Category Archives: Fuelling

The Sunday Summary – Part 3

Welcome to this week’s slightly belated edition of the Sunday Summary, where I round up the week’s goings on on the internet for you to enjoy post-ride or post-run (it’s Monday this week because yesterday I was out cycling and then it was my Christmas Day with my housemates. Pigs in blankets before blogging!). So without further ado, feet up and enjoy that Monday rest day with a mince pie or two and these things to read:

  • Steph’s baking never fails to be absolutely lush, so if you’re looking to put down the Christmas cake and enjoy something else yummy, her peanut, oat & fig slices might be just up your street.
  • I read this absolutely beautiful piece about authenticity and being yourself in this world and it really resonated with me, so I thought you’d like to read it as well; ‘take your messy, beautiful self everywhere you go.’
  • Kate, the wonderful @ginanting on Twitter, wrote a short, simple but frankly ace post about how if you want to achieve your dreams, you actually have to make a sacrifice and set the wheels in motion. A beautifully worded kick up the backside.
  • Having recently been sidelined for a week with an annoying injury, and managed after much whinging to reframe it into something positive (more on that here), so Carys’ post was great to read, about finding healthier ways to fill your newfound free time than obsessing over your injury.
  • Vulpine founder Nick wrote a cracking post this week, about forgoing comfort and ease in life and searching for more, something more difficult, more challenging and ultimately more satisfying.
  • I recently went to a nutrition talk by Leeds based former doctor turned triathlon coach and nutrition buff Tom of Trimechanics, and whilst I won’t necessarily be adopting everything he talked about (ketogenesis sounds like a process demanding dedication few humans are ever likely to have), he wrote a great article recently amongst the sugar vs fat hysteria, about how if we all apply some common sense, we probably know the answers to a healthy diet and body.

Enjoy!

If you enjoyed this edition you can read Part 2 here and Part 1 here.

 

Tried & tested recipes: part 1

Inspired by the lovely Steph‘s recent post series, I thought I’d share a few of the recipes I’ve made and loved lately- all nice and easy, all super tasty!

Creamy salmon & chilli linguine

I love carbonara style pasta dishes, and had a glut of salmon fillets in the freezer, so had a bash at making this gorgeous fitnaturally salmon pasta. I didn’t have any fresh mint, lemon juice or parmesan, and substituted a leek instead of the onion, and it was still sensationally tasty, and kept me full right through till the next morning! It also reheated well.

Blueberry baked porridge

blueberry baked porridgeAnother great fitnaturally recipe, this baked porridge has umpteen variations. I made mine with fresh blueberries, flaked almonds and a sprinkle of cinammon, and served it with a big dollop of Greek yoghurt- filling, tasty and super easy to make the night before and reheat in the microwave!

Wholemeal mug bread

Before you decide I’ve taken leave of my senses and made bread in a mug in the microwave, calm down; the mug is involved in the measuring. I love freshly baked bread and the smell it makes in the house, and this recipe is the easiest one ever: no kneading, about 5 minutes in total spent in the kitchen and not a set of scales in sight. My kind of baking! For this loaf, I used one mug of strong white flour and one and a quarter mugs of strong wholemeal flour. The result was a yummy, crusty wholemeal loaf, which makes amazing toast!

Spicy tuna & cottage cheese jacket potato

photo (7)

I love a good jacket potato; all crispy and golden and all fluffy inside. I eat loads of them. That is why beans and cheese have become a little boring, so I went off in search of new jacket potato toppings and came across this one. It’s delicious; I opted to miss out the coriander and the cherry tomatoes and it was just perfect. It’s simultaneously light but filling, spicy but cooling: definitely one to make again!

 Greek yoghurt cookies

greek yoghurt cookies greek yoghurt cookies

My lovely friend Steph recently posted this recipe for dreamy Greek yoghurt cookies, and whilst the pumpkin, oat and raisin ones sounded ace, I couldn’t wait to bake the dark chocolate chip ones, and they were everything they promised to be- soft, gooey and delightful when warm from the oven. Yum!

