Detox diary: how to do a juice fast 

In a K&G first, we are handing over the keys to a guest blogger. 

Juicing blog
My partner in wine and girl gallantry since 2000 and Chaz’s twin Topshop shopper, 35-year-old former Batley brat Claire swapped (West) Yorkshire for (South) Yarra a few years back and now lives it up down under in healthy hipster haven Melbourne. 

We love hearing her tales of buzzy Aussie hotspots and she’s always ahead of the latest nutritional trend. Like us, she loves food and so when she announced she was embarking on a juice fast (public statement alert 🔊) we were all ears. 

Over to Claire to take you through the peaks and nadirs of her three-day detox. 

The background: why do a juice fast?

After a boozy cruisy trip home to good ol’ Blighty for Christmas, followed by a return to an Australian summer in the midst of full festival season swing, it was fair to say I was feeling like I’d blazed the candle at both ends by the middle of Feb. 

At around the same time, and on a friend’s recomendo, I went to a talk held by a natural wholefood doctor named Tyler Tolman on the benefits of water and juice fasting. As a kid who’s always loved her food I was entirely sceptical and also somewhat horrified at the idea of fasting. 

Two hours later, after hearing compelling empirical evidence and testimonials of the hundreds of lives this man had saved from terminal cancer, heart disease and diabetes, to name but a few conditions, I was a convert.

Here comes the theory

Fasting is an ancient medicinal method of curing all kinds of ailments that modern man has forgotten. When we fast on juice, our bodies get the opportunity to flush out all the toxins that build up inside us due to bad diet, exposure to harsh chemicals and the effects of pharmaceutical pill popping. 

At the same time, energy normally consumed by food digestion can instead be focussed on rebuilding and repairing cells, from reversing the effects of ageing to curing the body of cancer. 

The length of the fast can range anywhere from a few days to three months, depending on the severity of the illness or disease needing to be cured.

The execution: how to do a juice detox

Buoyed by enough enthusiasm to put my hunger fear to one side, I decided to embark on a three day fast.

It’s fair to say preparation is the key to success, so I borrowed a good quality juicer and juicing recipe book from a generous hipster friend, and spent a couple of days researching juice recipes and how much organic F&V I’d need for the three days. 

If organic’s not an option, due to either availability or budget, then you’ll need to buy a biggish bottle of organic apple cider vinegar to add to water and soak your produce in. Otherwise you’re still consuming the pesticides that coat the flesh and not really de-toxifying at all.

Most respectable juice fasts state you can have as much juice as you feel you need to maintain your energy levels. I stocked up on enough fruit and veg to make three 1 litre juices per day and found this to be ample. 

The kitchen looked like a harvest festival by the time I’d schlepped it all home, you need A LOT of produce to make a juice (the photo should give you a fair idea). I spent around $100 / £50 on F&V.

Juice fast preparation

Juicy couture


The effects of the juice fast were intense from the outset. I’ve captured the key highs and lows from my experience to give you an idea of what you might expect

The pros: benefits of juice fasting 

  • Most bizarrely of all, I didn’t feel hungry at any point over the three days. The first day was the strangest because you’re still adjusting to not having solids in your stomach. But the juice definitely nourishes you. In hindsight I wish I’d prepared for a seven day fast because I didn’t feel desperate to start eating again, even at the end of the fast.
  • I lost over half a stone and four weeks later I’ve maintained the weight loss.
  • I feel my appetite has decreased and I’m more inclined to eat only when I’m hungry than at prescribed mealtimes
  • I also feel that I’m eating better and craving juice, fruit and veg over animal proteins and salty junk food (an enduring weakness of mine)
  • I also feel I’ve had heaps more energy and I’ve bounced back from a couple of big nights that should have resulted in horrible hangovers, with almost no after effects.

The cons: disadvantages of a detox 

  • The actual juicing process is a massive ball ache. The juicing machine needs to be cleaned between preparation of sweet and savoury juices, otherwise you’ll end up with some funky tasting juice. There are loads of bits and pieces to the juicer so prepare to spend a good few hours taking it to pieces, washing it, drying it and putting it back together. Also, it needs to be emptied regularly to stop it getting backed up with the waste fruit and veg 
  • Cut me and I’d bleed caffeine. I’m the girl who always gets a large almond flat white on the way to work, regardless of how late I’m running. So having to go cold turkey gave me a headache by high noon of the first fast day. Thankfully it lessened to a dull ache by day two but I can’t say I wasn’t happy to get back on the caffeine
  • At the height of the glorious Aussie summer I was reeeeeeallly cold throughout the fast (apparently this is a common side effect of juicing). Get your jumpers at the ready!
  • This last one dances the pro / con line. I woke up with staggering night sweats on nights two and three; my sheets were absolutely saturated with sweat and I was shivering from the dampness. This is a common way for your body to expel toxins so although it wasn’t pleasant and led to a few extra laundry loads, it proved the juicing was working.  

The verdict 

While the juice fast was not without its challenges, I would 100% recommend it to anyone that’s curious to try it and I’m both happy and proud of myself for taking the plunge. 

When we place ourselves outside of our comfort zone with these experiences, we’re able to ask ourselves if we’re making conscious choices over bad habits, and ultimately enabling ourselves to live a more mindful life.

Juicing FAQs

Q:​ How long can you keep the juice for?

A:​ Ideally, they should be consumed within 24 hours, otherwise the nutrients start to break down.

Q:​ Can you make juices ahead and freeze them?

A:​ Yes, providing you don’t use the microwave to defrost them, as this will also destroy the nutrients.

