Politeness vs pb’s!

Two weeks to go until my next 10k! I love it when we get race things in the post, although this is the most minimalist race envelope- literally all it contained was the number. Not even a little leaflet with the event timings, or a map, or anything!

Yesterday morning I was up bright and early (before 6am) as Andy was off to the Grand Prix qualifying. So I decided to head off to Parkrun. When I woke up I was hungry, but I didn’t really want to eat anything before the run, as I sometimes feel a bit sick on the finish line (just from the effort I think) and just feel I generally run better before food. I did pack some water and a clif bar to have after, and decided I would just take it easy on the run and see how it went.

I glanced at my watch a few times and realised I was going quite fast- each time it was showing 8 something (at one point 8.05??). I was for a while right in front of a man who was grunting and groaning in a rather alarming fashion with each breath he took- I was trying to run faster to get away from him! He caught me up and apologised (I think I said something like “glad to hear you are putting all your effort into this” but really I was wishing he wasn’t! Thankfully I managed to pull away from him for the last mile and a bit. The route is along a path to the lake, around the lake 3 times, and then back along the path. By the time I got to the end of the lake section my watch only said 24 minutes, so then I had a panic that I was going to beat my best time. Does this happen to anyone else? I get it in races too- basically then I get an adrenaline rush, and then my legs so all wobbly. I was trying so hard to think about anything other than running as it was making the run super tough. I caught up with a couple of people, who I gathered were first timers from their talk. When you finish there is a little chute (two temporary fences set up parallel to each other)- you run through it and as you run in the front, the timer person presses their thing (a magic stop watch) to get your time, and the person at the end gives you your chip. Anyway, I think I could have overtaken them right at the end (although this could be hindsight as I was pushing hard), with a couple of metres to go, but I felt that it wasn’t actually a race, and it might come across as being a bit rude. But when they got to the chute they both stopped, so I had to stop right behind them, which probably only cost me a second, but it was a bit annoying! My watch said 27.10, but my official time ended up being 27.12 which was identical to my pb! What are the chances of that? At the end of the day it is just for fun, and there is always next time!

I had half the clif bar and some water, and pottered around for a bit before my shower, so breakfast wasn’t for ages! I made some peanut flour pancakes, topped with vanilla almond butter, and some blueberries which I cooked for a few minutes to turn into a sauce.

I had a pottering about day after that. I popped to the shops as I had a Holland and Barrett voucher to spend. I went in M&S to look for a belt, but came out with chocolate peanuts (better than a belt probably) and those little sock/tights things.

In Waitrose I spotted a new almond milk by Rude Health- I love their muesli’s and multigrain thins, so I am looking forward to trying this. It has brown rice in there too (for sweetness apparently), so it is not just plain almond milk. There was a rice and an oat one too.

I had some melon and strawberries while watching some Wimbledon. Then I went on a walk through the fields and around to the allotment. I spent ages just watering the plants.

There is a little courgette growing on this plant, how exciting!

Lots of strawberries growing too! I picked a bit pot full.

The blackcurrant bush (whoops to my thumb being in the photo!) is heaving, and a few of them were ripe so I picked them too.

It is not looking too bad- the weeds are still growing a lot, but at least we can see our plants too. Although I need to pick the rest of the leeks, they are rather enormous now!

This morning I was up early again, so I went on a run before it got too hot. Well, that was my plan. It was baking by 8.30! I went for shorts- capris are quite long on me- I really want some knee length ones but I can’t seem to find any. Even when they look short on the hangers when I try them on they are long. Anyway, I reserve these shorts for emergencies and hopefully for when no-one will see me!

When I got back (after 6.8 enjoyable but hot miles) my neighbour was out so I had to have a chat. Was hoping to sneak back inside without anyone seeing me! Not sure if you can see how red my face is compared to how pale my legs are! (And yes we bought that mirror from Ikea years ago and have never decided where to put it, so it just gets moved about from wall to wall!)

I made a blueberry and blackcurrant sauce (the blackcurrants, plus about half a little punnet of blueberries, a few tsb of water and a tsp coconut sugar)- I cooked it in a little pan for about 5 mins until it bubbled. I had it on sourdough toast with some meridian peanut butter (bought some this week and it is so drippy it is lovely) and some melon. Like a posh pb&j 🙂

I am going to have another chilled out day today- watch the Grand Prix, maybe do some baking, maybe visit the allotment or have another walk.

