Me Vs. Soda Bread

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Soda Bread

Just how I love pretty much all kinds of cake, I also love all kinds of bread. Sourdough, roti, granary, flat bread, bloomer, wraps, focaccia – you name it, I eat it. All except that horrid plasticy stuff you get ready sliced at the supermarket that smells more like chemicals than bread. Yuck!

As patience is definitely not one of my virtues, I’ve sadly never baked my own bread before. I’ve always loved the idea, but I just can’t bear the thought of waiting around all that time for my dough to proof (prove?).

So when The Man’s parents presented a deliciously fresh loaf of Soda Bread the other Sunday and told me that it took only 40 minutes to make with no kneading, yeast or proofing – I was sold!

  • 170g self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 170g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 290ml/½ pint buttermilk (I used a 284ml Pot and topped up with regular milk)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C – Gas 6.
  2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Add more or less milk depending on the consistency – you don’t want it too wet and sticky.)
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  5. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

As you can see, my first attempt was far from perfect. For starters I was much too timid when I cut the cross in the top, which not only ruined the look aesthetically but also compromised the bake ever so slightly. Still it was so simple and satisfying that I’ll definitely be trying it again soon.






Me Vs. Biscotti

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Pistachio, Orange & Choc Chip Biscotti

It seems to me that lately there has been way too much talk about fitness and not nearly enough talk about cake.

Although I’ve baked a few things here and there over the last few weeks, I haven’t really made anything that seemed quite special enough to share. Until today that is.

This biscotti is ahhhhmazing. There really is no other way to put it!

I urge you to give it a try…

Pistachio, Orange & Choc Chip Biscotti

200g Caster Sugar (preferably golden caster sugar)

2 eggs

zest of 1 small orange

200g plain four, sifted, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g pistachios (shelled)

50g macadamia nuts (halved)

100g Chocolate Chips (milk, plain or dark depending on your preference)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C – Fan 160°C – Gas 4 and line a baking tray.
  2. Beat together the eggs, sugar and orange zest in a bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the baking powder and flour. Combine the dry and wet ingredients together along with the nuts and chocolate chips. Mix to a sticky dough.
  3. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead. Using floured hands divide the mixture into 2 portions and roll each into a 30cm log then place on the lined baking tray. (Be warned, it really is very sticky, but persevere because it will all be worth it!) Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, turn the oven temperature down to 160°C – Fan 140°C – Gas 3.
  5. Cut the logs into 1cm slices diagonally and place back on the baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes until golden on top. Turn over and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


Cardio Vs. Strength

Strength Vs. Cardio

Let me start by saying that I love both. It is my opinion that they both have their part to play in overall health, fitness and weight management.

The problem I’m having is finding the right balance between the two.

Now that the weather has (at least temporarily for the UK!) brightened up, I’m more and more inclined to go for a run outside in the fresh air rather than head to a sweaty, dark gym.

For me, running is the easiest way to fit a work out in. All I need is my iPhone with music and the MapMyRun app and I can head out the door. (Alright, that’s a lie. I also need my favourite running tights, a good sports bra, a bottle of water, headphones, an arm-band to hold said iPhone, a pair of 1000 mile socks to stop the blisters, trainers and my door key – but you know what I mean!) There’s little planning required and it fits into my daily routine easily – if I don’t have long then I can go for a fast paced short distance run, if I have plenty of time then I can do 10 miles at a leisurely pace. I don’t need to book a week in advance to make sure I have a place secured (like some of my favourite group exercise classes) and I don’t have to fight for space to swing kettle bells like I sometimes do during peak time in the gym.

18 months ago I never would have thought I would say this, but here goes… I love running.

All sounds rosy,  so you’d think that I’d be happy. But no. This morning, when I revisited an old strength circuit that I used to do during the winter, I discovered that I could no longer manage the 25 full press ups that I used to be able to. In fact, I couldn’t even manage 12.  Sob!

There is nothing more frustrating than going backwards.

I love the feeling of being strong and the muscle definition that comes with that strength. Sadly, it turns out that I need to work hard at it week after week, just to maintain it, otherwise that feeling soon fades away and instead I am an angry mess lying on the mats relegated back to doing girly press ups. Well I’m not having that. Not after all that hard work to get there in the first place.

So it’s time to reset the balance. From now on, every Tuesday and Friday I am going to resist the urge to run and instead hit the gym for some strength training. Paying particular attention to my stubborn, needy, selfish, upper body.

