Thursday, 30 June 2011

Week's Highlights - Food, Clothes and People

Hello everyone! Sorry I haven't checked in for a while - as I'm sure you can imagine this week has been super busy! Tonight is my last evening in our house as a 'Miss' (daughter and I are spending tomorrow night at my Mum's for a boy-girl split!) and I still have loads to do! Our whole house needs to be cleaned as various people will be staying in it, while we're on honeymoon, to look after the children. Liam is busy writing his speech and finishing off the table plan. And my Mum will be coming round with the florist later to let me pick the flowers I want in my bouquet (the florist specialises in local, seasonal flowers, so she will bring with her a selection of what is available right now). So yeah. Busy busy. I wanted to post something though as I miss you guys and, with the wedding and honeymoon, I'm not sure when I'll next be able to post properly (I will try to post quick photos/random thoughts when possible to keep you all updated though).

So without more rambling, highlights from the week...

Food. My eating has been all over the place (tonight's "dinner", for example, consisted of broccoli dipped in ketchup followed by peanut butter frosting from Spabettie!) but their have been some memorable moments!

Conscious Orange Raw Chocolate...

I love Conscious Chocolate... this flavour wasn't even from my latest order. It must've been sitting in my fridge forgotten about for a while...a very nice surprise!!

PB&Co White Chocolate Dreams and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl...

LOTS of peanut butter spoonfuls have been consumed this has become a bit of a calming ritual...both jars are over half gone...whoops but so worth it!!

White chocolate covered gluten free pretzels...

These were really tasty. I loved the salty-sweet combo. I ate the bag of these plus some leftover roast veggies (from a "proper" dinner the night before - I have eaten some meals, honest!) for lunch one day.

Finally, something savoury...paneer & pea curry...

This was as delicious as always (I hate that orange foods never come out right in my photos!) but my tummy didn't agree unfortunately! Liam had commented before that it was odd for a bride to be eating curry a few days before her wedding, which is why I made a curry rather than getting takeaway. I'd never had a problem with this before, but lesson certainly learnt!!

Clothes. I'd already bought quite a few clothes for our honeymoon, but I couldn't resist buying a few more things this week!!

Grey Cardi, New Look:

This is a really light fabric so should be good for the slightly cooler but still pleasantly warm (fingers crossed!!) Spanish evenings :)

Maxi Dress, New Look:

I did like this, it would have been an easy, relaxed outfit. However a) the fabric was very clingy to my tummy, and b) more importantly there is a grease stain on the front that I hadn't noticed in the shop (my sister handed it to me while I was queuing at the til for the cardi, so I didn't properly examine it) so it has to go back.

Floaty Skirt, local department store:

I love this! The fabric is so cool and floaty, and the pattern is all happy and summery! :)

Earrings, local shop:

I had my ears pierced almost 6 weeks ago now. I've already bought special earrings for the wedding day, but the only earrings I have from when I last had my ears pierced are dangly ones and I'm only meant to wear studs for the next 6 months. So these pairs will be good for the honeymoon and beyond! :)

People. My two favourite little people of course!

I get to enjoy so many cute moments with these two each day! This was baby "reading" a book by himself, before daughter decided she wanted to squish him a cuddle!!

The only other "people" photos I have on the camera are of me looking tired after only 5 hours sleep, and Liam staring moodily at his laptop trying to write his speech (indeed very similar to right now!) so I'll spare you those!!

I can't wait to share lots of wedding photos with you all! The majority may have to wait until we're back off honeymoon, but trust they will be shared! :)

Right, off to carry on putting clothes in suitcases. We have 2 suitcases for Liam and I in Barcelona, 1 suitcase for the kids for the week, 1 suitcase for Liam to check into the hotel we're staying in Saturday night, and a bag for daughter and I to take to my Mum's tomorrow night. Haha, lots of packing!!

I'll try to check in again before the ceremony (4pm on Saturday, not long now!!) and if you're on Twitter and want updates on the life of me, feel free to follow me - I'm on there more often as I can tweet from my iPhone in between doing other things!

