WIAW- aerobics edition

Hey all

I am so glad it is finally Wednesday! All week I have been feeling like it is the next day (today I really thought it was Thursday). Hmm. On the way to the weekend now. Thanks to Jenn as always for organising the midweek party!

I chose Tuesday (last Tuesday) as that day I remembered to take photos of everything.


Apple and Eldeflower yoghurt with chopped apple and rude health muesli.


Shocking photo! Nakd cocoa orange bar anyway!


Warm salad (heated up at work)- roasted carrots, butternut and sweet potato with tomato, chilli, wholewheat giant cous cous and quinoa, plus a pear.

Pre aerobics snack;

Raisins, hazelnuts and milk chocolate chips from Graze. Mmmm.


Baked sweet potato with almond butter, plus some roasted veggies (pepper, courgette, onion, aubergine). Almond butter on a baked sweet potato is the best thing right now! Loving it!


Vegan pumpkin spice cake. Yum again 🙂

I realised I never include my drinks in WIAW- they are always the same though! Water with breakfast, water at work, one cup of rooibos or mint tea at work, real tea with dinner, plus more water, mint or rooibos or chamomile tea in the evening and water at bedtime!

What is your favourite flavour combination right now? Almond butter and sweet potato for me right now 🙂

More budgeting

Hi peeps. Glad you all found the tips useful from yesterday- it is something I always think about (but still need to get better at myself too).

It is that time of the week again (or maybe fortnight? I have not been that great at keeping track!) to see how the Blogger Budget challenge is going. Thanks to Laura for organising this.

big budget buttonbig

So far I have been doing OK with it. I have been saving money each month towards car, holiday and general things, and have been checking my on-line account more frequently. I have been organised with Christmas presents and have bought most of them now. I was planning on making gifts too, so I have planned out which weekend I will spend making jam, spiced nuts, stollen, and decorating Christmas cakes.

I have also been resisting the call of Clinique (and deleting the emails with offers without reading them!)- I have avoided going into Boots and am working my way through all the millions of samples.

After my success of making my own almond milk I have not repeated this, but I will as it was super easy. Maybe in a week or two!

One thing I was thinking about was using things like reward cards to get the best out of your spending. I really love the Boots Advantage card, (you get points when you spend money and then each point is worth a penny to spend back), and we also do things like use Tesco’s vouchers to get cinema tickets and things. One thing we use a lot is Quidco . The website is a bit like a broker I suppose, but for example if I was looking for car insurance then I would look on Quidco, and they offer cashback if you go to the websites via quidco. Does that make sense? Anyway, it is worth signing up and if either of us need anything (like car insurance, house insurance, hotels, even places like Play have quidco on purchases) we go through them (when I remember- another target for me to work on!) and it all adds up. Every penny counts after all!

Which loyalty cards do you like?

Staying safe in the dark

Man it is dark out there now.

When I got home from work (this was about 5pm) it was so dark, and as I was going out for a run it meant I could try my new super cool high-viz running vest.

You get the idea 🙂 I did about 4.5 miles in 45 mins, so I kept it pretty speedy- but I had quite sore shins when I got home. Hmmm. Cue lots of stretching. The vest was good though- stayed in place (my big Ikea one keeps coming undone as the velcro is a bit old now and it flaps all over the place), and as it is like a string vest it did not make me overheat or anything.

Anyway I was pondering running in the dark, and how to stay safe. I did a post last year and I was thinking of more things to add. I was also chatting briefly to Bronagh about keeping warm/ running in the dark on Friday (she popped around to pick up her prizes- very exciting to have my first mini blogger meet!).

I think staying safe has lots of meanings;

  • Staying seen by traffic.
  • Seeing the roads/ surface you are running on.
  • Being safe personally.
  • Keeping warm.

Being seen

First of all you need to be seen by traffic- this is so important (when I drive in my car I realise just how hard it is to see pedestrians, whereas when you are out in the street lights it does not seem as dark I don’t think). So bright clothes, those little reflective snap bands on your wrists, cool yellow hats- just don’t wear all black!

