Wednesday 18 February 2015

DW Fitness - 40 days of fitness challenge

DW Fitness Clubs have challenged me to 40 days of fitness, which starts today and runs up until the 5th April.

They want to inspire as many people as possible to strive to improve their fitness levels, and for those who are already trying to be fighting fit and healthy, they want us to shake up our fitness regimes to keep it fresh and interesting.

They've got PT Lee Pickering, a personal trainer at DW, and Courtney Berlin, a certified health coach on board to keep us all motivated and inspired.

The challenges are fitness and food related (how could I say no?!), and today's challenge is;

In my personal workout plan for today, I'm already going to be doing 20 minutes of HIIT interval training on the treadmill as well as a cross fit style class that my gym puts on, so instead I'm going to opt for a 20 minute walk on my lunch break - it's far too easy for your lunch hour to slip away from you whilst you burrow away at your desk, and I'm definitely guilty of taking one look at the grey clouds outside and staying in - even though I know that getting some brisk fresh air really does clear my head and rejuvenate me for the afternoon!

Hopefully by making myself get off my arse and outdoors, I'll feel a lot better for it!

I'm going to be posting quite a bit about this challenge, so check back here to see how I'm getting on - or if you'd like to join in, get in touch with me and I'll share that days' fitness challenge! I'll aim to post the challenges on here once a week so you've got them for the week ahead. You can adapt them to make them as hard or as easy as you need, depending on your current fitness level and workout schedule. The most important thing is that it gets you consciously thinking about getting fitter.

Here are Thursday and Friday's challenges:

When I squat I usually use a 20kg barbell, but tomorrow I think I'll challenge myself to go heavier..

The hashtag to follow is #FitnessRevolution, and keep your eye on their blog for more on the 40 day challenge.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Buckwheat Pancakes

These pancakes are the real deal, eat your heart out David Dickinson kind of Real Deal.

They crisp up perfectly and crunch just like 'traditional' pancakes (especially around the edges), and yet the soft, squidgy texture retains gooey syrup giving you a pancake fix that is spot on.

Makes 3 - 4 pancakes (depending on your pan and ladle size)

100g buckwheat flour
1 egg
1 heaped tablespoon Indigo Herbs banana powder*
1/2 cup almond / soy / oat / whatever milk

Whatever you like!
I used; 
Frozen raspberries
1/2 banana
85% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Dessicated coconut
100% maple syrup
Lemon juice

Mix your flour and eggs together, and once whisked, slowly add in your milk. If the mixture isn't whipping into a thin, liquid like form, add some water and beat until you've got a loose mix, like traditional pancake batter.

Heat up a pan with some coconut oil, and when smoking hot, ladle away!
Flip it once or twice, making sure it's cooked (it should need about 1 - 2 minutes each side).


*You might have seen from this post on my Instagram - the guys at Indigo Herbs sent me an amazing sports supplement package including hemp protein, beetroot powder, banana powder, spirulina and other things, so look out for a few more posts featuring these products! These were sent to me to review, so you'll get my honest opinion. Banana powder = so far, so good; tastes lush!

Monday 16 February 2015

Top 3 Food Prep Tips

Without a doubt prepping your meals in advance is one of, if not the, easiest ways to maintain a healthy diet throughout the week.

Here are my top three food prep tips that get my tupperware in a tizz each week....


There's nothing worse than trying to squeeze something else into your already crammed regime, so finding the time for food prep can be hard, but it's so worth the commitment.

If you can, try and dedicate half an afternoon, a morning, an hour- whatever you can, to preparing your food for the week or next few days ahead.

I'll always try and dedicate a couple of hours on a Sunday to making the majority of my food for the week ahead. Usually, I'll make a huge mixed vegetable quinoa risotto (or some carb-based affair that I can have with either fish, meat (occasionally), or feta for lunch). I'll also cook things like salmon fillets in bulk and store them in the fridge for the week ahead, or a veggie chilli that I can then freeze and take out as and when I need it.

I'll also make breakfast granola, raw energy balls, oat tray bakes and hummus etc. These are well easy to make as you just literally chuck everything in an oven or food processor and get on with something else for 10 - 20 minutes.

If I don't have the time on a Sunday, I'll prep for the next day as I cook my dinner. So, I'll cook double the salmon and keep half for lunch, and team it with leftover brown rice, avocado and spinach. Or, just juggle two pans and make something different - as long as it takes a similar time to cook as my tea, I'm happy.


It's often cheaper to buy things like a whole chicken, a huge salmon fillet (which you can then slice into lunch-time fillets) etc to cook for the week ahead rather than buying one or two fillets. To team with these, like I said above I'll make a huge concoction of quinoa and veg, brown rice and veg, buckwheat pasta, a bulgur wheat or pearl barley risotto and split it up into portions for the next few days.

Don't scrimp 

I used to hurriedly throw my lunch together the night before, hastily chucking in a handful of salad leaves, a few cherry tomatoes, a tin of dry tuna and some avocado (if I was lucky), and smugly congratulate myself on making such a healthy lunch.. even though I knew full well at the time it wouldn't satisfy me! It meant that nine times out of ten I'd nip out to the shops to buy something (usually unhealthy) to help fill me up. Nicht good.

Always prepare your food with time and thought - it will make it so much nicer for future you the next day! Spice things up with home-made dressings, spices, herbs and most importantly, don't scrimp on portion sizes! Be realistic about how hungry you're going to be come 1pm, and remember to take plenty of nuts / fruit / homemade snacks to keep you going through the day.
  • Make time
  • Bulk cook
  • Don't scrimp on taste, portion size or quality

I hope you've found these tips useful, let me know if you've got a food prep essential you swear by!

