Category Archives: food

underground cookery school with quorn

Guess who’s back.
Back again.
Quorn is back (on this blog)
Tell your friends.

That’s right the Quorn brand invited me to another event last week where we got to take an Underground Cookery School class and then enjoy the spoils of our labour after. It’s not often I say no to free food, and the Quorn brand is an interesting one (more on that later) so I was happy to attend.

I showed up to yummy appetizers (veggie tempura & arancini!) and lots of bubbles to drink as we got to know the other people at the class. I was the only running blogger there so instead of talking about our next races and current injuries we actually spoke about “real” stuff like politics & religion.

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We were quickly put in aprons and taught how to make pasta. It was dead easy and really fun to use the pasta making machine thing to produce fresh tagliatelle.

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Being a true professional I never let a drink leave my hand and presented my fresh pasta to the official drying rack for cooking later.

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After making the pasta we went over to the stove to blend up some ragu sauce and start our chicken curry paste. I know everyone says this but it is really so easy and simple to make fresh and delicious food. The chefs at the cooking school used the normal recipes and then just added the relevant Quorn pieces after. As you can see from the blurry photo below, the result was pretty good and especially with the bolognese, you couldn’t tell it wasn’t beef mince.

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For pudding we made up an amazing Strawberry roulade. Not one to let food (sugar) go to waste, with the leftover meringue I made a charming little soufflé.

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Again, being the only running blogger I cleared each course (there was a chicken curry course too but my phone died) and licked the plate before the food bloggers even finished photographing each damn angle. Being a Quorn sponsored event they did go through the spiel about why it’s so good. I’m not a vegetarian or watching my weight so none of the claims they made really  mattered to me. What does matter is taste & convenience and Quorn hits on both of these. I may not be adding it to my weekly shop, but a pack or two in the freezer would not go amiss on those nights I get home from a run starving.

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this is what recovery looks like

After my surfing injury (iIm going to forever call it that even though in reality it was more of a in-the-ocean-trying-to-surf-but-failing-so-just-holding-on-to-the-board-trying-not-to-get-blue-crushed injury) I knew I had to take it easy and let my body do what it does best.  I did all the pragmatic things like see my GP, get a MRI, and visit a physio and all the crazy things like try every single recovery and strengthening exercises anyone who has ever had a knee injury told me.

I even tried out the Actipatch with it’s electromagnetic pulse therapy. It made me look like a hardcore half woman half machine, but didn’t really do anything in terms of healing so off to the bin it went.

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What I didn’t do what focus on the injury itself. Life is too short to wallow in what coulda/woulda/shoulda so I filled my time with fun things like taking my Leadership in Running Fitness course with England Athletics.  We spent a hot day in Essex learning about coaching techniques and how to structure training sessions.

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I’ve also been doing my physio exercises in the park. Have yoga mat will travel.

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Without running there is room for new hobbies in my life, like birthday parties.

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And eating towers of hashbrowns.

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And most importantly, if you can’t run: Cheer. A lovely Saturday morning spent cheering on new parkrunners in Highbury Fields!

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I’ve also been told to keep up the eating while recovery. More energy for my body to repair itself is a good thing. I was sent some Multipower Sportsfood Nature’s Power Bars to try out. They sat in my desk drawer with all my other essentials and over the past few weeks I worked my way through them. My review? They’re nice. None are overly sweet and each have enough of a taste to make them a treat (the salted cocoa is my fav). I’m not one to go out and buy loads of bars (if I have them I eat them, fast) but do recommend them if that’s your cuppa tea.

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I also fell back in love with apples and covered them with nutella and granola for a perfect afternoon snack.

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It all seems to be working and along with some sports massages and trigger point releases (owwwww) my knee is starting to feel better and it’s looking like the Mont Blanc 10k is going to be doable!

all eating no running

When a friend calls you up and asks if you want to check out a Food & Wine event at a lovely tapas place on Bermondsey street. You say yes.

We were lucky enough to score a spot at the Essential Spain event put on by Spanish Tourist Board & Food and Travel Magazine.  Food, travel, wine, tapas, and a couple of good friends? What else would you want to do on a Monday?

Within 3 minutes of arriving at Pizzaro we had our cava hands full and were tucking into the plates of Manchego and jamón Ibérico.

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José was in the kitchen firing out plate after plate of fabulous tapas. Trying to keep up was difficult and some of the gossip had to wait.

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My favourite of the night was the Cod a la llauna and this amazing pork that was cooked like beef and was so so so tender.

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The Spanish Tourist Board guy spoke about the great tragedy of British Tourists going to Spain and eating bad Paella and how millions and millions are affected. It’s not a problem I have ever encountered, but if you find yourself in this situation I’m sure this travel guide will help.

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After we polished off these last few cakes we rolled home (but sadly not back to a Spanish villa) Thanks for the invite Jen!

the good, the bad, and the pizza

On Saturday the sun was out and I was ready to get outside and on with my weekend.

