Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chloe Likes To Eat: Pad (sort of) Thai

I've always loved Asian food and it influences a lot of what I eat on a day to day basis. I really love the prevalence of vegetables and the range of sweet, sour & savoury flavours and how easy it is to mix and match with the ingredients you have kicking around. Most of my recipes are not authentic Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean etc, but they are heavily influenced by those dishes and this version of Pad Thai is perfect for a quick, warming, vegetable heavy dish that is easy to bulk out with proteins and carbs depending on your needs.

 photo Pad Thai cover_zpsgtdx0li3.jpg

Unfortunately, if there's a way to make Pad Thai look pretty, I've yet to find it, so you're stuck with the single image for my entire recipe. Hang in there though, it's definitely worth it!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/4 cup High quality peanut butter
2 tsp Tamarind paste- Tesco do their own brand version, failing that an Asian supermarket or Amazon are good bets
1/2 tsp curry powder

Cooked rice noodles
Vegetables of choice- I used spiralized carrot, broccoli florets & green beans in this version
Cooked meat of choice- left over roasted pork in mine
Traditionally Pad Thai is topped with crispy onions and crushed peanuts- I didn't have crispy onions so I was super decadent and put a fried egg on top of mine!

For the sauce- the important bit...

1. Add soy sauce, tamarind paste & peanut butter to a non-stick pan and heat gently on medium whilst stirring to melt the peanut butter and combine

2. Once peanut butter has melted, stir in the curry powder

3. Your sauce is likely to resemble a thick paste, let down with a splash of water at a time until the consistency is similar to ketchup.

Add a tablespoon of sauce to cooked rice noodles and stir fried vegetables and mix well to coat everything, transfer to a bowl and top with cooked meat and your egg if you decided to go all out like I did.

The sauce with keep in a jar or container for around 1 week in the fridge and it may need letting down a little after it's been chilled as the peanut butter content means it sets a little.

Approximate nutrition info for the sauce based on 4 servings per batch:

120cals 8g fat, 6.7g carbs, 8g protein

Based on MyFitness Pal recipe input, values unverified


Homemade Pad Thai photo IMG_1322_zpsn6gza46s.jpeg


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Thursday, January 26, 2017

What I Eat In A Day: The Training Edition

It seems you're a voyeuristic lot, can't say I blame you and it's not hugely surprising given the origins of blogging. Previous posts in the series include the original What I Eat In A Day (click if you missed it), the later Carb Loading Edition (click if you missed it) and today I present: the Training Edition.

I'm currently 6 weeks out from my first ever half marathon and that feeds nicely into continued training towards an endurance 24 hour team race in June (Endure24) so currently my week includes: a weights session, a speedwork running session with my club, a high intensity weights/cardio mix (a personal training session), a shorter run at my goal 'race pace' or just above, and a long run at a slower than 'race pace' steady speed that increases in distance gradually over the course of the plan, so there's plenty going on and man does it require some fuelling!

 photo WIEID Training edition cover_zpsnd3fyik6.jpg

An importnat disclaimer applies here: This is not dietary advice, this is not advocacy of a particular way of eating or a promise of any kind of results based on what I choose to eat. What works for me based on my needs, lifestyle and preferences doesn't work for everyone and the MOST IMPORTANT THING is that you make dietary choices for your own health and wellbeing.

This post is just a chance to have a nosey into a full day of food instead of singular meals for a change and I'm a firm believer that as much as I have a responsibility to remind you of these things before you read my post, as a consumer of media, you have a responsibility to put what you read, see, watch and listen to into context.

Breakfast
After a disappointing foray into protein porridge, I'm firmly back into protein shake/smoothies for breakfast. Whilst it's a bit chillier I've taken to finding ways to warm them up, my current favourite is:
250ml warm milk of choice (I use almond milk to keep my sugar intake down)
2 shots strong coffee or you could use an instant espresso powder
1 Banana
Scoop of protein powder- I like vanilla in this, but chocolate or mocha might work too

Blitz the whole lot for a latte and breakfast all in one hit!

Approx 250cals

Snack
Some days I barely notice the morning fly past before realising I'm ravenous and some days, like today, all I can think of is food. I keep a stash of these nut & seed packs in my desk at work. Being pre-packed stops me overdoing it as well, because on a day like today, I could for sure eat as much as was to hand if not!

Lidl Aldi nuts & seeds packet snack photo FBFEFC21-2AD2-45F4-A721-47079BBE9946_zpslk4antpt.jpg

Approx 125 cals... Can you see a theme emerging with my desk accessories?!

Lunch
For most of the week, my training happens at the end of the day, after work, so I tend to keep my lunch light on carbs. In this chillier part of the year soup is a favourite- curried parsnip made with coconut milk with a few king prawns and a sprinkle of toasted seeds is a close second but hands down my current favourite is my own version of a burrito bowl, gently warmed through.

