Soon it will be pumpkin pie time!

So, the autumnal weather is well and truly upon us now, no hope of an Indian summer it seems. Ah well. Today I had the most glorious run. Last weekend I did 7 miles, and that was fine, so today I wanted to do 9 miles, and then next weekend the plan is 11 miles, and then the following weekend is the next half marathon. After a delicious breakfast of peach porridge, and some cleaning etc while it went down, I headed out. It was such a sunny morning, but it did feel cold, so I opted for vest, capris and gloves. I think that was about right- I was chilly at the start, and I kept my gloves on the whole time, but I was OK for most of it. Anyway, I just loved it. The sun was shining, I noticed that a lot of the trees have started to turn. At one point I run around a lake, and as I looked across the water it was such a deep blue colour, framed by the trees, and a few people were sailing so the white sails really stood out- I really wished I had my phone with me so I could have taken a photo. I looked at my Garmin a few times to see my pace, but I tried not to look at the total time or anything, and I was very surprised when I stopped it, as I think it said 1.40! Seeing as a few weeks ago I ran 10 miles in 2 hours, I was pretty pleased. Then I remembered that my aim for the Great South run (last year- 10 miles) was under 1.50, so I suppose I am getting back to that sort of speed really.

I was thirsty when I got home, as I had not taken anything with me, so I had some coconut water, and a delicious bounce ball (coconut and macadamia)- I got it in Wholefoods in London, but have been saving it for some reason. I am glad I tried it- it tasted like coconut ice cream (probably because there is milk powder in it)- 9g of protein isn’t bad though.

I don’t normally take more photos, but it was coated in coconut, and it was a lovely chewy texture. Yum.

Anyway, with all this cooler weather, I have been getting excited about pumpkins again! I used some last weekend when I made spiced pumpkin cakes, and I have been adding a spoonful of purée to my porridge most mornings. I also saw that here in the UK we are going to get the Starbucks pumpkin spiced latte- I wonder if they will do it without coffee? But of course one of the best things is pumpkin pie.

I was kindly sent a lovely Baking Mad apron and a new recipe book, Tart it Up, to look and at of course bake with.

The book has a section at the start covering various pastry types and then a lot of savoury pies – which to be fair contain quite a lot of vegetarian recipes (Upside-down heirloom tomato tatin, and caramelised onion and feta tarts caught my eye) but I am not a massive pastry fan- I usually prefer the fillings, and hardly ever have a savoury pie/pastry.

I would guess that over 1/3 of it is sweet pastries though, again with some lovely more unusual sounding recipes like apricot, honey and pistachio tart, or chocolate and Earl Grey tarts with roasted figs.

A lot of the ingredients have beautiful pictures, and there are some pages with tutorials on them too, which I always think is really useful.

See how scrummy the pecan pie looks? There is also a recipe for “The BEST pumpkin pie” which I am going to try at some point (although there is no photograph on that page) as I really love pumpkin pie filling.

Anyway, if pies are not your thing, but you fancy doing some baking, you can always visit the baking mad website for cupcake recipes, cheesecake recipes, and bread recipes. Last year I made pumpkin pie cheesecakes (sort of)- I used a cheesecake base instead of pastry, and then the pumpkin pie filling, and it worked really well.

Also I have been keeping warm with tea. When I was in Newcastle I succumbed to a couple of the many wonderful loose leaf teas, and since then I have been enjoying pots of this caramel tea (it is black tea with hazelnuts and bits of caramel, and possibly coconut)- anyway it is wonderful- black tea with a hint of sweetness.

Do you like pies/ pastry? I don’t mind filo pastry, but really I usually much prefer the fillings.

What autumnal things have you been loving lately? 

Can other people make me run faster?

I think they can.

