Friday, 22 May 2015

How To Pimp Your Salad*

I love a good salad. Not something you expect to hear from a typical cake loving, burger eating blogger, but they are a regular fixture in my house for evening meals and lunches. So, when Florette got in touch to ask if I could share a recipe for salad on my blog in exchange for some free salad and goodies, I had to say yes!

Now, I'm not just saying this because they've collaborated with me on this post, but Florette genuinely have the best salad leaves, they're always so much fresher and last so much longer than the supermarket bags of salad.

Please excuse the slightly grotty inside of my oven. It's a rented house,
and this is the state of it after many chemicals and much scrubbing!
As Rich is obsessed with chicken, it was natural that we were going to pair our pimped salads with some chicken, and I thought it was about time I tried out Beer Can Chicken. It was a recipe which had been on my "to try" list for a really long time so we made the rub from this Jamie Oliver recipe and upended the chicken on half a can of Budweiser. It all looks good in that picture doesn't it? Well, 5 minutes later the chicken fell over, drunk. I tried to right it, but eventually just gave up. The chicken still tasted good though, luckily.

Whilst the chicken was roasting in the oven we got started on the salad. Now this is not your boring lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad of dodgy restaurants. My basics for any salad are your leaf (in this case Florette), grated/julienned carrot, cucumber and cherry tomatoes, and something crunchy which can either be pepper or celery. Add an avocado for some healthy fats and all round yumminess, and there is your base.

The key to pimp your salad from boring to amazing is pickles. Oh how I love me some pickles. Slice up some gherkins, some jalepenos, olives, sundried tomatoes, pickled onions, pickled beetroot, go wild. Rich and I have different taste in pickles, so his plate above didn't have many on it, but he went for a very generous helping of red onion instead.

I opted for the full lot, and when the chicken was added to my plate, along with a generous sprinkle of onion crispies, it was an amazing plate of food.

For a dressing I tend to stick with a basic dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. If I'm treating myself though I wallop a huge chunk of coleslaw on the salad. There are so many nice dressings available to buy these days you're spoiled for choice.

So that's how I pimp my salads from boring to drool-worthy. For lots of other salad ideas you can check out the Florette website, but if you have any you like let me know in the comments!

Rachel x

Monday, 4 May 2015

My Health and Fitness Journey so far...

It all started just after Christmas in 2012. I'd been with Rich for just over 6 months, and I'd put some "happy weight" on. Mostly due to our love of eating lots of crisps and dip over a weekend, and going out to eat a lot. I'd always been a bigger size due to being tall, being a size 12 aged 12 and a size 14 when I was 14. Luckily that pattern stopped, but I'd been a size 14 for nearly 10 years so thought that was just the size I was supposed to be and that was it. I also believed that I ate a healthy diet, which generally consisted of a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a cereal bar as a snack mid-morning, a ham salad wrap for lunch with a yoghurt, then something like spaghetti bolognese for tea. I would have dessert most days, and thought nothing of treating myself, because I ate healthy for the rest of the time. Or so I thought!

During that winter, I'd had to start buying size 16 trousers for work as my old 14's were getting too tight. I hated buying new trousers (still do actually) so when a work colleague said she was joining Weight Watchers, I said I'd join in, on a complete whim. We sneakily went and weighed ourselves at work and I got one heck of a shock. I was 12 stone 13lbs, and this put me in the overweight BMI bracket. So, I signed up to Weight Watchers online, not wanting to go to meetings or anything, and thought I'd give it a go for a month, not believing it would work, because I already ate healthily, right?

I switched out my cereal for porridge, wraps for salads and reduced my carb intake massively. The weight dropped off. I lost 5lbs in my first week, then a steady 4lb loss every two weeks after that. I dropped down to a size 12 and got to 10st 10lbs before I stopped due to moving house and lots of life upheaval. Weight Watchers had worked a miracle for me, I was smaller and lighter than when I was 13 years old and felt fantastic. I've gone back on Weight Watchers twice since that first time, when I've begun to creep up in weight a bit too much and my clothes have started getting tight, and both times again it's really helped to sort me out. 

All of the weight loss was with very little exercise. I mentioned back in 2013 that I tried to learn to run but when I moved house my attempts at the NHS Couch to 5k program were cut short. I dabbled with Fitness Blender videos for a while, but didn't stick to anything for longer than a few weeks. I have generally always hated exercise and am very very unfit. Recently Rich and I have joined the gym together, where we're lifting weights in an attempt to get me some strength (I'm such a weakling at the minute). I'll be trying out some different classes as well and will hopefully begin to run again. One of my life aims is to run a 5k so hopefully I'll manage to do that before the end of the year.

Rich and I are also beginning to try and eat "clean". My eating habits were still that of a person trying to lose weight, and after finding out at the gym that my body fat is 18.6%, I realised that I probably shouldn't try to lose much more now otherwise I'd look unhealthy. So I've introduced brown rice and quinoa into our evening meals, and am trying to eat more whole foods and things which aren't chemicals basically. I'm going to do more posts in the future about what we eat and how I'm training, but I thought I'd better do a history post before I jump in at the deep end wittering on about what I'm up to and what I'm eating.

High five if you got to the end of this very wordy post. I'm not saying at all in this post about how being a size 16 isn't healthy vs a size 12, it is all very person dependant. I just really didn't want to go and buy a whole new wardrobe because I don't really like clothes shopping! Please let me know in the comments if you've ever done a post about your journey to being healthy and fit, or any fitness bloggers as I'd love to find some more to read.

Rachel x
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