MuscleFood Live Clean™ meals review

I’m not going to lie, I don’t eat microwaveable meals meals (“ready meals”) that often at all. But when MuscleFood contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out their new line of ‘healthier’ ready meals (not vegetarian)…well I was intrigued.MuscleFood is an online food and supplement company. I’ve bought many things from them before, from their meat selection (regular chicken breasts or mince to more exotic meats such as llama and ostrich) to their egg whites, and to their protein powder (I bought the unflavoured type to add to my porridge – perfection), and it’s all been really good. I’ve actually also got a couple of protein pizzas in my freezer that I’ve yet to try…

But I’ve never tried their pre-prepared microwaveable meals. And this is mainly because I enjoy cooking and am not a fan of a “dinner ding”. Though their meals didn’t look like your bog-standard tiny-portions, over-salted and dodgy ingredient meals. They’re high in protein and under 500 calories, which sounded like the perfect dinner to me.

I received a selection from their Live Clean™ range: Oriental Chicken Pad Thai and Beef Lasagna With Italian Veg.

The Pad Thai contains spiced chicken and wholewheat noodles in a spicy peanut sauce with “crunchy” Asian veg. The Lasagne contains beef with wholewheat lasagne and Parmentier sweet potatoes, fennel seeds and roasted Italian veg. Interestingly they’ve been designed by a Michelin trained chef and the packaging has been designed so it doesn’t all get cooked at once. A valid, valid point. Chicken and veg don’t cook at the same time. So no more watery, mushy veg!

Beef Lasagne

Having been brought up on cook-from-frozen lasagnes as a child (my mum wasn’t the best of cooks…bless her), I tend to avoid them. I was a bit dubious about this ready meal but I liked that it came with a serving of vegetables on the side and it didn’t look like a heap of sweaty melted cheese.

What I like is that it’s separated into two different compartments so you can cook the lasagne for longer than you cook the veg, so the veg doesn’t turn into mush. It was ready in four minutes.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, not being a huge lasagne fan. It wasn’t overly creamy or cheesy, but definitely had a good amount of meaty filling and you could really taste the fennel in the vegetables and potatoes. The ingredients list looks pretty damn stellar for a microwave meal and the nutritional profile is really good. Nice and high in protein and carbs.

I would definitely eat this again. Though being the greedy person I am with a huge appetite I did need to bulk it out a bit with more veg, but that’s just me. I think for a normal person it would be fine.

(This was before I added the extra veg)

Chicke Pad Thai

This meal really appealed to me as chicken is my protein of choice. It sounded very tasty as well with peanut sauce and Asian vegetables.

Again, you cooked the two sections for different lengths, but it was ready within two minutes. This meal is a lot higher in protein and lower in carbs.

Taste-wise it wasn’t too spicy but lovely and aromatic. I again added more veg to this as I felt there wasn’t a huge amount in the mix. Though the chunks of chicken were huge and a good amount of them!

(Again this was before I added the extra veg)

I’d happily eat both of these two meals again. For nights when I’m running to come home to a nicely balanced quick meal like either of these would be super useful. I like that the ingredients aren’t full of rubbish and they’re very filling and tasty. The price isn’t that bad either, you can get seven meals for £28, five meals for £20 or one meal for £4.95. Obviously it would be cheaper to make these yourself but for the saving in time and convenience you are of course going to spend more.

The only sad thing is their lack of vegetarian and vegan options.

(I do have a referral code for MuscleFood which gives you some freebies if you order using it, such as chicken breasts or other items–> AS548885).

Do you eat ready meals?

What’s your ideal ready meal?

Have you bought anything from MuscleFood before?

 

**Full Disclaimer: I received the meals for free in exchange for a review. Al opinions are my own honest ones.**

Training and food lately

I know I start 90% of my posts about the weather, but I’m British soo… It is raining ridiculous amounts at the moment. I realise I’m extremely lucky to not live in any part of the UK that has flooding risks or issues, or places in America that were snowed under, but I can only comment on where I am right now. And it’s soggy to say the least.

