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Overnight Oats Recipes


Overnight Breakfast Oats

For 4 servings make a base of: 

160g oats

4tbsp chia or ground flaxseeds

2 tsp vanilla essence

Enough plant-based 'milk' of your choice to cover the oats (like coconut or almond milk) or half and half plant-based milk and natural greek yoghurt 

2tbsp honey (optional)

(4 to 5 different types of plant-based food)

Leave overnight in the fridge for the liquid to be absorbed. You can then add more of the plant-based milk and or yoghurt to get the consistency you prefer.

You can then create different flavour combinations for each serving e.g.

1 tbsp nut butter

1 tbsp cacao powder

1 tbsp nuts (specific to the nut butter used)

(2 different types of plant-based food)

or

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

40g blueberries or raspberries or a mix

(2 different types of plant-based food)

or

1 chopped banana

1 tbsp nut butter

(2 different types of plant-based food)

or 

1/2 grated carrot

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp raisins or sultanas

2 tbsp chopped pecan nuts

(5 different plant-based foods)

This one tastes a bit like carrot cake!!

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Nutty Granola Recipe

Granola is one of my favourite things to have for breakfast or a snack. But, 1. It’s way too expensive for what it is and 2. Shop bought versions always have too much sugar. Oh, and there’s also the fact that you have to find the brand that has just the right ingredients that you actually like! I like nutty granola, no fruit for me please! Anyway, looking at what I like in granola, I thought it can’t be that hard to make at home!

There are loads of healthy granola recipes out there. Over the years, I have made a few different versions, and have finally landed on the perfect combination. If you’re interested in making your own, keep reading. I made this for my friend the other day, while prepping my daughter’s dinner and she was shocked at how quickly it was ready! If you want to save some money and fill your home with the delicious smell of this, then make this granola now!

You’ll need:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Rolled Oats
  • 1 cup Almonds (I use blanched)
  • 1 cup Hazelnuts
  • 1 cup Quinoa Puffs (Optional)
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 2 tbsp Sunflower Seeds

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup or Honey
  • 1 tbsp Pip & Nut Honey Cashew Butter

Baking Paper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Put your wet ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Put in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir and if the coconut oil hasn’t melted, then put in for another minute. It’ll be very hot so be careful when removing from the microwave. Mix the ingredients well until everything is combined.

I’ve not put any measurements for the dry ingredients, because you might like your granola more or less nutty. I don’t measure, I just add to the bowl bit by bit and mix everything together until it is all well combined and I’m happy with my oat to nuts ratio.

Once you’re happy with it, put baking paper on a tray and pour out the granola mix unto the sheet. Make sure you spread it out evenly in one layer.

Put in the oven and watch it carefully as it can burn quite easily. After 10 minutes, check it and use a spoon to mix it around so every part gets cooked. After another 5-10 minutes it should be golden brown and ready to come out of the oven.

Let cool, then store in an airtight container. Will last for about a week, but who are we kidding? I’m lucky if mine lasts 3 days!

So there you have it! Easy, delicious and quick! I’d love to know if you guys try this recipe! So please comment, or tag me on your social media if you do!

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menu, mindset, movement

My journey to health and wellness – getting fit and becoming a yoga teacher at 41.

I’m Claire – a forty something working-mum who has, over the past 5 years, gone from overweight, unfit and burnt-out to starting a side-career teaching yoga and wellness. Sometimes I look back and think ‘how on earth did I get here?!’ 

Fitness did not come easy to me and I have never ever been sporty, but in my 20’s I took-up yoga (mainly because Geri Halliwell got skinny af) and walked everywhere, mainly to save money. But seriously, I loved my weekly yoga classes and I loved getting the music on and power-walking through the streets of London everyday. I didn’t think particularly deeply about my body image, self care or any of these things – I was a young woman in London, social media didn’t exist and life was buzzy and fun.

Fast forward to my 30’s and having a baby – I was still working but had moved to the leafy green suburbs. As many mothers will tell you, those first few years with a child are completely exhausting and completely absorbing. The baby weight fell-off when I was breastfeeding but after 5-6 months it started creeping back on. I barely noticed – the bigger sizes purchased during pregnancy stayed in my wardrobe and became my everyday wear. 

