Ah, beetroot. My new favourite thing. I know I probably say that an awful lot when it comes to food, but I do think this is my absolute favourite. For now at least. I love the vibrant colour, the earthy yet slightly sweet taste, and how it goes so well with some of my most lovely ingredients. Pair it with black pudding, mix it up with goat’s cheese, use as a pizza topping, even whip it up into a brownie. Oh, and it makes the best ‘tomato’ sauce substitute I’ve tried, but more on that another day…
The only bad thing? Ringing your mum in a panic one weekend, thinking you have a serious medical issue. Then realising you’ve eaten beetroot six days out of seven…
This salad has become a bit of a go-to when we’re planning meals. It’s pretty quick, nice and light, but still filling. I’m finding it’s the perfect February balance between healthy and comforting.
Ingredients (for 1)
2 beetroot, either fresh or vac-packed
50g goat’s cheese (or less if you want to be healthier)
Optional – black pudding, green lentils, nuts (hazelnuts and walnuts work well)
If using fresh beetroot, wash, peel and chop into 2cm cubes. Drizzle with a teeny bit of oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes. If using vac-packed, chop, season (you may not need oil) and roast for 20-25 minutes. Mix together the dressing in a small jar; taste and adjust if you like. Cube the goats cheese.
Toss the roasted beetroot with the salad leaves, drizzle over a little dressing and scatter over the goat’s cheese and nuts. If you want to eat it cold, let the beetroot cool before adding it to the leaves (no one wants a wilted salad!). To add black pudding to the mix, simply cube and fry until crisp, and toss together with the beetroot. Green lentils are lovely warmed up with some of the dressing stirred through, and taste even better the next day. Basically, it’s a pretty versatile salad!
This has fast become a favourite meal of ours, it’s so quick to make after work, doesn’t break the bank (you can often get 4 beets in a vac-pack for around 50p) and is just so tasty. I know beetroot is a bit of a ‘ew’ vegetable, so if you’re not sure about it, I’d recommend trying a different recipe first – I’ve got a great one scheduled for in a few weeks!
Are you a fan of beetroot? What’s your favourite salad recipe?
Whilst this post might have been better-timed a few weeks ago, when everyone was all fired up for the #NewYearNewMe, annual January fitness regimes etc, I wanted to hold off. I wanted to time to try out my new cookbooks, actually play around with some ingredients. In short, actually practice what I preach…
I’m not currently trying to lose any weight, not really. I didn’t put on any over Christmas and my skinny jeans still fit. Instead I want to beat the bloating issue I have going on, tone up and generally feel a little healthier. I’d noticed my diet slipping towards the end of the year and quickly was back into a not-so-good gastro cycle. I knew it was time to sort it out pronto!
And so it was back to a higher-fat diet, less of the carbs, more of the protein and fibre. Sounds much less exciting, right?!
I do like eating ‘clean’ though, more so than even I realise. I try to stick to the 80:20 rule, treating myself every so often (usually when W is with me – living together is going to be a huge test of my willpower!). Even so I was getting stuck for healthy recipe ideas. Courgetti is all well and good, but I was getting into a routine and just knew I’d be whacking out the Mac’n’Cheese if I didn’t mix it up. Amazon Prime came to the rescue though, and I was able to order a huge stack of cookbooks and ingredients to arrive the very next day. Oh how I love next-day delivery!
Jamie’s Everyday Superfood
This was the book that reallllyyyy tempted brought me to break my cookbook-buying-ban of 2015 (I made it until December!). In all honest whilst the styling is absolutely gorgeous, most of the recipes and ingredients are just a little too inaccessible on a student budget. That said – the magic poached eggs are some of the yummiest things. This was the recipe that taught me the easiest way of poaching eggs (see here for my egg guide!) and adding fresh chilli is pure genius.
Hemsley Hemsley: The Art of Eating Well
This was top on my cookbook-wishlist, and it hasn’t disappointed. It’s full of colourful and healthy sound recipes – even picking it up for a read tempts me to make ‘good’ choices. I love the idea of thinking more about what I eat, eating cleaner and healthier. I’ve also been trying to follow the principle of “something raw with every meal” which this book has helped with perfectly – the Bacon, Red Cabbage and Pecan salad is divine!