Despite the rain and wind, I went out after work and did some hill training on Tuesday evening. I’d wussed out last week to do this specific hill because it’s not lit at all. It’s a long path off the main road and there are no street lights along it so it’s actually really hard to run up it without any light as it winds and turns. I don’t normally run in a headtorch unless I’m trail running when it’s dark, but I needed it for the hill.IMG_7854

Despite the rain, the shorts are back in action – as is my new Forever21 ‘Focused’ top (light and waterproof)

I’ve mentioned this hill before in this post, but basically it’s a12% incline for over 0.2 miles, which usually lasts about 3 minutes. It’s a beast. There’s a Strava segment on it as well and I love to test my fitness to see how well I’m currently running.

I did a mile warm-up then ran up and down the hill three times. I’d planned on four but three was enough! I had my music going (the only way I can survive a solo speed session) and just focused on my form (swing arms, use my bum, look ahead), trying to ignore the pain. The rain was pounding down but I was oblivious to it. I then continued on with my hilly route to make a total of six miles. Honestly, this run was awesome. OK it was painful and tiring but for whatever reason I felt like I was flying. I felt like my form was on point (or as on point as I can achieve!!) and like I was cutting through the rain. When I checked back to my splits and the hill segment I found I’m doing nicely in gaining back my speed. I’m not at my fastest for the hill but I’m getting there.

I love this about marathon training (when I get it right that is…). Seeing the progress, even if it’s tiny, is just so motivating each week. For me the two important things that really help my running are hill training and long runs. I’m always a bit weary of intervals and, whether justified or not, I feel like I dice with injury with them. But with hills I feel I get stronger.

Another important factor for me for marathon training is maintaining my strength work. I know I say this so often but my glute, leg and core work are really important for me to remain uninjured. This involves lifting heavy weights to keep my body strong; big compound moves like squats and deadlifts help strengthen not just your legs but your core and posterior chain. And the more running-specific moves, like wall sits, glute kickbacks, crab walks and box jumps help too. For me the strength side of things isn’t to increase my power or speed, it’s to keep me healthy. It’s also a something I thoroughly enjoy doing – who’d have thought?! Fabletics leggings

I know my focus shouldn’t be on how much I can lift and squat but there is something so empowering about increasing your weights or reps. It’s also, in a weird way, a nice comfort to know I have the love of lifting to fall back to if running and me have another fall out (*touch wood* I don’t!).

I just need to make sure I don’t burn out. Nutrition is a big factor in this and I can assure you, I’m eating lots of good nutritious food. For one thing I’m on a culinary exploration of all the cheeses. So far I’m in love with Stilton… but Camembert and Brie make regular appearances. I’ve found some nice cheese from MuscleFood as well (the French Chevre and Lincolnshire Poacher).Cheese

Lately a lot of my dinners have been fairly simple with meat, veg and cheese. And honestly, I’m loving it!

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Most of my carbs happen earlier in the day: porridge for breakfast and with my lunch at work I have my standard popcorn (home-popped with salt and pepper). I’m not a huge carb eater, as I’ve said a few times on the blog. I don’t eat a lot of bread unless it’s good stuff at a restaurant and I don’t eat pasta. It works for me though!

Tonight I have an easy 5 mile planned, then parkrun on Saturday and a 16 mile run planned Sunday. The long runs are getting longer! Speaking of long runs… In a couple of a weeks I head to my grandad’s in Wales, who I’ve visited a few times. That weekend I had an 18 mile run planned and I mentioned it to him and asked if he had any ideas of good routes. He came back with this:Boston marathon prep

He planned an 18 mile route that compared to the Boston marathon course elevation!! How amazing is that?? I’m so pleased. He’s also offered to cycle alongside me to help navigate and provide a bit of support. I mean, can you get better than that? This is my 82 year old grandfather by the way, who has his own Strava account capturing his regular walks up and down the nearby hills of Llandudno. Yep.

How do you plan your really long runs? Do you go anywhere interesting?

Carbs, protein or fat? What’s your favourite? Unsurprisingly mine is protein!

What do you prefer: intervals or hills?

Random Life

Down South at the moment the weather is actually quite good. OK a bit rainy at times but it is so mild. It does make me genuinely nervous about global warming and the environment. It can’t be good. Also, does this mean winter is going to stretch out longer in 2016? I realise weather talk is boring but us Brits have a compulsion to discuss it at any given opportunity. It’s like an uncontrollable spasm, it just happens. If in doubt, talk about the weather.

