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5 Tips for Eating More Protein

Since starting the gym this time last year, my biggest challenge (apart from all those heavy weights) has been my diet. I’ve never restricted myself, I’ve always been one of those people that eats everything. Now I work out this isn’t really that different except I follow more of an 80:20 rule – that is, eat 80% healthy balanced stuff, 20% treats. I more or less stick to this, maybe on weekends those treats go up to 40% but hey we’re all human.

My main change has been about what I eat though, and with my strength training there’s a real requirement to eat more protein to help heal and build my muscles. I’m aiming for just under double my body weight in grams, so between 80-100g a day. It’s a pretty big ask but I’ve found a few things that help me that I thought would be good to share.

1. Get a good breakfast

Eggs are everything. A large egg has around 7g of protein, scramble two of those on some toast with a handful of mushrooms and or spinach and you’re 14g down and off to a great start to the day.

2. Make ahead snacks

Your body can only digest and use 30g or so of protein in one serving. Snacks are a great way to keep getting that protein in small amounts throughout the day and here’s some of my favourites:

  • Chicken drumsticks (~13g per drummer)
  • Beef jerky (~20g per pack)
  • Cottage cheese and crudités (~10g per 100g)
  • Peanut butter and apple (~8g/2tbsp peanut butter)
  • Crispy chickpeas (~7g/handful)

3. Lentils, beans chickpeas are your friends

Meat is expensive, not great for the planet and can contain bad fats and other nasties. Plus let’s face it, it gets boring after a while. Varying your protein sources stops boredom and keeps things fresh. Lentils are hella cheap and delicious (hello, lentil curry) and chickpeas you can add to virtually anything. Beans are so versatile, they can add extra bulk to lots of things, or even be a replacement for mash. Stock up on these cupboard essentials and you’ll always have a cheap, protein rich meal to hand.

4. Don’t forget fibre

Your body needs fibre to help you process the protein so don’t be afraid of including brown carbs and plenty of fruit and veg. Basically, don’t ignore the other food groups!

5. Sometimes you have to have shakes

A high protein diet shouldn’t be ALL protein shakes but if you’re trying to meet 100g a day, they become a bit of a necessity. Protein cereal bars (I like Eat Natural) are also good to keep on hand if you get in a bind. Overall though, you should try and get as much from natural food sources as possible, as you need the other nutrients.

Are you eating a high protein diet? Let me know if you found this useful!

Jino’s Thai Cafe, Headingley Review

Jino’s has always been on my list to visit, having always heard amazing things about it. Despite living in a mile radius of this place for four years I didn’t actually make it until a couple of weeks ago for my dads birthday and it was everything I had hoped it would be.

It’s very small, very unassuming, with minimal decor inside – very much a cafe vibe. We had booked for 1pm and were the first people through the door, leaving us wondering if we should have booked at all. Our fears were quickly subsided though as it rapidly began to fill up with families and students. It’s BYOB, by the way.

We started with spring rolls, a couple of rounds of chicken satay and some sweetcorn fritters which for me were the star of the show. Deep fried, incredibly sweet and incredibly savoury at the same time, they were little rounds of puréed sweetcorn with a chilli dipping sauce. Gorgeous.

Then onto the mains. We like to share, so we got a few different plates and all dived in. We had a beef massaman curry, a special duck red Thai curry, a chicken pad Thai and a pork fried rice (Khao Pad). The pad thai was delicious, just the right amount of peanuttyness and a gorgeous, sweet sour sauce. The red Thai curry had a proper kick to it and delicious, well cooked duck.

My favourite though was the pork fried rice, it had that delicious smoky wok flavour and loads of fresh vegetables. Absolutely savoury and moreish!

All in all the food was absolutely delicious, properly Thai and excellent value. You can also bring your own booze, which again makes it a cheaper affair. I’d really recommend Jinos if you’re looking for Thai outside Leeds city centre.

72 Mighty Meatballs

You can’t just make A FEW meatballs. They’re one of those foods where if you’re making them, you should be making a LOT of them. This happens especially if you’re mixing your meats – mine are pork and beef – because you can’t buy a tiny pack of beef mince and a tiny pack of pork mince. You might as well go whole hog, buy 1kg meat and spending your afternoon well… Ballin’. That’s exactly what I did, and we ended up with 72 meatballs in the house.*

I’ve been making this recipe as long as I can remember, as taught by my dad (author of other delicious creations such as The Best Bolognese Sauce and Tuna, Rice ‘And All Things Nice’) As my tastes have changed I’ve started adding more spice but the basic recipe remains untouched. Spend a couple of hours bulk balling, and you’ll have a freezer full of meaty delights that you can pop on pasta, serve in pittas as per my little packed lunches, or just eat (obviously defrosted and cooked through).

Recipe after the jump!

*Update – there’s like 20 left now

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The Best Restaurants in Ciutadella, Menorca

It’s holiday post time! Yes, ok, I’ve been back for two weeks, but these things take time. So, we recently holidayed (is that a verb?) in the beautiful city of Ciutadella, in Menorca. Menorca is next to Majorca in the Balearic Islands, and we found it to be quite similar in terms of vibe and touristy-ness. We had originally booked Cala’n Bosch not realising that it’s VERY touristy and built up, not really the authentic experience we like on holiday. So we ended up rebooking to Ciutadella which looked much more Spanish.

