- Lightly grease a baking tray and heat the oven to 170. Lightly toast the almonds.
- Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and butter by gently rubbing together with your fingers until it becomes like fine breadcrumbs - just like you would do with a crumble mixture.
- Add the almonds to the mixture.
- Squeeze together small handfuls of the mixture to form little slug-shaped pellets (sorry, that is the only way I can think of describing them).
- Place on the baking tray and cook for about 15 minutes until golden.
- Remove and cool slightly and then roll in the icing sugar/cornflour mix.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Autumn is approaching fast and butternut squash and pumpkins are everywhere. Not only are they cheap to buy, but they are DELICIOUS and REALLY NUTRITIOUS, especially roasted in the oven with a little oil, salt, pepper and cumin. I made a really satifying roasted butternut squash risotto this week. It is low cost, dead healthy and easy to make. Give it a go....
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Maple Syrup Almonds
This is a wonderful midweek training dish for the autumn. Butternut squash is one of those vegetables that has an amazing array of nutrients – it is an excellent source of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory beta carotene (vitamin A), it contains good amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fibre, plus folic acid, omega 3 gatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, niacin….the list is endless. Add the almonds, parmesan and the risotto rice to this and you have a very tasty and nutritious low G.I. meal. I make the most of standing over the risotto by doing my stretches while I am stirring.
N.B. You can render this meal into a higher G.I. recovery meal by replacing the butternut squash with pumpkin.
Ingredients - serves 4
1 Butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2cm cubes
1 onion, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Knob of butter and 2 tbsp olive oil
350g risotto rice – vialone nano or arborio, for instance
1.5 litres hot vegetable or chicken stock
Glass of dry white wine
1 tsp saffron strands
75g freshly grated parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small handful of flaked almonds
1 tbsp maple syrup diluted with a few drops of water
Heat up the stock in a saucepan so that it is ready to ladle onto the rice.
Add the wine and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add a ladle of hot stock and stir constantly until it is absorbed. Add the hot stock, a ladle at a time. You need to make sure that each ladleful is absorbed by the rice before you add the next one. This should take about 18-20 minutes. You may need more or less stock according to the type of rice and the rate of absorption.
Serve with the almonds and some fresh parmesan shavings.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Music is one of the most important aspects to my training. After food, that is! I am sure that I run faster with music, especially if it is a long-distance run. According to Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Brunel University, most runners find the exercise more pleasurable than usual if they run with music. They also run further and for longer. He looks at it as a "legal drug" as it apparently blocks fatigue-related messages to the brain and reduces those negative feelings that I am sure all runners get from time to time! Even Haile Gebrselassie runs to dance music - Scatman? - click for the utube video.I know Paula Radcliffe trains to music as I have seen her playlist. I listen to a variety of music, from naf disco music to Bach, but I have to say that the best music to run with for me is Bach's Goldberg Variations, a recording by Stefano Greco, which is awesome.If you can find music which transports you into another world you can quite often forget the pain of the long run.
Mark is a purist and reckons that it takes the focus away from the running and that you should listen to your body. That is all very well, but sometimes if I listened to my body I would stop and walk!
Run to the beat.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Today I received my Good For Age acceptance form for the London Marathon in April 2009, so I have to decide between running London in April, running Boston (also in April) or running Stockholm in May 2009. I want to run with my husband and a group of friends in Stockholm, but in my heart of hearts I want to do Boston and I feel I ought to do it because I have qualified for it. I think it is really the creme de la creme of the top 5 world marathons - London, New York, Berlin, Boston and Chicago. Boston is the only marathon you have to be fast enough to qualify for. I have done London, New York and Berlin and now I have qualified for Boston maybe it would be churlish not to run it. Then I would just have Chicago to go....
