Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Spinach, basil, avocado and pistachio pesto

Hello! Inspired by the success of my kale and pistachio pesto which you can see HERE I decided to try a different pesto out the other day. 

Pesto is one of those things that I just like to keep in the fridge all the time as it goes with so many things and makes even the most bland vegetable taste delicious and interesting!

I decided for this pesto to try spinach, basil, avocado pistachio and no cheese. These ingredients were chosen mainly because they were ingredients that I had in, and for the spinach particularly, wanted to use up quickly, and also because I knew they would taste amazing together!

Like you can see form my previous post, pesto is so so easy to make, you literally just need the ingredients and a food processor and about ten minutes max from start to finish. I really don’t ever see myself going back to shop bought pesto!

You will need:

  • Spinach; 1 very big handful
  • Pistachio nuts- about 100g
  • Olive oil- I used a basil infused one- ½ cup
  • Basil; I very big handful
  • One big avocado 

After you have all these things ready it’s so so simple that it basically doesn’t warrant a recipe! You put the nuts (once you’ve shelled them which is the longest part of the recipe!) into the food processor first and blitz them until they’re the consistency of quite chunky dust. 

Then add the spinach and basil and blitz them until they’ve formed a thick paste. 

Finally add the avocado and then the olive oil a very small bit at a time depending on how runny you like the pesto, I try not to add too much as you can always add more if you need it later on. Also the avocado will make it lovely and creamy and means that you hardly need any oil. 

And that’s it! So simple!

I have had mine with zoodles which you can see here, and which I just added some tomatoes and crushed pistachios to, and also as a salad dressing (I added some more olive oil for this). I have also just added some to a small bowl of feta and tomatoes for a very quick snack.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Kale and pistachio pesto

I love pesto and it is pretty much a staple in my fridge as it goes with so many things and just a little bit can add so much flavour to so many different dishes. I also particularly like different flavoured pestos, like sundried tomato and aubergine but until recently had never tried making it myself with anything other that basil and pinenuts as the base.

 If you have made pesto before you will know that as well as being very expensive to buy ready made it is also perhaps even more expensive to make yourself as all the ingredients are so expensive! This recipe is still expensive to make but a little does go a long way and also the main two ingredients kale and pistachio are slightly cheaper than the normal basil and pine nuts.

It is so so easy to make and you will need:

  • Kale; 1 very big handful
  • Pistachio nuts- about 100g
  • Olive oil- I used a garlic infused one- ½ cup
  • Hard cheese like pecorino or parmesan, or I also sometimes use any cheaper supermarket equivalent as long as it is a very hard cheese.

After you have all these things ready it’s really really easy, basically just add all the ingredients apart from the oil into a food processor and blend well until it has formed a fine powder. Then add the oil slowly until you have the consistency that you like.

Pesto typically has lots of oil in it but you might decide as I often do, to put less oil in it and then you can use it as a marinade/rub for quorn fillets or vegetables and can add more oil of you want it to be slightly looser.

Now I’m really looking forward to trying lots of different flavour combinations!


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Crustless cheese and sundried tomato quiches

As I have mentioned on here before, one of the things that I struggle with most on this diet is finding things which are easy to eat on the run. I think snacking is something which is easier for meat eaters as you can easily buy meaty things which are easy to eat on the go, but I always find it quite hard to think of vegetarian alternatives. Anyway inspired partly by my mini cheese and tomato omelettes/quiches I decided to try and develop the recipe into something slightly more substantial and into something that slightly more resembled a quiche than an omelette! 
I was also quite inspired by the new little flan dishes that I bought from T K Maxx and had been dying to try out! 

The recipe is so easy and will take literally under 30 minutes from start to finish. This will make 6 mini quiches.

