Categories
Food

Easy High-ProteinYoghurt bowl

This is a delicious yoghurt bowl which is ideal for breakfast or as a delicious snack

This is a yummy yoghurt bowl which is a really good way to start your morning, or it’s a nice way to end the day. It’s really handy if you’ve got to the end of the day and realised that you haven’t managed to squeeze enough protein in. If you make a batch of the jam the night before, then it’s a super quick, healthy breakfast. You could even add some fresh fruit if you fancied.

To make the compote

Ingredients:

  • 1 big bag of frozen, mixed berries
  • 1 generous glug of maple syrup (you can always add more to taste later)
  • three tablespoons of water
  • three teaspoons of chia seeds

Method:

  • Throw all the ingredients into a pan and heat on the stove;
  • mash up the berries with a fork;
  • leave to cool.

Ingredients for the Yoghurt Bowl

  • Three tablespoons of Greek yoghurt;
  • 30 grams of protein powder of your choice – I used salted caramel (Bulk Powders – it’s soo good!)
  • Granola (I used the high protein stuff)
  • Compote from above

To make the Yoghurt Bowl

  • Mix the Greek yoghurt with the protein powder in a bowl;
  • spoon on the compote (as much as you want – it’s delicious);
  • Sprinkle on a small handful of granola;
  • Add whatever toppings on that you want – half a banana would be lovely (freeze other half for smoothies!)

I hope you enjoy this recipe – let me know if you try it and what you use as your toppings! Enjoy!

Categories
Food

Potato and Spinach Curry

So the other night I came home from the gym and realised that I had a few potatoes that were on their way out and a HUGE bag of spinach which I was never going to get through in my salads alone. I looked through my store cupboards (which to be fair are very well stocked) and I came up with this delicious curry. Not only is it really tasty, but it’s packed full of vegetables and it’s vegan too!

It’s delicious served with brown rice but you could also add a cheeky naan bread on the side if you fancy it!

Now, this list does make it look like you need a lot of ingredients (I tend to avoid recipes like that), but it was genuinely all stuff that I had in my cupboards – and you probably have most of them too.

This recipe is going to make about four servings if you have it with rice, or two to three servings if you have it on it’s own.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 largish potatoes chopped into cubes
  • 4-5 handfuls of spinach (washed)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped chili (I used lazy chilly)
  • a good chunk of ginger (grated if fresh or a good few strands of lazy ginger if using that)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder of your choice (I used Madras)
  • 2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil

Method

  • Heat the coconut oil in a large pot (I used a cast iron one) and add the mustard seeds, wait for them to start ‘popping’.
  • Add the onions and sauté for about five minutes. When nearly done add the garlic and the potatoes.
  • Add the spices, ginger and chili then stir well so that the onions and potatoes are covered. Cook for a minute or so.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, swilling the can out with a small amount of water and pouring into the pot.
  • Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.
  • Stir through the spinach and allow it to wilt on the heat for a minute or so.
  • Enjoy!

Let me know if you try this recipe and don’t forget that you can mix it up. Adding chickpeas would be a good addition and you could always add other vegetable too!

Categories
Food

Catalan Chicken

Catalan chicken with diced roast potatoes

With the weather brightening up, I thought that I would give you a lovely Spanish inspired recipe to brighten up your week. That said, this recipe is basically a stew so it also works well in winter. Heck, you’ll want to eat this all year round it’s so easy! Subject to a few minor adaptations, you can make this in your slow cooker so that it’s ready for you when you get home from work.

If you don’t have smoked paprika you can use normal paprika. This will give the dish an earthier flavour which is also good but I do highly recommend that you use the smoked version as that smokey element really compliments the chorizo and is, frankly, delicious.

Ingredients

8 boneless chicken thighs (or however many are in the packet) I also like to use shredded chicken for this recipe

Chorizo cut into small chunks 

1 red onion thinly sliced

1 red pepper sliced

1 yellow pepper sliced

2 cloves of garlic

1 carton of passata

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Method

Fry the chicken thighs (if using) in olive oil for a couple of minutes on both sides

Add the onion and peppers and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened

Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes

Add the chorizo and cook for about a minute until it is cooked through

Add the smoked paprika and stir through, immediately add the passata, if using shredded chicken then add it now.

Pop the lid on the casserole (or saucepan if using) and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly.

My serving recommendations include rice, cous cous and diced, roasted potatoes. I also like to have a bit of fresh bread to hand because, trust me, you’re going to want to mop up that sauce!

