New running kit + palm oil free peanut butter

Today I was originally going to go on an 11 mile run (my longest before my next half marathon), but the weather was forecast to be raining and I didn’t fancy a 2 hour run in the rain, so I have put it back to tomorrow. When I woke up it hadn’t started raining so I had a 2.5 mile run before breakfast. I have not done a pre-breakfast run for ages, and had forgotten how much I like them (as long as they are short). Running when the world is waking up is a nice feeling, plus getting home, having a shower and having a breakfast before most people are up watching TV in their PJ’s is so satisfying. Plus you get that post-exercise feeling all day. Great!

I managed it in just under 26 minutes (partly due to there being no traffic about so I didn’t have to stop at all, and probably partly due to the hungry feeling getting bigger!) plus it didn’t rain until I was back home-bonus! I also got to try out my new running top- it’s a Nike vest from here: and it was fab! I like sleeveless tops and the ones I have are getting a bit stiff from all the washing now, so I have been replacing them. I normally buy one, and then get another one if I like the fit, but the last one I found that I liked (a Ron hill one) went out of stock once I had the first one- so annoying! I am a bit fussy with running tops; I like sleeveless ones, but I don’t like high necks, halter necks or funny racer back styles, or v-necks (so basically normal scoop vest tops) and also I do like proper fabric and not cotton. Anyway as soon as I had tried it I went to order another one and guess what…. They are already out of blue in my size, so I ordered a pink one instead. It’s not a colour I would usually choose for running in (clashes with my red face!) but I can match everyone else at the Race for Life.

I have been working most of the rest of the day, plus reading loads of other blogs as distractions (seriously writing reports is such a boring thing to do!). I saw chocolate covered Katie has been again raving about coconut butter here; and she is even giving away some of it. It looks so amazing, I have been searching for it online but can’t find it for UK delivery (I found a few and they turned out to be coconut body butter- not edible!). I am not sure what looks nicer, the normal coconut or the one with added chocolate. Maybe the normal one looks more versatile (would add nice flavour to plain yoghurt) but the chocolate one looks so good, it is all ready to be spread on hot toast or crumpets.

Speaking of crumpets I had a nice lunch today; 2 crumpets each with a dollop of almond butter (ah meridian I have missed your products recently) and a little blob of cherry spread- sort of like bakewell flavour! I love PB and cherry spread, and decided to try the almond butter instead. Result- a new combo that I will be having again.

I also had a pear sprinkled with cinnamon which is also super tasty.

After that I popped to the shops, one of the items I needed was peanut butter (love that healthy fat) but I was disappointed to see that Sainsbury’s own brand normal stuff has palm oil in it. Palm oil production has been credited for a lot of rainforest destruction, and so I try to only buy it in products which list they are from sustainable plantations (such as in Nairn’s oatcakes as oppose to most own brand oat cakes). The Tesco’s stuff has sunflower oil instead, and my fave stuff is Meridian peanut butter as it has only peanuts and a sprinkle of salt (they also do a no added salt one which is just peanuts), no oil added at all. The only trouble is that it is hard to get hold of (usually order online or get it from Holland and Barrett but I don’t go there that often, and don’t like paying for postage so I tend to save up items and order a big bunch of stuff all at once. Also Whole Earth only use palm oil from sustainable sources so that is another brand I am ok with. Anyway I am glad I read the ingredients as I don’t like wasting food but I would not have been pleased to have bought it. Especially as Sainsbury’s are increasing their things like Fairtrade products I would have expected them to make ethical food choices for all their products. I think I might contact them to see what they have to say about it.

For dinner this evening I have made a pizza, (basic dough) spread with red pesto, then sprinkled on chopped yellow pepper, sliced courgette and some light mozzarella. It is in the oven now and I can’t wait because I am starving! It will be served with a huge salad, complete with balsamic dressing and flax oil (another healthy fat). Yum.

I am trying to drink more water again this evening, and will have a nice walk later if it stops raining.

Still trying to raise money!

After work today (and after a Trek Peanut and Oat bar yum) I went on a longer run. It was great- the first bit was by a busy road but I never mind that (especially at half five when there is loads of traffic and I can overtake a line of cars). Then I got to the lakes and ran around one of them and that was lovely, I could almost feel my blood pressure dropping! I saw so many herons (loads of which flew out my way to the other side of the lake, and then promptly had to fly back when I got around the other side!), I also saw ducklings, rabbits, and also loads of people fishing. I really enjoyed that part of it. Then I had to go back on the road, which includes a bit of a killer hill (but this is good for me as I run primarily on the flat), back by some allotments (sniff, number 35 on the waiting list, my little veggie patch will have to do for now) and then home. It was about 5 miles in 52 minutes, not bad for an after work run.

