Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution Kickstart, Days 1-2

It’s the end of the second day of Jillian’s seven day kickstart to the Body Revolution, and I am really, really tired. I cheated and jump started the workouts on Wednesday, when I got my kit through, but I had to wait until Friday to get all my groceries. So, I decided to do an extra couple of days of doubled-up exercise before I actually began the programme, and I’m really feeling it today – my fourth day of hour-long exercises. I did not want to get up today, but I did, because I had to go into town with my parents to help my mum pick out some new clothes. Then, I got back and did workout 2 and cardio 1. I have to do them back to back, otherwise there’s just no psyching me up for it! I was totally prepared to half ass it, but Jillian managed to shout me out of that idea, and I gave it as much as I had.

So, that’s where I am with exercises – I thought it was a bit of a pushover at the start, to be honest, but now I’m rethinking slightly! I think a lot of Jillian ‘veterans’ find the first couple of workouts to be fairly easy, but I know she’ll be stepping it up a notch towards the end of this month. I was particularly unhappy to hear the phrase ‘jump lunges’ – probably my least favourite exercise bar cardio in plank (mountain climbers and the like!).

Food wise, it’s going really well actually. I started off on Friday with some delicious bacon, eggs, tomatoes and… avocado…
Nitrate free bacon
Jillian demands nitrate free bacon, so that’s what I got. Very expensive, and thick cut too. I much prefer thin cut bacon, but weirdly it seems like the more expensive the bacon, the thicker the cut. I’d happily pay for thin cut fancy bacon but you can never seem to find it! This was hard enough to find anyway, I had to search through all the product details to find one that’s nitrate free. An unfortunate side effect of this is that the bacon comes out slightly grey when you cook it – the pinkness is mostly due to the addition of nitrates.
Bacon, Avocado and eggs
Still, I’d eat it… wouldn’t you? I added some delicious lemon pepper that we bought on holiday in Cornwall last year. I knew that would come in handy! I wasn’t just buying it willy nilly, promise!
Halzephron Lemon Pepper
Even though there’s not really much reason to do this, I’ve been logging my calories with MyFitnessPal as well as following the diet. I was fairly concerned when my breakfast came up as 343 calories, rather than the 269 calories it was listed as. Yikes! Luckily, it seems as though the rest of the recipes come in way under the estimates given… Or at least, my versions do!
Lunch was the grilled salmon citrus salad – loved this. I really love salmon!
Salmon citrus salad
I probably shouldn’t have, as sodium is a bloater if ever there was one, but I used a simple Japanese recipe to perk this up and really bring out the flavour of the fish. I salted it 15 minutes before eating, then right before cooking, just wiped the salt away, and grilled it. The flavour is amazing.
Salmon citrus salad 2
I have to confess, I slightly overcooked this, so I’ll keep the cooking time to a minimum the next time I make it! It came in at just 184 calories, which is amazing – and I felt full until dinner. Well, the story there is that I didn’t get to eat breakfast until 1pm, so lunch was at 5… Let’s say, I broke Jillian’s ‘no eating after 9pm’ rule right out of the gate, and I also managed to end up eating my snack *after* dinner. I only have myself to blame! I had an epic cleaning session with my mum on the Friday morning, so I just didn’t eat until late. Oh well – you can’t always control the circumstances, but you can control the damage, right? Right!
Dinner was more fish, this time, tilapia!
Raw tilipia
I really like fish, and capers, and rosemary… So this was delicious! The rocket was pretty ropey, though – wild stuff from Ocado, it was absolutely full of insects and had to be washed several times and picked over leaf by leaf before I was happy to eat it. I wasn’t so crazy about having to do this, but there was no way I was chucking it all out!
Rosemary citrus Tilapia
It came with the now-familiar salad with dressing and tomatoes – something makes me think I’ll be sick of lettuce by the end of the week! I tried to buy plenty of varieties, so let’s hope I can stave off the boredom. I also bought Waitrose’s low fat essential vinaigrette, which I quite like, and some low-fat Caesar dressing (in place of Ranch, which really isn’t common in the UK) for the Chef’s Salad later in the week. Again, the calorie count for this was much lower than was listed, at just 184 calories. Then, after that, I had my snack of hummus and veggies.
I am cheating somewhat here, because I just can’t give up tea. I have milk in it, which amounts to a serving of dairy, which on the days where I also have yogurt, is not recommended in the plan. I also have a couple of sugars and some sweetner along the way… GASP! No one’s perfect. That’s right, not even me – I just seem perfect. Big distinction! Needless to say, any failures as a result of this are squarely on me. No one can say I wasn’t warned. I am prepared to face the consequences of my tea drinking like a true Englishwoman – with a stiff upper lip!
Today was Saturday – I cheated again a little bit with my breakfast and had the Greek yogurt, cinnamon and almonds – WITH HONEY! Yes, a teaspoon of honey. I’m so sorry… No, I’m not, because sour Greek yogurt actually makes me feel a tiny bit sick, and I can’t eat bacon and smoked salmon all week long, as much as I’d love to.
Lunch had to be out, because I was in town all day, but luckily, Pret a Manger came to my rescue with their tuna salad, a fair substitute for the Chef’s Salad:
Pret tuna salad
It does help that I *love* this salad, and it’s only about 315 calories with the dressing included.
Now, another confession – I had a cappuccino when I was out. I counted this as my snack, does that make you happy? I sure hope so, because by the time I got home I was starving and exhausted, but I had to grit my teeth, knuckle down, and exercise until I felt like I was going to black out. It was 8pm before I ate, but if that’s okay with Jillian, then I’m counting it as a minor victory. It did help that dinner was steak.
Peppercorn steak on wilted spinach with tomato salad
Mmm, steak! I put steak seasoning on some sirloin and fried it with cooking spray. I’m not grilling a steak in our grill – it’s a pathetic, fake grill and I only honour steak with the mightiest of kitchen utensils – the frying pan. The salad of tomatoes and olives was delicious, and the spinach was pretty good too. Although the recipe title says it comes with wilted spinach, the recipe itself doesn’t really get you to wilt the leaves (other than with the heat of the steak sitting on top), so I took the liberty of wilting them in the pan while the steak was resting. Calorie count: 299 calories.
So, two days down. I’m definitely missing puddings and Coca Cola Zero, although I’m not missing carbs that much. I could eat some fries and bread, but I’m not going to kill my cat to get them. I can’t believe how satisfied I’ve felt just eating various types of salad and a protein portion every meal, it’s really eye-opening. Having the recipes has definitely helped me stay on track in that respect, but then it’s still early in the process and I’ve not had to repeat any meals yet… So, we’ll see! But so far, other than my weary body and aching muscles, I’m feeling very positive and motivated to continue!

