Autumn grilled salmon

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With the change of weather comes a change in taste buds. My body is preparing for winter hibernation so I’m craving warm and filling foods. No more salads. So I dusted off my George Forman for a spot of indoor grilling. If you don’t have one, I highly suggest adding one to the kitchen collection. You can pretty much whack anything on the Forman. They are inexpensive and everything seems to taste great when cooked on it. When using it for meats, the grease simply drains off reducing the amount of saturated fat and calories. This is a simple dish with lots of beautiful flavours that requires little preparation and cooking time. Just how I like it, FUSS FREE AND FULL OF GOODNESS. There’s a full list of ingredients at the bottom of the post.
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Season the salmon with sea salt, black pepper and I’ve used a cajun creole seasoning here (blend of paprika, onion, lemon peel, chile pepper, thyme, cloves, red pepper, bay leaf)
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Pop the fillet into the Georgey and close the lid. Cooking time will depend on how you like it and the thickness of the fillet. I like it quite pink in the middle, so this fillet only took 10 minutes. Meanwhile clean the brussels, chop the ends off and chop into smaller pieces. Heat a skillet with a large helping of grapeseed oil. You can use olive oil. Throw in the brussels, chopped zucchini and season with garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper and a large handful of WALNUTS. 
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Saute the brussels for approx 10 minutes. Cooking time will depend on how you like them!  I like mine with a little crunch! The skin of the salmon should peel of easily when removed from the grill. The walnuts work so well with the brussels, I really love all these flavours together. Enjoy! 
IMG_4587 Ingredients:
  • Salmon fillet
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Large handful of raw unsalted walnuts
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Beanies!

Are you a fan of heinz baked beans? If you’re from the UK then you probably are, especially layered on toast with a hangover! Mmm! Have you’ve ever checked out the nutrition label though? Um totally devastating. Each tin contains over 20g sugar and only 1/2 can, the recommended serving size, contains 25% of your daily salt intake… waaah! (Please note these figures may differ in the UK!!!)
BUT winters coming in and I’m craving comforting food. Beans are top of the list. They’re hearty, absorb flavours really well so work well with spices AND they are fibrous, so they’ll keep my belly feeling fuller for longer. I made my own easy and clean recipe with ALOT less sugar and salt. They are 100% more tasty than heinz beans and have a bit of heat to them. These beans will be ready in 30mins max and make a great accompaniment to a baked potato, omelette, or whatever you wish. Ross had some this evening in a baked potato with roast chicken and a dollop of sour cream. YUM!
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Ingredients:
  • 15oz Tin red kidney beans
  • 8oz tin tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
If you like super spicy, try adding tabasco sauce!
Combine all the ingredients in a small pan, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat until the sauce is nice and thick – I cooked them for approx 25 mins. Easy to store in the fridge and reheat when needed! They taste even better on day 2! Enjoy!

Healing from the inside out

AppleAfter our trip to True Food Kitchen yesterday where the menu is based on the anti-inflammatory diet, it got me thinking more about the concept and how it could be beneficial to me and my poor strained groin. A muscle strain generally occurs when the muscle itself has been over-stretched or torn, damaging the muscle fibers. This can cause inflammation in the tissue surrounding the muscle. It’s inevitable that inflammation in the body will lead to ill-health and disease in extreme cases. Inflammation can be swelling, redness, heat and pain produced in the body. Your diet can change that. I’m a firm believer that your diet and the food you consume is the best medicine to better health. So why not consume more of those anti-inflammatory foods and speed up this recovery before I go potty from not working out!
Here’s my top tips for an anti-inflammatory diet:
  • Stuff yourself to the brim with vegetables at every meal – 1/2 your plate – YES HALF should be filled with vegetables. Leafy greens, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini.. there are so many! Vegetables will NOT make you fat. Eat them, and lots of them.
  • Fruit – well if you’re not already eating blueberries where have you been?! Here’s some more to try – blackberries, strawberries, peaches, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, cherries, apples, and pears. I eat an apple everyday.
  • Eat lean protein sources such as turkey, chicken (skinless), beef – i like going for leaner cuts like tenderloin, top loin and sirloin tip. Pork – I’ve been cooking more of recently and found it super tasty.
  • Eat plenty of fish, oily fishies rich in omega-3 fats – salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies.. I’m thinking the more it stinks, the better it is!
  • Go Nuts! Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds.. again lots to choose from. I LOVE roasted nuts and put them through most meals for added good fats. Avoid salted nuts, go for raw/roasted.
  • Good old dairy. I don’t know what I’d do without eggs honestly. I eat them everyday. Cottage cheese, plain yogurt and natural cheeses such as feta, ricotta are often found in my meals. I always buy full fat options as what’s the point in eating a non-fat yogurt? All the calcium and goodness that you’re eating it for has been stripped away and replaced with a chemical of some description when being processed. Portion control is key!
  • Spice up your life with herbs and spices! Again, not sure what I’d do without my spice cupboard when I’m cooking. I chuck anything in. My favs are cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, chilli flakes, black pepper and thyme. Basil, chamomile, cilantro, thyme, and rosemary are useful not only for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity but they have clinical benefits in conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Oils are great not only for cooking but as dressings on your salad! I also buy fresh olives and put them through salads and mediterranean style dishes. I use grapeseed oil for cooking most days as it has a high smoke point, very light and is high in polyunsaturated fats and loaded with antioxidants.
  • Eat some whole grains. Go easy on the portion size but add them to your diet. Brown rice, basmati rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat.. they take a wee while to digest so great for leaving you feeling fuller for longer.
  • AVOID PROCESSED FOODS – CEREALS, FRIED FOOD, CANDY, READY-MADE MEALS, BISCUITS, BREADS.. notice I say avoid. The reason being that it’s okay now and again to have these foods just limit them. I love chips and dip and I also love ice-cream. Life would be boring if you didn’t indulge in the things you loved!