I had some quorn in the freezer (I don’t normally like “pretend” meat as I don’t like real meat, but the fake chicken quorn things are ok now and then- this one had pesto and mozzarella on it which gave it some flavour)- added to butternut squash, green beans and sweetcorn it made a tasty freezer meal!
Now my fundraising at work is going ok (but despite taking in a big tray bake of marmalade gingerbread and 9 chocolate cupcakes I have only had 5 sponsorships so far- it appears some people are not holding up their end of the bargain!), so I made some cookies in a final bid to raise a bit more. I used the chocolate chip cookie recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook , but instead of dark chocolate I used white chocolate, and added in some cranberries. As usual I halved the recipe and still made 24 fair-sized cookies.
They are lovely and chewy, I am very impressed with the recipe as often cookie recipes are more like biscuits and go a bit too crunchy.
I have also had a nice snack; a pot of chocolate alpro with half a punnet of graze “Mount pleasant” mix, which is cranberries, coconut and apple. The coconut went really well with the chocolate, so I might just add some coconut next time. Have you ever opened a coconut? I did my first ever one the other day by smashing it on the ground in a plastic bag- did the trick after 5 times!

Frozen Yoghurt

OK well Monday I was rather busy (hence no post)- coming home from work I got stuck in a massive traffic jam (in that hot weather too)- had to shop on the way home, then I was busy doing work. I also made some Rachel Allen marmalade gingerbread and some Hummingbird Bakery chocolate cupcakes for work (to bribe people to sponsor my race for life- and so far I have raised quite a bit so a good tactic I feel!). Then I planted some plants (goji berry plants how exciting- they are only plug plants at the moment but the info that came with them says they can get to be 2 metres high if we don’t prune them! My garden isn’t big enough for that. Anyhoo it’s all quite exciting. Then I had a walk in the cooler air.

I also discovered a new fave snack perfect for the hot weather. In my mini chopper I put 80g frozen raspberries, 100g fat free greek yoghurt, and a squirt of agave, whizzed it all up and voila! Raspberry frozen yoghurt! It was so tasty and refreshing- the texture of sorbet or ice cream, yum. The raspberries worked much better than the blueberries.

Today work was busy (as usual!), I normally have aerobics but the instructor is away and they never get a good replacement. So instead I had a quick run after work. It was a good run, mostly in the shade and despite having tight calves I finished in my quickest time. Although I did see a man with no top on (why do men feel the need to walk around topless as soon as it is vaguely warm?) and a few kids who decided to run alongside me for a few metres for their own amusement. These are times when I am very glad to have in earphones- even though I can hear them as I have my music very quiet it means I can ignore them and pretend I don’t hear anything.

Yesterday I had sore shins and thought it was from the 10k on Sunday. In the shower I looked and found a massive bite on my leg- possibly a horsefly bite or something- it is huge and weird looking. Turns out that is what is sore on my leg and not my shin at all!

I have been looking more into re-hydration products and in Women’s Running mag this month they mentioned a company called “nuun” that do little tablets to be put in water to make a drink. They are vegetarian, different flavours, so I am hoping to give them a go. Watch this space!

What to take to a race

Well I was up bright and early (due to neighbours mowing their lawn at 7.30am with a strimmer. Seriously.) and ready for the race. Even though I had done this race before I still had pre-race nerves! Silly. Anyway I got everything ready with plently of time.

My list is:

Sun-cream on

Mp3 player charged

Water left in fridge over night

Safety pins on race number

Timer chip on laces

Tissues in pocket

Sunglasses on

The race starts in the village of Wheathampstead, and there were car parks available only a short walk from the start. We had to walk through a field full of BBQ’s, bouncy castles etc (plus loads of sweaty children with their medals from the 2k race going back the other way). It has a good family atmosphere. Last year when I did this race it was my first “proper” race (e.g. a chip timer one, men competing, people with running club vests etc) but it was pouring with rain, and I struggled as that was the furthest I had ever run.

This year was the total opposite; waiting at the start there was no shade, so I was hot before we even started. The race is mostly uphill (I had forgotten quite how much uphill it actually was), and a lot of it was exposed as it was through fields. Some of it was in the shade, and occasionally there was a breeze. I started off hoping for a time of 60 minutes, but after half way I was a little behind (34 minutes) and it was so hot that I decided to finish without getting heatstroke (hopefully). There was no clock on the finish line, but I had managed to press go on my Nike+ as I went over the starting mat, and it said 63 minutes, so I was pretty pleased with that! Will have to see what the official chip time was, but I am happy with that as a time.

Once you finish there was a welcome banana ( I always love a banana after a race) and more bottles of water. The water in my hand bottle had got really warm, so I tipped it over myself and drank the cold bottled water.

After a little wander around the fields we headed home, and am now having lunch (wholemeal tortilla spread with light cream cheese, red pesto and sprinkled with sundried tomatoes= yum) after a nice cool shower. Phew.

