fancy mushrooms on toast

Day 21 – Entertaining

Entertaining is fun but  boy is it exhausting! When trying to keep up with appointments, work, feeding three hungry boys, entertaining them with cards again humanities, providing drinks for their drinking games, and blog challenges it is difficult to not fall asleep by accident before writing a blog post…

It seems yesterday while I managed to keep up with the eating portion of my blog challenge, I crashed out before being about to write about the day. It is almost noon the next day and I’m yawning so much – I really am exhausted from it all.

I am still chuffed though at being able to eat all my fruit and veg all while some how manage to maintaining some air of grace of being a host and dealing with some important meetings the other side of the city. I am still annoyed at myself though for not blogging or vlogging at all yesterday. I know it probably is not the most important aspect of the challenge but I felt it was important for something for each day – this is gives everyone following a much better chance of following the journey from start to finish.

I must confess also that for the first time I had to count orange juice as a portion – it did mean though that I could enjoy a burger, chips and a salad. Many may not see this as a bad thing but I have an addiction to the stuff – now I’m craving the stuff and it is going to be tough not to stop myself going and buying a whole carton to down in an afternoon.

With so many times yesterday that I could have bought so many sweets and sugary items, I was only tempted once as I passed the bakery in Waitrose. It does seem that my cravings for sugar is a lot lower – even my stash of holiday white chocolate has been nommed in days! I only have to run into the kitchen and I feel more like grabbing an orange juice from a shop down the road!!! As this challenge goes on I am becoming less addicted to sugary items.

It is becoming easier as well to choose items with veg while out as I know what dishes sound like they will have a portion or where to go. I also know how to eat fruit and veg while managing 3 hungry brothers so that everyone has a delicious dish but also have two portions of veg each.

I think if I had had to entertain people at the start of this challenge that I would have struggled – getting through each day seemed like such an uphill battle compared to now. Getting through each day seems to be getting easier and easier – as I keep this up longer getting over bumps in the road are going to so much easier I think.

Still, blogging eluded me yesterday due to exhaustion – maybe I need to stop blogging at the last point of the day but with food challenges that seems a hard thing to do when you want to talk about the whole day. Maybe next month with my signing challenge I’ll be able to do a blog post in the day!

Well I’ll be back later with today’s antics – hopefully I’ll manage to not to buying orange juice…

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Day 20 – guests

Today we have two American guests staying so the buzz and craziness of sorting out food, sleeping arrangements and entertainment has taken up most of the day.

I think it has been the longest time spent in the kitchen not focused on this challenge – I was warned by bf that our guests ate a lot of food so I’ve made bread, sorted out drinks, cleaned up the place and finally cooked two different dinners, one hot, spicy and vegetarian so bf could eat and a bland, simple meat option to satisfy any of their tastes. Turns out that they both tried both.

It has been tough though – yet another hurdle to deal with when trying to feed the masses and entertain all while eating 5 a day! Along with all my preparation for them arriving also included eating as many portions as possible before they were due to arrive at 3pm.

It seems that the one day I needed to eat lots of fruit and veg was the day it was hardest! I did however find a great find when topping up supplies from Tescos – carrot crisps.

There were other flavours like beetroot and Apple but it was carrot that caught my eye as I have seen variations of the others before. What surprised me most was where they were sold – under the tills where the sweets used to reside! It seems that they are either bowing to pressure to avoid sweets at tills or are finding a trend in healthy eating with the summer holidays fast approaching.

The view as I walked into the small store was now a wall of sweets – far more tempting than the little hidden shelves only seen by kids so I am guessing the first one so are trying a different tact instead.

Either way, it was so easy to just walk past all of those sweets normally playing on my mind, tempting me to wanting to binge eat a whole share bag when I got home. There was no call to want to sneak down to the sweets section or glace longingly at the doughnuts. It seems either I’m addicted to the fruit and its natural sugary goodness or I am just shopping on a mission these days and naturally blind to these yummy distractions. Believe it or not but based on previous experience I have to go for the first option – I was so tempted more by a smoothie in the chilled drinks and a punnet of strawberries and in the past np matter how urgent the shop it would still be hard to walk past without just a glace. The last few shops with time on my side there was nothing – it seems 5 a day is changing what I crave and it’s a change for the better.

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Back home and with time to spare before my two foreign guests arrived, there was time to test out these carrot chips – the real first vegetable convenient food I had come across. It appears that they contain only two ingredients; dried carrots and lemon juice. While for many they may not have tasted the lemon, to me it was clearly there. They seem to me to be savoury and sweet at the same time with the flavour growing as you dig your way deeper through the pack. With an initial crunchy texture, a more chewing texture follows making the time to eat a relatively small pack take much longer than you would think.

It is definitely something worth investigating – the flavours might be too simple or bland for many but it might be an incredible way to get kids eating more vegetables.

I did enjoy them and I’m looking forward to trying the apple version waiting on my kitchen counter to nom tomorrow.