Let’s hope that muscle memory isn’t a myth!!

How do you find the balance between Cardio and Strength?

Me Vs. The Clean Plate Club

If you had have asked me two weeks ago about my ‘intuition’ when it comes to eating, I’d have told you that my intuition was hungry. Hungry or maybe just…broken.

Just like a magician, I could make any food placed in the vicinity disappear in the blink of an eye. A chocolate bar straight after a filling lunch – gone. A packet of biscuits left next to me by a work colleague- going, going, going…gone. The second half of a baguette even though I was full up – gone. What can I say, I was brought up to be part of the clean plate club.

Even now as a fully grown adult I am too scared to leave food on my plate when I visit my parents for dinner. My hyper sensitive mother takes it as a huge insult if you do not finish every single morsel of food on the plate she serves you. Not hungry for dessert? Tough luck, turn it down at your peril! To make matters worse, my mother cuts a cake depending on how many people are in attendance. Ergo, if there are only 4 of you dining you can expect a QUARTER of a cake. No, really.

Of course now you are envisaging my parents to be huge, morbidly obese, unhealthy people who sit around eating all day long (you are, admit it!) Quite the contrary. Both of my parents are very slim and energetic. While they may eat big dinners and huge portions of dessert for special occasions, they generally don’t eat very much the rest of the time.

Back to me…

Despite moving out several years ago, I still have it in my head that I must eat everything that is in front of me. Sometimes, I can almost hear a ‘grown up’ encouraging me to finish. Say I had a delicious dinner of chicken, potatoes and vegetables on my plate at dinner time. I’ve eaten approximately two thirds and am beginning to feel a bit full. A voice chirps up and says, well you can’t waste good meat, so eat that chicken. Then another says, yes and make sure you eat those potatoes too – you need those for energy. Finally, another says, yes yes that’s all true, but you can’t leave the table until you’ve finished your greens…. Good girl, you’ve finished all your dinner. Now you can have dessert.

When you think about it, that doesn’t make any sense at all!! No wonder my intuition is messed up, I’ve taught myself that if I overeat, I get rewarded with yet more food! And not just any food, delicious, sweet, buttery food.

Two weeks ago I decided it was time to teach my intuition some new tricks.

For those of you who haven’t yet come across the concept of Intuitive Eating, here are the 10 principles in brief:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

2. Honor Your Hunger

3. Make Peace with Food

4. Challenge the Food Police

5. Respect Your Fullness

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food

8. Respect Your Body

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference

10 Honor Your Health

Most of the guidelines were fairly easy to follow. I enjoyed deleting the calorie counting app. I embraced eating any thing I fancied without the guilt. I already enjoy exercising for the way it makes me feel, but by not linking it directly to how much I should eat in a given day, rest days felt more…restful!

The problem, of course, was Number 5 – Respect your fullness.

I have to admit that during the first few days I really struggled to quit the clean plate club. This overeating habit is ingrained deep. I even noticed that sometimes when I eat, I enter a sort of trance like state whereby I don’t even notice that I am eating until all the food is gone.

In this case though, practice makes perfect. The more I have consciously made an effort to focus completely on eating, the easier it has become to stop eating once I am full. Whether that means leaving just one mouthful or half a plate full. Respecting my fullness is the key to making this work for me.

So what’s the outcome? Well, I’ve lost 3 of the 5lbs (don’t judge me!!) I gained over Easter. (I said don’t judge me!!!!) Which wouldn’t seem that amazing except for the fact that I have had a lot of social eating occasions to attend. We’re talking wine, pizza, a burger, chips, cake and pancakes, to name a few. I have eaten all of those things, without guilt, without counting a single calorie and without worrying myself sick about ‘burning it off’ in the gym or ‘making up for it’ by cutting back at other meals.

That’s not to say that I haven’t exercised at all. The opposite in fact, the weather has been so lovely that I’ve been running like it’s going out of fashion. But its been for pleasure and fitness, not to ‘buy myself’ extra calories. If I’ve eaten more because I’ve been hungrier following my 9 mile run, then so be it.

That’s also not to say that I haven’t also enjoyed plenty of traditionally ‘healthy’ foods, like salads for lunch, fruit for snacks, and oats for breakfast. I enjoy eating those things and they make me feel good, so they are here to stay.

