A mile in your shoes…

I’m a bit of a Harry Potter fan. When I re-stumbled upon this Dumbledore quote, it gave my challenge new purpose. I’m doing this for Dad. And, with Dad, I can do it.

It is the Easter holidays for 2 weeks. I’m half and half on how I feel about them. Part of me really loves having the bigger girl around, shes funny, helpful, kind & chatty. The other part of me misses the structure of routine, the silence of nap times, the flow of the day. The biggest change of all is my morning walk.

Every morning, after school drop-off. Baby & I head off for a 3-5mile power buggy walk. In the beginning, it was to get her to nap. Whilst that is still my primary conscious concern, I didn’t realise until this week just how much *I* rely on it.

We’re still heading out for walks, the 3 of us, but they are slower, shorter, more stressful. The usual 9.02am eye-closing is replaced by a fraught crying & yelling & 9.18am eye closing, because baby has spotted her big sister & thinks it is play time. Poor big girl has to walk ahead of the buggy, out of sight – this makes me feel bad.

I’m conscious that I need to let baby sleep for her half hour nap (or else all hell will break loose), but also that 6 year old legs can’t walk as fast or as far as mine – though, to give her credit, she has powered through miles in rain & sun without a single moan & joyful exclamations about how “fit” she will be.

I miss the head-space afforded by 40minutes of zoning out.

I’ve realised that I am governed by times & timings. I *think* that my grief & post-natal hum has been, so far, managed by strictly controlling each portion of my day. This explains my unease at things (or me) running late, of baby not napping or eating on time, at people phoning during meal or nap times, the horror of someone wanting to “pop in” at an unarranged time. And I know people look at me with a “wtf” expression when I can’t do x, y or z because of naps, feeds, etc, but you can’t understand how someone else copes, you can only ever understand how you would cope. You cannot judge someone based on how you would handle a situation. You cannot walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. You can only support them. Judging them or using condescending or negative tones isn’t helpful. You are an expert of your own experiences only.

I digress… back to the walking. I’m a numbers nerd. I love the data that my fitbit gives me. Each week, I try to better the last (another mental battle I’m trying to “be cool” about this week). I try to ensure that I reach at least 5 miles a day, every day – with 5 weekday walks & 1 long weekend hike in place, slowly building up the miles. I’m SO looking forward to the challenge & truly believe it is totally achievable.

I’ve been clocking up 6, 7 & 8 miles regularly, but I now need to start chasing double figures. Dad, being a military man, always said “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” & so, I’m doing my very best, with the time & resources I have.

Grief leaves a huge hole in your soul. I feel as though different types of grief are digested and managed in different ways. No grief is more or less important than others, but some leave a much larger gap.

My hope is that the fundraising achieved through doing this challenge, will go someway to help find a cure or treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. I hope that it may fund a specialist Parkinson’s nurse. A valuable piece of equipment. Anything that might ease another family through a turbulent period.

Nic & I have been truly astounded by the generosity of those that have donated, we really have. To think that so many of you have been so thoughtful is truly heartwarming & we really appreciate every single donation, Really, every pound makes such a difference. If you’d like to donate to our 50km hiking challenge, we would be thrilled. You can find the justgiving page here.

Thank you all so much. Be kind to one another. xx

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Biscuits are Important!

Never underestimate the importance of a biscuit during a pivotal moment of life…

I went on a training walk this morning, around 8 or so miles. On my return, I had a fig roll. It wasn’t an ordinary fig roll, but the last in a very significant pack. This was the pack that I bought on the morning of New Year’s Eve – the day that Dad passed away.

There’s a standing joke in my family, that I always deal with any situation by providing food. Probably true. Anyway, in December, I had debated whether to take jaffa cakes or fig rolls over to Dad. I knew he loved both & though he was barely able to eat at all, he never turned down a bite of cake or biscuit. So, I plumped for fig rolls and headed over.

I never thought that he’d never see them. I envisaged bounding in to his room… “hi Dad, I’ve got you some fig rolls”…

Anyway, it was today, almost 3 months on, we opened the pack. So insignificant and significant at the same time.

The grief becomes less constant, but more powerful. Rather than a perpetual ache, it swings between normality & all consuming sinking.

If, by walking & walking & walking, we can raise any amount of money that could help another family through this, or to fund a Parkinson’s specialist Nurse, or can help to fund research in to symptom management, well, anything would make it all so worth it.

Each & every donation helps to top up the team pot. We are hoping to not just reach our fundraising target, but to obliterate it. If you are able to help us to do this here, we will be so thankful. Every pound really does help. Thank you all so much! xx

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Making 2017 All About Dad

In all honesty, the last 7 months have been a whirlwind. They have knocked me for 6 198376484! 2016 was indeed one hell of a year, but this is why 2017 WILL be better.