Infuser Water Bottle
I really do struggle to drink enough water – tea is my drink of choice thank you very much. I quite often will fail to get through even the smallest bottle of water in a whole day up on campus, so I hoped this would turn me around. It has improved my water intake, I’m tending to get through two of these a day which is such a significant improvement. The downside? It’s a bugger to wash, and my bladder won’t last through a fifty minute lecture…
Raw Cacao Powder
I’ve been after some of this stuff for months, and was really struggling to find some for a decent price. Turns out there’s a huge range of ingredients over on Amazon which are perfect for my healthy eating kick. This is great; high in protein, bags of flavour and it tastes so rich and chocolatey. Yum!
Deliciously Ella (Books 1 & 2)
I was umm-ing and ahh-ing about the first book, mainly cos I’m as far away from a vegan as you can get. I mean, two of my favourite hastags on Instagram are #burgerporn and #yolkporn…I ended up getting Deliciously Ella for Christmas, so the Everyday Eating was first on my New Year New Me Amazon Wishlist. I love the fact that you definitely don’t need to be vegan to be hugely tempted by Ella’s recipes. In fact she advises using some of them as sides to meat or fish. And the breakfast ideas?! Heaven!
One of my favourite ingredients, I love adding these to porridge for an extra boost. They have such a lovely, creamy texture and keep me full all morning. I also love using them to make instant ‘jam,’ but the real reason I ordered these? To finally give making energy balls a go. Something about them still really, really doesn’t appeal to me, but right now I think they are what I need. I often find myself a little shaky come 4pm so I reckon these are the perfect pick-me-up snack. We shall see!
Amazon Student was definitely a life-saver when it came to making a split-decision to clean up my eating. If you haven’t heard of Amazon Student, it’s discounted Amazon Prime for students. For just £39 (with a free six-month trial too!) you get access to Prime Video, Prime Music, and my favourite… next day delivery. Thanks to Amazon Student my bits and bobs were with me next day, and having ordered so much over the last few months I now know roughly when my order will turn up on any given day (embarrassing right?!). I’ll certainly be sorry when my student status ends come summer!
*Post in collaboration with Amazon
Are you an Amazon fan? What are your favourite ‘clean eating’ ingredients?
This year has definitely been the year I’ve concentrated most on my diet. I’ve lost two stone, I feel a lot healthier, and my stomach problems are probably less frequent (although unfortunately I’ve seen nowhere near the improvement I was hoping for).
I’ve always been keen on checking the source of my food, making sure it’s as ‘nice’ as possible. I won’t buy anything less than free-range eggs and meat, and I’d buy organic if I could afford it. I try to bulk up meat with veg, both to save money and the environment. If there was a way to buy cruelty-free milk I’d be on that wagon like a shot!
Both thinking about what food I put into my body, and where that food comes from the concept of Mindful Eating. It’s not about a ‘diet’, not about eating perfectly. It’s about listening to your body, feeding it what it needs, and making sure that food is as good quality as possible (but not necessarily pricey organic bits and pieces). When Legal & General challenged me to a week of mindful eating, I jumped to give it a go. Since moving to London and commuting my diet hasn’t been the best, so I needed a shake up – and they sent over a five-day recipe box.
We dined on some of the most yummy dinners. Duck breast with lentils (I confess to adding a stock cube – the recipe provided the blandest lentils imaginable), bean and chorizo quesadillas (SO good), spicy pasta, cheesy stuffed chicken. Everything was so tasty and fresh, none of it left a bloated feeling, and we enjoyed it all.
My favourite was the Turkish lamb flatbread. Really quick to make, flavoursome and filling without leaving me bloated. It’s definitely something I’ll make again and again!
Not only were we eating healthy, fresh food, but the dishes shook up our weekly meals. I’ll definitely be adapting some of the recipes to make them a teeny bit cheaper, before rotating them regularly.
The challenge got, well, challenging, when it came to other meals of the day. I was alright in the mornings, sticking to taking Overnight Oats to work (I WILL post a recipe, I promise…). Lunches were difficult. On days where dinners provided leftovers it was all hunky-dory, just needing a salad on the side. Other days I confess to making up a sandwich. I did, however, try and stick to other parts of mindful eating. I tried to take my lunch to the park and sit enjoying some time to myself. I’ve gotten far too used to just eating without so much as a pause in my working day, and that’s just not ideal.
