Friday, 29 June 2012
A 'Mumbai' scotch egg (meat-free of course). There was some interesting spicing going on in the 'sausagey' part from chili to fennel seeds, and the texture was enriched with whole chickpeas and chunks of hazelnut!
http://www.theveggiedeli.com/vegetarian-food-blog.html) I could taste all the flavours listed, and the sheep's cheese was a new one for me and it's lovely mild flavour didn't over power.
Yes, it was greedy of me to have both for lunch today (with a whole baby cumber too!), but no, I do not care, they were both delicious! I topped my day of with an awesome one hour spin class at my new club, and felt right at home speaking at the end with my instructor and 'class-mates'
Next time I exercise will be my 10K on Sunday, and I will share this with you on Monday. I have a busy weekend lined up so I probably won't find the time to blog 'til then.
Anyway, hope you all have amazing weekends!
I was too impatient to take a picture of the packed box (though it was done sooo neatly and efficiently and picture-worthy in itself!) but here's a photo of the line-up:
I then gobbled up the licorice log after my ouzo and tomato pasta on Tuesday, as the ouzo sauce had given me a real taste for aniseed! This little treat is even vegan :-)
The locally made peach jam is something I am SO excited to try, though I'm resisting opening it at the moment to stop me from just tucking in with a spoon - I love peaches and had them every morning in Greece, but I need to watch my sugar intake so I'll be looking for ways to indulge in the jam without overdoing it. I saw this great pastry recipe on Johanna's Green Gourmet Giraffe blog and I think the peach jam would be great with the pastry in baby jam tarts. Looks like I'll be getting my bake on!
Emma also treated me to a gorgeous dark chocolate bunny that Emma said is made locally to her and you can even watch them make it.....sounds like choccy heaven to me. Dark chocolate is of course my preference, though as a veggie I was reluctant to bite this little lovely's head off....but I did and it was YUM!
I actually can't remember the last time I had popcorn and even then it was probably the processed sugary stuff from the cinema so the little package of pink popcorn kernels has got me so excited to get popping as I know they have potential to be a healthy snack, either sweet or savoury. The ones that Emma sent me are PINK which is awesome. Anyone have any ideas for flavouring?
And dried portobello mushrooms! Any mushrooms are a meat-free staple, for both textural, flavour and health reasons (one of the best sources of plant-based vitamin B12, I believe) and I'm excited to cook up something new and exciting with the dried version of my favourite portobellos. If I can find it, I'd like to cook up some orzo like I had on holiday , so not quite a risotto, and tart it up with these beauts!
Taking part in Foodie Penpal has been so exciting. My participation meant that I sent a box myself to Cyn at Life of Cyn who is really into self-care from mental well-being to make-up and blogs about acceptance for all body shapes and sizes. Here is her review of what I sent her.
Thanks again for reading, guys. Why not get involved????
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
That's all I can really share on the food front today. As for exercise, I visited my new gym (had my finger print swiped -so novel, I love it!) and got onto the treadmill for some intervals. My intervals lasted about 12 minutes at one minute high, one minute low (max speed 13.5kph) and I made it up to a 30 minute run at a steady 10-11.5kph pace. The left me pretty sweaty (not like the Greek gym though!) and I decided to explore the ladies only studio. I don't like the idea of such a facility because I feel that it kind of encourages the fear of heavy lifting many ladies have. It had some resistance machines, but the only free weights were 1-10kg dumb bells so my expectations were confirmed really. I used the free weights to work my chest, lifting the 10kgs to do a chest press (I can't do any heavier without a spotter....yet ;-) ) and 6kgs to do flies. 3 sets. I had had enough of that so went back into the main studio to the heavier weights section and sought out the Smith machine to do some squats. I did 5 sets with 20kg on each end (can't figure out the total weight because I don't know the bar weight) followed by the leg press machine and straight leg deadlifts, and finishing with some stretches.
