Going Further

Going further

In running, there are certain distances you become accustomed to. 5km, 10km, 10 mile, half marathon, marathon etc. These are milestones every runner grows to know intimately – you learn to recognise how you feel at certain distances and what to expect physically and mentally at different points, the result being that you develop a kind of mental store and psychological toughness that helps you be better the next time. But when you’ve ran enough races, you also learn to know how you can expect to feel at the end of certain distances. For example, even though I haven’t run for over a year, I can remember exactly how I would feel after a 5km parkrun Vs. how my body feels after a half-marathon race Vs. after a marathon.

With Cycling, I find it a lot less clear cut. I could cycle an 80km today and be in bits tomorrow. Or I might cycle 100km today and be up for cycling another 70km tomorrow, no bother. There have been some days recently when cycling 37km to work on back to back days has just knackered my legs. But where is the sense, I ask you?

Apart from being able to draw the obvious conclusion that the harder the ride and more effort you put in, the more it will take out of your body and the slower it will be to repair and refresh. And the hillier the cycle, the tougher it is – also going to tire you out more.

But generally for cycling Vs. running, there are no milestone distances to focus on – or maybe there are and I’m just out of the loop! Oh well…

Some cyclists seem to work with time, rather than distance. You cycle for an hour a few days during the week and then go for a three hour ride at the weekend, for example. I don’t work that way. I like to map out a ride beforehand and then see how long it takes me. Next time, I try do it faster. That’s what motivates me. I’m less good with a “three hour ride” because for me that’s just a licence to sit on my ass and flooter away three hours coasting along at my ease.

So I stick with distance. Up to this year, I’d never ridden over 100km, with the longest cycle I’d have competed being around 91km. So I cracked out mapmyride and mapped a few 100km -ish cycles and worked my way up to them. Then I did a race a few weeks ago which involved a 105km spin around Carlow and over Mount Leinster. I loved it.

Today I took a spin from Naas to Kilkenny, travelling through Athy, Carlow, lovely Leighlinbridge and Bagenalstown along the way. The weather was a bit crap to be honest with dark clouds, some rain and a headwind most of the way… but I was happy out just to find I could actually make it all the way to Kilkenny. Needless to say when I arrived in Kilkenny 3 hours 41 minutes later, I was delighted with life and Kilkenny was buzzing with people, despite the rain.

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I had booked to get the train back from Kilkenny to Sallins and had a bit of time before my train was due. I knew exactly how to spend that time.

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What is cycling, if not really good coffee and cake?

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After all, it’s the worst kept secret in cycling that the only real reason cyclists actually cycle is for the coffee and cake. And it’s worth it every time 😀

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After wandering around trying to find a coffee shop that I could safely leave my bike outside without fear of it being pinched, I came across the Pantry on Kieran St., which was exactly what I was looking for. Really good coffee and a good selection of homemade baked goods, as well as soup, sandwiches and hot lunch options too. I really just wanted somewhere to sit down and rest my weary bones for an hour, while indulging in a much looked-forward to pick me up.

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Nice design and good, friendly atmosphere, you can’t go wrong.

The staff were lovely, the coffee was excellent and my cupcake was just grand. The bun could have been fresher and the icing was a bit over-sweet, but I was starvers so it tasted great anyway. Good spot and I’ll be back again.

Next Up. Now that I’ve gotten past the 100km mark, I’d like to build on that and be able for greater distances. There’s a clatter of 200km events in Ireland that look fab but I’m a long way from being able to remain upright for 200k. But it gives me something to aim for – oh, you know how it goes… citius, altius, fortius… better.

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Hazelnut & Almond Granola Slices

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I try to eat healthy most of the time during the week and then allow for some unapologetic confectionery at the weekend on the day of my long run or long cycle as it is nowadays. A Galaxy Caramel or Toffee Crisp, or maybe some Galaxy Revels or a Mars ice cream. I usually try to keep it to two or three items and then let the rest of my suppers and snacks take the form of healthier options – fruit, yogurt, granola, nuts or some kind of a combination of a few of these.

