Sunday, 14 July 2013

Buying my first pair of running trainers.

I have been running for about 3 months now but haven’t managed to progress very far. The reason for that is because every time I run I get a pain in my ankle which takes a week to fully heal, and running once a week won’t get you anywhere fast!
After a bit of internet reasearch I had pretty much come to the conclusion that it was my achilles tendon that was hurting, and after running on a few different terrains decided it was most likely because my running shoes didn't fit me correctly, so this week I decided to visit Asics and treat myself to one of their 3D foot scans and gait analysis in the hope of finally finding a pair of trainers that don’t hurt my ankle.
I visited the flagship Asics store on Argyll Street (by Oxford Circus station) on my lunch break and started with the 3D foot scan. The 3D foot scan is exactly what it sounds like, a full scan of your foot.
A 3D scan of my feet taken at Asics

I found this very interesting, it shows you the the exact size of your feet, heel arch and the direction your ankles lean. As you can see my ankles lean inwards meaning I overpronate, this is most likely the cause of the ankle pain I was experiancing.
This was all explained to me by a sales assistant in about 5 minutes. She was the only one working upstairs in the shop where the scans take place, so I felt a bit rushed as she was having to deal with someone who was working at the computer and any other customers who entered the store. It would’ve been nicer if I felt like I had her full attention or if she seemed to care a bit more as she never asked if I had any questions and skipped over a lot of the measurements so I don’t know what they are for, sure they may not be important or relevant to me, but it would be interesting to know.
After the foot scan I went downstairs to where the actual trainers, clothes and accessories are sold. I was greeted by a lovely sales assistant called Jade, who looked at the scan and asked what size shoe I normally wear (a six) and explained that I would probably be a 6.5 in Asics as they run a bit small and you want a tiny bit of extra space for allowing the swelling your feet do when you run.
She also asked what sort of distances I run and where do I run as well as looking at my current running shoes (Nike Flex) and explaining that the reason I was having trouble with them is because they are very flexible and I need something with more structure to help with the over pronation. Jenny bought over a pair of trainers and showed how the different coloured parts of the soul are made with different materials and some parts are stronger than others.
After putting them on I could definitely feel the difference, they felt a lot more structured then my current trainers, it actually made them feel more like slippers. After checking the fit it was off to the running machine to check my gait.
The treadmill was set to my average jogging pace and after about 30 seconds of jogging we stopped and had a look at the video. 
It was very interesting seeing myself running from behind. Apparently I run on the balls of my feet, which is a good thing and reassured me as running technique is another thing that could’ve been the cause of the pain.
We then went and looked at the trainers that are suitable for me. The pair I tried where the most basic version, there was versions with more cushioning for a comfortable run, but the sales assistant assured me the basic ones are good for up to marathon level, plus there was a pair that where in the sale so that decided it for me. 
The trainers cost £71 in the sale, and I’m not going to lie, they are pretty fugly, but when my face is bright red and dripping with sweat, who’s really going to be looking at my feet?
A picture of my Asics GT-2000 trainers I purchased.

I was recommended to wear them around the house to help break them in, and to start off with slow runs for a couple of weeks until I am fully used to them and they are broken in.
I really enjoyed my time in Asics, it was definitely very informative and I think that if you are going to get serious about running it really helps to get your feet/running style checked out and get a proper fitted pair of trainers, it’s just such a shame that I felt so brushed off by the first sales assistant.
Fingers crossed these trainers stop the ankle pain because I’m after a 10k next!
Tuesday, 9 July 2013

I heart George Foreman

I uhmmed and ahhed for absolutely ages before purchasing my George Foreman, I was worried over whether or not it would just end up another gadget gathering dust on my kitchen side after hearing such mixed reviews from people. Some seemed to love it and would always recommend getting one, others said they are a waste of time and dried food out.

