Monday, 31 January 2011

Back to porridge...or cottage cheese on toast

After intending to eat by a series of snacks rather than a few meals today, I forgot my boss was taking some of us out for lunch. I had a delicious breakfast of blackcurrant jam and low fat cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon on toast with half a melon on the side but I'd left the bluetooth switched on on my phone which ran the battery right down so I didn't get a snap of my pretty breakfast:( I also had a glass of grapefruit juice. I read in Runner's World that cinnamon and grapefruit juice are good at raising one's metabolism (to try and burn off my Christmas and Edinburgh pounds).

Lunch was vegetable korma, which was tasty but I had heartburn most of the afternoon. I went for a long walk after work and chugged loads of peppermint tea when I got home and this helped settle my tum and after a while I was hungry again. I baked some Witch/Torbay sole in the oven with herbes de provence and a lemon and had it with tomatoey brown rice but I didn't like the fish. I guess it was just one of those days when you have no luck with food.
To take the taste away, I had a heap of frozen raspberries, topped with low fat organic plain yogurt, a splash of hazelnut liquer and a couple of crumbled dark chocolate oatcakes (they're like very low sugar, high fibre biscuits/cookies).
Anyone else have any not-so-good eats recently? Normally I get really peeved but I've eaten so well recently I can hardly complain! I think I've learnt with the sea's bounty I prefer oily fish and shellfish.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Edinburgh: Foodie Heaven

I did a LOT of indulgent eating in Edinburgh. I went to most of the places I had read about and liked the sound of, and I tried the things that sounded tastiest to me (even though it sometimes meant cake for breakfast, or dessert at lunchtime and again in the afternoon- and then again in the evening!!).
The first place I tried out was Peter's Yard, a swedish bakery with a reputation for great sourdoughs and swedish crispbread, and supposed to have great coffee and spiced buns. The kladdkaka is another speciality. We arrived in Edinburgh at about 8:30 and made our way up through the winding alleyways to Peter's Yard for breakfast.
I had to have a cardamom bun, and I couldn't leave without trying kladdkaka, so we split a slice and of course I had coffee. It's like brownie only much lighter.

We walked all round the Old Town on the southside, then into the National Gallery of Scotland and then up to the graveyard and park at Calton before walking back to the Princes Street area.
We had lunch in Urban Angel on Hanover Street, I had a cheese and onion toastie with homemade coleslaw (something I used to love as a middle of the night snack as a ravenous teenager).
Eamonn had veggie haggis with clapshot mash and a leek and mustard sauce.

We finished our meal with gateau basque with homemade rhubarb frozen yogurt. Mmm!
The raspberry jam in the centre was the nicest I've had (apart from my own homemade compote).
I had another flat white.
After a cocktail at Dragonfly (mine was a Speyside Invader), we dined at Henderson's Bistro.
Henderson's is Edinburgh's longest standing veggie institution and the bistro is quite relaxed, and the food 'homey' but very good. We shared a mezze and I had a nut burger with goat's cheese which came with guac, salsa, tortilla chips (which I didn't eat) and salad.
While I was pretty full, I did manage an affogato of delicious farmhouse ice-cream. The rosé wine kind of made me forget to photograph it. Hehe. Our waiter was great and recommended The Bow Bar and David Bann (which we were already fairly set on visiting) as other places to check out.

The next day, we breakfasted in our hotel (grapefruit, yogurt and eggs for me, fruit followed by a veggie fry up for Eamonn). For lunch, following a jaunt up Arthur's Seat and a walk around Holyrood Park and the Royal Mile, we returned to Peter's Yard. We both had ale and onion soup with sourdough, then Eamonn had a fruit jelly cake (it happened to be vegan, I think the jelly was set with agar) and I had baked blueberry cheesecake and a cappuccino.
We went to the to-go part of the business around the corner and I got myself a hessian shopping bag to remind me of Peter's Yard, and also a jar of elusive cloudberry jam...and another dessert for later, a berry vanilla cardamom-scented bun.

