Food Review & Competition Announcement: Deacon Brodie’s Tavern

When my friends message me to see if I want to go for food, the usual suspects pop up such as Nando’s, Italian restaurant, French cafe, or one of the billion burger joints in any city centre. Often we leave it until we go out and wander around the city, occasionally wandering into pubs along the way where someone will suggest “why don’t we get food here?”. This will often be followed by sighs and tuts before one optimistic fellow pops up and says “hey guys, we’re all hungry, how bad can the food be?! And look our table is right next to the bar!”. This will often be said 20 minutes before seeing a burrito that has clearly been chucked in the microwave for 3 minutes and looks and tastes like dog food in a wrap – I’m looking at you Wetherspoons!

Reputation is everything and “pub grub” is probably the lowest of the low in terms of food reputation so I was sceptical when I got invited to Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in Edinburgh. They let me take over their Instagram story for the day and if you have me on Instagram, then you guys know how much I do enjoy a boomerang, so I agreed to come along.

As I entered the building, it had that usual, traditional,  pub vibe about it and then I was greeted by a lovely member of staff. We were then lead upstairs into this beautiful dining room filled with traditional Scottish decor without being dreary or dated. We got seated right next to the window and I am such a nosey person, if I can sit at a window whether it’s on a plane or a restaurant, I will sit there so I can just look out it and take in the scenery and people watch. If you don’t sit, look at people and try and guess what their life is like then you’re a liar… Or maybe It’s just me. The best thing about the view was that it faced down onto the famous Royal Mile in Edinburgh, such a beautiful city with so many beautiful people.

We sat down, got introduced to our hostess who was such a delight and absolutely lovely who got us a bottle of water while we ran our peepers over the drink and food menus. I went on to select Nicholson Nachos as a starter and a chicken, chorizo & cider pie for my main. Yes, you heard that right. Chicken, chorizo and cider all in 1 pie! That is my 3 favourite things in a pie or my 4 favourite things on a plate if you include the pie – I was excited!

However, before I got to the main, I had to tackle the starter and I wanted something light and not too heavy if I was going to tackle the pie so I went for Nicholson’s Nachos. Whenever I eat out I often find nachos are more miss than hit, sometimes the chips are soggy, salsa is often flavourless but you eat them anyway, ’cause, well they’re nachos. However, seeing this elegant little bowl of goodness filled me with so much hope. The chips were drizzled in a cheese sauce with perfectly placed guacamole, salsa and sour cream topped with jalapenos. The flavours blended well with nothing overpowering the others and even the cheese sauce had a certain tangy buzz to it and the colours were just beautiful.

Although, the nachos were amazing, the portion size was a fair size. The nachos we got was shared between 3 people and it lined us up nicely. This is not a starter for 1 person but if you have a group, I highly recommend you go for this starter. The only way this could be improved is if they grated a little cheese on top instead of just a cheese sauce. But saying that,  although this may get an extra mark for taste it may have lost several for presentation. However, this video sums up my reaction to the nachos…

Next up was the main course, the moment we all had waited for – The chicken, chorizo and cider pie. Ugh, yes! And it was every bit as good as it sounds. The pie was accompanied by a beautiful mound of mashed potato, carrots and kale at the side of it along with a nice boat of gravy. Just look at that presentation…

You finished staring lovingly at the picture yet? It truly is the Mona Lisa of pies, it took me a good 5 minutes of picture-taking and genuine admiring along with another 5 minutes of being scared to even touch it because I didn’t want to ruin its appearance. When the time came to it, I cut firmly into this beautiful well-crusted pie and out oozed this brown/orange sauce. I got emotional. The chicken was cut to perfection, every time you ate and tasted a bit of chorizo it was a beautiful surprise each time. It’s like when you reach in a bag of Haribo and put whatever sweet in your mouth without looking and it turns out to be a cola bottle, a beautiful, beautiful surprise. I often find alcohol and food don’t mix, in my opinion, red wine doesn’t belong on duck, the same way beer batter should not cover sausages. But the cider gave the sauce inside the pie that tangy taste that makes your taste buds tingle. I could talk about the pie all day but I should discuss its plate companions – the mash was soft and fluffy, the carrots were cut to the perfect size, the gravy was well-seasoned and was made perfectly, not runny or too thick and the kale was, well, it was kale… Not much I can say apart from it was green and wasn’t soggy, I had soggy kale once and it was not pleasant. The portion was huge, I recommend if you have this then only have 2 courses – I would recommend a main and a dessert but If you go here, I recommend this “perfect pie”.