I decided to bite the bullet and just go for one in the end. The main reason I was after one was not for the health benefits (although they have been a welcome bonus too) but because of my complete inability to cook chicken. I am so paranoid about getting food poisining that I have to completely disect my chicken after it has been cooked to check for any pink parts, I often see pink where there isn’t any and end up burning my chicken and ending up with something that was dry and chewy, not too pleasant to eat. I thought the Foreman could help me cook my chicken better, or at least not be so paranoid about it cooking all the way through because the plates heat up on the top and bottom.
After deciding to just go for it and get a grill, I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching which one was the best one to get and prices. In the end I opted for a 4 person grill (my mum mentioned she might like to use it for cooking for the family too) with removable plates, which is definitely the best grill for me.
So is the Foreman collecting dust? No, I think it was a bloody good investment. It cooks chicken in 8 minutes. A whole chicken breast in 8 minutes. I couldn’t be happier! And I don’t have to spend a further 5 minutes picking it apart to check for pink bits.
I have also used it to grill my veggies and cook steak with. It keeps the meat juicy which I was pleasantly surprised by and it seriously cuts down the time of cooking, not to mention the fact that most of the fat is drained away.
To use it, all you do is plug it in and weight for the red light on top to go out, when it does it means it’s ready to use, just lift the lid, put the food in and close the lid again. There is only one heat setting, but I haven’t had any issues with it.
Although I love my grill, I must point out a couple of issues. Mine arrived without a drip tray (the tray used to collect the fat that runs out of the food), this is probably just a random one off thing and I just stick a plate underneath instead, but this is still annoying.  Amazon partially refunded me for this though which was great.
Another issue is one that I have seen in lots of other reviews, the grill says it is for 4 people, but I would say its for 3 people at a squeeze. Fine for me to use on my own, but mum isn’t about to fit 4 pork chops on there.
The removable plates also just clip into place, making it very easy to put them in upside down or the wrong way round (I have done both), and it feels a tiny bit flimsy, although mine hasn’t broken.
If you are looking to get a grill, I would definitely say go for it. I really enjoy mine and I’m getting loads of use out of it. The meat tastes a lot better than it does when I was cooking it using other methods. I would definitely suggest getting one with removable plates though, I can imagine this would be bit of a bitch to clean without them!
Sunday, 7 July 2013

Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Mash

If you follow me on Instagram you probably would've seen me post photos of my cauliflower mash before, I like to make mine with cheese and garlic, but these are optional, you can use whatever you want to flavour your mash, such as oregano or black pepper.

Cauliflower mash is so easy to make, and definitely feels a lot naughtier to eat than it is!

Here is my recipe:


1 Cauliflower
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 Garlic Clove, crushed (optional)
1/4 Cup Low Fat Cheddar (optional)

Makes 3 portions.

To Make

1. Chop the stalks off the cauliflower heads.
2. Boil the cauliflower until it is soft, around 5 minutes.
3. Put the cauliflower in the food processor and add the almond milk, cheese and crushed garlic clove.
4. Blitz the ingredients until a smooth mash like consistency.

And that's it, you have cauliflower mash!

Mine looks a tad watery, but thats because I accidentally added too much almond milk.

72 Calories | Carbs: 7g | Fat: 3g | Protein: 6g | Sugar: 2g | 2 Weight Watchers Pro Points

Let me know if you make this recipe, and if you would like to see more recipes.
Friday, 5 July 2013

A BB Cream for hair?

BB Creams are all over the place at the moment, and with companies bringing out hair primers, it was only a matter of time before someone bought out a BB cream for hair, and Pantene have done just that.

I picked this product up when I was in Florida after seeing Zooey Deschnael advertising it on TV, I love Zooey and her hair looks fantastic so clearly the advertising worked for me and I headed to Walmart to pick up this product.
So what is a BB cream for hair? Well, much like the BB creams for face it claims to be a all in one styling product with plenty of benefits, 10 of them in fact according to the packaging:
1.Repair for rough hair
2. Strength against damage
3. Silky Softness
4. Brilliant Shine
5. Smoothing
6. Moisture
7. Frizz Control
8. Heat Protection
9. Manageability
10. Tamed Fly-Aways. 

I have used this quite a few times, and I really like it for when I am using heat products to style my hair because I always forget to use heat protectant on it and the fact that this is an all in one is very handy for me. It does do well at keeping my hair in place all day, and smoothing down the flyaways, it also smells pleasant too, it has the clean scent of shampoo. I haven't notice that it makes my hair that much softer though, and I don't notice any more shine than I do with my other styling products. 

I don’t use this on non heat styling days because I find it leaves bit of a film in my hair if I touch it, I’m sure if you use hair styling products regularly this wouldn’t bother you, but it does bother me.
It’s also very easy to overuse the product, and when you do it dries clumpy and makes your hair look greasy. I have long thick hair and 2 pumps is more than enough for me.

I  am more convinced by BB products for hair than I have been on BB creams for the face!
Sunday, 30 June 2013

Weekly food shop - June 30th

I am a person who loves watching grocery store hauls on YouTube, and as someone who is trying to loose weight I thought it might be helpful to share what I get from the supermarket to see me through the week.