I made a really special salad yesterday for lunch. Not great for endurance, but delicious, healthy and full of flavour, vitamins and protein all the same. Figs are all over the place at the moment - they are even selling them 2 for the price of 1 in Waitrose - and I am such a useless gardener my garden is overrun with nasturtiums. I think they are fantastic in a salad. They look pretty and they have a lovely strong, peppery flavour. Combined with a light cheese souffle, the sweetness of the figs and the honey dressing, this little salad works beautifully and looks gorgeous:
Salad of figs, parma ham, rocket and nasturtium flowers with a honey balsamic dressing
Four large handfuls of rocket leaves
4 ripe figs
6-8 nasturtium leaves
4 slices of parma ham
2 tbsp olive oil
1 dessertspoon white balsamic vinegar
1 dessertspoon honey
salt and pepper
Arrange everything on 4 plates and pour over the dressing. Eat immediately.
Twice baked goats cheese souffle - Serves 4
knob of butter (25g)
tbsp self-raising flour (25g)
100g soft goats cheese
2 eggs separated
lots of freshly ground black pepper
- Do points 1 to 8 in advance and then point 9 just before you want to eat. Heat the milk in a pan with the bayleaf, a little grated nutmeg and plenty of black pepper and bring it slowly to a simmer. Strain and leave to cool slightly.
- Melt the butter in a pan and make a roux with the flour. Cook it very gently until it becomes a glossy paste and then gradually add the milk, stirring all the time. Cook gently for a couple of minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth.
- Beat together the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks.
- Beat the egg yolks into the sauce mixture and then fold in the goats cheese. Taste for seasoning.
- Fold the egg whites into the mixture very gently to keep in the air and then divide the airy mixture into 4 - 8 really well buttered ramekins (depending on their size).
- Pop them into the oven on a baking tray and then pour about a cm of water into the bottom of the tray.
- Cook for about 15 minutes at 180 C.
- Take them out of the oven and leave to cool.
- When you are ready to cook the souffles, take them out of the ramekins, place them onto a greased baking sheet, sprinkle them with extra cheese if you want, and bake them in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes, until they are puffy and crispy on the top. Serve them immediately with the above salad.
Monday, September 22, 2008
200g unrefined porridge oats
250g mixed nuts – I like flaked almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnuts and pistachios. Pecans and hazelnuts are nice too
100g mixed dried fruit – raisins, crystalised ginger, dried apricots, figs and/or dates, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sunflower oil or melted butter
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
- Heat the oven to 180°C.
- Mix together the oats and nuts with the spices and the honey, oil and water.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto a large baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, turning the mixture around every 10 minutes or so for it to brown evenly.
- Leave to cool and crisp up and add the dried fruit if using.
- Store in an airtight container.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I knew then that it was going to be a good one. I downed my pint of water, made my normal pre-race breakfast of porridge topped with walnuts, blueberries and greek honey – good slow-burning, low- G.I. unrefined carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and bit of glucose - and sorted out my race number.
Hats off to the race organizers of this year’s Reebok Bristol Half Marathon. They really excelled themselves. I have run the Bristol ½ for the past few years and I my enjoyment of it has always been marred by the sheer number of people running. The start, especially in 2007, was chaotic and busy, unpleasantly so, in fact. Crammed into the start pen like a sheep, I remember thinking “What am I doing. This is hell. I could do the same course tomorrow in peace without all these crowds”. There was hardly any space to run for the first few miles and it didn’t really open up for the whole race.
This year, however, was a totally different story. From start to finish everything appeared well-organised. The start was split into two waves according to predicted times with two different assembly areas. The atmosphere was calm, friendly, less congested and really rather pleasant. We easily met up with our friends, we easily found a good place to stand in the pen 100 metres from the start just behind the pack of elite runners, and we easily set off at a fast sub 8 minute mile pace. My husband, Mark, and I decided to run together for the first time ever. Mark is usually faster than me, but neither of us had trained properly so we decided to just enjoy the race together. This would have been nigh on impossible in the throng of runners last year but this year there was no question of losing each other - we had tons of space.
The finish was well-funneled and the goodie bag was perfect, containing just what a girl needs after running 13.1 miles – a Double Decker chocolate bar and a lucozade.