We weren’t disappointed. Ciutadella is a beautiful place, with authentic tapas restaurants spilling out onto ambling paved streets, a lively harbour with marketplaces and music, and gelato shops on every corner. The only downside to our visit was that everyone else thinks it’s a beautiful place too! In peak season, the city gets very busy. We visited in the last week of August and found ourselves on the first few nights queueing for the popular restaurants, or having to settle for places we maybe wouldn’t have chosen. So some tips if you are thinking of visiting – try to go outside of the school holidays, get to the top rated TripAdvisor places early, or try to make reservations for the following night if you see somewhere nice.

Here’s a quick run down of some of the places we tried, most were rated well on TripAdvisor…

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A (Kind of Scary) Fitness Update

Deep breaths… this is a nerve wracking post! Soooo if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that since October last year I’ve been hitting the gym HARD with the help of my PT Jess, and I have a really great update to give. It’s exciting news, but it comes with a before-and-after pictures which are a bit scary to put online but I think they do the story justice.

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Creamy Chicken Sausage, Mushroom and Kale Spaghetti

I am such a huge fan of Heck! Chicken Italia sausages. Not only are they lean they are also absolutely delicious! You can use them like you would pork sausages (in a sandwich or breakfast) but they also really come into their own in creamy dishes like this, just like chicken breast would.

Note this totally isn’t an advert for Heck!, and other chicken sausages are available. They’re just really, really good.

The sausages are waaaaay easier to cut up if you cook them first so be sure to do that to make your life easier. You also get a better colour on the skin through grilling them rather than frying. Kale can be swapped for spinach too if you prefer, and I used wholegrain spaghetti because I like it but again that’s up for change.

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Pressure Cooker Spicy Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

This is such an easy, cupboard essential meal. You don't necessarily need a pressure cooker to make it either but it does cut down the cooking time and makes the chickpeas nice and soft. You could easily whack this in the oven for an hour or two or do it in a slow cooker.

I absolutely love chickpeas at the moment, they're so cheap and bulk out any recipe, as well as being all good for you and stuff. I keep trying to find new ways to cook them and this is a brilliant way as they're almost star of the show.

You can make a big batch of this and freeze it too, imagine coming home to a big steaming bowl of spicy, tomatoey goodness on a cold autumn night. And it will be autumn soon so that dream isn't very far away!

Note I put kale in this which just kind of turned to green mulch in the pressure cooker. Spinach might be better, or if you really want kale, leave it out until five minutes before the end.

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High Protein Tofu Noodle Stir Fry

I feel SO busy at the moment. Somehow I'm packing in a 40 hour working week, 4 trips to the gym, trying to buy a car, and about umpteen friends' birthdays and social plans. That's just summer though really isn't it? I feel like having the opportunity to cook something nice is really rare for me at the moment – there's been lots of scrambled egg on toast for dinner (eeeek!). Anyway, I'm on holiday countdown as it's won't be long before we're off to Menorca for a week of eating, beaching and reading. I cannot wait!

A brief gym update since my last post because I'm SO proud of the progress I'm making. This week I've managed sumo squat deadlifts all by myself (no PT spotting) at 30kg which is the biggest weight I've ever lifted so far. There's people that can lift more (obviously) but to me this is a huge achievement, especially considering I could barely lift a 20kg bar this time last year. October will be my gym-iversary and if I'm feeling brave enough I might do some of those cringey before and after pictures. It's never really been about the result for me though, more the feeling. Lifting that weight makes me feel like I can take on anything.

Now I'll stop rambling on, on to the recipe. This yummy stir fry is so packed full of protein and vegetables and makes for great weekday lunches, especially as the longer you leave it, the more flavour the tofu takes on from the surrounding sauce. I love that about tofu! The wet sauce for this which is unusual for me with noodles, I usually like a drier noodle or just dressed sesame oil but the tofu really needs the moisture for this to work. If you're a busy monster like me you can meal prep this bad boy by chopping up all the veg beforehand and keeping it in the fridge, and just lob it into the pan when you come home. You could even pre-chop the tofu and marinate it in a little soy sauce if you were feeling really extra.

High Protein Tofu Noodle Stir fry

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 280g block plain tofu (I like the 'Tofoo' stuff)
  • 1 medium pepper
  • 5-6 spring onions
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 1-2 nests of fine egg noodles
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • Sesame, chilli and vegetable oils

Finely slice the mushrooms, peppers, onions and spring onions and mince the garlic. Chop the tofu into small cubes and begin to fry in a frying pan with 2 tsp vegetable oil, and a couple of shakes of the chilli oil. In a separate pan or wok, make a quick, thin omelette with the egg and set to one side. Stir fry the veg with the garlic (I like to blanch the spring onions with the noodles so leave those out til later) just for a coupe of minutes until it starts to soften. Shred up that omelette you made earlier and add to the pan, and when the tofu is ready, add that in too. Boil the noodles in a saucepan according to packet instructions and drain into a sieve – place the spring onions in the sieve and pour the hot water over them. This makes them nice and soft without compromising the flavour.

Next, in a cup, mix together the cornflour, soy sauce, five spice and fish sauce with maybe 25ml water or so – you want it to fill about half way up a standard mug. Pour this into the pan with the veg and the tofu and add the noodles too. Stir until it's thickened – add a bit more water if it goes too thick and then serve with a drizzle more chilli oil if you like a bit of spice!