My Daily Diet

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This post is for all the lovely girls who ask me what I eat & how much of it! Unfortunately it’s quite hard for women to know how much we should eat, what and when particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. Women’s media has reported for so long that if you eat a low calorie diet, you’ll be skinny. While it’s largely true that if you burn more calories than you take in, your weight will drop; eating half the recommended daily allowance isn’t the answer for most of us.

I didn’t realise how little I was eating until I started using MyFitness Pal to log my food and count my macros. I was really low on energy when I started training regularly and would crash out as soon as I got in from the gym. It was difficult to start eating my recommended daily calories, it felt like my stomach wasn’t big enough and I had to remind myself to make time to eat actual meals instead of my 1 meal a day and a bunch of snacks. I think this is the case for so many women and a lot of girls who contact me about diet & workouts are confused about why they don’t look how they want to when they’re hardly eating. Even if you don’t want to count macros all the time, it’s a good starting point to make a habit of it for a few months, until you build up an awareness of what to eat, how much and how often to make yourself feel healthier and stronger. Diet is absolutely integral to reaching aesthetic goals & building a basic understanding of nutrition is really important if you’re looking for optimum results from your workout. Training and diet is a vital partnership, results won’t be at their best if you have one without the other. Once you’ve built a foundation, you won’t have to log and count everything unless you want to, or you’re training specifically for something.

It took me a while to start to recognise the nutritional profile of certain foods and when I did I found I was eating more or less the same thing all the time just to hit macros. Now, I try and vary it and try new things by substituting the standard rice and chicken for other grains and lean meats like quinoa or turkey. Still, there are certain things I order every time I shop and I’ll do a post later in the week about what they are and why I rely on them.

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This is a typical food diary for me, I’m 5’5″, weigh 56kg with 17% body fat and eat 2200-2300kcal a day, with a macro split of approx 241g carbs, 165g protein and 64g fat. Sometimes I switch it up so it’s lower carb & higher fat, but try to stick to weekly macros, including if I decide to have a cheat meal.

Breakfast Calories Carbs Fat Protein Iron Sugar
3 Egg Omelette with spinach 210 1 15 19 0 1
210 1 15 19 0 1
Lunch

Chicken & Cashew nuts with broccoli

Sainsbury’s – Chicken Diced Breast, 150 g 236 0 6 45 0 0
Small Handful – Cashew Nuts, 25 g 146 6 11 6 0 2
Sainsburys – Brown Rice, 60 g uncooked 212 43 2 5 0 0
594 49 19 56 0 2
Dinner: Herb crusted grilled chicken w/sweet potato mash, kale & spinach
Mashed Sweet Potato (W/o Skin, Boiled), 250 grams 190 45 0 5 4 0
Sainsburys – Chicken Breast Fillet Portions –¬† 150 g 207 0 3 46 0 0

397 45 3 51 4 0
Snacks
Cnp – Pro Peptide protein shake 1 X 3 Scoop Serving, 3 Scoops 230 6 3 45 0 3
Sainsbury’s – 1% Fat Milk, 350 ml 151 17 4 13 0 17
Petit Filous Strawberry – 50g Pot, 100 g 96 13 2 5 0 12
Blueberries – Raw, 25 g 14 4 0 0 0 2
Metcalfe’s Skinny Topcorn – Sweet N’ Salt Popcorn, 25 g bag 115 18 5 2 0 5
Green and Blacks Organic – Mini Chocolate Bars, 15 g bar 84 7 5 1 0 0
Sainsbury’s – 1% Fat Milk, 200 ml 86 10 2 7 0 10

792 78 21 73 0 49
Intra Workout
Haribo – Tangfastics, 40 g 136 31 0 3 0 24
136 31 0 3 0 24
Totals 2,129 204 58 202 4 76
Your Daily Goal 2,200 248 61 165 100 77
Remaining 71 44 3 -37 96 1
Calories Carbs Fat Protein Iron Sugar

Chipotle chicken, salsa & corn: Gains in a bag!

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I seem to start nearly every recipe post by banging on about how simple it is; but seriously, a blind monkey could make this one.

The secret is to buy Bart Smokey Chipotle Rub, because the whole recipe uses this massive plastic baking bag which is packaged up really small inside the spice box. Essentially, you just chuck the corn, chicken and spices in the bag and then chop up the salsa ingredients – that is literally IT. You could make it with a different brand and cover it with foil in a baking tray; but for simplicity and ease, just buy the Bart one.

