Friday, March 30, 2012
Happy Friday my friends - sorry to be bringing Hungry Thursday to you a day late this week! I need to be a bit more organised, clearly :)
Yesterday I interviewed Vicky and Anna, two women who are running the Paris Marathon in two weeks, and then running from Paris to London, finishing their amazing challenge with the London Marathon a week later! It is the equivalent of 8 marathons in 8 days and they're doing it all for spinal injury awareness and to raise money for two charities that help people with those injuries. They are really inspiring girls, I think you'll really enjoy hearing their story! I'll be putting that podcast together over the weekend and hopefully it will be ready to share with you early next week.
Also next week, I'll be intensifying my own half marathon training which I've already stepped up over the past two weeks. I was starting to worry about my ability to get through it, having remembered what a bloody long way 21.1km is!! So I started following my old marathon training plan that Julia put together for me last year where I was half marathon ready in six weeks. Let me say, having a plan helps SO much. Rather than winging it on the day and doing whatever I feel like (which, let's be honest, would rarely be more than 10k!), I just look at the plan and off I go. I feel so much more focused and confident - very tired though, as I am following a marathon training plan rather than a half (!), but overall I feel pretty great and the strength and speed work is really helping to build my stamina up again. This morning I ran 18km which was my biggest run in a long, long time and I found it a bit tough but I was really pepped up after talking to Vicky and Anna yesterday so that helped! Who knows, maybe if I keep going with the old plan I'll be marathon ready around June?! ;)
So with that in mind I'll also be fulfilling a reader request next week and doing another Food What I Ate series, that I last did in 2009. Em said she was curious to see what I ate while training for the half, so it will all be on display - every cup of tea, every sneaky biscuit! Should be good fun, I take pictures of my food all the time anyway!
And while we're on that, here's Hungry Friday's recipe! As the title of the post suggests, I foraged for some (well, one!) of the ingredients :)
Last Sunday after a very lovely country pub lunch with the Pethericks and the Wise Ones we went for a walk down to the river and Leonie spotted some wild garlic growing in the nearby woodland. I had never seen any before. The smell gave it away immediately though; it was a lovely and sweet garlicky smell, not off-putting! You can find it growing in most woodland areas near rivers and streams this time of year. It looks really lovely too.
Doesn't look like garlic does it? It's all about the leaves rather than bulbs (although it does have some bulbs that eventually turn into white flowers later in the season).
We picked a nice handful to take home and I wondered what to use it in first - I had so many ideas! Leonie suggested pesto or risotto, but I ended up using it in omelettes, a soup and to make this luscious pasta dish:
You see the green that looks like spinach? That's the wild garlic!
As for the taste, it was just like regular garlic but just a bit more mild and mellow. I really enjoyed cooking with it and hope to find some more. Foraging was great fun! If you give it a go I recommend maybe for your first time going with someone (like Leonie) who knows what they're looking for. I've always been a bit scared of eating things I've found outdoors thanks to many warnings about poison mushrooms and other things that grew in the bush when I was growing up so I would never have noticed the wild garlic if it weren't for her! Apparently wild garlic likes growing near bluebells, so if you see them, you might go home with a handful of wild garlic to make this yummy recipe...
Chilli, tomato and wild garlic spaghetti
A splash of olive oil, or cooking spray
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 large red chilli, finely diced
200g (or 1 punnet) cherry tomatoes, halved
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
A handful of fresh wild garlic, washed (very important when foraging!)
A handful of capers
Salt and pepper
Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Heat the oil or cooking spray in a pan. Add the leek and chilli, fry until soft.
When the pasta has cooked, drain and then add to the pan, together with the tomatoes, lemon zest, wild garlic, capers and most of the lemon juice. Stir for a minute or two until combined and warmed through. Finish with a little more juice if it needs it and season with salt and plenty of black pepper.
Perfect spaghetti for spring!
Of course, if you don't have a reliable local source of wild garlic you can substitute spinach or rocket (arugula) instead. Just also add 2 cloves of regular garlic in with the leek and chilli at the beginning.
Have you ever foraged for ingredients in your local area before? What did you find?
