What I’m loving lately – October/November

Blimey October has come and gone quickly and November is roaring by. I mean in some respect for me October felt like the longest month because of going to Chicago and Toronto but in other ways it’s flown by.

So onto some cool stuff I’ve been trying and loving lately.

I was recently sent a Vietnamese cooking set from Sous Chef.

Beautiful packaging!

It’s part of their Christmas gift sets that they have at the moment. I love cooking so I was really excited about this.

And let me tell you, they fully deliver on the ingredients and items in the package! The items included are:

  • The Food Of Vietnam cookbook
  • Potato Flour
  • Chaokoh Coconut Milk
  • Vietnamese Rice Paper
  • Vietnamese Shrimp Paste
  • Rice Vermicelli Noodles
  • Vietnamese Fish Sauce
  • Hanoi Rice Vinegar
  • Tamarind Pulp
  • Sous Chef Drawstring Bag

The cookbook is massive (seriously huge!) and contains so many recipes from Luke Nguyen, a renowned Vietnamese chef in Australia. The ingredients are exactly what you need to create an authentic meal and are of fantastic quality.

My dad loves cooking and loves Asian food so this is something I would have certainly considered buying him for Christmas. As it was, I got to do lots of cooking with him using this set. We’ve always enjoyed cooking together since before I went to university when he taught me how to cook and so we LOVED this.

It’s a great idea because a lot of the time when you want to cook a different cuisine you need to source and buy so many of the ingredients. And sometimes that can be tricky if the ingredients aren’t the usual ones we’d find in our supermarkets, whereas with this you have them all ready to go and a host of recipes that need them.

We loved the Crisp silken tofu crusted in lemongrass (mmm so lemony) and the Quy Nhon fish cakes so far!

I’ve also been trying some cool protein powder from REGENATIVE from Whey Forward Health Industries. It’s aimed at protecting cells and tissues from oxidative damage and the general poundings that running and endurance sports can cause.

When you exercise your body produces an increased amount of free radicals, and antioxidants can help clear this up and prevent oxidative stress to your body (causing inflammation, damages muscles and potentially lead to injury). Due to its “bioavailable” form of amino acids within the protein, it also helps with building muscles. And it’s Informed-Sport Certified, which means it has been rigorously batch-tested for banned substances. So no worries about doping, eh! šŸ˜‰

You can buy it as a monthly delivery pack which gives you:

  • 28 individual sachets (Dark Chocolate & Himalayan Salt flavour or unflavoured)
  • A cool bamboo storage case
  • REGENATIVEĀ® Starter Guide 
  • REGENATIVE Rechargeable Vortex Mixer

I quite liked having the unflavoured versions as I’m a big fan of plain porridge anyway. You can also add it to soups and things like that as well without compromising the taste. I love protein powder and always put it in my porridge in the morning just to help keep me fuller for longer and get an easy amount of protein early doors.

So many sachets!

I also LOVE the Vortex Mixer. Mixing protein powder can be a nightmare but this is incredible. So easy and works fantastically!

It charges via USB

Actually, I have recently given it to Kyle as he’s been wanting to up his protein and found trying to mix protein powder with water to drink using a shaker is dreadful as it’s still so lumpy. But with this it mixes in SECONDS and zero lumps. He keeps telling people about it in the office so I think he’s happy haha!

Also, I’m a bit late to the party but I’m loving my Goodr sunglasses that I bought before Chicago.

I mean I haven’t technically had that much of a chance to wear them for running due to my injuries (though I did wear them during the marathon), I love them. They fit perfectly.

It’s nice as well as Kyle got them in a different colour and as they’re one size only we can swap with each other if we fancy a different colour.

And I can’t not mention something sweet and tasty… We’ve recently just finished our office bake off competition. So no more weekly bakes in the office, which is devastating! But we had some truly amazing bakes which made a Monday morning far more enjoyable šŸ˜‰

These were the overall winner: chocolate lava cakes. Heated up in the microwave for 15 seconds and eaten with a spoon, divine! When that chocolate lava seeps out it’s honestly heavenly.

Do you wear sunglasses to run in?

Do you like Asian cuisine?

Do you think you get enough protein from your diet?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the Vietnamese food bundle and the protein shake bundle for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Chicago Food Recap

Ahh our Chicago trip seems so long away now. But the memories are good šŸ™‚

Staying in three different AirBnb’s helped extend our reach of where was easily accessible to go sightseeing (and eating). I did a bit of research before we went (one of my favourite things to do pre-holiday it must be said) and found a few top contenders for the best deep pan pizzas in Chicago.

Deep pan is a BIG deal in Chicago. One of the top rated was called Pequod’s. It was lucky we stayed in Wicker Park for the first night because in all honesty we probably wouldn’t have gone there otherwise because it was quite far out from our other Airbnb locations. I mentioned this meal a few posts ago, so go check that out.