The difference is that I have stopped convincing myself that I need to eat every single bite of my salad for fear I might offend someone, or worse, get hungry before my next scheduled meal time.  So what if I do happen to get hungry before dinner? I can eat. In fact, I can eat whenever I like. So long as I am physically HUNGRY. (Not bored, lonely, tired, sad, happy, angry, frustrated or any other emotion at all!) And so long as I remember to focus so that I am able to stop eating when I am satisfied.


WIAW #8 Sunshine & Salads

For anyone who lives in or has visited England, you know that we Brits have to make the very most out of any sunshine we get. Well this is one of those weeks! It’s all about sunglasses, salads, early morning runs, icecreams, pub gardens, rosé wine and Rekorderlig Strawberry & Lime Cider! Just don’t forget your jacket, because actually it’s still pretty chilly as soon as you are in the shade…

Unfortunately, I was so busy enjoying that I didn’t take too many exciting pictures. Here you’ll find just a few pictures of What I Ate yesterday.

Breakfast was business as usual -oats and yoghurt! With a combination of raspberries and blueberries and a teaspoon of almond butter swirled in. I am convinced this is the best breakfast in the world.

Oats, natural yoghurt, raspberries & blueberries all mixed together with a teaspoon of almond butter. Breakfast heaven!

Oats, natural yoghurt, raspberries & blueberries all mixed together with a teaspoon of almond butter. Breakfast heaven!

For lunch I grabbed a salad from M&S. It was full of good stuff – feta, avocado, soya beans, quinoa and lots of green things too, topped of with the crème fraîche & mint dressing. (Must work on adding dressing more artfully!)

Avocado & Feta Salad with Creme Fraiche & Mint Dressing.

Avocado & Feta Salad with Creme Fraiche & Mint Dressing.

For dinner I made one of my summer favourites. The combination of the marinated lamb with halloumi cheese and watermelon is amazing. You have to try it! I did these under the grill, but they taste even better on the BBQ.

Lamb, Halloumi and Watermelon Kebabs

Lamb, Halloumi and Watermelon Kebabs

Not photographed, but also consumed throughout the day and evening was a portion of melon, a banana, a small glass of Rosé and a Strawberry Cornetto.

What a fabulous food day!

Join in the WIAW fun and post your summery eats!

What’s in your fridge?

I’m super nosy by nature so when Alex at Try A Little Harder, Honey  posted an insight into what’s in  her fridge a couple of days ago, I was all over it.

Since we actually made it to the supermarket this week I thought I’d join in!

Before we get to the pictures, I’d better start with a disclaimer…

While I don’t 100% understand the rules of ‘clean’ eating, I’m pretty sure that I know enough to say that my fridge is dirty. The alcohol alone makes sure of that.

Let it be known that I am comfortable with this. 
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So, what have we got?

Top Shelf:  Bottle of white wine (left by a friend), Bottle of Champagne (a present from Christmas) & Bottle of Lemonade (god only knows how long that has been there!)

Second Shelf:  Low fat natural yoghurt, left-over halloumi cheese (in a ziplock bag), Strawberry and Vanilla Custard Mullerices and 3 cans of Stella (left by a friend.)

Third Shelf:  Strawberry and Raspberry Jam, Parmesan Cheese (in the Tupperware), Ready Cooked Chicken Tikka pieces, 2 left over rashes of bacon.

Fourth Shelf:  Jar of some sort of Heinz sauce (??), Low Fat Cream Cheese, Hoummous.

Bottom Shelf:  Flora Buttery, Left-over home made curry, Chicken Breasts.

Drawers:  Rocket, Spinach, Salad leaves, Broccoli, Peppers, New Potatoes, lemons, chillies.

In the door:  Wholegrain mustard, curry paste x 2, pesto, salad cream, mayonnaise, ketchup, semi-skimmed milk, mango chutney, branston pickle, mint sauce, sundried tomatoes and harissa paste.

Now, by way of apology for the poor photos of my boring fridge, here is a picture of the delicious dinner I had last night…

Baked Salmon with Spinach and Ricotta Pasta and Basil.

Baked Salmon with Spinach and Ricotta Pasta and Basil.

Indulge my nosiness and post some pictures of what’s in your fridge! 


Whoops! It’s Thursday! I don’t know where the week has gone… I’ll get straight to the point with yesterdays eats.