Sorry, this will be boring if you aren't into lifting, though I will recommend an article 'The Zen of the Barbell' as I came across this today (via No Meat Athlete on facebook) and it seems appropriate to share given my workout. If you need a new reason to hit the weights, maybe this will do it for you!
Thanks for reading, catch ya later!
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Today I will share my Greek treats, and tomorrow I will share my incredible Foodie Penpal goodies!
Yesterday was an aeroplane day, back to a rather miserable-looking UK. In the time I had to spare at the airport I went to browse the duty free shop, and though I don't usually buy anything I spotted these and decided they were worth my leftover euros:
- Sundried tomato and ouzo sauce - I couldn't bring myself to order an ouzo while I was in Greece (past experience of ouzo has left me feeling quite nauseated by the thought of it) but I was just so intrigued by the thought of it as a food that I just had to get a jar! I stirred it into some wholewheat pasta bows for today's lunch and the aniseed flavour was noticeable and an exciting flavour with the sweet tomato, but not over powering. I'm trying to think of other ways I can use it though....hmmm!
- Tahini - this is like peanut butter made from sesame seeds rather than peanuts and I bought some to make my own houmouses (or houmice????) and to try in dressings and sauces. They did have chocolate tahini too, and thinking of a dessert houmous blog post at The Lean Green Bean I hesitated....then saw the sugar-y nasties on the label and reminded myself that I can add cocoa myself, and plain would be more versatile anyway!
- GIANT Beans - I love how butter beans/lima beans are referred to as giant beans in Greece! I posted before about the beans in tomato sauce I ate on holiday and when I saw a jar of the same thing I wanted to have it either to re-live it (they were good giant beans!) or to compare.
- Hot chickpeas - I'm a little tentative to find out exactly hot these will be! They are in obligatory Greek olive oil with herbs, peppers and onion.
My final super-sweaty Greek workout was inspired (or rather, taken directly) by a guest blog post at The Lean Green Bean (seriously, check out this blog, it's a fab resource. I used a treadmill to warm-up and cool down and 3kg dumb bells. I was so sweaty that the sweat from my hands and the sweat that had dripped onto the floor meant that the weights wouldn't grip the floor when I did the renegade push-ups - I had to put a towel down!
I have also joined a new gym now that I'm settled in and not likely to be moving on again anytime soon. It's a really reasonable tariff (£14.99 a month and it's no-contract!), great equipment and studios and free classes (I love my exercises classes), and they scan your finger print to let you in (no card to lose/forget!). I'm looking forward to checking it out properly tomorrow, because I signed up online, and all the job hunting I've been doing today and visiting my dad won't leave me time to get down there later.
And it's now less than a week until my race and though it is tempting to go on long runs to prepare me for the distance, I know that overdoing it in the final few days can be detrimental, and I don't want to risk injury either. The sponsorship I have recieved from friends and family has been so generous, so I don't want to let anyone down!
Hope you are all having a happy and healthy day, I will write again tomorrow.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
I'm still having a wonderful time here and though it's stiflingly hot, I've still managed several sweaty workouts and refreshing myself with wonderful Greek food.
With only 10 days to go until my first ever race (10K Race for Life, if you're interested in sponsoring me/donating to Cancer Research UK, checkout my fundraising page) I have tried to keep up my distance running by doing 6K treadmill runs, 30/90 second sprint walk intervals, and mini circuits of skipping, boxjumps and press-ups. I have not left the gym without being dripping in sweat, though this doesn't take long in these temperatures! Seriously, last night we made a 25 minute walk to the next town at about 7pm and even that was sweaty work. I have also been on the beach and in the sea, and love the idea of a workout on the sand and in the sea, but in this heat and with the mass of people and parasols around, I can't see that happening!
