Fairtrade ramblings

Today I have been thinking about Fair-trade items and other “ethical” food purchases after getting those Divine chocolate eggs from the lovely folks at natural balance foods. A while ago when I was shopping there was a Fair-trade stall in the shopping centre and they were encouraging people to swap their usual items for fair-trade. Although I was aware that Sainsbury’s did fair-trade bananas and sugar I had never actively looked for the logo before. I had a look in my kitchen and was pleased to see that my normal tea is also fair-trade (but not the chai tea), so I ordered some Fairtrade chai from www.planetorganic.com (and some little bars of Divine chocolate- the chocolate orange one is very yummy). We don’t drink coffee but if we did we would definitely get Fairtrade (after reading Not On The Labelby Felicity Lawrence), and the only other items seemed to be things like biscuits which I don’t really buy (I make them instead!). I have been tempted by Ben and Jerry’s Fairly Nuts flavour (fairtrade vanilla with nuts and caramel- sounds amazing)…

Today has been good; a tasty breakfast (my new fave with Dorset delicious muesli and chopped apple), work was fine and am having lovely Meridian pesto (one of the only veggie pesto’s which uses cashew nuts instead of parmesan cheese) with veggies and spaghetti for tea before I am off to body pump (Tonight’s gonna be a good good night). Plus the sun is shining! After work I popped into the garden and it’s all starting to come alive; my new apple tree has got pretty pink blossom on it, the tulips are flowering, lots of other plants that died back are coming back and everything is covered in buds- Hooray!

A box of goodies!!

I am so excited again! You know the other day I said that I won an easter egg hunt on the natural balance food website (nak’d and trek bar site)? Well, they arrived today. I have won a lovely bag of Divine chocolate dark chocolate eggs (Fair-trade chocolate- very good) and a box of Organic Dark Chocolate “Cheeky Bunnies”. They look lovely and I will look forward to trying them during the next few days.

I also received a box of samples from Natural Balance Foods (www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk) and will be reviewing the products on here as I make my way through the box. After work we walked to the cinema, but by the time I got home I was very hungry so I took a Trek Cherry Crunch Protein Flapjack with me to eat in the cinema (I know it’s against the rules but I didn’t want popcorn or ice-cream). Ten grams of protein in a very tasty flapjack bar, it has Nak’d cherry raisins in it and had a strong cherry flavour. The bar had 240ish calories so much lower than a “normal” flapjack and way tastier (in my opinion). My boyfriend had the Oat Crunch Trek Flapjack and this also received thumbs up on taste. I always used to think that a flapjack was a healthy option (due to the oats) and it was only a few years ago (when I started reading labels) that I realised just how syrupy and fatty some of them are. A Blackfriars Cherry and Coconut flapjack has 441 cals and 20g fat per 100g. The original one has 457 cals and 21g fat (I chose these are they are similar flavours to the Trek ones, but some of the ones I looked at has 24g per 100g, and the bars are a pretty hefty size), and apparently these have won a Healthy Magazine Readers Choice award (that’s the Holland and Barrett magazine). I imagine that was for flavour possibly and not because it is a healthy option, but the trouble is things like this are marketed as healthy. Anyway I digress…..

After the cinema (The Ghost, which was ok, not keen on all the dodgy voices and not the best ending) I walked home and cooked dinner. I had a lovely homemade veggie lentil moussaka (made a few weeks ago and frozen- how organised!!) with some butternut squash and green beans- yum.

My back was feeling very stiff after aerobics yesterday, so it was nice to not run today. Tomorrow is supposed to be Body Pump but at the moment I can’t seem to book it so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is on as I have missed the last 2 weeks (was away one week and it wasn’t on the next). If not I’ll have a run tomorrow but I do think it is important to do some strength work and I know I would never push myself as hard as a class does.

Gosh that was a long post!

Magazines

Today was back to (full time) work with a bang! I have invented a new favourite breakfast- a chopped up apple (jazz or pink lady are my faves), 40g Dorset Cereals Delicious Muesli, and 100ml semi skimmed organic milk. It is so tasty and summery, and also very filling; kept me going through ‘til lunch as I rarely have a break in the morning.