I was also bringing up my husband’s teenage son which could be both wonderful and challenging. Life in a house with a toddler and a teenager plus balancing a career was taking its toll. Then one day, a friend posted a picture of me on Facebook and I hardly recognised myself. I looked tired, pasty-faced, drab and overweight. I looked like I had given up. By the time my child reached 3 years and my step-son 16 I had stopped doing all of the things that I once had loved and felt like I had completely lost my sense of identity.

I can’t quite remember the day that I decided to take back control. I do remember setting up some basic fitness equipment in the spare room and starting my workouts at 5:45am. Initially I took online classes, like the Body Coach but soon found that high intensity training was not a friend to my fragile pelvic floor! Undeterred by yet another reason my body was giving me not to exercise I joined a local gym and took classes there – hiding at the back. The real turning point was finding Kayla Itsines BBG and the online community that came with it. Gradually my body changed and so did my mindset – it became about training, fuelling and posting – with plenty of calorie deficit and macros thrown in for good measure.

Now this period was great in so many ways – I loved the online community aspect and I started organising meet-ups for women who were into fitness. There were so many like me that had gotten the fitness bug but didn’t have immediate friends who were into the same things. Together we did BBG meet-ups, various fitness festivals, Barry’s Bootcamp and more. It gave me a taste of something bigger – a peek into an industry and a lifestyle so very unlike my life in the Civil Service!

Around this time I was posting my workouts, protein-heavy recipes and regular ‘transformation Tuesday’ progress pics on Instagram. Photos generally featured me getting smaller. When I returned from a holiday, I did one challenge where I drastically cut my calories and trained hard for 10 weeks. The before and after was really something to behold, abs and all. But instead of feeling proud, I felt depleted and exhausted. What would I post next? Where did I go from here? I had reached my goal, I was the fittest and lightest I’d ever been – but that 10 weeks had been really hard work around my job and kids. I was hungry all the time, I was snappy and moody. 

That was when things changed. I recognised the lure of becoming smaller and smaller…the esteem in which society holds thinness was seeping into my own sense of self-worth. I didn’t want to glorify continual fat-loss dressed up as #fitness so switched my focus to wellness, taking a much gentler and more holistic approach. 

I dialled back the strength training and cardio and returned to yoga, which felt like coming home to my first love. The wonderful thing about yoga is that it’s all in the practice, awareness in the body, working on those limitations gradually. Conscious movement and breath. Alignment of the body leading to alignment of the mind. There is no emphasis on achieving a particular size or shape, no ‘shred’ or ‘cut’. At about this time I went to a pensions talk at my workplace… and it dawned on me that I didn’t want to be locked into my profession for another 26 years. I walked out of that talk and started researching yoga teacher training. By the weekend I had found the perfect course and booked it. 

For someone who is (by nature and profession) a bureaucrat, this kind of rash decision making was very out of character – but my sense of intuition at that moment was so strong that I made the leap with my heart instead of my head and never looked back. Now I’m teaching 2-3 times a week and it’s been amazing. I get to help people in a very real and immediate sense. My launch event sold-out, I built my own website (so proud of that) and there are lots of exciting opportunities and collaborations on the horizon.

It just goes to show that you never know where that first-step will take you – I could never have guessed that those early morning workouts in the spare room would lead to a new second career as a yoga teacher at 42 years old! As the late BKS Iyengar said ‘ yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together’ – he’s completely right – and now I get to share that gift with others.  

Sign-up for my newsletter at www.alignandthrive.co.uk for classes and events, special offers and blog posts. Follow me on Instagram @thewellmother_  and at @alignandthrive

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Should you go vegan?

We’ve entered another Veganuary, with around 250,000 people (according to veganuary’s Instagram account) taking the pledge to go vegan this month.

Veganism has been on the rise in the last few years, gaining popularity thanks to documentaries such as “What The Health” and “The Game Changers” as well as many celebrities and influencers deciding to ditch animal products.

But should you do Veganuary, or even go vegan completely?

Image Credit: @weareveganuary

What’s your motivation?

If you’re only doing this to copy other people it is unlikely that you’re going to stick with it.

Veganuary is a good time to try going vegan if you have been considering it for a while. It’s easier to stick to something if more of your friends and family are doing it. Many restaurants and food places will be offering lots of vegan alternatives which will make it easy for you to pick up food without too much planning.