Q:​ What were your favourite juices?

A:​ Sweet: Half a watermelon with half a bunch of organic mint (so simple but so refreshing)

Savoury: 8 tomatoes, 4 radishes, a handful of kale and half a lemon.

Q:​ What’s the ratio of fruit juices to vegetable juices?

A: ​The split of savoury to sweet juices is about 50:50 over the course of the three days.

Q:​ Are you allowed to consume anything other than juice?​

A:​ As much still water as possible is recommended, and organic herbal teas are fine too.

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28 things I learned when I went vegan for a month

Back in January I was cozily powering through those dark, winter nights accompanied by my best friends, red wine and Netflix. Faced with the nightly argument over WTF to watch, having exhausted all of the boxset options, attention turned to the many documentaries on there.

Vegucated was the first of its kind I had watched, late last year on maternity leave, pre-baby, whilst twiddling my thumbs – which isn’t easy when they resemble enormous sausages due to all of the baby weight I saw it as my duty to gain and then lose for your blog reading pleasure.

It struck a chord immediately. I was already pescetarian, but it was enough to make me quit fish immediately, and I LOVED seafood. I forged ahead with the veggie lifestyle and was happy to continue consuming dairy, mostly in cheese and chocolate form.

Until the Netflix war led me back onto the documentary path. Suddenly, I couldn’t rationalise my cheese addiction when it was stacked against all of the health benefits of a 100% plant-based diet. Prior to this, I knew very little about the animal welfare arguments against consuming dairy and animal by-products – I naively assumed there weren’t any. No cows were killed in the making of my pizza, so what was the problem?

I still consider myself to be far from an expert in these matters, I have literally just watched a few films,  read a little on the internet and talked to people. So I am not here to preach; live and let live and all that. I have no issues with other people’s choices, but I found myself struggling to live with my own.

As it was soon to be February, I resolved to take on a month-long, dairy-free challenge to see how I coped with and felt about the change in diet, outlook and habits.

And so, #fuckdairyfebruary was born.

Here are a few things I subsequently learned… 28 in fact, one for each day of the challenge which I will pretend was on purpose, and not just because I couldn’t think of 30.

1. I didn’t miss anything. Seriously surprising for someone who comes from a long line of cheese addicts.

2. Vegan doesn’t mean healthy. I had visions of becoming a member of that hated breed of people who just lose weight “without even noticing”. I put weight on after initially confusing things I could eat for things I should eat.

3. So in the same spirit, not all “treats” revolve around dairy.

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Little Barista, big vegan

4. Having said that, if you don’t choose your dining venues wisely, it can feel dairy is inescapable (quick pub lunch at the nearest carvery? Green tea and fries for me then).

5. Withdrawl is a b*tch. Sounds ridiculous, but I went through a hippytastic “healing crisis“. Coincidence? Possibly, but Jak was on the vegan train too and we were both ill for at least half the month.

6. I did feel better…. post-crisis. I can’t say I noticed a crazy surge in energy, but my skin has been good and to quote a vegan friend, Gem, I don’t feel quite so “stodge”.

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Who ate all the pies?

7. Vegan comfort food (or as our friend Katharine would call it, “nurture food”) is just as comforting. Homemade pie and chips, lasagne, mac and “cheeze”, all the carbs.

8. It can be a talking point – I had messages from old friends doing similar challenges, or forwarding recipe ideas.

9. Equally, it’s not as interesting as you may think to most (I became that Daily Mash militant vegan). In a good way, too. I felt guilty at times asking about ingredients or adaptions until I was reminded by several people that catering for different dietary requirements is standard for anyone who works in food, so any guilt was all down to my own desperation not to cause a fuss (my ultimate worst).

10. Breaking up with your milkman is hard. It took over a month, and even the mini member of the household who isn’t dairy-free doesn’t drink cow’s milk.

11. Substitutes work, some of the time. A couple of the cheese alternatives I tried were fine, others weren’t which makes you rethink recipes and habits – often in a good way. It turns out you can eat pasta which isn’t smothered in grated cheddar – who knew?

12. Bagels are your friend.

13. Tastebuds change – and I never really believed this prior to the challenge. Green salad had never tasted so fresh; dark chocolate now tastes like “normal” chocolate and former coconut hater Jak is now a Coyo convert.

14. 1kg tubs of peanut butter don’t go as far as they used to.

15. Virtually nothing is labelled up as vegan, I spent the month reading ingredient lists and now even my non-vegan friends are pros at scanning packs for milk powder.

16. And speaking of milk powder, it is in practically everything. Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?

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Pizza for everyone!

17. Chain places are great. I had my only vegan pizza of the month at The Brickworks. Incredibly for Accrington, it was one of two pizzas on the menu (as well as other vegan options). Chaz and I also enjoyed a #cheekynandos.

18. Vegan hotel breakfasts are easy. Fresh fruit, Marmite toast, granola, hash browns, beans and mushrooms saved me from a horrific hangover (it’s not a hotel breakfast without at least three courses).

19. You may find yourself shrieking “I can’t believe it’s not dairy!” when you discover a really amazing vegan product. I was sent these Pudology millionaires’ puds by Ocado as a review product (either cool or scary they know me this well) and was pathetically excited at how good they were.

20. People adapt. After my mum initially sent this Guardian article to our whatsapp group (apparently a joke but we learned our pass-agg skillz from the best), she soon switched the Wednesday night treat she leaves me after her childcare day, from Lindt to Bournville #bestbabysitterever #worstbossever

21. Indian restaurants and takeaways mostly cook in oil, not ghee, as it’s cheaper – so the majority of the veggie dishes are vegan. A top tip from our friend Jade and news to me – which made a curry house trip for my mum’s birthday a breeze.