How have your weeks been? Please catch me up on any highlights? I've been trying to still read as many blogs as possible (again, the iPhone is great for this) but I think I'm missing some with all the chaos!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Sunny Weekend

Today is miserable. The weather is grey and rainy. The forecast predicts sunshine for the next 4 days, and then rain again on Saturday. Sigh. And I've eaten way too much food already and it's only 4 o'clock as I start writing this. So I'm going to ignore today and look back at the weekend instead, which was much better!

Saturday got off to a great start with the arrival of my iHerb order!

PB&Co White Chocolate Wonderful and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, plus a bottle of coconut extract. I also got a random freebie...

has anyone had this before? It seems to be some kind of coffee with mushrooms...I'm a bit dubious to try it to be honest!

I did however get straight on to the very important job of peanut butter testing! First up, White Chocolate Wonderful...

This was super smooth, and super sweet. It reminded me of the fluffernutter sandwiches I used to have as a child! Delicious, but only for those with a sweet tooth!

Next, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl...

This was quite gritty, as if it had brown sugar in it (it doesn't). I've developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with this one...I'm not entirely convinced I love it (it also has a bit of a claggy/sticking to the roof of your mouth texture from the cinnamon) but I keep going back to it - I basically love the taste, and the raisins in it, but am not overly enamoured with the texture of the peanut butter. Shame.

My iHerb order arrived just as I was about to have breakfast. But after numerous spoonfuls of peanut butter (and a latte flavoured with coconut extract) I was rather full! So I had breakfast closer to lunch time instead... Cocoa-banana "porridge" made with quinoa flakes, sweetened with agave nectar and topped with White Chocolate Wonderful...

This was...interesting. I was quite surprised when cooking the quinoa flakes that they opened/spiraled out in the same way that quinoa does. But having said that, I quite liked the texture, and loved the fact they had so much volume - less flakes than I usually use oats produced much more in the bowl...this should have been like a lovely breakfast pudding. The problem was the taste - despite the cocoa, banana, agave and sweet peanut butter, the quinoa flakes still had an overpowering savoury taste that I just couldn't get past. I finished the bowl, but it wasn't particularly pleasant. So any savoury recipes that feature quinoa flakes?? I'd imagine the texture is too liquidy to use in place of regular cooked quinoa, so not really sure what to do with the rest of the bag!

Saturday afternoon, we went to a family fun day out which is sponsored and run by one of the local churches - aside from the alcohol and ice cream van (neither of which we needed) everything was completely free!! The sun came out from behind the morning's clouds so a great afternoon was had! There were so many things for the children to do - three different bouncy castles...

bracelet making...

biscuit decorating...

balloon animals...

face painting...

as well as colouring, free cakes, soft drinks and bacon rolls (Liam was happy as he got to eat mine!) and organised races/tug of war etc. There is also a little play park right next to the field, so baby had a go on the swings before we went home...

Such fun. By the time we got home it was almost the children's bedtime, so quick dinners were in order. I had brown rice pasta with sweetcorn, creme de st agur and chunks of goats' cheese...

Not the most attractive photo, or indeed meal, but it was rich and flavourful, just what I fancied.

Sunday got off to another good start with a yummy breakfast. Gluten-free sweet bread rolls (from my Goodness Direct order), one with PB&Co White Chocolate Wonderful, and one with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl...

with some frozen grapes on the side - the sunshine was out already!

For lunch, the others had leftover tuna sweetcorn pasta so I could have whatever I wanted...that'd be a whole jug of cold smoothie then!

200g frozen berries, 150g frozen pineapple, 250ml milk and some coconut extract... you bet I drank this straight from the jug, with a straw of course to be civilised!! :-p

I then made the most of the sunshine in the garden while the children napped. It was so hot out, bliss! I made sure to wear a strapless top to avoid any more silly strap lines before the wedding day, sensible, see! :) I had some more frozen grapes to cool me down...

I find I eat so much better when the weather is warmer - I naturally want to eat lots more fruit & veggies!

By the way, does anyone into gardening want to identify this tree for me? I'm guessing some kind of plum...

presuming it is a plum tree or something similar, will they be ok to eat? I remember last summer we ignored the tree and eventually the fruit went all sticky and attracted loads of flies...annoying as well as wasteful!

Anyway, back to the food! After a while in the sun I came inside to cool off, and eat of course. More peanut butter...

and mushrooms with houmous...

