Approaching Double Figures, Ice Baths and Smoothie Bowls

My most recent two runs are below. I am making good progress. I also tried my first ice bath as an aid to recovery, and I screamed like a big girlie girl, especially when the water reached my nipples. In my defence it was so cold in there that it burned, however it seems to have been effective as my muscles are nowhere near as sore as they have been. This will be an interesting ongoing experiment. I will keep doing it to see what the effect is on my body. Right now I can tell you that it felt great afterwards. My whole body felt like my mouth does after brushing my teeth! Extreme cold exposure is linked to longevity and excellent health and muscles recovery so I hope that this will help me get fitter faster.

Strava Data

The eight mile one was agony but today I flew over a new route and trail. The first half was more or less nonstop climbing, but the second half was a beautiful trail. Photo below. You can see that my time vastly improved today, which is encouraging because I climbed a massive hill on the first half of the run.

Double figures for miles covered are imminent. I have my eye on a half marathon, then to pass my best ever distance, fifteen miles. Once that is done I am going all in to to complete a marathon-distance run.

Food

In the meantime I have been scoffing plenty of good food, recipes to come soon, and below are some lovely photos of my smoothie bowls. Be sure to check out my Instagram for more photos and recipes.

Recipe: Tofu Scramble Protein Bowl

Another simple recipe that is full of yummy goodness. It is not quite SOS approved – no salt, oil or sugar – as there is a little frying involved, however it is still delicious and tremendously healthy and nutritious.

Ingredients

  • 100g pearl barley
  • 1 packet of tofu, frozen, thawed, drained and pressed
  • 1 avocado
  • Handful of cashews

Method

  • Cook the barley and set aside – I boil it with turmeric for the anti inflammatory goodness
  • Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and fry the tofu until it starts to brown
  • Cube the avocado flesh and add to the pan for a minute or two
  • Add the cashews and fry for a couple more minutes
  • Serve on top of the barley

One bowl of yummy goodness, cooked! Add sriracha if you like a little bit of zing.

Recipe: Decadent Plant Based Pancake Stack

Check it out folks. This pancake stack will leave you feeling as though you just ate your weekly meals in one go. You can oil or dry fry this mixture

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 200 grams oat flour (I just pulverised oats in the blender)
  • Maple syrup to sweeten to taste
  • Soy milk (or your preferred plant milk)

Method

  • Combine the flour, bananas and maple syrup in the blender
  • Slowly add milk whilst gently blending until you reach a sticky, almost dough-like consistency
  • Either heat a dry pan or oil if you prefer, and spoon into squash ball sized portions, squidging them down as they cook
  • Once brown, flip and repeat
  • Serve with fresh, dark berries and maple syrup

Tada! Couldn’t be more simple. For an alternative topping to maple syrup you can make lime stock sugar syrup which is just melted sugar, a little water, and the juice and zest of a lime, or chocolate sauce which is the same but just add cocoa powder instead of the lime ingredients.

Recipe: Quinoa Protein Bowl

This is something I just improvised but it is delicious and looks good so I decided to publish the recipe. It is full of protein, good fats and variety, and the quinoa has a very low glycemic index meaning weight loss.

Ingredients

  • 100 grams quinoa
  • 100 grams (dry weight) dried chickpeas, hydrated and cooked (or a can)
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 an iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • A generous handful of cashews
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Boil your quinoa in water or stock, then rinse and set aside
  • Add a good glug of olive oil to a frying pan, add the chilli and cook for thirty seconds
  • Add the pepper, sweat for three minutes
  • Add the avocado and stir well, cooking for three more minutes
  • Add the lettuce and wilt
  • Throw in the nuts and toss the whole thing to mix well, season to taste, then turn the heat off
  • Add the quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork
  • Pour in the fried ingredients and then top off with the chickpeas
  • Sprinkle with lemon juice

Done! Most people will probably need two or three sittings to finish this so it’s cheap too. I might add chilli sauce or change the chickpeas for pinto beans perhaps next time. Maybe even some jalapeños for some twang. Enjoy!

In the pan

Lockdown Progress is Still Progress

Last week I pushed up to five miles running, did plenty of (slow) cycling with the kids on the tourer and on Saturday I did a red hot, scorching hike over Whernside.

Yesterday I cycled in the evening with my boy and I have been amazed to see how quickly he is becoming powerful, fast and strong. He will be better than me hopefully! Captured the gorgeous sunset too. Check out the glitter path below.

