Sunday, 15 October 2017

No More Trouble Zone - 2 Weeks Later

   After a month of dance cardio, it's been really nice to go back to weights with No More Trouble Zones these past two weeks. It's tough, it really is, and the first circuit is just...disgusting, but I've always hated conventional cardio and prefer compound weight moves instead. I feel strong, I feel powerful, and I'm burning calories both during and after my workout, rather than just during like you do with cardio.
   The circuits are as I'd hoped: different enough to one another that you can pick and choose if you're looking for a shorter workout, and so that you can avoid boredom if you use the full 45 minute workout.
   Each circuit focuses on a specific area of the upper and lower body and uses super-sets to max out the chosen muscle groups in compound moves. This means that you're working for 6 minutes straight on just two parts of the body - so when I tell you that the first circuit is shoulders (and quads and glutes), you'll understand what I mean when I say 'disgusting' - and then generally don't go back to it again, at least not so intensely. As an example, it's shoulders first, and it hurts, but the second circuit is chest (and abs), and while that does still tap into the shoulders, it's subtle enough that you're not going to notice. Or that biceps (and glutes) are circuit 3, and they do get  little involved in triceps (and quads) which are circuit 4.
   Fortunately, though the idea of 7 6-minute circuits is brutal, the final three are actually quite bearable as they take place on the mat. That does mean hollow mans, supermans, leg raises and planks, but they're far tamer and get your heart rate down a little.


   I used the DVD all the way through on Saturdays, when I have the time for a longer workout, while on Monday and Wednesday, I arranged the circuits into two groups of four, and generally used the seventh circuit as a voluntary bonus, bringing me to about 25 minutes a day.
   Monday I used circuits 3, 2, 4 and 6, and Wednesday I used circuits 1, 3, 5, and 4, and Saturday I used either the lot, or the first four circuits and then swapped the last three on the mat for three from Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism for some cardio. Which I hate, but I opted for one calisthenics circuit and two kickboxing, so it wasn't so bad.


   Resistance workouts never fill me with dread - I love it, be it hand weights, kettle bells or my own body weight - but that doesn't mean they aren't tough. But that has left me feeling stronger these past two weeks, and I'm walking taller for it.
   And, yes, I've been eating carbs and regaining my energy. My strength has been flagging this year, and the weights I've used have dropped because I just can't do it. With fresh eating habits, I'm attempting to regain that strength that I found so hard for, and lost because I prioritised an obsession with fat-loss over a desire for health and strength. It's not much fun drifting through life, counting calories and worrying over every gram of carbs all while pushing yourself through stupidly intense workouts every other day. If you don't fuel, you don't gain. Food doesn't make you fat, excessive consumption and laziness does!

   I'll report back in two weeks!



Saturday, 14 October 2017

Mythical Inktober 2017 - Week 2

Inktober has slipped away from me a bit this week, I've been really busy with prepping my shop for Christmas, creating new stock, updating old stock, planning marketing and so on - it's a hard job, so when something had to go on the back burner, Inktober was inevitable.
That said, after missing 3 days I did put more effort into day 14, though I regret it a little because it's a wyvern, not a dragon, and the wyvern is further down the #MythicalInktober prompts list. That said, though, I still think it's good.

Anyway, I'm also going to take this moment to let you know that:
1 - there's free worldwide shipping in my Etsy shop until Monday, no minimum order
2 - sign-ups for my Christmas mini stocking exchange close in 10 days


Day 7: Banshee


Day 8: Gargoyle
Based on the gargoyles from my debut book, The Archguardians of Laceria.


Day 9: Pegasus


Day 10: Satyr


Day 14: Dragon






Friday, 13 October 2017

Friday Favourites

This week has been crazy. I've struggled to keep up with Inktober, but rather than get stressed out by it, I let it slide, and focused on restocking my Etsy shop for Christmas. 20 koroks, kodama, Totoros, and lots of robins and baby penguins, too. It's been hectic, but kind of enjoyable to be so busy. I hit a wall with my writing so it's been good to be able to back off of it and focus on something else rather than 'back off' but continue obsessing over paper rather than a laptop.
Seeg has been replaying Sleeping Dogs - I'm not sure what put it in his head, but I'm grateful, because it's such a great game, so it's been a pleasure to watch him play it through again. He finished it last night, but there's still DLC which we didn't have the first time around, so yay new content.
Also, Graze's cocoa & vanilla protein flapjacks. It's hardly a new thing, but I've been obsessing over them lately. I never used to allow myself such an indulgence - y'know, carbs - but my recent efforts to amend my destructive eating habits have opened new doors I didn't even realise were closed! Try them yourself - get a free Graze box with the code KIMW2WW6P

Oh, and don't forget to sign up to my Christmas sock exchange to make, send and receive a mini Christmas stocking in November! Anyone can participate, though you can opt out of an international partner, but the sign-ups close on the 24th of October.


Feather gloss Lisette leggings by Fabletics   ♥   Graze cocoa vanilla flapjack
Silver twig ring by SongsofInkandSteel   ♥   Sleeping Dogs



Thursday, 12 October 2017

Blue String Pudding (With No Artificial Colours)

   I love the Clangers. I do. I didn't grow up with it, but my mum did, and when her disability got worse, I found myself listening to and watching the things she liked. Not exclusively - she never liked sci-fi or fantasy, that was my dad, and I can't live without the stuff. And she did like reality TV, which I just can't stand. But when it comes to music, I'm rather fond of Human League and Genesis, just as she was, and I know she was still fond of the Clangers and Bagpuss. I bought the DVD of the original series years ago and fell in love with it. Then they revived the series in 2015 and my sister bought me the DVDs and I fell in love all over again.
   I love the Soup Dragon, and the music trees, and the blue string pudding. I wanted to make it forever, but I didn't want to use fake colouring, and I had frankly no idea how to make string without spaghetti. So it never happened.
   But the idea stayed with me, and upon the discovery of butterfly pea flower, which is used as a tea in many Eastern countries, it was suddenly back on the table. And, early this year, I came up with how to make the string: spiralising!
   But either I never had any suitable fruit on hand or any butterfly pea flower whenever the thought struck, so, again, it didn't happen.
   Until my neighbours brought over some pears from their pear tree. Most were pear-shaped (in a good way), but there was one that looked more like a banana. It was long and slender, with no bulbous end - no 'pear' shape - and I knew right then it was perfect. It would give constantly long spiralised pieces. So, because I had butterfly pea flower, I got right down to it!

