Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Conquering My Fear!

I have been doing the Mini Marathon almost every year with my good friend Clare since 2005. We have only missed 2 years, one when I was out of the country and the other when it was only 2 weeks after my friend had her baby. We haven't always run it, but we do always complete the whole 10k! Its our tradition and its around that time that we'd have to sign up. Going back a couple of months I had big running plans for 2014 but then the Movember 10k happened. I had a panic attack at the 3km point and ever since then I have been terrified to go out running. I'm not even sure why it got to me so bad, I have had panic/anxiety attacks in the past but they have never got in the way of my day to day life. I have tried to put it to the back of my mind and forget about it, but in doing so I also pushed all thoughts of running away. A few friends of mine are signing up for the Great Ireland Run in April (which I did last year) and I was asked to sign up. Instead of going for it, or even explaining why I couldn't, I just ignored it and pushed it all to the back of my mind.

The past few weeks its been pushing back, and I think its the Mini Marathon that is pushing back! Even with that its taken me a few weeks to do something about it but I finally have. I signed up for a sub 60minute 10k training program with Run Keeper. Doing 10k in less than 60 minutes has been a goal of mine for years that I have never quite reached and I really want to hit this milestone. The program is 16 weeks long so it finishes a week or 2 after the mini marathon. I am ok with that as the crowds at the mini marathon do not make it ideal for getting a decent time. What I do want to get out of this is to get back into my running stride and completely get over my fear. Once I can do that I can think about actual achieving my goal.

Today was day one of the 16 weeks, and I decided I was going to try running before work on the weekdays. I know that when I get home in the evening I really like my time. I like to take time cooking something tasty and having a bit of chill out time to blog or read or watch TV. To throw a run into that mix leaves you with very little relaxation time. I mean its possible to do, but not ideal. Also if I woke up and decided not to go out, I still had the evening to redeem myself. So with that in mind I had an early night last night, left my jogging gear ready to go and set my alarm for 5:50am....and I actually got up!

It was cold and dark but out I went ready to get my 3.2k over with. It was a small start but I was glad of that. The 10k programs assume a certain level of fitness and there was a certain fear that I wasn't even going to be able for 3.2k. To my absolute relief I finished my 3.2k and while I didn't find it easy I have the confidence that I will be ok with Thursdays 4.8k! It is also amazing to get home from work knowing I can just relax and cook a delicious cottage pie for dinner. I feel productive and good and am almost looking forward to getting up early on Thursday and doing this again. I'm not putting any pressure on myself, just taking it one run at a time and see how things go until June! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Asian Style Haddock

I bought some frozen haddock fillets a few weeks ago and they are a little dull just oven baked so I wanted to do something to spice them up a bit. I also needed something quick and easy for the night before heading to Edinburgh. I have a terrible habit of leaving all my preparations to the last minute and end up panicking to get ready in time, so this was a great quick meal. Its filling and healthy friendly and only 4pp per portion if you are counting. I served this with some M&S fine egg noodles for an extra 2pp per portion but you could have this with some brown rice if you want it to be all filling & healthy friendly or any other side dish of your choice. I used frozen haddock but you could use fresh or any other firm white fish like cod just adjust the cooking times. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Weekend In Edinburgh!

I have to say its taken me a few days to adjust back to reality. We came home on Monday and even though we were only away for a few days I am finding it hard to get out of holiday mode - at least tomorrow is Friday!

It was an absolutely amazing weekend, for anyone who hasn't been to Edinburgh I would highly recommend it. The whole city is gorgeous and there is so much to do and see as well as the people being really friendly too. The food is fantastic too, I have to say we had a bit of a 'food' holiday while we were there. I definitely enjoy eating out and it is usually the most planned part of any weekend away and this weekend was no exception, but more on that later. I also got the first opportunity to really give my new camera an outing. I'm still not the best photographer, but I'm getting better!

We stayed in a gorgeous little boutique hotel, No. 11 Brunswick. There are only 10 rooms in the place and ours was absolutely lovely. Breakfast every morning was a choice of continental or a full cooked scottish which included haggis (one of my new favourite things!). I'll admit I went for the cooked breakfast 2 of the mornings, but I did have porridge on the second morning. I just couldn't resist the haggis the morning we were leaving.

