Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Recipe: Simple Flapjack Topped Pear Crumble

Hello Lovelies!

Somehow this week, I've managed to neglect our bag of pears.... shocking I know. However, it does mean that said bag of pears are now gloriously juicy and perfect for pear crumble making!

First, choose your pear. Admire it, squeeze it (to check for ripeness... obviously), love it and spend some time taking pictures of it in mildly seductive lighting. Next...

Kiss that sweet pear goodbye! Peel it and slice it straight into 2 glass ramekins and cover with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Next, make your flapjack topping. 1/2 cup of oats, 1 slightly heaped tsp soft dairy free spread (I used Pure Sunflower spread... you can, of course, use a non-dairy free spread if you're that way inclined!) and around a tablespoon of agave (if you don't have agave, and you're not vegan, I'm sure honey would work fine too). Mix it all up with a spoon.

Spoon it into your ramekins making sure your pear is nice and covered. Pop your crumbles in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180C.

You know your crumble's cooked when your pears have gone soft and juicy in the bottom and the top is a lovely golden brown.

I've been enjoying mine topped with Alpro Soya Vanilla Yoghurt (in fact, I've been enjoying them so much that I even had them for breakfast today!)

So there you go - super quick, ridiculously easy flapjack topped crumble with a fraction of the sugar, fat and faff of your regular crumble experience! Enjoy :)
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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Things I've learnt whilst I've been ill

Hello lovelies!

So it turns out I don't have glandular fever (hurrah!) but I do have post-viral fatigue (boo). On the plus side though, I'm feeling about a gazillion times better than I did this time last week so hopefully I'll be able to go back to work next week all refreshed and shiny and new! I'll also (hopefully) have a little more to blog about... when you have zero energy and your days consist of sitting in bed alone, there's not much to blog about. There is, however, much to think about - especially if you happen to have some awesome friends who have kept you company (in an online sense of the word) and engage you in interesting, thought provoking conversation.

I thought today I'd share with you some of the things I've learnt or been thinking about over the past two weeks...

I need to listen to my body
Just do it - and if your body is saying it needs to rest, let it. Don't try to drag yourself into work or try to walk into town or try to cook a meal. Do what it's begging you for and rest. If you don't, you'll only make things worse for yourself.

I say sorry far too much
It's funny how written conversations highlight certain verbal tics far more than spoken ones. I've discovered I pepper my conversations with "I'm sorry" or "I apologise" like you wouldn't believe. Sometimes, I don't even realise I've said it. Most of the time, there's absolutely no reason for saying it. It's ridiculous and it's something I really want to train myself out of.

As much as I can deal with the disappointment of not getting on my GTP, I'm confused about my future
I love being a teaching assistant - I really, really do. But I don't want it to be my career for life. I'm a little confused about where to go next... whether to apply again for teaching or to consider the other options. Sadly, now is not the time to be pondering a career of any sorts - so few jobs for so many people, especially up here in the North.

I don't actually hate London as much as I think I do... in fact, I'd rather like to live (nearer) there
I've always been an active proclaimer of my hatred of London - big, loud, scary, dirty. I think I've been to quick to overlook some of the wonderful things about London. I'd quite like to spend more time exploring.

I've spent the last 5 years of my life dedicated to  something I'm not entirely certain I still believe in
Church and God have played a big part in my life since I moved to York and although I've had my wobbles in my faith, I've always had to plough on regardless because it was my job or because I've been so involved. Over the past few months, and especially since I've been ill, I've been able to let some of my questions rise to the surface and had some time to think about them and properly explore them. I've appreciated that. I'm not planning on labelling myself as anything for the time being other than a "thought explorer".... because I feel that's what I need to be for a while :)

My heart's desire is to be vegan
And for once, I've let my heart have its way. When I stepped away from veganism a few years ago, I was never entirely happy with the decision... I mainly did it because too many people were mocking me and, to some extent, bullying me because of it. I regret that move. Peter challenged me to man up and go vegan again and I have. It's been easier than I thought it would...somewhat like getting back on a bicycle after not riding for a few years. He, of course, is still a meat and cheese loving omni.

