Vegan double gingerbread cookies

So yesterday, I made a ton of delicious gingerbread cookies! And guess what? There isn’t a single one left this evening! Surprised smile That’s 39 cookies eaten in less than 24 hours, for your information! My family and I decimate all baked goods. Fact. I’ll get to the recipe in a moment. The rest of my day first! Smile

Today I didn’t have oatmeal for breakfast! I can hear your incredulous gasps of disbelief, but it is true! I opted for a apple-cinnamon yoghurt parfait  instead!DSC04726

Simply a chopped apple, sprinkled with cinnamon, covered with soya yoghurt which was topped with my yummy Bodymatter granola.DSC04727

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While this was delicious, it wasn’t as filling as my oatmeal, so a mid-morning snack of this followed:DSC04734

A Bounce almond protein ball! The 12g of protein kept me satisfied for ages while I hit the shops for yet more Christmas shopping! I had lunch whilst rushing round the shops, which was a houmous and falafel wrap:DSC04116

All I’ve got left to get now is my brother’s Christmas card, and that’s it! Just have to keep my fingers crossed for that Amazon delivery now! Smile

Before I left for my shopping trip, I remembered that I’d seen a gym attached to the shopping centre last time, so I packed some clothes and took some time out from my shopping to hit the gym for a quick 45 min workout! And I was super excited when I got there to find that this gym was so posh! Well actually it was probably quite average, but my local gym has very ‘vintage’ (circa 19th Century probably!) machines, so these seemed amazing to me! A treadmill with a TV?!DSC04730

Wow. I loved it! Must do this whole shopping+working out thing again! Open-mouthed smile In my post-workout shopping I picked up this Trek bar and munched happily away…DSC04736

So how is your Christmas shopping going? Got everything yet? Oh, and have you regulars noticed the blog theme change? Like it? I do! I think it’s much more ‘me’ than the last one! On that note, there are going to be a more few minor blog changes coming up soon, just so ya know! Smile

Anyway, back to the cookies!

Vegan double gingerbread cookies (adapted from here)

  • 140g vegan spread (or unsalted butter)
  • 100g molasses sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (or molasses, golden syrup etc.)
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda 
  • 2 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 balls stem ginger from a jar, chopped finely <—-hence the double gingerness of the cookies, for Maria who asked! Smile
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Melt spread, sugar and syrup in a pan until a smooth liquid forms. Mix the flour, soda and spices together in a bowl. Stir in the liquid and chopped ginger to make a stiff-ish dough.
  2. If necessary, wait until cool enough to handle, then roll out dough to about 5mm thick. Stamp out shapes using cookie cutters, re-rolling and pressing the trimmings back together and rolling again. Lift onto baking sheets. Bake for approx 8-12 mins (depending on the size of your cookies and on your oven) until golden. Cool 10 mins on the sheets, then lift onto cooling racks. Once fully cooled, ice/decorate if desired. Enjoy! Open-mouthed smile

First, assemble your ingredients for melting (spread, sugar and syrup):DSC04689

Melt away!DSC04700

Panic because you realise you didn’t check first to see if you had any ground ginger. Toss everything out of your cupboards until you finally find some, and try not to faint with relief.DSC04690

Or you can just be organised and check beforehand. Up to you really!

Mix together your dry ingredients:DSC04691

I actually just threw in the spices (couldn’t find a teaspoon measurer- can you tell I’m slightly disorganised? Smile with tongue out), so I’m not sure exactly of the amounts I used, but it turned out fine anyway!

Finely chop your ginger (I used two stem ginger balls that were in syrup, drained well).DSC04694

Mix everything together until a dough is formed. Warning: this dough, like most cookie doughs, is highly addictive. Now, if you gorge yourself like I did, you can’t say I didn’t warn you! Winking smileDSC04701

And then comes the fun bit…rolling and cutting! As its Christmas, I used small angel and star cookie cutters…DSC04703

…and a few other random cutters for the scraps:DSC04705

I then added a bit of green icing (green=Xmas!) to some of them. I would have iced them completely, but I had less than 50g of icing sugar in the house, so I made do with what little I had! Smile with tongue out

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That’s for all you wonderful readers, who are all stars to me! Smile

“Colds are bums”

What can I say, I have regressed to my childish self! This was a common phrase I used when I was younger- everything bad was “a bum”. Well this cold really is! So I decided to give myself a head start in my recovery with my breakfast- a Recovery Green Monster:DSC03780