Have a happy weekend!! :)
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I borrowed Yotam Ottolenghi's latest cookbook Plenty from the library on the weekend. Do you guys ever read a cookbook and want to eat absolutely everything in it?! This was one of those :)
I've also been a bit of a Masterchef junkie these past few weeks in the lead up to the final and often wonder how I might cope with some of the Michelin star tasks the contestants have to do. I'd like to think of myself as a good cook but I think my technical skills are not quite up there! I can pull together a tasty meal that looks pretty good if I make the effort, I can make cakes and biscuits, bread and jam, pesto, tomato sauce and mayonnaise (it wasn't a hugely successful attempt I hasten to add!). But I've never made my own pastry after a disaster with shortcrust about 12 years ago, and the only time I have made homemade pasta was aged 10 with the aid of a rolling pin - it was more like boiled bits of dough than pasta! I remember my poor family very gallantly choking it down.
I am trying to add more dishes to my repertoire, especially ones that require a bit more technique, and also do a bit of a 101 Cookbooks style experiment and actually cook the recipes from the cookbooks I read, rather than just devouring them like novels where the main characters are main courses :)
The recipe for surprise tatin in Plenty intrigued me immediately. I had lots of potatoes to use up and some puff pastry in the freezer. There is a caramel at the bottom, like the conventional sweet tarte tatin, and it works surprisingly well with the vegetables. As I'm still going strong with dairy-free, I substituted the goats cheese in the original recipe for mushrooms. Obviously mushrooms don't melt (!) but I've found they work brilliantly where you want a really strong savoury flavour, not unlike cheese. They are now my favourite omelette filling too :)
It's a lovely meal when you feel like having something a bit special - and have a nice bottle of wine to go with it too! Ideal if you're entertaining people who eat dairy free as well! It's so filling too, it only needs a green salad or some simple green vegetables on the side.
Potato tarte tatin
Based on Yotam Ottolenghi's surprise tatin in Plenty
200g sundried tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus cooking spray for the tin
500g potatoes (keep the skins on)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 giant portobello mushroom, or 150g smaller mushrooms, sliced
40g caster sugar
10g dairy free spread (or butter)
Fresh parsley or thyme
1 puff pastry sheet, rolled thinly (I use Jus Rol, which are dairy free)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 25 minutes. Drain and let them cool. Trim the bottom and top of the potatoes and then cut into discs (about 2cm thick). Set aside.
Saute the onion in the olive oil with some salt until brown. Set aside.
Spray a round cake tin (22cm diameter) with cooking spray and line the bottom with baking paper.
In a small pan, cook the sugar and spread/butter on a high heat, stirring constantly, to get a semi-dark caramel. Take it off the heat once it is nearing a dark brown. Mine was very dark (because I turned my back for a minute, bad me!) but it was still fine! So do watch it and if what happens to me happens to you just taste it - if it's too bitter you'll have to start again! But be careful, hot caramel burns like fire.
Pour the caramel into the tin and tilt it to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom. Chop your thyme and/or parsley and scatter evenly over the caramel base. Place a layer of potato slices over the top of the caramel, making sure they are close together. Gently press the sundried tomatoes, onions and mushroom slices into the gaps. Season with salt and pepper.
Take the sheet of pastry and check it will over the tart, with a bit to spare. Roll it a bit if it isn't. Then lay it over the tart filling and gently tuck the edges down around the potatoes.
Bake the tart in the oven for 40 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 2 minutes. Hold an inverted plate firmly over the top of the tin and quickly (but carefully!) turn them over. Lift off the tin and remove the baking paper. Serve hot or warm.
It's one of those dishes you might imagine they would have served up at Café les Deux Moulins in the movie Amélie. So serve up your delicious potato tarte tatin and feel yourself transported to a small Parisian neighbourhood bistro :)
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I got asked this the other day when talking about my upcoming half marathon (less than four weeks now!). Before I started long distance running - well, even when I trained for my first ever half marathon three years ago - I didn't really grasp or embrace the concept of a race plan. Back then, my idea of fuelling during the race was keeping liquorice sticks in my sports bra. I'm sure you can imagine what a mess that ended up making ;) And even though I visited the site of my first half marathon race a few days beforehand, I hadn't really thought about the course itself, and what I might do if I ran into any problems along the way. This thinking had to change radically when I started training for the marathon. Investing so much of myself into preparing for that race, and reading everything I could on the subject, planning how I would actually run the race of my life became just as important as the right shoes, the right fuel and making sure I had my timing chip on tight enough.
So, what is a race plan? Basically it's a detailed plan of how you are going to run the race. It could also cover what you will focus on during it, how you will fuel yourself and how you will manage your strengths, weaknesses and anything else that might happen on the day.