The run past Bristol’s major sites is very picturesque- the harbourside, the SS Great Britain, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Avon Gorge - but what I find most inspiring is seeing the elite runners running back in towards the city when you are on mile 4 or 5. Everyone claps and cheers and your mind is taken off-focus for a bit as you gaze in awe at them sprinting past. After mile 9 the race suddenly becomes a bit trickier and there are a few nasties to deal with – too many corners to weave around, horrible medieval cobbles around mile 10 and then, just to finish you off, a nasty little hill at mile 11+….all character-building stuff.
Mark and I came in together at a not-particularly-respectable 1:46 and after a few very sweaty hugs (why do men always seem to kiss you on both cheeks after sprinting though the finish line!) we did a quick power-walk home to prepare for the post-half lunch.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I have been drinking lots this week to keep my hydration levels up, in the anticipation that we will get a hot sunny day, but in fact the weather forecast is for perfect running weather - cloudy with light showers and 16 degrees. At this stage we should be eating about 60-70% carbohydrate so I have been testing out some new carboloading recipes. So far this week we have had:
griddled tuna steak on a bed of spiced, cranberry couscous, with mango and avocado salsa
salmon with basil oil with local baby new potatoes, and
slow-cooked lamb with green flageolet beans and spaetzle.
Friday night will be tagliatelle with spinach, bacon and green garlic sauce and Saturday night will be my good old pre-race vrey high carb. staple - spaghetti with fresh basil, parmesan and toasted pine nuts....and of course I will start Sunday morning with a bowl of Go Faster Porridge, with blueberries, honey and walnuts.
My favourite this week has been the griddled tuna on spiced cranberry couscous- it just oozes flavour, it is fantastic for training and it's packed with goodness. The salsa contains a wide variety of vitamins and the couscous is a good low fat, medium GI carbohydrate. It goes without saying that fresh tuna is one of the better sources of omega 3 fatty acids – good for you heart and good for your brain.
And it takes moments to make:
Ingredients for 4:
4 fresh tuna steaks
For the Salsa:
1 mango (not too ripe), cut into small cubes
1 avocado (not too ripe), cut into small cubes
Handful of firm cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 shallot (very finely chopped)
Bunch of mint, roughly chopped
Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander seed, crushed in pestle and mortar
Juice of one lime
1/2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
For the Couscous:
Small pack dried cranberries
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1. Prepare the salsa: combine all the ingredients, season and refrigerate.
2. Turn on the griddle and leave it to get really hot.
3. Prepare the couscous: add a drop of olive oil and about 150ml stock (check pack for exact amount - an approx. measure is an equal volume of liquid to couscous), stir and leave for 5 minutes. In a separate dish, pour boiling water on the cranberries and leave for a few minutes to soften. Strain and stir into the couscous when it is ready, fluffing it up gently with a fork. Season couscous according to taste.
4. When the griddle is smoking hot, season the tuna steaks with salt and black pepper and then place on the griddle for about 2 minutes each side, less if they are not very thick. They need to be pink in the middle or they will be tough.
5. Give the steaks a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, season with more salt and pepper and serve on individual plates with the couscous and the salsa.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
But life must go on. This kids are back at school, the blog must be written!...and my late friend would not have wanted it any other way.
On a positive note, we had the most fantastic holiday in France and, back in the UK, my 15 year-old daughter did the South Coast Triathlon and won a medal for the fastest girl in her age group. I have to say that I was very, very proud. It was her first triathlon - a sprint triathlon (750M sea swim, 21k bike ride and 5 k run) in the foulest weather ever.
My husband, Mark, and Louis, our 15 year-old French exchange boy was also game enough to give it a go. Louis won the fastest boy in his age group as well. Well done to all of them!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
According to Gordon Brown, if we reduce our food waste we will help towards reducing food prices. I am no economist, but I welcome anything that will help the family budget during these times of increased prices. I bet Gordon is pretty frugal....