Cross roads at sensible places (I always run on the pavement, never the roads) and make sure if cars are slowing down, it is because they have seen you and not because it is coming up to a junction and they are looking up the road. Make eye contact with the drivers!

Even if the green man is showing, still look! I see so many cars go through red lights (and in the dark they are less likely to see you). So be cautious.

Seeing the roads/ pavements

I stick to places lit by street lights- I have a few routes that I have discounted now that it is dark, because they are unlit and I cannot see the ground, which is super weird.

You could get a head torch if you have to run on un-lit roads.

Being personally safe

First up, know your area. There was some stuff in the local paper a while back about a flasher (up by the old railway line) and so I would not run there at any time, but certainly not now it is dark.

I like to run around a local park, and in the summer it is full of people fishing, walking dogs, running, walking etc, but in the winter it is deserted. Plus it is not lit and a long way from the roads.

Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back- if you live alone you could text a friend when you leave and when you get back. I always leave a note for Andy if he is not back from work.

Consider a personal alarm. I had a free one once, but the toggle thing came out easily and I was worried it would go off while I was running accidentely!

Carry some spare change (in case you need to call for a lift) or a phone. (This is my personal target as I am terrible at remembering mine).

Have some personal ID on you (in case the worst happens and you need a passer by or paramedics). These road ID’s (from www.RoadID.com) are a great idea as you can have medical info as well as contact details on there.

Be aware of your surroundings- if you listen to music then have the sound very low- I can always hear my footsteps.

Don’t always do the same route at the same time (a bit freaky but you never know who is watching).

Stick to busy routes- I like near me as there are people catching buses, leaving work, and lots of cars on the road so I never feel alone. I feel much safer at 5/6 pm than I would at 8pm, so I run as soon as I get home from work (and try to leave earlier on those days).

Join a club, run with a buddy or go to a track.

Keeping warm

Not quite the same, but still important! Plus if you are warm (or not freezing) you are more likely to go out on a run in the first place.

Remember that your body diverts heat from your extremities to keep your organs at the right temperature, so ears, toes, fingers etc get cold quickly.

Last year when it was frosty I would layer up like crazy- tights, capris, shorts, long sleeved top, t-shirt, jacket, gloves, ear warmer…

I suffer from chilblains and was told to only wear one pair of socks- the nurse told me that a lot of people wear lots of pairs of socks but this restricts the circulation more so makes the situation worse. Plus I have to warm up at home for a bit before I get in the shower. So I have thick running socks (they are better for blisters anyway) and layer up your body so your core stays warmer.

Be careful of frosty surfaces! Last year when it was really snowy and icy not many paths were clear, so for a while I made do with a Jillian DVD! But I soon went stir crazy and in the end found 1 mile of free pavement- so I just ran that up and back as many times as I wanted to for my runs. Boring yes, but at least I was not slipping on the ice.

Also if you take water with you, you could make it lukewarm when you leave, so your hands don’t freeze. By the time you go to drink it, it will have cooled anyway. I am sure I read this somewhere but not sure where!

Anything I have missed off?

How do you stay safe when running/ exercising in the dark? 

Lebkuchen recipe and gift ideas

I love love love lebkuchen, those soft spicy gingerbread-like half cookie half cakes that you can get at this time of year.  Must be my Austrian roots showing though! We always used to buy a bag or two (good for a little snack as they tend to be about 50 cals each so a nice seasonal treat), but this year when I noticed them in the shops, upon reading the ingredients I was very annoyed to see they all contained pork gelatine. Hmm, they never used to. I suspect they are all made in the same place, as all the shops checked so far have the same problem (Asda, Tesco, and Andy’s parents got a mix pack from Aldi which was also not veggie). I told Andy about how I was sad because I do love them, and what did he do?

Yup, he bought himself a bag! Hmm.

So I decided that I would try to hunt down a recipe, which is easier said than done. In the end I found this recipe, and from the comments it seemed like it was the soft of thing I was after. Some of the recipes looked like gingerbread cakes, and some looked too crunchy. The comments also mentioned that you should leave the dough overnight to make them have a more authentic texture.