22. Vegan fishless fingers are scarily similar. I know lots of veggies and vegans don’t like substitutes and I’d never bothered much until this month. Yet in the spirit of trying new things (and a #TBT to my former fish finger sandwich obsession) I explored a few bits and these were my fave.

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Love a bit of cake

23. Cake tastes all the sweeter when you eventually find one you can eat. Thanks to Little Barista in Burnley, I tried a coffee and orange cake and a chocolate coconut flapjack slice over the month, while my mum and Quincy tucked into buttered toasted teacakes (in San’s/BeyoncĂ©’s own words, #iaintsorry).

24. Come prepared. Jade takes a Tesco falafel and hummus wrap meal deal to weddings and christenings in case she goes hungry – top tip.

25. Support is plentiful – I joined a Facebook group for local vegans who post really useful tips and experiences on an almost daily basis.

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Avo and hummus sandwich @ The Abel Heywood, NQ, Manchester

26. Eating out is a doddle… Mostly. Venture into Manchester and you’re laughing, nip down to your local garden centre cafĂ© for lunch and you may be struggling. In which case…

27. If in doubt, call ahead. I ate lots of great food during the month and one such dish was a delicious veggie curry made especially at a country pub in the Lakes (the Stanley Arms in Calder Bridge) after I called beforehand. I’m sure I’d have found something to eat either way (salad and chips is always an option), but the chef was more than happy to accommodate my request.

28. It’s fun. I used to have a stupidly inaccurate perception of vegans as being sad and deprived, but I actually loved it and found it really easy. Which leads seamlessly to the question…

What’s next?

After an interesting month, I’ve decided to keep the vegan party going for a while longer. I am reluctant to commit to a label indefinitely, but I’m enjoying it so far and see no reason to stop now.

Honestly, I can’t say I’ll never eat (non-vegan) pizza again. But every time I consider it, I remember my reasons for starting this. OK, so health-wise I may not have exploited the benefits of the vegan lifestyle to their full potential just yet, but you only have to scan Peta’s Facebook feed for plentiful reasons to give this a try.

If you are curious about exploring this kind of thing, here are the documentaries that prompted my switch:

Food Choices

Vegucated

Forks Over Knives

And if you’re still interested after that, Peta do a free vegan starter kit which is a good place to start.

Nobody say cheese: aka F*ck Dairy February

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Quitting meat and fish was a gradual process for me and the latest food group on my radar is dairy.

Influenced by both health and animal welfare factors featured in some eye-popping Netflix docs I’ve been watching lately like Food Choices, Vegucated  and Forks over Knives, I’ve decided to go dairy-free for a month. I’m calling it…

(drumroll)

#f*ckdairyfebruary (sorry Mum)

It’s not quite veganism as I plan to continue eating eggs from my own hens. As far as I can gather, the only health risks posed by eggs surround battery hens and the associated animal welfare issues (please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m still learning).

So, at the moment I feel fine about consuming eggs produced by the divas who trot around my garden, bully my dog and make Quincy to go “tssssss tsssss!” (baby for chicken) about 50 times a day.

The easy bits

Huge parts of my daily diet are already dairy-free so in some ways, it’s a straightforward challenge.

Breakfast is usually porridge or granola with almond milk or yogurt. Switching to dairy-free yogurt is no problem taste-wise (hello Coyo) but it will make more of a dent in the budget (ÂŁ4.99 for 400g… yikes).

Work lunches and evening meals tend to revolve around batch cooking basics, many of which are vegan but I do plan to branch out with some new recipes to mix things up.

Last week I tried a cheesy butternut pasta sauce (a take on this recipe with added nutritional yeast and less cayenne and salt, so Q could have the leftovers for lunch).

Next on my hitlist are some Thug Kitchen recipes from a book Chaz bought me for Christmas. So far, their chickpea biryani went down well with our (meat eating) friend Lianne, who said she “never knew vegetarian food could actually taste good” (has she never had chips?).

The shopping

This week, I’ve ordered my third Wholegood organic uber veg and fruit box and I’m basing most of my meals around these.

After I deleted all of the cheese out of my first dairy-free Ocado basket (a sad moment), I added the following to see me through week 1 of the challenge:

I also ordered extra cashews (for creamy sauces, stir fries and granola) and avocados (because I don’t need an excuse to be even more of a basic b!tch).

And survive week one I did – and that even included a pub lunch (albeit in the v vegan-friendly Northern Quarter).

The obstacles

1. Cheese

I LOVE cheese and it’s the culprit behind many of my indulgences…. pizza, cheeseboards, grilled halloumi on veggie burgers, baked camembert with warm bread (thank god bread is vegan), grated cheddar on chilli or pasta…. I could go on but I’ll stop before I run to Tesco and lose my sh*t at the deli counter.

It’s a challenge, but changing habits is what it’s all about. I’ve never been one to give things up for Lent, I’m not religious so never saw the point. As I have proper reasons for doing this, I’m already finding it much easier than I expected.

And according to some, cheese is as addictive as crack, so going cold tofurky may be a smart move.

2. Cake!

A weekend coffee and cake date is one of our main joys in life and while we always opt for dairy-free lattes and vegan cakes where they’re available, the reality of living in a small town means they are seriously limited in places we frequent.

If anyone knows of vegan-friendly options in cafes round our way, please share them to save me from Costa soya lattes!

