Lean, mean burgers!

IMG_4641Not only do these burgers taste delicious, they are very simple to make with few ingredients and won’t take more than 30 mins. Enjoy as a main meal with homemade sweet potato chips and veggies, for lunch with a large salad or take one with you for a nutritious snack! A pound of mince will make 6-8 burgers. Here’s what you’ll need –
  • 1lb extra lean pork mince
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 oz feta cheese
  • 3 cups spinach
  • tbsp basil
  • tbsp garlic powder
  • tbsp red pepper chilli flakes
  • salt & pepper as desired
I combined all of the ingredients listed above, apart from the mince, in a blender and mixed together well. The mixture will be grainy. Add the mixture to the mince in a large bowl and mix together with your hands, separating into individual burgers. Mine are approx 3oz per burger. Using a flat skillet on a med temp, cook each burger on either side for a couple of minutes to seal them and then put into the oven at 375°F for approx 25mins / until cooked through. I used baking paper to line the oven tray to soak up any excess fat. I’ll be enjoying these tonight!!!

Heat your cockles – Mild Cod Curry

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This is a repost of a recipe on my facebook page that we enjoyed last night. Perfect for the colder weather! There is lots of hype in the press about fish oil and the intake of omega 3’s due to hundreds of studies backing up the benefits. It’s been shown to reduce the risk cardiovascular disease, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels; function as a natural blood thinner, which results in the lowering of blood pressure; and reduces inflammation in the body. So on that note, I try get a range of fish in my diet – salmon, cod, tuna. Here’s a very simple recipe with minimal prep time and takes 20mins to cook! 
Alaskan cod fillet
1 Red bell pepper
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander / fresh leaves
Pinch red chilli pepper flakes
(Salt & black pepper to taste)

Sautee the red pepper for a couple of mins then add all the dry herbs/spices. Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the fish, poaching it for approx 20 mins or until the fish flakes. Buy a large piece of fish so you can portion it out across several meals. This tastes AMAZING on day two! Serve with your favourite green veggies!!

Fuel your workout

We get energy from the food we consume – proteins, fats and carbohydrates (macronutrients). Without going into too much detail, each of these macro’s are of great importance to your diet AND your workouts. 
So in order to have a great workout with heaps of energy AND to ensure that you recover quickly and effectively from it, you need to make sure that your feeding yourself before and after. Everyone’s nutritional needs will differ but regardless of your goals / activity level, the importance of eating these macros is paramount. If you are not exercising super early in the morning, ensure you have a well BALANCED meal of protein, carbs and fats, 2-3 hrs prior. I talk to so many people that go CRAZY for high-protein, low-carb meals. Protein rarely supplies energy during exercise. The only time it can be used as fuel is when your in starvation mode!! Carbohydrates will provide you with fuel and energy for day to day life and exercise. Simple carbs are a great option before exercise as they are easily digested – fruit being a top option as it’s easily digested, convenient and easy to take with you if you’re out and about.
I prefer to have a snack that combines all my macros – mainly carbs with some protein and fat. Similar to my main meals but a far smaller portion! This concept I carry throughout the day, including post workout. Eating this way does require preparation and if you can find 5 minutes to organise these, you will see an increase in your energy levels and no doubt greater results! Your portion size and timing of your snack can only be determined with trial and error. Aim to eat your snack 30mins-1hr prior to exercise. It has taken me a long time to get to this point of knowing what and when I need to eat before I workout. The below are some PRE WORKOUT snacks I enjoy!!
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup cantaloupe melon, tsp almond butter
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup blueberries, small handful raw unsalted nuts
  • my PANCAKE RECIPE!
  • spread tsp almond butter on 1 rice cake, mash 1/3 banana on the top (YUM)
  • smoothies!! 1 cup almond milk, scoop vanilla protein, 1/2 cup blueberries, small handful raw unsalted nuts
  • another smoothie – 1 cup almond milk, scoop vanilla protein, cup spinach, 1/2 apple, tbsp avocado
  • 2 hard boiled eggs with carrot stalks and hummus
  • 2 slices turkey breast, 1 cup wilted spinach, tbsp avocado on half an ezekiel muffin
  • Apple slices with tsp almond butter
Please share any yummy pre-workout snacks or habits that you have!! I’m always up for trying something new!!

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!