The Health(ier) Week: Part 3

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The final countdown! I can almost taste the fry-up at the end…


Day Five – Doris Day

Breakfast: Honey Nut Cornflakes
Second Breakfast: Berry granola yoghurt, banana
Lunch: Leftover stir fry
Dinner: Lemon and dill salmon with sour cream and chive mash and steamed veg


Today began like an ordinary work day, albeit a bit windy – though I thought nothing of it at the time. I ate quite healthily and really enjoyed my leftovers lunch.

Then someone said a tree had fallen down on the tracks at Bedford and I realised that would have a direct impact on my journey. And it wasn’t just that tree; in the end I watched as every single train I could possibly get home was cancelled. Luckily, a colleague gave me a lift most of the way there, but the stress of not knowing if I could get home nearly drove me… to McDonalds.

But I held out. By the time Storm Doris had had her Day (heh) I couldn’t be bothered doing anything except going home. I didn’t make anything extravagant for dinner, but I did stay healthy. I used the remaining salmon fillet from the pack-of-two and cooked it with veg again. This time with lemon and dill, like the best Season & Shake bag. It wasn’t as good, but still nice.

The mash however, is excellent. If you have never tried using sour cream in mash, I highly recommend it. And everyone knows you can’t have sour cream without chives.

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Day Six – Hash It Out

Breakfast: Honey Nut Cornflakes
Second Breakfast: Brown toast
Lunch: Salami and salad wholegrain wraps
Dinner: Beef hash with jacket potato and sour cream


Standard boring breakfast to keep me going on the train. Followed up with some brown toast to get me through the two hour conference without my stomach growling. Might have had a cheeky cookie too. Hey, they were free…

For lunch I made a simple salami and salad wrap which, although somewhat boring, was pretty nice and still a vast improvement on my boring ham sandwich.

I managed to get home tonight without any angry weather trying to keep me in work. So despite the past two previous failures, I decided to give Jamie Oliver one last shot at redemption with his Beef Hash recipe; and it was worth it.

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Once again, I made substitutes for the ingredients I didn’t have; leeks instead of red onions, my trusty friend soy sauce instead of Worcester… although most unforgivably I forgot to add bacon bits… However that isn’t exactly healthy, so uh… yeah…

This is also the first jacket potato I’ve eaten without a pebble of butter for as long as I can remember. Sour cream and chive though, it’s all about the sour cream and chive!

Overall, it was pretty damn good. Don’t worry Mr. Oliver, your cookbook shall remain on my bookcase. For now.


Day Seven – Failure

Breakfast: Greek yoghurt and honey with crushed walnuts and banana
Lunch: Leftover hash wholegrain wraps
Dinner: ………….Frozen pizza


So today went well. As you can guess by today’s menu, it didn’t go to plan. Pipped to the post. Ruined. Today I went home to visit my parents for a few days. I used up as much as I could in the fridge, so the last of the Greek yoghurt:

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Then the last of the hash with the wholegrain wraps, and then I set off on the two and a half hour journey home. I didn’t even eat any snacks on the way! All was going well, I could see the finish line in the distance, and then…

My parents fed me pizza.

Ruined.

Pizza night was always a tradition when I lived at home though, and it was quite nice spending it watching Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway like old times (which coincidentally Jamie Oliver was on). But goddamnit one more meal!!


Overall, this experience has been easier than I thought (despite falling at the last hurdle). I thought it would cost a lot more to eat healthier, but a £25 shop isn’t much more than what I would normally spend in a week.

I think in the future I shall try to limit myself to two unhealthy meals a week, so that the craving for a greasy burger or good ol’ fish and chips doesn’t get to me. I’ll definitely be experimenting with drinks with the blender (milkshakes in the Summer!) and cannot stress enough the importance of a good working lunch. It’s what gets me through the day!

The Health(ier) Week: Part 2

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So I survived two days of healthier eating. (Holy Hell, you must be thinking sarcastically. You must be a God!) Well I can assure you I’d think the same in your shoes. But I have no willpower when it comes to food, so making it this far without reaching for the Doritos is a breakthrough. Instead, my hand is wandering towards the banana.The fruit, guys, take your mind out of the gutter.

Day Three – The Honey Monster

Breakfast: Honey nut cornflakes
Second Breakfast: 9Bar and an apple

Lunch: Pita bread strips with tzatziki dip
Dinner:
 Jerk Chicken… sort of.


Breakthrough people, breakthrough… I’m eating whole fruit! Without anything with it! Without it being mushed down into a smoothie!

…I didn’t enjoy it though. Apples hurt my teeth and are incredibly messy without bringing a knife to work…

For dinner I gave Jamie Oliver another chance. After trying and enjoying it at Turtle Bay, making my own jerk chicken seemed like a good idea. At the time.