Speaking from experience, having a race plan really helps. When you've invested so much time, energy and effort into training for a big race you want it to go well and you want the whole experience to be as stress free as it possibly can be! So here's my tips for a good race plan:
1. Break the distance down into less scary chunks.
Like a weight loss journey, if you have 30kg to lose and constantly focus on the big number, it can be a bit overwhelming! Last year when I was training for the Big M, I had to build up my distances pretty quickly. I found out I was in the race at the end of January, and my first half marathon was the first weekend of March! I had no idea how I was going to run it, save for just slogging it out and walking when I had to like I had the first time. Instead, Coach Julia broke it down for me into this very manageable, far less scary run:
4 x 5km run with 300m walking breaks in between
A half marathon doesn't sound that bad when broken down that way, does it? :)
It really made sense to schedule in walk breaks for this distance - it kept me going when I was feeling tired, knowing that I could stop at X point. You can do this with any distance you might be running. If you were running a 10k for the first time, for example, you could break it down into 3k chunks, with a 300m walking break in between. It's totally a mind game, but it really does quell the whole I'll never be able to run that far! panic that sometimes sets in. It still does for me, even now. I have done a few 10k training sessions these past few days and it has really hit me just how far a half a marathon is (!) but thinking about it in this way has really helped.
2. Study the course.
Most big events will have a course map available online or as part of your race packet you get beforehand. You might get lucky and get an elevation graph as well which will show you where the hills are! Have a look at the map and think about what parts of it might be challenging for you. How will you deal with these? Think about your strengths and weaknesses as a runner. Do you find the first 3 miles the hardest, and then do you tend to hit your stride after that? Do you tend to hit a wall around mile 8? How will you manage these things you know about yourself as a runner, with the course in mind?
Also, try and check out some of the course if you can. Feeling prepared and knowing where you're going on the day really helps calm those post race nerves!
3. Crowd control.
If it's a huge event, you might find yourself utterly swamped at the start and for the first couple of miles. If you're used to being a lone ranger on your runs along virtually deserted country roads, this might be a bit of a shock! Think about how you might deal with this. The best advice ever given to me was by Ray, the guy from the Loch Ness marathon, who advised me not to panic or waste energy weaving in and out of the crowd. Start slow, be patient and it will eventually thin out and you can make up time then.
|what my fridge looks like at the moment! ;)|
This is so important, especially for a big distance. Have a good breakfast on the morning of the race, with all the things you know help you run well (for me it's bananas, Lucozade bars, liquorice, bagel with jam) but also think about fuelling during the race. Will there be water or sports drink pit stops on the course? This is where checking a map of the course will come in handy, as they will usually put refreshment stops on the map too. It was recommended to me to drink a sports drink over water on the course if possible because not only do you get hydration but also electrolytes, salt and carb replacement and other nutrition from the sports drink, so that's what I do now and it really does make a difference. I can see on the map of my course that sports drink is only available at every second stop. That is handy to know :)
Will you have other fuel on you, in your spi belt, zip pocket or arm wallet? Are you a beans or a gel person, or maybe you prefer carrying dates or jelly babies or some other easy to digest fuel? At what points in the race will you fuel? For a half marathon, I plan to have something at mile 6 and then again at mile 10 if I need it. Whatever you decide to have on you, make sure you've trained with it! You don't want any nasty tummy surprises on the day!
Remember there's always a possibility that the water stations or sports drink station might have run out at the moment you're passing through so if this will be a big problem for you maybe try to have a back up if you can. Ask your support crew (see next point) to carry a spare bottle of sports drink or packet of sports beans that you can grab off them if you need to.
|Tom and I at my first half marathon in 2009! |
He was my boyfriend then ;)
5. Bring the family!
If you have support at the race, that's fantastic - it really makes such a difference seeing friendly faces in the crowd. One of my favourite things about my first ever half marathon was that it was 6 laps of a park, so I got to see Tom with his "Go Phil Go" t-shirt on every 2 miles :D If you've been able to look at the course and identified some possible challenge points, maybe ask your support crew to be at those places if possible to spur you on? If you know your mates are going to be at Mile 9, it helps getting through Miles 1-8 a bit easier!