Weight loss – what’s safe?

clementine_pumpitup_scaleSo how do you lose weight? More importantly, how do you lose it safely? Regardless of your goal, the only way to lose weight is for there to be a CALORIE DEFICIT. This means that you need to burn off more calories than what you are consuming. So ultimately you need to eat LESS or exercise MORE, or ideally do both! This sounds simple and upon hearing this many people will slash their calorie consumption dangerously low. Many nutrition experts will recommend no less than 1200 calories. However I feel this is still very low for someone engaging in regular physical activity. Cutting calories too low will leave you feeling starving, unhappy and you’ll burn out fast! It will be impossible to sustain this extreme way of eating and eventually you’ll find yourself back to square one and overweight again. So come up with a game plan! A safe and effective weight loss ‘journey’ that will not only get you to your goal weight but will also help you adopt better eating habits and develop a healthier lifestyle.
The USDA/Nutrition.gov recommends 1-2lbs of fat loss per week is a safe amount to aim for. We are always looking for a quick fix in today’s hectic society but the reality is there’s no quick fix to weight loss that is sustainable.
But how do we lose the weight? Well there are various ways to get there – Count calories, weigh and measure food and of course EXERCISE more. 
If you have a weight loss goal in excess of 10lbs, I’d recommend counting calories. At least to begin with. Closely monitor and track exactly what you are consuming. Meanwhile you will be training your brain to recognise healthy choices, bad ones and portion control. Win Win. Counting calories is not something you want to be doing for the rest of your life, so invest time getting your diet right and the calorie tracking WILL be temporary.
How many calories do you need in a day? 
You can calculate an ESTIMATE of the total number of calories you need on a daily basis with a couple of simple equations. All you need is your weight, height and age.
Calculate your numbers and see how you compare. Remember this is not going to be exact but it is a good guide to see if you’re consuming beyond your needs.
THE ENERGY FROM THE CALORIES YOU CONSUME ARE NEEDED FOR 3 FUNCTIONS:
* YOUR BODILY FUNCTIONS – basically how you live and breathe
* PROCESSING YOUR FOOD – digestion, storage and use of
* PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – using the energy from food as fuel
So remember, all of the above needs to happen – your body won’t tick tock along nicely if you’re consuming only 1000 calories a day. Life is going to become a serious struggle.
From the research i’ve done, the general consensus for a calorie deficit is 15-20%. This figure is deducted from your total number of daily calories to get your target daily caloric intake. For example, you total caloric intake is 2500 >> 20% x 2500 = 500 >> 2500-500= 2000 calories per day.
I found a great Weight Loss Calculator that will help you determine the length of time it will take to reach your goal in a safe manner i.e. a gradual loss of fat, 1lb per week. The higher the deficit, the more lbs you lose.
Thanks to technology, tracking your calories is pretty easy these days with a ton of apps available for download to your phone. Food items barcodes can be scanned and nutritional data can be entered manually and saved. Fitness Pal is one that I’ve used in the past that’s fab. There is a strong online community with Fitness Pal, including forums regarding nutrition and general advice to help you along your journey. When you start recording and tracking what you are consuming on a daily basis it can be a real eye opener and you can quickly see why you may not be shifting those extra lbs. You are holding yourself accountable for every last thing that passes those lips and those little snacks and treats soon become less attractive.
If counting calories is too much for you then check out Choosemyplate for dietary guidance on portion control and start weighing your food. Following the zone diet, I measured my food for 3 weeks and can now eye ball the correct amount for me. It’s a valuable learning experience that I’ll write more on soon.
So rather than diving straight into a crazy diet and putting yourself through the trauma of starvation, make your weight-loss journey about learning and developing a healthier lifestyle, a healthier YOU. You can’t out work a bad diet through exercise alone. It’s impossible. If you are investing so much time in exercise then do yourself a favour and invest some time in looking at your diet and get yourself on the right track. Weight loss is hard, I’ve been there – stay focused and get excited about the healthy life that you are building yourself.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone that’s on a weight loss journey and how it’s going!