When I got home from work yesterday, I was tired. I suppose the late night on Monday didn’t help, and the wind and rain made me feel like staying inside and having cups of tea, and then because it looked like it might rain later, I was tempted to go out for a short one on my own. But the nature of having a club means that I feel obliged to go, when I can. Anyway, I went, and I am so glad I did (as always). I wore my yellow t shirt for the first time as it was too cold for a vest:

When I got there, every other person had their yellow t-shirts on too! That has not happened before (one girl borrowed a jacket), but then a new person came- we did all assure her that usually we are not all so coordinated! Anyway, it was a new route, we set off, and almost right away there was a big hill! There are not many of those around here. Sometimes on the runs we manage to stay together, but sometimes we spread out a bit, and Wednesday was one of those occasions. I could spot the yellow t-shirts up ahead, and I tried hard to keep them in sight (partly because I didn’t want to get lost!). I was running with another girl for a bit, but I ended up being a little ahead of her. Anyway, whenever I glanced at my watch I could see that my pace was under 10 min miles. That is fast for me. On my own now I sometimes manage one mile under that, and I am pleased if I get close to ten minutes for the other miles (on shorter runs). I kept going up the hill, and tried to focus on my posture, as I know I have a tendency to slump forwards on hills, especially when I am tired.

After the hill was a nice long downhill bit, and I tried to concentrate again on keeping the speed consistent. I did get confused at one point as I crossed a road, only to find there was no pavement, just a big fence! But aside from that I didn’t really stop (except for once at traffic lights). Anyway, the route was about 3.2miles, and I was amazed that I was back at the shop in 31 mins! The super speedy ones were already there, stretching and chatting, and we only had to wait another minute or so for the last people to come in.

I kept my watch going, and timed my run home (often it goes into power saving mode so I don’t time the run there or back)- but adding on the run home took it to over 4 miles, (4.04 miles) in 39 mins! I managed to keep the sub ten minute mile pace for 4 miles! OK so there was a little rest between the third and final mile, but still, I was very pleased.

I was trying to look through my Garmin stats on the computer, but I am not that great with it. But I know that my Sweatshop runs are my fastest runs of the week. Even if I do 3 miles on my own, I am a little slower (Tuesday I did 3 miles- it was super windy and felt slow, and actually was pretty good, but not as fast as this).

I am sure that having other people around helps to motivate me, and also helps to push me a little harder than I push myself. I know that when I do body pump I manage a lot more than when I do the 30 day shred video- it is so tempting to put the weights down! So I am sure some of that effect will translate into running with a group too. Although I have found that runs with Andy are worse for me, as he goes too fast, I try to keep up and end up gasping for breath and struggling. I suppose with these runs, I set my pace within the pace of a group which must work out better as there is a range. Plus seeing the people further on is like seeing the carrot dangling on a stick.

Anyway, I really enjoy them anyway even just as a social thing- a few people asked about the Great North Run, and another person (the barefoot girl) had done an all terrain triathlon (including swimming in a lake!) and it is so lovely to have a little chat about these sorts of things.

I can totally see the benefits of a running club, although for me that sounds very “serious”, and I like the fact that this is a bit more relaxed than I perceive other clubs to be.

A while ago I was trying to get my 10K down to under an hour- the closest I managed was 61 mins, and although I am slower than that at the moment (as a 10k is 6.2 miles, so it has to be sub 10 min miles for the whole time), I can see that regularly having these faster runs in the week will hopefully help me to get to that goal. Although I don’t have any 10K races booked- the two local ones that I like at this time of year clash with the Oxford half (well one does, the other is the week before when I want to be running longer). So I will keep my eye out.

Anything exciting planned for the weekend?

What goals are you working towards at the moment?

Do you notice the effect from other people when working out etc?

Nakd fun!

Hey peeps

Last night I was very excited (and also nervous!) because I was going to a blogger event. I was invited by nakd to attend an evening as part of them launching new products. When I got the email I decided right away not to go, because I find meting new people quite hard. I think once I get to know people I am very chatty, but I find it hard to meet new people, and I was worried that everyone would know each other already. But Andy encouraged me to go- he always has the attitude of what’s the worst that can happen, and I would probably enjoy it. Anyway, I am glad I went.