6. Think about your ideal pace and time.
Do you have a timing goal for the race? Do you want to beat your PB? Or do you just want to have a good run and cross the finish line? What sort of finish do you want to have? If you're a slow and steady runner like me, you may have to sacrifice speed earlier on so you don't burn out towards the end. For example, at the London Marathon I really wanted to run the last 3 miles without stopping because that was where the biggest crowds were, and where Tom and his friend were going to be cheering me on! I really wanted to finish strong and not have to stop and walk. With that goal in mind, it meant I had to stop and walk earlier in the race than I hoped I would (around 15 miles) but it was important for me to think of the big picture and weigh up what was more important - being able to say I made it to 16 miles without stopping, or having the finish I wanted?
Be prepared for your goals to change on race day too (see last point)
7. The power of the mind.
This is the trickiest thing of all! Running is very much a mind game and the body just comes along for the ride, I've found. Think about how you will motivate yourself during the race. What things do you like to think about during training that make the miles fly by? If you hit a wall, what will you focus on to help get yourself going again? Is there a particular motivational saying that really speaks to you? Write it on your hand :) Is there a particular landmark on the course that will signal that you're nearly there? For me, that was Big Ben when I ran the London Marathon. I had held that image in my training from the start and when I finally saw it on race day, a mile from the finish, it was such a profound and exciting moment!
8. Flexibility is the name of the game.
Being prepared and thinking about how you will handle anything that might not go according to plan does wonders to keep you relaxed and confident as the race day draws near. Chances are if anything does go wrong you'll be better placed to handle it because you've thought about it and come up with a plan. But race day may throw you a few curveballs and it's important to keep your goals and plans flexible in that event. Sometimes your goals change halfway through the race - mine often do. I remember my Nike+ iPod thingy failing during two of my half marathons last year and so I had no idea whether I was keeping up with the pace Julia had told me to aim for during the race - I freaked out at first but then realised I just had to keep going and do my best. Despite the most meticulous preparations, not every run will be a great one and often the only way you find out it won't be a great run is when you start :P
But if the worst does happen, you know what? You're still out there doing it. You've still trained hard for this and you'll get through it, no matter what happens. The important thing is to stay focused and mentally strong, and think about the bigger picture. That always helps me. As my mate Martin Yelling said, "you can't be brilliant every day and every day can't be brilliant." Just do your best and try to have a great run!
If you're a runner, do you think about a race plan in the lead up to your event? Any tips to share? :)
Monday, March 19, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Hi guys! How is it Thursday again already?!
I made this beautiful soup the other day, which I didn't think was going to be anything much but as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of the invention of great soups :) I was trying to think of ways to use up a tired looking cabbage and this turned out to be a huge winner! It was spicy, salty, sweet and sour....and such a gorgeous colour!
And even though spring has definitely sprung:
|Saturday afternoon in our neck of the woods|
The nights and days are still a little chilly, and I'm never one to turn down an opportunity to make soup :)
I love using lemon in vegetable soups too, it gives such a freshness to it which is perfect for this time of year, and it also really lifts the earthy cumin in the soup too. Cumin is fast becoming one of my favourite spices to cook with. It's a wonderful spice to use if you want an earthy but mild flavour. Just don't be like my sister and put cumin in your banana muffins instead of cinnamon!
By the way I totally recommend getting a pestle and mortar if you haven't got one - the flavour of freshly ground seeds is markedly better than ready ground. And it's a good upper body workout ;)
Go green soup
Olive oil or cooking spray
1 large leek, washed and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon ground cumin seeds
500g/2 cups green lentils
3 bay leaves (I have a bay tree so use fresh)
1 litre vegetable stock, plus 1 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 whole medium green cabbage, washed and shredded
Spinach, as much as you like
Any other green vegetable you like
Juice of 2 lemons
Heat the olive oil or cooking spray in a large stock pot. Add the leek, onion and garlic and gently sweat on medium heat until soft. I used a garlic flavoured rapeseed oil, in which case you wouldn't need the extra garlic...unless of course you love garlic!
Add the ground cumin seeds and cook for a few minutes. Then add the green lentils and bay leaves, stir to get everything coated nicely and then add the vegetable stock. Add salt and pepper, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through. Add water if it needs it.
Add the chopped cabbage, spinach and any other vegetables you're using. You may need a bit more water, depending how thick you want the soup. Cover and cook for a few minutes or until the cabbage is tender and the spinach has wilted. Add the lemon juice.
Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Serve and enjoy your good-for-you go green soup!
I'm looking forward to getting my next veggie box tomorrow and seeing what seasonal spring goodies I have to cook with this week. What dishes do you like to cook this time of year?
