• Current Read - Winter of the World by Ken Follett and March edition of 'Bike' magazine
  • Current Drink - filtered water with a dash of lemon juice
  • Current Excitement - it's nearly spring and riding season
  • Current fashion trend - snowshoes!
  • Current Favourite Blog/Website - Netflix (been without cable for over a year now!)
  • Current Garden Item - waste from juicing as a compost
  • Current Love - hiking with my Vizsla pup (wifey said it's ok to not say her...;-))
  • Current Food - oatmeal with crushed blueberries, chia seeds, cinnamon and maple syrup 
  • Current Indulgence - pancakes for breakfast on the weekend
  • Currently Pondering - this question...
  • Current Mood - perfectly contented
  • Current New Find - satisfaction in simplicity
  • Current Outfit - 'Dirty Feet' race series TNF hoodie
  • Current Peeve - people who use flashlights while snowshoeing in the moonlight 
  • Current Song - Pearl Jam album
  • Current Triumph - 2013 Street Triple R ;-)
  • Current TV Show - P90X workout DVDs
  • Current Wish-List - nothing...?
  • Currently Delaying - taking my paddle board to the lake - brrrr...

Keep the balance balanced!

So we all know that eating out is never as healthy as home cooking, or at least we should do! Even if we find the best locally sourced organic only restaurant, there's a good chance we'll eat more than usual, drink more than usual etc. You can't beat fresh home cooked food eaten round the table together for a healthy lifestyle - or can you???

What about the other benefits of eating out; the perfect wind-down from a stressful day at work, an escape from the kids or some alone time with your partner. Or simply the fact that you don't have to cook or clear up the mess. What a relaxing way to kill a couple of hours, being waited on, indulging in a meal you wouldn't normally eat or a particularly fine wine?!

We need to weigh up the balance of the pros verses the cons; is the downside of a little too much excess in one area worth the benefits in other areas? Of course it is - who doesn't like a good night out with the boys and/or girls - it's why we have weekends every seven days, right?

And it's not just about food either: do you really have to get this morning's long run in right now? What about the health benefits of that extra hour in bed together...;-) It's a gorgeous day, go for a picnic together instead. Run tomorrow when it's raining! Work might be important and even great but so is taking an afternoon off to extend the weekend now and again.

And when you do fall off the wagon - enjoy it! Do NOT beat yourself up about slipping from the routine. Tomorrow's another day, get back on track then - just make sure you do.

My point is, you've chosen a healthy lifestyle; good food and regular exercise will surely keep you in good shape for the future. But don't obsess; remember to enjoy the only real time you have - the here and now. All things in moderation - including moderation!

Wholewheat Pumpkin Pancakes

This is our new favourite go-to recipe for Sunday morning pancakes. We still have a stack of homemade pumpkin puree in the freezer left over from fall so this is great to use. You really can't taste the pumpkin in this, but it does give the pancakes enough sweetness that I find you don't need to add anything else to the batter mixture (the addition of maple syrup has nothing to do with the added sweetness and all about the indulgence - and besides, whoever heard of panckes without syrup?!)
Ingredients (makes around a half dozen 5" pancakes)
  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp Maca powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (we use Almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
Mix everything together to form the batter, cook and enjoy!

How to be single and love it!

So you’ve just got out of that draining relationship, now what? Even though you want to be free, most people end up in another restricting relationship sooner than they think. Why? Because the thing we miss most from any relationship, even a bad one, is company. We may not miss that person but we miss a person, any person in our lives. Of course we do, we suddenly wake up alone, leave for work alone, return to an empty home, eat alone, go to bed alone. The list goes on…

But is that such a bad thing? No, of course it’s not, we just have to get used to our own company – arguably the best there is!

Now is the time to reflect on how that last relationship was holding us back; think back to what you used to enjoy back when you were young and single. Why did you stop rock climbing, was it really a case of just ‘growing out of it’ or was it because your partner didn’t like it? What about that friend you used to hang out with that your partner couldn’t get on with – miss them??? The same works the other way round; is that really your favourite restaurant or did it become a habit because you were pleasing your ex? Why did you paint the bedroom bright green?

Now is the time to rediscover who you really are! And it’s not just the big things. I’m talking about everyday habits; why do you always sleep on that side of the bed, why do you sit in that chair, watch that program, eat breakfast before showering, close the bedroom window at night? And that shirt you never really liked…

Now is the time to let go, really let go. Introduce you to yourself, do you like what you see? If not, then change – and even if so, be open to change. Learn who you really are and who you really want to be. Become 100% you and not you as part of a couple.

How? Explore, experiment; try a new restaurant – alone! Try a sport or activity you’ve never tried before, walk down a new shopping street, try a different grocery store, different food. Discover a new author; go see a film that you wouldn’t normally see – alone, socialise. But don’t forget to enjoy some real ‘me’ time either; stay in, drink wine, take too long to cook, clear the dishes tomorrow!