There's so much more to enjoy in life than I sometimes think there is
I find it very easy to settle into frustrations... I get frustrated about York's lack of culture, about not having balls enough to protest about the things I want to protest about, about not having enough time to take photos or enough time to enjoy books. If I took the time I wasted feeling frustrated, or the time I fritter wandering aimlessly and feeling listless, I'd have so much more time on my hands. Sometimes, you need to open your eyes wide and hunt out the beautiful things :)

I desperately need to man up
I'm scared of crowds, needles, the sea, frogs, getting into trouble, offending people, being forgotten about, failure... the list goes on and on and on. Deal with it woman.

I really, really love running
And I really, really hate not being able to run right now.

Twitter is way more awesome than Facebook
But we all kinda knew that already right?

What have you learnt this week?
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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Public Service Announcement: June 30th

Hello lovelies,

Just a wee break from the norm (and I apologise if this isn't quite relevant to you) to speak about this man:

[Michael Gove: source]

and this day:

Politics isn't something I generally cover on my blog, but this is something I feel is really rather important. As many of you UK lovelies will know, June 30th is going to be a day of public sector strikes, seeing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers from NUT, PCS, UCU and ALT go on strike against the cuts to pensions being proposed by our government.

My post isn't nessecarily about that (although if you'd like more info about the June 30th plans and how you get involved I recommend visiting this website) but more about what Mr Gove has proposed schools do in order to remain open on Thursday - he's essentially proposing a strike-break and is advising Headteachers to ask Teaching Assistants and Parents to cover the strike. He's even suggested schools "take a break from the National Curriculum" for the day and not "worry about exceeding recommended class sizes".

There are so many issues with this. Firstly, Teaching Assistants - you are not there to teach. Listen to your Unions (and if you're not in a union - join one!) and resist the request. I know it's hard, and I know it'll feel awkward to say no but we must have strength in numbers - even if we can't strike, we can still have solidarity with members of staff who can. If your contract doesn't include the teaching of an entire class and primary responsibility for them, you shouldn't be teaching them. 

Secondly, parents. If you aren't CRB checked, you should not be in schools looking after children. It's not just ridiculous - it's plain illegal and it's putting you in danger as much as the children. All it would take is one false accusation and you truly wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Also, please think about what this actually means in terms of standing up to a Government who are making truly ridiculous decisions that will affect not just your life but the lives of your children one day. If you'd really like to help out friends who are struggling for childcare, why not invite your children's friend round to play for the day? I can assure you it's much less stressful for you and much more helpful for the cause.

I know this is a contentious issue and I know that we'll all have our own opinions but I hope that we'll all be able to chose to make the decision that's not just right for us, but for the future of our public sector workers.

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Friday, 24 June 2011

Recipe: Vegetarian Paella (Part of Teach Ben How to Cook)


Welcome to the first post in the Teach Ben How to Cook Series - if you're not sure what this is, read this post. Essentially over the next few weeks and months, I'll be bringing you a range of easy recipes primarily with the aim of teaching my friend Ben how to cook, but also to inspire all of you lovely people to get creative in the kitchen too! I've still got pleanty of places for recipe submission, so if you'd like to Teach Ben How to Cook too, drop me an email (

Lets get cracking!

Serves 2

150-200g Paella Rice (or Risotto Rice)
1 Medium Onion
Vegetables of your choice - I've used a medium carrot, some broad beans, a courgette. Other appropriate vegetables include peppers, mushrooms, leeks.
1 Beef Tomatoe (or a couple of smaller ones)
A lemon
Stock Powder (we use Marigold Vegan Reduced Salt Boullion which you can find at most supermarkets)
750ml Boiling Water
Herbs and Spices

First, chop your vegetables. I generally tend to remove the top and bottom of each piece of veg, then cut it in half and slice it into smaller pieces. Try to keep everything a similar size to help it cook through evenly.

