Menu Monday: The Body Coach Inspired Chicken with Smoked Paprika

For Christmas, I gifted Gideon with Joe Wicks (the body coach’s) Lean in 15 cookbook. He loves his Instagram video recipes so the cookbook seemed like a good gift.

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We have made two recipes from the book so far and I’ve loved both of them. We aren’t really following the lean in 15 plan, just cooking the recipes here and there and enjoying the delicious and healthy result. So it seems like money well spent!

I was flicking through, looking for a chicken recipe as that’s what I’d taken out of the freezer, and I landed on Chicken with Paprika and Almonds. It all looked great, I had all the ingredients in one form or another so it was easily do-able without an extra shopping trip. Except I don’t like almonds…. so I simply left them out!

So here is my take The Body Coach’s Chicken with Smoked Paprika and Almonds… minus the almonds!

I tend to keep bags of chopped veg in the freezer for cooking ease, so I used these to make the dish. They can all just be chucked in the pan straight from the freezer, making it mega simple and cutting down on prep time. Bags of frozen chopped onion, chopped mixed peppers, spinach, sweetcorn and runner beans all cost around £1 for a bag in places like Iceland – so not expensive. And, as most frozen veg are frozen just after picking, they remain packed with all their great nutrients!

Chicken with smoked paprika (serves 2):

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 handfuls of chopped frozen onions
  • 2 handfuls of chopped mixed peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves (or two balls of frozen spinach)
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat.

2. Add the garlic, frozen onions and frozen peppers and stir fry until the vegetables are just starting to soften

3. Sprinkle your smoked paprika and dried oregano over the vegetables and then add the chicken and tomatoes to the pan. Stir fry until the chicken is fully cooked through (cut a piece and check theres no pink meat left).

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4. Stir in the spinach (if using frozen, pop this in at the same time as your chicken to give it more time to cook) and stir until wilted.

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5. Season with salt and pepper, and plate it up! We ate ours with some green beans!

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Yum yum! It’s still steaming!

I wasn’t sure I would like this recipe whilst I was cooking it as it smelt quite strongly of oregano at the beginning and I’m not the biggest fan of the smell, but the flavours all merged together beautifully and the taste was really good and not overpowering. I’ll definitely be making this again, it was so simple and easy to do, especially using the frozen veg, and it only used one pan, so less washing up! Result!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, I purchased the lean in 15 cookbook with my own money and all views expressed are my own. 

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2016 Goal Review and 2017 Goals

I’ve read many a blog post in the last week detailing Peoples goals for the year, which promptly made me remember that back at the beginning of 2016 I set myself some goals, which by December 2016, I’d forgotten about, oops!

Did I meet my 2016 goals? I had to go back and look them up to find out!

Goal 1 – Complete a half marathon:

Yes! In 2016, I completed not one half marathon but two! Goal achieved… twice! That’ll make up for not achieving the rest right….RIGHT????

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Goal 2 – Run a sub-30 5k and a sub 1:05 10k:

Yeah… I did not do this. If anything, my 10k time got slower this year. I lost the mojo a bit after the 2nd half marathon, which ironically would have been a perfect time to work on achieving these goals.

Goal 3 – Just keep running!

I did this one! Admittedly the frequency slipped a bit in the last quarter of the year, but I continued my running adventures through 2016. Who would have thought my running ‘fad’ that started in 2015 would have made it through two whole years and be bouncing into a 3rd. Running is part of my life now and I have confidence that it will remain that way!

So 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad!

But what about 2017 I hear you ask??? Well, I do like to have goals to work towards, it helps to motivate me for a little while at least, even if I don’t achieve them (or remember what they were in 12 months time).

Goal 1 – Run that sub-30 5k!

Despite failing this in 2016, I still think that sub-30 5k is achievable for me if I actually put in a solid effort. The sub 1:05 10k? maybe not so much, not right now anyway. I think to get my speed up over the 10k distance may take a little while longer than it will for the 5k distance. I think if I’m having a really good day I could probably hammer out that sub-30 5k. I guess 2017 will tell!

Goal 2 – Diversify!

As I said earlier, I love running. It’s become a part of my life, but I also now have a gym membership, which means I have a myriad of fitness options open to me besides running. So this year, I’d like to try to diversify a bit, whilst still keeping up with my running (obviously). I’d like to get back into swimming, and try out some classes. There is talk of a Zumba class after work, so perhaps that. I’ve done Zumba before briefly and I enjoyed it, so why not? or a HIIT class, or Kettlebell, or maybe even… dare I say it… A SPIN CLASS!

Goal 3 – Eat well!