Have you had a good weekend?

What is the last new product you have tried?

Runner up

Hey peeps,

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Whittard Afternoon Tea Blogger Carnival. I didn’t win (but it’s the taking part that counts)- but the runners up were also sent some tea!

I have my eye on the organic Earl Grey. Luckily we bought a new sideboard a few weeks ago, to replace some shelves in our living room, so we now have an overflow area for storing extra tea.

Also my other i-herb order finally arrived! We loved the sweet potato popchips while we were on holiday (I hope they start selling them over here soon) and I had some weight allowance left so I added them. I was mainly after the Vanilla Almond Butter which I had seen on Peachy Palate– it lives up to the expectations!

I couldn’t wait to try it so had it the next morning on toast along with a peach (think I put lemon curd on the other slice).

Scrumptious! It is super drippy too, so I am going to try it drizzled on some muesli one morning as I bet it would go really well.

On Wednesday I was actually feeling really nervous before the Sweatshop run- I knew we would be doing the long route through the fields, and I just worried I would be tired. The weather wasn’t as humid as last week which helped, but it was still hard. I ran the first mile or so at the back, but after that headed out on my own. The end of the field is so tough- it’s a good half mile of really deep grass, and narrow tyre tracks, and there were stinging nettles and brambles that had to be avoided. Also there was some confusion as they wanted to make it get up to 4 miles (it was 3.85) so talked about how to add a bit on. I thought I knew what they meant, but the people in front of me turned earlier (but still later than last week) so I followed them and we ended up doing 3.95 miles, but the lead runners (who are super speedy) and the people at the back did the extra, which was something like 4.35 miles I think. I did it all at an average 9.44 per mile, which isn’t bad as I am normally much slower on the off road sections. My run back home was much slower!

Last night I went to Pump- I mentioned last week I was not that keen on the new release, but perhaps it will grow on me. Although the abs track is rubbish- these weird hip thrust things, and then holding a weight above your head and reaching up (which hurts my neck even though we have to rest the head down between each one). I did add some extra weight to the chest as you only use the bar for a bit, used heavier dumbbells for the first rotation of the shoulders, and I tried to add extra during the biceps but had to knock it off as I couldn’t lift the bar half way through!

My shoulders are already aching today!

Have you ever won anything?


Healthy Vegetarian Diets

Hey everyone,

I have a guest post for you today from Olivier Perodin at Astronutrition.com, all about having a healthy vegetarian diet. Hopefully you will find it interesting:

Healthy Vegetarian Diets: Fulfilling Your Body’s Nutritional Needs

By Olivier Perodin @ AstroNutrition

Whether you’re considering becoming vegetarian for ethical, political, or health reasons, you may be faced with the old stereotype of being too weak to live your life fully. You may already realize that this is mostly a myth, since research from the UK’s Food and Drinker Federation’s Meat Free Group indicates that a vegetarian lifestyle can be much healthier than a typical non-vegetarian diet. However, a vegetarian diet can leave several nutritional gaps in your diet which you must take care to fill.

Calcium– This mineral is needed to maintain healthy bones and teeth and enable the body to effectively manage blood vessel, muscle, and nerve functions. Calcium is found in certain vegetables, usually dark green leafy vegetables such as kale or dairy products. Calcium deficiency is usually only a problem for vegan diets which eliminate all dairy products from the diet.

Iron– Iron is essential for the body to regulate the growth of cells and facilitate oxygen flow to the cells around the body. The majority of non-vegetarians gain sufficient iron from red meats. However, there are a number of excellent plant based sources of iron such as spinach, soy beans, and lentils.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids– These fatty acids or oils are an essential dietary component of maintaining a healthy heart and blood system. They reduce the rate of inflammation throughout the body, prevent excess blood clotting, and can actively reduce bad cholesterol in the blood. Non vegetarians gain Omega 3 in their diet from oily fish but there are many nuts and seeds such as walnuts or flaxseeds which contain high levels of omega 3.

Vitamin B12– This vitamin is essential for the health of the blood and nerve cells of the body. It is also needed for the body to produce DNA and prevent certain types of anemia. Unfortunately B12 cannot be found in any plant-based foods. It is usually found in animal products, however it can be found in certain fortified foods such as nutritional yeast and breakfast cereals.

