HonestlyLucy – Hitting the Market?

baking, blog, career, childline, cookies, cooking, cupcakes, doughnuts, festivals, lifestyle, naughtiness, naughty recipes, nottingham, wellbeing

Recently I’ve been having a think about my career, and whether or not I’m on the path I want to be on. Not headache inducing at all, she says, words dripping with the thickest sarcasm known to man. The thing is I do enjoy my job. I like the team I work with and I’m pretty lucky to be given some quite cool opportunities. I’ve been working in my role for about 2 years and I like to think I’m pretty damn good at it. It’s taught me an awful lot about working in an office and at events, the importance of details and the art of juggling professionalism with a ‘quirky’ personality; and I’m really grateful for all of that. The thing is, as much as all of those statements are true, my job is largely an admin role, and it’s not really what I did my degree for. At uni I studied Psychology with English Literature, whilst volunteering as a counsellor at Childline and an assistant at The Stroke Association’s weekly group meetings; whilst also being a programme rep for both the Psychology department and the English department. It was hectic but I really, really loved it. I’m used to having a billion and one things to juggle, and right now I only have a couple, and it’s starting to make me itch. So it’s time for a new challenge.

The idea of selling the things I bake has been loitering around the jumble sale that is the back of my mind for months now. I’ve even got a food standards agency certificate for my kitchen to prove it – 5 stars I’ll have you know! I just haven’t known where to start. The closest I’ve ever got to studying business is watching The Apprentice, and I’m fairly confident that Sir Alan has no interest in my cookie topped brownies. I’ve had fleeting thoughts about maybe applying for a stall at Summer food festivals, which I’ve then shooed away. I’ve attended enough of those to know that they get busy as all hell, and I don’t know that I’m quite ready for that yet.

I’ve worked enough manically hectic Christmases in a discount store to know how to handle a queue of customers – I ain’t scared! The retail side of things I can solidly say, I have down – references upon request. It’s more the production I’m concerned about. How much of everything do I need to bake? Do I buy boxes to put customer’s stuff in, or are bags better? Do I need an adapter for my phone so I can take card payments? I have been knocking around good old planet Earth for long enough now to know that these are the kinds of questions that can only be answered with experience. I’ve also picked up and dropped enough hobbies to know that it’s all too easy to end up severely out of pocket with not a great deal to show for it if you move too fast, too soon. And hello, I’m a broke millennial, I ain’t got time for that!

When I first moved to Nottingham, Andy discovered a company called Phat Doughnuts (which swiftly changed to The Nottingham Doughnut Company after a few name related legal implications). Their premise was essentially: doughnuts on delivery. We ordered from them for my birthday one year and fell in love. In addition to the delivery service, they traded at local markets. That company eventually grew into a pretty massive business success story. Within about 18 months, they went from delivering doughnuts by hand, to running a hugely successful store and having several employees. These days I am 100% convinced that they are the sole reason I will never be a size 8. Seriously. If you’re ever in Nottingham you absolutely NEED to track them down and try one. Anyway, I find their story really inspiring. They really did start from nothing and build what has the potential to be an empire. Far be it for me to assume that every story will be as successful as theirs – this much I have learned from Sir Alan. But it certainly gives me food for thought – no pun intended. Ok, pun definitely intended.

So I had a think about the local markets they used to trade at, and paid a visit to the vegan version of Sneinton market which takes place on the first Saturday every month. I imagine the vegan market is a bit smaller than the regular market, but visiting helped me to realise that it’s not out of my reach. With all of that in mind, I’ve just submitted my application to trade there, which feels very bizarre. I’ll have to wait to hear back of course – maybe they have no use for yet another baked goods stand? But if they do, I shall be sure to blog about it.

 

 

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Hurricanes Hurt My Feelings. (Training for Warriors: Weeks 2-3)

blog, Breakfast, cooking, excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, health,, healthy, Life, lifestyle, nottingham, ramble, salads, weight loss

Weeks 2 & 3 of warrior training are officially complete, 5 to go!

