On Prepping Meals and Planning Life

Three days meal prep - turkey burgers and marinated sea bass

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I’m a little overwhelmed by how fast time seems to move. You put something off for a day and all of a sudden two weeks have gone by and you still haven’t completed that task. You get a job ‘just for now’ until you’ve got time to discover what it is you want to do and then it’s a year later and you’re no step closer to either having the time (because, job) or the money (it’s incredible how fast you get used to spending it once you have it), or the ideas for what to do in order to ‘find yourself’. What does ‘find yourself’ even mean anyway? I know exactly where I am – not exactly where I want to be right now, but living relatively comfortably in central-ish London.

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Turkey, Feta and Spinach Burgers

Turkey Burgers

This recipe is a classic in my house at the moment. We’ve had our ups and downs, but turkey burgers seasoned with spinach and feta have been a constant in my life for at least the past three years. I’ve written up the most recent version of the recipe, but I’ll also give you the no-food-processor method, which was my main method for many years!

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Date, Cashew and Coffee “Chocolates”

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How good do those look?

If your answer was “incredible” you’ll be pleased to know they taste EVEN BETTER than they look. If your answer was “meh, they’re OK”, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong, and you should have picked the first answer.

Unfortunately I did not come up with this amazing recipe, I learnt about it from a lady called Susanna K in the Blogilates Hot Body Challenge Dietbet. Whoever came up with the idea originally I have no clue, but massive kudos to them because these were delicious and I’m extremely sad that I ate the last three one today.

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Cheesy Low-Cal Aubergine and Mince Bake

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m experimenting with setting SMART goals over February – goals that must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Given that my weight hasn’t really changed since gaining half a stone last February, I decided that my first SMART goal will be to lose some. I’ve tried several times over the last year, but my goal has always been “lose some weight”, and as a result I’ve not really had a plan to work on or stick to. I also don’t know how to evaluate that goal – I mean, if I lose a pound over a month, that’s SOME weight.

So in my other blog post I decided that I would try to lose 4 lbs over the course of February. That goal has changed slightly, but only a little. I signed up for a new Dietbet – because I haven’t learnt my lesson yet, so my goal for that is to lose 4% of my bodyweight over the course of February. Given that my starting weight was recorded at 161 lbs, that means I’ll need to lose 6.44 lbs. So to break down my SMART February goal,

Specific – Lose between 4 and 6.44 lbs

Measurable – I am currently 161 lbs, so if I am between 154.56 and 157 at the end of February, I will have attained my goal.

Attainable – I will need to lose between 1 and 1.5 lbs per week, so I will need to burn 5250 calories more than I consume. Watch what I eat and do some exercise and that should be reachable!

Realistic – I’m not going to be able to lose more than 1.5 lbs per week. It wouldn’t be healthy either.

Timely – I’ve got four weeks to complete this goal.

The last time I achieved something like this was nearly three years ago. I’m going to have to be much stricter on myself with regards to sticking to food and exercise plans if I want to see some results this month.

Speaking of food plans, I decided the best way to start February would be with pre-cooked meals so that I’m not tempted to call for a takeaway for at least the first week. My go-to takeaway is usually Italian, because sometimes I’m just craving the comfort of a large bowl of pasta. Whilst I don’t normally care too much about the numbers, I knew that I’d need something comforting, filling, delicious, but still lower calories than a 800+ bowl of pasta. I eventually came up with:

Aubergine and Mince Bake, aka Pasta-free Lasagne, or Moussaka-ish

(Serves 6)
Per portion: 322 calories | 16g carbs | 18g fat | 25g protein | 3g fibre

Aubergine and Mince Bake

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‘Meditative’ Egg Muffins

Saturday (20th December) had been a day I was both dreading and looking forward to for quite some time. On the one hand, it was my first day of freedom – I finished work for the holidays on Friday and have a whole three weeks off that I need to figure out how to fill. On the other hand, I had a dentist appointment scheduled for 9.30am for two fillings and a thorough clean.

I’ve never had to get fillings before. In fact, every time I’ve visited the dentist in the past I’ve been told that my teeth were great, and it had been a source of great joy to me (not least because I could laud it over the rest of my family that I was the only member fillings-free). However, I’d always had some unsightly marks on two of my molars left over from when I was 14 and had braces. The one time I asked the dentist if they could be cleaned in any way she told me that I was out of luck. I was disappointed, but I got over it. Queue several years later, and I’m told that those unsightly marks aren’t just annoying discolouration, but actual damage to the tooth. Whilst I’d been lucky in that it hadn’t got too bad up until that point (so hadn’t caused me any pain), the location meant that if I didn’t get them filled, I could be looking at a much bigger procedure to ‘fix’ them at a later date.

I was fine about it all until about a week prior to the appointment, at which point I started to panic. A lot. I’m not a huge fan of needles anyway, but my biggest concern was that they wouldn’t work. Whilst I’ve had local anaesthetics in my gums before which have been fine, an operation I had on my big toes as a child was done with the anaesthetic not having worked properly – they kept topping it up but in the end I told them to just go on with it, because getting the injections was absolute agony. Seriously, for several years later, if anyone mentioned a needle my toes would automatically curl up as if they were trying to protect themselves. The night after that particular procedure, I was so traumatized that I couldn’t sleep, and even at age 11 had to crawl into my parents’ bed to try and get some comfort.

So yeah. Not a big needle or local anaesthetic fan.

This was added to the other fact that on one occasion when I was 14 and had an appointment to get my braces tightened, the orthodontist was chatting to his assistant and not paying attention to what he was doing, and chipped a bit of one of  my front teeth. I think it’s noticeable. He didn’t even realise he’d done it. Forgive me if I wasn’t looking forward to someone having a drill in my mouth.

By Friday night I was panicking pretty badly, so I decided to do whatever I could to calm myself down and get ready for the morning. Hence…

‘Meditative’ Egg Muffins!

(Makes 12-14)

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You will need:

4 sweet mini peppers (red/yellow/orange)
2 or 3 shallots
3 rashes of smoked back bacon
100g grated cheese (mix of cheddar and mozzarella)
8 eggs
sea/rock salt (I use pink Himalayan)
black pepper
pinch of mixed herbs

12-14 cupcake cases

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (~350F)

 I’ve had a thing recently about reading other people’s morning routines, and fantasizing about one of my own. At the moment, when I’m going to work, I get up about 25 minutes before I have to leave the house. I spend five minutes actually getting out of bed, fifteen minutes getting ready to leave, then five minutes grabbing all of my things and leaving the house. There’s no opportunity to have a cup of tea, or breakfast, or meditate, or do yoga, or anything that I might dream about doing first thing in the morning. The simple reason is that I would need to get up earlier – if I even got up fifteen minutes earlier (around 6am) I would be able to add a cup of tea to my day. But it’s hard starting a new routine when you haven’t already tangibly felt the benefits.

I decided that the best thing for me to do over the next three weeks was to have some sort of morning routine. I absolutely can’t get into the habit of going to bed ridiculously late and getting up in the mornings closer to lunchtime than to breakfast. It happens most holidays, but I was able to keep up a schedule the summer before last, so I know that it’s possible! Since on Saturday I would have to leave the house shortly after 9am, if I wanted a leisurely, relaxing morning beforehand I would a) have to get up earlier than I usually would at the weekend, and b) learn a new skill – prepping the night before!

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