Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I'm Pie Magazine's "Recipe Guru".

I'm not sure if many of you are aware, but since March 2013, I have been writing once a month for a great young people's e-magazine called Pie Magazine. I went to school with the founder of Pie Magazine, Benjamin Franks. He is an extremely talented writer and very creative and I am honoured that he has given me this opportunity to write regularly for Pie. I remember buying the first ever issue of Pie back in school (originally a paper copy). I loved reading it, and never imagined that I would one day be a part of it.

I am Pie's "Senior Recipe Writer/Guru" and I write recipes which are mainly naughty, calorific baking recipes. I decided to write these types of recipes because I really enjoy baking and sharing them with family and friends and then receiving their feedback on what I've made. I used to bake very often, but since dieting/calorie counting, I haven't been able to do it as often as I use to as it seems to really effect my waistline. So being able to do it once a month, for a good purpose, is great fun! So I keep my naughtier recipes for Pie and my healthier recipes for my blog. So far I have written 4 recipes for Pie which are online and ready to read (click on the thumbnails below to check them out). I have also submitted a savoury recipe for Pie's upcoming annual for 2013, but what I've made will remain a secret until it's published. I was shocked but ecstatic to discover that my Classic Shortbread recipe was the most read article of April 2013. It feels great knowing that people are actually reading what I've created. So if you want to have a peek at what I write, besides what is on my blog, feel free! And remember, there's a new recipe every month, so keep checking back regularly for more! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy making/writing it. :)

My recipes for Pie:

There's also many other topics to read about on Pie too besides my recipes, including poetry, short stories, news, travel, games, music, films, books, reviews, etc. all well written by Pie's very talented writers. So if you have a few spare minutes take a look!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Doing the 30 day squat challenge.

I have heard so much about this "30 Day Squat Challenge" lately, especially on Facebook, that I have decided to give it a go for myself. I am now on day 13 out of 30. Why have I decided to join everyone else and put myself through this leg-and-bum-torture? Because my boyfriend, Jago, & I have booked a last minute holiday and we leave in just 13 days! We're going to Mallorca Rocks, Magaluf, for a week and I am battling for my bikini body back, which I had last year when I went to Turkey (click here for the blog post). As I haven't been able to attend the gym lately (recent health issues), I need something to make me feel like I'm working out and making an effort. I'm aware that I'll only get to day 26 before actually leaving for our holiday, but that isn't going to stop me. Ideally I'd like to be at the same weight as I was before I went to Turkey, but the likelihood is that's a bit unrealistic with the amount of time I've got to do it, but that won't stop me trying my hardest!

Here's a scan of my notepad with the whole challenge written out. I need to write it out myself rather than continuously keep looking up for it online each day, otherwise I probably won't do it. The first 3 days were by far the most painful. By Day 3, stairs were out of the question! I'm quite shocked at how much it actually raises your heart rate and how sweaty you get just by doing squats! From Day 5 onwards, I actually have to stop for a few seconds between every 10-20 squats as I just get so hot and bothered I can't seem to push myself up from the bottom of the squat, haha.

I didn't take a before photo, so I don't know how I'll be able to compare any real difference. I'm just going to have to try and take a photo of how it looks now (at Day 13), and then take one when it's over and see if there's any noticeable change. I'll post the results at the end of the challenge. If there is a noticeable difference, I may give myself a bit of a break and then restart the challenge all over again from the beginning.

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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Graze's 'Good Breakfast Club' (plus FREE code).

I was pleasantly surprised after checking my emails the other day, as I received a code from Graze, inviting me to their 'Good Breakfast Club'! I have been on their waiting list for what feels like ages, and now I'm finally in the club! :) To add to the nice surprise, my first delivery was free!

I tried my first porridge from Graze yesterday. It was the blackcurrant & cranberry porridge with honey and it was absolutely delicious! I've never had honey in porridge before, as I'm not overly keen on honey, but it was really nice and really complimented the flavour of the porridge.  If you have a sweet tooth, this would be perfect for you as the honey makes it VERY sweet. There isn't a lot of porridge once it's all made up, but the tastes definitely makes up for the lack of food! The bigger porridge punnets would probably make a more satisfying amount of porridge, but it doesn't come with honey. I am quite tempted to keep paying to receive these. I'm probably going to have to move around how often I receive both of the different Graze boxes though, otherwise I am going to be so poor!

The porridge is really simple to make. The instructions are in the leaflet you receive with them, but in case you misplace it, all you do is:

1. Pull the lid off the top of the oats (keep the lid sealed over the honey if you can) and pour the oats into a bowl.
2. Fill up the part of the punnet that had the oats in one and a half times with your choice of milk (I used Alrpo unsweetened almond milk), and pour into the bowl with the oats. If you're having the bigger punnet of porridge, without the honey on the side, fill it up twice with your choice of milk and pour it in.
3. Now pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes.
4. Take it out and give it a stir. If you're going to use the honey, just take the lid off of the honey, and pour as much as you want of it into the porridge and give it a good stir.

Simple as that!