I also fond a lovely outdoor location to explore, Rivington Pike near Bolton.

I remain on a 16/8 fasting diet which is working hard for me right now. I have literally stopped all refined sugar intake and I recently discovered that barley has a glycemic index of 25 – ridiculously low – so I am using that as a base for my cooking. That along with quinoa and a few other whole grains like buckwheat. I am already, in two weeks, 3.5 pounds lighter. The best part of this is that I do not think I have ever felt so stuffed in my life! I have only ever counted calories once and it was a waste of time. This way I am tracking my weight with a weekly weigh in and just eating good food, and boy is it working. Plus, barley is 55p a bag so my bank balance likes it too.

In my 43 years on Earth I think I might have weighed myself four or five times so I am hardly obsessive, but now that the kids are old enough that I do not have to spend every single minute refereeing their skirmishes or just keeping them alive, I have time to focus on my health much more. This is bringing great results. Having spent over a decade doing whatever exercise I could and eating what I can as best as I could I now relish this second innings of living. Any parent knows that the first ten years of child rearing are nonstop sacrifice, impossible to plan or work around and you spend most of your time exhausted. Now I get to take them out with me and they can be exhausted!

I am very much enjoying trail running. I have never been a fast runner really so I have nothing to prove on that front, but I can endure quite a lot so right now I am focused on off road activities and working out the best planning for nutrition. It seems that fasting of some kind works brilliantly – I even climbed Whernside in a fasted state – and thinking more about food is working. I have been a vegan for years and years but to get the best from myself means that my enemy is sugar. I really cannot believe the magnitude of difference that it makes to my physique if I stop eating it completely. All of the reading I am doing says this, and it all advocates fasting regularly and also straining the body, meaning to push hard in terms of endurance.

I guess that this week the results will prove me right or wrong.

Quarantine Recipe: Lemon and Lime Quinoa with Chickpeas, Turmeric and Garlic

Obviously during quarantine I have had plenty of time on my hands, and with my exercise being short runs or long, slow cycle rides with the kids I am not posting them as they are wholly unremarkable. I have, however, had time to cook and create recipes, and this post is one such. I designed this as a rustic, simple meal that is ideal recovery food to eat after exercising. Best of all, it can be made in bulk and eaten all week, or that is the way I do it anyway. Chickpeas are packed with good fat to make you full, protein for muscle recovery and they have a good nutrient density per calorie. Plus chickpeas are beans and as Dan Buettner of the Blue Zones fame established, beans are the basis of the diets of the longest lived people on Earth. Show me a centenarian and I will show you somebody who ate beans their whole life. Turmeric also is a natural anti-inflammatory. Quinoa is a grain that has a super low glycemic index score meaning that your insulin will not spike and there will be no food hangover. It is very versatile and will taste of whatever you use to flavour it.

Ingredients

  • 300 grams of uncooked quinoa
  • 100 grams of dried chickpeas soaked in lightly salted water overnight
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, then set them boiling in a pan for thirty minutes – this can be done the previous day if that suits your schedule
  2. Put the quinoa in a large pot, add the stock and the turmeric, and simmer on medium
  3. Chop or mince the garlic, then zest and and juice the lemon and lime
  4. Once the quinoa has absorbed the stock completely turn of the heat, rinse using a sieve and cold water and return to the same pot after giving it a quick clean to get rid of residue
  5. Now combine the chickpeas and quinoa in the pot, mixing through
  6. Add the cayenne pepper and chopped garlic clove, mix through
  7. Add the citrus zest and juice, stir through and season to taste with salt and black pepper
At this point it is up to you whether you reheat it or serve it cold. It tastes great either way. You could even improvise and stuff pita breads with it, or serve on a sort of Greek flatbread, gyro style. This recipe is 3-4 servings so you are all set for the week when it comes to eating!

Recipe: Flambed Peaches with Citrus Cashew Cream

This is a knickers off dessert, as in serve this to a lady on date number three and watch her knickers fly off! This is a recipe that calls for you to flambé, i.e. ignite alcohol in the pan, so please be careful. You can see how to do it on YouTube, but if you’re not sure then don’t make this recipe.