A couple of days a week I treat myself to an americano and granola slice from Insomnia Coffee Co. in Dublin. I like that they offer a coffee and pastry deal, the staff are unbelievably nice and… I really just love their granola slices. It’s the kind of treat that makes you keep going back just for that one thing.

I used to love a muffin with a coffee as a treat but nowadays I find if I go for that option, it tastes great in the moment but then I get a caffeine and sugar rush that leaves me feeling jittery and light-headed. And I’m hungry an hour later. I like the granola bar option because it doesn’t give you that same pure sugar feeling – the oats are high fibre, low GI that allow for a sustained slow energy release but they also bring a rich caramel, almost butterscotch flavour that means it still tastes like a really good treat.

I feel bad, however, paying for something that I really should be able to make myself. I mean, hey, how hard is it to make a granola bar? Well, actually… while it’s not hard to put together a granola bar, it IS hard to get it right. You can bake or not bake it. Then if you do bake, it’s very easy to either underbake it and end up with a soft granola bar or overbake it and end up with a dry result. Then there’s getting the proportions right – the amount of oats to butter/ sugar/ syrup is essential because again you want to have good flavour but you don’t want it to be too wet or again, too dry.

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Getting it just right is a skill.

In defence of my extravagant granola-bar-eating-habit, I have tried numerous times to recreate the Insomnia bar. I have come close, but never quite close enough. I wonder if i ask nicely, will the nice Insomnia people just give me their recipe? Please 🙂

In the event that they don’t get back to me 🙂 … I want to share my recipe with you guys. These are delicious and any time I make these, they vanish pretty darn tooten quickly from the kitchen. Everyone, it seems, likes a good flapjack.

They got oats. Irish oats. They’re good for ya 😉 Oh and butter – haven’t you heard? It’s apparently good for you too now.

Eat up. Yum yum. 😉

Makes 16 Bars –     250 calories each (4006 calories for whole recipe) –

Ingredients:

Rolled Oats – 250g

Butter – 150g

Brown sugar – 75g

Golden Syrup – 3 tbsp

Hazelnut nibs – 30g

Hazelnuts – 20g

Ground almonds – 30g

Flaked Almonds – 50g

  1. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan with baking parchment and grease with butter or oil.
  2. Pop the butter in a pan and stir until melted. Add the sugar and golden syrup.
  3. When the sugar, butter and syrup are all nicely combined, mix the dry ingredients together and then turn into the pan with the melted stuff. Give it a thorough stir.
  4. Pour the mixture into the greased tin and flatten it out to an even level.
  5. Bake 180 degrees celsius for 25 minutes until they’re brown around the edges — I like a bit of colour on top (don’t be afraid to have a look as they’re baking and check the colour on top) They may still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

I quite like mine from the fridge but by all means, if you prefer to enjoy yours at room temp, have at it!

Meaty Confessions

meaty-confessions

I like meat, I like fish and I like vegetables. I’m a big egg fan and I’m quite certain I’d be miserable if I gave up dairy products. I don’t do strange diets, I’ve never tried to be a full-blown vegan and I’m still not entirely sure what “Whole 30” actually means.

This is my confession.

Like most people out there, I’m going into the new year with good intentions of eating healthier and losing some weight. But I’m not about to dive into a sufferfest. If I’m going to succeed in the long term, it has to be something that I both enjoy and is sustainable. Not something that has me barking at people, losing my mind because all you can think of is a rasher sandwich or dreaming of cheese because you’ve crossed that off your list of “acceptable foods”.

animal

I fly the flag for free range, sustainable farming and proper treatment of animals, as well as only choosing to eat fish that are in season – no question. I grow a lot of our own vegetables at home in the front garden, my Dad collects honey from our own beehives (leaving plenty for the bees to eat during the winter) and our family is very conscious of food waste, recycling and generally finding ways to promote sustainability and kindness to the environment.

GirlFarmer

My Dad was a farmer and we were raised to appreciate and respect the food that we were given. My parents didn’t have a lot of money when we were kids, but they always told us that spending money on quality food was important. We learned about the value of food and the animals behind the finished products. My Dad would tell stories of his farming days in Denmark where he ended up with a pet pig (Oscar) because he couldn’t bring himself to leave him at the Abattoir after he escaped and made a run for a nearby wedding reception, where he was found standing on a table eating the wedding cake (true story).

