Category Archives: food

The Lardy Runner: Tarte Au Citron (And Doing Things That Scare You).

There are a few things that I have been nervous about and never really got round to trying. One of those was cycling on the roads and seeing as I’m well on my way to conquering this fear I thought I’d take on another one: making my own pastry.

The Great British Bake Off has a lot to answer for. I watched the pastries episode and immediately felt a craving for a really tangy lemon tart. A little hunt around the internet lead me back to the BBC site and this recipe by Mary Berry. I did have a little search around but as I’ve had success with Mary’s recipes in the past I decided to give it a whirl. There were lots of firsts going into this recipe. My first fluted tin, my first time using baking beads and my first time making short crust pastry. The nerves I felt about making this tart weren’t too dissimilar to standing on the start line of a race and the effort over the course of making it left me feeling as drained as I would after a long run.

I set my expectations pretty low and called it an experiment. Which meant when the pastry went wrong for me the first two times I wasn’t too upset.

Wrecked pastry is lovely with a cuppa.

Wrecked pastry is lovely with a cuppa.

I put all my hopes on my last attempt. With a dash of faith and a little bit of attention to the finer details of Mary’s recipe I managed to produce what could pass as and definitely tasted like a Tart au citron. Phew.

Ta da!

Ta da!

I was ridiculously happy with my first attempt at pastry. As per usual Mary Berry’s recipe was spot on and the filling of the tart was absolutely delicious. Not sure I’d make my own pastry as  a regular thing though. I found the whole rolling of it and fitting into my tin pretty tough. But maybe it just takes more practice.

On the other hand the cycling thing is definitely taking off. I’m not sure I’ve made the full transition to fully fledged bike babe yet but sometimes you need a little nudge to take things to the next level. And so I took another leap of faith and entered this:

And not just entered it. Gone for the fully loaded 120km distance. I figure I’ve got until next June which time wise is a longer preparation time than either of the marathons I’ve trained for. I’m sure I’ll be able to fit plenty of Tart au citron into my training regime. I just might not have the energy left to make my own though.

 

 

Disordered Eating

Last week I spoke to a woman who described how she had nearly fainted recently because she hadn’t eaten enough. This woman was very active in her lifestyle but was terrified of putting on weight. While we chatted it turned out that she was surviving through the day on little more than a few crab sticks, a few crackers and some salad vegetables. She was aware that her eating habits weren’t right but she was concerned that at her monthly Weight Watchers weigh in she would have gained weight. This was a woman in her sixties. 

In my job recently I feel like I am coming into contact with more and more people, mainly women, displaying disordered eating habits. Not an eating disorder per say, but an attitude towards food and eating which is well, disordered. Maybe it’s because as a physiotherapist we spend a little bit longer with our patients giving us the chance to delve a little deeper into individual lifestyles. Not long ago a colleague of mine treated a woman in her fifties who was a decent club runner. Unfortunately she had been suffering recurrent injuries related to over training and possibly too many races. Following a bit more questioning my colleague felt she had to address the nutritional aspect of this woman’s lifestyle as a possible reason for her recurrent injuries i.e. she wasn’t eating enough to match her training regime.  

As a health professional I worry that the latest crazes in diets could lead to many more incidences of disordered eating which can in turn lead to other problems. Last year I remember someone at an exercise class I was attending embarking on a diet challenge. She proceeded to nearly faint at one of the classes which lead me to question whether she had been eating enough. I myself have tried the ‘Paleo’ way of eating and I found my own eating became disordered: I started to question everything I was putting in my body and felt guilty for anything resembling a carb. Without realising started to restrict the amount I was putting into my body. I soon decided that this way of eating was not for me. There are lots of articles that sing the praises of the paleo diet for endurance athletes but 1) I didn’t really want to lose any weight and 2) I found that a protein based diet made me too full to ingest adequate amounts of calories to fuel my training. Again just my experience but it was an eye opener for me as to what my body could handle and what it couldn’t.

From a female perspective the long term effects of disordered eating are also a concern to me. Weight training and weight bearing exercise are well known to help build a stronger skeletal system but if you’re not fueling the system that helps facilitate and repair that system then you are going to make yourself more susceptible to injury. The female athlete triad is well documented among dancers and young collegiate athletes but I wonder if we might see more cases of it among amateur endurance athletes such as marathoners and triathletes. Disordered eating for long periods can lead to cessation of periods. In the short term that can mean more niggling injuries but in the long term, if not addressed, could become as serious as osteoporosis. 

