Gooey Chocolate Brownies – Jamie Oliver

Gooey ChocolateBrowniesThis recipe is one of my favourite baking recipes. It’s a Jamie Oliver one which means they’re super easy and delicious. The baking time below is a guideline but I would recommend keeping a close eye on them as you don’t want them to become overcooked and no longer gooey. I’ve baked these in a couple of different ovens and each one has taken a different amount of time to get perfect.

Serves                        Makes 10-12 slices

Prep Time                 20 minutes

Cooking Time         25 minutes

Calories                      Who cares?! These are meant to be a treat!

Ingredients

200g good quality dark chocolate (preferably around 70%)

250g unsalted butter

80g cocoa powder

65g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

350g caster sugar

4 large eggs

Method

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 and line a rectangular baking tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Break the chocolate up into small pieces. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl over simmering water. Stir until smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar.

4. Slowly mix the melted chocolate mix into the bowl with the dry ingredients (a little bit at a time works well) and stir together. Beat the eggs and mix in until you have a silky consistency.

5. Pour the brownie mix into the baking tray and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. You want the brownies to be gooey so you don’t want them to be firm to the touch. 

Friday Fitness Round Up: Part Four

Brighteyed and Bewildered (6)

This week has been a bit bumpy. I’ve had some great workouts but I’ve also done a lot of comfort eating which isn’t great, especially as I’m going on holiday on Wednesday! My diet and exercise regime is likely to be rubbish while I’m away too so it’s looking like two poor weeks in a row.

Saturday

Brighteyed and Bewildered (7)Brunch – Cheese and bacon oatcakes. I have two questions: 1. Why is bacon soooo amazing? 2. Why does London not have oatcakes?

Afternoon Snack – I spent the afternoon wandering round Borough Market so treated myself to an apple, pear and mint juice.

Dinner – We had dinner out this evening. I didn’t want to hold back too much but also didn’t want to completely pig out so I had a burger with avocado but no bun and only a couple of sweet potato fries.

Exercise – I walked quite a lot today. By the time I’d got the tube, walked around the market and headed home, I’d clocked up over 15,000 steps.

Feeling – It’s been a while since I last went to Borough Market because the crowds made me nervous but today I was fine. Sometimes it’s hard to see the progress you’re making each day until you do something that you couldn’t do/found difficult to do before.

Sunday

Brighteyed and Bewildered (16)Breakfast – Usual Sunday behaviour of skipping breakfast. I had planned to eat mid-morning but we went out on the motorbike and ended up in Southend-on-Sea.

Lunch – Half a portion of fish and chips. I mean, it would be rude not to seeing as we were at the seaside!

Dinner – Homemade Chilli con Carne with spicy rice.

Exercise – My abs got a pretty good workout on the bike and we had a nice walk along the seafront but other than that it’s been a fairly sedative day.

Feeling – Had a lovely day on the bike in the sunshine and it’s been ages since I’ve been to the seaside in the UK.

Monday 

Brighteyed and Bewildered (12)Breakfast – Yogurt, granola and Green Tea (obviously not all mixed together)

Lunch – Salad from home. Mixed lettuce leaves, tomatoes, peppers and tuna.

Afternoon Snack – Raisins and apricots.

Dinner – Leftover chilli in leftover fajita wraps. I made them into an enchilada kind of dish by filling the wraps with chilli, topping with salsa and cheese and baking in the over.

Exercise – Today was a gym day. I ran 5km and trained triceps, biceps, shoulders and abs.

Feeling – It was nice to be back in the gym after the weekend and, as an added bonus it was really quiet. I’m really looking forward to the weekend again already so I think an early night is in order to see if I can find some extra energy to get me through the rest of the week.

Tuesday 

Coffee makesthe world go roundBreakfast – Proper coffee and some granola.

Lunch – Salad from home. Rather embarrassingly, I’m lacking fresh food at home so today’s salad consisted of lettuce, tomatoes and olives! Although it sounds super dull, it did the job and filled me up until dinner time.

Afternoon Snack – I forgot to pack my snacks today!

Dinner – I’ve felt really rubbish all day, my mood has been low and I’ve felt stressed for no real reason so I had a full blown cheat meal – my diet has been terrible lately so I don’t think it counts as a “cheat meal” (ahem, McDonald’s is OK right?)