Alibi Pretox drink: an introduction

I was recently sent a complimentary box of Alibi pretox drinks to review on the blog, so I thought I’d follow up from my health kick on the 1953 vintage diet to review them!

Now, I’ve never been on a detox in my life – I only occasionally eat rubbish with any regularity (usually during the party season) and I rarely drink, so detoxing doesn’t quite have the urgency to me that it might have to someone who really parties hard (but I am definitely up for trying a detox at some point!). So, the idea of a ‘pretox’ sounded great – prevention is better than a cure, right? And, if all you have to do is sip delicious drinks, then I’m up for it!
Alibi pretox
Alibi comes in two flavours, Sparkling Citrus and Sparkling Pomegranate – which, as you might have guessed, are both fizzy. The citrus flavour is heavy on grapefruit and lime, and very fresh, whereas the pomegranate flavour is a little sweeter. I have to admit, I much preferred the pomegranate when I first tried them, but the citrus has really grown on me. I guess I associate the flavour of grapefruit with health, so that added mental boost gives it a bit of an edge!

Citrus Cut Out

Of coure, there’s more to these drinks than just a nice flavour. They contain 11 vitamins (including 100% of your RDA of vitamin K), three minerals, five herbal extracts and beta glucan (to boost your immunity), making them a great supplement whether you’re dieting or not. The sweet taste comes from stevia – which is sweeter than sugar but contains less calories. I know that artificial sweetners are a bit controversial – I use them a lot, but I am always looking into alternatives, and stevia is definitely something I’ll be trying more of in future.

