GymBug

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Archive for the tag “UK”

Oats!

Hi there!

Warning: I will use oats and porridge interchangeably.

I’ve already done a post on Stoats, which is a great porridge company based in Scotland. I love their oats and recommend trying their flavours to mix breakfast up! However, if you prefer making your own delicious oats, I’ve made a list of easy toppings that you can cook into the porridge (just cook the toppings with th oats) or throw on after cooking. I usually cook my oats in the microwave also a make it slightly drier.

  • Banana; very simple. If you microwave your oats the banana disappears and creates a delicious and creamy mix.
  • Banana and honey; bit sweeter.
  • Pineapple; this becomes insanely hot in the microwave, but it’s a great sweet and sour flavour. Add some dried/fresh coconut to make a tropical breakfast.
  • Dried fruit; cranberries, raisins, sultanas, apricots, dried coconut, the list goes on! Bananas and raisins are also delicious.
  • Cinnamon; powdered cinnamon is brilliant, throw it in with bananas, apples, raisins for even more flavour.
  • Apples; cook them with the porridge too for delicious, hot breakfast.
  • Berries; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. Again, add these on top or cook into the porridge. Cooking them creates a lovely compote.
  • Peanut butter; on its own, with cinnamon, bananas or apples.
  • Jam; a bit more fruit (and a bit more sugar).
  • Peanut Butter and Jam; watch the portions here, but it’s a delicious treat.
  • Dark chocolate; a couple of squares, great if you’re craving some chocolate.
  • Cocoa powder; not as tasty as dark chocolate but better if you’re watching your calories.
  • Yoghurt; I really enjoy cooking up a nice, hot bowl of porridge and adding a tablespoon of low-fat natural or fruit flavoured yoghurt.
  • Granola; top your bowl with a modest amount of granola for a lovely crunch.
  • Almonds; adds a nice crunch and delicious flavour. Best add these in and cook for the final 20 seconds or crush them into your porridge.
  • Protein Powder; I recommend mixing up the protein and milk in your shaker then adding that to the oats before cooking to make sure the protein dissolves well.

You can also make porridge savoury, but I’ve never tried this (yet) but here’s a list of recipes from Shape to try if sweet porridge is not your thing!

If hot porridge is not your thing then try mixing your oats (typical 40g portion) with yoghurt in an airtight container (I use Weight Watchers individual pots, one per breakfast, great flavours), throw in some toppings listed above  and leave it overnight. Next morning you’ll have delicious cold oats, they must be left overnight however to ensure the oats soften. I’ve already mentioned overnight oats before with a recipe for Bircher’s Muesli that my mum makes.

IMPORTANT; porridge doesn’t need to be just for breakfast. Porridge can be a brilliant recovery food. Over the Christmas holidays I enjoyed cold, overnight oats post-run. You can get a great balance of carbohydrates and proteins and some sugars to help your body recover.

I’m a huge fan of porridge in case no one noticed.

Gym Bug

Should there be a Sugar Tax?

Hi there!

Today the BBC released an article about how imposing a sugar tax could help fund public health. It got me thinking, “Is a sugar tax a good idea?”. Patient UK has given a decent summary on why this would be good.

I believe a tax on ultra-processed, high sugar content foods is a good idea. The UK has a shockingly high obesity rate and introducing a tax (according to the Patient UK link) could see a reduction in 100 calores a day (on average). The tax would also provide more revenue for the government AND hopefully reduce spending on obesity and related diseases (such as type 2 diabetes). Personally, I also believe it would help people live a healthier lifestyle. At the moment, looking at the prices of foods is incredibly frustrating. Why would someone buy the ingredients for a healthy salad when a microwave burger is a fraction of the cost? Or why would someone buy apples as a snack when a huge bag of chocolate is cheaper? Something needs to be done to help people lead healthier lifestyles. It is a choice but if healthier food is more easily available and unhealthy food less so, maybe people will start making better choices!

Apologies if this appears as a rant, but a salad should not cost an arm and a leg and a burger should not cost next to nothing. It encourages unhealthy habits and fuels the obesity epidemic we’re witnessing today. What’s worse is that marketing campaigns for junk food and sugary products are heavily targetted at children. They are the most vulnerable members of our society when it comes to marketing campaigns and ofcourse if they see Powerade advertised as a sports drink, they’ll guzzle one down straight after P.E, essentially undoing their work (given the amount of sugar in a Powerade). Don’t get me wrong, sports drinks can be incredibly useful sources of energy and recovery but only when you’re enduring hard, intense exercise. P.E is not hard nor is it intense. These children are being brought up surrounded by temptation, it’s not fair.