More soon! x
Monday, March 12, 2012
Thursday, March 8, 2012
I had a mega craving for Mexican the other day and wow, did this hit the spot! This can easily be doubled depending on how many you are serving. And any leftover lentils makes a wonderful base for a soup the next day - simply add chopped fresh vegetables, a can of tomatoes and stock.
Serves 4 (or 2 very hungry people, with leftovers)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder or hot smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2-1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup salsa
8 taco shells
Shredded lettuce or salad leaves
Chopped fresh tomato
Grated fresh carrot
Any other taco fixins you like: jalapenos, grated low fat cheese, low fat sour cream, etc.
2 medium ripe avocados
Fresh lemon or lime juice
In a large non-stick pan, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the lentils, chili powder/hot paprika, cumin and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Uncover and cook for another 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Mash lentils slightly (or use a hand blender). Stir in salsa.
Heat your taco shells in the oven according to packet instructions. Your kitchen will start smelling like corn chips :)
Make the guacamole by mashing the avocado flesh with the lemon/lime juice and salt in a bowl until well combined.
Spoon about 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell. Top with guacamole, lettuce, tomato, carrot and any of your other fixins.
Are you a fan of Mexican food? The best I've ever had was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I still think about it sometimes, five years later! Monica's latest delicious travelogues have made me long to be back there in a big way! :)
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
This post and give-away has been sponsored by Aspire.
I was recently contacted by the lovely folk at Aspire to see if I’d be interested in trying their natural energy cranberry flavoured soft drink. At first, I was a little sceptical and wasn’t sure what to expect when I tried it for the first time, only that I would probably suffer my way through a can and need to brush my teeth afterwards. Well, I was happy to be proven wrong on both assumptions!
Apart from sports drinks, drinks that claim to give you energy, burn calories and fire up the metabolism have never really appealed to me. But now that I’m working for myself, and working to constant deadlines, I’ve admittedly become a bit of a workaholic and energy has been at the forefront of my mind – both how to make the most of it, and how to top it up. Well, if you are organised and plan ahead that should be easy, I hear you say. But to be honest, it hasn’t been. It’s all been a huge learning curve and certainly not been as easy as I thought it would be. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder in my life! I certainly haven’t spent all day in my pyjamas drinking sangria and watching Sex and the City, as I used to think I might in my dream life! A life where you work and live in the same place is not as easy as it sounds.
Time management and learning how to switch off are things I have had to work on in this new life of mine. I’ve also found my energy levels are a bit different now too. I aim to get my energy through the food I eat, so I try to start the day with some protein (eggs, or beans on toast) and get enough veggies and fruit in through the day, which I think I’ve always done ok with. I don’t drink as much water as I used to but that’s also something I’ve done something about (coming in a future post!). Exercise and fresh air are also great for my energy, so I try to get out at least once a day. But I have not always succeeded in this, especially this last week!
And food wise I thought I would be far more structured and organised in this new working life, and maybe even be able to have my main meal at lunch time rather than in the evenings now that I have access to my own kitchen during the working day. Ah, no. One day I smeared some peanut butter on apple slices at midday, and then the next time I looked at the clock it was 5pm, the sun was starting to go down and my Blackberry was starting to look rather appetising.
On the plus side, I am getting stuff done. I feel incredibly productive and motivated. So, that is good. Very good indeed. On the other hand, my energy has been all over the place. Finally allowed free reign and no longer needing to be on top form between 9am and 5pm, it explodes spectacularly at odd hours of the day and then sinks down again. I’m finding I need to not only manage my time, but also my energy. I’m learning about when my most productive times are, and what helps me when I need a boost with a deadline looming.
A natural night owl, I’ve never had a problem being alert in the evenings – I might feel a bit tired around 9pm, but I usually get a second wind. I find I need a refreshing energy boost either mid morning or with lunch or my afternoon snack to give me a kick to get through the afternoon. I don’t always want coffee or tea at those times and I kicked Diet Coke and its various cousins and love children to the curb some time ago. What to do?
Like I said in the introduction, I was very pleasantly surprised by Aspire. First of all, unlike most natural energy drinks I’ve tried, Aspire tastes really nice. There’s no nasty aftertaste, for a start! It’s one of those flavours that really grows on you. It has a natural cranberry flavour (with an Apple flavour being launched soon) and contains green tea, guarana and ginger, as well as vitamins C and B6 and B12. With the natural caffeine in green tea, a can of Aspire contains the same amount of caffeine as you would get in a regular cup of coffee. I’ve found that having one on a day where I want a bit of extra energy to push me through to a deadline has been really beneficial. If I have an Aspire with my veggie burger and salad at lunch, the 3pm slump just doesn’t happen! It’s brilliant!