Well, this was actually just a regular GM topped with Grape Nuts, but GM’s are chock full of vitamins, iron and all sorts of other good stuff, so bring on the quick recovery! Smile

And what is the second best way to cure colds after Green Monsters? Retail therapy of course! Smile with tongue outarticle-0-01AEDF4800000578-22_468x315_popup

This is the Bluewater shopping centre- the second largest in the UK! I love it Smile

I decided to look around the book store first, as one of the Christmas presents I opened last week was a gift card for Waterstones. I came across ‘The Kind Diet’…DSC04499

…and basically spent half an hour reading it in store! I’m pretty sure this isn’t allowed, but it seemed quite good! I also seriously contemplated buying this book:DSC04500

It seemed really good- tons of good recipes and every one had pictures! I love recipe books with pictures! Smile

Other buys included some running gloves (I had a £5 Sweatshop voucher I had to use by today, and so they came to £3!) and two lots of dark chocolate:DSC04509

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I also saw the movie ‘Unstoppable’, which was really good! So exciting the whole way through! I may have consumed a fair amount of dark chocolate whilst watching…! Winking smile

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I bought lunch from a cafe- I had organic tomato and basil soup, with brown bread.DSC04502

I had this light lunch at about 4pm, because I have spent the whole day snacking! Eats included about a thousand servings of my (addictive!) favourite granola:DSC04497

A Trek bar:DSC04498

Rice cakes topped with Marmite and PB:DSC04399

Almonds:DSC04518

And a ton of other unpictured things! It’s just one of those days…

Because of all the snacking, dinner was light too, and was good old beans on toast (my homemade bread!):DSC04513

Followed by soya yoghurt and a huge blob strawberry jam:DSC04516

I then proceeded to finish off the jam by eating it straight from the jar! I do love jam! Smile with tongue outDSC04517

As soon as I got back, some serious present wrapping ensued!DSC04519

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My group of close friends and I do a ‘Secret Santa’ every year, which is great because it saves you money, is more fun, and you get a better present that you actually want! This is for my Secret Santa:DSC04526

It’s a CD and a book that she requested, so I know she’ll love it! I can’t wait to see what I get! Open-mouthed smile

So tell me, what are the best movies you’ve seen recently? Unstoppable makes my list, as does HP7 obviously! And what are your favourite snacks?

Hope you’ve had a great weekend! Smile

Pressures from the blog world…?

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That is a beautiful sight, no? A breakfast Green Monster with plenty of cereal blended in and topped with Grape Nuts. Lovely, but I missed the warmth of oatmeal a bit actually, seeing as it was actually snowing (very lightly) where I live this morning! Do warm Green Monsters exist by any chance? Smile with tongue outDSC03145

Mid-morning snack was soya yoghurt with granola:DSC04131

I seriously can’t get enough of this Bodymatter granola! Open-mouthed smile

In the evening, I went to my first ever BodyPump class!bodypump

Man alive this definitely works your muscles! My arms especially are seriously aching right now! It was tough, but I really enjoyed it, and will be back for more next week! Smile

As I used up the last of my oat milk in this morning’s GM, I popped into Tesco’s to buy more, and continue my quest to find my favourite non-dairy/soya milk. Today was the turn of:89cdb2251563f447cc23e436fc56d75885d78113

Coconut milk! I’m going to try this tomorrow morning Smile Still left to try: almond, rice, and any others I come across! It’ll be difficult to beat oat milk, as I love that! Open-mouthed smile

On that non-dairy note, I just thought I’d talk about pressures from the (healthy living) blog community. Yesterday I got an email from a reader saying that she thought the blog world was starting to feel pressurised, and wanted to know what were my thoughts on that. She mentioned the pressures of vegetarianism/veganism, comparisons and running.

As far as vegetarianism/veganism is concerned, I do see her point about pressure. It seems as though most healthy living bloggers are either vegetarian or vegan, for whatever reason (myself included!). Although I’m not a vegan, I do try to eat a mainly vegan diet, but have done so since pre-blogging days because of animal welfare reasons. I have to admit though, I have even felt ashamed once of posting a meal that contained cheese, because I felt that vegan bloggers would look down on me because my meal contained a dairy product. Was this an irrational and silly thought? Probably! And none of the blogs I’ve read have been disparaging to omnivorous diets, but what do you think? Do you feel pressured to become vegetarian/vegan if you aren’t already? Have blogs caused you to change your diet?

