Friday, 30 November 2012

Bright lights, big city

And they were bright! I hurried past The Ritz in London lastnight, rushing for my train, and it was stunning! Little lights everywhere... Sadly I couldn't stop to snap it as I was going to make my train by a cat's whisker after enjoying the evening's hospitality too much!

Thursday

Yes, I was in The Smoke yesterday for a work drinks reception and took the opportunity to work from our office there in the day and met my ex-colleague for lunch.

Knowing I had a long day ahead, I fortified myself with the usual Paleo porridge - ground almonds, banana, desiccated coconut, raspberries, blueberries and... a spoon of Peanut Butter and Co The Bee's Knees peanut butter for fortification. That's PB with honey. It is good. I also stuck some water in  water bottle and redbush tea with almond milk in a flask to keep me going and prevent me from spending money on nasty tea on the train.


A couple of hours later I emerged from the underground into the sunshine and crisp air and headed off in what I hoped was the direction of our offices... A quick check of the map app and I determined I was on track! I got there, settled in and had my apple to celebrate.


For lunch we decided on a little Vietnamese place which P had told me about. Hot, spicy broth? No need to ask twice. There was quite a queue when we rocked up, but I always take this as a very good sign. In Singapore in the Hawker's Market food halls I always looked for the longest line and joined it. What awaited me at the end never disappointed.


I chose beef bun hue (spicy lemongrass noodle soup) which was excellent - light but full of flavour. All of the soups came with rice noodles, which I usually avoid, but I figured when in 'Nam... Plus it was handy to tummy-line a little before the drinks as they were only serving canapes.

Oh, the view from our al fresco lunch spot wasn't too shabby, either...


I grabbed an apple and Nakd bar from the shop on the way back to the office to get me through the afternoon, and soon tucked in.


I got a bit cold as the afternoon wore on and fancied a bit of chocolate, so chanced the drinks machine hot chocolate... it was good! Again, not Paleo-friendly, but warmth has to win.


 We set off for the party around 6pm and ended up searching for a cab for 45 minutes! Good exercise, though! What with that and walking about at lunchtime, I felt better about skipping Jill in the morning due to my early start.

No pictures from the do, sadly. I had four glasses of Prosecco - really nice - and three sticks with chicken on. True to form, the canapes were mainly carb-fests, so I was glad I filled up in the day. The event was really nice and relaxed, but I had to leave at 8.30 to make sure I got home at a decent time. Boo!

Friday

Today it was back to normal. I actually spent 4 minutes debating Jillian in my warm bed, but surprised myself by getting up and doing it! I celebrated by breaking the Paleo porridge cycle and having a two-egg omelette with banana and blueberries.


It was another busy Friday, and this is what saw me through:




Plus, a long lunchtime walk (of course, it was sunny all day, but clouded over when I ventured out!). Check out the ice on the lake. Proper cold! Only two leaves left on my favourite tree!


I finally made it home, via the shop where I picked up some treats for the evening. I'm really missing my chocolate fix and am ending up having peanut butter instead for a sweet something. Hardly much better! So, I bought a mini bar of dark chocolate orange to exercise portion control. It is Friday after all.

Usual 'in the door' snack, followed by a re-run of Monday night's fish soup dinner, but this time with kale. The plan had been salmon broth with ginger, but I messed up my menu plans. This was a fine substitute, though.



 
I am done. Looking forward to watching some True Blood tonight and totally relaxing. Time to open the advent calendar tomorrow. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
 
Question of the day: Favourite 'zone-out' TV?
 
I can totally lose myself in programmes like Lost and True Blood. I love forgetting about the world for an hour and getting hooked on a show set in another one!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Innuendo bingo

It was one of those days in the office, where an off-the-cuff remark almost reduced us to tears as our filthy minds took it 'there'. I'm reminded of this as I just said to the boy, in the most sincere and genuine manner 'Thank you for giving me your big sausage'. All will become clear later (don't worry, this isn't my first x-rated post!).

