Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Slowing Down Isn't Failing

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! I'm sure we've all seen that mantra posted on social media sites and blogs across the world, right? But what about when your plans and good intentions fail? Are you a failure?

Even with the best intentions and the best plans, things don't always go the way you want or expect them to. 'The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry' and all that (jazz). That is life. It often throws you some curve balls and you've just got to roll with the punches.

I like plans. I'm a planner. I've got lists about everything. If it's not on a list, I'm probably going to forget it. I've even got lists about my lists. I've totally turned into my Dad. So it's safe to say that when my plans...well, don't got to plan, it throws me off. It had taken me a while after moving up  Scotland to get into a routine, but I was getting there. I was going to the gym two or three times a week, going horse riding once or two, a bit of yoga in between and eating clean around 80% of the time.

But the one thing I've not been able to get into a routine is my blog schedule, no matter how hard I've tried to. For that, I am sad. I want to continue to post when I can. Being a journalist means that I often have to work extra hours or cover evening meetings.

I often work in a pressurized environment, sticking to deadlines and always thinking about the next one. That is the line of work I chose. But as well as demands at work, I was putting far too many demands on myself. I wanted to be everything for everybody. But there simply weren't enough hours in the day to do everything I was expecting myself to do.

So my plans went awry. I tried to keep to my schedule, but that meant forcing myself to go to the gym or do yoga when I truly felt rubbish. Yoga teaches you not to push or force yourself into poses, ease into them in time. That is not what I was doing with my life or my practice. I work forcing myself to exercise when all I wanted was a bath, a book and my bed. I was trying to be full-on all the time, doing everything.

Where did it leave me? Burnt out, my eczema flared up and I got sick and ended up in bed to the point where I couldn't move. I'd gone too far. I had to slow down.

If you are run down that could be a sign that you need to slow down. And that isn't failing. That is listening to your body. Being busy has become a status symbol in modern day life. We're always nipping here, popping there, doing this and then doing that. I don't think it is healthy. Rest is important. Getting enough sleep is important. When you've worked out, letting your muscles is good for your body because it repairs and strengthens itself in between workouts.

I'm no longer stuck in bed, but my energy levels have been left hit. But as my strength started to come back, I went and started doing too many things again, trying to fit lots of things into my days and weeks, and I ended up with my first migraine attack in more than a year.

I'm taking every day and every week as they come now. I have gone back to the gym and I'm doing yoga a few times a week. I tried my first body balance class at my gym last night with a friend. I really enjoyed the class, being with other people as much as the exercises. We even had a cup of a tea with some of the ladies from the class afterwards. I really enjoyed myself.

Trying to do everything at once meant my social life took a nose dive, and I'm a sociable person. I'm not talking about partying all night long. I love being around people. I'm a fun, bubbly and friendly person. My mental health was affected as much as my physical health by getting ill and running around like a headless chicken because I was stuck in my little busy bubble. Since I've started to feel better, there have been times when I've missed going to the gym in favour of having a coffee, drink or dinner with friends. And I'm ok with that. That is balance to me (which is how I try to live my life). Seeing my friends makes me feel happy. I can go to the gym the next day or try slot in 15-20 minutes of yoga before I get ready to go out. I've realised that it is ok if my plans change. 

In the run up to getting sick and while feeling ill, I'd stopped laughing, I'd stopped smiling. And I'm starting to laugh and smile again. In all of our engagement photos I'm smiling or laughing. I'm starting to be me again. Just because I slowed down it doesn't mean I'm a failure, it meant what I was doing didn't work and I had to try something else, 

Slowing Down Isn't Failing. Being busy has become a status symbol in modern day life, but it isn't healthy.
Slowing Down Isn't Failing. Being busy has become a status symbol in modern day life, but it isn't healthy.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Engagement Photoshoot

A few weeks ago, James and I had our engagement photoshoot. It was so much fun. There was lots of smiling, laughing and a little bit of silliness. And that is us.