You will need:

  • 6 Eggs 
  • 3-4 sundried tomatoes- chopped well
  • 150ml single cream
  • 2 tbs chives- chopped
  • 200g Grated cheese
  • about 6-8 cherry tomatoes chopped into two
  • 2 tbs basil- chopped 
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk them well, this is important as it will make the quiches bigger and fluffier- so you feel like you're eating much more!
  • Add the single cream, sundried tomatoes, herbs and the cheese and continue to whisk for another minute or so until the mixture is well combined. Season well with salt and pepper. 
  • Slightly grease the tin(s) you are making the quiche in, you can either make one big one in a flan dish or I made smaller ones to snack on and used small individual flan dishes. You don't need to grease them much at all as the cheese will make it quite oily and they come apart from the dish really easily. In fact next time I might even try them without greasing the tins at all!
  • Pour the mixture into the dishes and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180 or until the quiches look well set. 
  • Enjoy!

This recipe really is so easy, it is basically like making mini omelettes but with the addition of the cream and also whisking the mixture much better than I would for omelettes. I really do find that whisking the mixture really well for quite a long time will help the end product be much bigger and firmer. 

I have made these ones with cheese and tomatoes, but you could literally add anything. Next time I'm trying them with spinach and feta, or kale and goats cheese, or might even try some with my kale and pistachio pesto (the recipe for which is coming soon!)

*The quiches will need longer in the oven if you choose to make it as one big quiche rather than individual ones, but basically just wait till the mixture seems to be completely set and feels firm when you touch the top with the back of a spoon* 


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Insanity week one


As you may know if you follow me on twitter or Instagram, or if you read my last post, I have just started the insanity workout. As I am writing this I have just started day one of week 2 which means, obviously that I have completed the first week of Insanity! *does proud face*


I thought I would write and let you know how it’s going and also I wanted to keep records for myself to remind myself how far I’ve come, and also because like I said in the post before, blogging about it somehow makes it ‘real’ and therefore might make me less likely to give up!


I discussed the fit test on my last post so following that came the Plyometric cardio circuit. It is worth mentioning however that the day after the fit test I woke up aching ALL PVER and I mean all over. As in parts of my body were aching that never usually ache, places like my neck and the backs of my knees. It was awful and very nearly put me off. That night I went home, still in pain, and didn’t get in until about 9 at night and knew I had to be up the next morning at 5 for work again. I so much didn’t want to do it and I started googling things like ‘does insanity work if you do it every other day’ and ‘how often do you have to do insanity for it to work’. I found lots of results where people said that they had done it sporadically and that it had really worked for them. That basically made my mind up so I decided that being in so much pain I would give it a rest for the night. I then went on to google insanity blog and the first result was a lady who had an accompanying video. I watched the video and felt so inspired by how much her body had changed that I went upstairs and got changed and came down and did it.


Needless to say it was horrendous and I pretty much hated every second of it, until the end which I love!  Shaun T makes it worse because he shouts things like ‘I’m smiling because I like it’, well I can pretty much say that I didn’t smile at all for the whole thing! The session includes very intense aerobic exercises including lots of jumping and quite little floor work.


I managed to complete most of the workout though I had to stop several times while I caught my breath and summoned the ability to move again! I did every exercise though I did have to take breaks in some of them as I was literally so tired! Anyway the important thing is, what literally felt like years later, I finished it and was so pleased with myself!


The next day I was aching again, though perhaps slightly less that the day before. Again I had to wait until quite late in the evening to do it and really didn’t feel like it but I was aching so much that I pretty much felt like nothing could really hurt me more than what I had already been through. This time it was cardio power and resistance which again was just so intense but MAYBE felt SLIGHTLY easier.


The day after I woke up not aching any more, I couldn’t believe it, it had felt like so so long since I’d not ached permanently, so that felt like a bit of a milestone! It was cardio recovery that day which again is slightly easier than the presvious days workout though I still lacked the flexibility to do quite a lot of the exercises as well as I should have. Shaun T keeps saying ‘don’t sacrifice form’ but for some of them I never felt like I got the form right in the first places as the exercises are so challenging. This also applies to the stretching which again I literally can not fully do (depressing when you can’ even complete the stretches). I decided that for each exercise that I can’t do properly that I would just keep doing my best approximation. For example the pus ups- I am completely unable to do even one push up at the moment so instead do ‘girly style’ push ups (ie leaning on my knees rather than on the tips of my toes).


