Meal Planning & Prepping

Last year, one thing I was awful at doing was meal planning and prepping, especially in December. It got to the stage where I’d be buying what we were having for dinner on the way home from work or giving up and just going out somewhere locally because there was absolutely no planning involved. Not only is this not great for your health buying last minute food which is heavily processed or cooked in a vat of oil, it’s really not great for your bank balance either.

So I’ve embraced the new year and got down to it, I’ve pulled out of all of my healthy cookbooks and tagged ALL of the recipes that I love and made sure that either they made me surprise myself or gave me something to work towards in terms of taking myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve bought myself a book that helps me keep track of everything that I’m eating/shoving in my mouth that includes a weekly meal planner.

Here are some of the products/tips I would have for helping you to get meal prep ready:

  1. Time

And this is SO important but you need to carve out some time in your week to dedicate to this. Whether you need to review recipes that you’ve saved on your phone, go through anything you’ve tagged in your recipe books or just do a bit of a Google search. You need to give yourself some time to figure out what you’re going to eat throughout the week so that when you hit the shops, you’ve got everything you need. I’ve found over the past couple of weeks that I’m actually getting the cupboards to look a bit clearer by the end of the week by using up stuff rather than shoving more stuff in there!

Check out what you have already in the cupboard – I seem to have a thing for tomatoes and have managed to hoard 5 tubes of tomato puree for some reason….. So it’s good to know NOT to put that on the list! Also, it means that you can actually give the cupboards a bit of a clear out and use up stuff before it goes off.

  1. Inspiration

This is a big thing to help you in task one of finding time is stuff that actually inspires you! I’ve become a bit of a book fanatic in the past 6 months – I love reading a recipe and pouring over books to find things I love and that I don’t. Some of the things below that I’d loved recently include:

The woman is a social media power house who has recently become a Adidas ambassador and generally is pretty wicked. I’ve followed her for probably just over a year and I love her approach to life and this kind of lifestyle. Her book is EPIC and doesn’t just include recipes but the main bulk is helping you choose how to train which is so vital for those that can’t afford a personal trainer but want some guidance on how best to do stuff.

This is a GREAT book BURSTING full of delicious recipes that can be tweaked upon what diet plan you’re following. There is an incredible Bombay Chicken recipe that just knocks my socks off every time I make it and is a firm favourite in our house.

I know that he has become a bit like marmite to some people and he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but his recipes are absolutely brilliant. They are so simple but most importantly, I love that the majority of them are for either one or two people! His demographic are a lot younger and looking for something to make for themselves rather than ‘Serves 4’ which is a standard. They are also so easy and most of them can get done in 5 minutes!

  1. Meal Planner Diary or Tracker

Once you’ve made that plan, staying on track is SO much easier. Write that list down, figure out what you need to do all the recipes and make a shopping list. There are so many options out there on the market but I use anything from the wonderful Fox and Moon – she’s a one woman band so sometimes she’s overwhelmed with orders but her stuff is beautiful, handbag handy and non-offensive if you decide to whip it out at work or finishing up lunch with the girls.

The main thing is find something that you will use. There is no point unless you write it all down.

  1. Cooking time

More time. Sorry, I should have flagged this – meal prep takes time in advance but I promise makes things quicker in the long run. Sunday afternoon is my meal cooking time. This week I made a huge frittata which I’ve cut up into slices to eat with a little side salad on a daily basis. Not difficult but you just need to find that time to dedicate to it. Once it’s in, box it up and TA-DAH!

  1. TIME TO BASK IN THE GLORY

Honestly, you feel quite smug and epic once it’s all done. And then it’s a case of it becoming a habit. I’m sure there is a stat that tells you exactly how many weeks it takes to get you to do something enough for it to become a habit and I think it’s 4 weeks?! Whatever the stats say, the more you do it, the better and the easier it will get.

