Saturday, March 31, 2018

Vegetable Update Part 1

Since I posted at the start of March about wanting to eat more veg we've eaten a LOT of different vegetable dishes. Here's a rundown on the first 5 things we've tried with links to the recipes.

Honey Glazed Carrots

Delicious but weirdly sweet to eat with savoury food. It seems like a very American dish to me so unsurprisingly JD loved them.

Crispy Dijon Smashed Potatoes

Lovely mustardy potatoes baked in the oven. We really liked them. Yes, we're counting potatoes as vegetables even though we eat plenty of them.

Pumpkin Bread

Vegetables with ice cream? I guess we've lost the plot a bit but this recipe looked too good to resist. We all enjoyed this, even the kids when I told them it had pumpkin in it. JD said it wasn't as sweet as American versions he's had before so its healthier than that at least. :D

Stir-fried Greens

I love greens and these were particularly flavourful with garlic, chilli flakes and pinenuts. Perfect to go with fried chicken and cornbread.

Spicy Lemon Cauliflower

Thinly sliced cauliflower roasted with lemon and chilli flakes. It was unusual but not un-delicious.

Many more recipes to come as we continue our vegetable eating journey :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Subscription Box Review: BakedIn

Another subscription box posted through my letterbox and this time it's Baked In, the baking club. Once a month a conveniently letterbox sized flat box arrives full of baking ingredients to make a recipe designed by Michel Roux. Usually £8 a month, I got mine for £4 by signing up to their newsletter.

 Looks like I'm going to be making an Easter Mini Egg Cake. Yum!

All the dry ingredients are already weighed out, I just need to add things such as butter, cream, eggs etc. There's even ready cut out greaseproof circles for my baking tins. Nice!

The instructions were easy to follow and everything worked out as it should.

The cake was lovely, really light and delicious. The best thing was the two mini Lindt bunnies included in the box as they weren't ingredients, just a nice Easter treat! Thanks BakedIn <3

This is a nice service for anyone not confident or new to baking. You get a well thought out recipe and nearly all you need to get baking. Plus you only need to have quite basic cookware at home as all the recipes stick to the same kind of tins (cake tins, muffin tray etc).

It's easy to cancel subscription online or change your options. It was quite exciting not knowing what I'd be baking until the box arrived too. They seem to prepare each recipe with seasonal bakes in mind, which is nice.

I thoroughly enjoyed this subscription service. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Smoothies: Banana and Walnut

Hmm, the walnut is one of my least favourite nuts. It looks too much like a human brain for my liking.


1 cup milk
1 banana
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
handful of chopped walnuts

I loved this one. The blended walnuts made a really creamy smoothie with a lovely deep flavour. Yum!

Walnuts are another superfood. They have anti-inflammatory qualities as well as being full of antioxidants including manganese and copper. It has vitamin B and molybdenum...wait, what? Never heard of that one! Apparently (thanks Google) it's needed to keep certain enzymes working in our body and those enzymes are needed to keep body functions working. Thanks everyone for your hard work.

I can't remember if I've raved about bananas yet but they're also great for you with potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron and lots more. Bananas can help with depression as a mineral in them turns into serotonin, the mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter. Thanks bananas!

Up next - Avocado and strawberry smoothie

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: Eat Well for Less

I got this book for Christmas so while I try out some of the recipes for our family, I'll also share some here and show you how they went. We really enjoy the TV show this book accompanies so it'll be nice to try some of the meals we've seen them have on there.

First up we tried Pork Lollipops with couscous salad. It was a nice easy recipe to make.

For the lollipops:

1 package minced pork
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves
1 grated carrot
salt & pepper

Mix everything up together and form into small sausages. Fry in a little oil until browned and then transfer to the oven to finish them off.

Blurry pork lollipops being cooked.

For the couscous salad:

1 vegetable stock cube
200g couscous
1 onion
1 red pepper
1/2 cucumber
3 tomatoes

You can adapt this to make it how you like with whatever veg or salad items you like. Chop them all up small and mix through cooked couscous. Add a tablespoon of oil to moisten it along with some herbs, salt & pepper if you like.

When the pork lollipops are cooked thread them onto skewers and serve with the couscous and a dollop of yoghurt to dip.

JD and I enjoyed this meal but Leigh and Erin didn't want to try the couscous. It's a nice cheap meal which was really easy to make following the recipe.

Next we tried the Chicken Dhansak recipe. We're all curry fans and we often make a chicken coconut curry at home. We were all keen to try this one, even Leigh and Erin who I told beforehand to expect lentils in it.