It was a bit of a rush to get into London after work, and I was also very worried about getting lost (seriously, I have an awful sense of direction- I even managed to come out of Kings Cross in order to go back down to the underground bit) but the little cafe was easy to find, in what seemed like a rather trendy area near to Farringdon.

The cafe was very cute, and filled with people in nakd t-shirts. They had some nice dips and nibbles, plus bowls of their new nakd bars to try.

One wall of the cafe was covered in CD shelves- reminds me of my youth!

I tried a bit of each new flavour- the rhubarb and custard was very sweet, like the berry bars. It really did taste like the sweets you used to get- very retro. Now I am not a fan of coffee, but I love the smell, and sometimes chocolate with coffee in it is OK, so I tried the mocha bar, and actually I think I prefer it to the rhubarb and custard one. It was like the cocoa ones (cocoa mint/ orange)- and it just had a hint of coffee flavour.

The founder (Jamie Combs) did a little talk about encouraging people to eat more whole foods (very Michael Pollan), and then Lucy-Ann Prideaux (the nutritionist who posts information on their facebook page) did a little talk (although I was hoping that she was going to talk for a bit longer).

Then, the best bit!

They put their “magic goo” in bowls on the tables (date paste) and then bowls of nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, dried fruits, spices, and little bottles of natural flavourings, and we got to make our own!

I was sharing with another blogger, and we decided to make a sort of Christmassy one. I love the nakd gingerbread bar, and gingerbread cookies are so lovely with a little dark chocolate, so we channelled that by adding some chopped nuts, a generous sprinkle of ginger, and some dark chocolate chips.

We mixed ours together, and then asked for some cling-film so make bar shapes.

I was quite pleased with my final effort. I did try a bit of it before I wrapped it up, and it was yummy.

We had some time to chat to the staff, and one of them told me that they were thinking of giving the Trek bars some love- updating the packaging and maybe introducing new flavours or changing them up a bit, which I think is really good news. I hardly ever have the trek bars now, but whenever I have them I really enjoy them. I suppose because they are much bigger I would not have them as a snack on a day-to-day basis like I do with the nakd bars.

During the evening the lovely Phil realised I was sat behind her, so we managed a little chat, and a photo!

(Me with my coat on as I was getting ready to leave!). It was lovely to meet someone that I “knew”, as a lot of the baking bloggers seemed to know each other very well- always nice to see a friendly face.

Then I had to run back to the station (partly because I was a bit late for the train, and partly because it was dark, and London in the dark scares me a little!)- by the time I got the underground I had missed the train, so had a half hour wait for the next one, but luckily I had packed a couple of running magazines in my bag, so I got to catch up on reading.

We were all given a goodie bag with bars and raisins (and badges!) and of course I got to take my home-made nakd bar back with me. I am still hoping that they make a peanut butter nakd bar 🙂

I am very proud of my home-made bar 🙂

They are doing 15 % off all online orders in September, so visit their website to have a look. Plus they do free delivery, and often the pixie puts in something extra too. I noticed that the mixed case has the new flavours in it, which is a good option if you wanted to try them but didn’t want a whole box.  I am still working my way through the massive box of cocoa mint bars which I ordered a while back.

Anyway, although I was a bit apprehensive about attending (getting lost/ meeting people I didn’t know) it was really good- I enjoyed making my own bar, and of course getting to try the new flavours. So, thanks nakd.

Today it was such a beautiful morning, but by the time I got home from work it was cloudy and super windy. I did have a run, so decided to make it a quick one- my first mile was 10.02! 3 miles in 30 mins so I kept pretty steady, although it felt so slow because of the wind.

