a healthy snacks review: can I just have chocolate instead?

As part of my #letskissgoodbyetoMS campaign this May [2017], I have given up the luxury of all chocolatey goods. Side note: I can’t believe that I’ve already reached 85% of my fundraising goal!  ❤ ~ https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/GEORGETTA-EVANS

As I’m also starting my fitness journey to be a gym bunny (haha I can’t believe I just called myself that… #dontjudgeme) and am trying to eat healthier! So, I recently purchased three different types of healthy snacks to see whether any tickle my fancy and have the best health benefits possible from a little snack bar.

My reviews work like this, I mark the Flavour, Appearance and Texture a score out of 10 and talk about each one. Let’s get started! (I am not ordering them in terms of best on but the chronological order).

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Trek Cocoa Oat Flapjack – review!

#1 ~ Trek Cocoa Oat Protein Flapjack

F: 9 out of 10
A: 8 out of 10
T: 10 out of 10

Maybe I loved this because I was starving having just done a workout but I am happy to say I do recommend this bar, not only is it healthy, but it does have 9g of protein which gives an extra boost to anyone who is exercising regularly or need an extra boost with what they eat. The texture was soft but not sticky like a squares bar (which I know is made with marshmallow but I hate it when stuff sticks to my teeth) and the layer of cocoa dark chocolate is not thick and only covers one side. It isn’t too sweet either as the flavour of the dark chocolate balances with the sugar but also compliments the wholesome oats to satisfy your need for a snack. I could eat more, but I think one a day is perfect as I think two could be overkill. So, pretty happy to buy this one again!

Other flavours: banana bread, cocoa coconut, morning berry.

Price: in local supermarkets average £0.90 per bar, so bulk buying on amazon or other online retailers is usually a little cheaper.

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#2 ~ The Primal Pantry Hazelnut & Cocoa Raw Paleo Bar

F: 4 out of 10
A: 6.5 out of 10
T: 6 out of 10

As I am also testing out being paleo, this is one of the key paleo bars in the UK market that has good reviews! The flavour is not very strong and sweet without a strong taste of hazelnut or cocoa so unfortunately, I found it rather bland. It is a little chewy and, this sounds weird, but satisfying to eat but I wish there were bolder flavours coming through. The appearance of the bar isn’t exactly inspiring but it wasn’t sticky or melting as I ate it. All in all, it is a good find, and I have higher hope for the protein bar flavours (listed below) as they excite my tastebuds a little more! It also is a great snack to have pre- or post-workout. Paleo bars are definitely worth a try if you’re wanting to swap your snacks, especially regarding the sugar content, as I find the “healthy” snacks provided by nature valley, alpen etc. have lots of artificial sugar. These bars may still contain sugar but it is natural and better for your body! 😀

Other flavours: Coconut & Macadamia, Brazil Nut & Cherry. Apple & Pecan
Also, protein bar flavours: Cocoa Brownie, Mixed Berries, Cocoa Orange

Price: in local supermarkets and Holland & Barrett they average £0.89 per bar, in Tesco a pack of 4 is £2.99 so bulk buying is definitely a better option and there are available on amazon and other online retailers

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#3 ~ Deliciously Ella Cocoa and Almond Energy Ball

F: 6 out of 10
A: 5 out of 10
T: 7 out of 10

I heard of this lovely lady through my mum at the beginning of the year as she also does recipes for meals and healthier options that we can cook at home! One of the dishes, which I have made since is the apple crumble. This isn’t the normal dessert you expect, in fact, it’s a breakfast option that you can make at the beginning of the week and just devour for breakfast with any yoghurt or milk of your choice! Recipe here!

Anyway, back to the protein ball… The appearance wasn’t anything spectacular or something that I wanted to gobble up upon sight of it, nevertheless, don’t just a book by its cover. The texture is quite chewy and somewhat moist because it is made with dates and roasted nut butter (as well as other ingredients) to bind it. The flavour isn’t as inspiring or as yummy to the taste buds as I’d hoped as I can be quite picky about wanting a dominant flavour. It is a great snack for those who don’t like sweet and sugary things as it is definitely a perfect size to satisfy your snacking needs and hunger!

Other flavours available include almond and blueberry protein ball, hazelnut and raisin energy ball, coconut and oat energy ball.

Price: £1.79 at Waitrose or Holland & Barrett. [which is pretty pricey in my opinion but if it tickles your taste buds, then it could definitely be a top snack for you]

Ella herself has uploaded a video on youtube on how to make these at home:

Any recommendations of other healthy snacks, energy bars or other healthy foods are most welcome as I love tasting the food and blogging about it is double the fun!

