Baking mistaking!

Well yesterday I was recommended to try for podcasts to listen to while running (from Belgmoo on WLR). I had a look today and it looks fab- not sure how often they release a new one but there are already 30 back podcasts on the site, ready to download. It looks like they are over an hour each too so should be good to try sometime.

I had a pop to the shops this morning, and when in the health food store I decided to ask about a loyalty card. (You may remember that last time I was there the lady asked me if I had one, I just said “no” and then realised after that I should have asked for one). Anyhoo, now I have one- they send money-off vouchers once you spend so much.

A while back I was looking for a veggie cookbook, and so many of them have loads of egg dishes in them, which I am not keen on, or they were not “proper” veggie ones (eg still had parmeasan in recipes etc), and I came across a vegan one called Veganomicon . Now I am not vegan, but it is a massive book with everything from soups, salads, beanburgers, desserts and loads in between. I also thought that if they need dairy-free milk then normally I would be fine to replace it with milk and so on. There are already quite a few recipes that I have my eye on, including chickpea burgers, kidney bean balls (like meatballs for spagetti), bean burgers (is there a theme here? I missed having beans while I was on holiday!)- things that I can make a lot of anyway and then keep for later. But all those recipes call for vital wheat gluten, and I was hoping to find it in the shop, but no. I did however find cliff bars- muchos excitement!

Anyway I decided to try out another recipe from there- Lower fat banana bread. Seemed simple enough- mash bananas, apple sauce, splash of sunflower oil (didn’t have rapeseed oil), treacle, then mix in dry ingredients (spices, sugar, flour). Only when I had put it in the oven did I realise I had forgotten the baking powder- duh! Not sure how I managed that as I never buy self-raising flour, I only ever use plain and add the stuff if needed. So while it was cooking I decided it would be like a banana brownie instead. In fact when it came out the oven it had risen a bit, and when I cut it into slices, although it is not traditional banana-bread texture it is quite moist in the centre, almost like it has dates in it (but it doesn’t). So I was thinking I was going to have to freeze it and turn it into bread pudding in the winter, but in fact it has been rescued! Result! I had a little slice spread with some smooth PB and it was lovely- the texture of malt loaf but with a banana-rey flavour-yum. Who knew a silly mistake would create something so yummy?

Anyway I had decided on a little run, and loaded up the podcast. I only went out for half an hour (just wanted to stretch the legs after yesterday, and have a few non-running days ahead so decided to take my chance) but listening to it was really interesting. I think for a short quick run it would not be so good, (I like the music to keep me running faster) but for longer runs and slower steady ones it would be great (so thanks to Belgmoo J ). This one they talked about having running goals, looking to the future instead of the next race, having time off from chasing PB’s and so on. I didn’t finish it, looking forward to finishing it.

After a shower it was dinner time- hooray for kidney beans! Mashed them up with onion, tomato puree, chilli, mixed in a pepper (and some chopped chillis from my plant!!!), put in a wrap with a little grated cheese and baked in the oven- delish! With a big salad and some corn on the cob it was very summery and is helping to make up for all the good veggie protein I missed while on holiday.

Return of the red face

This morning I had some more bircher muesli (so yummy) but without the spinkles. It would be lovely with a few chopped nuts I think- might try that another day. I was very pleased to see that the rain had cleared, and so after a bit of pottering about I headed out on a run. This was going to be my longest for about 3 weeks so I was a bit worried about how I would get on, but in fact when I got going I felt fine. I ran up to the lakes, around the lakes and back through the park before heading home, and it was only when I got to within a mile of home that I suddenly felt very tired. It was much hotter outside that I had expected, and I was bright red!

When I loaded up the Nike+ it creates a little chart of your run, with a little line to show how fast you are going for each mile. Mine normally goes up and down quite a bit during a run, but this run was more or less even pace (all around 10 minute miles) except for the last mile which took a total nose-dive! It mapped exactly how I felt!

