Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Week on 2 Wheels

I've held off on doing one of these posts for a few weeks partly because there's been a lot of other sports and fitness related posts/reviews on the blog, and partly because of THIS POST about feeling a bit of fraud.

But whatever else is going on, and however I dress it up, there's still been lots of time on two wheels this week, which is what this is all about. The few days of summer weather made for some stunning cycling, and I definitely got out there to make the most of it with a cycle from our home in the East End to Kew Gardens which is South West London- roughly 27km each way, not including a minor detour for navigational purposes on the way out.... *ahem*

Bit of selfie action at Kew. Beautiful day for 30km cycle out here.
T and I outside the gates at Kew on a super sunny Sunday

Upon closer inspection, we discovered it costs £16 per person to get into Kew Gardens themselves, so we settled for very large ice creams on the green next door instead. Having had a really enjoyable barbecue with friends the night before, it was a pretty perfect way to cap off the weekend.

I had planned a couple more longer rides this month, but due to unforeseen circumstances otherwise known as a bike rack coming off the car, and mine being the bike to take the impact, my much loved single speed was out of commission for 10 days whilst it had some fairly major repair work done. I'd love to say it's as good as new, but the paintwork is a bit battered and because mine is apparently a limited edition bike, it would seem parts are in short supply and the replacement front forks no longer match the cream paintwork on the rest of the bike. Not being able to get out as much is a bit of a killer in May, because in June I'm taking a 2 week holiday in Spain to try and recharge the batteries and generally enjoy a bit of down time before what I anticipate to be an exceptionally busy few months. Not having my own bike for what seemed like forever has also cemented a lust for a secondary bike to use for my non-commute rides (I've signed up to do London to Cambridge again in July FYI) and also to serve as a back up for repair/maintenance/disasters. I'm not sure T is all that impressed with the idea of N+1 bikes, but I'm excited as the saving is underway!

May mileage on the bike. Not so hot.
Total mileage for May... not so great

I seem to have nailed comfortable cycling clothes recently as well- for the record, I don't own masses of cycling specific kit as it's always way more expensive than generic fitness clothing or running clothing, but I do prefer to wear more technical clothing because it definitely helps me to regulate my temperature and it's way easier to launder than 'ordinary' leggings and t-shirts.

Chloe Likes To Talk #womenscycling #rapha kit
A new piece by cycling brand Rapha thanks to a gift voucher and one of my fave combos for cooler rides- H&M sports tights & base layer and a long sleeved cycling jersey

I chatted earlier in the month about my current sports leggings habit, in particular coloured and patterened ones I can wear all the time- you can read the post HERE, but a full post on some of the pieces I've been buying from H&M (some of them pictured above right) lately and possibly a review of my Rapha baselayer (pictured above left) to come. I'm really enjoying some bolder prints and not needing to wear five different layers just recently.

Mountain Warehouse Sprint 8 L Rucksack Hydration Pack

I also reviewed 2 of my cycle commuting essentials this month which were kindly given to me by Mountain Warehouse. I can't thank them enough since they turned out to be exactly the right things at the right time. You can read my reviews of their Sprint 8L rucksack/hydration pack and the Glide long sleeve baselayer (in the most amazing shade of purple) HERE, and the sharp eyed among you will notice that the rucksack features in my picture above left.

And that just leaves one more thing to mention. The Women's Tour 2014. I won't say any more than what a fantastic week of exciting racing, and there's loads to read on Total Women's Cycling if you fancy a bit more! I never never thought pro cycling would be of interest to me, but this was great fun to watch.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What I Wore: Peep Toes

I've been waiting an age to get these out, I bought them last autumn and stashed them away as naturally, the day after they arrived autumn made a hasty departure.

I have deliberately NOT mentioned the brand name on leopard print beauties earlier in the post, because it's one people have strong preconceptions and opinions on, but this is what happens when you filter your search by style. I knew I wanted peep toe flats, and these just happened to be there, calling my name. They are in fact made by.... Crocs.

Crocs Carlie leopard print peep toe flat shoes
Crocs Carlie 

They are no longer available ion this colour from Spartoo, but they are available in this lovely Espresso colour and I have my eye firmly on some of the sandal style flats from the range too for a perfect summery solution

I've never worn Crocs of any kind before, but I thought this as good a time as any to try them since I loved the look of the shoe and I'm not disappointed. The uppers are a matte version of whatever they're made of, so they don't look too much like jelly shoes, which I'm not a fan of (I didn't own them as a child in the 90's and I've no desire to do so now), the sole is really supportive and best of all, they don't make my feet hot or stick at all AND they fit like a dream with no rubbing or chaffing or blisters. On the winning side....