I do feel that there is a lot of judgement and guilt around food and whether you ‘eat clean’, whether you have carbs or if you juice or don’t juice. For some, like the woman above, it has become a daily struggle for her to try and eat properly for fear of gaining weight and the added fear of being judged for that. The consequences of that is that she is making herself unwell and I really really felt for her which is why I’ve written this post.

I don’t have the answers as to whether any particular diet is the right one but I feel that as we are all individuals we need to find out what works for us and the establish the diet that helps us to function at our most optimal level. And if you are able to do that, fuel well, stay happy and train injury free then hopefully you are less likely to need an appointment to see someone like me!

 

The Lardy Runner: Slow Cooked Pulled Pork.

I have sort of, very gingerly begun running again. The most I can run at any time in one go right now is 15 minutes. This has been built up by walk/running on grass. My main concern right now is to load my calves and achilles very very gradually while trying to cause minimal discomfort. It is taking a lot of patience and restraint on my part. A bit like this recipe.

I have been cross training and rehabbing as quietly as I can wihout getting over excited. Sometimes I think it can be the passion for running that can hinder the injured runner when you’re trying to get back into it. The mind is willing and can over rule the head, persuading us to do more than we should. Reallly I should harness my passion to get back into running and channel it into my rehab and the long term goal of being injury free. 

Anyway, enough waffle. Food is what we’re here for. I don’t know why but I just really fancied pulled pork with coleslaw and barbecue sauce. I looked for a few tips on line and then used my own judgement to come up wih the following:

You will need:

Shoulder of pork. Roughly 2kg. Yesterday one shoulder fed two adults and two children with enough for second pickings.
Salt and pepper.
Olive oil.
One onion/red onion

For the coleslaw:
1/2 White cabbage
Red onion
1 apple
1 carrot

For the BBQ sauce:
Ketchup
Balsamic vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Brown sugar
Salt and pepper to season

Start by rubbing olive oil into the pork shoulder and seasoning well. Pre heat the oven to 150 ºC/ 130 ºC fan. Place the pork on a metal rack over a roasting tin. Pop into the oven on a low shelf and cook for 4 -4 and a half hours. Half way through cooking slice up an onion and place under the rack to sock up the juice from the pork.

You’ve now got plenty of time to do other things while the pork is slowly cooking. The smell from the oven was amazing yesterday and it was making me snack so I did end up going for a little jaunt round the block.

After my run I set about making my coleslaw and barbecue sauce. For the coleslaw just slice up the cabbage and onion and pop it into a bowl. Using my vegetable peeler I thinly sliced up the apple and carrot and popped this in with the cabbage and onion. Squeeze copious amounts of mayonaise into the bowl and stir. If you are being health conscious I did see a recipe yesterday which used natural yoghurt and  a squeeze of lemon in place of the mayonaise.

For the barbecue sauce I poored half a small bottle of ketchup into a small pan. I then added dashes of Worcestershire sauce,  balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Heat over a low flame and stir. I have no idea about amounts for the sauce. I just keep adding and stirring and tasting until I feel I’ve got the right flavour.

When you feel the pork is ready bring it out of the oven and set it to rest.  Place it on a carving tray and start to, well, pull it apart. No precise carving skills required.

Make sure the sauce is heated through and then add the onions that were cooking underneath the pork.  Place pork, coleslaw and sauce on the table for everyone to help themselves. Yesterday I served it with warm crusty french bread, new potatoes and peas.  The boys loved the pork. My 4 year old called it a dinosaur dinner so I would say it’s a great meal for all ages.  And definitely a good one for runners: protein, vegetables and loads of flavour. After a run this really hit the spot. Plus I thought ahead and made enough for leftovers today!

image

A tip that I read on the Good Food site yesterday is to pre cook the pork in the oven and then finish it off on a BBQ the next day. I could  imagine taking the pork and a portable BBQ on a picnic and having your own mini hog roast somewhere scenic!

The recipe that inspired me was one by James Martin although I exchanged the red wine vinegar in the sauce for the balsamic vinegar. The recipe is on the Good Food web site.