I know I keep going on about my flat but well, let’s be honest, nothing else big or interesting has happened to me lately so… I’m not that creative or good with decorations but I’ve impressed myself on how much I love the way my flat looks right now. For my last home we didn’t really do much in terms of decoration or coordination with furniture as we assumed we wouldn’t be living there for a long time (well, half of that was true anyway in the end…). We bought cheaper stuff so we could easily move later on without having spent too much. It was a lovely home, don’t get me wrong, but we didn’t really do too much to it.

For my new flat it was really important, as you can imagine, that it turned into a home that I could look forward to going to and feel safe, comfortable and surrounded by stuff that represented me and my future life. I don’t know what the future holds but for now I assume I’ll be living here for a while. I’ve really thought about what things I wanted, where things went and basically an overall theme. Even the small details, like changing door knobs to match my furniture.IKEA door knobs

I also bought a vase to put some decorative balls in (I saw it in IKEA and it looked really cool). Unfortunately I bought a vase one size up from what I’d see and then didn’t have enough balls to fully fill it…

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Still looks OK I think. I just don’t know if I can bear to go into IKEA to just buy more balls.

I’m still into Hello Fresh but I’ve paused it over Christmas while I get myself together and with Christmas meals and going out it’s just not worth it right now. What I have done though is ordered a meat pack from Muscle Food. I’m not affiliated with them, I just like them. That said if you do fancy ordering anything from them, I do have a referral code HERE which gives you, for free, any of the following when you order with them:

– Two Free Award Winning Horse Fillet Steaks
– Two Free 6oz British Beef Hache Steaks
– Free loaf of Protein Bread
– Free Chicken & Pepper Protein Pizza
– Free 250g Whey Protein Concentrate 85

I always see adverts for them on Facebook and I bit the bullet and ordered myself a box full of meat (with a Black Friday discount it was £10 for chicken breasts, hache steaks, burgers, chicken sausages, beef meatballs, chicken meatballs and lean bacon). As you probably already know, I’m a big lover of meat so I was keen to fill my freezer up with handy protein items that I use for random meals. I can heartily recommend the hache steaks and the chicken sausages. I also bought a litre of egg whites which I love adding to stir fries and scrambles because it just boosts the protein. They’re cheaper on Muscle Food compared to getting them at the supermarket (or wasting egg yolks).

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This was a random meal of chopped up chicken sausages, egg whites and Laughing Cow Blue Cheese triangles and it was SO good. Obviously I went overboard with veg because I can’t not.

I’m loving my local area as well as it’s perfect for walking Alfie. Just a minute or so from my flat there’s a beautiful park where I can let Alfie off and he can run free. Before I had to keep him on his lead for most walks as there were too many roads nearby, but this is perfect. Though I did get concerned when he looked like he wanted to go and chase the birds near the little lake (pond?).

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It just makes me so happy that Alfie can properly race around and stretch his legs every morning and evening. And there are so many other dogs about as well. It’s funny though because I think Alf is similar to me. He’ll go and say hello to a group of dogs but he’ll run back quickly to me and not want to spend too much time socialising. He likes his own company, that or he’s a mummy’s boy 😉 The only dogs he likes to spend lots of time with are my parents. Like me he struggles to push himself in social situations and prefers to stick with who and what he knows.

When I was at Whiteley on Sunday for that INCREDIBLE meal (which I keep dreaming of) I noticed that some of the animal statues they have dotted around the place were dressed up for Christmas. Check out this otter:IMG_6658

Very sweet!

And my last random titbit… I saw this on RunEatRepeat’s Instagram and it really made me chuckle.

Ghost outfitSo true! For me I’d hope to be wearing comfy leggings and a nice hoodie. Comfort over appearance is crucial if it’s eternity you’re talking about!

Tell me something random but interesting!

What outfit would you choose to wear for eternity?

Are you good at home décor?

Rants and Raves #23

Hello! It’s the middle of the week, hurrah! I’m working from home tomorrow so it kind of feels like Friday, but only in that I get a bit of a lie-in tomorrow rather than 5am for the gym. Woop! I’m seeing my Physio again tomorrow so I hope to have another post about my injury (oh the long-standing saga that it is, I’m sorry) another day. But for now, I’m ranting but mostly raving.

Rave: Workout clothes. I can’t stop buying them. It’s becoming an issue. To be fair though, other than food, I really don’t spend my money on much else. Forever21 is my go-to place for good quality and inexpensive gym clothes. Though I do like treating myself to Fabletics some months.

