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Preparation is Key

With less than 10 days to go, I feel I am now in a fairly straightforward routine. Key to eating healthy during the week for me is ensuring I get prepared on a Sunday for the week ahead. This week, I put a large 3 litre pot of chicken stock (2 chicken carcasses from the butcher, chopped carrot, leek and onion) on the hob and headed in to town.

When I came back a few hours later, I quickly sautéed off some onions and garlic and split it into two pots. In one, I put chopped sweet potato, lemongrass and ginger. In the other, I put carrot, parsnip and leek. I quickly cooked these off for 5 minutes, before adding enough stock to each pot and left to cook for 30 minutes. I put the remaining stock in the freezer for the following week. I even put some in an ice-cube tray so that I could quickly add some flavour to a dinner or sauce.

When they cooled slightly, I blitzed them up, and portioned it out into containers with enough for 2 servings. I kept enough out for 3 days and froze the rest. Lunches sorted for a few days.

A lot of people are saying they are struggling with knowing what to eat. So below is a couple of examples of what I ate for the past 2 days.

07:30   Grapefruit and Scrambled Eggs (3 eggs)

10:30   Banana and a handful of Almonds or Brazil Nuts

13:00   Sweet Potato Soup with 1 Chicken Breast

16:00   1tbsp Almond Butter and 1 Apple

17:30   Gym

18:45   Chicken, Chorizo and Peppers Stew with Baked Potato and Butter

22:00   Coconut Milk (Homemade) and a spoon of Almond Butter

 

07:30   Smoothie with Almond Milk, Banana, Protein Powder and Almond Butter

10:30   Handful Berries and 1 Hard Boiled Egg

13:00   Homemade Carrot, Parsnip and Leek Soup and 1 chicken breast

16:00   1tbsp Almond Butter and 1 Apple

18:45   Beef Burger (Homemade) with Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges and Steamed Broccoli

22:00   1 Hard Boiled Egg

Half Way Point

So 15 days in and it’s time to look back. The first 2 days were fine. I didn’t notice anything different. But days 3 and 4 were the toughest. I was feeling dizzy, I was hungry and I even had pains in my teeth for some reason. I didn’t think I ate that much sugar before I started, but when I look back, I was probably eating enough to warrant serious consideration by the Irish government to bring back our sugar beet industry! After 7 days I had lost over 2 kilo’s in weight; not something I really wanted, so I needed to increase my calorie intake. I added some sweet potatoes, fresh coconut milk (made in the blender) and started adding a large blob of butter to my veg in the evening. I’m back up to my starting weight now so I seem to have found the right balance.

So what do I miss? I miss my porridge in the morning and I miss milk and yoghurt, but nothing serious. Whenever I feel the hunger coming on, I reach for my reliables. For me it is Almond Butter, Coconut Butter, Avocado’s, Nuts, Apples and Hard Boiled Eggs.

How do I feel now? I definitely feel more energised, even if there are two night-owl children trying their best to change that. But the biggest change is the disappearance of the afternoon slump, and for that alone, I’m determined to keep the majority of the healthy changes going. Does this mean I’ll never eat a chocolate brownie or a Tayto sandwich ever again, absolutely not – because life’s too short.  But I’ll certainly eat them a lot less and enjoy them a lot more.

Let me know how you are all getting on.

Coconut Chicken Masala with Cauliflower Rice

Normally a curry can be complicated and take a long time, but this one is definitely one for the favourites list. I make the curry before I head to the gym and when I came back, I finish it off with the coconut milk, coriander and lime.
Coconut Chicken Masala with Cauliflower Rice
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp butter or Ghee
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp of ground turmeric
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250 ml chicken stock, warmed
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 600 gram chicken pieces ( for more flavour try to use some skinned and boned chicken thighs as well)
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cauliflower + ½ an onion, finely chopped

Instructions
  1. Place the butter and onion in a large pan on a medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, spices, curry leaves and chilli and cook for 1 minute
  3. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes
  4. Add in the warm chicken stock and chopped tomatoes and simmer for 20 mins
  5. At this stage, you can set it aside for a few hours and when ready to eat, just re-heat the contents of the saucepan
  6. Separately, grate the cauliflower.
  7. In a separate pan, cook off the onion on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes in 2 tbsp butter
  8. Add the grated cauliflower and strir fry for 5-10 minutes
  9. Season with salt and pepper
  10. When ready to serve, add the coconut milk to the simmering curry, top with chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime
  11. Place the cauliflower rice on a plate and top with the curry or serve on the side.

