Friday, 27 July 2012

Raisin-filled baked apple.

After spending a good hour or so searching the blogosphere last night I came across the blog, Miss Thrifty - a blog about her and ways tips to help save you money and get more for your money. I then came across this post of hers. I thought the very last tip about the apples was so good:

"Apples gone wrinkly? Wash them, cut a line around the middle, core them, fill with sultanas and honey (or whatever you fancy) and then bake them until soft and mushy. Very quick dessert!"

I would have never thought of it. We normally just chuck away apples that have gone slightly soft. So, as I was hungry anyway (and no matter how hard I try I cannot sleep on an empty stomach), after googling for a recipe, I went down and experimented. Click here for the recipe I found on google. I did change it up a tiny bit though, for the purpose of making it less calorific.. I made it to be approx. 65kcal - very low-kcal! But I'm pretty sure I've worked it out correctly. Here's how I made it:

- 1 small apple (approx. 80g after cored).
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
- a very small drizzle of golden syrup (approx. 1/2 tsp).
- 1/4 tsp Splenda granulated sweetener.
- 5g seedless raisins.
- boiling water.

1. First place the raisins into a heat-proof bowl/cup and pour boiling water over them. Allow them to soak until they're plump - the time this takes depends on the age of the raisins. Leave them in the water until you are ready to cook.
2. Get your apple, wash it and then remove most of the core. Try and leave some apple at the bottom for a base though - like 1cm or so. Then remove a thin strip of peel from around the cavity.
3. Place the apple into a microwave-proof bowl. Sprinkle the inside of the apple with the cinnamon and Splenda sweetener and then fill it with the raisins.
4. Pour a tsp of the water you used to soak the raisins in over the raisins.
5. Then drizzle golden syrup over the top of the raisins and all over the apple. (I drizzled it straight from the bottle. I did not squeeze it then bottle.. I just held it upside down and let it pour out itself. Barely any was used - maybe 1/2 tsp-ish.
6. Put it in the microwave, uncovered, and cook for 3-4 minutes on high power; testing with a fork after 3 minutes.
7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving (warning: the inside may be very hot, so do allow for it to cool).

You can vary the recipe by using different/more fillings for the apple, such as blueberries, sultanas, adding nuts (pecans, walnuts), using different sweeteners (honey, maple syrup), etc.

It's super sweet and super delicious! Great comfort food. Great to make as a dessert, or even as a midnight snack, if you're feeling naughty like me. :)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Linwoods - FREE samples!

Linwoods is a relatively new discovery of mine. I found it in Cosmopolitan's "reader's summer checkbook" which, I think, came free with July's issue. Inside of it are loads of competitions/money off vouchers/forms for samples, which is how I found Linwoods. They're giving away free samples of their superfood products. And, as I love free stuff and trying new foods, I sent off for one. It arrived about 3-4 days afterwards, so pretty fast delivery considering it was completely free!

I received a 'flaxseed' sample and a 'flax, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds & goji berries' sample. I tried it straight away, opening the 'flax, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds & goji berries' sample, sticking a spoonful of it onto my soup. It tastes alright, not much taste too it really, and it doesn't feel horrible in your mouth. It looks as if it'd be really bitty and yuck, but it's not. I'm quite happy with it actually. So happy, that I went out and actually bought a big full sized bag of the stuff from my local Holland & Barrett (it cost £5.89)! I bought the 'flax, sunflower & pumpkin seeds' one, because they didn't stock the exact one I tried as a sample.
You can add a spoonful or two to any meal throughout the day - soups, salads, stir-fries, yoghurts, smoothies, cereal, porridge, casseroles and more! It provides a nutritious addition and a healthy boost to any meal! Full of antioxidants, vitamins, zinc, iron and fibre. It gives you a boost of energy too. It's quite a lot of calories for what it is.. But if you only use 1 teaspoon (which is approx. 1g), it's only about 5kcal. So it depends how much you're intending to use, I guess.

I, personally, have added it into soups, salads, natural yoghurt, cereal, sandwiches and pasta dishes. I'm sure I'll find loads of other things to add it into as well! This soup (photo above) is just Heinz Weight Watchers tomato soup with cooked button mushrooms added into it with a bit of home-grown parsley. The bitty bits on top of it is a teaspoon of the sample. It was so delicious!

How to get a free sample:
Email them,, with your name and address.
It's as simple as that.

Enjoy! :)

Friday, 20 July 2012

So this is what heaven tastes like?