   This Clangers' blue string pudding recipe is perfect for children because there's no added sugar and no artificial colouring. Butterfly pea flower is safe consumption and a natural blue food colouring, while the pear itself provides the flavour and the sweetness. In terms of taste, the flower isn't noticeable.
   This recipe uses 1 whole pear, which yields quite a big dish. If serving children, it could comfortably serve 2; but because it is only 1 pear, the entire yield only counts as 1 of your 5 a day. The pear is not baked, either, so the sugar is not concentrated, meaning the water content in the fruit remains and lessens the impact of natural sugars on the teeth.

   Now I need to make Soup Dragon soup. And see if I can be original and make it without peas or spinach...


Ingredients:
1 pear
1 teaspoon powdered butterfly pea flower
50ml water

Method:
1. Mix the teaspoon of butterfly pea flower into the water, and set aside.

2. Peel the pear.

3. Run it through a spiraliser. Use a hand-held or counter-top, with a thick/average noodle blade. Try, if you can, to use a slender pear. You're more likely to find these in farmer's markets or independent orchards than you are in supermarkets, because they're not 'perfect'. The thinner the pear, the better; my pear measured about 10cm, and the longest 'string' was about 60cm. No joke - that's what spiralising does. A more pear-shaped pear will give long 'string' from the centre, but the bulbous end will yield much shorter pieces.


4. Transfer into a wide, shallow dish.

5. Stir the blue water, then pour over the pear strings as evenly as you can. Move them around so that they can soak it up. Leave to stand for about 5 minutes.

6. Drain the pear strings and serve. A dollop of whipped cream is wonderful, and also makes for a smoother, lighter blue.





Monday, 9 October 2017

Autumn Evenings Canvas Cake - Fig & Blueberry

   Yeah, yeah, I know, I posted a fig and chocolate porridge recipe last week and, what do you know, it's figs again. But I don't care. I made a pumpkin spice canvas cake last week, and now figs are in. And anyway, aren't you tired of pumpkin spice yet?
   This super simple fig & blueberry canvas cake has gorgeous evening tones - you know, the pink/purple/red sunsets streamed with gorgeous noctilucent clouds  - and the subtle sweetness of autumn fruits. It's absolutely delicious. And you only need 1 fig and some blueberries. I actually only had plain yoghurt on hand, so I used 1/2 a teaspoon of freeze dried blueberry powder and mixed it in, but a blueberry yoghurt or plain yoghurt with blueberry gloop will work just as well, just churn it all up together!


   Made with the basic canvas cake base recipe, along with the pink flesh of one fig, scooped out and mashed into the mixture, 50g St Helen's Farm goat's milk yoghurt with 1/2 teaspoon of Arctic Power wild blueberry powder, topped with 2 slices of fig (cut from the middle of the original fig before scooping out the remaining flesh) and a handful of blueberries.

Autumn Evenings Mug Cake:
235 calories, 15g carbs, 6g fibre, 24g protein, 1 of 5 a day
Break-Down
Cake + fig: 150 calories, 3g fat, 5g carbs, 6g fibre, 21.5g protein
Yoghurt + blueberry powder: 70 calories, 3.5g fat, 7.5g carbs (4g sugar), 2.5g protein
Toppings:
  - 8-10 Blueberries: 15 calories, 3g (2g sugar) carbs, 0.75g fibre
  - Fig: 1 slice of the original fig; nutrition already calculated into the cake
Counts as 1 of your 5 a day





Sunday, 8 October 2017

Just Jhoom! DVD Review

Price: £10
Length: 4x 4 minute dance routines + warm up & cool down
Workouts: All-over body (cardio, abs, strength)
Suitable for: Everyone
Overall Rating:   ★★★★☆
Enjoyment:  ★★★★☆   Difficulty:  ★★☆☆☆   Results:  ★★★☆☆
Based on 4 weeks of use.


https://www.justjhoom.co.uk/shop/just-jhoom-dance-fitness-dvd/
   I've always been impressed by dance. I'm not sure what it is, it's just something that always enraptures me, especially if it's synchronised. The more feet, the more bodies, the more engrossed I become. Lord of the Dance is a guilty pleasure of mine.
   And while dance has never been something I wanted to do with my life, I can't resist a good dance workout. It's where I started when trying to lose weight because I thought it was either run, swim, cycle or dance, while weights were reserved for men. My goodness, how wrong I was. But even so, after four years of fitness blogging and trying so very many different things, dance has remained a favourite, if one I don't indulge very much.
   So when I saw The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - up until a month ago, the closest thing to a Bollywood film I'd seen - and the dance at the end, I had to find out if there was anything on the fitness market that could scratch the sudden itch.
   Well, there were. And they all looked the same.
   But then I came across Just Jhoom!


Overview
   Just Jhoom! is a Bollywood dance workout mirroring the wonderful routines in Bollywood films, which are sure to be the very reason you're reading this review. But while Just Jhoom! promises 'Indian dance moves, Bollywood music and yoga-inspired strengthening exercises to make sure you get a really good workout without even realising you are working out', from a look across the market, every competitor claims the same.
   Most 'Bollywood' dance workouts out there are just belly dancing, and if that's what you're after, then that's great. But if you're looking for a workout featuring the high-energy dance routines you've seen in Bollywood films, then Just Jhoom! is for you.


Difficulty
   I've used a lot of different dance workouts over the years, so basic moves are ingrained. I pick them up pretty fast. That said, the moves on this DVD are quite unlike any other I've used, and yet I was still able, for the most part, to skip the instructional break-down and learn from the routine instead. But I'm the type that learns by doing. There were, unsurprisingly, a few movements that I couldn't grasp without instruction, such as the Boomerang in Ainvayi Ainvayi, the second routine in the workout, and I did have to return to the initial break-down to work it out. I grasped it quickly after that.
   But it is so important to remember with dance workouts that you're not performing it, so if you don't get it right, it doesn't matter, just keep moving, and as weights aren't involved, form isn't a safety issue either. As long as you keep moving, you'll still get a workout, and every time you do it, you will get a better grasp over the moves.