Denim Chambray shirt dress & peep toe flat shoes

Pulled on for a casual weekend visit to my crazy Aunts in North West London, they are a pretty perfect spring staple whilst it's a little... changeable outside but they're also up high on my list of things to pack for my impending holiday (less than two weeks to go *happy jig*) as they'll be great with a strappy sundress to wander off out for a coffee or lunch.

Shoes, Crocs - Dress, eBay last year

Also, can we just get a side note on how ridiculously long my hair has suddenly become? I don't often see a back view of it, but I truly hadn't realised how crazy long it was.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: Soy Ginger Beef

If it's not about salad right now, then it's about marinades. Taking something simple, adding something simple, and making it even better.

This was a mid-week meal to use up a few vegetables that got bashed in the fridge and needed using, the stripped beef had been in the freezer, and the whole thing was super quick, super easy and very enjoyable. Feeds three substantial portions or four moderate ones.

I used:
Stripped beef (reduced to clear) £1.20
2 Peppers £0.66
Courgette £0.30
Mushrooms £0.50
Noodles £0.21
Total: £2.87

Chloe Likes To Eat ingredients vegetables

To marinade:
Soy sauce £0.08
Sesame oil £0.06
Generous spoonful of fresh grated ginger (or a heaped teaspoon of ground) £0.20(fresh)/£0.03 ground
Sprinkle of dark brown sugar or generous squeeze of honey £0.02
Smoked Paprika £0.02
Cayennne pepper £0.03
Total: £0.41 (using fresh ginger) £0.24 (using ground ginger)

Chloe Likes To Eat Soy Ginger Beef stir fry

Mix marinade ingredients together, ditch meat into it, stir, cover and leave for at least 2 hours. I did mine the night before for convenience.

Chop veg into chunks, heat wok or large pan and once hot, add a splash of vegetable or sesame oil. Chuck in veg and your marinated meat, starting with densest first and soak your noodles boiling water whilst cooking the veg. Once everything looks cooked to taste (I like my veg crunchy and beef to be on the rare side), dump the noodles into the wok/pan (without the water- slotted spoons are the best thing ever) and stir for a minute or so. Serve.

Soy Ginger Beef Chloe Likes To Eat
Approximately £1.08 per portion based on 3 large portions, using fresh ginger, costings using ground ginger are above. 

You're welcome!

P.S. The 3rd portion was my lunch the following day, served chilled it was just as yummy. For more of my lunch inspirations, check THIS post out

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sprint: Fitness Fix Review

A couple of months back, I went off to have some fun with Mountain Warehouse and came back thoroughly impressed with their range of active wear. Turns out they make some pretty awesome kit for us urban types, not just for those of you into your mountain ranges. For anyone who enjoys commuting to work by cycle, you might have tried a rucksack a time  or two, and lots of you running types will also know that having a plentiful supply of water to keep you hydrated sometimes if best done on your back. The very generous people at Mountain Warehouse sent me away with this amazing baselayer (available to buy here £12.99)....

Mountain Warehouse long sleeve womens baselayer

So- my shiny new baselayer- I purposefully picked with sleeves because until very recently, it's still be quite chilly when I leave for work at 0700 each morning. What strikes me still, as it did at first try with this top is the lightness of the fabric. It's not clingy, it doesn't feel heavy, and it's super super comfortable- always a good start. I've worn this top under my jersey for longer bike rides, but also on it's own as a go-between for changeable temperatures- it wicks, doesn't ride up my back whilst I'm pedaling, it's warm enough to keep chills at bay, but I've never once overheated in it. AND- it's not pink either. To say that I'm please is probably an understatement. So the run down-

-Awesome colour
-Excellent true to size fit

- the neckline is a little higher than I prefer

Mountain Warehouse Sprint 8 L Rucksack Hydration Pack

So, the other little bonus item- this one I didn't pick, but it couldn't have come at a better time since a couple of days later, T had to switch out his usual rucksack, and my old one was there as a spare. The other great thing about being given things, is that not only is it super generous but it also makes me try things I may not have bothered with before.

The above is an 8 litre capacity rucksack with space for a 1 litre hydropack (those strange little bag things with straws that stretch out of the back). An average rucksack such as the predecessor is around 18-20 litres in capacity, so this is pretty dinky by comparison. But size is no guarantee of power, and after some fiddling and a bit reworking my packing for work not only have I been able to use this comfortably, but I've managed to drastically reduce the weight and amount of *stuff* I take to work each day. It's also fair to say that this isn't designed with the commuter in mind, I just wanted to see if I could make it work for me. So...