Have you tried these carrot crisps? Have you tried other vegetable crisps?Do you find guests and events make it hard to keep resolutions and challenges? Leave a comment below I would love to hear from you

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Day 19 – leftovers

A big issue with all this fruit and vegetable based eating is leftovers – a lot of the key ingredients have short expiration dates compared to my normal groceries. It means that if you do a load of shopping for a few days, you end up with quite a bit running out at once.

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Today I have had all food which had its best before date due to expire so it’s been repeats of dishes. I know that if I was feeding a family of four than just me and occasionally bf that it would be much easier to just get through fruit and veg but as most dishes are just for me I end up repeatedly having similar dishes. This isn’t too much an issue, I am enjoying the pursuit to improve it each time or experiment with dishes, but I can imagine the annoying nature of this for those who live from pay check to pay check, off their student loan or have a chaotic lifestyle of partying, family or work.

In the past I have had one or more of these issues and it is only know that I have been in the position to fully commit to a challenge like this. It is why everyone I have met have said the same thing “that’s what we should all be doing but that going to be hard!”

Only those who seem to have made a decision based off health issues, sports aspirations or strict diet seem to manage this daily goal. It seems that we need to be really pushed to manage it on a daily basis because of so many reasons.

I thought at the beginning it was just going to be about taste and textures bit as it goes on I’m seeing the array of roadblocks in the way of most people achieving a healthy diet or food type goal. In a time were we work long hours, have non healthy food available that is cheaper, easier and lasts longer it is painting a clear picture of why we are facing an obesity epidemic in the UK.

Today has been yet another successful day – managing 6 portions and tomorrow is day 20… The end of this project is in sight.

I must admit that the outpouring of support, ideas and recipes has been incredible – it has help light such a strong fire to complete this challenge with my head held high. This support does not seem to occur otherwise though – before this challenge (despite finding out with this project that they didn’t manage it on a daily basis) I was constantly being verbally attacked by family and friends for not having my 5 a day.

I think that what we need is more support for each other than ridicule when it comes to healthy eating. It seems to be a taboo now to admit not managing it. We need to be open and talk about our food and how to achieve a normal healthy diet. In researching this project it was hard to find a weekly food diary of what to eat as easily as those for fad diets. As a supertaster it was impossible to find one – this just made it so hard to find a normal diet to follow that I wouldn’t find overwhelming.

I have seen just how important yet ignored discussions about a standard healthy diet consists when compared to fad diets. We face magazine after magazine talking about some crazy diet, tablet or drink because people want the easy way of getting the body shape and size they dream of. I think if people knew that in 9 days it’s possible to lose 3.5 pounds just by religiously eating 5 fruit and veg a day that it might get their attention – I think it just needs a sexy name!

Maybe if we call it the Lillyringlet diet… 😝


5 a day branding with courgette fries on a plate

Day 18 – Riverford Courgette fries

I am so proud of myself – today I made a recipe that Riverford kindly sent me and it came out so well that even BF liked it! With my new found love of courgettes I decided to try out their courgette fries and they came out incredibly well.

It is a simple recipe – it only has four ingredients; milk, flour, olive oil and a courgette.

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Last Christmas me and BF got a range of kitchen gear from his family after they heard about us cooking most of our food from scratch. We got things like a stripy apron, chopper thing (which I use for nut-roasts all the time), grater and more. Within the array of items we got a blade on a corkscrew – and it is awesome! It means that you can make spiral veg which is not only fun but very pretty. I have used it before; spiral carrots really impress people so I usually find an excuse to serve them up.

To use it you simply chop off the ends of your chosen veg and carefully screw in the corkscrew into the veg. It is then just a simple task of spinning the tool around and around (all while avoiding to cut your self on the blade cutting though your veg). You end up with pretty veg that is evenly cut all the way down and, if you are careful, all in one piece.

Now you can make these fries without this dangerous yet creative tool by slicing courgettes into thin strips – in fact this is what is written in the instructions from Riverford but I’ve never been great at following recipes to the letter in someway.

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Once you have your courgette cut you dip each one in milk, shake it off a little and then dip in flour until it is covered in a layer of flour. Now my hands got so messy with this task but it was so much fun and looked incredible. It was a blessing and a curse using lines of spiral veg; I only had to do it a few times I also had to make sure that I got the milk and flour evenly throughout the layers. I was so proud though as my lines of spiraled courgette laid on the side neatly covered in flour.

For years we have been told not to have deep fat fryers or deep fry food so it was scary for me to pour a thick layer of olive oil into a pan and heated up. I have seen the damage that pan fires can do after all the demonstrations I have seen from going to and working at university – the number of times pan fires and other dangerous kitchen practices have ruined shared kitchens makes them invest to try and stop it. The “water on a panfire” display is always flashing through my mind when dealing with oil in the kitchen with the terrifying 10ft flames forever ingrained in my head.

I felt so nervous putting in more than 1cm oil even in my tall edged little pan but thought I would get away with it – and I did! With the pan of oil nicely warm I carefully dipped in my first spiral of courgette to a fizzle of small bubbles trying to engulf it. As not all of the courgette was in the oil I had to keep turning and flipping it but sure enough after a minute of two I pulled out what looked very yummy. I slowly repeated this for the rest of my spirals and sure enough in under 10 minutes I had a plate of freshly made courgette chips.