   What I find works best with new dance workouts is this: focus on one routine at a time. Replay the first a few times over, get to grips with it - they usually only last a few minutes, so it'll be over before you really get a chance for it to sink in. I like to run through a single routine about three or four times before trying the next. On my first use of this DVD, I played the first routine 3 times, then the second routine 3 times, then I repeated the first again, but once, and then the second once. By that point, I was relatively comfortable with the moves, I was having more fun because I wasn't flailing around cluelessly, and I was sweating so much more than I expected. And that also secured me a 32 minute workout (each routine is 4 minutes long without instruction, give or take 10 seconds). I didn't feel the need to try the third routine until my third use of the DVD, and the fourth routine on my fifth use. This minimised frustration and kept the DVD fresher for longer, rather than trying to take it all on at once. I recommend this method for every dance workout DVD.


Instruction
   Something that seems to go over the head of the larger fitness titles is that, while instruction is undeniably important for dance workouts, you don't want to have to go through that instruction every single time you use it. After four or five uses, you know the moves, and having to be reintroduced to them after every minute of a 10 minute workout, it slows that workout down, drags it out, and is kind of frustrating when you just want to work in some fun cardio through dance and you're being stopped so frequently. You can't ignore it and keep dancing, either, because you'll be out of time with the music, which leaves it all culminating into an unbroken two minutes right at the end. It is, quite simply, boring.
   But indie workouts seem to understand this. Just Jhoom!, like Kukuwa, has provided instruction and a break down of the movements, but they've kept them separate from the routine itself. This means that new users can get the instruction they need, while more experienced users can skip it and get straight down to business. This also means that more time is put into the routine itself - rather than 2 minutes you're given 4 or 5, and you can cycle through them all consecutively without a break. It also means that the impact remains high, and that in turn means a better sweat, better burn, and renders the workout itself more versatile. I put together a HIIT style workout with Kukuwa and Pilates a few months ago, and due to the fact that Just Jhoom! has separated their instruction from their routines, you could swap Kukuwa for Just Jhoom! and use the same system for an even better, more varied workout.
   The instruction precedes each routine on its own DVD chapter, meaning that it can be skipped with the 'next chapter' button on your remote, making it absolutely perfect if it's your sixth or so run through and you just want to get on with it. The routines themselves are uninstructed but do contain cues for changing moves. The instruction sections themselves are slow and clearly explained, breaking the moves down into feet, hops, arms and flourishes.


Routines
   With each routine's instruction nestled in its own preluding DVD 'chapter', hitting the 'next chapter' button on your remote takes you straight to the dance workout routines themselves which come straight from Bollywood movies. This DVD was made in conjunction with Raj Films, which means that the routines you're doing could very well be from the films you saw that made you think "I want to do this!"
   Aside from two warm ups - mobility and movement - there are four dance routines at 4-4.5 minutes each. They're non-stop, slowing down only on the arrival of slower moves, and while the routines do vary in intensity, the first isn't exactly slow. They're each quite different from each other in terms of both music and movement, which makes the entire DVD quite flavourful.
   The movements are unlike other dance workouts, and while previous experience always helps simply for improved co-ordination, the unique nature of the movements means even experienced people will have to stop and look through the instruction chapters. Focus on one routine at a time, learn it have fun with it, and only then should you move on. And, as the DVD's introduction itself says, sometimes your hands, arms and legs don't speak to each other, so focus on getting the footwork down before adding in any arms or you'll only confuse yourself.


Cool Down
   The cool down section is worth mentioning because it features a few yoga poses - basic but powerful ones like Warrior II and Tree. It's actually quite an effective collection, and even though it's 'only dance', I recommend taking five minutes to go through the cool down. You'll be surprised how often your abs engage in some of the moves, there's a lot of leaning involved, and also some squats in some places, so you definitely want to make sure you get a good stretch in afterwards.

Verdict
   Just Jhoom! is a wonderful dance workout DVD. The use of real Bollywood dance routines means that the reason you searched the DVD down remains a focus throughout the workout, rather than a disappointment, and the fact that the instruction is separate from the routines is a very valuable detail that you will appreciate very quickly if you've used any other dance workout DVD in the past. It also makes Just Jhoom! a viable option for a Pilates-Dance HIIT workout, which can really shake it up once you've grown tired of the DVD as-is. Read my Pilates-Dance HIIT post here to find out how to do this effectively.
   I'm really hoping that Just Jhoom! release a new volume in the future, because four dance routines simply isn't enough. It's fun while it lasts, and they are nicely varied, but four is four, and the DVD will become stale. After 4 weeks of use, I was glad to move on to something else. That's not to say I'll never use it again, because it makes for a great supplement to follow a resistance workout - it's good cardio, it's not too long, and it's so much fun that it won't feel like work when you're already exhausted.



Friday, 6 October 2017

Mythical Inktober 2017 - Week 1

   Despite the amount of work I have on my shoulders at this time of the year, and the fact that, while my writing has been going well, I have recently managed to write myself into a corner so I need to really think about how to back up and out of it, I decided to take on Inktober.
   Unlike the past years, where I only made one drawing a week - though they were pretty good - I decided to try it every day with smaller doodles using Frenone's Mythical Inktober prompts. And I also decided not to freak out if I missed a day. Day 4 was spent painting reindeer for my new Christmas/Winter jewellery collection coming out at the end of this month (after left-overs have been relisted from last year's, as of about the middle of the month), so I missed Cactus Cat. But I doubt it would have been worth seeing.
   Otherwise, I've done Days 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, which are all shown below. I've been tweeting them every day with the #MythicalInktober hashtag, but wanted to compile them here at the end of each week.


Day 1: Moon Rabbit


Day 2: Dryad


Day 3: Valkyrie


Day 5: Siren


Day 6: Dire Wolf





Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Autumn Crunch Breakfast Cake

   Autumn. I love it. I've told you that. It's the prettiest time of the year, and so quiet and peaceful. The mornings are the best - I can't wait for the first frost! I've been really enjoying dressing up my breakfasts lately, so when autumn rolled around, I had to combine the two!
   So, on Suday morning, I made a super-healthy breakfast mug cake with an autumnal theme, and it was both delicious and fun!
   Yes, a healthy mug cake is possible, I blogged about it just this morning: canvas cake, healthy mug cake recipe.


   This cake was made with the canvas cake breakfast base with the addition of 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin and 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice, topped with 50g St Helen's Farm goat's milk yoghurt combined with 1 teaspoon of Hive & Keeper raw honey, then embellished with 1/3 punnet of a Graze honeycomb & almond protein topper and 10g (three squares) of Green & Black's white chocolate, melted down, spread thin, semi-cooled and cut with sugarcraft plungers, before being coloured with edible gold & red lustre.

