Sunday, 24 August 2014

Salt shake-up

Hello there everyone. I apologise if I sounded a little sorry for myself in my last post. To be honest, I'd lost my travelling mojo for a while back there, what with feeling ill and tired of moving around all the time. 

But fear not. She's back! I found her somewhere out in the middle of Bolivia's altiplano desert landscape. Andy and I spent four days in a Toyota Landcruiser with two new friends, a driver and a fabulous cook, making our way through some of the most spectacular sights I've ever seen, ending up on the Salt Flats. It was amazing and, to be honest, I'm not sure how we'll top it. 

                                                   

must admit I was a little nervous about travelling through Bolivia, but it's been a real highlight of our trip. And the food has far exceeded expectations. A four course lunch for £1.50 each? Yes please!

Eating on the road is notoriously difficult, though, and I've definitely had my ups and downs with it over the last four months or so, so I thought I'd share some tips...

Don't expect to eat as you would at home. You need to throw that notion out of the window right now. I'll admit I've been pining for peanut butter since we got to South America, but you have to adapt. Yes, there's no PB but I've focused on the fabulous bounty of fresh and cheap fruits on offer. Focus on what you can have rather than what's missing. (Although I do have my friend bringing me my favourite peanut butter brand, Peanut Butter and Co. out to Peru next week!)

                                           

That said, sometimes we all need a bit of familiarity and comfort, so do make sure to include some old favourites. I'm not a big bread eater at home, and once I'd had my fill of it for breakfasts, I invested in a bag of oatmeal to cart around with me. Having my usual banana porridge just makes me feel good sometimes. 

                                           

Do stock up on healthy snacks for journeys. For a recent 26 hour coach trip we bought loads of fruit and nuts and cooked up some chicken and brocolli risotto. It made the journey so much more bearable feeling like I was nourishing my body rather than eating a load of sugary treats to get through it. 

Don't worry if you do indulge, though. Travelling is tough - it's tiring, disorientating and stressful. If a dulce de leche cookie is going to make you feel a bit better, go ahead and have it, just don't use travelling as an excuse to eat foods that ultimately don't make you feel good. 

Do make an effort to cook some old favourites when amenities allow. I made a cracking chicken soup while we were ill in Mendoza, and it really was the best medicine. It makes me feel just that little bit more in control of my life if I can cook healthy meals for us on the road. 

                                                

Don't forget to enjoy the local cuisine as well, though. It's what travelling is all about!

                                                

Happy Sunday friends, and enjoy the bank holiday in the UK. 

Do you have any tips for eating on the road?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Fit for travel

There is a hint of irony to the title of this post in that I have a cold for the second time in the space of a month. I am not coping well with this. I don't do ill very well (I know, who does?) and feel very frustrated and fed up. I don't usually resort to Berocca and pharmaceuticals but am currently taking a cocktail of these in an effort to steel myself for our 26 hour bus ride to Bolivia tomorrow. Yep, traveller shiz is about to get very real after being relatively coddled in the US, Brazil and Argentina so far on our journey. 

Part of my frustration is due to the fact that I had just been getting back into my exercise routine after the first cold struck in Brazil. Yes, believe it or not I did have an exercise routine on the road. Before we set off, Andy and I agreed that we wanted to make sure we keep fit on our trip. Not least because Andy has signed up for the Patagonia Marathon which is fast approaching on 27 September. In my case, I just want to make sure I feel at my best and ready for anything while we're out in the big wide world.

Obviously, travelling and exploring new cities involves a lot of walking, which has been excellent training for our four day Inca Trail hike in September. My beloved Fitbit tracked this particularly busy week in Toronto. 

                                                      


                                                   

While Andy has focused on running, I started off doing outdoor bootcamp style exercises during our first few weeks in the States. Our arrival in April meant the weather was great for outdoor exercise. Before we left the UK I made sure I had a few of my favourite no equipment workouts printed off or noted down. Good sites for these include two of my favourite blogs, Carrots and Cake and Peanut Butter Fingers, just look under their Workout pages. Pinterest is also a brilliant resource for workouts or just good old fashioned Google. 

Whenever we were headed to a new destination, I'd look at Google maps to figure out what parks there were near where we were staying. Once we arrived, I'd go and take a look first and make sure they seemed suitable - safe, clean and not too exposed to public view! Then, I'd get to it! Most of the workouts are focused on body weight exercises, so I'd add in 30 second runs between each move to add in some cardio and break it up. I'd usually do each set of exercises through twice in this way, plus a warm up and cool down. I tried to do this at least three times a week, and managed to stick to it pretty well. 
                                                   

Then we got to Texas and the summer heat and 90% humidity hit us like a truck. Ouch. 