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I wasn’t sure if this recipe would work but it really did! I have tried roasting courgettes in the oven and I had always failed – they never were crispy and just burnt and withered into nothingness. These courgettes however were simple, crispy and delicious.

I have never been a fan of potatoes – I only eat very crispy thin chips as this plant just tastes of dirt to me otherwise. Courgette crisped up so beautifully but also didn’t taste of dirt but an almost refreshing delicate taste and texture.

I adore this recipe – it was so simple and such an delicious alternative to potatoes. I would highly recommend you trying this recipe out – you might even find fussy kids loving this dish. Chips are often used as a tool to get kids interested in potatoes so why not try it with courgettes!

Riverford seem to have been able to create recipes that are yummy but also almost foolproof – I know now that I will have to try out some of their other recipes.

So today has been delicious and added yet another simple way to add veg to my daily life. I know many will shout out how bad frying things can be but I never really ever get anything else fried (as I said potatoes taste like dirt) so I’m not worried about the occasional treat.

 

Will you be trying out this recipe? Have you tried this before? Do you have a favourite veg (other than potatoes) that you like fried? What recipes would you suggest me trying? Do you find you prefer these chips to potato ones? I would love to hear from you so leave a comment below.

5 a day branding with courgette fries on a plate


Day 17 – I suck at Vlogging

For the last hour I have tried to create a vlog and I have failed. It turns out that the hardest part of this challenge is Vlogging.

I really suck at it. Despite managing to have 6 fruit and veg today (yay!) I can’t really celebrate as I have managed to create a poorly framed video (4 times), a blurry video (2 times), mess up with losing my trail (100 times at least), waffled (100 times), made a fool of my self (infinite) and struggled to get my head around the new video software to sort out trimming it correctly.

This is not the part that I though would be hard but it really is. I am fine behind a camera it seems but in front of it and I mess everything up.

Today with two other blog posts sorted I thought that I would try a vlog again but nope… failed again and again.

Next month with me doing a month of learning sign language I am going to need to use video a lot more but how can I when I struggle to do a simple video talking about fruit and veg…

I know that I have always been able to capture others for business and charity videos but it seems all of those skills go in the bin when the role is reversed. I am going to try again tomorrow but now I’m going to rest, eat lemon pie and rest after an otherwise successful day.

So sorry for a short and failing blog post but I needed to share my unbelievable failure at something tweens manage to make a living doing… BF has made a living of doing… and I appear to suck at.


Interview with Peter from Big Brother about his new comedy show

Last week I was invited to attend a press and blogger event for the launch of a comedy event in the centre of Brighton. Led by a previous winner of Big Brother, of which I have never watched, I had no idea what I was in for. I checked online about him to find various stories of his apparently infamous win back in 2006 to a music video I actually remembered from University. The only thing I knew for a fact, my cousin who watches every Big Brother she can will be jealous of me meeting Peter, the winner of the 6th series.

On Wednesday 8th July I headed towards the Grand Central pub next to Brighton Station, somewhere I only really have visited when waiting for friends to arrive or with them for the next train home. I have memories of watching Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win a few years ago nursing a lemonade.

Stairs-to-the-nightingale-roomThe pub as a whole looked normal though somehow fresher and cleaner than my last visit a few months ago. The biggest biggest change though was a velvet covered door on the back room – it stood out from the rest of the decor but at the same time was not overly obvious unless you look right at it. Next to what I can only assume was a hen do from the pink tiaras from a group of women, I guessed this was what I was looking for and opened the door cautiously to find a flight of stairs leading to a megaphone glistening at the top. Turning around the corner and my senses were exposed to what I can only describe as a nose dive into a 1930’s style steampunk attire. Neon and red lights lit the dark but luxury venue with a piano lit with tea lights next to a velvet backed stage. As I scanned the room I could see tables filling the room all with their own little cute lights and a smell of something delicious floating on the air.

I had planned to attend it at a simple event to another blogger friend, Tea Cake and Make (who you should really check out!) so it was great to see her there ahead of me talking to the event organiser. We were offered drinks, a chance to sit down and learn more about the venue’s recent renovation, the event and story behind how it all came about.

Apparently to everyone else this pub had a very rough sports bar reputation – the Nightingale Room, which is where we currently were, was previously just a completely black room for creative drama performances. While the creative drama group still are running, they are now often touring around the UK due to their success rather than constantly residing above the pub. In Brighton there is a big shift to providing comedy and entertainment venues for tourists with locals having to put up with attending these sort of events with overly drunk hen do, stag parties and tourists. Other than the yearly barrage of local entertainment at Fringe there is little about local humour to bring the community together. The Nightingale wants to break the trend and provide a hidden venue with events locals will adore. With its location next to the station, there are taxis, buses and trains so even those that commute to and from Brighton and enjoy this quirky venue. They wanted to do more with this fantastic space in the centre of town.