I bought the below ‘muscle tee’ from Forever21 which fits amazingly. It’s perfect for my strength workouts as my arms are nice and free and the side slits help keep me cool. It says ‘No Days Off’. Not true, but still cool.

Forever21

I bought another muscle tee, a crop-top, a crop-top sports bra and two pairs of Nike Pro shorts (not from Forever21 but Zalando). ENOUGH NOW, ANNA.

Rant: Planning my weekends is so tricky at the moment. I still haven’t moved. My solicitors said it could be this week but then who knows. It depends on some enquiries… This is annoying as I’m meant to be seeing my uni friends in Cardiff this Saturday but now I don’t know if I can or not. In fact, we’ve had to rearrange the whole thing because I was going to give one of my friends a lift back and can’t guarantee it anymore. *Sighs*

I’m also just living out of boxes and reluctant to buy any sort of extra condiments or bulk purchases (which I like to do to with items I use regularly to save a bit of money).

Boxes

I’m not using my downstairs toilet anymore because it’s a great place to put boxes (especially food items and crockery) so Alfie can’t get to them. As you can see, my Hello Fresh boxes are very handy!

And I have nowhere to work when I work from home as I sold pretty much all my furniture (I live life on a bean bag with a £5 Ikea side table). I’ve had to use my kitchen to work in. For my standing desk obsession it works quite nicely.Standing desk

Rave: Speaking of Hello Fresh (yes, I know, I’m obsessed)… I finally received the hallowed Recipe Journal. My parents, who also still get Hello Fresh, have two! I introduced them to it first! Anyway, I have one now and it’s already almost full up.Hello Fresh recipe folder

It makes me really proud how may recipes I’ve done (I’ve had 23 boxes – each box contains three recipes). I love it! I eat so many different foods each week and it makes life so much easier cooking a meal and then having another portion of it for the next night.

A few weeks ago I had a lovely warming Mexican broth…Hello Fresh Mecican Broth

With a good dollop of soured cream. Yum.

If you fancy £25 off your first box I have a referral code ZVUM4A (which would also give me £12 off my next box). I’m not affiliated with Hello Fresh, I just love them.

Rave: I’ve recently bought some BCAA formula, AminoX, to help with me at the gym. It isn’t a stimulant but rather it’s designed to support my strength workouts and recovery. It contains essential amino acids, L-Alanine, Taurine and L-Citrulline.AminoX

You just mix one scoop with water and give it a mix. Don’t do what I do and shake it in a bottle vigorously as when you then go to open the lid, it explodes like a foamy volcano. Gentle stirring is required! I got the green apple flavour and it’s really yummy, though luminous green. I can’t say I feel a huge difference but I am lifting heavier weights than ever before – though considering how often I go to the gym and focus on this, that’s not surprising really.

Rant: Alfie’s Halloween costume came last week. Obviously too late for Halloween…and actually too small. For a fiver though I’m not upset.

Dog halloween costume

I’m wondering if I can cut the sides a bit and see if he could fit. He may never forgive me though.

Rave: This ice cream.

Oppo ice cream

It’s called Oppo and has the fabulous tagline of “Eat like a whale, look like a mermaid”. I got the salted caramel flavour. The ingredients are far better looking than Ben and Jerry’s and so are the nutritional stats for 100ml:

  • Energy (Kcal): 77.3
  • Fat: 3.8g (saturates: 2.8g)
  • Carbohydrate: 7.6g (sugars: 6.7g)
  • Protein: 3.2g
  • Sodium: 0.1

I’m a volume person when it comes to eating (more food = better) and will happily admit I ate the entire tub in one sitting, which was around 400 calories in total. That’s comparable to a slice of cake. Though cake always wins in my eyes, this was such a nice treat for a Friday night.

Rave: I saw this picture on Jamie Oliver’s Instagram…him with Orlando Bloom.Jamie and Orlando

Be still my beating heart. I have such a crush on Jamie Oliver it’s ridiculous. I just think he’s so lovely. And I used to be obsessed with Orlando Bloom during his LOTR days. It’s like a dream come true to have them side by side in a photo… *sighs*.

Who’s your celebrity crush? Who did you fancy when you were younger?

What’s your favourite ice cream and ice cream flavour?

Do you cook from scratch every evening?

Rants and Raves #22 and an injury update

Morning, morning. A few rants and raves this morning and another injury update.

Rave: I’m really enjoying the gym. When I have a focus this always happens.

