In a rare turn of fate, London is experiencing a very long summer (6 days in a row). To celebrate this unlikely occurrence, it was high time for a little picnic in the park, and for the occasion I decided to make my nutritious ‘Quinoa, Rainbow Trout & Pomegranite salad‘ which I think was a smash hit given the empty plates! The salad is pretty straight forward to make and only takes c. 30 minutes to make from start to finish, (or c .15 minutes excluding the time it takes for the quinoa to cook and fish to bake) and serves a sociable party of 6. All-in, 100g of the salad provides c. 31g of high quality protein, and c. 280 healthy calories. I often use Quinoa in my recipes, as it tastes just a good cold in a salad as a it does steaming hot with Tuna. It’s a super-seed which provides all 9 essential amino acids (making it a complete protein). Along with the fish and beans / pulses, this dish makes for a protein rich salad packed with vitamins and minerals as well as slow releasing carb-energy. The Pomegranate may seem a bit “out-there” but I personally love the surprising texture and sweetness it adds to the dish – super summery!
Click MORE to learn extra about my choice of ingredients and get the ‘how to’… 🙂 Faya
I was reading a certain fashion magazine the other day and came across a pretty mundane article entitled ‘what’s in your bag?’ – but reading it, some of the bizarre ‘essentials’ made me giggle including ‘air freshener’, ‘an iron’ a ‘mini screwdriver set’! It got me thinking however, so I decided to blog about ‘what’s in MY bag’. And these are genuinely things that I carry with me on a daily basis to help me live a healthier lifestyle – all fitness related, of course 😉
Click MORE to read about the benefits of each item… Faya x
I love Wagamama for a quick meal, BUT it’s definitely a case of ‘buyer beware’!!! I worry about the MSG-content and the calorie-count in dishes like their Chicken Ramen (not to mention the epic 1149-calorie, 50g-fat Chicken Katsu Curry!!!). For the Ramen, 520 simple-carb calories strikes me as alot of the wrong kind, so I set about making my own healthy, fun Chicken Noodle Broth recipe for the home too! This Chicken Noodle Soup recipe (‘Rahmen’ style) is low in calories (c. 390) fat and salt but rich in protein (30g) – ideal! It’s so easy and quick to make – just about 15 min – and it’s suitably filing / craving-neutralising when your body cries out for comfort-food. There are 2 key ingredients:
1) Wholewheat noodles are low in fat (1g fat per 100g), boast 0% saturated / trans fats as well as 0% cholesterol, and crucially, have 27g of slow-release, low-GI carbohydrates per 100g – containing only 1g of sugar! So much healthier than their pale, simple cousins 😀 !
2) Chicken is a famous source of ‘lean protein’ and I consider it one of the core building blocks for a healthy diet that aims to control weight. In the picture above, I’ve used ‘Roast chicken breast slices’ from Sainsbury’s the ‘Be good to yourself’ range. It’s plenty high in protein (29.6g per 100g), lower in fat than most ‘chicken breast’ products (with a teeny-weeny 1.6g per 100g) and has a wafer-thin amount of saturated fat (0.7g per 100g).
I’ve added some veggies – mainly peppers, mushrooms and rocket – but you can use whatever you fancy really, so get a bit inventive! Click to see the ‘how to’ here…
Spaghetti Bolognese – a classic favourite, but one we all know just can’t be all that healthy. In fact, it’s really quite calorific, often packed with salt and dripping in fat (and not necessarily the healthy kind). The ultimate word on all things calorific, MyFitnessPal suggests 35g of fat and 520 calories in a medium sized portion of spaghetti bolognese, and that’s without the industrially grated cheese on top! To access that classic taste and texture, whilst still being friendly to your quest for abs, here’s my healthier alternative.
Quorn! Once a bit weird, hippy and almost taboo, it’s now pretty mainstream as a healthy alternative to meat. But it’s not actually meat; it’s part of the fungi family. The main ingredient is ‘mycoprotein’, a fungal spore, grown by fermentation, much like the process used in the production of yoghurt, bread and beer. Quorn ‘mince’ is low in fat (1.9g per 100g) and high in protein (14.5g per 100g) & packed with dietary fibre (22% of your GDA in 100g). In short, it’s a lean alternative to minced beef, at just 90 calories per 100g.