Having not read the recipe properly before I went shopping, I had to make a few alterations. For one, I don’t own a grill pan. I didn’t have any rum. Or chillis. Or white wine vinegar. Or all spice. I didn’t really have a lot of anything, so I switched the rum for sake, the all spice for Chinese 5 spice and the white wine vinegar for normal vinegar. And then went mad scientist and added some lime juice, soy sauce and a dollop of mustard. Goodbye Caribbean, hello China. I had plenty of honey though, so that’s good.

I served the Cherk chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed veg.

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Basically… Don’t try this unless you can follow the recipe properly. It was edible, but it wasn’t enjoyable, so I followed it up with some honey roasted peanuts and camomile and spearmint tea.

Hint from a friend: If you detest the weird, greasy taste of flavoured tea like I do, stir a spoonful of honey in. Somehow it takes the grease away and makes it taste much better.


 

Day Four – You Bokin Wok M8!

Breakfast: Honey Nut Cornflakes
Second Breakfast: Brown toast and coffee (Oops)
Lunch: Ham, salami and salad pita, banana, 9Bar
Dinner: Chicken stir fry


I got hungry and gave in to some toast. Bread practically makes up most of my diet. There have been days where I’ve had toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pizza with garlic bread for dinner. At least this toast was brown!

After the disaster of last night’s meal, I decided to stick to something I know I can cook well; stir fry.

Don’t forget to take notes, kids! My own recipe for once:

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast (1 per person)
  • Noodle nest (1 per person)
  • Vegetables.* In mine: carrot, baby corn and broccoli
  • Bok choy, or ordinary cabbage as a substitute
  • Spring onion and regular onion
  • Ground ginger
  • Chinese five spice
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Garlic clove, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half a lime (Leftovers)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

*All veg are subject to taste and you can use as many or as few as you like. I would’ve had beansprouts but once again my trusty friend Tesco had sold out.

Method:

  1. Dice the chicken into cubes and fry off in hot oil in a large wok.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the garlic and prep the broccoli, baby corn and any other harder veg you want to cook. Once the chicken has browned, add all of this to the wok.
  3. Boil some water and leave your noodles to cook, swirl with a fork occasionally.
  4. Keep stirring the wok (it ain’t Stir fry for nothin’) and multitask like a champion to get your onion, spring onions and cabbage chopped, as well as coat your chicken with a layer of ginger and Chinese five spice.
  5. Add the chopped cabbage, stir for a while, then all of the onions. Peel carrot shavings into the wok.
  6. Carefully pour in the soy sauce. Not too much that it drowns out every other flavour; maybe a tablespoon? I don’t really measure, just wing it! Experiment with how much you put in and learn the hard way. I certainly did…
  7. Add sweet chilli sauce and lime juice, and as a surprise twist (that I plopped in the wok on a last minute whim) add a tablespoon of peanut butter! It was so, so good. It makes the sauce like Chinese satay, but much more subtle.
  8. Lastly, drain off the noodles and add them into the mix, stirring thoroughly until the sauce is mixed and everything is mixed in the sauce.

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You’re welcome. 🙂


So far so good, I think. Definitely craving pizza right now though. Only three more days…!

The Health(ier) Week

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My name is Claire and I’m a foodaholic. I don’t count calories or worry about cholesterol. I’m not fat, but I am unhealthy. So I made a meal plan for a whole week and did a big shop (the healthiest I’ve ever done for only £25) to see if I could manage a controlled diet. Even if I only manage a week it’s an achievement!

Before you read any further, however, have a disclaimer:

If you have come here for inspiration, you’re probably in the wrong place. I am not an expert dietitian. I am not a hippy, pro-vegan, Instagram perfectionist. My idea of healthy might not even technically be healthy. Many of my meals are likely to go horribly wrong and look shit, so if you try and hate them, it’s your own fault.

This might well be the most boring thing you’ve read today. I am literally writing about what I’ve eaten for the past week. But it’s a break from Donald Trump stories, so give it a go.

Now, with that out of the way:

 

Day One – Testing the Water

Breakfast: Greek yoghurt and honey with crumbled walnuts
Lunch: Ham salad pita, peanut butter and banana smoothie
Dinner:
Spinach and Feta Pie with mashed potatoes and veg


I’d considered getting a Nutribullet, but the £69.99 pricetag was making me wait. I ended up buying a Magic Bullet blender on a whim from Wilkos for £17.50; ever so slightly cheaper!  After a quick Google in the shop I saw reviews concluding that both were good, so I risked it. I am so glad I did.

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas, chopped
  • 2-3 spoonfuls of peanut butter (depending on how much you like it)
  • 2 spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream (the dirty cheap stuff)
  • a generous amount of milk
  1. Shove it all in the blender and blend the living peanut out of it!
  2. If yours comes out as thick as chewed gum like mine did first time round, add more milk.

