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Since 2011

The Primal Games 6 | Hasselback and Egg-Stuffed Potatoes



Well, that time of year is coming up again… Christmas! I’ve been eating a lot of stodge recently, mostly in the form of sugar, chocolate, and cheesecake… so I thought I’d share something that isn’t in that form… for now! This is definitely the sort of stuff I love to eat over the winter period; tonnes of vegetables, starch-y goodness, and lashings of gravy, so thought I’d share a recipe for some potatoes (a definite winter staple!). Having these with pork and apple chips definitely makes for a real treat (breakfast!) to dip into the egg. 🙂

This past week has been pretty busy, rather stressful, and a bit naff since my previous blog post, which spoke about Recession Proof Body coming to CrossFit Plymouth. They posted a link to that particular blog post on Facebook, and I had a flurry of people come onto the blog again – how lovely. 🙂



And, to top it off, the Primal Games 6 (held at CFP) was a few weekends ago, and it was SO MUCH FUN! Not only did I equal my snatch PB of 60 kg (I had only done it once before and was pretty surprised that I managed it in a comp this time) but got my first ever bar muscle ups! 🙂 The team I was with were also super fun and encouraging, and it was an amazing day all around… it left me buzzing for the WHOLE WEEK afterwards! It was great that everyone seems genuinely supportive of one another, regardless of what level of fitness or ability, it was just an amazing environment.

I was quite surprised about the bar muscle ups, considering how little I’d ever practiced trying. But I was the only member of my team not doing them, and I think that the sheer desire to want to contribute to some points and help them out was my driving force. Never have I ever been more determined to get over the bar or do something as I was then; usually, when snatching heavy weight or doing movements like muscle ups, I get quite scared at the prospect of injuring myself or the movement going wrong, but during this instance I never thought once about injuring myself, I just thought about getting to the end of the movement. It goes to show how the real desire and intention to do something makes that something happen!


In September, I went to the Particulate Systems Analysis and conference and UKPTF, and whilst in Manchester I stopped off at an amazing box called Train Manchester (the home of Samantha Briggs!). I managed my first real muscle ups there (i.e. starting with straight arms at the bottom)… I reckon it was because Samantha Briggs’ touched the rings, and some of the magic transferred to me! I’m not amazing at muscle ups, but even though deep down I knew I had the ability to do them, I didn’t really believe it… until I did just the one… then I did four more afterwards. When I got home, I then did an OMEM drill, and managed fourteen muscle ups, one every minute for fifteen minutes… I failed one once, but still, that’s a big improvement from zero, to being able to do them overnight!



It’s nice to be busy with so many projects going on, but I cannot believe that I’ve hit the ripe old age of twenty-five; where has the time gone? I absolutely cannot wait for Christmas, where the time will hopefully slow down a bit and I can catch up with some important people. Even though times can be busy, stressful, emotional, etc., personally, I feel stronger mentally and physically than I have in a long time; I used to be scared of getting older, and of course, I still am, as we all are, because the future is never certain or guaranteed, but as I get older I learn more and more, and life keeps getting better and gives me amazing gifts. So although getting older is sometimes seen as a negative (i.e. ageing, more responsibility, less time, etc.), it’s actually something to be proud of, and to simply enjoy (unfortunately, some don’t get the chance to be older). In some ways, I can’t wait. 😀



♪ Hasselback… hasselback POTATO ♫

Egg-stuffed potatoes
Adapted from: Cheese and Chocolate

Ingredients
• pre-baked potatoes
• eggs (as many as you have potatoes)
• butter
• salt and papper
• various other fillings (my favourites being bacon, sausage, spinach, broccoli, roasted garlic, cheese, etc.)

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Find where you potato stands upright, and slice off the top to make a lid. Scoop out enough of your potato to make room for your fillings (you can save the flesh to mash up and have as mash another time).

Add some salt and pepper to the inside of your potato, place some of your fillings in, and crack in your egg. Sprinkled with more salt and pepper, and add some cheese.

Bake for about 25 minutes, although the baking time depends on how you like your eggs, and serve.

Hasselback potatoes
Adapted from: BBC

Ingredients
• white potatoes
• butter
• pepper
• salt
• parmesan cheese (although I like cheddar)
• breadcrumbs

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Wash the potatoes well, and dry. Score the top of the potatoes ¾ of the way through. You can slice through the potato whilst it’s sitting in a large serving spoon to prevent slicing cleanly through the potato. Put a lump of butter on top of each potato and pop in the oven for 5 minutes. Then bast using the melted butter and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Return to the oven and bake for 45 minutes. When done, remove, sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs, and return to the oven for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the crust is browned a little.

Bacon would also be a nice addition. Even without the cheese and breadcrumbs, these potatoes offer a different texture to a regular baked potato, mashed potatoes, or roast potatoes.

Recession Proof Body Workshop | Peanut Butter Energy Bars (Vegan)



Well, a couple of weeks ago, Recession Proof Body visited us lot at CFP to give a workshop all about street workout and calisthenics.


The image above is of Lee, Ranjit, and Sai (from left to right), and I nabbed some of these images from their Facebook page (the others are either from my phone or from Claire Summers!).

Lee and Ranjit took the course that day, and of course, the first thing we all notice about them is the size of their arms. I knew what sort of movements we’d be going over today, and I had only ever seen people perform them on YouTube before, and so I feel that that standard of skill in calisthenics wasn’t actually real; I couldn’t wait to see them being performed before my own very eyes!

I do believe, as well, that these guys are being featured in every issue of Muscle and Fitness magazine for 6 months showcasing their various abilities and progressions to achieve their skills.

There were around 20 people in this workshop, and the workshop itself involved learning about some movements and their progressions, and trying them out ourselves, as well as watching some amazing demonstrations! The movements we covered were:
• Push up variations
• One arm push ups
• Pull ups
• One arm pull up
• Ring muscle ups
• Bar muscle ups
• Front lever
• Back lever
• And various progressions!

The picture above is Ranjit just before completing a strict one arm pull up, and Lee doing a strict ring muscle up with an extra 20kg plate!

The emphasis with street workout is that everything is strict! Most people have this idea that in Crossfit we ‘kip’ everything. Kipping is great to keep the intensity in workouts, but we do train a lot of strict stuff in Crossfit, too! I love it! I feel so bad-ass when I rep out strict pull ups and dips. Yeah buddy. I just find the gym memes on Facebook really hilarious! For example, take the one I found here:


The last time I checked, Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Dan Bailey, etc., sorta looked like the guy in that meme, am I right? Anyway, going a little off topic now! Back to the movements…

The great thing about these sorts of workshops, is that people discover their hidden skills; some people were pleasantly surprised with how strong they were! But of course, no one is going to be able to replicate the skill that these guys have, but they do give very useful progressions that people can follow, and how they achieved their ability. It’s a great reminder that we’re only human, yet with hard work and dedication, we can indeed achieve superhuman abilities. I will definitely be incorporating these things into my workouts, because I had no idea how to go about keeping strength training interesting and displaying strength in so many different ways.


Personally, the things I’m quite good at are the basic strict movements, such as pull ups, dips, and push ups. But I need to work with my front lever (I couldn’t get my abs to engage… just my arm pits!), and my explosive strength!

A lot of these moves are incredibly creative. We saw Ranjit perform strict bar muscle ups, which involves incredibly explosive strength, and then he showed us the sort of things they would do “for fun” or at comps, such as a cross grip bar muscle up, or a bar muscle up where you start with your hands with a chin up grip, and end with a pull up grip!

These displays of skills and strength were incredibly beautiful to watch, and these kinds of things are what I like to fill my weekends and spare time with. Some people don’t understand, but fitness is its own reward. I’m always working towards achieving various goals in a wide range of disciplines (currently it’s my PhD, Spanish, and Crossfit – all of which encompass many goals), and so I don’t understand why there’s so much hate in the world. Instead of hating another group of people or directing your energy towards destruction, why not create a better world for yourself, and others, by inspiring others and pushing yourself beyond your limits? I genuinely believe that if more people strived towards goals, there would be less hate.


So, yes, if you’re looking for motivation or even just a show, these are your guys! I was so buzzed the week after (and even now just thinking about the workshop) that I had such a brilliant week after, just because I was feeling so inspired after talking to these guys and being coached by them! I had rejuvenated energy, and more guidance for my own strength goals after just a one-day workshop, and so if they come back to the South West again, I’d love to see them in action again! Hopefully by them, I would have hit some of my own strength goals. 🙂



I’m definitely incorporating these progressions into my own training. I remember at the beginning of the workshop, Lee said that they don’t squat too much because they don’t want their legs too big for things like front levers, etc.! I still can’t tell if he was being serious or joking playfully :-/ Ranjit mentioned that if you did want to develop leg strength, pistols don’t really do anything for you, unless they’re weighted, and I agree, from personal experience! He also said that he runs and squats, but he focuses mostly on street workout now.



After being inspired by the amazing Recession Proof Body group, I thought I’d write up this recipe for peanut butter energy bars, because if you’re going to be doing their routines, you’re going to need a lot of energy! These bars are great to take into work or competitions, as they’re easy to wrap up or pop into lunch boxes.

If you store these in the fridge, I’m sure they’ll keep longer, but the texture changes as I suppose the peanut butter solidifies. I prefer these when they’re room temperature, if not warm!

Also, I LOVE these when they’ve come straight out of the oven, covered in the melted chocolate, popped into a bowl, and smothered with double cream… it is absolutely the BEST comfort dessert!



Not only does this recipe make for some amazing bars, but it’s a clever way to sneak in more fruit! Especially bananas; they can improve insulin sensitivity and provide an abundance of minerals to treat your DOMS… so these really are a great workout snack! Check out Well-Being Secrets to learn more benefits of eating bananas and the best ways to keep and store them, as well as for a few more banana recipes. 🙂

Peanut Butter Energy Bars
Adapted from: All Recipes, Peanut Butter Girl, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Enough for a 20 x 20 cm mould

Ingredients
Base:
• 4 x bananas
• 2 cups peanut butter
• 2 cups oats

Fillings:
• 2 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup seeds
• ¾ cup whole almonds (cashews, walnuts, etc.)
• ¼ cup whole pistachios, shelled (macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)
• A handful of toasted coconut
• ¼ cup goji berries (cranberries or other dried fruits)
• ¼ cup cacao nibs
• ⅓ cup honey (optional)

Topping:
• 200g dark chocolate
• 3 tbsp coconut oil
• Pinch of desiccated coconut, cacao nibs, or flaked almonds, to decorate

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mash the bananas with a fork in a large bowl. You may wish to gently melt the peanut butter over the hob in order to make it mix more easily. Add the oats and mashed bananas into the peanut butter, mix well, and then transfer back to the bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients (the above ingredients are what I added, but I didn’t use honey. Feel free to add in whatever you want!) and mix well, before transferring to a baking dish lined with non-stick baking parchment (I used a silicon mould, so it was non-stick anyway!). Bake for 20 minutes.

Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a saucepan with the coconut oil. Melt over a very low heat whilst stirring to combine. Pour over the top of the bars, and leave to set. When partially set, I sprinkled the top with cacao nibs and desiccated coconut. Flaked almonds would also work well, too!

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. I prefer to eat them when they’re room temperature, though!

First made: 19.07.2014

Tribal Clash 2014 | Rich Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge (Vegan)



Well, I have an announcement… this is my first post using a Mac! *Sorry that the announcement was pretty lame…* But I’ve managed to get the hang of a Mac preeeeetty quickly already! 🙂

At the moment I’m still preferring Windows… but I don’t know if that’s because I’m still getting used to the Mac’s shortcuts. Although, there are some things I do prefer about Microsoft (such as their Office package), I do love the speed of the Mac and some of their functions. But I quite like being up-to-date with some of the leading brands… I’m usually quite slow with this sort of stuff, as it was just last year I got a smartphone (which is Android!), but I’m going to try and make more of an effort to stay in the know! 🙂

Oh, and did I mention how lightweight my little MacBook Air is compared to my previous laptop (which was 4.5 years old and still functioning as well as it was on the first day I received it!), and combined with its battery life (my old laptop has about a 40-minute battery life) will definitely make travelling to Manchester and back a little nicer, knowing that I can do some work or reply to emails whilst waiting int he airport and actually at the conference. I’m rather nervous, as I’ll be presenting at Particulate Systems Analysis 2014, and also a poster presentation at 12th UK Particle Technology Forum 2014. Next week my colleagues are going to listen to me and I’m actually quite nervous for that! I hope it goes well. 🙂

Anyway, this post was done rather hastily because quite a few people have PMed me on Facebook asking for the recipe to this fudge; out of all of the food photos I posted, I didn’t think this one would get quite so much attention, but it did! So I decided to put together a quick blog post; besides, it’s about time I updated!



I’d love to write about some of the recent trips I’ve been lucky enough to have this summer to Paris, Santiago de Compostela, and Provence, but that’ll have to wait until I have more time to go through all of my photos and reminiscence fondly about these experiences, unfortunately. However, I will speak of this year’s Tribal Clash (here’s a link to last year’s event!); it happened just last weekend, and the weather for it was once again beautiful! It was one of the best events of the year for me, and I had such an awesome team (same bunch that I competed with last year!). I actually had post-holiday blues after the event! Thanks to Claire and Natalie for the lovely photos! 🙂



Because this was Luke’s last competition before leaving for a whole year to work in Australia, we all decided that we’d just have a blast! After the first day (3 events), we were 12th out of 144 teams! The following day saw 2 events, and we dropped a whopping number of places and sat in 27th, which still isn’t too bad. It highlighted to me that I’m better than I thought at certain things, and know myself quite well (I didn’t ache whatsoever after the day, but I think that’s because I knew when to rest and when not to… or just my teammates did all the work for me, so they were effectively working as a team of 3!).



The WODs were super varied and we all had a go at proper Atlas stones! The girls had stones weighing 20, 35, 45 and 65kg, and we could choose which one to do. The jump from 45 to 65kg is massive, especially without adequate warm up, and one girl tackle the 65kg stone once… and then Samantha did 65kg for many, many reps! I was so proud of her. 🙂 I think that she realised then that she’s capable of far more than she thinks she is, too! And of course, Sam (who was also on Samantha’s team) doing his 95kg Atlas ball multiple times was amazing to watch! Their team did very well in that event, as Rachel and Doug were lifting both fast and heavy!



And as fun as the Atlas stones were, my shoulder certainly didn’t agree! Although it just felt like a little bruise and didn’t hurt at all, the colouring was quite impressive!



But it gave me some rejuvenated motivation for competing next year and believing in myself a little more. It’s great to have goals and feel completely inspired by other people’s commitment to them as well. And just being with good company from CFP in a beautiful and natural environment will always make for a perfect weekend, anyway! There has been talk about Luke, Simon, Kim and myself competing again next year, and hopefully we will get to! 🙂



Anyway, onto the dessert! I absolutely love this fudge because it’s so simple to make! Definitely keep this fudge in the freezer and get it out whenever you want to eat it; even if you eat it straight from the freezer, it tastes absolutely lovely when it melts in your mouth. And the sea salt and cacao nibs really make for a nice aftertaste. Tim and I love this with fresh fruit and double cream as a dessert.



Oh, and while we’re talking about fudge, my teammate recommended this almond butter, and I had to try it because it sounded like it’d taste amazing, and it didn’t let me down whatsoever! It tastes rich and smooth; just like fudge itself, and also has the consistency of fudge as well, so thought that it’d be appropriate to speak about it here.


With goji berries and walnuts, and with cashews:

Rich Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge
Adapted from: Apple of My Eye and The Wimpy Vegetarian
Enough for a 19 x 13 cm dish

Ingredients
• 1 cup coconut oil
• 1 cup peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
• ½ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ cup honey
• Dried fruits and walnuts (optional)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Pinch of coarse sea salt
• Sprinkling of cacao nibs

Preparation
Melt the coconut oil, peanut butter, and cocoa powder over a bain marie. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into a baking dish (lined with parchment paper). Pop into the freezer for 10 minutes, and then sprinkle with salt and cacao nibs. Pop back into the freezer for storage.

Take out anywhere between approximately 10-30 minutes before you want cut it and enjoy it. 🙂

Divided We Fall 2014 | Mum’s Pecan Pie

According to the recipe in this cookbook, this pecan pie is “a classic American version of our own old-fashioned treacle tart.” It was a lovely surprise! The weather this past week has been absolutely spectacular and this weekend my brother and I have escaped to our country manor (a.k.a. our parent’s house) for some great company and good grub. 😀

We went for a a lovely walk around the last castle built in England: Castle Drogo, built in 1911. The weather was a lot more overcast than in Plymouth (which makes a change!), and unfortunately I forgot my DSLR. The hot chocolates were really good; not sweet at all! And sitting outside in the beautifully well kept gardens was lovely for the soul. Next time we go we’ll take a picnic and my camera, as the valley and rolling hills were absolutely stunning, especially when bathed in sunlight. The only downside to the beautiful weather was that my hayfever played up a bit this weekend. But no matter; it’s still beautiful around here and as the days go by the more I’m pleased that I decided to do my undergraduate and PhD here, in the South West of England; close to my beloved family <3 . Last weekend, we (team Chocolate Thunder) went and competed at the Divided We Fall games to compete with 99 other teams. Some of the photos on this page are from RX’d Photography. Another person from out box went up to volunteer as a helper for the weekend, and he was awesome! Such a supportive teammate 🙂 I learnt a lot during this weekend. I learnt a lot from this weekend.


WOD 1 felt pretty good; it was definitely nerve wracking, but at the same time I also felt as ease, because we already did this one before (it was one of the qualifying WODs; hence why it was called “repeat”) I knew that we just had to do it again! The last 100 wall balls between Samantha and I sucked; I just wanted to take a break for a few seconds but knew I couldn’t! We did better than I thought we would: we came 26th for this WOD! Although still way off of the times of the top teams (they did it in 22 minutes or something like that!).

REPEAT
For Time 600 Wallball 20/14LB
EMOM 30 DU

NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
2 Male athletes start:
300 Wallball 20LB
EMOM 30 DU
Once the male athletes complete 300 Wallball the female athletes begin immediately the clock does not stop or reset.

2 Female athletes continue:

300 Wallball 14LB
EMOM 30 DU
One athlete working at a time partition reps for Wallball and DU as needed
The Wallball cannot be continued until all 30 DU reps have been completed. If the DU are not completed when the next minute begins another 30 DU are added. Athletes may have the skipping rope in their hands but cannot begin until the start of each minute.
STANDARDS

Wallball: The wallball shot, the medicine ball must be taken from the bottom of a squat, hip crease below knee, and thrown to hit the target. If the ball hits low or does not hit the target, it is a no rep. If the ball is not caught between reps, it must come to a full stop on the ground. Catching the ball bouncing off the floor is not permitted. Athletes can switch after the ball has hit the target while the ball is in the air provided the standards mentioned are achieved.
Double Unders This is a standard double-under in which the rope passes twice for each jump. Only successful jumps are counted, not just attempts.


WOD 14.1: Repeat

Samantha and Luke did WOD 2; and they did really well 🙂 What more can I say? 😀

UNBROKEN
In a 9 Min Window
Establish an Unbroken GTOH
9 – 6 – 3 rep max

NOTES

2 athletes are needed – 1 Male 1 Female
In minute 0-3
9 Rep Max Unbroken GTOH.
In minute 3-6
6 Rep Max Unbroken GTOH.
In minute 6-9
3 Rep Max Unbroken GTOH.

1 athlete lifts at a time. The remaining team mate can help load / deload when not lifting. The athlete must call out the load to the judge before attempting the lift and collars must be used.
The athletes can decide how many attempts each athlete has in each time window. If a Rep Max is not achieved in a given time window a score of 0KG will be recorded.
Example: Male athlete fails to get a unbroken 6RM during minutes 3-6 scoring 0kg but the female athlete achieves an unbroken 6RM of 50kg the score for that section is 50kg (0+50kg).
The scores for both athletes and all 3 sections are added together for a total score.

STANDARDS

GTOH The barbell is taken from the floor and finishes with hips the knees fully extended, feet under hips showing control with elbows in front of the bar. The athlete may use a Power Clean, Squat Clean, Muscle Clean or Split Clean.
Once the barbell is on the shoulders it must finish with the weight fully locked out overhead. A shoulder press, push press, push jerk or split jerk may be used, as long as the elbow, shoulder, hips and knees fully extend, and the bar finishes directly over the heels with the feet inside shoulder width. If a split jerk is used, the feet must be brought back together with the hips, knees and elbows fully extended before the repetition is completed.
All reps must be touch and go. Resting overhead is allowed. Resting at the hang or rack is also allowed. The bar cannot be rested across the thighs.
Updated standards video:


WOD 14.2: Unbroken

Simon and I did WOD 3, and this was the one I was the most nervous about. I know Simon’s knee was painful, so he was nervous for that. But I had no excuse other than I’m rubbish at pistols. I can pistol on my right leg, but my left leg has always been hit and miss. I wore oly lifting shoes but the heel elevation just isn’t high enough (when I do happen to do pistols at the box I always put my heels on a 2.5 kg plate, and that works just fine). I also think that I took too long to hold my foot and set myself. Such time wasting! But oh well, it definitely was a weak point of mine. I also struggled with the chest to bar… if it was pull ups, I could have done them quite well (as I can do pull ups while hanging from the bar with only my fingers), but chest to bar requires me to have more of a grip, and I found that my hands kept slipping off of the bar! I think it was just too slick, and I guess my hands were sweating more than usual, too. All in all, this WOD didn’t highlight my strong movements, and was the one I was the most nervous about. Oh well. I was so disappointed with this and after this WOD my morale was at rock bottom. As you can see, this really made up drop a lot of places.
CLAY
10 Min AMRAP
12 Burpees
8 Pistols
6 CTB Pull Ups

NOTES

2 athletes are needed – 1 Male 1 Female they cannot be the same athletes from 14.2 UNBROKEN
1 athlete works at a time and must complete a full round before next athlete can begin. Athletes completing a round must “high 5” at the end of a round before the new athlete begins.
Score is total reps.
STANDARDS

Burpees – Each burpee must be performed so that chest and thighs touch the ground at the bottom. There is no requirement for how they stand up. At the top the athlete must jump so that feet leave the floor, the hip is fully extended and the athletes hands are clapped behind their head.
Pistols (One Legged Squats) – Athletes must alternate legs for each repetition. If at any point they cannot complete a repetition on a leg, they cannot alternate legs until a repetition has been completed on that leg. The one-legged squat begins with the athlete standing and the hip fully open with the knee fully locked out on the squatting leg. The hip must pass below parallel at the bottom of the repetition, and the opposite foot (non-supporting leg) cannot touch the ground until the repetition is completed with control. The non-supporting foot must be in front of the supporting foot during the entire repetition. You may hold the foot of the opposite (non-supporting) leg with your hand while performing the one-legged squat.
CTB Pull Up – This is a standard chest-to-bar pull-up. Dead hang, kipping or butterfly pull-ups are allowed, as long as all the requirements are met. The arms must be fully extended at the bottom. At the top, the chest must clearly come into contact with the bar into contact with the bar below the collarbone.