After conquering the “perfect pie” I was on the fence about getting a dessert, as much as I enjoyed the food, my stomach couldn’t handle anymore but fast-forward 15 minutes and the hostess was dropping off some dessert menus on our table. The 2 people I were with, were dropping out, they couldn’t handle it but your boy soldiered on and ordered a dessert – a chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream.  You know that way where you think you physically can’t eat anymore but somehow you see something just incredibly tasty and somehow you find a tiny gap in your belly? Well, that’s what happened here, look at this beauty!

The portion was considerably smaller, the fudge was warm and even more fudgier than expected. I watched the ice cream melt over the brownie and I had to at least have a couple of bites just to write this review,  I mean it would be rude not to… The brownie just melted in my mouth and even though I was full from nachos and the pie, I could have easily eaten another brownie! The portion size was perfect for a dessert and the flavours of the brownie and the chocolate sauce just came together perfectly.

After that, I spoke to the staff and thanked them for being such great hosts and generally just for looking after me and my team so well and also complimented them for the food. I then finished up and left a parting video on their Instagram, saying thanks to the staff for looking after me and also to everyone who was engaging with me on their Instagram story over on (@nicholsonspubs). If you tuned in then you know, that I announced a competition would be happening, well I can announce that is true and the winner shall receive a £50 gift voucher for Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in Edinburgh. You too can have the chance to have the same experience that I had at this lovely venue. Go on my Facebook (PookiepopBlog) on Monday, 1st May 2017 at 6 pm for all the information to find out how to win!

 

Enter the competition and you too could be as happy as me!

 

Conclusion

A great venue, that mixes traditional and modern that is based in the heart of Edinburgh overlooking the famous Royal Mile, with a charming decor along with great customer service. The food was incredible and the pie that I had is a pie that will live in the memory for a long time and the fudge brownie was just the perfect end to my day at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. All the food on the menu is very affordable in terms of the quality and has changed my opinion firmly on “pub grub”. In conclusion, if you’re in Edinburgh and looking for a quality bite to eat but in a relaxed atmosphere then I highly recommend checking out this place.

You can find out more information about the venue by clicking here.

 

VENUE – 8/10

CUSTOMER SERVICE – 10/10

STARTER – 7/10

MAIN – 10/10

DESSERT – 9.5/10

VALUE FOR PRICE – 9

OVERALL – 8.9/10

 

Jay Carrington

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Cornerstone Review

At the ripe old age of 24, I still haven’t mastered the art of growing facial hair. I get whiskers above my top lip, the occasional bit of fluff on my chin and faded mutton chops. It’s not a great look, although some people can pull off the small amount of facial hair, I am not one one of those people.

I look less like this…

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and more like this…

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So even though I don’t have a fully-fledged man-beard that all the girls get excited over, I still need to shave even more than the average guy. Guys can pull off the cool, bearded look, guys cannot pull off the creepy paedo-tache look.

As a student, I’ve had an extremely busy few days spending the vast majority of my time in a library, generally not looking after my appearance.  I honestly spent 99.99999% of my time wearing an XXXXL sweatshirt, sweatpants and a beanie for my hair. It was only when I looked in the mirror and noticed that I was sporting a horrific paedo-tache that would have made Adam Johnson proud, I realised it is time to shave before I get arrested.

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Disgusting, right? Luckily subscription-based shaving brand, Cornerstone came to the rescue and sent me out a box so I could at least look like an approachable human being, thanks, Cornerstone!

