Sunday, 20 January 2013

Weekend Round-Up

*Snow (where else could I start?)
Seeing snow making the world pure, covering it with its white blanket makes me go all goeey and smiley when I'm walking through a pretty wood or park. Yesterday I was walking around with a silly grin on my face the whole time.

Seeing snow when I'm running for the train, or along the long, now treacherous road to work makes me cry. I'll be enjoying it for the rest of the weekend, but please stop by Monday.

S has gone skiing (lucky him) so now I'm all alone in the flat. At the moment, I'm not great at just being with myself. I need to keep myself occupied at every moment during the day to feel ok. But this morning, I woke up extremely late and came into the living room, made myself a coffee and some porridge and plonked myself on the warm, squishy settee to watch a bit of BBC 1's 'Big Questions'. Bliss. Being alone is alright sometimes...However, I still need a plan to keep me on track, so forgive me for sharing my boring plan, but here goes:

AM- go to town to buy an alarm clock (so scared that my phone won't work and I'll be late for work!) treat myself to a Costa coffee and finish my book ('Love in the Time of Cholera' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez if you're asking).

PM- work

I want to finish up by 7ish so that I can have a quick bath and watch a bit of trashy tv.

My diet has been pretty rubbish lately, which is partly why I've not blogged much. I've been running on lots and lots of sugar. Sugary coffee and biscuits and fruit. I realised I need to get back to healthy when I was buzzing around work, literally not able to sit down at lunchtime, and then practically fell asleep at 4pm. These highs and lows are not great, as much as I enjoy the instant highs.

Yesterday I was healthier, back to 3 healthy meals a day and some snacks, porridge and green smoothies.

I hope you're all having good weekends and are enjoying the snow :)

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A Thoroughly Lazy Saturday

So I'm not usually one for rest and relaxation, but today, this just sort of happened:

I spent the majority of the day in my slobbing clothes- pj bottoms and a hoody. I'm not going to lie, I did quite enjoy it. After a manic first week back at work (which also involved me dressing as an Ancient Greek and making Greek vases out of balloons, shredded newspaper and glue...funfun) chilling out at home wasn't too bad.

I say chilling out at home...I ended up running for 1 hour on the treadmill, going to Sainsbury's to do our weekly shop and a fair bit of baking (for me anyway!) Now we are tidying the house and putting up pictures before settling in to an evening of mulled wine (I 'accidentally' purchased some more at Sainsbury's today...can't use the excuse of using up the Christmas leftovers anymore. However, it was ridiculously cheap, so I had to take advantage) and a film. Not sure which film yet...depends how we feel. Possibly 'Black Swan', but it might be a bit depressing for a Saturday night on the settee.

I had a bit of a weird experience at Sainsbury's today. As I was walking around the aisles, I couldn't for the life of me decide what I wanted to eat. Everything just felt wrong. This is partly due to me being a bit silly yesterday and just snacking all day instead of eating meals (primarily biscuits and fruit). Main meals seemed a bit alien. It was only one day 'off' but it still made me feel a bit lost. I did manage to buy some healthy main meal ingredients for the coming week though, so yay me. I then got asked for ID at the counter, and of course, me being me, I didn't have any with me. Do I look THAT young? I don't know, I think I could pass for a range of ages, from 19-30. Maybe. Luckily, the lady at the counter called her supervisor, who exclaimed 'I've dealt with this young lady before, she's fine'. Has she 'dealt' with me before? I'm not sure, but thanks for the validation lady, and thanks for the (2 bottles of) mulled wine. We shall enjoy it this weekend!

Now on to the baking...

Before I show you the pictures, you must know that I am a lover of all things plain. Just saying.

First up, I made Spelt Scones: 

These contained: spelt flour, butter and caster sugar. That's it. When S cracked into one, he first complained that a) I didn't use 'proper flour' and b) they were still a bit doughy (so undercooked then). But I had a nibble and they suited my tastebuds just fine.

The second was a date and walnut loaf. I'll possibly post the recipe tomorrow, but here is the outcome:

This had more taste than the scones, I'll admit that. It was rather tasty, especially with the addition of a bit of Greek yoghurt.