I have still been enjoying the lovely home cooked dishes at the hotel though I did want to quickly share some of restaurant meals I've had since the last blog:
For this meal, I ordered a plain tomato and cucumber salad and 'large baked beans'. The salad was lovely and fresh and seasoned with fresh parsley which was a nice surprise as other salads I have had out here have been seasoned with dried oregano and basil. The 'baked beans' certainly weren't the standard UK baked beans - creamy butterbeans in a rich herby-garlicky tomato sauce. From the look of a dish, I think it was meant as a sharing side dish, but I had nearly all of them to myself!
These were the stuffed pepper and tomato I had after the long sweaty walk I mentioned before, bizarrely served in a terracotta roof tile, though I think the head waiter thought this was an exciting restauranty, chefy touch that he was very proud of, so much so that it looked like he was taking it upon himself to serve every order of this dish. Unfortunately, the tile made the food cold. Maybe this was their intention, though I would have preferred them hot. I also enjoyed the tomato more than the traditional green pepper as the flavour was more rich and sweet, whereas I tend to find green peppers a little bitter.
I also wanted to quickly mention a snack I have been enjoying here and though I have always meant to try them/make them, I never have. I spotted 300g of roasted chickpeas (or chickpea nuts I think they can be called) for less than 2 euros so they definitely seemed worth a go. They're a great snack, that hit that savoury crisp/nut spot with a decent supply of protein too. These ones were plain, though I think I'll experiment with herbs and spices when I attempt to make these when I'm back.
I may not blog again 'til I'm back in the UK, but in the meantime thanks for reading and feel free to drop a comment or message :-)
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Hello! It felt about time that I posted a blog on my time in Greece so far, especially since I'm so keen to share the meal I had out this evening.
Up until tonight, I have eaten all my meals at the hotel - gorgeous Greek salads, aubergines, peppers, yoghurt, omelettes and tzatziki (sp?). The first night I even broke my meat free streak and had the swordfish, because I've had it before and KNEW it'd be good!
Tonight we ate out in a lovely village called Afytos. I was excited to try some new Greek specialities and wasn't afraid to indulge in some beautiful starters.
Fried courgette flowers - I have never had these before but they were amazing,a little like good quality vegetable crisps but more delicate. They came with a garlic puree/spread that had a lovely garlic flavour but it didnt linger or turn bitter in my mouth.
Grilled aubergine stuffed with feta - also delicious. It came whole and without the skin which was a new one to me, and stuffed with feta cubes and dried herbs. Feta wasnt too salty either which was good as it stopped it from overpowering the smokiness of the aubergine.
For main I had orzo (a rice shaped pasta), another first, with a tomato sauce and mixed vegetables (onion, tomato, pepper, courgette, mushroom). It had a very rich flavour and the texture of orzo was some way between risotto rice and overcooked pasta and was a good vehicle for the rich flavour. I couldn't even finish it, showing how satisfying it was!
I have kept up my exercise while here as there is a small but decent enough gym and fitness studio. So far my workouts have been interval run/walks, a body circuit instructed by my boyfriend, and today I was dripping after a 6k treadmill run. My average speed was about 10kph, which is slower than I would usually manage, but a greater effort in this heat! I've also swam and walked a little each day!
Will update again in a few days, I expect!
Saturday, 9 June 2012
Today has been an exciting day on both the fitness and food front so I shall split the blog into two
A PB for outdoor running - six miles (almost 10K) - the furthest that I have ever run outside before, and I did it on sore legs too (thanks to just 10 minutes of messing around with a kettle bell yesterday). I then followed it with a quick yoga sequence recommended by Sarah at Sarah Learns and I could really feel it stretching all those key running muscles - very satisfying! Sarah says that it has changes her running recovery experience so I'll keep this up in the home of similar results.
My feet are now a mess though! They were already in pretty poor condition thanks to wearing high heels a couple of weeks ago and running in worn out trainers didn't help....I'll spare you the photos anyway!