We arrived on Valentines day and had already planned for a Sushi dinner. Sushi is up their among  my favourite food so we spent a bit of time researching before deciding on Kanpai Sushi, and if you are in Edinburgh check the place out because its fantastic. We had softshell crab roll, sea clam, spicy tuna, rainbow roll and dragon roll, as well as the most delicious dumplings I have ever tasted.

Edinburgh is a city for walking (which def helped me feel ok about all the eating), so after a hearty breakfast we set off around the City. First stop was Calton Hill to get our first views of the city before heading over to the Royal Mile to have a wander (and maybe buy some fudge from the Fudge House which is amazing). After that we checked out Scott Monument and decided to take the 287 steps to the top. The steps themselves weren't actually a problem, I was too preoccupied with the vertigo, claustrophobia and dizzyness to find it tiring. Its a small winding staircase that brings you up one leg of the monument and let me tell you, there were parts of it that I definitely would have been stuck if I was back at 14 stone! Though it is worth if for the views. 

The whole morning was raining and grey and we were more than ready to head inside into somewhere warm so we headed to the Gallery for a walk around some of the lovely Artwork before finding somewhere for some lunch and tea! We had the castle and a scotch whisky tour booked for the afternoon so we were pretty relieved when we left the coffee shop and the rain had disappeared. The castle is gorgeous and it has some amazing views of the city. One of the websites I checked said to give 2-4 hours to see everything, but we discovered we are speedy tourists and I'm pretty sure we saw it all in one and a half hours. Its full of history and there are lots of different Military and War museums scattered around the place. The Scottish Crown Jewels are also housed there but there were just too many people to get a good look at them. Actually that was my only complaint about the place - Saturday afternoon and there were just so many people around.

We had book the Scotch Whiskey Experience in advance and went for the Gold Tour which meant we got to taste 5 different whiskeys which was great for Conor but a definite waste of money for someone like me who thinks it all tastes the same. The tour was good fun and it included the biggest collection of scotch whiskeys in the world, but I would have much rather go to see an actual distillary than a very constructed tourist attraction. But seriously if you do decide to go for it and you are not a whiskey lover then don't go for the gold tour, its just a bit of a waste!    


We had decided that morning we were out for the day, and went for a brief wander around the shops before settling in for a quiet drink while we decided where to go for dinner. Not planning somewhere for dinner on the Saturday night could have been a mistake as our first choice of tapas meant no tables for the night. We were both a bit tired and after wandering around all we could really see that looked like that had tables were fast food, cheap or chain pubs. There was a spot near our hotel we'd walked past a few times so we decided to give that a go. A bar called the Newsroom and luckily they had a table available when we got there. It was busy but not jam packed. The menu didn't look like anything special but the place definitely was better quality than your usual bar food. We both went for burgers, I got the one with a piece of beer battered haggis which was amazing. Its a great little spot with some very reasonable priced cocktails on offer too.  After dinner we were more than ready to head back to the hotel and get a relatively early night. 

We woke up early ready for another day of walking. We had booked into a Michelin starred restaurant for dinner that night so we wanted to get as much done as early as possible so we had some time for a bit of a rest before. The main thing on the Agenda was to head up to Hollyrood Park and Arthurs Seat. Again we were really lucky with the weather and it was a gorgeous morning. Both of us were wrecked from all the walking we did so we took our time heading up the hill, we didn't quite make it up to the top and find Arthurs seat but we still saw some amazing views of the city and some old chapel ruins. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon heading around the Old Town before heading for a light lunch and a little bit more shopping. We had really tired ourselves out so we headed back to the hotel to enjoy the room and watch some of the Winter Olympics (I still don't understand curling). We had chose Number One in the Balmoral Hotel for the highlight of our weekend. We have only enjoyed one Michelin starred dining experience before this so we decided to go all out and get a tasting menu with matching wines. After a quick pre dinner cocktail in the Balmoral Bar (worth a trip just for the wasabi popcorn and a gin and tonic with strawberries and black pepper) before heading in for dinner.

