Monthly Archives: May 2014

New Series: In Your Cupboard

Welcome to the new series, all about the secrets that are hidden in everyone’s cupboards.

First, I’ll share what I have hiding behind the cupboard doors in my kitchen – letting you in on all my super buys, must haves, ‘can’t live withouts’ and recommendations – then, we’ll take a look through your cupboards… if you want to share, that is!

I’ve already got a few awesome people lined up to share what they stash in their kitchens. I can’t wait to show them to you. If you are someone that enjoys keeping fit or is trying to lose weight and you’d like to get involved, just drop me a message through the contact form on the ‘about‘ page & we’ll get you linked up!

In The Twisted Swede’s Cupboards…

Charlie's CupboardSo, I have cupboards that are rammed with stuff. Some normal, some not so normal. Some delicious, some not so delicious…

I really love cooking, it gives me headspace. The basis of my cupboard contents is trying to have a good selection of healthy foods, things that can be used as a basis or an addition to something bigger. I ALWAYS have berocca, chia seeds, a selection of nuts and seeds, crackers, flax seed, peanut butter, honey & dried mushrooms in the cupboard – these are what sit along side other cupboard staples such as decent olive oil, vinegars, salt and pepper, soy sauce etc. I’ve got powders such as sprirulina and wheatgrass to add to smoothies and yoghurts too (though, if I’m honest, I use these because I know they are good for me, not because of the way they taste!!). I try to buy lots of organic and raw items that are kept in the cupboard, these usually last pretty well, so won’t get chucked out straight away when I’ve forgotten to use them! Amongst other things to try, you should all get some virgin coconut oil, some crystallized coconut (awesome sugar sub) and a whole bunch of medjool dates *drool*.

cupboard4cupboardI have a heap of spices – too many to fit in the cupboard, possible spice buying problem… I just love spices. I have no idea how people can cook without them. These two pics, probably show half my spice collection, but I don’t want you to think I’m totally nuts! If you are a spice virgin, then you should definitely have cinnamon, cumin, corriander, smoked paprika, nutmeg and a few herbs kicking about – if you don’t have these, go buy them now, your tastebuds will LOVE you for it. Also, please go and invest in some sea salt & throw away the table salt – that stuff is only good for sprinkling on an icy footpath! If you are a seasoned (HA!) spice buyer and user, then you should definitely try to source dried mango powder (so sweet and delicious), furikake (a sesame and seaweed based seasoning), and DEFINITELY go and hit up ‘the spice shop’ in Brighton – honest to god, I had a real kid-in-a-sweet-shop- moment in this place. I have never seen so many amazing spices, I could have spent all day (and all my money) in there, but I reservedly bought 4 blends – with the cute yellow tins – and then dreamt about the rest of the shop all the way home!

cupboard3The other bit of my stock pile, though, not strictly a cupboard, more of a snack basket, is rammed with deliciousness. I have a heap of protein bars and balls. I’ve got seed bars, flapjacks, tonnes of nakd bars and quest bars. THIS basket is what stops me from reaching for crisps, sweets, wine, chocolate. There is nothing wrong with snacking, just make sure that the snack has some worth to it. Where I would once have reached for a bag of pick n mix when I felt like a snack and then hit the sugar crash later, I now look for something that will provide me with some nutrition, whilst being filling and a good source of energy.

So there you, go, those are my cupboards – or a snapshot of them at least. I do also have the usual stuff like baked beans, marmite, tinned tuna and dried pasta, but that is not quite as exciting!

So, do you have what it takes to throw open the cupboard doors and let us have a good rummage? Send me your pics, your staples, your must haves and your recommendations & show us all how you eat.

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On the road to better…

When I started my ‘new life’ in January, I was fully expecting to have given up and gone back to my old ways by March.

After having a baby in 2010 (and subsequently eating and drinking the world for 3 whole years), I rocketed from 10stone to 15, yes, FIFTEEN!! I had gone from a size 10 to almost a size 20 in just 3 years.

Whilst I spent a lot of this time trying to justify to myself that it was fine, because I was happy & I could eat and drink what I wanted. The reality was, that I was a bit miserable. I looked absolutely awful. Clothes didn’t sit right, I could no longer look thinner by trying to hold my stomach in. I had to live in black clothes to help disguise my figure. The awful, flabby, saggy, stretched sight that met me in the mirror every morning made me look like I was a pensioner, not the mere 30years that I was.

