Archive | January, 2012

Low fat recipes tried and tested

31 Jan

I thought it might be an idea to publish some tried and tested low fat recipes every now and again that I come across.

As runners and fitness nuts many of us like to keep an eye on what we are eating. I tend to follow an 80/20 rule so that I don’t always deny myself the naughty stuff and therefore don’t tend to be as tempted as much as if I told myself I categorically cannot have something.

A lot of low fat food has in the past tended to be bland and lacking flavour but  the rise in popularity of shows such as Master Chef which has made more people aspire to be better cooks, and shows such as The Biggest Loser with their  Master Class cooking section (they have been promoting being able to still cook great tasting food but with not quite so many calories as maybe the Jamie Oliver version which has been great) cooking low fat and making it tasty is now easier than ever.

So I have tried out two great recipes courtesy of my Twitter friend Angela Wallace who has an amazing story by the way – check it out on her blog. Please see them below. Enjoy!

I have listed the details below but for extra tips click on the title link to take you to Angela’s website.

Green Elixir aka Zucchini, Spinach & Cauliflower Soup – 106 calories per serving

Serves: 12 (2 cups per serve) Calories: 106 per serve

This soup is a Green Elixir!  Packed with green goodness, it helps me ensure I get my fix of green vegies. Spinach and zucchini are two of my faves so I set about creating a recipe that combined these into a simple recipe that I could freeze & reheat during busy times. I promise it tastes better than it looks… and is incredibly good for you!

Prep time: ~10 ‐ 15 minutes. Cooking time:  ~20‐30 minutes

4 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1.4kg cauliflower, chopped into small florets
880g zucchini, trimmed and roughly chopped
450g frozen spinach
2 teaspoons chilli paste
8 cups chicken stock, salt reduced
500g low fat natural yoghurt
Extra virgin olive oil spray

Spray saucepan with small amount of oil and cook onions and garlic over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until onion is soft.
Add the stock, cauliflower, zucchini, frozen spinach and chilli paste.
Bring to the boil and then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes (or until all vegetable are soft).
Add natural yoghurt, blend until smooth and season with pepper to taste.

No need to defrost the spinach – add straight from the freezer.
Just before serving, add either serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or a dollop of low fat natural yoghurt. Add 23 calories for 10g of parmesan and 23 calories for a 40g dollop of low fat natural yoghurt.

Here is my effort at the muffins 🙂 Yum

Apple, Cinnamon and banana muffins  makes a whopping 24 muffins and they are 125 calories each and have no dairy of eggs – so perfect for people with intolerances. Click on the link to go to Angela’s website for extra tips and variations.

If you have a sweet tooth you might find these are not sweet enough for you – perfect way to not eat as much sugar!

A normal muffin at a coffee shop can have up to a whopping 450 calories if you like chocolate ones so this recipe was great for me as its low in sugar once you spread the sugar across the 24 muffins but it’s a great snack, I have a stack of them sat in my freezer!

Prep time: ~10 minutes. Cooking time: ~15 minutes

1 ¼ cups rolled oats
3 cups wholemeal self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup brown sugar (loosely packed)
3 over ripe bananas, peels & mashed
200g apple puree, unsweetened – I couldn’t find apple puree so actually used the Goulbourn strawberry and apple puree instead – tasted awesome.
1 cup Physical No Fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Lightly spray 2 x 12 large muffin pans with oil
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Add the mashed banana, apple puree and approximately ¾ of the milk. Stir until just combined (don’t over mix of muffins will be flat!). Use the remaining milk in required. It should be a thick batter‐like mixture.
Spoon evenly into the muffin trays to create 24 muffins.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. To test, use a skewer. Poke it into the centre of a muffin; if it comes out clean the muffins are ready!


Treadmill conversion sheet download

27 Jan

If you have sprint sessions in your training program like I do and need to see your per km pace in order to adjust your treadmill to the right speed, you would understand my frustration when my gym changed its treadmills. Great that they changed them and updated the equipment but the newer ones which they put near the mirrors don’t give the per km pace. I’m not vain in my needing to be near the mirrors but I am so used to running outside and have awful balance that if I run facing a wall and can’t see myself running I tend to fight to stay on the treadmill and have nearly fallen off on a number of occasions not running facing the mirror!

Anyway enough rambling, I decided that enough was enough. Since the gym doesn’t provide any guides for per km pace for the treadmill I sat and did my own using the old treadmills as a guide and if you need a copy you can download it free of course   below.