I plan all my meals on Saturday/Sunday and either go to my local Tesco or order online. I have to have a strict list to stick to and I often write down the dates of what I need the products to last until on my shopping list, although if I shop online I have no control over the dates, although the expiration dates in store are normally pretty shit anyway. 

This week my food shopping is from Ocado. I'm a huge Ocado fan. Their customer service is great, the van drivers are always lovely, the dates are pretty good, they often send vouchers by email and the food is great quality. 
Ocado stock food from Waitrose as well as their own brand stuff, and they claim their own brand is as cheap as Tesco. Anyway, here is what I got this week:

If we start off with the fruit and veg, first up we have a cauliflower. Cauliflowers are a staple for me and I get one most weeks either to make cauliflower mash with or cauliflower pizza, it's a very versatile vegetable.
Baby spinach is another product I get most weeks. I use it as my base for salads and as a side for any meals when I want to bulk it out a bit.
Spring onions aren't something I normally get, but I plan to make my own chicken quesadilla in the week. Any leftovers will make a nice addition to wraps or salads I make for my lunch.
Tomatoes are another thing that I don't normally get, but for lunch this week I plan to have some wraps with tomato, mozzarella and basil, yum! Once again any leftovers just get chucked in wraps or salads.
Strawberries are in season at the moment and they where on offer so I thought I would treat myself to some. I like them as a dessert, a mid afternoon snack with a tiny bit of stevia, or to throw on some greek yoghurt with honey for a breakfast treat.

Moving on to the dairy type products, and egg whites, because I wasn't quite sure where else to place them....
I got a few Danio yoghurts. I love these yoghurts, they are very thick and creamy yoghurt with a layer of fruit, 0% fat, high in protein and delicious.  They are only 3 weight watchers points and I will normally have these for breakfast or a snack. The flavours I got are cherry, passion fruit and strawberry, be warned, the other flavours aren't 0% fat and 4 weight watchers points. They also have a bit of added sugar, which doesn't make them totally clean, but what ya going to do.
As well as the fruit yoghurts, I also got some Greek yoghurt. I always go for the Fage 0% fat variety. Greek yoghurt is another very versatile product, I use it in a lot of wraps, to make dressings and making fruity desserts or breakfasts.
Two little chicks is always in my fridge. It is liquid egg whites. I use egg whites for all sorts of things, from making protein pancakes to vegetable frittatas. The yolk contains most the fat and calories so egg whites are a good alternative when you are dieting.
As I mention before, I plan on having tomato, mozzarella and basil wraps, so obviously I need to get some mozzarella, I opt for the light type, to me it's the same flavour/texture, just less calories.
If you ever look at my Instagram daily food pictures, you will see I pretty much always have a Babybel in my lunch box. I love them as a snack, high in protein, under 80kcal, calcium and all that jazz, and only 2 weight watchers points! I opted for the original and cheddar. Cheddar is my favourite because it has a stronger flavour.
I also got some vanilla almond milk. This is a product I can only find at Ocado so I always pick one up when I order from them. The vanilla variety makes protein pancakes and chia seed pudding extra delicious. Ocado also do chocolate almond milk too!

Frozen fruit is my current obsession. It is frozen as soon as it's picked so it's at it's peak of freshness, which is also when it is most full of its nutrients, and in my opinion, it is tastier.
Waitrose is the only place I have seen that does single fruit bags, most places will do summer berries or black forest fruits, which I'm not so fond of.
The frozen fruit is on offer, 2 for £4 which I think is a great deal considering the size of the bag and a punnet of raspberries is roughly £2 at the moment for a small amount that will only last 2 days.
I just pop some in a tupperware box and take with me to work, by the time I go to eat them after lunch they are defrosted.
Frozen blueberries are also great to chuck into muffin batter and protein pancakes!

I eat a fair bit of chicken. I always go for free range skinless breasts, free range may be a bit more expensive, but I already feel guilty enough for eating meat and I don't want the added guilt of having made a chickens life extra shit.
This is actually my first time trying Quorn mince. I have a dish I like to make, srirchia beef mince and cauliflower mash (expect a recipe soon because it is one of my favourite meals) but I've decided to give Quorn mince a go to see how it tastes because it is lower in fat and calories but still high in protein. It looks pretty delicious so I can't wait to try it.