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I had to prepare firstly by using the pre-face scrub, this scrub helps release any ingrown hairs, reduces shaving spots, unblock pores and lift dead skin cells for smoother, clearer skin. Also, it’s a really cement-like grey colour which is incredibly amusing as some of you would have noticed by my Snapchat (“ThePookiepop” if you’re looking for it).  It didn’t smell that great in comparison to the other the shaving gel and the post-shave balm, I’m not going to lie but afterwards, my skin felt incredible, so clear!

My next step was to finally shave – with my personally-engraved razor. For anybody who has ever lived in student halls or shared a flat with strangers it’s always recommended to label your items with your name on it – and now I have a razor with my initials on it.

I applied my shaving gel, it was like green goo and looked like a booger but it smelled amazing! Usually, shaving gel/foam smells just like soap or quite musky but this was made up of Eucalyptus oil with ginger extract. If it wasn’t filled with non-edible toxins I would have been smearing that on some toast!

I then picked up the razor and the first thing I noticed – apart from my beautiful initials – was how flexible the head was. Usually, razors have a such a firm head so when you’re shaving, it makes it more difficult to shave down your jawline without angling your wrist. With this razor, you can shave down your jawline and with its flexible head, it shaves without having to change the motion in your wrist. It really is the simple things in life.

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After my shave, I glanced up into the mirror and I was a changed man, but I was not finished just yet. I still had to use my post-shave balm, mint and honey? Yes, please! It really was as good as it sounds, it smelled even better than the gel and that’s saying something. Apart from the wondrous scent that was floating up my nostrils like a freshly-baked, Disney pie, the actual quality of the product was incredible. It was like a really good moisturiser that hydrated my skin without making it look oily and also reduces any post-shaving redness.

Everyone feels better when they take care of their appearance and I’m no different. A good, quality shave can make you feel so much better about yourself and that’s what you get with Cornerstone. The best thing about it is how affordable and convenient it is, through the subscription service as a non-regular shaver I would receive a box every 18 weeks containing:

  • Pre-Shave face scrub – £5
  • Shave gel/Foam – £6
  • 6 Razor blades – £14
  • Post-shave balm – £5

Total = £30

and you can design your box to what suits your own needs. I’m definitely a fan of the product and I recommend it to any other guys who don’t want to spend over the odds on shaving products but still want to use quality products.

Conclusion

The products are of a great quality, the razor isn’t heavy and the head is flexible. The pre-shave scrub is great for cleansing pores, the gel isn’t overly soapy and messy and the post-face balm is incredibly soothing.

We always hear horror stories with regards to subscriptions and I am the probably the most sceptical person when it comes to subscribing because it can be a nightmare to leave. However, with Cornerstone, there’s no commitment and you can cancel at any point making it all about the customer. You design your own box, you arrange when you want it delivered, you arrange when you want to pause your subscription, it’s all completely on the customer’s terms which helped put me at ease. If I didn’t believe in the subscription service, I wouldn’t recommend it.

I recommend you should at the very least sign up for this product and at least try it once, if you don’t like a certain product, you can remove it from the subscription. For the price of it, there’s no harm in at least giving it a try.

 

Jay Carrington

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My Night at the Chinese State Circus

As a young adult, the circus hasn’t really appealed to me since the age of 5. My faintest memories of the circus often involve big clowns on small bikes and even a clown riding an elephant. To a child, bright lights, and funny noises was entertaining but now as an adult, it is concerning especially due from an animal cruelty perspective so I was obviously a little bit apprehensive when I received an invite to attend the Chinese State Circus in Edinburgh.

However, with me being assured there were no animals involved with the circus, I decided to attend my first ever circus show in about 18 years  filled with a sense of intrigue, curiosity and excitement.

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As soon as I got out the car my excitement continued to grow, friends, families, lovers, old, young, so many different groups of people of all different backgrounds were arriving and clearly excited for the show which seemingly rubbed off on me. I mean I’ve been in a lot of tents but never a tent this colourful or this size!