Chicken & Halloumi Burrito Bowl photo 32269822632_4cc509de6a_o_zps7nq1c6yo.jpg

This one has:
Cauliflower rice- roast cauliflower with a spray of rapeseed oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper. cool, blitz.
Homemade chicken chilli mix- chicken slow baked with salsa (hell yes for cheating), garlic, tomato puree, smoked paprika, chilli & oregano
Roasted peppers, aubergine, onions & tomatoes
Speedy guacamole- mashed avocado with a splash of lime juice, salt and a dash of sriracha
And bonus grilled halloumi- I do love me some leftovers!

Approx 620cals

Snack
I LOVE mint chocolate, I found this in Spain but I think you can get it in the UK- you can certainly buy the cherry version which is lovely too!

Lindt dark chocolate with mint photo 0d07baad-d0cc-431d-8a05-f160ae36c036_zpsjdkk4sop.jpg

Approx 50cals

Dinner
The best thing about going out to run a really tough session of sprint repeats when it's cold and dark is coming home to hot food followed closely by a hot shower and cosy pyjamas! One of my favourites is a weekday mini-roast, but this is another favourite bowl of joy- homemade Pad Thai. More on the recipe coming soon, but this one include: spiralized carrot, shredded cabbage, broccoli, rice noodles, leftover roasted pork and a glorious fried egg. More next week on my pad thai sauce and how I make it.

 photo IMG_1322_zpsn6gza46s.jpeg

Approx 545cals


Dessert
Sometimes I just need dessert. Need it. I've been playing about with the MyProtein jelly for a couple of weeks and I'm a bit on love with the watermelon flavour. It's dead simple to make- add hot water, stir and chill in container of choice! I keep mean to try putting extra fruit in it, and promptly forgetting in my excitement.

MyProtein Watermelon Protein Jelly photo giving-the-myprotein-watermelon-protein-jelly-a-go-has-a-b-strong-flavour-which-i-love-girlswholift-myproteinwomen-protein-t_zpsowinqblo.jpg

Approx 70cals


So that's my day in training and food. I have included approximate calorie values because I think it can be useful. I totalled out at around 1660cals and I generally aim for 1600-1700cals per day, which is a small increase from my last edition of my food diary because over the course of the week I'm doing more training at a higher intensity. For the record, this was a work day and I went to an especially tough speedwork running session with my club in the evening, burning approx 700 calories after running at high and moderate intensity over 11km for over an hour.

I hope, in the aftermath of the Horizon documentary on clean eating, the Grace Victory documentary on the same subject last year and the overwhelming table turn that's happening (about time) when it comes to our relationship with 'healthy eating' and restrictive plans, that my day demonstrates there isn't a need to cut out food groups nor should food that fuels your body be bland, boring or a punishment. Whilst this is labelled up as the training edition of my food diary, this isn't a one off day or even a one off week, and I don't think it's sustainable to eat in a way that makes you miserable, so everything you see on my food diaries or my instagram are meals or foods I eat because I want to and because I enjoy them- be that burrito bowl or a beer.




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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Training Happy: My 2017 Goal

I always feel a bit twitchy about posting goals supper early on in the new year. The internet is over run with it, and I know I too get a bit bored of all the striving for perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. But I do like New Year, and I like having a fresh new block of time and with each passing year I have chosen to set goals, I've been able to look back on that year and most importantly, what set that particular one apart. 2015, the year I learned to run and completed a marathon, 2016 the year I pushed outside of my comfort zones with PBs in running and completing an endurance event with Ride100, and now 2017....

2017 is the year I want to train happy. I touched on this a bit in my honest review post for 2016 (click if you missed it) but in any kind of sport or training it's very easy to get caught up in pushing yourself to constantly do more, achieve better, run faster or be 'better'. That isn't to say that pushing ourselves isn't a good thing- I think we're all capable of more than we initially believe, but all too often that striving means seeking to correct a shortcoming- perceived or otherwise and choosing to overlook our positive achievements and qualities. For me personally, it lead to a long period of setting impossible targets and constantly berating myself for not being good enough.

May 2016 Running Review photo May 2016 running review_zpsdqwu8qur.jpg

So 2017. I'm running my first ever half marathon this spring- doing things in reverse a little bit because I have run a marathon before, but never the 13.1m distance. Previously I've started out training plans with ambitious time goals for new races and events but in a bid to settle in and enjoy running through central Cambridge on closed roads, I have found (and modified a touch to suit my schedule) a training plan that should see me strong enough to finish the distance and enjoy the day- for anyone interested, I rounded up some of my favourite training plans for beginners and those like me, transitioning to new distances (click if you missed it) including the plan I've based my own training on.

Outside of running, I've found new love in lifting. Strength training has been part of my routine ever since I first started running and making exercise a normal part of my life. But it's always been something more necessary than enjoyable. I recently started working with a new personal trainer and it's turned out to be exactly what I needed. A switch in approach had left me with a love for the 2-3 times per week I can get into the home-gym set up I currently have access to and doing what you love counts as training happy in my book.