 These three wonderful ingredients, Tesco healthy living mozzarella, Trattoria Verdi green pesto and Trattoria Verdi sundried tomatoes antipasti, are my new favourites! They all taste okay on their own, but stick all three together and they taste heavenly! So much flavour - it's beautiful! They're not the healthiest foods ever, I know, but they're actually not too bad. I discovered this amazing combination on a drunken night out.. There's a takeaway called 'Yum Yum' on the corner near all the clubs and they sell things like baguettes, paninis, sandwiches, etc. and I ordered the panini which had these three beauties in and now every time I'm hungry after a night out, I get one of these instead of getting the usual chips and a vegetarian burger. Yum yum yummm! I just loved it so much that I bought the ingredients myself so I could recreate it at home.

Here's some ideas I've come up with, which include these three ingredients, so far:

Mozzarella, sundried tomato and green pesto grilled sandwich. (approx 280kcal) - Turn on the grill, so it's ready. Just spread a little bit of green pesto on one piece of bread (I use Weight Watchers white danish, which is 50kcal per slice). Stick on about 3 thin slices of mozzarella and about 3-5 sundried tomatoes (depending on their size). Stick the other piece of bread on top and push it all down a bit. Then stick it in the grill. After about 5-10 minutes, or when it starts going slightly brown on top, turn it over and leave it for another 5-10 minutes. It'll be done when you can see the mozzarella starting to melt all out of the sides of the sandwhich. If you like really melty mozzarella leave it in a couple more minutes - just be careful not to burn your bread! Take it out and voila - the best grilled sandwich you will ever have! :)

Mozzarella, sundried tomato and green pesto wrap. (approx 312kcal) - Get out your wrap (I use Weight Watchers wraps, which are 106kcal per wrap) and lay it straight onto your plate. Spread a little bit of green pesto over the wrap. Stick a few thin slices of mozzarella on and then about 5-7 sundried tomatoes (depending on their size) on top of that. Fold two opposite edges slightly inwards, so they both just about touch the filling. Then, whilst trying to hold those edges down, turn the wrap and start rolling one of the unfolded sides towards the other unfolded side (sorry if this makes no sense whatsoever. It's a lot easier actually folding a wrap myself then trying to explain how to do it). Then you have your yummy wrap! You could now heat this up in a grill or microwave, if you like hot melty mozzarella, but I just ate it cold.

Mozzrella, sundried tomato and green pesto salad. (approx. 138kcal) - With this recipe you can change it up to however you want pretty much. I used my favourite salad things to bulk out the salad, which were spinach, lambs lettuce, mushrooms and a salad tomato. First I just made a bed with the spinach and lambs lettuce. I then cooked some button mushrooms with fry-light. Once they were done I stirred them in a small tsp of green pesto until covered. I then left those to cool a little. I got half a normal salad tomato and cut it into little bits and mixed it up with the spinach and lambs lettuce. I then cut up the mozzarella and sundried tomatoes (I only used 2 tomatoes for this) into little bits and placed them on top of the salad and then added on the mushrooms. This would be good to take as a lunchbox for work/school as it doesn't need to be heated or anything! :)

Mozzrella, sundried tomato and green pesto pasta. (approx. 488kcal) - I first cooked 75g of fusilli pasta and drained it and then put it back in it's pan. I then stirred in 2 small tsp of green pesto - it's a lot easier to stir it all together whilst it's still in the pan than doing it in a small bowl.. I then added about 3-4 sundried tomatoes, chopped, and half of the mozzarella, chopped, and stirred it all together. I put it in a bowl and placed the other half of the mozzarella, chopped, on top of the pasta. Next I put it in the microwave for about 1 minute so the mozzarella on top would melt more, as I thought the heat of the pasta wasn't really enough to get it all gooey and stringy. If you do this leave it to cool for a minute or two so you don't burn yourself/your tongue on it and then dig in! Yuuum!

Hope you enjoy these as much as I have! If you can think of anymore ideas which include these three ingredients, please share! I would LOVE to give them a go! I will also give full credit if I mention your idea on my blog! Thank you. :)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

My weaknesses.. I'm only human.

Everybody has weaknesses. We are only human, after all.

Just in case any of you think that I am the perfect dieter that never slips up and exercises 5 times a week here's a post to show I'm not. I am far from that. I simply don't post my bad days on my blog very often because I want you all to be inspired to do well, not tempted to eat junk. I am just like all of you. I struggle constantly to beat off cravings and I do occasionally slip up and binge and overeat. I hardly exercise regularly and when I do, I keep it up for a week or 2 and then give up because I ache or I'm too tired.. I go out once every 1-2 weeks drinking with my friends and I always end up drunk by the end of the night. So please don't feel you're struggling on your own. I have been battling my weight since 2009, so I know it's really hard, and I still have bad weeks - more often than not nowadays. My weight yo-yo's back and forth each week. But I won't give up - my dream of being skinny/healthy is too great to give up over something so silly. If I have a bad meal/day/week, I sulk for a little, feel guilty and fat. And then I put it behind me. Tomorrow's a new day. I normally then go food shopping and buy all the veggies and fruits I possibly can, which kind of motivates me in a way.. And then start fresh. And when I slip up again, I just repeat this.