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When I got inside the tent, I realised I was super early and there was a pop-up bar hosted by local gin brand (Minus) -33 dishing out the drinks. I mean, I’m a good guy, I do like to promote my local brands so it would be rude not to have a G&T with Elderflower… or 5!

I received a goodie bag with a Chinese State Circus book inside, a bag of popcorn and my pass for the evening. Since I hadn’t eaten all day, my hunger got the better of me and the popcorn was finished before anyone could take a picture. However, now with a belly full of popcorn, I managed to relax and read my new book…

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and make some new friends…

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After partaking in some pre-show shenanigans, I went off to take my seat still unsure about what to expect – but the G&T’s definitely loosened me up! But it wasn’t long before I was captivated by what was going on in front of my eyes.

There was a girl juggling parasols using her feet, a team of people juggling hats and doing tricks all in perfect synchronicity, Shaolin Warriors that terrify and entertain in equal measure, men somersaulting through small hoops at a ridiculous height and so much more.

By this point, I was hooked but sadly an interval was called so I made the most of my break and treated myself to some traditional circus food – Candy floss! I even topped up my glass of G&T whilst mingling with the other guests. Everyone I spoke to was on the same wavelength as me – unsure to begin with but completely sold on the show and the performance.

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It wasn’t long until I was being ushered back to my seat and prepare myself for Part 2 of the show. The show got even better in the second half where a female team was foot juggling with drums and a Bicycle act that featured a lot of girls and a lot of bikes that completely blew me away, the way they interchanged bikes and positions and on such a  small stage, performed with so much elegance. Truly amazing!

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Then came the headline act, at this part I started to wonder  “how else could this get better?” I mean what more could they physically do? The final act went above and beyond. Two people in a big, rotating, metal cylinder would entertain me enough. However, when they started to climb on to the outside, start skipping and doing flips it very nearly gave me a panic attack, It was definitely one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed!IMG_0597.JPG

WHAT A NIGHT! A circus, something I had viewed negatively for many a year has given me an incredible night and has truly changed my perception on circuses. The circus is currently still performing dates around the UK, with tickets still available here. I fully recommend that you at least try and get along to a show and you will definitely not be disappointed. In case my words aren’t enough, check out the trailer for the Dynasty Tour yourself.

After a wonderful night, I want to thank Phil MacHugh at Skapa PR for the invite and for being a great host and also my friend & Foe-tographer Sophie Grosvenor for the pictures – where you can catch some of her other pictures here.

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Jay Carrington

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Ryan Lawrie: ‘If Only’ Single Review

I often find when someone leaves a boyband their debut single is quite different to the music they had been churning out whilst in a group. Could you imagine NSYNC singing “Cry Me A River”? or One Direction performing “PillowTalk”? When artists break away and go solo, 90% of the time it is to be an artist in their own right and have more creative control over their music and just like Timberlake and Malik,  Lawrie looks to be doing the same. 

At 19 years of age, Ryan is now releasing this single, not as a former viral sensation, nor a former boy band member but as a true musician. In this song, he has taken several steps away from the clean-cut image that has been so carefully carved for him over the years of performing to a young audience. With his image and sound edgier and darker than before he has evolved from just another pretty boy singer into a credible artist in his own right.

If Only is the lead single from Ryan Lawrie’s currently untitled EP which is due to be released around late SpringThe song that makes this song so great is its originality. Usually within songs, you can hear a major influence from one genre and people will say that sounds like an *insert artist* song, this song doesn’t do that from one in particular. Although it is a solid pop song it edges on the more experimental, edgier side of pop rather than the watered-down bubblegum we have come to expect from people who tend to be just under the surface in order to achieve chart success. A bold move but one that pays off as his creativity and talent shines through on this delightful funky pop track

His fans that have followed him since the beginning will be able to identify his vocals in amongst the unique and exciting mix of plucky guitar riffs, funky bassline and the use of bongos. The only thing that remains his from his boyband past is his crisp, boyband vocals that blend incredibly well with the instruments and will surely appease his original fans. What shines through the most on the track, isn’t the solid vocal performance, or the killer musical production, it’s the songwriting. This song proves Ryan Lawrie can not only pen a catchy pop song but he has an eye for a killer hook as the chorus proves.