                                

It was time to take my workout indoors, under the aircon, and rediscover my love of barre method workouts. I have the Barre 3 app, so used this to string together the short ten minute workouts into longer sessions. When we got to Nashville I went a step further and went to a BarreAmped class which was great fun and really spurred me on to keep going. BarreAmped was created by Suzanne Bowen of Suzanne Bowen Fitness, so I signed up to her online workouts which are really great. You can tailor a programme to what you want to achieve and how much time you have, or follow one of the programmes she has created. 

Keeping up the exercise has been a little harder over the last month or so in South America, though. Although the weather is cooler, it's a lot more difficult to find decent outdoor spaces, particularly with regards to security. And the wifi connections are not as speedy, so streaming the barre videos can be an exercise in frustration, pardon the pun! Add in two weeks and counting of illness, and things haven't been going so great. But, when I've felt up to it, I've done what I can, including the online streaming and taking my bootcamp workouts indoors. The main thing is to do what you can, and I've realised we use the same excuses on the road as we do at home, so they are just as easy to overcome. I look forward to feeling better again soon and getting back to it, whatever form it may take in Bolivia.

I hope this inspires you to keep fit, on the road and every day. 


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Breakfast ideas for busy people

And aren't we all busy? It's a modern epidemic! Personally, I can't really relate to this whole breakfast on the go thing. If there's one thing I ALWAYS try to make time for it's my three cups of tea and full breakfast routine. It's my quiet time, my thinking time, and I truly believe a proper, hearty breakfast gets you off to the best start possible. I used to get up 50 minutes early at home to make time for a leisurely breakfast! (Although things have changed somewhat and today's breakfast was two dulce de leche biscuits and six mini Melba toasts with marmalade on the overnight bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. Not my finest breakfast hour but rather enjoyable!)

                                                  

That said, I understand not everyone wants to sacrifice the extra time in bed, and when my friend Rachael requested some ideas for a healthy breakfast on the go, I knew I had to rise to the occasion and resist the temptation to hit snooze. See what I did there? Okay, here goes

Overnight oats

We all know porridge is a great quick breakfast, but what if you can't wait for it to cool down? One of my favourite summer breakfasts is overnight oats. The night before, simply get your bowl, measure out your usual amount of porridge oats (three tablespoons for me) and spoon over a portion of your favourite yoghurt plus some fruit. I like a chopped banana plus some berries. Cover and store in the fridge then mix it up in the morning. The oats absorb the yoghurt and go all gooey and you get that nice full up feeling from them that fruit and yogurt alone can't give you. Loves it. 

Frittata 

You knew this was coming, right? The trick is to make the frittata as detailed on my Recipes page, but make it the night before and store it in the fridge. When I do this with my smoked salmon frittata it has a touch of the cold pizza taste about it. Win! And so, so filling. 

                                                    


Cake!

Hear me out, I'm not talking Black Forest gateau here. Find a good, simple, clean recipe for banana bread, courgette (zucchini) bread or similar and bake some at the weekend. A slice of this with some fruit and yoghurt in the morning will stick to your ribs and you'll know it's filled with wholesome goodness. Try Googling BBC Good Food's Courgette Loaf Cake recipe. 

                                            


Hard boiled eggs

The trick for me when it comes to breakfast is to get some protein in there to really tide me over to lunch. Boil up a load of eggs and use them to supplement your usual cereal/yoghurt/insert sugary mass produced breakfast of choice here. 

How did I do? Got any better ideas? Please share as we struggle to come up with breakfasts on the road and even frittata gets old after a while!

Have a great weekend, friends. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Size matters

Good morning campers! Just checking in on another sunny (but slightly chilly) day in Buenos Aires. 

Today I want to talk about a bit of a taboo topic - size. For my entire adult life I've felt that I should be a perfect UK size ten. Never mind what actually suits my body, or my sanity for that matter. If those trousers start to feel a little tight, I will pummel my body into submission until it fits back in them. But, shouldn't it be the other way round? Shouldn't the clothes be made to fit me?

Before I set off on our trip I ordered a couple of pairs of hiking trousers, never the most flattering of garments. Now, I knew they came up small, so ordered a size 12. When I tried them on they were still a little tight but there was no way I was ordering the 14. I mean, imagine! Besides, of course I was going to lose those extra 7 pounds before we went away, right?