Anyway, here are some of my tricks for minimising food waste in the home:
- Shop daily if possible (this is great in theory, but many of us can only manage to do one big weekly shop. If this is the case, then it is a good idea to plan what you are going to cook each day)
- Use up leftovers carefully - use bones, prawn peelings etc for stock, leftover meat and veg for pasta and risottos.
- Think before you chuck away - be inventive with what is left in the fridge and store cupboard before stocking up again.
- Put the dishes of food on the table rather than serve up individual portions. In this way each person around the table helps him/ herself to what they want according to how hungry they are.
- Keep the fridge cold enough.
- Don't take use by dates too seriously - they are often worst case scenarios and the food is fine for a few more days.
I was very kindly asked to lunch at a friend's house last week. She served up a very fine dish of twice-baked butternut squash and goats cheese souffle followed by a really delicious chocolate courgette cake - the courgettes and the squash were both "lying in the bottom of the fridge" and had to be used up. I thought that that was a really inventive way of using up waste.
We had three meals this week from two chickens:
This Sunday we had the family to lunch. Mark had bought two beautiful chickens from the local farm and he cooked us a delicious traditional Sunday roast (I had the day off to do a big run and the washing!).
On Monday, I picked off the excess left over chicken, boiled up one of the carcasses for stock, slowly sauteed some onions and finely sliced mushrooms, then added the stock, bay leaves, the chicken and some single cream (also left over from the pud on Sunday). We had a delicious soup for Monday evening. My daughter added pasta to hers as she was off for a big swim early the next morning.
On Tuesday, I used up the rest of the chicken on the boys on Tuesday- chicken baguettes with mayo, cucumber and salad leaves- and then boiled up the second carcass for a French onion soup with cheesy croutons. I finely sliced and gently sauteed a pack of onions which were on the brink of sprouting in some butter and olive oil, bay and thyme, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar, then added the strained stock and a splash of white wine. I sliced some baguette which was starting to go stale, toasted it in some olive oil in the oven and then we ate the soup with these croutons and some grated cheese sprinkled over.
I can proudly say that there is no fresh food in the fridge today. Whoops, what are we going to eat tonight.....?
A great fun website for ideas with leftovers is http://www.leftoverqueen.com///
Monday, July 7, 2008
Liz Yelling is a real inspiration. I subscribe to her blog on realbuzz.com. Take a look at it, it makes very interesting reading. She is so incredibly fast, yet I am always surprised at how 'normal' she seems.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Mark and I have entered for the Bristol Half Marathon in September and this will be my next challenge. Mark and my daughter are going to do the South Coast Triathlon in August, but I'm not a good enough swimmer to even consider this. The Bristol Half is not a favourite race of mine ( too crowded), but it would be churlish not to do it when the start is only a 10 minute walk from the house and the kids can come to the end of the road to cheer us on. It is also great to run with so many friends and actually recognise the supporters lining the streets for once. And the support really is amazing - the whole of Bristol seems to suddenly appear from nowhere to cheer you on. Here's a picture of Paula running past the end of my road! The course is such that you can see all the elite runners running in the opposite direction to you - it's quite inspiring!
I have decided to invite some fellow runners back for lunch afterwards and am already conjuring up something tasty in my head that can bubble away in the oven while we are running, something that will be good for recovery with a good proportion of carbohydrate, protein and vitamins. I am toying with the idea of slow-cooked moroccan spiced lamb shanks, perhaps a venison casserole or a Thai chicken curry. I made a great chocolate pecan tart at the weekend, which would a good post-run sweet treat- super for recovery with high GI golden syrup (to get straight to the muscles), 70% dark chocolate (lots of iron), good fats and plenty of minerals in the pecan nuts, protein from the eggs in the pastry. Pecans go really well with chocolate. I think I got the idea for this tart while in the States and we had it with cinnamon whipped cream. It is quite easy to make - if you can't be bothered to make the pastry, just buy some ready-made sweet pastry (tastes better with your own, though!)