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2017 – Some Thoughts

We are now three days into 2017 and the post-holiday bliss is disappearing as fast as it appeared. It took me a good few days to allow myself to just chill out a little bit at the end of last year and when I’m finally getting into a routine of spending the days between family, friends, attached to the sofa and just general mooching and now I’m back into the routine of work. And I’ve missed a little bit of a routine – I’m a Taurus, we like to plan and we love to organise. With the routine has come my desire to have a little bit more of a plan for the year for things I want to achieve.

Some of these things are REALLY boring – sorting out our house is a big one. We have lots of stuff. And to be fair, it’s mainly me that brings in most of the stuff but it’s still stuff. We need to sort out our bedroom that is currently a mismatch of borrowed furniture when we moved into our house which is now three years ag – long enough to get our sh*t sorted. But saying all of that, I LOVE our house, it really is our home. The stuff makes it ours and the lack of matching furniture also makes it ours but maybe it just needs to be a bit more…. ordered.

As the clocks struck midnight at our friend’s beautiful wedding at a riverside hotel in Richmond, that next year we are getting married. Next year. And breathe. We have been saving and we have a savings plan for this year which isn’t a problem but man alive, it really hit us that we are getting married NEXT year! The one thing that hit me is that my very gorgeous wedding dress has been placed on hold and is waiting for me to go in in August to go and have my measurements done. It’s real, I think because when I ordered my dress, none of my measurements were done but now I have a countdown of 35 weeks until I need to go in and have someone measure me up for my ACTUAL dress.

My weight loss journey hasn’t been easy but if I manage to lose 1 pound a week between now and then, I would have lost 2.5 stone and if I manage to lose on average 2 pounds, then it would be 5 stone. 5 stone?! How crazy is that. So I am committing to myself that I am going to stick to plan as much as possible and it does feature a number of weddings between then and now, hen weekends, 30th birthdays galore but you never know – I may be where I want to be by the time I go and try my dress back on and feel like I’ve really achieved something!

Apart from the wedding which is a massive part of my life at the moment, I do want to be a better ‘girl’. I said this last year, and I’m probably to say it every year but I’m a bit rubbish at looking after myself. I should give myself manis and pedis more often, I should look after my skin better (and this is something I definitely need to better and I want to seriously change!) and find better clothes to suit me. The issue with losing weight is that you never want to buy a load of clothes until you have got to your target but I’m going to try and buy better basics as I go along.

The list could go on and on but I think the main focus for me this year is get my body to where I want it to be to feel the best I can in my wedding dress and get saving! Would love to know what you guys are working towards J

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2016: What a year it’s been

I was talking to a friend yesterday and we were talking about 2016 in light of all of the horrible passings of so many great individuals this year, reflecting on our own lives and what has happened. I’ve seen personal loss this year and it was heart breaking to watch the people around you dealing with grief but to place a positive spin on this post – there has so much that has happened to be celebrated.

It’s been one hell of a year and there are a few things that I haven’t achieved that I said I would do at the beginning of the year but there are things that I haven’t expected to do. It’s been a year of surprises, some good and some bad but I honestly think it’s one where I’ve possibly learnt the most about myself.

I love fitness. It’s true.

I started this blog to talk about my fitness escapades and I think this year has probably been my fittest I’ve ever had. I was never really one to get involved with sports at school, I went to uni and avoided the gym but got dragged along to spinning classes with a friend but this year, it’s all just clicked.

People who follow me on social will know that a lot of that has been down to my PT and friend Kat who has badgered me through session after session. You realise that when your body starts to change shape, you push yourself harder than you ever have and actually when you feel like you can’t do it anymore but you do it more! I’ve found out that I love fitness – the adrenaline and the feeling of achievement is so incredible but you never understand it until you do it.

Food is still my personal enemy. 