                                                 

Cut to our departure (you're guessing where this is headed, aren't you?) and there I am stuffed into these trousers like they were sausage casing, feeling uncomfortable and grumpy and taking it out on Andy when I should have been thinking of nothing other than our trip of a lifetime.

                                          

Don't worry folks, this story does have a happy ending. I had an epiphany on the road to San Francisco about a month in to our US tour and bought myself some rocking Athleta trousers that made me feel great, even with their size 12 tag. A few weeks on I went even further and ditched some more unflattering old clothes in Flagstaff and stocked up on a pretty dress and some flattering shorts and a new shirt. I felt great, no matter what the label said. 
                                                       
  

It's still a battle. Being 5' 3" and curvy I've always yearned for that petite pocket rocket figure. But it's just not me. Sure I can whittle my way down there, but the battle to stay there and still have a healthy relationship with food and my body has always been a losing one. I have a wardrobe full of clothes back home that probably won't fit anymore when I return. But I'm excited to get clothes I don't have to fight to get into! It's time to stop trying to shrink away and instead to be me - healthy and happy at size whatever. 

                                                    

Have a good day all. I'm off to get some food as we are cooking for our Aussie friends we met in Brazil tonight. Bangers and mash. 

Watch out for my next post later this week where I'll be giving you ideas for quick, healthy breakfasts at my dear friends Rachael's request. If you have any requests for future posts, put them in the comments or email me at chillichocolatelover@gmail.com

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Life goes on

I'm back! Except I'm not there... Let me explain!

I took an unplanned break from blogging back in December when life was getting too busy and blogging was starting to feel more like a chore than a pleasure - so not the point. Things then really kicked into high gear after Christmas as we started counting down to our round the world trip in April. Between getting the house ready to rent out, making plans and moving in with Andy's parents for the final few weeks, blogging had nowhere to go.

Funnily enough many people asked if I'd blog while I was travelling but I really wasn't sure and didn't want to put any pressure on myself. And I hadn't really thought about it up until a sleepless night last night.


You know what? I realised I miss it. But, I want to make clear that this won't just be me blogging about my travels around the world, it will mainly be about what it's always been about - food and my relationship with it and my body. A never ending saga it seems! Looking back at my last few posts from December, and my initial post way back in November 2012, things haven't changed all that much. I'm still striving for that balance between enjoying one of my passions in life - great food - and staying fit, healthy and, most importantly, happy with myself and my body. What has changed since December is that I've recently, finally realised there will be no magical day when I wake up and everything is perfect. No journey is ever in a straight line. It has twists and turns, backtracking, pauses... Just like our walk around Palermo in Buenos Aires yesterday. Yeah, we got a little lost, but also found some places we wouldn't have stumbled across otherwise!

                                                 

                                                       

So, I can't promise to blog all the time, hopefully at least once a week, and will include food finds, tales from the road and my thoughts on body acceptance and happiness. I've discovered some really great writers on the whole body image and dieting thing recently, if you're interested you should check out Virgie Tovar, Isabel Foxen Duke and Kelsey Miller, who all have great blogs and Instagram feeds. If you want to keep up with me on Instagram, it's Jodea Pakos, plain and simple. And all our travel photos are under #jandyworldtour.

Be back soon!

PS Blogging on a iPad has it's limitations, so the pictures won't be of the the best quality or presentation I'm afraid! Please bear with me and check out Instagram for a better view of life on the road!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Back to basics

Hey folks. Well, I'm back home in Southsea and pleased to be here. It really helps with keeping on track health-wise when I'm in my normal routine.

Things have been going well with the 25 days of fitness challenge, with every challenge completed so far. Monday's was really tough - 25 jumping jacks, 25 push ups, 25 crunches and 25 squats, twice through. It was short, sharp and painful. And then Real Military Fitness class lastnight was BRUTAL!

We did some running, which I hate anyway, then a really tough 9 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 5 jump squats, a run, then 15 push ups. The next AMRAP was 5 minutes of 10 box jumps, a run, then 5 full body get ups on the shingle beach. Add in another 5 minute AMRAP focused on arms and we were well and truly beat.

I've also signed up to a mini walking challenge for a couple of weeks where I need to hit 13,000 steps a day. I'm nothing if not determined to keep the pounds at bay this December! It's just as well because my eating has been straying way off track and featuring far to many "treats" for them even to be considered a treat anymore. So, I've gone back to basics and decided every meal I'm in control of this festive season (ie. I make at home) needs to be healthy and as simple as possible.

