Healthy Eating

What I Ate Wednesday No.44 – Busy Day.

As I am exhausted today, I thought it would be fun to join in with this week’s WIAW with the fabulous Jenn and recap my day so that I don’t have to think too hard 😉

Today was a reasonably early start so that I could bounce into uni for my seminar on the Romantics at 9am. I started off the day with my typical breakfast, snapped quickly on my phone:

Weetabix soaked in milk and then topped with blueberries, lots of cinnamon and a little drizzle of honey. Delicious.

My seminar was pretty interesting, the professor is a lovely guy but a little difficult to judge sometimes – he can be a little difficult when you are trying to give him the answer he wants, he’ll keep trying to coax it out of us even when heaps of people have tried to answer!

I had to leave my seminar 5 minutes early because I had to dash off and cycle across town to my physio appointment. Lottie, my physiotherapist, is absolutely lovely and despite being about 7 months pregnant she still got onto her hands and knees to show me some stretches. We went through some core exercises to help my lower back too and it was very helpful.

Back home for lunch, leftover over time:

Spicy aubergine and tomato with noodles. It was really fiery and a lovely lunch to re-energise me after my busy morning. I ate lunch whilst watching one of my favourites – River Cottage 🙂

After lunch it was time for some work, I’m currently reading Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II and finding it really interesting. I’m also working my way through heaps of essays from the Romantic and Victorian periods, some make for long reading but I’m learning so much, it’s great to be back at uni. Speaking of uni, this afternoon I was off out (again!) to attend the first session of the university’s choir. It was fun but… I’m not sure, it’s not the kind of singing I’m used to! I’m going to try it for a couple of weeks and see how i feel.

The final part to my busy day was an evening trip to the gym. I’m pleased with myself for dragging myself out of the comfort of my bedroom and I just got a 12 month membership so I’m committing myself to going regularly!

Dinner was full of fantastic protein:

Chicken stir-fry sugar snaps and chilli 🙂

Now I’m off to watch the Great British Bake Off so I shall say goodnight, hope you all had a lovely day!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?
Are you busy at the moment? Do you like being busy?

Advertisements

A Review: Trek Protein Flapjacks

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I fancied trying some bars made by the company Natural Balance Foods. Of course, being a food lover, and just just having started a new term at uni so needing healthy snacks, I said yes! I got to choose the type of bars I wanted to try and after spending rather a long time browsing their products I decided to go for their protein bars.

 

The flavour I went for was oat crunch flapjack and I think it was a pretty good choice. The flapjack is lovely and moist, and within the oats there are little crispy pieces which add a delicious crunch. I went for the protein bars because I feel that I could do with a little more protein in my life, especially as I’m trying to get to the gym more often and I want to start strength training again.

The bars have 10g of protein in them which isn’t bad for a bar that essentially tastes like a treat. Another reason for my choice was that they were the best bars in terms of sugar – 14.8g. Although that is still pretty high it was by far the best, if you keep an eye on your sugar intake it’s worth noting that some of the other flavoured bars contain up to 25g. The payoff for the higher sugar level is of course the tastiness of the bars!

 

Pros:

– 10g of protein per bar.
– Good size for a mid-morning/afternoon snack, the bars fit easily in your bag.
– Natural ingredients, no added nasties!
– Great tasting, interesting flavour.

Cons:

– Although moist they have a tendency to crumble so can be a bit messy!
– Fairly high in sugar.

All in all I really like these bars, for what I want in a snack and with my sweet tooth I can’t really fault them. In fact, I’d love to try another flavour! If you are looking for a tasty, pretty healthy and easily portable snack then I would definitely recommend these, they’re probably my favourite out of these sorts of bars. Plus judging by the positive comments I got when I posted a photo of them on Instagram, lots of you are keen on them too!

Have you ever tried any Natural Balance Foods bars (Nakd/Trek)?
What is your favourite protein bar?
What is your portable snack of choice?

Frosted Fingers – A Sweet Reflection.

(Warning: this is a wordy, no-photos post, if you don’t like to read then this isn’t for you! :-P)

Well I can safely say if feels good to be able to eat sugar again. No surprises there! It’s been a whole week so I can finally treat myself to my favourite ultra-indulgent treat: nutella. It definitely felt all the better for having some time off the sweet stuff, it felt like more of a special food to only be had occasionally (although I did eat rather a lot of it haha). So I thought I’d write a post about my sugar-free week with my thoughts on how it affected me and what I’ve decided to do now.

First of all I have to say that giving up sugar for a week was really not that difficult. Yeah I fancied cake when I met a friend in my favourite cafe in town, yes I wanted one of my sister’s After Eights and I definitely missed baking cakes but it wasn’t hard to decide not to. Okay so I only did it for a week, which isn’t long at all, but I went from having a couple of sugary treats a day to no sugar except fruit for seven days so it wasn’t ridiculously easy.