Comparisons are something we all do, even just unconsciously when reading other people’s blogs. I’ve noticed I especially do that as far as running is concerned. For example, reading that someone has just done a 20 mile run, or run 7.00 min/miles on an ‘easy’ run can make you feel less ‘worthy’, after running a slower 4 miler, and I know I’ve often felt this way. I just try to remember that we are all different, and that what is within one person’s capabilities isn’t necessarily within mine, but my achievements are just as great. I also have felt guilty over the fact I don’t work out every day, when some people do, but again, I have to remind myself that this doesn’t work for me–  my body needs rest days, whereas other people might be fine with it.

So thoughts on this topic? How would you respond to this reader’s question?

A Bittersweet Thanksgiving

Hey everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving for those of you who are celebrating it today! Smile Sorry I didn’t post yesterday- I got back late from a concert, so I took a packed dinner:DSC04024

Wholewheat noodles in soy sauce, with tofu and courgette (zucchini), which made a great, filling dinner  that took less than 10 minutes to throw together!

And when I got back later, I snacked on an apple and cinnamon yoghurt mess:DSC04027

Apple and cinnamon complemented this season perfectly! Thanks for all your comments on Tuesday’s post by the way- it seems as though the majority agree with me in thinking that autumn/fall is the best food season! Smile

Breakfast today was pumpkin oatmeal with the last remainders of my open can of pumpkin. I have many more cans,  but am trying not to go through them too fast as I am very miserly (they aren’t cheap!), so sadly it may be a while before it returns! Sad smile Well actually, it probably won’t be that long- self control was never one of my strong points! Smile with tongue outDSC04029

That miniscule  blob was all that was left in the tin! Still made it lovely and pumpkiny though! Open-mouthed smile All stirred in and topped with a crumbled pumpkin cookie:DSC04001

Today sadly was my uncle Raj’s funeral. If you didn’t know, my fit+healthy uncle Raj died suddenly of a heart attack two weeks ago aged just 48. The funeral was very sad, but it was great talking to everyone at the reception and hearing all their funny stories about him! He was such a joker! Open-mouthed smile The funeral programme:DSC04045

He shared my love of running, and was actually running when he had his first heart attack a few days before the second one that killed him. He also shared my love of food, so they made sure that the funeral reception had lots of his favourite foods. The buffet included these cute mini quiches:DSC04033

And these cupcakes:DSC04032

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I had a ton of savoury food (quiches galore!), so by the time they brought out the cupcakes, I was too stuffed to eat them! But my brother made up for me by eaing three, and I did enjoy quite a bit of my delicious pumpkin gingerbread a few hours later when I got back home! Smile with tongue out

Also, this was waiting for me when I got home:DSC04035

A package! And y’all know how much I love packages! Open-mouthed smileDSC04036

I knew it would  be my protein powder that I ordered a few days ago before I opened it, but I was in for a bit of a surprise!DSC04037

Soya protein? I thought I ordered pea protein?

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Nope, looks as though I accidently ordered soya protein instead! As  I had had some stomach issues with soya milk, I had decided to go for the pea protein, but as I can’t really be bothered to send it back and get the right one, I think I’ll just try this and see how I feel! So it called for a quick Protein Green Monster:DSC04039

Oat milk, pear, spinach, xanthan gum, cinnamon and protein powder, all blended:DSC04041

Wasn’t quite sweet enough for me- had to add some agave. The stomach’s feeling fine at the moment, but we’ll see later! Hopefully there’ll  be no problem Smile

So what are you thankful for today? I’m thankful that Raj’s life was one filled with happiness and joy, and that his wife and children know how very much he loved them. Better to live a short but happy life than a long and unfulfilling one, right?

“Every man dies.  Not every man really lives.”  <—— So make sure you do! Smile

Tough run :(

Hello all! This morning began with a planned run. I fuelled up with PB on toast for breakfast, which had to be enjoyed without my usual banana, as we had run out again! Sad smile Still good though!DSC03876

And can you believe it, there was actually some sun/blue skies this morning! Surprised smileDSC03879

So headed outside to soak up some Vitamin D on what was supposed to be an easy 4-miler. I don’t know what was wrong today, but I felt bad through most of the run! I’d overdressed again (although this wasn’t a problem- just a little annoying!) Should have followed Jen’s example and worn shorts, rather than running tights! Smile with tongue out Anyway, at about mile 3, my stomach started playing up. I felt really ill! It was a struggle to get home (I had to take a couple of breaks to see if the stomach pain would go; it didn’t) but I made it back, very disheartened, and with no idea why it had gone so badly! Confused smile I have some fartlek/interval training planned for tomorrow, so lets hope the tummy is okay then!