The week definitely opened up my eyes to different quick dinners, I’ve discovered dishes I’ll definitely be making again, I’ve taken the time to savour my food and eat more slowly. It’s given me the kick up the backside I needed, and I’ve now moved away from the biscuit tin and planted myself firmly back in the kitchen. I might have failed at the first hurdle with my GBBO Bake Along, but we did make our own homemade fruit ice lollies over the weekend!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a recipe box, including ingredients, by Legal & General. As always all opinions are my own!
What are you go-to quick dinners? Have you tried ‘mindful eating’?
I can’t explain how much I love this soup, I almost don’t want to share it. What if you fall in love with it and buy all the sweet potatoes. There seems to be a shortage locally as it is – the other week Morrisons had none and Sainsbury’s were limited to Taste the Difference ones. At 3x the price I’d certainly hope the difference would be there, but I’m not splashing the cash to find out!
Packed full of veg, healthy carbs from the sweet potato, it works out at around 100 calories a bowl. Spiced up enough for the chilli heat to catch the back of your throat, the hotness is counteracted by the sharpness of lime and freshness of coriander. A swirl of sour cream finishes off this Mexican inspired soup.
But don’t let Mexican flavours define it. Swap out the lime for a lemon, the coriander for mint. Sprinkle with feta…and there you have a Greek inspired version. Add harissa, lemon and some toasted seeds and it becomes vaguely Moroccan. A stunningly versatile soup, and one of my absolute favourites.
Herbs and spices (pick to reflect the cuisine you fancy!)
Chop the veg. I don’t both to peel the carrots, but do peel the sweet potato. Dry fry the onion in a hot pan for a minute, until it starts to soften (you can skip this, I just can’t stand the smell of onion boiled from raw!). Add any spices being used along with the onion so they cook out slightly.
Add the rest of the veg, cover with the veg stock and simmer for around half an hour, until everything is relatively soft. Whizz until smooth (or as chunky/smooth as you fancy). Add your Tabasco to taste (I used about half a teaspoon).
Stir through your herbs and lemon/lime juice, and serve with a swirl of soured cream, creme fraiche or anything else you fancy.
Disclaimer: As with my courgette fritter recipe, I was asked to create some recipes with Tabasco. No money exchanged hands and all opinions are my own – I’ve been making this for years, but genuinely love the addition of tabasco!
Are you a fan of soups, or are you steering clear now the weather is warming up?
I have a few new favourite things to have in my fridge right now. One is courgettes. I’ve loved courgettes for a good few years, but they’ve become ‘trendy’ this year and now are featured in my meals a couple of times a week. I love making them into noodles (especially in my low-carb-onara) but this recipe is slightly naughtier. I have also developed a love of feta, but unable to shell out for it I’ve discovered Sainsbury’s Basic Salad Cheese. It’s not quite as sharp, but the texture is spot on for me. Great for cooking with! This recipe combines my current two favourites with something I’ve reintroduced to my diet…
I was convinced Tabasco contained tomato, so I’ve shied away from it for a few years. So when I was offered the chance to develop a three-course menu around the sauce, I was cautious. Until I realised it contain three ingredients, none of which were tomatoes. Winning! This dressing is another new favourite to keep in the fridge. It’s perfect with meat, and works really well added to couscous. It’s sweet, spicy and zesty. I can see it sticking around as a favourite for a while, so I urge you to try it.
1 large/2 medium courgettes, coarsley grated
1-2 tablespoons of flour
Small handful of feta, crumbled
Seasoning – I used some fresh mint chopped, but any herb (even dried) works well
Oil spray, or frying
Dressing Ingredients (makes plenty to keep in the fridge)
Add a little salt to the grated courgette, toss to mix and cover firmly with kitchen towel. Leave for ten minutes then squeeze out excess liquid.
Add the rest of the fritter ingredients to the courgette and mix with a fork. This mix should be stiff and not liquidy – add extra flour if needed. Heat a little oil in a pan until very hot, and add a tablespoon of the mix. Fry for about 3 minutes, until golden and crispy, before turning and cooking the other side. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
For the dressing, chop the pepper finely, and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust until it’s to your liking.