 

Hitting reset with food

Ever since exam season last year at uni, I’ve not been in my usual groove with diet. During exam season, I gained weight through a combination of the usual bored snacking when revising (we all do it) and some health concerns that stopped me training for a while. Then I went off to work in different hospitals over summer, and the lack of my usual kitchen and usual routine meant my nutrition was a long way off kilter.

I assumed when I came back to Leeds for my last year of uni in September that things would settle down and I’d get back into my usual pattern of eating, but that just hasn’t happened, one way or another. Whether it’s that the ultra training was making me hungry and I was over-replacing the calories, or I’ve just lost control over food, I don’t know, but there’s one thing I do know: it’s got to change.

The added weight doesn’t particularly bother me in terms of looks, but it does for performance- I wouldn’t want to put a 5kg bag on and go for a run, so it makes no sense to lug that extra amount around when the answer is in my hands!

So what am I going to do about it?

Not a detox, that’s for sure! Or a Whole30 (but I’ll leave those comments there, lest I receive any more tirades of abuse from big fans of these diets).

I think it’s all about relearning how to eat, and varying my diet, but using simple principles. The more colours on my plate, the better; I’m talking big salads, with bright, colourful veg, and iron-rich leafy greens. Learning to build my meals differently, that they don’t have to be based around carbs (if you’re based in Leeds, Tom of Trimechanics did some very thought-provoking nutrition talks recently)- I should build them from the veg and the protein, perhaps adding carbs if I need them, but not thinking they’re a ‘must’ at every meal.

To kick-start myself, and get some fresh ideas for healthy food, and relearn some sense when it comes to portion sizes (my downfall, I eat like a horse), I’m following a fitnaturally plan for 6 weeks. Not a diet; just a sensible way of eating that will teach me some new ideas, and give me a better understanding of how to eat properly for my body. I also like that the emphasis is on fresh, whole, unprocessed foods- full fat milk and butter, lean meats and LOADS of fresh veg. Yum!

When you’ve let things slide a little and got some extra pounds on board, how do you hit reset?

Recipe: Spanish chicken and tomato stew

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying out recipes from The Feed Zone Cookbook to help me fuel and recover from training, and I wanted to share one of my favourites with you. It’s a super quick spanish chicken and tomato stew, which is easy to prep, and then can be put in the slow cooker to be ready when you’re back from your long run or ride. Then, just cook some rice or as I do, slice up some yummy crusty bread, and you have a healthy, balanced meal to refuel.

The Feed Zone Spanish Chicken and Tomato Stew

Spanish chicken and tomato stew

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used rapeseed)
  • 2lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup of chorizo
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped (I used a red onion)
  • 2 mild green chillies, chopped, with seeds left in (I’m a wuss and decreased this to one!)
  • 2-4 cups of chicken stock or water
  • Half a cup of apple cider vinegar (optional- I didn’t have any)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of cooked white beans, rinsed (I used a tin of chickpeas)

Method

  • Pour the oil into a heavy pot and put over a medium to high heat. Whilst the oil is heating, season the chicken with salt and pepper
  • Add the chorizo to the pot and brown thoroughly, then add the chicken and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until browned
  • Add all of the other ingredients apart from the chickpeas/beans, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 45 minutes, then season to taste. Add the beans, if using, just before serving.
  • Serve with warmed polenta, steamed rice, or like I did, warm crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.
  • Note: To prepare in a slow cooker, brown the meat as above, and then transfer all of the ingredients into a slow cooker, and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours- just long enough to get out and do some training!

