Thursday, December 1, 2016

Steak or Beans: Payday Millionaire Beans

Whilst Black Friday in the US is geared around the day after Thanksgiving, being the last Friday of November it is also for many people the last payday before Christmas and us Brits sure know how to spend. Today being December 1st, that means most of us have at least 22 days, but possible 27 more days until we next get paid.

But it's not just November/December where many of us are counting the meals left to cook before payday.... Paymentsense reckon over one third, yes, one in three of us, change our eating habits as the month draws on because we've spent up to quickly.

With that in mind, they asked me to come up with a cheap eats recipe for the 'scraping the barrel' moment at the end of the month, so here goes with the beans...

4 meals for £5... let's do this!

Mexican Mixed Beans recipe photo B47A13C7-4905-4B5C-9B92-86683D639EB7_zpsaonm6n5k.jpg

2 x Mixed bean salad 44p each
1 x tinned tomato 25p
1 x Onion approx 25p
Garlic 30p
Peri Peri or fajita seasoning 50p
Cherry tomatoes 89p for a pack
Peppers 90p for 3

Total: £3.72
I bought my ingredients from an Aldi store, prices are correct from late November 2016

Technically the cost per per portion: £0.93 but I'd say this recipe yields more like 6 portions

In the meantime, today is ALL about my Mexican mixed bean stew- if you want to make this in the slow cooker, add tomatoes, one pack of peri peri seasoning, one slice onion and the entire bulb of garlic sliced or crushed for approx 4h on low, and add the beans, peppers & tomatoes for approx 30 mins more on low.

Mexican bean stew NOV2016 1 photo Med beans 1_zps6adgn865.jpg


1. Slice onion & slice thinly or crush garlic, add to a pan- make it a large one as you have a lot more ingredients to add, with a splash of oil on medium heat & allow to soften slightly before adding one pack of the Peri Peri seasoning- yes, I'm aware this isn't Mexican, but it adds lots of flavours which are local to that neck of the woods if you don't tend to have many spices or other ingredients. Give the whole lot a good stir through, it'll seem a bit dry, but that's ok.

2. Add the tinned tomatoes to the mix and stir well. Bring the whole lot to a gentle simmer and leave for 20-30 mins.

3. Whilst the the sauce base is cooking, slice on of the peppers into strips, and cut a handful of tomatoes into halves. Drain the mixed bean salad into a colander, give them a quick rinse and leave them to dry off a bit.

4. Give your tomato sauce a good stir through, if it's still looking a bit thin, you could add a touch of tomato puree if you have some, if not a half teaspoon of flour (preferably cornflour) let down slow into a thick liquid and stirred in will help. Check for seasoning, I'd normally add a generous helping of black pepper and maybe a splash of tabasco or chilli sauce to your own taste.

5. Add the mixed beans and stir thoroughly. You could add the peppers to the whole batch if you wanted to, but keep in mind that they'll be a bit soft if you reheat the mix later on (and you really should because the flavours develop).

6. If you haven't already added your peppers, heat them through by adding them all to a dry, non-stick frying pan on a high heat for a few minutes, stir regularly to prevent burning.

To serve, put the vegetables into a bowl and ditch a large spoonful of the bean stew over the top. Enjoy a warming well balanced meal that is also suitable for vegetarians (and depending on the spice mix you use, may also be Vegan- always check ingredients if you are catering for a vegan).

Approximate nutrition based on 4 servings: 268 calories, 35g Carbohydrate, 12g Protein, 8g Fat, 10g Fibre
Calculated using MyFitnessPal recipe import. Values not verified.

Mexican Bean Stew NOV 2016 2 photo Med beans 2_zpszoq5mfyj.jpg


So, you could repeat this 4 times over, and it would feed you well. but I know I would be bored. So here's a few more ideas on what to do with the remain 3 portions by adding one low cost add on...