Autumn Crunch Mug Cake: 330 calories, 23g carbs, 26.5g protein
Break-Down
Cake + pumpkin purée: 150 calories, 3g fat, 5g carbs, 6g fibre, 21.5g protein
Yoghurt + raw honey: 75 calories, 3.5g fat, 7.5g carbs (4g sugar), 2.5g protein
Toppings:
  - Graze honeycomb & almond: 50 calories, 2g fat, 6g (3g sugar) carbs, 0.75g fibre, 1.5g protein
  - Green & Black's white chocolate: 55 calories, 4g fat, 5g carbs (sugar), 1g protein




Canvas Cake; Basic & Healthy Mug Cake Recipe

   One of the best parts of changing up your diet, especially when you're reintroducing carbs, is the variety suddenly available, and with my recent obsession with breakfast, I've been trying all kinds of things. One of my favourite has been a super-healthy breakfast mug cake.
   Yes, I did just say 'super-healthy breakfast mug cake'.
   It's true that mug cake ingredients are rarely that great, and the finished product itself leaves a lot to be desired because it's made in a hurry, to the point that I have to wonder what the point is at all, but, when done right, mugs cakes can be a great low-carb, high-protein, high-fibre base to your breakfast.
   And yes, I know I said 'low-carb', but the trick here is not to leave the cake as is. Toppings! Yes, some cakes like chiffon cakes and Japanese souffle cheese cakes are divine on their own, but otherwise, half of what makes a cake amazing is the contrast of texture from toppings. It's also a wonderful opportunity to add nutrition, as well as making it look good.

   I came up with a simple and healthy mug cake recipe, which I've been referring to as a 'canvas cake'. Why? Because it's unflavoured, unsweetened and totally white. It's pretty much made for being dressed up, and I've been seriously relishing it.
   As for topping it, rather than cream or frosting like typical cakes, I use yoghurt. Even in my obese teens I discovered the wonder of warm chocolate cakes and cold honey yoghurt, and so yoghurt was my first choice and one I have yet to deviate from. It's also a source of additional protein, healthy fats and, of course, carbs, which the cake itself lacks.
   But yoghurt doesn't add too many carbs, if even enough for breakfast, which leaves room for more. Like fruit or granola, which adds additional sweetness, fibre and in the latter's case, crunch.


   So, down to details.
   My canvas cake consists of:
• coconut flour - you need little of it because it's freakishly absorbent, which makes the finished cake low-carb. It's a great source of fibre, with 5g in every 2 tablespoons, and lauric acid, a healthy fat which supports the immune system.
• Whey protein, though plant-based protein powder can work, too.
• 1 egg white - low-calorie, additional protein and a binder.
• water - adds moisture, obviously, and is calorie-free, but milk can be used instead.
• baking soda - for lift.
   Notice anything? All these ingredients are either white or colourless, with the exception of the whey which is off-white. All together, though, it creates a white cake which is rich in protein and fibre, low in carbs and practically absent of sugar. It's also only about 130 calories.
   The cake itself can be dressed up with flavouring, you could add 1/4 cup of honey, or some chopped fruit, spices, cacao powder and so on. Generally, you only need to add a little, so the base cake is unlikely to exceed 160 calories.

   The yoghurt 'frosting' consists of either Greek yogurt, yoghurt with a fruit layer or plain with a teaspoon of honey. I always use bio-live yoghurt for the extra probiotics. Generally, 50g is enough, and adds about 45 calories depending on whether or not it's fat-free. Though I admit that I do use the whole 100g pot because the yoghurt warms on the cake, and it's nice to pour the rest over half way through for a fresh dose of cold.

   The toppings usually consist of something pretty, and I love a bit of crunch so granola or Graze often make an appearance. Generally 15g is enough, which is also about 1/3 of a Graze protein topper punnet, and that, too, adds about 50 calories. Some small squares of chocolate are also good - 1 row of Green & Black's organic chocolate is perfect. Edible flowers, berries and so on are also winners.

Canvas Cake
Nutrition:
Calories: 130
Fat: 2.8g
Carbs: 2.5g
Fibre: 5g
Protein: 21.5g

Ingredients
Serves 1
10g (1 heaped tablespoon) coconut flour - I've been using Biona
20g (2 heaped tablespoons) whey protein - I've been using Pulsin's Simply Whey
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg white (fresh or powdered)
60ml water (or 80ml if using powdered egg white)
optional: 1/2 - 1 tsp Stevia

Method
1. Mix dry ingredients (including Stevia, if using) in a microwave-safe mug or bowl. I've been using a bowl, then transferring it when cooked to a slightly smaller and much shallower dish for ease of decorating.
2. Mix fresh egg white with 60ml water.
3. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
4. Add any chopped fruit, puree, syrup, cocoa, matcha etc.
5. Microwave for 2-3x 40 seconds.
6. Cover in yoghurt and toppings, then devour.


Dress it up
Alternative flavours:
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 tsp speculaas
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp spices & dried fruit chunks
1 tsp matcha
 
Decorate:
fruit
edible flowers
nuts
granola
yoghurt toppers
toasted oats

'Last Summer Day' - canvas cake with 1 tbsp puréed pear, Glenilen Farm rhubarb live yoghurt, granola & cherry blossoms



Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Fig & Chocolate Porridge - Autumn in a Bowl

   It's October. Yay. Now it's officially autumn. Jumpers are out of the drawers, dressing gowns on a morning are becoming a necessity (or I want them to be, at least), and though I've been having warm breakfasts even through the summer, I'm enjoying them a lot more now. Ever since I turned the calendar over, I've suddenly felt so cosy, so calm, and yet at the same time enthusiastic. I think it's because my mind is calmer and so ideas are coming more easily. Even my writing has been going a little better - I'd been struggling for the past couple of weeks, doing shop work in the day and writing in the evening, which isn't unusual, but I've been feeling very sleepy and it's been getting in the way. Now, though, it seems to be passing.

   When the autumn comes, new video games are usually released, too, so another "it's autumn!" sign is when Seeg starts taking over the PS4 and getting in the way of whatever show I'm presently binge-watching (right now, Stargate SG-1). That's fine, though, because watching him play video games is one of my favourite pass-times, and quite surprisingly also makes it easier for me to write. I think it's the ambient music and all the non-essential side quests and exploring. I enjoy watching that, but it's also non-distracting. I know. It doesn't make any sense, but I concentrate better when he's playing video games, and when my thoughts get jumbled, I have something to watch while my mind unravels rather than trying to pick at the knots and make them worse.

