I’m working with a nutritionist!?

I’ll try and keep this short and sweet (famous last words!) but this is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while but I won’t lie, I have found it quite difficult to write.

Towards the end of summer 2016, I started working and getting help from Chris Lowe, a registered and expert nutritionist, based in Leeds.

Chris has worked with, and continues to work with, a wide variety of athletes, helping them to reach both their performance and aesthetic goals.

The decision to work with Chris came while I was on holiday in Croatia with my boyfriend and our two friends. My relationship with food is something that Dane and I had discussed a number of times but at the time I don’t think I realised just what an issue it was.

Although I didn’t think it back then, for a while I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with food. As a marathon runner (or someone who likes to think she’s a marathon runner!) I train between 5-6 times a week with a mixture of running, strength training and other cardio sessions such as cycling. I definitely wasn’t fuelling my body correctly for the work it was doing and as a result I was often tired, grumpy, weak and quite frankly, miserable. I didn’t even think to look at what I was fuelling my body with though, instead I’d be frustrated at my body for not changing or adapting the way I wanted it to and I’d often take that out on Dane.

I wasn’t eating bad foods, I still had a diet made up of healthy food, but I think what’s important to realise is that even eating a healthy diet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are healthy, if that makes sense?

I’ll try and explain it a little better. I won’t give you a full run down of what I was eating but essentially, I wasn’t eating enough and I was depriving my body of certain things – mainly carbs – and as a result I’d binge. Usually, I’d have two eggs (sometimes just egg whites!) and some peanut butter before the gym and then usually a protein bar after the gym. I’d be hungry way before lunch time arrived and at lunch I’d usually have a chicken salad and then again, some form of meat and vegetables for dinner. I wasn’t eating enough of, or the right foods in general, to fuel my training. As a result, I was so hungry but instead of just eating something proper and having some carbs, I’d delve into the cereal box or peanut butter jar and then feel terrible about it.

So there you have it – I was a carbohydrate-phobe, not eating enough to fuel my body and on top of that, I was too focused on aesthetics, which is so silly because when I perform well in the gym or have a great run, I don’t care what my body looks like, as long as it can do great things! That’s actually one of the things I say to people quite a lot (not in an offensive way) ‘nice body but what can you do with it?’

What I didn’t realise, until I worked with Chris, was that if your nutrition is right, the aesthetics will follow – and they did indeed!

After having an initial chat with Chris about my diet, I completed a three-day meal plan which was then sent to him for analysis. The results I got back from Chris were extremely detailed and incredibly eye opening. I was restricting my body of so many nutrients and some of these were nutrients that I hadn’t even thought about before!

Chris put together a variety of meal plans for me, one for rest day, one for long run day, run AM, run PM, strength AM, and Strength AM run PM.

I was so excited to get stuck in to them and you’ll be surprised to know that there was zero peanut butter on there – this was a massive thing for me haha and I literally did just go cold turkey. However I felt so satisfied from what I was eating that I actually didn’t want any peanut butter.

For the first few days of the plan I was SO full. I almost felt like I was overeating because I was so full but I persevered and after a week and a bit, my appetite was back. I felt extremely satisfied following the plans and was never left wanting to reach for the snack cupboard or the peanut butter jar.

Not only that, but I found that my sleep quality dramatically improved, as did my mood and energy levels. 5.30am gym sessions no longer felt like a slog, I was lifting well and feeling great for it.

I was also having some really good running sessions, although for the first few weeks I felt a bit heavier but I think that was just my body adjusting to the new diet.

Through weekly conversations with Chris I learned how to fuel my body, what to eat before and after exercise and how to adapt my meals for the day if plans were to change and I couldn’t train due to work for example – this is something that used to really stress me out before!

It sounds silly but if I was going out for dinner, I’d get a bit stressed thinking I’d have to eat ‘bad foods’ or would overeat for example. Now though, I know that having a pizza or a burger for example, isn’t going to change my physique or performance once a week and I can plan my other meals around that to ensure I’m still fuelling my sessions right.

The most important thing for me out of all of this is that I feel a million times better. This for me is far more important than the aesthetics side of things. However, Chris had told me that with the correct nutrition and with the training I was doing, the aesthetics I had once so desperately been craving, would come – and they did – I was amazed! My relationship with food has changed dramatically and I’m so, so happy with it. My diet is far more balanced now and I feel extremely happy with where I’m at now. The issues with food put a massive strain on my relationship with Dane, which is hard to admit, and if I could go back and change all of that, I would in a heartbeat.

Since working with Chris my diet has now changed again, in that I’m not eating animal based products anymore. I’m conscious that I still need to educate myself about this and so I’m excited to be working with Chris again to get his advice to ensure I don’t deplete my body of any nutrients or restrict myself again.

I hope you’ve found this helpful or insightful and I’ll be writing another blog post soon on my journey to eating more of a plant based diet, although don’t worry, this won’t be preachy in any way shape or form – each to their own!

If you want to read more about the work Chris does (please do because he’s awesome) – then you can check out his website here. He also posts some awesome blog posts/nuggets of information on his Facebook page here.

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My top five healthy work snacks

Walk into any office and you can usually spot a ‘treats table,’ a vending machine, or somewhere to get a cheeky afternoon slump pick me up.

My office is no different, our treats table is usually stocked with flapjacks, biscuits or sweets and I know how tempting it is when you get a little bit hungry or stressed to hit the sweet stuff.

Obviously if you do fancy hitting up that table from time to time, go for it, but for me, I find it better to have healthy snacks with me, either in the fridge at work, or something in my desk draw I can nibble on.