Having almost no cravings for sweet treats made me realise that I don’t need sugar, physically or emotionally! I guess I kind of knew that anyway, but in a way it was good to have it reaffirmed by my little self experiment. This wasn’t the only realisation I had whilst abstaining from sugar, here are a few more:

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a sweet treat a couple of times a week, in fact it makes me happy, therefore there is lots that is right about it 😉 However what is important about treating yourself is making sure it is just that, a treat. I think sometimes when we eat something a little less healthy, we grab it and eat it quickly, we don’t savour it enough. So I’m going to make sure that each time I eat something sugary and indulgent I eat it on a plate, sit down,take my time and enjoy it.
  • I use some food as a type of emotional crutch. This isn’t news for me in terms of sugar often being used as an emotional prop for people going through a difficult time, but it’s a revelation for me personally. My relationship with food has been incredibly complicated for the past six years, quite a while when you consider I’m still only nineteen. When I was younger I preferred savoury treats, I don’t know exactly when I started developing a huge sweet-tooth but I now love to indulge on sugary foods. I’m fussy about which sweet foods, I don’t particularly like actual sweets, or thick chocolate bars, what I love are cakes, chocolate, ice cream… And that’s great, except that I don’t just eat these lovely goodies when I really fancy them, I also eat them when I’m feeling low or when my energy levels plummet. Not so good!
  • Although I do eat the odd sugary food each week, perhaps every other day for things like a cupcake or a cookie, I eat pretty well. I think of my diet is mostly healthy, but sometimes I worry that the 90/10 balance I strive for in life isn’t enough – I worry that the sweet treats I eat are having a negative effect on my body. But the thing is, physically I didn’t feel any different last week in comparison to the week before. Clearly my body is happy eating some sugar, here and there.

So what am I changing?

Well, mostly my outlook. I want to view treats as special things to be savoured and really enjoyed, I want to carry on aiming for a balance of 90% clean and healthy foods, and 10% less healthy, more indulgent foods. I want to try to detach myself more from the emotional response I have conditioned myself to have towards food. Other than fuel and enjoyment, there shouldn’t be any other emotions involved, no anger, no guilt, no worry…!

I’m glad I did my sugar-free week, I learnt a few interesting things about myself and the relationship I have with my food. I definitely won’t be binging or restricting anytime soon 🙂

What do you think of my realisations?
Do you consider your relationship with food to be healthy?

Have you ever used food, or the absence of food, as an emotional crutch?

 

What I Ate Wednesday No.43

 

Yup, it’s another Wednesday and this week I though I’d join in with the WIAW happenings thanks to the lovely Jenn!

Often I don’t really join in with the theme set for WIAW but I really like this theme, it fits in especially well with my week off sugar. The comments have been somewhat divided between those of you who either have already done a sugar cleanse or eat very little sugar, and those who say they couldn’t/wouldn’t ever give sugar up! I have to say, just because I am taking the week off doesn’t mean I’m planning on giving up sugar permanently. Firstly, I adore traditional baking (and eating traditional cakes!) so that would suffer, secondly as I said yesterday I believe in balance and honouring your cravings.

 

My breakfast is the meal of the day which holds the sweetest indulgence for me this week! I always top my weetabix with fresh fruit and I think that because I haven’t been eating any extra sugars the fruit tastes extra sweet.

 

It’s funny but while I can’t indulge in one of my favourite food groups I seem to have turned to another: pasta. I’ve eaten pasta almost everyday this week! My favourite dish has to be this one – whole wheat pasta, rocket, cherry tomatoes and pesto. I feel a little like I am clinging on to the taste of summer, not wanting the longer days to disappear. Having said that I’m really excited for the autumn, I love everything it brings, the change of seasons, the cozy jumpers and boots, the comfort foods, the warm fires, the blanket reading sessions…

Because I’m not eating any sweet things I’ve been eating a little more to compensate for the whole in my diet 😛 This means that I eat more at meals but don’t snack so much. All I had as a snack today was a slice of toast with butter and marmite which is actually very pleasant – it’s definitely a comforting autumn snack for me.

This isn’t actually what I had for dinner this evening but it is another of my little autumn hearty meals. It’s also quite similar to the lunches I’ve been eating, only put together in a different fashion 😉 These have a very original name… Pitta Pizzas. The base is a whole wheat pitta bread, it is topped homemade spicy tomato sauce, a sprinkling of gruyère cheese and then fresh rocket leaves. They’re super easy to put together, especially if you have pre-made a big batch of sauce (which can be frozen in tupperwares) and only need about 15 minutes in the oven.

