Festive Healthy Treat – Mincemeat!

Hi all,

Happy Hump Day!

I know I probably didn’t need to mention this but just in case you weren’t aware – Christmas Day is this time next week! Yee ha! (I don’t think I have ever used ‘yee ha’ before in my life ever, it just seemed to call for it!).

Today I bring to you a new festive recipe – Mincemeat!

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If you are not familiar with this; please do not think it is made of meat! Traditionally yes, today no way! Instead it is a delicious mix of dried fruit, spices, zest and other goodies, marinated and used in a variety of ways.

It can be quite unhealthy at times, mixed with sugar, sugar and more sugar! However I have made a lightened version that’s paleo friendly! It also doesn’t include suet which means it is suitable for vegetarians too. And you can sub out the alcohol for orange or apple juice if you want to make it suitable for children.

So what do you do with the mincemeat?

Well, most commonly, it is baked with pastry to create a ‘mince pie’. I have included a recipe below for a grain free pastry that you can use to make tasty gluten free, paleo and a lot healthier mince pie! A healthy festive treat…? Yes please!

But there are so many other uses for it!

  • Over greek yoghurt with some nuts sprinkled on top
  • Mixed with oats for breakfast
  • Used as a chutney with cold meats and cheeses
  • On top of eggs (seriously, try it!)
  • On top of rice cakes etc
  • Mixed with chunks of apple or pear, heated in the microwave for 1 minute
  • Just as a snack on its own, out of the jar… yes I have done this… a lot!

And here is the recipe – mincemeat first and then for the pastry if you want to go for mincepies!

Mincemeat

Ingredients

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700g of dried fruit (I went for raisins, sultanas, currants and mixed peel. However, you could also use cranberries, chopped figs, dates, cherries etc)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1tsp of nutmeg

1tsp of mixed spice (all spice)

Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

2 ½ tbsp of apple puree

1 tsp honey

1 tsp coconut oil

1 cup of sherry (you could also use brandy, rum, whisky, orange or apple juice)

Method

  • Put all fruit in a bowl and mix
  • Add the spices to the fruit and stir through to coat

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  • In a small pan put the zest, apple puree, honey, oil and sherry.
  • Stir on a low heat until the oil and honey has melted
  • Add to fruit and stir

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  • Let it cool
  • Once cool, cover and leave for at least 24 hours to marinate. The longer left, the more infused the fruit will be. Try and stir at least twice during the 24 hours.

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Grain free/ Paleo pastry (makes 10 pies approx) 

Ingredients

1 cup of almond flour (ground almonds)

1 egg beaten

Coconut flour (enough to bring the mix to a pastry like consistency)

Method

  • Mix the almond flour and eggs
  • Add coconut flour, a small amount at a time, to dry out the dough until it is no longer sticky.

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  • Roll out with a rolling pin and cut out round shapes.
  • Place in cupcake/pie tin with 1 heaped teaspoon of the mincemeat on top.

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  • Bake in oven for 20 minutes at 160C. Check often.

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(Note- the texture of the pastry will be different to ‘usual flour’ pastry. However this pastry is full of almond/coconut flavour and I think it’s a lot nicer, yum! It also is so much lighter than normal pastry).

So there you have it! Why not give it a try, it is so easy to make and keeps for at least a few weeks in a sealed container. Or make and give as a lovely gift!

(And thanks to Jen over at @peasandcrayons  for the WIAW link up!)

Morning at the Spa!

Hi all,

Hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend!

Thought I would write a wee post letting you know about my Saturday morning treat – a spa session with my hubby David!

A couple of months back we got a Groupon voucher for breakfast and a spa morning for 2 at a local Hilton hotel – the Hilton Strathclyde. So last week we finally decided it was time to cash it in and we booked in for Saturday.

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We arrived bright and early to a lovely warm welcome from the receptionist who gave us our tokens for breakfast and the spa and explained where each was located.

Breakfast was buffet style and after being seated, we headed over to see what was available. I was really impressed with the choices, especially for people like David and I who follow a paleo-esque/ grain free lifestyle. So many buffets are all about the cakes, pastries, muffins, cereal and bread (of which the Hilton did provide) but the buffet here had quite a lot of grain free options! Yay!

Both David and I were tempted by the same thing – 2 poached eggs, 2 rashes of delicious bacon, some smoked mackerel, followed by a nice bowl of fresh fruit. We also ordered some freshly brewed coffee and had some orange juice.

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Other options included – all types of eggs (fried and scrambled were on the servery – poached and omelettes had to be ordered), sausages, grilled tomatoes, oatmeal, ham, turkey, emmental cheese, dried apples, pecan nuts, dried apricots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrots. This is just a list of the foods David and I potentially would have gone for; there were other choices, just not our kind of thing.