The Lardy Runner: Pysgodyn Pie (Fish Pie)

As a family we can get a bit bogged down in the same old menu routine, week in, week out. Occasionally though I have a ‘wait a minute’ moment and declare that we should have something that we haven’t had for a while. Yesterday while in the car wondering whether we should have another Sunday Roast I had a moment of genius: ‘We shall have Fish Pie!’.

If I recall Fish Pie was traditionally a way of using up left over fish and shell fish. What they didn’t realise back then is that they had invented what was to be one of my all time favourite dishes. It is comforting and so simple and yet you can dress it up and make it as fancy as you like. Plus I would say it is an ideal dish for runners because you can make it as healthy or as decadent as you choose. It is packed full of good fish proteins and oils.

Yesterday my husband served up a really tasty Fish Pie which I’ve now christened ‘Pysgodyn Pie’*. It has been adapted from a Marco Pierre White recipe. I have cooked this Fish Pie a few times but it can be even better when it’s made for you!

For your Pysgodyn Pie You will need:

Butter

Onion

2 eggs which have been hard boiled.

Smoked fish of your choosing.

Salmon.

White fish of your choosing.

Prawns, pre cooked and peeled probably easiest (can also add scallops if you’re feeling fancy).

Roughly 250 mls of single cream (we used soya cream and it turned out great).

Potatoes.

Cheese (can use lactose free.

Peas.

1. Fry the onions in a knob of butter, or oil if you prefer, until soft.

2. Add the cream and then double the amount of water to the pan. At this point you can add a fish stock cube but you don’t have to. Add the fish and poach it in the cream/water and onions.

3. Once the fish is cooked remove it from the pan and place it to one side.

4. Add any vegetables you like to cook away in the liquor while waiting for it to thicken. We added peas yesterday which gives the dish a lovely shot of colour.

5. Peel your potatoes, boil and then drain and mash them (don’t want to teach you to suck eggs, just make sure you have enough mash to top your pie).

6. Flake your fish and add to a pie dish. Pour your poaching liquor over the top. Chuck in your prawns and/or scallops.

7. Chop up the egg and place this amongst the fish and prawns.

8. Just before you pop the mash on you can add a layer of cheese. Spoon your mash over the top and smooth it down, peak it with your fork, make a funky pattern or sprinkle more cheese over the top.

9. Place in your oven at about 150 degrees (ours is a fan though so you may be able to go higher) until it is hot all the way through (I’m no good with times, but probably about 20 minutes will be enough).

wpid-img_20140713_183403.jpg

Serve with other vegetables you like or just a have a massive bowl of it on it’s own. When I’ve cooked this before I’ve added some spinach or some chopped cherry tomatoes to the pie just to give it a twist. It doesn’t need a lot of seasoning in the cooking process as your fish should be full of flavour. If buying the fish individually is a bit expensive then most fishmongers and supermarkets have a pre-prepared fish pie mix.

Excuse the rubbish photo I took on my phone. As this little idea progresses I’m hoping that this is one aspect that will improve. Plus it might have been an idea to take the photo before we’d started to eat.

As I said in my last Lardy Runner post I really want to get this up and going as a sharing meme. I had hoped to do that this week but I didn’t realise that you need to be self hosted for Linkys. Argh! So it might take a little bit more self learning, planning and organisation on my part. I am so blog illiterate it’s not even funny.

In the meantime, if you have found a great recipe or you’ve blogged a recipe that you really want to share, please leave the link in the comments for others! This feature was partly inspired by recipes I’ve found on other running blogs.

*Pysgodyn is Welsh for Fish!

The Lardy Runner: Gin and Tonic Cake

If you know a Physiotherapist you might know that we love cake. And chocolates. And biscuits. Any Physiotherapy department staff room is guaranteed to have some kind of treat sat on the table. Most Physiotherapy departments I have worked in have also had a cake rota one day a week, whether it be shop bought or home made. Nobody is really bothered because the Physios just want more cake.

I think the work cake rota was when I took a notion for baking and actually started to like it and not be afraid of it. Then when the boys were born I decided to try and make birthday cakes myself. Sponges I can do but decorating is not where my talents lie. My Iggle Piggle was more like a drunken looking blue blob. But the kids loved it.

Anyway, as time has gone on I’ve become a little bit more adventurous. Which is why I got a bit excited when I saw this Gin and Tonic cake recipe posted on Facebook by an old Physio colleague.