Next, take a large non-stick pan or a wok and heat a tablespoon (or a largish glug if you're me) of oil. We use rapeseed but olive oil will work well too! You want to be using a low-medium heat. Let it heat up for a good minute or two and swish it around a little.

Add your onion to the pan and stir, stir, stir. You need to cook the onion until they're soft but not brown. You should hear a gentle hissing type noise but not a loud sizzling. If they start really sizzling, turn the heat down!

Once your onions have softened a little, you can add the rest of the veg with the exception of the tomatoes - save those for later!. Keep stirring regularly to ensure they get evenly coated with oil and exposed to the hot parts of the pan.

Once your vegetables have had a couple of minutes to soften, you need to add your herbs and spices. I added za'tar, cayenne, paprika, herbs d'prov, basil, turmeric and (of course) salt and pepper. If you were going to omit anything I'd say the za'tar, basil and turmeric are the least needed. You probably want around 1 tsp of paprika, herbs d'prov and basil, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cayenne and a pinch of za'tar. Salt and Pepper - a good grind of each! Again, stir, stir, stir!

Now you need to add your rice to the pan - make sure your heat is fairly low, that there's still a little oilyness (if it's looking dry, add a smidge more oil) and that you keep stirring. Once your rice is coated in herby, spicey oily goodness you can add your water and 3 tsp stock powder (or a stock cube if that's what you're using). At this point, I also add a little squirt of tomato sauce and a dash of vegan worcester sauce.

Yum! Give everything a good stir, make sure you're on a medium heat and leave it to simmer (tiny bubbles not a ranging torrent of bubbles) for around 10 minutes. You might want to give it the occasional stir but you're basically free to sit down and have a little rest for a bit if you like :)

After 10 minutes, your stock should have reduced a little. Give it another good stir and then place your tomatoes on top - don't stir them in though! Now all that's left to do is pop a lid on it and leave it to cook for another 15-20 minutes. Again, make sure your paella is simmering but not boiling - you don't want your heat so high that you burn the bottom but also don't want it so low that your rice doesn't cook! Don't worry about stirring it or anything for the next 15-20 minutes... it'll sort itself out!

This is roughly how it should look when it's cooked - you'll note mine still had a little water left as I added a bit too much to start with but I solved that by giving it a good stir at the very end and then turning up the heat quite high for the last 30 seconds to a minute.

Dish up and serve with a wedge of lemon to be squeezed over the top before eating!

How can you get involved in Teach Ben How to Cook?
1. Send me recipes (with photos of you cooking them preferably) to be featured and for Ben to give a try
2. Try cooking each of the recipes yourself and send me a photo (and maybe a little sentence or two) to include in the follow up posts that Ben and I will be writing for each recipe. He's going to be sharing his thoughts and experiences as he learns how to cook and it'd be wonderful if any of you wanted to include yours too!

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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Embracing a Healthier Lifestyle: Dealing with Disappointment

Hello Lovelies,

I thought I'd continue my Embracing a Healthier Lifestyle series with a post on how I try to deal with disappointment. So far in the series we've had:
Part One: Catching the Running Bug
Part Two: Thinking Big, Dreaming Big
Part Three: Stop Comparing Yourself

As many of you know, I've dedicated the a significant portion of the last 7 months of my life to the application process for a GTP (Graduate Teaching Programme) but  sadly, I've now found out I haven't got on.

Obviously, this is massively disappointing - I've put in lots of effort, I have lots of experience, I've had lots of people telling me how certain they were I'd do it but, for some reason or another, I haven't. But you know what? That's ok - no seriously. I feel calm and peaceful about the whole thing and I thought I'd share a few of my ideas and techniques that have helped me feel that way.

First though, another in my "pictures of Emily to make you laugh" series:

Why yes, yes I am in fancy dress as Siousxie Sioux whilst wearing a Red Nose.... that's how I roll for fancy dress days at the Primary School I work at. The kids were a wonderful mix of terrified and fascinated.