I want to eat well in 2017. I don’t want to cut out all my favourite treats completely, but I want to enjoy them in moderation. 2016 (especially the last quarter) was just a total snack fest. During my training for my first half marathon attempt I was eating well, I’d cut out a lot of the evening snacking and was trying to make more healthy choices, and I felt better for it! Not only does eating right improve my running (the run’s don’t feel so blugh when you have fuelled correctly and not eaten an entire packet of biscuits), but it makes me feel more healthy generally (and less lethargic). I’m going to try to keep the evening snacking to a minimum in 2017, save sweet treats for weekends and make healthy packed lunches for work rather than eating the same sad-looking ham sandwich day after day after day.

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I’ve broken the bento-lunchbox out of storage for 2017!!

So there we are. There are my goals for 2017. In a year, I shall come back to this post and see if I managed to achieve them, but to be honest as long as I can put my hand on my heart and say I tried my best to stay active and look after my health I’ll be happy. Everything in moderation. 

 

Menu Monday: Cheddar, Spring Onion & Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

 

I happen to LOVE mushrooms, but it’s so rare that I have them now because Gid is not a fan! However, as he’s currently away on a training course I decided that I’d treat myself to a little mushroomy goodness – and what’s better than a mushroom?

A stuffed mushroom of course!

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Now you can literally stuff a mushroom with anything – there are so many recipes on the internet that tell you how to stuff it with cream cheese, or cous-cous, or spinach, or bacon, or even mince! There are many many possibilities.

However, there were not many many possibilities in my refrigerator – so I decided to keep it real simple and go back to basics with my stuffed mushrooms.

I only used three ingredients to stuff my mushrooms – cheddar cheese, spring onions and cherry tomatoes – and they still tasted pretty dang good!

Ingredients:

large flat mushrooms

Spring Onions

Cherry Tomatoes

Cheddar Cheese

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 200°c

Wash your mushrooms and remove the stems (you can chop them up small and add them to the stuffing mixture if you wish)

Chop your spring onion into small pieces and quarter your cherry tomatoes. Grate your cheese and mix it together with your spring onion and tomatoes (you only need to do enough to stuff your shrooms – so you can work out by sight how much you will need)

Place mushrooms in an oven proof dish and spoon the onion, tomato and cheese mixture into each mushroom.

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Bake at 200°c for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the mushrooms are just starting to brown at the edges.

Serve and enjoy!

 

Even though they were so simple to make and used such simple ingredients these stuffed mushrooms still tasted so good – almost like little mini pizzas on a mushroom base! The only problem with mushrooms is they can sometimes go a little watery, but despite this the flavour is still really delicious!

What fillings do you use when making stuffed mushrooms? let me know in the comments! 

Menu Monday: Twice baked butternut squash with cheese & bacon!

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So I seem to have this problem at the moment that if I see a butternut squash in the supermarket I must have it! It happens every time… even though I often have nothing else in the house that goes with a butternut squash! When I was shopping this week the butternut squashes were only 39p. 39P!!!! FOR SOMETHING ALMOST THE SIZE OF MY FACE!!! It had to be brought!!

Now I LOVE a good roasted butternut squash, but I think i’ve eaten a fair bit too much of it in recently so I wanted a new way of eating my squash this time! Extensive internet searching brought up this recipe for double-stuffed butternut squash by Taste and Tell and I knew instantly that this was the one!! Cheese, bacon and butternut squash! Sounds pretty darn tasty to me! I had to miss a couple of ingredients out because I didn’t have them in the cupboard but the version we were left with was still extremely tasty!

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It’s probably not the healthiest of recipes on account of all the cheese and the bacon, but at the same time you can definitely make a whole meal from this. We had ours with a small side salad but it probably wasn’t necessary, although it did balance out the masses of cheese in the dish quite nicely.

You can also eat the skin of the butternut squash as well as the insides, just like a jacket potato. I have to say I tried a little (having never eaten the skin before) and well it wasn’t for me – but if you like it then that’s great as it means less waste!

If you don’t eat a lot of butternut squash it’s definitely worth adding it to your diet. This article by Tara Gidus explains why when it says “Low in fat, squash provides an ample dose of dietary fiber. Squash’s tangerine hue indicates its most noteworthy health perk: carotenoids. Beta carotene has been shown to protect against heart disease as well as help as a deterrent against some cancers and macular degeneration. This isn’t the only nutrient or health benefit butternut squash provides.” 

So butternut squash – full of nutrients, low in calories and really tasty! Have I convinced you to give it a go??

Twice baked butternut squash with cheese and bacon

You will need: (serves 2)

  • 1 x Butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shavings
  • 100g Bacon Lardons (or bacon rashers cut into small peices)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Spring Onions for garnishing

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius
  • Halve squash length-ways and scoop out seeds from middle – discard seeds
  • Place halves skin side down on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with Salt and Pepper and then bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for approximately 45 minutes or until squash is soft (cooking times may vary depending on oven).