WOD 14.3: Clay

I was also dreading WOD 4, because I know my deadlifts are bad and doing that many overhead squats at a heavy-ish weight (38-39 kg) is not pleasant. Samantha went first out of Samantha and I, and I think she struggled with this one. Perhaps she was fatigued from the previous WOD and I know she was having shoulder pain. I took over her last 9 overhead squats, and had I have known earlier that I could have swapped with her at any time (once we swapped, though, we couldn’t swap back), I think it would have been best to have just done 7 minutes each. Oh well! I’m pleased with how well I did in the last few minutes I had to do. It was certainly a boost for me after the previous WOD!

ANARCHY
FOR TIME
21-15-9
DEADLIFT 225/155LBS
OVERHEAD SQUAT 135/85LBS
NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
1 Male and 1 Female athlete will be working at the same time. Athletes will have a bar each but will need to change the load at the completion of each Deadlift set 225lbs to 135lbs for Men and 155lbs to 85lbs for Women. Then again at the completion of each Overhead squat set. 135lbs back to 225lbs for Men and 85lbs to 155lbs for Women. The resting athletes cannot help with changes. Collars must also be added.
Once the first Male athlete completes the 21-15-9 the next male may begin. Once the first Female athlete completes the 21-15-9 the next Female may begin. Time is called when the last athlete finishes.
There is a 15min cap for this workout and each uncompleted rep will incur a penalty.
STANDARDS
Deadlift – This is a traditional deadlift with the hands outside the knees. Sumo-deadlifts are not allowed. Starting at the floor, the barbell is lifted until hips and knees reach full extension with the shoulders behind the bar. The arms must be straight throughout.
Overhead Squat – The hip crease must be below the top of the knee at the bottom. A full squat snatch is permitted, but not required, to start the movement if standard depth is achieved. The barbell must come to full lockout overhead with the hips, knees and arms fully extended, and the bar directly over the middle of the body.


WOD 14.4: Anarchy

I believe that we were supposed to do WOD 5 on day 1. But as the event ran way over time we did it first thing on day 2. I was nervous for this one, but it turned out to be one of my best WODs. The guys’ morale was really quite low on day 2. Luke was knackered and Simon nearly broke his thumb when power cleaning, and as a result I think he struggled with them. When Samantha and I jumped in we really did quite well and I think this definitely would have been our WOD!

GUN RUNNER
For Time:
42-30-18
Clean 185/135lbs
Burpee Box Over Jumps 30/24in

NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
Male athletes go first and can break the work up as needed – only one works at a time. Once they complete the clock does not stop or reset and the females go. When performing the burpee box jump if alternating the athlete cannot begin the burpee until both of the previous athletes feet have hit the ground after the box over jump.
There is a 20min cap for this workout and each uncompleted rep will incur a penalty.

STANDARDS
Clean – The barbell is taken from the floor and finishes with hips the knees fully extended, feet under hips showing control with elbows in front of the bar. The athlete may use a Power Clean or Squat Clean.
Burpee Box Over Jump – The bottom of the burpee has the athlete face down with the chest and thighs touching the ground. There is no requirement for how they stand up. The athlete must face the box and jump over the box to the other side. The jump must be a two-footed jump. Landing on top of the box is allowed, but not required. Each rep, including the final rep, is complete once the athlete has jumped over the box.


WOD 14.5: Gun Runner

WOD 6 was a simple WOD. Unfortunately, the morale was so low at this point! Simon was frustrated because he couldn’t snatch with the state of his thumb, and that cause a little ruckus. But I was pleased with how I did! I got 47.5 kg (105 lbs) and did 1 hang snatch at 115 lbs (52.5 kg) and failed on the 2nd. I think I could have done the 3 had I have been calm enough and there was enough time; that 10 minutes between 4 people goes REALLY quickly! There’s a picture of me snatching at the bottom of this page, and for some reason the mobility in my legs looks a little worse/shaky than usual. I’m going to attribute that to the ache in my quads from the pistols adn 300 wall balls the day before!

ABEL
In a 10 minute Window
Establish a team total 3 RM Hang Squat Snatch
NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
Each athlete will have as many attempts as they wish to establish their heaviest 3-rep hang squat snatch. The workout will begin with an empty barbell and a stack of plates. It will be the team’s responsibility to load the bar for each lift and declare the weight to the judge prior to lifting. The score with be the total of each athletes heaviest 3 rep hang squat snatch.
STANDARDS
This movement begins with the athlete deadlifting the barbell and stopping at this position prior to snatching. The athlete may not lower the bar past the knees after deadlifting the weight. The barbell must be received in the overhead squat position. A power snatch followed by an overhead squat will not be permitted. Only the feet may touch the ground during the lift.
Resting overhead is allowed. Resting at the hang is allowed but the bar cannot be supported by any part of the body.


WOD 14.6: Abel

I think everyone was pleased that this was the last WOD! I was at the point where I felt like the group’s morale was so low that I just wanted to go home. Samantha did so well with the rowing (she rows better than most guys!), as did Luke and Simon. I was to roe 500 m and only rowed about 300 m (maybe less?)… I got down to a 1:37 m /500 m split, but only for about 100 m. My quads then cramped and I had to get off the rower as I slowed right down to 1:55! This has highlighted how much I need to learn to push with my glutes, and then have the “quick hands” with the pull into the rest, as Samantha says. When Luke got on after me, he was surprised how little he had rowed… then realised that was because I didn’t row the 500 m! Samantha got on to finish the last 750 m or so. There was a point where she got so tired and stopped, and she had less than 100 m to row! We were shouting at her to switch, but then realised that she may as well continue. Unfortunately, in those few seconds, the team next to us (an awesome team from CrossFit Cumbria that we spoke to for the whole event!) beat us by a second! It goes to show high tight competition is! And how important planning is and knowing your strengths and weaknesses are. The placings were separated by only seconds. But after this, I felt so bad, especially in combination with doing badly on the pistol WOD.

SAMCRO
Row 3km For Time:
NOTES
All 4 athletes will complete this workout.
Teams can break the work up in any order
There is a 15min cap for this workout and each metre not rowed will incur a penalty.
STANDARDS
Row – Final Athlete must remain on the rower until the display reads greater than 3000 meters. The athlete may coast over the required distance, but cannot make an attempt to get off the rower (e.g., unstrapping early or standing up) until they are past the required distance. The athlete may adjust the damper setting and foot positions at any time during the row and team mates can help with this. Athletes must keep feet in footstraps when rowing.


WOD 14.7: Samcro

After all that, we finished 44th… not the best finish (I think Luke was disappointed), but we did say that we wanted to be in the top 50. And it’s true, that it’s not the placing, it was definitely yhe experience. And sometimes it’s good to do these things to realise more about yourself and keep yourself motivated. I guess for me it was a make or break thing. It was our first big comp! And it highlighted the importance of planning and that playing to your strengths can be a huge advantage when the WODs are in your favour! I saw on Facebook that the team that qualified 112th (so must have been invited when teams from the original 100 qualifying teams dropped out) came 28th after the weekend!

The comp then cut to the top 12 teams, who then went on to do 2 more WODs.


Our final placing…

Post-DWF I was feeling so unmotivated that I didn’t go to the box to train all last week. I learnt that you need to train around the right people to get the best out of you, and that in the world of sports, things are very ephemeral; just because you do badly doesn’t mean you’re bad and can’t improve, and just because you do well doesn’t mean that you’re the best. It also highlighted to me how that I really need to stay on top of my own training and start programming myself, and really build some tenacity when WODing. I was going to try out some programming but Maz at the box convinced me that I’m intelligent enough to programme myself, and that I should utilise all of the knowledge at the people from the box. She’s right, she really is. I can do it myself! 🙂


Anyway, after DWF, and spending some time to recover mentally, someone had also made the Oreo cake, which seemed to be a huge hit! It really made me smile!!! 😀


Oreo cake was a big hit!! 😀

Anywho, after a stressful week (re: uni work… starting to slow down a bit now; waiting around for my supervisor to read my report, and struggling with this modelling stuff… I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it. And now Paris is getting closer, I’m wondering if it’s wise that I do go and present my work… as much as I’d love to, I just feel like I need more time to prepare myself mentally and physically… time’s moving too fast :'( ), and spending it indoors, it was lovely to train for fun yesterday morning, and be treated to some lovely food by my lovely mother. 🙂 Thanks, mum and dad! 🙂 🙂 <3 🙂 🙂

Pecan Pie
Page 224 of The Dairy Book of Family Cookery
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
• 200 g (7 oz) English butter
• 175 g (6 oz) flour
• pinch of salt
• 3 x eggs
• 15 ml (1 tbsp) milk
• 175 g (6 oz) demerara sugar
• 150 ml (¼ pint) maple or corn syrup
• 2.5 ml (½ tsp) vanill flavouring/essence
• 175 g (6 oz) pecan nuts, halved
• fresh double cream to serve

Preparation
Whisk 150 g (5 oz) butter. Gradually stir in the sifted flour and salt; beat well after each addition. Add 45 ml (3 tbsp) cold water and mix thoroughly with the hands. Knead lightly with extra flour, as this pastry is sticky to handle. Chill.

Roll out the pastry and use to a line 23-cm (9-inch) ovenproof flan dish; flute the edge. Chill the case while preparing the filling.

Beat the eggs and milk together. Boil the sugar and syrup together in a saucepan for 3 minutes. Slowly pour on to the beaten eggs and stir in 50 g (2 oz) butter and vanilla flavouring.