 

Food on the Move!

This weekend was all about food on the go. Had a very stressful weekend as we were moving house. Made even more stressful by 2 crying kids looking for their barbies and play-doh. And the internet is gone for 2 weeks! If I didn’t reach for the Ferrero Rocher this weekend, I should make it through the rest of the month.

We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For me it definitely is. I normally eat porridge and eggs, so needed an alternative to the porridge for this month. Below is my all in one smoothie that keeps me going for a few hours. I like to add almond butter for some healthy fats. Feel free to substitute other ingredients.

With all the saucepans in boxes, we needed something that we could grab and go. These tuna cakes are perfect for lunch, dinner or even breakfast. I normally bring a few to work. Make sure you make a large batch as they will keep in the fridge for up to a week. They can be eaten cold or re-heated. If you like tuna, you’ll love these.

 

Breakfast Smoothie

Almond or Coconut Milk

1 banana

60g berries

1tbsp flax seed

Super Greens Powder

1 tbsp almond butter (optional)

 

Thai Style Sweet Potato and Tuna Cakes (makes 12)

3 tins (approx 350g) tuna in brine, drained

2 large sweet potatoes, baked and mashed

3 tbsp butter (or coconut oil), melted

1 stick lemongrass, very finely diced

Large handful coriander, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp chilli flakes

Zest of 1 lime

1 clove garlic, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Pre-heat oven to 180 C

Grease a 12 hole muffin tray with some of the butter

First mix the lemongrass, chilli, coriander, lime zest and garlic.

Add the tuna and mix.

Then add the butter and sweet potato mix.

When combined, put the mix in the muffin tray evenly and press down with the back of a spoon

Bake for 30 mins.

Bye Bye Sugar Slumps

3 days in, and so far I’ve had no incognito missions to the sweet shop yet. I can notice a difference already. I’ve had no tiredness or sugar slumps in the afternoon. But I did find that when I trained yesterday evening, I didn’t have a lot of energy. So I need to add some extra calories, especially before the gym.

Most people are asking me what am I eating or for a sample menu. So here is what I had to eat today along with a recipe for what we ate for dinner. It even includes a bowl of ice cream for dessert. By the way, this dairy and sugar free option tastes a lot better than any sugar laden shop bought version.

 

07:30   3 egg omelette with ½ courgette (grated)

60g fresh blueberries

10:30   Handful of Almonds or Brazil Nuts

13:00   Homemade Carrot, Cumin & Coriander Soup and 1 chicken breast

16:00   1tbsp almond butter and 1 apple

17:30   Gym

18:45   Chargrilled Chicken with Guacamole and 2 minute Red Onion Pickle (recipe below)

Healthy Banana Ice Cream (recipe below)

 

Healthy Banana Ice Cream

Serves 2

Put 2 peeled ripe bananas in a freezer bag and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours (or overnight). Break them up and place them in a blender with approx. 125ml of coconut milk. Blitz until smooth, adding more coconut milk if required. You can flavour with ground cardamom, cinnamon or cacao powder.

 

 

Spicy Chargrilled Chicken with Guacamole and 2 minute Red Onion Pickle

Serves 2

2 large chicken breasts (cut in half lengthways and flattened) – marinated in juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper for 20 mins.

 

2 ripe avocados

Zest and juice of 1 lime

½ tsp chilli flakes

½ clove garlic, grated

Handful coriander, finely chopped

 

½ red onion, finely sliced in rings

Juice of ¼ lemon

Pinch of sea salt

 

Lettuce leaves to serve

 

Heat a griddle pan to high heat and cook the chicken

Combine the avocados, lime zest, lime juice, chilli flakes, garlic and coriander and mash or blitz to create the guacamole.

Combine the onions, lemon juice and salt together about 2 minutes before serving.

To serve, place some salad leaves on a plate, top with guacamole, chicken and garnish with the onion pickle.

Clean Eating Challenge

Anyone up for a challenge? A healthy eating challenge! I’m going to try something new for October. My local cross-fit gym is running a 30 day challenge for October where we have to focus on healthy eating based on Paleo or Primal foods. You’ve probably heard of Paleo. Up until recently I thought this was the reserve of the beardy hipster types. Quite frankly having given a beard a daycent attempt and with it itching like bejaysis until I shaved the thing off, I decided Paleo probably wouldn’t be for me either.  I joined Guerrilla Fitness in Clonakilty a couple of months ago, and low and behold this Paleo thing cropped up again. My sister in law is hooked on it and my wife had begun to dabble in it as well. So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em I guess. So I did a bit of reading and discovered that Paleo makes a lot of good sense, it has less to do with its mascot cavemen and how they ate, but more to do with how our grandparents ate. I don’t have time for fancy recipes or hard to find ingredients, so I am going to try and make it as simple as possible for anyone that would like to give it a try. I’ll post up what I am eating along with how I feel I am progressing. In short, I will be cutting out processed foods, grains and sugar, and focusing heavily on fresh vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. If you want to be extra strict, you can also cut out dairy.