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I jumped on my bike (in my newest Sports Pursuit Pearl Izumi purchase – it’s my current fav piece of sports gear) and cycled to Regent’s Park for NTC Train 2 Run class.  We were joined by some Nike pacers and run club leaders so the class was that much harder.  Crunches, sprints and burpess. Ow.

From there I had to rush down to Holborn to attend a Fix It class with Evan’s cycles.  I had booked and pre-paid a few weeks ago for this class to learn the basics of fixing my bike (after one too many mornings of cycling over broken glass in Camden I figured I should be able to fix a puncture).  I showed up at the store right at 12 and none of the staff knew anything about the class.  Not only that, but, the staff wasn’t willing to help me unless I could provide my email confirmation booking number.  They had no way (or so they said) of checking if I had booked the class on their system. Once I had pulled up my booking number it indeed said I booked and there was supposed to be a class. Duh. that’s what I said initially!  The staff then (we’re 30 minutes into the palava by now) told me, oh the class was taken off this morning. No sorry, no explanation, nothing.  I was so disappointed with the customer service up until that point I decided to leave and re-book at another time, but will be asking for a refund. I guess I’m just used to the always lovely staff and service from running shops….

I cycled home and made some of Sophie’s Banana Peanut Butter Glitter Dream Protein Pancakes to cheer me up and then headed off to the new Lululemon studio in Islington for some free yoga.  The new Lululemon studio is on Barnsbury st. (one of the old Make Lounge studios!) and it’s SO NICE.  There’s a huge selection of their lovely lycra and downstairs is 2 studios, one for yoga and one for chilling out.  We had a great 1 hour class with Krystal Nash that really stretched out my running/cycling legs.  Her class was really good as she wasn’t all about holding poses for ever and modified everything for athletes who may have tighter muscles. * waves, that’s me*

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After yoga I hit the couch and Alex and I inhaled delicious pizzas & some rose (it’s summer, drink of choice), listened to the Green Day concert at the Emerites and then wandered down Upper Street to catch a few drinks in the last of a pub garden’s warmth.

So, to recap:

The good: NTC, my new cycling jacket, free yoga
The bad: Evans Cycles
The Pizza: Stingray Cafe Prosciutto & Fungi. YUM

how to live well and die old

Earlier in the week I won tickets to the first Innocent Inspires event. For those who don’t know, Innocent is the smoothie company that tweets really funny animal pictures (I’m sure they have an actual business strategy, but I like to highlight the important things).

Innocent Sports Hall

Innocent Sports Hall

Innocent Inspires is a series of five nights where Innocent and their invited guests bring their business values to life and inspire people to go forward and do better in their own lives.  Last night was all about health and how athletes, communities and individuals can approach healthy lives. Invited to speak was James Cracknell, super Olympian and adventurer who has literally (and I use that word in its truest sense) done everything ever. Charlie Dark, founder of Run Dem Crew who has inspired half of London to get running, and Dr. Pixie McKenna who is usually found poking at Embarrassing Bodies on TV.

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We arrived at the Innocent Sports Hall to be put on a green smoothie team or a red smoothie team depending on our taste preferences. The warm-up area was set up for us to get healthy but stay lazy so we stretched our quads on coffee tables and did toilet seat squats. All very practical for even the laziest.  The smoothie bar was set up as were lockers with information about the presenters.  Delicious dips and veggies from The Dip Society were passed around and we all got graze boxes to nibble on. It was pretty clear we were going to get our 5-a-day within the hour.

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The night started off with an intro from Innocent founder, Richard Reed who explained that throughout the night, “We’re letting these awesome people do the talking, sit back and enjoy.”

An Olympic gold medal. On my lap. I have insane #medalenvy now.

An Olympic gold medal. On my lap. I have insane #medalenvy now.

First to speak was James Cracknell. He’s won 2 gold medals with Team GB in rowing and has some amazing stories about partying with Steve Redgrave in Sydney. You’d think that would be enough to inspire an audience, but then he told us about the rest of his life that has been filled with adventure after adventure.  You think the 3 Peaks is a challenge? A marathon? Ha. Try rowing across the Atlantic, walking across Antarctica, and not just finishing but coming 12th in the Marathon de Sables. Next up was a quick cycle, swim and run across America but it was cut short when a 70mph truck hit him while riding across Death Valley.  Not one to let a traumatic brain injury stop him, next week he’s heading back to cross the Arabian Empty Quarter with a super stubborn camel.

So, what have you done today?

But in all seriousness he gave us some good bits of advice to apply in our lives

  1. Your worst day of training should be worse than anything that can happen at the event. This one seriously hit home with me. I’m as guilty as the next person about complaining how hard training can be. The long, wet, runs, the blisters, the sheer pain of DOMS.  But that is supposed to happen, training is how you learn how to cope on race day. I’d way rather get a sick blister on a random Sunday in January and adjust my shoes before race day.  Yea, running in the rain for 2 hours sucks, but when it rains on race day   I’ll be the one who is confidently at the start line.  If training sucks you’re doing it right.
  2. No rules, trust your team. You’d think there would be a ton of rules for an Olympic rowing team. Be home by 8, eat 3,203,409.05 mg of protein each day, don’t drink this, don’t go there. James said it was the opposite. On race day you had to have 110% trust in your team, so why would you need to put rules down in training? You have to trust that your team is putting their all into training just as they trust you.
  3. Your worst has to be better than their best. He doesn’t care about your PB, if you’re training to win your absolute worst performance has to be better than everyone’s best. James spoke about how he set a WR one year, but the rest of his results were not as good so he didn’t get picked for that Olympic event.  All those sucky runs you do and hate every step of before, during and after? They count. Make them good sucky runs and you’ll see the results on race day.
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Fact: Running Sucks.