Another pizza place we tried out was Lou Malnati’s and was actually one of our final meals. This was another high contender on all the lists of “best pizza”. As a chain there were many all over Chicago. It was very similar to Pequod’s in terms of how long the pizza took to prepare and cook (over 30 minutes) but I have to say, I far more enjoyed this pizza. And I don’t want to really as I always prefer more independent food places over franchises, but it is what it is.

I think the reason I preferred it more is because there wasn’t quite as much dough. It still had a thick base but it was a bit firmer and crispier. When we took a slice from the pan it held its shape better.

It was a lot more cheesy as well – in fact, one slice alone had 730 calories. That is crazy. As I always say tho, you’re on holiday and for me it’s part and parcel of enjoying myself out there.

I had two slices and a whole plate of chicken wings (a mix of buffalo and BBQ flavoured). And we had a sharer of mozzarella sticks.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out the obvious, but that’s a lot of food. It was very good though and we both enjoyed it immensely. But we were equally glad we had a 30 minutes’ walk back to the Airbnb to allow a bit of digestion and fresh air afterwards. Oof!

Of course it goes without saying I ate a lot of chicken wings.

Embarrassing really but I just fricking love them and the States do them so well. And not just your standard buffalo or BBQ fodder, but a range of flavours. While my previous favourite was the standard buffalo with a blue cheese dip (it has to have the dip), my new favourite is Garlic Parmesan butter. Hold. The. Boat. It was so good. No sauce needed, dripping in buttery cheesy goodness. Heavenly.

And I have no shame in admitting that I found this out when we ordered Uber Eats to the Airbnb and had an easy lazy dinner in. Out of a polystyrene box, it rocked my world. I’m not a posh person, I have no food snobbery, and I will happily enjoy it.

A mix of BBQ and Garlic Paremsan cheese

I did eat more colourful food during my time abroad of course. I had a very tasty “bowl” from Chipotle as an easy quick lunch. Tho the length of time it took to order and get it really questions how much of a fast food this really wasā€¦and it wasn’t cheap. I did double up on meat and add guacamole but seriously it came to over $10!

And on the same Mexican note, we had a lovely Mexican street food style lunch in a lovely little spot in Little Italy called Chilango. I had a steak rice bowl with lots of salad and salsa.

The post marathon lunch was of course epic as well. We walked the not-very-far way back to our apartment, I showered (best shower of my life, it always is after a marathon) and then stumbled into the very close Bar Louie and proceeded to order far too much food, of which we of course ate most of.

Pulled chicken nachos to share, chicken wings and pork “wings” (kind of ribs on a stick) for me, Pretzels and a burger for Kyle. The waitress was impressed.

The nachos were incredible. I think Kyle humoured me by agreeing to order them because he only had a few while I hoovered them up like nobody’s business. The wings were good and the pork was delicious.

I mean, it all tasted like I’d just run 26.2 miles and there is no better seasoning than that! (Edit: you donā€™t have to run a marathon to eat all this. I have eaten like this many times and not run a marathon, but the fact you are so hungry and your muscles are so tired and in need of a refuel makes it taste that much more satisfying).

We tried many treats throughout our holiday too like cinnamon sugar pretzel bites at the Navy Pier.

We had Insomnia cookies after we visited the Lincoln Zoo. We loved how they also sell milk along side them and that the cookies were WARM.

And of course fro-yo as a mid-afternoon snackā€¦ with all the toppings.

Chicago was a fantastic place to mosey around, shop and enjoy the sights.

I think I enjoyed it a bit more than New York because it felt less hectic, less busy, less noisy and dirty. The weather was cold and sunny, and of course windy. We were lucky to have one rain day at the start but the rest was beautiful.

And to take home (and one evening’s snack of choice) I bought far too many M&M’s.

The different flavours were amazing! White Chocolate Peanut?! Almonds! Pretzels! Ahh it was such a good haul. Now just to pace myself with themā€¦

What do you love eating in America?

Are there any foods you just have to try when on holiday?

Are you a sweet or savoury person? I used to think I was definitely sweet but I think I’m steering closer to savoury (though of course cake is always a winner for me).

What I’m Loving Lately – August

August has come and gone. I’ve realised that I’m totally ready to say goodbye to hot weather. I much prefer cooler weather. So bring on autumn!

This “what I’m loving” post is going to be heavily food-related but hey they’re the best right?

Have you seen the new White Giant Buttons from Cadbury?? They only sell them at Asda so when my dad was there the other day I panic text him to buy me some.

They are SO good. Do you remember how tasty the Milky Bar was before it changed its recipe? Well it’s like that. Creamy, slightly custardy and so moreish. I could easily eat an entire packet.

They also sell the white chocolate bar but I haven’t found it yet (apparently it’s even better than the old school Dream was).