On my run I mixed it up a bit and listened to a podcast. Normally I have music, and on my mp3 player I have a folder for running music which is a big compliation of what I fancy (upbeat stuff to keep me going). But other people have reccomended podcasts instead so I gave it a go. For the first few minutes I was not sure if I would like it as I was getting distracted by hearing my breathing, and I did have to have it much louder than music because when cars drove past I missed a few words here or there. But in fact fo the first 40 minutes of my run it was quite good to have something to listen to, and I will definetely listen to more podcasts on runs. The one I listened to was a phone in on the radio all about obestiy;  “Is obesity an uncurable disease?”. It was interesting enough (one guy rang up with the theory that if you outlawed selling large sized clothes then no-one would be obese any more), and I was feeling quite pleased with myself that I was out running!

When it ended it went straight onto an old Reef album, which blared out because the podcast was so quiet- made me jump!

Since being home I had a lovely smoothie with banana, mango and some coconut water with pineapple, and then for lunch I had a wholemeal pitta with goats cheese, tomato and basil- tasty. I was still hungry so had a couple of oatcakes with Carly’s Organic Rainforest nut butter (so good- it is made of brazils, cashews and macadamia nuts mmmmmmm), and some blueberries. My legs feel fine now which is good because for the last mile they felt almost jelly like- that’s what 3 weeks off will do I suppose.

Later we are going for a family dinner, which yesterday I made some cookies for. I used the normal chocolate chip recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book, but put some peanut m-n-m’s on top. We tried one yesterday with a cup of cinnamon chai tea (brewed in the pretty spotty teapot- its ages since I had loose-leaf tea) after a walk in the afternoon.

So I wonder if anyone has any good recomendations for podcasts to listen to when running?

Back from holiday!

So I am back home again after a lovely holiday. We got back on Thursday and so I decided to go to body pump in the evening. Well after 2 weeks’ off it was pretty hard! I managed to keep the same weights as before I went away, but I was very shaky by the end, and yesterday I was so stiff. I had such a busy day (and we had torrential rain here) that I couldn’t fit a run in (a gentle one to stretch the legs) so I went out this morning instead. Before I left I could not find my Nike+ anywhere- (tidied away for holiday) after the third time of looking in the same drawer I found it, although while I was running I forgot to look at it at all.

I only ran for just under 3 miles, and there was some light rain but I don’t mind that. I have been caught before in torrential rain, and once in hail which was awful as I had to stop and cover my eyes as it stung so much. Light rain is fine as I always think it helps to cool me down, plus when I get home I get straight in the shower anyway. I just don’t like getting soggy shoes so I try to avoid the puddles.

For breakfast I had some bircher muesli. Once of the hotels we stayed in had the recipes printed out and rolled up for the guests to take away. So I tried it and it was delicious!

Last night in a bowl I put 20g oats, 10g raisins, 75g vanilla yoghurt, 50g milk and left it overnight. Then right beforeI ate it I finely chopped one apple and spinkled on some cinnamon and mixed it all in. I fancied a bit of crunch too so I added a fine sprinkling of Fru-grains. It made a pretty big bowl-ful and was super tasty. The recipe from the hotel also called for some sugar, but seeing as the yoghurt was sweet I didn’t think it needed any (it also called for half strawberry yoghurt and half apricot yoghurt but I had vanilla). The ratio was just right I think- sometimes oats can be a bit too thick, sometimes too watery but this was just right (I think that’s what Goldilocks said too!).

Now onto the garden!

When I got back there was the most enormous courgette on one of the plants- not quite a marrow yet but getting there. Have already had some. Also the pumpkin plant (which is rapidly taking over the garden) has a little pumpkin growing on it! I hope it doesn’t fall off. Plus there is a little butternut squash on one of those plants. Exciting stuff indeed, although with this rubbish weather I won’t be sitting out there much at the moment.

Although baking is a fab rainy day activity so will have to be getting on with that at some point.


Vegetarian Abroad!

Veggie holidays:

I have been vegetarian for many years, since I was a teenager, and I absolutely love holidays. Holidays are what I save up for (no expensive handbags for me). So I have travelled around a fair bit, and while in Switzerland I have been really impressed with the amount of vegetarian food available. Not only that, but it is often clearly marked on the menus as well. Now it’s not a totally fair comparison, because some holidays I have had almost ten years ago, and even in England things have moved on in ten years.

