Healthy Vietnamese food at Viet Grill and a hangover-fix-it smoothie

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What can be better for your health than having a great meal out with friends…..not much! A good laugh is both calming and healing!

Instead of opting for Christmas food so close to the big jingle bells day, I meet a group of friends for Vietnamese at Viet Grill in Shoreditch on Monday. Always great to stock up on some healthy stuff before all the heavy sugar laden food comes out at Christmas.

However I started my meal with a Vijito. Viet grills cocktails are amazing!!!! ( and now maybe you understand why the title indicates that I have come up with a hangover cure drink ; ) This beautiful cocktail had a whole passion fruit in it, soo yummy!

Vietnamese food is generally very healthy. The main staples are herbs, lots of vegetables and seafood and it’s generally broth based. The only possibly negative health aspect of vietnamese food is the usage of MSG. The usage of MSG is highly controversial and it’s difficult to find out if it’s bad for your health and if so, how bad? Apparently FDA has claimed it is safe in small doses since 1959. Read more in this interesting article by John Mahoney. Others claim it is very harmful to your health. I’m going down the route of eating as little as possible of it but if I once in a while eat a little bit of it, so be it. Viet grill told me that they use very minimal amounts of MSG and only in a few dishes (soups). Their aim is to get rid of it completely next year. Fine by me.

We had a mix of starters and they were all delicious but what stood out the most were the fresh vegetables spring rolls. Lots of raw vegetables crammed into featherlight rice paper. And the dipping sauce, ah the dipping sauce…..And it’s incredibly refreshing to eat uncooked spring rolls. Definitely a favourite of mine!

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For main it was equally easy to find something very healthy, I opted for the wokked monkfish and shiitake. Lovely, fresh and filled with nutritious shiitake mushrooms. I personally would have preferred a bit more fresh herbs in my dish but that’s coming from someone who eats half a packet of coriander with my Pad Thai….Other things that I have tried before are La Vong Grilled Monkfish (starter) They cook it at your table so it’s certainly fresh and very tasty. I have also had the soft shell crab curry which was outstanding. My mouth is watering just writing about it, definitely going back soon.

So to sum it up; lovely atmosphere, great staff, fresh and healthy food and dangerously good cocktails! If you end up having one too many, here’s the rescue plan for the day after;

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Perfect hangover cure!
Coconut water, banana, strawberry and mint smoothie

1 cup of Unoco coconut water
1 cup of frozen strawberries
1 teaspoon maca powder
1 banana
1 1/2 teaspoon of honey
A couple of leaves of mint

Blend it all and make sure it’s cold ( put in fridge or add some ice-cubes ) A good idea is to make a double portion and sip throughout the day

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When hungover the body needs to replenish the potassium that has been lost. Coconut water contains a lot of potassium. So does bananas and honey. Maca powder is great for an energy boost. I use the Unoco coconut water because unlike most other brands it hasn’t been heat-treated or pasteurised hence none of the anti-oxidants have been lost. Unoco uses high pressure processing (HPP) in order to give the coconut water shelf life without loosing any nutrients! Clever…… Strawberries also has loads of anti-oxidants and they will be needed if you had one festive drink too many!

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Peanut butter smoothie

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My husband James thinks I should own up to my ice-cream addiction. So here we go, I’m a complete and utter ice-cream addict, I confess.  I can not in my wildest imagination comprehend people who have ice-cream in their fridge for days let alone weeks. Oh I forgot it was there…Say what, can’t you hear it calling, eat me eat me eat me!

My daughter wakes up in the morning and with her cutest smile says glass (ice-cream in Swedish, I am Swedish by birth) and believe me I understand her. I could imagine waking up and open the bed side fridge and have an ice-cream first thing in the morning. What a great way to start the morning. But my daughter when she finally gets her ice-cream it’s not actually ice-cream, it’s a baby yoghurt that I put in the freezer. She’s happy and I don’t have to deal with the super tantrums of too much sugar. Similarly I have to find a way to trick myself. Ben and Jerry are my best friends and I don’t want to shut them out of my life completely but the amount I’m eating just isn’t on. There is absolutely nothing good for my health in ice-cream. Diabetes inducing sugar, lots and lots. Artery clogging saturated fats, lots and lots. And calories…..my daily half a tub of Ben & Jerrys is 560 calories!!

So anyways I tried this the other day and it was really yummy. I’m actually longing to make another one tonight. So much that I actually stopped thinking about my best friends. (Sorry Ben, sorry Jerry) The photo doesn’t do this smoothie justice. (Note to self, learn how to take better pictures!)

1 banana, frozen
1 tablespoon of peanut butter ( a good version without added sugar)
1 teaspoon of honey or agave syrup
100 ml milk of your choice
1 tablespoon of milled Flaxseed, Sunflower, Pumpkin and Sesame Seeds and Goji Berries or sth similar. I use the Linwoods brand

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Put the peeled banana in chunks in freezer a couple of hours before ( or always keep some bananas in freezer for emergencies : ) Add all ingredients to blender and blend. Pour over ice cubes or crushed ice. I usually leave my smoothie in the fridge for at least 15 min to get it that really nicely ice-cream-esque cold. Enjoy!

The tablespoon of milled flaxseed etc does two things to this smoothie. Firstly it adds some lovely crunchiness. It also makes it brimming with health benefits. Omega 3,6 and 9, protein, dietary fibre and plenty of vitamins. It’s also filled with energy. Banana contains both simple and complex carbohydrates so both endurance energy and quick release energy. Peanuts also is good for energy so if you want some extra oomph this is the snack to have ; )