July of last year saw me bring my second daughter in to this world. The birth went as well as these things can, but a few problems saw us stuck in hospital for a few of days afterwards. Keen to escape and get back to a slightly different “normal”, we headed home. Anyone that has been through labour and the first few weeks of caring for a baby will know what a rollercoaster we were already on.

Just a few weeks after our daughter’s birth, I received a phonecall from Mum. Dad had been admitted to a hospice for symptom management. This call didn’t immediately concern me. Dad had been suffering with the varying and increasing symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years. Respite, hospital stays and additional care had become somewhat usual. It was only after speaking with Mum, that I knew things were worse than before.

The problem with Parkinson’s is that it is so unlike other diseases. It doesn’t affect just one area. It attacks all of you, physically, mentally. Parkinson’s affects muscular control – eventually, the muscles just can’t do what you want them to. Not just limbs, but the very essence of all movement. Blinking, talking, balance, swallowing. It was the last of these symptoms that had begun to set in.

An inability to swallow obviously means that it is very difficult to ingest foods and drinks. Not just that though, it means that saliva cannot be swallowed in a regular way, so it builds up & has nowhere to go but out. This also means that speech can be difficult if not impossible.

Nutrition and hydration can sometimes be solved by either tube feeding (through the nose/mouth) or via a peg direct to the stomach. Unfortunately for Dad, neither of these were suitable due to the severity of other symptoms and issues. So that leaves us…?! Oh.

I can’t tell you the pain & anguish involved in that kind of news.

Dad was bought a little more time with some wonderful medication that helped to halt the production of saliva. This at least meant that he could get a few words out, when he wasn’t too tired. It also meant that we were able to help him take in a little liquefied food and drink (despite his best efforts to get us to fetch him some fish and chips). He asked for ice cream and champagne a lot!

Dad was, after a few months moved to a nursing home that specialises in complex care. He was well looked after & had heaps of visitors. His chair from home was brought in for him. Though he then became bed-bound. Not once did Dad ever moan, complain or cry. He was the very essence of composure. He always was. Totally unshakeable.

On the 31st December 2016, Dad passed away, peacefully, with us all at the nursing home – though I was feeding my baby in the family room & missed his last breath by about 30 seconds – something I will eternally beat myself up over. I think & hope he knew that I was there though.

The hospice that Dad was in was St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne. The care team there, medical, support and volunteer are just amazing. A real home from home. So warm , welcoming & supportive. It is also incredibly family friendly & peaceful. A real gem in the care sector.

One beautiful Summer’s day, my sister and I were with Dad at St. Wilfrid’s. Dad dozing in his bed, the sun streaming through the open door to the gardens. We decided that we should take on a challenge that could help us to raise money, in a way as a thanks to Dad & all those that were supporting us all.

Nic and I usually take on the moonwalk marathon in London, but we felt we needed to do something closer to home this time. We found the South Downs Challenge – a 50km hike. One of the partner charities was Parkinson’s UK. We discussed at great length whether we should fundraise for Parkinson’s UK or for the St. Wilfrid’s Hospice as they had been so good to him & us. We eventually decided to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK, as they have been working with us as a family for over 20years.

My fundraising page for the challenge can be found here and any donations to our event would be so very welcome!

However, I cannot shake the feeling that I need to do something to say thank you to St. Wilfrid’s for everything they did & the peaceful time that we had there (slightly less peaceful when my baby started to cry… sorry about that!). So, I have decided that I will personally raise money over the course of 2017.

I will be and have been measuring my daily mileage on my fitbit and for every mile I walk/run/hop/cycle/dance/crawl I will donate 10p. I seem to clock up somewhere between 3 & 5 miles in a normal day, so once the big training gets underway for our South Downs Challenge, I’ll be able to get some decent mileage under my belt and a bulging fundraiser for St. Wilfrid’s.

I’ll keep you up to date with my mileage as the year goes on & as the clock strikes midnight on New Years eve, the anniversary day of my wonderful Father’s passing, I shall tally up my total miles and convert it to a donation. I’m not asking for help on this, I’m raising it with my own feet, however, if you do ever wish to add to my pot, please let me know & I will gladly send you details on how to top up the donation fund. The hospice is absolutely worth every penny & if you have ever had need of them, you’ll already know that!

Here’s to 2017, here’s to you, Dad xxxxx

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A moonwalk with a difference!

Long time no post – lots has been happening. I’ve qualified as a personal trainer & am now 31weeks pregnant & still continuing to train. This last weekend saw (probably) my last event before baby number 2 arrives & it was my sister and I taking on the London moonwalk, but this time the half moon, at 15.1miles.

Saturday and Sunday, our Halfmoon Challenge!

Saturday and Sunday, our Halfmoon Challenge!

Our fundraising page has reached £290.50 & we’d obviously LOVE to break that £300 barrier! You can find our page here!