Now I’m practically a Ribble Valley resident (half a mile out, people!) I’m a big fan of the Benedict’s almond milk latte and we are planning a trip to Lolo’s vegan cafe in Ramsbottom because it looks amazing and people keep telling us to go… But any other secret tip offs will be much appreciated, as it’s sometimes good to have a surprising option in an otherwise “normal” place that keeps everyone happy.

3. Awkwardness

Feeling like a pain in the neck is one of the biggest downsides of being veggie and I do fear taking it to extremes will make me even more of a social outcast. February is already filling up with a wedding on the horizon and several other social occasions, so I plan to just do my best.

Exchanging messages with our vegan friend Jade, she’s enlightened me to the ease of vegan dining and added me to a Facebook group full of ace tips and tricks to navigate the Lancashire culinary landscape.

4. Expense

I get annoyed when people claim switching to healthier eating habits is more expensive as someone on a constant budget; I do my weekly food shop for around ÂŁ40 for three of us and lentils, chickpeas and seasonal veg are affordable staples.

BUT when it comes to indulgences like vegan chocolate and coconut yogurt it sure adds up. HOWEVER, this list of 44 accidentally vegan snack foods has reassured me dairy-free treat times needn’t break the bank. Obviously one of the main points of this is to adopt (even) more of a plant-based diet, so I don’t plan to exist on Pot Noodles and Pringles, but it’s good to know I could grab a Bournville from the garage if the urge for chocolate takes over (UPDATE: I actually checked my local garage yesterday and they don’t even sell it… WTF Nightingales? So veganist!).

I plan to report back at the end of the month (if I manage to stay out of the cheese aisle for that long).

In the meantime, anyone for an almond milk latte and an Oreo?!

This month we’re…

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  1. Eating… organic veg at a snip of the usual price now our local Aldi has stocked its shelves with pesticide-free greens.
  2. Listening… to Guys We F***ed. The self-proclaimed anti slut-shaming podcast hears two American comedians interview one of their former conquests each week. From one-night stands to long-term relationships and everything in between, they’re aiming to make the world a more “sex-positive” place. Obvs NSFW, I listen on my Friday pram walks and weekend batch cooking marathons to ensure Quincy doesn’t pick up any interesting new vocab (pic: Dee Guerreros).
  3. Dancing… the afternoon away at this year’s Strictly tour in Manchester. Now we’re ballroom dancers ourselves, we have even more respect for Ed Balls and his twinkletoes. This line-up also features our 2016 faves Danny Mac and Oti Mabuse, so it’s set to be a fab-u-lous occasion.
  4. Exploring… the world of cruelty-free products thanks to some top tips from a friend of ours who has set up her own blog, EthicalEm.com. This Weleda baby bath makes Quincy’s skin so silky I’m planning to pinch it for my next soak.
  5. Making… our own granola for a quick and seriously YUM grab-and-go breakfast. I found this really handy hack for making it without a recipe and it’s worked a treat so far. A must for those mornings when babies and burpees threaten the most important meal of the day.
  6. Ogling… Jamie Dornan in the latest 50 Shades of Grey movie like the basic b*tches we are. We tried to feign nonchalance about the first film, tagged along anyway then found ourselves discussing it for at least 50% of a 20-mile run, so this time we’re embracing it – minus the run part (pic: Jeff Hahn)
  7. Cooking… vegan mac and cheese. I made this recipe (pic above) from Minimalist Baker last weekend – I left out the chilli and salt for a family-friendly version (and added kale for extra smugness).
  8. Dining… at V Rev vegan diner in Manchester. Their strapline “Burgs Bakes Booze – all plants, no pain” is enough to see us running for the X41 for an afternoon of indulgence.
  9. Spinning… our way to success as we take on a charity spinathon in aid of Brain Tumour Research. Find out more here (and wish us luck!).

7 ways to get your daily dose of apple cider vinegar (and 4 big reasons why you should)

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A shot of apple cider vinegar a day keeps the doctor away…

Well, that’s the idea behind the latest health fad dominating our Facebook feeds.

The ancient amber nectar of the health world, apple cider vinegar has earned itself the occasional shout out here on Kings and Greens, prompting a deluge of (OK, three) demands for us to cover the topic in more detail.

Good news, fellow fadders, we are your humble servants of the blogosphere so we’ve delved a little deeper into the world of ACV to tell you everything you need to know in one place.

So what the flip is it?

Apple cider vinegar is the diva of vinegars, with good reason. The word vinegar apparently comes from the French for “sour wine”, a fact which somehow escaped my attention throughout 11 years of studying the language, which included a year actually spent in France, imbibing gallons of actual wine. One for you pub quizzers.

Hippocrates gave it to his patients thousands of years ago, and while I’m no medical expert, I hear he was kind of a big deal.

Why should I use it?

ACV kills 98% of all germs. NINETY EIGHT PERCENT! How do you like those apples?? (sorry).

In fact, the only superior germ buster is bleach, so unless you’re going to start shotting that (NOT K&G-recommended), you better hop on the ACV wagon.

Full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, ACV is a true health hero with a myriad of health and beauty-related benefits.

1. It aids weight loss

Not only does it boost energy, apple cider vinegar actually helps you lose weight. Acid is a natural appetite suppressant and fat burner, so a pre-lunch shot may stop you reaching for that post-lunch cupcake as you’ll feel fuller for longer.

A splash of ACV reduces water retention (bye bye bloating!), while its amino acids get busy on your metabolism. Some say it even messes with your body’s ability to digest starch, which stops some of the cals making their way into your bloodstream.