Fitness felt like the huge hurdle I overcame in 2016 but I feel food is my hurdle I need to overcome in 2017. I am a sugar addict, I love the finer things in life when it comes to food like BUTTER – but that is NOT going to help me feel better about myself. Through eating better, and all of the fitness, I have lost weight and my body shape has changed but I want to do more.

In late October, I started at a local Slimming World group and honestly, it has changed my perspective. I think the SW plan works as well for me as it doesn’t really inhibit any foods but keeps my chocolate eating in check!  I have signed up for 12 weeks so watch this space but I will be covering more and more SW friendly recipes and goodies on my blog.

I’m only getting bloody married. 

On 1st July this year, my bloody amazing boyfriend at the time asked me to be his wife. Shock was an understatement – practically everyone in my family knew all about it apart from me. We’ve spent time planning, writing guest lists and everything in-between but it’s been wonderful to get the planning underway.

I also have bought a dress. The dress. It’s bloody amazing. BUT I don’t want to feel average on my wedding day – I want to feel incredible. So the focus around losing weight and getting fit is about getting ready for that big day which will be photographed and will sit on my mantelpiece for the rest of my life. I want to feel no regret that I didn’t do all I could do to feel my best.

Enjoy your work. You spend most of your life doing it. 

I moved jobs this year to do something that suited me much more than what I was previously doing. I work with big brand names, I work with some frigging incredible peeps and as much as some of the days I want to tear my hair out (isn’t that everyone at work!?) the days where I don’t outweigh the bad.

One thing I say is find something you love – it is so important.

2017 – bring it on. 

That pretty much sums it up. I’m embracing 2017 with a year that has taught me so much about myself. I’m more confident and defined about who I am as a person.

 

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Gluten Free Christmas

I’ve been gluten free for nearly five years now and to be honest, the past 18 months have been a game changer in the amount of incredible gluten free products that have been hitting the supermarket shelves. Last year was the first year where I didn’t end up pulling my hair out, and didn’t stress out every single one of my friends and family members because I wasn’t a complete nightmare to feed. Supermarkets are constantly upping their game in being able to support those of us with intolerances and this is my round up of what I feel, is the best stuff available on the market today.

Best Party Food

If you’re looking for the best canapes and party food, just hit M&S. There isn’t a ‘gluten-free’ friendly section to just aim for, but SO much of their party food range is gluten-free friendly that you can find something to please everyone. I’m a huge fan of a pig-in-blanket and M&S sausages have always been a firm favourite! They are also the only brand I know that have do a gluten-free mini toad in the hole – I served these last year to my family and not one of them could guess that they weren’t just the normal versions. They keep adding to their selections and with the offer for 3 for 2 across their entire range, you will find something to fit the bill.

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Image from Marks & Spencer

 

Best Buffet Food 

You’ve got canapes above but a great one for the whole family when you’ve got a buffet is a good quiche or tart. Now, normally these are completely out of bounds for us with intolerances but the guys over at Too Good To Be Gluten Free have come up trumps. I’ve reviewed these guys before but I can not rave about them any more if I tried. They previously had only done individual sized pies and tarts but with the new branding earlier this year came brand new sizes – they now do family sized. This is fab news for those of us who don’t want to look like the little weirdo in the corner that can only eat certain things. If you’re quick and order before Thursday, you can buy online and get it before Christmas – otherwise Sainsbury’s now stock a HUGE range of theirs so you can always rely on them.

The individual pies range from around £1.50 with the family sized versions from £3.50 – really reasonable!

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Image from Too Good To Be Gluten Free

Best Puddings

I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth, I can’t help it. So pudding is serious business to me! And there is where one supermarket seems to come out on top with introducing some new contenders to my favourite list this year – HELLO CHOCOLATE YULE LOG! And for Tesco, these are not expensive and really reasonable. The one thing I’d say about the yule log is that it says it serves 6…. now, that is pretty much a lie as I think me and my other half could probably eat it between us in one sitting if we wanted to. Not that we’ve tried yet….