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Spinach and Feta Pie:

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe from his book 30 Minute Meals which I bought recently from WHSmith for £6 (bargain).

However, me being me, when I discovered a bag of pine nuts was going to cost over £3, I scoffed and decided the walnut halves in my cupboard would suffice. Then, forgetting to cut the recipe down from four people to two, I used the specified five eggs with less feta and spinach than I was supposed to.

I’d also never worked with filo before. Absolute nightmare. Needless to say, the end result looked pretty, but tasted pretty odd:

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Part of my meal plan was to have tzatziki and pita bread for lunch, but evidently everyone else thought this was a great idea too, and thus the great Tesco Tzatziki Depression began. So I made my own before bed. Fried off some chicken too. What a champion.

Overall today went okay. Obviously the pie could have gone better; it tasted a bit weird and I’m not the biggest fan of quiche anyway (it was totally a fancy quiche). Feeling optimistic about the week though!


 

Day Two – Back to Work

Breakfast: Honey Nut Cornflakes
Second Breakfast:
Leftover peanut butter smoothie and 9Bar
Lunch:
Chicken and tzatziki pita bread
Dinner:
Lime, chilli and ginger salmon with fresh veg


Don’t judge me for having two breakfasts; I get up at six and don’t have second breakfast til 10, it’s perfectly justifiable.

Today I found myself really looking forward to lunch – and not just for the break from work. These past two days I’ve actually been excited by my lunch options, rather than depressed by my bleak ham sandwich. I did stink of garlic all day though. But I didn’t really feel hungry afterwards, which is rare for me!

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However, on the way home I did pass Burger King and McDonalds, and both made my tastebuds long for salty chips burning my tongue, fatty beef torn between my teeth. I was so tempted. But I stayed good.

I stopped off for a couple of drinks after work for a friend’s birthday, but I had them with cranberry juice, so that’s sort of healthy… right?

By the time I got home it was nine o’clock, so I made a quick meal with lime, chilli and ginger baked salmon with steamed vegetables and sour cream sweet potato mash. And it was divine:

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Two days down, five to go. I bet you can’t wait to see what happens next! (I’ll give you a hint; it involves me eating more).

 

In Memoriam: My Slush

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Yesterday evening I received a phone call I’ve always dreaded. My mum rang to tell me Slush had been run over. That he was no longer with us.

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I’ve not heard my dad choked up since my granddad died when I was young. But last night we were both on opposite ends of the phone, and neither of us were able to speak. Eventually he managed to say, “I brought him home. I’m going to bury him in the garden.”

This is the man who was forever complaining about being woken up by Slush at 4am every morning, with a slap of the paw to his nose like, “wake the hell up, man! I need my chicken.” But dad loved him. We all did.

It seems daft writing this. Cats die every day, don’t they? But writing is my release, and I’m hoping that in preserving my memories of him, I can help myself heal. Everyone thinks their cat is special. Myself included. To keep him to myself is selfish, so I’m going to share him with you.

Slush was one of the most beautiful, funny, intelligent cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was loved by so many people, and I’m glad many of my friends had the chance to meet him, and devastated the others did not.

He became our cat not long after I began High School. He was gorgeous as a kitten in the palm of our neighbour’s hand, and he was even more so as an adult. I fell in love with him. Our other cat Holly didn’t. But she always tolerated him.

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When we got him, he hadn’t been mircochipped, wormed, neutered or looked after well at all. We had him treated for all of the above, but then the vet told us his teeth were all rotten. That he was in pain every time he ate. So he had them all removed.

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At first I felt terrible for him. But as time went on, he got used to eating without teeth, and it became hilarious to see him dribbling all over the place and his tongue casually hanging out. I had my very own Toothless.

He used to sit on top of the shed, overlooking the dogs next door, knowing he was just out of reach of them. They’d go crazy, jumping up to try and reach him, and he’d just sit there, not even flinching.

Slush’s favourite thing in the world to do, like most cats, was sleep. You could guarantee that any form of cushion or quilted soft thing had Slush on it.

I think his second favourite thing was being brushed. I used to sit there for ages holding the brush in my hand, with him rubbing his face against it. He would purr and dribble and I’d end up with grey fur everywhere.

His third favourite thing was probably sitting on the front wall looking all pretty, waiting for people to walk past and give him attention. And boy did he get attention. Yeah, he knew he was gorgeous. Each time we’d look out the window cautiously in case the passers-by stuffed him in their prams and ran off.

Slush was mischievous. He was the stereotypical walk-across-all-the-surfaces-knocking-things-off-until-they-wake-up kind of cat. At 2am he’d jump onto my chest of drawers, climb on top of the fish tank and nearly make the lid cave in, before walking across my keyboard, “clunk clunk clunk”-ing on all the keys.

