South Manny Flavaz @Impossible

Last night Impossible hosted the launch of their new menu. With 
 South Manny Flavaz, they've taken over the kitchen to offer us the hottest fusion food around, think American diner mixed with asian spices, sounds a little odd but I can vouch that the food is good. The night brought great food and drink in a chilled atmosphere, all you need for a mid-week evening out...

It's late, cold and dark, so the only thing that will convince me to leave the house on my night off is food, and plenty of it. I'd recently seen that Impossible were hosting a launch for their new menu and I knew I couldn't miss out. The bar is known for it's cool vibes, quirky decor and extensive gin menu, so adding a sh*t hot food menu is only adding fuel to the ever growing fire. If you've been around Manchester in the last few months and headed down Deansgate, you'll most certainly have come across the bright lights and long queues outside Impossible. Their quirky old-school cinema sign with some sort of witty quote (this week's is 'we've got beer colder than your ex's heart) is a sign of what lies inside. 

We headed upstairs where we were greeted with parma violet cocktails in what felt like an old victorian opium den. Deep red booths and long bench-sofas were the perfect accompaniment to the relaxing ambience, add the stag antlers and 1930s speakeasy bar, you've got a fusion of all things great. The tables were set out with spicy lotus root crisps and spiced edamame just to get the tastebuds ready for the real deal. From here came the main show...waiters served platters of bite-sized versions of the menu so we were able to try a selection of foods. My favourite was the chicken and waffles, rosemary infused waffles served with tobasco syrup, coleslaw and fried chicken. The reason this did it for me was the rosemary, I'm not usually a fan of chicken and waffles because of the sweet savoury combination. however, the rosemary making the waffles savoury meant I could really appreciate the dish.  

Other items on the menu consist of Kentucky fried cauliflower, halloumi bites and the Impossible royale burger; chicken wrapped in a crispy coating with salad and house slaw served on a soft brioche bun, I sounds good doesn't it? There's plenty more fusion dishes to offer on the menu which you'll have to try out yourself, take a look online here and book a table now. 


Thor's Cave

Just incase you're reading this and hoping you'll find the home of Chris Hemsworth i'm sorry to let you down from the offset, but this is simply about a really big cave hidden in the Peak District. Now if that's what you're interested in then keep on reading because i've got all the details you need...

If you're travelling from Manchester then it's an easy 1h30 drive away, if you're not a confident driver then i'd steer away from going on a rainy day. The fog clogged up the roads ahead leaving us squinting to see if there were cars just 5 meters away from us. You feel like you've just stepped onto the set of The Others, look left or right and there's only white mist to be seen, a pretty eerie vibe but once you're clear of that then it's all grand.

Once you reach the little village of Wetton, you want to follow signs to the car park where you'll begin your journey. No fear if you've driven all this way and you're holding in a little, there are relativley clean toilets by the car park so you're not having to squat in the woods. Boots on, jackets zipped and backpacks filled with food, it's time to start your walk. Head right on the road of the car park and you'll come to a right turn by the side of a farm with a sign pointing to Thor's cave, that's the route you want to take. Walking here you'll have farms either side of you and then reach a T junction where you'll go left, walking away from the village and then eventually slide left again onto a mud path between two fields.

The pathways are relativley well market with wooden signs of where to go, as you walk through the path, chances are you'll see plenty of people walking the same way anyway so no fear. Keep walking down and you'll begin to see what looks like a big cliff edge on your right ahead, that's where you want to be. It's not a very long walk, approx 25 minutes and after clearing the path you'll reach a slightly rockier part on the way up to the cave, be cautious in wet weather or with younger people. It's pretty clear from here where you're going, you'll see the opening of the cave and it's more than enough to blow you away. The best thing is, you don't know where to look, the cave is wonderfully magnificent, but as is the view that it's overlooking.

Before you step into the dungeon, i'd suggest taking a moment to sit on the edge and just take in the beauty that is the Peak District. You're located in the Manifold Valley, White Peak and no matter whether the weather is bleak and desolate or the sun is beaming, it's more than enough to take your breath away.

Heading into the cave, be careful of the smooth surfaces where water has eroded the rock, it can be extremely slippy so you're best staying low and using your hands at points to grip and pull you up. It is known as a karst cave and consists of several different chambers inside. I'm not lying when I say it really feels like you'll shine your torch and Dracula will be dangling from a ceiling somewhere ready to pounce. It is a little eerie but if you're anything like me, it'll only fill your head with the imagining of what has happened here and stories that could be set in such a gothic surrounding.

Once you've had a good rummage, you can head back the way you came or head straight down the steps in-front of the cave, you'll walk down a set of stony stairs in-between the trees where you'll eventually reach a split, go right in an upwards direction. From here you'll reach a farm gate, head up the steep incline and you’ll eventually reach the T junction you were at earlier and make your way back to the car park. 

I’m on the hunt for beautiful locations to hike this year, so if you’ve got any suggestions let me know on social or comment on this post! 


5 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

Plastic is bad for the environment, end of discussion. There's no two ways about it.  Throwing that plastic bottle away or speeding through plastic straws on a night out are only going to end up in landfill that will not decompose properly like natural objects, or worse, end up killing our wildlife on land and in the ocean. As a whole, the world is producing around 300 million tonnes of plastic each year, and where do you think it goes? It doesn't just disappear into thin air. 