It really was a case of ‘enough is enough’. I was fed up with looking awful. With waking every morning feeling awful after too much wine the night before… every morning. I knew I had managed to diet successfully in the past. I’ve been a constant up and down with my weight since my early teens. But this, this was a challenge and a half. I had 5 stone to lose. I’m still not there yet.

I knew I had to approach this in a different way. From previous experience, I knew that I could cut out loads of food groups or types of food and cut way back on calories & lose a fair amount of weight quite quickly. But, I also know, from previous experience, that this makes me miserable. By denying myself things I really enjoy, I know that I’ll be grumpy & that the weight will fly back on as soon as I reached my target weight.

The plan this time was a lifestyle change. Something that I can actually stick to. Something that doesn’t put me in a food prison & make me miserable and snappy.

I chose to work with a personal trainer once a week. I use Emma Rogers Personal Training, who is fairly local to me. I also wanted to work with someone who wasn’t going to push me so hard that I give up, someone who would listen and be supportive.

Alongside once weekly PT sessions, I also used the 30 day shred DVD from Jillian Michaels. I know this seems to be a bit of a ‘marmite’ type of workout. People either love it or hate it. I knew it would be tough and figured I’d fall in to the hater category, but you know what? If you stick to it (I do it usually 2/3 mornings a week), you really really do see results. I have so much more tone than before. I can actually feel limbs changing. I love it.

I also bought a cheapy fold up exercise bike & have set myself a goal of doing 1200km this year – I’m currently set to go way over that, but I know I need to keep going till the end of the year!

On days that I’m not doing PT, the shred or cycling, I try to walk as much as I can. Luckily for me, it is impossible to park near my house, so I barely ever take the car anywhere – this forces me to walk to the supermarket & to carry all my shopping home.

I also recently scored a total bargain of a cross trainer on ebay  – but I’ll write about that another time – it is awesome!

I have also begun to really enjoy gardening – the end of our garden is a little allotment & it is bloomin’ hard work to keep that going – lots of digging, lifting, carrying. So, I’m not only growing lovely fresh, healthy food, but also burning a whole bunch of calories too.

My diet has become more focused. I don’t drink during the week now & I limit how much I can drink over the weekend. I am using myfitnesspal to help track my calories and also to check that I am eating the right amounts of carbs, fats and proteins. I have really concentrated on upping my proteins to help with all the additional exercise I am now doing… hence my very obvious addiction to all the protein snack bars I keep finding!

Anyway, I stepped on the scales this morning & I have just broken the 12stone barrier. I am now sitting at 166lbs, that’s 11stone 12lbs. Still a long way to go (1stone 12lbs), and I’m sure this will be the hardest and slowest bit of the loss so far. I am determined to reach 140lbs and to be able to comfortably wear size 12, or even, maybe size 10 clothes again.

I know I’m never going to look super hot, nor be able to strut about in a bikini – I have got totally ruined skin from pregnancy and breastfeeding – my stomach, chest and thighs are beyond gross, but I’ll be happy if I can at least look good in some nice clothes.

No excuses this time, it’s fit or fat. I’ve done fat & it sucks, so let’s go with fit.

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Current Fave Protein Blast

This…

photo 1 (2)I grabbed a Clif builder’s protein bar up last time I placed a planet organic order. It ticked a few boxes when I spotted it:

  • Protein
  • Snack Bar
  • Chocolate
  • Peanut

I’m always up for trying new things, so I bunged it in the basket & waited for it to arrive.

I cracked this beaut open for breakfast, with a cup of tea.

First of all, I was a bit freaked out to see a chocolate coating – not normally my breakfast of choice, but hey, it was open & I was super hungry. I took a bite:

photo 2 (2)Holy crap. These are good. Really good. I’m just about to order a whole load more. Chocolate layer, peanutty soft layer, crispy, chunky peanut bits and a whopping 20g of protein. This baby kept me going for hours.