   Nothing worth watching has come out just yet, though - Assassin's Creed Origins and the Horizon DLC aren't due out for a month - but he has started replaying Sleeping Dogs, which was a damned good game. So I'm happy, I'm concentrated, I'm calm, work is going well, and my new Christmas wildlife jewellery collection is almost done! And I've been working on lots of gift guides for the blog, so while I've been busy busy busy, I'm totally on top of it all.

   And so my mind has been turning towards cooking more often. I don't usually try to be all that inventive with dinner - I'll think of a dominant ingredient and just google some recipes. I rarely have the energy or drive to experiment. But when autumn comes along and Christmas is on the horizon, that usually changes, and this year it's been happening more than most, and no doubt because I've been trying to put carbs back into my diet. A whole world of food has been opened up to me. Even fruit is back on the menu, and I've been relishing it.


   I was in Tesco on Monday, doing the weekly shop, and I found figs. They weren't on display yet, rather their crate had been dumped on top of boxes of jaffa cakes at the end of an aisle, so while I would usually walk past and ignore it for the sake of my waistline, when I saw punnets, regardless of what was in them, I stopped to look. I'd wanted plums, to be honest, but the shelves were all half-empty, and as I didn't really have a clue about figs, naturally I put them straight in the basket.
   My only knowledge of figs comes from fig rolls (and I have no idea how much of the flavour was fig and how much was fake), from nature documentaries with monkeys throwing them at camera people, and from this amazing article I read a few months ago about the fig tree's immense impact on human culture and development. If I'm honest, it was partly that article that encouraged them to fly out of that half-empty, untagged crate and into my basket.

   My original plan for the plums was just as an addition to my usual morning porridge, but when I found myself looking at the fruit when I got home wondering what the hell I was going to do with them, as I had little idea what they tasted or felt like (as I said, fig rolls), I decided to do some research and find out what they were like.
   And so came this super simple chocolate (cacao) and fig porridge bowl.
   Also, how freaking pretty are figs? And not just visually - nutritionally, too! Figs are rich in dietary fibre which slows the release of its natural sugars, keeping you going for longer, and they're also ridiculously rich in calcium (as much per half cup as a half cup of milk) and potassium, and are a source of magnesium, copper, iron and antioxidant vitamins A, E and K. They weigh in at around 55g per fresh fig, 40 calories and 10g of carbs and 1g fibre, and two fresh figs count as 1 of your 5 a day.

   This chocolate and fig porridge blends the bitterness of cacao with the sweetness of figs for a perfectly balanced taste, as well as a ridiculously nutritious breakfast. Perfect for easing into the darker mornings.


Ingredients:
Serves 1
1/2 cup/40g rolled oats
2 tbsp/10g cacao
pinch cinnamon
1/2 cup/125ml milk
1/2 cup/125ml boiled water
2 figs
optional 2 tbsp/10g whey protein (I used Pulsin's Simply Whey)
optional 2 tbsp cacao nibs or sprouted buckwheat

Method:
1. Combine oats, cinnamon, cacao and, if using, whey and cacao nibs/buckwheat in a saucepan along with the boiled water and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir to combine.

2. Lower the heat to a simmer and allow it to thicken.

3. Meanwhile, chop your figs into chunks (save a few slices for garnish) then add them to the pan, stirring again to combine.

4. Leave to thicken over a low heat, stirring occasionally.

5. Transfer to a bowl, garnish with fig slices and serve with optional honey and additional sprinkling of cacao nibs or buckwheat.

Nutrition:
325 cals (+40 if adding whey protein)
51g carbs
7g fibre
10g protein (+8g if adding whey protein)





Monday, 2 October 2017

October - No More Trouble Zones

Read Also: 2 Weeks Later, 4 Weeks Later &
No More Trouble Zones DVD Review


   September was nice and easy with an enjoyable but low-impact workout, which I needed after the 30 Day Shred in August. But now I'm raring to go, and I'm turning back to Jillian Michaels for October.
   I used Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism back in January 2016, and while that's a great if also challenging workout, I was always confused by the resistant moves shown on the DVD's intro. They were, after all, nowhere to be seen.
   Well, a year and a half later, I finally understand why.
   No More Trouble Zones seems to be the unpressed accompaniment to Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism, using the same set, same demonstrators, and the same 7x 6-minute circuit set-up. The difference is, while Banish Fat focused on cardio and body weight, Trouble Zones uses weights. I don't yet know if Banish Fat is supposed to cover the cardio and Trouble Zones the resistance and sculpting, but I am expecting variety here. Banish Fat was amazing - forty minutes and seven circuits sounds insane, but with two calisthenics circuits, two kickboxing circuits, two body weight circuits and one abs circuit, the workout was a very good example of variety, and that made it bearable. I'm desperately hopeful that Trouble Zones will be the same.

https://www.fabletics.co.uk/invite/Blackbird/

   I recall Banish Fat having each circuit in its own chapter, making it easy to mix and match, to pick out the toughest (or easiest) circuits for a shorter but still effective workout. Again, I expect the same here.
   I'd like to get a little Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism into this month as a supplement, perhaps doing 20 minutes of each, but I want to get a feel for Trouble Zones first so I know which circuits to choose when it comes to that.

   For the first time in a while, I've got some new workout leggings for the cooler weather, and I love them. Fabletics' Lisette High Waist leggings are my favourite - maximum compression, incredibly flattering waistline, multi-way stretch and the best moisture-wicking. So when they released them in this black and black-shine feather print, I, quite simply, needed them. I rarely make spontaneous purchases anymore, but these were a must. An expensive must, I admit, but I've learned that you get what you pay for and Fabletics is worth every penny. And when compared to other brands (looking at you, We Are Handsome), £50 for a pair of workout leggings is nothing, especially when they're just that good, in every single way.

   I'll update in 2 weeks, by which time I should have gotten to grips with No More Trouble Zones and been able to juggle the two DVDs. So come back if you wanna know what's up!