I woke up a bit tired this morning - I'm getting bad at getting to bed at a decent time. Ideally I need 7 hours sleep, so should be in bed by 11 if I'm getting up to do Jill at 6... Thing is, it's often quite late by the time I sit down and relax in the evenings and I always want to make the most of it.

Still, I trudged on with Jill and, as usual, felt better for it. As they say, 'you never regret a workout'. So cheesy. So true.

Breakfast

I'm still obsessing about my Paleo porridge, today with blueberries, raspberries and the last of the prunes from Sunday's dinner, topped with desiccated coconut. Still loving it. I also enjoyed two cups of tea with almond milk. Tried it yet? It's good, I tell ya.

 
I know what you're thinking. Where's Liquorice the tea cosy? Well, she was a little tired today so I gave her the morning off... (or I forgot to turn the dishwasher on before bed lasnight couldn't make my usual pot. Doh!).
 
The working day

 
Tiny apple snack time came at 10:00 (my usual tummy rumble time). Pictured with my ball from a leadership event. I wrote a phrase that resonated with me on the day on it. It means rather than thinking if I get what I need, then I can do what I want and be who I want to be, we should turn this on its head. So, you should act like and be who you want to be, do what you want to do, and then you'll get what you want! Does that make sense?! Did to me. Sadly, not edible, though.

 
12:00 salmon salad - kale, carrot, beetroot, cucumber, celery, red pepper, red wine vinegar, olive oil, pepper. Crunch, crunch, crunch, spill some down self, continue to crunch.

 
Pretty swiftly after I needed a hit of sweet/sharp citrus.
 
There followed a brisk stroll (freezing out!) to the shops to buy Lindt Extra Dark 90% chocolate to make peppermint creams again later in the week. It was good to get some fresh air as it was a long and busy day.
 
Din-dins

 
I had my last snack pretty early in the day so was famished when I got in and quickly munched two carrots before tackling the dusting, while Andy hoovered and swept. Cleaning done for the week!

 
Our reward?

 
Sausages, sweet potato mash and boiled Savoy cabbage and carrot. I also had a side of half a tonne of English mustard. Addicted. I'd selected five sausages for us from the butcher on Monday, and my two came out really tiny (still tasty) so the boy kindly agreed to swap for one of his bigger sausages... The End!

Question of the day: How much sleep do you need?

Seven and a half hours is perfect for me, but I tend to end up with six and a half, seven if I'm lucky, in the week.

Doubt I'll post tomorrow as I'm in London all day, so catch you Friday!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Stress-free Christmas Shopping...

...it's not an oxymoron, honest. Forget Cyber Monday, why not try 'bit of shopping, dinner and a glass of wine Tuesday'? Far more civilised and fun, especially with one of my favourite girls!

In the interests of chronology, though, I'm going to start where I left you lastnight. After dinner I vegged out and had a spoonful of Mighty Maple Peanut Butter (the last spoon of the tub...) to satisfy my sweet tooth. I also had an apple and a redbush tea with almond milk. I watched Girls, which I'm really enjoying. Anyone else into it? Very rude but very funny.

 
So, we all know what an empty jar of PB means around here... I know I've had a lot of empties in the past week or so. It's because I bought them at the same time in the States back in February and now, sadly, the holiday romance is over. But not before one last fling for old times' sake...

 
Hello Oats in a Jar Minus the Oats but plus prunes, raspberries, ground almonds and desiccated coconut. Phew! I also got my Jill on this morning. I was a bit concerned about my sore back but it did no harm and I'm actually feeling a lot better now.

 
Work rocked around soon enough. For some reason I forgot to photograph my snacks today, so *insert picture of tiny Cox apple here*
 
Lunch was ze gorgeous mackerel salad of many days gone by. I realised a bit too late that eating this while wearing a silky blouse probably wasn't the best idea... I'm a messy eater - always in a rush to get food into my mouth and hang the consequences. When it comes to food and fashion, food will always win. 

 
The same issue arose with my unpictured orange later in the afternoon, but I managed to minimise sprayage and fashion a sort of kitchen roll bib. Yes, this is how I behave at work. Sorry, Mum.
 