On week 2 perhaps the most notable thing to happen was that we were given a 3 day challenge to photograph everything we ate; and then whatsapp the images to our coach, Toby. Some of my fellow warriors seemed a bit dubious about photographing everything they ate, but the self absorbed, millennial, food blogger in my head was doing back flips in front of a landscape of 4th of July style fireworks. YES. A legitimate reason for taking photos of my food! My entire life (post invention of Instagram) had been leading up to the moment, and by God I intended to make the most out of it. It didn’t take me long to realise though, that when you also have a job, taking photos of literally everything you eat/drink is actually quite frustrating. Try as I might, it’s pretty darn tricky to achieve that quirky, tumblr aesthetic when snapping a green tea served in a slightly cracked mug that says ‘This Is What An Awesome Baker Looks Like’, in front of the keyboard on my work desk. Alas, I made the most of what I had and sent the pictures through. Typically, during the 3 day challenge we had a baby shower at work for my colleague Becky. I baked maple cupcakes with pink and blue swirled buttercream (gender TBC). Whilst I did manage to refrain from dunking my entire head into the tray of cupcakes,a la Bruce Bogtrotter;  I caved at the sight of pork pie and pringles. I’m not even just saying that for alliterative illustration, that genuinely was where I cracked. I’ll be interested to see what Toby makes of THAT nutritious feast.

Whilst we’re talking food, I have still been trying (in between the pork pie and pringles) to stick to a lower carb, higher fat diet. I’ve not cut carbs out completely though, because seriously, what would be the point in life? Instead I’m trying to have carbs with just one of my meals, which is usually dinner. I’ve been making a lot of recipes from that snazzy Lean in 15 fellow whose name escapes me…Joe Wicks, that’s it. I followed his insta account after a girl at training recommended it. I was actually pretty amazed that most of his recipes do only take about 15 minutes. Tonight I made his italian lemon chicken and mate…for real though, it was a party in my mouth. I feel like I’ve said that phrase several times in this blog. Dear god lets hope I don’t ever get a decent following, I’ll be strung up for lack of originality quicker than you can say boo to a goose….that’s not a phrase is it? Anyway.

Here’s photo spunk (sorry mum) of some of the stuff I’ve been eating over the last couple of weeks. Eggs and avocado have been my pretty much standard breakfast – for ease more so than anything. The weird orange concoction in the top right hand corner is something I’m using slight artistic license in naming a deconstructed fish cake. Sweet potato mashed with 10g lighter mature cheddar, garden peas and a tin of tuna, all mixed together. And yes, it might look like something that has already been digested once, but it actually tasted lovely. The bottom right picture is of leftover tandoori chicken with salad and half a packet of microwaveable rice. I knowwww I know that cooking stuff in the microwave will eventually give me intestinal AIDS and turn me into a 2 headed zombie, but sometimes you just have to pick your battles, OK? Time was of the essence and that was that.

Moving into week 3, the workouts turned into real monsters – monsters who, I’m fairly confident were trying to bin me off. On Monday, I was tired, but dragged myself out of the house knowing that I’d feel better eventually. Monday sessions are referred to as Hurricanes. When I search for the word hurricane on dictionary.com, one of the definitions is this: a storm of the most intense severity. And whilst I think that tells you all you need to know about how tough Monday’s work out was, I’d also like to really drive the point home by letting you all know I 100% had to scarper to the loos mid workout so that I could throw up my guts. Delightful, right? We were doing a lot of sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell exercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises and yeah. Midway through the second lot of sprints I quickly realised I’d way overestimated how fast I could go and for how long. Egrh. Lesson learned. I will say though, one thing I’ve noticed is that there have been times when I know, if I was working out by myself, I would have taken it down 10 notches and had a rest period. Whilst yes, there are rest periods during warrior training, when you’re working, you are bloody well working and that is that. So I guess that’s good.

And, to sign this off I will leave you with this.Today I tried on a pair of trousers I couldn’t do up a few months ago. They now fit.

*Que marching band, fireworks, confetti canons and mickey mouse on a freakin’ float wearing a gym kit*

 

 

 

Lucy Warrior Princess

blog, cooking, dinner, excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, healthy, lifestyle, weightloss, wellbeing

My first week of warrior training is officially under my belt!