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Image from Tesco

Special mention

Now, I’ve always felt very very jealous of everyone enjoying these festive themed sandwiches and M&S go and NAIL it. A Turkey Feast sandwich featuring turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and much more – dare I need to say more? Thank you M&S. Thank you. It’s a thing of beauty.

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Hello!

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Sometimes life just gets in the way doesn’t it? That’s what been happening with me. Thought I’d get you back up to speed.

Work

What we all have to do to make the money to pay the rent and THAT has gone insane. I am not ready for Christmas at all, I feel like I’ve booked in friends as much as I can but even then, I can’t find time to do everything I want to do! I love my job but one thing I need to do next year is not try and take my work home with me – and that’s difficult.

I’m sure you’ve all felt the same thing at one time and another but it’s just been a BIG rush in the run up to Christmas. And I’m not quite sure I’ve ever felt this ready to have a bit of time off – bring on the weeks off!

Exercise

I’ve been ploughing on with my exercise plan – I train twice a week doing bootcamps, still doing my weekly PT session and since I’ve also started running! I’ve planned to do a 10k at the beginning of February which I’m not sure that I’m not the best prepared for it but I think I’ll be alright if I keep ploughing on.

The one thing I have realised is that if I don’t exercise then I feel bloody dreadful – keeping it up is making me feel sane.

Diet

I’ve been doing Slimming World now for about 7 weeks and I’ve managed to lose 8.5lbs in that time! I’ve actually been enjoying following the plan – I’m finding it easy to follow and despite having so much going on with work and family in the recent weeks, it’s a plan that will help me stay on track as much as possible over the festive period.

I’m going to be doing some longer posts on each of these topics but thought I’d do a quick recap!

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Change of Mindset

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I really began my exercise journey almost two years ago when I started doing bootcamps after being persuaded by my other half to give them a go. I vividly remember that first bootcamp when I came home and thought I was going to vomit. I was enjoying my one bootcamp a week, and then six months later I decided to take on PT. And then I started two bootcamps a week. I now do three solid hours a week of planned exercise and in the past month, I’ve started doing two to three regular runs a week with the desire to run a 10k in February.

My life and my attitude to exercise has done a complete 180 in the past 12-18 months.

Last week I was having “one of those weeks” – we’ve all been there for whatever reason. Nothing was going right, I was in a real hump about everything and basically exercise was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t run, I wasn’t able to get to one of my bootcamp sessions due to working late and my food planning kinda went out of the window. I only put on half a pound at Slimming World but it really affected me.

This week, I’ve put my big girl pants on and cracked on with life. I’ve put my food planning head back on, I’ve got my running plan back into action and I’ve gone to both bootcamps and worked my little booty off! I woke up this morning and I feel so much better about everything. My body feels in tune again, my mind feels clearer and I feel like I can go and attack the day in a way I just struggled with last week.

Exercise is a difficult habit to get used to, but once it’s part of your everyday life, it just feels so strange when you don’t do it. Your body craves it, your mind needs it and if I’m honest, I think exercise has helped not only my body in its shape and ability to do things I never thought was possible but it’s also my mind.

My mental health hasn’t actually been in this good shape for a long time – I’ve always been lacking in self-confidence, my self-esteem has always been very low and generally felt like I put on a front to smile and get on with it. Since giving myself some much needed TLC – that’s changed massively. I’m more confident in who I am as a person and I feel more capable in managing what comes at me.

Changing your lifestyle has partially being about losing the weight and looking at a different girl in the mirror but it’s been just as important and changing my mind space and feeling far more confident in the girl who’s in my head.

 

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My Cooking Saviour: My Slow Cooker

Life has been a bit mental over the past couple of weeks, work has ramped up (I think everyone knows that it’s coming to Christmas and everything needs to get done yesterday!) and I’ve been focusing loads on my training and dieting. And about two weeks ago, I bought what could be best described as my new cooking saviour. My slow cooker.

