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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

my version of the myprotein coconut protein balls

Chocolate coconut protein balls

Chocolate coconut protein balls

Having a spare hour seems to be the perfect excuse for whipping up some protein balls, and with a hubby training for a marathon, and me trying to get my arse back into some kind of workout routine, having these to hand is the perfect pre or post run pick-me-up.

Now, the last recipe I used was the Madeleine Shaw version, and while these were good, my dislike of nut butters had me hunting a nut-butter free version, and ideally, if I can close my eyes and imagine I'm eating a chocolate bar then that would also be of benefit.

After hunting high and low for a recipe which only included ingredients I had in the house, I stumbled across this Myprotein one, it wasn't exactly what I had in mind (where was the chocolate!) but with a tweak here and there I knew I could recreate something similar.

And I am pleased to say, these bad boys were gooooood.  We even took a stash on our Walla Crag walk last week, and I've been nibbling on them every day since.  In fact, the only problem is that they might just be TOO good, and waiting to eat them in conjunction with a workout just isn't happening, but mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening snack, I'm there with my face in the fridge stealing another one.

If you've had Australian Crunchie before, then the flavour kind of reminds me of that, in fact so much so, I ended up making a batch of that the week after too. So they're not quite like eating the chocolate bar I'd hope, but they certainly give you that sweet fix you might be looking for. 

chocolate coconut protein balls

Chocolate coconut protein balls

Chocolate coconut protein balls

So, my tweaked recipe, if you'd like to recreate is:

2 Scoops Impact Whey Protein - chocolate flavour 
2 Scoops instant oats
30ml (ish) of coconut milk
Somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut

1.  Add the protein, oats, cocoa powder and one tablespoon of coconut into a bowl and mix with a spoon (the myprotein recipe says use a blender, but I don't think you need one).  

2.  A drop at a time add the milk until a dough ball has formed (you may need a little more or less milk to reach the right consistency).

3.  Split the mixture up into about  8 pieces and roll into balls.  

4 .Put the remaining coconut into a shallow bowl or plate, and roll the balls around in it until they are well covered.

5.  Leave in the fridge for around 2 hours to set.

6. And then eat at every opportunity like I do, yum!

If you do decide to give my recipe a go, let me know, drop me a tweet or tag me in your picture on Instagram, I'd love to know what you think.

Chocolate coconut protein balls

Chocolate coconut protein balls

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

a lake district hike and a damn good slice of cake

Derwent Water

Derwent Water Views

I never appreciated growing up with the Lake District on my doorstep as a child.  Long walks out with the family to me meant eating soggy sandwiches while negotiating sitting on a precarious looking rock, wishing I was at home watching Hey Arnold!  One view never seemed anymore impressive or stunning than another, they all looked the same to me, and my brown walking boots gave me blisters.

I remember when I first moved to London, telling a friend I was from Cumbria she made a comment about how lucky I was to live in the Lake District, and how I must miss going walking every weekend.  I remember awkwardly nodding my head at the time, and it was at that point I realised that actually those mountains are pretty damn impressive and you don't see any of those in the big city.  

But it's still only now, 4 years since leaving London and 9 years since having that conversation that I'm actually genuinely starting to appreciate the Lake District, and want to start ticking off fells I've climbed.  Admittedly, I'm still going to be a fair weather walker, the thought of trudging around in soggy boots and waterproof trousers, with those all-impressive views hidden by grey clouds doesn't appeal.

This Saturday, me and the Mr had a plan-free day, and the weather was looking to be good.  So we got up early and headed to Keswick...I say early, we were up and out the house by 9am, which is pretty good going by my books on a Saturday, and donned our finest walking gear (read: adidas leggings, inappropriate trainers and a warm woolly hat).

Walla Crag walk

Walla Crag walk

I'd read Jo's 'Walla Crag Walk' post a couple of months ago, and it had been on my list of walks to do (I say that like I actually have a list, my list is non-existent now I've ticked this one off) since then, it seemed to be a good distance, a relatively easy climb and provided those all impressive views I now have learnt to love. 

Despite Jo's good directions, and this National Trust Walking Trail, we still managed to successfully go wrong on several occasions.  As a pair, we're rubbish at directions and never carry a map so somehow managed to miss the Ashness Bridge section of the walk, but it was all good, we made up our own route, found ourselves back where we started, and didn't add an extra 2 hours to the walk like the last time we got lost.

