Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Oh to be sugar free...

I have been watching Sugar Free Farm over the last couple of weeks, with the final episode being tonight and it has made me think again about how unhealthy my diet can be.
This time last year I began making more of an effort to cook from scratch and reduce the processed foods in my diet.
However, this was far easier when I was only working 2.5 days a week and had the time to plan and organise myself better. Also I fell out of the habit of eating better a little during spring and summer as the kids and I are fortunate in that we spend many of our weekends and holidays at my parent's caravan. Obviously while this is great fun it does have a certain association of eating naughty indulgent or convenience  foods. 
Following caravan season is the lead up to Christmas. Therefore all in all my super healthy eating phase for one reason or another lasted about four months before beginning a gradual decline. 
Anyway to get to the point, although I am active and reasonably slim, my diet isn't as good as it could be. 
I eat a lot of 'diet foods' such as cereal bars, low fat crisps and yogurts as well as the occasional ready meal. My calorie intake isn't huge but my diet could definitely be healthier. I also think if I can be half decent at running on a mediocre diet, imagine the improvement I would see if I are more healthily....
'Eat healthy' is such a generalistic, sweeping term  though which means different things to different people. For example, people following a calorie controlled diet might see it as sticking to eating under a certain magic number of calories regardless of food intake, vegans might see it as 'not eating animal products or bi products' and sports enthusiasts might see it as protein, protein protein! 
I therefore feel that for me, the way forward is to set a few targets which relate to my own shortcomings and areas to improve regarding my diet. I know for example my sugar intake is high as is my salt intake due to eating a large percentage of processed or diet foods. 
Also at times I am inclined to scrimp on meals in lieu of treats such as chocolate the reasoning being that my calorie intake is not high. 
So in order to take positive and realistic action I will begin with 3 goals: 
1. Instead of eating ready meals I will explore and create simple meals from scratch
2. Instead of snacking on cereal bars or low far snacks I will eat natural foods such as fruit or nuts in controlled portion sizes
3. I will aim to give up chocolate for lent.

I feel that these are effective goals as rather than just saying ' I won't eat...' I have offered alternatives for the first two. With regards chocolate, I feel that by following the first two goals no action other than my own will power is required.

Anyway... I will update on how I am getting on tomorrow 
Happy days xxx

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

End of first month...

My goal for the long month of January was to exercise daily. I am pleased to say I have actually managed this all bar about two days when I have simply been too tired.
I have been going to the gym three times a week and started running once again. While I can't deny that at times it is hard getting motivated, I am always glad I made the effort. The reason why I like running is because I can set goals and see progress. Like for example my first goal was to run 5k in 30 minutes-this is the goal I set when I first started running almost a year ago and a repeat goal I set just over a month ago after taking a bit of a running break and using the cross trainer instead. 
Once I achieved this I tarted trying to beat my times and also increase my distance. I am made up with myself that in a month I have gone from taking near 60 minutes to run 10k to recently doing it in under 55 minutes. 
As an additional goal I have signed up to a 10k in May so not only do I have something to aim for but it will encourage me to keep on with my training.
Anyway; as I said my goal was to exercise daily. Its impossible for me to visit the gym every day and likewise I don't have a huge amount of time but needless to say on non gym days I have been doing sit ups, squats or exercises from an app I have down loaded onto my phone. 
Today is February 2nd so I am, all be it a day late, setting my month two goal which is to read daily with the kids.
We are part way through a novel called Rooftoppers aimed at young readers. It is set in Paris and follows the story of a young girl found abandoned in a shipwreck embarking on a desperate search for her real mum. 
I am so busy working every day that often I am guilty of putting the TV on for the kids in the evening while I get jobs done. However, I aim to set aside at least ten minutes before bedtime to read together. 
As for month one challenge, although I have not exercised today, I will be keeping it up and going to the gym 3 times a week (or running outside weather permitting) and exercising in the house where this is not possible. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

12 month challenge

I am stealing this idea from a Facebook friend as I am so keen on self improvement and positivity at the moment.
Basically the idea is to pledge to take on a specific challenge each month which will enhance my life in some way. Here are my 12 challenges. I have yet to decide which month will be dedicated to which.
1. Read with the kids each night 
2. Exercise each day
3. Eat a piece of fruit each day
4. Read a chapter of a book each day
5. Fake tan once a week
6. Try one new recipe each week
7. Walk at lunch time at work
8. Have a family games night once a week
9. Finish decorating the hall way
10. Do something creative (e.g. colouring, drawing, make a hair bobble daily)
11. Write one blog post a day
12. Start watching a box set

So this month I am going to start with the exercise one. By daily exercise sometimes it will be a gym visit others it will be simply a set or two of sit ups or squats. 
Excited to get started x

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Recipe... Whole meal savoury scones...