You can only join the Good Breakfast Club if you're an existing Graze customer. But don't worry, I have codes for everyone:

If you're already a Graze customer, here's a code to get your first Good Breakfast Club box for FREE:


If you're not already a Graze customer, get yourself your first regular Graze box for FREE by using this code:


You need to live in the UK to be able to receive Graze Boxes. When you sign up they do ask for payment details - don't panic! This is only in case you decide to continue to receive boxes after you get your free one. If you only want the free box and no more or if you receive your first box and decide you really don't like Graze, cancelling with them is very simple and fuss free - it's a very trustworthy site and I know people who have cancelled with them before with no issues whatsoever. If you do continue to receive them, you can decide how often you receive boxes. You can also book holidays so they don't come on a week you know you won't be there for and you can also postpone boxes too. Don't forget to go through all of the punnets/porridges on their website and rate all of them with either 'Try', 'Like', 'Love' or 'Bin' and you can also select 'Send Soon'. 'Bin' insures that you will never receive that punnet - great if your allergic to anything, have specially dietary needs or just know you don't like a certain food, like me with coconut. This can be a little time consuming, but it's worth doing, especially if you're planning to continue to pay for boxes.

TOP TIP: As the amount of calories in each punnet and it's use-by date is written on the separate leaflet in the box and not on the punnets themselves, use a permanent marker to write them onto the lid of the punnets yourself. That way you don't need to carry the leaflet around with you everywhere and you don't need to worry about losing it.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Red onion marmalade.

For our barbecue the other day, my boyfriend, Jago, treated us all to his homemade red onion marmalade. It tasted gorgeous! We all had a dollop of it on our burgers (and I kept sneakily having some on its own, as I just loved it that much) and it went so well! It could also go on crispbreads, crackers, on toast or in sandwiches. Jago has kindly let me feature his recipe on here! It may not be the healthiest of recipes, but as long as you don't indulge in too much of it, it shouldn't be too bad. Its very sweet and really hits the spot if you're craving a little sugar. Sorry I don't have any photos throughout the making of this little delight - I was distracted getting the rest of the food ready. If we make it again, I'll snap some step-by-step pics and edit them into this post. :)

I'm not too sure how many servings this recipe makes. But the whole recipe itself is 459 kcal. So I guess if you just divide it all out evenly amongst everyone, then divide 459 by how ever many you divide the marmalade into, it'll give you an approx. amount of calories for your serving. I wouldn't have too much though as it's quite calorific. Sorry for not being overly helpful!

- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 4 red onions, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbsp sugar
- juice of 1 orange
- 1 cup of red wine (or enough that it just covers all the tops of the ingredients in the pan).

1. On a high heat, in a medium saucepan, cook the onions and garlic in the oil until it starts to go soft.
2. Add in the sugar and keep stirring it all around. Cook until it starts to bubble.
3. Add in the orange juice and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.
4. Now pour in the wine, turn down the heat and allow to simmer until it reduces and thickens. It should have a sticky constancy.
5. When ready, pour into a bowl and let it cool down. Once cool, cover it up and keep it in the fridge. Once cold, it's ready to use when you are!

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Homemade lean beef burgers.

The sun has been shining and I decided today was the perfect day to have the first barbecue of 2013! My boyfriend, Jago, and I slaved away to make a healthy feast for my family. This included: homemade beef burgers with all the garnishes; red onion marmalade (this will be posted in the next recipe post I write - keep your eyes peeled); potato salad; tuna pasta salad and carrot sticks with hummus. Obviously as I'm a vegetarian I never got to taste test these burgers (I enjoyed some Quorn chicken style burgers instead), but everyone else had one and they absolutely loved them - they even had seconds! So here it is, my first ever meat recipe for my blog! I hope you all enjoy it. :)

This recipe makes about 5 beef burgers. Each burger, with no garnishes, is approx. 145kcal. Just add the calories for any fillings or roll you eat with your burger to give a total amount, inc. garnishes.

- 500g extra lean mince beef
- 1/2 red onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 egg
- dash of Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
- low-kcal cooking spray (if pan frying)

Equipment that'd be useful for you to have:
- a burger press
- a garlic crusher

1. Dice the red onion as small as possible.

2. Place the red onion into a large bowl and crush the garlic cloves into the bowl with it.

3. Add in the mince beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper into the bowl.

4. Using your hands squish all of the ingredients in the bowl together, work it all in, until thoroughly combined.

5. Now, from the burger meat mixture, weigh out 120g of it and, either using a burger press or your hands, make it into a even, circular burger shape. The last burger you make will probably weigh a bit more than 120g, but that's okay.

6. Now you can cook these on a BBQ or pan fry them, using low-kcal cooking spray or a little bit of olive oil. I chose to cook them on the BBQ.

7. Once cooked through, serve up with all of the garnishes. We served ours with small soft bread rolls, lettuce, tomato, a little bit of low-fat cheese and our homemade red onion marmalade (next recipe to be written for my blog, keep your eyes peeled!) and a little of all the side dishes we made (see photo at the top).