I have been trialling the Feed Zone Cookbook and Feed Zone Portables cookbook after receiving review copies from them. I have tested this recipe loads of times, including on my fellow members of Team Bear. Republished with permission from VeloPress from The Feed Zone Cookbook. Try more recipes at http://www.feedzonecookbook.com

Tapering & reading other things

I don’t know about you, but when I’m tapering for a big race, I use it as an excuse to catch up on things, be that blogs, emails or just having a life (we all know that includes watching The Apprentice). So as I put my feet up ahead of the White Rose Ultra this weekend, I’ve been having a nose around some other people’s blogs. Here’s what I’m enjoying reading this week:

  • Ever since the Always ‘Like a Girl’ video went viral, I’ve thought about what it means to be a female role model, and Sarah’s written this brief but beautiful post about what it means to her.
  • Speaking of female role models, they don’t come much stronger than Cat, who is freshly back from Chile, having raced 250km across the Atacama Desert in six days. Words fail me as to how amazing this feat was, so I’ll leave you with her race report instead. Hide your credit card; you’re about to receive a massive dose of race inspiration…
  • Just in case all this running chat has made you hungry, my marvellous friend Steph recently posted this uber tasty looking cookie recipe that even manages to look reasonably healthy. I can’t wait to bake these this week!
  • My long-distance fellow XC fiend from Glasgow uni wrote this lovely little post about personality, and being enough. It was a pretty interesting read if, like me, you’re a proper Type A eejit.
  • I don’t know about you, but I eat like a small (fine, not so small) horse in winter, and usually end up with a little extra insulation hanging about, so this article from fitnaturally nutritionist Sally has some tips that I’m going to bear in mind to try and halt the onset of the blubber.
  • For those of us triathlon newbies out there, it doesn’t come much more inspiring than the race report from this year’s 3rd place lady and first Brit, Rachel Joyce.

So that’s what I’ve been reading recently- how about you?

Apple crumble for breakfast? Yes, you can!

Bet that title caught your attention, didn’t it?

I think we all agree that eating apple crumble for breakfast is a) living the dream but b) a bit indulgent, which is why I’ve created this breakfast that is as near to apple crumble as can be, but is actually packed with good stuff to power you through until lunchtime. It has everything I want in a crumble- tasty fruit, crispy topping and fills the kitchen with a heavenly smell whilst it cooks. Did I mention it’s pretty quick too?

Apple crumble breakfast

 

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 eating apples, peeled if you want, diced into small chunks
  • A good shake of cinnamon (optional!)
  • A knob (lolz) of butter, and a bit to grease the dish
  • 80g jumbo porridge oats
  • Half a teaspoon of baking powder
  • Toasted chopped/flaked nuts ( a tbsp or two)
  • 200ml full fat milk
  • A big squeeze of runny honey
  • Greek yoghurt to serve

Method

  • Pop the oven on to preheat at 200 degrees Celsius, and butter a smallish dish- mine is about 7″ and round, but if it’s a bigger dish, no worries, you’ll just get even more golden, crispy bits
  • Pop the diced apple, cinnamon if using and knob of butter in a frying pan over a gentle heat and soften for a few minutes. I can’t stand mushy fruit so I did it for about 5 minutes, but if you like softer apples, go ahead and cook them a bit longerApple crumble breakfast
  • Tip the apples into the buttered dish. Mix together the oats, nuts and baking powder and sprinkle over the apples
  • Mix together the milk and honey and pour over the oaty, appley mixture in the bottom of the dish.

Bake for around 20 minutes, until the top is crispy and golden and your kitchen smells divine

Apple crumble breakfastDish up, top with a dollop of Greek yoghurt (I reckon vanilla flavour would also be pretty lush), and dig in!

If you’re at all like me, and can’t manage much more than grunting in response to other humans or complex tasks until you’re well-caffeinated, this works pretty well to make in an evening, and microwave in the morning, so you’ve made two days’ breakfasts in one go.

This recipe was adapted from fitnaturally’s baked porridge recipe, found here.

Going #allin24 at Thunder Run: a guide

If you caught my race report from the recent Adidas Thunder Run, you’ll know what a great time I had. There were a load of reasons that I had such a great time, so I thought I’d share them in a sort of how-to in case anyone is tempted to sign up for 2015 (DO ITTTTTT!)

Get the right team around you

Thunder Run 2014

Photo courtesy of lifelauralondon.com

There’s no question about it, running continuously as a team for 24 hours is tough, so make sure you’re in the right team. You need to set out with the right intentions and make sure you’re all on board; if some members want to win but others don’t, it’ll only cause friction. Our team? We just wanted to be awesome, and support each other in running as far as we wanted to, and that’s why it worked.