Treat yourself like a new partner; ask questions, listen, be attentive, take time, make extra effort, pay compliments! Find confidence in who you have become. Love yourself, warts and all; it’s who you’ll spend the rest of your life with!

And then… then you’ll be in a far better place to meet ‘The One!’

How to Meal Plan

Hi I'm Helen - Chris's better half and the 'always right' one of our household! Since I finally got Chris on board with meal planning life seems so much simpler. I'd love to share with you how we do our meal plans (note: we just plan out our evening meals since we're such creatures of habit when it comes to breakfasts, snacks and lunches - I just have the 'staples' for those on my shopping list week in, week out.)

This is how we meal plan in our household (for evening meals);
  • Pick a day each week to sit down and plan out meals for that week, and create your shopping list based on that plan - make it routine each week. I always plan out our meals on Tuesday so I can shop on Wednesday on my way home from work
  • Take stock on what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry that needs to be used up
  • Sit down (with your partner or family if possible) and think about what meals you'd like, and consider meals that will use food you already have that's close to it's expiration date. Use cookery books, the internet and (my personal favourite!) Pinterest for inspiration. I also keep a list of our 'family favourites' - those go-to meals that we can cook with our eyes closed if I'm lacking inspiration. At this point double-check your calendar to make sure there are no events or activites you have planned that will interfere with your 'at-home' meals
  • For our household I typically plan out 1 red meat meal, 1 chicken meal, 1 fish meal and at least 2 vegetarian meals. I normally keep 1 'spare' day - for eating out or having a potluck supper with leftovers from the week
  • Once you have your meals planned out, go through each recipe and check your ingredients - anything you don't already have in the fridge, freezer or pantry needs to go on the shopping list
  • What we find particularly key in our house is that we plan for a week, not a day. We both found that setting a particular day to eat a partuclar meal was way too regimented for us (well Chris did!) Now we usually text each other sometime during the day to decide what 'we fancy' that night! - and we usually have up to 6 'choices' to pick from knowing that everything we need to cook for any one of them is already at home ready to go.
  • It's that simple!
Remember everyone is different and this is what works for us - you need to find what works for your family. Good luck and thanks for letting me share my version! Feel free to leave a comment to let me know your own hints, tips and methods - I'd love to hear them!

You can usually find me blogging over at Most Sundays I join with my friends who host Menu Planning Challenge blog link up - it's a great place for a little extra inspiration and motivation to stay on track! Funnily enough Laura is also studying with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition on the same course as Chris!

    Benefits of Menu Planning

    I am a HUGE believer in Meal Planning....My wife convinced me some time back that it was something that 'needed' to be done in our household. I think the thing that held me back for so long was the idea that we had our whole meal planning lives mapped out - and frankly that seemed rather dull and boring and I was clinging onto the youthful desire to be 'spontaneous'. Of course in the end she was right as usual (women generally are - at least you have them believe that you believe this ;-) And what turned it round for me was the promise that we'd have not so much a plan but a weekly menu from which to select each night! That's right - we still meal plan and get all the fabulous benefits which I'm about to share, but we don't state on which days we have which meals - we can choose, and send cutesy text messages to each other during the day at work deciding what we're going to have that evening. Result? - that she thinks she was right all along, and I think that I'm being spontaneous!!

    But now on to those benefits I was talking about....

    Benefits of Meal Planning
    • You'll save time
      • You'll spend less time each day figuring out your meals - instead just have one session once a week when you plan out everything.
      • You'll spend less time at the grocery store - plan ahead and shop just once a week  - not only do you make less visits to the store the chances are you'll be quicker in store as well with a clear and defined shopping list in hand - no more aimless browsing up and down the aisles searching for inspiration!
    • You'll save money
      • When you have the fresh ingredients in your house for meals you have planned you're less likely to be tempted to go out to eat or buy expensive and less healthy fast food or ready meals
      • When you've planned out your meals and shopped using your list you're far less likely to have wasted food
      • You'll be going to the store less so you'll save yourself gas money for all those little 'I just forgot' trips!
    • You'll be less stressed
      • You won't have that '5 o'clock feeling' of wondering what on earth you're going to cook that night for your family
      • If everyone gets involved in the meal planning then they know what they're having and feel good about having had a say in it - that equals less moaning from the kids about what you put in front of them each night - Amen!
      • You know you've got all the ingredient in to cook the meals you have planned - no more dashing to the store for that missing ingredient
    • You'll eat better, more healthy and balanced meals
      • You have control of WHAT you put in your meals - no additives, excess salt, sugars, GMO ingredients - whatever it is you feel passionate about
      • When you plan you can ensure you have a balanced meal that everyone likes and will eat
      • You can control your portion sizes (And if you've cooked too much there's another bonus - save it and pop it in the fridge or freezer for another day!)

    Watch out for a follow-up guest post from my lovely (and always right!) wife when she tells you HOW we meal plan in our household...coming up tomorrow!
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