Sunday, 1 October 2017

Just Jhoom! - 4 Weeks Later

   For four weeks, Just Jhoom! has been putting me through my paces, and it's been immensely refreshing. After a month-long high-impact workout through August, I was after something with a slower pace to ease my muscles and recover some energy, and Just Jhoom! provided it.
   But that's not at all to say that it's been a slow month. The routines all have some unique footwork and arm movements, which really sets it apart from generic dance workouts, which I long ago stopped using because they just weren't enough for me anymore. Instead I've found that indie dance workouts - like Just Jhoom! - provide a much better workout through dance than Triple A titles, quite probably because of their niche. And after using three indie dance workouts - Kukuwa, Kelta Fit and now Just Jhoom! - I've also found that indie workouts have cottoned onto something Triple A titles haven't: repeated use. And I don't meant 'every time you do it, you get better', I mean you learn it well enough - which can be just three or four times - that the instruction becomes a hindrance. Having to slow down or stop to be taken through steps you already know is tiresome and lowers the effectiveness of the workout.
   None of these indie workouts do this. Like Kukuwa, Just Jhoom! features the instruction separate from the routine itself, meaning that you can just jump straight in once you're confident without having your heart rate drop too far. Instead the slower moves in the sequence let you get your breath back before it picks up again, and there are spoken cues given throughout so you know what's coming next if you are new to it.


   Another thing I love about indie workouts is, as I mentioned, niche. Just Jhoom! is a Bollywood dance workout, not just a dance workout, and that gives it some real flavour. Then there's the added fact that it's actual Bollywood routines straight from films, rather than belly dancing, which is a fair description of most other 'Bollywood' dance workouts out there. The music is great, very high-energy, and while most of the movements aren't hard to grasp, they are quite different from typical dance motions.

   I used it in my usual manner: learn a routine thoroughly before trying another. I learned the first two on the first day, the third on the fifth, and the fourth routine on the eighth. This means that I get to grips quicker and don't get so frustrated - it's not a race to reach the end of the DVD, it's a workout, and I want to get the best out of it, and spending 20 minutes struggling doesn't do that. So I set out 30 minutes, which gave me the time to truly learn two routines and subsequently get a good, fast-paced cardio workout in. When I learned the third routine, I was already fluent in the first two so I could guarantee a good workout even despite taking the time to learn another, and the same goes for the fourth.
   The benefits to using dance workout DVDs this way are that you only spend one day uncertain, and that's the first use. Once you've learned a couple, you can at least do them to your best capacity the next day, and as a supplement while learning a third. No more wasted time.
   The next benefit is that it makes the DVD last longer. You don't go through the routines, flail and struggle on them all and decide you don't like them or the DVD and never use it again. It wasn't until the eighth use that I 'completed' the DVD by learning the final routine, and once I'd learned it, I could mix and match easily.


   Of all of them, the third routine, Lucky Boy, is my favourite. I love the music, the beat, and the moves, especially the butterfly squat and the give-take kick. Though I am also partial to the boomerang in the second routine, which took me far too long to learn.
   The cool-down is nice, too, because while the warm ups feature some dance, the cool down does not, instead it's just stretching with some elements of yoga, which is always good.

   All in all, a great month. The movements were unique and a challenge if just because they overruled all the dance experience I have, the music was upbeat and brilliant, the pace was really quite fast and I got a seriously good sweat, and it turned out to be a higher impact workout than I expected it to be. It's true that I'm used to body weight training, kettlebells and HIIT, but taking some time out to do something more fun that still burns calories while giving my weary muscles a rest is a very refreshing change of pace.
   I would love to see more of Just Jhoom!, but in my experience, one area indie workouts do fail in consistently is additional content. Generally, they'll only make one DVD, and while it's a strong DVD, there are only so many times you can use it before it gets stale. But I always have my fingers crossed. Just Jhoom! is in a league of its own, and that means there's nothing else like it on the market to even try to measure up.

   A full review will be posted next week, but in the mean time, you can get Just Jhoom! on DVD for just £5 on their website for a limited time!



Saturday, 30 September 2017

Carbohydrates - Reintroducing Lunch & Dressing Up Breakfast

   Well. I. Feel. Fabulous. I've been eating more - calories, carbs and diversity - and I'm feeling excellent. It's so amazing to be in a good mood without trying, and I'm noticing the people around me are in a better mood, too. It's so easy to create a negative atmosphere, and that atmosphere has far too much sway over people. I usually give into it when others are the source, but that was also probably because I was already a bit miserable. Now, however, I'm finding the energy to push past it and not let other people's bad moods affect me, and to lighten the atmosphere myself instead. And it seems to be working!
   But, honestly - and I know how silly this sounds - it's nice to be happy. To smile so easily, to wake up and roll out of bed with a spring (after a moment), I'm even sleeping better! My exercise has been going better, I don't dread it anywhere near as much (in fairness, this month's workout has been amazing fun), and my day to day concentration has improved. My writing is going amazingly, and I really feel like I've started this book on a really strong note.

   The past few weeks I've been continuing to force carbohydrates into my diet by targeting my meals. I started with lunch, because my lunch almost never contains carbs, it's literally 2 eggs, 30g salmon, a handful of baby carrots and various herbs and spices. Fortunately eggs are ridiculously versatile and even after a year and a half of lunches like this, I have yet to tire of either eggs or salmon. And while it's true that I've only made one change to it, it's a pretty significant one.
   Bread.
   Yes, I've added bread to my eggs and salmon on exercise days. Imagine that: bread for lunch.
   I chose bread for three reasons - first of all, it's a good source of carbs, calories and fibre. Secondly, because otherwise the only carbs I see post-workout is a small amount of fruit about 30 minutes after I've finished, around 11am, and then whatever I snack on at 3, assuming it's even carbs. And thirdly, because whenever we go to The Netherlands to see Seeg's family, bread is served every day, and as I never, ever eat it, my body doesn't seem to know what the hell to do with it. I don't have Coeliac's or a gluten intolerance, I just gain weight really easily from it, so I figured if I add bread into my lunch (like a normal person) I can add more carbs onto a meal that doesn't otherwise have any more than 6g, mostly from veg, and my body can get used to it.
   Bread is also quite versatile - I can dunk it into soft-boiled eggs, I can make eggy bread, I can make a sandwich, and I can also stick that sandwich in the oven for 10 minutes for a toasted, crispy, lovely warm egg and salmon sandwich. Um, yum.


   On non-exercise days, I leave the bread out because I don't want to eat it every day, and instead I try salads and soups. I usually try to avoid carbs completely after breakfast on rest days, which is ridiculous, so instead I've been branching out and trying some ready-to-eat brands I've seen in Women's Fitness and the like that I've been too afraid to try before because of carbs. This spices up lunch time and introduces me to new flavours, foods and combinations, and things that I might try to make from scratch myself, in time.
   This week I even turned to the Just Jhoom! cookbook for some carrot and ginger soup.