Enjoy! Please let me know if you make this and what you think!

Categories
Food

The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Has the Easter bunny been? As a bit of an Easter special, I thought that I’d do something a little different and write about the health benefits of chocolate. It’s basically international chocolate day today so feel it’s appropriate.

Chocolate dates all the way back to the time of the Mayans where they made cacao beans into a drink. This drink was held in such high esteem that it was commonly referred to as ‘the food of the goods’. They enjoyed this treat so much that they even drew pictures of it on the walls of their temples! Now their version of chocolate was pretty different to ours, it was a drink as the cacao beans were crushed and mixed with chilli and water – no sugar! However, they seemed to love it…and maybe they were on to a good thing.

Now what health benefits can I get from eating my Easter Eggs?

Well I’m not sure about what health benefits can be enjoyed from Easter eggs themselves as most of the research has been on dark chocolate, so let’s just pretend that the milk and added sugar don’t affect things:

  • It’s a source of antioxidants (these protect against free radicals). Oxidative stress has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and even cancer;
  • It may reduce the risk of heart disease;
  • It contains certain compounds that lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase your ‘good’ cholesterol;
  • It contains anti-inflammatory properties;
  • It may reduce insulin resistance;
  • It may reduce your chances of getting neurological (brain) conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Now as I said, this research does only apply to good quality dark chocolate and the chances are that all the sugar and added ingredients to general chocolate counter act the benefits. However, it’s Easter. The chances are that you were given some chocolate so you go ahead and enjoy it – this day only comes around once  a year.

Categories
Fitness Food Wellness

What Supplements do I take?

I often get asked about what supplements people should take and whether supplements are necessary. Supplements are really individual and if you aren’t sure whether you need to take a supplement then you should consult a doctor – it can be dangerous to take some supplements that you don’t need.

That said, here are the supplements that I take and the reasons why.

Protein Powder

Although this is pretty mainstream, it is still a supplement. I use this as I want to eat a higher protein diet but I struggle to hit my protein goals. Protein powder is a convenient way to get protein throughout the day. It is easier to whip out a shake in the gym changing room than it is to set there and eat a chicken breast. You also don’t need to worry about it going bad sitting in your bag all day.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is one of the few sports supplements that actually is actually backed up with scientific research that supports its use.

There are various energy systems in the body that we use to perform exercise (or activities) at certain intensities and durations. For high intensity, short durations (up to 6 seconds) we use a system called the creatine phosphate system, activities that would use this energy system would include lifting weights and sprinting. The way that creatine works is that it allows you to use the creatine phosphate system for longer which means that you may get a couple of extra reps of your weights or you may be able to sprint for longer at maximum intensity. It basically gives you a couple of extra seconds before the body starts using a different energy system and lactic acid starts causing that burning sensation in your muscles. Extending the amount of time that you can lift a weight by a couple of seconds may not sound like a lot, but it will support you to reach your strength, power and speed related goals. However, if you are supplementing with the hope that it will increase your endurance then it won’t – this uses a different energy system.

I have been supplementing this for about a month now and I can feel the difference when I’m in the gym. It’s pretty incredible stuff…I’m surprised it’s legal! (I’m joking it’s perfectly safe for a healthy person).

Creatine monohydrate is probably the cheapest form of creatine and that is all that you need. It is a relatively inexpensive supplement and it is one of the most effective.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in certain foods but is mainly made by our bodies on exposure to sunlight. However, living in the UK, we are not exposed to the sun enough during the autumn and winter months to make enough vitamin D so the NICE guidelines advise supplementation of 10mcg per day during these months. Personally, I have found that I am less prone to colds in winter months since I have started supplementation but that could be placebo! However, placebo is enough for me and I’ll continue to pop a pill during those long, dark months!

You can pick up vitamin D tablets quite cheaply in most supermarkets but remember to check with your GP before you supplement.

Categories
Food

Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad

Honestly I don’t think that there is anything easier to make than roasted vegetables. Yet they are delicious, full of nutrients and fibre and filling – the perfect combination! I’ll often have roasted vegetables with salmon as a side dish with a bit of couscous or rice but I had bought some lentils and decided to experiment. The result was this delicious salad which is delicious eaten warm but also ideal cold in packed lunches.