Exercise – I know this is a lame excuse but I wasn’t in the office today which meant that I would have to head into central London just to go to the gym. I was not feeling that at all so treated myself to a day off.

Feeling – Fat but less stressed.

Wednesday 

Brighteyed and Bewildered (9)Breakfast – Yogurt and granola. Two cups of coffee.

Lunch – Salmon and Tuna tartare salad from Itsu. I also tried their seaweed thins and have to admit, I’m not a fan.

Afternoon Snack – Raisins

Dinner – Homemade chicken curry and rice. Not the best but it was a low fat sauce so tasty and nowhere near as bad as a take-away.

Exercise – I did not want to go to the gym today but I made myself go and, inevitably, had a great workout. I only managed 25 minutes of cardio (15 minute warm-up on the stepper and 10 minute cool-down on the treadmill) because I spent the rest of my time there on an epic leg workout. My legs ache already which doesn’t bode well for tomorrow or Friday!

Feeling – I’ve had a day full of doubting myself today but the workout really helped. I’ve also been fairly productive this evening in terms of blogging and social media updates etc. so all in all, pretty good (although shattered).

Thursday 

Brighteyed and Bewildered (8)Breakfast – Yogurt and granola. I’m almost out of granola so it’s actually more like a granola dust at the moment!

Lunch – Macc and Cheese

Afternoon Snack – Coffee and a brownie

Dinner – Pizza. Holiday preparation is going well!

Exercise – Another day off. My legs are still killing from yesterday.

Feeling – This might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but today was another mile marker for me. The picture at the top of today’s entry is me in my Paris Marathon t-shirt that I’ve been too fat to fit into since before Christmas. It’s still a little tighter than I would like it to be but some progress is better than no progress!

Friday (today)

IMG_3321
Thanks to Huffington Post’s Insta account for this

Breakfast – Just coffee today. Wasn’t really feeling the whole breakfast thing what with the EU Referendum results and all.

Lunch – Cheese sandwich. Pretty boring but a classic!

Afternoon Snack – More coffee and a slice of jam roll in the office

Dinner – I went shopping after work to get some final bits and pieces for the holiday so we got dinner while we were out. I had steak, chips and salad alongside a Porn Star Martini.

Exercise – I was planning on going for a run after work but then realised I needed to go shopping as it’s my last free evening before my holidays – will have to make up for this over the weekend.

Feeling – Shocked by this morning’s but that’s got nothing to do with my diet, exercise or mental health! Generally though, really good and super glad that it’s finally Friday. I have a packed weekend ahead of me and then only two days at work before it’s holiday time.

Holiday Essentials: The Summer Holiday Packing Guide

Summer Holiday Packing Guide

Summer Holiday Packing GuideAlthough you wouldn’t know it from the weather in London recently, it’s summer and that means holiday time is upon us.

Personally, I’m a last minute packer. If I pack any earlier than the night before a trip, I only end up unpacking and repacking again (mainly because I can never remember what I’ve already packed). But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to be organised.

It’s now one week til I set off on for Turkey for a week of relaxing in the sun (I know, right?! Since when do I do relaxing holidays?!) Anyway, with seven days to go, it’s time I started to think about packing. And by start thinking, I mean start making lists. As I’m starting to build more travel related posts into my blog, I thought I’d share my essential packing guides with you. Enjoy!

Essential Documents

  1. Passport – You’re not going to get very far without this but it’s always helpful to write down every single item you need to take with you to make sure that you don’t forget anything. It’s usually the most obvious things that get left behind.
  2. Tickets – As above. Although these days, you have multiple options available to you to make this easier such as online check-in and e-tickets. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you do it in plenty of time and, if like me, you like to have a paper ticket, make sure you print it out well in advance. There’s nothing worse than waking up at 3am to catch your flight to realise that your printer is out of ink!
  3. Visa – As soon as you book your holiday, check whether or not you need a visa. Some countries require you to apply for a visa weeks (sometimes months) in advance. Make sure you leave enough time to get any visas you need well in advance of your departure date. If you’re going somewhere that you can obtain a visa on arrival, have a look online to see if there’s any paperwork you can fill out in advance to cut down on waiting time in the airport.
  4. Insurance and Health Documents – As with Visas, you’ll need to check exactly what is required at your destination in terms of health cover but one thing is certain, you will always need travel insurance of some sort!
  5. Phone Numbers (and other useful info) – This one makes me feel old but write down important phone numbers such as your next of kin (one person who is with you and one who is at home preferably), the insurance company and your policy number, the holiday company and/or hotel, just in case you lose your phone or it gets water damaged. Imagine the stress of losing your handbag. Now imagine how much more stressful it would be if you couldn’t call the insurance company to get things sorted out.
  6. Transport Details/Timetable – Whether you’ve pre-booked airport transfers or plan on getting public transport make sure you have details handy. Make sure you know what time train you need to get to make sure you get to the airport on time and have at least one back up option. Make sure you know the name of the company collecting you from arrivals or which train line you need to get on to get to your hotel. It seems like extra work but when you step off the plane after  12 hour flight you’ll be glad you checked the details before you left home.
  7. Finances – Make sure you change your money before you get to the Airport. The rates are never good and you usually end up paying a fortune in commission. If you have time, run a comparison search to find the best rates close to you. Also, don’t forget to pack your bank card and a back-up bank card just in case.
  8. Copies – This might seem a little OTT but I always take copies of everything too “just in case”!