Peter-Comedy-capper-at-the-Nightingale-roomI’m not going to lie but I love it! I am not into overly loud pubs or nightclubs, and going to cabaret nights at Proud Cabaret is hard for me to get to and can be costly with travel and entrance fees so the idea of a closer location would improve the likelihood of going – it is only a 15 minute walk from my house and a 10 minute door to door bus!

Everything about the Nightingale has been carefully chosen, from the room’s decoration, the menu, the Gin specialist bar even to the staff. It felt like a step back in time to an era of speakeasies and flapper girls all while being completely trendy and quirky – it screams Brighton. Everything on the menu sounded just as outrageous yet elegant – something you might only see in a Michelin star restaurant. I choose for a mushroom on toast dish and it was a spectacular and complex approach to a simple sounding recipe. As a supertaster it was overwhelming in the rich flavours and just added to the whole experience – as I said everything has been carefully chosen to work together to create an incredibly sexy and fun experience.

microphone-at-the-nightingale-roomWhile we waited for food the owner gave us a tour of the stage in the centre of the main room. It is a relatively small stage but it is perfect for the size of the room. It has been designed carefully in such a way that the height, location and size is just right so that everyone in the room has perfect view. The room takes on such a different appearance from the stage – compared to the huge stages like the Dome, this must be terrifying as you can see everyone yet still remain the focus for everyone else! From our booth we could see only the stage and the small lower table in front of us but here on stage it was clear everyone has a perfect view – this venue really has been carefully planned out.
With mouthfuls of mushroom toast we were greeted to the man of the day Peter – straight away he was very gentlemanly with asking if he should wait for us to finish. With Tea, cake and Make having to return back to work we begged him to stay while she got to ask him questions briefly before having to rush off. Quickly we found out that despite feeling very ill from a cold and having to leave his mother in France yesterday, he was here at this event to help promote it. As someone who is based in Brighton, Peter was chosen to spear head this comedy night so that he can make an event more suited for those living and working in Brighton.

Before we started the interview, owner of the venue gave us an overview of the journey of the comedy cappers, from the history of the venue to Peter’s journey after leaving the Big Brother house in 2006. Two years ago Pete had done a sell out stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he talked all about his life with terrets. For him it was a turning point where he found out he loved making people laugh and with each performance grew stronger, funnier and more confident. It was at this point that he realised that this was what he wanted to do – make people laugh. it was at this point that promoters who now run the Nightingale Room came across him and realised that they had found an inspiring new talent. Since then Peter has been busy pushing himself in local comedy courses and appearing at various venues to help nurture his skill before taking on such a high end venue.

Peter-puppet-at-the-Nightingale-room-bannerThe conversation turned to Peter’s puppets – a key part of his act. It turns out that we both have a number of similar interests and one of them is sewing. I was shocked to find out that all Peter makes all of his puppets – despite being impressive puppets he plays it down as something easy to do. They are not puppets that you might find in Sesame Street or the Muppets though this is not due to quality but to the quirky and creative style that you will only find in Brighton. He described the story of suddenly just wanting to make a puppet while in Thailand years ago and quipped about going to a tailor for the fabric and then waiting for the ladies to “pop out the ping pong balls” so he could catch them and use them as eyes. I am still not sure the truth of this story but it had everyone in fits of giggles.

It turns out that he has made over 20 different puppets over the years, always creating them at pivotal moments in his life. In the past he has created videos with them and found that not only did they help manage his terrets but also in improvisation. I am to going to lie but as a fan of Avenue Q, the Muppets and Sesame Street, I was interested in how these puppets would shape the evening – the promoters were also very excited about their role in the show. After spending a few minutes talking about sewing and his aspiration to save up for a sewing machine to make more he showed off his puppets even showing off two of his characters.

Peter-and-puppet-at-the-Nightingale-room-bannerThe first puppet he showed was an aggressively funny character that reminded me of the voice of Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical – it seemed to be able to make you giggle all while it was just asking for chips. The second puppet was so different, while it was calm, poliet and caring but its nature was adorably funny. It may you lean in to hear innocently funny lines. Talk turned to his inspiration when it came to the puppets and it was at this point that he reached the revelation that different parts of his personality was in each and everyone of them. It turns out that he is a massive fan of Elmo, including the original voice actor behind him – shockingly he came out with an incredibly accurate Elmo impression. These puppets will be a fun and interesting part of the evening but while they will play a key role in his comedy evening, he only has them on stage 5 minutes at a time. He uses them as a way to get all the crowd excited or a way to break the ice with a crowd. With over 20 puppets and their characters to choose from, he is able to tailor each night to the audience.

When asked what his favourite puppet was he actually pointed towards the two he had just voiced – they have stories behind where and when he made them. For one it was because it was the first one he made and for the other it was made to cope with the lose of his best friend. Our conversation continued and it was clear that a dream for him would be to have his own show with all his characters on BBC or another channel. There have been attempts at making puppet shows for an adult audience such as Mongrels but they never reached in his opinion their true potential.