This recipe was actually passed on by my mum although I've adapted slightly by using whole meal flower and I used agrave syrup rather than sugar. They rose really nice but do have a very savoury taste. I personally would have them for breakfast or lunch rather than as a snack or dessert but I'm sure my kids would have them as a snack!

Here goes:
12oz whole meal plain flower or white plain flower
250g full fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of sugar/honey/maple syrup or agrave syrup

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and add the sugar or sugar substitute
Slowly add the Greek yogurt and stir slowly then use hands to bind together into a dough.
Kneed this dough until it reaches a nice even consistency ... In other words not too floury
Roll onto a surface lightly dusted with flour to about 2.5cm thick and cut out circles using a cookie cutter or a rim if a glass. 
Place these onto a greased baking sheet or line it with grease proof paper to save washing up.
Cook on 200 for about 20 mins until nicely risen and do a test with a knife to ensure it comes out clean...
Enjoy xxx

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Breakfast/healthy snack easy banana energy bars

OThese are seriously the easiest, cheapest snack to make ever and are great for breakfasts, elevenses or basically anytime snacks really. 
4 mashed bananas
Handfuls of porridge oats
Two tea spoons of cinnamon 
Squeeze of honey (optional)
Optional fillings such as ground almonds, seeds, dried fruit, dried coconut, nuts, chocolate chips

Microwave the bananas for 1-2 mins (depending on their ripeness) so they are nice and soft
Mash the bananas like mad so to create a purée and add the cinnamon, honey and optional filling and stir 
Add the oats a handful at a time stirring until the mixture reaches a nice consistency that can be spooned into a pre greased baking tray
Bake on 200 for 10 mins (these in the photo are a little burned as I was rushing round cleaning and left them in a bit too long

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Simple Cooking on a budget- spiced turkey/chicken

This is another really simple recipe which is healthy and cheap to make. I like it because I can adapt it to feed myself and the kids.
Here goes:
Chicken or turkey breast fillet chopped
Fat free Greek yogurt
Selection of spices... I used turmeric and cumin but you could use tikka or tandoori  spices or Cajun spice

Mix the spices into the Greek yogurt then add in the raw chicken pieces and mix to coat them in the mixture. Leave in the fridge for upto 12 hours to marinate.

Lay the chicken on tin foil on a baking sheet. Bake on 200 in the oven for around 20/25 minutes turning half way.

Serve on a pita bread with salad to create a healthy kebab... My kids enjoy it like this. I have it usually with salad and no bread as I avoid bread. Today though I roasted some tomatoes and courgettes and had it with these.

I like it because I can take out enough for the kids tea while leaving mine marinating for myself to eat later as I prefer to eat later.

I made it with turkey today but I would say it is tastier with chicken... Although turkey is cheaper and is lower fat.

In the past I have made this into more of a curry by adding the cooked chicken breast to a pan and stirring through additional curry/yogurt mix to create a sauce. 

Eating healthy on a budget... Turkey and bean bolagnaise..

It's been a while since I did any freezer cooking but I believe it's always good to have some ore prepared meals in the freezer for the days when the fridge is empty and the cupboards are bare.
Today I whipped up this easy minimum preparation turkey bolagnaise. 
Here's how...
500g pack of turkey mince
1 pack of mushrooms (use pre chopped to save more time)
1 bag of ready chopped onions 
2 tins of chopped tomatoes 
1 tin of bortoli beans (or any canned pulse really)

Fry up the mince, mushrooms and onions until brown then add to either a slow cooker or casserole dish on a low heat along with the canned pulses and chopped tomatoes. Cook for around 6 hours if using a slow cooker or 2 on 180 if using a casserole dish. 
Remove and divide into freezer proof containers.

This is so easy to make and can be bulked out further with other
veg with less mince used (I got 500g for the price of 200g on an asda delivery substitution though)