For lunch I ate this:

Tuna pitta and sweetcorn in a tin. A truly lazy Saturday lunch.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Simple Green Smoothies and Diet Coke

So this post is just a quickie. I'm feeling really tired for some reason (er, could be the 4/5hours sleep per night). I was also supposed to be going out for dinner with S, but he has to work late. These things happen, but it still leaves me feeling a little deflated. This turn of events did, however, leave me with a bit of free time to run. I ran for 30 minutes, which I was planning to do due to tiredness/poorly foot. It was a pretty difficult run and I wasn't particularly in the mood, but I had it in my head that I was going to run for 30 minutes, so run for 30 minutes I did. I'm quite glad that I did in the end.

After my run I made myself a scrummy green smoothie. The lovely Katherine, over at Real Food Runner Blog is doing a seven day green smoothie challenge. I don't drink one everyday, and I'm by no means experimental (yet), but as I made a simple green smoothie tonight, I thought I'd share, as you do ;)

* 1 Banana
*2 handfuls of spinach
*Almond milk
*1 tsp ff yoghurt all blended up in the blender.

....and that's it for my usual smoothie. Simple, but it hits the spot every time. When I'm feeling 'daring', I'll add a bit of protein powder, or flax seeds.

And here it is in all its glory alongside tonight's dinner of a sweet potato, leaves and quorn pieces. Yummy. This photo is a reminder that I definitely need to tidy the kitchen. Slacker.

Ooh, another thing that this photo is reminding me of is diet coke (there's a sneaky bottle in the background, next to the primary school scissors *which I need to put away*). I used to drink litres of the stuff every day, and my consumption was getting a bit out of control. I would wake up at 3am and swig from a bottle that I kept beside my bed. I would NEED to have it on my desk at work to keep me going, or so I thought. Well, I, almost by accident, stopped drinking it on NYE. I didn't drink it for 6 whole days (which is a big thing for me) and then I cracked yesterday. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, and it was getting late, <insert other excuse here> and so I bought a bottle. To my surprise, I found that it didn't really quench my thirst, and I didn't really feel like drinking it all. There is still 1/3 of a bottle left on the counter today. I'm surprised by this (truly; I am-was-a diet coke fiend) but I'll go with the healthy flow. I will still finish the bottle because I can't let a good bit of coke go to waste, but it's good to know that I don't need to buy it.

Speaking of protein powders (before the photo, keep up) I added some of my whey protein powder to my porridge this morning, in the hope that it would keep my energy levels up all morning. I added the chocolate flavour this time, and it tasted fine (if a bit chalky), but my stomach has been irritating me all day. It's made me feel a bit bloated Has anyone else experienced this? It's rather embarrassing! 

O.k, enough of my tummy problems.

Have you been making any interesting smoothies? Can you provide me with some inspiration? 

Thanks for all the helpful comments so far by the way. I feel like I'm getting to know some lovely people :) I respond to comments by hitting the reply button below, so do check for responses. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Today's Eats and Thoughts

First day back at work, and I'm pretty zonked! I've probably mentioned this before, but I wake up at 5.20am, leave the house at 6.15am and return home for 7.30pm. Then I cook dinner and before I know it, it's time for bed. I am fighting against this work-eat-sleep routine and I'm going out  for dinner with friends/S on Tuesday and Thursday. A glass or two of wine will probably (definitely) be consumed.

Anyway, I wanted to ask you your thoughts on Lunch. When I'm at work, I have very little time to eat, say 20 minutes, and so I like to eat something compact that provides lasting energy. So most days my lunch looks like this:

Throughout the day I eat: a protein bar, 2 rice cakes and 2 apples. I've realised that this is probably not enough, as I started to feel a bit weak by 6ish. I felt pretty snacky when I got in, and so I nibbled through some seeds, dried fruit and a rather large prune when I was cooking. 

But I decided to cook! I'm quite proud. When I get home I usually can't be bothered so I just snack or eat a bowl of porridge. 

Tonight's dinner: 

Spicy Veggie Chapatti Wraps...what it is supposed to look like. 