2. It stops you getting sick

A lofty claim, but one which is apparently backed up by science. Most major diseases are caused by inflammation. So, as a natural anti-inflammatory, apple cider vinegar can lower your risk of catching the really serious stuff, like heart disease.

It’s been said that ACV’s alkalising properties can help prevent the spread of cancer cells and even shrink tumours, according to some studies.

Just a tablespoon a day keeps cholesterol at bay – studies have shown it comes up trumps for increasing bile production and supporting your liver.

What’s more, it’s been said to keep blood sugar levels low, so can help fight diabetes.

3. It’s a natural skin saviour

Beating acne, curing dandruff, soothing sunburn and fading bruises are just a few of the ways apple cider V could rock your world.

4. It’s a cure for basically everything

Coughs, tummy troubles, sore throats, indigestion, blocked noses, cramp, even hiccups (!) – there is seemingly no minor health complaint that can’t be remedied with a slurp of your new best friend, ACV.

Apple cider vinegar has been extolled for its medicinal benefits for 12,000 years. Take that, Beechams!

7 ways to get your apple cider vinegar fix

1. Drink it

7am shots! Why not? The taste may not set your world on fire, but hey, I’m sure you’ve shotted worse (Aftershock, anyone?) and it’s guaranteed to wake you up.

If you can’t handle that, add a couple of tablespoons to your morning lemon water to kickstart your metabolism, or to a large glass of water an hour before bed to reduce your body’s glucose levels overnight.

DISCLAIMER – don’t get too excited, the cider part doesn’t mean it can get you tipsy. Good news for the school run.

2. Eat it

Splash a little onto your salad as you would squeeze a little lemon or lime, for a zesty dressing. If a salad dressing recipe calls for balsamic vinegar, switch it for ACV to boost the health benefits.

Add it to soups, stir fry sauces and dips for a touch of acidity – it helps to bring out other flavours, too.

You can also add a dash to water when boiling or poaching eggs.

3. Gargle it

Get gargling in the morning and a little ACV can whiten teeth, eliminate bad breath and zap bacteria in your mouth and gums. Brush after.

4. Apply it

Many health buffs use it as a natural toner to replace chemical-packed products, as it has astringent properties that help tighten your skin and prevent wrinkles. Mix with equal parts water and smooth over your face and neck with a cotton pad for that ACV glow.

5. Bathe in it

Add a drop or two of ACV to your Sunday night bath, along with some essential oils and Epsom salts, to detoxify your body for the week ahead.

6. Clean with it

Mix apple cider vinegar with equal parts water and a few drops of essential oils and you have yourself a nifty little natural cleaner you can use all over your home.

7. Rinse it

Apple cider vinegar is your one-stop wonder product when it comes to natural haircare. It’s been said to make your hair shinier, prevent split ends, detangle, cleanse, banish frizz and promote hair growth. Natural Living Ideas tells us how:

  1. Blend one cup of water with two to four tablespoons of vinegar
  2. After shampooing and rinsing, slowly pour the mixture over your entire scalp, allowing it to run down the length of your hair (avoiding eye area – ouch)
  3. Massage the mixture into your scalp, which will also serve to stimulate circulation and hair growth
  4. After one to two minutes, rinse out the vinegar and make like you’ve just stepped out of the salon.

Where can I score some?

ACV doesn’t come for free, but as wonder products go, it’s pretty damn close.

It’s widely available in supermarkets and health food stores – I’ve just ordered a 750ml Biona bottle for ÂŁ2.89 from Ocado and there are cheaper brands available too (#sorrynotsorry for buying the one that looks best on my kitchen shelf).

Go for the unfiltered kind, with the “mother” – that doesn’t mean you have to take your mum shopping with you (though we recommend you do, because ours pays. Thanks Sand!).

The mother is actually the gross-looking strands of friendly bacteria, enzymes and proteins – i.e. the good stuff.

So… anyone for a shot?

Gym Class Heroes: One Big Workout Weekend

My name is Charlotte and I’m a gym addict.

This might sound a bit smug, but if you’d seen me huffing and puffing around the cross country track at school or in line for Weight Watchers in my final year at uni you’ll probably see it’s quite an achievement and these are words I never thought would come out of my mouth (like ‘I’ll drive because I don’t mind not drinking’ or ‘I forgot to have my lunch’ – WTF are those people all about?)

 

So this weekend got me quite excited at the prospect of a full weekend of classes for the new timetable launch at my local gym (not as excited as the pizza and beer I would consume afterwards, I haven’t gone completely mental), Fit4Life in Rising Bridge.

Given that my usual gym PIC was MIA all weekend I managed to pair up with new gym buddies (hi Kate and Amber!), rope Ali into a class and even, brace yourself, go it alone.

Here’s a write-up of the weekend highlights and an insight into what each class has to offer should you want to give one a whirl (please do the pizza thing afterwards though). I managed 5 classes and have written a little about each one (plus a bit about one I had planned to do but I went shopping instead…) I need to give a huge shout out to new gym buddy Paula who did a whopping 6 classes on Saturday!

Metafit

The weekend got off to a very sweaty start with this 9am class.

The instructor informed us it was only 19 minutes of working out which set alarm bells off as I knew we were in for a tough ride. If you’re new to the world of exercise I wouldn’t start with this class as it isn’t for the faint-hearted. There was lots of high knee running, bunny hops (sound cute and fun hey? They’re not), moguls (basically a jump squat with a fancier name) and press ups and it was HARD. The only words I could muster through the whole 19 minutes was a regular ‘Oh. My. God’ to Kate and my other fellow Metafitters, although it was superfluous as I think my face at the end said it all.