Use half the nuts to cover the base of the pastry case, spoon the syrup mixture over and cover with the remaining nuts. Bake in the oven at 220°C (435°F) mark 7 for 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 170°C (325°F) mark 3 and cook for a further 45 minutes, until the filling is set. Serve warm or cold with the fresh cream.

Devoured on a beautiful summer’s day at my parent’s: 17.05.2014

Plymouth Half Marathon | Chocolate Sweet Potato Brownies/Cake with an Avocado Frosting

Yesterday was the day that myself and eight other CrossFit girls ran with a stretcher loaded with 50 kg, and ran the Plymouth Half Marathon in order to raise money for The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

We managed the whole thing in 2h 59m and 38s… sub-3 hours! Wohooo! Eight of the guys from CrossFit Plymouth also ran with a 70kg person on their stretcher, and completed it in 2h 36m and 50s. It was pretty cool that the guys could find someone to be on their stretcher… unfortunately, the person that we were going to carry couldn’t make it. So we carried a sandbag! It didn’t look as impressive because a lot of the crowd were saying “oh, what’s on the stretcher? Nothing.” It was pretty frustrating!

The weather was a little overcast, a little sunny at times, windy, and even a little rainy. It wasn’t as sunny as it was on Friday (we did a Hero WOD combo of DT and Murph… not fun!), and when we were training it was actually pretty hot running in the sun! So thankfully it wasn’t as sunny on the day, but I still managed to get tan lines on my legs!


The map of the route we ran, as recorded by my Garmin watch – thanks Ed!

We only did one training day with the stretcher and ran only half of what we were supposed to run. Not only that, but we didn’t even have all of our teammates on that day (think there were 6 of us girls). Oh, we did one other run with the stretcher in the pouring rain late in the evening in January sometime. We ran only a couple of km and realised how difficult it was going to be. That said, there were only 4 of us carrying the thing. Although it did feel really cool because it reminded me of the Xbox game Left 4 Dead I play with my bro (zombie apocalypse thing… standard).


The guys coming back to cheer us on for the last 800 m or so and over the finish line!

I personally made the big mistake of eating a few (*ahem*) jelly babies and drinking some Lucozade. At one water station they were handing them out and I missed the water. But instantly it made me feel sick (this was at mile 6, I believe) and felt that way for the rest of the run. I didn’t need any of the sugary stuff, and I wish I’d listened to my gut (no pun intended!). But when you have loads of people telling you that you need it for energy (i.e. websites, onlookers, other people), then you kind of start believing them. I wish I just had water for the whole thing!



But what was worse was my knees! I even said to everyone at mile 7 that this is loads easier than I thought it was going to be, to which they told me not to jinx the rest of the run! But by mile 9 or 10, my knees were in pain! I was really worried that it’d be my calves that would go (as I always complain about my calves on long runs), but I suppose the fact that we were running slowly and I was making an effort to strike on my heels first maybe meant my calves were protected? My knees became so painful and today, my hips are a little sore and my knees are rather bad. Although nowhere near as bad as I thought I was going to feel. I even feel so fine that I may go to CrossFit and hammer my shoulders tonight… There’s no rest for the wicked as we have DWF in less than 2 weeks… and I feel extremely underprepared…


There was PLENTY of this cake consumed, along with copious amounts of sushi and sake with my bro the evening after the race! Needless to say I’m very proud of myself, and proud of how we all pulled together and supported one another; that’s what the CrossFit community and friends are all about 🙂

We had quite a few supporters from CFP and others’ friends and family come out, which was really lovely. Thanks to those guys for coming out and shouting to us! 🙂

When I got home, I felt a little sick for a while, and wasn’t hungry at all. Still managed to eat loads of food in the evening though! My brother and I treated ourselves to some takeaway sushi (we’ve been saying for months that we need to do that!) and some warm sake. Then had some of these brownies in cake form for dessert! 🙂


I made these brownies on a very rainy Easter Sunday to share with my lovely family. The weather cleared by the evening so my dad, brother and I went for our usual walk. 🙂 I took some into work and those who tried them said they were surprised that there was no flour. Katie wants to recipe, hence why I’ve written it up! 🙂

I then made two brownies in the form of a cake. This was I could “treat” myself to dessert and control my portions every evening. So if I wanted to have a dessert, it would have to be a portion from the cake – nothing more! But having said that, within two days over half of it had gone between my brother and I… and that was us trying to be “conservative.”

I was going to decorate the cake with raspberries, as they’re so visually stunning, but I did so with the Oreo-crusted tart. So then I thought I’d decorate it with more frosting piped around the edges of the top, but then couldn’t be bothered to waste previous avocado frosting in my piping bag (as thare’s always loads leftover/stuck in the bag).

They’re similar to the sweet potato brownies I made for the CFP party, but different. And then basically covered in chocolate avocado pudding

This really is definitely one of my most favourite chocolate cakes, and with double cream it just tastes absolutely amazing. Really. It’s so moist, creamy, chocolate-y, yet sturdy enough to cut slices and look visually attractive. Just all the things that you could possibly want from a chocolate cake. I tried to catch the moistness and textures of the cake in my photos, so I hope I’ve managed to do that!

If you’d like to make the brownies, follow the recipe below. If you’d like to make it into a cake, simply double the recipe and then split the batter into 2 x 20 cm cake tins. 🙂

Chocolate Sweet Potato Brownies with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting
Not Quite Nigella, Eat Drink Paleo, PaleOMG, and Kung Fu Café
Makes 20-25 squares

Ingredients
For the brownies:
• 800-900g raw sweet potato
• 4 x eggs
• ⅔ cup honey or maple syrup
• ½ cup coconut oil, melted
• ⅔ cup dark chocolate when solid, then melted
• 6 tbsp coconut flour
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 3 tbsp chia seeds
• 4 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder, sifted
• ½ tbsp baking soda, sifted
• ½ tsp mixed spice/allspice
• pinch of salt

For the frosting:
• flesh of 3 ripe avocadoes
• 4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
• 4 tbsp of cocoa powder, sifted

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Pop the sweet potatoes in for maybe 1.5 hours until the middles are soft. Take out and leave on the side until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the insides of the sweet potato (reserve the skins for sweet potato skin pizzas!), and place in a large bowl. Add all of the other ingredients and homogenise well. Pour into a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking mould (or a greased tin!), and pop back into the oven for 45-50 minutes. When the time is up, turn the oven off and leave the brownies in the oven for about 15 minutes. Take out and leave to cool on the side.

To make the frosting, blend the avocadoes, honey and cocoa powder in a food processor until smooth. Add more honey and/or cocoa powder until the desired taste has been reached.

Brownies made: 20.04.2014 (Easter Sunday).
Cake made: 24.04.2014.

Mum’s Plum and Raspberry Crumble | DWF 2014

Mmmmm, I dream about this dish; this crumble is certainly one of my favourites! When mum makes it for my bro and I to have, I’ll usually have the leftovers cold the next morning for breakfast. It really is a delicious dish, hot, cold, with cream, ice cream, leftover chocolate ganache (from making macarons). It really is just delicious and packed with fruit. It’s so comforting; perfect for a winter’s day, or a summer’s evening.

This is a simple dish that gives great results. It can be made ahead, so is perfect to have on a busy day, but the flavours are so good that you can have it for a dinner party dessert. I love this with Cornish ice cream. The topping can also be made ahead and frozen. It’s an Ina Garten recipe; she’s one of my mum’s favourite chefs and she loves to watch The Barefoot Contessa cooking programme.

Hmmm, so any recent news? Nothing too spectacular. I went to Aberdeen last week for the Unconventional Gas conference and stayed with Ed. It was probably the highlight of my PhD; things have been going really well recently, and spending a week in great company tops it off (especially as attending conferences generally motivates me, anyway!). And I bought mum a haggis as a gift from Aberdeen.

Maurizio, Katie and I drove there and back! It took 11 hours to get there, and the journey was smooth. We stopped only once and Maurizio drove all the way. He also drove all the way back, but unfortunately we were stuck in traffic for 3-4 hours, which put a dampener on things, but road trips are always fun with good company! It was also great going out in the evenings with great people, and it’s even better when everyone gets along and talks about varied things!

I also found some beautiful dresses from AX Paris, which is probably now my new favourite place to buy things! I don’t really deviate much from Amazon to be honest, and certainly don’t’ buy clothes online, but I recently bought two beautiful dresses: this beautiful blue cocktail/bodycon dress, and this skater dress.

I told Ed about these dresses, and said to him that if I am able to present in Paris, then I’ll wear the blue dress. And before I knew it, Ed had surprised me by having it delivered to my address! I was quite touched by it, and thought it was really thoughtful, but Ed seemed to think nothing of it really. Some other friends and my mum certainly agree that it was a romantic thing to do! 🙂 <3

Oh, and on April 1st, Google launched their Pokémon challenge! I managed to find just over 100 Pokémon without help (by going to famous landmarks, Japan, etc.). But I needed a few guides (1, 2, 3) to help… either way, it was a great way to procrastinate in uni and a nice way to chill after Crossfit in the evenings while watching South Park or something with my bro before bed. Below are some screenshots of my phone, which turned into my Pokédex, of Japan, London, and I also included screenshots from San Francisco. I love Japan their culture, language and traditions, and of course, London. But San Francisco is one of the more recent places I’ve visited and loved it, so thought I’d pop them in here. That place/trip holds important lessons for me so thought I’d just use screenshots from the very areas I have visited. 😀

Anyway, onto the *bigger* news… our team made it to the Divided We Fall (DWF) Games! That means Samantha, Luke, Simon and I have to travel to Cardiff at the beginning of May to compete!

We did 3 qualifying WODs as a team, and had someone to judge us. I was feeling ill when we did them the week before I went to Aberdeen. We did three in the space of, like, 25 hours, and I think those WODs pushed me from being ill to getting pretty ill. I really don’t know how I did what I did when I felt so bad, but I hope I didn’t let my team down! One thing that did really scare me though, was that Luke went blind because he pushed himself so hard… maybe it was s side-effect of the supplement combined with how hard he worked (he did do three rounds of 5 ground-to-overhead at 80k, 10 box jump overs (24”) and 5 toes 2 bar in, like, 3 minutes. It really scared me and I’ve never seen such a thing before. I’d never push myself to that sort of effect but I hope it won’t happen again!

Samantha and I tried our first pre-WOD supplement (literally a shot each), before the guys went to do their 300 wall balls (the guys had to do 300 wall balls between the two of them, and then Samantha and I had to do 300 wall balls between the two of us, and had to do 30 double unders on the minute, every minute, before we could proceed with the wall balls). I don’t know what it was called, but we spoke about a supplement called Jack 3D, and I just Googled the stuff, and two worrying articles appeared: this one, that says it has been banned in Britain because of potential lethal side effects, and this one, that says this guy nearly passed out a few times and had a racing heart. I think I’ll stick to the au naturel way, thank you very much!