“If Only” gets released on the 26th February and you can pre-order it here. The song is Ryan Lawrie’s lead single from his as yet untitled EP which is set for a Summer release.

Verdict

9.5/10

Original, catchy and has an infectious chorus that will lead to an instant singalong. Put it this way, if Justin Bieber released this song then he would have a certain number 1 on his hands. I hope this song gets the support, airplay and success it certainly deserves.

 

 

Saira Shoes Fashion Event

I got invited to attend an event in Shoreditch, London for Saira Shoes to check out their new collection Hmmm… Should I go to a night of cocktails and canapes in London toon surrounded by fancy footwear? Try and stop me!

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Saira is an independent shoe brand that is based in the UK that specialises in designing quality female footwear. Their designs are heavily influenced by the likes of Asia with the use of materials from the likes of India with a unique blend of modern and traditional styles. Saira design a  whole range of footwear such as loafers, boots, casual flats, sandals and more.

The night got off to a bit of a disaster, as I keep forgetting how bad London is regarding traffic especially between 6-7pm. Although the Uber app said the journey should take 35 mins from my hotel to venue, it took me 35 minutes to go round the corner. At this point, my trusted sidekick advised we hop out and just get the tube.

30 minutes, 2 trains, a London underground battle with the public, a much-needed toilet break and a hunt for a very discreet bar we finally arrived at the venue.

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The Ninety Eight bar  is a lovely venue, with a spiral staircase leading down to the bar. As soon as I got to the bottom I was swiftly greeted and escorted through into this cosy little back room. The room had a mummified theme with the benches and statues being wrapped up I get greeted with friendly faces, a Bellini cocktail and vegan spring rolls. What more could you ask for? Time!

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There is nothing worse than having your hands and mouth full while someone is trying to introduce themselves and you’re stood there chewing your 500th bit of chicken satay. However, I did meet some lovely people when I was here and it was great to be surrounded by such incredibly talented people.

 

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“why did the chicken cross the road”

 

The SS16 collection was an incredible display with a whole range of footwear on show

Although they are not my footwear I would normally wear I did spot my personal favourites. Since I love chelsea boots, I looked across the other side of the room and it was love at first sight. Arguably one of the most stunningly designed boots I had ever came across. Silver boots with a fancy golden patterned design. Everywhere I go I always see boots and they are either black or brown, leather or suede boots but just plain with no designs. Lately, I’ve been getting bored of wearing the same plain boots so when I saw these, I had to admire them and if these were available in a size 11 I would have definitely grabbed myself a pair.

Jay Carrington

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My Session With AG Fitness Trainng

Due to my “Get Fit” resolution highlighted in my diary last week, I decided to turn to Andy Graydon, one of Scotland’s finest PT’s. Since Andy is based in Glasgow and so am I, it seemed only fair that I paid him a visit.

I got in about 30 minutes early and sat down and observed a Crossfit class that looked simply terrifying. While they were doing what seemed like 997867868676576 pull-ups and 18 minutes of kettlebell(ing?) and skipping – a workout that would send a shiver down the spine of even the most hardened athletes. I contemplated running away as I imagined myself trying to do one pull-up and not even getting off the ground while everyone in the gym gave me a wedgie each, which would be labelled under “#LADGymBantz”

Finally, they finished and Andy came over, introduced himself and put my mind to much-needed rest. He talked me through what I was going to be doing and made me  sign some forms – nothing major, just that if I died then my family couldn’t sue them, no biggie.

My workout was fun but tiring, I’m used to going to the gym by myself, putting on my headphones and zoning out but there is something incredibly enjoyable about having regular “gym bantz” rather than just silence. I often find going to a gym alone can be a rather tedious and boring affair but when you have someone next to you who you can have a laugh with and generally have a good chat it can be a much more enjoyable experience.