All in all I think I’ve been eating pretty well this week, what does surprise me a little is that whilst mentally I miss my sweet treats, I don’t actually physically crave the sugar as much as I thought. I had thought I might feel really bad for not having it but the only times I really feel like eating something sweet is when my energy really plummets. It’s interesting to be able to analyse my relationship with sugar although I’m not particularly surprised!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
Do you find it interesting to analyse your body’s cravings for certain foods?
What sort of treats do you crave the most?

Recent Goings On – A Sugary Update.

So I spent yesterday in bed… Yup! The fatigue is back and pretty full on this time so I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself recently. To be honest I’ve been somewhat expecting it to happen after three weeks of work, a day trip to London etc. I woke up on Monday just feeling awful and completely without energy!  I barely had the strength to drag myself up and into the bathroom to shower (around 11am!) so at least I spent the day clean but I stayed makeup less and in tracksuit bottoms all day – so presentable. I spent most of the day watching comedy shows on catch-up TV and reading, both my novel and a few blogs. I’m glad that I still have over a week of holidays left because I’m still not really feeling that great!

Now I have a little update for you all, some of you may have seen that several of the healthy-living blogger lot are taking part in the ‘Strike Sugar Movement‘ for the month of September, led by the lovely Christina over at The Athletarian. It’s basically a month without any added sugar, things like fruit, honey and stevia are all allowed but there is absolutely no corn syrup, cane sugar, sucralose, fructose etc. My gorgeous friend Ali over at Running With Spatulas is joining in which I really admire!

After reading Christina’s post I was quite tempted to join in but decided not to as I really want to continue with my baking projects this month, however…

Let me show you what has been happening recently:

 

 

 

So… I’m slightly addicted to sugar! And cake… and cookies… and pastry… and ice cream… and now froyo!

It’s been becoming a bit of a problem lately, I don’t eat a lot of really junky food, I haven’t had any chips or crisps etc in ages but I do love sweet treats. I don’t feel guilty for it, if you know me at all well then you’ll know that my attitude to healthy eating is about balance – eat well most of the time but do indulge occasionally when you really fancy it. However, recently I feel like I just eat too much sugar. What with feeling rather weak and lethargic due to my fatigue issues, the addition of too much sugar just leaves me feeling extra sluggish.

Basically I have decided to do a mini cleanse this week and stay clear of sugar. I’m not even allowing myself foods like honey or juice with no added sugar, the only sweet foods I’ll be eating are fruits, milk, and whole grain bread and cereals. It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most but I like to have some honey, a couple of squares of dark chocolate or (often) cake each day so it’s actually pretty difficult for me!

I started this yesterday so two days down, five to go… I’ve been fine today but yesterday when I was in bed feeling poorly I really wanted some hot chocolate and a slice of cake 😛

Don’t worry, I’m not being extreme, I’ve already decided that when the week is up I am going to treat myself to the first jar of Nutella I’ve bought in months!

So there is my little update for you all, wish me luck for the rest of week 😉

Are you a sweet tooth like me?
Have you ever cut excess sugar from your diet?

Are you joining in the Strike Sugar Movement for September?

What I Ate Wednesday No.42

Hello lovely readers,

I can’t believe another Wednesday has come round again! I’m shattered and sincerely ready for the weekend, I need some time off to relax and spend time unwinding. This week is more difficult than last as the people I’m working with are different and aren’t as sociable so there is not much conversation to be had. The children are older on average too and so are more demanding because they want more. I still love it but I’ll be glad when this week is over.

Of course today is time for another round of WIAW thanks to the lovely Jenn at Peas and Crayons.

Today started off feeling like summer, we had sunshine this morning. But as I discovered throughout the day from being sat outside watching children, there was a lot of wind which kept us nippy and later brought rain.

7am. I start my day fairly early compared to normal (at least normal for someone who wakes up with about 50% energy levels anyway!) and go down to the kitchen to prep my lunch and have my breakfast.

Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day, and it is always going to be made better by the addition of fresh raspberries. Each morning I eat my bowl of weetabix – variety is clearly not always the spice of life – with either the newspaper, the news supplements (this morning I read the arts review) or a magazine. It’s my little 15 minutes of quiet time to wake myself up each day.

8.40pm. I’m really lucky in that the place I work at is pretty close to my house so it doesn’t take me particularly long to get to work each morning. I’m certainly glad that I don’t have to drive as I’m really not a fan of driving. The morning is always fun, we play games with them as they arrive, and we make lots of nice things, the children always make my smile.

12.30pm. Lunchtime! By this point I am seriously looking forward to the end of the day. With the fatigue I experience daily, early morning is the worst time for me, for about an hour, and then mid-morning to noon is my best time for energy levels. If I don’t do much in the morning then my energy levels can still be fairly good by about 4pm but work really tires me out.