Samantha and I got a little hyper because of it, I think. Although it may have been because of the nerves. While the guys were finishing off their 300 wall balls, we were dancing a little! But an idea was to create a pre-WOD cake! If I can make it paleo, the better (yeah, right!), but I’m thinking it’ll have to be as moist and as tasty as the Oreo cake, and as colourful as Rose’s cake to show how it’ll make you feel! Maybe it can have pre-workout stuff, protein powder, post-workout stuff, supplements, etc. I don’t take all of these things, myself, but it’ll be fun to try and incorporate it into a cake!

When I first checked on the night just after all of the scores had to be validated, we were in 42nd place. I have just checked where we are now, and we’re currently 51st, so after the processed the results we moved down quite a significant number of places. 🙁 But fortunately, we were still in the top 100 teams out of 298 teams that registered. Although I counted the number of teams that didn’t’ submit any scores, and that totalled to 83. So I guess we were 51st out of 215 teams. Not too bad I suppose… I’m surprised that more teams didn’t register, but oh well! It’ll be an experience to compete!

I’m really excited, but at the same time so nervous that I’ll let the team down and be the weak link. All I can do is try my hardest, but right now I feel the most unfit I’ve felt in the past couple of years. I’ve really lost motivation for training, and can’t seem to get hold of my nerves at the moment. I always get pretty nervous heading down to the gym/box, but recently it’s been out of control and I need to reign it back in. It’ll be a real challenge but it’s making me get really upset with myself as I’m not being the person I want to be. But at least my teammates are really encouraging and fit themselves. It’s fantastic to train with people who inspire you and are fun to be around.

Maz, who came 2nd in the CrossFit Open for her age category, has asked me and Alan to train with her! We had our first training session on Friday, and it was super fun! She’s got such motivation and is in amazing shape (her age doesn’t even come into play to be honest; she could beat anyone half her age, except for Samantha Briggs, I think!). I’m really inspired by her and she’s so much fun to train with! 🙂

Thank you Kayleigh for the DWF photos! 🙂

Anyway, the take home message: when you’re resting (I’ve been doing far too much of that these days…), it’s great to indulge in this delicious crumble. Thanks, mum! This makes me think of you, every time! 🙂 🙂 🙂

My mum gave my brother and I two of these in slightly smaller aluminium trays… I ate a whole one for breakfast with cream. I’m not ashamed! I have a big appetite, ok!

Plum and Raspberry Crumble
Ina Garten, Food Network
Serves 6

Ingredients
For the cake; 2 x 9″ cakes:
• 1 ¼ cup (160g) plain flour, sieved
• ½ cup (45g) rolled oats
• 115g butter (or coconut oil), diced
• ⅔ cup brown sugar
• pinch of salt
• ½ cup (25g) slithered almonds
• 2 tbsp orange juice
• 450g sliced plums
• 2 punnets (500g) raspberries

Preparation
Wash fruit. Preheat oven to 175°C.

Pop the plums, ⅓ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour, orange juice and raspberries in a large baking dish. Toss well so everything is coated nicely.

In a bowl, add 1 cup flour, ⅓ cup sugar and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Pour the mixture back into the bowl and add the oats, working with your hands until it’s a crumbly mixture. Add the almonds, mix well and spread on top of the plum and raspberry mix.

Sprinkle with some extra almonds, if desired, and pop into the oven for 45 minutes until the fruit is tender and bubbly, and the top is golden brown.

These particular crumbles were made in March 2014.

Merry Christmas from Kung Fu Café! | Sweet Potato Truffles & Coconut Chocolate Ganache

Here’s to seeing the end of 2013 with loved ones and continuing the good fight by achieving many more goals in 2014. Merry Christmas everyone!

This year has been an amazing year full of personal growth and lessons learnt. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings and whatever happens, if I continue to improve as I have been in 2013, then I’ll be stronger because of it. 🙂

These photos are the first photos I’ve taken with a background! I decided to give it a go as it was Christmas, and I absolutely love Christmas themed food photos! Not only was it a nice and simple challenge for me (i.e my first use of a background, albeit simple!), it captured what I love most about Christmas; preparing food especially for loved ones (although the meal was my mum’s, not mine!) and being grateful for everything.

My parent’s house is absolutely perfect for shooting photos; the kitchen is so rustic, the living room is very grand with pine furniture, dark leather sofas and a roaring fire, and the whole house is just absolutely bathed in light – there are windows everywhere! I love this place so much, and really don’t want my parents to scale down and sell it! I’ll buy it from them for my photography practice (for a greatly reduced price, of course 😉 ).

Anyway, as you can see, these photos are of my Christmas dinner just before devouring it. So I’m very pleased with how these photos came out providing that it was a few quick snaps (although I did prepare the setting and gold reflector, candle and regular old orange lamp before dinner was served. I really like how the Christmas lights, candle and Bucks Fizz came are out of focus and the dinner looks so perfect. We didn’t eat around this table (hence why I could set up all of my photography stuff there!), but the meal was certainly as delicious as it looked! Thanks mum! 🙂

And for dessert, we had a friend’s Christmas pudding! She makes and sells them every year, not giving out her recipe, and packaging them in beautiful red crepe paper, plastic and gold string. This is where I got the inspiration for making my own paleo Christmas puddings! These ones are definitely different to conventional Christmas puddings in that they’re more moist and fruity. I think you can see how moist they are in my photos, and they’re slightly lighter in colour than regular puddings. But they were absolutely delicious! Today we had my Christmas puddings. 🙂

So, as well as making my own Christmas puddings, I’ve also been making paleo mince pies! The crust/pastry is made from a recipe I’ve adapted a little and is made from almond flour, egg and oil, and the middle is my own mincemeat creation that includes fruits soaked overnight in brandy and all sorts of Christmas flavours. Someone ordered 20 mince pies from me (without the tops; someone who ordered 12 mince pies from me said a mince pie isn’t complete without a top; differing opinions I suppose!) and tried to call me on Christmas eve to thank me and tell me that the pies were “unbelievable!” That definitely made it all worthwhile! I don’t make a massive profit from the foods I make, and if I’m going to go into business with this, I think it’s worth playing around with prices to see what is the biggest profit I can make without taking advantage of my customers; but the mince pies I only just scrape myself into a profit margin with the price I’m selling them for. Mince pies are so cheap in the supermarkets, but it’s so timely to make them by hand (pressing the pastry into the moulds, and forming the lids, too, not to mention making the mincemeat in advance). But I suppose that these mince pies would be more expensive as they’re homemade and are also gluten free, too!

You can also see in the photos below that the texture of the mince pie crusts are different, and I think that’s dependent on the coarseness of the almond flour I use, and also how much I pack the dough into the moulds. In some ways I like the large pies with a smoother crust, and having a bulging top means you can put more filling in the middle. But at the same time, I quite like having flat tops because you can stack them more easily.

Anywho, the recipe below is for sweet potato truffles/balls. I absolutely love these and they’re perfect for the Christmas season! I think they’re great for a healthier treat, especially if the ball is left plain or perhaps covered with nuts. And even if they’re covered in cocoa powder and chocolate ganache, at least they’re made with healthier and more natural ingredients, rather than all of these additives formed in a lab!

I think a large ball would be a great post-workout snack, as they’re chocked full of carbs like sweet potato, and fat like almonds. The photo below is a ball covered in cocoa powder, and it looks just like the MCCs (modified calcium carbonates) I work with! You can see an SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of an MCC grade in the left picture below. Of course, the MCCs and sweet potato balls are on a completely different size scale. 🙂

I made these relatively large. They were fairly small when plain, but after adding and rolling them in different things, they plumped up in size. I rolled them in currants, desiccated coconut, dried goji berries, crushed pistachio nuts, cocoa powder and hemp seeds. Some I even rolled in this delicious chocolate-coconut ganache (which I thoroughly recommend serving with any dessert!).



I think these would be great for parties, lunch boxes, snacks, post-workouts, as a breakfast on the go, a snack before bed… any time, really!

I would love to make these again, but a little smaller, and all covered in chocolate ganache. These would be great on any party table, especially around Christmas, as they just have so many Christmas-y flavours and tastes… not to mention colours! They’re perfect to give as gifts, too, especially if presented in a nice box with a ribbon. 🙂

Maybe these could even be made into some sort of cake/patty as a starter, but with apple incorporated into the mix instead of dates? Some experimenting is afoot!

It’s not necessary to blend the ingredients; you could just mash them. The dates would be better blended, but of course you could omit the dates (if sweetness isn’t your thing) and perhaps replace them with more sweet potato or oats or something. I would also love to stuff these with melted peanut butter! Now THAT would be amazing!


Boxing day WOD:
Leftovers for time! 🙂

Sweet Potato Truffles
Adapted from: Nutrition Stripped
Makes 24 truffles

Ingredients
For the truffles:
• 4 x small sweet potatoes
• 1 x cup of almond flour
• ¾ cup of rolled oats (or coconut flour)
• 1 cup dates or dried fruit
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp nutmeg
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• pinch of salt

For garnishing:
• *nothing*
• dried currants
• cocoa powder
• desiccated coconut
• dried goji berries
• crushed pistachio nuts
• raw shelled hemp seeds

For the chocolate ganache (makes how much?):
• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

Preparation
For the truffles:
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skins off (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!) pop them with the rest of the ingredients into a large food processor, and process until smooth.

I only had a small processor, so I processed the oats until they became flour, the dried fruit until it turned mushy, and mashed the insides of the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Then I homogenised by hand; it took a little longer but everything came together into a dough in the end.

Roll these balls out into as many truffles as you desire! 🙂 I rolled them out into sizes about ¼ the size of the palm of my hand, and got 24. I could happily eat one in a large bit, or in two more moderate bites 🙂

For garnishing:
Roll each truffle into your chosen garnish, ensuring that you don’t smush the shape of the balls with your hand!

You could incorporate the cocoa powder into the actual ball itself to make it entirely chocolate.

For the chocolate ganache:
Melt the coconut oil over the hob (VERY gently) and take off of the heat. Add the maple syrup and cocoa powder, and stir to create a sauce. Add more coconut oil to make the sauce thinner, less coconut oil/more syrup and cocoa powder will make it thicker. I like mine thick! Let the sauce cool a little.

Roll each truffle into the chocolate ganache, or drizzle on top, and pop on non-stick baking paper. Store and cool in the fridge. Serve on a cool day (or immediately from the fridge) to ensure that the ganache will remain hard (otherwise the coconut oil will melt!). At this time of year in the UK, there will be no problems with ensuring that it remains cool!

Store in the fridge in an air tight container.

All baked in my lovely kitchen: 22.11.2013

Gratefulness | A Degustation of Paleo Delights (long and reflective post alert!)

Menu du jour:

1. Mashed butternut squash with coconut and macadamia nuts
2. Pork, apple and sweet potato meatloaf
3. Cauliflower risotto
4. Green breakfast smoothie

This week’s been a funny week!

For me, it started on a low, and ended on a high!