Here’s how the story goes:

Good evening all!
I think we are both on the road to recovery today, but obviously very tired! It’s amazing what a huge impact missing one night of sleep can have on you. Having said that, being able to watch the London sky transform from a deep, deep blue to a wonderful & beautiful baby blue is such an awesome sight & it really helps you push along the last few miles!
Our training for the event started right back in January. Taking in long routes and trekking the Sussex coast and countryside. It’s certainly not an event that you can just rock up to & do, your actual skeletal system just won’t allow it. It isn’t the distance, or muscle power that is the limiting factor in these events, it is the mental obstacle & the bone-on-bone grinding of the latter stages.
The event was enormous, thousands and thousands of people had turned up. Some of the bras were outstandingly decorated & some groups of people had entire costumes & makeup based around the ‘carnival’ theme. I’ve got to say, the atmosphere is wonderful & a whole heap of careful planning makes the event village buzz with energy (& the smell of pasta – which you get  to eat before you walk!).
The walk itself was very hard work. We were both so surprised at how tricky it was, considering that we did an extra 11.1 miles on top of the distance last year. We figured that part of it is that mental barrier, your body instantly responds to the enormity of a challenge, once it knows the end point – so 15.1miles became our new 26.2. This was evidenced by how long it felt to reach the first mile marker, last year, it appeared after what felt like a few steps!
The walk was made slightly more tricky (& a lot longer) by the fact that we hit quite a few bottle necks between miles 1&2 – we were stood still, or shuffling for a good 30minutes, followed by a few more bottlenecks along the rest of the route – usually on the run up to big crossings. This was something we didn’t hit last year, so I’m not sure if the route was busier, or that we were walking faster, or that we left earlier, but it did make keeping a pace quite difficult.
Thanks to having a 31week baby hugging my bladder, we did have to make 2 toilet stops, both of these added 20-30minutes on to our time – we managed the full distance last year without a single stop, so again, keeping a good pace was difficult.
A couple of other issues we faced were joint and muscle discomforts. Not surprisingly, carrying out the same motion (like walking) over and over for hours at a time, leads to some insanely uncomfortable areas. Nic was getting shooting pains from her glute, right down through the hamstring, we both had aching lower backs & hips & feet. We made a few stops to stretch out, instant relief to move your self in a slightly different pattern, but the relief is then instantly removed once the walking starts again! These little stretch stops added a little time on to our route again, as did our little 5 minute snack stop at mile 10, where we sat on a bench, over looking the river & the lit-up London eye. Beautiful, but still 5.1miles to cover!
We seemed to find more of a pace once we had cleared mile 11 & although we were tired, aching & desperate to finish, your body allows you to slip in to almost a robot state, where you kind of unconsciously continue walking, driving one foot in front of the other, only conscious of the mileage left & the various aches & pains coursing through your body. Everything else is almost a blur, as though you are in a little bubble. This really helps towards the end, you just concentrate on that dropping mileage, the support from friends and family thorough our donation page & that glorious feeling of crossing that finish line.
In total, the entire 15.1miles took is just over 6hours – crazy to think that we managed the full 26.2 in 7.5hours last year! However, until you have walked continuously for hours at a time, it really is difficult to imagine how grueling it can be. Add in some shooting pains, burning feet and the enormous additional weight & discomfort that already comes with being over 30 weeks pregnant & I guess even just finishing the walk is an achievement in itself.
We were both so worried that we might not finish. We really really didn’t want to let our sponsors down. We knew that we had to get the course done, not just for us, not just for our wonderful sponsors, but for every single person that will be helped by our efforts.
The money raised is for such a wonderful cause. To be able to move ourselves in order to help those touched by the evils of breast cancer, is truly humbling. We are both so happy that we are in a position to be able to help. For each ache, pain, sigh & expletive uttered under our breath, we feel blessed that we are physically able to pound the pavements to raise money to help those who wish they could even stand, walk more than a few hundred metres, see London by night or even just still be with their friends and family. For you guys, we did it, for you guys, we’ll always do what we can. Without our sponsors and supporters, we would be nothing, so we send enormous thanks to each and every one of you. You have each helped someone in need & collectively will be making a huge difference to so many. As the reverse of our medals say:
“We can be heroes just for one day – David Bowie”
So, time to pin our medals up, wash our clothes, slip back in to a ‘normal’ routine & look forward to our next challenges… I’m guessing my next big hurdle is labour, but you don’t need to sponsor me for that, haha!!
Thanks once again & for those that forgot/missed our event, there is still time to add a donation to our page!
Ta ta for now!