If you haven’t tried chipotle yet, you’re either crazy, or living on the moon. It’s been popping up everywhere over the past year, from street food to Southern American rib & burger joints that are taking over at the moment.¬† The spice has a really smokey, barbeque flavour which is perfect with meat. You can buy it in rubs, sauces, marinades, jams; all with varying levels of heat. I’ve made chipotle ribs before with a sauce; but didn’t post them because it was so spicy it was inedible!! The rub I bought for this gave the smokey depth you can only achieve with this spice, but just the right amount of heat to enhance the flavour without losing it. If you’re a gym bunny who’s shoveling chicken & rice on the daily, chipotle is a must – it transforms the ordinary into an addictive must-have.

Serves 4 (small plates (1 chicken breast, 1 cob, 1 serving salsa) or 2 large. If you want something more substantial, a baked sweet potato with low fat cottage cheese would go well with this.

Ingredients:

  • 4¬† British Chicken Breast Fillets
  • 4 whole sweetcorn
  • 27g pack Bart Smokey Chipotle Rub
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

For the salsa:

  • 400g can black eyed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method:

Put the chicken and sweetcorn in the marinade bag, with the honey and chipotle, tie it and shake it up to coat. Leave it to marinate for about 20 mins while you make the salsa.

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For the salsa, just chop all the ingredients and combine in a bowl with the oil and lime juice.

Preheat the oven to 190C/180C fan and put the bag in a roasting tin to cook for 25 mins. Be really careful opening it, steam burns are nasty! Serve with the salsa!

Tip: This is an ideal BBQ dish, cook as above and finish off on the coals!

Approx Macros: 395kcals, 10.5g fat, 31.2g carbohydrate, 43.8g protein per serving

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Thai salmon burgers with lime & ginger quinoa

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Unfortunately I can’t take credit for this recipe, but I had to post it because its one of my favourites, super nutritious and absolutely packed with protein. The key ingredients, salmon, quinoa and edamame (soy) beans are all rich sources of it and one serving should contain at least 42g. The Thai spices make this fun and tasty to eat, a nice change from chicken & rice…

Adapted from Dale Pinnock’s Healthy Everyday

Serves 4 (or two if you’re hungry)

Approx Macros:

Protein – 42g, Carbs – 50g, Fat – 23g

Ingredients
  • 4 skinless salmon fillets, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • Juice of 2 limes, plus wedges to serve
  • 2cm pieces of ginger
  • 200g quinoa
  • 150g edamame beans (fresh or frozen)
  • Large bunch fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
  • Splash olive oil, for frying
  • Salt & pepper
Method
  1. Place the salmon, garlic, Thai curry paste and half the lime juice in a food processor, season with salt, and process into a smooth, mince-like texture. If you don’t have a processor or blender, steam the salmon then flake it and mix with the above ingredients.
  2. Remove the mixture, divide in half, and using your hands, form 4 burger patty shapes (or 8 small ones). Set aside in the fridge to firm up slightly. If you’ve pre-cooked the salmon, make sure it’s completely cool before you fridge it. You could freeze the burgers at this point too.
  3. Put the quinoa in a pan with the piece of ginger, cover with boiling water, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until just tender (if your edamame beans are frozen, at the same time, boil these for 3-4 minutes in a separate pan until tender) .
  4. Drain the quinoa and stir in the edamame beans, remaining lime juice and coriander. Season with salt & pepper. Stir well and set aside.
  5. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add the salmon burgers, and fry for 5 minutes on each side, or just until solid & warmed through if salmon is pre-cooked.
  6. Place some quinoa on the center of each plate. Place the burger on top and garnish with coriander and lime wedges

Review: LDN Muscle Bikini Guide V2

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I came across LDNMuscle on Twitter, where their ever-expanding community got my attention through their impressive progress shots. I was already weight “training” but without following a real program and seriously lacking in my quest for more muscle tone. After trying a couple of free workouts from the LDNM website, I bought Bikini Guide V2 for ¬£39.99. I was really skeptical about buying a program online, but the transformation pics were amazing and the service the boys offer seemed legit. For the price of one personal training session, I figured it was worth it, if I could get a few decent workouts from it, like those I’d tried on the website. After 14 weeks, I was much stronger, more toned and confident and felt motivated and full of energy.

What is it? A training and nutrition plan for women, that downloads to your phone/tablet/computer in a printable pdf file. The guide is a 14 week resistance training (free weights & machines) and cardio (HIIT & LISS) program; with a nutrition guide based on tracking macros.

Where is it used? The gym. This isn’t a home workout program, but if you want serious results, you’re not going to get them with a DVD & 2kg dumbells.