I’m not sure why exactly, but on Monday and Tuesday I felt really insecure in myself, rather upset and couldn’t stop thinking about certain “issues.” I’m worrying about quite a bit, going to Frankfurt for a few days next weekend, getting back into OU Spanish when I get back (can I keep up with the workload? Or rather, can I actually achieve the grades I want to achieve?), not being able to cook for a while due to other commitments, worried about people’s impressions and opinions of me, lots of emotions, etc. But thanks to my lovely mother I was able to see it through and by Wednesday I was back to my normal self again. 🙂

On a more positive note, I was picked for a team to compete in The Tribal Clash 2014! I briefly wrote about the competition that took place this year, and it was an amazing experience! A LOT of teams applied for it in 2014, including from various other countries, too, such as the Portugal, Norway, Finland, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Spain, Poland and the USA. And Josh picked me to be in his team! Along with Kim (we were teammates last year, too!) and Thom! There were 144 team slots, and 607 applicants (I assume the applicants were individual people who had a team in mind they wanted to put together, so I suppose that’s a potential 607 teams registering their interest!)!

However, as it turns out, after all of the places were allotted, those teams that won that ballot had to claim their place before a certain date (yes, it’s only October and we have to commit to an event that’s taking place in August). Of course, a lot of teams didn’t claim their place (which I think is understandable, because if there are people who need to come in from abroad of across country, they don’t know if they can commit to the money to get there and stay, and even local people; who knows if they can have that time of guaranteed? Who knows what’ll happen!). So as a result, there was a “smash and grab” event, in which at midday on a certain day, the applicants could log online and claim the places that successful ballot winners failed to claim. As a result, there are a total of 7 teams not from CFP (there were only 2 before!)!

I’m really excited for it, and honoured that I was chosen by a very strong crew to be part of their team, although I am very nervous about letting them down on the day. The thing is though, they’re all lovely people and I feel comfortable around them, so even if I did let them down, I don’t think they’d say it (I don’t know if that makes me more nervous or not!). But either way, it’s 10 months away… that’s 10 months to prepare!

This week in uni/at work has been… productive, but at the same time, not so much. I’ve had very productive mornings, so I’ve been doing about 5 hours of productive work each day this week (except for Friday, which was very productive, but I’m going in on Sunday to make up for slack time this week!). But for some reason, in the afternoons, I found it extremely difficult to concentrate.

This week has really brought up the lesson, again, that life is all about what you think!

I keep on learning this, over and over again. So why do I sometimes make myself dwell and focus on the little “what if’s” and make what other people may think of me a priority in my life, rather than concentrating on right now?

Nobody knows what’s around the corner. And I’m not talking about major life events or disasters. I’m talking about little everyday occurrences. Every day, every week, every month, I’m pleasantly surprised by people’s kindness, nice comments, invitations to places, etc. I try to enjoy it in the moment, but I also try not to let it get to my ego (i.e. I should be just as happy even if no one appreciated how hard I worked to achieve this, or if no one invited me out anywhere this weekend, or if I didn’t get any attention from that person today, etc.). But then I also know that bad things will happen, too. Again, I’m not talking about disasters that are life-changing here, I’m just talking about little things, such as someone making a sarcastic remark and hurting you, someone using you and talking to you only when they feel like it, not being as productive as you would have liked, or achieving a result that you wanted, etc.

But I know now, through experience, that life’s always going to be cycling between the two, and as a result, you get times in life when you feel really high on just experiencing the everyday, and then you get times in life where, although nothing has changed, you feel really low. This can happen within such a short space of time that it feels as though an alien has invaded my brain when it does and I’m no longer my true self!

But knowing isn’t enough. Application is the key! I feel as though I know enough on how to survive in a happy-for-the-most-part-manner in life. I feel as though I’m knowledgeable enough to guide myself and give myself the advice I need to overcome everyday insecurities. But then why don’t I listen to myself? “Lessons in life will be repeated until they are truly learned.” Well, of course they will be, because you’ll always be falling for the same traps until you learn to overcome them. But in a way, that’s the beauty of it; life always presents you with an opportunity to better yourself and to overcome something that previously held you back. And if you don’t succeed, then life will present you with countless opportunity to succeed again, and again, and again. But life will never not present you anything that you find uncomfortable or difficult to deal with, because then you’d never develop and grow as a person, and then, in my opinion, life just wouldn’t be interesting or worthwhile.

It’s like eating for health and losing weight. If someone wants to lose weight, they (as most people I know) get so obsessed about food, being around it, restricting it, planning every calorie, etc… but then when they’re offered some chocolate, for example, they eat it! But it isn’t aligned with their plans, so why do they eat it? Well, some people would blame the other person for offering them chocolate. They try to control the outside. To be honest, no one is ever going to be in a situation where they’re never offered anything that’s full of calories. I went to a buffet meal the other night and had this plate of dessert (I’m quite ashamed!); but my point is, is that no one made me eat it. I put the food on the plate, I ate it, and I have to suffer the consequences (sugar rush, sugar crash, calories, etc.). I could blame the food for being so tasty and looking so delectable. Or I could have attempted to control the situation by not going to a buffet restaurant. Or I could see it as a chance to improve myself. I could have had maybe only a little bit of each, or chosen one thing, etc. In other words, life will always give me a chance to improve myself and enhance and strengthen every lesson I’ve learnt. Once I’ve truly learnt it, then it will seem as though life no longer throws it at me.

When I’m in that period where I’m in my own bubble, life couldn’t be any better. That’s not to say that people still don’t influence me or that I don’t care, but it’s to say that I’m just happy with what is, and I just absorb myself in the moment and focus on what’s to be done at hand, without referring to possible future outcomes or dwelling on the past.

This is why I love this food blog; it’s so cathartic, spiritually renewing my, ego isn’t involved, and I can explore my creative side in a relaxed manner by carefully selecting what dish to construct and how the flavours will complement one another, purposefully preparing it and cooking it with love, and how to photograph it by bringing out the colours and right angles (that’s another reason as to why I love to eat paleo; the food is just so colourful!).

Sometimes, I look through recipes online and admire the photography of others and wonder how they created such a magnificent image. I look at things in their photos such as the colours, the props, the composition, the light source, how harsh the shadows are and how that contributes to the appearance of the texture of the food, etc. I ask myself: what can I do in my place to improve my own photography making use of the light source and location that I have? Should I play with aperture or shutter speed settings next time? How can I get better photos with less light, or should I consider buying a halogen lamp? What should I play around with next time? What can I create that my family would enjoy? I think it’s obviously worked, because the improvement I’ve seen in my own photography has been phenomenal! I can’t even explain to you what exactly I did to improve it, but it was asking myself these questions, being analytical, and developing a sense of intuition and experience to judge situations. Of course struggle with more things than others; some dishes are just easier to photograph than others, and sometimes the light one day is perfect, while another day it’s too harsh or not enough. But just looking back at the first few pictures I took with my camera, I’ve come a long way, and I can’t wait to go even further!

It’s doing things like this, such as contributing/maintaining a food blog, that lead to a higher path in life. When you’re so utterly absorbed in what you do, it’s so unexplainably enjoyable and there’s so much satisfaction to be found in any activity. It just brings you limitless happiness. And I get this bubbling passion and enthusiasm for everything. That’s when life is truly worth living.

That’s why I like doing a PhD; it’s a 3-4 year project that you work on, after which you become an “expert” in your field. On those days when I really get into my project, it’s incredible. Take a meeting I had this week, for instance: we discussed the use of electrolytes in a solution of adsorbent and adsorbate, and how a more concentrated solution of electrolyte will compress the double layer on the adsorbent, thereby possibly enhancing the adsorption of the adsorbate, but more electrolyte will screen any electrostatic repulsions. So how do we calculate the Debye length under my given conditions? It got really more indepth than that, and it was interesting. The satisfaction I get after discussions like that is incredible. I feel as though what I’ve been working towards is finally being realised. When you solve a problem, immerse yourself in such analytical thinking and go about investigating what happens when this changes that, etc., it’s just so amazing. However, it does take a lot of mental effort. And a lot of times, there are those days when you apply effort, effort, effort, but nothing comes to fruition for days, weeks, months… it’s about pushing through. Just like a WOD. Get that last rep done, get that last experiment done, and when you finally see the end, the buzz, the adrenaline, the amazement at what you can achieve becomes apparent!

Anyway, my point is, is that when you throw yourself into things, the rest of life falls into place. In my most insecure times, I feel as though I’m waiting for the next good thing to happen (i.e. I spoke with this person the other day and worried that they don’t like me, so when they next contact me I’ll be happy), or going over in my head how bad an impression I give to other people or how they think this or me, etc.

But yes, life is all about human relations, I believe, for the most part at least. But at the same time, at the end of life, it’s all about what you thought about the most. What occupied your mind throughout your life? Was it focussing on how this wasn’t right, how that person may not have liked me or didn’t invite me to this (or even if you were invited, who cares?! Why place so much emphasis on it?!), or was it focussing on all of the beauty there is in life?

That’s why I’m a very keen advocate of finding hobbies, and lots of them (well, that’s another blog post in itself! But my mum always tells me that life is about sacrifice. There are so many things in life I would love to do but not enough time and mental energy to do so all at once, so sometimes some things have to give and sacrifices have to be made if you want to achieve what you want. And she also advocates simplicity; i.e. simplify your life and do as few things as possible as well as you can. And again, she also talks about balance; life is all about balance! So finding the right amount of hobbies to keep you interested in each, or if you dwindle in one area, then you have other areas/hobbies to pick you up, but picking few enough so that you can really get the best and put your mental energies 100% into each without spreading yourself too thinly).

Just doing something as simple as appreciating other’s food blog posts and photos, to cooking, serving my family and photographing (or trying to!), makes me appreciate how beautiful life is. We take these things that grow out of the earth, apply heat and other spices in various ways and we have a meal that every human enjoys the eating experience. Isn’t it amazing? And the camera itself; what a fantastic contraption! Life is full of amazement every day and it’s up to us to see it for what it is and how physicists and inventors were able to think in such abstract and creative ways to manipulate the laws of the universe to do something at will. Incredible!

Gratefulness is the key to living a fulfilled life! I have to say, that when I’m feeling blue, it’s usually because I’m taking for granted what I do have going for me and focussing on the negatives. Actually, I’m not even focusing on the negatives (as there really are none!), but on the potential perceived negative, that isn’t even really that big a deal anyway, and I know isn’t logical thinking either. But that’s what insecurities are.

However, it’s part of the human condition, which to some may be an affliction, but to me, even in my down times, I remind myself that this is my once chance, and I feel so honoured that I get to experience it and that so far everything has turned out perfectly, and it always will (there’s a little bit of Susan Jeffers’ life teachings and sentiments right there in that sentence!).