Despite the dodgy tummy, I still managed an average pace of 8.40 min/miles, so which wasn’t bad considering! Smile Post-run, I had soya yoghurt topped with my homemade granola:DSC03886

I think this actually helped my stomach! After having this, my stomach felt fine! Smile

I had a late lunch, as I had had a lot of mid morning snacks! I started by roasting up some butternut squash:DSC03894

I would have squash more often (I love it!) except for the whole peeling/deseeding/chopping thing, which takes me ages! I also sautéed this cute little courgette in EVOO spray:DSC03896 And served it with a nest of wholewheat noodles and some spinach. By the way, I recently got emailed by someone asking how they could up their fruit+veg intake. So here’s a little spinach wilting tip that is great for when you want to add it to pasta or noodles, and is miles quicker than doing it separately. Line your colander with the spinach…DSC03898

…and then drain the pasta/noodles into the colander:DSC03899

This wilts the spinach without any effort! A great no-fuss way to up the veg intake Smile

Altogether, a delicious and colourful lunch:DSC03904DSC03905

Do you have any tips on how to increase your fruit and vegetable intake with minimal effort?

Have a great evening! Open-mouthed smile

Exciting package delivery!

I don’t know about you, but I still get childishly excited when the post arrives. Especially when there’s a package for me! Open-mouthed smileDSC03847

Tearing straight into it…any guesses?DSC03848

It’s this!DSC03850

Michael Pollen’s ‘In Defence of Food’. After hearing many rave reviews of this book, I decided to order it and see what the fuss was about myself! I have a huge interest in this kind of thing, so I can’t wait to dive right in! And of course I’ll give you a lovely book review when I’m done! Smile

Another surprise this morning was some natural light, believe it or not! I feel like I’ve been living in darkness for ages, so when a bit of natural light comes, I hurry with the food so it can be appreciated!DSC03846

Aah, light! It soon went again though, and I returned back to my world of artificial light. Sad smile This bowl of delicious creamy simple oats (1 cup oats+wheatbran, a sprinkle of oatbran, 1 cup soya milk and a handful of raisins) warmed and cheered me up though!

On today’s agenda was making granola! I love granola, but hate how much sugar is added to shop-bought varieties! That’s also what I love about dried apricots- they’re one of the few dried fruits that usually never have any added sugar! Open-mouthed smile

Coconut, Apricot and Almond Granola (adapted from Sound Eats)

  • 2 cups (jumbo) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup toasted flaked almonds
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons tropical (or orange) juice
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or agave
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil (I used melted vegan spread)
  • Desiccated coconut (optional- I used approximately 3 Tablespoons)
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Combine the oats, almonds, apricots and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in all of the liquids until all the oats are evenly coated.
  3. Spread out the granola on a lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake granola for 15 minutes. Take the granola out and turn it, then bake an additional 10 minutes. (It won’t be very hard- the granola will continue to harden after you remove it from the oven).

I remember it taking me ages to find rolled oats when I first bought these, but you can get them almost anywhere now! They are great for baking, so much better than normal oats!DSC03859

The original recipe called for nutmeg instead of cinnamon, but I didn’t  have any. Regardless, I’m definitely a cinnamon girl anyway, so would have added this King of Spices anyway! Smile with tongue outDSC03860

All mixed together:DSC03854

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Unfortunately, I over baked mine a bit, as I have a fan-assisted oven, so you have to judge by how much to reduce time/temperature. And apparently I didn’t judge very well! But anyway, it still turned out delicious:DSC03862

Filled a whole tub! This’ll last me a while! I had some sprinkled on the remains of my soya yoghurt as an afternoon snack:DSC03874

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Very tasty, and brilliant with yogurt! Smile

Lunch was light, as I had basically been snacking throughout the day-mainly on this moreish granola! Smile with tongue out I had spinach and cheese stuffed mushrooms, which make a great light lunch or snack, depending on how hungry you are! Basically, you take a large flat mushroom (or two, in my case), and destalk:

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Take about a handful of fresh spinach, and chop roughly:DSC03864

Stuff the mushroom with the spinach. Grate some cheese, and then sprinkle on top. Then place on a grill pan and grill on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until ready.DSC03868DSC03866

Voila!DSC03869

Before lunch, I tackled the cardio section of Nell McAndrew’s Ultimate Challenge again, which is definitely my favourite workout DVD at the moment:DSC03322

Did about 40 mins, which was still a challenge! I’ve actually yet to do the whole thing from start to finish, mainly because it’s about an hour and a half long! Smile with tongue out

So have you read ‘In Defence of Food’, and if so, what did you think? I’m also thinking of reading ‘The End of Overeating’ by David Kessler, so if you’ve read that, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! And do you use workout DVDs? If so what are your favourites?

