2017 in Review, 2018 at a Glance

Let me just start by saying THANK YOU! Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting and thank you for being loyal to this wee blog of mine. As 2017 comes to a close, I'm reflecting on goals met, lessons learnt and setting new goals for 2018. If you were hoping for a New Year, New me speech; I'm sorry to disappoint but that's a speech I never give. One of the goals I made at the very beginning of 2017 was to exercise a lot more and looking at my exercise routine now, I've definitely kicked it up a notch. I took up Running this year, never did I think that I'd be running 4km three times a weeks. It's also helped with keeping my IBS under control which is extremely important because as you know, University can get stressful. Stress causes IBS to flare up which isn't ideal. I plan on carrying this on into 2018 along with a balanced diet, consistency and motivation. Health truly is the new wealth so here's to thriving for top notch mental well-being in 2018 and for years to come. 

Thai Mint Chicken Wings

Now that Christmas is over and done with, there's one more thing to look forward to. Yes, I'm talking about New Year's Eve and it's just 3 days away. Whether you're planning on dancing the night away or a nice night in, a few chicken wings are sure to put you in a cheery mood. I think chicken is the one type of meat I consume more than any other. Chicken is undoubtedly versatile, easy to cook and well, when marinated/seasoned right, it can be the ultimate get together treat. It's also a very good source of protein but are also high in saturated fats (the skin). I usually make any sort of chicken without the skin but sometimes you just deserve a treat otherwise we would all lose our minds. Chicken is far better steamed (renders fat out), grilled or oven roasted instead of deep fat frying. Just because you're enjoying the festivities does not mean your health should be out the window. From frozen, I oven roasted these chicken wings to achieve a crispy exterior. These Thai mint chicken wings are quick and darn right tasty so here is the recipe on how you can make these delightful little numbers. Trust me, it's not rocket science.

Happy Christmas Eve!

Happy Christmas Eve! I'd love to sit here and tell you that I've spent the day in my onesie, eating ice cream and watching Netflix but that would be a lie. Still that does sound like my kind of day, sigh. Thanks to always leaving everything to the last minute, I've been out all day gift shopping. Yes, I only went and got everyone's gifts the day before Christmas. What can I say, I like living life on the edge. My other half is actually more organised than me when it comes to things like this, he was done at the beginning of December but he still offered to help. I've come to the conclusion that shopping like this is exhausting! On the bright side, I'm spending Christmas with my boyfriend's family this year so hiss mum will be spoiling me with some delicious Filipino food and a Turkey I guess, she makes it every year. My point here is I actually have the chance to get stuffed and relax, phew. As expected, town was packed and I sure am glad it is done. We also managed to fit in a quick meal at one of our favourite places to eat, Zizzi. This was most certainly the best part of my day, simple, great tasting Italian food.

Banana, Apple and Kiwi Smoothie Bowl

Before heading out for my jog each morning, I turn to my blender for a nice, refreshing smoothie. Packed with chia seeds, a hint of granola and bananas, this smoothie makes for a quick and nutritious breakfast. This unusual combination of ingredients works well and tastes delightful, with a dash of yogurt adding some much needed creaminess. So, why is it important to eat before exercise? Your body needs fuel! Research conducted at the University of Surrey suggests that untrained women are better off eating before exercise whereas untrained men are better off eating after exercise (Collins 2016). Intrigued as to why men are better off eating after exercise? Read more on the study here. I don't know about you but I definitely need something to get me going. It would be best to eat an hour before your workout as this allows time for digestion to take place. Understandably, I'm not talking about a heavy breakfast here; something light like a smoothie, some energy balls maybe, whole grain toast with almond/peanut butter or even just a banana will do. So, why not try the recipe below, it's definitely one of my favourite go-to smoothies.

Grilled Curried Mackerel

Mackerel is one of the most consumed fish all over the world and just so happens to be one of the healthiest when baked, steamed or grilled. It's an excellent source of protein, essential omega-3-fatty acids and lowers risk of diabetes. Mackerel contains healthy fats including monounsaturated fatty acids which play a role in controlling blood sugar levels. These are just some of Mackerel's health benefits but I can promise you there's more. I follow lots of Dietitian blogs (ie The real life RD , Nutrition Unplugged , Nic's Nutrition) to keep up with the latest research and of course great recipes. They provide evidence based nutrition information and an insight into food science, yes it's definitely a big ol' world. Anyway, here's an interesting fact for you; it was my mother who taught me this recipe so I really hope you love it as much as I do. 