Happy running!

Do you drink water when you run?

26 Jan

I’ve never been much of a fluid drinker. I remember when I was little my Aunt always used to make me drink and I didn’t like it. I think I get it from my grandad as he doesn’t drink much apart from tea and coffee.

I remember when I used to run in the UK I never used to take on fluids unless I was running over 10 miles (16k). I found that I never needed to – I always ensured the night before I ran that I was completely hydrated and drank before the run. If anything drinking during the run always hindered me and I needed a toilet stop as a result! When it was really hot i.e over 80 degrees (very rare in the UK!) then all bets were off and I would take on water and run in the shade.

I have only ever had two bad episodes – one was when running the Newark Half Marathon – it was a boiling hot day and the race didn’t start until 11am and people were being sick and passing out all over the place. I finished but not before taking on board every gel and water stop there was, and the other was in a training run where I had run 18 miles (29k) and it again was a boiling hot day and I collapsed and ended up in hospital with severe dehydration.

One guy that I used to run with would run 20 miles with me and never have one drink come rain or shine. I kind of figured he knew his body and what he was doing though – he was 70 and had run 54 marathons. He taught me a lot and to listen to my body.

Here in Australia it is not too much different apart from the few crazy hot days we have here and to be honest I don’t tend to run those days! If you have been reading my blog you will know I am concentrating on short distances and so todays 10k run was a sticky one but I didn’t need to drink water and I was fine. I drank the night before and in the morning before my run and was fine.

I am writing this post because I had a discussion with one of the people I run with who was incredulous that I hadn’t drunk water and I decided to look at what people in the industry say about water. Please remember I am not a doctor or qualified in giving advice. I am going on printed facts by other people and by my own experience – so don’t take anything on board without doing your own research or speaking to your doctor!

In her book The Complete book of Running Claire Kowalchik talks about the importance of general hydration and how important the pre run fluid intake needs more attention. By making sure you are always well hydrated, you can avoid dehydration during exercise and ensure all your body’s systems including sweating – function properly and efficiently.

She also says that a 5k race for example is short enough that if you are well hydrated beforehand, you don’t have to take on water during the race unless it’s a hot day, but she advises to drink during a 10k race.

In the book Need to know? Running  (2007) – Alison Hamlett advises that 500ml of fluid should be drunk two hours before running and then 150ml just before you head out of the door. Man if I did this I would be in toilet trouble 5 minutes into my run!

In this book they advise that 300ml of fluids per hour should be consumed when exercising and that a good rule of thumb is to drink then you are thirsty…well I was told if you get the point of being thirsty then you’re already dehydrated! Different books have different comments basically, so it’s a case of reading between the lines at times.

In his book Running is Easy (1996) (ha ha if only!), Bruce Tulloh advises that it is a good idea to drink a pint of water just before you start to run, and to run in loops so you can get a drink every 15-20 minutes. He also advises that when racing in hot climates that you should take water at every drinks station even when not feeling thirsty.

These are all great pieces of advice but I think if you have been running a while and know your body then go with what works for you. I’ve been running since 2002 and feel I know my body pretty well now to the point I know when I am not feeling up to pushing, when I do need to take on fluids and when I know I’ve got it in the bag and can push right on through, so take people’s advise but work out what works for you, remember it is just as dangerous to drink too much water as it is not enough so if in doubt try running with water and see how you go, taking on water if you really feel you need to.* If you get hot easily then fluids during training are a good way to go.* Have a chat with a nutritionist or doctor if you are unsure.

It is claimed that just a 2% drop in bodyweight through fluid loss can lead to as much as a 20% drop in your performance. So that’s something for you and I to think about.*

Further info

On the Running for Fitness website there is a great article on water and running that you might be interested in reading.

*Please remember I am not a doctor or qualified in giving advice. I am going on printed facts by other people and by my own experience – so don’t take anything on board without doing your own research or speaking to your doctor!

My first “ParkRun Australia’ Race

21 Jan

My friend in the UK told me about the ParkRun‘s and that they had now started in Australia.

According to its website Parkrun started in 2004 in Bushy Park, Teddington, UK (love that place – I used to run there myself) and it was a 5k timed event and the only one of its kind on a free and weekly basis.

It’s a great concept where runners sign up once on the website and can then run at any event in their country and they are free. Results are posted, prizes are given out and weekly newsletters are sent out. Brilliant idea.