At 7.30pm on Monday, instead of running through my usual week night routine of pj’s > netflix > bed, I whipped out my gym leggings and an old Paramore Fan Club tshirt. I stopped *just* short of smearing war paint on my face and and fashioning myself a tin foil shield – although I bet it would have been a great ice breaker.

Our 8 week training plan includes 3 workouts a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Our group consists of about 15 people with a good mix of ages, genders, shapes, sizes, motivations. In all honesty I’m probably the heaviest in the group but bitch plz, it’s been 26 years, I’m used to it. Our coach, Toby, seems to have energy in such excessive amounts that it’s easy to soak in. On Thursday in particular I was feeling really sleepy. Within 5 minutes of stepping into the gym I was raring to go – which was handy because that session was an energy circuit, and it was hard. as. fuck. I felt like I was going to throw up at the end, which weirdly felt quite satisfying.

One of the biggest changes that’s taken place this week though, has been my eating. I don’t know if anybody else can relate to this, but for me, if I’m working out regularly, I just feel so much more motivated to eat healthily. If I’m sat on my ass doing nothing but watch TV, it’s like my mouth is a magnet for everything that would make my GP raise his eyebrows at me in judgement.

I constantly feel confused by research on nutrition. There are approximately a billion and twelve conflicting pieces of evidence on the topic, so you see my problem here. Toby posted a YouTube link in our warrior whatsapp group, which led to me watching a 25 minute video of a seminar being given by John Beradi. Beradi’s talk went into the different body types, and how each one tends to benefit from a different nutritional habits. In terms of body type, I definitely fall into Team Endomorph. I store fat stupidly easy, I’m 5’3, but have almost comically short limbs; and dammit, my hips do not lie. Beradi mentioned that endomorphs tend to benefit from a low carb, high protein/fat diet. And would you Adam and Eve it, that seems to kinda, sorta, fit in with the type of diet I followed a few years back when I lost 4.5 stone. Wonders never cease. So that’s the direction I’ve been trying to head in this week. I’ve not gone quite as low carb as perhaps I have in the past, but it’s quite a big change really. Over the last year, pasta and I have become such close friends we’re considering getting matching tattoos. So…steady as she goes and all that jazz.

I took some photos of what I’ve been eating for blog purposes, but for some reason, the camera on my iphone seems to have depleted in quality. Which is v. convenient timing, given that the iphone 7 info was released this week. I see you Apple, and your conspiring ways *shifty eyes*.

For breakfasts I’ve been tending to stick with half of a small avocado, a piece of toast and eggs of some sort. Nothing particularly to write home about. The thing is though, I always find that the problem with being an early riser is this: I’ll eat breakfast at 06:30, and by the time I’ve settled into work, it’s 09:30 and I’m ravenous again. And my God, I swear if the world wanted to test my will power, they chose the right week to do it. This week at work, our office has had several people return from their holidays with sweets and biscuits to share round, and our office manager brought in a tray of doughnuts and 3 bags of cookies. It’s amazing how a kind and generous gesture can occasionally make you want to sew your own lips together. Normally, by 10am I’d be one doughnut down and looking forward to lunch, but not this week. This week, I am a warrior. This week, I gritted my teeth, and ate a tub of mixed berries that I’d thankfully had the foresight to pack for myself. Like…berries are alright, but they aren’t doughnuts are they?

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For lunch I’ve been buying Aldi’s prepacked salads. Not the ones that come laden with chicken and bacon in a mayonnaise that is so unhealthy you might as well just eat a stick of butter and be done with it. These are the ones you find near the lettuce. They come in a little plastic box, in either Mediterranean style, or British garden. The fact that they’re individually packed suits me, because in our house, if I tried to get Andy to eat a salad for lunch he’d probably pack his bags and move out, and buying full portions of everything just leads to waste. So instead of living the Bridget Jones singleton life, I take these and then at work I’ll  add in either a tin of tuna, chicken breast or some mini mozzarella balls and sometimes a bit of avocado if there was any leftover at breakfast. I’ve got a bottle of balsamic dressing on my desk so it’s not quite as depressing as it could be. The cleaners must think I’m a right fruitcake.