Because I’m only human, I find it incredibly difficult to resist all the dangerous ‘food temptations’ that lurk at social functions – whether it’s calorific ‘feta’ starters at a restaurant, deep-fried canapés at a party, battered pub grub, caramel-topped ‘frappucino’ coffee with friends (and the list goes on…), when there are beautiful bowls of yummy nibbles laid out in front you, the willpower alone can crumble (yum, crumble!), especially when everyone else starts tucking in. Chips, crisps, popcorn, sweets, chocolate drinks… An indulgent evening out can quickly mount up to 1000 calories! This post is about a couple of suggestions for hosting your friends in a more healthy and nutritious way that won’t fill you with guilt or saturated fat!IDEA 1: FRUIT PLATTER Instead of sweets, the sugar here is natural vs. refined, it’s hydrating, and has a host of anti-oxidant and vitamin benefits. If you’re struggling with sugar cravings and don’t want to cut out sugar instantly (resulting in cold turkey), then a tasty & healthy fruit salad can help make the transition. Arranging it in a bite-sized way, and serving with cocktail sticks, is a great alternative to greasy mini-pizzas!
IDEA 2: SWEET POTATO CHIPS
More sweet carbs you say? How about some home-made potato chips? (See my previous post for more info on sweet potato here). They are sweet yet have a surprisingly low Glycemic Index. Sweet potato is also high in fibre and the caloric energy is slow releasing, providing sustainable energy to carry you on for longer than a low-fiber simple carb, like a pack of Walkers. Plus you don’t need to go heavy on the salt because they’re already rich in flavour. So in all not too bad! And certainly healthier than sodium, fat-packed crisps.
This colourful fish recipe has all the key fuel your body needs at lunchtime to stay on track for the rest of the working day! It consists of only three simple ingredients; 1) Sweet potato to provide the slow release energy needed to keep going 2) Monkfish, a great source of protein, and a meaty fish at that, and 3) Kale, a nutrient-dense vegetable loaded with vitamins and minerals, with 0% fat content. But to understand why this recipe is so effective, I think you have to look at the ingredients in more detail:
1) SWEET POTATO – A DETAILED LOOK !
I once thought that anything with ‘sweet’ so clearly in its name, couldn’t possibly be healthy. I was wrong. Aside from being delicious, Sweet Potato’s also;
– a great source of beta-carotene (converts into vitamin A for healthy skin, an immune boost and strong vision)
– high in dietary fibre (for effective digestion and absorption, along with heart & blood benefits from the vitamin B6 content)
– super low GI, for slow-release energy throughout the day (with a glycemic load of 9, which is super-low for a food who’s calories come 93% from carbs!)
– very low in sodium, with practically no fat content (& 0g saturates).
– contains peonidins and cyanidins (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to maintain the body)
– high in potassium to lower blood pressure by banishing excess sodium, and regulating the body’s fluid balance
2) KALE – A DETAILED LOOK !
Kale is the superfood equivalent of Cara Delevigne’s eyebrows; all the rage right now, it’s versatile, and you see it everywhere. Why?:
– you can eat it raw, blend in a smoothie, steam it, stew it, or toss it in a salad or soup!
– it’s low in calories (28cals per 100g)
– Incredibly low in saturated fat and cholesterol – 0% for both!
– a fantastic source of iron (crucial liver function and cell regeneration), with more than you find in the equivalent weight of beef!
– rich in vitamin K (essential to bone health and with anti-carcinogenic properties) and vitamin C (immune health).
– it’s also a strong anti-inflammatory, weighs in with a glycemic load of just 3 (!), and leaves you remarkably full for something of such mini calories!
3) MONKFISH – A DEEPER LOOK !