Once Liam got home from work, we went to a BBQ at his Auntie's house. No photos of my food (they thought I was weird enough not eating meat!) but I ate lots of salad with a few vegetable kebabs they'd made, and some basil tofu I'd brought with me. Plus several plastic cups of Pimms! Liam's Aunt has a huge garden, which the children loved, especially as it included a trampoline!

There was also birthday cake for Liam's cousin, baby was getting a bit tired by this time but still managed to eat cake!

Phew, another good day and another late bedtime - we didn't get home until gone 8pm when the children are normally in bed by 7pm! All good fun though, nice to make the most of the sunshine :)

And with that, I will finish this post. As I've mentioned, today hasn't been so good weather or food-wise. I'm off to circuits in an hour or so though so hopefully that will help to get me back on the healthy track! How have all your weekends been? Favourite thing you've done? From a selfish point of view, mine was probably the time in the sun by myself when the children were sleeping, bliss! Both afternoon outings were good too though, the children had so much fun which is great to see.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Evening Food Can Be Good Too!

After posting this morning about my love for breakfast, I thought I better balance it out by sharing my love for dinner too! I love all food really!! :)

Tonight's dinner was a good one - I actually put a little time into preparing it rather than grabbing the easiest/quickest thing in the cupboard. I feel so much better when I'm eating food I've actually put effort into and looked forward to.

I first pressed a block of tofu and then marinated it in this garlic chilli sauce I picked up in Lidl...

and then grilled it for 6 minutes on each side (in the style of Mama Pea).

Meanwhile I had some sweet potato chips roasting in the oven at 200C for 40 minutes, and I stir-fried some pak choi in the final few minutes of cooking time.

Between the oven, hob and grill being on and all the turning of tofu, chips etc I worked up quite a sweat from all the steam! The results made it all worthwhile though!

This was the first time we'd had pak choi this year and it was delicious (daughter even went as far as to say "I love pak choi!") - I hate it when it's overcooked so literally only cook it for 2-3 minutes and serve as soon as it's done. The sweet potato chips were great - just cooked simply in coconut oil. And the tofu was one of my best attempts at plain tofu cooking so far.

The only slight thing I'd change is how I cooked the tofu - the second side that I cooked was great as it was nice and crispy - once I'd taken the sweet potatoes out I turned the temperature up for the last couple of minutes (my oven and grill temps are linked) but the first side was still a bit spongy - next time I would finish both sides off at the higher temp - then the whole meal would've been perfect!

Any perfect meal should be finished off with dessert right? The others had ice cream, but I whizzed up a healthier pud in my blender...

Peach Yoghurt Mess
  • 1 pot (170g) Total Greek yoghurt
  • 2 ripe peaches (that needed eating!)
  • 20g raw honey
  • 15g Justin's maple almond butter

This was so tasty! I normally make richer blended puds (cocoa powder, avocado, dates etc as the base) but this was lovely and summery because of the peaches, with occasional bites of nut butter in it, mmm! I now feel happy and content without feeling too full...fingers crossed it lasts all evening!

What have your favourite meals been this week? Any recommendations? I'm looking to try out some new recipes as I've been getting a bit bored of cooking the same meals on rotation all the time - don't want to get stuck in a rut! Luckily there are so many great blogs with lots of recipes I want to try, but sometimes I just want someone to tell me what to cook!!

Top Ten Tips For Health

When Rachel tagged me to write my top 10 tips for health/nutrition, I started thinking. I'm perhaps not you're stereotypical example of a healthy person - I don't exercise all that much, I sometimes eat the "wrong" foods etc, but I try my best and sometimes that's all that you can ask for! You've probably seen some other Top Ten Tips posts recently - they're part of Total Greek Yoghurts summer campaign I believe. You can read more about it on their Fit 4 Summer website.

So anyway, my tips... I'm not sure I'll get to 10 but we'll see how it goes!

1. Start the day right - a good breakfast is so important. I love it so much that I ate breakfast foods twice yesterday!
Banana-Cinnamon Porridge with Justin's Maple Almond Butter
Berry-Banana Smoothie topped with Puffins & GF Muesli

I always find that my eating in general goes so much better if I start the day right. If I skip breakfast or have an unhealthy breakfast I get hungry within an hour and end up spending the whole day snacking.