   Changing breakfast was a risk. I did it not long after changing my lunch - it was about five days in, in fact - and it's always been the one time of the day when I have eaten carbs. It's almost always porridge - warm and simple, and I've always quite liked it, and oats are a great source of slow-release carbs. But, more than just energy, breakfast can also be a huge mood-booster. It can shake away bad dreams and give your day a good start, which can reverberate on until lunch time.
   But, though it was a risk to do it so soon after changing up lunch, it's paid off, and I'm actually rather enjoying it. On exercise days, I've kept it simple and just added a bit of fruit to my oats - a handful of berries or a chopped up apricot - and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's not much, but I don't want to increase the size too much because it might hinder my exercise (take too long to digest), but porridge is mostly oats and milk, and is generally the only reliable source of carbs in my day.
   Non-exercise days are far more interesting. I usually have larger porridge bowls, but larger only really because they include a scoop of protein powder which increases the calories and the liquid content. But I've started adding fruit there, too, and nuts, and sometimes a sprinkling of granola. I've also dared a stack of blueberry and white chocolate protein pancakes, using Flapjacked's protein pancake mix (all natural, 200 cals per serving, 20g protein and 20g carbs with oat flour), and I successfully did not feel guilty for it at all. I try to make sure that all the ingredients are clean and healthy, and I can trust the pancake mix on that front, but I also try not to obsess over it. Chocolate is chocolate, after all, even if it is three pieces of Green & Black's, some of the cleanest chocolate there is.
   But breakfast is suddenly a very enjoyable time of the day. In fact, I'm becoming a bit of a breakfast enthusiast... So far, I've tried the following:
• Porridge oats with a handful of blueberries or a diced apricot
• Chocolate protein porridge with a sprinkling of granola & nuts
• Strawberry protein porridge with a diced apricot & a sprinkling of granola/blueberries & baobab
• Green & Black's white chocolate & blueberry protein pancakes with oat flour
• Strawberry & baobab-sprinkled protein mini muffins (same as the pancake mix but baked for 10 minutes, gas mark 4, in a mini muffin tray)
• Blueberry taiyaki (made with that same pancake mix - I was shocked to find that 1 serving made 3 taiyaki!)

 

   As for dinner, aside from the culinary adventure that dominated my recent staycation, I'm just not there yet. The idea of carbs when the day slows down puts me off big-time. So I've been sticking to the same boring repetitive recipes, but it's also the biggest meal of my day so if this takes the longest to adjust, that's not unreasonable. I've mentioned in the past that sometimes I feel guilty for eating dinner purely because I ate enough to satiate me, which I guess is a feeling I'm not used to when under-eating. Adding carbs into my dinner (mostly just meat and veg, otherwise) will take a little longer.
   Having said that, I have tried to shake things up once a week and using Just Jhoom's cookbook has helped, as has daring to try out Simply Cook. Both mean new recipes, but the latter also enforces more calories and carbs once a week, as well as an extremely interesting meal - I've tried to choose the most interesting, and the family is loving it, too.



Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Chia Co, Chia Pods Review

   Chia pudding. Over-night oats' competitor, with the advantage of the 'dessert' tag. It's really just chia seeds - high-protein, high-fibre, nutritious little powerhouses - soaked in water or milk with some fruit for flavouring. The trouble with both is that you need to plan ahead. There's no spontaneity involved. Of course, it does also mean that you get what you want without the nasties, as with all homemade dishes.
   Fortunately, some people have already considered all these details. 'Some people', in this case, referring to The Chia Co.

   This Australian company have created Chia Pods, little cups of chia pudding with absolutely no nasties, so that we can have our pudding right when we want it. Welcome back, spontaneity.


   They come in a range of wonderful flavours, but the first of the few downsides are that the range in Australia differs to that in the UK. But, fortunately, that doesn't mean there's a smaller choice. The UK has some flavours the Aussies don't, and they have some we don't. For example, the Apple Spice in Australia really appeals to me, but I can't get it - whereas the Blueberry I can get provides the same issue for the Aussies. I don't understand the reason behind the differing stock, but I'm happy to take the trade-off.
   Every pot is mild in flavour; nothing is too sweet, but you don't need to concentrate to detect the flavour, and neither is there any strange after-taste. Every flavour is as you'd expect. Personally, I don't actually like bananas, but I've discovered that I quite like banana-flavoured foods. Trek's banana bread flapjack is one of my first choices in a mixed box. But I am still dubious about any new banana foods, which is why the banana Chia Pod was the first I'd tried of the selection. I wasn't disappointed.
   The dark cacao was, simply, dark cacao; banana was soft and subtle; the vanilla bean was simple and delightful for it, and is particularly wonderful warm. The blueberry and mango flavours were sweeter than the rest, but not by much. All in all, the flavours are as they should be, and are subtly sweet enough for breakfast. Of all of them, vanilla bean was my favourite, though I would still like to get my hands on apple spice...


   If you've never had chia pudding before, the texture is something to get used to. It's not like porridge, it's more like a lumpy gel, and very slurpable. Chia seeds form a 'gel' because chia seeds are more hydrophilic (attracted to water) than any other seed - the micro-fibre layer on the outside of the seed stands on end in water and allows it to hold nine times its weight in fluids. So 'chia gel' is not actually a 'gel' at all, it's just trapped water, and as it's removed very slowly in digestion, the water helps to smooth the digestive process.
   Chia seeds also have no flavour of their own, and with their absorption abilities, readily take on the flavour of whatever they're paired with.


   But why bother? Well, unlike all these oat pouches and 'just add water' instant breakfasts, Chia Pods involve very few ingredients, and nothing artificial. Just chia 'gel', fruit puree and coconut milk. They pack 4g of protein and a hefty 7g of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and only sit at 150 calories. This gives your day a wonderful nutrition and brain-power boost!

   Chia Pods are a great high-protein, high-fibre, simple and wholesome snack pot, and when teamed with a piece of fruit and the spoon that comes inside the lid of each pot, perfect for breakfast on the go. They're also amazing hot or cold - pop them in the microwave for 45 seconds and they're perfect for autumn mornings.
   Find them in the chilled section of Tesco, Holland & Barrett, Planet Organic and on Ocado.



