Things lately

I thought I’d do a post on some ‘stuff’ I’ve been enjoying lately, like books, films and, most importantly, food! (Psst! It’s my birthday today too!)


Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

Unsurprisingly I like reading books about running. I also like reading books that later become films. I can’t remember how I came across this book but I found out it was going to be made into a film directed by Angelina Jolie and the premise sounded incredible (and had a runner in it).

Unbroken book

It’s a non-fiction account of the Olympic track runner, Louis Zamperini, who was taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II. “Epic” doesn’t do his story justice. The journey of his life is gripping, harrowing and inspiring. I absolutely cannot wait for the film now (apparently to be released towards the end of the year). The book was hard to read at points considering what he went through as a prisoner of war but it is a fascinating read that I definitely recommend.

The Sports Gene: Talent, Practice and the Truth About Success – David Epstein

In a nutshell, this book explores the arguments surrounding whether it’s nature or nurture as to why some people become successful athletes.

Sports gene book I love books like this, based on research and published papers. However it can get a little heavy going when it goes into details about DNA and particular genes. I also found it a bit meandering in it’s arguments and sometimes a little tedious as it is so heavily research-based. But there were many interesting findings and anecdotes about athletes and ‘gifted’ people which were fascinating.


Food Inc.

A relatively old film (2008) but still very relevant. Food Inc. is a documentary looking at the American food industry. It covers farming, processed food, animal welfare, environmental issues…sounds heavy-going but it was actually quite a good watch in terms of entertainment (not sure if it’s ‘PC’ to call a documentary high-lightening some hard-hitting issues entertaining but hey).Food_inc

Scary doesn’t quite cover many of the issues raised. Firstly, the condition in which animals are reared is horrific. Lack of space, sunlight, hygienic conditions and respect were clear. And also how Big Business is hand in hand the government and how much control they have over the market as a whole.

I live in the UK but a lot of the points raised are very relevant to us in Britain as well. It’s easy to assume we’re “better” but I’m pretty sure we’re ticking a lot of the same boxes.

Maybe clichéd to say this, but this really hit home to me. It’s really changed my opinion on the meat I buy. I do try and get free-range where I can but cost tends to be my biggest factor. Personally I don’t think this is right. If we can’t afford as much meat as we’ve been having then maybe that’s not such a bad thing to reduce down a bit…


I haven’t posted anything about food (other than cakes and meals out) in a while. Mainly because my meals have been quite boring and uninspiring. But I thought I’d show a few choice meals I’ve been enjoying lately. Funnily enough some of my running club friends have been uploaded pictures of their meals on Facebook which is always interesting! I love seeing what people eat.

Gammon and Eggs

Gammon and eggs Quite a standard easy meal. Grilled gammon, two fried eggs, couscous and veg. Sometimes I have couscous or sometimes I go without depending on how hungry I am.

Sausages and Sweet Potato Fries

Sausages and sweet potato Free-range chipotle sausages, oven roasted sweet potato fries and a kale, carrot, onion and courgette mix with onion gravy. Another easy meal and very satisfying. I’d like to say I made the gravy myself but I got an ‘add water’ variety.

Creamy Pumpkin Chicken

Creamy pumpkin chicken Right, before you judge this on it’s appearance, it is DELICIOUS. Basically lots of vegetables (courgettes, onion, kale, mushrooms) sautéed with chicken breast chunks. Then half a tin of pumpkin puree and a big dollop of cream cheese – it gives it an incredibly thick and creamy sauce. Honestly, it rocks my world. My original recipe can be found HERE.

Duck Egg Scramble Salad

I bought some duck eggs the other day from a local farm and wasn’t sure what to do with them.

Duck eggsThe yolks were huge! 

So I just scrambled them with some random veggies and then had that in a salad.

Duck egg scramble salad It was a fairly monster salad and I was stuffed afterwards. These eggs are quite big so probably didn’t need three…FYI they didn’t taste that different to normal eggs.

Feta Chicken

Feta chickenThis is an absolute weekly staple meal in our house. I have shared the recipe before HERE, but now make it in the slow cooker now. Basically you add chicken and the tomato sauce to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Then you crumble feta over the top and let it melt for about 5-10 minutes. Then serve!

I have nothing special planned for today as I’m working. I’m writing this on Wednesday so I actually have no idea what my birthday will bring. Fingers crossed for lots of cake. Because what’s a birthday without cake?! Not a proper birthday that’s what.

What have you been reading or watching lately?

Do you like documentary films? I’m not a fan but we got Netflix and Food Inc. seemed interesting.

What meals are staple meals in your house?

Being part of a team

I’m looking out the window and it looks like winter again. What is happening? Well at least it’s a lot lighter in the evening and morning.