For someone so used to sharing a stage with a band or others, his puppets seem to take centre stage but they are only in his act 5 minutes at a time. They have helped him though with his confidence and ability to wing it on stage. With all of this experience he talked about how every show is always different based off the skills of improvisation. Not all of his jokes are off the cuff but come from ideas written down in his notepad – after the table erupted in laughter at a joke he was quick to grab it and jot down what had caused the uproar. When he returned we talked about his act when he doesn’t have a puppet by his side – it turns out he get nervous so suddenly fills with buzz and energy. He seemed to feel like this was unusual – and seemed surprised when I opened up about my inability to stop talking when I get nervous. We giggled over stories of inability to stop talking or bouncing around a stage – while my nervousness causes me to get a dry mouth it turns out he falls off the stage every so often as he bounces around the small stage. Apparently talking to the owner afterwards he manages to use this just to erupt the audience in laughter with quips about it the rest of the night.

Straying on to other topics I asked him things like his favourite place in Brighton to inspiration behind his music and comedy. After much thought, it turns out that where I live, Brunswick, is his favourite area of the area as it is pretty but more importantly has shops and things open 24/7 unlike the rest of the city and in the past his music was based off just getting the chaotic thoughts out of his head.
At the weekly Friday nights he told me all about how he will be ending each night with a song with the pianist with that week’s planned song to be “Always look on the bright side of life”. When he found out I sang Opera he got excited – apparently he thought the idea of Techno Opera would be incredible! I have no idea – I listen to Opera and rock, not techno and trance. The conversation changed tone when it came to recent years though, after his best friend passed away locally his music style changed – it went from chaotic thoughts set to trance to getting emotion out in another way via techno. With this pure emotion driven into his music he felt it had made it so much better but also pushed his musical talent. He now goes under the name of “The Daddy” in honour of the nickname wobbly bob had given him before he died.

While his music may be inspired by emotional and personal experiences, his comedy is more from trying to keep his “eyes firmly peeled open so not to miss things pass by”. Basically if you live or work in Brighton you could be acting as the inspiration to his act every Friday night, mixed with events and news from further a field. It did draw the conversation to the venue as he realised “F*&k – this is a high end venue! I have to step up my game!” Apparently working at the Nightingale in recent weeks has made him really focus on improving.

“It has definitely pushed me as I am performing in a top quality comedy venue. I have really had to take this seriously and that is really making a difference”

At this point, due to his fame with most people coming from winning Big Brother in 2006, I had to ask at least one question about his time in the infamous house. I chose to ask him his favourite time in the house to be very quickly leaving followed by laughing. It turns out that his time in the house is something he is trying to put behind him. While the venue are using this as a marketing tool it was this point we both realised neither of us cared or wanted to talk about this topic (the question had followed “I’ve never watched it but I guess I should ask…”).

After the laughter had died down we focused back to his comedy and weekly performances, talking about his favourite guests, idols and who he would love to come to one of his nights. Turns out that he is a massive Red Dwarf fan so a few weeks ago he was blown away by meeting the actress who plays the female Holly from the infamous show. They had met and talked in the changing room where he found out how funny, friendly and down to earth she is. He also quipped to me that had she been younger he would have shared more than just a stage with her had he the chance!

Popular comedian Ross Noble was his choice of a guest – he finds his mind and performances fascinating. The quick witted humour and off the cuff funny comments seem to win Peter over. By this point of the interview Peter seemed to be hitting his stride with humorous quips about his current favourite stand up comedian.

When Peter opened up though about his all time idol, Jim Carrey it was great to hear about the comedy and life inspiration that the infamous actor has given him. It turns out that until he came across this actor that he felt strange and difficult to accept who he was. Jim Carrey not only made him laugh but come to realise that being a bubbly, funny and quirky boy was not an issue and there were other people like him – and they were being paid to be like that! He really seemed to find his films a turning point each time and his adoration has not decreased at all. He is so admiring that he quipped how he “would happily share a bed with that man!”

With so many other people waiting to talk to Peter, we had to round up the interview and I asked him about how he felt about his journey and residence at Glamorous venue. It was great as he opened up about the massive journey he has been on in recent years, from losing a very close friend to now trying to get back on his feet and make a name for himself based off his talent rather than personality. He continued on just how hard a job it was to make people laugh but more how he is having to take to the stage all by him self after years of always working with a band or others.

Meeting-Peter-Comedy-capper-at-the-Nightingale-roomInterviewing Peter was an incredible experience, I had the chance to talk to someone about their life journey full of emotional turmoil that now uses their spirit of life to bring joy and laughter to people every week. He was very thoughtful and clever throughout the interview getting faster and funnier as the interview went on. He was always asking questions to make sure that I was happy, comfortable or what I was interested in. After he had talked to me I overheard him dealing with another group – his quips were very different to those used on our table. It is clear that he tailors his approach to his audience. For me that just increased my opinion further of this upcoming comedian.

I talked briefly to the owner, promoter and other staff and it was clear that they have such a high opinion of him. They all seemed to have heart warming stories about how he had moved them somehow, or how they broke an audience with his funny antics. I know that I can’t wait until my calendar calms down so that I can see Peter perform in front of a full house. I’m also looking forward to trying their specialist bar and menu, as well as seeing the venue in its full glory at night but I’ll definately aim for a Friday night now!