Sweet potato -  pour the bean stew over a baked sweet potato for a warming, carb loaded meal.
Sweet potatoes £1/kilo which should give you 4-5 medium potatoes, so should give you 4 meals
Total cost £4.72

Burrito Bowls -Shredded lettuce & cooked rice or grains, dig your hand down the back of the sofa for some change to add some sliced or mashed avocado
Lettuce 45p, Instant savoury rice 30p, Avocado approx 30p. Should yield at least 2 bowls.
Total cost £4.77

Enchiladas- roll your bean stew up in flour tortillas and bake in an oven proof dish for 20 mins for soft in the middle, crisp on the outside enchiladas. A topping of cheese before baking isn't a bad add on if you've got some!
Tortillas 65p for 8, Mozzarella ball 49p. Should yield 2-3 large portions.
Total cost £4.86

 photo E7F4BABF-7681-470E-BD98-5E3CDF845203_zpsegt08a5s.jpg

P.S. Keen eyes will notice the pictures were taken across 2 meals, because I too had a whole lot of leftovers to get through!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Has That Top Really Lasted 2 Years?

I'm rolling back the clock today a bit today, indulge me, just for today?


Autumn cycling- all about @endura #supercommuter kit and new bikes

I've talked a lot about my running journey, how I came to it after no longer being practical for me to cycle to work each day. That was November of 2014, and sometimes I get little reminders of just how much has changed in 2 years, because from sometimes, it feels like nothing has changed at all.

2014: Couch 2 5K

L:2016 R:2015. I don't look that different but a marathon and 100km in races later... It sure feels different.
2015:2014

2015: 100 kilometres of racing, one marathon and about 300 miles of training later...

2016: Finding my happy place...

2016: the year of balance

And that's definitely the bit that's taken time to get to. I've seen a lot of before and after pictures (the black hole of the #bbg tag on Instagram is my Kryptonite) but what a lot of the those 'transformations' don't cover is the difficult bits- the moment where you realise your fitness or diet goals make you miserable and neurotic or that there is such a thing as pushing yourself too far.

Due to circumstances outside of my control this summer, I took a big break from regimented running schedules and strict workout routines, and that lead to increased drinking and a much looser hold on nutrition. And do you know, it did me the power of good.

I spend a lot of last year and most of this year feeling stressed if I missed a planned training session and spend way more time that was healthy planning what I could or couldn't eat to make sure my macros (protein, carbs, fats) were falling to the right proportions each day, and feeling guilty and frustrated if it didn't go right.

Asian inspired salad with prawns, avocado & toasted seeds. A bit in love with all tamarind everything at the moment.

Having finally gotten back to a sort of normal set up with business (it was our office move that really put a spanner in the works this summer) and worked out what it is I am aiming for with my training, it all seems to have clicked. There's a complete lack of self-imposed pressure which in turn has left me far more relaxed and able to enjoy being active in a new way. So here I am in my happy place- I'm running regularly and have a training plan for my next upcoming challenge- my first half marathon in March, and the plan has a margin for error, injury or you know, when life gets in the way. I'm strength training, in a way that challenges me and helps with my ultimate goal of staying injury free, and I'm (mostly) comfortable with my body. I don't have visible abs, I'm only just in the 'healthy' bracket of BMI, and nobody is going to be impressed by a flex of my biceps, and all of that is ok, because I'm fit enough to run my favourite race distance, strong enough to do push ups for the first time in my life, and I'm healthy enough to enjoy my life. What a difference 2 years has made to me, but not that pink top, which incidentally still looks as good as new!

TransformationTuesday Before & After 2014:2016
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chloe Likes To Eat: Elystan Street

Elystan Street Quince Tart Cover


Given that there's just the three of us- mum, dad & I in our office, our work Christmas party isn't exactly... traditional. As you can imagine, hiring a DJ or renting a mixologist isn't really on my to-do list when it comes to organising anything to do with the festive period business-wise.

What we have taken to doing, and it's so much more fun, is selecting  restaurant to visit, sometimes fine dining, sometimes a regional cuisine we've not tried before, sometimes a new opening as was the case this year. Elystan Street is Phil Howard's latest opening in Chelsea and one look at the menu ticked all the boxes- seasonal, unpretentious food with exciting ingredients and exciting vegetarian choices. So what did we think....

The first thing you should know about Elystan Street it's that it's distinctly unstuffy. A cool, modern and comfortable interior with stained wood tables and gentle lighting made it very comfortable for the four of us to sit down in in casual shirts at 2.30 in the afternoon and not feel like we needed to whisper. The front of house staff dressed in aprons and chambray is the perfect balance of attentive service and relaxed dining that allows the food to speak for itself. Or should I say sing, because oh, the food.