It's been a while since we got engaged (as if that was in January!) and set our wedding date. We had planned on having our engagement photos taken in the Summer, but then I got poorly and my eczema broke out, so we waited until I felt better.

We're really happy we got the pictures taken. There are some fab shots. On a bright and blustery Autumn day, we headed out to picturesque Edzell, which is a few miles from where we live where, to meet the lovely Wendy Adie, who took our photos. We wandered around through Edzell woods, its quaint streets and across the wibbly-wobbly bridge, which of course we jumped on. It reminded me of the shaky wooden bridges I used to jump on and run across at the playpark down the road from my house.

There was chatting, messing about and even a bit of dancing. I wore a super fun floral dress from Apricot, which made for beautiful photos when I spun around and James wore a blue check Burton shirt I'd bought him for his birthday.  It was really relaxed and tonnes of fun.

Once the sun started to set, we said goodbye to Wendy, drove home and snuggled up with a warming homemade pasta dish and a movie.

I can't believe almost a year has passed since we got engaged and that we will be getting married in 19 months. We've started to plan the wedding and are going back down to England for a few days next week to visit family, friends and do some wedding planning. I'm loving making the arrangements and coming up with ideas for our wedding. I've made lots of lists, lists are my thing. I can't wait to start sharing more about our wedding with you soon.


Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot
Engagement Photoshoot


Friday, 7 November 2014

15-Minute Kale and Chorizo Pasta

Comfort food. What does that mean to you? To me comfort is a big bowl of pasta, or my mum's roast dinner. But seeing as though I'm hundreds of miles away from my folks, pasta is often my comfort food of choice.

J and I are going back home to England later in the month to visit our families and do a bit of wedding planning. Double yays! We had our engagement photoshoot recently. So. Much. Fun.


Sweet and spicy kale and chorizo pasta that is like a hug in a bowl. It can be made both gluten-free and dairy-free | The Road to Less Cake | #pasta #kale #healthy #chorizo #glutenfree #dairyfree

After being out in the crisp, fresh and blustery Autumn air for our engagement shoot James and I were feeling hungry and wanted something that would warm us up and that could be made in a lickety split. We nipped to the supermarket, grabbed a few things we needed and were out within 10 minutes. I think it was our quickest food shopping trip together. I usually get distracted by new seasonal produce coming in or pretty bowls and mugs for photographing or chunky pieces of knitwear that are now finding their way into stores.

Sweet and spicy kale and chorizo pasta that is like a hug in a bowl. It can be made both gluten-free and dairy-free | The Road to Less Cake | #pasta #kale #healthy #chorizo #glutenfree #dairyfree

This is one of those meals that makes you feel all warm and toasty from your tummy all the way down to your little piggies (to stop them running away to the market or the nearest takeaway). Chunky chorizo, perfectly cooked pasta, a sweet and lightly spiced sauce with some kale thrown in for good measure. It's like a hug in a bowl and can be made in 15 minutes. Say whaaaat?

Sweet and spicy kale and chorizo pasta that is like a hug in a bowl. It can be made both gluten-free and dairy-free | The Road to Less Cake | #pasta #kale #healthy #chorizo #glutenfree #dairyfree

The kale was actually an afterthought. But, you guys, am I glad it was. The spicy chorizo is delish with the earthy and peppery kale. Noms!

James had bought me a MAHOOSIVE bag of kale a couple of days before when I'd asked him to get me some, but they only bag they had in the supermarket was this ridiculously large one. My hubs-to-be doesn't eat kale, he doesn't do 'green stuff' unless it is lettuce, green pepper, cucumber or peas, and said that I had to eat all the kale he had bought me. I hate wasting food, and love my kale, so I ended up adding it most of my meals. While my pasta was cooking, I threw a couple of handfuls of the greens into the water.

If you wanted to you could steam the kale rather than adding it to the pasta, but for ease, speediness and less washing up, cooking it with the pasta I find is the most convenient.