Zinc– According to the National Institutes of Health, Zinc is present in cells all over the body. It can assist the immune system to fight bacteria or viruses; it is also needed by the body to make DNA and protein. Zinc helps the body to heal wounds and enhances the senses of smell and taste. It is especially important for pregnant women and children since zinc is essential for proper growth and development. Zinc can be found in pulses, beans, dairy products, and whole grains.

The Singapore Government’s Health Promotion Board explains how a full and healthy vegetarian diet to be achieved. There are a number of supplements which are tailored to help balance any shortfalls, including multivitamins, protein powders, and green food powders. These can boost protein, vitamin, and mineral levels in the diet to ensure your body maintains optimum nutrition levels.

Vegetarians can lead normal active lives with a healthy diet that fulfills their body’s needs. However, vegetarians do need to pay attention to ensure that they are consuming adequate levels of vitamins, minerals, and protein. According to Vegetarian Society, ensuring your diet is filled with whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and a balance of dairy, nuts, and pulses will help you fulfill your body’s nutritional needs for long term health and fitness.


AstroNutrition is a premier supplier of sports nutrition and other dietary supplements, a community of healthy living advocates, and an educational source for fitness enthusiasts. Check out our blog and join the conversation!



Meat Free Group

Singapore Government’s Health Promotion Board

Vegetarian Society

National Institutes of Health

If you are vegetarian or vegan or have any sort of dietary restrictions, how do you make sure you get all the nutrients you need? What did you think about this article? I must say I am becoming more sceptical about dairy products- I am vegetarian and not vegan, but I have read a lot of studies contradicting the Western perception that we need milk for calcium, and some that say our bodies find it hard to absorb the calcium in dairy products.

I do agree that all sorts of diets can be healthy so long as they are balanced- I think if you are eating a wide range of natural produce then you should get all the vitamins and minerals you need. But I still take a multivitamin (when I remember) for insurance! I have been having nutritional yeast for the B12 as well.

*Sponsored post

Skiing and Strawberries

Hey peeps- how are we all doing?

Just back from a walk to the allotment- the strawberry plants are loaded and I picked a big handful of ripe ones today- they smell wonderful.

On Saturday I mentioned I was off skiing- not on holiday, just a lesson!

When I was younger there was a dry ski slope in Hemel (near where we lived) and so I had lessons, and my family had a few skiing holidays in France. I was always very nervous and I liked to find an easy slope and go up and down it all day, whereas my Dad, sister and brother would go on all the slopes and ski to all different places. Once, they convinced me to come with them, and we skied from France into Italy on nice easy slopes (the ski pass included lots of different places) and then it turned out the only way back was a red run (green= easy, blue= OK, red= hard, black= plummet vertically to your death )- after being stuck on several runs my poor Dad had to walk home with me while we carried our skis! Anyway, the last time I went skiing was a good ten years ago, but last year Andy got some skiing lessons as a birthday present and really enjoyed them. The dry slope has now turned into a Snow Dome, and a Groupon popped up for a double lesson, so we booked it.

I was super nervous before, but I ended up loving it. It was a beginners lesson which turned out to be a bit easy, but I wasn’t sure what I would remember from all those years ago. We got there about half an hour early to give us time to get boots, skis and helmets, and then spent an hour and a half walking up and skiing down. There were only 6 of us in the lesson and the instructor was really good- he kept giving us challenges, so in the end I had to ski down the slope, turning around certain poles while doing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”! I was hoping we would get to use the lifts, but not this time. We think we will book one more lesson at a higher level, and then just go for fun.

We ended up being really busy over the weekend but I did manage to spend a bit of time baking. I made Cherry and Marzipan Tray-bake.

I based it on a cherry cake recipe from the Great British Book of Baking, as I could not find a recipe that fitted what I wanted.

I preheated the oven to 170C, and lined my brownie pan with paper.

Then I creamed together 175g pure spread and 170g caster sugar. I added 3 eggs, and a tsp almond extract (I used Dr Oetker). Then I stirred in 200g plain flour, 3 packets of baking powder (I have these little packets which I think are the equivalent of a tbs each), and 50g ground almonds. Finally I chopped up a tub (200g) of glace cherries, and mixed them in.