This recipe serves four as a side or two as the main event! You can make it vegan friendly by taking out the feta (you may want to add in vegan cheese) and substituting the Greek yogurt for coconut yogurt.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • Large handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 100g uncooked lentils
  • feta cheese to crumble on top
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons harissa
  • Fry Light or oil of your choice
  • 2 cloves of garlic (optional)

Method:

  • Chop up the vegetables into bite sized chunks – keep the skin on the sweet potato (just wash it well and cut the ends off). It tastes good, it’s edible and your gut bacteria love it!
  • Place the vegetables in a roasting dish and spray with a few squirts of fry light or oil of your choice. Add in garlic if using.
  • Bake in the oven at 180 decrees centigrade for about 25 minutes, or until cooked.
  • Put the lentils on to cook as instructed by the packet. I buy the ones that you don’t have to soak and take 25 minutes to cook.
  • To make the dressing, simply mix the Greek yogurt and the harissa together in a small bowl, set aside.
  • Once cooked, allow the lentils and the vegetables to cool slightly them mix them together in a large bowl.
  • Once served, crumble feta on top and dollop the dressing on the side.

I like to serve this salad on a bed of spinach with a chicken breast on the side. 

Categories
Food

Curried Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

There is something that I find really relaxing about making soup. I’m not sure why this relates specifically to soup but for me, if I’ve had a stressful day then this is my go-to activity. I especially love it when it’s cold outside and my kitchen gets all hot from the cooking and you feel all cozy.

The aromatic spices of this warming soup make you feel inside and out and its packed full of nutrients too. But best of all, the best thing about making this recipe is that it serves about four so you have delicious lunches for work or quick dinners. It also freezes really well.

Ingredients

  • 700g Sweet potato peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 large/ 2 small onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons garam massala
  • 1 teaspoon corriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon medium curry powder (can substitue this)
  • I teaspoon chopped chilli (optional – I lke lazy chilli)
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger (again I use the lazy stuff)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • a (very) generous squirt of lime juice (although this is optional)

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan (I use a stock pot as this recipe makes a lot of soup). Once the oil is hot enough, sauté the onions until they are soft and then add the garlic, garam massala, corriander, cumin, curry powder, ginger and chilli if you are using. Mix these in with the onions.
  • Add the sweet potatoes and coat them in the spices. Now add the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potato is really soft (I stab mine with a fork to check).
  • Take the soup off the heat and if you’re sensible you’ll let it cool down a bit (for safety – not culinary- reasons). Once it’s cool enough, blend the soup until it is really smooth. I’ve used both a hand blender and a proper blender, I prefer a hand blender because there’s less washing up but it does take a little longer.
  • pour the soup back into the pan, if you used a blender, and put it back onto a low heat. Stir in the coconut milk and make sure that it is properly mixed in. Add in the lime juice if you are using.

I like to serve this with a dollop of Greek yoghurt because it it makes it even creamier and crusty bread because, who doesn’t love warm crusty bread!

Categories
Food Wellness

Quick and Easy Smoothie Bowl

My protein filled smoothie bowl, packed full of nutrients and is really tasty!

This protein-packed blueberry and banana smoothie bowl is ready in less than a minute and is simply delicious. I’ve been unwell this week, to the extent that just standing is difficult, so the only food that I’ve been able to prepare is of the quick and easy variety. That said, I’m trying to feed my body nutrients so I wasn’t going to compromise with an easy, but nutrient poor, breakfast. The frozen ingredients in the recipe make this breakfast nice and cold, which soothed my throat a treat.

I’d recommend this smoothie if you’re ill, or if you’re not because it really is good. I’ll be having this again on a busy work day.

Ingredients

  • 1 banana (frozen is ideal but fresh is absolutely fine
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • A handful of frozen blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of greek yogurt
  • 150-200 ml milk of your choice
  • High protein granola (or whatever else you fancy)

Method

  • Roughly chop the banana into your blender (I use a Nutribullet for smoothies)
  • Throw in the blueberries and yogurt then top with milk
  • blend until you have a smooth consistency
  • add the protein powder and blend again
  • Pour into a bowl and add topping.
Categories
Food Uncategorized

Baked Oats Recipe

I’ve made this breakfast a couple of times on the weekend recently when I have a bit more time to make a leisurely breakfast. However, you could make this on a weekday morning and cook it while you’re getting yourself ready. This recipe makes two portions, but it’s good to box up and save the other half for the next day – which makes it the ideal portable breakfast. It can be eaten hot or cold, but I prefer hot with a big dollop of Greek yogurt.