Going vegan has many health benefits if done correctly. That means, including lots of different plant based, unprocessed foods in your diet, not eating as much vegan junk food as possible. And really, eating lots of plant based foods should be part of any diet, not just a vegan diet.

Think about your reasons for going vegan. Are you doing it for health reasons? Is it for the environment? Or do you just want to see if it’s something you can do? Are you trying to lose weight? 

There’s no right or wrong  answer to this but just be sure that your reasons are strong enough to keep you going.

Have you done your research?

Going completely vegan means you’ll need to be really mindful about eating a wide variety of foods to ensure you get a sufficient amount of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. You might need to add a supplement, especially B12, vitamin D, Omega 3 and iron to make sure you don’t end up deficient.

Many people suggest getting blood tests done every few months if you’re going vegan for the long term to make sure you’re getting everything you need for your body to function properly.

And let’s not forget about protein! You’ll need to make sure you’re eating a combination of the right foods to get all your essential amino acids. 

Be sure to research recipes for larger meals as well as snacks. What foods do you think you’ll miss? What can these be substituted with? If you’re still planning to eat out,  check if your favourite restaurants have vegan options.

Image credit: @london_afro_vegan on instagram

You’re more likely to succeed at Veganuary if you have a plan.

What are the experts saying?

Well, if you have watched some of the Netflix documentaries on veganism then you’ll know many experts contributed to them. Of course they were all vegan so their opinions are biased.

Most nutritionists and dieticians will agree that adding more plant based foods to your diet is really good for you. And reducing the consumption of meat and animal products is good for the planet. 

But the most important thing for anyone is your relationship with your body and food. Don’t turn going vegan into a diet. Don’t do it to lose weight. Make sure you are educated about what the effects are on your body and be responsible. Your health is the most important thing here. So if you are finding that you are doing everything right, but your health is suffering then you should see your GP or a nutritionist.

There’s lots to consider, so will you be going vegan this January?

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Mexican Beans on Toast

Ready in 10 minutes

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1tbsp Olive oil
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • 1tbsp sweet corn
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Fresh coriander to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion, garlic, paprika and chillies
  2. Once onion is soft add the black beans, half the tomato  and tomato puree and cook for approx 5 minutes
  3. Mix the rest of the tomato, avocado and sweetcorn together in a bowl to make the salsa and squeeze over the lime juice
  4. Once the beans are cooked serve on top of toasted sourdough and top with the salsa and fresh corriander

Tips

This is a simple, easy  but tasty lunch, combining all the needed macronutrients to ensure a balanced meal that will keep your feeling fuller for longer.

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Calories in vs Calories out, the great debate…

Ok, we’ve heard all of this before. You need to burn more calories than you expend. Old news isn’t it? Before I start, I need you to accept that this is a fact with most of the population but not all. For the vast majority of people changing your overall weight or body composition starts with calories.

“But I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work” I hear you cry! 

Well, and this is a massive assumption, if you did try it you either A) didn’t do it properly or B) didn’t do it for long enough. Option C) however is the caveat for calorie alteration diets: the “in vs out” method doesn’t account for hormonal changes. So, if you have a health issue or are taking medications that may affect your metabolism, then this method won’t work as well as others. I didn’t say it wont work, but just not as well. Now even if it doesn’t work as well, there are a few myths about calories and dieting I’m going to try and clear up here and now and hopefully provide a pathway you can follow. 

Nailing your nutrition, Step One…Figure out your calorie intake

This is a simple one. No maths equations here. No recommendations to download “MyFitnessPal” although it is very helpful. What I ask clients to do is to take the daily recommended intake of 2500 Cals for men and 2000 Cals for women and start there. Save time by not working out the exact numbers as to be perfectly honest the calorie estimates of some foods on the shelves, particularly those that are packaged, are wrong by up to 20%. Which in some cases is as much as 100g – 300g (FDA, 2015). Considering that one gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories if you were to smash that “fruit and nut bar” after a workout and the estimate was out by nearly 90 calories it makes a big difference over the course of a day. 90 calories is nearly 10 minutes moderate effort on an exercise bike. 