How often? The training is pretty intense compared to what most women are used to in the gym, but the results are a million times better. It’s laid out as if you’d hit the gym 5 times a week, sometimes for cardio in the morning and¬†resistance training in the evening. The sessions are split into muscle groups, eg. legs & glutes, back & biceps etc, so I did two in one session when I knew it’d be a busy week at work. As long as you don’t try & double up the same muscle groupings, you can fit it into any schedule.

How easy is it?¬† There are photos of every exercise and blurb about how to do them. If you’ve not done any weight training at all before this, I would advise you get a PT/someone else that lifts to take you through everything, show you correct form and help you find a weight that is suitable for you to start on. LDNM also do a great Beginners Guide, which is currently *FREE*! As I said – the workouts are challenging, but you set the weight yourself to ensure you can always finish your sets and progress gradually. Once you get into it and start seeing results, it’s 100% worth the hard work.

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What about the diet?

The nutrition part of¬†BGV2 is as¬†comprehensive as you make it – It won’t tell you what to eat every single day for 14 weeks, but if you’re looking for this, then you need to be forking out for a PT and a private nutritionist. BGV2 shows you how to calculate your¬†macronutrients for weight, size and body type and¬†encourages a balanced diet with a lot of protein, good fats and mostly unrefined, low GI¬†carbs.

Working out macros¬†can be a headache at first, but if you’re really struggling there are some good macro calculators knocking around on the internet. I much preferred this to a prescribed meal plan as it helped me commit to the guide and manage my own nutrition which fits into my routine.¬† Example meals are given, supplement recommendations (although you don’t have to use them if you choose not to) and carbs are loaded around workouts to keep your energy levels up. The LDNM boys post tons of lush recipes to replace cakes, cookies etc with and they’re all crazy simple. The best thing about tracking macro’s is that nothing is ruled out – you can eat carbs & if you want a treat, you just build it in to your daily allowance.

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What about supplements? Bikini guide recommends supplements such as protein (whey & casein), BCAA’s & Dextrose and Creatine. However, it also mentions none are compulsory and I only used a high quality whey/casein protein blend. I’ve upped my supps now I’m on the follow-on plan (Bikini Guide 10 week split) as I want to get every rep into the high volume workouts. Personally, I would have struggled to eat as much protein as I need without shakes, so unless you want to gulp chicken breasts & tuna at 9am, I’d at least get a whey/casein blend using the discount codes in the guide.

How good are the results? I was a size 8-10 before the guide and pretty happy with my body. I didn’t have any weight to lose, but wanted to ‘tone’ up and build muscle and strength. After finishing my 14 weeks, my lifestyle – the way I eat and train – has changed entirely. I feel much stronger, far more energetic and have confidence in what I’m doing in the gym. As a result, I’m nearly always motivated. Working out has become a positive habit rather than a chore and I know that my workouts¬†will get me results.¬† I still have days where I go completely crazy on junk food, but it’s occasional rather than every other night. I make better nutritional choices now because I want to, rather than because I feel I should.

I’m thrilled with my results, but they’re less obvious than many of the amazing transformations on the LDNM website, as I was small anyway. I’m a hard gainer and although most people would consider it a good thing not to have weight fluctuations, it can be pretty demotivating when you’re trying to build muscle and your weight refuses to increase. With bikini guide, I’ve put on a good few pounds of muscle gradually and my body fat has dropped. Free weight training didn’t make me bulky or manly, it gave me toned curves in a steady, achievable way.

Have a look at the transformations for yourself and if you’re tempted, tweet the guys with any questions. Part of the LDNM package is that you’ll always get a fast answer and the #LDNMladies community is supportive, encouraging and motivating – without comparison or competition.

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In a nutshell: I’ve never seen another program available online with all the benefits LDNM offer, they’re completely unique in their approach to natural, achievable results that get people hooked. The thing with LDNM is that if you follow their guides with effort and commitment, you will get results – it’s hard work, but it’s practically guaranteed; all for the price of one session with a PT.

Ultimate Macro-friendly Snacks

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Those of you who track macros and eat well will know preparation is key. ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is literally the rule to live by when you’re trying to lose weight or stick to fitness goals. For me, the hardest thing to control is snacking. I eat every couple of hours at least, I am pretty much eating all the time! My body works best this way and it keeps my energy levels up. If I’m really hungry, I lose all rationality and eat whatever is near, usually high GI, sugar fuelled carbs, send me on a crazy cycle of uncontrollable cravings for the rest of the day.

These are the snacks I keep with me to make sure I stick to my macros and stay full up & bursting with energy!

High (good) fat, low carb:

Almonds:

High-protein almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Great for your skin, almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, which protecst against UV light damage and Alzheimer’s disease. Minerals manganese and magnesium help strengthen bones and regulate blood sugar.

