Snowga – Snow way……

Well here’s a new trend we can add to the list of things Helen won’t be doing any time soon (along with Tough Mudder and eating yogurt made from lady parts) – Snowga – aka yoga in snow.

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Okay, I don’t like snow, but I kind of get the whole skiing thing. I even did it once, slowly round a field (I don’t get the hurtling down hills with potential for breaking bones thing either) – it’s fast so you don’t get cold, it’s adrenaliny and there’s nice ski instructors to look at – but the idea of doing slow yoga like movements in the frosty freezingness. Erm no….not for me. I’ll be back at the lodge with a Gluhwein.

Still, seems I’m alone the whole of Instagram is off downward dogging in sub zero temperatures (well according to the New York Times anyway) – and it seems it might help strengthen your legs for skiing so I suppose it makes sense, but still no. I do like the word though – it rolls of the tongue nicely. Like yoga-lates. Yoga-lates is my favourite exercise word.

Oh, and one tiny word of warning – yes, someone has really tried to made yogurt from lady parts, well, actually bacteria affiliated with lady parts. Do not click that link if you’re eating. Definitely don’t click it if you’re eating Fro-yo.

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

Tiana Coconut – best mistake ever

The other day I went to buy some coconut oil in Holland & Barrett. I was in a bit of a hurry and so I picked up what I thought was the cheapest jar of the stuff. A brief foray to the pick and mix nut bar (their Chilli cashew nuts and Chilli and Lime Pistachios are worryingly addictive) and I was out the door.

The next morning I opened the jar and had my normal spoonful. It was delicious. I’ve got quite used to eating neat coconut oil over the last few weeks and have developed a taste for it – but this was something else – super creamy and not as slimy. Took me four days to realise how right that was – it literally was something else. I hadn’t bought coconut oil, I’d bought cold pressed raw coconut flesh. No wonder it was so good!

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Apparently you’re supposed to do all manner of exciting things with it – like make it into coconut cream or milk, turn it into ice cream, use it in salad dressings etc etc – me I’m still eating it by the teaspoonful. Admittedly very conservatively sized teaspoonfuls as it’s 700 calories per 100 grams which by my maths means its about 100 cals a heaped spoonful.

However in my current mostly dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, carb free, fruit free and chocolate bereft world, it’s one of the few treats open to me. So, if you’re thinking of giving up lots of stuff my advice is get yourself a jar of this stuff and a teeny tiny spoon. You’ll thank me for it when the sugar cravings come calling – and they do, daily (and I don’t even have a sweet tooth). If you’re not giving everything else up though, stay far far away. It’s too yummy not to eat daily. Best shopping mistake EVER.

It’s Bacon, Sausages and Burgers……made of fish!

A few months ago a van pulled up to the house and a man got out carrying a large white Styrofoam cooler. This is not unusual, it happens often. What was unusual was what was in the cooler…..and entire range of bacon, sausages and burgers made from salmon.

Actual salmon sausages

Actual salmon sausages

It’s by salmon makers MacKnight and the bacon at least has already been a huge hit in Canada and Denmark. The idea is that you can replace your normally meaty breakfast (or dinner) goodies with versions higher in omega 3 fats and with fewer calories. Sounds good right. But what do they taste like….?

Well we certainly got to find out quickly as what else was unusual about this particular shipment was that they arrived a little bit defrosted so we had to eat everything in one go. Which made for good comparison but did leave us a bit, erm, full……..Still, the verdict was not swayed by our inability to shift off the sofa for the next few hours.

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Actual salmon burgers

While there is no way you’re going to be fooled into thinking you’re eating a few rashers of piggy fineness or a quarterpounder, when you serve these up, if you forget that and think of them as stand alone products they are actually pretty good. I liked the burgers best, followed by the sausages, then the bacon…..The Boyfriend, was the other way round. He was keenest on the bacon.

There isn’t an overly fishy taste, or texture which could be a bonus if you’re normally not keen on fish. In fact, if you’re cooking for kids this could be the protein equivalent of hiding the veg in their potatoes (do mum’s still do that?).

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Actual Salmon bacon

Caloriewise, I only have details for the bacon as when I tried them there wasn’t proper packaging for everything but here’s how it compares to a piggy-tastic rasher….