It’s definitely more affordable to make the energy balls at home, as well as various other healthy snacks. If you fancy sate-ing your sweet tooth, using honey or other natural sweet ingredients are better than milk chocolate or sugar! Alternatively, as my godmother has suggested, throw together some nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate and you’re good to go! Hehe!

GL xxx

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#BBG Fitness: fun meal preparation

In my previous post, I talked about the pre-training that is an optional part of the Kayla Itsines “Bikini Body Guide” and gave an idea of what a week doing the programme looked like. This week is the final one for pre-training and then the real 12-week commitment begins…!! Week 4 has been a little different to previous as I started the week feeling rather under the weather with a sore throat. 😦

My training has shifted a day back so instead of the usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday – it’s the opposite days for the BBG sessions. On Sunday I had a great day with Danny and our housemate Nichola as we went for a run to start my training on Nottingham  University campus and I learnt a lot about pacing myself and the optimal speed. It was so sunny too! We even managed to fit in a quick BBG session too 😀

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cheesy running … !

Over the past three weeks, although I haven’t noticed a change in my body, I have definitely seen a transformation of what the inside of my fridge and food cupboard look like.

 

Gone are the chocolate bars and crispy snacks, pasta, instant noodles and fizzy drinks (even though I will admit that I drank a diet coke or two at Danny’s house last weekend). Instead, for one, there is fruit. I know this sounds silly but I am not someone who thinks of fruit being an enjoyable snack or the first thing to sate my snacky cravings. So, I really want this to change so that I feel healthier. I also feel that I have more money because chocolate goodies are double the price of a piece of fruit and it means when I do treat myself to something yummy and calorific, it is deserved and extra delicious. Another addition is sweet potato and butternut squash as my alternatives for carbohydrates. As they are so versatile to cook, it opens up so many options of what you want to cook for dinner or to try something new! Also, fun tip, if you have little sweet potatoes, you can cut them in half, put them in the oven to roast until they turn brown on the edges and eat them with a spoon like you would eat the insides of a melon! #geniussnack

One of the biggest challenges I have encountered, and think many people face, is the university life schedule. As it is the busiest time of all universities with coursework due, exams looming and for some, dissertation deadlines upon us, I have been on campus for 12 hours sometimes. Without a microwave available, it creates a small challenge of what to eat, what to cook, and also, having to carry all this in. On a day where I’ve had a 9am, and I’m not going to be home until 10pm… and a #BBG workout… it’s no surprise that I need food! & I want to eat a lot. But, I don’t want to buy snacks when I have a lovely stash at home from Aldi. I’ve had to be tactical about food preparation and this is what I’ve learnt should go into my food bag for a day on campus.

  1. Freeze: Once you’ve done a food shop, cut/chop/peel/prepare all your vegetables and put them into a big freezer bag per vegetable and freeze them if you aren’t going to cook them straight away. This makes making food at any hour much quicker and simple! This can also be done with meat to split it into portion sizes.
  2. Bulk: This is a two-in-one cracker = number one: you get to use all the tupperware as well as having an organised tupperware cupboard <3; and number two: it means you can pick and choose between a few dishes you’ve cooked to keep a variety such as tuna pasta, roast vegetables and chicken, prawn/smoked salmon salad with spinach, lettuce, sweetcorn… anything you want to throw in! This is saved me from having to buy something or temporarily fast when something pops up! 
  3. Snack: I always have two pieces of fruit in my bag if I haven’t had one with my breakfast – namely an apple and banana because they are my favourite fruits. I also have taken in some flapjacks full of seeds (and honey yum) that my grandma made for me. I only take two squares but that’s enough to give my body a sugar kick when I need it halfway through the afternoon alongside a piece of fruit.
  4. Breakfast: There are two kinds, depending on whether I want an extra fifteen minutes of sleep. If I get up early enough, I will poach or fry two eggs, add spinach, possibly mushrooms and cherry tomatoes and some smoked salmon for protein. [Aldi and Lidl sell smoked salmon for really cheap, e.g. 200g for £2.99 compared to other supermarkets who sell less quantity for £4+!]
    The other option is to make overnight oats! I used a measuring jug to put all my ingredients together:
    200ml oats, 200ml  almond milk, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional), 1 tablespoon organic cocoa nibs, and cinnamon! You can add frozen berries/fresh fruit/jam/chocolate spread to it in the morning for an extra fresh flavour!