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Unbelievably Tasty Protein Packed Festive Treats

I love Christmas. I love it all. But for me, the stand out part is the food – so much effort, so much taste, so much deliciousness, but also, so much junk! So, to offset my Christmas chocolate consumption, I selected two of my favourite festive sweet treats and gave them a no junk fueled, protein kick.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you *drum roll* my super easy to make & amazingly tasty and crowd-pleasing “Salted Caramel Protein-Stuffed Dates” and my “Irish Cream Layered Protein Truffle Bites” *applause*.

I’ve made both of these recipes with the awesome & brand spanking new all purpose protein cooking mixes from Protein Pow. Not only are these mixes GMO free, gluten free & soy free, but they are also made with totally delicious and natural ingredients, not a single dodgy additive, preservative or emulsifier. The pea mix (which is hands down, my favourite & makes my recipe for the most insane vegan, gluten free brownies) is also vegan.

New Protein Pow All Purpose Cooking Mixes

New Protein Pow All Purpose Cooking Mixes

Why have I used these mixes instead of single ingredients? Well, let me tell you…

Firstly, they are insanely easy to use & SOOOOO delicious – chuck the mix and a few store-cupboard ingredients in a bowl, mix & shape & WHAM, natural & delicious protein bars. Chuck it in the oven & BAM, awesome protein muffins. Throw it in a frying pan & HEY PRESTO crazy good pancakes! (not an exhaustive list of uses AT ALL!!)

Secondly, they are really cost-effective (especially with the 25% discount code I have for you, at the bottom of the post!). If you buy individual pre-made protein bars, you know that they are around £2 or £3 EACH – you can make heaps more from this bag for considerably less per pouch. Also, it saves having to go out and buy all the individual ingredients – the protein powders, the coconut flours etc – it can quickly become expensive & cupboard filling!

Thirdly, by grabbing a bag or two, trying it out & posting your results, you could be in with a chance to become part of the Protein Pow family – how awesome is that?! Details on how to apply can be found here.

Anyway, I digress, I can’t help it, I’m just so excited by these products & how accessible it makes protein baking. On to the (AMAZINGLY SIMPLE) recipes!

Salted Caramel Protein-Stuffed Dates

IMG_2307

Dates always say Christmas to me. Who else remembers those little white lozenge-shaped plastic boxes of dates that came with a spiky stick to pick them out? That always signified that Christmas had arrived. Well, I’ve moved slightly away from those somewhat dry, hard and tiny dates and used medjool dates, because, well, more date, obviously, but also, they are so soft, sweet, sticky and full of fudgey caramel flavours. Plus, they have a huge cavity that can be super, mega stuffed with the delicious protein filling.

If you are searching for a sweet, sticky, salted caramel hit this Christmas – then THIS recipe is for you! I fed one to my husband & he exclaimed that there was a “party in his mouth”. Now, seeing as he didn’t even get that excited at our wedding, or at the birth of our child, I’m guessing they’re pretty good! I accidentally ate 3 of the 4 that I made!!

Ingredients (makes 4 stuffed dates, can totally be doubled/tripled…):

  • 15g Protein Pow All Purpose Whey Protein Mix
  • 15g Cashew Nut Butter (milder in flavour than peanut or almond)
  • 5g syrup (I used date, for the full caramel hit, but use whatever you’ve got!)
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 4x medjool dates
  • Selection of nuts/seeds for topping (optional)

Method:

  1. Grab a bowl & throw in the mix, the nut butter, the syrup & salt. Mix mix mix until you get a dough.
  2. Divide the dough in to 4 and shape in to little date-sized sausages.
  3. Slit each date open & remove the stone. Replace the stone with a piece of dough.
  4. If you’ve chosen to add toppings to make them look even more festive and fancy, chuck them on now, or not, up to you, they are insanely delicious with or without!

Macros (per date, without additional toppings):

105kcals, 2.1g fat, 20.8g carbs, 2.4g protein

 

Irish Cream Layered Protein Truffle Bites

IMG_2301

Now, these will really impress your Christmas guests (though, in fairness, I’d be reluctant to share!!!). Irish cream liqueur has ALWAYS been the festive tipple of choice in my family. I remember being allowed to have a tiny taste as a child and I was hooked! Each year, when winter draws in & the Irish Cream comes out, I know that Christmas is around the corner. So, I have invented a ridiculously tasty, Irish cream fueled, cakey, nutty, super simple, triple layered protein chocolate. You will not believe how simple the dough layers are!!

Ingredients (makes 6 decent-sized chocolates):

White layer:

  • 30g Protein Pow All Purpose Whey Cooking Mix
  • 20g Irish Cream

Brown layer:

  • 27g Protein Pow All Purpose Whey Cooking Mix
  • 3g Cocoa Powder
  • 20g Irish Cream

Middle layer:

  • 15g nutbutter (I used an amazing Tiramisu flavored nut butter from Protein Pick and Mix, but use whatever you have or like)

Chocolate coating:

  • 30g dark chocolate
  • 5g Irish cream

Method (you’ll be amazed at how easy these are!)

