Sunday 21 June 2015

Quinoa Flake Porridge - The Verdict

I am a massive fan of porridge and have heard people banging on about quinoa porridge for ages and so naturally I was inquisitive.

I bought some quinoa flakes from my local health food shop, Unicorn Grocery, in a bid to try it out for myself and see what all the fuss is about:

Granted, it doesn't look amazingly appetising. But then, when has porridge ever look sexy?

More importantly than looks, what does it taste like?

I'll be honest, it's got more of an earthy taste, not unpleasant at all but not what I was expecting for the first time - it's definitely a taste I can see myself getting used to. I added chopped dates to my porridge to sweeten it up; date syrup, maple syrup or honey would work well here too.

The consistency was in line with my usual oaty mess, and it cooked in exactly the same way as 'normal' porridge, which I was happy about.

What are the benefits of using quinoa over oats? 

It's a great alternative for people who are gluten intolerant, as it doesn't contain any gluten. Quinoa is a 'pseudo cereal'; a seed to you and me, and is related to the spinach & beetroot family. It is one of few plant protein sources to contain all the essential amino acids.

Although it does have a relatively high protein content (14g per 100g), it's also carb heavy too (around 60g per 100g) - it will fill you up a treat. It also contains iron, magnesium & calcium.

The cost may put you off - I think I paid around £5 for 500g of flakes, whereas the same in oats would set you back about £2.

As a half way house you could always add 15g oats & 15g quinoa flakes if you are unsure.

Recipe below:

30g quinoa flakes
250ml unsweetened almond milk

Handful dates, pitted
Frozen blueberries
Frozen raspberries
Dessicated coconut
Half a banana
Tablespoon almond nut butter (I use Meridian)
Tablespoon flaxseeds

Measure your quinoa flakes and almond milk and put in a saucepan, heat gently for 5 - 10 minutes, adding in the cinnamon & stirring frequently, until the porridge has reached your desired consistency. Add the dates (or syrup) in here too if you are using them.

Take off the heat and stir the berries & dessicated coconut through. Pour into a bowl and top with banana, flax & nut butter.

Overall, I really enjoyed it - I'm definitely going to be cooking this for breakfast more.

My next challenge is to incorporate quinoa flakes into an overnight oats recipe...

Saturday 20 June 2015

Paprika Salmon & Lime Swiss Chard

This is a great meal option if you're after a low carb, high protein lunch or light dinner. The salmon & hemp are full of essential fatty acids, omega 3 and protein, the pumpkin seeds offer magnesium & zinc, Swiss chard is packed with vitamin K, E and protein, plus the tomatoes give you loads of vitamin C and A.

It tastes so summery and if you leave the salmon to crisp up a bit too it goes perfectly with the sweet tomatoes.

To serve one you'll need;

1 salmon fillet
2 large handfuls Swiss chard
A dozen or so vine ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon shelled hemp (I use Linwoods)
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1/2 lime
Salt & pepper to season

Dust your fillet with paprika and put in the oven at 180 degrees. I set a timer for 20 minutes as I wanted it to be really crispy. When there is about 5-7 minutes left on your timer, pop the tomatoes in the oven too. Wash two generously sized handfuls of Swiss chard and place in a steamer.

Once the chard is wilted, serve on your plate and squeeze the juice of half a lime over it.

Place the salmon over the chard with the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the hemp and pumpkin seeds on top. Voila!


Sunday 7 June 2015

Brunch @ The Yard, Alderley Edge

After our Barrecore workout, Sarah and I were in need of one thing. Brunch. The Yard is somewhere I'd set my heart on trying; one of those places you desperately hope lives up to your expectations because you've been wanting to go for so long..

Compared to London, Manchester seriously lacks health food restaurants, although it's slowly catching up and The Yard is arguably the leader of the pack.