1. It's ok to be hurt and upset
It really, really is. If you're dealing with disappointment take some time to be hurt and upset about it. Have a cry, a shout, whatever you need. But here's the biggy...

2. Don't wallow and don't get bitter
Wise words passed on to me by my friend Ben (aka Ben from Teach Ben How to Cook) and words I really needed to hear. We all have difficult moments in life, some more than others, and whilst it's very important to have a bit of time for grieving, I'd say this was one of the most helpful pieces of advice I was given. I know this is sometimes easier said than done, but even just trying to keep that thought at the forefront of your mind can help.

3. Protect yourself
Ok, now this is maybe a little more controversial and to some people might sound like pure pessimism but let me explain. Throughout this process, I've had people tell me that they think I'll get one - we've had it announced by people at important meetings that we're going to Hull for certain in September. I've had people left right and centre telling me how certain they are that I'll get a place, that I'm definitely going. I think most of those people felt they were being helpful and I don't blame them, I'm not angry with them but the whole way through there's something that I've done - I've lived in "two minds"

What do I mean by that? I mean that whilst I've tried my hardest to maintain the thought that I am definitely going and making arrangements for that (saving money to move house, looking at houses, buying resources, research etc), I have also maintained the idea that we wouldn't be going. I've let myself imagine both and accept both as plausible scenarios. It doesn't mean I've trudged my way through the whole thing being convinced I wouldn't get on, more that I've tried my hardest to keep my feet on the ground.

4. Look for the positives
And try to appreciate them as much as possible. I haven't got on my GTP and we won't be moving to Hull, but there's still so many awesome things that I can be thankful for. I still get to live by the river, I can cycle to the countryside in less than 15 minutes, I get to keep working with kids I utterly love to bits (and with a staff team who are really, really lovely), we've been able to free up some of the money we've saved for a couple of nice treats, I still get to stay in the city where some of my best friends live. Whilst there are a great many negatives (and I'm sure if I made a list, there's a possibility they would outweigh the positives), I'm trying to focus on those positive points as reminders that this moment of disappointment is not the end of the world.

5. Distract yourself
This has been one of the hardest things for me to do actually - being stuck at home on your own ill when you find out the piece of news you'd been dreading isn't the best way to do it. Talk to some of your dearest friends - but make sure that you don't just end up going round in circles. Yes, talk about it, but I want to refer you back to point 2 - don't wallow and don't get bitter. Tearing apart every little minutie of what you did or didn't do will not help at this point. Talk about it and then move on.

Yesterday I had conversations about being best friends with Pat Sharp (he tweeted me 3 times in a day - I'd say we're besties), philosophy, economics, food, skincare, clothing, Kindles.... a whole range of things (much like I would on any other normal days). I think it meant I was able to subconsciously absorb the information in a much calmer (and more entertaining/occasionally hilarious) way than had I kept repeating the same conversation. I often find this actually - I really don't like having to repeat the same (sad) stories to people because I don't think it's a healthy thing to do. If you ever want to know how something's gone, you have to chat to me no more than 24 hours after it because by that point, I'll have lost the will to talk about it ;)

6. Throw yourself into something else
But not something major. I'm not talking immediately applying for your next PHD straight away or anything like that. I mean a small, achievable, enjoyable project. Chances are you've maybe dedicated a lot of your time to whatever it is that's disappointed you (a relationship, a piece of work, an application process etc). It's possible that's been your main focus for weeks, months, maybe even years. Hence, you've maybe not had as much time for the things you love and enjoy as you'd like to have. Blog more, read more, make that dress you've been wanting to make, paint something, draw something. Personally, I've been throwing myself into reading interesting, thought provoking things and also designing Teach Ben How to Cook with Ben (which we hope is going to become an interesting, exciting community grown resource/project). Now is not the time for making any big decisions (although they'll need to be made at some point, I feel it's best to give the dust a little time to settle first) - it's the time to find something simple yet engaging and let yourself get immersed in the enjoyment of it.