- the the back is moulded, it means some air gets to my back whilst I'm moving and I don't get as sticky
- Lots of internal pockets in the main 2 compartments- mesh parts, pockets large enough for purses and card holders and smaller pockets for keys so I don't have to rifle
- Reflective details mean even if it's a bit dull or wet out, I'm still visible
- Chest and waist straps for extra stability but both also have straps to tuck them up and away if you're not using them
- The base of the pack is deeper than the top, meaning you get a whole lot more into the bag than you think
- Sits high up on the back so it doesn't interfere with movement whilst cycling (or running I guess)
- Super lightweght when empty- no extra kilos here!
- It's on sale for a ridiculously good price. What are you still waiting for?

- Quite small, but then it is the 8L. Would be great to see a 15L go live as a commuter friendly version
- Could do with a side pocket for easy access to essentials without removal
- Would hugely benefit from a loop for a light for darker months

So the overall verdict is pretty overwhelmingly positive. I'm keeping a close eye on their new selection of goods including these sports bras that are £9.99 and if they match the quality of the other kit I've tried will be  total bargain. As I mentioned in my run down of the #urbanplayground event, the Mountain Warehouse sports range really surprised me in the best possible way, and if you're looking for reasonable pricing on sports kit that isn't scary but does it's job of keeping you comfortable, you won't go far wrong here.

I was not paid to review the above products or obliged to do so, neither was I paid to include the links in the post. All views are my own. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

On Inspiration & Fraud

After a couple of years not really doing a good job of being a 'fashion' blogger, I made a conscious decision that Chloe Likes To Talk would not be categorised as fashion, beauty, lifestyle or food, at least not entirely and that I would blog about whatever it was that was current for me. It's format I like, and that a few hundred of you seem to like too. At present, cycling and general fitness type posts are appearing a lot as cycling has become a major hobby and source of enjoyment for me, and it's also meant a significant reevaluation on how I feel about myself, my body and how I treat it, so there's been a fair bit of that stuff too. But. There's always a But with that big old capital 'B'.

I'm not a fitness blogger. Not just because I don't want to pigeon hole my blog, but because the reality of my life, maybe it isn't what you think. I've never intended to mislead anyone, it's just what happens to be filling my social media feeds and fueling my blog posts right now. And after reading the wonderful Sally's post about Instabollocks, and some of the truly wonderful comments I've seen lately, I thought it maybe was time for a little dose of reality on this here platform.

Chloe Likes To Talk #womenscycling #rapha kit
Pretending? Recent Instagram posts of some of my favourite cycling kit

You see, I've had a number of comments lately, truly awesome from fabulous people, saying that my cycling or the shift in how I view my body are inspiring to them. And it is lovely, but it leaves me feeling a little fraudulent because whilst I'm happy (mostly) and I do cycle all the kilometers I say I do, and cook all the food I say I cook, and mostly feel as I've written I feel, but I also like to eat KitKats as well as the salads which I really do eat 9 (working) days of 10 for lunch. I have days where I ride home and feel like pitching my bike off a rail bridge because the wind is so strong it makes cycling miserable and whilst I might use the #fitchicks tag because my post or picture pertains to something fitness related, I'm actually about 5kg overweight because I'm fond of a bottle of wine rather than just a glass and I can't run for the bus because it cripples my left knee.

Happy fucking Friday. #fuckofffriday #fuckitfriday
Most likely accessory for my Friday night... and Saturday... and often Wednesday... and Thursday

If any of my posts have made a reader think twice about how much fun it can be to ride a bike, or how much more interesting than lettuce a nutritionally balanced salad can be, then I'm pleased. I write my blog because I enjoy it and because I want to share things, and living my life in a way that promotes being active and eating a balanced but tasty diet is important to me. But if you came here looking for someone who is extraordinary, who might run the marathon next year or who is going to be held up as a shining example of, well, anything.... you're in the wrong place.

Well that's my afternoon sorted- he knows me so well!
I never said salad was the only constituent part of my lunch

I'm sure there are lots of people who would wonder why on earth I bother if I'm not inspired to be the best or inspiring others to be better, but the truth is that whilst looking in the mirror occasionally makes me wince, and not managing within 60 seconds of a QoM on Strava sometimes frustrates me, I choose to let go of these things in favour of enjoyment in things that bring small or even great joy to my life, whatever the level, ability or sensibility of those things.

And I'm ok with that.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: 5 Favourite Salads

Salad. I like salad a lot, but it pains me that so many people shun or mock salad because they just don't realise that salad does not have to be limp, bitter lettuce and some tasteless tomatoes. Salad often forms my lunch time meal at work, and because I cycle, I like for my lunch to be nutritionally sound- plenty of fresh, some protein and some carbs, but not too heavy weight. In the interests of inspiration, this week's Chloe Likes To Eat is all about showing off some of my favourite salads.

