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!

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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).

 

10 Truths About University

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With the start of University just around the corner, I imagine most soon-to-be Freshers are both excited and nervous by the prospect of escaping family life. Who wouldn’t be? I certainly was. And now that my course has finished and my eighteen years of being a student has come to an end, I thought it would be good to share a few truths about University. Please note these are extremely biased to my own experiences and observations. 

1: Money.
You’ll be so used to having next to no money that the sudden increase in your bank account every few months will make you feel like Bill Gates.
I’ve worked hard today. I’ll treat myself to a TV.
Going drinking again? I’ll buy a bottle of Jager for predrinks.” You’ll spend carelessly, and by the end of the semester you’ll feel poor again. Over the years you’ll become wiser and stingier, or start looking for part-time jobs.

2: Jobs.
University is definitely going to boost your job prospects. Even if it’s just because you’ve moved to a big city with a higher vacancy rate… it’s still technically University that got you there. From what I’ve seen, it’s rare a degree secures you a job. It almost always comes down to experience, but a degree is definitely something you can use to your advantage when bullshitting through interviews.
I am a dedicated individual and can work well to deadlines as is evident by the fact I didn’t fail Uni.

3: Caffeine.

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If you didn’t drink coffee or energy drinks before, prepare for caffeine to replace your blood. I’d never liked coffee before my second year, and now I can’t function in the morning without one. Caffeine will get you through the long, panic-stricken nights finishing tomorrow’s coursework. Caffeine is your best friend.

4: Friends.
When you make friends in High School, you think you’ll be friends for life. But that’s not always the case. I only really have one friend from back home that I still talk to. University is where you really make friends for life. They’ll be there to celebrate practically any occasion with you (You got laid! Let’s go drink! You passed last semester! Let’s go drink!) and there to comfort you whenever you need it (You’ve been dumped… let’s go drink. You failed last semester… let’s go drink). It’s strange and emotional when everyone goes their separate ways after the three years are up. 

5: Alcohol.

Shot Tombola

As much as it’s a stereotype for students to go out and get hammered every night of the week, we didn’t do it that often. In fact, I drink a hell of a lot more now that I work in a bar than I did through University. We spent more time in our flat playing Ring of Fire with cheap bottles of Amaretto than we did partying and clubbing. It’s perfectly alright to say no to a night out, and don’t ever feel pressured to drink if you don’t want to.

6: Regret.
Everything you decided not to bother with in first year you’ll regret not doing. Take up rugby? I’ll do it next year. Fancy going to that party? Nah, can’t be arsed. Only when it’s too late and you have more work than you do time will you wish you’d gone for it. Remember, first year doesn’t count towards your final grade, so make the most of it.

7: First Year
First year is a strange concept. In a way it’s like the beginning of High School, only more important. Your results won’t count towards your final grade, but failing them will mean resitting until you either quit or succeed. First year is the sieve that strains the people who shouldn’t be there from those that should. Many of the students you meet in the first lectures you’ll never see them again. Others you’ll wonder how on earth they’re hanging on when all they do is sleep in the back of the lecture hall after a heavy night out. My own course dwindled from about fifteen people to six by third year.

8: Food.

Cottage Pie
Another stereotype of students is that they only eat microwave meals and takeaways. This one is actually mostly true, but I know several students and ex students who can cook rather well; myself included. It’s very handy to know how to cook before going to University. I would have been extremely depressed if I’d been stressing over coursework for hours on end with only Pot Noodles to keep me going.

9: Bachelor of Arts.
If there’s one thing I learnt from my own personal experience it’s that there’s one law to always abide by when studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree: the tutor is always right. Even when they’re wrong. At the end of the day, they’re marking you. Whatever they want you to do, if you want to pass, you do it. On rare occasions you can persuade them to your way of thinking, but more often than not it’s just easier to do as they please.

10: It’s the best damn decision you’ve ever made.
For all it’s ups and downs, for all the early morning lectures where you wished you stayed living off your parents well into your thirties, going to University will be the best decision of your life. By the end of it you may regret doing some things and not doing others, but you’ll have gained a heap of friends, gotten further with your career and learnt how to adult all by yourself. And as clichéd as it sounds, you’ll come out wiser and far more experienced than before. University is a brilliant segway between childhood and adulthood. It’s also a great way of escaping your home town.

So if you didn’t make it to University this year, keep trying. There’s always next year, or the year after. It’s never too late.