Archives for the month of: March, 2013

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This has to be one of my favourite recipes yet. It uses ground almonds instead of flour so it’s gluten-free, really moist, and tastes amazing.

You might have noticed by now that I’m a bit of a lazy baker so, as always with my recipes, this has relatively few ingredients and takes hardly any time to make. It doesn’t contain much sugar so you could use normal sugar and not feel too bad about it. I used coconut sugar, which tastes just as sweet and is rich in nutrients.

Ingredients:

200g ground almonds
125g gluten-free flour (make sure it doesn’t contain soya)
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tbsp organic brown sugar or coconut sugar (depending on taste)
40g butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
50-100g organic raisins (depending on taste)
3-6 tbsp milk

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Add together the almonds, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Stir in the sultanas and vanilla extra. Add the milk and use a knife to cut it into the mixture until you have a sticky dough. Do not add all of the milk straight away just in case you don’t need it: this mixture is wetter than normal scone mixture and sticks together very easily.

Place it on a greased baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top. Leave it to cool on the tray and then move onto a wire rack once it has firmed up a bit.

Pour yourself a lovely cup of tea, coffee, lemon water, herbal tea…cut a slice of scone and then sit back and relax.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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This is a brilliant blog on weight loss. I’m always telling people it’s impossible to ‘spot reduce’, meaning you can’t just tone up one particlar area of your body; you have to lose weight all over.

This blog explains it perfectly: “The only way to get rid of a problem area is through diet and exercise; leading to an overall decrease in body fat. Remember: 75% diet and 25% exercise.”
I couldn’t have out it better myself!

me dancing

Having recently returned to work after 10 months on maternity leave, I’ve found myself lacking my normal motivation to exercise and eat healthily. I’m not stuffing junk into my mouth, but neither am I eating the variety of fresh protein and vegetables I would like, and whilst I’ve still been playing netball 3 times a week and going out for the odd run, I haven’t felt up to my usual exercise routine.

I don’t think any of this is unusual for a new(ish) mum returning to work. In fact, any sort of major life change – a change in job, a house move, a new relationship, for example –  can make it difficult to stay focussed on staying healthy, even if it’s usually something that comes naturally to you.

To get myself back on track, I’ve been making a list of things that will help me get motivated and stay motivated in all areas of life, and I’ve decided to share them in case any of you ever need a bit of help getting your diet, fitness or mental well-being back on track.

1.       Do what you love

Doing what you love makes you happy and the happier you are, the more motivated you’ll feel. It may be that you love sewing or drawing or reading. Find out what it is that makes you tick and make time for it on a regular basis.

My passions are dancing and writing but in the past year, I’ve barely danced. Last week I decided enough was enough: I went into my lounge and started doing my favourite modern dance warm-ups, followed by a ballet DVD. I instantly felt happier, more inspired and more positive about life in general so the next day I called up a local dance school and went along to a dance lesson. I was supposed to be going on a run that night, but I went dancing instead and guess what, I felt much better for it.

You might like to read this post on doing a 30-day happiness challenge.

2. Sign up for something…anything

This might be a marathon or a triathlon; it might be The Three Peaks Challenge; it might be a weekend away at a health and well-being retreat; it might even be a painting or writing course if that’s what inspires you. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you want to do and will look forward to rather than something you feel you should do.

Some of my favourites are:

  • The Aspire Channel Swim: The aim is to swim the distance of the channel in 12 weeks to raise money for Aspire, a spinal injury charity. I like swimming and find it quite satisfying to just keep on going once I start so I decided to set my own personal goal of swimming the distance in 3 weeks rather than 3 months.
  • Fitness Fiesta: A weekend of fantastic exercise classes to suit anyone’s taste. Check out the website and book up a weekend away with friends.
  • The Wolf Run: My training for this hasn’t gone exactly to plan (oops!), but I’m doing it in about 2 weeks and I can’t wait.

3. Listen to your body and be kind to yourself

This doesn’t mean sitting back and watching TV every night of the week, but it does mean being kind to yourself every once in a while.

Sometimes I get into a bit of a state because I think I should go and do a hard gym session when all I really want to do is curl up on the sofa and eat rubbish food. Rather than giving in to the latter, I often find that if I let myself off the hook and do a stretch or a gentle Pilates session I feel a lot better. Even if it isn’t the hard core training session I’ve planned, at least I’ve moved, which brings me to my next point….