Anyway, onto the food – enough spirituality for the week! I could type forever about this stuff but it’s always incoherent and just a stream of consciousness! I wish I had more time to edit these blog posts to make a lovely accompaniment to the photos, but this’ll have to do for now! 🙂

As you can see, the other week I decided to whip up a fair few different things as I just couldn’t decide which one to make. The meal we had was roast pork with crackling, meatloaf, cauliflower risotto, mashed squash with apple, coconut and macadamia nuts and steamed broccoli and sprouts (I steamed enough broccoli and sprouts for the first few days of the following week to take to uni/work in lunches!).

We also had cauliflower rice with this lamb’s liver I cooked in tomato sauce. It was beautiful! There was just enough sauce to coat the liver, and the cauliflower was moist, as were the vegetables. I actually take a preference to meals that aren’t caked in sauces. Sometimes it’s nice to have a roast dinner covered in homemade gravy, but for the meal you can see that had the meatloaf and butternut squash – no sauce was needed! I drizzled some pork juice over the top of the dish, but I didn’t want to smother the colours and flavours in a generic gravy. It really wasn’t needed as each element of the meal could have been eaten alone.

I would love to cook the cauliflower in coconut milk, too! In these photos, I cooked it in water and a bit of dried sage – nothing else! I think coconut milk would have made it creamier and thicker, which may have been a bit too much here, with everything else, but if it’s the main element of your dish, then it’d be great! I’m definitely going to try that sometime. 🙂

The meatloaf was also incredible; this is by far my favourite meatloaf recipe ever. I’ve made it about twice before, and it was always ok (just minced meat moulded into a load shape…), but this was something else! Each bite was just a little bomb of flavour in your mouth, and I think fresh apple diced and thrown into the mix would have gone really well with the rest of the flavours. But we ate the load straight from the oven, and so it crumbled easily. It’s only when it’s cool does it keep its shape and then you can cut it (as with cakes). My brother and I had it in lunched for uni the following week. 🙂

Saturday’s advanced WOD @ CFP:
In any order, in pairs
a) Row 1600 metres
b) 30 snatch anyhow 70kg\45kg
c) 20 rope climbs
d) 14-12-10-8-6
HSPUs
C2B pull ups
One starts on HSPU, one starts on C2B, both complete 14 then swap and complete 14. Continue down the sequence until they are finished.

I did this with an awesome partner and she’s really strong! Power snatching 45k like it’s nothing! I really struggle with power snatching at anything more than 40k, and I know I bleed a lot of energy from my hips and don’t extent. I’ll have to practice tomorrow in the open session. I was full snatching 45kg, but struggling today! It’s funny because last time I was snatching I hang snatched 45kg three-times in a row and did a 47.5kg hang snatch, and that was easy – and right at the end of a workout, too (so I felt really warmed up). Maybe it’s because I’m a little sleep-deprived from the week and under the weather (I did get almost 11 hours of sleep last night and really needed it considering how little I’ve had during the week!), but I was surprised that I nearly had an accident full snatching that bar. I didn’t pull it high enough, got under it and it fell on the back of my neck and starting pushing me forward. Lucky I just sort of pushed it back, but it could have been serious.

I never really did get into this morning’s workout, but I think that demonstrates how serious lifting things and doing skilled movements (even doing stuff like HSPUs, rope climbs, etc.) can be when they go wrong, and so never ever do something like that hardheartedly! Never have I had anything happen to me that could have been that potentially serious!

But I really struggled this morning with those snatches! I put the weight down to 40k and I can power snatch it ok (I know I don’t extend my hips enough and bleed lots of energy from them – gotta work on that!), but I can work at 40k doing hang snatched really easily. As soon as it’s 45k, I get scared and think I need to work more at that weight to get more confident and stable.

Here’s a video of some snatch practice from this week! It’s a bit wobbly at the bottom, but I think I know why (thanks to paying attention to what coaches say in class, reading, and help from others, of course!). It’s supposedly my “1RM” from a while ago, but I just need to practice at this weight now to get comfy and confident with it, too! 🙂



Mashed Butternut Squash with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts
Adapted from: Coffee and Quinoa and The Healthy Foodie
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
• 1 butternut squash
• 3 x apples
• ¼ cup (60ml) coconut milk
• ~50-100g toasted coconut
• ~50g macadamia nuts, halved or crushed
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• splash of lemon juice

Preparation
Halve the butternut squash, and put in the oven with the whole apples for 1h 30m at 160°C, or until the apples are bursting with their juices and the squash is soft when a knife is pushed all the way through.

When cooled, scoop out the flesh of the squash and put into a saucepan. Remove the core, seeds and stems from the apples (this can get messy!) and put in with the squash. Mash using a potato masher, and homogenise thoroughly.

At this point, you can sauté onions and garlic in butter or coconut oil, and add those to the butternut squash and apple mix.

Add the coconut milk, toasted coconut, crushed macadamia nuts, maple syrup and lemon juice, and homogenise well.

Gently heat over the hob until warmed/heated through. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Pork, apple and Sweet Potato Meatloaf
Adapted from: Paleo OMG
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
• 1.5 kg of pork mince
• 6 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x apples, cut into small chunks
• 1 tsp garlic, minced
• 2 x small white/yellow onions, diced
• 6 x rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into lardon-sized pieces
• 1 cup of almond flour/ground almonds
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 1 cup mixed dried fruit/raisins
• ½ tbsp cinnamon
• hard-boiled eggs

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes in the oven for 1h 30m at 160°C, or until they are is soft when a knife is pushed all the way through. Let cool.

Put the bacon, garlic and onions in a non-stick frying pan. Turn the heat on low until the juices are released from the bacon. Sauté the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent and the bacon is cooked al gusto/to your liking. Add these ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

When the sweet potatoes are cool, cut the ends off of the sweet potatoes, cut into rough pieces, and add to the large mixing bowl, along with the apple chunks, ground almonds, eggs, raisins and cinnamon. Homogenise well.

Rinse/wash the mince, and add to the large mixing bowl. Use your hands to really mix everything well. Press around the hard-boiled eggs that you have and then press everything into a non-stick/buttered/silicon/lined with non-stick baking paper baking tin (I love silicon moulds!). Mine was a square 20 x 20 cm silicon mould.

Bake for ~2h minutes in a preheated oven at 175°C.

Cauliflower Risotto
Adapted from: page 172 of Paleo Comfort Foods
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
• 1 x cauliflower
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• 2 x cloves garlic, minced

Preparation
Steam the cauliflower until tender. Put into a bowl along with any seasonings (herbs, spices, sauces, etc.), and mash using a potato masher until the texture resembles rice. Serve immediately, or if preparing in advance or wanting more flavour, reheat later over the hob with a little bit of water, stock or coconut milk for creaminess.

Green Breakfast Smoothie
Adapted from: About.com
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
• 3 cup of filtered water
• 1 handful kale leaves
• carrot tops from a bunch of carrots
• 1 apple, cored and cut into chunks
• splash of lemon juice
• 2 kiwis, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 ¼“ slice of ginger

Preparation
Blend the kale and carrot tops with two cups of water. Press through a sieve and put the resulting juice in a large glass storage bottle. Blend the rest of the ingredients, and incorporate into the juice. Shake/mix/homogenise, chill, enjoy. 🙂

PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013 | Detoxing with Green Smoothies & Juices

PrimalCon 2013 at Lake Tahoe… to sum it up in one word: incredible! (Yes the bottom right picture is in San Francisco; we also visited LA, Las Vegas and Reno!).

I met so many new people and made new friends from Australia, India, Ireland, and all around the USA! It was so refreshing to connect with people who shared similar values of bettering their health, all at different stages of their journey. Some people had only recently started eating paleolithically or primally, and others had been on that road for a long time. Some ate paleo and were stricter, while others were primal and allowed dairy. Some were around my age, while others were a lot older. Yet we were all united at the same event with the same goals in mind.

I was fortunate enough to have met Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, and Sarah Fragoso. The first book I ever read about the paleo diet was by Robb Wolf, then by Loren Cordain, and then Mark Sisson. I have a deep respect for the amount of knowledge that these people have in their area of work, and it’s not just the knowledge, but it’s the passion that is translated through their work, too. I am an avid reader of Mark’s Daily Apple, as well as a listener of Robb’s Paleo Solution podcast when I work in the labs at uni. And Sarah Fragoso’s paleo recipe blog was really the first paleo recipe blog I came across, and opened up a world of amazing recipes and exquisite tastes.

Robb came to give a Q&A session, and at the end I managed to interrupt his dinner, ask for a signature and a photo. He is a really friendly guy, because if that was me trying to eat my dinner, I probably would have torn people’s heads off!



There were many other inspirational and knowledgeable people there, but I had never come across their area of expertise before, and so this conference opened up new topics to pursue that are important in which to gain knowledge in order for primal living in this crazy modern world. For example, I loved that Monisha White, the daughter of Esther Gokhale, was there to promote the Gokhale Method and teach all about posture. She was saying that babies and people who live in tribes untouched by modern day life have naturally good posture. It translated so much to my Crossfit movements that I was really surprised! Hopefully I can improve the slight sway/over-pronounced lumbar curve I have in particular movements.

There was also Chef Rachel Albert giving demonstrations on how to prepare various dishes that featured apples. We got to try a few, and they were amazing. Not only did she give practical kitchen tips, such as how to hold a knife and cut properly, but she also had an incredible insight into her cooking methods. For example, she advises to toast nuts before use to aid the destruction of anti-nutrients and also to add a nuttier flavour, and to keep them in the fridge or freezer in order to prevent the oils (particularly the delicate omega-3’s, I can imagine) within going rancid. I would love to have bought her book “The Edible Garden,” but unfortunately it was far too big for me to take back to the UK, and isn’t available on Amazon (unless I’m willing to pay over £100). She also said that that particular book will not be printed again, which saddened me. Hopefully she’ll make a Kindle edition… maybe I should bug her a bit!

Oh, and considering this was a paleo conference, I should comment on the FOOD! My photos don’t’ do it justice (flash photography at night when you’re ravenous doesn’t cut it!), but let me tell you, the menu was divine! Here’s a sample menu from the Friday night (I sneaked into the kitchen one afternoon and the smell was incredible!):
Rib rost
Salmon
Salsa/sauces: tomatillo, chimichurri, tomato basil
Southern greens with bacon, onions, garlic and vinegar
Sautéed mushrooms with pearl onions, thyme, white wine and butter
Asparagus with brown butter and almonds
Sweet potato mash with toasted coconut and pomegranate
Spring salad cob style with bacon, eggs, blue cheese and tomatoes
Fennel citrus salad with arugula, red onions, oranges, mint and red wine vinaigrette

Definitely have requested the recipes for these!


It’s a Shame that Jenny LaBaw wasn’t there, although she was on the list of people presenting originally, but there were still plenty of amazing presenters and attendees anyway! To read a summary of the day and all the presenters on Mark’s blog, please click here.