The dining room is quite old school in decor and the staff are amazing. We were seated in a booth and the pulled the entire table out to make it easy for us to be seated (they also did this on return from any bathroom trips you may take). We didn't even bother looking at the menu as we knew we were going for the chefs tasting menu. To start with we got some lovely little nibbles which included a foie gras macaroon which was light and delicious and a little unusual. The bread cart was wheeled over with full loaves of bread which were sliced as you requested which you wanted, and they came over again to offer more. The amuse bouche was the most delicate butternut squash ravioli in blue cheese foam and this was paired with a gorgeous glass of champagne. It was  a great start! After we moved onto the foie gras course, served with pineappe and a pork crackling truffle. The came the heritage beetroot course, there was so much going on I can't remember everything but it was amazing especially the beetroot meringue.

After came the fist course and I was a little too eager and started eating before I took a photo, but it was a wonderful scallop and oxtail. Melt in the mouth delicious. The main course was a medium rare piece of beef which again melted like butter, this was service with truffles and from what I can remember cavolo nero. At this point we decided to go all out and order the extra cheese course and ordered one plate between two. They wheeled over the cheese trolly and we were able to choose from a wide variety of cheese. I love cheese and this was a particularly special cheese course. Dessert came in 3 courses, a pre dessert, dessert and petit fours. The pre - dessert was passion fruit cream which was amzing. The dessert was name Bramble and was apple themed. There was a cinnamon doughnut with apple parfait and fromage blanc. I'd usually go for a chocolate dessert given the option but this was better than any chocolate offering. The petit fours and espresso were the perfect finish to an amazing dining experience. It may have cost us as much as the whole rest of the weekend but it was worth every penny and if you get the chance definitely give this place a visit! 

We headed back to the Newsroom for one last cocktail of the holiday before taking the opportunity to sleep in a bit on our last morning! It was an amazing weekend filled with lots of walking, cocktails and food and I wish I was still there! Think I'd rather have another weekend away like that this year than a full on holiday! Back to reality and trying my hardest to get back on the weight watchers wagon. I would suspect I gained about 5lbs but I'm not going to stress about it yet...I'll give that a few more days! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Year Later...

Yesterday was my goalaversary....yes I know that is a made up word but I feel the event needs a word! I have been at goal for a full year now. I still remember how it felt to get up on that scales and see my weight. I knew at that moment I was there. I'm not sure at that point I understand that the real challenge was just beginning! Don't get me wrong, losing the 52.5lbs was tough, especially the last half stone. It required dedicated and determination and there were times I thought I wasn't going to make it. However maintenance is whole different ball game. You feel like you should be able to just "eat normally" again but the fear of going back is always there!! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hungarian Goulash!!


I am a stew lover, especially in weather like this! There is nothing quite like walking into a warm home from the cold with a gorgeous smell to greet you. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have that coming home after work as my lovely boyfriend had spent the afternoon putting this together. It was so good that I had to replicate it for my family for Sunday dinner last night. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Spring is Here.....

I hate the rain with a burning passion! Over the past week I have been soaked through going either to or from work every day but this evening was by far the worst! There is no worse feeling that being numb from the cold, and soaked to the skin....miserable is the only word for it! I came home in a bad mood and I was hungry, I had an idea what I wanted for dinner and so I rushed in the door in a panic - got changed and started running around the kitchen trying to get everything cooked all at once. Dinner turned out fine in the end but had I taken a few moments to get myself properly dry and warm then things would have gone a lot more smoothly.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pesto Style Dressing!

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I bought a bunch of basil the other night and I was planing on just tearing it into some roasted veg, but for some reason I got thinking about my FAVOURITE bagel for itsa bagel....the californian. The sauce in it is basil mayo and it is so delicious! I also needed some sort of sauce to go with the haddock so I decided I would try and recreate the basil 'mayo' but make it Simple Start friendly. Because I added some garlic (which I love) and used some quark cheese, the result was like a creamy pesto dressing.