Image credits:

Monday 9 February 2015

Homemade Granola

If you're anything like me, you'll agree that there's arguably no better breakfast than a chunky, crunchy Granola. If you're also *that way* inclined (that way being a health conscious eater), you'll know how rammed full of sugar, hydrogenated oils and processed crap can be found in shop bought varieties.

Here's my clean, homemade version - it's sweet, crunchy, nutty, fruity and so filling... and ridiculously easy to make!! It's perfect food prep as you can make a huge batch, keep it in an airtight container and dip into it every day for a quick and easy breakfast.

This makes about 6 or 7 servings (depending on your portion size preference!)

You'll need....

100g organic oats
100g almonds
50g walnuts / pecans / cashews (whatever you fancy)
50g goji berries
100g raisins
30g chia seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons raw coconut oil
2 or 3 tablespoons 100% maple syrup (agave syrup or honey would work too).

Put the oven on 180. Wash your hands and place all the ingredients (except the coconut oil and the maple syrup), in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, rub in the coconut oil and pour the syrup over the oats and nuts - it's sticky and gooey (but secretly really fun!), and once you're happy that the mixture has been thoroughly mixed up and coated in oil, transfer to an oven dish and bake for fifteen minutes, until the granola is golden brown and crisp. You might want to take it out a couple of times and stir the mixture about...

It's lush with almond / soy milk, but equally as nice with Greek yoghurt, fresh blueberries and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Baked Eggs in Pepper

This recipe is soo easy to make and offers an ideal solution for a quick brunch or light lunch.

You just need two eggs and either one large pepper, or two smaller ones.

Chop across the pepper in half, not down from top to bottom, but around the pepper, so that you have two bowl shapes. Deseed and get rid of the stalk.

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until soft. Crack an egg into each pepper bowl, and pop back in the oven for 3 - 5 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs cooked.

I served mine with some watercress and tomato dressed in apple cider vinegar with feta, but it would work well on its own, or paired with a chicken breast too.


Sunday 1 February 2015

Meeting Deliciously Ella (& making her Nut-Ella)

Last Wednesday, Waterstones held a Q&A and book signing to celebrate the launch of Ella Woodward's first book, and I was there with bells on. I was lucky enough to snag myself a copy of the book, and have spent the last few nights pouring over the recipes and trying to put some sort of order on which concoctions I'm going to make first.

Listening to Ella's story was truly inspiring. She's got a great philosophy and her passion and genuine enthusiasm for eating right comes across in a chatty, lovely manner. Something I loved the most about the evening was throughout, Ella is constantly telling people to adapt recipes to suit them - if you want to add fish to a curry, great. A side of eggs, feta, chicken or beef, go wild... Just because she's a vegan, it doesn't mean your recipes have to go without, if that's what you fancy.

It was a great evening, and health blogger Pamela did a fantastic job interviewing Ella!

(Love my 'ohmygod it's ella' face)

I've made a few of her new recipes, but one of my favourite so far absolutely has to be her Cacao and Hazelnut butter (aka, Deliciously Nut-Ella).

I don't really know how to describe this other than saying it's fan-bloody-tastic. It (obviously) tastes like Nutella, but without that sticky, fake feeling.

I adapted her recipe to make a smaller batch.

I used;

200g hazelnuts
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
70ml 100% maple syrup.

Roast your hazelnuts in the oven for 10 minutes. The recipe said that you needed a really strong processor to blend the nuts, so I roasted mine for 20 minutes to soften them more, as I'm still playing around with my processor (is it lame to say best Christmas present ever?! Thanks M & D!) and didn't want to break it. It turns out I'm pretty crap at remembering to set timers, and circa 25 minutes later, I remembered they were still in the oven... the outer shell had burnt on loads of the nuts, and so for the next ten minutes, I de-shelled all of the nuts (yep, all of them) and discarded any burnt ones. Safe to say it was the most exciting ten minutes of my life.

Anyway. Blend for a few minutes, then add in your cacao and maple syrup. Once all three ingredients have blended, slowly pour in 100ml of water.


(Because I'd overcooked the hazelnuts, a slight bitter burnt taste did unfortunately come through on some mouthfuls, and reminded me a bit of coffee beans - it didn't ruin it, but it'll definitely taste so much better next time when I pay attention to oven timings!!)

I served mine on Biona rye bread, and I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't eating it right now out of the jar...

Bar San Juan, Chorlton

Turning up at a popular tapas restaurant that doesn't take bookings at 8pm on a Saturday night probably isn't the quickest way to get your dinner...

Luckily the atmosphere inside San Juan is buzzing; authentically Spanish (a little crazy and crowded), taking you a world away from the icy winter wind merely on the other side of the door.

Whilst we waited (they'd quoted us an hour and a half, we were seated within the hour which was ideal), we had two pints of Spanish beer to 'limber up' in time for the feast.

Our little round table quickly became stacked with dishes and plates; from memory I think we ordered:

  • Olives (so buttery, d-lish)
  • Toasted bread with (the most incredible) olive oil and herbs

  • Whitebait - crisp n' crunchy for the win (really really salty - goes well with the beer)
  • Lamb parcels with a sweet 'jus' for dipping 
  • Meatballs in tomato sauce 
  • Patatas bravas with a spicy tomato sauce
  • Quails egg perched on top of ciabatta with a chorizo paste. Yep... Heaven.

The other great thing is how reasonably priced everything is - dishes are about £3-4 each on average.
We also got a top notch bottle of Tempranillo for £13.95,

It's messy food. So would be a funny first date territory. And you might have to share a table with another couple, but it all adds to the fun (and food envy).

I didn't take my big cam, so these are all taken on my phone, and as you can guess it was pretty dark in there, so sorry if some of the pictures are a bit blurred. It doesn't do the food justice really, which essentially means you have to visit now.

Well worth it, I cannot wait to go again...
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