Great news for you! I have been offered a special code for any one who wants to check out this night for themselves with a promo code for £5 off a comedy capper ticket. All you have to do is put in “Pete” at www.comedycaper.com in the promotional box. The shows are every Friday at 8.30 with table service offering amazing food and a specialist gin expert manning the bar. Each week they have different acts joining Peter, so check out their twitter @comedycapper for an up to date news of who is performing.

Will you be going? Do you remember Peter from Big Brother? Or his music video for Cosmonaughts? What is your music or comedy idol and how have they impacted your life? I would love to hear from you so leave a comment below!


A month of 5 fruit and veg surrounded by various fruit and veg

Day 16 – old habits die hard (although that’s a good thing)

Today I have been able to use a favourite recipe of mine to help achieve eating 5 a day – mince meat wraps! The rest of the recipes so far have been either completely new or slightly altered ones, but not today!

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Back at University a friend introduced me to a simple yet yummy dish and ever since it has remained a firm favourite. Back in 2010 my mum even made it (but with added extras for the non supertasters) for a family birthday party. It is simply mince beef in a tomato sauce in wraps. You can add as many other things, like cheese, spinach, peppers or spices to add more flavours and textures. I love this relatively plain though.

With the use of a homemade sauce, which has been used since BF taught me 3 years ago, it has a two portions of fruit and veg per portion! It turns out that my favourite dish has been helping me achieve at least two portions in one sitting.

Now back to eating 5 fruit and veg everyday I have got innocent back in the fridge again. It seems that an easy method to achieving this challenge is going to be hard to shake but in someways I am glad. I really do like these little innocent drinks – they taste great, they don’t have any added sugar, they contain a portion of fruit and easy to have on the go.
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I have another habit that is hard to change – I want to and have made lemon pie. While this recipe has a lot of fruit in it, I know that I shouldn’t be trying to make something so sugar filled 8:30 on a Thursday… but it is so hard. Unlike my savory favourite recipe, this isn’t exactly healthy with the vast amount of sugar involved. It was so hard but for some reason the thought of nothing else could leave my mind. I love the process of cooking it over two hours but it also tastes amazing! (It is also why this post has been published the next morning as I was too busy grating lemons to remember that I forgot to hit the publish button!)

It seems though that not all old habits of mine are bad – even if it is sugar filled… or my favourite food. I think now is all about finding out how to make adding fruits and veg work with my other food favourites – I might even surprise myself how easy it is!

My fridge is now full again of other fruit and veg and I have some fun plans to try making some courgette chips from Riverford tomorrow.


A month of 5 fruit and veg surrounded by various fruit and veg

Day 15 – the fall

So as you may or nor gathered but I have not posted an update for a while and I felt that it was best to explain what has happened since 10th. It is day 15 of the challenge and I am sorry to inform you all but I failed to complete a whole month of the challenge – it was however completely out of my hands.

It seems that all was going well when I fell ill with something and had to pause the challenge. While many of you may argue that eating fruit and veg should be vital to getting back to health, for me I was not well enough to cook so I had to rely on BF managing food. With so much on his plate with his work, a family visit and looking after me, keeping up with the high levels of cooking fresh fruit and veg was the thing that had to slip. I feel so bad that I was not able to keep it going the whole time but everything in my life stopped for 3-4 days including attending a friends hen do, work and staying awake in general.

This is the problem though that it is so easy to stop and heart breaking when it does happen. It could be so easy for me right now to just completely give up but ironically I think that this is just highlighting why it is such an issue. Fad diets have this issue – once you fall from grace you feel bad and often turn to food. For me I was not eating 5 portions but compared to what I would normally eat when ill, there was still at least a portion or two a day – in some ways this is a success for me.

It does show though how easy it can be to not do everyday – it is so much easier to chalk it up to being too busy, ill, lazy or bad at cooking. In one day I went from being high on reaching a significant milestone to being too ill so having to rely on someone else to cook. Most days I had been down finding new fruit or veg, or finding ways to use up existing supplies but I fell ill just as I was due to top up on fruit and veg.

I have never been interested in fad diets – I know that I will just go back to my original weight once over so I set out on this journey to make real healthy changes that would change how I ate from now on. It in some way has worked with me wanting to eat certain fruit or veg instead of reaching out for sweets even when I knew I was not going to be able to continue my personal challenge that day.

Now back to the world of the living I am full of even more passion to complete the rest of the month with my head held high. I may have had to stop for a few days but now I know it is making a difference – it is going to improve my chances of having a healthy diet from now on.

After watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a documentary all about a man using a smoothie diet to lose a lot of weight, I found out that one of the guys who took part lost 200 pounds from taking part in the documentary but then 3 years later gained all of it back again when he hit a bump in the road. It is easy to be knocked off for a moment – it is getting back on the trail that is the hard part. So my hope is that, don’t dismay if you don’t manage to keep to a challenge, diet or change – we are not perfect! Instead learn from what has happened and how you can stop it happening again. For me that might be harder in this instance – how do you manage to eat healthy when ill but I know that I have learnt from it.