Gin? In a cake? Madness I thought to myself. But then not so when you think of chocolate cakes with Guinness or other various beer type things in them. So I decided to give it a whirl.

And I’m so glad I did. I suppose it’s another version of a lemon cake I do but with the addition of gin. I wonder if the gin makes the sponge that little bit more moist. The batter was a little bit wetter than I’m used to and it took a bit longer than the 45 minutes stated despite my fan oven.

Et voilà!

wpid-img_20140707_163208.jpg

 

It’s really lovely. There is a wee hint of gin and it’s not overpowering. In fact next time I’d be tempted to use a tot more of gin than I did. I may also try it with lime next time just to see what happens. It’s a perfect, light summer time cake.

You can find this fantastic recipe over on the Pudding Lane blog.

P.S Thinking of making Lardy Runner a feature over on this blog and turn it into a recipe sharing meme with a linky possibly. Not just cake either, it could be any recipe which you think is perfect for running fuel, running recovery or simply just enjoying. Let me know what you think!

Positive Spinning and Letting it Go.

My blog has been a spilling over with woeful tales of being ill and trying to be mindful. It’s not always fun to read and after all who wants to read about a runner being miserable? Running and miserable shouldn’t even be allowed in the same sentence.

Towards the end of last week I was feeling a bit better so I decided that I should make a concerted effort to make myself feel a bit more positive rather than sitting in the corner sulking.

When I’m injured or ill I stalk social media rather than interact and then get all huffy because I can’t share an amazing run or race that I’ve done. In the last week I took a different approach and had a few giggles with Twitter people and commented on some brilliant blogs. I’ve uploaded a few more pictures to Instagram and shared a new recipe that I discovered on another fantastic blog.

Talking about recipes on blogs, the recipe I have been raving about is a  Sweet Potato and All Spice Muffin recipe from Stephanie’s blog Magpie In The Sky. Stephanie’s blog is full of beautiful posts about running and gorgeous recipes that I want to try. She’s given me a few tips and I hope to make these muffins again with some powdered and stem ginger instead of the all spice.

wpid-img_20140618_182837.jpg

I have never tried vegan cooking but this recipe is really yummy and my kids have loved them! There is a satisfaction from giving your kids something they like, especially when you’ve put something in them that you know they wouldn’t normally like. Score for this Mam! Baking is something that I enjoy and you have to be ‘in the moment’ and mindful when you are doing it. And in my efforts to put more of a positive spin on things I really should find more time to bake.

wpid-img_20140618_182614.jpg

Another positive thing that I did last week as I was coming out of the fog of illness was to go and buy my new trainers. I need to write a longer blog about this subject, but like a great big penny falling from the sky on to my head, I realised that maybe some of my problems have been down to persevering with running shoes that weren’t quite right for me. I had worried about the fact I had been paying lots of money for shoes and I was determined to make them work. In fact they have been badly badly wrong but instead of whinging and moaning I went and discussed it with a nice staff member at Run and Become in Cardiff. I now have a pair of Saucony Phoenix 7’s. Sorry Brooks, it’s not you, it’s me!

wpid-20140616_142820.jpg

And then last night I went for a little ‘jog’ just to see how I am feeling after the chest infection of doom. It was laboured but I managed nearly 20 minutes. I ‘allowed’ myself a walk break because I felt fatigued and I didn’t beat myself up about it. My chest felt wooden, it didn’t feel like it was expanding the way it should but I know that’s because I’m only just getting over whatever it me like a bulldozer last week. I was kind to myself throughout the run/jog/walk and had the added joy of discovering that braided hair is pretty awesome for running and makes you look a bit like an Eastern Bloc athlete from the seventies and early eighties. When I wear this style  for running from now on I will be known as Katerina Walkerova (I just need to teach myself how to do it).

wpid-img_20140619_115338.jpg

Finally as I was driving the boys to school this morning, all three of us singing Let It Go at top of our voices, I realised that just a week on from finishing my Mindfulness course, being ill and making an effort to be less anxious and more positive I feel slightly more content than I have in a long time. I was told on the Mindfulness course that it’s not an easy thing to do, changing entrenched thought patterns and that you have to make an effort to do it every single day. That is what I have been trying to do this week and I’m going to try and continue to do so.