  1.  Start by making the white layer: Chuck the two ingredients in a bowl & mix to a dough (see, easy!)
  2. Make the brown layer: Chuck the three ingredients in a bowl & mix to a dough.
  3. Roll out the white dough to about half a cm thickness, cut in to 6 equal sized pieces.
  4. Repeat with the brown dough.
  5. Divide the nut butter across the brown pieces and spread out. Top with the white layer.
  6. Gently melt the chocolate and Irish cream (careful not to split it). Dip the layered blocks in to the chocolate & put on foil. Dust with extra cocoa & a sprinkle of sea salt, if you like.
  7. Set in the fridge for a few minutes.
  8. Try not to eat them all straight away!

Macros (per piece):

104kcals, 4.6g fat, 10.3g carbs, 4.8g protein

So, how easy were they??? Amazing, huh? Your Christmas guests will never guess that they are so full of goodness, because they taste so naughty!

The good news for you guys is that I’ve got a mega code for you to grab a whopping 25% off of your order over at the Protein Pow shop, so go grab yourself a bag or two of the mixes, make some amazing & delicious creations & don;t forget to apply to join the family! Use the code CMPOW25.

Enjoy!

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Caramel Banana Upside Down Protein Cake

Well, if the words, caramel, banana and upside down cake didn’t draw you in, then stop reading now, you failed the test! Honestly guys, if you love banana cake and sticky caramel, then this is an absolute MUST try protein recipe – get baking!

Serve this sticky, squashy, caramel, banana cake with yoghurt, berries, chia seeds and some zero cal syrup - delicious!

Serve this sticky, squashy, caramel, banana cake with yoghurt, berries, chia seeds and some zero cal syrup – delicious!

I kind of made this recipe up on the go – it was going to be a sticky pineapple upside down cake, but, alas, the cupboard was bare of pineapple and so, banana was a very worthy replacement. In fact, you know what? I reckon you could easily use any fruit in this recipe, so pick your favourite – just be wary that the wetter the fruit, the longer your cake will take to cook, so be careful that you don’t end up with a soggy bottom and a rubbery cake!

The delicious caramel flavour comes courtesy of a couple of teaspoons of date syrup. If you can’t get hold of that, then use any dark syrup you have to hand, but the date really is mind-blowing, so it is definitely worth searching out!

The cake itself is twice cooked (don’t be put off, it is super simple!). The cake is baked – upside down – in a silicone cake tin, it is pulled out of the oven before it is totally cooked through, then turned banana-side-up and grilled for a few minutes. This process isn’t totally necessary, you could always just bake the cake a little longer, but the grill makes the caramel all toasty and delicious and makes the banana slices all tanned and yummy.

I like to leave the batter slightly on the underside of done, not raw, but with a creamy/brownie bar kind of texture – that way you get a deliciously moist cake, without the rubbery-ness that can occur with a whey protein bake.

My favourite way to serve this is warm (just chuck it in the microwave for about 45seconds), with plain yoghurt, fruit and syrup – either the date syrup, or, I really like to use a zero cal syrup – there are some great varieties available out there, so have a hunt about for them.

Right, here is the recipe, give it a go – you will LOVE it! I’ve fed it to three different people & they have all loved it too – plus the macros are pretty great too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 scoops unflavoured whey protein powder
  • 3/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup stevia/truvia/sukrin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 cup milk (any will do, I used regular skimmed cows milk)
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp date syrup (or another dark syrup)

Method:

  1.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade (or equiv.)
  2.  Grab a silicon cake case – I used a round one, but use whatever you’ve got – place the case on a baking sheet.
  3. Chuck all of the ingredients (apart from ONE of the bananas and the date syrup) in to a bowl and blend with a stick blender. It needs to be blended to squish up the lumps in the cottage cheese!
  4. Drizzle the 2 tsps of date syrup in the bottom of the cake case.
  5. Slice the remaining banana and lay in to the base of the case.
  6. Pour the cake batter over the top of the banana and syrup and smooth out the top.
  7. Put the tray in the oven – the cake will take around 20-25mins for the first bake, it should be set on top and mostly cooked, with just a slight trace of batter on a skewer when tested (if you don’t want to grill it, leave it in for a little longer, but keep checking the cake with a metal skewer, as soon as it comes out clean, grab it straight out!)
  8. If you are grilling the cake, grab it out the oven and leave it to cool slightly, until it can be handled without it breaking or crumbling. Pre-heat the grill.
  9. Turn the cake out on the the baking tray – it should come out with all the sticky caramel and banana slices intact, but you can always pick the banana bits from the case and place back on to the cake. Grill for approx 5minutes, until the top is beautifully caramalised and sticky.
  10. Either eat straight away, or leave to cool and have later, warmed up is best! Cuts in to 8 pieces.