The food was really nice, especially the bacon which was of excellent quality and the mackerel. The coffee was nice and strong, always a winner! The orange juice, well, you could tell was from concentrate and was quite sweet, but I can understand that to provide a freshly squeezed pure juice would be quite expensive! We also had to wait 20 minutes for our poached eggs and David had to chase them up on it (I think they had forgotten). Not the best start to our breakfast but when they did arrive, they were perfectly cooked and paired with everything else made things a-ok.

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We sat and chatted and chilled out with our food and coffee for a while, just enjoying each other’s company and knowing there was no rush – bliss! Can’t remember the last time we could do that!

After we finished the last drips of our coffee, we headed over to the health spa where we were given towels and shown to the changing rooms. The changing rooms were clean, tidy and very smart – I do like a nice changing room, with good showers! Also little things like having hangers in your locker to hang your clothes make such a difference!

I met David ‘on the other side’ and we looked to see what there was to offer. There was a pool, bubble pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. The pool had quite a lot of kids in it, most having swimming lessons which was a shame as there didn’t seem to be much room for adults to have a general swim. But the steam room took our fancy, David and I adore the heat! After a week of having the flu I was also looking forward to the steam clearing out all my sinuses and giving me a real detox. It did its job perfectly and we went a couple of times, alternating between that, the sauna and the bubble pool (the bubble pool having the cooler water which meant we could go straight from hot to cold, great for the muscles!). We also had the chance to have a wee swim when things calmed down with the swimming lessons which was nice.

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We really did have the chance to chill out and relax in the spa and that combined with breakfast beforehand made it the perfect Saturday morning. A great chance to unwind with David, something we don’t often get the chance to do. Now, our afternoon on the other hand, was much more crazy but more on that tomorrow!

What I Ate Wednesday!

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Hi all,

Time for another What I Ate Wednesday!

Again thanks to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting the link and helping us share the mid week food love!

My day began with getting bits and bobs sorted in the house and getting David fed and off to work. Breakfast is still of the not so great kind – grains… enough said. But I am thinking I should use WIAW as an excuse to, on a Wednesday at least, try out some new breakfast ideas. Might be easier to transition to a grain free breakfast if I trial out some once a week… watch this space!

After breakfast I got ready and headed out to the gym. Was feeling pretty tired today but this feeling often just spurs me on and gravitates me to the gym, knowing after a session I will feel so much better and energised. And it did! I did a 20 min no break row, followed by a selection of weight machines as strength and then some mat based work – selection of crunches followed by some work on the mat roller – it’s amazing how much ‘gunk’ and tension you can release from your muscles and surrounding area with one of these. It hurts to use but the feeling you have in the area you have worked on afterwards makes it all worth it.

Back home for a post work out snack – my favourite apple and smoked almonds. These almonds taste incredible, as I mentioned last week. Have only found them in a small shop back at my hometown though so might have to ask my mum to take me some down when she visits next as I have now run out! Bummer – but an excuse to buy and try out something new, always good!

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After working on some emails etc it was soon time for lunch. Why does time always fly when you are head down in a computer!?

Lunch consisted of tasty lettuce wraps – chunks of turkey, seasoned and mixed with grated carrot, cottage cheese, salsa and some cucumber, spooned into iceberg lettuce leaves and rolled and tucked round into a neat wee parcel. Very nice and a firm favourite in our house- we love the crunch!

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I spent the afternoon working on some writing and doing the ironing (has to be done and a good excuse for me to take a break away from the laptop).  I love having a few little bits and bobs for my mid afternoon snack and today I went for some cherries, a babybell and my ‘everyday without fail’ prunes. Yummy and a perfect combo to tide me over until dinnertime.

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We were trying something new for dinner tonight and were quite excited about it – veal curry with red onion and mushrooms, served with cauliflower ‘rice’. Oh my goodness was it amazing! I cooked the onions, mushrooms and veal in a little bit of coconut oil (to be honest the smells coming from this, I could have just eaten that on its own!). Then I added some mix spice paste (a blend of Indian spices and some rendered down tomatoes), coconut milk and let it simmer until the sauce thickened. While this was cooking I blitzed the cauliflower in a processor and sautéed it in a pan to make the ‘rice’. The curry was delicious and so flavourful but the real star was the cauliflower rice and how it took on the same characteristics as normal rice – absorbed the sauce and kept a grain like texture. Most importantly however was the fact that the cauliflower tasted fantastic! I honestly can say that I will be making this from now on instead of rice, cous cous or even quinoa. It holds its own just like either of them, you can mix any flavour, vegetable, meat or sauce with it but tastes better, is more nutritious and more easily digested! Winner!