Note to self - must consider food/fashion strategy at start of day. Noted.
 
On to the more successful part of my day - dinner and shopping! I'm not much of a shopper (apart from the supermarket, obvs) so try to minimise the pain. Hence, choosing a quiet Tuesday evening and easing the pain with a nice dinner at Strada, an Italian chain where the food doesn't taste like chain food which had 20% off of your total bill.

 
Five presents bought.



One glass of wine sipped - Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi Doc. Very nice although not sure I could taste the 'almonds and hazelnuts'!
 

A squillion hige, juicy prawns slathered in garlic, white wine, red chilli butter and parsley (yep, still wearing that blouse!). I skipped the ciabatta and had a side of 'crunchy' (though it was a little soggy) brocolli with chilli butter. I did ask if I could swap the bread for the brocolli but they said no, so the brocolli cost extra. Pretty much sums up what's wrong with places like this - fill up all you like on the bread, but you ain't getting five bits of brocolli for free. Grrr. However, it was a good meal and we had a lovely evening.
 
But, I've saved the best until last...
 
 
... a Christmas dream come true - portion-controlled, quality chocolate for December. Is it me or is it suddenly feeling Christmassy up in here?!
 
Question of the day: Do you like to have an advent calendar?
 
I'm not usually bothered and I hate the cheap nasty chocolate you get in most... but, for some reason I wanted one this year and am soooo happy I found this Lindt one!


Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday Big Shop

I'd like to start by saying thank you to everyone who's given me feedback on the blog recently, either online or when I've seen you in person. It's so lovely (and comforting!) to know you're out there, reading, and I'm not just rambling on to myself. Although I probably wouldn't stop if I was. I'm loving it and am so glad you are too.

Any comments, ideas, requests for posts are always welcome, too. I'm still feeling my way with this thing, so let me know what you want more/less of. Leave a comment, tweet @jodeap or email me at chillichocolatelover@gmail.com. Right, public service announcement over.

Quick update from lastnight - no chocolate! Apple sliced and dipped in cinnamon instead.


I really, really wanted ground almond porridge this morning, but only had half the amount of almond I needed to make it... Feeling in a bratty mood, I went ahead anyway and... it was fine! I've immediately doubled my porridge production! A good start to the week, people.

I added fresh raspberries, desiccated coconut and tinned prunes (leftovers from lastnight's dinner) to celebrate.

 
I worked from home today and, having suffered from a sore lower back all weekend, decided to try standing at the new chest of drawers in the spare room rather than sit. It was just the right height and I barely noticed I was standing all day! I lasted until 4.15pm. I was hoping that and the 40 minutes of yoga I put in at 6am would sort the pain, but it's still niggling. Meh. Getting old! Regardless, it felt good to stand rather than sit all day and, once again, made me realise how bad sitting all day makes me feel. Another bonus was I didn't need the heating on all day as standing seemed to keep me much warmer than sitting!
 
Tiny apple (yep, again!) and copious redbush with almond milk kept the furnace stoked.

 
The nice shopping delivery man bought my weekly shop over this morning so I had a fully-stocked fridge. Always an exciting time for me. True story.
 
Come lunchtime I boiled me up some kale, carrot and samphire. As long as they keep selling that sweet sea vegetable, I'll beep buying. TRY IT!

 
While that's cooking, I'll give you a tour of my weekly shop. I've had a couple of questions about what I buy, so here you go:

 
Tiny apples somewhat made up for by giant bananas.

 
Lots of veggies.

 
Frozen fish (sorry about the sideways picture) my new staple.
 