 

Post-workout pic

 

Workout

We did a 5 minute warm-up on the rowing machine. Followed by a little bit of shoulder mobility work with a resistance band.
We started off the resistance training with a bench press. the bar was 20kilos
then we had 5kg each side, so a total 30Kg.
After that we went on to single arm kettlebell rows, using a 12kg kettlebell.
We then finished up with the battle ropes and a stretch.

Verdict

 9/10

It was a great experience and taught me exercise can be an enjoyable social experience rather than just a lame workout. Anyone can tell you to “do exercises and get fit” but the way Andy talked me through each workout and explained why we were doing it and what we were doing was beneficial. Andy’s personality and knowledge gave this such a strong rating. I would have made it 10 since it was the most fun I’ve ever had doing exercise. However, it is still exercise… *minus 1 point*

You can check out Andy’s website here, Facebook here and also his Twitter here. If you’re like me and need to get back in shape to have a sexy 2016 then make sure you get in contact with him!

 

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Jelly Bear – Healthy Bear Review

Jelly Bear is one of the finest dessert parlours in Scotland and has gained a stellar reputation for its quality sweet treats. Everyone loves eating waffles, cakes and ice cream, but they have realised – as we all do at the beginning of a new year – that health is also important. Introducing: Healthy Bear.

Healthy Bear is the exciting new launch of this healthier alternative sister company to Jelly Bear, the perfect way to usher in a new year and help you stick to your weight-loss resolution. No longer will you have to look all over for quality, tasty, reasonably-priced, healthy food before deciding to head to your nearest Greggs and feeling disappointed with yourself because you chose a lukewarm sausage roll over something healthy because you didn’t want to pay £10 on a salad.

As soon as I stepped foot inside the building the decor is unlike many of the usual sweets and treats stores which usually leave you trapped in confined spaces on uncomfortable wooden chairs and awkwardly touching the person next to you. This was a spacious, modern building that instantly seems inviting  – imagine if the Apple store sold food instead of technology. This is how these sort of stores should be, fun and friendly. I mean, they even had beanbags to relax on!

I then looked over the menu, each item looking as appealing as the next. I don’t know whether it was because they all looked so good but it taken a good 10 minutes for me to decide what to order as I sank further into my beanbag before opting for the “Red Thai Chicken wrap” a braised chicken breast with Thai herbs, spices and coconut milk. A delightful meal, not overly spicy but yet full of flavour. I find healthier meals often leave my stomach unsatisfied and leaves me feeling hungrier than before I ate but this freshly-made bite left me feeling full and content.

I washed all this down with a strawberry, banana and pear smoothie. I can’t lie, it looked horrendous it actually looked like porridge. However, my mum taught me to never judge a book by its cover, so I went for it. You know how looks can be deceiving? Well, this was one of them. Really sweet, not too thick that it takes years just to drink it through a straw and not too thin that it tastes like flavoured water. I sometimes find a lot of places sweeten their smoothies so much you can actually feel your teeth disintegrating, with this smoothie you taste a lot more of the various blends of fruit rather than consume the usual diabetes in a cup we have often come to expect.

 

Verdict: TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY

  1. Healthy
  2. Delicious
  3. Affordable
  4. Relaxing Atmosphere
  5. Lovely Venue

Those 5 points should be the reason why you should head along to Glasgow’s new hottest and healthiest venue. If you are like me and you know come next week your “New year, new me” slogan will be firmly in the bin, you’ll never see the inside of a gym again until the week before you head off on holiday in the Summer and you’ll be back timing yourself to see how quick you can eat 20 chicken nuggets, then fear not. While your “never eating unhealthy again” may be a thing of the past there is no reason why you still can’t eat tasty food whether you are on a diet or not.

At least this way you can have a delightful, healthy lunch and then you can justify turning into Stewie afterwards…