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I wasn’t really very hungry after that but was looking for something a little sweet – the perfect choice of a couple of pieces of watermelon and galia melon did the trick and as always, was very much enjoyed.

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Hope you all had a delicious Wednesday too!

 

What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) and Crossfit Re-cap

Hi all,

Today’s post is going to be twofold and kind of a bit back to front! I will start with my first ever ‘What I ate Wednesday’ (WIAW) post – woop woop, super chuffed to be doing this, building on an amazing creation by fellow blogger Jenn @ Peas and Crayons.  After that I will look at my Crossfit session from Monday.

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My day began, after seeing David off to work, with breakfast. Urgh, this is where I am still struggling. I currently have a half and half mix of all bran and organic corn flakes and I know the gluten from the wheat in the all bran is doing me no good whatsoever. I still am trying to find quick, grain free, filling, sustaining breakfasts and I know I will get there and David is the same. For now, it is the best I can do and as I am not happy about having it, I refuse to give it the acknowledgement of a picture! Ha! That’s it told! I have however, made the switch from dairy to either having coconut or almond milk and am already feeling the benefits of this. So I am happy with that side of things – i.e. what I put in my cereal!

After the gym, I came home and had a bit of post gym refuelling in terms of a coffee, apple and some nuts/ dried beans. Tasty! Especially the almonds – which were locally smoked in Whisky casks giving them such a unique flavour. Yes it is true, us Scots do love Whisky (no alcohol appears in this product, simply the casks used!).

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After working on some emails etc it was time for lunch. Same as last week but just as tasty – carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, cucumber sticks, salsa and cottage cheese, with Total 0% Greek yoghurt (my favourite!) and some grapes for afters.

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By the time afternoon snack time came around I was pretty beat. And alas as a result forgot to take a photo of my snack! Eek! But it was yummy and consisted of a few pieces of jerky, 6 delicious seasonal English cherries and some dried prunes (the prunes being a part of my snack every day, uber yummy gooeyness!).

David then came home and we did our usual catching up of the day and its goings- on. A Wednesday is also the day that we do our meal planning for the following week. Something we always do and always do it together. I love that we are both involved but it is important to both of us so it makes sense! Dinner then followed – spiced lemon veal with grilled courgettes, a spinach salad with a drizzle of natural yoghurt. It was so tasty and flavourful! And grilled courgettes (or Zucchini to my American friends) is just delicious, I will be sad when their season is over.

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Dinner filled me up but often I just want a little bit of something sweet – the answer, a wee bit of cantaloupe melon and watermelon. Combine David being home, a dinner like that and a few episodes of Revenge = Good Times!

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Although I must have to admit, when it comes to food (and I guess maybe everything really…), I am a bit of a ‘routine’ girl and I wish I could escape it but find it so difficult. However with doing WIAW I will just have to mix it up a bit, as I don’t imagine you all want to read about me having the same breakfast, lunch and snacks every Wednesday! (Dinner at least is always different!).

So now on to Mondays Crossfit session! We are now half way through our On-Ramp Crossfit training, with having the choice between joining regular sessions or going over the past 4 sessions of training again. David and I both chose to do the latter, we really feel that concentrating on the basics and perfecting them is the best thing to do at the moment.

So as you may recall, our first training session focussed on squatting and the variety of squats for different techniques. I really felt like I had made such an improvement here and feel quite confident now in my squat position, only having to be corrected now and again! ‘Jen keep those arms straight!’

When we moved on to the WOD, our coach wanted to see our progress. So instead of 3 rounds for time, we had to do 5. I was not looking forward to this. When I first did this WOD, it really did make me doubt Crossfit as it showed me just how little strength I had, particularly when doing the wall balls. Here is a reminder of the WOD, with the update.

WOD

5 rounds for time

10 wall balls

10 KB swings

10 box jumps (step ups for me and my knee)

Oh boy did I surprise myself! Now that I know the power a squat can give and the ‘thrust’ your core can bring to lifting a weight of any kind, the wall balls were a completely different story! I was able to use my inner strength and fitness to throw that ball up there and I even managed to catch 75% of them! Now, by no means were they perfect or even close to what they should be but compared to last time I certainly kicked booty! (Weight the same as last time 5kg).

The KB swings, which I enjoy were great and I was able to power through them (8kg), along with the step ups.

I think the biggest ‘wow’ of all though was that 5 rounds were actually do-able and I did it! And the times as well were amazing. The first time I did the WOD for 3 rounds my time was 7.58. This time, doing 5 rounds I managed it in a time of… drum roll please… 8.59! BOO-YAH!