Past holidays:

When I think back to past holidays (in Europe or America) I did used to find it much harder, especially in France. Once in Paris I went in a bakery and got a cheese filled roll, only to find it had ham in it once I had taken a bite! Ten years ago I went to Boston with my parents, and had a few problems, including being given vegetable soup (so, vegetarian then) which had massive chunks of beef floating in it. These experiences early on led me to be very “safe” on holiday, opting for plain bread, margherita pizza, or pasta with tomato sauce. All nice options, but not particularly great to be eating constantly on a 2 week holiday. Luckily things have moved on, and for the last 5 years maybe it has been much easier.

Veggie in Europe:


When in Spain we were recommended a restaurant called Fresco (I think) which was the same as Sweet Tomatoes in the USA- a big salad buffet, and then help yourself to the hot items such as jacket potatoes, pizzas and pastas. It is a chain as we have been to it in Barcelona and Madrid, and a very good option for a veggie on holiday.

A while ago we went to Lisbon in Portugal, and that proved harder, because of the language more than anything. We stuck to the usual faves (Italian restaurants) as there were plenty of those to choose from.

In Switzerland most of the menus we looked at have had veggie options marked clearly. I had a nice veggie burger the other night- it tasted a bit like falafel and I think it was made with chickpeas. I have seen veggie fajitas, including one which was cooked with kidney beans (some veggie protein- I will get to that point later) as opposed to just vegetables. There are lots of cheese fondues, plus raclette’s (baked/ boiled potatoes with melted cheese and gherkins/ pickles) and rosti’s (lots topped with cheese or cheese and mushroom/tomato). I had some nice spaghetti with tomato sauce and fresh basil, and the same place also did ravioli stuffed with mushrooms in a pesto sauce. In another place (I mentioned previously) I saw both seitan and tofu mentioned on menus, and I think people generally understand the “no meat” concept, whereas before it was not understood. A little like the royal family clip of the grandma saying “she’s a vegetarian, maybe just wafer thin ham then?” or something to that effect!

Before Christmas we went to Denmark (Copenhagen) for a few days, and that proved difficult. Their diet is lots of fish (I don’t eat fish) and meat, and there were not too many un-Danish places. In the guidebook there was a veggie restaurant mentioned, but we couldn’t find it. So it was Hard Rock one night, and then a picnic of bread and cheese from the local shops on the other day.

I have not been to France for ages, in fact the last time was a trip to Disneyland Paris, which was not great! One of the children’s items was veggie (it might have been tomato pasta or something) and they would not sell it to me because I didn’t have a child with me! There were a few options around but I cant remember what now. A few French holidays have been self-catering, which is always easy because you can buy so much fresh produce from the supermarkets- I love walking into the fruit/veg section- normally they smell of nectarines-mmm.

Italy seems like a fab place for veggies (especially as I love pasta)- one of the places we went to has a local speciality of ravioli stuffed with pumpkin, which sounds amazing. I kept an eye out for it but didn’t see it anywhere-boo. I did have some lovely pesto (only made with basil, garlic and pine nuts- the parmesan was optional to be added at the table so I didn’t have any). There is lots of pasta, gnocchi and pizzas with veggie options too, plus the panini’s and salads etc. I had a lot of pasta with tomato sauce and basil, some nice pizzas including one with artichoke. As it is all made fresh they seem happy to amend things too. A while ago we went to Rome and we had no trouble choosing a place to eat. In Milan the rough guide recommended an ice cream shop with organic ingredients called “Grom”, and while in the queue I noticed that it had a list by the door of all the flavours, whether they were vegan (lots of the places did fruit “ice cream” which had no dairy at all- the mango flavour was delicious- like pureed frozen mango), whether they had eggs, nuts etc in them too. Pretty good. Also all the little spoon things were biodegradable. Plus the hazelnut ice cream was amazing.

A long time ago (maybe ten years!) I went to Turkey with my family, and it was the only time we did a half board holiday. The breakfast was fine, and the dinners were lots of salads, veggie rice dishes and loads of watermelon. All I remember having for lunches were grilled cheese sandwiches (but back then I had not tried hummus or falafel or anything like that)- I would imagine there would be a lot of choice.


More bircher muesli

Well have had a fab few days in Switzerland- have never been before and I love it! Lots of bircher muesli in the different hotels (last one had apple and plum in it). Italy is next on the list, not sure what there will be in store for me there.

I have been looking out eagerly for veggie options, and have started writing about being veggie abroad on holiday, so watch this space for my reccomendations!