Salmon Bacon per 100g
Cals 132
Fats 4.6 (of which saturates 0,91g)
Protein 21.9g
1.2g of Omega 3
Piggy Bacon – back – per 100g
Cals 262
Fats 14.6 (saturates 5.7g)
Protein 32g

Now, considering how long ago I tried this, you may wonder why it’s taken me so long to tell you about it. Simple, it was so new when I tried it that they hadn’t got distribution sorted out yet and I thought I’d best wait until they had – which is now. So, if you want to try the products yourself you’ll find them in Wholefoods branches. If you want to see more details, click here to go their website. Upon which I’ve just spotted they now also do Ikea style salmon based Swedish meatballs which even though I’m typing this at 7.30am in bed, sound AMAZING……….erm, Mr Man with the Styrofoam container, you know where I live right?

So many blogs, so little time

Read till the end, there’s a poll and everything…….

I’m in a quandry – I’ve come up with another blog idea that I’d like to pursue, but I can’t see how I can do that blog, do this blog, do my work, run and have a life all at the same time. Do any of you have the same issues? Too many blogs, not enough hours for typing? I know that the new idea would be really good fun, and has an angle that I could probably monetise in some way in the future – but taking that leap has always been something I’ve avoided up until now.

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freedigitalphotos.net

I came to a similar crossroads after I won my prize at the UK National Blog Awards last year. It seemed the perfect time to take the blog ‘professional’ then if I was going to do it – I started focusing the content more so it was just about fitness and nutrition and pretty much lost the beauty, psychology and general health side of things that I started out doing.

But that was all I did – when it came to taking the first step toward ‘going professional’ – moving the blog to self hosting – I kept putting it off. In my world that level of procrastination normally means whatever I’m avoiding is something I shouldn’t be doing – so I parked the idea. A couple of things convinced me that it was the right decision – the SEO monkeys took a brief dislike to me and my numbers fell overnight (thankfully they like me again now) and I started writing The High Fat Diet book and realised how time crunched I was. I felt bad enough as it was that my daily postings went down to once a week – imagine how I would have felt if I was running this ‘for real’ – rather than simply because writing about bizarre healthy stuff makes me happy.

Also, let’s face it – when you look at the mega health and fitness bloggers they all look, and live, the part. Me, not so much (see Exhibit A below) – yes, I eat my veggies, have a supplement habit that makes vitamin manufacturers around the world rich and I run a lot – but I’ve bought/eaten six packets of cashew nuts in the last few weeks and still haven’t made Deliciously Ella’s cashew cream (let alone invented my own version) and I don’t even have decent gym kit to be pictured in, just a load of Disney running shirts and some Aldi shorts – though I do have a fetching running tiara (also see Exhibit A). So, as it stands, Health-e-Helen is here merely for your – and my – enjoyment (unless anyone would like me to front my own range of soup makers/alcohol-free pub drinks/gluten-free, calorie-free Cornish pasties – or even running tiaras – then forget I said that, where do I sign?).

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Which brings me to my question and the point of this post (yes, it has a point)….not should I start the new blog (although anyone interested reading Health-e Part II raise your hands and say me, me, me)… but I’m wondering should I widen the blog out again? I’ve been looking over past posts and some of the ones I like the most are those about things other than fitness and diet…..posts like these.

When Helen gets hit by a hammer (and finds it relaxing)

The peely feet sock review

Tittoing – it’s a thing

So I figure I’d ask you guys what do you think via the handy poll below…….if you’ve got 2 seconds, can you fill it in. I might completely ignore you, it might help me make a decision, it might confuse me so much I go lie in a dark room eating more cashew nuts for a fortnight, but we shall see…..

It’s Healthista Day

Okay, it’s not – healthista day was over a week ago, but I didn’t get a chance to post on the day itself (too busy waxing lyrical about the soup maker). So, what’s on there this month if you decide to head over. Lots and lots of things actually – most importantly, mermaid swimming.

Real life mermaids  Used with permission of l'Academie Aquasirene

Real life mermaids
Used with permission of l’Academie Aquasirene

Yes, at the Ecole de Sirene in Montreal you can have swimming lessons dressed in full Ariel outfit – and it tones your abs at the same time. Sadly I am not going to Montreal (or Toronto where they are opening a second location, or the Philipines where it seems there is another school doing the same thing)I  therefore I won’t get the chance to try it until some enterprising gym-bunny (well technically swim bunny) brings it over here. I’m growing my hair super long ready for when that happens – and training a lobster to sing.

Other things under discussion

The book that reveals why supermarket fruit and veg don’t always taste great – and how growing your own can change that

A new fitness boot camp run from a London restaurant

The new coconut yogurt that made me very happy

The new grain pouches I’m loving

And why anchovies are more than just a good pizza topping

So, if you want to head over there and check things out – here’s where you need to click

Echo Falls – Alcohol Free Fizz. Tasted.