National Vegetarian Week

Last night after work (well, really yesterday afternoon) after a little berry cheeky bar I had a quick run to stretch the legs. As I have my race on Sunday I didn’t want to be doing a long run on Saturday morning, plus after body pump they were a bit stiff and needed a stretch. I had the same new route that I did on Monday, which was mostly in the shade so good for a sunny warm day. I felt quite springy and managed the run a shade quicker than Monday. I was rather warm when I got home so I sprayed my legs with the cold shower. I have read that is good to stop the aches (I think horses get hosed down with cold water after a race)- the idea is that the cold water constricts the blood flow, and then once you warm up after the blood vessels dilate again and bring new blood to the muscles to help repair them. I like it in the heat to cool me down too.

I had a tasty dinner (Rachel Allen’s Sausage bake without the sausage and with added veggies- not such a catchy title!) and some home-made bread. I have had some rye flour for a while and have not been that successful whenever I have used it. I was looking up recipes online and reading the pack and it seems that rye is low in gluten, so not so good for springy loaves. So I did half rye flour and half normal bread flour, a little olive oil and then tried that. The dough did rise, not massively, but it is supposed to be a denser bread than usual. I also tried out home-made tiger bread (it seems to be a secret but I think the topping is maybe sesame) so I put some tahini on top before it cooked. The bread was tasty, nice and dense, but the tahini on top was a bit squidgy though. I think next time I will add the tahini to the dough (instead of the olive oil maybe) to bind it together and get the flavour going through the bread.

After that it was still such a nice evening so we went on a nice long walk (for nearly an hour) and then went to water the garden.

This morning we have been planting out all our plants in the new veg patch that was dug earlier in the week. We got some canes to tie the pumpkin plant to (it has already grown some tendrils for climbing), planted the sweetcorn, courgettes (some already have flowers), butternut squash and red onions (they didn’t look too healthy though). It looks pretty, much better than the paving stones that used to be there. Fingers crossed something will grow from it.

OK so next week I think I am right in saying is National Vegetarian week. So I am going to explain how I came to be a veggie (no preaching I promise).

Basically I have never liked meat or fish. When I was younger I would eat meat if it was chopped up and covered in sauce, but I never liked the texture or flavour. My Mum would never let me as she thought it was not possible to get all the proper nutrients from a veggie diet. But as I became a teenager I became more fussy as I just didn’t like the idea of eating something that was dead (and probably my diet was awful as I just omitted meat when I could instead of having a replacement). Once as a family we were walking and came across a dead sheep, all rotting with flies feeding on it. The image of that really disturbed me and made me even more determined not to eat meat. When doing Home Economics GCSE I had to do a project on a vegetarian diet, and I think this proved to my Mum that I could still be healthy. So since then (since I was about 15 I think) I have been vegetarian (and that means no fish, no fish oil capsules, no gelatine, no animal rennet, no wines made with animal by-products). As I have got older my diet has become much healthier. At first I ate a lot of carbs (pasta with tomato sauce was one of my staple dinners), whereas now I eat a lot more protein in the form of beans, some quorn, nuts, yoghurt, lentils, quinoa….I never used to like beans on toast!

I find it hard when on holiday (especially in Europe where they don’t understand it- like the royal family “what about wafer thin ham?), and I don’t like going for dinner at other people’s houses as I don’t want to be the fussy awkward one (plus I panic about what might go in- at one persons’ house they were making food and a bit bottle of Worcestershire sauce was by the oven and I didn’t know how to get it into the conversation that it contains fish and that I would not eat it- luckily it came up and I said I didn’t like spicy foods so it didn’t get added!). Plus I get annoyed in restaurants when they claim a dish is vegetarian but then it has parmesan (one of the few cheeses that is always made with animal rennet).

I don’t mind other people eating meat, my boyfriend eats meat and we cook it at home, so I never try to stop anyone eating meat. But to me the idea of something dead getting into me is quite gross, so we would always cook meat and my things in separate pots/ dishes as I don’t want any of the meat “juice” leaking into my food.

I do eat eggs (free range eggs or ones from my Mum’s chickens), and I have milk and yoghurt (organic because I don’t want loads of antibiotics in my system and the animals are cared for better). It does not cause many problems because now I know which products are veggie friendly (and lots of companies are happy to help- I recently had some goats cheese which didn’t say either way, so I emailed them and they replied to say they only even used veggie rennet)- the hardest ones are yoghurt because of the gelatine and also the cochineal. At the mo I am loving Rachel’s Organic Yoghurts as they are all veggie friendly, organic and super tasty!

So there you go.

Now I am off to do some baking to take into work in exchange for sponsorship to my Race for Life, and I am also going to be drinking lots of water ahead of my 10k tomorrow. The weather says it is going to be hot hot hot!