Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Sweetcorn & Spinach Soup

This is a great recipe for those with busy lives as you can create a huge batch and freeze for another day. It’s easy to make too as you can throw all of the ingredients into a pan or a slow-cooker and leave it to cook while you get on with other things. The spinach and sweetcorn off-set each other beautiful and will fill your bowl with vibrant, mouther-watering colours.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Fresh finely chopped spinach
  • 400g Sweetcorn
  • 1 Sweet potato (finely chopped)
  • 2 Finely chopped onions
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 400ml gluten-free vegetable stock
  • ½ Tbsp rosemary
  • ½ Tbsp thyme
  • ½ Tbsp coriander
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Deseeded Birdseye chilies (optional)

Method:

Heat a large pan and add the onions and celery, and fry until golden brown.

In a separate pan add bay leaves to the stock and bring to the boil. Prepare all of your ingredients and place into a pan with the vegetable stock. Season and leave the ingredients to cook for 45 minutes on a low heat. Over the next 45 minutes, stir every 5 minutes or so to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. You want to give it long enough for all of the ingredients to blend and infuse. I like to throw it all into a food-warmer and leave it on high for 3 hours while I get on with other things.

You’re ready to serve. I often make up a big batch and freeze a lot of it down as it’s great for taking to work as a simply soup. I also keep some in the freezer for those times when I have no time and need good food fast. On occasion I’ll cook a chicken breast and have this with it to give it a bit of protein if I’ve just had a session in the gym.

 

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Gluten-Free Lentil and Rosemary Soup

This is one of my favourite winter recipes. It has a warming taste and at least two of your portions of veg! It is the easiest thing in the world to make and it’s perfect for freezing or taking to work for lunch. The sautéed garlic, onions and celery blends perfectly with the lentils too…delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • 400g of green lentils
  • 2 Onions
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 300ml gluten-free vegetable stock
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves

Method:
Allow the vegetable stock to start warming on the stove. While this is  warming up hallow fry the garlic, onions and celery and then transfer this into the vegetable stock. Add in the spinach, green lentils, fresh rosemary and bay leaves and season. Leave for 45 minutes to cook on a low heat and allow the flavours to infuse.

How to boost your energy…

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Do you feel like you are constantly running low on energy? It’s no great surprise that 60% of women claim to feel tired all the time. Unfortunately jobs, family and social lives often cannot be put on hold. Here are a few ways to give those energy slumps the boot:

  • Just a spoonful of…honey?

Porridge with berries and honey is a great way to give you sustained energy, as the honey delivers a quick lift just 5 minutes after consumption

  • Find your inner peace…

A short mediation session can help you to feel more with it. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for as long as you can. A five minute session everyday with help you to feel more relaxed and energetic

  • Have a brew…

Switch your normal tea or coffee for a uplifting red ginseng the nutrients in ginseng help to increase your body`s ability to adapt to stress which can help you feel more motivated in even the most pressured situations

  • Indulge in chocolate (yes, chocolate!)

A little chocolate will help you to reboot your brain if you’re tired – but the darker the better. So take five and have a bite!

  • Time for a cherry shot…

I’m not suggesting that you indulge in a shot of cherry that is laced with vodka every time you have a night out. Research suggests that 30mls of (pure) cherry juice twice a week can help you to sleep better and for longer, so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. (You may not feel so fresh if you decide to opt for the vodka version).

  • And so to bath…

After a long, hard day unwind with a relaxing bath to bank plenty of energy for tomorrow. Add uplifting essential oils like lavender or May Chang with full-fat milk to your bath water for extra indulgence, and relax…

How to make the perfect smoothie

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Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know that I am a huge fan of smoothies and I try to have one a day. My favourite is a blend of raspberries, banana and blueberries as it acts as my sugar fix, but all of that sugar (even if it is natural) is not good every day. Here are the ingredients you need to create the perfect smoothie:

Cinnamon – this natural sweetener regulates blood-sugar levels and you only need ½ tsp.

Cucumber – a great source of potassium water that helps to lower blood pressure and reduce fluid retention. Add ½ a cucumber to your smoothie to refresh your drink.

Maca Powder – an immune boosting powder that is energising and also acts as a good hangover cure (just ½ tsp will do the job).

Raw Oats – a modern take on porridge. The oats help lower excess cholesterol and also prevent constipation. Add 1-2 tbsp to taste.

Lemon – add a dash of lemon to help preserve your smoothie and all of the good nutrients that you have added to it.

Coconut Water – a stress-relieving juice that is perfect for combating bloating and indigestion. Add 200ml to your smoothie mix.

Mixed Berries – In my opinion a cup full of mixed berries are a must-have for any smoothie. Opt for raspberries, blackberries or blueberries and your drink will be packed with antioxidants, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.

Healthy Snack Food

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Eight healthy snacks to get you through the day…

1. Popcorn with cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is great for
kick-starting your metabolism and digestion to help cleanse the body
so add a dash to your popcorn with cayenne pepper for a healthy snack.

2. Green smoothie. Blend a ripe banana, blueberries and one handful
each of spinach and kale for an antioxidant-rich smoothie that
cleanses your body and helps reduce inflammation.

3. Apples with almond butter. Apples are full of phytochemicals and
soluble fiber that aid digestion and detox the body. Pair them with
creamy almond butter for a dose of healthy fats to stabilize your
blood sugar.

4. Avocado with lemon and olive oil. Slice an avocado in half and
drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and chili pepper for a powerhouse
of cleansing ingredients. Avocados are rich in fiber and antioxidants,
while lemon and olive oil help with digestion.

5. Greek yogurt with berries. Add antioxidant-rich blueberries to
yogurt and top with cinnamon for a healthy protein and fiber-packed
detox snack.

