Lucy’s November Challenge – Week 2

Happy Monday readers. After my gloating post last night, I think it’s time to move straight on to my Week 2 exercise plan.

Lucy’s November Challenge

WEEK 2

Monday – Bikram Yoga (90 mins) and Abs (10 mins)

Tuesday – Fitness Blender Arms and Cardio Workout (40 mins)

Wednesday – Bikram Yoga (90 mins) and Butt and Thigh (10 mins)

Thursday – Fitness Blender 1000 calorie intense Workout (90 mins)

Friday – Bikram Yoga (90 mins)

Saturday/Sunday – Over the period of the weekend: Jog (30 mins) and Abs (10 mins)

And I also wanted to leave you with a sneak peak of some of the more impressive meals I have had over the last week. Onwards and upwards.

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Above is my all-time favourite breakfast: Carrot cake oatmeal. On this occasion I topped it with gorgeous slightly-sweetened nuts. Read about me discovering Carrot-cake oatmeal for the first time here.

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On Monday night last week, I was on my solely-fruit day. I made this incredible fruit salad bowl, which filled me up beautifully in the evening. It included gala melon, granny smith apple, conference pear, red grapes, mango and kiwi. Delicious, and certainly something I’m going to do again this evening! I know there is a lot written about sugar at the moment, and how even sugar in fruit needs to carefully monitored… However, I think every now and then, a bowl like this is a great idea. The sheer amount of vitamins and  minerals you get from this is incredible  – I feel giddy even just looking at it.

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Now this meal was a large effort but 100% worth it. It is a recipe from one of my favourite bloggers: Deliciously Ella. You can find the recipe for this stuffed butternut squash here, and I made a big pot of ratatouille to go with it. Recipe for that is coming soon.

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Lucy’s November Challenge – Week 1 summary

Week 1 of my health-kick challenge is over, and I honestly feel better than ever. It’s time for a few very appropriate and very true Memes.

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My 3-day detox start to the week was a winner – I felt brilliant and it definitely rebooted my brain into a healthier mind-set. Then I managed to get through the weekend, attending birthday buffets and hosting dinner parties, with restraint but also enjoyment. I am enormously proud of myself, and it just proves how we can all overcome habits we feel are impossible burdens. You just need to break the cycle, and break it now.

Also, following an exercise plan worked amazingly for me. Yesterday I was in agony, but it was a great agony! My muscles were aching like crazy, which just proves how much more I was pushing myself this week than ever before.

I cannot wait to see the results if I carry on like this. Follow along with me, and see the change in yourself!

Eggy Mush

Inspired by Greek eggy mush (see last post on Greek food) I made a British eggy mush for my lunch today, and thought I’d share the basic recipe with you here:

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Ingredients

2 large tomatoes

1 large onion

2 handfuls of spinach

2 eggs whites

1 whole egg (white and yolk)

Salt and pepper

This is so simple, but tastes divine and has nothing bad in it. It’s an excellent post work-out meal, as it has tonnes of great protein, a little good fat, and then loads of rehydrating vegetables.

The idea is to make an omelette and fail…

Whisk up your 3 eggs (I use 2 egg-whites just to make it is as healthy as possible, but can’t stand a purely egg-white mixture as I think a lot of taste is lost), and add salt and pepper. Now throw your chopped up tomatoes and onion into the pan and let it sizzle in a little olive oil. Add the spinach only when the tomatoes and onion have softened a little, then finally pour in your whisked eggs. Remember, this is a failed omelette – so make no attempt to maintain a shape or form. Just keep mixing the eggs and vegetables in the pan until all of it is cooked.

You can then pour the delicious creation straight into a bowl and eat by itself, or (as in the picture above) put it on top of a piece of toasted rye bread, and add a massive pile of balsamic-drenched kale on the side. Again – goodness, goodness and more goodness.

Happy Wednesday 🙂

The Wimbledon Way

Wimbledon has now sadly been over for a few days, but let’s hear it one more time for our main man Murray and his spectacular win!

In the first week of Wimbledon my flatmate and I decided to go and queue for day tickets. For those of you who don’t live in London and have never experienced the Wimbledon Queue, it is quite a thing to behold, and on a nice day it can be a bit of entertainment in itself. If you plan your queue-day well, and prepare for the fact that you will probably be there for almost 8 hours, you can really make it quite good fun – make some friends, sit in the sun and have a perfect picnic!