Serve. I like courgette fritters to be a side (alongside lamb chops or chicken), or as the main event with some couscous. Either way, serve with the dressing as a dip and some salad. The fritters are also really good cold, and make a great lunchbox!
Disclaimer: I was sent a goodie box including sauces from Tabasco, but all opinions are my own. No money exchanged hands, and if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be blogging about it!
Are you a fan of salad-y meals? What’s your favourite salad?
Gyms are all very well and good, but at £25+ a month I just can’t justify the cost. I was planning on signing up over my placement year, but said gym is the other side of town from where I am living, and I don’t feel comfortable with the walk in the dark. Sure, I still go swimming on occasional weekends but the majority of my exercise is done at home, in my teeny tiny room.
I’m planning on heading out for proper runs as soon as the evenings lighten up – which shouldn’t be long now as there’s now enough light to see the keyhole when I get back (I was shining my phone at the door last week – note to self: ring council to fix street light). I’ll be using the Couch-to-5k program, but my real goal? I really, really, really want to run a 10k by the end of the year. I wasn’t going to mention it here, but I’m feeling that telling you all with give me motivation. Feel free to nag me if I get lazy!
I’ve also been loving the motivation from Youtube videos – this one is my current favourite although I find it really tough. I’m not really a huge fan of celebrity exercise DVDs, but I’ve enjoyed Charlotte’s 3 Minute Belly Blitz. The exercises are actually really fun, and it’s not too teeth-grittingly cheesy. 3 Minutes is a total lie, the Warm Up is 5+ minutes, but the actual routines are quick, fast-paced and seem to be having the desired effect. I find them fun too, with the best part being they don’t require too much space. Thanks to Cash Generator for sending me this!
I’ve also been doing some of these 3-day Challenges – my favourite being the Squat one. I do them twice a day. In the morning I use the time it takes to boil the kettle (now I’m on 150 I’m filling it up a bit more!), in the evening I just slot it in after whatever other workout I’ve done. I’ve been skipping rest days too, as I really struggle the next day! The Lunge one I’m taking slowly as my technique is poor, and I’m struggling through the Tricep Dips. I’m picking up an exercise mat this week to start on the Abs too!
Finally, weights. I’m not after muscle, but I am after tone, and using light weights is actually making a real difference. I don’t do an awful lot with them at the moment, but just a few reps in between more fast-paced cardio bits is fine for now. Once I’ve lost weight I’ll be upping the toning!
Alongside this I’ve been eating healthier, taking low-fat soups to work and cutting down on the tea. Dinners are more packed with vegetables, and I’ve really cut down on white processed carbs. I must admit I am finding that tough, I was far more reliant on pasta and potato than I realised. Keep an eye out for more healthy recipes over the next few weeks…
Do you have a gym membership, or do you exercise at home? Tell me about your routine!
When I’m trying to be healthier, my go-to flavours are Asian; Thai, Vietnamese. Fresh, vibrant and aromatic. They instantly brighten up what should be a dull plate of veg, add life, and make things ten times tastier. I always find they fill me up a lot more too.
This salad was inspired by wandering around the aisles of Morrisions (seriously, the one kinda near me is amazing!) for nearly an hour. Their fresh produce was amazing, and after a carb-laden lunch (read more on Saturday) we wanted to lighten things up. The steak came about because chicken (free range, that actually tastes of something) is expensive. Turns out that with the right ingredients, the thin cuts of cheaper frying steak are more than delicious. I’ll definitely be picking up more of these.
Steak is also a lot, lot quicker to cook than chicken. These only had a minute on each side, and to be honest I wouldn’t even give them that next time. You can have this salad ready within about 15 minutes of walking through the door. And the dressing? Add noodles and leftover salad – there’s lunch for tomorrow. It also works perfectly to add extra zing to a noodle soup.