Breakfast was yet another variation of oats. This time mixed with yoghurt, grated apple and cinnamon. I still feel like I’m eating apple crumble every time I mix those ingredients.

Oats with yoghurt, apple and cinnamon

Oats with yoghurt, apple and cinnamon

Lunch was made in hurry, you can probably tell by the way this salad is haphazardly thrown together! Lambs lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, mozzarella all drizzled with pesto and served with a chunk of multi-grain baguette. This definitely hit the spot!

Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pesto

Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pesto

The Man and I haven’t quite made it to the supermarket this week, but I managed to pull together all the ingredients to make a Chicken & Lentil Balti. The benefits of keeping your store cupboard and freezer full! It might not look very appetising, but I assure you it is goooood. Even better, I have some leftover for lunch today. Not sure the rest of my office will be so pleased about that. Sorry guys!

Chicken and Lentil Balti with wholegrain basmati rice, a wholemeal pitta and mango chutney.

Chicken and Lentil Balti with wholegrain basmati rice, a wholemeal pitta and mango chutney.

With the fruit bowl empty and me pretty full from 3 big meals, there was no snacking yesterday!

Me Vs. The R Word

Yesterday was my first running event of the season. Notice how I don’t use the R word. The reason for that is that I am actually not the least bit competitive.

I’ve always enjoyed participating in various sports and activities but have always crumbled under the slightest bit of pressure to compete. I’ll give you some examples from my childhood…


Loved it! I couldn’t get enough of the training. I practiced my routines til I could do them in my sleep.

The day of the competition arrived and gone was the energetic, confident Me, and in her place was a tearful, shaking mess who could barely climb up onto the trampoline let alone complete my routine. I sobbed the whole way home.

The next day at training I completed my routine perfectly – much to the great annoyance of my coach.

The Flute

(Geek Alert!!)

Playing the flute came naturally to me and I really enjoyed practicing and playing with the school orchestra.

One teacher insisted that if I wanted to continue playing, I had to do the grades. Cue more shaking and tears. I don’t think I managed to get more than 5 notes out of the flute come assessment day and even those were wrong ones. I sobbed the whole way home again.

The next day in my lesson, I breezed through the scales – much to the great annoyance of my teacher.


I could go on with examples, but I think you see the pattern emerging here. Too much pressure to perform on the day = failure & tears.

Maybe it comes down to the fact that I know that I will never be the best and that actually, I’m not that bothered about it.

I tend to be middle of the road in most things I do. I  start off pretty well, picking up the basic skills with ease, but then it comes to a certain point and I just stop progressing. I was a member of many teams and clubs – swimming, netball, drama,  athletics and of course trampolining. But I was never the star player.

I am Jack of all trades and Master of none.

Luckily for me, I am also a firm believer that it’s the taking part that counts.

So back to my point, yesterday’s running event.

Several weeks back, Gym Buddy asked me if I wanted to join her and another guy she knows on an organised 10k run in our local town. I of course agreed.

Gym buddy and I began training together. The guy, who is a member of a running club, did not train with us. For some reason, Gym Buddy was under the impression that the The Guy was about the same pace as us. One week before the event, Gym Buddy and The Guy went for a run together and very quickly found out that that wasn’t the case. We shall now rename The Guy  as Slow Man. (Sorry, Slow Man!)

Nevertheless, we promised to stay together. Since I wasn’t expecting a world record, winners medal or even a PB  – I wasn’t bothered  in the slightest about taking it slowly. Instead, Gym Buddy and I were planning to use it as a workout, a bit of fun and a good start to the season.

With that in mind, we hit the gym for a 40 minute upper body circuit before we met Slow Man to head towards the start line. The weather was perfect, seriously perfect. Bright sunshine, around 18 degrees, with a delightful breeze. The route took us through the country side down lanes, tow paths and bridleways. We saw fields, ponies and even a Llama would you believe it. Gym buddy and I chatted and laughed the whole way (whilst Slow Man puffed a few paces behind us). It was probably the most enjoyable run I have even been on. We made up for the slow pace by adding in some  sprints, then jogging back to join Slow Man.

We reached the finish line after 1 hour 11mins (about 20 minutes slower than our usual pace) but it didn’t matter a bit. We had a fantastic time and felt like winners. So much so that Gym Buddy and I have already signed up for our next event, a 10mile run at the beginning of June.