My salad was the usual box of goodness: bulgur wheat, sun-dried tomato chicken breast, cucumber, radishes and rocket. Pretty delicious in my opinion.

12.45pm. After lunch has been eaten with the children it’s off outside for some playtime. I like playtime, although we don’t get a break from the children as we have to watch them, we don’t have to be making things, helping them with their stuff, washing up, cleaning up etc. We only have to supervise them and entertain those that don’t want to play with the others. They are a funny bunch sometimes 😛

1.30pm. Back to work, the afternoon is usually spent making something for a new project, a couple of session of games and a lot of clearing up. By the time the end of the day rolls around I am shattered and definitely ready to drop down onto my bed to take a nap. When the last child has left, whilst they are lovely and bring so much joy throughout the day, I often feel like doing a little victory dance!

3.45pm. Time to go home, I practically stumble home with sore hips and sore back but a happy smile. I might sound like I’m moaning but really I love my job, it’s the best thing I can think of as summer work to get paid for. Usually when I get home, I pour myself a glass of juice (I need my sugar kick to bring back my energy levels!) and lately I’ve been having a slice of wholemeal toast with marmite. I just feel more like savoury than sweet for some rather unusual reason. I’m afraid I don’t have a photo, I was just way too hungry.

6.30pm. I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to go to the gym or not but in the end I decided against it and instead opted for a 20 minute cycle at a quick pace to get my heart rate up. It felt good to be outside and feel the wind in a good way!

7.30pm. One of the best bits of today – dinner. My mum has been away in France for the past few days visiting her grandparents and it’s always a difficult visit, equally my dad and I have been working today so we were all tired and seeking comfort. Dinner was an obvious choice:

Spaghetti bolognaise. This has been one of my favourite meals since I was a little girl and it still warms my belly and feels like a hug at the end of a difficult day. The lettuce bed might be far from the traditional Italian dish and lots of people would find it a bit off-putting but I like it as a way to squeeze in some more veg.

Anyway I’m off to bed as it’s late and I wish I could have managed to be in bed by 10pm tonight!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten lately?
What food comforts you best after a long day?

My Little Spot by the Window.

After a full week of work, it’s fair to say that I feel absolutely shattered. I love my job, I adore working with children, but they really do demand so much energy and when there are 30+ of them running around, all needing help? They are just exhausting!

Today has got to be the hottest day in the UK this year, it’s about 30°C outside and the sun has been shining all day. I figured I deserved a nice relaxing morning. This evening my sister is having a bunch of her friends over for a barbecue and it should be lots of fun, they’re a great group and Alice knows how to party. So what to do this morning? The answer’s fairly obvious.

Jumped on the bike and rode into town to visit my favourite spot, the prettiest little cafe called Sticky Beaks.

It’s set aside from the centre of town which is usually too crowded to move about on Saturdays and it is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours.

And the food, my goodness the food!

When my sister started working there as a waitress I remember her telling me that it was essentially me in cafe form. It really is my ideal place, the decor is exactly my kind of thing for starters and their ethic really appeals to me too. All of their food is cooked and prepared freshly that day, and they source most of their ingredients really locally. The dishes are fresh, healthy, full of veg and just so delicious.

 

It just shows how much more independent going to uni has made me, I would not have wanted to go to a cafe on my own back a couple of years ago, now I actually really enjoy it. It’s lovely to sit and read whilst enjoying delicious food for a little peace and quiet.

I went for a fantastic salad of orzo with broad beans and peppers, it was perfect for a hot summer’s day. I’ve never tried orzo before (although I knew I’d like it, you know me and pasta!) and it was really nice, the salad had a subtle dressing and felt so summery. They come up with so many beautiful options, sometimes it can be difficult to choose.

Although I was there on my own for most of the time, Alice did join me for a some lunch which was really nice. I love that we are such good friends as well as sisters, I can see us meeting up for coffee regularly once I’m at uni and she’s started Sixth Form 🙂

Before I left, I had to sample one of my favourite things on offer…

Cake. A slice of Apple Herman Cake to be precise. It was so so good, I love apple in baked goods and it was such a wonderful treat to share with Alice.

Despite the extremely hot weather (far to hot be cycling – I was practically melting!) I had an extremely pleasurable morning sat in my favourite little spot by the window.

I will be back tomorrow, hopefully with a bunch of photos of the barbecue this evening. I hope you are all having a brilliant weekend and have lots of sunshine where you are 🙂

What do you like to do to escape by yourself for a couple of hours?
Do you have a favourite cafe?
What is your ideal slice of cake?