I like to serve this tart with some strawberries or raspberries - you get the added benefit of some vitamins and a balance to the sweetness of the tart ...I would not recommend this pudding for every day of the week, but everyone deserves a treat once in a while and it is great when you can find good qualities in such decadent treats as sticky tarts! Of course, you are left with three egg whites - don't let them go to waste, go the whole hog and make some meringues at the same time.
I do not have a picture yet, but will be making another one shortly so will pop in a picture later. Anyway, here's the recipe for a 10 inch loose-bottomed tart dish:
Chocolate Pecan Tart
150 g plain flour
75g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
pinch of salt
- Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt and make a small well in the middle.
- Cube the butter and place in the centre of the well with the egg yolks and sugar.
- Work in the butter, sugar and eggs with the fingertips of one hand and then gradually add the flour to the mixture until you have a ball of pastry dough. Knead it slightly to make it a bit smoother, wrap it up in clingfilm or foil and put it in the fridge for an hour.
- Roll it out gently (it usually falls apart with me and I end up cutting thin pieces off the ball and sticking them onto the tart dish - it works just as well) Don't handle the pastry too much or it won't taste as nice.
- Lightly prick the pastry base with a fork and let it rest in the fridge for half and hour.
- Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind at 180 C (fan oven) for about 8 minutes. Take the lining paper off and bake for another 3 or 4 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool.
Chocolate tart filling:
125 g dark chocolate – good quality 70% or more
60 g unsalted butter
225 g granulated sugar
4 large eggs
330 ml golden syrup
pack of pecan nut halves
- Melt the butter and chocolate together slowly in a bain marie (bowl on a pan over simmering water). Stir and leave to cool slightly.
- Mix together the syrup and the sugar in a saucepan and slowly let the sugar dissolve over a very low heat. Bring it to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes - stirring all the time. Let this cool for about 5 minutes.
- Pour the filling into the tart and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or so until the surface has slightly set - this is so that you can arrange the pecan nuts on top without them sinking. Arrange the pecans beautifully on top, so that the whole tart is covered (I start from the outside and work in to the middle) and then put the tart back into the oven to finish it off - for about 20-30 minutes. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper over it to stop the pecans burning after about 10 minutes. The filling is done when it feels set. If you have cooked a quiche before, you will know when it is ready. It will start to rise slightly and the centre feels set if you touch it.
- Take it out of the oven and cool before you eat it and serve with whipped cream, or cream whipped with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Fell runners are made of tougher stuff - A gruelling 14 mile Brecon Beacon 3 peak Challenge organised by the British Heart Foundation
There's nothing like a mountain (or 3) to bring you straight down to earth with a big bang. I consider myself to be a pretty fit mother of three. I ran the London Marathon this year in 3:37 with a swift recovery time, I regularly run my training runs doing under 8 minute miles and, living in Bristol, I feel fairly accustomed to hills. Well, that was my opinion before I recklessly decided to put my hand to fell running.
I ask myself now what made me get up at 4.30 am on a Saturday morning to arrive in time for the early 7 am start of the 14 mile 3 peak Brecon Beacons Challenge? Was it the promise of the free Salomon XT Wings and the Nokia GPS? Was it curiosity and the need for another challenge now that I know that I have mastered 4 marathons.......or was it just plain insanity?
As we approached the Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre my stomach started to churn. Shrouded in mist, the view of the 3 peaks over which we were about to run looked unbelievably daunting. Thank goodness we had to stick in teams -I knew I could rely on my ex-army superhero team mate, Andy, for his impeccable map reading skills (no, I hadn't had time to work out how to use the Nokia GPS, and quite frankly even if I had trusted it, I couldn't have used it as it isn't water-resistant).