I didn’t go and buy a really fancy one or anything – I bought mine from Sainsbury’s which is just their own brand version and it was even on offer and cost me a total of £11. Eleven pounds’ worth of appliance has actually changed my life.

Me and the other half both work quite long hours, but additionally we have very active social lives and evening activities which does lead to some nights coming home where we can’t be bothered to cook – Hello the local takeaway or beige food that comes out of the freezer. And there are times when that totally works but that shouldn’t be the fall back as often as it has been.

I’m an early riser and I’m up and ready to roll first thing after years of getting up and going into London at the break of dawn, I’m now in that habit and it hasn’t changed. The slow cooker benefits my life as I can get up, whack everything in and then let it go for the next eight hours. I have tried so many recipes over the past couple of weeks but there is a real stand out favourite – Slimming World Pulled Pork.

HOW?! I found a recipe for basically one of my favourite meals that I could cook and work into my life which wasn’t going to ruin my days on plan but it tasted so satisfying, I’ll pop the recipe below if you’re interested.

I’m always on the look out for the best slow cooker recipes, but sausage, lamb and beef casseroles have been coming out of my kitchen and honestly, I would love to keep trying recipes so anything new send my way!

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Slimming World Pulled Pork

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2kg pork shoulder, all fat removed
  • 5tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp mustard powder
  • 500g passata
  • 3tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3tbsp sweetener

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix passata, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, mustard powder, garlic, sweetener and seasoning.
  2. Transfer to a small pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
  3. Meanwhile, trim and remove all visible fat from the pork and sear all sides in a hot frying pan. Transfer to a slow cooker coat with the sauce and cook for 8-12 hours on the medium setting.
  4. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Allow the meat to cool for approximately 15 minutes, then shred into bite-sized pieces using two forks.
  5. Remove the sauce from the pan and set aside to drizzle on the meat later.

You can serve it with whatever you like but I served it with homemade sweet potato wedges and a loads of super free greens!

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Review: Too Good To Be Gluten Free

 

I’ve previously mentioned the company Too Good To Be Gluten Free (TGTBGF) before about their recent branding change but the exciting brand new products they have launched. The free-from market has exploded in the past 12-18 months and it’s becoming easier to find products that are not only high quality but reasonably priced. TGTBGF is one of those brands that over delivers on the term quality because the products I’ve tested so far are really superior to other things I’ve tried.

This particular review is focusing on the new range of savoury pies that launched with the rebrand. All of the pies come in individual sizes and if I’m honest, are well sized so I wouldn’t suggest serving with another set of carbs but load yourself up with lots of vegetables. There are 5 in total:

  • Chicken & Wild Mushroom
  • Steak & Ale
  • Red Thai Chicken
  • Steak, Merlot & Shallot
  • Cauliflower, Kale & Stilton

I decided that the best way to test these was to serve one for dinner to my non-gluten intolerant fiance and see what he thought. We’ve tested all of them over the course of a couple of dinners and he absolutely LOVES them – a big thing for a non-gluten intolerant bod to say, as there is a LOT of things I have that he just wouldn’t eat.

The pastry is the hero of these products – the buttery light texture falls apart in your mouth and the fillings are to die for. All of the flavour combinations are really enjoyable and perfect for coming into winter and looking for something that is a bit indulgent for a cosy winter dinner.

The one thing I would say is that as gorgeous as these are, they are not for every day consumption. Both the calories and the fat content is high and these are very much a luxury, indulgent product for certain occasions! I’m trying to follow Slimming World at the moment and as enjoyable as these are, they are very high in syns BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them – it’s all about balance.

This will be the first review of a series as the guys at TGTOBGF sent me SO much stuff that I felt the desserts needed their own post. Watch out for more.

 

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Review: Pure Couture, Beaconsfield

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I’m all for speaking out when you get bad service, especially when it comes to the world of bridal and to be honest, you’re spending a HELLUVA lot of money for what you wear – but what I believe in more, is when a company just gets it SO RIGHT.