So, I’m still seriously limiting gluten, dairy and sugar in my ‘let’s heal from within’ plan – it’s going okay except for the sheer amount of nuts I’ve taken to eating. I’m having to ban them from the house before I become the size of said house. However, there was one other step to the diet that I have hesitated about putting in print until now – I’m also supposed to give up alcohol.

Now I’m aware that any counsellors reading this will say ‘well the fact that you’re afraid of saying that says you have a problem’ – yes I do – but don’t get me wrong, it’s NOT with not drinking booze. As I’ve said before on this blog, it’s with drinking water, coke or sickly sugary stuff aimed at teenagers instead of it – and that becomes even worse if you’re also giving up sugar. Yay, let’s go to the pub and drink sparkling water for five hours – brilliant. As such I’ve been ignoring that part of the plan when I go out – but for the next two weeks at least I’m committed to dumping alcohol too.

560g Sparkling Tisane

Last Saturday night though I was feeling miserable. It was bad enough that I was staying in, I didn’t want to drink water (again) too, So I decided to try the bottle of Echo Falls Sparkling Infusion that’s been sitting on my ‘must test that’ shelf since early January. I’d been avoiding it because, if it doesn’t have alcohol and it isn’t water, it must have sugar or sweetener in it and true enough it does (6.4g per 100ml serving – slightly more than J20, considerably less than normal Coke)- but, sorry gut, you can’t win all the time, today I want to please my brain – and it wants something it thinks is champagne.

Thankfully I did it a night The Boyfriend was home as this thing has a real popping cork, and I’m scared of those, but it did make it all feel a bit special. Sadly my taste buds when they hear that popping sound expect something super dry and champagney, so at first I was like ‘oh’ (imagine disappointed voice) – but once I’d got past my mind and into reality I realised this isn’t actually too bad. It’s a mix of grape juice and green tea – and the latter cuts through the sweetness you normally get with these kind of alcohol substitutes. It’s not champagne, it’s not even Prosecco (mmmm, Prosecco) but it did make a lovely change from water. At 25 calories per 100ml – so about 30 in a flute, it also doesn’t do badly for calories.

Sadly, the whole ‘no sugar’ either thing means I can’t make it my permanent tipple for the next few weeks and I’m back on the water, but if you’re celebrating something and can’t drink for any reason it’s pretty good swap. As yet it’s not available in pubs (aggghhhhhh, when will pubs wake up to the fact that we want decent alternatives) but you can buy it in Tesco priced £3.49.

5 Reasons Why Mr Blue Sky is A Great Running Song

So yesterday was a nice day, the team over at healthista.com named me as one of their top 10 health bloggers to check out. They said lots of nice things in the article – my favourite being the quote below…..

She’s honest and funny and like someone you’d like to have a glass of wine with (she’s laid back and chatty and we get the feeling she wouldn’t even force you to choose an organic version – actually we know her and she wouldn’t!)

Their reason for picking this site was that I like to pick up on new trends and stuff that’s a bit different and so, accordingly to them if you want to find out about what’s the latest news in health and fitness you should come here….so, let’s just ignore the fact that in today’s post I will mostly be writing about a song released in 1978!

Why am I doing this – because yesterday I managed to snatch time to run in the middle of my working day. This is not normal because when I run when I’m supposed to be working I feel guilty and always cut things short. That was my plan yesterday too, I went out aiming to just go round the block for 10 minutes – it was better than nothing – but then just at the point when I needed to turn left to go home, Mr Blue Sky by ELO came on. Within 5 seconds my mood had lifted, my energy soared – I turned right and got home 30 minutes later, nothing bad had happened in the office and frankly I felt fantastic for that longer run. Hence my deciding that today’s post would be dedicated to the random running song of joy that is Mr Blue Sky. I will now state my case as to why it’s so brilliant to run to….

1) The lyrics begin ‘sun is shining in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight’ – if that actually is the case, nothing makes me feel happier to be reminded of it – yesterday afternoon was exactly that. I even took my gloves off.

2) It’s 176bpm – which according to jogfm puts you at a 4.36 minute kilometre. I always run in time to it as it feel so easy to do so – despite the fact that if you told me to run a sub 5 minute kilometre, I’d possibly fling myself hyperventilating on the floor crying that it’s impossible. Not to Mr Blue Sky it isn’t.