Farmer

My Dad is an animal lover. He feeds the birds in the garden every day, talks to the robin who keeps him company as he weeds the vegetable patch and since our dog Molly has died, he frequently rambles down to the local pet shop to see how they’re all doing. Without fail, Molly was always the first in the house who he’d say hello to in the mornings or upon returning to the house. He’s also saved the life of many a bird that has smacked into the kitchen windows, mending wings and carefully nursing a few back to health with boiled eggs and milk.

My Dad eats meat every day of the week. Give or take. So how do you reconcile all of this?

Appreciation and respect.

He has utter respect for animals and in turn, appreciates the sacrifice of animal life and the food they provide to sustain life.

I respect completely other people’s views and how they choose to live their lives. How others choose to live their lives is their decision and I don’t feel it’s for me to judge anyone else. As for me, I have grown up with a man who loves animals, cares for and respects them more than anyone I have ever met. I have grown up with a farmer who acknowledges the value of meat and dairy products, as well as the sacrifice involved. I have grown up with a man who eats meat.

Incidentally, I’m actually a veggie lover and my diet probably comprises 80% vegetables and fish. I eat meat about once a week. The point is I do eat meat and I probably always will. Like my Dad, I’m an animal lover and I’m always conscious of the ultimate sacrifice animals make, as well as the impact on global carbon emissions.

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I eat a lot of plates that look like this. Spuds, fish and all the greens…

 

To say that I will never eat meat again would be dishonest and just never going to happen. But what I can do and what we all can do is reduce the amount of meat that we currently eat – if you eat 7 days a week, then reduce it to 6… then 5…. then 4…

And don’t be weird about it.

Not eating meat doesn’t have to equate to sitting down at the dinner table with sad bowl of iceberg lettuce. Who would do that? Have something tasty, like pizza, welsh-rarebit, butternut squash Thai red curry, spaghetti, creamy mushroom tagliatelle or lentil lasagne. Oh, or giant baked potato and baked beans… stuffed jacket potatoes. Now you might be starting to realise why I eat vegetarian most of the time just because I want to…

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Mmm…grapes…

Eating meat is not something you have to be ashamed of. But not having respect, or an appreciation for it or where it comes from, is. Reducing how much you eat and ensuring the quality of the source it comes from (ie. free range) IS something YOU can contribute in ensuring a better world for animals and human beings alike.

These are just my scribblings on thoughts that regularly rattle around my head and are not intended to be advice or opinions that I would inflict on anyone. It’s just me trying to make sense of my world! Thanks for reading x

Coffee Shop Christmas Sandwiches

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One of my most favourite things in life is coffee. I have no shame in this and I make zero apologies for it. Everyone has a vice. Some like a tipple, some find solace in a cigarette, some get a kick out of a trip to the bookies. Me, I make time for good coffee, everyday. The only time I miss out on decent coffee is when I’m working and there quite simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

Now, my mother and I are very different people. (You’re right, your don’t really need to know this except for context)… But, nowhere are we more divided than on the coffee score.

She prefers to enjoy coffee at home, where you can make a giant pot of coffee and drink as much as you like, until your eyeballs pop out.

Me, I love going out to a coffee shop and taking time to sit and enjoy a strong espresso based beverage expertly made by a skilled barista. I’m not a coffee snob and most days, I will happily sit down with a pot of coffee I have made myself, but there are times when the treat of a really good cup of coffee is just too seductive to resist.

The Christmas season is upon us and like greyhounds out of the traps, the coffee shops of the world have launched their Christmas coffees and festive foods with no shortage of options to choose from.

Being someone who enjoys her time in coffee spots, I’ve made it my business to try out as many Christmas sandwiches as I’ve come across.

You know I like to help you all out where I can.

This clearly has nothing to do with the fact that I am sandwich fiend and will use any excuse to eat more sandwiches. Nothing at all.

😉

Without further ado, I give you:

1. Marks and Spencer’s Turkey Feast

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Turkey, mayo, cranberry sauce, bacon and sausage stuffing sandwiched between two slices of malted brown bread. This sandwich upsets me. Why? It confuses me. It looks great, contains an indulgent amount of bacon and chunky sausage stuffing, and when you hold it in your hand, you know it’s been generously filled. It holds out promises of a delicious near-future lunch.