Think Of All The Places You Could GoEssential Clothes

This one is a toughie, I know people will just take whatever they want but here’s my list of essentials to make sure you don’t miss the key things.

  1. Underwear – Unless you’d rather go without; it’s up to you!
  2. Swimwear – A couple of options is always good for when one is drying out. I know this goes without saying really, but with all the “bikini body” nonsense that’s going on at the moment, I’m going to say it anyway – take whatever the hell you want, not what you think you should be wearing.
  3. Shoes – I usually go with one pair of sandals and one with covered toes. I nearly always pack a pair of high heels which take up loads of space and then I never bloody wear them anyway.
  4. Jeans and leggings – One of each
  5. Shorts/Skirts – Anything that gets the old legs in the sun! Again, like the with the swimwear, wear what you want not what you think you should be.
  6. T-shirts/Vest tops – An assortment to mix and match with the above. It’s sometimes useful to make sure you have at least one long-sleeved top too.
  7. Short dress – For throwing on over my bikini when it’s too hot or when you’re going for lunch.
  8. Long dress – For evenings when it’s cool. I usually take some jewellery too so I can “dress up” if we go somewhere nice.
  9. Jacket or cardigan – Again, it’s usually cooler in the evenings. Preferably find a jacket that matches everything above.

I’m sure there’s loads of “essentials” that I’ve missed off this list but that’s what I work off.

Brighteyed and Bewildered (5)Beauty Essentials

  1. Sun cream and after sun – Pretty obvious if you’re going somewhere hot, slightly less obvious but equally important if you’re going skiing. Don’t forget a lip balm with SPF in it too.
  2. Toothbrush and toothpaste – Again, really obvious; forgotten about 90% of the time.
  3. Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, general washing products – Whatever you use in the shower at home, chances are, you will need on holiday too. Unless you don’t plan on washing. If however, you do forget these items, you can probably pick them up once you land.
  4. Moisturiser – Specifically face moisturiser. The salt in the sea and chemicals in the pool can really dry your skin out.
  5. Deodorant – Another obvious one, particularly if you’re going somewhere hot and sweaty
  6. Razors – Or not. Whatever you want.
  7. Exfoliating gloves – This sounds like an odd one but these little guys are fantastic! It’s really easy way to ensure all dead skin is long gone before you even leave your house and using them every couple of days while you’re away will help your tan last even longer.
  8. A compact make-up bag – I don’t wear much make-up generally but I wear even less when I’m holiday. I stick to my core products: foundation, bronzer, highlighter, mascara and an eyebrow pencil (which doubles as eyeliner too)

Technology (not so essential)

Personally, I’m a BIG fan of technology and my list looks a little something like this:

  1. DSLR Camera – Along with extra batteries, memory cards and a selection of lenses
  2. Go Pro – Plus extra batteries, memory cards, waterproof casing and harnesses
  3. Laptop – This one should really be left at home but I do like blogging when I’m away and it’s just not the same on my phone. It’s also handy for watching films on long journeys etc.
  4. Phone – I’d actually class this as essential. Don’t forgot the charger!

Other Useful Items

  1. Sunglasses – These are pretty essential but they don’t really fit into any of the other categories above. Whether you’re planning a beach or a snowy holiday, it’s always really important to protect your eyes from the sun.
  2. A good book (or two) – I’m really struggling to choose what to take with me so I’d love any suggestions you guys might have for me.
  3. Kindle/iPad/Similar – The same at the laptop really. It’s not essential but useful for entertainment on long journeys or reading by the pool if you’re not a paperback person.

