Wednesday, 28 September 2011

WIAW: Running on Full

It's Wednesday again already! How on earth did that happen? And Wednesday means it's time for this...
Yep, it's WIAW! Today began as days usually begin at the moment. Look at the lovely leaf on my 'heritage' apple!

Said apple ended up on top of my morning porridge - my usual mix of oats and wheatbran and date and coconut porridge, although I'm slightly bored now and am quite looking forward to finishing the tub! I think when it's done I'll just get some plain oats and wheatbran and then add different things to it.

Then lunch was an M&S Super Wholefoods salad with blueberries and mango (and quinoa, pearl barley, cranberries, raisins, pumpkin seeds and various other things) - and of course, being broccoli-obsessed as I am, I bought one of the handy little mini bags of broccoli that M&S do and microwaved that to add into my salad. Yum yum!

Then I came home and had another bowl of porridge and my usual pre-run rye toast with peanut butter. I didn't bother taking pictures of those! I wouldn't usually have the porridge as well, but I'd planned to run 10 miles so thought I should have something extra. In the end I didn't run 10 miles - there was only a small group doing that route and they were all going to be way faster than me, and I didn't know the route so I'd either have got lost or slowed them all down, and as they're training for things I didn't think that would be fair! So I ran the middle distance, 4.4 miles, and made sure I kept up a decent 9:30-mile pace.

When I got back, I had the chocolate hemp shake I'd made before my run - I didn't really need it but it was sitting in the fridge so I thought I might as well have it! I tried the strawberry hemp powder on Monday night and it was actually much nicer than the chocolate, which surprised me!

And then I had a proper dinner - I always need something quick and easy after running club, as I don't usually get home until 8:45pm, and tonight I decided to use up the bag of spinach and ricotta tortellini that kept falling out of the freezer at me every time I opened the door. I just fried up some mushrooms and added garlic, herbs and a mini tub of extra-light Philadelphia, and mixed it all in with the pasta. It was lovely - I haven't had pasta for ages!

Monday, 26 September 2011

30: Take One

As I mentioned, on Saturday we had a party at my parents' house. It was a celebration of many things - my sister's boyfriend's 30th birthday, which was last month, my 30th birthday, which is in three weeks' time, and it was also a last hoorah for the old family home, as my parents are moving at the end of October.

We had a LOT of food (are you surprised?) and a LOT of wine! Highlights food-wise included this lentil and artichoke salad, which I based on this recipe from Newlywed, Newly Veg:

...smoked mackerel paté, which we made Suze-friendly by whizzing up the smoked mackerel fillets, lemon juice and black pepper with Oatly oat cream instead of the usual creme fraiche or yogurt (this went in minutes - people were all over it!)

...and a vast amount of bitesize chocolate brownies (gluten- and dairy-free, not that anyone noticed!) using my favourite brownie recipe.

There were also freshly-picked apples from my parents' orchard! Plus a whole barbecue with burgers, sausages, piri-piri prawns and veggie kebabs.

Then there was a LOT of karaoke (my dad has the most amazing karaoke machine, and we had 100 60s songs and 100 90s songs to choose from!) and on Sunday a few of us went on a trip to Lyme Regis for some restorative sea air (and the most enormous ice cream cones!)

It really was the perfect send-off for the house, and the perfect way to kick off my 30th birthday celebrations - this is the first of three birthday events that I have planned!

Autumn fashion items...

Autumn fashion items...

Despite the weather forecast saying we'll have temperatures of 27C by the end of the week, I'm coming over all autumnal. I bought these Zara knee-high boots on holiday, and a very similar jacket from H&M, and I can't wait for it to be cold enough for me to wear the boots! I also really want that cable-knit Monsoon jumper...
I'll be back later with a post all about my fantastic early birthday party - Saturday night was brilliant!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)

I've been meaning to join in with this fantastic weekly blog event for ages, and now here I am! What I Ate Wednesday is the brainchild of Jennifer at Peas and Crayons, and the idea is simple - you just post on a Wednesday telling everyone what you've eaten. It doesn't have to be Wednesday's food - plenty of people pick a different day and just post about it on the Wednesday.

Unfortunately I totally forgot to take photos of my breakfast and lunch, but here goes...

Breakfast was my usual porridge mix - I have a big tub with a mixture of oats and wheatbran and Waitrose date and coconut porridge, and I take a portion of that with me to work every day. Then I just mix it with water, microwave it for about two minutes, and add a splash of milk. While British strawberries are still in the shops I've been having plenty of those chopped up on top of my porridge, but I might move on to apples soon!

Then lunch was a bowl of New Covent Garden Indian Summer soup, which was delicious. I'd never tried it before, but it was coconutty and fragrant and mildly spiced and very filling thanks to all the lentils! I also had a bag of Kallo sea salt and balsamic vinegar mini rice cakes, and a 'heritage' British apple (I bought a big bag of them from the Co-Op supermarket near work) which tasted just like the ones from my mum and dad's trees.