With a vegetarian in our group, we pay close attention to vegetarian choices on menus and it was one reason we chose Elystan Street from our short list- more of the starters on the lunch menu are vegetarian than not (5 of 8) and the 2 (of 7) main course listed exciting and ingredients without a hint of being the afterthought they so often can be. The vegetarian food completely stole the show with it's complexity, interest and innovation and my (long suffering) mother has billed it as the best and most memorable main course she's eaten in many years-

Autumn spring roll with roasted onion squash, hispi cabbage, pickled walnut and pumpkin oil

Food we will be talking about for time to come at @elystanstreet this afternoon congratulations Phil Howard, a great success.
My pictures definitely do not do this justice, but we can't all be food photographers

Amongst the rest of us, we all opted for fish main courses, the simplicity of these dishes seemed a little at odds with the complexity of the autumn roll dish above, but the ingredients were really allowed to shine with soft, meaty cod, crispy bream skin and buttery risotto- Phil Howard is definitely not shy with the butter.

Elystan Street main courses cod & sea bream
L: My cod with sourdough crumb, bacon, coco beans & cabbage.
R: Sea Bream with risotto nero & green olives


The desserts are worth noting and leaving room for, having got a distinctly intense waft of dark chocolate from the table next to us early on in the afternoon, the chocolate tart with milk ice cream & dulche de leche was a no brainer so far as I was concerned, but the sharp & sweet citrus notes of meringue in the blackberry cheesecake cream dish did leave me a little torn... until I discovered a sprinkle of popping candy underneath the icecream!

Elystan Street desserts chocolate tart & blackberry cheesecake cream
L Warm chocolate tart with milk icecream & dulche de leche
R: Cheesecake cream & blackberry with oat crumble


We wrapped up our afternoon with a very enjoyable espresso before being not quite the last table to wander out into the rain, having been able to congratulate the man himself, Phil Howard on his newest opening. Elystan Street has only been open for about 6 weeks but it's not hard to see why the write-ups are overwhelmingly positive.

If you're looking for a chilled out slice of exceptional food that clearly demonstrates Phil Howard's many years working at height of fine dining, you've got it. I think it would be fair to say he has nothing to prove, and it shows, because the elegance of everything we tried this weekend spoke for itself with none of the ego that so often accompanies fine dining.

Elystan Street is located at 43 Elystan Street SW3, details of their menus and reservations can be found here: www.elystanstreet.com we ate from the lunch menu at £42.50 for 3 courses. This isn't a sponsored post and I have not been otherwise compensated to write this post, we just had a really memorable and fabulous meal. 
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Autumn Goals Update

About this time last month, I set myself some goals for the autumn period. A few things were niggling at me and I needed to feel like I was getting shit done- the original post Autumn Goals is here- click if you missed it.

And now for the updates...

1. 10k time

I want to say this is an abject fail, but that's not strictly true. I was due to run the first of the Royal Parks Winter 10k Series on Sunday after getting back to a more regimented training routine, but I didn't even make it to spectate (Faceache was running too) as I've been out with a nasty cold bug for over a week. I thought I was on the mend on Saturday but when I woke up on Sunday I was super disoriented and struggling with my temperature so there's no tangible result here.

That said, The training regime is good, I'm enjoying feeling like I have a routine down and seeing some upper body strength kicking in.

Work out journal completely bare this week and most of last. Fed up of being under the weather now.
Sad, empty work out journal

2. Wardrobe Clearance

Go me for practising my shopping this month. I managed to steadily work through a whole load of clothes that weren't fit for donation on a 'wear and bin' session through October. The milder weather helped me out because some of those items definitely needed temperatures above the distinctly chilly 2 degree temp outside today. I took advantage of discount codes from H&M and ASOS to try and restock a little bit too- realising that I was more than a little bit short on winter clothing post clear out.

#fromwhereistand on the platform. Custom velvet biker jacket and old favourite @asos ankle boots and some of the best basics I *might have just ordered some more of from @hm #custommade
Me. Wearing actual clothes. And everything. Including my kick ass velvet biker jacket

3. MyFitnessPal Logging

I'm on it. This goal should probably more accurately say 'eat more, especially fats and proteins', but logging my meals and snacks onto the app we seem to have a love-hate relationship with is my way of being mindful of what I eat. I had noticed my energy levels suffering and and when I worked it back, I wasn't eating enough to fuel me through all the things I do between work, fun stuff, training and challenges. I'm back up to the kind of calorie level and balance of different food groups that works for me, I'm back down a kilo or so that had been hanging around lately and aside from the above mentioned bug, I'm feeling loads better.