When I remade the recipe for the photos you see before you, I added kale to both bowls, and once I'd done taking as many shots as I was happy with, I handed J a bowl. And guess what? He ate it all. HE ATE THE KALE. He didn't fish it out as normal and it didn't find its way on to my plate. My self-confessed green-food-hater of a fiance happily chowed down the kale along with the rest of the dish. And what's more? He loves this recipe. *Does happy dance!*

Sweet and spicy kale and chorizo pasta that is like a hug in a bowl. It can be made both gluten-free and dairy-free | The Road to Less Cake | #pasta #kale #healthy #chorizo #glutenfree #dairyfree


I'm still wheat and dairy-free at the moment, which I am finding is helping me feel less bloated, so I used rice pasta for my recipe. In my student days I think I ate my weight in pasta and stirfries. They were cheap and easy meals that I could make pretty healthy when I was losing weight by bulking them out with veggies, Stirfries are still my go-to quick, simple and clean dinners but I don't eat tonnes of pasta these days, Having said that, I do enjoy the odd bowl. As I said it is my comfort food of choice. If you're not wheat or gluten intolerance go ahead and use your favourite pasta. Wholemeal or spelt pasta would work well. 

Pasta needs cheese. Thems the rules. I sprinkled a little Pecorino Romano on top, which I recently found out is made with sheep's milk, to keep it my dish free-from moo cow milk. If you can eat dairy, feeL free to sprinkle to your heart's content with Parmesan. Honestly, I couldn't tell that the Pecorino wasn't Parmesan. 

Sweet and spicy kale and chorizo pasta that is like a hug in a bowl. It can be made both gluten-free and dairy-free | The Road to Less Cake | #pasta #kale #healthy #chorizo #glutenfree #dairyfree

Short on time? Want a delicious meal? And if you're like me, you'll want something that is makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside at this time of year because boy is it cold right now. This is like comfort food on a health kick. Go on. Take 15 minutes and whip yourself up this sweet, spicy kale and chorizo pasta. Then sit down, relax and enjoy,

15-Minute Kale and Chorizo Pasta
Sweet and spicy kale and chorizo pasta that is like a hug in a bowl. It can be made both gluten-free and dairy-free | The Road to Less Cake | #pasta #kale #healthy #chorizo #glutenfree #dairyfree
by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Keywords: saute boil dinner diary-free gluten-free nut-free soy-free wheat-free kale, chorizo, sausage, pork, pasta
Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 4 cups (300g) uncooked fusilli or penne pasta of choice (I used gluten-free rice pasta)
  • 400g good quality chorizo sausage
  • 4 cups (4 large handfuls) kale
  • 500g (17.6 oz) passata
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow work best)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian spice blend
  • Pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or brown sugar (only add this if the tomato passata is a little tart. If it it too sweet, add a little extra sea salt, pepper. If very sweet, add a touch of fresh lemon juice)
  • 100g (3.5 oz) grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan to sprinkle on top (optional)
Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and boil the kettle.
  • Lightly prick the chorizo sausage and place them in the oven in a small roasting tray. They should take around 10 to 12 minutes to cook.
  • Once the kettle has boiled, place the hot water in large pan with the pasta and cook for around 12 minutes or as per instructions.
  • While the pasta and chorizo are cooking, finely chop the onion and deseed and cut the peppers into small chunks. Heat the olive oil in another pan (large enough to add the pasta later). Cook the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until they start to soften, add the peppers and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Pour in the passatta and mix in the paprikia, Italian spice blend and chili, salt pepper and sugar (if needed) and warm through. If it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to a simmer.
  • Once the chorizo is cooked, take it out of the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes and then chop with a shark knife and fork.
  • When the pasta is almost cooked, add the kale and cook for about a minute. Drain the pasta and kale, reserving a little of the cooking water.
  • Add the starchy water and the chorizo juices (this is optional but it intensifies the flavours) to the sauce. Tumble in the pasta, kale and chorizo, stir everything together, top with cheese (optional) and serve immediately.
Powered by Recipage

What is your favourite comfort food?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Fit Festival, Edinburgh

On Sunday, the hubby-to-be and I jumped on a train and headed down to Edinburgh for the The Fit Festival, after I had won a pair of tickets on Facebook.