I ate it late afternoon in my hotel room before our walk back into town to go to see Black Swan at The Cameo. The Cameo is a great cinema, although the smell of damp was overpowering at first. A refurb is in the pipeline. They had a great selection of Green & Blacks chocolate and a good bar, but we didn't indulge as I hadn't long scoffed the bun and we were dining out again at 9. Despite the intensity of the film, we were ready at 9 for our feast at David Bann.
Dunsyre Blue and slow roast tomato tart for me, tofu and broccoli fritters with banana chutney for Eamonn. Mushroom, leek and butternut squash for me (the squash was out of this world dense and busting with flavour, more like kabocha or Crown Price really, but the waitress wasn't sure), and a chilli crepe with chocolate sauce and potato for Eamonn. Eamonn went for a light dessert of lemon posset with a divine berry topping (INCREDIBLE fruity flavour) and I had a pear and passionfruit tart with chocolate ice-cream, followed by a decaff macchiato. Soo good. I was royally stuffed at this stage, so I welcomed the gentle 2 mile midnight dander back to the hotel (we travelled solely on foot from getting off the airport bus to getting back on it).

The next morning, we breakfasted in the hotel (I went for fruit, porridge and toast this time, and Eamonn went for the fry again, more of a grill though). We left our bags to collect later and headed into town. We walked around a bit, then went to the Museum, which is fantastic. After some gift shopping, including a 3/4 hour visit to Demijohn and a restrained visit to the Valvona & Crolla shop in Jenners, we lunched at Seadogs. I had oatmeal crusted haddock with chips, followed by a pear cobbler with custard AND a little scoop of Over Langshaw Farm ice-cream. The ice-cream was great, the cobbler topping far too hard. As was the base of Eamonn's chocolate cheesecake, although the topping was pretty yummy. He had the goat cheese dotted kale and mushroom pie with chips for his main.

Later in the afternoon, before we had to go get our bags and head to the airport, we searched out a coffee haunt. We were intent on Artisan Roast, but the place was heaving and we wanted to sit for a while and chill and didn't have time to wait for a seat, so we found ourselves around the corner in the other branch of Urban Angel on Forte Street. I had a flat white repeat and Eamonn had a green tea. A beetroot chocolate cake was also consumed to make up for the disappointment of the earlier dessert and to keep us going until we landed in Belfast, which turned out to be 11pm.

Here are my take home treats:

The liquers are from Demijohn: a rhubarb vodka and a seville orange gin in yin yang bottles. We are going to resist opening them for a while!
I started the weekend virtuously with hot lemon water, followed by hot blueberries, rhubarb yogurt and a sprinkle of muesli, and then it slid a little with brie on toast.

I did have a good excuse- it was Brie de Meaux that needed used up and the loaf I used was going a bit stale too. I smeared the bread with a little homemade clove apple jelly, topped with the cheese, stuck a bit of tinned peach and finished with plenty of thyme that was also on its last legs. It was an excellent snack with some Gascoigne vin du table.

After the Edinburgh three day binge, my appetite is understandably diminished! That said, I did stock up my fridge today with plenty of fruit, leafy greens, veggies, fresh fish, low fat yogurt and cottage cheese for the week ahead. I'm going to be cutting back a little calorie-wise by eating 5-6 small meals aiming for about 1500 cals in the day. I don't intend to do this for very long, just to compensate for the excesses of the previous week. I'm also trying it out as a (long term) better way to stabilize my blood sugar so I don't crave sugar in the evenings. Obviously if it works I will be upping the calorie content over the day to 2000ish (more as my running increases with the warmer weather, only doing about 10 miles a week at the moment) to maintain good health. I find if I eat a small but protein heavy lunch I am not ravenous long before my dinner. I like to include a little complex carb too, I find that really keeps me going right through, e.g. trout, spinach, a few roast veggies and brown rice for the carb, since it's the friendliest one to my tummy, and doesn't make me sleepy like wheat products.

Monday, 24 January 2011


I'm really whacked today, and have been fairly low on energy for the last few days. I got my period after 6 months so I think that's what's sucked all the energy out of me. I haven't had the energy to exercise although I have been walking to and from work (about an hour's brisk walk a day) which really helps with the energy levels as I always feel x10 worse if I just sit on my arse. I thought I might have been up for a run this evening, but even walking home today was quite a challenge so I just took it easy. I was starving too and had a bowl of cereal when I got in, so I had a smaller dinner than I planned and had a bit of dessert too (carrot cake).