I would love to hear from you – what challenges have you faced but has made you stronger? Did you feel like you failed from something only to realise that you had improved as well? Will you be trying my challenge and if so what will you do if you miss a day? Do you have any tips on how I can eat healthy when feeling too ill to cook? Leave a comment below!

A month of 5 fruit and veg surrounded by various fruit and veg


Various fruit ready for smoothies with artwork stating "a month of 5 fruit and veg a day

Day 11 – Dream Fitness Smoothie Interview

Today for my 5 a day blog challenge I am talking to an ex-science teacher turned fitness addict Patricia Davis. She is talking to me about the how she has become the fittest, healthiest, strongest and happiest she has even been in her life all thanks to Dream Fitness. Patricia is originally from Felpham and has a son aged 20, a daughter of 15 and 3 cats.

Now working at Dream Fitness running their smoothie bar, she is going to share her story about how healthy fruit and veg mixed with training changed her life so now she can help others.

Fruit and veg in Dream fitness cups for their Body Cleanser smoothieNo thank you! So let’s start with a simple one – So tell me a little about yourself and your business

I am a secondary school science teacher by profession but decided to resign my job in December. What a relief!

I threw myself into becoming fitter, stronger, healthier – but most importantly happier by training really hard at Dream Fitness 24 hour gym in Bognor Regis. I started attending personal training twice a week with my totally inspirational trainer Ben Snell, starting Tao Dragons martial arts at the same time  and yoga. I really changed the way I shopped at this time as well as I became slimmer and stronger.

Gary Kellaway who owns the gym is an advocate of juicing, became vegan and lost shed loads of weight and wanted to share his passion by opening a shake bar. He offered me the job of running the bar as I represent the philosophy of Dream Fitness (his words, not mine) which was a huge compliment. We opened 5 weeks ago with the aim of offering pre or post workout smoothies made from fresh fruit and veg to order. We also super charge our smoothies with extras such as goji, maca, flaxseed, chia, quinoa, sunflower, pumpkin and pine nuts. I explain the benefits of each nutrient as I prepare them – each smoothie is made from scratch and dependent on the customer’s needs.

I believe we are the only 24 hour gym in the area that runs a smoothie bar. Most have whey, protein supplements bar I believe.

Wow that sounds exciting! So outside of work your life has really changed with eating healthily and exercising too! What was your inspiration for becoming fitter and healthier? Was there a moment or event that made you want to change your life for the better?

Too much stress at work – I wasn’t happy so I knew that exercise and food would be my therapy. I love the fitness challenges and helping people. I love being surrounded by positive people who understand the link between feeling good, looking great and hard work.

What is the biggest difference that you have found since you made the decision to eat healthy and exercise?

I feel fabulous – I have lost 2 stone and I have so much energy and self-confidence. People say I look younger – my metabolic age is 15 years lower than my actual age and my body fat is 15%.

What an amazing result! Have you seen other transformations at the Gym and smoothie bar too?

Yes I have  – the gym have invented their own life style course concentrating on improved nutrition via smoothies and exercise over 60 days with stats taken every week with some amazing weight loss stories. Inspiring and motivating people to continue to improve their lives is very rewarding. I can use myself as an example of what can be achieved by making small changes and having the motivation to be the best version of myself. I wasn’t huge but I was average fitness and size 14. I am now size 8/10 but more importantly I have invested in my body so that I can enjoy life to the full.

My life has totally changed since joining Dream Fitness in every positive way.

Sounds amazing – So what is your favourite smoothie to make and to drink? Are they the same or two very different smoothies?

My favourite smoothie to drink is Pineapple, Mango, Spinach, and Kale –it is a great detox and delicious! My banana strawberry, blueberry, and ginger smoothie is my favourite to make though – I love the beautiful colours. I always ask customers to identify the ingredients if they ask me “to surprise” them, which is always fun.

They sound incredible! What is the craziest smoothie that a customer has asked you to make?

Actually I think one of my smoothies called a Red Pepper Reactor is crazy – red pepper celery mandarin! I make up named for them too.

Fruit and veg in Dream fitness cupsSo your smoothies are very fruity and veg based. Do all of them have at least one portion of fruit and veg?

Absolutely. Raw plants are in all of my smoothies. Customers can choose up to 4 ingredients from those available – either all fruit or veg but usually a combination.

I was asked for watermelon strawberry and broccoli today which was surprisingly nice. My regular customers always offer me a taste.

So fruit and veg is at the heart of what you do – what is your best piece of advice then for your customers trying to have a healthy lifestyle?

I say make one small manageable change in your lifestyle or stop eating processed food or eat less, move more. It depends on how open the customer is and also their motivation and WHY factor.

Do you have customers now that only come for smoothies?

A couple of parents now buy smoothies whilst their children are in the martial arts class. Their children get a smoothie as a reward for taking part too.

Various fruit ready for smoothiesSounds like a yummy reward and healthy too! Do you have any smoothies that contain all 5 portions of fruit and veg a day? Or do you have a reason other than limited customer demand for not offering it?