Everyone is feeling the financial squeeze given the crisis that unfortunately hit the UK and the world, so in theory, by increasing the price of unhealthy products, you’ll decrease the demand. It can only be beneficial for the long term health of the population and help generate further revenue to help the econom get out of this slump. (P.S I’m a business student).

So, that’s my idea on the whole subject. What’s yours? Is a sugar tax a good idea? Will it help?

Gym Bug

Getting Motivated

Hi there!

Hope everyone is enjoying the New Year! Since it’s a New Year you may be looking to change up your training, do something different, explore a new way of fitness? Well, I have a few challenges you may be interested in trying out to get that extra kick you need to make 2015 a great and healthy year!

I’ve already written about Spartan Race and Tough Mudder and I recommend checking those posts out! (of course I do) but there’s also plenty more motivational challenges to take up!

If getting super filthy and electrocuted is not your thing there are plenty others to take a look at. If you’re a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan (or just keen to run) then ‘Rock and Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon & 10K’ could be right up your alley! They have events all over the world! I’m going to enter the Madrid 10km in April. Check it out!

Not a runner? No problem! What about doing a combination of cycling, climbing and canoeing in the Lake District? This one is a lot more expensive (£195 plus min. £2,000 sponsorship) but it looks incredible and all money raised goes to Action Medical Research (helping families cope with early babies, disabled children or caring for a child with a rare disease). You join a team of 3 other people to cycle 50 miles through the Lake District before climbing Mt Helvellyn and then finishing off with a canoe trip to Lake Thirlmere. Sounds tough!

If you’re more of a water baby then why not give the Great Swim a go? It proudly boasts the fact that it’s Europe’s biggest open water swim series in clean lakes, lochs and urban docks all over Britain. It’s the first year it has an official charity which is the phenomenal Macmillan Cancer Support, but you can raise money for any charity you wish. It’s throughout Britain between June and August.

For those of you that are up for a tough, gruelling triathlon that also raises money for blood cancer research then the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon is for you! (What a mouth full!) Again, it’s more expensive (but it’s a great cause) Registration costs from £82.50 and you need a min. sponsorship of £300. It takes place in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. You can race individually or as a team.

You should take a look at local runs too. Park Run is a brilliant organisation that free, weekly, timed 5km races around the world. The linked website is specifically for the UK but Google it to find out about any in your area! It’s a great way to meet runners and set yourself a weekly motivational goal!

This is literally a teeny, tiny teaspoonful of what’s out there in terms of charity sporting events, take a good look and pick your motivation! I’ve got Spartan Race in a few months and it’s constantly motivating me to keep pushing a little harder. With my injury my aerobic fitness is plummeting but with the knowledge that I have to endure a grueling 8 mile obstacle course I know I’ll be fighting fit again in no time!

So choose your challenge and get going!

Gym Bug

Spartan Race 2015!

Hi there!

Last night my sisters and I finally signed up for our first Spartan Race! We’re running the Super Spartan in Scotland on July 19th. It’s a 13km course with 20+ obstacles and I cannot wait! I’ve completed 2 Tough Mudders in the past (I’ll write up a post about them too) and wanted to try something different so we’re going for it in 2015!

What is it though?
It’s a tough, gruelling obstacle course with 3 different choices of courses.

  • Sprint; 5 km course consisting of 15+ obstacles. I would recommend this if it’s your first time ever doing an obstacle course and you want to try it out.
  • Super; 13 km course consisting of 20+ obstacles. We’ve opted for this one because we feel we can manage it having done two Tough Mudders.
  • Beast; 20 km course consisting of 25+ obstacles. Wah-wah wee-wah!

They mix their obstacles up for every race and a few are terrain specific, so you never actually know what you’re up against! These events are held all over the world. You’ve got races in the UK, US, Spain, Italy, Greece and so many more. Check out their Find A Race section for more races!

You can run for fun or for charity. When you’re signing up (as an individual or team) then you can select whether you want to raise money for a charity or not.
The set- up of the day is that 250+ participants are released in waves every half hour. You can select which time you want to set off (earliest 9:30am latest is about 2pm). You get a tracking chip so you can see your time after the event!