General recommendation for weight loss and weight gain works here too, so remove 100 calories from your daily allowance if you wish to lose weight or add 100 to gain weight. If it doesn’t feel like its working after a few weeks then add/remove more calories. And yes, I did say a few weeks, in my experience those clients who I’ve had for 3 years and are still losing weight are most likely to keep that weight off long into later life where it can really do some damage to your health. 

So how do we get the right calories in? Step two: Food choice

This is a very simple rule to note, but the behaviour of which are incredibly difficult to manage for some. I’ve seen clients adapt quickly, some I’ve coached for years and still they don’t adhere to the ideal…or they just don’t want it badly enough. So, here goes…

Stick to the outer rim of the supermarket. That’s where all the fresh produce is. If its fresh it means it has a short shelf life which generally means all the loose vegetables are there, along with the animal products, eggs and milk. Of course remember, the bakery is there too if fresh bread is too big a temptation to turn down. But the ice cream isn’t. The confectionary isn’t. The pre packaged and processed meals aren’t either. Avoiding these aisles is the first step. 

Make sure your plate is colourful. Plenty of vegetables, some fruit, little starch and hardly any sugar with a protein source. Easy peasy. From a portion size perspective there is a cool little rule I follow if you are struggling:

1 fist = protein source, be it animal or vegetarian

1 hand = vegetables, boost to 2 hands if you are looking to lose weight.

1 thumb = fat choice. That’s not a lot of avocado people…

1 palm = carbohydrate source. That’s probably around half a small jacket potato, add 2 palms if looking to gain weight. 

If you stick to the outer limits of the supermarket and fill your plate with colours you won’t need to count calories. 200 calories of bacon is 2 rashers of bacon, not a lot of fibre or nutrients there. 200 calories of broccoli is 588g of broccoli (calorific app, 2018) which is a very large head of broccoli, its half a kilogram of broccoli! The bag of spinach that you’ve picked up but never managed to finish? You know the huge one that’s only a pound to purchase? There are 70 calories in that whole bag. 70 calories is roughly one egg (or roughly 3 breadsticks) 

You see what I’m getting at here? If counting isn’t your thing then these very simple rules could change things for you for the better. And with your meals, you can add sauces if you wish but I’d recommend spices. Eating like this also means that if you do, on occasion, find yourself eating an ice cream then your body should use the calories effectively, especially if you are following an exercise regime. 

One final note to be aware of for women: The menstrual cycle. I touched on hormonal changes at the start, women have two hormonal phases each month: High and Low (Sims, 2018) During the low hormonal phase, women process glucose/carbohydrate in a very similar way to men. However, during the high phase, a few other changes occur which are worth noting:

High oestrogen levels cause the body to save its carbohydrate stores and use more fat for fuel, which means if you’ve been doing interval training or going to HIIT classes then you won’t perform as well on your period (I know right, this is a shock to many of you) 

The same can be said of women with PCOS or those undergoing hormone replacement therapy. The trick to managing this is to either eat more carbs if you are HIIT training or to do more endurance activity as free fatty acid availability is rife and can be used in abundance. One study shows that during the premenstrual period, where oestrogen starts to rise the metabolism kicks up a gear by around 5-10% – about 200 calories you’ll need to adjust for but not through crisps and chocolate! 

Changing your body composition is difficult but if you create good habits regarding choice of foods then the calorie debate takes care of itself giving you time to focus on other things. And the longer the process takes the better it will be for you in the long run.


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Recipe for seeded oat cakes
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Seeded Oat Cakes

Ready in 25 minutes

Serves approx 6 cakes

Ingredients

  • 110g oats
  • 30g flour
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 35g butter
  • 2tbsp mixed seeds
  • Hot water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180º and line a oven tray with baking paper ready
  2. Mix the oats, baking powder and flour together in a bowl
  3. Add in the butter and seeds and mix with your hands to develop a texture similar to breadcrumbs
  4. Gradually add the hot water until you it combines like a dough, enabling you to roll it out
  5. Once ready roll out the mixture and shape into rounds using a cutter or a glass
  6. Place on the baking tray and bake in the oven for approx 20mins until golden

Tips

Enjoy with nut butter, goats cheese or hummus for a balanced snack.

Cut the cakes into into interesting shapes with cookie cutters to make them fun for the kids. 

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