As we were pulling up towards school the boys were quiet and as Idina Menzel continued to sing some of the lyrics jumped out at me.

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!

If you listen to the song it could easily be a manual for Mindfulness. Letting go isn’t easy when you’ve been gripping on to things for so long. Bit by bit I’ve started to prise the tight fingers of anxiety that have been grasping my head and heart. A few weeks ago I would have been giving myself a hard time for not running and my lack of races and training but I can’t help the things that are out of my control.

I want to enjoy running, I don’t want it to be a chore and for that to be true running can no longer be my emotional crutch. I want to be running for the love of running not because I feel I need or should be running. I want to be a happy, contented runner, not one that is frustrated and angry and complaining about how unfair it all is that I haven’t achieved the things that I wanted to. So I need to make positive spinning a habit and on a daily basis just let go of the things that can’t be helped. Then I can run free.

Ba ba ba ba ba banana loaf!

As a family we eat a lot of fruit. The boys go through the fruit bowl like it’s squishy liquid gold that might be stolen by fruit thieves unless they devour it. I seem to go back to the shops two to three times a week to replenish and within that there are always a pack of bananas. The boys like their bananas but they only seem to like them under ripe, sometimes even eating them green *dry retch*.

As a runner I know that bananas are a good source of energy and a quick and easy thing to eat on the go. However once they go past a certain stage of ripeness they don’t seem that appealing any more. Plus I could take bananas or leave them. I craved them during my first pregnancy and ate so many that by the time my son was born the thought of a banana made me heave. So this week we ended up with a load of bananas ignored in the fruit bowl. Obviously the only solution was to make a cake of some description.

Another good reason for me to make this cake is my ongoing stomach issues. With the help of a GP we’ve narrowed it down to some kind of lactose intolerance. Vomiting up brioche and cheesecake has not been fun. I’ve switched to most lactose free products and found that I can just about get away with a tiny bit of normal milk or butter. However things that I used to eat and take for granted I can no longer eat. I love a wee treat with a cup of tea but this week a Twirl chocolate bar made me ill. The only solution therefore is to try making my own treats so this banana loaf is the first attempt at home made goodies.

The recipe I’ve used is from a classic book that I’ve had for years. I think my mum has the original copy and when I moved into my first house I bought this book: Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. You can also find it here on her web site. In the loaf I did today I didn’t add walnuts as I didn’t have any but it still turned out ok, just with less bite. I’m even a little it tempted to try it again with some dark chocolate drops in place of the walnuts, or even half walnuts, half chocolate

All-In-One Banana and Walnut Loaf

Ingredients

75g/3oz of soft margarine or soft butter

110g/4oz caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

225g/8oz plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 medium bananas (Delia adds the word ‘peeled’. Would some people not know to peel them?)

grated rind 1 orange

grated rind 1 lemon

50g/2oz walnuts roughly chopped

Pre heat oven to 180/350 or gas mark 4.

Grease a loaf tin that is 9 x 19 cm ( 3 and a half inches by 7 and a half inches). Line it with greaseproof paper which is also greased.

Place the margarine/butter, sugar and beaten egg in a large mixing bowl, then sift in the flour and baking powder.

In another bowl In another bowl mash up the peeled bananas to a pulp.

Use an electric mixer to whisk the sugar, butter, egg and flour together until combined. It may look a bit dry at this point.

Next add the orange rind and lemon rind, followed by the mashed banana and the chopped walnuts. Whisk the mixture again. Transfer to the tin, level it off and pop it in the oven for 50-55 minutes on the centre shelf until the loaf is well risen and springs back when pressed with your finger. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto the wire rack to finish cooling.

image

Serve with sliced with a spread of butter and a cup of tea.

Run With An Idea: Juice Cleanses: Health or Hype.

This is the third post in the Run With An Idea Series. Today’s debate is Juice Cleanses: Health or Hype?

I’m not going to beat around the bush. I don’t go in for fads. I’ve never followed a particular diet, I’ve always aimed for balance. I don’t follow a particular exercise regime, although I suppose some might say by doing crossfit I’m following a fad (I don’t agree by the way that it is a fad, it’s a form of exercise). So if I was asked to do a juice cleanse I’d probably politely decline.