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During my phase of disliking spaghetti bolognese Slush decided to stick his head in it. He ate the minced meat fine, but when it came to the spaghetti he had to keep flinging his head back to try and swallow it. It was beautiful watching a cat headbanging with spaghetti hanging out of his mouth.

We could never do family activities at home without him wanting to be a part of it. And rightly so. Whenever mum was doing a jigsaw he’d lie in the centre of it and pick the pieces up with his paw, or jump up on the table and slide across by accident, taking the entire thing with him. We couldn’t play Scrabble either.

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At Christmas he’d sit under the tree, knocking off any baubles he could reach. Once we made the mistake of wrapping up a cat treat Christmas stocking, and came downstairs to find the catnip had driven him wild and he’d clawed through it. The decorative beads became his favourite toy throughout the years.

In the Summer he’d sit under the rhubarb leaves like a mini parasol. He’d sit on the swing seat and happily sleep while you rocked it. He’d sit on the table and watch us eat, constantly sneaking closer to the food. I’d sneak him a bit of chicken.

Slush was always alpha cat. He started telling Holly off whenever he found one of her dumps after she unhousetrained herself. And when two strays decided to make a home out of our greenhouse, he put them in their place. He’d sit on the bench, just watching them, or grabbing the other’s tail between the slats when they got too close. This was his garden.

Slush wasn’t a lap cat, but he always gave the best cuddles. Usually these were in the early hours of the morning, but they were worth it to hear him purr. He loved being stroked under his chin. You could lie there with him on your chest for almost half an hour. Then he’d shake his head and give you a face full of dribble before getting off and sleeping.

He loved to sit in small boxes, no matter how uncomfortable he looked. On his mad half hours he’d do several laps of the house and attack anything and everything in his path. But he never hurt us. Either way, he never failed to make me laugh.

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He was a blue-eyed, fur-covered piece of perfection and happiness in my life. I was always happy around him, but that’s gone forever now and I have to come to terms with that somehow. I hope one day the tears will stop and the ache will lessen, but for now the pain of never seeing him again is unbearable. I wish I’d gone to see him just one last time.

At risk of sounding clichéd and soppy, it’s made it very real to me that bad things can happen to anyone at any time. That we need to make the most of spending time with the people and creatures we love. Because you never know when that phone will ring.

Goodbye, Slush. It was an honour to be your human.

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Sorry Excuses

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Sorry again! I really am getting bad at keeping up with blogging of late. I have once again been very busy. And in this post I shall update you on my recent comings and goings, and it will hopefully explain the lack of my internet presence…

  1. Final ever semester of University. I’ve been interviewing people for my dissertation, reading books on episodic memory (for dissertation, don’t ask!) writing the actual poems for my dissertation, and writing a 30 page script for my Advanced Scriptwriting module, and even when I’ve finished all this I’m nowhere near done!
  2. Work. I’ve been working a hell of a lot lately. Well, a lot for a student anyway. I’ve also been drawing up designs for the boards in the bar I work at, such as these:
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  3. Drinking. Like seriously, why are everyone’s birthdays and leaving dos and parties in February and March?! Spare a thought for the poor alcoholic students who should really be doing their work rather than going out and being merry…
  4. The Writer’s Quibble. I’ve been doing a lot of work for my University’s Creative Writing magazine lately. First we had to find editors to replace us when we leave, then we had to get March’s edition out there… very busy. You can see the latest edition here: https://writersquibble.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/fourteenth-edition-the-art-of-deception/

  5. Nothing to actually put on here. My bank of writing material has run rather dry at the moment. I’ve not even been having dreams recently! What’s wrong with my brain? Am I becoming… normal?
    …Plus all of my effort is being pumped into the above points.
  6. Sheer laziness. No other excuses for it really.

So yeah… I hope you can forgive me, but I am working hard! And with any luck I shall be back properly soon, with freedom to write and a degree slung suavely over my shoulders.

Currently on track for a first with my previous results. Woohoo! Fingers crossed I can keep it up!!

Anyways, back to work…

Apologies!

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I haven’t posted anything in about a month! And I’m sorry. It’s been hectic, but I’m surprisingly still alive! I’ve been ill a lot, working a lot and now I’m currently trying to arrange my dissertation, create my Toothless cosplay, and all the other mundane life-y living stuff we have to do. Phew!

My brain is to blame too. It hasn’t been cooperating! No dreams = no dream blog posts. Sad times!

…Not that I’m creating excuses. I’ve also just been really lazy. But hey, it was Christmas! Of which I hope you all had an awesome time and got all the Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise you could’ve hoped for.

With any luck I’ll start to be consistent with my blog posts this year, and after I finish my Creative Writing degree (scary thought), I’ll be free to write, and write, and keep writing until my hands go blue and my brain fits comfortably in my handbag from shrivelling so much.

Watch this space!