I also took the obligatory pre-challenge selfie to see if there is a noticeable difference. I’ll spare you that photo for the moment, but after 30 days, I might post a before and after photo.

For an idea of what types of food you can eat and those you can’t, check out this handy guide I found.

http://crossfitbda.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/30-Day-Paleo-Challenge-Packet.pdf

If you fancy an extra challenge, you can follow Guerrilla Fitness Clonakilty who will also be posting a daily challenge.

Cold Soup Anyone?

Cold Soup anyone? It’s time for something healthy and refreshing for these warm summer days. I’ve just purchased a Vitamix and I wanted to try out something that would test how smooth I could get a soup. If you haven’t heard of a Vitamix, then for those of you with young kids, it’s a bit like the Nutri-Bullet that you have all seen on the Shopping Channel or on TV3 at 6.30am. But this does so much more and with much more power. It blitzes the living be-jaysus out of anything and will even cook a soup for you in 5 mins.

This version of gazpacho is very easy and is based on a version by Felicity Cloake in The Guardian. Soak the bread in cold water for 20 minutes, and then chop all of the ingredients and throw them all into a blender. Blitz it until it is smooth. Adjust the taste by adding extra sherry vinegar or salt as required. Chill until ready to serve. To serve, top with a drizzle of olive oil and some diced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, parsley or mint.

For a more extravagant twist or if you are having a dinner party, why not add a shot or two of vodka to the mixture until you can just taste it.

 

Ingredients

1kg ripe tomatoes – the riper the better

2 ripe peppers (red, yellow or green)

1 cucumber

2 cloves garlic

150ml extra virgin olive oil

2tbsp good quality sherry vinegar

100g stale crusty bread

Salt

The Veggie Garden

Summer is well and truly here and it is now that I really appreciate the move to the country. We have a garden again after 4 years for the kids to run around in, and to grow some vegetables. It’s not too hard if you pick the right veg and prepare the ground well, although there was a lot of trial and error. I started off with a 2m x 1m area, and dug the soil to remove most of the large stones. I then put some timber in to create a raised bed and topped with compost and some organic fertiliser. Some of the veg I grew from seed, starting them off indoors in the bathroom and some I bought as seedlings. Kale (Cavolo Nero variety), peas, beetroot, chard and sprouting broccoli all worked well in the bed. The lettuce got savaged by slugs, although putting down beer traps worked, and the mizuno ran to seed pretty quickly as we could not eat it quickly enough. Read more →

Eggs-tra, Eggs-tra, read all about it!

I’m gonna say a word that most of you most likely don’t want to hear after the Easter holidays…’Eggs..’ (Not the chocolate variety mind, so step away from the kids leftover Easter eggs now)… but really folks you won’t beat these for simplicity, versatility, taste and all round bang for your buck -  both in terms of nutrition and money.

OK, so advance apologies for the eggy puns. But these are egg-ceptionally easy dishes and perfect for brunch, lunch or a light dinner. I have to admit that these were my wife’s idea. We had a bit of an egg-stravaganza in our house recently.  This week, we ended up with 6 packs of eggs in the fridge. The weekly shop combined with generous neighbours who have their own hens called for a few egg inspired dinners. Read more →

Warm Runner Bean Salad with Poached Egg

Warm Runner Bean Salad with Poached Egg
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

Ingredients
  • 1 pack fresh runner beans
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 Eggs
  • Lemon (1 tbsp Juice and Zest)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions
  1. In a pan of boiling water, cook the runner beans. This should only take 2 mins as you want them to be on the raw side of crunchy.
  2. In a separate pan of boiling salted water, poach the eggs. I normally swirl the water with a spoon and then drop in one egg at a time. This will take about 3-4 mins as you want the egg yolk to remain runny.
  3. Mix the lemon juice, oil, zest, salt and pepper to make a dressing.
  4. Toss the runner beans in the dressing while still warm.
  5. To serve, place the runner beans on a plate, top with grated parmesan, then 2 poached eggs, and sprinkle with cracked black pepper and salt.