Monthly Archives: March 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Bread

We had quite a few left over bananas and thought making banana bread might serve the double purpose of avoiding waste and encouraging Daddy to eat. I thought it would be nice to make it gluten and dairy free so experimented a bit with the recipe. I also added quite a bit of apple and dates so it is mostly fruit! It actually turned out better than i’d expected… and it was at least tasty enough to be devoured in one sitting!

I have to admit I was a bit jealous of Daddy’s lunch today…

Here’s the recipe:

 

Ingredients

8 medium bananas (mashed)

2 apples (peeled and cored)

1 cooking apple (peeled and cored)

¼ cup chopped dates

Juice of 1 Lemon

1 cup golden caster sugar

4 eggs

1tsp Vanilla or Lemon Essence

150g dark cooking chocolate

¼ cup sunflower oil

2 cups rice flour

Pinch of salt

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees C and grease and line 7inch bread tins.

2. Stew the apples with the dates and lemon juice – I did this by boiling the apples and dates in the lemon juice on the stove for about 10 minutes. Then set aside to cool.

3. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy then add the sugar and continue beating. Then add the apple mixture, sunflower oil, vanilla or lemon essence and mix well.

4. Stir in the rice flour and salt.

5. Add the chocolate to the mixture and pour into the prepared tins and bake for 35-45mins.

6. Leave to cool in the tin for about ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

7. ENJOY… warm or cool depending on your patience level – personally I think it is slightly better cold.

 

I might finally be learning the secret to cooking with my family – making two of anything if you want some left after the first sitting 😉

I’m looking forward to having a piece of the second loaf later!

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Lemon and Blackberry Crunch Cake :)

 

Ever since Alice dragged me to Aerial Silks yesterday (more circus related exercise!) i’ve been starving and Daddy always needs extra calories so a cake seemed a good idea 🙂

I’ve been wanting to try this combination for a while and finally got the chance today while Daddy was sleeping…

Ingredients:

100g Margarine

175g Golden caster sugar

175g Self-raising flour

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons lemon juice

zest of 2 lemons

For the Crunchy Top:

Juice of 1.5 lemons

100g Golden caster sugar

 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 7inch deep round cake tin.

Measure all the ingredients (except the blackberries) into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes (until really well blended and smooth)

Stir in the blackberries and then turn into the prepared tin.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until springy.

While the cake is cooking make the crunchy topping by mixing the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl – then pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Let the cake cool in the tin… then turn out and enjoy – ideally with ice-cream and extra berries!

After about 10 minutes all that remained was…

So it can’t have been that bad 😉

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Alice’s Exercise Programme when you don’t have time for the gym and want cheering up!

Daddy finally came home last Friday night 🙂 And it has been lovely being able to spend time together in a more relaxed environment. I’m not too sure that Daddy is thrilled about the ‘force feeding’ (which was against hospital policy), but we are so happy to have him home!

There wasn’t much time for gym sessions, but Alice is thinking of creating her own circus inspired circuits routine… ideal if you have a horse that’s willing to play too! Here’s a quick snapshot of the ridiculous, but far more entertaining alternative to a ‘spinning’ session!

Please don’t judge us… must have been those special brownies 😉

By the way… we’re thinking of having a ‘most embarrassing video’ competition – who’s in?!?

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Bikes chosen, ordered and on their way: Thanks to Cycles UK!

We haven’t posted much for a while as sadly our Dad’s condition has deteriorated somewhat recently so our energies have been focused on being with him…

He is currently receiving excellent care at the Michael Sobell Hospice, but we are hoping that we will be able to bring him home in the next few days (so long as we can get adequate care at home to ensure that he is always comfortable). He continues to be as brave and wonderful as ever. Always an inspiration.

We feel more motivated than ever to complete our challenge, although training may take a back seat for the next little while as we just enjoy spending time with him.

In the mean time we wanted to share our progress on the bike front – probably quite an important element! After weeks of deliberating, learning and testing we have finally ordered our bikes 🙂 Having tried a LOT of bikes and receiving more advice than we knew what to do with we have finally settled on the Cannondale Synapse Tiagra

Thanks in large part to Danny at Cycles UK who has patiently helped us through the decision making progress and arranged for a fantastic partnership with Cycles UK meaning that we should be able to get all the gear we need without breaking the bank!

We are so grateful that Cycles UK are generously supporting the cycling part of our challenge! Thank you Danny and Thank You…

Cycles-UK

We should have the bikes within the next couple of weeks – so soon I will have no excuse not to cycle to work (10 miles each way should get me reasonably fit in no time!) but I’m sure the first few weeks will be a challenge… the first of many no doubt!

As Daddy says we will just have to Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.

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30,000 Calories worth of Nak’d Bars!

I’d met some of the Natural Balance Foods team at the London Bike Show (I admit – not entirely by coincidence ;)) and they offered to help us fuel our training 🙂

They make the Yummy Nak’d bars, which I am basically addicted to, and it turns out that their offices only a few miles from our house, although the bars are actually made in Wales.  I took my Dad there today and they kindly gave us nearly 300 Nak’d bars and loads of their specially flavoured raisins…

 

My favourite are cocoa delight and the apple or strawberry crunch (I especially like the fact that the crunch bars are high protein!) Now we have no excuses for running out of energy enroute!! 

Daddy loved our personalised tour of their warehouse – which was pretty massive!

 

And we are hoping he will help us munch through a few!

Thank you so much Andi for all your kindness!!

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Lake Windermere Swim Booked – A huge Thank You to MyTriEvents!

