Monday, 14 April 2014

Chi coconut water giveaway

When I first started hitting the gym a few years ago I would often grab a sports drink before or after excising, thinking that it would help to hydrate and fuel me through my workout.

Once I started looking deeper into nutrition, I realised that I was drinking around a third to half the calories I was burning by having one of these sports drinks. Whereas water was zero calories. It was a no-brainer really.

Then from starting up my blog and delving into the HLB community and #fitfam community of Instagram, I was introduced to coconut water.

Now after working out I nearly always grab some coconut water to hydrate and replenish my electrolytes. 

I didn't actually like coconut water when I first tried it, but then I started using it in green smoothies and after that I was able to drink it. I do prefer the flavoured varieties to the plain if I am drinking it straight.

I'd tried a few brands of coconut water, but had never heard of Chi until they contacted me and asked if I'd like to try some of their products.

The company sent me a few flavours to try, I really loved the natural coconut water and mango and the natural coconut water and tropical fruits.

What I liked about Chi's products is they didn't have an overpowering coconut water flavour, which some brands I have tried have had. Their beverage is light and refreshing.

I loved the handy 330ml bottles they sent me, these were perfect for grabbing out of the fridge straight after I'd got back from the gym.

Chi coconut water does come in large cartons as well as small ones.

Their beverage is also low in calories, coming in at 25 to 60 calories per 300ml bottle.

Chi are offering to give one of my readers a month's supply of their delicious coconut water!

To enter the giveaway all you need to is answer the following question in a comment below:

What is your favourite smoothie recipe using coconut water?

For extra entries you can do all or one of the following:
  • Like Chi on Facebook
  • Follow Chi on Twitter
  • Like The Road to Less Cake on Facebook
  • Follow The Road to Less Cake on Twitter
  • Follow The Road to Less Cake on Instagram
  • Follow The Road to Less Cake on Pinterest
  • Follow The Road to Less Cake on Google Friend Connect

***Please comment for every entry you do, that way it is easier for me to add your name multiple times to the draw. 

The competition will close on April 21 at midnight (London GMT) and the winner will be announced shortly afterwards.

This giveaway is open to UK and Ireland residents only.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Confessions of an ex-dieter: A long overdue update

A few months ago I vowed to be completely honest with my readers and I owe you all a long overdue update of how things are going.

I started out 2014 with a spring in my step, raring to go, ready to get off my Christmas chocolate weight. I got straight back into horse riding, going to the gym and my yoga practice.

I was in a good head space and starting to feel a little less soft around the edges after a little bit to much chocolate and wine over the festive period.

I even had recipe ideas for you and was trying them out in the kitchen.

Things seemed good.

Then time just seemed to run away with me. I can't believe we're in April already.

The lack of posts here on The Road to Less Cake hasn't been because I haven't wanted to check in and say hey or that I don't have recipes I'm beavering away on, but in the last year my life turned upside down, in a good way. I moved to Scotland to start a new job, James and I moved in together and in January we got engaged.

It's been an exciting time, but a busy time, and that is the reason for my lack of updates. I've been trying to establish some sort of routine between work, the gym, horse riding and spending time with James, and blogging unfortunately took a side step.

And I'm sad about that. I really am. I miss my readers and the HLB community. So I am trying to make more of an effort.

I love being a journalist and speaking to people, but it is not nine to five job. I can only take photos for recipes on a weekend at the moment because I'm too busy (sleeping) before work and the lighting isn't good enough after work just yet. If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen that I have been working on a few recipes, they still need a little tweaking, which is why I haven't shared them yet.

The other thing is my periods took a nose dive again and became more frequent than they should be once more. It just got me really down and grumpy. I get horrendous period pains these days - cramps, headaches, sore back, you name it. All I want to do is curl under a duvet and watch chick flicks while drinking endless cups of tea and eating my weight in chocolate. The doctors have changed my birth control pill and so far so good, but we will just have to see what happens in the near future.

So it is confession time. I've put on weight. Not a lot, but I can tell, I feel softer around the edges.

Before Christmas our bathroom scales broke, leading me to believe that I had automatically put on 10 to 15 lbs. I hadn't. I'd put on five.

Last year I stopped dieting. Next month it will have been a year since I came off the Weight Watchers plan. With this recent weight gain did I think about going back to the diet club? Yes.

I thought I'd start with calorie counting, just to see what my intake is, so I re-downloaded My Fitness Pal on my iPhone. What a slippery slope that was. All my old habits came back.

The first few days were fine and I was averaging between 1200 and 1600 calories a day, depending on what exercise I had done, which I didn't think was too bad. But then over the coming days I noticed I was trying to get the number closer and closer to 1,200. I'd come home from work after a long day (I can work 10 and 11 hour days when I'm working on deadline), eat my tea and crash out with a cup of tea and my duvet and catch up on my TV shows. I'm usually hungrier on days I'm working, especially when on deadline, but if I was still hungry after my dinner, even if my stomach was rumbling I'd look at my calorie intake and tell myself I'd had enough.

I also started to restrict what I was eating while working, I'd have a green smoothie for breakfast, an apple mid-morning, a salad at lunch (which was only 300 calories at best), no wonder come 2 to 3 pm I was looking for my next snack or drinking more cups of coffee to stay awake and stave off hunger.

I'm not trying to eat more at lunch, and vary it, so instead of just a salad I'll have a yoghurt or some hummus with veggie sticks with it as well, and this seems to be keeping my hunger better at bay. If anyone has any suggestions how to not eat the world when you're at work, I'm all ears.

I've managed to establish some sort of an fitness routine as well, I'm hitting the gym twice a week, but I'm aiming for three, going horse riding once and doing yoga in between.