Next up was Charlie Dark from Run Dem Crew.  It’s hard to run in London and not know about RDC. They’re all living legends and some of the most inspiring people I follow on social media are RDC’ers.  Charlie is the guy who started it all with a box in a park, some friends who wanted to run around East London in the dark, and the idea that running didn’t have to be a separate activity blocked off from the community at large.  Charlie’s story took up where James’ left off and brought the inspiration from the top tier athletic performances right into our communities.

  1. Integrate your health and activity. RDC runs routes around London based on tips from taxi drivers, challenges from bus drivers and whispers from community artists. For Charlie running is a part of his community and through RDC he’s introducing running and the community to young and old alike.  He made it very clear that it starts with kids as young as 5. Most kids hate running 6 laps around a track at school right? But running for the bus and getting on it? Ace. 50 star jumps in a gymnasium after maths class? Blah. A field trip that includes a stop at millennium bridge and a impromptu competition to see who can run up the steps the fastest? Then having them write a blog about the results? Ace x2. 
  2. Crew love. I’m going to direct you to the Food & Lycra girls to get a real sense about crew love. The sense of community is so strong in a crew that it’s about how well your worst does. How much as your worst improved? How many people came out and tried something new? Who was smiling at the end of the run?

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Finally, Dr. Pixie McKenna was up and gave us 10 tips to inspire our selves and our bodies.  It was straight talk and some of it was obvious, but helps to hammer it home.

  1. Eat breakfast, eat fish, don’t drink fizzy sodas. Breakfast sets you up for the day. It’s easy and simple. If you’re not hungry in the morning it’s probably because you ate too much the night before because you didn’t eat breakfast yesterday. You should be waking up hungry people! Get the nutrients in your body early and your metabolism will keep working hard the rest of the day. Also, eat more fish than you do now. Oily fish and those Omega-3s are so valuable for your health now and in 30 years. Constantly drinking fizzy sodas will kill you. It’s simple. Don’t do it.
  2. Get outside for 20 minutes a day. How many of you complained about being tired and lazy this winter? Did you catch every bug going around the office? Sick every few weeks. You are probably Vitamin D deficient. Apparently most of us in the UK are, it’s not always our fault (thanks for the  3 crappy summers) but if you’re outside when it’s relatively sunny for 20 minutes (with no SPF – as long as you don’t turn red you’re fine) you can top up your Vitamin D levels to last you the year.  I personally felt a huge difference this winter as I only got sick once and felt pretty amazing all winter thanks to being outside and running more last summer. Dr. Pixie said get outside when you can and get in the sun.
  3. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Following from Charlie, you have to integrate health into your life and it’s not going to be sustainable if you suddenly pick up the latest fad diet or try to go to the gym 6 days a week.  A slice of that birthday cake is fine, 2 units of alcohol for women a day is fine (aside: you can’t save up your units if you don’t use them – Dr. Pixie made it clear that binge drinking is causing serious serious [read: Cancer] health issues).
  4. Sit down and eat. You have the time. Eat only when at a table, stop picking at the cheese while the rest of your meal is cooking. Don’t grab a sandwich to scoff while on the tube. Sit, slow down, and eat and you’ll make better more complete choices and feel better. This isn’t brain science people, no one is too busy. Reading this blog, twitter, and facebook, they’re all time sucks that are taking away from the important things like eating and exercise. Make those the priority instead of scrolling through your timeline.

So from the top 1% of athletes to our community to our bodies, Innocent Inspires inspired me to do keep doing the simple things to live well and die old.

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Rules are made to be broken *kisses biceps*

heart happy macaroons

Sundays without running are worse for my waistline than you’d think.

I bake. A lot.

Today I made cinnamon scones for breakfast. Then did some Sunday errands, made up some hummus to eat with lunch, then got bored again. As I was browsing the latest Runner’s World UK magazine I saw a recipe for healthy macaroons. I make at least 1 recipe from the magazine a month. (Their salmon & sweet potato coconut curry is my go-to dinner now).

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Happy Heart Macaroons

170g desiccated coconut
2 egg whites
50g pecans
50g sunflower seeds
25g dried apricots

Buzz it all together in a food processor, shape into 15 balls, place on a baking paper lined tray, and bake for 15 minutes (mine were done at 12) at 180*C.

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SO easy. They’re delicious and a great grab-and-go sweet snack. But, I was taking them over to a friend’s for dinner so I tweeked the recipe a bit…

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Extra chocolate. Surprised Runner’s World forgot to add that. Choclate makes my heart happy.