 

 

Take the leap of faith

leap of faith

Like I said, running for 24 hours is tough. You’re fighting the urge to be asleep. You’re heading out for your third, fourth or even fifth run, when you’ve only ever run maybe twice a day maximum before. You might be running a total distance of further than ever before. It all takes a leap of faith. My advice? Take that leap- it’s great fun, and once you’ve committed, all that remains to be done is get on and run.

 

Get the right kit on the go

Sockmine socks

SockMine socks

Run several 10K laps in the space of 24 hours and any kit problems will come out to play. Chafing and blisters are the enemy, and whilst Vaseline is helpful, so is picking the right kit to avoid them. I took spares of absolutely everything, because there’s nothing nicer than soft, clean socks and running clothes when you’re heading out at 3am to run your fourth 10K.  My particular favourite was the SockMine socks I’ve been testing lately. They were soft & comfortable, kept me blister-free and are made in the UK. Thanks for the samples SockMine!

Fuel up properly

the hole 30

Photo courtesy of thehole30.tumblr.com

Running repeated laps means you have to eat lots. Yay! Our team took advice from speedy ultra Cat and packed savoury things as well as sweet, and by the early hours of the morning, salty pretzels and crisps tasted like a gift directly from heaven. We also stayed faithful to #hole30 compliant foods and packed plenty of trusty bagels, to be enjoyed with Nutella, banana and in my case some ready salted crisps (don’t knock the Nutella/salt combo until you’ve tried it). Pack plenty of snacks, and remember to actually eat them, even when all you want to do is sleep.

So these are my nuggets of wisdom about how to run for 24 hours- what would you add to the list?

Healthy eating on a budget & tight schedule

Healthy eating on a budget and a tight schedule can be tricky, and it can end up all too easy to just whack a frozen pizza in the oven yet again because it’s the quickest option that doesn’t involve a takeaway menu. It doesn’t have to be that way though- with a bit of forward planning and a few hours spare, perhaps at the weekend, it’s possible to eat tasty, nutritious meals all week, without breaking the bank.

The Sunday cook up is a firmly established part of my weekly routine, for good reason. Post long run, I’m useless for anything except popping the radio on and spending a while in the kitchen, and it’s an enjoyable routine. You don’t need masses of fridge or freezer space to make it work either; at uni I have one food cupboard, one drawer in the freezer and a third of a fridge-freezer size fridge to go at. You just need a fairly large Tupperware collection and some lateral thinking.

  • At any given time in my freezer, I’ll usually have some chicken breasts, salmon fillets or tuna steaks, individually frozen in ziploc bags (always available cheaply from your local market!). These can make the easy basis of a meal- the night before I want to have them for dinner, I get one out of the freezer to defrost, pop some marinade ingredients in, like a drizzle of oil, some herbs and spices and some crushed garlic, and leave it to defrost and marinade in one go. Cook these under the grill or in a non-stick pan, combine with salad or some frozen peas or broccoli (super quick and easy to cook) and a jacket potato, and for a couple of the week’s dinners, you’ve got a healthy, easy meal ready in about 20 minutes. You can jazz this up really easily by checking out Pinterest for some easy marinade ideas.
  • Each week, I make a big batch of a main ‘meal’ for the week, that I can divide up into Tupperware and freeze, like my own ‘ready meals’. Curry, chilli, bolognese sauce, meatballs in tomato sauce , stew and lasagne are all easy to make in a big batch, and freeze/defrost well. You can even go as far as cooking pasta to go in the box with bolognese, and voila- a healthy, cheap ready meal that you can throw in the microwave. By the time any of these have defrosted in the microwave, you can have some pasta/rice/couscous/a jacket potato ready, and with some veg on the side, have a quick, balanced meal. This can account for two or three of your other weekly dinners, and once you have a ‘stock’ built up in the freezer, you have a variety to choose from.

