A Lazy Guide to Healthy Eating

I have been ‘dieting’ for about half my life. Some work while you’re on them, some don’t even work while you’re doing them, but none have managed to get me to change my eating habits so I don’t have to ‘go on a diet’. I’ve written before about how much I dislike cooking. Not only that, but the planning and shopping before hand, as well as the prep and the washing up (we don’t have a dishwasher) make me, more often than not, really resent cooking from scratch. But, I’ve learnt, that if you want to eat healthily, whether you’re trying to lose weight, feel better or just stop eating crap, cooking from scratch is really the only way to go. I would say that 90% of the time, we now eat food that is cooked from scratch, healthy and good for us. It’s not easy, especially when you live a stones throw from some of the best takeaways in town, but here’s how we do it.

  1. A lazy guide to healthy eatingBe realistic. Like most people, I’m busy. And there are a million other things I’d rather be doing than chopping veg, sauteing onions or washing up 3 different saucepans. So for us to eat well, our meals have to be quick, use ingredients that we use regularly and not require kitchen skills found only in michelin star restaurants. I also know that I can’t cook every single dish from scratch, so one of our regular meals is pasta with veggie sausages. It’s not the healthiest meal in the world, but it’s certainly not the worst and it’s definitely better than getting a takeaway. I usually plan it for when we know we’ll something super quick – 12 minutes in fact. I also make sure we have a huge salad with it, just to be on the safe side!
  2. Plan ahead. For me, this is the only way it works. I sit down once a week with my shopping list, Pinterest and meal planner. I don’t like eating the same things every week, because it’s boring and is a sure fire way of making me gravitate to the pile of takeaway menus. By keeping a record of all the meals that are quick, healthy and easy, it makes this whole process much quicker. It doesn’t always work, the best laid plans and all that, but on the whole we do eat what we plan.
  3. Include treats in your plan. In the past, I’ve tried diets and cut foods and treats out of my diet. All that happens is that I fall off the ‘good food’ wagon, usually landing on a pile of pizza, cake and wine! Plus I don’t want to live a life without cake! I make sure that we have one treat meal a week, whether it’s a take away, dinner out or something quick & easy like homemade pizza using shop bought spelt pizza base. I also plan in cake or other treats. It’s definitely worth researching the healthiest options available for your treat, but if there isn’t one, just make sure you enjoy it.
  4. Don’t overdo the fruits. I know what you’re thinking – but fruit’s healthy. Well, yes it is, but it contains sugar. Granted it’s natural, not processed, but when you’re thinking of your 5, 7 or 10 fruit & veg a day, you need to make sure you eat more veg than fruit. It’s frustrating because it’s easier to eat fruit on the go and way nicer than tucking into *another* salad. Obviously, fruit is going to better than a packet of biscuits or slab of chocolate, just make sure you hike up the veggies as often as you can.
  5. Get a slow cooker. This is one of humankind’s best inventions ever. Yep, I mean that. Why? You can chuck in a handful of wholesome ingredients in the morning and come tea time, your dinner is cooked! This is my kind of cooking. Minimal prep, minimal clean up, minimal time spent in the kitchen, more time playing with Poppy. Win win.
  6. Try tofu. Despite being a vegetarian for over a decade, I’ve only recently started making meals with tofu at home. It’s a great source of healthy protein that is very easy to cook, easy to handle and goes with almost anything. We use it in stir fry dishes, with plenty of added spice. My tip? If the recipe asks you to use sesame or peanut oil, do it. It makes all the difference.
  7. Learn how to cook quinoa. Not just quinoa, chia seeds, all kinds of beans and pulses. I’ve never eaten so many tins of chickpeas and I never thought I’d be eating chia seed porridge for breakfast, but there you go. Tinned legumes are essential for healthy eating. They can bulk up a salad, add some much needed protein to a meal and are just brilliant to have around. The same can said for quinoa. You can cook up a big batch and add it to salad, chilli, stew and in place of pasta. It’s saved my bacon on more than one occasion.
  8. Eat your greens. Whichever way you dress it up, vegetables are your best friend when it comes to healthy eating. If you aren’t a fan of them, you need to find a way to befriend them (though nothing on this earth will get me eating broccoli unless it’s well hidden). For me, its about adding spice to them and getting a variety. If I eat the same ol’ veg all the time, it becomes tedious. A good way to avoid this is to go for seasonal veg.
  9. Beware the overly processed. When you’re next doing your weekly shop, take a look at the ingredients of some of your favourite convenience foods. How many ingredients do you recognise? If it’s not many, that ain’t good. Natural wholefoods will be full of good stuff. Convenient foods, not so much. I know, I’m as disappointed as you are. I’m not saying never eat them, just eat them rarely. You’ll notice the difference, trust me!
  10. Be prepared to fail. Every now and then, life is going to be so busy that despite your best intentions, you just can’t face cooking. So when you’re standing in the ready meal section of the supermarket, find the healthiest meal you can, take a look at the ingredients. If there are things on there that you can’t pronounce, step away. Look for something that has recognisable ingredients. Make sure you eat some extra veg with it and don’t worry about it. In a perfect world, you’ll have made a ton of meals from scratch, frozen them and remembered to take them out of the freezer before you left for work. But it’s not a perfect world so enjoy a ready meal every now and then, just don’t beat yourself up over it.