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But then I bite into it and all I can taste is stuffing. So I take a few more bites, thinking it will get better, the only flavour I’m getting is stuffing. I even tried shuffling the ingredients around to give the bacon and turkey a chance to come through… nope.

If M&S were looking for feedback, I’d say less stuffing, more turkey and a bit of green in there would be a welcome addition. Kudos for the charitable donation, of course.0

3-stars

2. Insomnia Festive Feast

Insomnia do a tasty range of sandwiches and food in general. I regularly treat myself to their Plucky Coronation or Club sambo and I have a serious soft spot for their granola slices. They’re also Irish and what really sells it to me is the consistently excellent customer service.

Insomnia’s Festive Feast is malted brown bread, crammed with pulled turkey breast, a slice of baked ham, sage & onion stuffing, baby spinach and cranberry sauce. Very like the M&S offering, no?

The good: Plenty of filling, nice bread, good quality ingredients and I love the inclusion of spinach, which everywhere else seems to have decided was superfluous.

The bad: Again with too much stuffing – all I can taste is stuffing. My mouth knows it’s eating meat, but I simply can’t taste anything except stuffing. Disappointing.

My feedback for Insomnia – last year’s sandwich was much better. No bacon this year and it comes in at 547 calories… that’s about 160 more than last year. That’s a bit too much to swallow, particularly when it just doesn’t taste as good.

3-stars

3. Starbucks Turkey & The Trimmings Sandwich

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Here we have an offering of… turkey, smoked bacon,apricot, lemon & sage stuffing, baby spinach and cranberry sauce on malted brown bread.

Good: I like the bread Starbucks use in their sandwiches – thick, fresh and good flavour. Better than M&S bread, hands down. Lovely flavour from the bacon and plenty of it. Like a sandwich superpower, this bursts past the baseline flavour of stuffing. Well done.

The apricot stuffing is also a nice twist and makes it stand out from the other Christmas sandwiches, which consistently trotted out a stuffing that just tasted of onion and herbs.

Bad: This sandwich rocks in at around 600 calories which is hefty, whoever you are. Certainly more than I am willing to fork out for a sandwich. I’m gonna want dessert and a gingerbread latte too, you know…

4-stars

4. Pret A Manger’s Christmas Lunch

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I know a lot of people whinge about the price of Pret sandwiches but on the odd occasion that I am in London, I frequently pop in to grab a sambo. Oddly enough, it’s not the sandwiches I come for, but their coffee. My first Pret experience was a day when I was touristing around London in the pouring rain, getting lost and increasingly despaired when I eventually came to breaking point. I was so tired, hungry and on the verge of tears when I decided I could take not a single step further and touch refuge in the first coffee shop I came across. Pret a Manger. I ordered a latte and my God, if it wasn’t the best coffee I think I’ve ever drank.

Sure the circumstances played a not insignificant role in how I perceived this cup of coffee but alas, my associations with Pret our all good ones.

The 2016 Pret Christmas Lunch is turkey breast, cranberry sauce, herb pork stuffing, crispy onions and fresh baby spinach on malted brown bread.

Good: Crammed full of filling, fresh and decent flavour. I also like that it comes in at 482 caloriesunlike many of its rivals which tend to rock in at 600 calories or more. Oh and they do great sides/ desserts which you can pick up while you’re in here. I tried their Christmas Tiffin slice which was rich and utterly yum.

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Bad: Somewhat formulaic and uninteresting. I’d expect a bit more flavour, flair and invention from the King of high street sandwiches.

3-stars

Overall Comments:

I like a good Christmas sandwich that I can enjoy during the holiday season, whether it’s a bright pick-me-up in the middle of a working day, or sitting over a nice coffee over-looking Grafton Street as I take a break from hectic Christmas shopping. This year’s offerings are okay but I wouldn’t be tempted to go any further than that.

Overall, the high street coffee shops are producing predictable, formulaic, dull Christmas sandwiches which really don’t taste of much at all. Bit disappointing, to be honest.