I was planning on making some kind of roasted veggie lentil salad thing, but it was so cold that I wanted something warming (and also I was tired after being out all day yesterday and a long day today)- luckily in the freezer I had a lentil chilli, so I defrosted that, added some fresh veggies in, and served it with some butternut squash slices (I was lazy and bought them ready sliced)- I baked them with a little coconut oil and some cinnamon, and they were lovely.  Yum- am sure chilli is so much nicer after it has sat around- even in the freezer, it seems to make the flavours mingle much better.

It reminded me that I really loved having chickpea stew in the autumn/winter- I might have to make that again soon. What sort of meals will you be making now the weather is colder? And do you like the sound of the new nakd bars? What flavours would you like them to make?  Come on, vote with me for a peanut butter/ pb chocolate chip one!

Time for (lots of) tea

Hey all

I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend, and avoided the horrible weather. I thought it was meant to be awful today, but we have only had a little rain today.

Anyway, this weekend has been all about tea.

I have been slowly working my way through the mountain of teabags I was sent from teapigs.

Last week I made a latte using a chocolate flake teabag and some vanilla soya milk.

When I got home on Friday I had the chocolate flake tea, just plain with milk. Both versions are very delicious.

The pure lemongrass tea is lovely- so refreshing and delicate.

Of course I have been loving the earl grey tea too (Darjeeling Earl Grey– very refined).

Saturday started with a trip to the allotment, to do a little weeding (there is so much weeding to do all the time!) and plant out some strawberries. I do have pumpkin envy as one plot next to me has at least 3 massive pumpkins growing, whereas only one of my pumpkin plants survived the slugs and is tiny, with only flowers (so no hope for a pumpkin this year). I spent a good hour there, and I picked some raspberries too.

Then after a bit of pottering at home (urgh- housework! Dusting, sweeping and cleaning floors, cleaning bathrooms, sorting out drawers) I headed out on a run. I decided to do 7 miles, and the loop I chose ended up being just under that. It went well, I felt OK, and so my plan for the next few weeks is to do 9 miles, 11 miles, and then I think it is my next half marathon (if I have counted the weeks right).

It was cold! I think I might need to put the vests away soon! I had a yummy peanut 9bar when I got home (the lovely Ffion mentioned that after her review, the lovely people at 9bar were sending out samples)- it was delicious. Plus some of the chocolate soya milk, which turned out to have gone past it’s date about 6 months ago whoops.

I needed warming up, so after my shower I had a mint tea. This was free in the Waitrose magazine, which by the way is free to My Waitrose card holders (have had one of those cards for ages and never sure what the point of it was).

After burning my toast (testing my smoke alarms) for lunch, I went out to the shops for a bit. Right, there was actually a whole stand of Christmas gifts in Debenhams. What is the deal???

I had a chai latte in starbucks (and saw that the pumpkin latte is apparently “coming soon”- wonder if you can have that without syrup?

Next time I think I will sprinkle on some cinnamon too. It was so lovely I sat outside- won’t be able to do that for much longer.

Anyway, I parked in Waitrose so I had to buy something!

There was a £1 off the Twinings tea, so I bought the Earl Grey stuff as although the mint humbug tea was lovely, I have a massive jar of mint tea. Plus baking things- gluten free flour (half price), chocolate drops (on offer), cinnamon sugar (on offer), posh cocoa powder, and rice crispies. I also got some coconut water as the Waitrose magazine had £1 off that too. What can I say, I like the offers!

I had to try the tea, and I love it! It does not quite taste like earl grey, but it did have a hint of an aniseed flavour, and was quite sweetie-like. Good for keeping me going during some work (my brain likes caffeine I think).

Then I got my bake on!

Dark chocolate brownies with raspberries (all from the allotment!) and white chocolate stars (which I added after, because otherwise they melt and turn into a horrible greasy mess). For work 🙂

I was sent another parcel of goodies from American Soda, so I cracked open the pumpkin.

For some pumpkin spice cakes.