Once thought of as ‘poor man’s lobster’, this fish has since climbed to its equivalent ‘social elite’. The meaty texture makes it a perfect low calorie filler, plus:
– it’s a good source of lean protein (14g of protein per 100g, with just 2g of fat per 100g)
– the little fat it has is mono/poly-unsaturates inc. ‘Omega fatty acids‘ (can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, and promote healthy neural function)
– a fantastic source of vitamin B6 (aids metabolism and the breakdown of fats, helps regulate blood glucose levels) and vitamin B12 (maintains the nervous system)
Time for a guilty confession… I LOVE chocolate. I always have done, and always will do. I realise that chocolate doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with your ‘fitness goals’, but I’ve been experimenting with simple but effective ways to legitimately work a modest amount of chocolate into my training diet. This post contains a real ‘cheat day’ treat which satisfies my cravings, whilst providing my body with the protein, essential fats and antioxidants that it needs. Guilt neutralised, body nourished!
Regardless, there are actually health benefits to be gained from eating high-quality, dark chocolate – as long as you don’t overdo it! Dark chocolate is high is antioxidants which work to reduce free radicals in our bodies and aid cellular repair. Dark cocoa, being densely calorific, is also said to improve energy levels without the need for sugar, and focus the concentration. I aim for a minimum of 70% cocoa, but if you can tolerate it 99% cocoa is optimal, as it has an incredibly low amount of milk, fat and sugar. Yes, at first the taste is bitter, and you might need to work your way up to the high 90s percentages, but give it some time and you’ll learn to love it’s super rich dimensions! In fact I now prefer dark to milk chocolate – and I never thought that would happen! Here’s my recipe for a slice of chocolate indulgence which is packed with protein and a lot healthier than your standard Mars bar.
The ‘treat du jour’ is my ‘Dark Chocolate, Banana & Seeds Protein Muffins‘. With the following ingredients, I made 9 yummy ‘fairy bun’ sized cakes but it completely depends on how big / small you go. Remember, this is not a low calorie miracle, so it needs to be a reward for a heavy training session, but it is rich in what the body needs to recover!
Read about the ingredients & my step-by-step ‘how-to’ guide, HERE!
I’m a big fitness fashion junkie, and am especially a bit of a fiend when it comes to trainers (i’ll post a shot of my collection one day!). But aside from being spoilt for choice in terms of prints and colour, these humble gym-slippers also serve a far more functional purpose – to look after our poor old feet, knees and posture! Far too often, feet get neglected and suffer because of it. They work so hard for us every day, yet we pay very little attention to them – aside from the occasional indulgent pedicure. ‘Fashion over function’ doesn’t serve your long term interests with feet – if you exercise as regularly as I do, appropriate foot care is critical as the skin and bones are put under so much more stress. Above all, I think it’s worth paying extra attention to what kind of shoe you buy and for which occasion. A little gem that I’ve used for some time is ‘Runners Need‘ – they always have good descriptions, specs & reviews alongside the brand products, so I can be pretty sure that I’ll end up with the right shoe for the right purpose.
Another one I’ve recently stumbled across (no pun intended!) is Simply Feet. Due to an old knee-based running injury from a long time ago which flares up every now-and-again, I’ve been wearing ‘Rhythm shoes’ from Weil footwear recently. They’re super comfy – perfect for trekking around London – lightweight, breathable, with technical fabrics – but most importantly they’re podiatrist-designed, and feel like they support & stabilise my foot every step. Crucially for me, they don’t look like a piece of ugly medical technology; they look just as good as, for example, the Nike Lunarlon – my pair of Rhythm’s in the pictures here even have some coral pink girly detailing so I can coordinate them! If you have any back, heel, knee or leg pain when you run, or if you simply over-pronate, these relieve pressure & naturally re-align the foot.
I’m going to write a post on running socks too, as I think that completes the fitness-ready footcare regime! Keep your eyes open!
WEARING?? Nike Limitless Leggings, Bershka hooded waterproof jacket, Weil Rhythm Shoes in Silver / Coral, Mulberry ‘Henry’ gym bag. See all the pics from this shoot HERE.