What my version looked like (after we made a quick dash to the shop, realising that we had forgotton the 2 main ingredients, chickpeas and a tin of tomatoes. Duh.)

 And I ate this lot: 


Sweet potato, chickpeas, a tin of tomatoes, curry powder, spinach and Greek yoghurt all mixed up. Pretty tasty, but I'm still not sure it's worth the amount of time it takes to cook. I'm still on the hunt for mega quick healthy meals, for a novice like me (so no Jamie's '15 min' meals...though I am tempted to see if I can meet the challenge).

Thoughts- being sensitive:
So I'm a pretty sensitive soul sometimes (thin skinned?) Today I was talking to someone important to me, telling them what I had eaten during the day. They insinuated that I was boring them and that they were ready to fall asleep. Granted, I guess it can be boring if you're not interested in food/cooking at all, but I felt as though they were saying that I was boring.  I guess they were just trying to move me away from obsessing over what I've consumed onto more interesting topics, and after all, I am not just what I eat despite the popular saying. But meh, I felt a bit hurt. 

I enjoy hearing about food and cooking anyway! 

Hope you're all having good Mondays :) 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Some Cooking Failures! (Experiments?)

So I managed to get out of my 'negative funk' and I'm back to eating 'normally' (whatever that is) and aiming for health. Thanks for the supportive comments, they really do help. Sometimes I need a reality check and good dose of common sense.

With that in mind, and also with it being the last 'free' day before I go back to work, I decided to cook something a little different for breakfast. Over the Christmas period I purchased a veggie cookbook from M&S, so I thought I'd try out a recipe from there. The recipe I went for was museli pancakes. Which leads me on to cooking failure of the day #1. 

 This is what the pancakes were supposed to look like:

This is what mine looked like:

Nowhere near as pretty! I made a few adaptations...for example, I used spelt flour instead of plain and I didn't actually have any muesli so I used some oats and raisins. I'm sure following the actual recipe would have resulted in better tasting pancakes, because let me tell you, mine were not nice. They were a bit too doughy and plain for my liking (and I am a lover of most things plain). Maybe next time I'll try to follow the recipe or not choose one where I am missing the main ingredient!

Cooking failure of the day #2: 

A bit later on I decided to make some kale chips/crisps. I had a quick browse on the internet and it seemed simple enough: place kale on baking parchment, drizzle in olive oil and cook on 180 for 10 minutes. Simple..


...or maybe not so simple. I think the problem here is that they were in the oven for too long, and these 'crisps' tasted of burnt. Not a good taste, I'll admit. I ate the not-so-nice pancakes this morning, but I couldn't be so forgiving of these. Oh well, I'll try again another time. Luckily I don't mind 'failing' when it comes to preparing food for myself, so I can experiment as many times as I like!

I decided to try to run again, and luckily it was ok, though my ankle/calf is still hurting. I just adapted my running style and I now resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame, in a treadmill special. I'm just glad that I managed to run at all. I did 6.3 miles in 1 hour, which again isn't great, but it was an enjoyable run. I'll work on my speed when this blasted leg improves.

In the spirit of enjoying the last day off work, I dragged S along to the cinema and we watched 'Life of Pi'.I really enjoyed the film and got so emotionally involved in the story (anything to do with animals and I'm sucked in. I hardly cry when a human dies in a film, but the moment and animal is even injured, I'm in floods of tears). In the story, one of the characters says that the events told will make you believe in God. My short synopsis won't do it justice, plus I'm feeling lazy, but you can find out more about the film here. (It's also a book by Yann Martell. I read it when it first came out, which feels like a million years ago). It is about a boy who is caught in a shipwreck and ends up in a little boat in the middle of the Pacific with a tiger. He has to learn how to survive the threats of the ocean and of the tiger. Eventually, he 'tames' the tiger and relies on his company to get him through. One of the lines in the film struck a chord with me. Pi's father says to him ''animals aren't emotional. When we look into their eyes and see their souls, we are just looking at our own emotion reflected'' (or something along those lines). When I was younger I had my own little tiger, a cat called Puss Puss. When I hated the world and everyone in it, Puss would come into my room and snuggle with me. I felt that she knew when I was sad, that she could sense it in some way...either way, believing that my cat could 'understand' me in some way provided a lot of comfort in the 'darkness' that I was going through. 