3) One hundred and 24 people on jogfm have it on their playlist – so I’m not alone in my love for it.

4) It came out when I was 10 – I was actually a pretty speedy runner when I was 10. I reminds me that athletic Helen is in there somewhere, probably hiding underneath prone, hyperventilating, whining girl.

5) It was played at the 2012 Olympics Closing ceremony – therefore it’s practically an athletics anthem. It’s also been played in space (to astronauts on the shuttle Atlantis!) – that pretty much reminds you that anything is possible – even that last 100 metre sprint – or a 4.36 minute kilometre!

Go on, download it (or just click on the video above) and spend about 4 minutes being happy….

Run or Dye….will I finally get my Powder Run of Joy?

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Long term readers of this blog will remember how excited I was when the Color Run hit our shores….and while I still thought it was a fun event how disappointed I was when I finally ran it and ended up virtually clean. And that while I had ended up messy after the much smaller Colour 5k, the atmosphere was a bit more subdued than I’d been hoping for.

So, when the team organising Run or Dye events around the country this year offered me a place, I thought ‘third time lucky’, emailed my friend Jackie to see if she wanted to come with me (The Boyfriend gets all competitive and speeds off to beat me so he’s rubbish to run one of these with) and entered the North London run on May 9th. I’m hoping it will be noisy and messy and I can finally see what all the Powder Run fuss is about.

What I looked like after the Color Run

What I looked like after the Color Run

What I wanted to look like after the Color Run

What I wanted to look like after the Color Run and would like to look like after Run or Dye (image @runordye)

This is my first organised run this year. Which is good as I really do need something to keep me motivated. I’m currently dragging myself out for runs (though once I’m out there I’m enjoying every minute) but they aren’t frequent enough, fast enough or long enough and finding time for the gym is non existent. It’s been so long since I set my foot in there apparently they’ve had an entire redesign and I didn’t even see them put up the ‘pardon our dust’ signs.

This is bad, I’m virtually sedentary. My lack of time and slumping fitness is also putting me off testing new classes – hmm, can you say downward spiral? I need a fit-tervention where a group of trainers come to my house and thwack me with a battlerope or something and fast.

Still at least there’s an event on my calendar now. If you want to try it yourself, there are 17 Run or Dye runs taking place across the country. Check out the full list here. If you end up running London let me know.

The good news is that even just writing about my slump is making me itch to go for a run……time to get my trainers on sharpish before I change my mind.

Reviewed: The Lidl/Crivit Sports Bra

Okay this might be a slightly redundant post as Lidl sold out of these pretty soon after they went into store, but just in case they bring them back, or you see the Crivit brand (that it was made by) somewhere else I thought I’d post it anyway. It’s not a long review, basically it says ‘for the love of your boobies try it on.’

They wouldn't look as perky as this for long

They wouldn’t look as perky as this for long

They do say you get what you pay for in life so perhaps buying a sports bra for £6.99 could have been predicted to be a mistake but I’d been so impressed with the Aldi sportswear range that when I saw Lidl had kit too a while back I thought it would be just as good and so I should stock up. The only thing I really need is sports bras – some of mine have lived in three countries – so I was a bit disappointed when I got to Lidl and saw there was only one left in my size -particularly as they were purple. But it seems other people’s enthusiasm did me a favour.

I realised this this morning when I went to put it on for my run. Used to pulling at least four muscles when putting on a new sports bra I was pleasantly surprised when this slipped over my head with no protest. However, once I also got it over the relevant area I didn’t notice any squishing, crushing, lifting or general supporting. At this point I decided I best go look in the mirror. The fact that there was no supporting was quite clear just by looking at it standing still. As I jumped up and down I was frankly terrified by what was happening to the ladies. I’m not exactly overly blessed in the boobage department, but seriously it was like the Mitchell brothers on a trampoline.

Admittedly, perhaps I’d bought the wrong size. I’d bought a medium which said size 14/16 and I am normally a medium/12/14 in a top but as I am never a 10 and sports bras normally come up tight I thought a 10/12 would be too small – maybe if I had gone for a small I’d be singing its praises, but trying things on next to the sliced ham didn’t seem an option. As it stands though, the medium has gone in the bin without even being worn once.

So, my advice if Lidl sell this same brand again is to wear a t-shirt you can try it on over (turn your back on the ham) and have a jump about just to check you aren’t going to bash yourself on the chin as you run.

Image :Freedigitalphotos.net