The first thing that I don’t understand is why the foods have to be juiced to be cleansing for your body. Surely eating those foods whole would be just as beneficial. I suppose it’s a short cut for the body. By mushing it all up, it’s all going to the same place to be digested by the enzymes in your stomach and it will end up looking like one big churned up mess, a bit like the juice.

The second thing is that I like the process of eating a meal. I like my food to look appealing to my eye and to smell good. I don’t see that happening with a juice cleanse. The very thought of juicing up all that nice food into a brownie-greeny mulch makes me feel like retching. Also it just comes over as a tad lazy. Many people don’t sit with their families at dinner time and this just seems like one more way to save time rather than sit at a table.

Thirdly I think any of the effects of a juice  cleanse would be short lived. For example: Person who eats badly and feels grotty decides to do a juice cleanse. After the cleanse they feel great (probably due to eating cleaner food rather than garbage). After cleanse person goes back to bad habits, doesn’t change their ways and unsurprisingly feels blah and grotty again. So what is the point? If that person had been taught to have a better diet all round rather than trying out a faddy juice cleanse they would be feeling better ALL THE TIME, not just after a ‘cleanse’ (sorry I just typed cleanse and it made me cringe, what a bull shit term). It’s false economy.

I did a bit of reading and a registered dietician said that he wouldn’t recommend trying to get all your nutrition from a beverage because it’s not going to happen. You’re going to put yourself at nutritional risk by doing a juice cleanse for a number of weeks. I feel like I knew that without being a trained dietician, it just seems so obvious. Juicing to me seems like another starvation diet.

And lastly, my biggest point *drum roll* there is no scientific evidence. There is evidence for the benefits of exercise, both long and short term. There is evidence for resistance training in weight loss. There is evidence that exercise can help reverse Type II Diabetes. There is no evidence (talking randomised controlled trials here) that suggest that juice cleanses are beneficial. I checked, I did a literature search but all I found was recipes and a patent pending for some really gross sounding ‘detoxifying tea’.

So without too much surprise I’m going with fad for juice cleanses. I believe that by eating well, a balanced diet which includes fruit and vegetables and limits rubbish, will in fact be better in the long term. Juice cleanses seem like too much of a short cut and as runner’s know from training, trying to take short cuts in achieving our goals come sometimes cause problems. Yes after a juice cleanse or smoothie cleanse you will feel better but only because you’ve been putting decent food into your body, not because it’s in juice form. Instead maybe look at your diet as a whole and improve things for the long term, not just for a few weeks of juicing.

chocolate running

*obviously this is my own opinion, if you have any evidence to share or your favourite juice recipe that you absolutely swear by, then please share in the comments!*

For more great posts with in this debate head over to the Run With An Idea page.

My First Ever Recipe Post! ‘Classic’ Bolognese

This is unchartered territory for me but the recipe I’m sharing is one that is too nice not to share. Us runner’s need a good recipe repertoire and this pasta sauce recipe is a classic. It is a bolognese sauce recipe, a big favourite of mine and one that is always relatively easy to do. This recipe is taken from Rachel Allen’s lasagne recipe. She uses this bolognese sauce as a base for her lasagne but it’s really nice without going the whole hog with pasta sheets and cheese sauce. I was going to talk about the recipe, how nice it is and just try and link to the recipe on Rachel Allen’s site, however this recipe does not appear to be there anymore. So even if I do give Rachel Allen credit for this pasta sauce I need to apologise first to her because this is from memory and may now be a complete bastardisation of her actual recipe *sorry Rachel*.

You will need:

Lean beef mince 500g

Celery stick

Carrot

Onion

Olive oil and a knob of butter

Clove of garlic

Tinned tomatoes or jar of passata

Parsley

Basil

Vegetable stock (plus optional white wine)

1. Take a celery stick, medium sized onion and a carrot and chop them into fairly large chunks. Pop them in a blender and give them a whiz so they’re finely chopped.
image

3. Heat a tablespoon of oil (I use olive oil) and a little bit of butter in a pan. Once heated pop in the diced celery, onion and carrot. The vegetables soak up the oil and butter. Cook until the vegetables are golden.
image

4. Add 500g of lean beef mince (Rachel Allen suggests using half beef mince and half pork mince in her recipe). Brown the mince and add a clove of crushed garlic.