And then I came home and started taking photos of my food! Wednesday nights are running club nights, so when I got home I had a slice of rye toast with a little bit of Whole Earth organic smooth peanut butter...

...and a spoonful of bee pollen. I found this jar in the supermarket in Portugal for about 4 Euros, which was a total bargain! It's meant to be ridiculously good for you, and I think it's yummy, so I'm giving it a go!

And then I went running and had a great time! It's too dark to run through the parks these days, so there are now three options for the club's evening runs - a 3.4-mile, a 4.6-mile and a 5.6-mile. I did the 5.6-mile route and LOVED it - it was the first run in weeks that I'd genuinely enjoyed. My shoes felt great, my hip didn't hurt, it was a nice cool evening, the route was good fun, I ran it in 53:16 which is perfectly respectable...I feel like I've rediscovered my running mojo!

When I got home I had this dubious-looking treat waiting for me!

It's a protein shake made with Good Hemp chocolate Gym Shake powder. Nic over at The Fit Writer (who, by the way, just bagged herself second place in the BNBF British bodybuilding finals - only her third competition ever!) kindly sent me a shaker bottle and a few hemp protein powder samples, and I had a go for the first time tonight. It's an interesting taste (I couldn't think what it reminded me of until it dawned on me that it tasted like the smell of horse feed!) but one I think I could get used to, and its nutritional profile is fantastic. I can almost feel it repairing my muscles!

And then supper was leftover curry with cauliflower, chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach and peppers, topped with a poached egg. The egg was slightly overdone, but I have a thing about runny whites and would rather overdo it than end up with horrible undercooked egg!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A definite running theme...

On Sunday, when thousands were taking part in the Great North Run, I popped down to Chiswick for a little run of my own - a 10k fun run which was part of Yellow Umbrella Day. I'd never actually done an organised 10k before, and it was great fun. As it was a fun run, the route was apparently 'just over' 10k, and there were a few points where we had to climb great big flights of steps to get on and off bridges and whatnot - I'm using those as excuses for the fact that I didn't quite manage to hit my target of running it in under an hour! Instead I managed 1:00.24 - gutted!

There were plenty of people from my running club there, which was great to see - here we all are before the start!

After the race, there was a company offering free five-minute sports massages to the runners, so I had one - blimey did it HURT, but it was brilliant! I wish I could afford to have regular massages - although they did give me a voucher for a one-hour massage for £30, which I think I'll definitely use at some point.

Then last night I went over to the City for a talk by Micah True, otherwise known as Caballo Blanco. I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall a while ago and found it really interesting - the book is all about ultra-long-distance running, but it focuses particularly on the Tarahumara tribe and their incredible talent for running, and on the year a group of American runners joined the Tarahumara for an ultramarathon through the Copper Canyon - a race that had been started several years previously by the mysterious Caballo Blanco. It was a fascinating talk, all about how Micah got into long-distance running, how he met the Tarahumara and how he wanted to reconnect them with their running heritage. He's a very humble and self-effacing character, and it was great to hear more from his side - about the way his annual race helps the Tarahumara (he provides corn and money as prizes, with everyone who completes the race receiving 500lbs of corn) and about the challenges they face from the encroaching modern world. If you're into running and you have the chance to go and hear him speak, I'd recommend it!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

It's getting a bit autumnal!

I love conkers. They're so pretty - all shiny and richly coloured, like polished mahogany. We used to collect loads of them when I was little (and there was a memorable incident where my mum decided to throw a large stick up into the branches of a horse chestnut tree to shake down a few conkers, and ended up clonking herself on the head instead...) and games of conkers in the school playground were fierce!

This time last week I was enjoying lunch in the Monchique mountains, and now I'm back in England and autumn is definitely creeping in! I don't mind, though - autumn means soup and boots and scarves and, most importantly, my birthday!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Holiday lowdown...

So, I'm home after two gorgeous weeks in Portugal! I have a feeling tomorrow morning will come as a bit of a shock, given the fact that my daily routine has consisted of getting up at about 9am, having a leisurely breakfast outside in the sunshine, reading, shopping and lazing around.

I have quite a tan (unheard of for me!) and I even managed to get into swimming - only rubbish breaststroke, mind you, but I did at least half an hour's swimming a day, if not more! Unfortunately the sheer amount of food and wine I consumed outweighed the swimming (I honestly feel like I've put on about three stone!) but it was seriously lovely food and wine, and eating and drinking a vast amount is what being on holiday is all about, right?

And here are some of my favourite photos. I spent most of my time here...
...but we did occasionally venture out for the odd coastal walk in the evening...
...and to the old Moorish capital of the Algarve, Silves.
I also indulged in some traditional pasteis de nata...
...and there's always plenty of wildlife in our house!
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