Archive | May, 2012

Workout 1 – See the Light!

This is my gym..the great outdoors! It’s free, no gym membership, no waiting for equipment,  no room full of sweaty people and no floor length mirrors that show every lump and bump! It’s fresh, it’s real, it’s in touch with nature!

Ok, for all you cynical people I appreciate that the weather isn’t always on our side and in winter the only window of opportunity may be in the pitch black but I guarantee you if you can work around it and take the plunge you will feel wonderful afterwards!

Here is the first in a serious of great outdoor workouts that I will be posting over the coming weeks and months!  For these workouts you will need no equipment, other than yourself and a park bench, a high step or a wall that’s around chair height. They are very high intensity workouts meaning that they are quick to do and yet great for calorie burn!

For the first one I am starting with quite simple moves (which will get progressively harder in subsequent workouts) but don’t be fooled, it isn’t as easy as it looks! Especially if you really put your all into it!

Don’t forget to have a bottle of water with you and do some good warm up stretches before you begin.  Also make sure that you leave plenty of time at the end to finish with some static stretches. In case you are interested, I will be posting a stretching program in the next few weeks…

Core Exercises:  Complete ONE set of a) followed by 1 set of b) then repeat for the second set
1a) Plank – 2 sets 30-60 seconds   Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise – in other words contract your pelvic floor and draw your navel in towards your spine. Push back with the heels and activate your thigh muscles pulling up from the knee caps. Tuck your tail bone under and keep breathing.
1b) Side Plank – 2 sets 30-60 seconds    Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged. Come up onto the elbow making sure there is a right angle at the elbow. Squeeze the bum and pull the hips up. Keep the chest up and open and keep breathing. Make sure you don’t allow all your weight to fall into your shoulder, try to distribute it evenly through the body.
2a) Crunches with raised legs – 2 sets 20 reps   Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Make sure the shoulders are completely off the ground for the entire exercise as you flex the trunk up and down slowly.
2b) Bicycle crunches – 2 sets 20 reps – SLOW! Hold each rep for 3 seconds   Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Make sure the shoulders are completely off the ground, bringing the elbow as close to the knee as you can. 
CIRCUIT : 45 – 60 secs for each exercise (depending on fitness level)
Complete each of the exercises below in turn and then move on to the next one with very little rest.  When you get to the end, have a short rest and then repeat the circuit 2 more times.
Side Step Ups – Do one leg for 45-60 seconds and then swap sides   FAST FAST FAST!!!! Keep your core muscles engaged (navel in towards the spine). Make sure that the heel that’s on the bench remains in contact with the bench at all times and push up through the heel and the bum. Do not let the foot on the bench leave the bench! Breathe out as you step up. Don’t let yourself bend forwards when you get tired.
Kick Ups – FAST!    Alternate legs making sure you kick nice and high! Keep your core muscles engaged at all times. Breathe out as you kick up. 
1-Leg Press Ups    Keep core muscles engaged at all times. Breathe in as you go down and out as push up contracting the chest muscles. Start with 1 leg if you can and then drop to 2 legs when it becomes too difficult. Or you can start with 2 legs or even on your knees depending on your level. 
Lunge to Balance    Keep core muscles engaged. Breathe in on the way down and out on the way up. Make sure you keep your back straight and don’t let your knee go over the end of your toe when you are in the down position. Push off from the heel as you stand up. 
Triceps Dips   Feel free to have your knees bent if too difficult with straight legs…Keep your back straight at all times and chest out. Make sure your core muscles are engaged. Breathe in as you go down and out as you come up. 
Mountain Climbers – Fast!   Keep your core muscles engaged and make sure you keep breathing! Make sure your shoulders remain above your wrists. Keep switching legs as fast as you can for the allotted time. GREAT WORKOUT!!! WELL DONE!!!

‘Ava Choccie!

 So this weeks post is a seemingly naughty treat that actually isn’t naughty at all! Here is a recipe for a healthy, low GI chocolate mousse cake. It contains no sugar, no cream and no butter and yet it has a wonderful rich, smooth and creamy consistency just like your regular chocolate mousse. Plus the added bonus is that you don’t feel sick or guilty afterwards!

The main ingredient for this recipe is actually avocado, which may sound crazy but honestly it tastes AMAZING. Just so you know about 75% of an avocado’s calories come from fat but most of this is the heart healthy monounsaturated fat, so it is actually very good for you. The base is purely made up of nuts meaning that this cake is packed full of protein too.

I have to admit that my hubby Rob has to take full credit for this recipe, so if you love it as much as we do then this ones on him!

‘Ava Choccie Mousse Cake


For the base:

150g Pecans

150g Almonds

1 tsp, Pink Himalayan Salt (pinch of salt if you don’t have!)

3 tbsp of almond butter 

For the filling: 

Blend the flesh of 4 medium, ripe avocados

150g Virgin coconut oil

Beans of 2 whole vanilla pods

200g raw cacao powder

Pinch of salt

Sweeten with agave nectar to taste.


For the base blend together the almonds and pecans in a food processor, add the almond butter and keep blending until it forms a thick paste. Spoon the mixture into mould or tuppaware and press down flat to form a base.  Cover with cling film and leave to harden in the freezer for about 1hr.

Blend all the ingredients for the filling together until smooth and then pour onto the base. Set in the freezer until it is firm enough to slice up. The recipe says for an hour but we ended up having to leave it overnight before it was firm enough.

Top with fresh berries or eat it as it is. Whatever takes your fancy!


This recipe was adapted from:

Quinoa Porridge! Trust me, it’s good!

As you may have gathered by now I am a strong believer in high protein, low GI breakfasts for sustained energy and balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day.

This means that on the vast majority of mornings the hubby and will indulge in a piece of lean protein be it eggs, oily fish, lean meat or cottage cheese with a small serving of homemade low GI bread and an adequate supply of good fats in the form of our usual seeds. I don’t think a meal goes by without a good shaking of seeds!

There is however, the odd occasion where it is nice to treat ourselves to something a little bit different – something that is that is still packed full of protein and goodness though of course.

You may have heard me say this before but incase you haven’t I absolutely love Quinoa! We often have a small serving of this versatile little seed as a savoury accompaniment to dinner. So when I came across the concept for Quinoa porridge as a morning treat I was intrigued.

Why is quinoa so great? If you haven’t tried it yet it tastes great with a wonderfully nutty flavour. It is not only really delicious but it’s also one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom. It’s also low in fat and full of slow release carbohydrates which means it balances blood sugar levels. It also contains all eight essential amino acids making it a complete protein. 

I found a few recipes for Quinoa porridge online but this recipe is my kind of trial and error made up version. We think it is really tasty and it certainly had us feeling full for hours afterwards…

Quinoa Porridge


2 cups of Quinoa (pre soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, drained and rinsed again)

2 cups of milk

1 cup of water

1 pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of Cinnamon

Fresh vanilla pod or vanilla extract (not essence)

To serve:

1 handful of chopped walnuts

1-2 tablespoon of seeds

A few raspberries


Add the milk,  water and salt to the pre treated Quinoa and bring to the boil in a saucepan. Bring the heat down to a simmer and add the cinnamon and vanilla. Simmer on a low heat for around 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking that the mixture does run out of fluid.

You will know whethat the porridge is ready when it begins to soften and comes together having soaked up most of the liquid. (Please note it doesn’t have the same consistency to conventional porridge, the quinoa will still stay in its original shape and will have some bite).

Once it is done spoon into bowls and add the nuts, seeds and berries.

Serves 3 – This made enough for two portions hot and then one portion cold the next day. It is fabulous enjoyed cold mixed with natural yogurt!

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