Autumn soup

Autumn soup seemed to be the most apt name for this soup; full of autumnal goodness in the shape of root veggies, warming and earthy and even autumn coloured! Living in the Middle East, we don’t have autumn. We don’t even really have seasons, just a time of the year when it’s not quite so hot and sticky as the rest of the year. Back in the UK it’s crept into autumn without me even noticing. I saw some photos from my friends at the weekend of the countryside and the colours turning on the trees and it made me miss home. So despite the fact that it was 35°C and 80% humidity outside, I decided to make soup for dinner. Yes that’s right, soup on a boiling hot day. I had the day as a rest day, so after a much-needed catch-up on some sleep, a long Skype session with mum back in the UK and sister Em in Oz, I did some baking (recipe and photos to follow in another post!). Then I thought I should probably have something healthy for dinner as a result of the aforementioned baking episode. I also needed to make something that could easily be reheated later as Niall had been away working all weekend and wasn’t due back until later on that night.

I still struggle here with the very British mentality that if it’s sunny outside, I feel guilty for being indoors and not being outside making the most of it. Difficult to get out of that mindset when you’ve lived in the UK all your life, but surprisingly I managed to make it to the afternoon quite happily without even unlocking the front door. It’s amazing how being in an air conditioned room and looking out at the blue sky and sunshine can lull you into a false sense of security about how delightful the weather is outside. It was not delightful. It was hot, muggy and very, very humid. So I went back into the air conditioning, and decided that I could at least pretend it was autumn here too. Continue reading


Lebanese Lamb & Pumpkin Kibbeh Pie

It’s been a little while since I promised recipes from my Whole30 month, but after a hectic couple of weeks, I’ve got the day off work, so no excuses for not updating this! A few healthy recipes on the way, plus some not so healthy ones. What can I say…… I love cake.

I got the idea for making this from a colleague at work. His wife is Lebanese, so he quite often comes into work with yummy looking leftovers for lunch. He had an amazing looking meal for lunch the other day, and when I asked what it was, he told me it was a Kibbeh – or variation of. He said his wife doesn’t tend to make it, as it ends up using most of the pans in the kitchen, so this one had come from his mother-in-law after their dinner the night before. His lunch had chickpeas, onion, spinach and spices in, topped with pumpkin mash. In my head, I decided it was a little bit like a Lebanese version of our shepherd’s pie!

After a long day in the office, feeling very puffy-eyed, dehydrated and a bit run down, I decided I needed something wholesome, hot and tasty for dinner, rather than anything plain and simple. Fortunately we also had lamb mince in the fridge, which is quite unusual as we normally just buy beef mince. As I was Whole30-ing, I didn’t include the chickpeas, but they would make a nice addition another time, or a good substitute for the meat if you are vegetarian. I think it’s more traditional to have the pumpkin as a base and a top (more like a pastry case around the pie), but I a) didn’t have enough squash, and b) couldn’t be bothered to dry out the pumpkin/squash mash enough to use it for that! Continue reading

Life post-Whole30

So, the important question…… would I do it again? Absolutely. For me, this month has achieved everything I wanted it to; to force me to re-evaluate what I eat, what my eating habits are like (and why) and to pay more attention to what my body needs in order to function well. In tandem with an increase in running and cycling training, my run speed and stamina has increased, pushing me a little beyond the stagnant level that I was running at – particularly pleased about this. I have lost a bit of weight, although it wasn’t one of my goals, it’s a nice side-effect. The main thing is that I feel healthy, and now as well as the usual chocolatey & cakey recipe boards that I browse on a regular basis on Pinterest (even when doing Whole30 – had to get my cake fix somehow!), I am now also browsing the Whole30, Paleo and “Clean eating” tagged boards and recipes too. I’ve really enjoyed being in the kitchen far more than I usually do for standard weekday dinners, and I’ll try and share some of the recipes that I made for the first time, or that I was particularly pleased with. Who knew there was so much you could do with veggies? It’s also taught me to plan ahead a lot better in terms of what food we have in the fridge, what meals I can make with it etc., and has had the added advantage of getting me out of bed a bit more promptly in the morning, so that I have enough time to cook myself a decent breakfast and make myself lunch. Continue reading

Whole30 week 4

A little summary of my last official week of my first Whole30. I will write another post in the next few days about my thoughts on the whole process, and hopefully to share some of my favourite recipes, or things that I made for the first time.

Aside from giving myself a pretty bad tummy-ache this week from either a) eating a bad egg, b) eating raw plantain (thinking it was a weirdly shaped banana) or c) a combination of both, I’ve been feeling pretty good. I’ve been very tired (lots of early mornings and an increase in training volume), but I’ve been managing to up the volume of food I’m eating too, and I’m not getting nearly as hungry now. Although having said that, after essentially missing a meal on Saturday due to my bike-ride timing, I was predictably ravenous all day Sunday (day 22)!

Day 22:

  • Breakfast – Half a grapefruit, raw carrot slices and chopped cucumber, 2 scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms and green pepper
  • Lunch – Green salad (Romaine lettuce), with chopped green pepper, cucumber, mushroom, half an avocado, raw carrot slices, pomegranate seeds and flaked tuna.
  • Dinner – Coconut-oil stir-fried chicken, onions and green pepper, oven roasted squash, broccoli and blanched julienne carrots.
  • Snacks – Post-ride banana, raw carrot sticks, fresh Omani dates and apple, mango and dates mid-afternoon.
  • Drinks – Water, black coffee, Peppermint tea, Kiwi & cranberry juice with water.

    Whole30 day 22

    Whole30 day 22

Continue reading