I love Edinburgh, there's something about the city that just makes me smile, so I'm always happy to have a reason to visit, especially when it involves talking about healthy living, and nibbling on some tasty snacks.

The event was held over the weekend in the gorgeous Assembly Rooms, which I had never been in before.


This was Edinburgh’s first health and fitness exhibition and I was excited to see what it had to offer. What I really enjoyed about the festival was that there was a focus on overall health with stallholders ranging from healthy snack providers to chiropractors and massage therapists to gyms and yoga instructors. There was no one pushing 'Do this in 30 days and you'll lose 30 lbs' diets. There was a spotlight on being healthy in all aspects of your life. Something I try and live by.

Wandering around, nibbling on samples of this and trying shots of that, I was really impressed at the number of different companies and businesses showcasing at the Assembly Rooms. 

After talking to a few companies, it was lunchtime and I was feeling myself flagging, and although I wasn't super hungry I listened to my body, so J and I grabbed a couple of smoothies made of freshly pressed apple and pineapple juice, mango, banana and strawberries. They were delish and mine pepped me up perfectly. 


After sufficiently filling up on smoothie goodness, there was more wandering around the stalls, more talking to people and of course, more nibbling.

We were introduced to lots of new products and one that stood out was some raw chocolate from Decadently Pure. The salted caramel pecan was so decadent and divine it didn't taste healthy at all. Clearly everyone else thought that as well because by the time we'd got to the stall they'd sold all out of the SCP. Cue sad face. But I did make some hints to James about Christmas presents, which I think he took on board. Score!

James wanted to check out a company called Healthy Nibbles, so he could get some ideas for snacks to take to work. Healthy Nibbles, which has only been going for four months, send out boxes of snacks to you in the post. What I really liked about the company is there are no subscription fees, if you want a box you can buy one, if you don't then you don't have to and they can be tailor made to your needs and tastes. They were offering a box half price and with most of the products being wheat and dairy-free, J and I decided to buy a box to share.

There was lots of taste testing at the HN stall and I fell in love with a peanut bar from Meridian, who make my favourite nut butters. Healthy Nibbles only had the almond ones left for sale and as I love Meridian's almond butter I thought I'd give it a whirl. I actually preferred the peanut bar, but both will happily be added to my list of on-the-go snacks for work.


As well as the stalls, there were fitness classes from yoga to zumba and masterclasses, and James and I listened in on a talk by Burn It Fitness about balance and setting goals. We came away with some really good advice, the main one being that you don't always have to centre on the end goal, you can set yourself mini goals along the way. The speaker gave us the task of setting ourselves a few small goals, which could be as simple as drinking more water everyday, that we can strive towards before Christmas.

I have been focusing too much on getting back to where I was before my eczema broke out and before I got ill and ended up in bed for a few weeks. I keep thinking about how my fitness levels were then and how I want to get back there, but I know it going to take some time. So by setting myself small goals that I can achieve will help me work towards long term goal, which is to feel more physically fit and healthy again.

Another thing that the speaker addresses was that to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle it is okay and actually realistic to have a little bit of what you want every now and again. I totally agree with this. If most of the time I'm eating well, drinking smoothies and eating my kale and quinoa, then the rest can be made up of slutty brownies, a glass of wine here and there and a portion of chunky chips/fries.

I really enjoyed The Fit Festival and I hope it becomes an annual event.

After the exhibition, James and I ended the day with a lovely meal in a nice little pub. This was me implementing the balance in my life. I ordered the grilled salmon with salad and sauteed potatoes (in oil not butter as I'm still eating dairy-free). The salmon was tender and the potatoes, oh my gosh they were so good. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Perfect. The meal was delicious and I didn't feel guilty one bit for eating it.


Did you go to The Fit Festival?

Have you been to a health and fitness festival?

How do you introduce balance into your life?

Do you set yourself goals?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...