Monday was a pre-made cous cous and goats cheese salad with harissa from Waitrose. It was lovely but a very small portion, which probably led to my Peanut Butter M&Ms binge later that day...

 
Back home Tuesday night we were back on form with a simple chicken and Chinese veggie stir fry after RMF. It felt so good to eat wholesome stuff! Apologies for the crazy colour!

 
This morning I fried up some frozen chargrilled veggies I had on standby from Waitrose and made a frittata... They're back! I just walked to Lidl to get some smoked salmon to go with tomorrow's breakfast.

 
Lunch was a very tasty Tesco's sweet potato and chilli soup plus some prawns we had going spare. As we only moved back home lastnight I ordered some soups for this week but will be making my own batches for lunch next week. I also snacked on a banana and a Nakd bar during the day.

 
And now I'm about to make sausages for dinner. Mmm, sausages...
 
How's your December so far? Staying healthy?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ready for advent-ure?

Happy 1 December! You find me today raring to go and ready to count down to Christmas the healthy way. The fabulous Monica at Run Eat Repeat has got me all fired up with her 25 days of fitness challenge. I've shared it with my friends and am ready to feel fit come 25 December rather than fit to drop.

I'll admit it's been a struggle to be healthy this week. With three nights out, I've been eating treats and unable to do my usual quota of exercise. That said, it has been a great week, so I don't regret it, but I feel ready to get back into a routine.

That started with a two hour walk after sixty minutes of Barre 3 yesterday. Here's the scene as I set out on my walk. Love kicking those leaves!


So how come I've been so busy this week? Well, on Tuesday we went to the recording of a Radio 4 Show with Jay Rayner called The Kitchen Cabinet. I've never been to a show recording before and I loved it! I signed up to the BBC audience email ages ago and when I saw that it was being recorded locally, I grabbed some free tickets. You could ask questions and I wrote one down in Andy's name which got selected! We were asking for winter lunch ideas as we are sick of salads. Yep, I'm even over mackerel salad. True story! They gave us some great tips, including cooking up a vat of risotto for the week to heat up. But our favourite was taking in some good quality ready made broth and quick cook ingredients like prawns and green beans. Heat the broth, drop the veggies and protein in and let them get cooked by the heat of the broth. We'll be giving it a go. Listen on Tuesday at 3pm for Andy's moment of fame.

Wednesday I was at an all day charity conference followed by an awards ceremony for work. Cue lots of food and little opportunity for walking, although we did take a quick turn at lunch. I was particularly inspired by Paula Craig MBE who went from running sub-three hour marathons to being hit by a car while out training for a triathlon and unable to walk. Within a year she was back to marathons and triathlons but without the use of her legs. She said it wasn't about trying to be superwoman, she just wanted her life back. And her life happened to be running marathons and taking part in triathlons. Amazing. 

Thursday we went to a gig. We were going straight from work so stopped at the local Talisman pub for dinner. They had a sharing menu for £20. A starter, two mains and a dessert. It was super yummy! To start we had lamb kebabs which were very tasty and tender:

 
For my main I had roasted peppers with goats cheese and new potatoes on the side, plus a few onion rings. I burnt my mouth in my haste to tuck in!


And for pud we shared an apple and blackberry crumble and custard. Necessary? No. Tasty, yes! I also had a small glass of red wine. I had a glass on Tuesday, too, plus a glass of Champagne and a small bit of wine on Wednesday. It was a boozy week, but it was all in moderate amounts.

 
The gig was great - it was a band called Public Service Broadcasting who we saw at the End of the Road Festival in September and really liked. They're great fun, a mix of electro and guitar music with a side of retro. Check them out. We were so tired we couldn't stay for the encore, though!
 
After that cray week, the weekend has been all about this:

 
Fire on, iPad fired up and a good book on hand. I just finished When God was a Rabbit, which I really enjoyed. Not sure what I'll read next yet... maybe something wintry and festive, like Dickens or Bronte...
 
Last night we had a treat for dinner - Thai takeout from Lemongrass in Chichester. I had my favourite, extra hot chilli and basil squid with a side of stir fried veggies. Light and so fresh and zingy.
 


 
This morning I started my 25 days of fitness challenge by holding a plank for 1 minute 14 seconds. Not bad, but I know I can do better. Next week I need to add ten seconds on. I'm ready!

 
We just got back from starting our Christmas shopping in town, where I tried a Starbucks eggnog latte.Verdict? Meh. Not fussed. Now it's time to light the fire and relax before tucking in to the shoulder of lamb I have in the oven later with my cousin and her husband. Happy December indeed.