    Healthy eating on a budget

    Chicken dopiaza, rice and runner beans

  • Eggs eggs eggs! Whether scrambled, poached, boiled or made into an omelette or frittata, eggs are a great speedy, healthy meal. I always make sure I have some peppers, spinach, mushrooms and usually some cheese in, so I can always throw together an omelette with a healthy filling, or whip up a frittata, one night when I need protein after a training session and really can’t be bothered (always post cross country or track!).
  • Whilst not sustainable all week, why not have one day a week where you treat yourself? One night a week, usually a Friday, I’ll either treat myself to a nice cook at home pizza from Waitrose, get a takeaway with my housemates or go out for dinner with friends or my OH. It’s not healthy to do this all the time, but it makes a nice weekly treat, and if you plan ahead which day it’ll be, you can plan around it; I have a healthy breakfast and lunch that day, because I know I have a treat coming up. It’s well worth checking when your local restaurants do discounts as well- I could tell you off the top of my head when all of my favourite places in Headingley are 50% off food!
  • Lunches are easily included in the Sunday cook up as well. Instead of buying lunch every day, think ahead and include it in the weekly shop. When you’re cooking chicken or fish the night before for dinner, cook an extra portion, cook some pasta or couscous or rice, and throw this together with some salad, and you’ve got a yummy sandwich alternative and no extra cooking time! I sometimes cook a huge batch of roasted veg on a Sunday, and make half into a roasted veg lasagne, and have the other half during the week as part of lunch. Don’t overlook sandwiches either; think laterally by adding things like a tasty sauce, or spread pesto or hummus on the bread, and the boring sandwich has a whole new lease of life!

This is how I manage to feed myself with minimum expense and effort during the week, but maximum taste and balance to my meals. How do you do it? Any great tips that I’ve missed?

Detoxes, diets and doubts.

I’m no stranger to a ranty post or two about detoxes, but recently, I’ve found myself frequently biting my tongue as the whole of Twitter seems to be on a detox or special diet of some description. I’m not knocking those who follow them and find they work; different strokes for different folks, and all that.

What I cannot fathom is the 30 day detoxes, particularly the Whole30 detox. For those unfamiliar, the rules (and make no mistake, it is a long and prescriptive list) can be found here. In principle, what the writers of this cult-like diet are saying seems sound; cut out the crap from your diet, and focus more on natural, unprocessed foods, and you’ll reap the rewards.

What seems odd to me, like with the paleo cult, is the choices of foods that are strictly off limits. I understand why processed ‘white’ carbs are foregone, but to ban a white potato yet allow a sweet potato? Seems a little odd to me. Surely both are ‘natural’ sources of carbohydrates, and I kinda believe a calorie of starch is the same regardless of what kind of potato it comes from. No legumes- oh, unless they’re green beans, sugar snap peas or snow peas, because, I shit you not, the rules say these are ‘more “pod” than “bean”‘. Glad they’ve cleared up that nonsensical segregation of legumes then. I could go on with the list, but I won’t.

I’ve read with interest blogs from people following the Whole30 plan, and hats off to them- because I don’t think I could be arsed to completely overhaul my diet, make life inconvenient and expensive for myself, and go through feeling like shit whilst my body gets used to such a weirdly spartan way of eating. Then- and this is the good bit- after for 30 days teaching your body not to tolerate things like sugar, which are kinda necessary if you’re going to use sports nutrition as a runner, you reintroduce the foods you cut out, only to find you can’t stomach them and things like gels and sports drinks are now a problem for you. Great! 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way against cleaning up our diets, and god knows I could do to after the biscuit, cake and crisp-laden rampage that is revision season. But I kinda think there are easier, more sustainable ways to go about it; that it doesn’t have to be so all-or-nothing. Following the 80/20 rule (eating well 80% of the time and not worrying so much about the other 20%). Slowly replacing some of the cakes, biscuits and crisps with fruit and vegetables. Making sure each meal I eat has some protein and some vegetables on the plate as well as *whispers* carbs. Sometimes even potatoes. Reaching for water more often than reaching for tea or coffee. Swapping a couple of dinners a week to being veggie or based on fish, rather than meat. Thinking whether I genuinely want that slice of cake or if I’m just mindlessly eating it because it’s there and I’m bored.