I went to PrimalCon with a friend, Scott Bird, who owns Rising Dragon Martial Arts School, and I really hope he got a lot out of it, especially in relation to his school. I’m glad we stayed in touch after more than 5 years. He’s currently working n expanding his school. I’d love to visit again one day, because my China trip will always hold a special place in my heart thanks to that school. I have so magical experiences and it was the start of a whole new person emerging; a person I’m still working on today.

Despite the really healthy and nutritious foods available at the conference, I still ate in an unhealthy fashion. My eyes are way bigger than my belly and overeating, as we all know, is not healthy! Not only that, but we also treated ourselves to some really unhealthy foods by the end of the trip! All in the space of one night, we had sushi, pancakes, cake, ice cream and burger and chips!

It was quite liberating to let loose and eat all of the foods we haven’t touched in what feels like eons. But the following day quickly revealed just why we don’t do it on a regular basis; it makes you feel like rubbish!

We started off eating relatively healthily on the trip; salads, vegetables, etc. But eventually there just comes a time when you can’t eat clean while you’re on the road. For example, every time I ordered eggs for breakfast, they would always be cooked in bad oils, be covered in cheese, and even if I asked for no cheese, they’d be smeared in sour cream. Even salad dressings had sunflower oil, rather than something I would usually have, like avocado or macadamia nut oil. Eventually it clogs you up and drags you down.

So these next few weeks I’ve decided to go for making green smoothies in order to detox my system and see if this is a brand new way I can get more greens into my system!

A friend of mine that I met via the Open University has been praising juices and juicing for quite some time now, as did another friend of mine a couple of years ago. The idea did intrigue me, however I stayed away from it because of a few things Robb Wolf mentioned:
• You can drink way more calories than you can consume (i.e. you wouldn’t eat as much as you put into a smoothie or a juice, right?)
• The juice or fruits, and even veg, is concentrated sugar, and the liquid form means it will spike insulin a lot faster than if it was in its solid form.
• Juicing removes the insoluble fibre.

However, in various podcasts, even Robb says himself that he’s always learning, and he is a lot more flexible in his approach than he was when he first entered the paleo world. Counter arguments I’ve read have been that:
• Juicing makes the nutrients more easily absorbable by the body.
• Calorie quantity doesn’t count, but it’s the calorie quality that counts.
• Blending plant foods (i.e. making smoothies) breaks the cellulose down of the plant and so makes the nutrients more readily absorbed by the gut, especially as we don’t have the jaw structure we used to (because we don’t chew properly due to our hectic modern day lives).
• We need to approximately half of our daily food intake in the form of greens, as our DNA is 99.4% that of chimpanzees, and they graze daily on leaves, and so an easy way to get the greens in it to have them in smoothie form!
• It’s a nice transition to become accustomed to eating the amounts of greens we actually need to optimal health, because we have been deconditioned to them via too much over-stimulating sweet foods (chocolate, fast foods, junk, etc.).
• It’s a great way to detox an already sick body that has grown accustomed to the SAD (Standard American Diet).
• There are a lot of claims and testimonials celebrating juicing and smoothie-ing!

I certainly don’t think it would hurt for me to try, and in fact, I’m really looking forward to it! I thoroughly recommend reading “Green for Life” by Victoria Boutenko, as it contains so much information that I hadn’t covered in paleo books, and why greens as so important to us.

She talks about how all sorts of natural products are just lumped under the categories of “fruits” and “vegetables,” when in reality they are far more complex than that. She points out that we shouldn’t be eating as many root vegetables as we do, because they’re full or more sugar, and have nowhere near the nutritional content of leafy greens. And she also points out that we need to rotate our greens as to avoid alkaloid toxins from only one species (alkaloids are good in small doses; hormesis is important!), and in order to gain the maximum amount of nutrients available to us.

I’m going to try out green smootheis, and not juices, because 1) I’m still struggling on purchasing a juicer (i.e. how much to spend, what brand, and what specifications), and 2) I don’t want to miss out on all of the insoluble fibre, as that acts as a sponge to remove toxins from the body.

For me, I’m hoping that I’ll see improvements in training, a less bloated stomach after meal times (especially if I sub maybe breakfast or supper for a green smoothie chocked full of leaves!), and let’s see what happens to my energy levels! Oh, and hopefully I’ll get less bouts of eczema during stressful times! Not only that, but it’ll be a great lunch to take to work/uni – I can just swig goodness throughout the day!

Today I made three from Victoria’s book (yes, I got overexcited!); one with lettuce, and one with kale. The lettuce one came out really nicely, but the kale one, although tasted lovely, was still quite chunky. Unfortunately, I only have a hand held blender and a small food processor, which have served me well so far, but for quite a while I’ve been wanting to get a nice blender. Have I finally come up with an excuse to get one?! 😀

There were so many blenders on the market; some really expensive, some quite cheap, but I always get really hung up on the reviews, especially the negative ones. And I’m always a bit wary of buying from Amazon, because sending it back if something goes wrong is just hassle, whereas buying from a local retailer means I can just nip in and return it, rather than queuing at the post office (which ALWAYS has huge queues!). I settled on the Kenwood SB266 Smoothie Maker from Tesco Direct. It was only £10 (£32.83 on Amazon, wth!?) so wasn’t really expecting much, but it suits my needs perfectly. I can even make banana ice cream! 😀 (Note that the smoothie on the left with the kale was a little too thick and the kale kept getting stuck in my throat. After buying the Kenwood blender, it was very smooth and actually quite nice to drink!)

I was really surprised at how easy they were to drink and how pleasant they tasted. Green smoothies are not something that’s new to me, but they never stuck because greens can be rather pungent. Once, a long long time ago, I made a raw broccoli smoothie, thinking it was going to be fine, because I love broccoli (even raw! It just gets stuck in my teeth!). But when it was blended, not only did it smell extremely strong, it wasn’t pleasant to drink. Now, I know broccoli and greens are different, but I was imagining similar results would occur with these greens. But mixing with a little bit of fruit definitely makes it rather pleasant! I’m really looking forward to feasting on delicious cocktails that will heal my insides.

Monday’s WOD:
Warm Up (for time!):
30 walking Lunges
800m run
In to 2 rnds of:
5 burpees
10 press ups
10 plate GTOH 15/10
10 plate thrusters

Strength:
Front Squat 5-5-5-3-3-3-1-1-1 (every 3rd minute)

OMEM for 9 mins:
High hang power snatch
1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3

The recipes for my current favourite one is as follows:

Strawberry Fields
Adapted from: Green for Life
Makes 1 litre

Ingredients
• 1 x large ripe banana
• 1 cup of strawberries
• ½ head of lettuce
• 500 ml (2 cups) water

Preparation
Blend well.

Raspberry Dream
Adapted from: Green for Life
Makes 1 litre

Ingredients
• 2 ripe pears
• 1 x handful raspberries
• 2 x large kale leaves, stripped from the stem
• 500 ml (2 cups) water

Preparation
Blend well.

Pan-Fried Lamb Chops with Mushrooms, Peas and Sprouts in a Creamy Sauce and Avocado and Pea Salsa | Tim’s Trip to the Pyrenees



Weeelll this week has been really busy! My brother has been away for 12 days in the Pyrenees on a geology field trip, and so I’ve been cooking really simple food… although there’s no reason it still can’t be full of flavour! But of course, the first morning Tim was back, we had pancakes ^_^

Tim really enjoyed his trip and I’m glad he did! Not only did he make some new friends on his course but he got a picture with Professor Iain Stewart, but unfortunately his friend has the photo! Tim also volunteered to help record some information about Geology in a bid to make an educational geological video, and I popped a YouTube video at the bottom of one! I’m really impressed with it and proud of my bro! I think he speaks really well and he did it without a script or any practice! 🙂

Edit (03.10.2013):Tim and Iain 🙂



Anywho, a couple of weeks ago I picked up half a lamb from a guy at Crossfit whose other half’s cousin owns a farm in Ugborough, and so this stuff is supposed to be grass fed, organic, free-range, and all that good stuff. Now thsi lamb is awesome! I have just over 10kg of the stuff: chops, neck, shoulder, legs, etc. All I can say is that my freezer is full!

I think this dish was really simple, but really tasty… although there are a lot of different flavours, they seem to work well together. I really enjoyed the lemon zing in the avocadoes… I made that last night with my parents after we celebrated me passing my transfer! Friday 13th now has a new meaning to me! And the creamy sauce with the lamb is really nice, too; makes a change from gravy! Not only is it really simple but you really don’t need much cream to add a whole new dimension to the dish. The cream mixed with the lamb juices makes such a nice and delicate sauce that goes so well with sprouts, mushrooms, peas, and leeks.

I also couldn’t choose how many photos to take; they all look quite similar, but I just like the colours so much. The photos look a bit too busy for my liking, but what’re you gonna do? ^_^

Saturday’s WODs:
Advanced:
Max reps of (4 rounds):
BW bench press
Strict pull ups
Strict HSPUs
2 x BW deadlifts

Then 20 minutes to achieve:
1RM of 2 x full snatch into 1 x full hang snatch
max. reps muscle ups

The session was so busy this morning and hectic! Boo!

Intermediate:
In pairs, 20 minute AMRAP: each do alternating rounds of Cindy while the other does burpees! (Cindy = 5 pull ups, 10 press ups, 15 squats)

Me and Emily = 236 burpees and 14 rounds of Cindy, rx’d. 🙂

They were both fun but I need to push myself more! Whenever things start to get uncomfortable, I always pull back, and if I continue sometimes I get teary and upset. Why? What is wrong with me?!

Pan-Fried Lamb Chops with Mushrooms, Peas and Sprouts in a Creamy Sauce and Avocado and Pea Salsa
Avocado salsa/salad adapted from: Home Cooking Adventure
Serves 1-2

Ingredients
For the avocado salsa:
• 1 x avocado
• 1 x cup spring onion, chopped
• ¼ cup raw peas
• 2 x garlic cloves, minced
• 3 tbsp lemon juice

For the lamb and cream sauce:
• 2-4 x lamb chops
• 2 x cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 x small onion, diced
• ~200 g button mushrooms, halved
• ~½ cup of peas
• 2 tbsp dried rosemary
• splash of double cream
• sprinkling of pine nuts

Preparation

For the avocado salsa:
Mash the avocado in a bowl, and fold and mix in the rest of the ingredients.

For the lamb and cream sauce:
Pop the lamb chops in a large non-stick fryign pan on low until you your them start to sizzle and the juices start to run out. Then turn the heat up to medium and add the onions, garlic, mushrooms and rosemary. Continue to dry until the garlic is fragrant, the onion is translucent, and the mushrooms have soaked up the lamb juices. If the lamb is cooked to your liking before the rest of the dish is ready, take the lamb off the plate or push it to the side of the pan. Add the peas about 1 minute before you turn off the heat.

When ready to serve, turn off the heat, put the lamb on the plates and add a splash of double cream to the pan, and mixing in with the juices, mushrooms, onions, etc. Serve over the lamb chops, sprinkle some pine nuts and enjoy with the avocado salsa. 🙂

Enjoyed solo: 11.09.2013