Have a great evening! Open-mouthed smile

Welcoming the food baby

So today was basically sweet food after sweet food, and I am sitting here feeling extremely bloated and slightly sick, but very happy. Happy, not just because of the sugar rush, but because, for what is the first time I can remember, I know I have eaten a ton of unhealthy food, but I am not feeling guilty and remorseful. I know this is just ‘one of those days’, and I’m not feeling angry at myself for over-indulging. I’m most certainly not planning to restrict my intake of food in the upcoming days to ‘make up for it’, which I definitely would have done just a few months ago! I feel like this is a huge breakthrough with me, as this was the part of my disordered eating that I struggled with the most, and I’m really starting to feel that I’ve broken free of that binge-starve cycle! Open-mouthed smile

Excuse the long speech! Breakfast was Oats In A Leftover Yoghurt Pot, as I so inventively call it! Smile with tongue out

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A cup of oats, the remainders of the soya yoghurt (about 1/4 pot) and a handful of raisins, topped with half a scuffin:

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With an apple on the side. Such a quick, yummy and filling breakfast! Love it! Smile 

Today we celebrated my dad’s birthday. It wasn’t actually today, but his real birthday coincided with the death of my uncle (thanks for your consolations on that by the wat!, so we decided to celebrate it today instead. So I of course stepped up to make the requested chocolate birthday cake. What a chore! Smile with tongue out But I have a shocking confession to make. I was all set to make the cake, had my pans greased and lined, oven preheating etc when I started to assemble my ingredients, and I realised something. I had no flour and no sugar! What kind of baker has no flour or sugar in their house?! Embarrassed smile One who bakes too often, that’s who! Smile with tongue out So I ran down to my local corner shop to get some, but all they had was this:

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So yes, I made a cake from a cake mix. But I did add my own twists to make it a little better! Instead of eggs, I used flax eggs, instead of oil, I used melted Clover Light (margarine) and instead of buying ‘Betty Crocker icing’ for frosting it I made my own. Smile So not all bad! Also, my sandwich tins were far smaller than the ones required to make the layer cake shown in the picture, so I made a traybake-type cake in my 13×9 inch pan and frosted the top. And covered it with pretty sugar stars, which was admittedly a little girly for my dad, but I got a little carried away and he didn’t complain!DSC03675

It was delicious actually- far better than I thought it would be! Very moist! Still I think I would make it properly in the future! Smile with tongue out After we had had a few slices:DSC03676

I also made him his favourite dessert. Guess what this is…DSC03658

If you guessed lemon tart, you’re right! Open-mouthed smile Dad loves it (as do I!), so we all dug in:DSC03659

I served his with double cream (it is his birthday after all!) and blueberries (his favourite fruit). At his little party, there was also more cakes, my scuffins (a favourite of my dad’s!), cupcakes, cookies and brownies. I basically had some of everything Smile with tongue out Hence the food baby!

I had a light lunch, which was a salad, consisting of couscous, a ton of kidney beans ( I love them!), butter beans, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, sweetcorn, etc:

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And dinner was vegetable chilli with brown rice:DSC03669

With birthday cake for dessert. And so, food baby! Open-mouthed smile

Tomorrow, something really exciting is happening….I am going to be performing (as part of an orchestra and a quartet) at the Royal Albert Hall!!! If you don’t know, it is one of the most famous and prestigious performing arts venues in the world! Open-mouthed smile800px-royal_albert_hall

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I can’t wait! It is going to be a very long day, with a rehearsal at 9am, then travelling there, a rehearsal at the venue and then the evening performance. I won’t be back till very late/very early the next morning, but I can’t wait! And hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in a quick run somewhere too! It’s going to be brilliant! I’m packing a lot of yummy food to last me the whole day, including a tofu salad and butternut squash falafels Smile Will share all afterwards!

Oh, and I ordered the Mizuno Windbreaker Performance Jacket, and that hopefully should be arriving tomorrow (although I won’t be there to get it if it does…) or the day after. So exciting times! Open-mouthed smile

So following on from my little update at the beginning of this post, what breakthroughs have you made recently? And what are you looking forward to in the near future?

Have a great evening! Smile