7. Treat yourself
Sometimes I wonder if this is a motto of mine for life. I in no way believe that our possessions make us happy, nor that money makes us happy for that matter. A treat can be something as simple as booking an afternoon off work to sit in the park and have a picnic, to go for a long run and leave someone else to do the washing up, to read the rest of that book that you've never quite got round to finishing because you've been so immersed in the process and the stress of it all. When we discovered we weren't going to be moving, we were actually quite excited as it meant we're now able to go to a festival that weekend. We'd actually been a little sad that we weren't able to go to it, so it's been a lovely little treat to use some of the money we'd saved to move house on doing that.

8. Don't get too self involved
You aren't being punished. You're not a failure. Sometimes, things just don't work out. That's rubbish and I am desperately sorry if that's the case, but don't let this destroy your love for other people and your ability to be a friend to them, to support them, to love them. Can you use your anger and frustration in a positive way to help someone else? Do it! Don't let this stop you from helping out and caring about other people.

Phew! Sorry, quite a long post but I hope it helps someone somehow :) As always with this series, I am more than happy to help out in anyway I can, so feel free to drop me an email if you want to chat a little more.
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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

New Series: Teach Ben How to Cook.


If you've learnt anything over the past few months of reading my blog, I'd hope it'd be that I absolutely adore food. Cooking is one of my passions, especially creating interesting (but accessible) wheat-free vegetarian tasty treats. Hence when I hear a friend can't cook, I weep a little inside.

Cooking for me isn't just a life skill - it's an art form, a social catalyst, a dearly loved friend. So many of my favourite memories come from cooking for others or (at the very least) sharing food with others. But sadly, there's lots of people out there who are terrified by the concept of cooking or, at the very least, who think they can't cook. Tosh and piffle is what I say! I firmly believe that everyone can cook.... even my friend Ben.

Ben is a twitter friend of mine and an all round awesome person but, sob sob, he can't cook. Actually, that's a lie - he can cook two things. Halloumi sandwiches and Marscapone and Oreo Cheesecake. I've promised Ben that I'll not just teach him how to cook but also teach him how to love cooking but I don't want to do it on my own - I want you guys to help out too. (Also, if you're really good, Ben has promised to contribute a recipe of his own... exciting times, no?)

I would love for you to send me your favourite recipe - preferably vegetarian or at the very least easily adaptable to be featured as part of this series. We're not talking your most spectacular fancy schmansy meal here, we're talking the utterly delicious win them everytime meal.

So how can you get involved? Just drop me an email to with your recipe - try to make them as simple to follow as possible and include pictures too if you can. I'll be running the series over the next few weeks/months and featuring your recipes alongside my own! This doesn't need to be a culinary masterpiece - no recipe is too simple or too plain!

Ben will also be giving us regular updates on his cooking escapades and sharing the highs and lows of learning how to fall in love with cooking :)

I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can pull together - a community driven cookery course for everyone to enjoy! Sounds awesome dontcha think?!
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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A note from my sickbed

Hello lovelies

Apologies for reusing an old picture but I'd say that this pretty much sums up how I feel today.

I've just got back from the Drs and have been told to take at least another work off week due to a viral infection.... which is most likely glandular fever. I am gutted. I utterly adore my job and I hate the thought of not being there. I have to go for a blood test to have it confirmed as glandular fever, which makes it even worse. I can't stand blood tests - they really stress me out.

It also means no training at all... which makes my looming 10K seem even more intimidating and the prospect of a half marathon in September pretty much terrifying.

So my questions for you today are:
What do you do when you're off ill?
What are you reading/watching at the moment?
Are you scared of needles?
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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Healthy Living Gathering 2011 - What do you think?

A few of us have started to investigate the potential to hold a UK healthy living bloggers event (similar to the Healthy Living Submmit that takes place in the U.S) It’s very early days yet, but we wanted to post about it so that we could see how many of you would be interested in taking part!