Try better next year, eh?

Banana Ice Cream & Candied Pecans

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Slowness-to-cotton-on-to-worldwide-human-trends is a personal trait I flaunt with no shame. It’s generally accompanied by a quiet smugness that lets you watch everyone else get all excited by a new trend, while you hold off and then watch it burn out. Then just when everyone else is nearly done with it, you jump on board and get to enjoy it all as if it were brand new. Because it is – to you.

Flares, fringes, mobile phones, skinny jeans, cronuts (I actually still haven’t yet tried one of these magical creations), frappuccinos, smartphones, apps of every kind (I only joined instagram a couple of months ago) and…. vegan ice cream made from bananas.

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Ignorance… Is it blissful?

You are no doubt well-informed peeps and already know all about frozen banana ice cream. Indeed I must have read about it somewhere in every blog, food magazine and recipe website on a near weekly basis for the past few years – freeze bananas, whip em up and hey presto – ice cream! This concept seemed to drift across the front of my eyes, slowing down for a few seconds as it passed across my thought process and then disappearing again as I no doubt scoffed and unconsciously dismissed the notion as a sad attempt to find an alternative to ice-cream.

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I make no bones about this – I like ice cream. A lot. So much so that I have an aversion to ice-cream that simply does not come up to scratch. In other words, I am an ice-cream snob. I will reject anything that fails on texture, flavour or which is too airy, too rich (yes it is most definitely possible) or screams of synthetic flavours (vanilla essence, I’m looking at you)

Satisfying me with vegan alternatives is, you see, a tough task.

Avocado Based Ice-Cream… Big Liars

Avocado based ice-cream does not do it for me and after getting all excited about the release of an Irish avocado based ice-cream in a certain national supermarket in recent months and forking out 7 euro (reckless spending of moolah on my part!)… I was grossly disappointed. Never again people.

A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones – taught me otherwise

Banana ice-cream, however, has won me over, heart and soul. Creamy, rich, delicious.

I mentioned in my last post that I recently got my hands on Anna Jones’ cookbook A Modern Way to Cook and contained therein is a recipe for banana ice-cream. I had a go, I polished off the bowl and I am now a committed banana ice-cream fiend.

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Get your frozen banana pieces (chop em up before you freeze them) and chuck em in a blender with a few dried dates, a splash of vanilla essence (not too much or you’ll end up with an overpowering forced vanilla flavour….or use a vanilla pod if you have it) and a dash of cinnamon – whip it up and boom, you’re away with the ice-cream fairies. Don’t have to be too exact with the amounts – it’s whatever balance suits your tastes best.

An even better addition is a teaspoon of coconut cream if you have some around, it adds a beautiful creamy, rich texture to the ice-cream.

The candied pecans are the perfect accompaniment but you don’t have to if you don’t like pecans or are just too impatient to be messing about with nuts and frying pans. They are very quick to rustle up though and are absolutely worth it if you ask me.

For Your Nuts.. 

Toss 20 grams of roughly chopped (not too small, mind you) pecans into a pan over a medium heat and toast for a few minutes until you can get that lovely roasted nut smell. Shake them about and don’t be letting them catch. Burnt nuts are a tragic thing.

Add 1 tsp of maple or golden syrup (because this is Ireland and maple syrup is a challenge to locate…) and let it cook for a minute. Remove to a sheet of baking parchment and let cool.

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Endless Possibilities…

Chocolate chips, peanut butter, dessicated coconut, a splash of rum…. the possibilities are endless for what you could chuck into the blender to change up the recipe according to your mood or taste preferences. Have fun people, there’s always more bananas…

Health Benefits

Apart from taste and sheer foodie enjoyment, this ice-cream is also a perfect food for runners – it’s basically just banana and dates whizzed up – so all carbs, low in fat and easily digestible. Great energy food. AND it’s a great way to use up ageing bananas and using up leftovers. So no look – you’re saving the environment, keeping your running energy levels in good nick, looking after your health AND it tastes yum. What more can I say?

I said that this ice-cream was worthy of its own blog post and I mean it. It’s bloody good and so easy – so you’ve no excuse not to give it a go. I spent years ignoring media telling me to make ice-cream out of bananas and now I can only rue those lost banana ice-cream eating years.