18387328_10154204745771706_1116026764_nInstead of almond milk, you can use greek yoghurt or soy milk! You can add other sources of chocolate such as cocoa powder, chocolate spread or liquid chocolate [vegan].
I always blend this mixture then add chia seeds for it to set overnight. If you prefer to not do this, just add the chia seeds and leave it overnight!

I do really enjoy cooking and the best bit about the ‘bulk’ preparation is that you can get your music blasting and just dance about the kitchen as you create colourful and tasty meals to enjoy! 😀

If you have any tips, feel free to share as I love trying new things and to help each other out!

GL xxx

#BBG pre-training: getting in the “zone”

Monday is now known to me as legs & cardio’ day.

Wednesday is ‘arms & abs’ day.

&

Friday is ‘full body workout’ day.

The days in-between are for more low-intensity workouts which I’m using to start to train my body to like and even I dare to hope, enjoy running.

I have seen soooooo many posts on instagram about Kayla Itsines ‘bikini body guide’ and even though it seems that the true results only show after at least a year of maintaining this routine… the transformation is just fantastic. Other fitness ladies I follow are @carlyrowena, @sarahsday and @gains4girls [all on insta] just to get inspiration and tips on how to eat well, do some fun exercises and even get some general advice about skin care ideas or just daily bits and bobs. They have also released or are about to release fitness guides so stay tuned if you’re interested but want to have comparisons to Kayla’s!

So here I go, with my printed workouts, ready to go to the gym, or even at home if it’s a better use of time or when I’m out of town.

The Monday week 1 session started just like that

I had stayed at my grandparents’ house over the weekend as it was a bank holiday and even when I returned to Sheffield, the gym wasn’t going to be open. Fortunately, as I’m doing the pre-12 weeks training guide workouts (which is four weeks) and I feel that it is pretty tame at the moment and no weights or equipment was desperately needed.  The house has a large set of steps running up to it so I was able to do step ups using those. I probably looked funny but I trekked across the large driveway completely my set of walking lunges, I went around the cars and created my own little pattern… ya gotta make it fun, right?

I definitely had a sugar crash at about 5pm once I returned to my house in Sheffield. I think it was partly due to being really busy up until I sat down on my bed, but also because I had had no chocolate or diet coke for about 3 days (I was trying to start early so it wouldn’t be such a shock come May…). I’ve added ‘no diet coke’ to my list of things I’m giving up for my month of #letskissgoodbyetoMS fundraising.

Tuesday: I headed to the gym for a 3km workout on the cross trainer and watched Girlboss on Netflix to entertain myself. [Side note: I do recommend the show on the grounds that it’s about perseverance, doing something different but also it being your passion. However, don’t watch if you’re sensitive to crude language…]  The cross-trainer machine did have an option for the screen to show a circular track and has a little marker representing the user that moves as if you’re going around it, quite satisfying to watch. I also used the Stairmaster machine and the rowing machine, doing intervals of 500m and 30 seconds rest 4 times. After stretching, it was time to get on with my day!

Wednesday: “errrrggggggggggggghh push ups are the worst…. I’m not even doing the hard ones as I have my knees on the flooooor. just. two. more.” <– I have typed it exactly mirroring what I was thinking at 9:34am because there is no other way to explain it. I did say this blog was going, to be honest. 😀 😉

 I started my day with going to a one-hour session of yoga at 8:15am. I found the instructor is really good at combining so many poses to stretch out our entire bodies. I have never been able to touch my toes or the floor and I totally blame my genetics for it [even though my mother likes to show off how flexible she is]. Yet I’m hoping to do this once a week, maybe more if I can squeeze it in on the weekend, will really help my aching muscles recover and get stronger and stretch-ier. #motivation woo! I then did the Wednesday arms and abs workout… hence my groaning at the push ups!

However, I did make the mistake of spending waaaay too much time in a coffee shop revamping my blog. I’ve been wanting to freshen it up for a while, and only now have I found the name that’s stuck and completely 100% me. I love it and spent too much time on the banner and creating other bits for future posts… but, it looks good! [if I can say so myself ❤ ] This left me having only eaten a banana since my workout until about 3pm. Bad move. I had a mocha so the caffeine was starting to make me feel jittery as I swung my bag onto my back and headed for one of the university libraries to eat my packed lunch. Only at 4:30pm did I start to feel normal again. Definitely not repeating that mistake again!

** small skip to week 3 of the pre-training as I was a plonker and forgot to update this blog! **

Thursday: 7:04am. People say getting up early is good for you… changes your daily life for the better, and all I want to do is go back to sleep for another two hours 😭

7:06am. It’s all in the planning – don’t go to sleep past midnight if you know you’re getting up early… shot myself in the foot, didn’t I?

