Thursday, 21 February 2013

In need of a PLAN

In recent weeks, I have seen myself in a bit of a rut.

I'm struggling tremendously to switch off from business stuff, and feel very much pulled in different directions - wanting to keep everyone happy, realising I can't, giving into the me-time that I want but then not embracing it due to feelings of guilt.

Lately, it's been very easy to be lax in my workout commitments and make shoddy, mindless food choices between meals.

I'm a person who likes PLANS. and not just 'up here' plans *taps head* but on-paper/screen plans so I can see and review my thoughts and expectations.

To find a happier place, these are the areas of my life that I think if I do a touch of planning and goal-setting, I will regain some focus and reap some rewards to make me feel happier:

- A food 'formula'. I don't want to get bogged down in 'diets' or meal plans that leave me bored and unsatisfied. I think that finding a formula for meals that allows for flexibility within my mostly plant-based preferences, that also supports my fitness goals is the challenge here, and I've started working on this already.

- A workout schedule that I know I can commit to, but with wriggle room for when life happens. There's so many exercises that I want to be able to do but I don't want to burn out. My work hours don't accommodate much more than an hour anyway either in the early morning or late evening, and I don't want to burn out or be counter productive. Switching up my routines every 6 weeks might be a good way to keep things fresh and keep my performance improving rather than stagnating.

- Sign up for some races! Signing up for the 10K last year was one of the most motivating and focussing things I've ever done, and I REALLY want to get some more in the bag this year...I have a time to beat!!!

- Business 'to-do' list. There are always little things that need doing round here. Orders, recycling stuff, cleaning jobs, emails, calls, financial stuff....And it's amazing how easily it can build up, overwhelm me and really stress me out to the point that it simply doesn't get done! I want to be able to achieve one or two 'to-do's a day, too stop the build up, and also feel like I have accomplished something even if the shop hasn't performed well that day.

- Give more to this blog. I love writing here but finding something worth writing about can be tough, and sometimes the things I do want to say are difficult to put into words. I would like to work on some regular features and link up more with other blogging parties so I have more chance to reflect on my week with some purpose, and feel a bit more sociable too!

I think that's all for the moment...a kind of 'to be continued' post where I will update with my planning progress...details on my food 'formulas' and workout schedules and perhaps some 'sign up' updates.

'Til then, I guess!

Hannah x

Monday, 11 February 2013

Hummus Time!


I have expressed my love for hummus, especially homemade hummus in the past. It such a versatile thing - a sauce, a dip, a spread, a well as being a great vehicle for your favourite spices and vegetables. It can be sweet or savoury, high in fat or low in fat, a great source of plant based protein and fibre.

Yesterday, I deconstructed hummus and used the components to enrich a cauliflower soup, with results that really impressed! It tasted, dare I say it, cheesy, despite the fact that there was no dairy or cheese flavoured ingredients. But maybe I've just forgotten what cheese tastes like, I've not had it much since the time I inadvertently ate a non-vegetarian Camembert...I felt so bad when I realised.

Cauliflower has been tipped to be the new kale, it's versatility dubbing it the vegetable of the year. In this crazy world of blogging, it being eaten raw, roasted, pureed, juiced, replacing pulses and grains, in pizza crusts, and mashed as 'potatos'. So, I bought a cauliflower on the weekend and thanks to all this inspiration, I have a few recipes/experiments up my sleeve, so watch this space. It's a particularly good vegetable to get in at this time of year, being rich in vitamin C it'll ward of those nasty colds.

However, I felt bad for kale being shoved out of the spotlight, so kale still has its part to play in today's recipe. Instead of blending it into the creaminess of the soup, allowing shreds of steamed kale to peep through throughout the bowl gave an interesting change in texture, and allowed each spoonful to vary in terms of creamy/cheesy/kale-y flavours.

I don't typically get to eat a hot lunch these days as I can't leave the shop floor to cook, so I rely on savoury muffins, stuffed pittas and cold millet/noodle/quinoa bowls. But with James able to mind the shop, I was able to cook some soup for yesterday's lunch!

The recipe is below :-)

Catch up again later in the week!