My wisdom to you.

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From the most simple things can come the tastiest, most unctuous, tongue slapping, lip smacking, take-me-away-to-a-dessert-island desserts. Nuf said.

Reinventing the Wheel Food

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I love my food. Always have, always will. I am a fervent believer that no meal should ever be wasted on “functional food” bereft of all flavour and enjoyment, but rather every meal should be savoured and a moment to stop, rest and just enjoy.

However, I’m also the kind of person who once I find something I like, I will keep going back to it again and again and again until I get completely bored of it and then never want to see it again.

Not kidding when I say there are certain meals that I eat during the week that I have probably been eating every week for 5 years, give or take. Sad, but true.

Why eat the same thing so often? Simple – if I discover something I like and which my body is craving on a regular basis, then I’m happy to eat it and if it also happens to be nutritious and good for me, then I don’t see any reason not to keep eating it regularly.

Problem with eating the same things all the time is however, that eventually you (and even I) will get bored.

Reinventing the Wheel

These days I’m finding that I have no craving for the dinners and foods that I usually eat, which I can only surmise is due to a combination of me not running at all at the moment (due to foot injuries) and also the above circle of boredom. In the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve gone through a phase of rebelling, eating foods that I don’t normally want, like pancakes and cereal for dinner and which ultimately make my body feel like crap – almost as if I’ve just been searching for something different to shake things up with my food and try something else.

Shockingly, I very quickly decided I wanted to return to the feeling of feeling (that’s poor English but bear with me here…) good from the inside and that means eating good, fresh food- the kind that makes you glow from the inside out 😉

I know from experience that when you feel good inside, when your body feels happy and nourished, the glow spreads from the inside out.

New Stuff

Last week I picked up a new cookbook – I have more cookbooks than any other kind but there is nothing like drooling over a the pages of a new one for hours at a time (it’s really just an acceptable form of porn for foodies…sorry) – and I’ve been experimenting with new recipes all week.

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Beautiful book and some tasty original recipes, vegetarian friendly…

So far, I’ve made banana ice-cream with candied walnuts…

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This was so good it’s going to be getting a write-up all of its own #ComingSoon

Butter beans with fennel, lemon and tomatoes…

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Had this with sea bass – very nice mellow flavour from the fennel.

New potato and butternut squash hash

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Baby potatoes, squash, leek and egg all fried up together…very tasty.

Courgette, pomegranate, couscous and chicken salad

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Tearing myself away from sandwiches at lunchtime and living on the edge. With salad.

Smoky beans and sweet potato hash…

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Lentils with roast tomatoes and horseradish…

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Okay, I confess I have no photo of this dish because I was so hungry, but they were scrummy and I will be making them again. I’ll get a photo next time 😉

Acai bowl…. except I didn’t have any acai so it’s essentially berry ice-cream with granola, nuts, seeds and stuff on top!

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Don’t let the scruffy photo fool you, it was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a while.

I’ve really enjoyed eating and experimenting this week with new ideas, trying new combinations and dishes but more than that, I’ve actually just enjoyed cooking again. Doing new things, buying different ingredients has brought the fun back to cooking again and reminded me how much I really enjoy it.

One thing’s for sure – more will follow!

Don’t get bored with you food! Get yourself a recipe book and have a go at something totally different that you’ve never tried before. I cannot recommend it enough!

Late Birthday Celebrations & Days Off

LATE BIRTHDAYCELEBRATIONS &DAYS OFF

I would be the first to confess to being overly strict when in training for a big event like a marathon or triathlon. Watching what I eat, being careful about the quality of the food going into my body and trying to keep my weight at a place where I feel comfortable running and cycling. You should know though, I’m not obsessive and I have no desires to be “skinny” – rather, I train and perform better when I feel comfortable in my own skin and for me that means feeling trim and strong.

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I’ve no elite toned body shape going on but for me this is as trim as it gets! Dont think it’s too bad for someone who used to carry an extra 2.5 stone.