Avocados:

Another great source of monounsaturated fats, avocados really fill you up and and are seriously satisfying. A fab source of folic acid, avocados have anti-inflammatory properties. Great in smoothies and even as a chocolate mousse base, but I like them best in my super-quick guacamole, keep the avocado stone and put it in the middle of the guacamole to stop it turning brown.

 

Low fat, low carb:

Popcorn:

Not Butterkist!! Homemade popcorn is way better, as you can control what flavouring and oil you put on it. 15g bags of Sweet & Salty popcorn from M&S come in at a close second and are an ideal substitute for crisps or chocolate in a 3pm lull, but with only 8.4g of carbs and 0.5g fat per bag.

Green & Blacks Miniature 70% chocolate bars

Sometimes you just need chocolate. I keep these teeny bars handy for ultimate damage limitation. Only 15g, but just enough to hit a craving, a 15g bar contains 84kcal, 5.3g fat and 6.6g carbs. I guess you could just weigh out 15g of a bigger bar, but two squares of chocolate is demoralising and there’s something I love about being able to eat the (tiny) entire bar and throw the wrapper away without reaching for more.

 

Holy-grail snacks:

Blueberries

Hailed as ‘the ultimate superfood’,¬† blueberries are an absolute god send. Just 100g (4oz) of blueberries contain the same amount of age-defying antioxidants as five servings of other fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants help guard against a range of cancers, heart disease, asthma, arthritis and cataracts, Alzheimer’s and age-related neurological diseases. That same amount contains a mere 57 kcal and 14.5g of carbs and a pathetic 0.3g of fat! Some research has shown that 100g a day can boost brain power, speeding up cognitive performance, memory and even slowing the ageing process of the skin.

Total Greek Yoghurt 0% Fat

My latest obsession, these little pots provide a whopping 10+g of protein! Really thick, luxurious Greek yoghurt feels like a treat and is very filling and satisfying. Great with honey and fruit for breakfast, a snack or dessert.

Hemp Seed

More of a topping than an actual snack, but I had to mention these as they’re unbelievable boosters to yoghurts, porridge, salads and smoothies. Another nutrient packed superfood, 2 tbsps of hemp seeds contains 10.5g protein and the full spectrum of amino acids, including those which the body doesn’t produce naturally and are vital to muscle growth and regeneration (the same stuff packed into BCAA’s). As if that wasn’t enough, this tiny serving will give you the ideal ratio of Omega 3, 6 and 9; fatty acids which help maintain optimum CV and immune health.

 

*Whipped protein dessert recipe:

Layer blueberries, 1 Total Greek 0% fat yoghurt, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, honey and strawberries in a small bowl or glass.

 

 

 

Nourishing Nut Milks

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It was only a couple of years ago that if you were lactose or dairy intolerant, soy or rice milk were your only options. All well and good if you actually liked them but with such a distinctive taste and weird texture, I always thought they were terrible in cereal, tea or coffee. Now, even small convenience stores at least have almond milk available and larger stores, a plethora of oat, hazelnut and coconut milks as well.

I started trying nut milks in smoothies and protein shakes to add some more nutrients and a different texture. If I have one of these drinks for breakfast, I want something that’s going to keep me full and not make me bloated like dairy can. Nut milks are also fantastic in baking, desserts and cocktails (particularly coconut milk in the latter) and I love an almond milk chai latte.

I still drink dairy as I’m not intolerant, but I much prefer nut milks for a more luxurious depth of flavour and better nutrient profile: tons of calcium and vitamins B2, 12, d and E and no added preservatives, artificial flavouring, colours, lactose or animal fat. Great for those who like to eat clean, vegans, or anyone looking to increase the nutritional value of their food. Alpro come out on top for their broad range of milks, both original and unsweetened. Rude Health also have an amazing oat and almond drink, which almost tastes like a milkshake in itself.

Don’t pass up nut milks – whether you can tolerate dairy or not – they’ll fit right into your routine and are a great change from the norm, particularly at breakfast time.

 

 

 

 

Sin-free Fried Chicken

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I’ve been trying to create a healthy version of fried chicken for ages and have tried so many combinations in search of that crispy, crunchy coating with the juicy, soft chicken center. I’ve finally found the resounding winner- thank god- or I’d be starting to look like I was on some kind of dirty bulk..just in time for summer!