I halved the recipe.

First up I mixed 125g plain flour, 45g ground almonds, 1tsp ground ginger, 1tsp cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and some mixed spice, with 1/2tsp baking powder and 1/4tsp bicarb.

Then I melted 100ml honey and 40g pure spread, and poured this over the flour mix. I am sure golden syrup would work just as well, as it is a similar recipe and technique to making gingerbread for houses.

Then I mixed it all into a ball of dough.

I left it to cool for a bit, covered it in cling film and left it in the fridge overnight.

The next day I preheated the oven to 180C, and rolled the dough into little balls. It needed to be squashed and kneaded a little bit.

These went into the oven for 12 mins (the recipe said 15 but a lot of the comments said this was too long). Next time I might even try 10 mins.

When they had cooled a little bit I coated them in a little apricot jam. The lebkucken I love the most have a little apricot filling with dark chocolate.

Then I melted a little dark chocolate (maybe 50g) and stirred in a little cinnamon and ginger. I then dropped this over the top of the jam.

I tried one right away (too impatient to wait for the chocolate to set!) and I am really pleased with the results- they are slightly soft but not like a cake, and lovely and spiced. Yum.

We had a lovely relaxing Sunday- did some gardening (we still had bulbs that needed planting) and walked up to the shops- Andy even treated me to a soy chai latte in Caffe Nero (we don’t have a Starbucks) and on our way back popped to Aldi for a few bits. Look what we found!

Yup- they did not have the ones that Andy’s parents bought, but both the bag of iced ones and the pack of chocolate ones are vegetarian. Ah well, nothing quite beats home-made does it?

I bought some very cute kitchen things the other week from accessorize:

These are little cookie stencil things- I was thinking they would make pretty shapes on top of chai lattes, but I think I need my milk a little more frothy- need one of those hand held milk whisker things.

And a gingerbread family! How cute! I may not have time to make a gingerbread house this year, but I will for sure make some little people 🙂

I have also been perusing the internet for gifts (for others, and also things I would love!).

How about a Yankee Candle sampler set from play?

Or this cute owl door stop?

Or a cookie monster dressing gown???? (I caved in and bought the matching PJ’s as I needed another pair with sleeves!)

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

I already have this book and it is amazing- never had a bad recipe yet! Click on this link to visit Amazon and look inside if you don’t believe me.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World: 75 Dairy-free Recipes for Cupcakes That Rule

As that book is so good, I am tempted by the cupcakes book by the same authors.

How about an Owl hot water bottle? I am loving owls at the moment- so cute!

Nike Ladies Thermal Running Gloves

Or some thermal running gloves (from Wiggle– Andy has the men’s version and they seem fantastic compared to other brands).

Owl Cupcake Cases

Or owl cupcake cases????

teatime wheat warmer

Or a scented warmer (I love the ones you can heat in the microwave)

And it would not be my blog without some kind of tea!

I must say I am totally loving the fact that it is all on the internet too! Yesterday I did a 10 mile run (1 hr 47 so I was very pleased- think that might be my fastest on that route?) but was a bit tired in the afternoon. I popped to the shops- while I was there I saw a scarf that I thought my Nan would love, so I queued up (in M&S) and I am not joking there was one woman in front of me and she spent 15 minutes at the checkout!!!!! Argh! She kept adding things on, taking things off, trying to use vouchers, needing gift receipts, getting more jewellery, buying things separately- honestly my blood was boiling! Then I went into John Lewis as I saw things in the window when I ran past, and got totally lost inside the shop- it was so busy and claustrophobic and hot and I was worried I would give myself a panic attack or something (not that I suffer from them, but I did feel lost and had no idea how to get out of the shop and people kept bashing into me!!!)-much nicer to sit at home with a cup of tea and order things! 🙂

Do you prefer to buy in store or online?

What is on your Christmas wishlist?

And is it just me that is obsessed with those lebkucken??