Ingredients

  1. 4-5 peaches, stoned and sliced
  2. 2 tbsp of rum
  3. 3 tbsp sugar
  4. Zest and juice of a citrus fruit of your choice – I used a lime
  5. 100g cashews, soaked in boiling water to soften
  6. 100g icing sugar plus a little more for dusting
  7. Soy milk

Method

  • Heat a skillet very hot, then add the sugar and caramelise it
  • Add your peaches, reduce the heat and toss well in the caramel
  • Now you flambé. Take the pan off the heat and we’ll away from the flame, then add the rum and then ignite it. Be very careful and be sure you do this safely
  • Once the alcohol is burnt off the flames will stop, turn off the heat and leave whilst you make your citrus cream
  • Blend the icing sugar, cashews and soy milk to make a smooth cream. It’s up to you how thick you make it, obviously more milk will thin it out.
  • Pour into a jug and then whisk in the juice and zest. This will add air and lighten the cream a little
  • Serve by layering the peaches shortbread or some other similar type of biscuit, pour on some of the cream, then some of the rum sauce, and finally dust with icing sugar

Delicious dessert.

Recipe: Indian Roast Potatoes

This is such a yummy dish that I just HAD to share it with you all.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of potatoes, chopped
  • Fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 21 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice and zest of a lime

Method

  • Mix all of the powdered ingredients together to make your seasoning
  • Parboil the potatoes for 8-10 and then drain
  • Put 3 tbsp oil into a roasting tin, sprinkle in half of the seasoning and then add the potatoes and toss well
  • Sprinkle the remaining seasoning on top
  • Add the fresh coriander – I love coriander so I put loads in but it’s your preference
  • Add the lime zest and juice and toss again
  • Roast for thirty minutes, longer if you like them very crispy

I served it with lime and coriander rice from this recipe. There you go.

Easy to make and yet sooooooo scrumptious.

Recipe: Leek and Mushroom Cream Pasta with Tarragon

Delicious
Delicious

Standby for a yummy pasta dish that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside! This is a quick and simple recipe that combines the meaty mushroom flavour with cashew cream, whilst the aniseed flavour of the tarragon works brilliantly and explodes in your mouth.

Ingredients

  • 300 grams pasta – I used penne but pick your favourite
  • 300 grams mushrooms, any variety you prefer
  • A leek
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 150 grams cashews, soaked in boiling water
  • 200 ml vegetable stock
  • Splash of soya milk
  • Handful of fresh tarragon, dried will do if that’s all you have
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Pre boil a pan of salted water
  • In a hot skillet add olive oil and fry the mushrooms. They will sizzle as their water content boils off
  • Whilst the mushrooms cook, quarter the leek down the length and the chop roughly. Add to the pan along with the garlic and then season to your taste, turn the heat down to simmer for five minutes
  • Add your pasta to the water and cook al dente – don’t do the British thing where the pasta is distended and floppy! Drain and let stand dry, DON’T let it stand in the water
  • Drain your cashews, add a good glug of soya milk and blend to a cream
  • Add the cream to the skillet and mix through thoroughly, cook gently for two minutes
  • Gradually add your stock, mixing as you go
  • Once the sauce is mixed completely, add the pasta and make sure it is evenly mixed and coated.

The sauce when fully mixed:

The sauce when fully mixed

The tarragon ready to mix

Yummy anise flavour

The finished article:

Week in Review

Last week I picked up my schedule for the first time in 2020 after a pretty awful 2019. I got Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in addition to easing back into the outdoors I started to further expand my nutritional horizons. I love cooking and it’s a great way to express one’s creativity. I remain on a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule and I am more than ever committed to a vegan diet that contains little to no sugar and is not processed wherever possible.

I cycled twice but only over short distances. I don’t pay too much attention to statistics and data for rides under five miles as cycling in Lancashire is so roly-poly, hilly and stop-start that it is difficult to build up a decent cadence and pick up a good cruising speed for any meaningful length of time. I was hoping to post some swimming data but I have been held up by the supplier of a replacement strap for my Garmin Vivoactive watch, which has yet to arrive and is now six days late. Thanks useless eBay parts supplier.

Today’s Cycle
Today’s Cycle

I have cycled today already, again just a short town ride on an errand, the virtue of which I extolled last week. My focus this week is to begin to add swimming to my cycling again. I hope to strengthen my lower back after hurting it quite badly last year, such was the sedentary nature of caring for my crocked little boy.

Small beginnings yield massive outcomes. Let’s destroy 2020.