The day after was ‘pure cardio’ which is pretty much as awful as it sounds, but I did find myself able to complete more and more of the exercises though I was having to pause it very 5 minutes for about a minute or so, which makes the whole thing take very long!


Following that was plyometric cardio circuit which I had already done before and the whole way through I was just focused on the fact that I knew I just had to get through the workout and then I would be finished for not just that day but also for my rest day as well! Then before I knew it I had finished it! I was literally panting for breath and dripping with sweat but I did feel a real sense of achievement for completing the first week.


I will let you know how I get on as I continue but for now, I’m going to rest!



Friday, 4 April 2014

Insanity workout-introduction and fit test!

Hi, well I know I don't normally post about things that aren't food, but as this is still all part of trying to lose weight/get healthy etc I couldn't resist writing a little post about it. Also I thought if I committed to blogging about it then it might make me more likely to actually complete it!

I had been thinking about trying insanity for ages after meeting up with an old friend who told me about it and how she had got amazing results from it- that she'd not particularly lost weight but toned up so so much and completely transformed her body. I hadn't really heard that much about it before then but then when I looked it up online I remembered seeing the adverts (infomercials) years ago when I used to do night shifts and thinking how awful it looked!

Anyway, speaking to her planted the seed in my mind, and I kept thinking about it on and off for the last few months, and also I seemed to keep hearing about it. 

In the meantime I also took up running, something i'd never really done in years. I found running so so hard yet was really surprised to see how quickly you can progress and improve, and that even though it literally felt like it was killing me, I was almost doubling the time I could run for each time I went to the gym. That gave me confidence and made me feel like I actually might be able to do insanity and so a week or so ago I took the plunge and bought it! 

Anyone that knows insanity will know it's very expensive, it's not your average DVD as it comes as a whole set and costs a lot of money. Also, anyone that knows me will know that I hate wasting money so having spent it I was determined to do it! 

I was (and still am) quite concerned about how to fit it into my life as I work very long hours, leaving very early in the morning and coming home very late at night, but I thought I had managed to find time for the gym so I would simply have to substitute the gym for insanity and find the time on the other days. 

So, day one came and I did the fit test... This is a test which is designed to be done before you start it and then twice more (two weeks apart). 

I didn't feel too nervous about doing the test as by that point I was feeling quite a bit fitter, I am running 5k quite  regularly (albeit slowly) and can lift quite heavy weights in the gym so I thought those two combined would mean that my overall fitness would be ok... how wrong I was! 

The premise of the fit test is that you literally exercise for only 8 minutes doing one exercise for a minute at a time as many times as you can, once the minute is up you write down how many reps you completed and that forms your baseline. Sounds pretty easy, and would be pretty easy if the exercises weren't so horrendously hard! Shaun T is accompanied by a woman and man, the lady-Tanya appears to be made of pure muscle and seems to thrive on pain, the man Chris is slightly less hardcore but still manages to do each exercise really well only stopping a few times. 

I started the workout, forgetting monetarily about the fact it was a test and felt like I was doing it all really well. It consisted of things like mummy kicks, jumping jacks, and high knees. When we eventually stopped for a break I was feeling completely exhausted and was dripping in sweat and out of breath but was so pleased with myself for completing that section untill Shaun delivered the devastating blow that we needed to stretch and then we would have finished the warm up!! I thought we were doing the actual exercises not warming up, never done a warm up like that before. And for what it's worth, his idea of stretching is not like any stretching I've ever done before either. It highlighted to me exactly how inflexible I am. 

Anyway, I moved on to the actual test and like I said above it is horrendously difficult, the exercises are called things like 'suicide jumps' (the name says it all really) a suicide jump for the record involves jumping down into a plank position, then jumping your knees into your chest and then jumping up, then repeating this over and over again. Here is Tanya midway through one: 

Anyway, I got through it which is the main thing and noted my baseline results, I am slightly concerned that not all my results actually count as I wasn't jumping as high as they were (my body literally won;t do that!) but anyway I also made a note of the ones I found the most difficult so I will be able to see whether I improve or not! 

Wish me luck!!!

oh and ps, the next day, pretty much every part of my body hurt! Better be worth it!
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