Although I managed to somehow pull myself together and do this again on the Sunday. Killer move: Burpees. Every. Time.

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Pleased to meta you

 

Body Attack

This was probably the class I was most looking forward to for two reasons.

The first one being that we are massive attack fans (not the band) and the second one is that it’s the one that Ali joined me on.

If you’ve ever done Body Attack you’ll know it’s like riding a bike, as soon as the music kicks in you can remember the moves even if it was years ago (which it has been for us).

Every track and move has been choreographed so it’s really easy to pick up and the fun aspect of it makes you not realise how hard it is until you’re gasping for breath at the end of each track.

If you’ve never tried it, you should definitely give it a go. And don’t be put off by the complicated moves perfected by the people on the front row, you’ll pick them up in no time.

The only downside was that the new release has become a bit more HIIT-esque with burpees (my fave) and squats, so I hope there’ll be more classic attacks in the pipeline.

 

attack

Attackers reunited

Body Combat

This is my usual Wednesday night class and the one I look forward to the most (yes, I’m aware I sound like a dick) and Saturday’s taster was no exception.

Plenty of punches, kicks and jumps, but in true Les Mills style the music is so well matched to the move you can’t help but get swept up in it. This takes less co-ordination than attack and the new release has a lot more simpler, repetitive moves that are really easy to pick up, with some hard ones sprinkled in to keep you on your toes.

There were some really challenging tracks in this new release and with it being my 3rd class on Saturday I was really feeling it by the end.

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So hot RN.

 

RIG

This was the last class of the weekend for me so I don’t think I fully gave it my all, but it was a good way to round off the weekend and it was great to finish off with my gym buddies by my side.

The gym has an amazing training rig, complete with battle ropes (which totally make you feel like Khloe Kardashian working out, Revenge Body here I come), monkey bars etc.

Using the equipment was a nice change from the rest of the classes and it’s useful doing it in a class setting as I would have no idea WTD on my own with the big scary apparatus. I probably could have squatted deeper, lifted heavier and pushed harder in this class TBF but the beauty of a circuits based class like this is that you can take it at your own pace if you’re not feeling 100% and I certainly did this time.

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Can you tell it was my last class of the weekend?

 

Body Pump

I had planned to do this, but TBH I CBA this weekend (I went shopping instead and got some Topshop boots for ÂŁ3.60 that Ric hates – double win!) so this is a write up from a class I DID do a few weeks ago…

Body Pump is the perfect class for you if you’ve ever wanted to start lifting weights but haven’t a clue where to start. I previously couldn’t tell my barbell from my babybel but I’m now confident enough to be on the FROW – if that ain’t progress for you I don’t know what is.

Pump is a full body, choreographed, weight-based class that puts the fun into fundamentally f**king hard. The fact that each move you do is in perfect timing to the soundtrack makes it a lot more interesting than staring at yourself in the mirror while doing a million squats (not mentioning any names, guys in the gym downstairs).

You can also start using cool phrases like “I found the clean and press really challenging today but I need to up my weights on the tricep extension”” to sound really knowledgeable/douchey.

 

 

So that was my weekend! It was great to have so much variety in the classes and I enjoyed trying some new things, which has opened my eyes to some new possibilities with the new timetable. Now where’s that pizza…..?

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This month we’re…

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Pictures either taken by us or from… amazon.co.uk / idealhome.co.uk / Pinterest

  1. Eating… Our kinda takeaway from The Health Hut in Rawtenstall. It’s a Kings and Greens dream with salad boxes, protein shakes and build-your-own stir fries. I feasted on the halloumi burger and sweet potato fries last weekend. It ain’t so bad not having a kitchen after all! Highly recommended if you’re in the Rossendale area.
  2. Wearing… our faux-fur jackets now the weather has finally got cold enough. If you have enough season matching outfits there ain’t no weather you can’t face (I even don’t mind the rain since I was bought an amazing cloud umbrella a few years ago). I got Ali hers in the Topshop sale last Christmas and my multi-coloured unicorn inspired one is from M&S Kids last year – a good place to look for something slightly cheaper and that not many other people (despite actual kids) will have.
  3. Detoxing… with a shot of apple cider vinegar every morning. I’m not a fan of shots at the best of times but the health benefits of this far outweigh the interesting taste. I bought mine from One Planet in Accrington (other suppliers are available) and I was the third person who’d bought one that day, so it looks like it’s a popular way to kick start that January detox.
  4. Barking… orders at our new Amazon Echo Dot. Alexa got a bit of a beasting at our NYE party with a whole room of people screaming her name and demanding she play certain songs. It’s the perfect way to play music easily and allow party guests to contribute to the playlist, although Alexa won’t be responsible for any arguments that ensue over varying music tastes.
  5. Sipping… English country garden cocktails. This was the main culprit of my New Years Day hangover but it was worth it. It feels quite summery with elderflower cordial, pro pro, gin and strawberries so it’s the perfect antidote to the cold weather. If you’re after something more wintery try a dark and stormy (another NYE tipple of ours). Nice try, dry January.
  6. Dusting… off our dancing shoes and trying our hand (feet?) at ballroom dancing. We’ve been fans of Strictly for years so it was only a matter of time until we gave it a whirl for ourselves. Stay tuned for some awkward/embarrassing attempts (add us on Snapchat for the outtakes – alikingkong and charliequeso).
  7. Punching, lifting and jumping… our way to fitness with the launch of the new Les Mills classes at my gym. We are huge Body Attack and Body Combat fans and I’ve recently started Body Pump. My gym has an open weekend for the launch next weekend so I’m taking Ali along so we can re-live the days when we were Les Mills fangirls. Out of all the types of exercise I’ve ever done a Les Mills class is by far the most fun and leaves me feeling like I’ve worked the hardest. They have low impact options if you’re a newbie but once you know the routines you can’t help but give it your all. Faye and I even got Alexa playing one of the Combat tunes and did a routine on NYE. If that doesn’t make you a gym geek I don’t know what does.
  8. Trying… my hand at a bullet journal. I’m not the most organised of people and I’m still living in the past with my diarising and refusal to put it all on my iPhone (although apparently one of Alexa’s functions is to tell you your daily schej like a PA). I also have loads of funky notebooks I’ve amassed over the years so I’m going to try and start a bullet journal. Let me know if you have any tips for this, it looks quite easy but I do get confused by the simplest of things sometimes…
  9. Lighting… up my life (well, bedroom) with this lamp with marble and copper (both very in RN) from Aldi of all places! I spied this on someone’s Instagram so hot footed it down to my local store and snapped one up. They also do a floor lamp in the same style but Ric has had enough of my copper and marble obsession for the time being. My next purchase will have to be much more subtle so he doesn’t notice.