And here's a list of what I bought in case you're interested:
 
Quantity
Product
Price
Total
1
Tesco Everyday Value Rubber Gloves 2 Pairs
£0.47
£0.47
5
Tesco Oranges Each
£0.30
£1.50
1
Tesco Cox Apples Min 6 Pack
£1.75
£1.75
7
Tesco Bananas Loose
£0.14
£1.00
1
Tesco Celery Each
£0.89
£0.89
3
Tesco Brown Onions Loose
£0.19
£0.57
3
Tesco Sweet Potatoes Loose
£0.35
£1.05
1
Tesco Cooked Beetroot Vacuum Pack 300G
£0.73
£0.73
10
Tesco Carrots Loose
£0.08
£0.80
1
Tesco Ground Almonds 200G
£1.99
£1.99
1
Tesco Coriander 31G
£0.80
£0.80
1
Tesco My Babys Cotton Buds 100
£0.39
£0.39
1
Tesco Recycled Kitchen Towel 2 Roll
£1.50
£1.50
1
Tesco Red Peppers Each
£0.78
£0.78
1
Tesco Blueberries 350G
£2.00
£2.00
1
Tesco Recycled Toilet Tissue 4 Roll
£1.72
£1.72
1
Tesco Blueberries 200G
£2.10
£2.10
1
Tesco Finest Jumbo King Prawns 225G
£2.50
£2.50
2
Tesco Kale Tenderleaf 206G
£0.75
£1.50
1
Tesco Whole Cucumber Each
£0.80
£0.80
1
Tesco Cherry Tomatoes 650G
£1.00
£1.00
1
Tesco 2 Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon Fillets 300G
£3.25
£3.25
1
Tesco Healthy Eating 4 Basa Fillets 500G
£3.25
£3.25
2
Alpro Almond Longlife Milk Alternative 1L
£1.00
£2.00
1
Tesco Finest Samphire 100G
£1.50
£1.50
1
Tesco West Country Smoked Mackerel 260G
£3.00
£3.00
It came to about £43, quite a cheap week for me, but I'm eating out twice and I wing it on the weekend. Healthy food costs a lot.
 
Here's the rest of that lunch I was cooking up - I added some salad veg and smoked mackerel. This lunch is not getting old for me.


Then I dashed out for a walk while there was a glimmer of sun in the sky. Not bad for a workday stroll, eh? While out I saw an elderly gentleman playing the local par 3 alone and thought, good for him! I also saw a really cute and obedient Alsatian puppy and pondered the meaning of life a little...


Got excited about cake...

And wondered how I could make this edible...

 
Then I went and bought some sausages and eggs from the butchers - £3.50ish for 5 sausages and 6 of the best eggs you can buy. Now that's worth a trip out for.

 
The afternoon dragged a little after an early start, but a bit of citrusy zest, followed by more of those prunes kept me going.


 
And a carrot preceded the Monday bathroom and kitchen cleaning. Still loving getting it done on a weeknight.

 
Dinner time!  I decided to make a recipe from a book I've had for some time. It's an old favourite, curried fish and herb soup from Super Duper Soups, but heavily adapted to suit my weirdo tastes and what I had in the fridge.
 
I gently fried some shallots in a little butter until soft, then added two teaspoons of curry powder and fried for another two minutes...

 
Then the other photo I took disappeared, but, after that I added 600ml of stock (I used up the veggie water from yesterday) a frozen Basa fish fillet, a sprig each of parsley and thyme, a bay leaf and a pinch of saffron. I brought to the boil and simmered for 12 minutes, adding some shredded savoy cabbage after 6 minutes (again, left from yesterday) and some samphire after 9 minutes (because I want it in EVERY MEAL).

 
The original recipe doesn't add any veggies and gets you to put in natural yoghurt or cream at the end. Whatevs.
 
Question of the day: How do you do your weekly shop? Wing it or meal plan?
 
I plan my dinners and lunches for Monday-Friday and buy accordingly, which helps me stick to a budget. Weekends are more of a free-for-all.
 
This week's meal plan, for instance:
 
Monday: Mackerel salad/fish soup
Tuesday: Mackerel salad/out to dinner - French or Italian (with voucher, of course)
Wednesday: Salmon salad/sausages, sweet potato mash and kale
Thursday: Out/out (working in London followed by drinks reception)
Friday: Prawn salad/salmon broth with ginger