It's all about the warm salads at present- CPUs cous flavoured with lemon, chilli, honey and stock + a spinach and red pepper. Salmon to be added...
Warm Salad- approximately £0.49 per portion

This is one of the most basic salads on my list, and I like to serve it warm as a main dish (this one had a salmon fillet dumped on top for an evening meal- read all about the meal HERE) and then use the chilled left overs for a lunch the following day. It seems that you can never cook just the right amount of cous cous, despite me reducing the quanity each time.... The following feeds 2 for a main course with enough leftovers for 1 substantial lunch.

Add 300ml of boiling water to 1 vegetable stock cube, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of black pepper, stir and add liquid to 100g cous cous, cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Shred green leaves of choice- this time it was spinach, roughly dice 1 red pepper, a small onion and add the lot to your cous cous, stir well. I used approximately a quarter bag of fresh spinach for the 100g of cous cous.

Dump onto plate, top with protein of choice.

Approximate costing: 
Cous cous £0.13
Stock cube £0.08
Lemon juice £0.15
Spinach £0.25
Peppers £0.33
Onions £0.05
TOTAL: £0.99, appox £0.49 per portion

Might have to post about my latest salad adventure. Chickpea, sweetcorn & piri piri chicken salad.
Piri Piri Chickpea Salad- approximately £1.05 per portion

You know how some people are crazy about kale, and other will extol the virtues of a flaxseed or chia seed? That's me and chickpeas. They are high in protein (100g is approx 38% of your recommended daily intake) and they're filling and I love the nutty flavour. They're also super versatile and therefore great for salads, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan and looking for an interesting and textured salad. They come dried so you soak the chickpeas overnight (beautiful flavour but a massive pain in the arse) or as is my preference, in tins (in water, not brine or oil). Ready to be stashed in the cupboard and as a store cupboard staple, pulled out, opened and dumped in a dish!

This particular chickpea based salad was a leftover special- an attempt at piri piri chicken using chicken breast that wasn't as great as hoped. The following makes 2 substantial lunch portions- 3 if you are conscious of portion sizing perhaps.

Drain one tin (400g) of chicpeas and dump into a bowl with one small tin (195g- a generous handful of frozen sweetcorn would also work just fine) into a bowl, mix well.

Add a large handful of shredded green leaves (spinach again for me) and the leftover portion (approximately 2/3 of a chicken breast, diced) and any remaining sauce. Stir well and add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of black pepper for extra dressing goodness! If piri piri isn't your bag, try marinating some chunks of chicken breats in lemon juice and black pepper, then lightly frying. Freeze in individual portions for a simple addition of protein for a lunch time salad.

Approximate costing per portion:
Chicpeas £0.33
Sweetcorn £0.50
Spinach £0.25
Piri Piri chicken (from THIS RECIPE) £0.99
TOTAL: £2.07 appox £1.04 per portion

Today's salad- chickpeas and prawns mixed with yoghurt, lemon and chilli, shredded spinach and served on toast.
Prawn and Chickpea Salad-  approximately £0.66 per portion

Yet more left over specials- are you seeing a theme here? I should probably clarify that I often cook a touch more than needed or defrost some extra of something for this very purpose- it's not just trying to reduce waste, it's (mostly) intentional.

This one was a week day whilst I was business sitting for my parents, and therefore working from home- served on toast as it's a smaller than usual portion of the salad itself (which I scoffed the day before as well), and I like toast! The following makes two sensible lunches or one large and one small!

Mix 1 tin (400g) of chickpeas with a handful of cooked prawns in a bowl, add a generous handful of shredded leaves- the above was spinach (quelle surprise), and 1 tablespoon of natural yoghurt, add harissa or sriacha style chilli sauce to taste (approx 1 teaspoon for me), stir well.

Approximate costing per portion:
Chicpeas £0.33
Prawns £0.50
Spinach £0.25
Yoghurt £0.05
Harissa £0.19
TOTAL: £1.32, approx £0.66 per portion

Today's salad- chickpeas, shredded romain lettuce, red pepper & Harissa, lemon & yoghurt dressing.
Harissa Chickpea salad- approximately £0.61 per portion

This was thrown together in haste, and I wasn't feel inspired, but it turned out to be super tasty, so I added it to my #queenofsalads roll call! The following makes enough for 2 medium portions.

Shred green leaves of choice (this was roughly half a Romaine heart), diced salad accompaniments of choice- 1 red pepper and a few radishes went into the above. Dump in bowl and add 1 tin (400g) of chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of natural yoghurt and a generous slosh of harisa dressing/teaspoon of harissa paste, a tiny shake of smoked paprika and mix well.

Approximate :
Chickpeas £0.33
Romaine £0.16
Peppers £0.33
Radish £0.05
Yoghurt £0.05
Harissa £0.19
TOTAL: £1.11, approx £0.61 per portion

And one last one, it doesn't include chickpeas either- SHOCK HORROR!