Your payment includes a finisher’s medal, special event T-Shirt, tracking chip, headband with your bib number and access to the post-run party. It’s really worth the money when you think about what these races do for you!

You probably want to know what I mean by “do for you”. They’re gruelling and often very muddy but they are a great motivational tool. You want to finish once you’ve signed up and told people, right? So you’ll train and work at improving fitness and strength. You’ll see great differences. Also, finishing these types of races feels amazing, it’s a great confidence booster. If you sign up a team you really appreciate camaraderie, even as an individual you’ll find yourself being helped by complete strangers all about helping one another.  It’s a great atmosphere and you’ll get such a buzz!
One thing I will note is that whilst Spartan encourages helping your fellow racers, they do have cash prizes and rankings available, which sets it apart from Tough Mudder.

But if you’re looking for a new challenge and some post-Christmas motivation I definitely recommend taking a look at these races!

Aroo! Aroo!

Gym Bug

Bounce Balls; Energy from Nature

Hi there!

When my sister picked up my first Bounce Ball, she raised her arm to launch it at the ground, not quite realising what she was holding. A Bounce Ball is not a bouncey ball that you played with as a kid and probably got hit by (small, round bruises, anyone?), although give me a bouncey ball now and I’ll be quite content for a while. Anyway, back on point, Bounce Balls are food. A great kind of food. They’re energy balls. The idea behind them is to get an excellent boost of energy from small, delicious, nutrient-dense foods.
I’ve only tried one flavour (still making my way around them) but here’s a run-down of their excellent, energy balls.

There are 8 amazing flavours to choose from, made from the highest quality ingredients (messing with quality is not an option here). Each different flavour provides something different whether it’s only flavour, or the function or the nutritional value is provides. Bounce Balls have made sure you will find exactly what you need.
HP= High Protein
V= Suitable for vegetarians
GF= Gluten Free
HF= High Fibre

  • Cacao Mint Protein Bomb; this is their newest flavour. Sunflower seeds, cacao nibs, quality proteins and rice bran. Get your protein pick me up from this incredible new ball! (HP)
  • Apple & Cinnamon Protein Punch; cashews, whey, pea proteins, excellent carbs and heart healthy fats. An excellent high protein which will curb even the meanest of hunger pangs to help you maintain your fast-paced day. (V & GF)
  • Peanut Protein Blast; they’re all on my bucket list, but this is next. I’m a huge peanut fan. Titled “The Golden Nugget” on their website, this ball is packed full of delicious peanut. High protein, energy packed ball of incredible. (HP)
  • Coconut & Macadamia Protein Bliss; an antioxidant packed ball with excellently healthy macadamias, coconut and cashews. This is definitely one for the lovers of coconut and summer flavours (HP & HF).
  • Spirulina & Ginseng Energy Balls; I hear a lot about Spirulina and I wasn’t sure what it was, so I did some research. It’s a superfood which is high in protein, essential amino acids and iron. Excellent sources of iron and great boost for the immune system. This particular energy ball is packed with superfood Spirulina and superfood Ginseng. This seems like a body’s cup of gold. Packed with delicious almonds, oat, sesame seeds, spirulina and ginseng. This is literally a health boost in a packet, it’s got fibre, unsaturated fats, vitamins E and B12 (HF)
  • Almond Protein Hit; I’ve tried this one ad I really enjoyed it, it’s got a bit of marzipan flavour to it, and it did give me a fantastic energy boost (I enjoyed it whilst on an energy slump on holiday, instant pick me up). Another ball packed with heart healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates. (HP & HF)
  • Cashew & Pecan Vitality Lift; another heart healthy packed ball packed with delicious nuts and seeds. This one also contains an excellent antioxidant called manganese. Get your mono and unsaturated fat hit from this one! (HF)
  • Fudgie Walnut Health Storm; walnuts, peanuts, carob and sesame seeds. This is an excellent ‘free-from’ option for all gluten free readers. Again it’s packed with manganese, heart healthy fats and fibre. (HF & GF)

All their products are great on-the-go snacks that are packed with healthy but filling ingredients. Once I’ve got some more monies in the bank (curse the student budget) I have every intention to getting my hands on these balls of power to fuel my long days. They’re too convenient not to try!