I was a little alarmed to read today that ‘more people have climbed Everest than have ever made this swim‘!

I don’t know whether it is luck, coincidence or fate, but MyTriEvents have organised a swim of Lake Windermere for the 7th of September this year and they have kindly agreed to give us free entries in support of our fundraising efforts. Thank you Tasha for making this happen!

Our parents are very relieved, to put it mildly and we are thrilled! Although we will now have no excuses for not finishing all in one go. Hopefully swimming as part of an organised event should mean we will be a little safer navigating the surprisingly busy waters and feel more entitled to be in the water.

I am also secretly pretty happy that Alice will have a fair few other people to latch on to if she suddenly imagines that there is a giant sea monster beneath her!

I think we had better start looking for some warm wetsuits!!! Any recommendations welcome!

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Raspberry Surprise Lemon Cupcakes

 Last Friday was my last day working in the London office for the next six months. I am now working for the same company in Oxford until September, which is great as it means I can spend more time at home and with my family. 🙂

I will miss London though and my last day seemed like a good excuse to take in some cupcakes (the normal rather than healthy variety!), but as I was making these before work I needed something quick. I decided to experiment a bit by putting a raspberry filled with jam in each cupcake – I have to say it worked pretty well –  Kind of a (slightly) healthier light and fluffy cupcake take on a doughnut…

They went so quickly I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of one cut in half with the raspberry oozing out… I guess I’ll just have to make another batch!

 

Here is the recipe in case you are interested! It is super easy… These were very lemony, but then I love lemon. If you don’t like your lemon flavour too strong maybe only use 1-2 lemons.  (This recipe makes about 12 cupcakes)

 

Ingredients

3/4 cup sugar

Zest and juice of 3 lemons

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

110g unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

About 14 raspberries

3 tablespoons Raspberry Jam

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tray with cupcake cases (I actually made 12)
  2. In a large bowl, rub together lemon zest and sugar until you can smell the lemony aroma.
  3. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  4. Add the melted butter to the bowl with the sugar and zest and whisk for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and whisk until well combined and aerated. Stir in the milk and then the dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice.
  6. Fill each mini cupcake case cup 3/4 full with batter. Place one raspberry, filled with a teaspoon of raspberry jam, open side down, in the middle of each cup.
  7. Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted into a cupcake comes out clean – probably about 15 minutes. Then leave to cool.
  8. ENJOY 🙂

 

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New Age fitness: The Curve, the Watt Bike and my First ever Personal Training session

So getting a road bike hasn’t proved quite as easy as we’d expected. Sadly it seems – we cannot just walk into a bike shop eager and excited and exchange our cash for shiny new bikes! Alice and I are apparently verging on deformed having unusually long legs and short backs meaning we really need a specially adapted ladies bike in a large. So far not a single shop (and we’ve tried a few!) has had one in stock that we can try.

Having tried a selection of mountain bikes, cyclocross, touring bikes and road bikes at the super helpful Beeline Cycles we at least now know that we both want a road bike. (We actually REALLY want one!) A few months ago I never could have believed I would be so excited about getting a bike! A couple of people have very kindly agreed to order some in for us to try, but that takes a few days meaning we have had to consider other avenues to get our post exercise endorphin fix…

I decided to try some of the new more funky looking equipment in the gym and even had my first ever experience of personal training. It has been a pretty fun week of firsts!

 

The CURVE

This was my first experience of a self-powered running machine. It is the human equivalent of a hamster wheel.

According to Woodway, the manufacturers, it breaks all the rules; runs on sweat and determination and burns up to 30% more calories than a conventional running machine. From personal experience I would say that this is definitely true. In just over 17 minutes I had burnt 400 calories – and I didn’t even run the whole time. Just out of interest I went straight onto a conventional machine, set the pace at 10km/hour and incline at 2.5 and it felt like I was expending zero effort in comparison.

Running on the curve is hard work and constantly uphill, but I like this. It feels less damaging to the joints and more natural because you are controlling the pace with your legs, not buttons. It did take some getting used to – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to maintain my balance or slow down without falling over for the first few minutes, but I quickly got comfortable and I’m not sure I’ll ever be satisfied with a conventional running machine again!

 

The WATT BIKE

Apparently the Wattbike is the first factory calibrated indoor bike to deliver accurate, consistent performance data and technical feedback…

I am still getting my head around this one.

I think I need a few more sessions to really appreciate all its functions, but I did enjoy the experience. The riding position is comfortable and it is very easy to use, it feels much more like riding an actual bike. I also found it helpful that it told me that I was generating more power with my left leg than my right – I guess it is good to work on balancing these things out early on. I will definitely be using this more in the coming weeks, while I await a real bike of my own!

 

PERSONAL TRAINING

The Virgin Active near my office were giving free trial personal training sessions and this seemed like too good an offer to pass up! I have always been a bit dismissive of personal trainers, refusing to accept that I need to pay someone to motivate me to push myself and thought that my combination of running, yoga, spinning, swimming and the odd squash match was already pretty rounded.

I clearly need to re-evaluate that position.

In just an hour I did more different kind of strength training exercise that I have done in the last year; learnt what TRX actually is; discovered I love kettlebells (as a tool); that I can actually do a pull up and that working on your abs can be fun! I especially enjoyed working with the medicine ball. And I really noticed the difference in my body – even after just one session! I could feel all the muscles I had worked, but also my core felt stronger and more defined.

I will definitely be tempted to sign up for more of these! But if anyone knows where we can find ladies road bikes with a 56” frame and a triple chain step ASAP please do let us know!!

This is our new dream bike:

 

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