I was reeeally tired last friday after work, so I got a (strawberry) beer and made a super quick curry:

Quorn fillets baked in foil in the oven, passata heated up with curry powder, onion, garlic, and jasmine rice and tenderstem broccoli boiled in the same pot.

I was craving sugar like nobody's business so have been eating lots of dessert...but trying to keep it vaguely healthy.

Stewed apple, honey and plain yogurt

Rice pudding, choc rice pops, plain yogurt, a little chunk of chocolate buried in the hot rice. I find combining a few different flavours and textures makes the dessert more satisfying even if it's small

Tonight's dinner: brown rice, paprika and thyme, sauteed mushrooms and rocket, roasted butternut squash and shallots, a little heated up passata and a tiny piece of blue goat's cheese.. aaand one little vegetable finger that I pinched from my boyfriend.

I am off to Edinburgh on wednesday for some R&R, staying in a nice hotel, visiting Edinburgh's veggie restaurants, visiting the Scottish seabird centre out at North Berwick, walking the Leith waterway and hopefully catching Black Swan at the cinema. I'm not sure if I'll blog when I'm away, I don't think I'll have time although I will have my laptop with me.
Hope you all have a nice week if this is indeed my last post until the weekend:)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Running again! :)

Today's eats:

Porridge (oats soaked overnight then brought to the boil and simmered), lots of frozen raspberries stirred in near the end, topped with plain yogurt and organic honey.

I snacked on a banana mid morning, and I was ravenous at lunchtime. Lunch was smoked salmon and celeriac salad, a few pecan nuts, a cup of grapes and 1/2 cup apple yogurt. The raw celeriac didn't upset my tummy at all, unlike the vegetable soup (not sure if the root vegetables further annoyed me yesterday or if it was just the soup, in any case, I think I digest raw veg better in the middle of the day).

I speed walked home to warm up, then went out and ran 8.5km (just over 5 miles), I really enjoyed it!! I got all cleaned up, drank plenty of water, and then made dinner out of yesterday's leftover roast veggies. I warmed the veggies through in the pan, then added in a couple of big handfuls of spinach, then I threw over two eggs beaten with a smoked paprika, chilli and thyme mix. I put the tiniest bit of blue goat cheese on at the end for flavouring (maybe 1/2 tablespoon).

This was an incredibly filling meal! But I still had dessert...just a bit of positive reinforcement to keep me running.

Hot rice pudding, a small scoop of chocolate ice cream and a handful of chocolate rice puffs to add crunch, then loads and black and peppermint tea to rehydrate.

Running was so great, I hope I stay well enough to get really consistent again. I might go out again for a shorter jaunt tomorrow, and then swim on friday evening. Saturday will be a rest, and maybe another slightly longer run on Sunday when I'm visiting my parents in the countryside- I love running at home, it's so pretty.

You might have noticed I'm eating more vegetables. I have gradually increased them in my diet, and I think I'm happy where I am for now- I am now back to eating some fruit or vegetables at every meal, and even basing at least one if not two meals a day on veggies, even sneaking them in at breakfast. While I'm focussing on protein a lot at the moment to fill me up (to try and avoid the sugar crashes and trim up a bit after the holiday period), I'm trying to make sure I get plenty of colour in my diet, but as seasonal as possible, e.g. stored British apples, pears, Northern Irish spring greens and root vegetables, and also making use of preserving- frozen British berries, and cooked apples and plums that I froze after harvesting, although I am eating organic greenhouse spinach and Italian salad leaves. I've had ups and downs, a few reintroductions have given me cramps and gas, and I'm not ready to eat pulses in any quantity beyond a tablespoon of hummus (which I haven't eaten in over 2 weeks I think). When I was sick last week though, I reverted to a very low fibre diet (and low fat too) for a few days, but this time I ate live yogurt to help my gut.

That's all for now! I'm off to my bed early tonight.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Dinner by the fire

It's got quite cold again here, not as cold as it was in December, but below 0 C anyway, so we lit the fire tonight.

Today started off with egg and dinner leftovers (lemony garlicky Quorn and spinach) on a scone:

A whole pot of osmanthus green tea.

Some weak coffee when I got in to warm up (I walked in today) but I only drank half before it got cold.