I had a bit of a scare this morning when I woke up a minute just after my alarm was supposed to go off. But it hadn’t. Luckily I’m one of those weird people who tends to wake up naturally around their alarm time anyway. I remember at the weekend I was so worried I wasn’t going to wake up for my very early start (5.45am) for my long run that I woke up at 5.15am and then 5.40am thinking I’d messed up and over slept.

Anyway! Ben and me went to our running club’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday night.


I love my running club. If anything it’s just nice to be around people who are so like-minded. If you’re a runner and you’re not part of a club then I can’t recommend it enough to you. Having people to run and train with is just a small part of it. The support is just brilliant when you’re doing well in races, smashing PBs and feeling great. But, probably more important, is the support when things aren’t great; being injured, having a rubbish race or just feeling de-motivated.

I love having a network of people that you can talk to about running and they GET IT. And the club is full of so many different people from different walks of life and ability. People who are running sub-7 minute miles to people who are running 12+ minute miles. Old, young…everyone is welcome and celebrated.

I’m sure it’s the same with any sporting club really. Though maybe the love of cake is most strong with runners 😉 I wish I had taken a photo of just how many cakes there were after the AGM! All restraint went out of the window I can tell you!

Speaking of food. I’ll just leave you guys with a random meal I made the other day in the slow cooker that I loved.


Slow Cooker Chickpea and Sweet Potato Salsa (Serves 2)

    • Onion, diced
    • Courgette, chopped into chunks
    • Medium sweet potatoes, chopped into chunks
    • Tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • Jar of salsa (I used Discovery)
    • Generous tbsp. cream cheese

– Very simply, vegetables and chickpeas go into the slow cooker.

– Mix the salsa with cream cheese and then add to the vegetables, mixing it all up.

– Switch the slow cooker to LOW and cook for 6-8 hours.

The sauce makes it lovely and creamy with a bit of sweetness. Though I have to say that Discovery salsa can be quite sweet so I’m going to switch to another brand I think.

I’m going to the running club tonight – fingers crossed all will be well! It’s my last club night before the marathon. Next week is all about solo sessions I think to make sure I don’t do anything stupid.

What’s your favourite brand of salsa? I used to use the supermarket brand and that was brilliant.

Are you part of a running club or any other club? Do you like to get involved?

Do you wake up at the same time every morning quite easily?

The worst marathon training plan

I ran three miles last night. With no pain. Before I get the trumpets playing to celebrate my return to running…I am being very reluctant to celebrate yet.

My plans last night had been to just do an hour’s worth of strength. But my foot felt good. No pain or discomfort while walking. I looked longingly at the treadmill (now you know things are bad when that happens) and thought “ahh I’ll just try it”. So I hopped on, set it very slowly…no pain. Sped it up, no pain. Full on running, no pain.

I decide to go outside. I was dressed for the gym, not running. I had no running jacket, an easy t-shirt on, no Garmin, no music…

IMG_6106But I just went for it. I promised myself I’d stop if there was any pain.

No pain. In fact, it felt good. Maybe a hint of a slight discomfort from the spot on my ankle – but nothing to slow me down or really niggle me. I decided to stick with three miles. All I know is that I did it in under 25 minutes as I knew roughly what time I started. It felt pretty good to go on a ‘naked’ run. And I was so happy!

This morning I saw my physio and told him I’d ran (he told me not to run until the weekend) but he said that was great. He was glad I’d gone for it as I know my body best. He went to town on the spot of my ankle that’s causing me pain to ‘break it down’ to help build it back up. My god it is UNREAL how painful that is. But he did the same last week and it honestly felt so much better a few days later. And I’m OK to run 6-10 miles at the weekend.

HAPPY DAYS! But again, no celebration just yet. I’m quietly optimistic though.

To be honest, at this point, I’m trying hard not to think about the marathon, or marathons in general. This is quite hard considering everyone in the world is training for a spring marathon (OK I exaggerate, but a fair amount of people). And for some of them the biggest thing they’re concerned about is their running mantra. Are you serious? I wish that was my issue. I’m feeling a bit bitter and miserable (has that come across…?) So, just for fun, here’s my marathon training plan for the hopeless:

  1. Start your training injured.
  2. Bash out an 11 miler after doing your first one miler post-injury tester.
  3. Ramp up your mileage stupidly high – 10%? Don’t be daft: go big or go home.
  4. Do every session hardcore. Intervals, tempos, sprints. Easy runs? What are you, a pansy??
  5. Run through pain. Always. If you’re not crying, you’re not working hard enough.
  6. Don’t practice your nutrition for race day. Wing it, you’re a pro.
  7. Avoid your foam roller like it’s the devil. Tight muscles mean strong muscles.
  8. Have no clear pace strategy. You need to size your competition up first.
  9. RACE DAY: Try something new and exciting for dinner the night before and breakfast on the day. Perhaps something really rich and spicy that really sits on your stomach in a nice and heavy, bubbly way.
  10. Wear those brand new trainers you bought especially and haven’t worn yet. And that new cotton t-shirt that has those crazy designs around the shoulders that sort of itched when you tried it on.
  11. Drink lots of water all morning. So much so that your tummy feels really full and bloated. And don’t bother with the loos. Why waste your time when you could be right at the front of your corral, elbowing people out of the way.
  12. Make yourself known on the first mile by absolutely sprinting off into the distance. 26.2 miles isn’t that far and you really want to scare your competition.

Obviously this is a joke. Though sadly I have to say that I few of those I can tick (1, 6 & 8). Ben amazes me every day because honestly he went from broken and ruined to bashing out the long runs like a trooper. He pretty much did 2 and 3. The body works in weird and mysterious ways. I’m not bitter or resentful…promise 😉

But let’s move on, shall we? We all know how sad and panicky I am so let’s not dwell in that fun place right now.


I managed to sneak some sweet potato into a meal without Ben knowing. Can I get an applause here? This is the boy that was vehemently against that type of potato. After the meal, while he was still in a blissful sate of ignorance I told him what the secret ingredient was. Well played, Anna, well played. He even said he’d have it again.

IMG_6097 Basically I used the same recipe as my Mexican chicken slow cooker meal (recipe HERE) but changed the beans for sweet potato chunks. I much prefer it with the potato.

Last night another hit meal, not from the slow cooker though, was gammon with a fried egg and cauliflower/broccoli mash.

Gammon with egg OK I’d be lying if I said Ben had the mash. He had onion rings instead. I made the mash with steamed broccoli and cauliflower then added a big dollop of cream cheese and pepper. Blitzed it up using a hand blender then microwaved for about a minute.

I love gammon with egg. And it’s such an easy meal. You just grill the gammon and fry the egg. Boom.

And my lovely Indian friend at work made me ‘halwa’ to cheer me up (gosh I must be a joy to work with at the moment…).

IMG_6102 They are made from cashew nuts and ghee. There’s sweet but not overly so – more like a nutritional bar like Nakd or Trek. She suggested Ben and me eat them slightly warmed with custard.

IMG_6105So that’s what we did. Heavenly!

What would be your top worst tips for marathon training?

Have you tried any non-native desserts or food lately?

Does your other half like the food you eat?

Let’s talk about food

Hey, hey, hey. So I know it’s been a lot about running lately. So I thought I’d talk about one of my other loves (no, not cake today). FOOD.

So I thought I’d join in with WIAW this week to liven things up (check Jenn’s blog out for more info).

I’ve been really loving using my slow cooker lately. OK yes it does involve a little forethought and preparation to get things going but once you’ve mastered the planning, it’s a dream. I love coming in at night from work and smelling a meal already on the way.

Bless Ben, I love him to be bits, but he doesn’t cook (beyond scrambled eggs or pasta with ready-made sauce). I don’t mind at all because I love cooking and, though I hate the term ‘housewife’, I love the idea that I’m fulfilling an ancient wifely duty of making a meal for my man. Plus I can bribe Ben with meals 😉

First up is a meal which is a firm favourite.

Slow cooker salsa chicken  

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken (Serves 2)

  • Two chicken breasts
  • One jar of salsa (I used Discovery)
  • Tin of adzuki beans (I’ve also used borlotti as well – any works)
  • Extra seasoning and spices
  • Optional toppings: cheese, sliced avocado, crumbled tortilla chips

– Put everything in the slow cooker.

– Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.

Yep that’s it. Embarrassingly easy really. I suppose you could make your own salsa but this is simply an easy weekday meal if you know you’re going to be rushed. As you can see, I served mine with roast butternut squash and, er, a lot of broad beans. Ben grated cheddar over his.

My next successful slow cooker meal that I’ve recently tried was also very simple (why make things complicated on a weekday?)

Slow cooker turkey leg

Slow Cooker Tandoori Turkey (Serves 2)

  • One turkey leg (remove skin if desired)
  • One white onion, chopped (not diced)
  • Tandoori spice blend (I used the one in the photo but you can use any or THIS recipe)
  • Juice from a lemon

– I removed the turkey’s skin as we’re not fans. Mix the lemon juice with your tandoori spice blend so it becomes a paste that you can spread evenly over the turkey.

