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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

love beetroot - well actually i do

Beetroot filo tarts

Beetroot Dip

Beetroot filo tarts

I am a big fan of beetroot.  The Mr? Not so much.  I'm convinced it's one of those foods he claims he doesn't like, but the truth is that he's never really tasted it, doesn't really like the look of it and so assumes he won't like it...yes, we have a list of those!

There aren't many foods we disagree on, and so when we cook together at home, we eat the same meals and then when one of us is out, we use it as an excuse to eat those foods the other one doesn't like...I'm not a fan of lamb, so when I'm out, he's straight to the supermarket to get himself a nice bit of leg.  Beetroot on the other hand, isn't exactly the type of thing you compose a meal around, I often buy it to add to salads, but then he can quite easily avoid it, so when I was set the challenge to create some beetroot recipes, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to show him what he was missing out on.  Plus, he's got to try it when I've gone to the effort of making something from scratch.

Beetroot filo tarts
Beetroot Dip

Beetroot is one of those ingredients which I think is edging on becoming a superfood, it's often talked about on those programmes that are showcasing the latest in food fads, only with this one, they seem to have the results that prove how good it is for you, supposedly it's great for reducing muscle soreness after exercise so really I should be lapping up the stuff.

Anyway, I decided to give a couple of recipes a go, two pretty different ones in an attempt to convince that other half of mine that it really is good.  So with Love Beetroot on hand with their pre-cooked beetroot it couldn't get much easier because they've done all the hard work for us, making their beetroot super easy and fuss-free to use, just chop it up and it's good to go.  And the beauty of beetroot is literally that, the beauty, it makes food look so impressive with that deep rich colour, and anything that can turn things pink is a winner in my books.

Recipe Number One - Beet-a-ganouch, sweet chilli beetroot, sumac yoghurt and pine nuts

Beetroot Dip
Beetroot Dip
Beetroot Dip

I'll be honest, I'm not a lover of aubergine but I liked the idea of a dip, so I gave this a go, and the flavours from the beetroot, cumin, garlic and lemon really worked with the aubergine to create this tasty take on baba-ganoush.  We had this with falafel and pitta bread in attempt to stick with the Middle Eastern theme, and it worked well.  It was also super easy to make (just make sure you've got a good food processor) and there was plenty for me to take for my lunch for the rest of the week.  Mr B? He still needed a bit of convincing on this one, but then he's not a big 'dipper' either.

Recipe Number Two - Sweet chilli beetroot and ricotta filo tarts with nigella seeds

Beetroot filo tarts
Beetroot Filo Tarts
Beetroot filo tarts

Everyone looks pastry right? So I figured I was onto a winner with these.  And if I thought the dip was easy, then these were a walk in the park, and look how impressive they are.  In fact, I think I might add them to my 'dinner party starter' list...I actually don't own that list, but it makes me sound like one of those people who hosts fabulous dinner parties with fish courses and an amuse bouche.  I like having people round for 'tea' as we call up north, and these would definitely be a nice, easy starter, and if I did own that list, I'd be adding these.  They were delicious, the cumin, beetroot and ricotta made a lovely filling, and the nigella seeds adding a nice bit of heat and crunch.  

Unfortunately, that man of mine still wasn't quite convinced, but I know my mum would love these, and I'm not giving up yet, there's a whole of other recipes on the Love Beetroot site that I'm going to try.  First up? The chocolate brownies, and I'm just not going to tell him until after he's taking a big bite that they've got beetroot in, I'm pretty sure he'd be convinced then...

So what about you? Beetroot lover or hater? 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

don't stop me now... feeling inspired

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

I know, I know, a book review wasn't exactly what you were expecting to find over on this blog, but bear with me on this one...

This book, Don't Stop Me Now, has changed my life, ok, that's a huge exaggeration, but this book has motivated me to get my ass running like nothing I ever thought could.  If you're even vaguely interested in running, or thinking about starting to have a go at running or need some motivation to keep going, then you must read this.  Yes, I know you think I've gone insane but it's true, I'd offer to lend you it, but I kinda want to read it again.

I bought this book for the Mr for Christmas, and after a few weeks of him reading small snippets aloud, or referring to sections he'd just read, I asked him to tell me no more as from the bits I'd heard from him, I actually wanted to read it myself. 

This is a book by Vassos Alexander, no I hadn't heard of him either, if you're a sports fan, or have a partner who is, it's likely that they will know the name, Vassos is apparently one of the best known sports broadcasters there is, and an ultra runner to boot.  However he hasn't always been an ultra runner, in fact, he hasn't always been a runner, he started late in life, I think in his mid-30's (don't quote me on that!) and only because his waist band was expanding and he wanted to continue his regular beer drinking down the pub.

The book follows his journey from his first ever run, five minutes down the road from his house and collapsing in a heap, to him completing an iron man (2.4mile swim, 112 mile cycle finished off with a marathon, 26.2 miles if you're wondering).  It's split into 26 chapters, each chapter starts with an almost diary-like entry, written whilst he's running each mile of his iron man marathon, it's a difficult read as you can feel the pain and distress he's putting his body through every step of the way, and you find yourself urging him to stop, and yet praying he'll finish it. 

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander
I know, I hate myself for this bedside table reading too...

Each chapter then goes on to chronicle more of his running life, and ends with stories about how other (usually very well known) runners got into the sport, think Paula Radcliffe, Joss Naylor (my fellow Cumbrian readers should know who he is) Nell McAndrew and Vassos' own children to name a few, and it is completely fascinating.  As many of these are Olympians, they generally knew from a young age they'd be runners, but the odd one didn't start till they were older and yet have still gone on to achieve incredible feats.