Slow man on the other hand probably never wants to do another event with such hyperactive and noisy companions. Perhaps we did overdo the Lucozade a little…


Me Vs. New Kit

Leave me unattended with the laptop for an evening and I will most likely end up indulging in some ‘virtual’ online shopping. I say ‘virtual’ because I don’t actually buy anything. I just put lots of things in my basket, dream for a little while about a) How amazing it would be to actually own those things and b) How I could find a way to afford those things….then eventually resign to the fact that short of winning the lottery it isn’t going to happen and close the laptop in a huff.

Lately though, my virtual shopping has extended from Topshop & ASOS to JD Sports, the Nike Store and Sweaty Betty.

In my dream world, I’d have an entire wardrobe dedicated purely to workout clothing and trainers. Lorna at Lunges and Lycra has got the right idea with her huge collection of trainers – soooo jealous!!

Wearing the right clothing does not only make working out more comfortable but it also makes me feel the part, which in turn, makes me act the part too.

Crazy though it might sound, the right clothes make me feel stronger and faster. When I made the switch from a baggy old pair of jogging bottoms to a new pair of Nike running tights it was like something clicked inside me. Suddenly I felt like I belonged at the gym.

In fact, investing (doesn’t that word make spending feel less guilty?!) in new workout clothes boosts my motivation in two different ways.

  1. It motivates me to get out of the door. Some days, this can be the biggest hurdle to overcome!
  2. It motivates me to work hard. Unfortunately, getting out of the door is only half of the battle. Tempting though it may be to plod along on the X-Trainer for 20 minutes, I think we all know by now that it doesn’t give you the best results. You’ve got to work up a sweat!

Think of it this way. You can’t rock up at the gym in sexy new Nike Flyknits and then just hang around the water cooler for an hour, now can you?! Or worse still, leave the lovely little things lurking at the back of the cupboard unused, Quel Horreur!!  These sorts of trainers need to be out pounding the pavements…or at least pounding the treadmill if you don’t want to get them dirty (they are so pretty after all).

I mean who wouldn’t want to go for a run EVERYDAY if they owned a pair of these…

Shame  that my budget dictates that I have to make do with my trusty but boring, plain, black Asics. Hmph. Guess I’ll have to dig deep to find some motivation within for now.

P.S. Unfortunately for me Nike hasn’t endorsed this post. I really am just a big Nike fan who wants, but can’t afford, to buy their entire ladies range. Shame.

What workout gear gets you motivated? What new kit are you lusting after at the moment?


It’s my 6th week of participating in WIAW and I’m coming to realise so many great benefits of this weekly post!

  1. It gives me the motivation to continue eating healthily. No one wants to see pics of McDonald’s now do they?! Not that I really like McDonalds all that much, but you get my point…Healthy (or at least home made) food always looks so much prettier. 
  2. It encourages me to make an effort to vary my diet. It’s so easy to get stuck in a food rut, but now I have an audience (even if its only a very tiny one at the moment!) to think about too. No one is going to be interested in seeing the same 3 meals week after week.
  3. It helps me to keep an eye on portions. Spending one day a week photographing everything I eat helps me to understand how much I am really eating. It’s so easy to get carried away with a nibble here and an extra snack there, but photographing everything helps me to focus on whether I really am hungry, or if I’m just snacking because I’m bored.

And with that, here is what I ate yesterday…

Another shopping trip without a fully formed list resulted in an excess of eggs. For the millionth time. When will I stop picking up a dozen every time I go to the supermarket just in case. Just in case what exactly?!

On the bright side, we had a loaf of rather tasty multiseeded bread in the house leftover from the weekend, so I whipped up some scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast this morning. I must say I enjoyed the change!

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

The weather has warmed up just a smidgen, so I decided to brave a salad. I picked up a pot of Sainsburys Taste the Difference Greek Salad which has a mix of baby salad leaves with piccolo tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and a lemon and dill dressing. I also added the king of salad – avocado.

Greek(ish) Salad

Greek(ish) Salad

In the afternoon I snacked on some fruit. Obviously not the whole bowl…I really only put this picture in to prove that I do in fact have a full fruit bowl like I said in my post last Friday!

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For dinner we had sirloin steak with sweet potato wedges and fine green beans. I also made a sauce/dip using some low fat creme fraiche that was lurking in the fridge.

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

Why don’t you give WIAW a try too! Click the button below for more details…