And following that, I’m also loving the Tony’s Chocolonely.

I tried the pretzel caramel dark chocolate bar, but there are a few others I’m keen to try too. It’s so thick!

You feel a bit like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eating it. And money from the sales go towards ending slavery. So you can feel good about gobbling it up.

Moving on to more savoury things. I’m still on a big carvery love right now. I think I just love that you can pile your plate high with vegetables, stuffing and gravy.

I’m a big fan of cauliflower cheese and roasted parsnips too. Yum! We had a carvery when we saw my friends in Bristol last weekend.

The cake selection was incredible too. And despite being fairly full, I couldn’t say no to a slice slab of chocolate fudge cake.

Heated up with ice cream. Omg it was DIVINE.

Last food-related item… The Good Cookie cookies. I literally ADORE these cookies. Vegan and refined sugar free, but you would never know.

So soft!! I need more of these in my life. Thank you to my lovely friend Emma for introducing them to me and then gifting me a pack. What a friend!

Now on to more things fitness. I’ve been really enjoying the stair machine. It’s better for my hamstring than the elliptical machine and I’ve become a pro at just grinding away and supplementing my running fitness with this.

I love watching the new series of Peaky Blinders while mindless stepping. Don’t get me started on Tommy Shelby… *sighs*.

I was also recently sent a pair of the OOFOS sandals to try out. As I’m back into running again these came at a perfect time.

They are so fricking soft! My feet feel so comfortable and like they’re walking on clouds in them. After a run I love slipping them on and just enjoying the bliss.

They have a footbed designed to absorb impact, cradle your arches and allow your body to move naturally (check out some science-y bits HERE). They’re apparently supposed to reduce stress and enable a more natural motion of walking. And you can really feel it. These bad boys will be joining me in Chicago for after the marathon (*touch wood* I make it to both the start and finish line!).

And that’s all folks!

How do you look after your feet post-run?

What’s your favourite part of a roast dinner?

What’s your favourite chocolate?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the OOFOS recovery sandals for free to test for my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Being more eco friendly

To my friends and family I’ve become a little bit insufferable in my quest to be more eco-friendly.

I’m trying hard not to be *that* person who always makes a comment about plastic or judges anyone when they throw something perfectly recyclable into the regular bin rather than the non-recycle bin, but sometimes I can’t help it. I genuinely feel very concerned for our planet – or at least how we live on the planet. Because let’s be clear, we won’t destroy the planet in that it won’t exist anymore. We’ll just destroy our own species and way of life that we’ve become so accustomed to.

I try to make better choices when I go shopping. Loose vegetables and fruit rather than wrapped in plastic. Taking my metal straw to the cinema. Always having my bag of life with me. Choosing cans over bottles. Re-using and recycling like a pro.

But realistically it feels so hard. Like not just “this is a lot of effort” hard to constantly be thinking and making good choices, but like Current Life makes it very difficult to choose the right choices when the choices aren’t available. Races using plastic bottles. Shops only selling certain things in plastic. Restaurants, bars, workplacesā€¦ Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by it all and like no one cares.

Obviously I can only do so much, short of giving everything up and living in a hut in the wilderness or devoting my life to protesting for Big Changes. That’s not quite me. What I can do is little stuff and trying to educate those around me who aren’t as clued up (without sounding like a pretentious annoying knob that no one wants to talk to anymore).

[Yes of course being vegan would be the way forward but honestly, after trying it, that lifestyle is not for me. I have reduced my meat and dairy consumption during the week though].

One thing that has really been a gamechanger for me is the concept of eco bricks. I found THIS article. In a nutshell, you have a clean plastic bottle and you fill it with non-recyclable plastic. You literally fill it to the brim. I use a a sturdy stick (used to be a chopstick) and then you just push it all down.

It’s a great concept! You then take it to your nearest eco brick drop-off point (which you can find online) and they can then use it for sustainable projects. I’ve made about four already. It is timeconsuming and hard plastic is really tough as you have to cut it all up but I try and do a little every day (we have a basket where we put our clean plastic now).

It’s incredible how much plastic we use in a week though. It is a never ending task. And I’m not perfect, if the plastic is really contaminated from food I don’t use it because the length of time washing and then drying the plastic makes the process so much harder.

My parents are really getting on board with it all now too. They used to be terrible. But after excessively nagging them they try a lot better. They even went so far as to buy eco friendly washing up liquid, cleaning products and detergant for washing. I’m so proud!

It’s easy to feel helpless and get consumed with the idea that one person can’t make a change, but you really can. If everyone did something than that would be huge. Just educating yourself about what you can recycle and what you can reuse or avoid buying.