And Pure Couture, in Beaconsfield – I couldn’t speak more highly about them if I tried.

In August, I had been to another nearby bridal boutique before Pure Couture which had left me sorely disappointed and to be honest, a bit upset. I was imagining the first time I tried on wedding dresses to be this magical thing where I cried and felt amazing – I left feeling like a whale, never thinking that anything would look good on me and the budget that I had wasn’t enough. Then I went into Pure Couture – and everything changed.

My entourage aka the people who I dragged along to watch me in and out of the million dresses that ensued, felt immediately 1 million times more comfortable when we walked in. My first appointment I was asked to give some more information, we talked about the kind of wedding we were going to have and what styles had I tried on. We started from scratch pulling a number of different styles, colours and anything else!

Honestly, I can’t talk much about the dresses as I can’t give anything away but I was made to feel incredible – we tried on everything and anything that we could. We even found THE DRESS in the first appointment which was a complete wildcard chosen by my Grandma but as a girl who is very bad at being decisive in these kind of situations, I went away and tried on some other dresses in other boutiques.

The other week, I went back to Pure Couture for round two. I pulled a couple of other dresses first and then went back to THE DRESS. I put the others on and I just wanted to get it back on. Once it was on, we all knew. We all knew that was it.

All I can say is that if you’re looking for a boutique that listens to you as a bride, listens to your entourage for their support, stocks the most BEAUTIFUL range of dresses and most importantly, makes you feel comfortable within two minutes of walking in – I can not recommend them enough.

The fact that the dress is ordered is great but when ordering, the ladies encouraged me to come back and try the dress on as many times as I liked between now and sending my final measurements then they would love to have me back. They also have in-house team of seamstresses that will help nip and tuck everything so it’s perfect is so comforting.

I can not wait to get my dress back on…. Only a little over 600 days to go.

Head to their website to check out their collection and to book an appointment: http://www.purecouture.co.uk/

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Balance and Setting Targets

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A BIG thing happened this weekend – I bought a wedding dress. Ok, I said bought, ordered and I now have something to work towards and it’s a big thing. I don’t know about other brides, but I don’t think it was really real until you say yes to a dress and you go “This is what I’m going to wear when I walk down the aisle and start my life as a wife” It’s a unique but very wonderful feeling.

It has made me think about the things I want to focus on and namely it’s balance. I love my life, I love going out, I love spending time with my friends but at the same time, I don’t want to be the size I am now when I am walking down the aisle in that amazing dress. So I’m taking the bull by the horns and making some real changes.

Slimming World

There are diets and there is Slimming World. Yes, Slimming World is a diet and yes, I’ve previously said that I wouldn’t go back to dieting. I am a woman and we change our minds. I wish I could tell you that there is an answer but I’m giving it a go.

It seem like I’m going back on everything I stand for but actually I think SW may be the right answer for me. It’s all about eating the right foods, not filling your body full of processed stuff and giving your body the right fuel that it needs to keep going.

We will see but I’m giving myself a goal of losing a STONE by Christmas – just under 10 weeks to go but completely manageable if I pull my finger out.

 

Cancer Research – London Winter Run 10k

I’ve never been a big runner. I think I always worried that basically I’d take myself out with one of my boobs (they do move that much!) but I never thought I was very good at it. Through PT and general exercise, I’m feeling much more confident in my ability to run including one a long tabata session with my PT recently that made me change my mind.

I’ve never run a 5k in one go, let alone a 10k but in line with pushing myself, I’m signing up to complete a road 10k with some friends in February. That’s actually not THAT far away which is a daunting prospect but if you don’t push yourself then you never know what you can achieve.

That’s the starting point for now but any suggestions, advice that anyone has about hitting targets, focusing your willpower and motivation then I would really appreciate them.

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