining experience or decadent afternoon tea plus lots of wine and cocktails all of which you will see on the blog. I will generally have a treat meal once or twice a week so it balances out with my healthy days.
When I’m on holiday it’s weekend rules and I have a treat day everyday! Tasting menus, scrumptious treats, raiding the bread basket and lots of wine are a daily occurrence. I usually come back from holiday a few pounds heavy but this is easily lost when I get back into my routine of healthy eating and exercise.
A five week honeymoon is another matter entirely though and when I got home from my extended holiday I stepped on the scales and I’d put on half a stone (seven pounds). Ok, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out multiple tasting menus, delicious desserts and guzzling lots of champagne for five weeks straight (and let’s not forget my pasta feast in Florence) is going to make you put on weight.
And this wasn’t just water weight that would come off within a week, this would take some work! Now I know what you’re thinking…but it’s only a few pounds and you’re slim anyway! Plus now you’re married who cares!! Well as I’m petite the extra pounds show, plus my clothes are feeling tight 🙁 . So for the next couple of weeks I’m cutting the calories, upping the exercise and avoiding treat days. Which I have to say is particularly difficult in summer when I’ve got hen dos, weddings and I just want to drink rose on rooftop bars!
Which leads me nicely into today’s blog post. My mum, older sister and I were meeting up for lunch and, as we’d all been splurging a little, we wanted to go for a healthy one. As ever I was the family concierge (!) given the task of finding the perfect venue for our dining needs. A quick google of ‘low calorie restaurants, London’ led me to find The Balcon located at The Sofitel Hotel St James.
The restaurant is modelled on Coco Chanel’s Parisian apartment and is perfect for fashionista in search of a low calorie lunch. The focal point of the restaurant is the spiral staircase leading up to the champagne gallery but I also loved the high ceilings, hanging chandeliers and antique-style mirrors.
But this is what we were here for:
The de-light menu offered a selection of low-calorie dishes made using healthy cooking methods such as steaming and poaching with the use of spices and seasoning to create flavour. The idea is that you can have a three course meal for under 500 calories, they even put the calories on the menu so you know exactly what you’re having. As I wanted to test the special menu I ordered exclusively from it though my dining companions were able to find other healthy choices on the extensive a la carte menu.
Our will power strong we all kept our hands away from a delicious looking bread basket.
My starter from the de-light menu arrived:
A piece of mackerel marinated in white wine with a fennel, onion and carrot salad. I was pleasantly surprised by the generosity of the portion size and it tasted superb. Also as mackerel is an oily fish it is rich in Omega 3 oils which help reduce blood pressure and it’s great for my nails and hair. Whoop!!
My sister and mum both chose a healthy heirloom tomato salad dressed with tapenade and basil and shared a side of ham.
Simple yet a perfect marriage of ingredients.
My de-lightful main course choice was red mullet with tomato and pepper cream. The red sauce was delicious and the fish was perfectly cooked however in an attempt to pack the dish full of flavour it contained far too much strong mustard, I would have preferred it without as the tomato sauce was a welcome accompaniment by itself.
My sister chose a rare beef salad served with soy sauce and ginger and she loved the Asian flavours of this light dish.
It was cod with Provencal ratatouille for Susan SilverSpoon and she loved her dish with the juicy vegetable concoction that contained only a small amount of oil.
A beautiful tray of cakes called to us from the corner…