Spinach, pea, mint and cous cous salad with a simple lemon juice and pepper dressing #queenofsalads
Spinach, pea and mint cous cous salad- approximately £0.43 per portion

This one is a leftover from the barbecue we had with friends over the weekend, and a little experiment in frozen spinach, which I bought having seen it mentioned in lots of recipes, and realised isn't really for me. It turned out really well in this salad though, so I'm glad I've found a good use for the rest of the MASSIVE bag currently in my freezer. The following is scaled down from the vast quantity made to feed friends for a barbecue (and the ridiculous volume of leftovers) and makes 2 substantial portions.

Add 225ml of liquid- mine was lemon juice, black pepper, shredded fresh mint and boiled water to 75g of cous cous, cover with clingfilm and leave to stand for at least time minutes- I prefer this as a chilled salad, so after the first 10 mins, I like to put it into the fridge.

Defrost and stir in 3 discs of spinach and a generous handful of fresh or frozen peas, a squeeze of lemon juice and if you feel like it, some further greens- this one has shredded Romaine in it, and I had my sights set on some green beans too, but they'd disintegrated after being pushed to the back of the fridge and half frozen there.

Approximate costing per portion:
Cous cous £0.08
Spinach (frozen) £0.15
Peas (frozen) £0.16
Mint FREE (I grow it from a rescued plant) 
Romaine £0.16
Lemon juice £0.30
TOTAL: £0.85, approx £0.43 per portion

I'd love to know what your favourite salad is, if there's something you'd love to see me include in a salad and feature here or if you try out any of mine and love/loathe them. Go forth and make salad your kingdom!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

From London With Love

Sometimes I berate myself for not doing more of the London *things* that are on my doorstep, but then I tick off some of the fun things we've seen and done in the time we've lived here, and how we choose to make the most of more than just tourist attractions, and the opportunities afforded us by living in the capital, and I feel better about it all.

One time the attractions are great though- occasions. It was T's birthday on Thursday, and struggling to find a gift that comes in a box and can be wrapped up, I set about trying to find something we could eat, see or do as a gift instead. It transpires he'd never been on this....

I had been up once before, but quite some time ago, and I have a fascination with being able to see so much in one go. I spent most of the week praying for decent weather since I booked us a 2000 flight to try and catch the sun as it started to drop.

Eye eye. Waiting our turn to do the big wheel. #londoneye
Waiting our turn as the sun was dropping behind buildings at ground level

The London Eye

Sunset from London Eye

Parliament from London Eye

I love being up high enough to see things, and when you live in London, challenging yourself to sport landmarks or attaching your memories to buildings in miniature is great fun.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

On R&R

At the moment there's a lot of talk of activity on my blog. Cycling has become such a hugely enjoyable part of my life, that it feels as though I spend over half of my life on 2 wheels or talking about how much I love that I spend so much time on 2 wheels. But with a departure from normal routine this week (I've been business sitting for my parents at their home in Cambridgeshire) and a holiday on the horizon (2 weeks in Spain next month) my mind has turned to the importance of rest and relaxation.

I should probably also kick off here and remind you- what works for one person might not work for another, and this isn't prescriptive, merely a little look at what R&R means to me.

1. Reading.
It's well know that's lots of bloggers are book lovers, and I like to read as well. It's something I don't make nearly enough time for because I don't find it a sociable activity and where I used to get some guaranteed time on the train to work every morning, I now have to work a bit harder to find appropriate times to read. But it doesn't get more appropriate than having a house to yourself, no phones, no work journeys and pouring rain and I find I go through phases where once I start a new book or get into a series I'll happily devour the pages in quick succession.

Chilled out lunch
A chilled lunch- love that I can read and use cutlery at the same time with a Kindle....

Currently reading: Bad Blood, Charlotte Savage
Favourites: Fatherland, Robert Harris. The Firm, John Grisham. The Contortionist's Handbook. Craig Clevenger.
On my wishlist: The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith. The Forgotten, David Baldacci.

2. In the kitchen
It's not really a secret that I like to eat, my Chloe Likes To Eat posts are some of the most popular posts on the blog, and I enjoy cooking a lot of the food I showcase here. I don't always feel like it, and sometimes finding something for dinner is just a chore, but having time and freedom to cook even simple dishes tend to make me a happy bunny, cooking for people I'll be breaking proverbial with is the biggest joy, and there's really something quite calming about knowing there's something tasty coming from the oven.

Chloe Likes To Eat recent cooks

Currently cooking: Salads of every kind- hot, cold, vegetarian, leftover specials, dressed and specials
Favourites: Italian flavours, chilli kicks, lean protein and anything I can make better myself
A dish on the list: I really REALLY want to master making decent pizza...