On preparing for the day though, I was adamant that we were not going to slump for the classic “baguette, pate, crisps and sweets” picnic. We were going to do a picnic healthily and gourmet-style. I planned the whole day, and our menu was as follows:

Breakfast (9:30am)

  • Mango and Greek Yogurt (with Bran Flakes sprinkled on top)

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Midday Snack (12:00am)

  • Bottle of fizzy rose
  • Popcorn and wasabi peas to nibble on (instead of crisps)

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Lunch (2:00pm)

  • Green Brocolli and Bean Salad
  • Baked Aubergine
  • Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad
  • Houmous with carrots, cucumber and oatcakes
  • Salami and parma ham
  • Home-made Apple and Plum Chutneys (from my flatmate’s boyfriend’s mother… He’s a keeper!)Image
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Mid-afternoon Snack (on Henman Hill at about 5:00pm)

  • Can of Pimms
  • Strawberries and cherries.

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Tell me that doesn’t sound perfect! I absolutely gorged myself on delicious food all day, but never felt stodgy or unpleasant or bloated. It was pure proof that if you eat the right food, there is almost no such thing as “too much”. Here is how I made my salads.

GREEN BROCOLLI AND BEAN SALAD

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For this delicious concoction, I just steamed a few florets of brocolli and some green beans, then threw them in a bowl together with a tin of broad beans. I then chopped up a big handful of mint, a big handful of coriander and a big handful of basil (I need more hands), and I added the herbs and some Nigella Seeds (also known as Black Onion Seeds) to the mixture. Finally I drizzled some lemon juice over it all.

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER AND CHICKPEA SALAD

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This is one of my favourite things to make as a side-dish on a hot day. While you’re steaming (or boiling) a load of cauliflower florets, chop up a green apple and 3 or 4 spring onions. Then add about half a tin of chick-peas to the above ingredients. To make the dressing, mix curry paste and olive oil in the ratios 1:3. I replace some of the olive oil with coconut oil, to give the dressing that extra-tropical feel. Pour the dressing over and mix the ingredients until the dressing is covering everything. There shouldn’t be excess liquid, so change the amounts accordingly to ensure there is just the right amount of dressing to cover but not be sat at the bottom of the bowl.

BAKED AUBERGINE

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Easy peasy. I just set the oven to 200 degrees C, chopped an aubergine into fingers and then put them on a baking dish with 4 chopped up garlic cloves and a generous portion of black pitted olives. I drizzled some olive oil over the top and then just kept checking on the vegetable as it cooked, until it looked good to go.

Happy British Summer to you all. Long may the sunshine continue!

The Super-ified Classic Stirfry

Today a friend of mine came round for lunch with her beautiful 7-month-old baby daughter. I met Madeline while performing at the Old Vic last year, and shared a dressing room with her throughout the first trimester of her pregnancy. So it is always very emotional and delightful for me to see baby Bree. However, it is also brilliant for another reason – during her first trimester, Madeline was very distressed because she couldn’t get any fruit or veg into her body. Her cravings were only bad! Healthy food tasted disgusting to her. So, having seen this girl cry over the fact that she wants to have fruit but can only eat another chinese take-away, I now relish in cooking her delicious but highly nutritious meals one year on!

Here is what I cooked Madeline – a classic stirfry… but super-ified!

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The Super-ified Classic Stirfry

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Ingredients:

(Basically as many different vegetables of different colours as you can get. For example -)

1 red pepper

1 carrot

6 mushrooms

1 onion

handful of sweetcorn

green beans

Also –

1 large turkey breast (chopped up)

1/2 a pack of beansprouts

1 mango (sliced)

coconut oil

soy sauce

thai sweet chilli sauce

coriander (for garnish)

1 serving of egg noodles.

1. First put the carrots and green beans on to boil (or any other veg that might benefit from a little boiling first. If you can steam instead, steam them).

2. Then fry the onions and turkey breast in a large dollop of wonderful coconut oil (see last entry).

3. When the onions and turkey have browned a little, add the remaining raw chopped vegetables to fry for a while.

4. Add the carrot and green beans that have been boiling, and put the egg noodles on to boil instead (they should only take a couple of minutes).

5. Now add the mango, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of thai sweet chilli sauce.

6. Finally add the beansprouts and the now cooked noodles, and allow to simmer all together for a few mins.

7. Garnish with coriander. When I “garnish”, I usually cover the stirfry in it! It tastes delicious.

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To sum-up… it tastes bloody glorious, and it contains tons of brilliant things for you. The various coloured vegetables are pretty self-explanatory, giving you a hyge dose of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Turkey is considered one of the healthiest meats you can consume, some even call it a “superfood” – a term bandied around perhaps a little too much – but whatever you call it, it’s full of low-fat protein and cancer & heart disease-fighting vitamins. The coconut oil is a fantastic way of frying stuff as it is full of good fats, for  breaking down bad things in your body, and it tastes amazing. Finally, no need to feel guilty about the egg noodles, since with everything else filling up the stirfry, you only need 1 portion for 2 people.