For those of you on facebook, I also wanted to share with you today a page called Reasons to be Fit - check it out, motivattional images are posted daily with great mantras to inspire you. I loved this one today:
Friday, 8 June 2012
However, there was no pivotal event that 'turned me', it was more a collection of good reasons that finally culminated in a resolve to eradicate meat from my diet:
- I wanted to be healthier - that isn't to say that I believe meat to be unhealthy, I simply found that the identity of being a non-meat-eater drove me to make healthier choices. A simple example is how easily I can turn down sweets that contain gelatin (and haribo used to be my addiction). Telling myself "not for me, I'm a veggie" has meant that I have never had to use will-power to resist.
- I wanted to save money - I was a student and a meat-free diet seemed a great way to save money. Even though I am now happy to spend more than most do on veggies, it seems a fair price to pay for the healthfulness I have discovered through eating more of the green (and orange, and red...) stuff.
- I wanted to get better at cooking - cutting meat out offered an amazing opportunity to expand my repertoire beyond bolognese. The more I explored recipe books and website for recipes and inspiration, the more excited I was to try!
- To be greener - being an ethical consumer had been at the back of my mind for a long time as I used to work for a cosmetics company that prided itself on defending animal rights and sustainable use of resources. Vegeterianism, if done appropriately, is the more sustainable and ethical option given the considerable impact of the meat industry.
The next question is inevitabley 'the protein question' or 'the so-what-do-you-eat? question'. I get sufficient protein, thank you very much, and I have only become stronger and fitter since I 'turned'. And I eat all kinds of soups, curries, stews, salads, open sandwiches/pittas etc. It just takes a little imagination, that's all, and when you think about it, all dishes are meat-free until the meat is added. I stick to staple smoothies, lunches and snacks, but in the evening I get creative! Here is tonight's meat-free experiment:
Kale and Aubergine Dal (for one)
1 tsp coconut oil (or whatever oil you normally use!)
Half a medium onion, sliced
Half a large aubergine, cubed
Half a tbsp medium curry powder (or use your favourite spices)
Tomato and red pepper sauce (half the quantity in yesterday's recipe) - or half a tin of tomatoes
50g dried red lentils, rinsed well
75g (2 good handfuls) kale, chopped
- Soften the onions in the oil on a medium heat and then add the aubergine. Cook both together for 5 or 10 minutes until well softened.
- Add the spices, cook for about a minute, then add the sauce/tomatoes
- Stir in the lentils then add water (enough to cover the mixture well)
- Allow the lentils to cook through, about 20-25 minutes, and stir regularly and add more water if needed.
- Before serving, tip in the kale and allow it to steam through, mixing it into the dal.
- Season (if you're into that kind of thing) and serve.
P.S. Some resources on 'turning' if you're interested...
49 Good Reason For Being a Vegetarian
I had the same breakfast smoothie as yesterday when I was home and showered, and then headed off to explore a local covered market. I usually love markets and love the idea of all the fresh and homemade produce, and thought that this would be the perfect place to pick up some goodies for my Foodie Penpal (I will be blogging on this at the beginning of next month). However, it was very disappointing: just a fishmonger, butcher, baker, and a sample of the nextdoor green grocer's. I did check out the green grocer's nextdoor though, which was a lot more fruitful (no pun intended...)
My leftover dumplings were delicious cold, and made a great lunch with some steamed brocolli and a tomato and red pepper sauce (recipe below)
Tomato and red pepper sauce
- 250g passata
- 1 red pointed pepper
- Handful fresh basil
- Peri peri hot sauce
- Place in blender and whizz up!
- Serve as a raw sauce or heat through for pasta sauce etc.
Then in the evening my plans changed and I had dinner at my dad's - just a shop bought flan with salad and new potatoes. So no piccies, and also the reason why I have had to catch up on this post a day late. I'll hopefully be able able to blog about anything interesting/health related that happens today later on!
Bye for now!