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It makes me feel bad ass 😉 I love making my workout plans the day before and deciding what I’m going to do when I get there. There’s no way I could get a proper workout in if I turned up to the gym clueless.

I’m trying to figure out what the best split is in order to do strength training…upper body/lower body, body parts, mixed… so far I’m kind of combining a few bits and bobs. For example, this morning I worked on shoulders, chest and triceps. I’ll do one or two big compound moves (such as deadlifts, squats, bench press and military press) and then follow with accessory moves or different variations to target different muscles.

I used to hate how my arms looked because they seemed a bit too muscle-y but now I love them! But my main goal is to just feel strong, any additional aesthetic gains is just a bonus 🙂

Rant and rave: Did I mention I bought some goat meat (specifically goat shoulder)? Well, I did. Goat meat isn’t that widely available in the UK. I think people assume it’s a tough meat, but it really depends how you cook it – as with all meat. Anyway, I asked the butcher how best to cook it and he suggested slow cooking it without adding anything crazy as it was my first time having it so I shouldn’t swamp its flavour.

Well, now that I have my teeny tiny slow cooker I couldn’t put the entire thing in it so had to halve it. I seared the entire thing by frying it in coconut oil quickly before slicing it in half and freezing the other half. By searing before slow cooking it helps retain the flavour and moisture.

Slow cookers are marvellous inventions and I love mine. It does help to turn the bloody thing on before you leave for work in the morning though. I only remembered as I was half-way to work. GARGH.

Anyway I slow cooked it over the evening instead (such a lovely smell to wake up to!) and had it for lunch on Saturday. I shredded the meat and then fried it with lots of veggies and roasted pumpkin in onion marmalade (a weird choice, granted, but I have limited condiments at the moment due to the move and packing etc.).

Slow cooked goat

Verdict? Very tasty instead. It’s kind of a cross between chicken and beef flavour-wise? And incidentally it has less fat than chicken.

Rant: As I can’t run at parkrun I’m still volunteering and helping set up and clear down. I take Alfie with me as well as it’s a great way for him to get a good walk in and he’s (fairly) well behaved. However with the autumnal weather and rain he gets so muddy. This means having to give Alfie a bath when I get back.

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Oh just look at his face! He hates having baths but won’t kick up a fuss. He’ll just stand there looking miserable. He smelt gorgeous afterwards though.

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He raced around afterwards and rubbed himself all over the carpet…lovely.

Injury update: So I’m almost 95% certain it’s not my IT band that’s causing me grief. I’m 4.5 weeks out from the marathon and my knee is still very painful. The odd thing is it’s not consistently painful. Sometimes I can walk around and walk up and downstairs absolutely fine. I get a glimmer of hope which is then promptly dashed later in the day when I suddenly get a sharp pain which then doesn’t go away until I stop walking.

The pain is intense, it’s a shooting and sharp pain inside my knee. There’s still a bit of puffiness around the kneecap. I’m icing, compressing, stretching, foam rolling…and no real improvement has happened. My muscles don’t feel tight at all. There’s no discomfort, just a sharp pain.

At the start of the week, I saw a sports massage therapist for another opinion (and he costs less than my physio and can see me in the evening at my home) and he’s pretty sure it’s an impingement of my fat pad in my knee. Massage won’t help it.

Bizarrely yesterday I was in agony walking a short distance to Tesco. I almost couldn’t make it. The pain was identical to the marathon pain (where I had to walk the last two miles). When I say agony, I truly mean agony. I was almost in tears and wasn’t sure I could make it back.

I’m hoping to see my physio again this weekend (he’s kindly seeing me out of hours on Sunday – I think he can smell my desperation) and I’m hoping he can confirm things and provide me with some light at the end of the tunnel.

At this point, I’m not going to lie, I’m panicking. I’m worried about Boston which I know is so far away but the weeks are quickly flying by. I thought I’d be running at some point in November but it seems highly unlikely. At the moment I can only dream of running at some point in December. As long as I’m running in January I can do the marathon. I’ve paid for the flights already and not mention the non-deferrable ridiculous costing race entry.

The only thing keeping me from falling into a dark, dark pit right now is how much I’m enjoying the gym. I’m just trying not to think about the next few months at all. Because it makes me feel sick.

What are your rants and raves?

Have you ever had a seriously painful injury before?

What’s the most exotic meat/food you’ve ever had?