2. Drink enough water. An oldie but a goodie. I use an app on my iPhone to make sure I'm drinking enough water throughout the day (geek alert!!). I usually drink my water either plain or with a little blackcurrant squash in at home, and with ice & a slice of lemon when out. Sadly my beloved coffees don't count as the dehydrating effects of the coffee counteract the water used (well, so says my iPhone app anyway!!)

3. Eat lots of fruit & veggies. One of the things I love about summer is all the gorgeous fruit that is in season - strawberries, raspberries, cherries...mmmm!

I also love experimenting with new-to-me vegetables with the help of inspiration from other blogs - I tried my first every kabocha squash the other week, and of course green smoothies containing spinach have become a staple for me.

4. Experiment with different exercises to find some you love. As you probably realise if you're a regular reader of my blog, I'm not that good at exercising regularly. I have however recently discovered a love of circuits, which at least guarantees me exercising once a week! I also love swimming and enjoy doing weights...I just need to motivate myself to do these things more often!!

5. Smile often. I'm lucky that my children constantly make me smile (we'll forget about the stressful 'getting ready for school' mornings and focus on the good times!) - I could watch them all day - it is so cute to see them discovering new things!

Daughter being a rabbit when we made carrot cake smoothies!
Baby with a smoothie moustache...we like smoothies in this house!
Other things that make me smile are trips to the beach, watching films, baking, chatting with Liam, my family etc...smiling is good!! :-D

6. Don't deny yourself treats, but make them healthier if possible. I usually find that if I try to deny myself I end up craving things more and go on a 'eating everything in sight' spree! I love making healthy treats that I can enjoy without guilt, such as Katie's chocolate chip blondies ...

So good! I've discovered that if I eat too much sugary processed food, I generally feel sluggish and bleugh. Treats like the blondies, and blended desserts such as Jemma's Choco PB Banana Pudding, are a good compromise!

7. Get enough sleep. I haven't been managing this and it makes life so much harder. When I know I'm lacking in sleep I tend to over-compensate with extra coffees, but yesterday I made a conscious effort to not have any coffees all day and I actually felt a bit better for it. But still, get more sleep!


8. Spend as much time outside as possible. I love being out in the fresh air. Unless it's pouring with rain (and sometimes even then if I have school-runs to do!) I make sure to take baby/the children out for a walk everyday. We usually go for a stroll along the seafront or to the nearby woodlands for a run around...

Getting some fresh air helps me relax, refreshes me mentally, and usually has the added bonus of some light exercise thrown in too.

9. Experiment in the kitchen to stop you getting bored of food. Not that I could ever get bored of food or eating (!!) but I do love trying new recipes. My favourite sources of inspiration are BBC Good Food website and Mama Pea's blog. Her quinoa stuffed peppers, quinoa pizza casserole and sloppy joesphines are my current favourites, but I must try some more of her recipes soon! Of course there are many other blogs that provide me with great recipes - I have a list on my iPhone of links to recipes I want to try, but Mama Pea is the one I go back to time and time again!

10. Find some time for you. This one can be hard for me with the children, but we are lucky that they are usually in bed by 7pm so Liam and I get the evenings to ourselves. Writing this blog is one of my forms of "me-time" (well, usually, I'm currently finishing off this post while baby runs around in his nappy finding lots of toys to mess up the house with!!). I also enjoy going swimming to have some time alone with my thoughts, when I can motivate myself to go that is anyway! And provides great me-time...I can shut the kitchen door, have fun making new-to-me recipes, and have something yummy to eat at the end of it!!

Well there we go, I did manage to get to 10 tips after all! Probably in a bit of a random order, my thoughts are all over the place at the moment, but hopeful they will help to reinforce what you already know, or at least give you some insight into the world-of-me! What are your tips for a healthy happy lifestyle?? I'd love to hear them! :) Thanks again for tagging me, Rachel, writing this post was fun!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

WIAW - How Not To Eat

Evening everyone! Time for another What I Ate Wednesday post!