These are available in a wide variety of stores; find them in Holland & Barrett, Waitrose, Boots.com and other health food shops. You can also purchase them online on their own website. A pack of 12 costs £19.45 or a pack of 40 for £63.95. It sounds like a lot but consider how nutritionally dense they are, I think if you’re really serious about healthy energy, these are worth it.

Gym Bug

The Raw Chocolate Company

Hi there!

This is a post that may help those searching for Christmas gifts/treats/stocking fillers! There’s less than 6 weeks left until Christmas, so here’s a gift to buy for your loved ones!

Okay, so living off of super healthy food and plenty of exercise can be fun and delicious, but sometimes it’s also great to have a treat from time to time. It’s also even better if that treat doesn’t make you feel awful, right? With Christmas just around the corner, some people may be thinking how they’re going to resist all the tempting chocolate, Christmas cake, mince pies and other delicious treats. I get some of these treats as presents too, and whilst they’re amazing and I enjoy them, I would also love to have some treats that are healthy and you may know someone who feels the same. I have discovered the perfect gift for them then!

They’re called The Raw Chocolate Company. They produce natural, raw chocolate bars. Raw? Yes, raw. They’ve produced chocolate using sun dried cocoa and have used minimal processing to create delicious, natural products. This minimal production method also makes their chocolate vegan. They take extreme care selecting and processing (minimally) all their ingredients and producing the chocolate. They take 3 times longer than normal chocolate producers to grind their ingredients. It really makes a massive difference to the texture.

Now, for some, reading “minimally processed” might mean “super, dark and bitter chocolate”. I can tell you now, after being kindly sent some bars from the Raw Chocolate Company, this puts dark chocolate on a whole new level.

 

Ta-dah!

Ta-dah!

Being the RAW Chocolate Company, they’re chocolate uses raw cacao. Raw foods provide amazing health benefits such as containing friendly bacteria, higher nutrient levels (than cooked food) and have enzymes that help aid digestion (some of these get destroyed when you cook them).
Cacao also provides plenty of health benefits and recently, dark chocolate has been recommended to have as part of a balanced diet. This is because dark chocolate helps lower blood pressure, can help manage certain diabetic symptoms, great source of energy and can make you feel happier! It truly is a good treat in more ways than one!

So, back to The Raw Chocolate Company. They kindly sent me one of each of their chocolate bars, and below I have reviewed them. I would like to note I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of reviewing these bars. They’re all great gifts and they’re all great for leading a healthy lifestyle.

Perfect Christmas gift!

Perfect Christmas gift!

  • Vanoffe;
    If you can’t bear dark chocolate, then go for this one. It’s their “white chocolate” bar. It’s vanilla-toffee flavoured. I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate so I find this a little bit sweet, but for those of who prefer milk or white chocolate, this bar is definitely for you. It’s also smooth and creamy, yet completely vegan! It has that distinct chocolate flavour, yet you’ll be reminded more of white chocolate than dark. It’s very unique (in a good way).
  • Vanoffe Dark;
    Yummy! It’s based on the Vanoffe bar above, but they’ve packed in extra cacao to make it a darker chocolate bar at 55% cacao. This one is closer to a milk chocolate (could easily replace the high fat, high calorie, highly processed stuff). This could be my new favourite milk chocolate.
  • Pitch Dark;
    72% cacao. It is the perfect “post-Christmas meal binge” sweet treat. Gloriously dark and smooth. A couple of squares is the maximum, which makes it even better, you’re not going to over-indulge, but you’ll be very satisfied with your little treat.
  • Goji & Orange;
    This is award-winning and I can see why. This is by far my favourite. I actually purchased this once and it’s what got me interested in the company. 69% cacao it’s great for anyone who enjoys dark chocolate but can’t face 72% cacao. The goji and orange are perfectly balanced to create a luxurious, sweet and sour experience that’s completely unique. It’s not an overpowering citrus flavour and the goji berries make for an interesting texture.
  • Mint with Xylitol;
    After-eight fans out there? You’ll love this, because it’s even better than After-eights in more ways than one. This is a 70% cacao bar with Xylitol, to give it a zingy mint flavour. The best part? This bar is sugar free and Xylitol is great for teeth. This could be another post-dinner treat to break out after Christmas eating. Or to break out on boxing day as a healthy treat. The mint isn’t overbearing, rather it’s more a subtle offering of mint, rather than blasting your taste buds.
  • Orange with Xylitol;
    Another sugar free bar at 70% cacao. This one is the perfect gift for anyone who loves a bit of tang. It’s perfectly subtle but leaves a refreshing taste. Again, the citrus doesn’t overpower the chocolate. It’s definitly a chocolate bar, with a nice tone of orange to finish it off. It’s a great way to get into dark chocolate as the zing at the end helps take the edge off the bitter side of dark chocolate.