I’ve come to believe though that it’s not good to be at that point all year round – to be at what some call your “racing weight”. Apart from the possibility that it might not actually be good for your body in the long run to keep your weight lower than is healthy, it also creates too much pressure and stress for your mind. It’s like trying to be perfect ALL of the time. Not sustainable and will make you go crazy.

So how do you balance these two competing issues? I’m no expert but in the last couple of years I’ve found that works for me is allowing myself to train hard and focus coming up to a big race and then celebrate and enjoy a more relaxed time for a while afterwards. That way, I feel ready to go again for the next training period.

What does that garble actually equate to in reality? It means I take a few days of doing no training except for maybe a gentle cycle or swim, lots of bubble baths and sitting around with my legs up. Then there’s all the food. Chinese takeaways, ice-cream, M&M’s, confectionery coming out my ears and a few nice lunches or dinners out with friends and family. Lots of crap, in other words. I’d generally stay away from this kind of food when I’m in training simply because while it tastes good going down, it makes my body feel gross. It’s not the type of food that makes me feel good from the inside and if I don’t feel good, I don’t perform good. Very simple.

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I eat fish at least 4 times a week, cuz yeah it’s good for me but I also just love it. Clean, environmentally friendly eating… are you loving all the goodness going on here yet?

A few days indulging in rubbish is kiddy-like fun but then I quickly have enough and find I want to get back to eating well and training again.

Ironman 70.3 Dublin last weekend was one such big event for me. The legs were useless for Monday and Tuesday and stairs were a non-runner (pardon the pun). It was also my birthday last weekend so this week was always going to be a chill-out week. A few easy cycles in the last few days helped to ease residual tightness and fatigue in my legs, readily aided by a few long bubble baths 😉

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Ironmanned and done, done, done.

Today I met my cousin and 4 year old godchild for lunch in Avoca along with my Mum and her friend. The food in Avoca is legendary and today’s offerings of confit duck salad with blood oranges, lentils, feta cheese and green beans finished with a lemon posset dessert was no exception. Scrumdiddly. I never pick confit of duck ordinarily but thought I’d live dangerously today and was so glad I did, it was very, very good.

I also picked up a few bits and bobs in the shop, as one cannot avoid doing when in Avoca…

Avocado Mix

Best Ever Granola from Avoca is something I’ve gotten really into lately. Apricots, big ass brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds all knockin around in there with an undertone of a funky orange oil… goes very well with some greek yogurt and berry compote, which has been my breakfast, supper and anytime snack really…

Cranberries, apricot, brazils, almonds, orangey goodness.

This Cake – look I honestly don’t know what it’s called but it was bloody wonderful. Maybe it’s because I eat cake all of probably twice a year that it tasted that good, but it was really very, very good. Think carrot cake meets bakewell tart. Cream cheese icing on top of a carrot cake middle, on top of a layer of jam on a pastry base. Fresh as a daisy and light as anything. C’est super.

No.1 cake spot goes to this lady here. #BeatThat
No.1 cake spot goes to this lady here. #BeatThat

White chocolate biscuit cake – Understand this is not all for me, I’m not that bad. I got this to give to other people but obviously had to taste it in the interests of reviewing it for you fine people 😉 This was disappointing to be honest. Very non-descript taste. I imagined it was going to have a strong white chocolate hit to it, given that it’s pretty much a solid lump of white chocolate with bits of biscuit, marshmallow and raspberries. Alas, it did not. Thumbs down from me.

So pretty...eh looks better than it tastes. 3/10
So pretty…eh looks better than it tastes. 3/10

Before you come to the conclusion (though I would understand if you had already gotten there!) that I am indeed a savage, I am saving the rest of my Avoca loot for another time. So you shall have to wait for my review of Avoca’s raw health food brownie and similarly raw and health foody caramel slice.

2inthehand

Pancakes and Birthday Cake are on the menu for tonight’s supper, along with family time, the original Blair Witch Project, and the main event… cheering on Mo Farah in the Olympic final of the Men’s 5000m race.

On Monday, I’ll be drawing up a training plan for the next few months and cracking into good eating again. I love my down time and I love my up time. But as with any seesaw, the trick in it is not letting yourself go too far up or too far down.

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After all, you don’t wanna fall off.