There are 4 of us trying to organise things at the moment: Emily from Sparkle and Shade, Laura from Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish, Emma from Coming Up Easy and Laura from Box, Run, Eat.

At the moment we are looking at a possible date of the 8th and 9th October 2011.

If you would be interested in attending an event like this please send an email to with the following information:

  • Venue preference: Leeds / Manchester / Nottingham
  • How much you would be willing to pay for a ticket
We know it will be difficult to find a venue that suits everyone, but we have tried to keep the options as central and affordable as possible. If you'd like to come but can't make that weekend, please still get in touch - the date isn't set in stone, the main thing we need to find out is how many of you would be interested in coming along!

We really hope that some of you would like to join us at an event, it would be lovely to meet you all! This isn’t just restricted to bloggers either, anyone that’s interested could come along.

If you’re on Twitter, make sure you’re following @HLG11 for all the latest info and updates over the next few months.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Emily, Laura, Emma and Laura x
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Friday, 17 June 2011

Munchy Seeds Review

Hello lovelies,

You may or may not know that I am a snacking fiend! Especially if that snack happens to be salty... I've been known to chow down on 3 bags of crisps in a row. Not a statistic I'm proud of but hey, we all have those crazy days!

Since starting to exercise and look after myself a little more, I've become obsessed with trying to find interesting, healthy and fun ways to snack so I was more than happy to give these Munchy Seeds a try!

How cute is the packaging? They genuinely make me smile every time I look at them! I was sent 5 varieties - Omega Sprinkle, Chilli Mix, Vanilla Mix, Pumpkin Mix and the very exciting new Belgian Chocolate Mix with Apricot! Obviously these little babies are packed with bad boys, and this size is just perfect as a post-workout snack (or in our household, a Dr Who watching snack). I've also been sprinkling some of the savoury ones of salads and the sweet ones on bowls of yoghurt! All the seeds are roasted to bring out a lovely flavour and them mixed up with a range of interesting natural flavours and seasonings.

Omega Sprinkle:
Ingredients: Sunflower Seeds (48%), Pumpkin Seeds (20%), Hemp Seeds (6%), Rape Seeds (6%), Sesame Seeds (6%), Linseed (3%), Flax (3%)
Savoury Sauce: Soyabeans, Sea Salt & Koji (Aspergillus Oryzae)

As the name suggests, this one is packaged with Omega oils - Hemp, Linseed, Flax.... these babies pack a body loving punch :) I love the soya saucy flavouring. Salty and delicious!

Belgian Chocolate Mix with Apricot:
Ingredients: Seeds (Sunflower Seeds 21%, Pumpkin Seeds 5%), Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Dried Apricot (7%), Glazing Agents (Gum Arabic, Shellac), Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin, rice Flour, Natural Vanilla Flavouring)

I'd be lying if I said these weren't the first packet to be opened and devoured. Far tastier than chocolate covered raisins or peanuts! These went down very well in our household and I can see many more packets being purchased in the future. The only sad thing (if you're a vegan that is) is that they're not vegan :( Would be lovely to see a Dark Chocolate variety in the future....

Pumpkin Mix:
Sunflower Seeds (63%), Pumpkin Seeds (21%), Sesame Seeds (10%)
Savoury Sauce: Soya Beans, Sea Salt, & Koji* (Aspergillus Oryzae)

Fairly simple but tasty all the same. I've found these a little duller than some of the other varieties to eat on their own and have generally used them as a salad sprinkle.

Vanilla Pumpkin Mix:
Pumpkin Seeds (72%), Sugar (24%), Nature Vanilla flavouring (4%)

Ok so 24% sugar doesn't make these the healthiest of snacks but oh my goodness are they tasty! Personally, I could take them being a little less sweet but an excellent, slightly healthier alternative to sweets themselves. Really delicious!

