Saturday, 25 October 2014

Roast Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Pasta Bake

Goats Cheese & Butternut Squash Pasta Bake
Preparation Time:
30 mins
Cooking Time:
30 mins
Serves:
2
Calories per serving:
389.9


Ingredients
Squash, Butternut, Raw              -       300g
Fusilli                                           -       40g
Onions, Red                                -       100g
Cabbage, Savoy                         -       121g
Asparagus, Trimmed                  -       86g
Buffalo Wings Sauce, Franks     -       ½ Tbsp/7.5ml
Oil, Sunflower, Flora                   -       1 Tbsp/15ml
Oil, Olive, 1 Cal, Spray               -       20 Sprays
Cheese, Goats, Welsh               -       100g


Method


Preparation:

Peel and finely slice onion. Finely slice cabbage. Peel, de-seed and cut butternut squash into 2cm chunks. Cut the asparagus into 2cm lengths.

Method:

Heat oven to 200 degrees. Spray a roasting tin with half of the olive oil spray (10 sprays), add the butternut squash chunks and then spray with the remaining 10 sprays. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, turning half way through. Once cooked, leave oven on for final stage.

Meanwhile, Place the fusilli into a pan, cover with boiling water, and cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the Flora oil n a wok. Add the onion and cabbage. Stir fry over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue to cook for a further 10 - 15 minutes until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked and fairly soft.

Once all these various stages are complete, combine all the ingredients, not forgetting the Buffalo Wings Sauce (if you like a little added spice!) and place into an oven proof shallow dice.

Slice the goats cheese and arrange over the top of the pasta mixture. Place the dish into the hot oven, and cook for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melted.


Friday, 24 October 2014

High-intensity interval training

Wowweeee!!!  I have learned all about High-intensity interval training today!  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training

I am not a gym bunny - in fact I haven't been into a gym ever!  But this is exciting and interesting stuff....

Read on....

Those of you who know me will have been part of my journey from a size 24, 14 stone couch potato (two and a half years ago) to where I am now, a size 16, 9 stone 10lb much more "energetic" person.

My exercise journey started in February 2013 with a free assessment from a personal trainer at the Physio I attend on a regular basis.  I didn't do any exercise at all then, and because of my disability, was very sedentary.  I kitted out my garage with some bits of equipment ("borrowed" treadmill, wobble board, stepper, elastic resistance bands, floor matting) bought myself a heart rate monitor and began to slowly but surely build up a little exercise regime for myself.  

Back in the early days, exercise was really hard work.  I puffed and panted after 5 minutes of slow walking on the treadmill and needed to rest often.  But as time wore on, I worked up the amount of exercise I was doing, the walking speed got quicker and I can now walk for 3 x 15 minutes at a time, 2.7mph (for me, with short legs, that's power walking speed!)

There is no doubt that my fitness levels have improved and my physical capabilities have grown.  Alongside this, so has my confidence in myself to exercise and move.   This has had a massive impact on many other aspects of my life and I now enjoy some of the physical activities that were previously denied to me.  I now enjoy gardening in the Summer (and lots of leaf raking in the Winter!).

But recently I felt the need to re-energize my exercise routine - which had kind of fallen by the wayside over the Summer, due to the heat and having caring responsibilities.  Having said that, I was spending a lot of time doing things in the garden, many of which I wore my Heart Rate Monitor for.

I booked for a personal trainer to come to visit me today for a 2 hour session.  Two days ago, I went back to the treadmill and garage gym just to reassure myself that I'd not embarrass myself when he came!

He's just left, and whilst most of the session was me demonstrating my previous warm up and exercise regime and planning the exercise I'll be building up to before his next visit (in a month) I am totally AMAZED with what I have achieved!

I have always worn an HRM (heart rate monitor), and realised that I was burning a lot of calories during my exercise sessions (about 1,500 in two hours, including 30 mins warm ups) but I do nothing more vigorously than the walking on my treadmill which doesn't even get me out of breath.  I was keen that he could advise me on just what I should be aiming for in terms of my heart rate.

Apparently, when I am walking at 2.7mph, my heart rate of around 120 - 130 bpm is working at 75% of it's maximum!  Therefore, as shown by the calorie burn, I am definitely giving myself a good workout.  The other great news is that I shouldn't need to exercise as long during each session (1.5 hours max) or as often (I was doing 4-5 times a week for 2-2.5 hours).