– Put the onions at the bottom of the slow cooker, place the turkey on top. This helps it stop sticking and you get some lovely juicy onions to go with your turkey.

– Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.

**Word of warning: don’t then go to your personal training appointment (at 6.15am) straight afterwards. You will smell of Indian spices. It takes a while to stop smelling that way!**

– Remove turkey when done and basically the meat should fall off the bone. Remove any small bones.

Ben had his with onion rings and vegetables, while I threw mine in a monster salad.

Turkey leg saladThe photo is dreadful. I’m sorry. It’s also in a salad bowl if you can’t tell. *Hangs blogger head in shame*

Side note: can you believe I ate an entire turkey leg on our honeymoon?


Though not something particularly to be proud of…I do see this as an achievement.

And on a non-cooking note…The other week my work friends and I went out at lunch for Thai food. I went for fisherman’s soup to start (which was basically like a broth with seafood in it) and a spicy beef salad with crackers for my main.

Spicy Thai foodWell, the soup blew my head off. It was so spicy. My mouth was on fire and my eyes started to run. But I persevered!

Then the main came. My poor taste buds were inflamed once again. This meal was literally the hottest meal I’ve ever had. My mouth was burning. My eyes were running. I was sweating. I had to order a glass of milk. I kid you not. I felt sick by the end. It was nice, in a perverse “I’ll never taste anything again” way but seriously, 10 minutes later and I was still suffering. Everyone thought it was oh so hilarious.

Snacking-wise both Ben and I have been loving the Cocofina coconut and date bars that I won from lovely Lauren’s blog.

Cocofina coconut and date bars When I get that drop in energy mid-afternoon at work I have one of these bad boys and it helps perk me up. Very tasty.

This weekend, after Reading half, can you guess where we’re going to eat? My favourite restaurant of all time…Jamie’s Italian. And can you guess what I’m going to have? I’m so predictable. I swear if they don’t have the Turkey Milanese I will cry. It’s the best meal in the world (in my humble opinion). Happy days.

What’s your favourite restaurant? And favourite meal?

What have you been snacking on lately?

Do you use a slow cooker?

BBQ chicken and weekly workouts

I spotted this while out walking Alfie a few days ago:

First blossom 2014I got stupidly excited. Does this mean spring and warmer climes are just around the corner? Unlikely, but it did make my day.

I’m all about things making me happy recently (with the exception of excessive cake consumption. That has been put on hold for a little bit). I like to plan our meals in advanced so I a) know what to buy at the shop and b) can easily prepare the meal in the evening after work. Waking up one morning I just thought “you know what, it’s not on the menu for this week but I really fancy it.”

Slow cooker BBQ chicken

BBQ slow cooked chicken

I had this with broad beans and roasted butternut squash

Oh my life this was good. And so very simple. Just chicken breasts, BBQ sauce (our favourite is Reggae Reggae at the moment) with a big dollop of cream cheese. The cream cheese makes things nice and creamy but it also helps cool things down a bit because the Reggae Reggae is quite spicy! I put a little bit of water in there as well and some seasoning and it’s good to go for 6 hours on low.

Apart from BBQ chicken, running is obviously making me very happy. My physio on Tuesday said things were looking really good and he positively encouraged me to up my mileage. He even said do a run up to 10 miles! In terms of my injury, he said he couldn’t see Paris being an issue!! But let’s just see how training goes…

I ran six miles on Wednesday morning. Well that was fairly tough I have to say. But I kept things nice and steady, not pushing too hard. Apart from stepping in a large puddle literally two minutes into the run it went very well. And for the rest of the day things (aka leg) felt good.

So my plan is to run between eight and 10 miles on Saturday. No Parkrun this week as I’m off to Bath to see my uni friends. [This time I will definitely be going (last time I had to cancel going because I had to work over the weekend).] I will see how I feel on the day and how it goes as to what distance I’ll do.

This week my workouts have and will (hopefully) look like this:

  • Monday: 4 mile run
  • Tuesday: off
  • Wednesday: 6 miles run
  • Thursday: morning personal trainer session and evening leg strength workout
  • Friday: Pilates
  • Saturday: 8-10 miles run
  • Sunday: leg strength (optional, depends how I feel)

Notice there’s no spin in there? I’m taking a break from it as I’m back into running. Spinning is a very intense workout and at the moment my body is learning to adjust back to running and I don’t want to stress it out. To be honest, this is such a relief as spinning is hard and not that fun!

And cake count this week? Zilch. Sad times but it’s got to be done 😉

How have your workouts gone this week? Any long runs planned for the weekend?

Have you noticed any hints of spring appearing?

What’s your favourite BBQ sauce recipe? It’s got to be BBQ ribs for me.