Macros (per slice, of 8):

132kcals, 2.9g fat, 13g carbs, 15.4g protein

Try serving it with a drizzle of the date syrup

Try serving it with a drizzle of the date syrup

Give this delicious cake a whirl – I bet you’ll find yourself eating it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, I know that’s exactly what I did!!

Nom! All gone :D

Nom! All gone 😀

 

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Race for Life – One Year On

Around this time last year, I wrote about taking part in my first ever 5k race and how I had literally gone from the couch to 5k, with the enormous help & encouragement from Emma Rogers. So, it was only right that I should do the very same race again this year – a one year on check in report, I guess.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

I absolutely had no desire to ever run again after doing the first 5k race for life. I found running to be long, boring & bloody painful hard work. The 5k was just to prove to myself that I could do it, then I’d hang up my running shoes & move on to something else.

Who’d have thought, that a year later, not only did I come back to replay the race, but that I had also done so many other runs & events in the time between. I’m pretty proud of my medal board, I really, honestly NEVER expected my life to change so much in such a short time.

My growing medal collection.

My growing medal collection – 5ks, 5miles, OCR events, half marathon & full marathon medals.

What started out as a weight loss plan, has become a new life, an obsession, something that I think about all day every day. Not only did I lose over 5stone, but I have kept it off. I’ve met a whole load of great new friends, both through running & through going to the gym. I’ve been retraining and am now qualified as a weight loss specialist, a nutritionist, a sports nutritionist & am *almost* a qualified fitness instructor – just the last assessments to go!

I get asked what the “secret” is, probably every other week. In all honesty, there is no secret. There is no quick fix & there are no short-term answers. The way I have trodden my path, may not suit others, but you need to find what works for you & your lifestyle. It also needs to be your own decision. Nothing will work unless you whole-heartedly want it to. You need to change your mindset, it isn’t a diet, it is a lifestyle.

I totally recommend signing yourself up to something like a 5k fun run, it gives you a tangible goal, something that you will have to work for & something that will become easier with training. In turn, the training will help you to love exercising & will usually help you shift some stubborn lbs too – assuming that you don’t congratulate yourself on your exercise with a chocolate cake! You can’t outrun a bad diet. The key is to find enjoyment in the process, and the results will follow!

So, my sister and I took a stroll down to the park for our run yesterday morning. We could have decided against it as we are both sporting slight injuries from our moonwalk marathon – my knee has given in when I run & Nic has a pain in her foot & shin-splints. But, hell, we were going to take this on.

The run was fairly smooth, we learnt from last year to get near to the front at the start, it’s no fun trying to get past a load of walkers when you want to run, so we had a pretty good & not too busy route. Nic’s shin-splints meant that we had to stop/slow down a few times, but we STILL took time off of last year’s race. My first ever training 5k was 39:42, last year’s race for life was 35:57, this year’s time was 32:49. Considering our injuries, our stopping & our less than speedy pace, we were pretty pleased with that time.

All finished!

All finished!

Next year, I’m aiming to get it under 25mins, because I KNOW I can do that pace, but I need to be injury free.

If you would love to be able to run a 5k race, but don’t know where to start, just get out there and get going. Try running for a minute at a time. You’ll be surprised how you grow to love it. The freedom, the ability for your own body to take you places. The surprises you’ll see that you usually miss when driving about in a car. The rush of good feeling that you’ll get when you come home, sweaty, out of breath & pink in the face.

Why not join your local running club, the guys you’ll be surrounded by know their stuff. You will be supported and encouraged. I run with Hastings Runners & they are an awesome bunch. Or try checking out to see if you have a local parkrun – a no pressure 5k weekly race. If you’re not up to running one yet, go and volunteer – I can bet that by being surrounded by runners, you’ll want to get in on the action too!

Go, get out there, enjoy running & enjoy life – find your happy!

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Cashew Coconut Protein Flapjacks

So, I take lots of my protein bakes down to the gym & feed the staff there… hopefully they’ll give me a job one day! You might have noticed that I use a heck of a lot of peanut stuff in my recipes. Which, whilst delicious, not everyone can have them, so I was tasked by one of the staff to make a batch of flapjacks that didn’t have any peanutty ingredients, so, here it is:

Cashew Coconut Protein Flapjacks

Cashew Coconut Protein Flapjacks

These are another no-bake variety, so put that oven glove away! All you need is a bowl, a few spoons, some measuring cups, a silicon tray & a fridge – easy!

These flapjacks are so delicious, they aren’t overly coconutty, but they have that pleasing coconut taste and texture. The cashew nut butter gives these a really lovely creamy flavour & the chocolate coating is just perfect – dark & punchy. These are totally worth a try, and, at less than 100kcals a pop, you can easily fit them in to your macros!