I was thinking today about magazines; I do have a bit of a magazine habit although it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be (now I read lots of blogs instead!). I like Zest as I think it has useful features and lots of the advice is easy to implement (although I am not so keen on the ‘mind’ stuff). I quite like Runners World and buy it maybe every other month; I look at a lot of the articles on the website too. I recently got into reading Women’s Running which has loads of useful articles in it. Last month it had a whole piece about headaches after running (by the way after my previous long run I managed to not get a headache the whole day- my head got a bit hot but no headache). I think although for me it maybe sometimes due to dehydration, I think it’s also that I am so hungry that I often eat something sugary so am trying to eat “proper” recovery foods instead.

During the holidays I also bought Running fitness but I found it not so good. It was a bit off putting and demoralising because everyone in it was running a marathon, or running really fast times. I just run slowly and I am proud of myself for running at all; I am sure my speed will gradually improve but my half marathon time of 2:32 is only a bit less than some people’s marathon times.

Anyway, after work I had a yummy Nak’d Cocoa Loco bar and then was off to aerobics for an hour of fun with my friend. I am now going to put my feet up and watch Damages.

Don’t fall over!

Back to work today- boo! (I love the holidays – I can occupy myself for hours pottering around). I had lunch at work (including a lovely Rachel’s Organic yoghurt- the one I had today was from the garden fruits selection and it was soo tasty. I always get organic milk but for some reason, mainly cost, I haven’t started getting organic yoghurts yet. But these were on offer in Sainsbury’s and are suitable for veggies- so many yoghurts have either gelatine or cochineal – so I decided to give them a try and I am very glad I did).

As it was only a half day I got home at half 3 and decided to go on a run (then I can go to the cinema on orange Wednesday- normally that’s my midweek run day!). I had half a Trek peanut and oat bar (yum) and lots of water. It looked like it was about to rain, so I took my rain jacket with me, but the weather was fine so I ended up running with it tied around my waist. I find it so hard at this time of year to decide what to wear; in the winter it’s easy- as many layers as possible! In the summer its sun-cream and as little as possible, but now the weather is still quite changeable; a breeze can pick up and suddenly get quite cold.
My run was ok but felt quite hard; I had stiff calves and also kept getting a little stitch which got quite annoying after a while. By the fifth mile I had to slow down as I noticed I kept dragging my feet on the ground. Last summer I fell over while running (I think I was tired; I tripped on flat pavement- nothing was there to trip me up)- I ended up going to hospital to have it cleaned and bandaged as I had scraped a lot of skin off my wrist due to me holding my water bottle. I still have scars now! So I didn’t want that to happen again. I didn’t beat my beat time but it was over in 65 minutes (including some stopping to cross the roads etc) so it wasn’t my worst time either.

I had the rest of my Trek bar and then had a lovely warm shower (plus lots of stretching- I don’t think I always stretch enough) and am off out to Zizzi’s tonight for dinner for some yummy pasta.

Peanut butter blondies

After seeing Rachel Allen make peanut butter blondies on her Bake show the other day I decided to make some to take to work on Monday. They are like brownies, but made with white chocolate. They are so tasty, and are better when left for a day or two before eating. The recipe I use is from Rachel Allen “Bake”, but I have adapted the method a bit. I make it more like a traditional brownie recipe; put the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar in a pan and heat gently. Sometimes I add some of the white chocolate in this part. Leave to cool (this is when I weigh out the other ingredients, chop the chocolate and line the baking tray with baking paper). Once a little cool I beat in the egg and vanilla extract, stir in the flour and pour into the tray. Then I sprinkle the chopped white chocolate over the top (you can add it in before but I find it melts and this way it is evenly dispersed throughout the cake). It then goes straight into a warm oven for around 25 minutes. I also leave it to cool for a bit in the tin, then onto a wire rack, and then leave to cool completely (even overnight) before slicing.

They have a delicious chewy texture and you can really taste the peanut butter (heaven), perfect with a cup of chai (or normal) tea. It does suggest serving them with ice cream, which I think would be lovely, like a dessert in a restaurant, but a bit too much for normal.