Here are my favourite quick & easy meals. You can find all these and lots of others on my veggie board on Pinterest. Don’t just take my word for it though – Some of the best people to follow for more help, recipes and advice are Laura from Wholeheartedly Healthy, Natasha from Honestly Healthy and Ella from Deliciously Ella.

I’m not a nutritionist so all these tips are just things that work for me and I have years and years and years of experimenting, as I have been battling with my diet for ever! My hatred of cooking, combined with the ease of ordering pizza have made me need to eat better. I know that in order for me to be well, I have to eat well. But it doesn’t have to be a chore. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat cake, takeaway or enjoy the odd gin, of course I do, just not as often as I used to. It’s just all in balance. Eating this way has been the best change to my diet that I could possibly have made and it’s been easier than other ‘diet’.

What tips have you got for healthy eating? What’s your favourite healthy recipe?

Tuesday Treat – Stitch-Mi-Lane

One of the things I love about autumn and winter is the excuse to wear lots of knitted goodies. As a result, I have a ridiculous number of wooly hats, gloves and scarves. At the moment, I’m just waiting for it to get cold enough to pull them out and wear them to my hearts content! Despite having so many, I just can’t help myself and am drawn to finding new ones!

Spectator cycle hat

This Snug Spectator Merino Bike hat was created by Stitch-Mi-Lane, which is a lovely ‘super small company’ who make cycle inspired bits and pieces. Not only that, everything is designed and made in the UK and you’ll be told who made your order, which is lovely! Whether you’re looking for something warm and cosy for yourself or a Christmas present for the cycling fan in your life, take a look at Stitch-Mi-Lane. You won’t be disappointed!

Tuesday Treat – Making Good Habits

Did you know that it takes about 6 weeks to create a good habit? Six whole weeks. That’s not long. At the start of the year, I started using Lift app to help me create some good habits that benefit me every day. One was to stretch every morning. Humans are the only animals that don’t routinely stretch out when they wake up. Every time Poppy gets up from one of her naps, she stretches herself out – front first by doing downward dog, then the back by dragging her paws across the ground. Cute! I need to do the same. I have to stretch out my back and do some strengthening moves for my knee. Neither exercise will correct the issue, but they definitely help.

Good Habits

The second habit I wanted to develop was to improve my dental hygiene by flossing everyday. I am terrified of the dentist so will do pretty much anything to avoid going or having any extra work done. Using the Lift app has got me into the habit of both stretching and flossing every morning. Now I’ve got those down, I’m working on others, like having fruit or vegetables with every meal and exercising because it’s good for me and doing something every day.

These habits are especially important coming up to winter, where looking after yourself and staying positive are so important. I’ve been building them up for six weeks now, so am hoping they’re officially here to stay!

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Wayland Smithy

Despite living in Oxfordshire for a number of years, I’ve only walked around the White Horse once and I’ve never been up to Wayland Smithy. A few weekends ago, we ambitiously thought we could do both in a short amount of time. We couldn’t so we focused on Wayland Smithy. It was a lovely Sunday morning and we packed up a very excited Poppy into the car and headed off.

We were one of the first visitors to the car park and after a few minutes scrambling around the car looking for some change to pay for parking, we headed out of the car park and up the hill towards Wayland Smithy. It was a lovely walk, along chalky paths, with an amazing view of the Oxfordshire countryside.

Chalk Hills OxfordshireWayland WalkOxfordshire Dog walksDog Walks OxfordshireWayland SmithyPoppydog AdventuresBurial GroundOxfordshire Poppies

The burial ground itself is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. The area is strangely tranquil and in the most amazing place. It’s believed that 14 people were buried in the ground and that the mound on top was added at a later date. It was only used for a short period of time.

On the walk back down towards the car, we quickly learnt that Poppy doesn’t really like horses as there were a number of riders using the bridleway. Fortunately, there were a few places we could duck into in order to get Poppy out of the way. We’ll definitely be going back for a walk around the White Horse soon, though we’ll be packing a thermos to enjoy a brew with the view.

The Walk: The walk from the White Horse car park to Wayland Smithy and back isn’t very long, but you can always add in a stroll around the White Horse and there are a number of other walks to do around the area.
Cost: Completely free!
Car Park: We parked in the White Horse car park, which is run by the National Trust. There is a charge and the machine doesn’t take 5p’s and won’t take newer 10p’s. National Trust members get free parking (I think!).
Refreshments: Nope, but there are a few picnic benches in the car park with a fantastic view over Uffington.
Toilets: None.