I’ve used coconut butter instead of coconut oil, simply because I had it in the cupboard. I think that coconut oil would actually have been much nicer, so use it if you have it!

Recipe (Makes 16 pieces):

Ingredients:

No-bake Flapjack Base-

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 scoop of impact whey protein
  • 2tbsp smooth cashew butter
  • 1tbsp coconut flour
  • 2tbsp coconut butter, melted
  • 2tbsp coconut nectar syrup (or use honey/agave)
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 scoop whey crispies
  • 3tbsp water

Chocolate Layer-

  • 3 generous tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut nectar syrup (or honey/agave)

Method:

  1. Grab all the ingredients for the flapjack base, chuck them in a bowl & mix them up – it won’t form a dough, but if you squash the mix, it will hold together.
  2. Squash the flapjack in to a silicon pan & firm it down. Pop in to the fridge. *Tip: Put the silicon case on a firm baking sheet to keep it flat.
  3. Mix all the chocolate layer ingredients together and then pour straight over the flapjack. Work quickly to disperse the chocolate before it sets on the cold surface.
  4. Return to the fridge for an hour or so & then chop up in to 16 pieces, with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container for up to 4/5days in the fridge.

Macros per flapjack:

97kcals, 6.2g fat, 8.5g carbs, 3.2g protein

Give them a whirl this weekend & lemme know how they turn out!

 

 

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Super Delicious Peanut Butter & Jelly Marshmallow Protein Pie

I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with making this vegan marshmallow – though the version I’ve used in this recipe includes whey protein, so not strictly vegan. You can absolutely sub the whey out for a vegan protein powder, just be aware that it may change the taste and texture slightly.

PB+J Marshmallow Protein Pie

PB+J Marshmallow Protein Pie

Whenever I now open a can of beans or chickpes, I have to keep the juice. I cry a little bit now when I think of all the wasted bean juice I’ve discarded over the decades!

As I’d made  kick-ass chilli for dinner yesterday, I’d thought to keep the bean juice from my can of red kidney beans, just so that I could make up a fresh batch of magic marshmallow. You can, of course, use any bean juice, but I LOVE that red kidney bean juice makes the marshmallow a very slight pale pink/lilac colour! You absolutely cannot taste beans in the final product, I promise!

The base of this pie is made up out of nuts, oats and quinoa & has a delicious nutty flavour & a biscuity crunch to it. It gives an awesome contrast to the soft & squishy marshmallow filling & the crackly chocolate drizzle. Once baked, it is layered with a smooth peanut butter & slathered with a no added sugar raspberry jam *drool*! Serve this sucker up with some fresh raspberries & we have one hell of a delicious dessert, that packs a protein punch!

Give this recipe a try over the weekend, so you can serve it up at a meal with friends or family – otherwise, you WILL want to eat the whole thing & that will just end up with you feeling verrrrrrry queasy!!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

Crust-

  • 1/2cup rolled oats
  • 1/2cup quinoa flakes (or just use more rolled oats)
  • 1/2cup natural cashews
  • 1/3cup rice protein powder
  • 1tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 4tbsp light agave syrup
  • 1/3cup water

Marshmallow-

  • Juice from 1 can red kidney beans
  • 2tbsp light agave syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
  • 1/4tsp xantham gum
  • 1scoop unflavoured whey powder

Filling-

  • 3tbsp smooth natural peanut butter
  • 3tbsp no added sugar raspberry jam

Topping-

  • 1 square (20g) dark chocolate

Method:

  1.  Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6
  2. Grab all the crust ingredients together. Chuck them in a blender & process until you have a sort of paste – add a little more water if needed.
  3. Press the crust mix in to a metal tin, mine was about 8″ in diameter. Make sure that the crust mix goes all the way up the sides of the tin, to give you ‘walls’ to hold the pie mix later.
  4. Stab the base with a fork, to stop air making it puff up in the oven, then bake for about 15-20mins, until it is browned and firm – don’t worry of there are cracks in the crust, the peanut butter will fix those later. Allow it to cool in the tin.
  5. Grab a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment. Boil up the bean liquid until it has reduced by approx half the volume. Add in the agave syrup & get it in to the mixer bowl & whisk for around 5mins.
  6. After 5minutes or so, your bean juice & syrup should have changed colour and texture to a pale thick liquid. Stop the whisk, add in the vanilla & xantham gum. Whisk for another 10mins until the meringue is glossy, thick and stiff.
  7. Gently whisk in the protein powder.
  8. Once your crust is cool, spread the peanut butter over the base & up the sides. Make sure that the peanut butter fills any cracks that might have appeared in the crust.
  9. Slather the raspberry jam over the peanut butter.
  10. Scrape the marshmallow out of the bowl and, using a silicon spatula, ease the marshmallow across the base, to fill the pie. The best way to do it it to push it towards the edges of the pie, allow it to make contact with the crust so that it sticks and keep working it around the edges of the crust.
  11. Melt the chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the pie.
  12. Refrigerate for 1-2hours. Chop in to 6 huge sized, or 8 moderate sized pieces & serve with fresh raspberries.
PB+J Marshmallow Protein Pie

PB+J Marshmallow Protein Pie

This pie will keep in the fridge for 1-2days, but it is best when it is fresh.