If you find that you’re often rushing in the mornings, you could double up the mixture and cook it for a bit longer to make sure that you have a filling, healthy breakfast for you to eat during the week.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup of oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 banana
  • fruit – I’m using up homemade mincemeat that I made at Christmas time but blueberries or raspberries and coconut would be nice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 2/3 cup of milk

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Slice the banana in half lengthways and mash the other half of the banana
  • Beat the egg and add the milk
  • Add the oats, banana, baking powder and fruit to the egg and milk mixture
  • Stir well
  • Place the other half of the banana on to the top of the mixture and drizzle it with honey (you can leave this out if you like or use maple syrup instead)
  • Add to an ovenproof dish and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown

Enjoy with yogurt and extra toppings if you wish!

Categories
Food

How to hit your Protein Goals

So you’ve decided to count your macros (or perhaps your PT is making you) and you’re struggling to hit your protein goals. The struggle is real. I think that anybody who has transitioned from just eating whatever to eating a high protein diet has struggled with this, and I know that I really did to start with. I remember texting my friend to ask whether it was acceptable to drink four protein shakes in one day (not to be recommended btw).

So I thought that I would share my tricks and tips for hitting your protein goals, I hope you find it useful.

Eat Protein for Every Meal

It might seem a bit obvious but I say it anyway. You want to eat protein at every meal. Not only is this better for maintaining muscle (your body will thank you for a constant stream of protein), but it’s better than getting to 6pm and realising that you need to eat seven chicken breasts for your dinner to hit your goals. If you have a meal with little protein in it, you’re going to struggle to catch up the rest of the day.

You will need to base your meal around a lean protein source and then balance the rest of your meal around it. It is hard to start with but it does get easier with time. Eventually, you’ll be able to look at the things that you most commonly eat and know roughly how many grams of protein it contains.

Snack

Here is your official permission to snack! The chances are that you are not going to hit your protein targets through three meals alone, so why not have a couple of protein-rich snacks to see you through. I like skyr yogurt for this as some tubs contain up to 25g of protein without being proportionally too high in the other macronutrients. A boiled egg works well too (but stinky!). I would try and avoid shop bought protein bars because they tend to be high in sugar and calories, which would affect your balance of macros, but if you can fit them in then they’re okay for the odd treat.

Supplement

One of the easiest ways to reach your protein goal is to use protein powder. This is generally a lower calorie way of getting between 25-50g of protein in in one go. Once upon a time, protein shakes were only used by bodybuilders and gym fanatics and they were chalky and claggy. I’m glad to say that things have come on a long way since then and there are some really good protein powders on the market. I would advise you to shop around and have a look at the nutritional information as they do vary in quality. Also beware of the ‘diet’ trap and the ‘woman’ trap. Often brands try and get you to part with more money by selling diet versions of their protein but read the label carefully, sometimes these diet versions are actually higher in calorie than the ‘normal’ version and are more expensive. And as regards ‘women’s’ protein? Unnecessary. Again, these are inevitably more expensive and are no more benefits. Total calories and protein calories per serving are what you want to concentrate on.

Just remember that supplements are just that, they are there to suppliment your diet and not be the main event. Try to get as much protien in as you can and then top yourself up with this. They can also be handy if you’re out and about and you need a snack as they’re just so convenient.

Add Extra Protein to Things

Rather like when your parents squashed up green vegetables and snuck them into your mashed potato, you should add extra protein to things that you are eating anyway.

One of my favourite things to do is to mix in protein powder to Greek yogurt (or even Skyr, one of the higher protein yogurts) and then maybe add some berries. Top tip, if you’re using chocolate protein powder then half a teaspoon of cocoa powder is going to make this richer and more like a chocolate dessert without messing your macros up. This is such a delicious treat that tastes really indulgent, but it’s really high in protein and can be relatively low in carbs and fats depending on the type of yogurt that you use.

You could also make an omlette with a couple of whole eggs and a couple of egg whites. This is going to increase the protein content of your omlette without adding too many additional carbs and fats. I would say though to make sure that you at least have a couple of yolks in there because a) life is for living and b) a lot of the vitamins and minerals that are found in eggs are actually found in the yolk.

But overall I just want to say, stick with it. Dietary changes are hard to start with and going from 20g of protein per day to 160g (just an example – don’t do without working out your protein requirements) is going to be a massive leap. If you are struggling, then you may want to consider bringing your protein goal up gradually. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t hitting it straight away, follow these tips, keep learning what your food is make up of and you’ll get there eventually.

Do you have any tips for getting more protein in to your diet?