But as a non-runner, it's hard to get motivated by those 'natural' types, I just assume it comes easy to them and so know very much from my own experience that that will never be me.  That's what I love about Vassos, he hasn't always found running easy or pleasurable, he talks about his aches and pains, the inner battle he has with himself to give up often half-way through runs, and those occasions when you go out for a run, and you're just not feeling it.  

My husband is training for a marathon, he's a natural runner, he's always enjoyed it, and often uses it as a stress reliever, and he's fast! I don't think he really understands why I find it so difficult, why I so often just give up and walk home, and why I don't seem to be getting any further or faster.  I'm not criticising him for this, he's just made to run, me not so much.  

However Vassos gets it, but he also talks about how much he loves it, how he finds it the best way to discover a new city when he's travelling, how he always just keeps telling himself to keep going when he doesn't really want to anymore, and how he completes several long distance runs in all the wrong kit because he's forgotten to bring most of it with him.  He doesn't follow a crazy diet, he hasn't set himself ridiculous training plans and he does most things he shouldn't the night before/hour before a big race...think drinking beer, eating too much (or too little) and wearing the wrong trainers. 

It's completely fascinating, and has really inspired me to get back out there and stick with it, I'm probably back down to 5k distances now, but I'd like to get that  up to 10k again, and maybe regularly managing 10k, not once every 6 months which seems to be how it goes.  I want to go to the local Park Run and try to beat my previous times, and I want to go out for a jog to just enjoy and appreciate the landscape.

So, thank you Vassos for inspiration, and maybe one day I'll be recounting my own Iron Man tales.... yeah, I went too far, maybe a half marathon, maybe one day? 

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

a reality check

nutella milkshake

I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s been here.  I’ve had a couple of weeks of over indulgence, it’s that time of the month, my jeans are definitely tighter than they were, and I’m feeling bloated and uncomfortable.  While I’d like to blame the period, I know that the reality is, I’ve been trying to convince myself that the workouts I’ve been doing, are enabling me to eat whatever I want.  And while getting through a 300 calorie burn circuits class does mean that I can probably go easier on the diet than I have done in the past, it doesn’t mean that a burger and chips, with a nutella milkshake on the side is going to keep me trim.  It’s time to accept that I’m about 5 or 6 pounds heavier than I’d like to be, and myfitnesspal is going to have to come back out from the archives because really, I’d quite like my jeans to be comfortable again, and that muffin top well and truly tucked back in.

For most of my life, I've kept my weight reasonably steady (let's not talk about the uni years) by dieting, I've never done prescribed diets like Weight Watchers or Slimming World, given up carbs, or survived on juices.  I've just eaten better, snacking on fruit instead of biscuits, adding extra veg to my plate and giving up the coco pops for yoghurt and granola, and it's always done the trick, I'd lose a few pounds, wear my belt a hole tighter and get on with my day, exercise never came into the equation.

burger and chips

Fast forward 30 years and now I'm that person who works out 5 times a week, goes for a jog on weekends away and gets a bit twitchy if the weather is threatening to rain on my planned long jaunt out, it's suddenly a bit more depressing when you realise you need to shift half a stone.  

So, here we are, soup is back on the lunch menu, my desk at work is piled with fruit, and the biscuit tin is firmly sealed.  But, it's not all bad, I figured with the amount of exercise I do, I can still have weekends off, and no doubt my epic cheat days will be back but when Monday's to Friday's are full of the good stuff, and my legs are aching from a quick jog, I think I deserve that burger and chips, and nutella milkshake on the side...

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

a scenic selfie and soggy feet

Lords Seat Walk
(Gotta get that selfie!)

Lords Seat Walk

We've been at it again, a quiet Saturday with pretty good weather on the forecast called for another venture to the lakes to burn a few calories.  

I'd like to say this time we were better prepared, and in one sense we were, with a guidebook that used to be my dad's (Easy Rambles around Keswick & Borrowdale if you're interested), with excellent step by step directions meant there was no chance of us getting lost this time, but donned once again in my fabric trainers, a 2km stretch of soggy bog land wasn't the most pleasant of experiences.  

We picked a relatively easy route, just under 5 miles but with impressive views once you've scaled above the Forestry Commission land, too bad we didn't pay more attention to the blurb before we set off as then we perhaps would have been more prepared for the 'boggy ground between Barf and Lord's Seat', ah well, you live and learn hey?

Lords Seat Walk

Lords Seat Walk

sweet potato, chilli and lime soup

Parking up at Whinlatter Visitor Centre, we filled our tums with sweet potato, chilli and lime soup, and a great chunk of crusty bread.  This was genuinely one of the best soups I've ever had (sorry Glorious Soups, I still love you though!) and plan to attempt to recreate it at home some time soon.  With an emergency packet of hula hoops in my bag, a cartoon of apple juice, and a handful of maoams (turns out I snack like a 5 year old) we were ready to rock.

A relatively gentle ascent, although the heart rate was definitely racing at certain points, with good views and a history lesson or two along the can see the spot that Lord Barf fell to his death after a drunken wager led him to attempt to scale the fell on his horse the next day, it was a nice walk that I'd recommend if you want something that isn't too hard going.  However, the stretch between the two fells isn't the most enjoyable, if there is a path, it was under a foot of mud when we walked through it, and however hard you try, it's impossible not to sink! 

But by the point, you've done all the hardwork and it's a simple path back downhill, so with cold and wet toes, we rushed back to the car, turned the heating up high and patted ourselves on the back for not getting lost.  Given that it's only February March, I think we're doing pretty well to have got two walks in so far this year, but before the next, I think it might be time to admit that a pair of walking boots are definitely required, although with Summer just around the corner, then I'll be getting out the flip flops!

Lords Seat Walk

Lords Seat Walk

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