A personal note: How I am learning to love myself

For many years, I've questioned whether I am happy with who I am & for many years, the answer has been no. I am that girl who hid behind make up for years. Yes I am that girl who couldn't bear to look in the mirror, was unable to meet up with friends or leave the house without it but not anymore. How could I become so dependent on it, it's as if we had morphed into one. Don't get me wrong, I think make up is an incredible thing but no one should feel that they aren't good enough without it, that's just not healthy. Hell yes I will still wear make up but I just refuse to be dependent on it so here I am bare-faced. You come to realise that its a confidence thing and as I grew older, I also realised that no one really cares whether you are wearing make up or not. Its all YOU! This is not just about the make up alone, it is about me as a person, my thoughts and how I've viewed myself for so long. The mind is truly a powerful thing but transformation begins with your inner self. Self love and self care are so important, they are the basis to a happier you and an even a happier life. 

Surviving first term at University Top Tips

Its the season to be jolly and I sure am jolly because today was the last day of university term one. It feels like Freshers week was literally seconds ago and now 3 months later, the term is over. Where has the time gone? New friendships made and knowledge gained. Worthwhile? It was. It has been a hectic, fast paced term but I've never been happier. Looking back at everything I've ever done work wise, it feels so good to finally be taking the right steps towards a career I'm passionate about. Dietetics is something I had wanted to do for a very long time; no one said it was going to be easy, no one said it was impossible either so no complaints here. The course is undoubtedly intense, there's so much information to take in but I'm determined to make it work. I worked so hard to get here, every single person on my course worked hard to get where they are too; what makes you think we are about to stop now? No chance. Because we are such a small Dietetics group, we've formed good friendships and even made time to head out for a nice Christmas meal three weeks ago (photos below). Below, I'm also going to share some tips on what I found most useful this term, basically, how I survived. So, here's to a well deserved break; one filled with lots of laughter, joy and of course revision, that exam in January is not going to write itself. 

Cherry Tomato & Thyme Noodles with Cream Sauce

This is undoubtedly the most comforting meal to sit down and tuck into on a dreary, wet day. Coated in tasty, creamy yogurt sauce, this is one dish that will keep you going back for more. It just goes to show that meat is not what 'makes' a meal, it is the rich flavours and textures. Deliciously simple? It is. Are the noodles versatile? They sure are. There are various ways to enjoy noodles but this one is right at the top of my list. At just 135kcal per serving (please find the full nutritional breakdown below), this is a healthy, cost effective dish that tastes great too. 

Oatmeal Porridge with Frozen Berries

I recently discovered the joys of frozen berries, yes life just got easier in that aspect at least. I've been so set in my 'fresh fruit and veg' ways that I never actually noticed frozen produce until a few months ago. Frozen fruit is not nutritionally compromised in any way, they are actually just as nutritious as fresh fruit so don't be afraid to use them. Frozen produce is usually cheaper and of course convenient, a great way to incorporate some fruit as well as vegetables into your diet. Time is not a factor as they are an easy alternative. Fruits and vegetables are beneficial to health which is why '5 a day' is the talk of the town. The Department of Health and the World Health Organisation recommend that we consume at least 5 portion of varied fruits and vegetables a day, equating to a third of our daily food intake (Bond, British Dietetic Association 2017). There is evidence to suggest that the risk of developing stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity is lowered by the consumption of a sufficient amount of fruit and vegetables. Have a I convinced you yet? The BDA has a great Food Fact Sheet on how you can meet your 5 a day, read it here. Health facts aside, a nice bowl of porridge is so warming, comforting and satisfying first thing in the morning. I don't know about you but I'm not exactly fond of the cold.

Bill's Cardiff Review

Eating out is alien to me, I love cooking which is why I rarely ever eat out but after making my very first trip to Bill's, I have taken it upon myself to try out as many restaurants in Cardiff as possible in 2018. I will not be venturing on this quest alone of course, my boyfriend has kindly volunteered to take this on with me.  Our goal is to dine at 3 different restaurants a month which totals up to 36 restaurants to be visited in 2018. Earlier this year I actually started a new category on this blog called 'Cardiff Food Guide'. There, you can read my reviews on some of the restaurants I've recently been to. It's basically a chance to see what Cardiff has to offer. Bill's presents beautiful surroundings, a modern interior and a buzzing atmosphere, one that allows you to start off your day on a high note. The staff were friendly, greeted with a smile when we arrived and they extremely helpful, lending a hand whenever they could. First opened in 2012, Bills has become an exclusive dining destination, one that seems to be packed to the brim day in, day out. Now, I finally understand why.
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