*the next part may contain spoilers*

Towards the end of the story, when he is saved, Pi has to explain his story to some officials who want to find out what happened in the shipwreck. They didn't believe the story he gave, seeing it as a little far fetched. So Pi told them a different story, basically replacing the animals with humans, which was more believable. He asked which story was better, the one with the animals or the one without. The obvious answer is the one with (the previous 2 hours of the film had been devoted to that one, ensuring that we were emotionally invested!) Which one is 'true'...we can't know, the film suggested. Just like religion. We can't 'know' that something is real or true, but some people prefer to believe that there is an afterlife, that they are here for a's a 'nicer story'. Personally, I don't believe in a God. I was brought up as a Catholic, went to a convent school, became an altar server, studied Theology. I tried to believe in God, but there's always been a cynical voice in my head telling me 'you can't really believe that, can you?' I respect other people's religions, but I can't believe. I tried for a while, but now I've settled on trying-to-get-on-with-my-life-and-be-a-nice-person.

Phew, that was long and a bit heavy for a Sunday evening.

After the film we went to Starbucks (I was supposed to be limiting myself to 1 per month to save money, but...oops).

I had a tall caramel frappuccino light, because I felt like having one (and it felt good to just be able to get it without thinking too much about calories etc). 

S went for the rather more healthy option of the lime refresher (or whatever it's called). Water, lime and ice. 
Usually he gets a big ass strawberries and cream frapp (which I always steal a sip from. They are admittedly very good!)


I also popped into Holland and Barratt and picked up these:

I chose these over other powders because they were pretty cheap. They were £9.99 each, but because H&B have a bit of a sale on, I got 1/3 off, so they were £6.66 each. I could have picked up just one, but I was feeling extravagant (and they were cheap!) so I got a strawberry and chocolate flavour. Is this powder any good? Maybe I should've done more research before I bought it, but I'm a bit of an impulsive shopper and did I mention how cheap they were?

Ok, so this post is getting long and waffly now, well done if you made it up to here.

I'm off to make dinner and prepare for work tomorrow :(

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Saturday Jaunt, Eats and Thoughts

 Feeling like I need a bit of structure today, so the format of this post will probably reflect that....sorry if it's a bit wooden.

Today I wore: 

 A shapeless dress with a cat print, though the latter is not very clear in this photo. I seem to have a thing for large shapeless dresses!

I went:

for a little walk with the bf. Can you believe that there are little 'countryside' walks like this in London (well, the outskirts of north London, but it's still London!) My ankle/calf is causing me a fair bit of pain at the moment, and so I am having to refrain from running, which is extremely annoying, but it was lovely to get out and go for a walk. Definitely one of my favourite weekend activities- walking and waffling with the bf. It feels weird calling him the bf, so I will now refer to him as S!

I also had a cheeky Costa. I told myself that I'm allowed one a month, as they are pretty expensive (£2.45 for a small latte) and I'm trying to cut back on my spending a bit this month. Despite this, I didn't regret it! I got a skinny gingerbread latte (1 shot please) as a little 'treat'.

I ate: 

Breakfast: Porridge with unsweetened almond milk in my little Ikea bowl. 

I tried to make quinoa porridge, but I think I must have burnt it or something because it tasted awful! Maybe I'll try again in the future. 

Lunch: Soup/soda bread/salad

 I added some 'Good 4 U' lentil and bean shoots, which I purchased on a whim as it cost the neat and tidy sum of £1. Such as sucker. 

 It was ok. I imagine it'd add a nice bit of crunch to a wrap/filling.

We had lunch quite late, at about 3.30pm. By this time S was feeling pretty weak, but I was feeling fine...which leads me on to my next 'section'.