The whole concept of Alibi is that it’ll boost your body’s defences with its healthy supplements – and I’m definitely a supporter of the idea that dietary supplementation is wise, especially given that the average diet is fairly low on fruit and veg. Even when you’re actively trying to lose weight, it’s always good for your peace of mind to know that you’re still getting some vitamins and minerals from somewhere. Of course, you can’t just drink this instead of following a healthy diet, but it’s great to have an extra safeguard in place.

Unlike many other health or diet drinks, this isn’t low calorie, because it doesn’t contain anything artificial. Coming in at 99 calories, though, it’s hardly going to break your calorie allowance, and you can drink it without worrying about putting weird chemicals into your body!

I’ve been drinking Alibi daily for just under two weeks now, and definitely enjoy my daily dose! As for results, I can’t claim anything earth shattering has happened – but then, I’ve also not been feeling as run down after Christmas as I thought I’d be, either. It was definitely nice to be able to drink something ‘healthy’ that felt like a treat following the Great Christmas Binge, and if you already enjoy fizzy drinks (don’t we all?!) but feel guilty every time you pop a can, substituting Alibi for your normal soda mught be a good way to supplement your diet!

Alibi is available from many stockists in the UK (list here) including Waitrose, Holland and Barrett, GNC and more. You can buy online from Ocado for £1.59 a can, or in packs of 12 from Amazon for £11.99.

Pomegranate Cut Out

The Royal Wedding Nosh

So, I bet you’re wondering what I actually served for MY Royal wedding watching party, right? Considering what a fuss I made about it, anyway. Well, you’re in luck – here’s my write up!
Whole table 6

So here’s the overview of the mammoth table of buffet food – we had about 20 people in all, so we didn’t want anyone to go home hungry! We nearly ran out of sandwiches, but other than that, we beat the stomachs and ended up eating leftovers for a couple of days…
Whole table 5

As you can see, the sandwiches were cut correctly into finger shapes (mwah hah hah) ala The Ritz – corner shapes are fine, but crustless finger sandwiches are the only option for a posh spread.
Whole table 2

We had a variety of sandwiches – smoked salmon and cream cheese, Belgian ham and dijon mustard with salad and baby tomatoes, caramelised onion chutney and cheese, egg mayonnaise, and of course, cucumber (boring). I love a good sandwich!
Mackerel pate 1

We also made Jamie Oliver’s mackerel pate from his British Picnic menu from 30 Minute Meals. People went nuts for this, but I really wasn’t keen. I thought I’d love it, but it sort of made me squeamish!
Heston trifle side

We also bagged Heston’s special royal trifle from Waitrose. It was incredibly pricey, and wasn’t a real trifle. All in all, it was a bit of a miss for me – vastly overshadowed by a family classic called Rennie’s Pudding, which I’ll talk about in a minute.
Heston trifle close

Heston’s trifle was really pretty though! Caramelised nuts, freeze dried strawberries, rose petals – lovely! Only trouble is, because it was topped with meringue, sitting on cream, it was pretty much destroyed as soon as you tried to take a spoonful.

Anyway, here’s the star pudding – in my humble opinion:
Rennie's pudding top

I don’t know where this pudding came from, but we’ve always had it in our family and it’s blimming delicious – and so simple! It’s just fresh fruit, covered with cream, and then topped with sugar caramel.
Rennie's pudding side

It is seriously gorgeous! Very easy, too.
Gin and tonic jelly side

I also made a gin and tonic jelly from the delicious Nigella Lawson – how English can you get, right? I’d never made jelly before, although I have made panna cotta, so it was an interesting experience. But it uses a remarkable amount of gelatine – more leaves than they even sell in one pack from the supermarket I shop at. Wowza. Maybe because it contains A QUARTER OF A LITRE OF GIN? That’s right! That’s a lot, I think. This jelly also made me realise I actually do like gin and tonic as well. But I’ll always be a Pimm’s girl at heart…
Gin and tonic jelly top down

It looks very innocent, but you should not attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery after eating this jelly…