If you’re addicted to Diet Coke or Red Bull, try swapping one of them for a can of Aspire and see what you think. I feel far more refreshed and energised after an Aspire than I ever did with one of those. And no residue on the teeth either – a huge bonus! I haven’t had a hangover for a while (they have got worse since I’ve got older, I have to say!) but I can imagine that an Aspire would work really well in place of a Bloody Mary. I also wish I’d had a few around when we were jetlagged at the end of January. I’ve even managed to turn my dear husband into an Aspire fan, who refuses to buy anything concentrated and his preferred sources of caffeine are coffee and tea. He’s raved about it even more than I have, which was a huge surprise! I don’t recommend having one in the evening though, unless of course you’re on a hen do or an all night rampage ;) It really does perk you up!
Let’s face it, we all have energy slumps and often they are at inconvenient times when you might not have the wherewithal for a green smoothie or the time to go for a run, and in those situations I think a can of Aspire is a fantastic alternative.
One of the interesting and unique things about Aspire is that it is a calorie burning drink as well. They developed the product to be a high energy drink that stimulates the metabolism. The combination of green tea, ginger and guarana apparently creates a thermogenic reaction which boosts the body’s potential to burn calories. They’ve even done research with Leeds Metropolitan University to show that, on average, drinking a can of Aspire will burn 200 calories over a three hour period. Hence, a lot of the feedback I’ve read from Aspire fans is that it’s great to have just before going to the gym to give you energy but also to maximise your workout effort.
I can see why this would be an appealing feature of the drink, but to be honest it isn’t really a selling point for me because fuelling for endurance rather than calorie burning is what I need to focus on as a long distance runner. What does appeal to me about Aspire is that it’s a more natural alternative to the other energy drinks you can get out there, it gives me a great natural boost which makes me more productive, and it tastes really nice. Calorie burning is a nice bonus!
I get a lot of offers to write about products for SLSB and not all of them are a good fit for where I am right now. I’m interested in products or services that can complement or enhance my life as it is at the moment; a life that I think is very healthy and mindfully lived, where occasionally I need a boost or a bit of variety and if that is the case I prefer it to be as natural as possible. And that’s why I was really impressed with Aspire. Once I’d tried it and dug below the surface to find out what other benefits it had, I think there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. I also really like how the company as a whole really promotes a healthy and balanced lifestyle – they are involved with FitnessFirst, Zest magazine and lots of other initiatives that focus on wellness and being fit and active and I really think that is fantastic. I like how Aspire is honest with their customers too, presenting the product as something to enhance your healthy lifestyle, rather than it being a magic potion with all the answers. But in some ways it is magic – because anything that can give me a boost without making me feel utterly drained an hour later or coating my teeth with sugar is a miracle!
In a marketplace that is saturated with sugary drinks that claim to give you energy, it is a rare thing in my experience to find one that actually delivers. If it means I can also burn 200 calories while frantically typing up my latest column for Running Fitness, well, so much the better!
If you want to try it for yourself, you can find Aspire at Holland and Barrett stores all over the UK, at GNC stores, Selfridges and at Waitrose supermarkets. In addition, Aspire can be bought online at www.aspiredrinks.com and www.winnaturally.com
Or, would you like to win a case? I thought you might :)
One SLSB reader can win a whole case of Aspire Cranberry this week. To be in the draw, please leave a comment telling me why you would like to try it. The more creative the better! The winner will not be drawn at random, I will be picking the most creative answer! :)
You can leave a comment on this post, or you can also enter via the SLSB Facebook Page. You can also follow me (@philippa_moore) and Aspire (@AspireDrinks) on Twitter and tweet us your entry (you’ll only get 140 characters though!)
If you do not have a blog or Twitter account, please leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the lucky winner.
Everyone is welcome to enter, wherever you are around the globe!
You’ve got until 5pm UK time on Sunday, March 11th 2012. I’ll announce the winner on Monday!
Until then, hope you have a fabulous week and get through it on a natural high :)
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Happy Tuesday! I hope you've all had a lovely start to the week!