Hannah xx

Hummus-inspired cauliflower soup (serves 1)

1/4 head of cauliflower - include some leaves and roughly chop
1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas
300-400ml of vegetable stock - depends on how thick/thin you like your soup
1Tbsp tahini
The juice from 1/4 lemon
1 handful shredded kale
Sprinkle of paprika

Heat the stock on a medium heat and add the cauliflower and chickpeas. If you are pushed for time, part-cook the cauliflower in the microwave before adding to the hot stock with the chickpeas.

After 5 minutes (or when cauliflower is softened) use a (hand)blender to blend the soup into a creamy texture. If it is a little watery at this stage, that's ok.

Steam (or microwave) the kale until it is as cooked as you like it.

Add the tahini, lemon juice and a pinch of ground paprika to the soup and stir continually until it thickens to your preferred consistency. Try not to let it boil.

Add your cooked kale to the soup to gently incorporate it, and ensure it is all completely warmed through.

Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with a little more paprika or chilli flakes if you like it spicy!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Power of Plant Protein


It's been more than a week since I last wrote, and a busy week it's been as always!

These days, my days are starting around 7am - I get my self ready, see James off, and setup the juice bar. Between 8.30am and 6pm I am on juice and smoothie duty, then I head over to the gym. Before I know it, it's 8pm and I have just enough energy to whip up something for dinner (usually frozen from the freezer from a slow cooker batch), watch a little telly or read and bed between 10-11pm.

It doesn't leave much room for inspiration or motivation to write, but I really want to keep up with this!

Today I wanted to share with a recent experiment - some raw energy protein 'bites' that I've been munching on an hour or two before working out.

When I ran out of a chocolate flavoured plant-based protein powder blend from Myprotein. I wasn't sure what to do. I've been trying to keep my dairy intake to a minimum of late. The chemicals and cruelty involved in manufacturing dairy is putting me right off, so whey protein is not something I feel comfortable consuming, yet the flavoured plant-based blends are expensive and difficult to find. Unflavoured single-source plant protein powders like hemp, pea and brown rice are easier to find and less expensive - this seemed to me to be an opportunity to experiment with my own blends!

I went with brown rice and pea protein powders (the cheapest 2 options) and I've been using half a scoop of each in post workout shakes. I need to work on more palatable things to mix them with, but that's a work in progress.

Why not just pick one single-source plant protein and have done? Well, the amino acid profile varies between sources, so to get an ideal balance a blend becomes a powerful alternative to the profile in animal proteins.

To be clear, soy protein powder is not an option for me. I've tried it before and all that happened was a degree of stomach upset and skin breakouts. Plus, I have read how it can effect hormones and the development of cancers. I know there is research to support both sides of the debate, but I'm not going to take my chances!

Back to today's recipe - energy protein 'bites'. I liken them to chocolate fudge *yum*. The texture of plant protein powders can be a challenge, though the gooey texture of puréed dates did a good job of disguising it. And a rich cocoa flavour that tastes bad for you whilst not doing any harm at all made them a greatly indulgent snack!

Tomorrow, I will be seeing how well my new powders blend into porridge - the Myprotein blend did a great job of this, better than any of the times I tried to mix whey into oats, so I have high hopes.

Tomorrow is also my 2 year 'veg-iversary'! That's 2 years of meatless eating, no cravings or slip ups whatsoever.

In the meantime, here's the promised recipe and as always let me know if you give it a go or have any other tips for plant-based protein powder!

'Til then!

Hannah xx

P.s. I'm sorry for the lack of links on this post. I'm writing from the blogger app on the iPad which doesn't let me link up!

Chocolate fudge-like protein energy bites (vegan and GF option)

1/2 cup of dates - soak in hot water to soften and reserve the water
1/4 cup oats - use GF if you need to
1/4 cup of plant protein powders - I used unflavoured pea and brown rice powders.
2 Tbsp cocoa powder - unsweetened, raw if you have it
1/2 Tsp vanilla essence
1/4 Tsp salt

Pulse the dates in a food processor to get a paste.

Add all the remaining ingredients until they form a kind of sticky crumb.

To get it into a 'dough' or fudge, add some of the date water, a tablespoon at a time until the mixture gathers in the processor, though you don't want it too watery.

Form the mixture as you please and freeze to firm them up. I made 9 'bites' with this recipe, and enjoyed 3 bites per serving, packing about 17g of protein each serving!