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Eat, sleep, train, repeat

2017 is also the year of a new club. I've just signed on the line to join a UK Athletics affiliated running club based near my workplace. I know to some this might seem to counter the balance that removing unnecessary pressures that I'm more than capable of placing on myself but it does the opposite. My fellow runners are the first to congratulate me for my effort not just my attainment and that sports and exercise are a great way to bring amazing people into your life- some people you meet might inspire you, others who support you and some just make everything a bit brighter when it's -2 degrees, foggy and dark.

So that's me for 2017- nothing that is really quantifiable, no drastic speed or distance requirements, just a bit of joy and I hope some of that joy can be spread- training happy is very empowering and goodness knows we could all do with a bit of that right now.
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

When Your Hotel Is An Actual Castle

It's been a bit quiet over here since we kicked off 2017... Happy New Year and all that stuff- for the record, I'm not doing Dry January, Veganaury, no new diet plans and I'm already 2/3 of the way through training for my big race of 2017. Now... onto the good stuff.

The Friday after New Year, Tom & I trundled off to Luton Airport, trekked through the hideous long stay car park area and boarded a flight to Malaga. My parents very kindly gifted a week of timeshare in one of the Marriott resorts on the Costa del Sol as they couldn't fit the time in that they wanted, and we also managed to squeeze some extra days onto the end of our week- more on that and aforementioned castles shortly.

I have hear many people in my age group (I'm dangerously close to being in my late twenties, but clinging to 'mid')talk about Southern Spain in a tone usually reserved for a spectacularly run down seaside resort where it rains for 300 days of the year and you might be more likely to get cocaine than a prize from a vending machine. It somehow seems too 'common', to be boring, not glamorous enough, and a bit sleazy in a world where we seem to have to fight it out on Instagram to out-quirk one another's Air BnB choices. If you've never been, there are parts of the coast that have earned a seedy reputation for dodgy cocktails, rubbish nightclubs and greasy all day breakfasts, but there are also some brilliant restaurants, interesting shopping opportunities, hotels with facilities for all weathers and the biggest draw for me: London to Malaga is less than a 3 hour flight (so you don't lose an entire day of a short break on a flight) and it's consistently warm enough- even in January, to enjoy a bit of winter sun.

We had a very restful week of catching up on our TBR piles in the sun, eating at my favourite Italian restaurant and resisting the urge to buy everything in my favourite handbag shop in Old Town Marbella. But then it gets interesting. After checking out we drove 2 hours to Cordoba. Famous for it's Jewish quarter and the Cathedral-Mosque, it's a more traditional Spanish city that evoked memories of living in Valencia for me, and childish joy at all the twisty passage way for Tom. We walked a lot of miles, enjoyed some more traditional Andalusian tapas. And then it was back to Malaga for an overnight stay before flying home. And this is where it gets good.


Hotel Castillo Santa Catalina Malaga Upper Terrace photo Castillo de Santa Catalina_zpscljqpekb.jpg
An actual castle... This is the terrace outside our bedroom

Castillo Santa Catalina view photo View Castillo Santa Catalina_zpszb04ohtj.png
Not a bad little view from the bedroom

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A no less beautiful view from the bathroom as the sun started to dip

Castillo de Santa Catalina is about 2km (or about 25 mins walk) from Malaga city centre (which hosts plenty of bars and restaurants) up some slightly hairy bends of slopes. The bends are worth it for the stunning views though. The castle has been converted into a total of 8 rooms, some of which are suites and it has a whole host of function and meeting rooms. As it was January, it was fairly quiet and as you can see, Tom made the most (as did I) of the very sunny upper terrace (which we accessed directly from doors in our bedroom) for a few hours.

Aside the stunning views and unique location, the other major sell point for this hotel was the friendly welcome. Rarely have we seen bad service in Spain but the hotel staff we met and who not only checked us in, but also showed us in (something I last remember doing myself circa 2005) were especially warm in their welcome, keen to ensure we had a lovely time and extremely helpful with our slightly odd timetable for checking out. The rooms were also lovely for being unique. Modern hotels are often large scale prefabs and each rooms is identical to the next. The unfussy whitewash plaster and beautiful tiles in the room gave the room a really enjoyable flash of colour, the bathrooms had been modernised to include spacious showers and baths without compromising on the age & style of the building and we didn't come across a single area of the hotel that wasn't spotlessly clean- much cleaner in fact than the flashing modernist bathroom in our Cordoba room which was decidedly tired considering all the modern straight lines and gloss black.

I often think we're very quick to talk about experiences or products when we have a negative experience. They often stick in our memories but having worked in or with service industry for most of my life, I know how it can feel when you only ever hear from someone when they need to complain and therefore I try really hard to make a point of remembering positives and giving positive feedback as well as honest feedback if I don't think something is quite right. Castillo de Santa Catalina was an overwhelmingly positive experience, stunning, friendly, welcoming, great rooms, great space and we're already eying up another night there on a June holiday I'm trying to get booked. It would make a lovely wedding venue and it's equally lovely for a weekend- it's 20mins drive from Malaga airport- winning. And it's an actual castle, did I mention that?

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