Banana and plain yogurt at break:

Soup and walnut toast with peanut butter for lunch.

The soup left me really bloated- I often find this with soup.

I had grapes around 4pm which kept me going until dinner (and a teaspoon of PB, yum).

I walked home and then cooked a whole pile of root vegetables (a pound of potatoes, a turnip (aka swede to the English, rutabaga to the Americans) and 3/4 of a celeriac). I coated them in EVOO, wholegrain mustard, fresh thyme and organic honey and roasted them after first parboiling. I wrapped a Quorn piece in foil and topped with pear chutney and blue goat cheese and shoved it in the oven for 15 minutes.

Then I broke out the apple flapjack yogurt for dessert.

The yogurt was lovely- really appley and very tangy- all zingy on my tongue!

I used the rest of the celeriac to make remoulade (I dressed grated celeriac in mustard, lots of lemon juice, parsley and a little plain yogurt). I'll have it for breakfast or lunch tomorrow with smoked salmon, and then there's lots of roast veggies left for another meal:)
I'm off to spend the rest of my evening watching a conservation programme about Iraq and to sit by the fire!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Another day, another adventure

Supposedly today is the gloomiest day of the year. I remedied that with a half day at work (to bring my boyfriend to the dentist) and used the rest of my day to go on a little adventure. The weather was absolutely beautiful here today, calm, still, blue skies, and cold.

I didn't get out of Belfast until 2:45pm and I drove for almost an hour to get to my destination, Nendrum abbey, a 10th century monastic site on an island in Strangford lough, which is a protected area with lots of wetfowl at this time of year.

I packed my binoculars and road map and set off. I sat around admiring Nendrum (when I eventually negotiated those narrow roads) and then did a spot of birdwatching (curlews, shanks, oystercatchers, brent geese). No pics of the birds, they weren't close enough.

On the way back, I meant to stop at Millview farm, an organic vegetable farm, but I went by a different road and didn't pass it. I got ice-cream on the way back, but it wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. I have been trying really hard to stay clear of sugary foods and have been eating a lower carb, higher protein diet (think fish, eggs, tofu, yogurt, nuts, leafy vegetables and berries). I have huge weaknesses for ice-cream (dairy and soy), sugary kiddie cereals (can't keep away from them if I know they're in the house) and chocolate biscuits. I need to be stricter about bringing these foods into my house, I tend to put all my reasons for NOT doing so at the back of my mind when I'm in the shop. That said, I have got an awful lot better in the last year, and my taste for sweet things has certainly dropped off somewhat. The thing is, these 'foods' make me feel rubbish and bloated, even when I don't eat a large amount (although I often do eat big portions of these things when I have them).

I am trying to think of ways around this that also supports the makers of decent food- I'm going to try extra hard to shop at farmer's markets and local specialist shops, maybe get another box scheme (although I do so love getting whatever I have a yearning for, although surprise is nice too).

I also need to plan better for the week ahead, some weeks I write down rough ideas for how I'm going to cook what I have in the fridge and cupboards for the week's meals. It's not set in stone, I can jiggle it around and play with flavourings, but it means I have something to start off with, and everything gets used up, preferencing perishable or stuff that needs used up first. It's also a good way to schedule in trying a new recipe (although that usually requires a little planning before I go shopping). I don't do it every week and I totally should, it doesn't take long.

I did it this week, and so far today:

Boiled organic egg, a raspberry, mango, orange juice and yogurt smoothie and lots of green osmanthus tea (I am trying to drink more green tea and less coffee).

Unpictured banana, coffee and a few almonds and seeds.

Lunch, more or less same as yesterday (goat cheese and chutney scone, minestrone soup) but with a much smaller bowl of soup (that pic is from sunday).

3/4 cup ice-cream :O (unpictured, and not planned, a I'm off work treat thing that I actually didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would)

Quorn fillet with loads of lemon juice and parsley, steamed spinach, black rice. I cooked another fillet for tomorrow's breakfast. Quorn is made from tiny mushrooms and free range egg white and is a high protein, low fat fake meat thing. It doesn't have much taste alone, but has plenty of satiety and a good soaker up of flavours.
I had three crappy chocolate biscuits (240 cals of nutrition-void sugar, flour and palm fat) and lots of tea.
Any other ideas for avoiding crap food?