6. Vegetarian Sushi. Create your own veggie sushi with your own
fillings (crunchy veggies, tofu, or slices of omelet) for a healthy
snack that has more than one of your 5 a day.

7. Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips. The perfect solution for when you want
to eat junk food but also feel good about your dietary choices.
They’re super easy to make at home—just toss chip-sized pieces of kale
with a bit of olive oil, and let them crisp up in the oven for 10 to
15 minutes.

8. Cinnamon Fruit that is cut into bite-size chunks, put them on
skewers, and cook them on the grill, basting with a mixture of
cinnamon and honey, until they’re golden brown. The results are
natural sugar highs instead of the highs and lows that you get from
sweets and chocolate.

The Ways To Walk Harder

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Whether you commute on foot, like a stroll in the park or are a serious hiker, I’ve got a few tips for you to push your walk harder…

  1. Walk like you’re on a cross-trainer by swinging your arms. This will make your walk more energetic and boost your heart rate by around 5 beats per minute, which will get you into the fat burning zone.
  2. Don’t stick to the paths; go through the grass or sand. The drag factor will mean that your body is working harder.
  3. Try to walk tall; keep your head up and back as straight as possible when walking so you have perfect posture.
  4. Take the stairs one at a time, so you burn more calories. Research has found that ascending five flights of stairs one at a time will burn 302 calories on average, while taking them in twos burns just 260 calories.
  5. If you walk the same roads to work every day cross the road! This will give you a fresh perspective on the same sights.
  6. There are bound to be roads within minutes of your home that you’ve never set foot on. Make it your mission to walk a different never-ventured-down path once a week.
  7. Meditate on the go. The repetitive side of walking makes it a brilliant time for meditating.
  8. Get lost. Take the wrong road, discover new paths and do it all as fast as you can. A fast but long walk will boost your cardio and have added fat-loss benefits, without taking any extra time.

Recipe: Tom Yum Soup

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Time to share the recipe for one of my favourite dishes Tom Yum Soup. I discovered this on a trip to Thailand and have to admit that I ate it nearly every day during my two week holiday. It is packed with delicious flavours and spices and it is brilliant for boosting your metabolism.

To start this dish pour 600ml of water into a pan and add 50g of Tom Yum paste, 100g button mushrooms, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 1 crushed stick of lemongrass, fresh ginger to taste and bring it to the boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes; then add in prawns (and any other seafood you fancy) and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add a dash of fish sauce and a 1tbsp of brown sugar and lime juice to taste.

Divide between two bowls and enjoy with coriander on top. Not bad for just 250 calories!

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while but I’m back and ready to start some serious running for 2015. Ok, let’s start with the good old new year’s resolutions:

1. Avoid chocolate
2. Leave caffeine in 2014

I have never stopped running but I’ve been doing lots of little runs recently, three miles here four miles there. I need to get back into serious long distance mileage. It’s important to start small so January will be all about perfecting my 5 mile run. That’s not even an hour of running so it should be an easy one.

By March/April time it will be time to start on my 10 mile runs but I am keen to introduce a lot more strength exercises into my fitness regime too. I’m normally very lazy when it comes to strength exercises, as I don’t like pumping iron at all but I’m going to push myself this year to try it more – I might surprise myself!

I’m ideally looking for a half-marathon for September. That’ll give me the summer to enjoy training in the heat and it’ll mean that I have a good head start on health ahead of autumn.

Oh and the chocolate and caffeine resolutions, I’ll try and stay away from the whole year but I do love them even if I know it is bad.

What are your plans for next year? Do you have any resolutions that you know will be hard but you’ve just got to try?

How to stay motivated in cold weather 

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My best advice to get you out of the door on a cold winter’s day is that you should organise to run with someone else. You won’t want to let someone else down and your safer on a cold night or early morning in pairs.
If your friends aren’t into running you can always join a local running club or group. Check the UK Athletics website for running clubs or the Run in England website for local groups.
Another good way to avoid getting bored is to vary your route. Even running the same route in the opposite direction will add variety to your run.
But my best motivator is to have a goal to gradually work towards. A early spring marathon is a good start or The Couch to 5K plan is perfect for beginners. You could enter yourself into a 5K race in 12 weeks’ time, for example, or simply aim to run non-stop for 20 minutes.
It’ll all be worth it when your trimmer and fitter come Spring!

Running In Cold Weather

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Hands up if you just want to hibernate in the winter? Me too! The last thing I want to do is lace up my trainers and head outside. But it’s important not to let the cold weather get in the way of training program, especially if you’re planning a marathon next spring.

It’s important to dress sensibly and enjoy every run as normal. Ideally opt for layers so you can peel them off as you begin to warm up. For instance place a lightweight vest under a fleece and add a waterproof jacket over the top. You can always remove the fleece when you start to feel warmer.

Gloves and a hat are a must as it gets colder to stop you losing heat from your head and hands. And make sure you have a few bright bits in the mix, like a neon jacket, so you make sure you’re visible to others as it gets darker.

If the weather is particularly bad and the pavement is icy, it’s best not to run outside at all. It is not worth the risk of injury. If you can head to the gym or do another activity, personal I rate the Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred as it keeps you fit and can be done indoors in just 20 minutes.

I’m often bad at taking my own advice here but if you’re not feeling well then don’t run. Running on a severe cold or fever can lead to a virus affecting your heart, which can be dangerous. Be cautious when trying to soldier on with a hard run if you are not feeling 100% it could result in you feeling unwell for a longer period of time.

But most important remember to keep enjoying it. If you have to go for  fewer runs and use this period as a chance to learn a new sport, just don’t give up all together.