The turn-out was low due to the vile weather - pouring rain, high winds and fog - there must have been about 100 of us die-hards waiting at the start line at 7 am. I was slightly concerned that there was only one other female runner - and she looked super-fit and half my age. I instinctively knew from the first mile that my training around the hills of Bristol had been positively laughable compared with what I was about to experience. The hills, for a start, are steep and relentless. Then there is the terrain to cope with, which on Saturday was not only rough (no track or path in parts) but also boggy and slippery. There are rocks to climb, streams to jump, tufts of grass to leap over and great areas of bog land to negotiate. I also knew it was not a good day physically and mentally - I had had several bad nights' sleep, a dodgy stomach and my legs had not felt strong all week. Despite my desperate attempts to look after myself and eat the perfect runner's diet, I was just not 100% and there was nothing I could do about it.
And then there is the navigation in the fog! No mile indicators here, just the odd safety check point. The Nokia, had it been waterproof, would not have been great for running up in the mountains - retrieving it from the backpack with frozen fingers (my fingers do not function properly during endurance runs at the best of times) would have been too difficult. I have to say that I relied entirely on my team-mate, chief motivator and running buddy, Andy. Expert map-reader he may be.....but he had left his glasses behind because of the rain! We only took a wrong turn at one point - at the top of peak 3, Corn-du. The wind was really howling here and I was frozen. We had reached the summit and last peak of the run, but I was still feeling pretty low. Up on Corn-du, if you err too far one way you drop off the edge. We were slightly too cautious and took a path too far away from this drop. In doing this we added an extra mile onto our run (and the steepest and rockiest, of course). It also meant that having been in third place until mile 10, we dropped down to fifth place. Never mind, we'll just notch it up to experience! We'll know which way to go next time (the winners had already paced out the course in training...clever!).
So...2 days afterwards, Andy and I have decided to give it another go in August. The target? To run all the way up to the top of Pen-y-Fan without walking....I had better get down to some serious training.
We were hoping to gain time on the downhill section of the race, and I have to say that it felt good on the legs. The Salomon XT Wings worked quite well here and had a certain amount of grip, but it was really too slippery and racing down was not an option unless you were after a couple of twisted ankles and a sore butt. We noticed that the team in front of us had spiked fell-running shoes - we could see the marks in the mud. Those spikes were probably ideal for the conditions. My XT Wings were incredibly comfortable - they have been since the first time I put them on. The special pull-string laces make it really easy to get just the right fit around your foot. They were, however, not at all waterproof, and there were times when I could feel and hear the water/mud squelching inside the shoe. I suppose this is the price you have to pay for a breathable shoe and I am sure they would have been perfect for a less boggy trail.
The GPS on the Nokia, as I have said, is not suitable really for fell running as it is not water-resistant. I did use the Sportstracker which monitors your speed and mileage and will download this to the PC, but I feel happier with the Garmin on my wrist - easy to access and accurate, it also motivates you to run faster because you can monitor your actual speed so easily. The camera and video on the Nokia , however, is absolutely brilliant - 5 mega pixels and really easy to use and download. I think these photos really portray the miserable weather of the day.....
It was also the first time I had run with a backpack. I bought a super lightweight original mountain marathon backpack from Up and Running. It sat on my back very comfortably, weighed virtually nothing and had lots of easy access side pockets to stuff in your waterproof etc quickly. I'm very pleased with this purchase and will probably use it for skiing and cycling too.
Recipe for the Chocolate Biscuit Cake which saved me on my return to follow in next post!
Friday, June 20, 2008
I actually believe I am also nervous and excited about my first fell-running race. I now have all the fancy kit - the Salomon shoes just brilliant and I have finally worked out how to use my Nokia N82 GPS phone. The camera on it is dead easy to use and it has 5 megapixels, which is pretty amazing for a mobile phone. I am looking forward to getting some good shots of the run if it is not raining too hard. I have also bought myself a fancy running backpack for all the compulsory kit and iron rations you have to carry with you.