And now for some 2017 plans….

Dressing… to impress. My wardrobe is full of amazing clothes, yet I seem to throw the same things on all the time. I have good intentions of putting together a great outfit then turn all basic bitch and end up in leggings and Uggs. With living out of a suitcase the past few months after packing my wardrobe up I’ve really missed having a big selection of clothes to choose from so my NY res is to dress fancier and make the most of all the clothes I have bursting out of my wardrobe. Which will also help with…

Decluttering… the clothes I don’t wear. I’ve recently opened a Depop shop (find me here) and have decided that anything I don’t wear on a regular basis needs to be sold or taken to a charity shop.

depop

Meeting… up more with friends and family. This has got to a great start with a cousin catch up in early Jan, meeting up with a former colleague this weekend and the revival of the original gang being discussed via whatsapp. I make this resolution every year then life gets in the way but it’s something I’m determined to stick to this year.

meetup

Enjoying… a proper sit down family meal (preferably a good ol’ roast) once a week. Ali wants to get Q into good eating habits and get into a routine of chatting together round the table rather than staring at phones or sticking Netflix on. It’s also a good excuse for her to crack open the wine before baby bedtime, so win-win!

roast

The roastess with the mostess. THE best Sunday lunch I’ve ever had

Blogging… more! The end of 2017 saw blogging take a back seat for us with new houses, busy work schedules and a teething baby but it made me realise how much I actually miss doing it! It made more sense when we were marathon training and had a specific thing to write about so it’s time we got our mojo back and got back in the game. My NY resolution is to blog once a week so let us know if you have any ideas on what to blog about or want to let us know what things you like reading about.

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Happy New Year to all our readers. I love the fact that you take the time to actually read our mumblings and here’s to a blog-tastic 2017!

This month we’re…

 

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  1. Lolling… at My Dad Wrote A Porno. We’ve been recommending this hilarious podcast to everyone since our friend Niamh told us about it.
  2. Watching… Stranger Things on Netflix. I binge watched this in a few days and now can’t wait for season 2.
  3. Eating.. lentils, lentils and more lentils. I’m on a major budget which gives me just ÂŁ20-ÂŁ30 a week for food shopping, so I’ve been loving the lentils. Red, green, yellow – post coming soon on recipe ideas.
  4. Reading… Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I’ve had this on my Kindle for yonks and only just started it. Anyone else read it?
  5. Venturing… to the cinema to see The Girl On The Train, one of our fave literary thrillers of recent times.
  6. Sipping… caramel lattes all day errrrrrday after Chaz bought me a Tassimo coffee machine as a new house pressie.
  7. Dining… in style when my new Fjord dining table and benches finally arrive from Made.com
  8. Loving… Mike Colter in Luke Cage (double Netflix love this month, sorry). Loved him as everyone’s favourite drug dealer in The Good Wife, love him even more as Harlem’s hero-in-a-hoodie. Marvel normally isn’t my thing at all but I’ve made an exception for him and the equally cool Jessica Jones.
  9. Listening… to Educating Ali King 3, the latest in a series of CDs made for me by our friend Faye to update my musical tastes as she sees fit (and speaking of fit, any excuse for a Zayn pic hey?).

Making a meal of it: how to use up cupboard lurkers

Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought some obscure ingredient, trotting round Tesco on your lunch with big plans to be the next Gwyneth as you wow your friends and family with your carb/dairy/refined/nightshade/lampshade-free culinary style and generally breezy wellness … only for the weekend to roll around.

Now, you find yourself consciously uncoupling from, in fact downright ALOLing at your pretentious midweek self as you serve up a giant bowl of pasta as a side to your Friday night glass (bottle) of wine.

It can’t just be us.

My friend Marie is as food-obsessed as us, to the point where we send each other daily emails detailing our next three meals and weekend eating plans. She’s more of a wartime warrior when it comes to cooking style (and a meat-eater), but we often share recipes and ideas and there is some overlap as she’s health conscious and likes trying new things.

A recent email chat with her alerted me to the fact most of us have a cupboard full of lurkers and therefore a multitude of potential meals sitting there waiting to be discovered. Most of the time we probably ignore them and dash to the shop thinking we don’t have anything in.

Lately, an economy drive prompted me to use up all of those weird and wonderful lurkers, to the point where I now have depressingly empty cupboards.