4. Just move

Having gone back to my desk job, I’ve suddenly become very static. I can sit for hours in front of a computer screen and the more I sit, the worse I feel. My muscles seize up, my head hurts, I get grumpy and the thought of doing an exercise session only makes me grumpier!

I often find the less I move, the less I want to move and the less motivated I feel in other areas of my life too (especially healthy eating). As hard as it is, the only way to get out of this cycle is to just get up and MOVE. You could force yourself out for a run and come back feeling loads better, or you could put on some music and dance around the house, or maybe you could just do a bit of yoga in your pyjamas and see how much more positive you feel.

5. Find out what’s blocking you and do something about it

Everyone is different and it could be any number of things that are stopping you from achieving your goals. The thing that blocks me most of all is guilt: I feel guilty for not eating the right foods or guilty for not exercising enough or guilty for not writing enough or guilty that the house is a mess or….breathe! Calm down!

Recently, I’ve been feeling guilty about not using my gym membership enough, but the truth is I’d rather do a dance class, play netball, run outside or do a fitness session at home. For a while, my guilt about this was actually stopping me from doing any exercise at all until I realised just how stupid that was. So, I’m going to cancel my gym membership and do what I want to do without feeling guilty.

6. Make a commitment

I know I’ve just talked about cancelling my gym membership so that I can focuss on what I enjoy, but you might need to do the opposite. Making a commitment to something is a good way of keeping motivated. Some ideas are:

  • Book a class
  • Join the gym
  • Join a club
  • Join a team
  • Arrange regular workout sessions with friends

I recently found an amazing site called www.instructorlive.com where you can do live or archived fitness, dance, yoga and Pilates classes from the comfort of your living room. It’s well worth checking out. I love it. In fact, I’m about to do a Pilates class any minute.

I hope you’re all feeling inspired and motivated, or at least a little bit more positive. I know I am.

Have a great weekend.

x

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This one’s for my little sister, Ruth. For weeks we’ve been trying to come up with a sugar-free, syrup-free flapjack recipe that actually holds together and doesn’t just crumble the minute you pick it up.

We’ve tried out a few recipes using honey and whilst some of them have been very successful – like this delicious version by my friend, Sarah – I’ve wanted to go that little bit further and find a recipe that’s honey-free as well. Honey can be really good for you in so many ways, but it’s still a form of sugar and once I get a taste of it I want more and more and more….

So, I’ve come up with a very simple flapjack recipe that is lovely as a snack or as a quick breakfast when you’re pushed for time and, like many of my recipes, it makes a perfect snack for baby Freya too.

You may remember the cheesy flapjack recipe I posted a week or so ago. This recipe is a sweet version of that.

Ingredients:

100g (4 oz) oats

2 large cooking apple, grated

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil

About 10 prunes, chopped (the softer the prunes, the better)

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Press into a greased tin so the mixture is about 1″ thick. Bake for around 20 mins until golden on top, remove from oven. Cool slightly before cutting into pieces (makes 14-16 fingers).

You could also experiment by adding other dried fruit and nuts of your choice. It doesn’t matter how much you add as long as you make sure the mixture is moist and sticky when it goes into the oven. I’d suggest adding more apple if you’re using loads of nuts because you don’t want the flapjack becoming too dry once baked.

Let me know how you get on.

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Good morning, everyone. I have so many food- and exercise-related things I want to share with you, but I’ve set myself a goal of finishing the synopsis for my children’s novel this week so I’m trying not to get too distracted by other writing, i.e. this blog!

For now, here’s a very quick, very easy sugar-free biscuit recipe.

Ingredients:

175g wholemeal spelt flour or gluten-free flour (make sure it doesn’t have soya in it)

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp mixed spice

100g honey

100g coconut oil or sunflower oil

3 handfuls of chopped walnuts

3 handfuls of cocoa nibs

How to make them:

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

If you’re using coconut oil, melt it in a pan and then leave it to cool slightly. Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a bowl. Add the nuts and cocoa nibs. Pour in the sunflower oil or coconut oil and add the honey. Mix it all together with a wooden spoon until well mixed.

Place balls of the mixture onto a greased baking tray and flatten slightly. Bake for 8-12 minutes.

Easy!

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