Talking of iron, I think my legs might also be tired because I have not been eating enough of the stuff this week. Not many women are aware of this, but pre-menopausal women from the age of about 11 to 49 need almost twice the amount of iron per day than men - about 14.8 as opposed to 8.7 mg for men (11.3 for 11-18 yr old boys). And women who exercise need even more because iron stores are depleted when you exercise. People like Paula Radcliffe need to be really vigilant about iron in their diet - apparently Paula not only has a supply of Cadbury's chocolate - a good source of iron - shipped out to her training base in America, but she also uses a supplement and eats red meat, the best source of iron, at least three times a week (including ostrich and venison). This picture was taken by John Hardy, a friend and Consultant Specialist in Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery (luckily I haven't had to use his professional services yet!) and photographer extraordinaire - I think it was the 2006 Bristol 1/2 marathon.
Although I have been trying my best to keep up my iron intake this week (hence the steak and the lamb), I am wondering whether I need some more. I made myself some porridge (with unrefined organic oats...much tastier) this morning and drizzled over two or three spoons of molasses, which has a high iron content. Vitamin C is an 'iron enhancer', so I had 1/2 a grapefruit to help my body absorb the iron more easily. I have not yet decided what to make tonight for my pre-race meal, but it will definitely involve pasta. And I will keep on munching at the 70% chocolate...full of iron and very yummy. Mark and the boys are going canoeing/camping down the Wye Valley for the weekend, so they will certainly need some sustenance considering the grotty weather forecast.
I am writing another article for the Sunday Times aboutdifferent types of iron and women who exercise, including some iron-rich recipe ideas, so more of this later.....
Monday, June 16, 2008
I have changed my allegiances and started buying the majority of my meat from my local farm shop - Gatcombe Farm (no website for a link unfortunately). The meat is deliciously tasty and most of it is from the farm. They do the best bacon and sausages too, but last night we had some lamb chops - any carnivorous readers will know what I mean when I say that we chewed every last morsel from the bone, it was just so tasty. The kids did not seem to bat an eyelid when I mentioned that it had come from the sweet little lambs over the hill. We ate these with some spaetzle, a German wheat flour and egg pasta, which I had bought over in Germany in April (Original Hausgemachter Grossmutters Kueche). Spaetzle is great running food - low GI, quite substantial with at least 68g carbohydrate per 100g pasta. I just boiled it for 7 minutes and then served it with some herbs, farchioni extra virgin olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. We ate the lamb and the pasta with a fresh organic green salad with a dijon mustard dressing and a bottle of rioja (between 3 and I only had two small glasses, so not too bad). A pretty balanced meal, all in all.
I have also received my Nokia GPS with 5 mega pixel camera, which I have been given to log my training. Well, it is a bit late for that, but I will work out how to use it over the next couple of days, and hopefully I should manage to get some good shots of the Brecon Beacons and the progress of my run.
I am not sure whether I am fully prepared for this fell run, as I don't really know what to expect. If I were to run 14 miles on Saturday, I know that I would be absolutely fine. But 14 miles up and down three mountains....who knows? I really don't want to have to walk and I am feeling a bit apprehensive...
Friday, June 13, 2008
- Peel and core the mangoes and slice very finely into thin shreds.
- Gently combine all the ingredients and tasted to see if you need a little more sugar, lime juice, fish sauce or chilli to balance the flavours.
- Serve on the salad leaves and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
Thai Basil Chicken with Noodles - serves 2
Our Asian supermarket sells two different varieties of basil - Holy Basil and Thai Sweet Basil - both are delicious and have a more aniseed flavour than the mediterranean variety. You could use either in this recipe. If you use the med. variety, you will not get an authentic flavour but it will taste nice all the same! As a vegetable, you could use green beans, or chinese greens. I used Heen Choi, which is very much like spinach.
- Heat in oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the chilli, ginger and garlic and fry for 20-30 seconds.
- Add the chicken and stir-fry for a minute or so until sealed.
- Stir in the sugar, satay sauce or peanuts and the fish sauce and then fry the meat until it is cooked through. Add a little water or stock if it looks a bit dry.
- Add the vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Stir in the oyster sauce and the noodles and then add the basil leaves. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add more chilli, fish sauce, sugar
- Serve garnished with basil leaves and a wedge of lime.