Need to learn how to turn the flash off- using a newer camera now

Had one with some tropical rooibos tea (from Sainsbury’s) after dinner (found a mexican casserole in the freezer- win).

Then I chilled out and watched the Great British Bake off, and then a film about some men who decided to run across the Sahara. Amazing.

This morning I went out on a short run (3.6 miles in 34 mins, not bad) before it started to rain. I was expecting it to be awful today, but perhaps we have that saved for tomorrow instead? I have done some more baking and more pottering, and had even more tea whilst watching the Grand Prix.

Tasty breakfast of warmed baked apricots, yoghurt and granola, with a teapigs chai tea.

We are trying to hold out not putting the heating on, but it is getting very chilly now!

What did you get up to this weekend? Has the storm hit yet?

Holiday food post

Hey peeps

Gosh it is getting chilly now- might be time for a hot water bottle soon! Before it gets too cold, I am going to reminisce a little more about my holiday. We had lots of yummy food on holiday, and I took quite a few photos.

This was the best breakfast ever! I think it might be the third time I have posted the photo?? Ha ha. First up, iced chai lattes with soya milk- they blended them up which was sooooo good. (After that we realised it was much cheaper to share a big one!). Plus the yummy acai bowls- whizzd up frozen fruits including acai berries, served with fruit, granola and local honey. From Island Vintage Coffee.

Following a friends’ recommendation we went to

We had a few visits to Yoghurtland– my fave flavour was frozen strawberry lemonade, and a coconut one. Plus pb chips because I was excited to see them (plus some fruit under there for good measure, or to try to cancel out the HFCS).

We bought dinner from a little health supermarket one evening, and as well as dinner we picked up a few goodies- coconut peanut butter, peanut butter filled pretzels, a papaya and a vegan (there was quite a lot of things like that) coconut and banana cookie to share as it was humongous.

Shave ice (I want to call it “shaved ice” but no, it was shave). They basically scrape off ice, then pour syrup all over it. It was nicer than I thought, quite refreshing, but when the ice melted it went very syrupy, and I much preferred ice cream. The place had the biggest queue out of the door, so we knew it must be worth a try, plus they had very cool t-shirts on sale.

In Volcano there was a wonderful vegetarian cafe, and we went there for lunch twice. Once I had a chilli (yum), and another day we sat outside in the garden (with the goat) and had a delicious hummus and veggie sandwich, served with corn and potato soup and a salad.  The iced tea was lovely too- they made it fresh and it had things like hibiscus flowers in it too.

That was the garden although the goat isn’t in the picture, oh well.

Another acai bowl from another coffee shop- I had this and the guy at the next table went to me so loudly “wow you gotta take a photo of that”, so I did! Lovely, but not as good as the top one.

Our place on Maui had a little kitchen, so we took advantage of that with breakfasts at home- bought some puffins (how tasty!) after seeing them on various blogs before, and some lovely creamy almond milk, plus banana and a little bit of Andy’s smoothie.

I don’t think there are any puffins in that bowl! Not sure why it is there. Maybe I had some after. Anyway, that is fresh papaya and watermelon. The papaya was just amazing.

We also bought some banana bread when we drove the road to Hana- the little stand had a big queue, and we had to wait for them to take it out of the oven- don’t mind if I do! We had a few slices for lunch, but it was a small loaf really, so we had slices for breakfast/ snacks some days too. I think the bananas are in the photo so I remember what it is!

On our last night we went back to The Cheesecake factory (the menu is so huge so it had a lot of options for me)- we saved some space for a slice of cheesecake. This was a peanut butter one, of course (and luckily one of their smaller slices- some of the cakes are quite gross really with 5 or 6 layers to them)- we needed a walk after sharing that!

Ah, seems so long ago now! Once you are home and back into a routine it feels a world apart. I have some papayas in the fridge so I must try to remind myself of holiday by having one.

Night 🙂