Little changes like not buying plastic covered fruit and veg. Aim for the loose variety, or shop locally in a fruit and veg shop. Buy cans instead of bottles. Use a composter for food waste. Meatless days (I currently have a lot of those days during the week). Avoid fast fashion companies. Give unwanted items to charity. Recycle your trainers (some running shops take them or use clothing banks). You can even think about carbon offsetting (here’s a good overview of sites that do this).

Basically just try and do something. Anything is better than nothing.

Are you eco friendly?

What are your top tips?

What I’m loving lately – December

I’m not stressed that I still have so many presents to buy for Christmas. I’m not stressed. I’m not stressed. Panic is not ensuing…

Anyway while that inner monologue continues, here are some things I’m loving lately and wanted to share.

Date nights: Kyle and I always make it a priority to have at least one date night a week and this usually involves the cinema (though I’m sure everyone has worked this out already, though I’ve not explicitly said it on the blog, Kyle is my boyfriend!).

We both love going to the cinema; the whole experience is just a fun one, whether the film is really good or… not (*cough* I’m looking at you, Robin Hood). We generally see one film a week. Last week we saw Ralph Breaks the Internet which was a good laugh (I loved the Disney princess bit), and a few more standouts were First Man and Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s just nice to do something mid-week and as we both work at the same place it’s an easy thing to go straight there. We buy a Subway from work (which after 3pm goes down in price), and a fizzy drink from the cinema (we take our reusable straws because we are super cool eco warriors) and enjoy a fairly inexpensive but fun evening.Not only did we go to the cinema last week but we also went out for dinner and then saw Jurassic Park in Concert. Basically this is a showing of Jurassic Park on the big screen with a live orchestra on the stage below the screen playing the soundtrack as the film played. It was INCREDIBLE.The orchestra were amazing. Like you could forget that they were’t actually part of the film. It was fascinating to watch them play as the film went on (though I imagine they’re so sick of Jurassic Park now having toured around the country doing this!). They were perfectly in sync and it was just so all-encompassing.Ā Dinner was pretty good as well. Before the showing, we went to 7Bone Burger. I had the Triple-D burger (which comes with blue cheese sauce and bacon) and halloumi fries…And a cheeky side of chicken wings. Kyle had a fried chicken burger with halloumi fries and a chocolate milkshake. It was goooood. The milkshake (as I did help Kyle out a bit with it…*cough*) was SUPER thick. Personally I’m not a huge milkshake fan but if I were to have one myself it would be a thick one. It was delicious.Podcasts: I listen to a number of podcasts every week: BBC Five Live Film Review, Marathon Talk, Empire Film Review, TED Radio Hour, My Dad Wrote a Porno – and dip in and out of other ones that take my interest. But I’ve recently been finding myself running out of them (I listen to them in the car, walking Alfie or when I’m doing boring chores around the house). My lovely friend, Emma, recommended Fearne Cotton’s podcast Happy Place and it’s great!I listened to the Gary Barlow one first and found it really interesting. It’s amazing how celebrities who are so famous, earning so much money and seemingly living their “best life” can be taken down by depression or body image issues. I’ve since listened to the interview with Mel C and Stephen Fry and both were just as good. Heartily recommend.

Recovery: I’ve come a long way since I first started running. When I was facing all my injury and niggle woes I’d be foam rolling, stretching and icing until the cows came home. But recently I’ve been finding I only really need to do a bit of light stretching after my circuit workouts, foam rolling on my calves maybe once a week and, when I get the chance, lovely soaks in the bath with some of this amazing stuff.Vie Epsom foot andĀ Bath SaltsĀ are fantastic addition to a hot bath. It apparently helps increase your magnesium levels and sulfates, which are quite tricky to get through food but can actually be absorbed through the skin. Both are really good for your joints and muscles in terms of recovery.I add a couple of cups (as you can see above – the cup doesn’t come with the salts FYI) in the bath and just relax and enjoy. I’ve found it can really decrease how much I’ll ache the next day. I don’t know about injury prevention but it definitely makes meĀ feel better anyway.

Blondies: Amazingly I won more baked goods on InstagramĀ again. I just seem to be very lucky (or enter ALL the competitions…). Anyway, the lovely company Fully Loaded Treats sent me six blondies, three different flavours.Oh my god they were good. There were M&M ones, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream ones and another type that I think were Kinder Bueno that were awesome.There’s something about blondies that I so love. I mean I do prefer brownies I think but blondies are a nice change now and again.

Dylan: My parents have three dogs (Lexi, Dylan and Sam) where I have just Alfie. Dylan is probably the most stupid out of them all (in a really cute and lovable way though). I can’t help but share how cute he looked the other morning.He’s very much a “I’d rather sleep than do anything else” kind of dog. Well, actually he’d rather eat than do anything else but sleep is a close second. I mean, let’s be honest, I think we all have a little Dylan inside of us all.

Do you prefer blondies or brownies?

Do you have any recovery tips or routines?

What podcasts do you listen to?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Epsom salts for free in return for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**