I reckon it is probably more of a post lunch thing, with the chocolate coating, but hey, I wouldn’t say no, if it was passed to me over the breakfast table 😉

I’ve seen that there are also chocolate versions and chocolate mint – I’ll give these a go too.

If you are in to your protein snacks and into peanuts, THIS is your next purchase, go get it!

*this is not a sponsored post, i just adore them*

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Chia Seed Pudding – Recipe

Try this recipe out for an easy breakfast, snack or dessert.

chia seed puddingThis *slightly* odd pudding is super easy to make, it is filling and packed omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, protein and fibre. The perfect ‘diet’ food. Also vegan!

Whilst the texture is similar to that of cold rice pudding (try to ignore that bit), it is a great base to add toppings to for a healthy breakfast alternative. The flavour is slightly nutty and a little bit sweet. I chose to add half a medium banana, half a cup of blueberries and a teeny drizzle of raw forest honey.

Give it a shot and see what you think, here is the recipe (serves 4):

Here is the easy bit… chuck all the ingredients in to a bowl, mix well, cover & refrigerate overnight. Wake up the next morning, give a really good mix, scoop out a portion and top with whatever you fancy!

mix chia puddingphoto 3 (3)Other toppings that I might give a go are, peanut butter and banana, pineapple and coconut, granola and raspberry.

If it helps anyone out, I transferred the recipe in to myfitnesspal and the values came up at (per serving); 152kcals, 7.1g fat (0.3g sat), 92.1mg sodium, 141.9mg potassium, 16.9g carbs (8.1g fibre, 7.7g sugars), 4.8g protein.

Give it a go, try it out, let me know what you think of it & feel free to share the recipe around!

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The redcurrants are coming!

I was pretty excited to see that the redcurrants have started the turn pink.

redcurrantsLast year, we had a mega bumper crop of redcurrants. I’m hoping that this year, we will do as well, if not better.

Even as a total novice (and a bit useless) gardener, I’ve got to say that redcurrants are pretty much foolproof. I’m amazed at how well they grow and how little attention they need. Plus, they don’t take up too much room, so perfect if you have a teeny garden.

So, I’m looking forward to harvesting these beauties when they are bright, shiny and red. I’ve planned to make some sorbet, some jam with the ones that don’t get eaten straight away.

Go on, grab a redcurrant bush & give them a go. You’ll love it!

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Best produce EVER!

And, the award for the best produce ever, goes to…

photo 5Sainburys, for their Tomberries.

Have you been under a rock and not noticed these amazing little guys? I first found them last year and was distraught that they are only about for what seems like 5minutes. This is a definite piece of total tomato genius.

The tomberry is a teeny tiny little tomato with teeny tiny little seeds inside. They are perfect for salads, snacks, dropping into cous cous, pasta, soups. I’ve found that a 3year old also thinks that they are “really cute” and will gobble them up faster than the speed of light. The real advantage of a tomberry over, say, a diced tomato, is that it doesn’t make everything wet.

You know when you make a great bean salad, but it gets a bit too juicy at the bottom as the chopped bits of tomato spill their juice over everything? Well, problem solved with these guys. Having a complete skin means no leaking of tomato juice and no soggy salads.

My personal favourite thing to do with these teeny delights, is to drop them in to a hot bowl of soup. They are small enough to just warm through and then ‘pop’ when you eat them. So good, like little jewels.

Mr Sainburys, I beg of you, please please find a way to keep these in stock all year round, they are just totally perfect!

*This is not a sponsored post, I just really really love them!*

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Rude Health Veg Bars

Beetroot? Pumpkin? Delicious snack bar? Oh yes!

rude health pumpkinI’m sure that most of you are familiar with the delicious products that Rude Health bring to us. My two current favourites are the vegetable snack bars – pumpkin and beetroot.

These are just brilliant, so delicious. Due to the veg content, they are not overly sweet, which is great for me. They are a sticky, slightly chewy, cakey type bar & perfect for a snack, or part of a meal – I love them with fruit and a yoghurt for breakfast.

The pumpkin bar has a hint of pumpkin pie about it. A classic combination of warm spices and pumpkin. Perfect with a cup of tea and as filling as a slice of cake too.

rude health beetrootThe beetroot is a deep red/purple colour, with a definite beetroot taste. More savoury than the pumpkin, but still sweet enough to make it feel like a treat. This is my favourite 4pm snack.