If you are stuck for the ingredients, my local oriental supermarket has a website - http://www.waiyeehong.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=9&Itemid=59. - and does home delivery nationally. Take a look at the website - there are cooking tips and really useful information about all the different exotic ingreadients.
Monday, June 9, 2008
However, this weekend they made a swift and magical recovery (!?) and were suddenly up for a trip to Devon to my sister-in-law Sally's wonderful house in Salcombe. It is a former hotel/guesthouse which they have converted into a most beautiful holiday home (it sleeps about 17, plus there is an annex for the staff, or more guests!). And luckily for us, my sister-in-law lives in the States and is incredibly generous - we can basically have use of the place whenever we want.
For me, the best thing about Salcombe is the kitchen - it has everything...space, loads of worksurface, every gadget under the sun, an aga, a conventional oven, a big fridge etc etc. And while you are cooking, you can look out at what must be one of the world's the best views. There is a herb garden to die for, with every herb you could possible want. Yesterday, we caught some pollack (my heart always sinks when I see pollack on the line, rather than mackerel) which I livened up with a mixture of fennel fronds and lemon grass from the garden.
We were chased off the beach on Saturday by a thunder storm, so I delayed my long run until the evening. The coast path around Devon really is one of the most perfect places for training. What could be more delightful than running along a cliff top with the sweet smell of gorse mixed with the freshness of the sea air, wild rabbits hopping out of the way as you take them by surprise. Before you know it, you have clocked off miles of hard, uneven and hilly terrain. I was running along writing my blog in my head like this when suddenly....BUMPPP...SPLATTT...I had fallen on the ground, still slippy from the thunder storm - straight down, headfirst, catching my left knee and chin. It is a bad feeling when you fall during a run, especially when you are on your own. There is always that fear that you might have injured yourself. I sat on the ground feeling rather sorry for myself for a while, until I caught sight of another runner in the distance and immediately pulled myself together, jumped up and continued, too embarassed to be seen in my misery! In fact I was fine, just a little shaken.
Back in the super-duper Salcombe kitchen, my mother-in-law had been preparing supper for the whole extended family (I think there were 20 of us). Little did she know it but she had put together a perfect runners meal - a simple but so very tasty stew of pork with apricots which she served up with some fusilli pasta and a delicious green salad. All I had to do was to make the salad dressing! It is great being a guest sometimes!
Pork and Apricot Stew
This is a hearty sweet and sour stew which goes very well with a fresh green salad and pasta, couscous or even mashed potato. It tastes nicer the next day. If you make it in advance, leave adding the fresh herbs and almonds until you serve it up.
1 tbsp Olive Oil
½ tsp Ground Turmeric
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
½ tsp Ground Ginger
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 kg boned shoulder of pork, cut into cubes
2 Onions, sliced
Chicken stock , cider or water
300g Dried Apricots
1 tsp Honey
splash of Orange blossom water
1-inch Cinnamon Stick
2 tbsp toasted Almonds
Bunch of fresh parsley or coriander, roughly chopped
- In a plastic bag combine meat with some seasoned flour and shake about to cover the meat.
- Heat up a tagine or casserole dish, add a splash of olive oil and brown the meat.
- Remove the meat and set aside. Add a splash of brandy if you like, to deglaze the pan.
- Add some more oil and then gently saute the onion until it is nice and golden. Add the spices, the garlic and the pork and then top up with enough chicken stock to cover the meat.
- Bring to the boil, cover and then simmer gently for about 45 minutes, until the meat is tender.
- Add the apricots and the cinnamon stick and cook for 10 minutes or so until the fruit is tender. If the sauce is too runny you may have to add a little flour to thicken it slightly.Ad
- d the orange flower , the honey and the herbs and toasted almonds. Taste for seasoning. If you think it is too sweet, try to add something sour like a spoon of dijon mustard, worcester sauce or some lemon juice.
- Serve with some plain pasta shapes or couscous and a green salad, dressed with lemon and some tasty olive oil.