Ingredients (for 1, but makes extra dressing)
1/2 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 red chilli (check the heat by tasting a little bit, and adjust the amount accordingly)
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp fish sauce
A splash of soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
Squeeze of honey
Salad – we went for julienned carrot, watercress and a small amount of onion
Sesame seeds – optional, only to top the salad, but we really enjoyed them
Begin by making the dressing. Finely chop the ginger, chilli and garlic together. Add to a small bowl or mug, then pour over the sauces, lime and honey. Mix together, taste, and add more of an ingredient if you think it needs it.
Toss your salad together with your coriander.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat, with a teeny amount of oil. Season the steaks with salt and pepper, and flash fry extremely quickly until just cooked.
Cover the steaks with foil to rest briefly, and tip any sauces from the pan into the dressing.
Toss the salad in the dressing, top with the steak, sprinkle over sesame seeds and serve. I added a teeny bit of rice to mine (and a lot of rice to W’s) but it honestly didn’t need it.
I’m on a bit of a major health kick right now. Some of it’s down the vainness; I feel awful about my bodyshape, unattractive and unfit. But mainly it’s down to my health. I’ve had pretty regular bouts of illness since I was 14, and whilst an operation has helped a little, I’m determined to do as much as I can to really sort myself out.
A bit of a confession here now, I’ve never had the healthiest relationship with ‘diets’. I can take them a little bit too far, or I can go completely the opposite way. I’ll do both on consecutive days to “cancel the other out.” This time I’m determined to get healthy properly. There will be no diet, no restrictions, and hopefully no beating myself up if I treat myself (though that will take some self control!). Instead it’s all about little, gradual changes. Changes to get a healthier lifestyle, to find my natural weight, to balance the good and the “bad” foods.
Some of my (numerous) milky, sugary teas are being swapped for herbal varieties. I’ve got to admit I’m not loving this green tea, though I quite like Cranberry & Raspberry. There’s a Dragonfruit variety that occasionally appears at work which I love, but I’ve not found it in store yet. That mid-afternoon snack on crisps? I’ve turned it into a cuppa-soup if it’s chilly, or a handful of nuts if it’s the crunch I’m craving. I’m working on a spicy-roasted nut recipe to share, but it’s not quite there yet.
Lunches have been switched up. My normal lunch has for the past 6(+!) years been a ham roll on wholemeal bread, ready salted crisps and some squash. I’ve been leaving out the crisps, adding fruit, and occasionally some carrot sticks with a dip. If I have some interested leftovers, I’d throw them in the microwave at work. And at least 2 weeks out of 4 I’ll make a big batch of soup for the week, alongside homemade bread. I’d make it more often, but I have limited freezer space! I’ve also been working on a more budget friendly version of The Londoner’s noodle recipe, and I think it’s also ready to share!
The biggest change I’ve made has been ditching the sugary squash. It was tough at first (I actually got the shakes!), but I think I’m also there. I still can’t stand the taste of water, but filtering it through a Water-to-Go Bottle* and adding flavour really helps. When I’m around the house I’ll infuse (get me!) my water with lemon and ginger, or lime if I’m feeling even fancier. That’s not particularly practical when I’m out and about, but I’ve fallen in love with these Enhance* drinks. One squeeze flavours my water enough to make me stomach it, but not so much that it tastes sweet. They taste like actual fruit, and I definitely have stock-piled since they’ve been on offer in ADSA. The orange-y flavour is my favourite. Pretty sure the pics on the website make them extra strong, as mine barely add any colour. But they sure taste good!
Exercise is something I’m slowly getting there with. I’ve been timing my walk to work, and challenging myself to beat my best times. My trainers still don’t quiteee fit comfortably (I dropped a cupboard door on my foot the weekend after buying them) so running still isn’t happening. But I picked up a set of weights in Aldi, and I’ve been following a few Youtube videos (I love the dance-with-weights type ones!). A few squats before bed, and some pretty lame sit-ups, my fitness is slowly getting somewhere near acceptable.
I’ve got a long way to go, mainly due to my emotional hurdles attached with my bodyshape, and a few of eating certain things in case it sets of my stomach issues. It’s all about baby steps for me, and I reckon that’s how it should be. No point in jumping right into a complete change of lifestyle, but switch up little things, make it sustainable. I’m certainly hoping I keep it up!
Are you on a New Year health kick? Any tips for getting fit on a budget without damaging my foot anymore? Got ideas of healthy meals?