Although I've gained a few pounds, it isn't going up and up, I'm stuck at the same weight. At least it isn't going up, but it isn't going down either, and I'd like to back to where I was before Christmas.

The weird thing is, I'm not actually unhappy. I'm pretty happy. I'm living with the man I'm going to spend the rest of my life, we're both working in the careers we want to be in and we're beginning to plan our wedding.

I haven't disappeared, I'm still here, life just got in the way. I am getting back into blogging, slowly, but I'm getting there, I even posted a recipe yesterday.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Cherry and apple crumble

Well, the sunny weather didn't last very long in the UK. Wah! I miss the sun.

Lots of people were Facebooking,Tweeting, Blogging and Instagraming about the sudden surge of warm weather in Britain, and while there have been a few sunny days here on the north east of Scotland, it is still chilly on some days. So I can still justify eating a slightly stodgier pudding. Or so I tell myself.

That's not say that I'm not looking forward to the days where all I crave is smoothies and banana soft serve, because I am, I really am. I'm so happy that spring is here because that means summer is not far behind it, and that means a tan and evening walks on the beach.

Apparently classic British puds are back in fashion. Here here!

Although they never went out of fashion in my house. At my folks house they have cooking apple trees in their back yard and every year mum and I make crumbles, as well as apple sauce to go with our Sunday roast with their delicious home-grown fruit.

James loves a cherry crumble, call me boring, but I'm rather partial to the classic apple pud. So I amalgamated the two to please us both.

Not only did it create a delicious combo, the two together made a pretty pink fruity sauce.


The first recipe I ever shared was a low calorie apple crumble, and it is one of my most viewed posts. Yay for crumble!

Since starting my blog, I have learnt more about food and nutrition, so for this crumble, I have made a few changes to make it a little more nutritious. But I definitely haven't skimped on flavour.

Oats make the best, in my opinion, crunchy crumbly crumb for the top of your pudding, so I used a mixture of rolled oats and oat flour instead of plain white flour.

I also subsisted butter for my baking staple coconut oil and used naturally sweet stevia and coconut palm sugar to sweeten.

The result? A perfect crumbly crumb with a lightly sweetened fruit under layer.

A crumble that would rival your granny's recipe.

I personally like my crumbles to be a little tart, which is probably why I love the classic apple flavour, as bramley apples are bittersweet. But everyone has a different tastebud, so you can always make this pudding sweeter or more tart to suit your tastes.

Cherry and apple crumble

by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Keywords: bake stew dessert nut-free vegan vegetarian apples cherries cinnamon coconut oil crumble British
(Serves 4)
    For the filling
    • 4 medium bramley (or other cooking) apples
    • 200g (7oz) cherries
    • 1/2 cup (125ml) water
    • Juice 1/2 lemon
    • 3 tsps stevia/few drops of stevia
    For the crumble
    • 1/2 cup (60g) rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup (60g) oat flour
    • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup (50g) coconut palm sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • Peel and chop the apple and place in the pan with the water and lemon juice (this will help to stop the apples browning)
    • Stew the apples in the water on a medium to low heat
    • While the apples are cooking, pit the cherries and preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
    • Once the apples have started to soften a little, add the cherries.
    • Turn the heat down and continue to stew the fruit together until you have pink apple sauce. It should take 10 to 15 minutes.
    • While the apples and cherries are stewing, mix together the rolled oats, oat flour, coconut oil, coconut sugar and cinnamon with your hands to make a crumble mix.
    • Once the fruit has formed into a smooth sauce, stir in the stevia.
    • Evenly spoon the apple and cherry sauce into four ramekins or a large baking dish and top with the crumble.
    • Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until the crumbles are a nice golden brown on the top.
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    There's only one way to eat crumble in my eyes, and that's with lots and lots of custard. None of this cream or ice cream rubbish. I'm not actually calling ice cream rubbish, I love ice cream, but not on crumble, it is custard all the way, baby.

    I know my updates on the blog has been dire (more on that tomorrow), so to make up for it I have not one but two recipes for you today, because to go with my crumble, I whipped up some homemade coconut milk custard. 


    Even thought it is made with coconut milk, there isn't an overwhelming coconut flavour, it is a rich smooth, dairy-free custard that goes perfectly with crumble, or any traditional pud.

    Coconut milk custard

    by Nikki Mitchell
    Prep Time: 5 mins
    Cook Time: 15 - 20 mins
    Keywords: boil dessert sauce diary-free vegetarian coconut milk vanilla eggs
    (Serves 6)
    • I can (400ml) coconut milk, full fat (I'm not sure if reduced fat would thicken as well)
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or sweetener of choice)
    • 2 tbsp agar-agar mixed with 4 tbsps water
    • Pour some boiling hot water into a pan, put a large heat proof bowl over the top, pour the coconut milk into the bowl and heat on a low heat until it is warmed through a little.
    • Take off the heat and stir in the coconut palm sugar and vanilla extract.
    • In a separate large bowl, beat the egg yolks with a whisk.
    • Pour in the coconut milk a little bit at at time, whisking as you go along. Continue adding the milk until it is all added and whisk thoroughly and quite vigorously (otherwise the eggs will curdle)
    • Once you have all the milk added to the eggs, pour it back into the bowl on the heat and add the agar-agar and water mixture.
    • Whisk the custard while it is on the beat, ensuring you go all the way down to the bottom to avoid the eggs curdling.
    • Keep whisking until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, this could take 15 - 20 minutes.
    • Once it is thick enough, strain it through a sieve to get a smoother custard.
    • Serve immediatel with your favourite pudding.
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