7:37am. I should really get out of bed now.

A quote on the wall of the gym… #motivationmonday

I think that week three is definitely a step up with now weighted exercises and the dreaded jump squats. However, with perseverance and constantly talking to myself to get through – which probably made me look rather crazy – I made it. To warm up I use the cross trainer for 5 minutes and the running machine for 5 to build up my stamina. I really don’t know how I’m going to do 3km on the 10th June… Now, to devour my lunch and focus on the mounting work of coursework, exams and a dissertation to prepare for. Oh, the life of a postgraduate! 😀

Finally, Friday arrived with the last HIIT exercise session of the #BBG program. Phew. Despite my grumblings during the workout when I’m sweaty and bothered, I’ve really enjoyed doing it so far and love being able to tick ‘go to the gym’ off my daily to-do list. By just knowing that I’m working towards being actively healthier is really rewarding… although I am daunted by the next few weeks to come! If any of you follow exercise programs or have any handy tips about exercises or anything related, I’d love to hear ’em.

I don’t yet know if I’m in the “zone” yet, whatever that “zone” may be, but here’s to the weekend, I hope you have a great one no matter where you are ❤

GL xxx

it’s about time: healthy happiness.

Since the 1st of January 2017, I’ve probably written a gazillion to-do lists in various notebooks and mobile phone apps with things I want to achieve. Okay, I’ve been doing that since my teenage years and have wanted to become a better person for both myself and those around me… and I’m not yet where I want to be. I’ve done well at meeting my academic goals, my adventure goals, any form of “bucket list” goals I have… but regarding my fitness, health and nutritional happiness, I can’t seem to leap the first hurdle, let alone cross the start line.

The fitness industry is booming with more people, particularly women, achieving the “look” of being fit, toned and healthy and I want to be part of it. In May last year, I was the closest I have been to being comfortable with the physical ‘me’ in a long time. I was going to the gym at least twice, if not three, times a week, and had been doing hour-long personal training sessions for three months. I could tell I was getting stronger and fitter even though I still grumbled and huffed when I had to do an exercise I didn’t like or if I was just feeling downright grumpy. What can you do? 😀

When I moved to Sheffield in September, I bought a gym membership but have only used it about ten times. It’s maddening. Even when I have it written in stark black ink “START GOING TO THE GYM” or “DO ANYTHING EXERCISEY ONCE A DAY” or more recently, “DO TEN THOUSAND STEPS A DAY”… I’ve hardly hit the goals. I give in to staying within my comfort zone but I know that every time this happens I’m putting off what I really want. And, that should be incentive enough.

Nevertheless, a friend of mine recently posted her fitness goals, her aims to get fit and I know that if I don’t start at some point (I.E. now), I never will. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible because I know that overwhelming myself with pressure will just send me to the nearest McDonalds and a sofa. My incentive is that I share this with you, and will continue to, so then I won’t let my little blog down so-to-speak. So, my goals aren’t to achieve the transformation that girls do in the movies, or imagine I’ll ever be an “instagram” girl standard. (I am not digging at myself here.)

I just want to know and feel that no matter whether I have had a cheeky cheat day or a holiday, I will have confidence to proudly stand in front of people I either know or don’t, in a ridiculous onesie or a bikini, with makeup on or makeup off, and be happy with what I eat and that I’m fit and healthy. 😀

I’m going to use a fitness programme by a now vaiiir famous instagrammer from Sydney: @kaylaitsines as well as doing a variety of exercises that my personal trainers taught me. I’ve chosen to do her programme (because I handily have it off an old friend (thank you)) and more importantly because it can be done anywhere. This may require a few adjustments at times but it means I don’t have to rely on gyms or which country I’m in to do it! This is great for me as one of the challenges I face is my knack for not staying in the same place for a good long period of time… so hopefully, as long as I have my trainers and some form of sports kit, I am good to go!

As another incentive to start, but also to do something that’s close to my heart, I’m raising money for MS Society UK – it is raising money for research for multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease which affects the nerves anywhere and possibly everywhere in your body.

My Grandpa was diagnosed with it, and since with Parkinson’s, and although my role is only tiny, I want to do something (as well as mowing the lawns and feeding his birds of course 😀 ) The rest of my story is on my fundraising page

MS Society has launched a campaign, ‘Let’s Kiss Goodbye to MS‘ for May and I’ve jumped onto the bandwagon! Some are giving up alcohol or wearing makeup whereas I’m going to give up chocolate (cries inside) and train to run in Nottingham’s Wollaton Park Run on the 10th June. Two birds with one stone! Yay?

Xo.