(No joke, I am actually so skint I helped myself to a half empty – or half full, depending on your outlook on life – bag of quinoa when I was at Chaz’s the other Sunday).

It was actually an enjoyable challenge and a good way to shake up the standard repertoire.

In my inherent boringness, I got really excited thinking up recipes Marie could try but lurkers’ potential is in the eye of the beholder, so you may suggest something completely different based on the same set of ingredients.

So in a Masterchef Invention Test style exercise, we decided to upload the contents of Marie’s cupboards, show you a few things we would do with the lurkers and invite you to suggest your own.

As I mentioned, Marie does eat meat and fish, so while I haven’t suggested anything non-veggie please feel free to – I’m sure she will prefer your ideas to mine if you do!

Help Marie #makeamealofit (before I nip round and pinch those pine nuts).

 

1. Coconut chia pudding

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This recipe on Popsugar sounds easy and delicious, plus can be made on a Sunday and grabbed on your way to work.

 

2. One-pot olive and pine nut pasta

I am about to try my first ever one-pot pasta on recommendation of our friend Jade, who gets recipes from Pinterest so I’ve suggested one to Marie to try.

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PIC: barefeetinthekitchen.com

This recipe from Barefeet In The Kitchen looks really good.

3. Lazy pepper and tomato soup

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PIC: DeliciouslyElla.com

I haven’t tried this before, but I’m pretty sure throwing the following into the Nutribullet would create a decent soup:

  • Passata carton
  • Jar of roasted peppers with the oil
  • Tin of chickpeas/any type of bean for protein and thickness
  • Italian herbs – basil, oregano, herbs de Provence
  • Salt and pepper

Here are a couple of similar recipes which I think would work with their cupboard rather than fresh alternatives:

Deliciously Ella roasted tomato and pepper soup

Italian Food Forever roasted pepper and chickpea soup

All of these would freeze well for quick lunches.

4. Red pepper hummus

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PIC: BBC.co.uk

Not a meal in itself, but a good thing to have in to jazz up other meals or use as an afternoon snack with carrot sticks and celery. The peppers could definitely be blasted with a tin of chickpeas and some spices and seasoning to make a quick hummus.

This BBC recipe looks like a storecupboard masterpiece and I’m sure you could use jarred instead of fresh peppers.

5. Tropical breakfast smoothie

Whizz up the tinned pineapple with a dash of coconut milk, frozen banana, a tablespoon of chia seeds and your choice of milk for a quick morning smoothie.

6. Chickpea coconut curry

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PIC: jessicainthekitchen.com

I love a chickpea coconut curry combo and try a different variation practically every week. This recipe from Jessica In The Kitchen is now next on my list.

So, over to you. How would you combine Marie’s storecupboard lurkers?

Ideas in the comments please…

Batch boredom: 5 ideas to get out of a recipe rut

Every Sunday we do a big batch cook but lately we’ve developed #batchboredom (not an actual thing, I just checked) so we need inspiration to keep our easy weeknight meals interesting.

The requirements are always the same – healthy, easy, quick and tasty. Easy weeknight assembly is a must because with work, baby bedtime routines and workouts we just can’t be bothered messing around in the kitchen for longer than necessary.

It’s also got to be cheap because at the moment we are both on major budget drives after buying new houses (have we mentioned that? Eye roll emoji).

I’ve written this post to force myself to hunt around for new ideas and to ask everyone to send us their own batch secrets – so here are a few things I’m going to try.

Deliciously Ella’s chickpea, turmeric and quinoa curry

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PIC: Clare Winfield via deliciouslyella.com

I always make some kind of chickpea/lentil/coconut milk-type of curry so this is the latest incarnation I’m going to try.

Jamie Oliver’s best vegan burger

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PIC: jamieoliver.com

Veggie burgers are a staple for us and I am always looking for a new recipe to try.

Long recipes and obscure ingredients are an instant click-off for me – I’ve used this BBC Good Food Mexican Bean Burger recipe nearly every week for years because I can throw it all in the food processor and it’s oven-ready in seconds – so this looks simple enough to pass the test (minus the coriander).

Green lentil risotto

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PIC: womanandhome.com

I’m a big fan of a non-traditional “risotto” and have tried quinoa, millet, buckwheat and brown rice versions, so green lentils are next on the list. As they don’t turn to mush like their little red compadres, they should work well in a risotto scenario.

Budget-friendly too, as I’ve just added a big bag to next week’s Ocado delivery to use in my usual veggie chilli (which I’ve shared so many times I’ve bored myself, so if you have a good alternative to that, please share it in the comments).

Coconut and broccoli soup

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PIC: madeleineshaw.com

Usually any soups I make during the frantic Sunday batch cooking hour/baby naptime are a “throw it all in” affair but occasionally I follow a recipe to stop it tasting the same every week. This looks easy and I love anything with coconut milk (despite loathing anything entitled “detox”).

Quick courgette ratatouille

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PIC: Issy Croker for the Guardian

The first sentence of the Guardian article this Anna Jones recipe came from pretty much sums up my attitude to cooking post-baby and it’s been published online the day I’m writing this so it’s meant to be.

I’ve made a few of Anna Jones’ traybake-style recipes from her two cookbooks and they’ve been a bit of a revelation (as has her use of jars of roasted peppers which I never considered until reading her books). This one looks easy and tasty and could be served alongside potato wedges, pittas, as a sweet potato topping or on its own for work lunches.

So… over to you. Please share your favourite veggie-friendly batch cookable recipes and help us kick #batchboredom (or at least make it a thing).