 

Well-Behaved Fats

So, let’s chat “good fats”. I going to break it down for you all, and make it mega simple first.

If you eat more more of the GOOD FATS, it could help you lose weight. It will CERTAINLY not make you gain weight, and it will DEFINITELY be doing all kinds of good things for your heart and brain (which, let’s be honest, are the two key players in our clever bodies).

Good fats are almost as important as eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and actually help you absorb more of the vitamins and minerals from those kind of foods. A nutritionist friend of mine once recommended that if I make a smoothie, I should just pop a few drops of olive oil in there, because it will help my body absorb all the goodness from the fruit.

It makes sense… my family are part Greek, and we go to Greece every year if at all possible. When I was younger we would go for a fortnight each trip, and we would eat like kings. Lots of healthy food, but also a vast amount of bread!

Here is a sample day:

BREAKFAST – Melon and full-fat Greek Yogurt. Bread.

LUNCH – Greek Salad (feta, tomato, cucumber, red onion) doused in olive oil and vinegar. Bread (we’re talking about a third of a loaf each).

TEA – Crisps or baclava. Bread dipped in olive oil. Wine.

DINNER – Large 2 course meal, involving lots of vegetables and meat, but also lots of bread, pasta, wine and, you guessed it… olive oil.

But I would always come home to England thinner than I went away. Now I admit, when I was younger my metabolism was crazy fast, but the Greeks are not a fat population, and the average Greek consumes 20 litres of olive oil a year. 20 litres! Olive oil is magic. And the Greeks have it absolutely right with the amount of fruit and vegetables they consume in their diet.

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Anyway, let’s move away from the Greeks and back to our homes. My favourite good fats to incorporate into life at home are olive oil, tuna, avocado, nuts and seeds. I cook everything in olive oil, I put it on my salads and I drizzle it on rye bread toast. I also have a huge tupaware tub that is full of almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds, which I get out while I’m working in the afternoon, just to nibble on. But I’m going to end on a new recommendation.

I read an article the other day on coconut oil. The coconut is the new hot property of the nutritional world – coconut water has been proven to have all kinds of advantageous effects, and now coconut oil is getting the same attention. The main thing though is that it is damn tasty! Chop up some turkey, an onion and some spinach, and fry them in coconut oil, with some cranberries or raisins or chopped up plum. It’s a simple meal that tastes divine. And it’s guilt free.

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Pictures above: Tupaware of nuts, and turkey meal with cranberries.

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Further reading:

The “Lucy Salad”

Let’s kick things off in style, with a post on “Lucy Salads”, as they are known in my family.

A “Lucy Salad” is, in a word, enormous. For all those people who think a salad can’t be a meal, I say you’re being too shy with your portion size. If you put the right things in a salad, then there is no reason to hold back.

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First things first, select the right bowl. For a “Lucy Salad” I like to use the mixing bowl my mother got me for cake making (how ironic). If you don’t have something like that, just raid your kitchen for anything supersize – even if it’s just a large pot! Next area of focus is the leaves. This is where I really bulk up. There is not only nothing bad about leaves, but some lettuces are actively good for you. No ice-berg here please – Kale, Spinach, Watercress and Rocket are my favourites. For websites explaining a little more of their nutritional value see the bottom of this post.

Fill your bowl 3/4 full of leaves.

Next is the toppings: again don’t be shy. Here is an example of my basic quantities:

A third of a cucumber.

2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes

2 stalks of celery

Half a pepper

1 small onion

If you don’t like any of the above, leave them out or replace them. Include carrot or courgette. Throw in some peas or raw mushroom? After putting in the salad basics, I select 2 luxury items – the extra-tasty, pretty looking ingredients that go right at the top of the salad mountain. My rule is generally to only allow one fatty topping at most. Here are some suggestions:

  • avocado and chick-peas
  • turkey breast and pear
  • tuna and pomegranate seeds
  • chicken and goats cheese

The icing on the metaphorical cake (un-cake) is to chop up heaps of herbs (basil, coriander, mint) to coat the top of the salad. Then sprinkle a few raisins on top and pour olive oil and balsamic over the top. Don’t skimp on the olive oil. It may be oil and seem calorific, but it is God’s gift to us!! I am part Greek and have been brought up on the stuff. It is so good for you. More on that another day though.

If anybody attempts a “Lucy Salad”, please take a picture and post it for me to see!