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Dinners have been where I’ve been having my main carb intake. I might try and amend this a bit as my training goes on, but this week I’ve had fairly standard meals – nothing that will inspire the gourmet chefs among the blogosphere. Grilled turkey burger with home made sweet potato fries, a mushroom omelette with baked beans and a garlicky tomato pasta with lean minced beef, spinach and peas were a few of my dinners this week.

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And then Saturday. The cheat meal. On Saturday night, if you’d been a fly on the wall in my kitchen you’d have never seen someone so overjoyed to be making a curry. Saturday night tea was an awesome Thai Green chicken curry with mange tout, baby corn, mushrooms, noodles and prawn crackers, followed by a very naughty piece of cheesecake. The thing is, yes it’s not a perfect thing to include in any diet plan, but now I’ve had that treat I do feel motivated to eat well for the rest of the week now.

Happy days.

 

Weirdo Quinoa – Recipe

brunch, cooking, dinner, Life, lifestyle, recipes, salads, weight loss, weightloss

So quinoa is weird, isn’t it? Yep. That’s my opening line and I’m sticking with it.

Much like cous cous, I find quinoa tastes like actual granulated cardboard if you don’t do something cool with it. I think that’s the reason a lot of people think they don’t like it. This recipe is different though. (Why does my recipe now sound like its two Malibu and cokes away from telling you it isn’t like other girls?) Try it – if you don’t like it, you can slap me in the face should you ever happen to see me out and about. (Pre-warning – please tell me the slap is as a result of this blog post, just so I know I’ve not accidentally offended somebody. Again.)

image

The Mighty Weirdo: Quinoa – this is what you’re shooting for when you cook quinoa, fyi.

This recipe is great for a couple of different reasons. First of all, it’s delicious, so…yeah, always a bonus. Second of all, it pretty much covers all of your food groups. You’ve got your protein in the beans and quinoa, you’ve got veggies, you’ve got starch, you’ve got a little bit of the commonly known food group – nummies, in the feta. It’s an all-round winner.

And for even more bonus points, it’s vegetarian, and can easily be made vegan if you omit the feta. ***Yayyyy for knowing that some of your food choices haven’t contributed to the pain and suffering of innocent animals and are also v fashionable right now.***

People often seem to be in one of two camps about veganism – either the gung ho, ‘you will vegan or else you are dead to me’ camp, or the ‘*rolls eyes* but humans are carnivores’ camp. I’m neither. I like vegan food, I feel better when I eat vegan, I see and agree with all the ethical arguments; but being raised as meat eater for the majority of my life does make it very hard to make the commitment full time. And yes, I know that makes me a pussy. Baby steps.

This recipe is also good for making a big batch, then putting it in the fridge to use for packed lunches. If you’re one of those people who struggle for inspiration in that department, this might be a nice departure from the land of ham and cheese sandwiches and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

Anyway! Sales pitch over!

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

  • Quinoa – 2 cups (dry)
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Sweetcorn 
  • Black beans 
  • Feta
  • 1 punnet plum or cherry tomatoes chopped in half
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped v finely
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped v small
  • 1 green pepper chopped into small squares
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Coriander – small bunch
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Here’s how this is gonna go down.

Start by chopping up your pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeno. Transfer to a mixing bowl. I just find it’s easier and somehow ends up creating less mess if I get all the chopping done first.

If you’re using canned black beans, whip those out at this point and give them a rinse in a sieve before adding those to the veggies, along with the sweet corn and feta. Give it all a jumble together. If you’re anything like me, at this point you’ll be taking a second to admire the pretty colours. This step is optional, and entirely dependent on how much of a hippy you feel like being on that particular day.

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Can you paint with all the colours of the mountains? Can you paint with all the colours, of the veg? (Guess I left out the black beans)

Next is the quinoa. You’ll need to rinse this before you cook it so that it doesn’t taste bitter. Put it in a sieve, under running water. I’m never 100% sure why, but for some reason, it seems to produce little bubbles which then go away when it’s rinsed. Oooooh bubbles.

