9 miles in the sunshine

This morning I had 9 miles planned and woke up to lovely sunshine- hooray! But recently I have been getting headaches after my runs so I made sure I had a lot of water to drink before I left. I had my breakfast and then made some foccacia dough. I bought a book called “The I diet” (I for Italian) recently and have made a few things from it. It has quite a few veggie recipes and the veggie chilli and pizza recipe ( I leave off the ham) are really tasty. But it always takes ages to make bread (well, to wait for it to rise) so I started first thing.

On my run I took a bottle of water with me, but it felt like such hard work, plus by the end I could feel all the water sloshing around in my stomach- not so good! Also half way I had to stop and loosen my laces because my feet had gone numb- I think perhaps that feet swell a bit in the heat and so they had made my shoes too tight.

When I got home I was starving so I had the other half of a banana (had half on my cereal) and a Nak’d gingerbread bar (amazing- have not had one for ages).

After my shower I finished making the foccacia- in the recipe book you basically make a pizza dough, cook it in the oven then top with cherry tomatoes and basil. But I didn’t have any tomatoes (I thought I did) so instead I took it out the oven 5 minutes early, spread it with some sundried tomato paste, a little basil puree, and some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and then warmed it through for another 5 minutes. It tasted so lovely (just what I fancied after my run) and went well with Covent Garden Plum Tomato and Mascarpone soup (I do normally make my own soup but it was on offer!). Delicious!

Gardening on my rest day

Today was a planned rest day, as am doing my long run (another 9 miles I hope) tomorrow and I always struggle if I have even a short run the day before a long one. It was so sunny when I woke up so decided to walk to the garden centre and have a look. It’s a 4 mile round-trip so lovely to stretch the legs and get out in the fresh air (I can get very antsy if I don’t get outside at all during the day). I had a lovely time browsing the “kitchen garden” section and was very tempted by all the different raspberry/ blackberry/ loganberry fruit canes. But as I was walking there was no way I could carry them home!

We are seeing friends tomorrow so after lunch I attempted some peanut toffee brittle from Rachel Allen’s “Home Cooking”; it is setting in the fridge at the moment, although I am not sure how well it went. I did make sure the temperature was correct on the sugar thermometer but it has not set as well as I expected it would. If all else fails I’ll put it in the freezer! Am sure it will make a lovely ice cream topping.

Later on I had a lovely time pottering about in the garden; digging up dead plants (the snow killed quite a few), potting some herbs, planting beetroot seeds and putting my courgette seedlings into bigger pots. I am hoping to grow a few more vegetables and fruits this year. I had a try last year and was quite successful with strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, tomatoes and courgettes. I have already started off some courgette seedlings (including some yellow courgettes which I am very excited about as I have only ever eaten them on holiday) and sweetcorn seedlings. I am going to attempt carrots as well so hopefully I can use these in my baking. Last year I made a courgette chocolate cake which turned out quite tasty, and I love carrot cake so fingers crossed!
I am trying to follow the advice from my favourite gardening book (Carol Kleins’ “Grow Your Own Veg”) and will keep you posted.

Now I am taking it easy after dinner and am going to make sure I drink loads as I often get a headache after my long runs. I am thinking that it might be to do with being dehydrated so am going to make sure I have had enough water the night before too.

Summer Earphones

I was really looking forward to my run today. I had a lovely breakfast (half cornflakes and half Dorset delicious muesli) and let it go down while I pottered about. Then I headed on out for a 10k. I always listen to my mp3 player as I run and during the winter I have been using normal earphones as I wear a head/ ear-band thing to keep my ears warm (and it holds the normal ear plugs into my ears). It was been getting warmer so I have swapped the in-ear ones for some special sports ones (Sennheiser ones). They are great because they stay on even with the up and down movement of running, plus the sound is clear (I only have them on quiet as I like to hear what is going on around me as well).

My run was lovely; the sun was shining, there was a nice breeze to try and cool me down, and there were tulips out everywhere. My legs did feel stiff at times (but yesterday I spent about 4 hours driving so could be down to that) but in fact when I got home I had beaten my best time (one hour and three minutes). My 10K in May is getting closer and I am hoping to be as close to an hour as possible. It is making me feel more confident that I could actually do it.

When I got home I had a lovely Trek peanut and oat bar. Eleven grams of protein in a bar (great for veggies like me), the texture is lovely and it tastes amazing. I took a picture and I urge you to try one.

I have spent the rest of the day pottering around, doing the shopping etc, it is so nice outside that I may have a walk after dinner. No baking today although I did watch a re-run of Rachel Allens’ “Bake” show where she made peanut butter blondies. The idea is in my head now so I may make some to take to work next week.

Natural Balance Foods

I am so excited today! Last week I was checking my email and had an email from Natural Balance Foods (http://www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk). I love nak’d bars (especially cocoa loco, apple pie, gluten-free gingerbread and gluten-free cocoa orange) and more recently discovered trek bars; the peanut trek bars are amazing (and great as pre or post run snack)! Plus the website does free delivery- bonus!

 Anyway, I was trying to decide whether to order some more when I noticed they had an easter egg hunt. You had to look on the website for 3 different coloured Easter eggs hidden all around, and after a lot of browsing I found all three. I emailed them with the locations, and found out today that I have won! I am so excited! I do not think I have ever won anything before! I cannot wait to receive my goodies as the food they make is soooooo lovely.

If you have never had one before I urge you to try (on the website they do a little trial pack of all 4 gluten free bars for £3 I think, and you can get them in Boots, Tescos, Sainsburys and Morrisons). They are made of dried fruit, nuts and spices, the non gluten-free ones also have oats, they all have no added sugars or syrups or vegetable oils or anything else weird that is normally in cereal bars. A small bar is 100-160 cals, and a larger one is around 220 cals, so not bad compared to other less filling and less natural cereal bars.

The Trek bars are either bars or flapjacks, and again have much better ingredients than a “normal” shop bought flapjack, around 230 cals per (big 70g ish) bar. I love the peanut trek bars as they have peanut butter in them and are sooo tasty; moist and a bit chewy, filling and also delicious. Yum. If I wasn’t already full I would have one now! I may well take a photo the next time I have one just so you can see too.

I am so excited about winning! I will take a picture once it arrives! Hooray!

Rachel Allen’s Chocolate Cake

Rachel Allen is one of my all time favourite chefs. I have most of her books (Bake
of course being the most-used one!) and also love watching her TV shows. This afternoon I have made the chocolate cake from her Bake book. It seems like a fairly rich cake, with melted chocolate incorporated into the mixture (more like a cross between a brownie and a cake which can only make things better if you ask me!).

It didn’t take too long to make the mixture, and it only baked for 25 minutes (not bad for a big cake- well a cake baked in two tins).

Last time I made butter icing by hand, which was rather hard, so this time I am cracking out the hand-held electric whisk to make it nice and smooth. I also had some mini eggs left over from Easter to decorate! The icing went ok (I had to use 1tbs milk as I didn’t have cream and it seems a waste anyway to buy a pot of cream only to use a tiny amount)- lovely and smooth by the time it was ready. I used Green and Blacks cocoa powder which is so rich and chocolatey- I am sure using this makes a difference (plus it’s fair-trade- bonus). I put the eggs on top, and then (using my brand new mini grater) grated over some white chocolate. It looks so pretty (even if I do say so myself). After dinner no doubt I will be sampling it (the 9 mile run will be worth it I am sure!).