I thought:
So having a late lunch sparked some alarm bells in my head. As I wasn't feeling hungry, part of me thought 'why bother with lunch, I feel fine', but I know that that is a dangerous slope, that I'd want to restrict more and more. Or even if I didn't restrict, it's that MINDSET that I don't want to enter back into. Luckily I managed to eat lunch (I had some melon for dessert too) and will eat dinner too, but it's that little niggle along with a fear of getting fat. I'm trying to maintain my positive mindset/actions and I'm sure that the niggle will pass (especially once I return to work and I have more pressing things to manage), but I need to be careful. Yesterday I felt I ate too much, so I guess that's why I'm experiencing this mental backlash today.

I also weighed myself for the first time since before Christmas. I think I put on 0.2kg, which is fine. I don't want to get into the habit of weighing myself again.

Sorry for the negativity there (if anyone is reading!) but I wanted to get that out, acknowledge it and try to get back to my positive thinking.

I'm going to have a bath and finish my book (Hermann Hesse's 'Siddhartha') and then have a nice cup of Earl Grey. I sound so old, but this nearly always helps when I'm feeling wobbly (in all ways!)

Tonight's dinner will probably be a sweet potato with a nut butter and kale or something similar. I also purchased some muller light yoghurts, which are FULL of additives, very bad, I know, but I like to freeze them and eat them after dinner. Another 'bad' habit, but one I will permit for this month. It could be worse as far as bad habits go...

Hope your Saturdays are going well  :)

Friday, 4 January 2013

A Little Kitchenware Haul

I've spent most of my day sat at my 'desk' (aka the dining table-my real desk is full of crap. Got a LOT of sorting out to do), mostly procrastinating and getting a little bit of work done in between. This reminds me of my uni days, where I had to force myself to Starbucks or Costa in order to get some work done. The lack of distractions, people milling around and strangely comforting whirring of the coffee machines conspired to enable me to write anything at all and get a degree. Starbucks may not pay tax, but they helped a procrastinating girl to get her essays done. Oh, the unstructured life of an arts student.

But now I'm a grown up it's back to work on Monday, along with 5.20am wake up calls. NOOOO.

Back to the point of this post...I have a little kitchenware 'haul' to share. I have a penchant for quirky/cute kitchen items (even though my bf doesn't, being a lover of order and all things matchy) and am on a little mission to fill my (oops, our) kitchen with them. Some of these things I got for Christmas, some I purchased for an insanely low price at Ikea.

In no particular order: Cake tins from Ikea (3 for under £3...crazy!) 2 little bowls from Ikea, a masher, marshmallow salad spoons, lots of tubberware and 2 glass jars (which were 80P!!! each from good old Ikea).

The cake tins in all their glory. I think they were on sale because they are Christmas leftovers, but they remind me more of gingerbread, in general, despite the trees. Even looking at that gingerbready colour makes me want gingerbread. I don't even like the stuff that much, apart from, maybe, the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop gingerbread, the recipe for which, apparently, hasn't changed since the shop came into existence in Victorian times.When I was at uni (what is it with me and uni nostalgia today?!) I was a member of a hillwalking club, and on our trips to the Lake District we used to go out of our way to buy this delicious crumbly goodness.

I digress....take a look at my marshmallow salad spoons: 

I love how saintly I'd feel plunging these into a healthy salad. Saintly or wrong...can't quite decide which yet. 

A close up of my little bowls from Ikea. I thought these were on sale, but they weren't, so I ended up paying double what I thought I would be (they were only £4, but still, my mind was in bargain mode). I love using the little bowls for yoghurt/nuts/honey/porridge/cake combos/other goodness. 

So that's it for my little kitchenware haul. I'll definitely be making a cake in the next day or two, possibly a date and walnut this space. 

Right, back to the grind. Hope you're all having a good Friday.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Today's Eats

Although I'm not 'officially' back at work yet, I have a fair bit of planning/preparation to do before I return. Sometimes I long for a simple 9-5 clock in, clock out job, but I guess a lot of jobs involve prep. outside of working hours. All of the jobs I want to do do anyway.

So yes, I have spent a large part of my day here, at the 'dining table'

Those are the bf's hands in the background. I persuaded him to work from home so for a bit of company. And I'm happy to say I can sometimes use colouring pencils in my work *true*.

Here's today's eats:

Breakfast: cinnamon pancakes

 Using my new spatula. HOW do people create perfect pancake shapes (ie circles) HOW?! 