Then you want to boil your water in a sauce pan, add your quinoa, pop a lid on top of the sauce pan, reduce the heat and simmer away for about 10-15 minutes until your quinoa is soft, fluffy and has absorbed all the water. Separate the quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool down a bit, whilst you make the dressing.

I prefer making the dressing in the nutribullet, because I am a lazy, millennial so and so. If you don’t have a nutribullet, or a blender, you can still make the dressing – just use a sharp knife to chop up your coriander and give it all a mix in a bowl – simples. As it stands, I just pop everything into the nutribullet, whiz away for about 30 seconds, and there you have it.

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Looks like mould, is actually delicious dressing.

Your final step is to mix the cooled quinoa into the veggies, stir in your dressing and then try not to eat the whole bowl in one sitting. Also – try serving this with nachos and using this as the ‘dip’. So. Damn. Good.

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Oh mama.

Enjoy your weird quinoa, y’all!

 

 

Jamie’s Superfood: Sweet Potato Breakfast Muffins

baking, Breakfast, cooking

Last Sunday I went back to the humble abode of my parental figures for dinner. As I’ve mentioned before, the best thing about moving out is that when you go back home, you’re parents treat you like you’re a guest. I mean, I offered to help my mum with dinner but she insisted that she’d got everything under control. So with that out of the way, what else was I supposed to do, if not recline on the sofa with a cuppa and watch Jamie Oliver’s Superfood? Exactly. So that’s what I did.

On the show, he made some breakfast muffins, but not your typical English muffins, not even your good old crumbly blueberry treat. This show is all about getting the most health wealth out of your food without compromising on flavour. This recipe has a sweet potato base with chilli, spring onions (scallions if you’re American) and parmesan, to name but a few of the other ‘slap you around the face’ ingredients. My boyfriend’s eyes basically lit up like the Eiffel Tower at night when he heard Jamie say that for 400 calories, you could have not one but two of these bad boys for your brekkers. So I decided to give them a try. Pictured below is everything I used. You can find the link to the exact recipe here (link).


So to start with, can I just point out that grating 600g of sweet potato by hand is a workout and a half? Seriously, brace yourself! Once that horrendous task was out of the way (oh the drama), the recipe was a cinch. It’s just a case of putting everything in a bowl and mixing together, with the exception of a bit of half time slicing of the spring onions and chilli. Although actually, Nigella Lawson once kindly taught me* that kitchen scissors are much less strenuous way of slicing spring onions, so I just used those and snipped them directly into the bowl. Simples. I mean maybe it is actually quicker to use a knife, if you have knives that are actually decent, sharp kitchen knives, and not ones you bought just because they came in a cool little ‘man shaped’ holder so it looks like you’re stabbing him….but anyway, I digress.

The only thing I changed about the recipe is that Jamie asks that you reserve some of the chilli to sprinkle on top of the raw muffin mix once it’s in the cases. I mean, I don’t hate spicy food, but I’d never order anything above a medium heat if I went to an Indian restaurant. As you might imagine, the thought of my breakfast being topped with big old fiery chilli slice waiting to burn my lips into oblivion just wasn’t doing it for me; so I just finely chopped the whole thing and whacked it into the mixture. I know technically it’s the same amount of chilli, but I’d just rather have it evenly dispersed in little flecks, so it’s more of a subtle ‘hummy’ heat, rather than a big intense hit. But each to their own. I actually really wish I had a higher tolerance for spice. One of my friends from university, Simon, once said with my personality it doesn’t seem quite right that I don’t eat raw chillies for dinner every night. I’m not 100% sure that was a compliment, but either way I like it.

The recipe says to cook for between 45-60 minutes. My oven is fan assisted, so things tend to cook on the quicker side of things, so 45 minutes was enough to make sure everything was cooked, firm and smelling bloody incredible. Another thing to note, I used muffin cases for my muffins, rather than squares of baking parchment, and found that the mixture actually made 16 muffins rather than 12, so yay that.


I’ve just realised I’ve written this whole blog post about muffins that I’ve not actually tasted yet….

Ok, I’ve just tried one (all in the name of truthful and accurate blogging). Can confirm that they are indeed very tasty. I think they are something I would rather eat as an afternoon snack – maybe at like 3 o clock as some pre gym fuel, rather than as a breakfast; but that’s just because I love the more traditional breakfast foods so much. I think it will be a long time before I swap out my morning porridge or eggs; but you never know!