My biggest weaknesses are:
- fizzy drinks, mainly diet coke and low-cal monster energy drink - I know they're both really, really bad for you, but I can't help it! I may even be slightly addicted, if that's even possible.
- chocolate (hence why I have a secret chocolate stash).
- takeaway pizza... I tend to have pizza nights at home with my boyfriend more often than I probably should.. It doesn't help that he can get 50% off in our local Domino's Pizza!
- alcohol.. I love dancing and socialising with my friends and alcohol just makes it so much funner! I just wish it wasn't so bad for you..
- cookies. Don't even get me started.. Me + cookies = lethal. I adore cookies. I wish I was allergic to them so I had an excuse to stop myself from ever eating them. I don't eat them as often as I use to though..
- Kripsy Kreme doughnuts. These are heavenly, they taste so good. I just don't know how something can taste or smell this amazing! A major weakness!

So yeah, there you go. Proof I'm normal. These are my weaknesses and the foods/drinks I crave the most - mainly because when I was at my heaviest, back in 2009, these were the foods/drinks I ate/drank the most.. Ideally I'd like to cut the majority of this out permanently or even just cut some of it right back so I can still have it, but very rarely.. But it's a lot harder said than done. I'm just going to have to work on it. I will not let these weaknesses defeat me or my dream! :)

Sunday, 15 July 2012

I'm still here!

I apologise for the lack of posts lately - I have literally had the busiest week I've had in forever (hence why I am currently writing this off of my iPhone)! This is just an update post to let you know what I have been up to in the past week!

Still been unsuccessful in the job hunting.. But I have managed to get some overtime at work for the first time in about 4 weeks! So this week I'm working 27ish hours, instead of my regular 13..

I met up with my friend at the beginning of the week for lunch. On Wednesday I went to the Olympic Torch event at Hudson's Field where I had a cheeky pint and a little bag of pick & mix (as the food there was horrible). We did do a lot of dancing there though! Then we went straight from there to the fire garden event at Stonehenge, where I walked my butt off and took some lovely photos. I went out for two meals, one at The Harvester and one at Strada, on Thursday with a birthday party that same night, which involved a lot of drinking and dancing! Then on Friday I met up with my boyfriend for lunch, I worked and then I went to a little get together with a few work friends which also involved a fair bit of alcohol. Then yesterday (Saturday) I worked 8 hours and afterwards I went into town to celebrate a friends birthday - dressed as a leopard! Which also involved many, many drinks. I have never drank so much in such a short space of time! Feeling very fragile today. Today we have travelled to visit family, which involves a lot of food.

Considering all of the eating and drinking I have done this week I have only put on 3lb (I was expecting to put on a couple more than this to be fair) - which will hopefully come off easily next week once all this socialising calms down bit - I've never felt so popular, hahaha. Here's some photos from throughout the week:

Monday, 9 July 2012

Lunchbox idea #3.

This is probably the most easiest lunchbox idea there is - a fruit salad! Simple yet delicious! If you need to make a lunchbox to take for breakfast, a little extra to have for lunch or just as a treat, this is perfect. There are so many variations of fruit salads you can make! Just cut up all of your favourite fruits and throw them all together! There is pretty much no way you can go wrong making one!

TIP: If you're the kind of person who likes to add sugar to yours, then buy yourself some granulated Splenda sweetener and sprinkle that over it instead! It's just as sweet, if not sweeter, and calorie free!

This exact fruit salad, in the photos, is made with blueberries, raspberries, pineapple chunks, cut-up mango, halved red and green grapes and melon balls! Absolutely delicious, so refreshing and very healthy! It's not too many calories either - it's approx 137 kcal for the exact fruit salad I made above. Yay! :)

Other favourite fruits of mine that I like to add to fruit salads are halved strawberries, clemintines, sliced banana, kiwi and watermelon! Yuuuummm! Typing all of this is making me want more!

It must be good - even my dog, Willow, loved how it looked! :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Race For Life 2012 - 5km.