I wouldn't say we were a cliché but.... poached eggs and avocado on sweet potato toast (complete with sriracha, obviously) after doing the crossword in bed with coffee... #brunch #saturday #lazystart #london #lifestyle #lblogger
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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chloe Likes To Eat: How To Sabotage Meal Planning Intentions

Blogs, Twitter & Pinterest are all goldmines of resources for meal planning and creating healthy balanced diets for your own personal needs, and if on a Sunday afternoon when you find yourself wondering if it's time to get organised, you start to look around, you'll find plenty of guidance on how to do it. What sme of these guides won't tell you... What NOT to do, because with the best will in the world, there are some 'Don'ts' that will completely sabotage even the best of intentions.

DON'T wait until Sunday afternoon to make a start

Yup. First things first, if you're reading this on Sunday afternoon, all is not lost, but don't expect that you will necessarily be able to get everything done ready for tomorrow. Because most UK supermarkets and larger shops shut at 4pm or 5pm, you're unlikely to be able to stock on the fresh you need, sort through the cupboards to see what is actually lurking at the back (half used, 5 year old bag of couscous, I'm looking at you) AND cook or prep sme of the things you have planned.

DO: Take it in stages, have a look through the cupboards, fridge and freezer through the week and try and run down your stocks if you're planning a big overhaul, spend some of these darker evenings hunting down some new recipes and ideas- start making a grocery list of things you now know you don't have. And FYI mid-week grocery slots for online deliveries are often much cheaper than weekends and are sometimes free.

I wouldn't say I'm obsessive planner... but... #planner #plannerjoy #lists

DON'T shop before you plan

Creating a grocery shop is all fine and good, but without a plan, you're likely to end up with wasted food, wasted money and be missing at least one thing you want later on. Aside the wasted money, because that's your look out, the wasted food really bugs me when food production can be very environmentally damaging coupled with the many who have to manage on tight food budgets and/or food banks for survival.

DO: Consider the days you need to prepare food for, both lunch and dinner if you work from home or make your own lunch to take somewhere, and then create a working meal plan for those days, then you can create a list for any ingredients you need. Don't forget to allow for snacks and we also have a rolling list stuck to our fridge of items we have run out of but don't necessarily buy regularly (condiments, herbs, spices, boring household items) in anticipation of the next shop.

DON'T try too many new recipes in a week

I find it tough to believe that anyone who cooks regularly hasn't had a recipe fail. You know the dish that turned out looking like cat puke, or the one that just didn't taste of anything, or worst of all, the one where the cook time was way out on the temperamental oven in your rented flat and is so black it's actually inedible (just me...?). You might be able to laugh about one or two meals in a week that just didn't turn out, but every day, your humour may start to fail.

DO earmark a few new ideas over the course of a month and break them up with tried and tested favourites. It's also worth keeping notes- I keep a recipe notebook in the kitchen to note down any major changes to a recipe or substitute ingredient that works well.

All the food prep yesterday morning, except I then forgot to pack lunch for myself for today. #fail #lblogger #lifestyle #foodprep #foodblogger

DON'T panic if the plan has to change

I'm not very good at this bit, deviating from any kind of plan is quite stressful, but there are some days or events that either aren't worth planning for or are nice to leave to choice. I rarely bother planning my weekend meals unless there's something we really fancy and I know we'll struggle with the ingredients. It helps that we often have our groceries delivered on a Friday which means we can decide late into the week what we fancy. Also remember that some fresh food might start to go over a little quicker than expected and be prepared to switch days around to use things up whilst they're at their best if needs be.

DO notice the patterns though- if you regularly plan for a particular day and you regularly end up abandoning that plan, time to change the plan, or accept that it has to be a day that you embrace the frozen portion of lasagne from the freezer or the half price Itsu selection.

Asian inspired salad with prawns, avocado & toasted seeds. A bit in love with all tamarind everything at the moment.

DON'T give up

Whether you're planning your meals to try and improve your diet, save yourself money, time or to create some routine in your life, it takes a bit of effort and practice. It won't go right every week because life happens. A plan also shouldn't stop you from enjoying things you love- because life is too short to say no to a pizza with your best mate instead leftover chicken salad sometimes.
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