Chicken Dhansak Recipe

It was another easy dish to make, all done in one pot which is nice. We had ours with rice and added potato and carrot to bulk it out a bit.

Everyone liked it, even the kids ate the lentils in it. We found it a little bland compared to our usual curry so if we had it again we'd adjust the spices to make it hotter for us. But apart from that it was a nice meal with the lentils adding a thickness to the sauce that we enjoyed.

Next we tried the Homemade Doner Kebabs. I'm quite partial to a kebab so I was wondering how this would measure up to the real thing.

Homemade Doner Kebab Recipe

Lamb mince is seasoned and formed into a log shape in a loaf tin, then baked in the oven.

The meat is spot on, the seasonings make it taste like a bought doner kebab. It's delicious! We served ours with fried chips and garlic mayo (just like the kebab shop). You can pretty much add whatever salad you want to your kebab, we had cucumber because everyone likes it.

Erin wasn't keen but Leigh loved it. The kebab meat was a bit crumbly which made it difficult to slice but the taste made up for that easily. I love a good fakeaway recipe and this one is great.

Overall it's a pretty good recipe book. The recipes are easy to follow and turn out well. Some of the portion sizings seem small but that's the same in many books.There's lots more recipes to try and we're looking forward to trying them.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Emma's Exercise Experiments - Boot Camp

Feeling like The World's Strongest Woman.

If you'd have told me a month ago that I'd be loving going to Boot Camp I wouldn't have believed you. Boot Camp sounds like the kind of unenjoyable exercise that I avoid. Intense, sweaty, vigorous exercise. Someone shouting in your face to drop and give them 20 press ups. Being pushed to your limits until you're crying. No thanks!

But, I've commited myself to a year of different exercise types and it wouldn't be much of a challenge to just do types I think sound nice. So spurred on by a Groupon that gives you 8 sessions for £12 or £20 for two people (that's a hell of a deal) I decided to give it a go.

The first Saturday JD and I turned up it was pouring with rain, adding to that Boot Camp feeling. Rupert, the instructor, was completely unaffected by this and carried on enthusiastically directing us in circuit training. The exercise set ups were all quite ingeniously thought up. Bike racks were used for press ups and dips. Resistance bands were strapped to whatever else was handy. There were car tyres to lift. We ran laps of the area in between squats, lunges, star jumps and high knees.

Everyone was friendly and encouraging. Rupert was helpful, suggesting alternatives to anything I couldn't manage. No one shouted in my face, maybe this was going to be ok afterall. JD and I shambled away from the first session pleased to have got through it and feeling like we'd been thoroughly worked out.

Later the same day and all day Sunday we ached so bad. But it was the kind of aching that makes you feel smug because your muscles are getting stronger. Monday morning the aching had eased off so I was looking forward to more circuit training when Rupert posted about that night's session on Facebook. "Who's up for some boxing and Hiit?". WHAT? That's when the realisation hit me that it was going to be different each time. I'd felt comfortable knowing we'd be doing something I'd already mostly managed and now I'd be feeling anxious wondering what we'd be doing that night.

Where's Emma?

But that night I enjoyed the session even more. We boxed until I could hardly hold up my arms. Varying the punches between jabs, hooks and uppercuts to work all your muscles. I had a slight panic when Rupert told us us to swap partners (a bit like in PE at school when they won't let you partner up with a friend) but everyone was so friendly that I soon relaxed and enjoyed it. Then we moved on to the HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training) which is short bursts of intense exercise that just keeps going and going. We were exhausted and aching again by the end but in different places.

The sessions progressed, each time doing something different, with varying people but always fun. Rupert showed us what to do at the start of each section then wandered around the group to see how we were all getting on. Stopping to show you a better form or to encourage you in an enthusiastic but not aggressive way. I always felt pushed to do the best I could but never made to do anything.

We did a 20 20 20 session which is three different exercise sections for 20 minutes each. We did cardio, boxing and stength, I think. We played a fitness Monopoly with each team racing to roll a dice and move round the board by completeing reps of squats, burpees, crunches etc. We even did a Winter Olympics session which was really clever, doing squats to power a snowboard, lunges to simulate curling, planks on a skeleton bobsled and lots more. Each session was well organised and timed to the minute to get the most out of an hour.

In the end I loved the variation of exercise. There's no chance to get bored or feel like you're not getting the benefit because of repetition. You can work at your own pace mostly, striving to do the most you can each session. Rupert offers alternatives to make it easier if you're struggling or tougher if you're finding it too easy. Which makes Boot Camp really flexible and suitable for everyone.