Chilli Mix:
Sunflower Seeds (58%), Sweet Apricot Kernels (19%), Pumpkin Seeds (15%), Savoury Sauce: Soya Beans, Sea Salt, & Koji* (Aspergillus Oryzae), Crushed Chillies (1.3%)

These were probably my favourite of all the ones I tried. The addition of Sewet Apricot Kernals added some interest to the texture and I just loved the chilli kick. They were pretty spicy though so if you're not a fan of heat in your foods I'd give them a miss! For me they were a much healthier alternative to Thai Sweet Chilli crisps :)

You can get Munchy Seeds in all sorts of sizes and some other interesting flavours and varieties too! I've seen them in quite a few supermarkets but you can easily buy the whole range from the Munchy Seeds website.

Have you tried Munchy Seeds before? What did you think?

What's your favourite snack at the moment?

*Disclaimer* I was sent these for review purposes but this has no effect on my opinion. I always give my honest opinion.

Ps Sorry about the really bad pictures... my camera was having an off day and wanted to make everything a little dark and blue.
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Recipe: Wheat Free Cookie Pie

Hello lovelies!

Don't you love it when you come across a recipe that you just have to make?! That's how I felt when I saw Katie's Deep-Dish Cookie Pie on Wednesday. Chickpeas in a cookie pie? Katie is a genius! Then I felt super sad when I discovered I had no chocolate chips, no instant oats, no applesauce and the teeniest amount of sugar! What's a girl to do? Make some tweaks of course!

I used:
1 can chickpeas
1/2 cup porridge oats
1 small banana
1.5 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1/4 tsp bicarbinate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 bar of Lindt Sea Salt Dark Chocolate

Blend together all ingredients expect chocolate for around 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, chop your chocolate into rough chunks. Mix with other ingredients using a spatula and transfer to cake pan. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving! Yum yum!

If I made this again, I'd probably reduce the amount of sugar - it's super super sweet but yummy all the same!

Thanks Katie for the original recipe - you're such an inspiration :D

What's your favourite recipe with an unusual or surprising ingredient?

(PS Sorry for the lack of pictures... it may or not have been devoured by me and Peter in under 12 hours)
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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Recipe: Bana-nut Mousse filled Chocolate Cups

Hello lovelies!

A ridiculous name for possibly one of the most delectable treats I've ever concocted in my kitchen. You need to make these. I promise you won't regret it.

Beautiful, no?

First things first, blend a frozen (peeled!) banana with a heaped dessert spoon of peanut butter. I blended mine for around 4-5 minutes until it was thick, whipped and moussey.

Whilst your filling is blending, melt a square or two of your favourite dark chocolate (I went with 1 square of Lindt Seal Salt). Pour into a silicon cupcake mould and swirl around until the edges are coated with chocolatey goodness.

Fill your cupcake mould with your mousse (but don't fill above the line of chocolate!) Pop in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

When the chocolate has set and the mousse feels a little firm (but not completely frozen) peel back your silicon mould and eat immediately!

Yum yum!
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My Top 10 Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Hello Lovelies!

I was recently contacted by the lovely Ali from Total Greek Yoghurt asking if I'd share my Top 10 Tips for living a healthy lifestyle to link in with their Fit 4 Summer campaign. Of course, I was more than happy to agree - if I can help inspire someone to live a healthier, happier life I'm a happy bunny indeed!

1. Eat more fruit and veg!

It's simple, it's obvious but we all need to hear it from time to time. Eating more fruit and veg will help you to feel healthier - I promise. We get a big organic veg box delivered once a week and then top up with other seasonal fruit and veg! While you're at it, why not try...

2. Cut down on wheat and introduce some new, exciting carbs and grains into your life
We're a nation guilty of chowing down on too much wheat, which has a tendancy to lend itself to sluggishness and bloating. Cutting out wheat changed my life dramatically but I'm not suggesting you cut it out all together. Just try some of the interesting alternatives out there - something like my Curried Quinoa Salad is a flavoursome introduction into the world of alternative grains!

