Bread baking part 1

So after work today I came home and made some bread. I have really got into making my own bread recently. I didn’t use to eat it that much as I was never really keen on shop bought stuff; too squishy. Also I have been reading up more about where food comes from (I like Michael Pollan’s books) and recently read “Not On the Label ” by Felicity Lawrence. She has an interesting chapter about bread made in factories. Sometimes we would buy some nice ciabatta bread which could be heated up alongside dinner, but it was pretty expensive and still had additives and stabilisers in. So I decided to get some bread flour and make it myself. Since then I have made loads of breads (including tear and share garlic bread, cinnamon raisin bread and sun-dried tomato bread- yum) and people always assume when I say I made it that I use a bread-maker. But I make it properly using my own fair hands! It doesn’t take that long so I think we should all have a go. When I got home I popped the kettle on for some warm water, then weighed out the flour (Dove’s farm Malthouse), added the yeast and salt, and mixed it all up. Then (because I was making tomato-basil bread) I added a tsp olive oil, some basil and some tomato puree. I kneaded it for a few minutes, then left it in a bowl to rise. I went out on a walk (what a lovely evening) and while I was doing the rest of the dinner I made it into the loaf shape and left it on the tray to rise again. So although it takes some preparation (e.g. I can’t bung it in the oven straight away) it doesn’t take long actually doing it, it just needs time in between to rise. But not that much time! Plus now I have the right measurements I don’t get really sticky messy hands.

I have been getting a little carried away with different types of flour. I have strong white, strong wholemeal (makes a nice pizza base), Malthouse, Wholegrain Spelt and Rye. The rye flour is the only one that I have found difficult to use as it seems very dry. It is much lower in gluten than other flours (the gluten is what you stretch when you knead and it is what makes bread springy), and it is recommended to make a loaf using half rye and half normal flour, which I have done and it is ok but not nice like rye bread that you buy!

It’s also pretty ecomonical to make my own bread- a 1.5kg bag of flour would make 6-8 loaves (I usually use 150g flour for a flatbread, 200g flour for a loaf) and to that I need a teaspoon of yeast (I use a little bag of dried yeast which is 99p and lasts for ages) and then any other flavours that I have at home anyway. So £3 for 7 loaves of fresh bread isn’t bad.

So I urge you all to get on and do some good old fashioned bread-making! It is therapeutic to knead the dough, and quite exciting when a “mess” or flour and water suddenly comes together into a proper dough. Plus the house smells so good when it is baking. And you can add your own flavours.

The cranberry orange bread I made was very sweet, so I think I might try it again but next time make cranberry-pecan instead. I had some of this when I was in Vancouver and it was so good.

Now I am so excited because on Facebook Natural Balance Foods have mentioned that New cocoa nudies will be coming out soon! As you all know I do love Nak’d bars, and have a hard time deciding my fave flavour. The oats ones (apple pie/ berry/ cocoa) are good for a snack on the go, filling with the oats and only 99 cals (small bars) so can be a light snack. The nudies ones have a better texture, more like a brownie, and amazing flavours (gingerbread is heaven, cocoa orange is amazing) but with the nuts they are higher in cals so not so easy to squeeze in. But as the fats are healthy fats from the nuts they are a good thing to include (gotta love those healthy fats).

Earlier on they asked for new flavours- I think I had such a long list! I wanted a chocolate mint one, a chocolate cherry one, a carrot cake one, a peanut butter one (like a mini trek bar without the crispies) and a peanut butter cherry/ peanut butter chocolate one.

So I am very excited to hear that they are going to release new flavours- can’t wait to see what they will be!

Back to the bread baking- because this weekend I have the half marathon on Sunday I am going to have pizza on Saturday night (home-made dough)- I might even take some pictures of the steps as I go along. Then Sunday I might make some dough for flatbread before we leave, so I can cook it once I get back.

The kids in my class are all so excited about Sunday- there is a kids fun run and so many of them are taking part! I love it that they are all so excited about it.

This evening after dinner I had some mango sorbet- it was so good! Such a taste of summer. Although it did make me think that with my frozen raspberry/ yoghurt combo I could adapt and use frozen mango chunks to make my own. Once I finish the tub I may well investigate this further.

Well I am off now to finish watching some of the football- Hooray for the weekend!

Eat a rainbow!

Ok so today I will do a longer post- I have been a bit brief lately! At work today we were handing out all the race numbers to the children. On Sunday’s half marathon there is also a 5k and a children’s race (1.5 miles I think) so loads have signed up. They are so excited about it, which is good, although I also found out that we are having pictures taken, luckily before my run and not after as I would look a right state!

I had an apple and a cocoa orange Nak’d bar (these are sooooo good, seriously, much more moist than the bars with oats, almost gooey with a brownie-like texture. Mmm. ) and then headed home for a run before the rain. Massive black clouds were blowing across the sky when I got home but I decided to chance it and headed out. I think it will be my last run before Sunday; I have body pump tomorrow and I think I will do lots of walking on Friday and Saturday. I couldn’t decide how far to go, but I was feeling good so I went a little further than planned, around one of the lakes (saw loads of baby rabbits eeee!) and back again. By then the sun had come out and it was boiling! I hadn’t taken any water with me so I was so hot and thirsty when I got home. In the end I went about 4.5 miles in 47 minutes so not a bad pace either. It tipped it down about ten minutes after I got home so I timed it pretty well!