What I will now be aiming for is so give myself a 2-3  times a week HIIT session (High-intensity interval training) of only 15 minutes.  This is a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.  So one minute of walking at 3.7mph which gets my heart working to 95% of it's capacity.  Now 3.7mph wouldn't get most peoples heart to that kind of level, but for because of my disability and body shape, the amount of energy I need to put in to moving clearly is over and above that of the "average" person.

So..... less time spent exercising, exercising less times a week - but changing the TYPE of exercise I do, which should all have positive consequences.

Best of all, I feel enthused, motivated and ready to go!  My mojo is back!

My message to anyone starting on their weight loss journey - especially those who have yet to discover the benefits and joys of regular exercise.....  ANYTHING is possible... moving even a little to start with is better than not moving at all.  Time spent exercising can replace the rime spent eating and thinking about food.  

It may take time, it most definitely takes effort, but the end result is just so worth it!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Walks by the river and raking leaves

Lately, this virtuous girlie has fallen by the wayside a little Sad 

About a year ago, mother in law came to live with us after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. 

We didn't expect her to be living with us for very long, but a year later, she's still here and shows no signs of leaving anytime soon Grin BUT, she has in the past four months been diagnosed with vascular dementia and her mental deterioration has been scary and rapid. 

A recent infection has also caused a steep decline in health and in memory, function, mobility, etc, etc. It's making life quite stressful here at home and we have learned to take each day as it comes.

Two and a half weeks ago, my step-dad had a stroke. He and my Mum live locally - about 12 miles away, and my Mum was already struggling a little because he has Alzheimer's.

Whilst his physical recovery has been pretty good, the stroke and subsequent two week hospital stay did nothing to help his mental state.  He became quite aggressive, confused, argumentative. Didn't like being in hospital and didn't understand why he was there. The effect on my Mum (79 years old) hasn't been good. She has her own health issues, a lot of pain, doesn't sleep well, etc. 

She's become a bit more forgetful and has been struggling emotionally with my step-dads variable state of mind and plans for his return home. He was discharged yesterday, and things seem to be ok (so far!)

Our wonderful oak tree, devoid
of its leaves in December last year.
I think I might be forgiven for having put my exercise regime a little to one side.....

So why the reference to walking by the river and sweeping leaves? 

We have a lovely garden here and one which we enjoy spending time in, both relaxing and working. We grow a few vegetables and we are both sun worshippers.  Over the summer months and because we've been denied a holiday this year, we've spent a lot of time outside.

The centrepiece of the garden is an enormous oak tree. It's beautiful, but this time of year, it's a full-time job to sweep the leaves that fall from its branches.



With my improved health and mobility, I have been enjoying working in the garden over the Summer. Now the weather is more autumnal, I enjoy going out there with a rake and raking leaves. I love being outside, I love seeing the results of my labour. I wear my HRM and I earn myself exercise calories. It's nicer than being inside the confines of the garage gym! AND I achieve something, as well as earning calories. I see the bags filled with all those leaves that I have swept. I know that tomorrow, there will be more leaves to sweep, but I don't mind! That's my exercise planned for tomorrow (as long as it's dry!)

Today, I asked hubbie if he'd come down to the river with me and walk. We drove down to the banks of the Thames. I had donned my heart rate monitor and trainers. It was a bright sunny afternoon and the meadow alongside the river was full of people exercising. Men playing football, people walking dogs, people rowing and kayaking down the river, people walking, cycling.....

The River Thames, and a beautiful spot for a walk along the river bank
And me!!! I was walking! I was walking and enjoying it. There were benches dotted along the path, and I was impressing myself by pushing myself to walk past the next bench and to the one that followed. We walked up and back down the river bank, enjoying the sounds of the river, watching the ducks and geese, the dogs chasing balls and sticks.
THIS is what it has all been about and why this journey has so been worth it. It's not just about the thinner, smaller me who can now buy clothes in "regular" shops. It's about walking hand in hand with my hubbie along the riverbank. We are taking time out of our caring responsibilities and giving ourselves some "me" time. We are getting fresh air and exercise and I am earning myself some calories.

I am just loving these everyday things that so many people take for granted and which for so many, many years have been denied to me because I had allowed myself to become overweight and unfit.

Well watch this space!  This is just the beginning!!