If you are a runner reading this, I don’t know about you but races entries can seriously add up over time, so I liked the idea of running this as it was free.

So I entered yesterday and got my own bar code that I printed off and took with me and this morning I went along to New Farm Park in Brisbane ready to race at 7am.

I was amazed at how many people were there (a hundred or so) and they all looked very fit so I was a bit daunted but my wonderful friend Nadia who I had brought along assured me it would be ok.

The race was very well organised and someone gave us (the newbies) a talk before the event just to run through runners etiquette which I liked as it reminded me of when I ran in the UK, some of the races and some of the runners I have come across here in Brisbane haven’t always been that hospitable so this was a good start.

The problem for me was it was 7am and already hot. Only having been back from the UK a week I had a feeling I might suffer.

So we started the race. My Garmin as predicted played up on me but I managed to get the timer working and I was off. Nadia shot off into the distance but I got my head down and started pounding the pavement. The route was along the river in New Farm, nice on the way up but hell on the way back as there was no shade and the sun was hotter.

So I settled into the race, my music playing and pushing as much as I could. I felt pretty good and do you know something, those really fit looking people that made me doubt my confidence, I was surprised but I was able to pass a lot of them.

On the way back to the finish I started to struggle as the heat was almost unbearable for me but I kept pushing as much as I could and managed a consistent 5.00-5.17 min per km pace which for me not having trained much in the last 4/5 weeks and in the heat was not bad. Today’s race was not about timing for me but for confidence and a benchmark to improve on so I was happy.

After I crossed the finish line I queued up to hand in my barcode and token to have my time recorded, grabbed some water and a piece of water melon and Nadia and I went for a well earned coffee.

I’ll definitely do the ParkRun again but perhaps once it gets a bit cooler.

What race distance takes your fancy this year?

16 Jan

I’ve been contemplating what distance I want to concentrate on this year in my running.

It’s so tempting to aim for the big numbers again and try for a marathon or half. My husband always says to me that I must have forgotten the pain, and he goes on to remind me of when I crossed the finish line of my last marathon (Paris in 2006) I slurred in an exhausted state  that I was never doing another one and if I said I wanted to he had to remind me of what I had said. I take a deep breath and remember the training and the pain but then I remember that feeling of elation when I crossed the finish line.

If you haven’t done a marathon before then it is good to have done one. It’s bloody hard work but it is so worth it. I think my marathon running days are over and if you’ve been following my blog you will know that I have gone more for middle distance running over the last year or so and that’s what I will be doing for 2012 too.

I thought it would be handy to remind you of a previous post I wrote with some links in to some schedules for all distances that you might find useful as well as some links to some great books that give you the low down on running and have some schedules in the back.

A couple of books worth reading on running 

Complete book of Women’s Running by Claire Kowalchick               

Runners World produced a great book for beginners                           

There are others which I will list in the next few weeks but these are good for starters

Race diary update 2012

14 Jan

I finally got round to updating the Queensland race diary for 2012. Keep a look out for new events. I’ve just started with a few regulars.

So, two weeks into 2012 how are you doing?

14 Jan

So today is the 14th January. I’m sat here at my computer thinking about the last 14 days and all the things I said I would do and yet haven’t done. I have a ‘To Do’ list as long as my arm but this week has been a write off thanks to jet lag!

I got back from Dubai and a trip home to the UK a few days ago and I’ve been battling with it ever since. The first night I went to bed at 10 and was up at 1.30am! and the second night I managed to sleep until 2.30am and this morning I have graduated to 4am. I am fed up as it means my training is suffering and thus I have broken my resolutions to push in training.

“Zoe” – I hear you say – “you’ve only been back a week” – yes I know. I am just a bit of an perfectionist I guess!

I did manage to train for some of this week and did some weights on Weds and managed to run 9k on Thursday so not so bad, however thanks to Thursday and forgetting Australia is a bit warmer than the 9 degrees I was running in in the UK I am forcing myself to rest this weekend to recover!

I was running really well until I got to 5k and my body said ‘it’s hot’ and I had to slow right down and concede defeat! I got home and broke the cardinal jet lag recovery sin – I fell asleep during the day and my body is still aching from the training and I am now still an insomniac.

So as of Monday it’s business as usual. I am planning on running a race with the Park Runners next Saturday as a motivator. So watch this space!