These can all be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. They also provide natural health benefits! The Raw Chocolate Company is an excellent example of how to make healthy eating delicious.  All of these bars are available in their online store. They are also all available in Vegan options.

The company also produce and sell raw chocolate covered goji berries, mulberries and raisins, as well as vanoffe mulberries. Perfect on-the-go snacks that is convenient and healthy. Honestly, it’s the perfect package.
These raw chocolate covered snack options are also available without chocolate with some other supreme foods too. They sell goji berries, mulberries, hemp protein powder, acai powder, hemp seeds, chia seeds, lucuma fruit powder, cacao butter, coconut palm sugar and of course cacao powder! These are what they use when producing their products, so like their chocolate bars and berries, it’s all Fairtrade! We love Fairtrade!

They’re an award-winning, Fairtrade, charitable company who are dedicated to delivering healthy, delicious chocolate to the world. Go and grab a bar, for yourself, as a Christmas gift, anything! It’s a Do-Good, Feel-Good, Eat-Good type of purchase.

They are perfect stocking fillers for health conscious chocolate lovers (trust me).

You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They’ve got some amazing recipes for their products as well as some great, useful information.

Christmas is a time for sharing, so share some healthy treats!

Gym Bug

Teapigs- Tea to warm your tum

Hi there!

Summer has officially left Madrid. Temperatures are now ranging between 5 to 15 degrees. Which means it is jacket weather! It also means that my tea consumption increases dramatically as a nice way to warm up after being outside for any length of time!
Tea can be great for your health. Green and white, for example, are packed with antioxidants and can help boost your metabolism! Peppermint tea is great for digestion and easing stomach aches. Fruit tea is also a great way of having a warm drink without the caffeine.
I drink so much tea that I will typically buy supermarket own brand Green tea/White tea/Fruit teas/Peppermint tea, but I also enjoy more expensive, better teas on occasion. One of my favourite brands of tea? Teapigs.

Teapigs aren’t even super expensive, but again, I’m a student, and I couldn’t afford to buy numerous boxes a month. But when I enjoy a cup of Teapigs, I really enjoy it. They have a great range too, so you won’t struggle to find one you enjoy!

My favourite is their Green Tea with Mint. It’s a warm, refreshing blend of two of my favourite tea flavours. Their Super Fruit tea is also really delicious and a really nice change to my usual green or peppermint tea. They use real fruit (cranberries and blueberries for this) to make sure the tea packs a punch of genuine flavour.

Other flavours I’ve spied but yet to try is Chocolate Flake (interesting concept), Popcorn (again, intrigued), Tung Ting Oolong (love saying that out loud), Silver Tips White and Mao Feng Green. It seems odd that I’ve had only three of their teas, but I’ve had them numerous occasions. I was not aware of these amazing options when I tried the others (I’ve tried these in coffee shops). They’ve also released Christmas flavours, which I would love to try (Christmas is a mug is the best).

If you check out their website, they’ve got options to order sampling boxes where you try several different teas that you’ve selected. They’ve also got their Christmas Tea collections out and gift sets, if you’ve got any tea lovers you’re buying gifts for I recommend surfing their website, you’ll be sure to find something!
You can also purchase teaware from them; teapots, cups, mugs, infusers and accessories. Everything you could ever need for the perfect cuppa!

Something they also offer is Matcha Tea. I’ve tried this in a coffee shop back home. I was presented with a bright green cup of warm liquid. My sister was repulsed and I was surprised by the intensity of the colour. The flavour is more intense than green tea, mainly because Matcha is 100% natural, organic green tea leaves which have been ground down to a fine powder. Teapigs call theirs a “super power green tea”. I’ve had it in tea form, mixed with hot water, but Teapigs suggest having it in your favourite drink/smoothie/yoghurt/milk!
Matcha is more expensive than green tea, but it’s a lot more concentrated so you need less.

So, get your cuppa perfect with Teapigs!

Gym Bug

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