 

Wool Week 2014

Did you know that it’s #woolweek this week? Due to my constantly temperature being that of freezing, I absolutely love wool. While it’s been lovely having summer and the sun shining, I’m more than happy to now wear lots of wool jumpers, wool tights, long socks and wrap myself in blankets on the sofa and at my desk. Hello scarves, hats and gloves, I’ve missed you!

As it is Wool Week, I thought I’d do a little round up post of some of my favourite knitting pins that can be found on my Knitting Pinterest board. There’s a mixture of items to buy and bits to make, depending on whether you’re a knitter or not.

Wool Week 2014

Hidden Heart Mittens from Not on the High Street // Giant Infinity Scarf by SoSatsuma //  OhLaLa cardigan pattern // Hat Most Likely to Succeed pattern // il grande favorito jumper pattern // Giganto blanket pattern //
{All images found on Pinterest, via their respective sources. Original images can be found by clicking on the links above.}

Wool is my favourite. It’s soft, squidgy, comforting and, most importantly, warm! I wish I knitted quicker, as I’ve love to make more things for me to wear. Though, I will admit, I like projects with instant gratification, so I tend to stick with smaller items that hold my interest. That being said, I’m halfway through a jumper that I plan to finish over Christmas and I have wool and a pattern for a fair isle one, which will be interesting as I’ve never knitted fair isle before.

The other thing I love about wool is that you can get such a huge variety of types, colours, styles and thickness. Long gone are the days of knitting yourself something scratchy – there’s lots of alternatives. I have to admit that I do prefer knitting with chunky wool as it grows so much faster. But that being said, if I go anywhere near a wool shop, I’m pretty much going to ooh and ahh over every ball! I’ll probably squeeze a few too!

My happy place? Curled up on the sofa, under my Laura Ashley blanket, next to the fire, knitting away, watching a Walking Dead/Gilmore Girls/Harry Potter box set with a pot of tea and a bit of cake on the go. This is why Autumn and Winter are the best – hibernation!

What I’ve Been Watching – September

As Autumn really gets underway, TV series new and old start appearing on our screens. A few gems I’m looking forward to are The Walking Dead, American Horror Story (though lets hope it’s an improvement on last series) and The Fall. While I wait for those, here’s what I watched in September

TV

I haven’t heard anyone talking about this series at all, but I was really interested in watching it. It’s Tom Selleck in it for crying out loud, how back can it be?! Well, not great. At least, not the first series. It’s obvious, a little dry and so incredibly ridiculous, I couldn’t quite believe it. However, we persevered with it and it has got better, though it does very much feel like Tom’s family are single handedly fighting crime in New York! It’s easy on the brain, so if you want something on in the background, this is a good one to go for. I will admit that I never really got into the original UK version of the Office, but this was on Netflix and I had some stuff to do in my study so popped it on for some background noise. Soon enough I was laughing along to it and was completely distracted by the show. I love Steve Carrell. I think the man is a comedic genius, just watch 40 year old virgin and you’ll know what I mean. This show is brilliant. Thank you Netflix for bringing it into my world!
This is another show that I keep seeing advertised on Netflix, you know how it does that ‘You might like this because you watched a tv show once’ thing? This was what they suggested. It’s got Glenn Close in it so how bad can it be? Well, like Blue Bloods, it takes a little warming up and it has a definite formula that gets really old, really fast. Series 3 was the best in my opinion and I wasn’t disappointed to see it ended after series 5. Most TV shows shouldn’t last beyond 5 seasons (The Walking Dead is exempt from this!) It’s an okay series, but not worth staying in for. I very nearly didn’t persevere with this. I thought the first episode was so awful, with terrible over acting and bad fake British accents, that I nearly didn’t carry on. However, my OH wanted to see how it went so we continued on. I’m really glad we did. I really like the unique storyline, and find the idea of human cloning so terrifying but so inevitable that I continue to watch it. Plus the characters have grown on me and I kind of want to see what happens. I’ve only watched the first series, so have a little catching up to do but am very happy to keep going .

Film

I’m not a huge fan of war films, because I hate war, but wanted to see this film as it was a true story. It’s worth while to remember that, because the violence in it is incredibly brutal, but what does unfold is truly amazing and shows that humanity still exists, even when you’ve given up hope. I don’t want to give away what happens, but its worth a watch. I had such high hopes for this film. I loved Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire and really wanted this film to be great (especially as the other offerings were not). While it started really well, and was full of action and intrigue, after a while, it just got a bit tedious. So much so, I was looking forward to the end. Fine if there’s absolutely nothing else to watch.
I loved, loved, loved this film. Tilda Swinton can do no wrong in my eyes and both she and Tom Hiddleston are brilliant in this, as age old vampires. It’s an incredibly eccentric and unique film. Watch it immediately! This film was awful and I was so disappointed because I love a good comic book film & I’m a huge fan of Samuel L Jackson. I didn’t care if Captain America lived or died. Marvel needs to do something different or just stop.

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