The atmosphere is chilled and homely. Set in a huge converted barn type building, you feel like you are in a big, but cosy, farm (a glamorous farm at that). It's been tastefully restored with whitewash walls, oversized oak tables and an open kitchen - always a winner with me. There's a shop tucked on to the restaurant selling super foods, local produce, crockery & cook books (aka foodie heaven) and it took some willpower not to splurge! It has a friendly cafe feel to it; you take a seat, choose what you want and order at the till.

We managed to squeeze in in time for the breakfast menu (it stops at 11.30 FYI), and the food is incredibly reasonably priced - I had organic poached eggs, seasonal greens (lots of asparagus and a huge portion of wilted spinach) and rye bread and it set me back all of, wait for it, £4.50(!!) Amazing. Sarah had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon & sourdough toast, which equally looked d-vinee. We both chose Matcha Lattes with coconut sugar - a winning combination.

The rest of the menu looked incredible too, I think it's safe to say I'll be heading back soon to sample what's on offer for lunch if this is anything to go by:

If you haven't been yet, you must - you'll love it. I absolutely can't wait to go back, and I hope that more restaurants in Manchester take a leaf out of The Yard's book!


Saturday 6 June 2015

Barrecore @ Alderley Edge

On Saturday morning I made my way to Alderley Edge with Sarah to give Barrecore a try.

It's been all over my Instagram feed recently and I've been intrigued to give the ballet / pilates inspired workout a go - I was particularly interested to see what it would do for me given my notorious inflexibility..!

The Barrecore website says it's a "low impact, full body interval training programme using isometic exercises alternated with stretching." 

You use your own body weight for resistance, as well as incorporating small weights with high reps to overload the muscle, then stretched out.

As someone who likes to think of themselves as a girl not afraid to lift heavy, I was a little apprehensive about the small weights given out. Well, how cocky that was. After (many) multiple reps using these 'small' weights, my arms and core were on fire, the burn was real.. it's changed how I think about small weights that's for sure!

I used to do ballet / pointe when I was younger, although stupidly gave it up thinking I was too 'cool' (stay classy, Katie), so I was really excited to use a bar again! Needless to say I did not look cool on this bar, with my stubborn, inflexible legs giving it all they had to work against me.

It did however, mean that I worked myself really hard, using muscles I hadn't engaged in a looong time, and on several occasions my legs were literally shaking uncontrollably (much to mine and Sarah's amusement).

There was ab work after (killer), and a chilled savasana to round off which was perfect.

At the start of the class, our lovely teacher Emily warned us about the shakes, and I half heartedly laughed it off. It is no joke, kids. I still feel a bit jelly-like now, hours after the class...

Overall - I loved it. I'd definitely be up for it again, it seems like the perfect workout to throw into your weekly mix to balance out any heavy lifting or intense HIIT.


Monday 1 June 2015

Spinning with Sweaty Betty @ The Spin Factory

Last Tuesday I was invited by the lovely team at Sweaty Betty Manchester for a spin class at the recently opened Spin Factory on New Bailey Street. I'd been to the launch and heard great things about the classes from a good friend who's already got through a fair few rounds of credits, so I couldn't wait to give it a go! 

We did a 45 minute spin class which focused on sprints, hill climbs, core stability and improving your spinning technique. The class was challenging and the instructor (I feel bad as I've totally forgotten his name!) was really encouraging and got us all pumped up, not to mention glamorously sweaty.

The atmosphere is great and really gets you in the mood to work hard; bright neon lights and loud music are a winning combination although I wouldn't go if I had a headache haha. 

They also offer Wattbike classes which are tailored for keen cyclists or those who really want to hone in on their spin skills and offers a more intensive, personal session without music. I'd be up for trying this too (but perhaps after a few more regular spin sessions!)..

There's a launch offer on at the moment where you can buy 60 credits for £30, usual cost is £60. You can find all the details on their website.

It was a great evening and especially nice to finally meet Sarah from That Squat Bot, as well as being introduced to Emily from The Health Cave (both a pair of babes) - bring on the next meet up! 

Thank you Sweaty Betty; I'll definitely be back to the spin factory.
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