After a shower I had a massive colourful dinner (I really should have taken a photo but don’t normally photo my meals as it takes me ages to get around to putting the photos on the website). Anyway it was the quinoa and lentil bake I made a few weeks ago (red onions, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, spinach, lentils, quinoa, basil…), along with green beans, butternut squash and baby beetroot! I think I had every possible colour somewhere on that plate! So tasty and filling, just what I fancied after my run.

I think later I am going to have some alpro with some bear granola- such a tasty snack.

Another quick one!

Well the crazy weather that was forecast never came to anything (well here anyway). Although it did manage to tip down at exactly 3.15 on the dot, just as we were seeing the children out. Seriously it rains more then than at any other time!

I had aerobics this evening (fuelled by a Nak’d Apple Pie bar – my fave normal Nak’d flavour I think) which was super high impact! Normally we have about ten minutes at the end for sit ups and other floor stuff as well as stretches and cool downs, but this time we had about 3 minutes at the end! I was boiling when I left. But in a good way!

Coming soon- bread baking! But now it’s time to go.

A quick check in

Well today was a busy day at work. My legs held up well; after my speedy time I wasn’t sure if I would stiffen up today but I was fine. Originally I had thought I might have a short run today, but I had so much work to do (loads of marking that needed to be done by tomorrow) so I took it all home and got on with that. I did manage a walk before the rain started, so I have had some fresh air. Nothing else interesting to report I am afraid!

Race for Life report

Well today was the day of my Race for Life. Yesterday I had a walk up to the shops in the afternoon, but mostly pottered around, made some caramel shortcake (for someone who sponsored me) and also fudge.

I didn’t sleep that well (I never do before a race, always worry about missing the start or forgetting something) but I was glad to see the weather when I got up; overcast, cool but not raining (thunderstorms had been predicted). I had put my water bottle in the fridge overnight, and this morning I added some ice cubes. I got together my kit (mp3 player, Nike+ band, water bottle, number and safety pins, tissue) and after my cornflakes headed out.

I met my friend there (we did it together last year too) and we did the warm up. I ended up leaving my water with my boyfriend so I didn’t have to carry it around. Normally on training runs I would only take water if my run was over 45 mins, or if it was super hot outside. Then I joined the runners section! So exciting! Normally I join the joggers bit, but I wanted to get round in 30 minutes (previous times are 34 mins for 5K) and seeing as this year I have already done a half marathon and a 10K race I figure I am a serious enough runner to go in that section. My friend hadn’t done much training this year (she has just bought a house so her time has been taken up by that) so I left her at the joggers. Normally it’s me who gets left in the slower race pens and my boyfriend heading up to the front! How novel!

It still surprised me that within 50 yards of the start line people were already stopping and walking- I know it’s all for charity but can’t they go in the joggers section?

Anyway, I didn’t see the 1 or 2km markers; it was so busy and congested at the start as it is quite narrow in places. I was overtaking people a few at a time, but also got stuck in a few places behind people holding hands and so on. At one point by one of the lakes I was worried about being knocked in as I was overtaking people on the lake side and a lot of people seem to veer from one side to the other without warning. Thankfully I stayed dry!

I got to the 3km mark in just over 17 minutes, so I was pleased to know that being stuck at the start hadn’t got me off track at all. There was a steep uphill bit, and I made sure I concentrated on breathing (last year I had a bit of trouble at that point- I can start almost hyperventilating and my chest/ throat gets all tight) and managed a good steady speed. After that it was generally flat so I started to push a bit harder (got a stitch then but I kept telling myself “only a mile to go, not far). When I could see the finish line I was so amazed- I started proper sprinting only for 3 kids to run out in front of me (from one side of spectators to the other)- one girl saw me and dogged out the way but I was so close to taking the other two out! Honestly what were they thinking??

Anyway I crossed the line- my time was 28.10 which I am super pleased with! That is way faster than any of my previous times! Yay!

My friend managed it in 33 minutes which was amazing as she was aiming for 45 minutes! I got to see her run over the finish line and cheered her in!

I do love these races; seeing everyone dressed up and the range of ages is amazing and inspiring. There were 2 girls running along handcuffed together (fluffy pink ones of course), so many people with fluffy bunny ears, fairy wings and tutus (kind of like a massive active hen do). I even had a pink top (normally I run in black tops but recently treated myself to a couple of brightly coloured vest tops) so I didn’t feel left out!

I have my medal now, and have had a lovely lunch  (wholemeal toast + almond butter + cherry spread, apple, cherries and also more banana “ice cream”- this time (served 2) chopped 1 frozen banana, about 150g low fat custard, 1tsp peanut butter and 1tsp agave nectar= mmmmm so creamy).

Now we are off for dinner at my boyfriends parents, so a lovely relaxing evening ahead is planned (plus the finale of 24).