Recipes from Lucy Hyder

A while ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Rachel’s Organic. They are running a “Moments” campaign – they want to know how people spend their precious moments to relax, unwind and indulge. Lucy Hyder is the head chef for Hand Picked Hotels, and has developed some recipes using Rachel’s Organic Yoghurts.

A Brief Background On Lucy Hyder (sent to me by Rachel’s)

The only female head-chef of Hand-Picked Hotels, Lucy began her cookery career working an apprenticeship at The Mirabelle restaurant before being promoted to the position of Head Chef at The Hotel on The Park Cheltenham. At just 23 years old, Lucy’s culinary expertise successfully awarded The Hotel on The Park with their third Rosette. Her creative flair and passion for cooking saw Lucy win The British (food) Championships, representing Great Britain at the Food Championships in South Korea and even win the regional’s of Gordon Ramsey’s Scholarship competition 2003. In her current position as head-chef at Buxted Park, East Sussex, she offers her diners good quality British food, sourcing local produce with simple, but hard hitting flavours with contrasting textures and high visual appeal.

They sent me a lot of yoghurts and some recipes to try out.

A lot of yoghurt! The apple and elderflower yoghurt is so refreshing, and the greek style with honey was so luxurious. I also had some of the coconut, banana and pineapple with was lovely (although I would swap out the banana for something like lime as I am not always a fan of banana flavoured things). I am really looking forward to opening the coconut yoghurt!

Lovely with a chopped pear as a post run snack 🙂

Anyway I was asked to try out a Moroccan Lamb Tagine (I did check before I agreed that they would not mind me subbing the lamb for lentils!).

The recipe is here on the Rachel’s website, so you can make it yourself if you want to! All I did was swap in lentils for the lamb, and use vecon stock instead of lamb stock.

I served mine with some roasted orange veg (sweet potato, carrot and butternut)- it was very spicy but also very filling. The yoghurt was a nice touch to cool it down a bit- I never usually add yoghurt to savoury things but I am thinking it would go well with my chickpea stew too.

I am not sure I liked the apricots in it- I think the prunes added a nice sweetness but I think maybe the apricots were a bit too sweet? I am not usually into the sweet and sour combo, and I think it reminded me a little of that. A lovely winter warmer anyway.

Lucy also complied her top culinary tips:

Ø  Top tip for an autumn day – warm raspberries thrown in to a pan with a little bit of sugar served with granola and yoghurt – perfect start to the day!

Ø  On fireworks night or Halloween – enjoy pumpkin soup while outside enjoying the fun. Top tip – dry out the seeds from the pumpkin and create toasted seeds to add texture. Great with a lightly spiced yoghurt too!

Ø  Selecting a healthy option when dining out – In order to select a healthy option, always discuss recommendations with your waiter – ask for sauces and dressings to be served on the side to give you the option to eat or not.

Ø  Food presentation – use a piping bag for items such as mashed potato and purees. Think about colour and food height on the plate too.

Ø  Finishing touches – use fresh herbs to garnish plates for extra appeal.

Ø  Extra flavour – season water for blanching vegetables to enhance the flavour and also retain their colour

Ø  Drink water – while dining to clear your palette to enjoy the food to the maximum

Ø  Super food booster – Lucy makes her own muesli that contains a variety of nuts and dried fruit. Add granola for more of a treat.

Ø  Super dooper curry booster – Daal curry is a superfood option cooked with lentils and works well as a vegetarian or meat option. Serve with yoghurt, with added cucumber and onion for a great finish!

Ø  When holding a dinner party – always serve a cold (prepared) starter, a hot main and pre-prepared dessert to allow maximum time with guests and minimal kitchen time.

Ø  During the summer months – use the fresh seasonal items and make soup, chutneys and jams and freeze for consumption during the winter months.

I am also going to make a cake with the yoghurt- sounds yummy right?

What is your favourite way to use yoghurt?

And what do you do to relax/ unwind and have time to yourself? I find baking so relaxing and rewarding, and also getting some fresh air (either a run or a walk) can help blow those cobwebs away. But for a special treat I love to sit down in the afternoon with a good book and a cup of tea- normally I read before bed so reading in the afternoon somehow seems like such chilling out time.