Lastly we have the cupboard items.
Peppermint tea is the only tea I drink. It soothes my stomach and I feel like it helps with my digestive system and bloating. Tea Pigs has a very strong peppermint flavour and is delicious, no other brand will do for me now. I always go for the 50 tea bag box, I drink it every day and it's better value for money.
Whole meal tortillas, pretty self explanatory, I specifically like these ones because they are 109kcal, a lot of wraps can be a lot more, and they are 3 weight waters points, the same amount as the weight watchers branded ones!
Another new to me product is the Bear Yo Yo's. I think these are actually just for kids but they are fruit rolls with very few ingredients, count as one of your 5 a day and will make for a delicious low calorie snack! I got pineapple, strawberry and mango to try, another product that was on offer!

So there you have it, a typical weekly shop for me. I hope some of you found this interesting, let me know if you would like to see any more of these and if you like this sort of thing you should definitely follow me on instagram because I'm always posting food diaries, @cocolikegnomes.
Sunday, 9 June 2013

Oh So Chocolate

Like many people, I quite enjoy a bit of chocolate, but as we all know chocolate isn’t exactly the best thing to eat whilst on a diet, so when I came across these Oh So chocolate bars I was very happy.

Oh So chocolate bars are Belgium dark chocolate that only have 72 calories per bar and contain around a billion Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria (the stuff found in those good bacteria yoghurt drinks,) so not only does it taste good, but it’s good for you too, well, that's what I like to tell myself...

I’m not normally a fan of dark chocolate, but I quite enjoy this one. It is only 53% cocoa, so quite a good introduction to dark chocolate, and the taste actually reminds me of the Marks and Spencers chocolate, not bitter at all. They also do a chocolate orange variety, but I haven’t tried that one yet.

I think the only downside to these bars is that they are pretty tiny, although where they have a stronger chocolate taste I find they satisy cravings quickly and I don’t need as much. They are also on the pricey side at £3.99 for a pack of seven, plus they are only online so you are going to pay at least £1 for p&p too.

Overall though, I really like these bars. I think they have some great health benefits, they fit into my diet easily as they are only 2 weight watchers points and they satisfy my chocolate cravings. It's also encouraged to give dark chocolate more of a go now! Oh So chocolate bars are available from their website and are also available to purchase through amazon. 

The Skin Regime, Boot Camp For Beautiful Skin + Give Away

Reading the intro to The Skin Regime Boot Camp Fo Beautiful Skin you are told to have a look at the picture of the author, Dana Ramos, on the back, so I did. She isn’t wearing any make up and is looking lovely and fresh faced, I would definitely like to have skin like that, then I read on a bit and see that she is 49. 49! I was genuinely so shocked, I don’t think the looks any older than 36. The Skin Regime instantly got my attention if I could get skin like that.

The Skin Regime is all about stripping back skin care and getting your skin into shape by going through the ‘bootcamp’ and which has seen some great results.
The book itself is split into different sections, first off Dana talks about the problems with a lot of skin care products on the market today. A lot of the stuff she said is very striaghtfoward and basic, it definitely made me think about how often I get caught up in the hype of products.
She then goes on to introduce her skin care regime, and then you enter the bootcamp section, which is all about retraining your skin to get the results you want.
The bootcamp section uses Glycolic Acid, a product I really like in masks and she talks about how this ingredient can be used differently in products, as well as giving you plenty of recommendations of products she approves of.
After completeing the boot camp there is the maintenance section of the book. Once again this is a great and interesting read, it really strips back the skin care routine and has definitely made me think about my routine and products I don’t actually need. A word of warning about this section though, this book is American and a few of the products she mentioned you can only get on prescription, not always the easiest thing to get over here.

                       Before Photo                                                                                   After Photo

The last section of the book
 addresses other parts of the body, like hair, nails and even has a nice little section on how to compliment your lovely new skin with some make up tips.
If you follow me on twitter, you may know that when I was in Florida I suffered a allergic reaction, and my skin hasn’t been quite right since so I have not been able to try out any of the recommended products. My mum however, who is a self proclaimed skin care junkie tried out one of the peels and loved the results. I will warn you though that she said her skin was tingling, so this may not be suited for those of you with sensitive skin. My mum actually loved this book and has taken it for herself and is currently hunting down more of the recommended products so if she keeps it up I will let you know how that goes!

Overall I found this a very interesting and informative read. As Dana says, this regime is not suitable for you if you are pregnant or have overly sensitive skin, so I won’t be able to try it out, but having seen the results on other people I have to say I am very impressed and think this book is definitely worth a read, even if it is just to remind yourself to stay a bit more grounded when buying skin care.
If you fancy having a read of the book, then you are in luck! Dana has actually given me a copy of the book plus one of the peels used in the bootcamp, so if you fancy your chances enter the competition below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out The Skin Regime website for product recommendations and more before and after photos.