We've seen the horrible pictures of turtles getting stuck in the plastic holding cans, and animals being trapped in bits of plastic which will eventually kill them in a way that is horrifically unimaginable, but I bet you weren't thinking of that photo when you chucked that wrapper on the floor? Well things are changing across the world, after Blue Planet 2 and various other campaigns to highlight the damage plastic is doing to the environment, globally we are making a change. It doesn't need to be anything big, just small changes to make a large impact on the world, and here's how to...

1. Soap Bars

Soap seems to be old fashioned these days but it may be wise to swap your plastic bottled hand wash for a standard bar of soap. This means zero waste and usually lasts much longer. Organic health stores and markets often sell soap with paper or zero packaging to help reduce the waste, plus choosing organic, natural products means you know what's going on your skin. 

2. Re-useable Bottles

They're being sold everywhere at the moment so you've got no excuse not to pick up a flask or re-usable bottle to hold hot and cold drinks. Many coffee shops even offer discount on their drinks if you bring a re-usable cup, we're all trying to make the change. If you opt to buy a flask for your hot drinks, you'll be saving a pretty penny making your own hot drinks instead of spending £3 on a coffee every morning. 

3. Buy Un-bagged fruit and veg

Britain are soooo far behind other countries in terms of supermarket packaging. When i've visited Europe and America, standard supermarkets have most fresh products available loose with the option to use a PAPER bag. Sure we can buy loose fruit & veg, but we still have to wrap them in a plastic bag over here. Some organic supermarkets in the UK also offer loose cereals, beans, grains and pulses that you can dispense in your own jars, so simple but makes a big difference. 

4. Get your milk delivered

Milk runs are making a comeback, more and more young people are making an active effort to change their habits to reduce waste and as a result, some careers that were seen to be dying are making a revival, such as this one. Get in contact with your local delivery and check the prices and opt for glass milk bottles instead of plastic. More and more services such as Creamline are extending their services to deliver more local produce, helping the environment and local businesses. 

5. Bring your own bag

We all flew off our handles when the 5p bag came into place, but it really does stop cheap, plastic bags being chucked onto the road and blowing down the street, making our towns look dirty and also harming animals. Every supermarket offers re-usable bags so take advantage, they are usually sturdier and although they may cost a penny more, they'll work out cheaper in the long run. 


5 Factors That Affect Your Gut Flora

What is the Gut Flora

Your gut flora is based in your large intestine and consists of hundreds of different types of bacteria that are alive and doing various jobs in your gut. The gastro-intestinal tract consists of ten times more organisms than the somatic cells in the body, this equates to around 100 trillion, a lot right?

The flora is made up of both good and bad bacteria that do a variety of different jobs such as aiding with digestion, killing harmful bacteria, producing vitamin K and short chain fatty acids. Each different type of bacteria requires different foods and nutrients in order to fuel them to do their job.

However, if dysbiosis occurs (imbalance of good and bad bacteria) this can lead to:
-Insulin resistance
-Weight gain
-Inflammatory bowel disease
-Colorectal cancer

But what defines the type of gut flora we have? Well there are a variety of different lifestyle factors that contribute to it, living a healthy and balanced lifestyle is the best way to keep your flora diverse and happy. However, there are also factors that can make your microbiome worse and lead to dysbiosis.

1. Eating a diverse range of foods

Different types of bacteria require different vitamins and nutrients, therefore you need to be consuming a wealth of foods in order to fuel a variety of different types of bacteria. Changing your diet can change your flora after just a few days, therefore a few days of eating junk and processed food can alter your microbiome quite drastically. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is a great way to help the diversity of your gut flora grow.

2. Prebiotic

Prebiotic is a type of fibre that passes through the body undigested and promotes the growth of good bacteria. You can get prebiotic from a variety of different foods, or prebiotic supplements available from different health stores. Foods that are high in prebiotic include:
Lentils & pulses

Prebiotic supplements promote the production of short chain fatty acids which are the main nutrient for cells in the colon. The absorption of the SCFA into the blood means a healthier gut.

3. Smoking

Smoking is one of the examples of a lifestyle factor that can be harmful for the gut flora. It increases the amount of bacteroides-prevotella which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, air-borne toxic particles that reach the large bowel can contribute to concomitant increases in inflammatory bowel disease.

4. Stress

Stress has been a big factor in many cases of mental and other health problems recently, and it also contributes to the diversity of your microbiome. It lowers the number of lactobacillus which are extremely beneficial in the flora, it is also a leading cause of IBS and is associated with a changes in the flora via the central nervous system.

There are studies to show that their are links between the gut and brain, therefore changes in the gut can adjust brain activity and lead to changes in mood, autism, and other brain disorders.

5. Exercise

Physical activity is a big contributor to the diversity of the gut, and this doesn't have to mean intense exercise, but simply just moving, going for a walk, doing the gardening etc. Physical activity can increase the levels of butyrate, a short chain fatty acids and athletes have higher levels of Akkermansia, a type of bacteria that helps metabolic health and can help prevent obesity. So as well as the clear benefits of exercise, it can also contribute to a healthier gut.