3. Find the exercise that works for you!

If your face looks like this when you think about going to that exercise class or putting on your trainers for a run, why not take a couple of minutes to think about whether you've made the right choice of exercise. We're all completely different, and that's awesome so surely it follows that we'll all enjoy different ways of exercising! Do you hate being alone? Why not try a team sport? Don't like to focus on one thing? Try training for a Triathlon! Don't like high impact exercise? Try pilates or yoga! Mix and match and find what works for you - not what works for the lady over the road or the man in the gym! (In case you're wondering - this was taken midway through a 32 mile bike ride.... I was happy but hungry!)

4. Stop Comparing Yourself!

This is something I'm really big on right now - the comparison trap isn't healthy or helpful. I've written a longer post about this here if you want some extra tips on how to stop being a chronic comparer!

5. Eat Breakfast!

Just man up and do it. It's SO important to eat a good, healthy breakfast - and don't let yourself get stuck in the rut of toast or cereal. The recipes tab at the top of this page has lots of interesting yummy breakfast ideas, as do lots of other blogs out there. Put in 15 minutes of research and plan yourself a week of new breakfasts - I promise you that you won't be disappointed!

6. Learn to love yourself

And more important, learn to laugh at yourself! You are awesome, unique and truly wonderful. When you learn how to accept that, it'll be a heck of a lot easier to live a happy, healthy life. That doesn't mean becoming arrogant or self involved. Instead, learn how to accept yourself the way you are, accept that and enjoy being you. We all have down days and that's ok, but it's so important to try to learn some self respect! If you really struggle with that, ask someone (a good friend, a counsellor... whoever you feel comfortable talk about it with) for help. There's no shame in asking for help :)

7. Treat Yourself
Healthy living isn't about restricting and punishing yourself - a healthy lifestyle is one that's joyful and rewarding to live! When I plucked up the courage to enter a half marathon, I treated myself to a new pair of running shoes. When I'm getting grumpy about being wheat free, I go mess around in my kitchen and treat myself with some delicious new cake/cookie/brownie. When I've done a tough run, I reward myself with a chocolate pear recovery shake, a shower and a sit down with some of my favourite blogs. Treats don't have to be expensive or big - they can be any little thing that makes you happy!

8. Rest and relax

This is so, so, so important. Our bodies aren't made to work non-stop. Find yourself getting ill or injured a lot? Rest. In my previous job, I frequently worked 80 hour weeks. I ended up in hospital with stress age 22. I ended up on medication and in counselling for anxiety issues. And you know how I could have prevented that? By resting. I see so many bloggers who do three, sometimes 4 intense workouts a day with no rest days - it's not healthy and in the long run is going to do you more harm than good. Schedule in at least one rest day a week (and not just from exercise - from work too) and stick to it. I promise you that the rest of your week will be easier and more effective if you just learn to relax and chill out once a week :)

9. Dream big dreams and take a risk
When I first decided I wanted to run, it was a huge risk - would I make myself ill again? Would I be able to do it? Would everyone laugh at me? But if we never took risks, life would be pretty boring. Challenge yourself to do something you never thought you'd do - you might enjoy it more than you think! Maybe try reading my Embracing a Healthier Lifestyle posts for a bit more advice on dreaming big and taking risks if you need a bit more inspiration :)

10. Read, Read, Read!
Since decided to embrace a healthier lifestyle, I've devoured blogs and books like you wouldn't believe! Here are some of my favourites:

Books - How to Run by Paula Radcliffe, any of Anita Bean's books on Nutrition, Runners World Complete Book of Women's Running

Magazines - Womens Running, Runners World and Zest

Blogs -, sweettoothrunner.com,, and about a zillion more!

I definitely recommend you check out Total's Fit 4 Summer campaign as well - there's lots of extra tips and exercises there too :)

What are your top 10 tips for healthy living? Feel free to do your own post and pop it in the comments!

Also - competition time!
If you fancy the chance to win a month's supply of Total Yoghurts, why not head over here? Easy peasy lemon squeezy :)
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