Mmm Migas!

Mi migas! Don’t wait until the weekend to treat yourself to a delicious breaky. It’s probably my favourite meal of the day, it gets my metabolism fired up and fuels what lies ahead. Be conscious of what you put in your fuel tank and make that first meal clean of processed foods – including cereal bars/cereal/bread – they are LOADED with sugar and crazy chemicals that will cause your insulin to spike, leaving you hungry an hour or so later! Does that ring a bell for anyone?
Prepare migas at the weekend and fill those tupperware boxes for the week ahead. It’s easily reheated in the microwave and tastes just as good. So here goes:
Beans:                                            Eggs:
↠ Tin of black beans                       ↠ 2 Eggs beaten
↠ 8oz Tomato sauce                      ↠ 2 Cups spinach
↠ Tabasco sauce                            ↠ 1 Cup mushrooms
↠ Cayenne pepper                         ↠ 2 tbsp Avocado
At medium temp, heat a tbsp of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the beans, tomato sauce, 3 dashes tabasco and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (add more for added spice!). Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes / until the beans are soft and sauce thick.
Bean ingredients Black beans
At medium temp, heat tbsp of olive oil in a medium sized pan and add the mushrooms. Saute until soft and then add the eggs. Allow this to cook for a couple of minutes, mixing the mushrooms through the egg. As it begins to scramble add the spinach and cover, allowing the spinach to wilt. After a couple of mins, remove the lid and stir together, season with salt and black pepper as desired.
Scrambled Egg Add spinach
I serve this with 2 tbsp’s of avocado on the side. This meal is balanced in fat, protein and carbohydrates and will keep you full for a few hours. Substitute the mushrooms with any other tasty vegetable. Zucchini works really well.
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Supermarket Sweep

If you are a follower of my page on Facebook, you’ll be used to my simple and quick recipes for the health conscious, super busy and amateur chefs out there. But before we get to cooking, I wanted to kick off my blog with today’s trip to Sprouts Famers Market. I don’t know about you but I am one of those people that love a sneaky peek inside other peoples carts/baskets. I don’t know why but I find it fascinating to see what people buy!!
The produce at Sprouts is top notch. A great selection of organic meats and an array of fresh and colourful fruit and veg. It’s like a cheap alternative to Wholefoods. I do enjoy a trip to Wholefoods but you pay through the nose for the organic produce, it’s damaging to the bank balance! I try to keep my food shop down to once a week but do find myself back there for more veg OR I’ve found a recipe that I want to try and need an ingredient. Generally though I try to plan out what i’ll be cooking for approximately 4 days and that seems to work.  So here’s what my typical weekly shop looks like:
Meat & Fish
  • Cod
  • Salmon
  • Pork mince
  • Sirloin mince
  • New York Steaks
  • Roast chicken (pre-cooked)
Fruit & Veg
  • Avocados
  • Red peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Leeks
  • Apples
  • Bananas
Dairy
  • Butter unsalted
  • Half & half
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Feta cheese
  • Plain greek yogurt
Others/tins
  • Raw almonds
  • Raw cashews
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Coconut milk
  • Tuna
  • Rice cakes
  • Marjoram  – a new spice to try!
Lots of sources of protein, fresh vegetables and some staples in there. I avoid anything processed and try to stay relatively chemical free! That can be a challenge these days with so much additives to things. Ross and myself embarked on The Zone Diet 3 weeks ago as part of a nutritional challenge at our CrossFit box and so I plan and prep 5 meals a day for each of us. It can be a little time-consuming but planning is key. In short, the concept of the zone is to ensure that each meal is balanced in the three macronutrients – protein/carbs and fats. This keeps hormone levels on an even keel avoiding insulin spikes which can leave you feeling hungry not long after a large meal! Not good! I hate that feeling! I’ll be sure to do a right up on The Zone Diet in the coming weeks to explain what’s involved and the positive results we’ve seen.
As I’m enjoying the Zone way of eating so much I wanted to learn more about the science behind it and so I picked up Enter the Zone on my way home along with a new soup recipe book! With the winter months around the corner, it’s nearly soup time! Yay! I love the simplicity of soup but how yummy and satisfying a bowl can be! I thought i’d use this book for some inspiration in the kitchen! Now to get cooking for the week ahead!
New books