Paleo: 12 Weeks To Change Your Life by Rebecca Field

I have a cupboard full of recipe books and a quick flick through will reveal exactly which ones are the tried and tested favourites (well-thumbed, slightly stained pages)! I was interested then, to be offered an e-recipe book to try out. I do often search for recipes online, usually when I have a mish-mash of ingredients and I have no idea how to put them together to form an actual meal! This usually means a hurriedly scribbled list and some sketchy instructions on a scrap of paper, so I wasn’t sure how well I’d get on with an e-book; I enjoy sitting on the sofa with a ‘real’ book, marking pages that catch my eye.

We do have an iPad in the house, so this turns out to be the best platform for me, propped against the chopping boards, wedged behind the butter dish! The book is well-written and nicely laid out, with the usual lists of ‘store cupboard’ essentials, a good section on planning ahead, some words about the importance of exercise (of course!), all interspersed with case studies to inspire you to have a go (and keep going).

Cover

Cover

This is more than a recipe book. You will find sections on motivation, stress-reduction, the importance of sleep, ‘bad days’, nutrients, hunger, so basically a holistic approach to making changes to your diet (as it should be!). After reading the introduction, finding out what’s in and what’s out, working out a plan of action and thinking about incorporating exercise, you are presented with some helpful weekly meal plans. I find it so much easier to stick to a plan if I’m told exactly what to do! In an ideal world, we would, at this point, do a weekly shop based on these plans and make it all the more achievable to stay focused. Although there are foods that you have to avoid, there is a very positive focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet, offering a wide range of vitamins and minerals to make you feel fitter, stronger and more alert.

The Recipes!

Beautifully illustrated, with colourful, mouth-watering images of all the meals, the recipe section is clearly laid out, easy to follow and, best of all, uses small lists of easy-to-source ingredients (I am turned off by long lists and complicated methods, no thank you!). Breakfast includes lots of egg recipes, which is great since I am currently limited to a plain omelette or ropy-looking poached eggs!

Granola

Granola

Lunch offers lots of delicious salads, soups and broths, and ‘wraps’ (with the wrap element being lettuce leaves), all bursting with colour and nutrients. Dinner is a meaty affair, which is fine by me, but we do try to eat meat only a couple of times a week – it took quite a lot of scrolling to reach the fish section! There is an excellent salad and sides section, with some tasty dips and sauces and lots of vegetable dishes to make into a main, or to accompany an earlier recipe as a side.

Grilled fresh trout

Grilled fresh trout

Quite often when I look at ‘healthy’ recipe books, the puddings are either overlooked or disappointingly dull, but this book offers a selection of fruity treats, such as Raspberry Ice Cream, using coconut milk (it looks yummy!) and one I might try this weekend, since we have lots of plums, Roast Plums with Star Anise and Cashew Nut Cream. Included also are snacks, smoothies and juices, so plenty (200 recipes!) to keep you focused on eating an array of foods across the week.

Try this at home!

Just like the picture in the book...sort of!

Just like the picture in the book…sort of!

This week I gave one of the recipes a try. It happened to be a day when Hector had a friend around after school, so I wondered if I was risking it trying something new with potentially fussy eaters! The Persian Chicken Kebabs are so incredibly easy to make though and, as I was mixing the marinade (garlic, pepper, ground coriander, turmeric, ground ginger and lemon juice) the boys looked on, Hector’s friend commenting ‘I don’t like ginger. I don’t like lemon juice. I don’t like chicken’. It was a different matter though, when I presented them with tasty skewers, piled on a mixed salad and they tucked in, telling me that they did ‘indeed like the chicken!’ Result! I do find it hard sometimes to work anything a bit different into our diet, but the recipes here can easily fit in with family life, with enough to choose from to please the choosy amongst us!

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Time for a refreshing brew

Those of you who have been following my progress for some time, will know that I like to eat healthily alongside my training, but I do have one vice and that’s tea. I know! How very rock and roll! I was pleased then, to be sent some tea to try and, being a dedicated builder’s tea fan, I was intrigued by this lovely little box of Oolong Tea from In Nature Teas.

Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea

Every so often, in a moment of healthfulness, I splash out on a great big box of green tea, then quickly remember that I don’t really like it that much and it stays in the cupboard gathering dust. I was delighted then, when I tried the Oolong tea – which is somewhere between green tea and black tea in its levels of oxidation – to find that it was very light in flavour with no trace of the bitterness that I’ve been put off by before.

Leaves

Leaves

The box has some useful instructions inside, so you can get the most out of your tea, with plenty of facts to encourage you to keep drinking. I do enjoy the ritual of making a ‘proper’ cup of tea, the process itself seems relaxing and makes you take some time out for a few moments. I also like it because I get to use my pretty little teapot:

Pot

Pot

This particular tea is suggested for warmer months and I really did find it refreshing on the hotter days (remember them?), a more healthy alternative to my usual post-run cuppa. Oolong Tea apparently aids digestion, has anti-ageing properties (woo-hoo!) and is said to help slimming. I can’t vouch for these claims, but I’m sure it’s a good accompaniment to a healthy, balanced diet. I’m definitely enjoying the quiet moments admiring my teapot and feeling a moment of calm whilst listening to the radio. Sigh.

Add a slice of lemon

Add a slice of lemon

If you visit the In Nature Teas website, you will see that there are lots of different teas on offer and lots of information about the benefits of each tea.

Urban Fruit…more…and moreish

Mmmmm, how lip-smackingly happy was I to receive this little box of treats in the post?!

Chewy

Chewy

The lovely people at Urban Fruit sent me this box of tasty snacks to try out, but I must come clean and admit that I was already an addict and this was just fuelling my addiction! I love dried fruit and probably spend a big chunk of the weekly shopping budget on chewy treats to keep me going throughout the day. I pile everything in a tub, mix with nuts and take little servings out with me to scoff post-run/swim – they are also great to stuff in your jersey pocket for a long bike ride.

The great thing about the Urban Fruit range (apart from the funky packaging design) is that there is no added sugar or sulphates so you are just eating dried fruit and no nasties. They also produce a fantastic range of fruits, some of which it’s hard to find elsewhere. My two personal faves are the strawberries (like little jelly sweets!) and – one I hadn’t tried before – tropical…the coconut pieces were yum. Oh man, I’m drooling writing this and IT’S ALL GONE!

You can find the Urban Fruit range in supermarkets and smaller independent shops and you can keep up with new products and news by following on social media: facebook,com/urbanfruit, @urbanfruit and on instagram @urbanfruituk.

I need to stock up on some more…I’ve got it bad.

Dr Zak’s High Protein Bagels

My post-run/swim/bike routine goes something like this:

get in, put kettle on, fill drinks bottle with High5 Zero, do a bit of core work, stretch a bit whilst rehydrating, shower, dress, check emails/get distracted by Twitter/sort out the washing, realise I’m really hungry, stand in kitchen eating cereal from the box. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read that in Runner’s World. I know I should ideally eat *something* within half an hour of finishing a workout, and I know that I should consume a combination of protein and carbs, but I kind of forget and I’m usually not terribly inspired by what’s on offer. Recently I was sent some Dr Zak’s High Protein Bagels to try, so was determined to be a bit more ‘athlete’ about my post-workout refuel routine.

Dr Zak's Pak

Dr Zak’s Pak

It was good knowing I had something planned after my long swim (I do fantasise about what I will eat later whilst swimming, it makes me sooooo hungry!) and I decided to increase the protein levels even more by filling the bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese – that’s what you have on a bagel, right?

Grainy

Grainy

I must say, it was delicious and I felt full for ages afterwards, which is unusual for me following a swim. Each of these bagels has twice the amount of protein as a regular bagel (about the same as a piece of chicken breast), thus allowing you to up your levels of muscle repairing protein without resorting to powdered shakes and supplements. It’s the high levels of fibre that keep the hunger at bay, and I liked the nuttiness of the seeded topping, which gives the bagels a nice texture (and extra nutrients). The next day I toasted my bagel (I prefer them toasted) and added crunchy peanut butter (more protein!).

Yum

Yum

If you like to refuel and create a balance in your diet through ‘real’ food rather than supplements, then this is a great idea. Dr Zak’s bagels are available from health food shops, with a pack of four costing Β£3.50 – which might seem pricey, but they are big and really do fill you up (it works out at less than 90p for 24g of protein). It beats a handful of cereal anyway πŸ˜‰