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  • Take squash out of oven and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 190 degrees celsius.
  • Whilst squash is cooling, cook bacon lardons in a frying pan on a medium heat until browned. Remove once cooked and reserve on a piece of kitchen roll for later.
  • Once squash is cool enough, scoop out the middle and place into a bowl. You want to leave around a 1/2 – 1 centimetre’s edging so that the squash retains its shape.

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  • Add the Ricotta cheese to the bowl of squash, along with half of the cheddar cheese and half of the parmesan cheese shavings. Mash this all together and season with a little more pepper.

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  • Add the cooked bacon to the bowl and mix together. Then scoop the contents of the bowl back into each butternut squash case.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the remaining parmesan cheese over the top of the stuffed butternut squashes and return to the oven for approximately 20 minutes (or until cheese is fully melted).

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  • Remove squashes from oven. Sprinkle over a couple of pieces of spring onion to garnish if desired and enjoy!!

 

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Yum yum! If you give it a go do let us know how you got on!!

 

The Nutrition Mission

It’s no secret if you read my blog regularly that the last couple of run’s i’ve attempted haven’t been particularly good ones. I’ve struggled since the Christmas period to get back into running and eating right. It’s been hard to kick the cravings that resulted from all the delicious things I ate at Christmas. I’ve been particularly bad at it and have found myself snacking more regularly than before Christmas – a habit which I had somewhat managed to kick last year.

So i’m on a mission now to fix my nutrition – in the hope that it’ll help both me and my training run’s feel more comfortable! I need to get back into the mindset of thinking about what I eat before a longer length run, so that my body isn’t bloated and full of rubbish when it’s time to lace up. I haven’t eaten the best meals before the last two bad runs (the sausage butty being a case in point), i’m hoping an improvement in nutrition will result in an improvement in runs.

What’s worked in the past:

The night before – Chicken and rice seems to be the best dish for me the night before a run. Plenty of carbs and protein, but doesn’t make me bloat as much as pasta can. We tend to get some marinated chicken breasts from the market and then cook them with rice covered in soy sauce along with green beans and sweetcorn. YumYum!

Breakfast fuel – if i’m doing an early run toast with strawberry jam has usually worked for me. The bread gives me enough fuel and the jam gives me a little sugary kick to wake me up and get me started!

Light lunch – If i’m planning on going out late in the afternoon for my run i’ve found that a poached egg and avocado on toast works well. It’s enough at lunch that I don’t start feeling hungry again until dinner time and therefore don’t need an afternoon snack which could mess up my digestive system during the run. If I am in need of a snack…..

Snack – BANANA!! Definitely the best quick pre-run snack. If I eat it about 30 minutes before I run I definitely feel like I have more energy, and it stops my stomach rumbling whilst running which I hate (as it makes me want to quit).

What doesn’t work:

The night before – A BIG FAT PIZZA. We made the mistake of having a big fat pizza the night before our first ever 5k race. I still felt ridiculously full and bloated in the morning and it did not make for a nice pre-race experience. Thankfully when we finally started running the adrenaline made me forget about it, but in a training run which I probably don’t really 100% want to do anyway I can see it putting me in a real grump!

Breakfast fuel – Porridge. I know some people really like oats/porridge before they run, but for me it just feels like theres a stodgy mess rolling around in my tummy! Traditional milky porridge is just to heavy for me.

Light lunch – Sausage butty, or anything greasy for that matter. I love it when I eat it, but when I have to go for a run that sausage butty makes me feel about 5lb’s heavier!

Snack – Big bar o chocolate…. it’s just better saved for after – like a delicious chocolatey reward for your hard work!!

So those are my personal go to and no-no meals for before running. What are some of yours?? Let us know in the comments!

Countdown to Wine and Dine: How will I cope with fuelling at Disney World?

The Wine and Dine Half Marathon is now only 59 days away eek! This week we have been thinking about:-

how we are going to fuel for our race whilst in Disney World. 

The temptation to eat like a complete PIG is very real whilst on vacation; especially to somewhere like Disney World which is full of such amazing food options (it’s not all burgers and fries you know) and the second I cross that finish line I fully intend to stuff my face with all of Disney’s delicious treats – it is called the Wine and Dine Half Marathon after all and takes place during a food and wine FESTIVAL. I mean 90% of the reason I signed up in the first place is because of this – I fully intend on enjoying it.

But even I realise that in the days leading up to the half marathon I need to be very sensible about what I eat. We arrive on a Thursday night and the run is the Saturday night so sensible food choices need to be made on both the Friday and Saturday so that we can ensure we are feeling good for the half marathon.