Now onto the cake.
Victoria sponge side

Sitting proudly on top of the most expensive cake stand I have ever, and hopefully will ever, buy in my life is a Victoria sponge – a real classic. It was spruced up with some chantilly cream and blueberries and strawberries, just to give it patriotic colours. To be honest, we could have done without it, because it’s sort of, shall we say, restrained, compared to some of the outrageous puddings on offer, but I HAD to use my cake stand. This sucker cost me about £50! I’ve had my eye on one ever since I saw it on a blog somewhere – I think it was Bakerella’s, maybe. But I recently suffered a tragic loss in my life after every single damn cake stand I owned fell off the top of the fridge and smashed. I was gutted. The whole collection, gone at once. So I had to replace them, and this cake stand will hopefully last longer. I spent the whole day before the party, and the day of, shrieking at people ‘DON’T BREAK THE CAKE STAND. DO NOT TOUCH IT. IT WAS VERY EXPENSIVE’. It didn’t really create the atmosphere of relaxed, casual and classy hosting that I wanted to project, but you know, it’s still in one piece, so it was worth it.
Top of Victoria sponge

I also dusted icing sugar over the top in the shape of a doily, because, you know, it’s ENGLISH. Somehow.
Cake stand 2

This was also a new purchase just for this party (I know, ridiculous – I am still literally paying this off) – a cute cake stand from Cake Stand Heaven. You may remember me drooling over these before – LOVE them! I bought this one in green to match my nan’s china, which I inherited from her last year. Unfortunately, I also had to shout at people about this too, as you are expressly NOT supposed to pick it up using the handle on the top, as it can smash the china plates – it’s not a weight bearing handle. So of course, anytime anyone wanted to move this baby around, they used the handle on the top. Tsk.
Cake stand with flowers

My mum added these beautiful flowers to the cup right before we ate – a really nice touch! She’s also responsible for the pretty flower display on the table, she did an awesome job!

So, that was our buffet! Do you guys have any memories, photos or blog posts to share to do with your Royal Wedding party?

Make your own almond milk

Making Fresh Almond Milk

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

I’m no health nut, and I’m definitely not a vegan, but I love soya, almond, coconut and rice milk. I recently bought Jillian Michaels’ excellent Master Your Metabolism Cookbook, and she asks you to replace your diary with other products – specifically not soy, for various reasons. So, I purchased a litre of coconut milk and one of almond milk (and then had to carry them home four miles from the shop, but that’s a whole other story!) and discovered how delicious almond milk was in porridge and banana smoothies. I’d never had it before, and realised precisely why this was when I got to the health food shop – firstly, it’s quite hard to find (only in health food shops and Waitrose, it seems!) and secondly, it’s a whopping £3.00 a litre… Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a lot for me, so I was pretty pleased to discover that it’s really easy to make your own almond milk at home! I’m not saying it tastes better than shop bought – I think the shop bought stuff is sweeter, but at home it gets a bit worrying to continually add honey to your mix, so I stopped after three teaspoons! However, it’s definitely cheaper, as once you’ve bought yourself a nut milk bag, you end up paying about £1.60 or so for every litre – basically, the cost of your almonds.

So, the recipe!

EQUIPMENT

  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag (buy these on eBay if you find them hard to track down)
  • Bowl
  • Jug

INGREDIENTS

  • 220g almonds
  • Water, to cover
  • 1 litre water, to make milk (4 cups)
  • Vanilla extract, optional
  • Honey or other natural sweetner, optional

METHOD

  • Cover your almonds with water (I like to rinse mine first as well) and leave to stand overnight, for at least 8 hours, and up to 12.
  • Drain away the soaking water (I rinse here again) and add the nuts to a blender.
  • Pour in your four cups / 1 litre water, then blend well. Add in the vanilla extract and sweetner to taste, if using.
  • Pour the mixture into a nut bag over a bowl or wide jug, and strain. You’ll have to help the process along by squeezing the bag to get the excess moisture out.
  • Your nut milk is ready! Keep in the fridge, covered, for up to four days.

The leftover almond meal is great for adding fibre to porridge, cereal, etc!