5. Once all the mince is browned off pour in a tomato passata or a tin of tomatoes. I like the texture of passata and I love a very ‘saucy’ bolognese myself but use whatever you prefer.

image

6. Simmer gently and add in 2 fl oz of vegetable stock. Season to taste. I also add a sprinkle of sugar to take the edge off the tomatoes. Rachel Allen also adds 2 fl oz of white wine to her sauce but I’m not a massive fan of wine in cooking so I tend to leave it out.

6. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes so that the sauce thickens. Towards the end of cooking stir in some a tablespoon of diced parlsey and a tablespoon of chopped up basil leaves. I’m not a huge parsley fan so sometimes I leave it out but the basil makes a difference to this sauce.

Serve with spaghetti pasta or whichever pasta is your favourite. The boys love spaghetti pasta so it’s always a good reason to make a bolognese. If you’re off the carbs and going all out paleo then you could try courgette spaghetti which I saw on Instagram the other day. It looked quite yummy though I imagine it good go watery.

Plate up and enjoy!

(You’ll notice that my food pictures stop quite abruptly. I plated up and started eating. By the time I’d finished I remembered I had meant to take a picture but I’m sure you all know what a plate of bolognese looks like).

The Fine Line: Women, Exercise and Food.

Women, exercise and food. These three things have a pretty complex relationship. Women seem to be the biggest target for anything relating to weight loss and fat loss. The best exercises being touted and the best fat busting diets being advocated.  We tend to have a complex relationship with food. It is guilt, it is comfort, it is indulgence. Food can never be what it is: fuel. This is the same for women who exercise. Despite the effort we go to in trying to be healthy or in trying to challenge ourselves the question of what we should be eating hangs over us. Too much fat? Too many carbohydrates? Not enough protein? Too much sugar. Food, exercise and guilt become intertwined and it can become a minefield when all you want to do is eat the right thing.

I’m not talking about a balanced diet of vegetables  carbohydrate and protein. The majority of women I know who exercise and run competitively are extremely sensible about what they put into their bodies. But a trend towards being lean and limiting our fat composition could be to our detriment. You could be the leanest runner, be the Cross Fitter with the lowest fat composition but do we know what we’re doing to our bodies in the long term? Not many of the women I have ever trained with do so to be thin, they just want to take part in their sport. But I think as women we all need to think about what we’re doing to our bodies in the short and long term.

So after waffling on for ages what I really wanted to talk about was Female Triad Syndrome. This is a condition that has been documented heavily in professional dancers but there are more and more studies that are looking at this syndrome in relation to other sports including recreational running. But what is Female Triad Syndrome you ask? Well the diagram below gives a pretty good visual explanation but basically it was the name coined to describe a syndrome of disordered eating, disturbed menstrual cycle and osteoporosis.

Now I don’t want anyone to panic or worry that they’ve got this syndrome but a recent blog post by Flake and Cake and Holly Avil’s story has had me thinking for a long time about us girls who exercise and the attitude we have towards food. For women food isn’t just about fuel for exercise but it also helps to regulate our hormones via fat composition. If we’re exercising heavily but not getting enough fuel other systems in the body start to suffer, namely our reproductive and skeletal systems. You may be thinking ‘But I’m not having a baby’ but a disruption to our menstrual cycle can have a detrimental effect on bone mass and long term can result in osteoporosis. Short term it means you may be more prone to injuries like stress fractures, not something any athlete wants to deal with.

So I suppose what I’m trying to say is look after yourself. The menstrual cycle is a good indicator of a woman’s health and if you’re worried about your cycle than see your GP. Equally if you are having any injury problems or niggles then seek appropriate advice.

If you’re training for something then fuel yourself appropriately, eat well, hydrate yourself and you will feel the difference. Training for an endurance event and exercising to lose weight are completely different things and somewhere along the way the two have been confused. If you’re not sure if you’re eating enough for the amount of exercise you’re doing then speak to a dietician.

As runners we tend to think about the here and now, the next training session, the next race. But maybe we need to think about what’s happening to our bodies beyond our training schedules. A bit of cake from time to time really won’t do you any harm, restricting your food intake to a narrow group of foods probably will. Food for thought?

Diagram from http://www.natus-physiotherapy.co.uk

This is also a really interesting read http://www.femaleathletetriad.org/2013/03/dieting-gone-awry-when-food-is-foe/