3. Magazines
I don't often buy one, and really, I'd love a subscription, but I did treat myself to this after a grim wet day of problem solving this week. As someone with a sweet tooth, there's little better than settling in with a mix of fashion, lifestyle and opinion and big fat bag of sweeties.

Pre-WT14 watching post-dinner entertainment

Currently reading: Elle (currently on shelves)
Favourites: Elle, Grazia, InStyle
Wishlist: Elle Subscription, TWC as a print magazine!

4. Planning.
I did warn you, this wasn't a one size fits all... By comparison to some people we know, I'm sure mine and T's lives aren't *that* hectic, we're not out at events or hobbies or social functions every night of the week and we're not super involved in clubs, committees and structures. But what we do have is the need for some planning to make sure both of us know what's coming and how it's all going to fit together given the fluidity of his schedule and the more time consuming restraints on mine.

Making lists, checking calendars and working out what we an make happen in the coming months is one thing I really enjoy, not just for the excitement of anticipation, but for the calm that comes from knowing the grocery list is up to date and the calendar is 'at-a-glance' accurate.

5. Browsing
This seems to become something that's a little frowned upon, we're all supposed to be super grateful for what we have, and I do agree, it's great to enjoy the good fortune we do have and not to focus on consistently needing to own lots of things, but I actually quite enjoy browsing for things I might want to have in the future or fantasy purchases. This week I've been completely hooked on the commentary for The Women's Tour 2014 (amazing new British road cycling race) and it's more than ever left me lusting after another bike. I cannot afford to be spending hundreds of pounds at the moment, I definitely don't need a second bike as it would be purely for fun and leisure, and much as I love cycling, the rest of the year may not yield as much free time over evenings and weekends for those longer rides outside my commute. It doesn't stop me wanting to pretend I'm Hannah Barnes, Lizzie Armistead, Marianne Vos or Giogia Bronzini though....

Happy freakin weekend
Browsing in bed, perfect complimentary accompaniment

Dream: Specialized Pro Ruby 
Love: Trek Sleek SL
Need: Trek Lexa SL

I'm intrigued to know if my R&R differs hugely from yours, have you got any suggestions for things I'm missing out on since the weekend is almost with us?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat

The only thing I really like about Nandos is that some clever cookie has worked out how to make chicken and chips highly covetable and quite profitable. That said, the other week I quite fancied some Piri Piri chicken, and whilst T was suggesting a trip to a particular chicken restaurant, I wanted to take a stab at making my own- naturally.

First attempts were not awful, but getting the flavour balance right proved to be more challenging than expected. I finally triumphed over the weekend though, and look, isn't it good!

More adventures in piri piri chicken- getting there.
Piri Piri Chicken with grilled pineapple and a salsa salad

The following would work with chicken or turkey breast, but I'd suggest grilling or frying rather than roasting. Otherwise, a whole chicken or chicken/turkey on the bone is great because after marinating you can throw it all in a roasting tin and forget about it. So, what's in the all important marinate...

- Generous slosh of cider or white wine vinegar (approx 2 tbsp)
-  1 tspn brown sugar
- 3 finely chopped deseeded chillis
- a generous tbsp of oregano- dried seems to work best
- splash worcester sauce
- juice of 1 lemon or equivalent lemon juice from bottle
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- a tiny splash of vegetable oil

Mix the whole lot together in a bowl and either skin your chicken or deeply score it and add to marinate. With a whole chicken, we chose to skin the breast and score the legs. Were we doing this with thighs and legs, we'd probably skin the lot, otherwise the meat won't take on much of the flavour.

Homemade Piri Piri Chicken

I like to leave mine overnight to marinate, and then throw into the oven at approx 150 degrees for 90 mins.

So, serving suggestions since we didn't just eat the whole chicken.... We were craving salad, so a finely chopped green salad had some raddish, cucumber and leftover salsa stirred through and we grilled off some slices of fresh pineapple which are kinda dominating the above plate. Other great ways to serve this might be:

- with sweet potato wedges and a couple of avocados mashed up with lemon juice, finely chopped cucumber, salt and pepper
- dumped on top of a tin of chickpeas mixed with a small tin of sweetcorn, finely shredded spinach or green leaves of choice with honey, lemon and soy sauce dressing
- shredded and used to make up a burger or sandwich with relish, picked cucumber, a crisp lettuce leaf and a scant spread of mayo

PicMonkey Collage
Try not to drool on your keyboard, it's a dead giveaway if you're supposed to be checking your team budget or sending *important* emails.... 

Oh, FYI if there's only 2 of you, then the leftovers can be epic from a whole chicken. This one fed 2 of us for the main meal and then delivered 4 very generous lunches from that. Shredded chicken, diced grilled pineapple, lemon juice, a small spoon of natural yoghurt, shredded leaves of choice and some diced cucumber an amazing lunch did make!