Untitled design (4)Added Bonus – Packing Tips! 

OK, so I’m in the holiday spirit already and feeling generous. Here’s a few tips on how to cram all of the above into your case with ease!

  1. Roll, don’t fold – You’ll fit so much more in your case if you roll instead of folding your clothes. Plus, it’ll help reduce creases.
  2. Make a list (or four) – This will help reduce the risk of forgetting things. Feel free to use this one if it helps.
  3. Make use of shoes – Put things inside them!
  4. Wear your bulkiest items – Fairly obvious. Also applies to heavy items.
  5. Plan outfits – This sounds a little precious but it works a treat. Think about outfits that you will wear rather than looking at items of clothing individually. That way you’ll avoid packing more than you need and clothes that you can’t wear (because they don’t match anything else)
  6. Leave space – Whether you buy anything or not while you’re away, it will always be harder to pack on the way home!

And, on that note, I’m off to scribble down a more detailed list in preparation for my packing next week!

Slow Cooked Asian-Style Chicken Thighs

Slow Cooked Asian-Style Chicken ThighsThis recipe is from the GoodtoKnow Website which is a great place to find healthy recipe ideas. They have all kinds of requirements, budgets and time-frames covered too.

Serves                        Six

Prep Time                 30 minutes

Cooking Time         4 hours 30 minutes (it is a slow cooker recipe after all!)

Calories                      187 per portion

Ingredients

1kg chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp. ketjap manis

2 tbsp. agave syrup

2 green chillies, sliced

Thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Large handful of coriander

3 spring onions, chopped

Method

1. Put the chicken, soy and fish sauces, vinegar, ketjap manis, agave, chillies, ginger and garlic into a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours.

2. Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a casserole with a scrunched up piece of wet greaseproof paper inside the lid and cook in the oven on its lowest setting for 3 hours.

3. Remove the chicken from the bones and loosely pull apart just before serving.

4. Garnish the chicken and sauce with sesame seeds, coriander and spring onion.

5. Serve with sticky rice or noodles.

 

Friday Fitness Round Up: Part Three

Brighteyed and BewilderedSo it’s actually been a couple of weeks since I last did one of these posts – I’ve been unwell so my diet hasn’t been great (everyone knows that you should feed a cold!!) and I’ve taken time out from the gym so it would have made for a pretty dull read!

Saturday

Untitled designBrunch – Waffles with golden syrup (hey! I said no judging!)

Afternoon Snack – Coffee but managed to resist actual snacks after my brunch of waffles.

Dinner – Pizzaaaaaaaaaa!!!

Exercise – I mainly slept today which is what I really needed to get over this stinking cold/flu/general ickiness. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body and relax.

Feeling – I’m feeling less sorry for myself now I’ve had 12 hours sleep

Sunday

Brighteyed and Bewildered (3)Breakfast – Coffee. I was still completely stuffed from last night’s dinner which seems to be a common Sunday morning theme.

Lunch – I was super lazy today in terms of food and ate a slice of cold pizza left from last night which is also what I had for dinner! (I’m actually pretty embarrassed writing that down!)

Afternoon Snack – Cough syrup and nasal decongestant.

Dinner – More leftover pizza.

Exercise – I did an awesome abs workout which consisted on me coughing violently for 7 hours straight and then having a 20 minute ice shower to lower my temperature!

Feeling – Much better than I have done over the past few days. Finally coming out of the other side of this cold. I’m really hoping to be back in the gym from tomorrow. I’ve also got a lot done today in terms of social media updates, scheduling posts etc. which is a really nice feeling.

Monday 

Brighteyed and Bewildered (2)Breakfast – This seems to be a common occurrence on Mondays but I skipped breakfast today.

Lunch – Crayfish and avocado salad from Pret – low fat, low carb option which is delicious! I also got a Green Goodness juice in the hope that the extra vitamins might help get rid of the final germs in my system.

Afternoon Snack – No snacks today! Go me!

Dinner – Tomato and herb pasta bake with wholemeal pasta.

Exercise – I was back in the gym today which was great – I did 40 minutes cardio (running and stepping machine) and did a small weight session focusing on biceps, triceps and shoulders. I also forgot that we were getting our food delivered tonight so I had to run home from the station.