Some do contain all 5 but it is a cost consideration. If customers only choose 3 things I add more of each for example or I suggest a super food supplement which counts. We get our supplies delivered by a local business every day so we know that it is fresh.

So what is the best thing about running a smoothie bar?

Best thing – helping people. Making a difference and meeting and working with lovely people. If I can help one person then I am happy! I love helping people and try to inspire and make a difference. #loving #life

One final question – what is your favourite fruit or veg

My favourites – that is tough: mangoes and sweet potatoes

Thank you again Patricia and everyone at Dream Fitness for this great interview

Dream Fitness 24 hour gym with a dedicated smoothie bar – you can find them at 61a High Street, Bognor Regis next to the NatWest bank. Dream Fitness gym is a 24 hour dedicated service designed to bring health and fitness to everyone by knocking down the barriers of time and money, whilst offering the highest quality of equipment and service. The Shake Bar is on the first floor of the gym.

They have no contact, and they offer various levels of membership, which you can pay annually to save even more money. They offer personal training, nutrition plans, fitness testing, training programmes and supplement support. In addition we run over 100 classes each month including Martial Arts, Yoga, Spinning, Pole Fit, and more.

Check out their website at www.dream-fitness.com. You can also follow them on Twitter at @iamdreamfitness or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Dream-Fitness.

 

Various fruit ready for smoothies with artwork stating "a month of 5 fruit and veg a day


A month of 5 fruit and veg surrounded by various fruit and veg

Day ten – overview

The last ten days have been crazy! At the start of this challenge I thought I knew what the difficult aspects of it would be – finding things that I would enjoy or be able to eat. I am finding as each day goes on that this is not the case at all and a world of healthy food is slowly unfolding before me. I never imagined that I would feel to full after these portions and that it would be difficult to want to eat!

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For me the first three days were an uphill challenge – mainly it was just trying to work out what counted as a portion and initially finding recipes to try. Day four and five was when things started to turn around – it was a weekend so having BF there to support me in experimenting and to help me eat things. It was around this point though that I had the worse breakout since I was 18 – for some reason this sudden change in diet meant that I was destined for nasty zits for two days.

Other than that though, from there is was more about finding clever ways to deal with left over fruit and veg from other dishes – this is when I really started to hit my stride. It has made it more fun and exciting working out out what I could create to use up supplies before they went out of date. I have ended up with creative smoothie sorbet, creamy tomato and onion chicken and even a wonderful strawberry meringue dessert! i have never eaten so much colourful food nor had so much fun in the kitchen.

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By day nine and ten by mid afternoon I have often now managed to eat 5 portions of fruit or veg! I have even managed to lose 3 and a half pounds without trying! There is still a lot more for me to learn on this incredible journey but it is so wonderful for all the support that bloggers, companies, friends and family have given me so far.

The things I have learnt though go beyond just recipes though – it seems being healthy means no ready meals (which is good as they are foul), my kitchen will be a mess for the rest of the month, my food photography sucks, as does my vlogging, it is not easy to work out when eating out how many portions of fruit or veg you may have had and that apple pie fruit bars are disgusting.

The biggest change though is definitely how I have been shopping – the focus is now all in the fruit and veg aisle with almost 75% of my time in shops spent there compared to the up to 5% whizzing though or picking lemons for lemon pie… The fridge is now always full of various fruit and veg, and we don’t have a very big one, so stocking anything else is now just hard.

It does feel great at the moment though – each day I reach 5 a day and its wonderful to know that I have managed to achieve that! It could be so easy to throw in the towel at any point but they is why I am so glad that I did this as a blog challenge – there is almost something egging you on so that you don’t fail.

I am already a third of the way through this incredible journey and it all seems to be going up from here! I have some wonderful recipes from the likes of Graze, Riverford and various bloggers that I finally feel ready to try (mainly because I have almost used up left overs from other recipes!). I still have a lot of days left though so I am really happy to try out and share any recipes that you may have. Despite still having 21 more days of the challenge left, people are already asking me what I’ll be doing at the end of this month – will I carry this on or will I go back to my bad and unhealthy habits. I think that is something that I will have to discuss closer to the end of the month – it is still too early and I already have plans for what my challenge will be next month.

Now I must say a big shout out to the Innocent smoothie drinks – for the first few days I found it really hard not to reach my daily goal without them. At only 57 calories and counting towards 1 portion of fruit and veg a day it was such an easy way to add something so yummy and even made the task seem less daunting.

Tomorrow I’ll be a a hen do for a wonderful friend but I won’t let the ball drop! I already have plans on how I am going to maintain this even when out and about with others. It does mean though that I will be sharing an incredible interview with Dream Fitness from the lady that runs their smoothie bar all about her personal journey through fitness and food, and how she is using her experiences to help others. I really do recommend that you read it (and if you live near Bognor Regis to go visit them for a smoothie.

So bring on the next ten days!

Have you ever done anything like this before? What is your favourite recipe for fruit or veg? Have you lost weight just from adding extra fruit or veg to your diet? I would love to hear from you so leave a comment below!