Walla Crag walk

Walla Crag walk

For some reason I'd been expected a 'gentle climb', and it may have had something to do with the fur lined puffer jacket I was wearing, but there were sections of this walk which definitely required some effort, so I'd make sure you're feeling fit if you're planning on giving this a go, or perhaps just leave the winter coat at home.  

With stunning views of Derwent Water, dense woodland into open fields, and crunchy snow underfoot (my favourite kind of weather) it really was a beautiful walk and I genuinely enjoyed it.  My dad, a long time lover of the lakes, would be proud.

Derwent Water

Walla Crag Views

And after 3 hours of walking, 1000 calories burnt according to our watches and stomachs rumbling, it seemed only sensible to stop in Keswick for some lunch.  

We headed to a cafe called Merienda, an old favourite of mine which used to be in Carlisle but one day they just up and left (I still mourn for it!) however I was pleased to see they still had the same menu and ordered the slow cooked boston beans served with chorizo, feta, spinach, poached eggs and grilled corn bread.  I'd spotted the Guiness and Bailey's cake on my way in, so made sure I went for a smaller meal to leave space for a slice.  And the food was every bit as good as I remembered, and the cake? Well let's just say I'll be dreaming about that cake for months to come.

And that was that, a perfect Saturday, an appreciation of the Lake District and a damn good slice of cake.  I will be back.

Poached eggs and spinach
Guiness and Baileys Cake

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

10 reasons i'll never be a true health and fitness blogger

Nutella out of the jar

This time last year, I picked up my pen opened up my laptop and started blogging again. I was feeling determined, you know the usual January motivation, new year, new you. It seemed like the perfect platform to write about my health and fitness journey, my workout achievements and running diary.  And that's exactly what it become, a weekly check in, with not just myself to answer to as I knew others were reading it...not that any of you were stood waving a cane waiting to give me 10 slaps on the hand, but by sharing it, it was harder to get out of it. 

I started reading other health and fitness blogs, I've bought every copy of Women's Health this year, I've made protein balls and you name a fitstagrammer (that's 'fitness instagrammer' for those not in the know) I probably follow them.

And I had these visions of me becoming one of them, one of those bloggers with tens of thousands of followers, with abs you can grate cheese on, and the ability to recite inspirational quotes at the drop of a hat, or go one further, make up my own!

I've quickly become to realise that I'll never be one of those people, so I thought I'd put together just a few of the reasons why:

1.  I hate peanut butter.  Actually all nut butters. In fact I don't particularly like nuts full stop, unless they're wrapped in chocolate, and only then I'm eating them because they're the last left and I'm needing chocolate.

2.  See point above - chocolate always comes first which means I'll never have that defined flat stomach I dream of.  I'll even eat chocolates I don't really like if it comes down to going with, or without.

3. I don't know anything about lifting weights, the horror that is leg day or what even is the 'glute' muscle.  I go to classes where teachers shout and tell you what to do, give me a gym and I don't know where to start, and without a plan, I'd probably finish ten minutes later... I certainly won't be putting any recommended workouts up on here any time soon.

Nutella out of the jar

4. Don't hate me for this one, but I don't like avocado's, actually it's not even a dislike, it's just a complete indifference towards them, I just don't get it.  And if I sliced into one, I wouldn't know if it was perfectly ripe, or completely rotten in it's own skin, so don't expect any #avocado pics over on my Instagram feed any time soon.

5. 9 times out of 10, I don't co-ordinate my gym kit, it's hard enough to find leggings, a sports bra and a top that are all clean when you're working out 4/5 times a week, so finding pieces that actually match, that's just unheard of!

6,  I don't count macros, and I don't know what they are, and I don't really want to weigh every piece of food I consume, just so I know if I've 'hit my macros'. Although, if counting macros means I get to eat those mega flex bowls are they called? Which are topped with all the good stuff, then maybe I should start counting...

7.  I also kinda claim to follow the Lean in 15 diet, I mean, about 60% of the meals I eat do come from the books, but generally my days consist of three carbohydrate fuelled meals instead of three reduced carb meals, not to mention 1, 2, 3, could be 4 or 5 snacks I'll consume inbetween.

8.  I drink protein shakes, not because I've done a bad-ass workout, but because they taste like milkshakes.

9.  I look really unattractive after I've exercised.  I'm talking red faced and sweaty haired, with heavy 'I think I'm going to die' panting to go with it.  Occasionally I'll share my post-workout face on Instagram, but generally it's best kept a secret.  