On Sunday 1st of July, with the worst hangover ever and about 1 hours sleep, I did the 5km Race For Life (equivalent to 3 miles)! It was held at Hudson's Field in Salisbury. I was number 928. The message on my back was "I race for life for all those affected by cancer" - I have 1 or 2 people in my family that is affected by it personally, but I wanted to do it for everybody.

I signed up for this back when I decided to take up running/jogging back in April (blog post here). I have been a bit naughty and not trained overly much, but I decided to attempt jogging the whole thing anyway. The longest time I had ever jogged for before this, without stopping and dying in a heap on the floor, was 13 minutes. I have done the Race For Life a couple times actually, a few years back, but I always walked them - never jogged. My quickest time back then, that I remember, was just over 45 minutes, I think. I was just too big, unfit and self-concious to even think about jogging it. But look at me now!

Thousands of people turned up - it was like a sea of pink everywhere you looked! The only bit I don't like about the Race For Life is reading all the sweet messages on the back of people's tops.. I don't not like it because I don't think they should do it - of course they should, but it just gets me really upset. The sweetest, saddest message I read was on the back of a man's back. He had dressed up, jokingly, like a woman - wearing a pink wig, tights and skirt/shorts. His message said "I race for life for my wife, my friend, my soul mate. R.I.P". I'm so glad he didn't see me! I was almost in tears! I am far too over-emotional.

On completion of the race I was given a little goody bag, which had some coupons in and a mini box of Dorset cereals breakfast stuff in - which I'm sure I will eventually try. I was also given a Race For Life 2012 medal, which I can now add to all my others ones from previous years.

This years' medal I am way more proud of though. I probably raised a lot less money than I usually do (not many people would sponsor me because they sponsored me for the skydive I did in May) but I managed to jog the WHOLE race, non-stop - even up all the stupid amounts of hills they decided to include in the course!!! I started the race at 1 minute 33 secs (as joggers were in the middle so we had to wait for all the runners to go through the start first) and I crossed the finish line at 34 minutes 02 secs - which, if you do the math, is a total of 32 minutes 29 secs!! When I got there in the morning I was so convinced I was going to have to take a break every 5 minutes, but no. I did it all non-stop! I even managed to get the tiny amount of energy I had left to sprint across the finish line! 5km is such a massive distance for me compared to my usual 'jog to the park and back again'! I just can't believe I pushed myself to do it! I am actually so proud of myself!

I am definitely signing up for next years' Race For Life and I am going to be aiming to SMASH my personal best of 32 minutes 29 secs! I'd love to get it under half an hour if I can.. But we'll see. ;)

Well done to all the girlies all over the country that took part in the Race For Life this year and raised money for this brilliant cause! You should all be so proud of yourselves! :)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Lunchbox idea #2.

This yummy salad is called 'Chickpea and Feta Salad'. I found this recipe, on page 24, in the free mag which came with BodyFit's magazine, May 2012 issue. It makes 4 servings and each serving is approx. 261 kcal. It's fun, tasty, jam-packed with protein and quite different to your ordinary 'lettace, tomato, cucumber' salads! The cheese tastes great too - quite strong. The cheese tastes good hot or cold, in my opinion. I took this salad in a lunchbox to college for 2 days. It's very filling! I did change up the recipe a little to suit me and the ingredients I had already/could get hold of. Instead of 400g I used 240g, instead of reduced-fat feta cheese, I used reduced fat salad cheese (very similar to feta). I also took out the radicchio and the radish sprouts, as I don't even know what they are. I also only used 1 tbsp of olive oil instead of two. The calories I worked out are for how I prepared the meal, not for the actual recipe. Here's how to make it:

- 400g (13oz) can chickpeas, drained
- 1 Lebanese cucumber or 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 150g (5oz) radishes, thinly sliced
- 150g (5oz) red seedless grapes, halved
- 1 small radicchio, sliced
- 200g (7oz) reduced-fat feta cheese, cut into four pieces
- 2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 heaped tbsp pumpkin seeds
- small handful of radish sprouts (optional)
- salt and pepper
- lemon wedges, to serve

1. Mix together the chickpeas, cucumber, radishes and grapes in a large bowl. Toss lightly with the radicchio, season with salt and pepper and pile into serving dishes.
2. Place the feta on a foil-lined grill pan, drizzle with two tablespoons of the oil and sprinkle with the dried oregano and a little pepper. Cook under a preheated grill for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Remove from the grill and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes.
3. Heat a small non-stick pan over a medium heat, add the pumpkin seeds and dry-fry for 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden. Tip on to a small plate.
4. Arrange the grilled feta on the salad. Scatter over the toasted pumpkin seeds and radish sprouts, if using. Drizzle with the remaining oil and serve immediately with the lemon wedges.