Feeling – Happy and relaxed. I’m feeling much, much better and it felt great to be back in the gym/exercising again. I’m still really proud of how productive I was yesterday so just making the most of this positive energy I have today.

Tuesday 

Brighteyed and Bewildered (1)Breakfast – The usual yoghurt and granola.

Lunch – Salad (from home, not the shop bought kind)

Afternoon Snack – I was back to the usual snacks today too – raisins and

Dinner – Left over tomato pasta bake – it was a bit of a godsend actually to come home from work and have dinner already made. I’ve been organising our work team meeting over the past few weeks and it’s finally here so I needed to get home and pack ready for an early start tomorrow.

Exercise – I decided to not go today. I didn’t want to come straight back in to 5 days a week after being ill but I have plans to use the hotel gym tomorrow night with some of the guys from work.

Feeling – Pretty stressed about the next two days; you know the usual things – What if I forgot to book someone a train ticket or hotel room? What if the hotel is shit? What do I need to pack? Other than that, feeling really good. I’m excited about catching up with colleagues over the next couple of days and I’m almost 100% back to normal after the cold.

Wednesday 

Brighteyed and Bewildered (4)Breakfast – I had to be out of the door by 6.30 this morning so just grabbed a cereal bar on the way to the train. I had a fundraising meeting in someone else’s office so got a lovely skinny latte there.

Lunch – Today has been very much a “grab and go” day so after rushing from London to Birmingham via a meeting in Hemel Hempstead, I grabbed a sandwich in the train station which got half eaten on the road.

Afternoon Snack – No snacks today. There were lots of nice biscuits with the tea and coffee at the afternoon meeting venue but I resisted.

Dinner –  We all went out for dinner this evening as a team. I managed to have some self control over food and had a chicken salad but I let myself down a bit with 3-4 glasses of wine(ish).

Exercise – I went to the gym at the hotel between the afternoon meeting and going out for dinner. A few of us did a legs workout with squats and lunges. I then did a bit on the exercise bike followed by some abs/bra bulge focused exercises.

Feeling – I’m exhausted from rushing around and the early start but I’ve had a really good day. Lots of super positive meetings with various people which have resulted in lots of exciting ideas and plans! It was really nice to catch up with colleagues this afternoon and over dinner as I don’t get to see most of them very often.

Thursday 

Coffee makesthe world go roundBreakfast – Alpen and soya milk – I’m actually considering switching regular milk for soya; any thoughts on this would be welcomed

Lunch – Cheese and tomato sandwich.

Afternoon Snack – Coffee. I also went for a couple of pints with a friend from work when we got off the train in London – not really a snack as such but it wasn’t my dinner either!

Dinner – Chilli salmon, broccoli and rice.

Exercise – My legs did not appreciate their workout last night! They are pretty sore today but that’s a good thing! I didn’t have time to work out today but, like I said on Tuesday, the plan wasn’t to work out five days this week anyway. I’ll be happy as long as I can get to the gym tomorrow.

Feeling – Legs are sore but other than that pretty good. I also really needed the drink and catch up this evening so that was nice.

Friday (today)

GymBreakfast – I’m exhausted from the rest of this week so treated myself to a chocolate croissant and a coffee.

Lunch – Another Crayfish and Avocado salad

Afternoon Snack – I may or may not have had a millionaire’s shortbread bite which, if it did happen, was actually pretty restrained given the amount of donuts and other snacks in the office today!

Dinner – Chicken, veg and rice fajita/burritos made at home. Mmmmmm!

Exercise – Smashed it at the gym tonight  and burnt almost 500 calories in just under an hour with sprints, stepper machine and cycling. Also did some abs when I got home.

Feeling – Relieved that it’s the weekend! I think an evening of chilling out is in order tonight followed by a lie-in tomorrow morning.

It’s been a super busy week so I’ve had to buy food on the go but I’m really happy that I’m back in the gym (and haven’t gone back too hard and just burnt myself out). My sleep has been really poor this week – most nights I’ve had between 3 and 4 hours of broken sleep.

Having read my fitness diaries from the past few weeks, it’s really clear how poorly I’m eating at weekends. So going forwards this is a key area I really want to work on. After all, there’s no point in me working really hard during the week, just to undo it all on the weekend.