10.  And finally number 10, I can't take a decent photo for love nor money.  The Mr got me a new camera for Christmas so I'm hoping they are going to improve slightly, but beautiful flat-lays, steaming bowls of porridge and bright white backgrounds are a mystery to me. 

So it would seem, I'm never going to be that health and fitness blogger that gets to write a cookbook, produce an e-guide or bring out my own range of fitness gear, instead I guess I like to think of myself as more like Deliciously Stella, only a lot less funny, and one day maybe I'll bring out my own brand of Nutella and encourage all of you to eat it out of the jar with a spoon, because that's my kind of workout.

Nutella out of the jar

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

goodbye 2016, hello 2017

goodbye 2016
Well here it is, a new year, new beginnings, new starts, new diets, new goals and all that jazz.

I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions, 'lose weight', 'get fit', 'stop eating chocolate', I think that all year round, every year, so why should the 1st of January encourage me to do something that I generally haven't achieved any other time.

Like the rest of the world, I'm glad to see the back of 2016, for me personally, it was a horrendous year and I'm ready to put it behind me.  But like resolutions, I'm also not one for seeing the 1st January as time for a change, this big event that marks the start of something new.  It's just another day, not that different to the day before, or the one that's going to come after it.  Before now, I couldn't pinpoint specifically good years or bad years, so writing one off to start a new one has never been something I've done.  

 But this year, it maybe makes a little more sense.  While the 1st January doesn't mean I'm going to forget everything that happened in 2016, I can't just wipe the slate clean and start again.  This new year will be hard in many ways, but it is something to look forward to, to set dates, to plan holidays, to go to weddings and hen do's, to spend time with family, to just make it a better year.

So what do I hope for in 2017? You'll see last year, rather than a resolution, I set myself a challenge, and it worked, it was a much more concrete goal, something to work towards and achieve.  Telling myself I'm going to lose weight is never going to give me the motivation I need, I could lose 1/2 a pound, and in theory, I've done it, New Year's Resolution achieved, tick. 

Ok so let's start with the obvious, a job would be nice.  I'm starting the new year unemployed after having been made redundant in November.  Being off work was actually a blessing in disguise, I could spend time with my family when it was most needed.  And while it would be lovely to continue going on being a lady of leisure, unfortunately I'm not blessed with an unlimited bank account.

Next up is to stick with the fitness.  That's two years now that I've kept up being fit.  24 whole months.  I can't really believe it either, who'd have thought this lazy, never ran in her life, couch potato would manage to start getting into shape.  It all started in the run up to my wedding, then I set myself the Total Warrior challenge, now I need a 2017 target, something that will motivate me to keep going.  I'm definitely going to sign up to another Total Warrior type obstacle course (all suggestions welcome as I want to do a different one), I WILL run 10k again.  I had two aims at the end of December, one to run 5k in under 30 minutes, which I did, just, the other to run 10k, which I didn't.  I want to get properly fit, I'd like to learn to lift weights, and I'd love a set of abs, it might not happen but it's something to aim towards. 

Keep up the blogging.  I have a new design which I'm just waiting to launch.  And last year I feel like I got back my blogging flow, 2017 is the year to keep it up, and grow my audience and readership.  Blogging takes time, and I really admire those people who have full time jobs and successful blogs, how do they do it? So while getting a job is my priority, working on my blog is second in line. And I have a fancy new camera to work with so there's no excuses.

Speaking of cameras, I guess it's about time I learnt how to use them.  I'm a point and click kinda girl, and I've always admired people who take beautiful photos.  It definitely doesn't come easy to me, so it really will be a case of learning all the basics, but I think I can only improve my blog, if I improve my photography.  So watch this space...and point me in the direction of photography tips.

Eat more fish.  I know, it's not your usual resolution but I'm always reading about how good fish is for you.  I love it, so me and the Mr have agreed that we'll aim to eat it once a week, I'm assuming Friday night fish n' chips is totally acceptable right? 

And last on the list is somewhat indulgent.  When I'm working again, and have money in my pocket once more, I'd like to spend some of that on pampering myself.  I love the idea of spending time getting massages and facials, having my nails done and getting someone else to pluck my eyebrows.  These little things often make you feel so much better in yourself, and once I've got this smokin' hot body (see fitness goals) which is obviously going to happen, then why shouldn't I spend money on looking after it? You only get one after all.

So that's it for my 2017.  I know there'll be hundreds of these posts going around, but by putting it down on paper (ahem digitally) always makes me feel more accountable, so lets see how I get on.  2017 will be a better year.  And I will lose this tummy, I'll just have a Quality Street first though...
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