Macros for 6/8slices:

  • 310kcals/231kcals, 12.65g fat/9.3g fat, 35.6g carbs/26.7g carbs, 16.7g protein/12.5g protein
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No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Flapjacks

Peanut butter, chocolate, cocoa nibs, oats, coconut oil, more peanut butter – check!

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Flapjacks

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Flapjacks

This is one of those “oh my god, oh, oh, oh man, wow, oh, yes” type eating moments.  When I have an idea for a recipe, it tends to go one of three ways… disaster, mediocre, or totally awesome. THIS is one of the totally awesome times.

I so adore making (& eating) flapjacks, they are one of life’s pleasures, but you know, I get annoyed with the traditional method of heating the butter, sugar, syrup, the baking etc – sometimes you just don’t have time for all that jazz. So, I trialled this no-bake version, no heating, no baking (except a quick 15second micro-blast to melt the coconut oil, but I’ll forgive that!).

I honestly don’t think I’d be able to tell that this hadn’t been baked. It is firm, moist, holds its shape well, whilst still dropping the odd crumb on to your lap. It is layered with a flapjack base, a topping of peanuty goodness & then coated in a raw cacao chocolate. It is rammed with sweet, salty, peanut flavours & coated with that gorgeous, slightly creamy/chewy chocolate. It really is very very yummy! Plus, those nibs add an amazing brittle crunch to the bar – great stuff.

Perfect 4pm Treat!

Check out the layers – Perfect 4pm Treat!

Now, whilst the protein content of these is pretty good for a small snack-sized flapjack, you’ll see that the fat & carb content is a little higher than normal. This is partly due to the fact that these are a definite delicious, protein packed treat, rather than a low-fat snack food staple, but none of the key ingredients are nasty – it has been made with lovely stuff & so, this makes for a perfect pick me up, just don’t eat all 16 at once, or, if you do, at least they are full of oats and good fats, so you’re still one up on a box of mars bars! 😉

The protein powder that I used is a multipurpose peanut protein powder from Jamie Eason – this is such a good mix. I usually make all my recipes with natural powders, i.e. just the protein powder, no added stuff, but this was given to me to try & you know, it is so so good – great flavour & it lends a brilliant texture to almost everything I’ve made with it!

This whole recipe is free from dairy – the chocolate coating is made using raw cacao powder and coconut oil – it’s a great tip to pick up, because you can use that ‘chocolate’ to make so many great things.

The coconut nectar syrup isn’t compulsory, I saw some in my local whole-foods shop & just had to try it, but you can use any syrup you like, or even honey if you like. The coconut nectar syrup does lend a wonderful deep & intense flavour to the chocolate coating though, so if you do stumble upon it, grab it up!

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Flapjacks

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Flapjacks

Recipe (Makes 16 pieces):

Ingredients:

No-bake Flapjack Base-

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 scoops of peanut protein – I used the delicious Jamie Eason multi-purpose one
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut flour
  • 2tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2tbsp coconut nectar syrup (or use honey/agave)
  • 1/3cup cacao nibs
  • 3tbsp water

Peanut Butter Layer-

  • 2tbsp unsweetened PPB
  • 3tbsp water

Chocolate Layer-

  • 3 generous tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut nectar syrup (or honey/agave)

Method:

  1. Grab all the ingredients for the flapjack base, chuck them in a bowl & mix them up – it won’t form a dough, but if you squash the mix, it will hold together.
  2. Squash the flapjack in to a silicon pan & firm it down. Pop in to the fridge. *Tip: Put the silicon case on a firm baking sheet to keep it flat.
  3. Grab a cup & pop the PPB and water in to it. Stir together until you have a soft, but not runny peanut butter paste. Smooth this over the flapjack base & return it to the fridge.
  4. Mix all the chocolate layer ingredients together and then pour straight over the flapjack & peanut butter layers. Work quickly to disperse the chocolate before it sets on the cold surface.
  5. Return to the fridge for an hour or so & then chop up in to 16 pieces, with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container for up to 4/5days in the fridge.

Macros per flapjack:

148kcals, 9.4g fat, 11.8g carbs, 7.3g protein

Go on, try these out & stash them in the fridge for up to 4/5days – maybe share some with your friends, if you really like them! Anyway, anything that stacks up this well in tupperware has GOT to be made, right?!?!

Perfect tupperware stacking

Perfect tupperware stacking

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