Fried chicken will always have a high fat content, because it’s cooked by hot fat soaking into the meat. This recipe minimizes damage limitation by using coconut oil a raw, pure fat source which is easily synthesized by the body and perfect for high-heat frying. Instead of a carb loaded batter, I used a beaten egg, dessicated coconut and quinoa flakes. The quinoa flakes are like really fine porridge oats, with a high protein content. It fries up really crispy and the coconut gives it a bit of a Caribbean feel. I serve this with chipotle sauce, which I’m obsessed with and sweet potato fries & coleslaw (recipe coming up soon!)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken strips, or breasts cut into strips
  • Dessicated coconut
  • quinoa flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to season

Method:

Beat the egg into a shallow bowl & season generously with salt & pepper. Cover a large plate or tray with a mixture of the quinoa flakes and dessicated coconut (how much you use of each is up to your individual taste) and more salt and pepper. Get another plate out and put it next to this one.

Dip the chicken strips in the beaten egg, then roll across the quinoa-coconut plate. Make sure the chicken is totally covered in the quinoa and coconut. If it’s not sticking, dip it back in the egg and then coat again. Keep doing this until all your chicken strips are coated and on the clean plate.

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Heat a large frying pan on a high heat and add the coconut oil. It will need to heat to a high temperature, so when it looks shimmery, drop a few quinoa flakes in. If they turn into crispy, golden flakes within a few seconds, the oil is hot enough. Add the chicken strips carefully. Turn them with tongs after a couple of minutes and fry until the coating is golden all over. Cut one in half to ensure the chicken is cooked through, then drain the rest on a slotted spoon over kitchen paper.

Serve and enjoy, guilt free!

Chocolate protein banana loaves

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Banana bread is one of life’s greatest comforts, but it can be far from wholesome. I bought these little loaf cases from Waitrose a while ago and have been wanting to use them for something I can snack on during those 3pm sugar cravings I know so well. No longer a straight-up carb party, I’ve added a whey/casein blend protein powder to this, to level the nutritional content a bit.

I’ve used hazelnuts, but walnuts or almonds would work well too, as would vanilla or banana whey. If you don’t care about the protein evaluate your priorities
substitute with flour instead. If you want to lower the fat content, leave the nuts & chocolate out altogether and switch the almond milk for water. Play around with it to suit your taste/macros.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 170g whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 10g stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150ml almond milk
  • few squares 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • Handful of chopped hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp Maca powder (optional for a superfood boost/slightly malted flavour)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C, 170C fan.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, except for the nuts and chocolate. Mix together the wet ingredients, including the bananas, then add them to the dry. The texture should be like a thick, stiff cake batter, that falls off a spoon when you tap it sharply.

Add the hazelnuts and chocolate and stir up together. Put into greased cases, as above, or a large greased loaf tin. I use coconut oil for a clean grease. Fill them very slightly past half way, as they’ll rise.

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Baking time depends on your oven and the size of the loaves. I baked mine for 30 mins, a larger cake will take 45-50. After 30 mins uninterrupted baking (do not open that door) insert a skewer or sharp knife and it should come out roughly clean. If it’s covered in uncooked cake batter, give it another 10 and check again. When they’re baked, leave to cool slightly on a wire rack.

Will keep in an air tight tin for 4-5 days.

Life lately – a month in pictures

I’ve been super busy at work recently, so haven’t been blogging anywhere near as much as I’d like. As it’s getting a bit quieter again until September, I’m really looking forward to getting back into it. I need to get my Instagram up and running properly, but until then, here’s my month in pictures! I love the quote in the middle, I’ve set it as my phone background so I remember to take a step back and get outside whenever things get a bit stressful. Easier said than done sometimes, but even the words ‘Log off’ inspire a sense of calm, don’t you think?

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Spring pea & bean salad with mint and feta

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In the warmer weather, I always crave fresh, green, light food that’s nutritious and full of summer flavour. I love small dishes and make this Spring Salad a lot for my vegetarian friends as part of a tapas table. It’s a great lunch or solo supper with wholemeal pittas and hummus cut with creme fraiche and paprika.

If you’re a carnivore, it’s a fantastic accompaniment to grilled chicken and won’t be out of place at a BBQ either.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can white beans (I use Canelleni)
  • 1 cup/ 300g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup/300g peas (fresh or frozen)
  • large handful mint
  • large handful corriander
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • glug extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • crumbled feta
  • Wholemeal pitta breads and creme fraiche mixed with hummus & paprika to serve

Method:

Drain and rinse the white beans and add to a large bowl. If using frozen broad beans and peas, simmer on the hob for approx. 3 mins, drain and immediately tip into a bowl of ice water to blanche and keep the vibrant green colour. Drain again and add to the bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, except the mint. This will turn black in a few hours, so keep it until you want to serve. Season to taste & preferably eat al fresco!

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