Unfortunately, despite knowing that I'd be posting all my food today, I still didn't manage to eat in a way that resembles any form of structure or how I normally eat. Not something I would recommend copying. I blame wedding stress!
The day started ok though. I decided to get up when Liam's alarm went off at 6.30am - he then went to work and I had half an hour to myself before I had to wake the children up. Time to enjoy a latte in peace...
Re-used photo, sorry, turns out I'd left the camera on overnight so the battery had run out, whoops. At least I realised in time to charge it before breakfast! I make my latte a mug of milk in the microwave and then stirring in instant coffee and agave nectar. Perhaps not the "best" way to make coffee, but it works for me - quick and delicious!
Once the children were dressed and breakfasted, and Mum had picked up daughter to take her to school (thanks Mum!) it was time for my breakfast. The children had had peanut butter and banana on toast, so I was kind of fancying those flavours, but in smoothie form...
PB & J Smoothie
  •  1 banana
  • 80g frozen blueberries
  • 100ml milk
  • 25g peanut butter
I skipped the spinach today in favour of a pretty purple colour!

This was delicious, I loved the fruity flavour! If you're not trying to fit into a wedding dress in 1.5 weeks (eeek!) I recommend adding a bit more peanut butter. Still good though.

Baby and I then went to toddler group. Good fun. I resisted the biscuits and just had a cup of tea. All the playing must've tired baby out as he fell asleep in the pushchair on the way home, despite the pouring rain. He's ok - he has a rain cover. I, on the other hand, got drenched...

This was taken after I'd changed into dry comfy clothes (PJs & a hoodie!) and towel-dried my hair so not the full effect. Remind me not to smile grin in my wedding photos - I always get a double chin in photos but the above photo is just ridiculous!!
I decided to warm up with a hot chocolate rather than coffee. Mistake. The little Options sachet could not hold its own against my mammoth mug of hot milk.
This should've been white hot chocolate but ended up being a large mug of sweet, slightly greasy milk. Boston Tea Party's white hot chocolate can not be beaten.
Liam was working 7am-4pm today, so came home in his lunch break. I'd been organised enough to put sweet potatoes in the oven an hour beforehand (that's a good day for me - sometimes I wait til he's home to decide what to cook... "bad wife-to-be"!!!!) which he and baby had with tuna mayo and I had with blue cheese pate...
So good. Seemingly not enough food though as mid-afternoon I got hit by the snack-attack big time.
About 2.30pm the snacks came out...
Vegetable crisps dipped in houmous. One of my favourite snacks.
I ate about half the bag of crisps and a third of the houmous, which you think would be enough. However as always when I eat crisps (admittedly not very often) I craved something sweet to balance out the saltiness.
Enter some of Liam's milk chocolate (my dark chocolate has been re-hidden away by him!!) slathered with peanut butter...
...and that is where the photos end. I did have another latte when Liam got home from work, and more chocolate with peanut butter while preparing the children's dinner, but no dinner for me.
It's so silly. It's not that I didn't eat dinner deliberately per se but a) I still feel kinda full as a result of the afternoon snackage and b) I usually find that if I don't cook dinner for the whole family I run out of energy to cook for myself once the children are in bed. We do usually all eat together, but when I put the sweet potatoes in for lunch today I'd forgotten that they were meant to be one of the main components of dinner. #fail.
So that's my WIAW. I hope next week will be slightly better. At least the week after that I'll be in Barcelona!!! :-D
Does you're eating suffer when you're stressed/tired/lacking in time? How do you deal with it? I haven't been sleeping well recently, so that combined with Liam starting full-time hours at work, and final wedding details to sort out is leaving the food side of my life a bit disorganised to say the least! Not good at the best of times, let alone when I'm trying to at least maintain, if not lose, weight - after saying yesterday that my weight had been completely stable all week, it jumped up a pound overnight! I know that's not "real" and is a direct result of yesterday's afternoon snacks (many Eat Natural bars, a 9bar, and a whole box of gf choc tiffin bars...I found where Liam had hid my snack box!!) but it's not going to go back down if I keep overeating/grabbing the nearest food to me rather than eating decent meals!
Aaargh, rant over! Believe it or not, I woke up this morning feeling really positive and determined to look on the bright side of everything. I'll try again tomorrow!!
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