To me, diet and health don’t have to be so black and white. Most of us that write running blogs are not elite athletes, and are unlikely to ever be, so why not cut ourselves some slack? Eating healthily and treating your body well is one thing, but taking most of the joy out of eating by going on a detox seems like a step too far. Even Chrissie Wellington (uber hero of mine) acknowledges in her book A Life Without Limits (a top read!) that diet isn’t everything. A former eating disorder sufferer, she has since completed 13 Ironman triathlons, remaining unbeaten over the distance, including winning the World Championships 4 times, and holds several of the fastest times ever recorded by a woman over the distance.

‘I don’t deprive myself of any foods. Nothing is ‘naughty’- it is just eaten in moderation. A few pieces of chocolate a day definitely doesn’t do me any harm, and as for pizza- well, I can always squeeze one of those in.’

If Chrissie doesn’t beat herself up over eating pizza and chocolate- and here is the key- in moderation, then neither should we. So let’s regain some perspective, think for ourselves and get back to making healthier choices as routine, not because the writer of some diet tells us to.

This is an opinion piece, and as ever, I welcome comments and opinions from others about it!

Guest post: A smoothie for banana haters!

I want to love smoothies, I really do, and both Cat and Nicola have made me yummy green smoothies that I’ve really liked, but invariably, the ones I’ve tried to recreate have always had bananas in. I’m quite particular about bananas: I like to eat them only, and they can’t be too ripe, never before a race because they make me feel sick during a run, never ever in a smoothie unless they’re well hidden and certainly no artificial banana flavours. 

So imagine my joy when the lovely Stephanie (not a real magpie!) offered to guest post for me, featuring a banana-less smoothie? She writes a blog that you should definitely check out: she’s got legs to die for, awesome taste in short shorts and bakes the most delicious-looking cakes when she’s not busy running marathons and being a yogi. We’re taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks this year, and Steph is 100% in charge of snacks…

Baked Apple Smoothie

I rather love smoothies, I love them extra thick in a bowl, I love them almost juice like for a refreshing pick me up. But all my smoothies start with a banana. When I found out Sarah didn’t like bananas, I realised my boyfriend wasn’t the only weirdo banana hater and set about creating a smoothie recipe that would still be creamy and filling without the banana.
In addition my boyfriend (and possibly many of you) have seen me (or one of the million instagrams of LA hotties) drinking a green smoothie – which is one that has kale, spinach, watercress or similar added. These smoothies get particular disdain from my boyfriend. So to turn his head I snuck a handful of spinach in this one and he didn’t even notice.
The spinach makes this apple smoothie pleasingly green and the ice helps to keep it thick. The cinnamon adds a surprisingly Christmassy taste – so I’ll be revisiting this one later on in the year.
If you added some toasted oats or Granola on top I think you could get away with calling this an apple pie smoothie – why not.
I know it’s a bit American but I’ve done this recipe in cups, really it’s very flexible, use whatever receptacle you have, your favourite mug, guestimation whatever!

Serves one, easily doubled.
1 large apple, peeled, cored and sliced.
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup yoghurt
1 cup ice
¼ cup water
Handful spinach
2 dates (if you like it sweet, I’d use 1 for me)
1 tsp flax seed
 
The night before you want to eat/drink your smoothie: sauté (fry gently) your apple slices until the start to go soft, add ½ of the cinnamon and continuing moving around the pan until the edges start to change colour and your kitchen is filled with the smell of apple pie – sorry about that folks.
Put the apples to one side to cool down and forget about them until morning.
 
 
The morning you want your smoothie: Grab your smoothie maker/blender type thing. Chuck in all the ingredients including the apple and the other ½ of the cinnamon. Put the lid on tight and whiz away on full speed until the ice has broken down – this took quite a long time in mine, as it is a bit underpowered.
 
 
Pour into your chosen glass and enjoy!
 
 
Yummy!