And as per the feedback, some approximate costings are below, based on a whole chicken and serving 6 portions from it:

Chicken- £0.66p (£4 whole Chicken, Sainsbury's)
Brown Sugar - £0.07 (based on 25g at £2.5 per KG)
Chillis - £0.05 (based on half pack of fresh chillis at £0.60 per pack)
Worcester Sauce - £0.03 (based on 290ml bottle at £1)
Cider vingear - £0.08 (based on £2.30 per Litre)
Lemon - £0.05 (based on 1 whole lemon at £0.30)
Garlic - £0.02 (based on a bulb at £0.30 and it having approximately 6 cloves)
Dried oregano - £0.03 (based on a 14g jar at £1)
Cayenne pepper - I added this as a preference for heat in the dish, it's £1 per jar at Sainsbury's but I used so little, it'd be very difficult to cost it for this recipe, let alone per portion! 
Vegetable oil - Again, very difficult to cost exactly, I used 10ml or less fr the whole dish, and it's available at £1.50 for 1L at Sainsbury's
Total approximate cost: £0.99 per portion of Piri Piri chicken

All costings are approximate and whilst I aim for many of my dishes to be low in cost, you may be able to find cheaper alternatives or smaller portion sizes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Legs Eleven

There is something you should know about me, and you may feel the need to judge.

I am a bit in love with leggings. Not just any old pair of black jersey ones. Oh no.

One of the many problems with awesome thing about doing a fair bit of cycling during the week, is that it's been an intro to the wonderful world of women's fitness, and specifically, the opportunity to enjoy wearing some of thecrazy cool kit that's out there. Women's kit gets such bad press, but there are a lot of companies- both big and small, doing a really good job, and oh how I've fallen for it. I have fallen hard. And not for the techie stuff. Read on...

#todayimwearing H&M sportswear tights and comfy converse. #fitchicks
Sports tights, £14.99 H&M

One of the reasons I've come to love sports leggings/tights so much is the ease of laundering. Because they're often made from techie clever fabrics, they wash and subsequently dry super quickly. No more *willing* heavy weight jersey to dry when there's no breeze or direct sun on the decking where our washing line lives, or worse still, on the airer indoors during the winter months. Another great thing- because these wonder garments are designed for actual sport and activity and stuff, I can sit cross legged in the on the sofa without the seams splitting after 2 weeks. Oh, and, AND, I can pull a pair of these babies on post shower for an evening at home, and rather than make another set of clothes dirty, I then pull them back on the following morning to cycle to work in, cunning.... right!

H&M are my current stand out high street store for sports wear- their range was designed in collaboration with the Swedish Olympic team and it's full of flattering tops and tights, easy-wear yoga clothes and some freakin' awesome prints (see above...) at a pretty amazing price point. I might have another sneaky order coming my way... Maybe.

Ana Nichoola Star Tights #womenscycling
Star printed cycling tights, AnaNichoola

I reviewed these earlier in the year, and these are cycling specific, whilst I wasn't sold on the quality, these still pack a stylish punch and I love them for that, if nothing else.

A bit in love with these awesome leggings- Nike Legasee

Red Nike Legasee tights, £37

My latest additions to the ever expanding collection. More Nike. I won a £50 Next voucher recently and these popped up on their website. They're super soft and have a jersey feel, the waistband is awesome because it's quite grippy without causing any unwanted bulging of soft bits, and you can't really argue with a print like that. A bit of me wants to hate a huge corporation, but Nike just seem to keep getting it right. Although on the pricey end of the scale, my experience of the kit is that these will wash and wear really well, so they'll be good value, and added bonus is that I always have someone who wants to know more about where I got them, and I can't help but love the look on their little faces when they realise it's sportswear proper.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat

So I've posted about a couple of warm salads that have been components to weekend or evening meals (you can check out all of my Chloe Likes To Eat posts in the tab on my menu bar), but I do sometimes eat cold salad too. Especially on work days.

Work day lunches are not so much challenging to me, but more of a gauntlet thrown down challenge on how can I make sure my lunch is consistently satisfying and at least partially interesting. But, and there's always a but, it's still got to be easy to throw together the night before and not use a bazillion super expensive ingredients. This is one of my favourites, and if you're on a mission to either save money, overhaul your eating habits or just generally shake things up a bit then I urge you to re-think your definition of salad. And give one of mine a go *nudge nudge*

Sweetcorn & Chickpea salad ingredients

Behold, the humble chickpea, and the sweetest of corn. For me, lunch salads are all about being able to dump some ingredients in a bowl and mix. No faffing.

Might have to post about my latest salad adventure. Chickpea, sweetcorn & piri piri chicken salad.