Saturday, 23 September 2017

Holiday Eating - Japan From Home

   My blog has had a greater focus on food lately after my recent admission of an eating disorder, but I'm pleased to say that carbs have been finding their way onto my plate, and after last week's staycation, where my responsibilities as carer to my mum were put on hold while my dad took her on holiday, my diet took on another change, as it always does during such opportunities (since I no longer have to tailor family meals to what my mum can physically eat). Of course, the biggest and best part of this last staycation was that I successfully kept out of my own head and didn't over-exercise or feel massive guilt for eating something delicious, as detailed in my last post.

   But I wanted to take the time to talk about the amazing things I ate last week, because 1: they were awesome, 2: I want to keep a record to remind myself in the future that I can enjoyed amazing meals without the guilt, and 3: I genuinely believe you should try at least one of the recipes.
   Seeg and I love Japanese cuisine and culture, especially historical. So when I came across Just One Cookbook a few months ago, I found myself foaming at the mouth, wanting to try so many of the recipes. I didn't because I was hung up on the idea that rice and noodles (ie carbs) were deadly to me, and because my mum's disability meant that she could never eat it. But, despite my own neurosis, I bookmarked the website.
   After trying to make a change to my unhealthy relationship with food and eat more carbs, I looked it back up, and it ended up that Nami virtually catered our entire holiday.
   Almost every day last week we made something from her collection of recipes - some we'd made before, like Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, but for the vast majority, it was new.

   Saturday


Dinner: omurice and gyoza
   Tomato rice tucked into an omelette, oh my, it was amazing. But trying to make this alongside gyoza to be ready at the same time, without the filling soaking into the gyoza wrappers (ie, don't make them ahead of time and leave them uncooked), it was a challenge. So I enlisted Seeg's help to wrap the gyoza, which he did a better job on than I did. The gyoza freeze well, so I've set left overs aside. I'm sure my mum will be able to eat these, so I'm going to incorporate them into a meal when they get back.
   Otherwise, the whole thing was delicious, and I was chuffed with how well the omurice came out!

   Sunday


Lunch: nikuman;    Dinner: yaki udon with teriyaki chicken
   Nikuman, like dim sum, are steamed doughy pork-filled dumplings, and they are such a nuisance to wrap. But JOC provides great advice for wrapping and sealing both these and gyoza, and I am so proud of the outcome of these things! They also tasted amazing. And they, like the gyoza, freeze well, so I'll use these up when they get back, too.
   As for yaki udon and teriyaki chicken, yes, as you can see from the image, it turned out to be too much, but it was delicious. My only regret are the noodles; I wish I had bought dried and cooked them myself rather than using pre-cooked. Not a mistake I will make again. Also, this isn't the first time I've made teriyaki chicken. The first time, I made the sauce from scratch and it was to die for, but I got lazy after that and bought a bottle from Tesco. I've used it three times and each has been a disappointment. So, this time, I made the sauce from scratch again and it was as wonderful as I remembered. Lesson learned.

   Monday


   Pancake (admittedly, I used whole meal flour for better nutrition), cabbage, bacon, yakisoba noodles, a fried egg, all stacked up with okonomiyaki sauce, spring onions and mirin here and there. I also added a few shiitake mushrooms. It's our favourite cheat meal. This is the fifth time I've made it, and I used to find it very stressful with all the flipping back and forth (you make one layer, then add another, flip it over on the griddle, add another and so on), but I realised it is just as good if you make one layer at a time, turn the oven on low and dish it up one layer at a time, keeping it warm as each layer cooks by itself. I've done it this way twice now, and only on these occasions has it been photographable.

   Tuesday


Lunch: chawanmushi
   It's basically a bowl of meat and vegetables covered in a savoury egg mixture, steamed until cooked through. It was peculiar, but quite nice. Seeg doesn't like mushrooms, so I didn't give him any shiitake, but I did buy some narutomaki from Japan Centre, along with all the other very precise ingredients, and made something that, I think, looks quite presentable. And my goodness was its high protein content filling!

   Wednesday


   Like onigiri, but not compacted into a ball. I actually used the recipe for bulgogi onigirazu but didn't have what I needed for the bulgogi marinade, so I just used soy sauce. Somehow, the marinade ingredients slipped my attention when ordering from Ocado and Japan Centre, but looking back over it, I think I'd have had to have gone elsewhere anyway.
   Essentially, it's a sandwich with rice rather than bread, wrapped in nori seaweed. It was delicious, but I do wish I'd had the beef marinade because, where beef is involved, I've always felt that the sauce or marinade makes the dish. Seeg liked it, but had the same complaint.

   Thursday


Dinner: niku udon
   Udon noodles in a dashi/soy broth, with caramelised beef, a boiled egg, scallions and narutomaki. It's a simple dish, really, but it was delicious, and while I admit I had trouble with chopsticks on these noodles, I refused to be beaten, and eventually came out victorious.

   Friday


   This one, I actually made up myself. I took the basis of french toast but used miso paste with about 20ml of water instead of milk. I used a thick slice of shokupan bread from Japan Centre, sliced it in two, and soaked each for 2 minutes on each side before frying in a pan for 3 minutes on each side. The bread was still soft - it wasn't toasted, I think there was too much egg in a single slice and I was impatient, but it was not soggy at all. I topped it with some natto beans I also got from Japan Centre (the only word to describe them is 'slimy', but overlooking that detail I thought they were quite nice and mild), some low-fat Japanese mayonnaise, also from Japan Centre, and some picked cucumber. The whole thing was amazing, but if I'm honest, it was the bread I liked the most. I ended up scraping the beans off and eating them separately just so I could enjoy the bread. And the best part is, while natto have to be shipped chilled (meaning a £10 shipping fee I would never pay without buying lots of other chilled goods, as I did this time, and subsequently renders them a very rare purchase), all you need for the miso eggy bread is just that: miso, an egg, some bread! I've already posted the recipe!

   We did have a pizza for dinner on the Friday with a movie (Going In Style), and a burger on Wednesday, and a fine duck roast dinner on our date night, but otherwise Just One Cookbook supplied most of our recipes, and I can't thank her enough for it. Seeg is hard to please, and he loved it all, too. Especially the omurice. He pretty much inhaled it, and he kept on for gyoza throughout the week. Fortunately there were lots left!

   And I ate all of that without once starting spontaneous, guilt-driven Tabata, nor exercising with kettlebells for an hour and avoiding carbs for the entire following day. Truly, I am so proud of myself.
   And very well-fed.