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
I thought that I had unpacked most of my belongings into my brother's old room at my mum's house. And that was enough 'stuff'. I thought I had everything in there that I could possibly need. It turned out my dad had the attic filled with bags and boxes of my clothes too, so today's mission has been to attempt re-homing a load of stuff that probably has all of 3% chance of me ever wearing/using again. I have taken a full rubbish bag of clothes to the recycling (something which I also did when emptying my cupboards 2 weeks ago when I was packing to leave university). And yet there is still SO MUCH STUFF!!!
There is a lot of stuff from my junk food days that are a size or two too big for me, but they are wearable, so I ought to hang onto them as I'd rather not waste them if I could wear them in future if the occaision arises and alter them if necessary. This is something I'm reluctant to do though as I like the size that I have worked hard to wear, but I guess I can always cut the labels out!
I'm going to attempt flogging some dresses on ebay too, to free up a little space, but I think the key thing here is to swear to myself that I am not buying myself any new clothes for a long time. I thought I needed new stuff for my holiday next monday...apparently not!
So to tenuously link this back to this blog's theme of health, I suppose you could call today's events detoxifying???
This morning's smoothie followed the usual formula, with strawberries, blueberries and extra spinach. Instead of green sludge, I thought I'd show the components today! The vanilla yoghurt I used made it extra sweet and creamy, though I only bought it because it was discounted. It also has added sugar, not my tummy's best friend, so I'll be back to plain yoghurt tomorrow *sigh*
Today's lunch was a regular staple as I needed a quick fix in between sorting all these clothes. Cottage cheese and toasted walnuts in a pitta bread which is a delicious combination and a superb meat-free protein fix, accompanied with some raw and cooked veggies.
I also tried this recipe of oat and chickpea dumplings in passata, as cited by Cathy at PlanetVeggie. I can confidently say that this is the best thing that I have cooked with beans in a long time! Whenever I have attempted similar recipes for bean burgers etc. they have never worked for me and fallen apart in the pan. However, it wouldn't've been a normal dinner without drama: just as I thought how perfectly things were going for a change as I panfried the dumplings, the smoke alarm went off! Ultimately though, I loved how simple this recipe was, and that it was free from egg, parmesan, and bread crumbs which are typically used to bind these sorts of things. The cumin and coriander flavours came through perfectly, and served on some steamed kale made this an extremely satisfying dinner. I wanted to show how moist and fresh they looked inside, which is why I've uploaded the second pic.
I have made enough to enjoy cold for lunch tomorrow...any thoughts on how I could tart them up?
No workouts today. Besides busily sorting out all the clothes, the weather has been absolutely terrible! Although it has brightened up now and I'm tempted to go and run off the dumplings!
Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
I will be posting food and workouts that I have enjoyed, and will be sure to post inspiration I stumble upon in similar blogs.
I think it is appropriate that I start my first blog with how I start every morning - my breakfast smoothie:
For lunch I roasted some asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes to go with some poached eggs on toast. Roasting the veg completely changes the flavour, and because I knew I'd be photographing it I even made an effort with the presentation ;-)
For dinner tonight I made a soup with lentil, carrot and tomato, boosted with some pea protein powder and cubes of avocado to balance out the fat and protein content of the meal. I liked how basil-y it was but was disappointed with the chili not coming through. I was also disappointed with my stupidity in putting HOT soup in the blender and promptly lost about 10-15% of my dinner to the kitchen surfaces, cupboards, floors and my clothes. I've been used to a blender that has a very slow setting that is ideal for soups, something which the blender here at my mum's house doesn't have....doh!
Today I also put myself at the mercy of my equally (if not more) fitness enthused boyfriend as he had me running sprints in between trees at the park. I was slightly worried I would be followed by dogs on their walkies as I ran from tree to tree, but thankfully they didn't show much interest! It killed my quads like I have never known, which I guess comes from engaging leg muscles differently to how I normally do on a steady long run or high intensity intevals on a treadmill. I'm trying to shock my body into new routines, terrains and outdoor conditions in preparation for a couple of events I have coming up in the next few months.
Thanks for reading my blog today - I look forward to posting again!