So, this was chickpea, sweetcorn & piri piri chicken salad. The following made enough to feed 2 people, so would easily cover to lunches. I often use whole tins of things to make enough for 2 days or one for me and one for T. The joy of this salad- you could use whatever you have leftovers of, or you could add a very simple dress to the bulk ingredients, or both-

Dump one tin of chickpeas, one tin on sweetcorn, a pinch of salt, a good shake of black pepper and and a tiny splash or squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl and mix.

Shred or slice salad leaves of choice- mine is usually spinach but mixed leaves, iceberg, rocket, or anything else you have kicking about will do just fine. Shred as finely as you wish, I only shred mine to make it easier to shovel in at my desk.... Add green stuff to aforementioned mixture in bowl, mix well.

At this point the choices start- I added a small leftover portion of homemade piri piri chicken and it's accompanying sauce to this salad and stirred through, but other things I've tried are:

-homecooked portions of tikka chicken
-feta cheese
-a drizzle of the following dressing: 1 tbspn natural yoghurt, 1 tspn french mustard, squeeze lemon juice, black pepper- all shaken together
-a handful of cooked smokey lardons
-a handful of shredded ham

Chickpeas are an awesome source of protein and a really nice base for a lunch time salad as they're not as carb heavy as bread or pasta, which if you're in a sedentary job can sometimes be a bit of an overload. They're cheap, come pre-cooked in good sized portions in tins, and I tend to keep 4+ tins in my cupboard at any one time because they're so easy to add into things. They are my current wonder-food obsession.

The general point here- salad doesn't just have to be lettuce, and much as I love the humble sandwich, there are other options out there if you want to try something different or if you are trying to cut down on the amount of bread you consume or if you or someone you share food with has a wheat intolerance.

Sandwich Salsa Fried Egg Gammon homemade Bread
This is not to say you can't have a freakin' awesome sandwich.... just saying

P.S. Would it be of interest to see costings on my Chloe Likes To Eat posts? Budget is a hot topic in our household, and as well as a strong interest in our food being nutritionally sound and super tasty, it also has to be cost effective. Let me know if the comments or drop me a tweet via @chloelikes2talk

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April in Review

Oh, hello May, where the devil did you come from?

April has been a bit of a nightmare month, truth be told. For no other reason than it just went too quickly for the things I needed to do in it. Being an adult really sucks sometimes.

I got in quite a lot of cycling in April though, which was pretty cool. The weather has been mostly kind, if a bit breezier than I would personally prefer, and I added a couple of extra challenges into the usual mix.

Super disappointed, wanted to break 500km this month, but sickness has meant bike separation.

Total KM for March- 428. It might sound like a lot, especially since in January I was finding it a proper challenge set when I aimed at 300, but I'm really disappointed. With some extra guaranteed miles in the mix from rides I was booked to do, I desperately wanted to break 500KM this month, but this week I've been struck down with some vile cold/flu type thing and what I suspect is a chest infection waiting to happen judging by the difficulty I'm having breathing. Needless to say, there hasn't been much cycling for the last 4 days and I'm already suffering bike separation anxiety.

Disappointment aside, I did do some cool stuff this month....

I cycled from London (my front door to be exact) to Cambridge (the train station, yes really) with the Breeze network (part of Sky Ride- the organise rides for Women and they're FREE) which was freakin awesome. I know some people really get eyeroll syndrome when it comes to getting up early on a weekend to do something super active, and there's no way I want to do it every single week, but I had a really fun day, and felt a little sense of achievement.

#BreezeNetwork London to Cambridge April 2014
Image Credit
113KM door to door, this is us lot, just off Newnham Road, Cambridge

I also got to be involved in a cool project with Cyclescheme this month, as part of my #SuperCommuter antics- rhapsodise on the amazingness of cycling for a whole day, at somewhere near to my home, and get fed. HELL yeah.

#SuperCommuter filming at Look Mum, No Hands #cyclescheme
Filming at Look Mum, No Hands in Hackney, chatting with some other #SuperCommuters and making sure we're all ready and set

I'm hoping to be able to show you more of this project soon, but for now I'm being *patient* whilst the clever techie people make us look nice. It really was fun to mess about on and talk about our bikes all day though!

And the other super cool thing I got to do this month was to go and check out Mountain Warehouse and their Active Wear range, which turned out to be amazing. I have held off a little on reviewing some of the goodies I came away with, because I don't want to overload my blog with sports kit reviews, but you can read about my evening with the very lovely people of Mountain Warehouse HERE, and keep your eyes peeled for my reviews as we enter May.

And now, I'm going to go back to coughing up half a lung and generally feeling sorry for myself until I can get back on my bike. Have a great weekend, bank holiday and all.