Both bars are totally natural, containing ingredients such as dates, almonds, beetroot, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, apple and apple juice, cinnamon, ginger, sunflower oil. They are also dairy free, gluten & wheat free, vegan and vegetarian.

Grab a couple of these up and give them a go, you won’t regret it – they are super yummy and at around 120kcals, they are the perfect between meal snack!

*This is not a sponsored post, I just really really love them!*

 

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Attempting the ‘Good Life’

Deep down, somewhere, inside all of us is a provider, a nuturer, a grower… a gardener – at least, this is what I HAVE to believe!

allotmentWhen we relocated back to Sussex, we took on my Grandma & Grandpa’s garden. I say Grandma & Grandpa, but it was most definitely my Uncle Joe’s garden. It was his passion, his life. It was glorious in its prime. So, I feel big big pressure to do it justice.

Now, whilst we have been blessed with huge apple and pear trees that sort themselves out, we also have quite a bit of veg-growing space. I’m a total novice, in fact, I’m worse than that, I am to plants what the black death was to London… let’s just say, I’m not a gifted or natural gardener.

So, we are trying our very very best to make something special. I want to make my Uncle Joe proud. I’ll admit that it was looking a bit old-fashioned, so I’ve mainly been concentrating on making it a bit better looking and useful and then thinking about the plants after that.

To say that the project is a constant development, would be an understatement. I guess, as any garden does, it will evolve, change, move. As such, I’ll keep showing you what we’re doing & then hopefully you’ll think I’m becoming Charlie Dimmock, but WITH a bra on!

So, here, I present you with our raised beds – these now have potatoes, red & white onions, peas, sweetcorn, beets and turnips in them, so, with any luck, you’ll be able to see some of our awful prize-winning produce soon.

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Nakd Bars, My Saviour.

So, I get through A LOT of these. Really, a serious amount of them.

nakdIn a bid to shift 5 stone (yes, you read that right FIVE STONE) of post baby, cake and wine induced lard, I have taken to exercising and eating healthily. Read: no days of golden arches for every meal, washed down with 4bottles of wine and gin.

I tend to be very good at this healthy business for about 4 months & then it usually goes down the pan. This time, I have stuck at it since the start of the year & not really feeling like I’m missing out.

I reckon that nakd bars have been the secret.

These dudes come in every flavour ever – apple, rhubarb and custard, pecan pie, cocoa orange (heavenly), mint choc, berry etc. My new faves of theirs are the protein crunch bars – if you like the taste of banana, you HAVE to try the yellow variety, so so sooooo good.

Most bars come in at around 100-135Kcals, give or take, but they actually fill you up. There are no nasties hiding in there, they are dairy, wheat and gluten free, suitable for veggies too. They are just delicious sticks of squished dates, nuts and a few other bits and bobs.

Try also their delicious cola flavour raisins – if you like cola bottles, you are in for a (less than 70kcal) treat!

I follow their facebook page to get all the best deals and offers when they pop up & then order in bulk – wouldn’t wanna run out now, eh?!

*This is not a sponsored post, I just really really love them!*

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Gymboss Interval Timer

OK, I got this Gymboss timer to help me with my interval training. I’ve decided to take up running (sort of). I suck, but I’m enthusiatic.
gymboss

I’m following a 5k plan that I downloaded from the race for life website. It involves running for increasing amounts of time, in the first instance, interspersed with brisk walking.

I’m not gonna lie, it is HARD work (especially when coupled with an apparently slightly dodgy heart… another story entirely). But this gadget makes it so so much easier.

The timer can either work as a standard stopwatch type timer, or you can program it to do heaps of circuits of varying times and repetitions. The best bit is that it counts down each individual circuit, but also the number of reps too, so at any point (usually when you feel like your legs can’t carry you for another second), you can glance at it and see exactly how many seconds of running and how many reps you have left. Genius. It also beeps VERY LOUDLY at you, should you miss any of the intervals!

Yup, yup, I’m sure there’s an app that will probably do it for free for you, but I don’t like to take my phone out when I’m running, so this handy dude just straps on to my wrist for hands free freedom.

*This is not a sponsored post, I just really really love it!*

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