Today I have another podcast for you, another instalment in my Phil's Greatest Hits series. Today's greatest hit is from November 2011, where I wrote about how I had discovered I had had a chocolate in my handbag for over a week....and I'd forgotten it was there! Sounds like a small, silly thing to some, but to me it represented an enormous victory and change that has come about in my mindset and attitude over the past seven years.
It feels wonderful for food to no longer occupy my every waking thought....now it's only in a good way, when I'm thinking about what to cook next ;) But the obsession has gone. The panic has gone. The "I must eat this and I must eat it all before anyone else gets it or sees me eating it" thoughts have gone. Not only does that feel amazing, but it has given me so much emotional freedom. It's been hard work, but very, very worth it.
So, without further ado, I give you the path to freedom!
You can listen here:
Or download to your computer
Or get it on iTunes
I hope you enjoy the podcast, and please know whatever you might be struggling with right now, you are not alone. You can break free. It might not happen overnight, and it might mean you need to make some changes or get uncomfortable.....but it can be done.
Have a happy day my friends xxx
PS: Do you have a request for my Phil's Greatest Hits podcast series? If so please let me know :)
Monday, March 5, 2012
Thursday, March 1, 2012
This is a simple, easy and delicious midweek winter meal. On the weekends I tend to make a giant vat of lentil bolognese sauce which makes enough for 1 lasagne, 1 lot of pasta bolognese and 1 of these pies, maybe even a bit more :) The sauce freezes well and you can just defrost it when you need it.
On the pastry - you can use filo if you prefer, as obviously puff is higher in fat, but I just prefer the taste of puff and don't have pastry all that often so I figure I might as well have the one that I think tastes nicer! I figure all the threshold blitzing I've been doing lately might atone for the choice of puff over filo too. But I buy Jus-Rol puff pastry who do a light version of puff too, so I should see if my local supermarket has it next time. Jus-Rol are vegan too (apart from their all butter shortcrust!)
And while we're on that, I have managed to stick to an entire month cheese free, and am feeling less bloated and more energetic for it. So there you go, Phil lasted a month with no cheese! And still going! Miracles do happen! Hence the inclusion of Tofutti in this recipe, which I must say is rather delicious. I use it in lasagne too, and it's also very nice with baked potatoes.
You may think it's strange not to saute the spinach first, but you may know that spinach kind of...shrinks when cooked! Therefore one measly bag of spinach is not going to be enough to cover the lentil filling. I have tried putting the leaves on "raw" and cooked, and I think raw is best, as it steams inside the little pastry case while the pie cooks.
Lentil bolognese and spinach pie
2 sheets bought puff pastry (or filo if you prefer)
Approximately 1/3 batch of lentil bolognese sauce - either Sunday night spag bol or the sauce from lentil and walnut lasagne
1 x 140g bag washed spinach
1 x 225g Tofutti Creamy Smooth herb and garlic spread (called Better Than Cream Cheese in Oz and US)
Sesame seeds (for extra calcium!)
Soy milk, to brush the pastry
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Spray a large pie dish (I use my lasagne dish) with cooking spray. Roll out one sheet of pastry and place on the bottom of the dish, making sure it goes up the sides as well. Trim any excess.
Place a layer of lentil bolognese sauce over the top of the pastry. Scatter spinach leaves over the top so the sauce is covered. Then dot the Tofutti spread evenly over the spinach layer. It is very thick, so you could mix it with some milk to thin it, but just try and dot it evenly about the spinach layer - it melts down when the pie cooks so should spread out fine. Top with a light grating of fresh nutmeg if you like.
Finally, place the other sheet of pastry over the top. Crimp the edges of the pastry together using a fork. Make a few light incisions on the pastry top to let some steam out. Or, do as I did here!
Brush the top of the pastry lid with soy milk. Scatter the top with sesame seeds.
Place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the top is puffy and golden brown. I usually check it after half an hour. I have a history of burning things!
Serve the pie with a salad or, if it's freezing, cooked vegetables of your choice - we had garlicky chard and a few homemade potato wedges with ours. Delish!
This makes enough for 6 servings - we had some for dinner, then some for lunch the next day, and I froze the other two servings for a rainy day....or a lazy night, more likely!
With temperatures being what they have been here, there's nothing like a bit of comfort food to warm you from the inside out. Apart from soup, I love nothing better than a pie for dinner when it's thrashing with rain outside :)
PS: There's still time to enter the Drink Me Chai give-away!