Although they're not exactly pretty, they turned out ok in the end. They were pretty yummy and dead simple to make. All you need is 1 banana and 2 eggs, and a bit of cinnamon. Mash the banana, add the eggs and cinnamon and whisk until there are no lumpy bits. Pour into a non-stick pan for a few minutes, flip (which I finally managed to do without creating a massive mess/scrambled eggs-hurrah!) and they're done. 

Lunch: Leftover Moroccan chickpea stew from yesterday: 

I stored it in my cute little London lunchbox. (Can you spot the mulled wine in the background? We have so much to finish from Christmas...I sense more on the menu tonight). 

I also had a jazz apple.

Pre-run I had a green smoothie, made with 1 banana, a handful of spinach, a dollop of yoghurt and a tablespoon of spru-tein banana powder (bananary, just how I like it) and almond milk all blended up in the blender.

I've now just finished a run on the treadmill. I didn't want to push myself tooo far, as I've been sporting a (minor) calf injury, but I seemed to be ok. I ran 6.1 miles in an hour, which isn't wonderful, but it felt wonderful. An easy, longish run was just what I needed.

I am now looking like a cherry tomato, even though I showered. It takes ages for my face to return to its normal colour after running!

On the agenda for tonight: cooking (probably chicken and roasted veggies), catching up with blogs and drinking mulled wine :)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

First Post Hello and Tonight's Dinner!

A picture of my baked bean teatowel, in place of an awkward hello. It's my first post, and I'm not great with knowing where to begin! Still, it's a pretty cool teatowel, no?

So, I've created this blog in order to document what I've been eating, my endeavours with new recipes (I'm pretty much a complete novice/cookophobe in this area) and fitness pursuits. I've been reading several blogs for a while now, and I wanted to jump on the wagon and possibly talk to some other lovely people with the same interests as me.

A little background...

I've had various struggles with my weight over the years. I've been underweight and too-heavy-for-me. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that being at a healthy weight is ok...and to 'reclaim' the word healthy (in my mind) as cheesy as that sounds. In the past, to me, healthy always meant fat. Now I'm starting to see it as a positive thing (duh!) and to embrace it. I am going to have milk with my porridge and a splash of honey instead of 100cal porridge with water! I am going to eat nut butters and healthy fats! (I'm not usually one for liberally scattering exclamations marks around, but they were needed). I want to be liberated from the low calorie mindset and move towards health and hopefully happiness.

In all honesty, I have yet to think about how this relates to my weight...I still don't feel too comfortable in my skin, but I'll work on that. Hopefully, exercise will continue to help me with this. I bought a treadmill and have been running (thought I'd use it more than the gym, as the closest gym is a train ride away) as well as a few fitness dvds. Once the weather is a bit better, I'll start to run outside, but I need to find a good route. I'm terrible with directions, so I'm scared that I'll get lost. Pathetic, I know.

Anyway, I guess my aim for this year is to become 'healthier'; to cook good, nutritious food, to exercise, to LIVE and to document it all on here.

Now for tonight's dinner:

 Ingredients alongside my handwritten recipe (old school) inspired by

Moroccan Butternut and Chickpea Stew
*1 butternut squash, chopped into chunks and roasted
*1 chopped pepper
* 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1 tin of chopped tomatoes with chopped garlic
*1 tin of chickpeas
*4 chopped apricots

Heat the oil, then add the spices followed by all of the other ingredients. Easy! My type of recipe. It reminded me of a chunky Moroccan soup that we sometimes buy from Sainsbos or Waitrose. It was a hit with the bf anyway.

Our chopping board...I like cute kitchen items!

I also added chicken to the dish. If I were to make it again, I would serve it with greens of some sort. 

 And finally, a few photos of me lovingly interacting with a banana smoothie. I don't know about you, but when I read other people's posts, I enjoy seeing a pic or two of them to sort of get more of an idea of what they are like. It makes it feel more personal. Or maybe I am just nosy. 

I'm off to have some mulled wine, trying to get rid of the last before it feels too wrong to indulge in a Christmassy drink.