*note: Nigella Lawson didn’t just pop round to my house to teach me that kitchen scissors are a handy alternative to a knife – it was on her tv show. Although if this blog ever takes off and Nigella reads this – you’re welcome to pop round any time!

Slow Cooked Jerk Pork & Mango Salsa 

cooking, dinner, food, Health, healthy, weight loss

Slow cookers are literally one of my favourite things in the entire world, I just want to put that out there. The fact that you can take a cheap cut of meat, leave it for 8 hours and come back to that melt in the mouth, fall off fork deliciousness that makes you believe in a higher power – how can you not love that? 

A couple of weeks ago I used my mighty slow cooker to make jerk pork. I used pork shoulder but cut off the thick layer of fat to make it as lean as I could. I know fat equals flavour but when you’re cooking this way, there’s no need to compromise health points because it tastes bomb anyway. 

After cutting off the fat, I used a sharp knife to make a few incisions over the meat and stuffed these with crushed garlic. Then I rubbed the meat (lol) with a jerk paste I found in the supermarket. Yeah as a self proclaimed foodie I guess I could have made my own but come on man, it was a week day. Everybody has their lazy days. Anyway, jerk paste and garlic on, I put the meat in a dish and covered with cling film to sit in the fridge overnight. That really is the key here. Marinade the shit out of that. 

So fast forward 8 hours of attempting to maintain a solid 40% of bed space whilst similtaenousky sharing a bed with a 6’6 bear man, and my alarm went off. It’s so nerdy, whenever I’m making something that’s been marinating overnight it’s literally the first thing I think of when I wake up. I tootled down the stairs and squeezed the juice of an orange and 2 limes into the bottom of the slow cooker, placed the pork on top and set it to cook on low. 

There’s something ridiculously satisfying about sitting at your desk at work, answering emails, knowing that your kitchen is currently creating magic. It kind of makes me feel smug, in an ‘I’m so prepared I’m basically superwoman’ type of way. Which then makes me want to slap myself until my teeth fall out, so you know, swings and roundabouts. 

Anyway, moving on. 

I have a struggle in my house, because bear man boyfriend who was mentioned earlier isn’t really a fan of salsa. But come on man, there are some things you can’t eat without salsa, and this is one of ’em. So as a compromise on the traditional tomato/onion based salsa, I made a mango/avocado salsa which went down a treat. I served this with some brown rice, and it actually was received so well it has been put into the other half’s ‘top 5 dinners’ list, which is genuinely quite an accomplishment.

Watch out for food porn!

Look. At. The. Meat.  

White  Chocolate Oreo Fudge

baking, cooking, food, naughtiness, naughty recipes, recipes

This is my idea of perfection because a) white chocolate and Oreos, duh; and b) it consists of 3 ingredients and requires precisely zero faffing around. 

You melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water, add the condensed milk, add the crushed Oreos, flatten into a baking pan and Bob is your proverbial uncle. All you have to do from there on out is resist the urge to cram the whole pan into your face before it has set into delicious, delicious fudgey goodness. 

Here’s how I set about creating the best treat in the world:

Melt 500g white chocolate in a bowl, above a pan of simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water!

When the chocolate is melted, add in one tin (approx 400ml) of condensed milk. I used the lighter version, but to be honest I kind of felt like I was applying a barbie plaster to a severed leg. 

Once mixed together, add in your broken/crushed Oreos. I like mine to be chunkyish, but you could play around with a blender to get different consistencies if you prefer.  
If you manage to complete this step without snaffling a square of chocolate, then you are a better person than me.   

Load your mixture into a baking tray or Pyrex dish lined with grease proof paper, and spread out. Pop in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. 

  I’m particularly fond of the way that the condensed milk sort of semi seizes the chocolate so that if you only have enough ingredients to make half a pan, you don’t have to worry about making the world’s thinnest fudge. Also, very much enjoy feeling like Moses parting the sea. 

 Remove form the fridge and cut into chunks. Above you can see the finished product. Filthy, isn’t it?