In training we have found that rice or noodle based dishes tend to work for us a fuel for our long training runs; giving us enough energy and avoiding any stomach issues. This is why we have booked an advanced dining reservation for Tokyo Dining at EPCOT for the Friday night, as many of the dishes are rice and noodle based.

We are also planning on getting some Mongolian Beef and Rice from Sunshine Seasons in EPCOT for lunch on the Saturday as we have had this before and know it to be tasty and not hard on the stomach.

Mongolian beef and rice from EPCOT! Soo good!
Mongolian beef and rice from EPCOT! Soo good!

As well as being sensible with what we eat we also need to be sensible with the amount we consume. Portion sizes in the USA are considerably bigger than they are in most places in the UK and the portions at Disney are certainly larger than we would cook at home. Therefore there is a real danger we will over eat as we have paid for the food and won’t want to waste it. We aim to get around this by sharing some meals (such as the Mongolian Beef) so we are consuming the right stuff but not too much of it!

As far as the actual race is concerned we are planning on bringing some of our usual fuel with us on holiday; clif bars and clif shots. As we are used to these now I don’t foresee any major problems and we will continue to use them during and after the race in the same way we have during training.

Any tips for fuelling on a racecation? Let us know in the comments!

Menu Monday: Hake with paprika potatoes and chorizo

When I started to run it was partly as an excuse to keep eating more delicious unhealthy food (which I love) but since my appreciation for all things running has grown so has my appreciation for all things healthy, and i’ve been trying to limit the rubbish I put into my body (especially before the run’s – i’m always partial to a big bar of chocolate after :P). I feel healthier and more able to drag my bum off the sofa and go exercise if my stomach isn’t full of crappy foods!

So i’ve decided to start a menu Monday segment of this blog, to show you some of the healthier, fresher foods we’ve been eating and to keep myself motivated to try out new healthier recipes rather than reaching for the takeaway brochure!

Today’s dinner: Hake with paprika potatoes and chorizo.

Recently (after many years of laziness) we have discovered the joy of buying meat from the butcher! We get all our meat from the local market – mainly because normally we get a lot more for our money than we would at the supermarket and because the quality is just so much better. On recent trips i’ve also started buying fish from the fishmongers in the market – fish is something I hardly ever ate until recently just because I hated the idea of potentially choking on hidden bones and the fact that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to cook it enough (not that that really matters – sushi anyone?!) but the fishmongers are great – they’ll fillet anything if you ask and get rid of all the bones and give you tips on how to cook it so problem solved!

This week they had a mix and match deal on at the fishmongers – 3 for £5 on selected cuts. We wanted 2 pieces of Salmon (because Salmon is such an easy fish to get right) but then there was the dilemma of what to get for the 3rd piece as there are only two of us, so getting another piece Salmon didn’t really make sense. So in the end we opted for a hake tail, having no idea really of what hake tastes like, or how to cook it, or what it goes well with – but the piece looked big and could easily feed two so we went for it!

Hours (slight exaggeration) of scouring the internet then began to try and find a recipe where I could use the hake tail fillet and eventually I settled on this one from www.grouprecipes.com. The only difference being that they used frozen hake fillets and mine were fresh!

The verdict:

It turned out to be just as delicious as I had hoped, the fish was really tasty and there were no hidden bones in sight (yippee). The paprika oil combo wasn’t overpowering but added a nice flavour to the whole dish. The only let down was that the potatoes were still a bit on the crunchy side as I probably cut them a bit too chunkily for them to cook in the oven in that time. Next time I would either cut them very small or part boil them first. I was so pleased that something so simple could be so tasty! Plus according to foodproductdesign.com “Frequent consumption of white fish, such as hake, improves blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and reduces weight, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Nutrition & Obesity Unit of Hospital Ramón y Cajal in Madrid.” Result!

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Nomnomnom

Spanish-style Hake With Chorizo & Italian Tomatoes (to serve 2, generously):

1 tsp smoked paprika, or spanish rub
4 potatoes, diced
Chorizo Sausage, chopped
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 hake fillets (defrosted)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 dash salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200ºC.

Mix paprika, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Set aside.

Coat potatoes with 2 Tbsp of paprika/oil mix and arrange in a roasting pan.

Roast for 15 minutes or until starting to crisp. Add chorizo and tomatoes.

Brush fish fillets with remaining paprika/oil mix and place on top.

Cook for another 10 -12 minutes, or until fish starts to flake.

Serve with steamed or boiled green beans

Original recipe found at: www.grouprecipes.com courtesy of Staccato!

What are your favourite healthy dinners that make you feel ready to go exercise rather than too bloated to get off the couch? We’d love to hear any suggestions you have that we could try during future menu Mondays!