I poured this mixture into the pan, and then topped it with 50g chopped white marzipan.

I baked it for 35 minutes- it is hard to tell when it is cooked as the marzipan will be liquid at oven temperatures, so will leave residue on the cake tester.

I find they slice much better when they are cold, so I left it on the wire rack for a while.

I had a piece on Saturday afternoon to give me some energy for skiing (as our session wasn’t going to finish until 8pm)- delish! I love the combination of cherries and marzipan. I took most of it to work on Monday and wasn’t sure how it would go down as I know marzipan is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was all gone by lunchtime!

Once we were home I was quite chilly, so I had a hot chocolate to warm up with too- I love that Montezuma’s stuff.

I had Sunday as a rest day (we went out for breakfast to Bill’s, then watched some of the children from school in a parade in town, then spent the afternoon visiting our parents) so Monday after work I went out on a run. It was much warmer than I had expected. I headed for the fields as I didn’t fancy running near to traffic, and was enjoying listening to podcasts I went a bit further than I had planned- 5 miles in 50 minutes. Tomorrow we are doing the long fields run which was tough last week- not sure I am quite looking forward to it- I’m just hoping it won’t be as humid as it was last week as that is what makes it really tough.

Have you ever been skiing? Or would you be tempted by it? 

Healthy eating on a budget (£5 for 500 calories)

I was asked to join in with a Most Wanted campaign to come up with a recipe that was under 500 calories and under £5 per portion.

With the warmer weather approaching, I felt like a salad would be a good idea, but I wanted to create an evening meal. My favourite meal at the moment is the black bean taco/wrap things– I love the combination of the avocado and  beans. But that was not really a salad, and probably is not under 500 calories- especially with the cheese added in.

So I came up with a slight variation- Black Bean Quinoa salad.

This made 3 servings:

100g (dry weight) quinoa

1 tsp paprika (or chilli flakes if you like it very spicy)

200g cherry tomatoes

1 tin black beans

1 medium sweet potato (120g ish)

1 avocado

Lime juice

First up, preheat the oven, halve the cherry tomatoes and roast them.

Then prepare the quinoa- some dry quinoa needs to be rinsed before cooking so check your pack. Put it in a pan, cover with water, and gently heat until the seeds burst and they go all squiggly (technical term there). Add in a tsp paprika.

While this was cooking I baked the sweet potato in the microwave (just pierce it lots!) but if you are a potato purist you may prefer to cube it and then bake it in the oven.

Drain the beans and stir them into the quinoa to heat them through, then add in the sweet potato and tomatoes.

Add a squirt of lime juice, and then top with sliced avocado.

I now have 2 salads for lunches for the next couple of days too!

This turned out to be filling, but not stodgy- it was perfect after my 5 mile run today, and will be lovely cold once the flavours have had a chance to mingle together a bit more. One serving ended up being 350 calories, 13g protein, 7g fibre and 12g fat (mostly from the avocado I imagine)- I used the recipe section on Weight Loss Resources to calculate.

It also ended up being pretty cheap to make- I was meant to have one serving costing under £5, but the entire recipe came to £4.80 (using Ocado prices).  It would be lovely with a little salsa on the side, or a little fresh guacamole on top. I keep seeing recipes for cashew cream/ cheese (and have bought cashews to make it with)- I imagine that this would taste wonderful with it too, and still fit under the 500 calorie mark 🙂

A note of caution- treat cooked quinoa a little like cooked rice- it is not good to heat and cool it over and over, so once cooled keep it refrigerated and if you re-heat it, only do that once and make sure it is piping hot. 

Do you have a favourite salad or summer meal? Quinoa is one of my favourite summery foods as I find it filling but not really heavy, plus it is so versatile- I had a lovely salad with cranberries and dried coconuts before which I sometimes re-create at lunch times.

How do you manage sticking to a budget with your shopping? On-line shopping has been a revelation for me because I can see the total I have spent, so if it is too much I just go back through and delete items, plus I don’t get tempted by offers as I don’t see them. If I actually go into a shop I will spend loads more as I am easily persuaded to add things to my basket!

I was compensated for the cost of ingredients for this post, but of course all opinions are my own.