The group also does fitness challenges together. They recently did a 5k run at Harewood and they're planning a team for Yorkshire Warrior. 

JD getting encouragement from Rupert.
JD and I both feel stronger and fitter after just 8 sessions. Especially upper body because our usual exercise is mostly leg based. It's made me feel more confident in my body's ability and it's made me more comfortable interacting with other people. Both things I sometimes struggle with.

Boot Camp is a great way to meet like-minded people, push yourself to get fit and have fun. I'd recommend it to anyone, whatever level of fitness you're at.

Contact Details:

UK Outdoor Fitness

Previously on Emma's Exercise Experiments:



Sunday, March 11, 2018

Smoothies: Strawberry and Beetroot

Not sure about this combination but whatever it tastes like it's going to have a lovely colour!


1 can coconut water
3 beetroots (peeled and not the vinegar ones)
1 handful of strawberries
juice of 1 lime

This smoothie looks beautiful. It's nice and thick from the beetroot but there's something about the mixture of strawberry and beetroot that doesn't taste good. They both taste nice individually but together it's a little off. Almost delicious but not quite. Still, I'm sure its good for me.

Beetroot has iron and folate (folic acid) plus it helps lower blood pressure and prevent dementia. Strawberries are just as good for you with vitamin C, magnesium, folate and antioxidants. You can eat them separately and still get all the benefits luckily. :D

Next up: Banana and Walnut

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Burger That! 10: Mexico City Burger

We're looking forward to this one as we love Mexican flavours. It's wrapped in tortillas instead of sandwiched in a burger bun but I'm going to let this one pass.


1 package minced beef
1 onion
2 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
4 tortillas
shredded lettuce
sour cream

Chop the onion and mix into the minced beef along with the taco seasoning. We make up our own taco seasoning from this recipe --->

Form into patties and fry in oil until cooked through.

Serve the burgers on shredded lettuce inside a tortilla with the sour cream on top. Looks like the burger has gone camping, hehe :D

As expected these burgers were great. Spicy taco beef with cool soothing sour cream on top. It was quite nice eating it in a tortilla too, not as awkward as you'd think. An easy to prepare but tasty burger we'll likely have again.

Ratings: JD - 4, Emma - 4

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Veg, Veg, Veg

Here I am again bemoaning the lack of exciting vegetables in our meals. The same as I did in 2016 apparently!

This time I'm determined to make an effort to fill our lives with healthy veggies in the most exciting ways possible. Or something like that anyway. Haha.

First, a story. When my Grandad Beadle (my Dad's Dad) died, I went with my Dad to his house to help sort out his belongings.

We found a hand-written recipe for a 12 vegetable stew with a note saying how pleased he was to make a stew with so many veg in it. My Dad said he'd like to make a stew with 13 vegetables in it to keep it going. As far as I know he never did.

But guess what, I've done it. I've made a stew with not only 13 veg BUT 15 vegetables in it.

It was a bit weird to be honest. Maybe the celeriac gave it an unknown, strange flavour. Who knows? It had these vegetables in it:

1 - Carrot
2 - Potato
3 - Sweet potato
4 - Onion
5 - Parsnip
6 - Butternut squash
7 - Swede
8 - Leek
9 - Celery
10 - Celeriac
11 - Beetroot
12 - Turnip
13 - Aubergine
14 - Garlic
15 - Courgette

Anyway, it's a good start to my second attempt at eating more vegetables.

Remember Sylvester from the Tweetie Pie cartoons? I never knew what that word in his catchphrase meant until recently when I found out Succotash is a vegetable dish in America. So I had to try it.

Green Bean Succotash Recipe

It's a nice mixed veg side that goes with any meat. But really you could just eat it for a meal too. I liked it.

Next, I wanted to find a new way of eating brussel sprouts. JD and I really like them but we only seem to eat them at Christmas. I found a recipe for maple syrup roasted sprouts & sweet potatoes and changed it a bit to suit us.

Cube up some sweet potatoes and halve some sprouts. Mix together maple syrup, oil, salt and pepper then pour it over the veggies. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until starting to blacken a bit.

This was delicious, sprouts are great roasted. The maple syrup gave everything a sweet stickiness that went especially well with the sweet potatoes. Yum!

Watch this space for either more vegetable recipes or a post complaining that we don't eat enough veggies next year!
// following script until attribution comment is to add pinterest button