I’ve written down my top five (in no particular order).

1) Nuts – this is such a simple one, but keeping a bagful of nuts in your desk draw for snacks is a great option. Fats keep you feeling fuller for longer, too. Be careful not to eat too many though, as they are high in fat. Half a handful is perfect.

2) High protein yoghurt. This has to be one of my favourites and is a staple on rest days, or when I’ve trained in the morning. I buy the Skyr natural yoghurt, which you can get from most supermarkets. I’d have this with some blueberries and half a handful of walnuts or almonds.

3) Veggies and hummus. Take a carrot, or a couple of carrots, cucumber, or celery and a small pot of hummus to keep in the fridge at work.

4) Apple and peanut butter. If you’re a peanut butter addict like me, don’t take the whole tub to work! Instead, empty some into a small pot to spread onto a chopped apple. M&S also do a perfect little snack pot size of this!

5) Hard boiled eggs. Ok, so this is probably the last appealing sounding one, unless you love eggs. However, hard boiled eggs and some spinach is great for a snack. The fats and protein will keep you feeling full. Take two with you and some veg such as spinach or rocket for a snack in the afternoon.

Other snacks such as homemade energy balls, which you can find in my recipe section, are also great for snacks. But remember, life is about everything in moderation – so if one day you want a flapjack or a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar, get one!

What are your favourite healthy snacks? Comment below or Tweet me @hannahbryan91 🙂

Food diary: my week in lunches

I thought I’d do a slightly different post this week and give you an insight in to what I eat on a daily basis. Hopefully this will inspire some of you to get creative with your lunches and will prove to you that salads – and lunches in general for that matter – never have to be boring!

My diet is usually pretty good, bar the odd chocolate/peanut butter binge, and I’m usually consistent with my lunches. As boring as it may sound (although if you think salads are boring you’re doing it wrong!), my lunch normally consists of a salad – you’ll see why they’re anything but boring throughout the post though!

I also adapt my lunch around my training. If I know I’m going to be training after work for example, I’ll add in a sweet potato, whereas if I’ve trained in the morning, I’ll have eaten my main carbs after breakfast and will probably fancy a lighter lunch.

Either way, I look forward to my lunch every day as I know that even if it’s slightly similar to the day before, it’s packed full of flavour and nutrients.

So…without further a do, here’s what my week in lunches looked like this week!

Monday:
Super salad (check out Dane’s blog for a more detailed post on the super salad)
These salads are legendary and Dane provided me with much amusement when he was making this one for me.salad 1
So Monday’s lunch was made up of:
* Leaves
* Left over fajita spiced chicken
* Pumpkin seeds
* Sundried tomatoes
* Cherry tomatoes
* Cucumber
* Raw asparagus
* Raw broccoli
* One Brazil nut (because Dane thinks he’s funny!)

 

 

 

Tuesday:
Left over fish and chips
Ok, so this doesn’t look the prettiest of lunches or even remotely Instagram worthy, but it was incredibly tasty! The night before I made my version of fish and chips and made enough for lunch the next day too. Salmon 1
It was made up of:
*1 sweet chilli salmon fillet
*Roasted parnsip chips
*Roasted kale
*Stir fried leaks and tenderstem broccoli

 

 

 

 

Wednesday:
Chicken salad
Wednesday’s lunch was another classic chicken salad. This might sound boring but as I mentioned earlier, it’s what in it that counts!salad 2
It contained:
* One chicken breast, cooked in coconut oil to add some extra taste
* Leaves, of course!
* Raw babycorn
* Raw tenderstem broccoli
* Raw asparagus
*Sundried tomatoes

 

 

 

Thursday:
Burgers and chips
Again, today’s lunch was my version of a traditional British dish, made with a healthy twist of course. It was the previous nights dinner, too! turkey burgers 1
It contained:
* Two turkey burgers (check back in my recipe section for the exact recipe)
* Roasted parsnip chips
*Kale, mushrooms, onion, asparagus and sweetcorn sauteed in coconut oil

 

 

 

Friday:
Chorizo and prawn skewers
I definitely got over excited when I pulled out this tupperware box on Friday and forgot to take a picture! Luckily I had one from the night before when I made them! skewers 1
Each skewer was made up of:
* Chorizo
*Prawns
* Courgette
*Red onion
*Pepper
*Kale on the side

 

 

 

Saturday:
Giraffe’s Huevos Rancheros Mexican Breakfast giraffe 1
Saturday’s lunch was a late one at about 3pm after a morning of dashing around the supermarket for Saturday nights Come Dine With Me dinner party (more on that in another blog post soon!)
This is similar to the recipe I’ve blogged previously but also has chorizo, cheese, avocado and sweetcorn on it and is made up on a crisp tortilla wrap.

 

 

 

 

Sunday:
Chorizo and vegetable egg scramble.
Woah, I’ve just realised I’ve eaten a lot of chorizo over the past few days!! This scrumptious meal was more of a post run brunch. I’d just done a tough interval session so this was well and truly needed!brunch 1
It was made up of:
* Two eggs
* Chorizo
* Tenderstem broccoli
* Green beans
* Two small slices of olive bread

 

 

 

 

There you have it – my week in lunches! Follow me on Instagram @HBryan91 to see more of my meal time creations or search #Hannahshappypace

 

Nourishing our bodies at The Garden, Hale

Get yourself to The Garden in Hale

The Garden 2

Balance in my life is always restored after I’ve been to see my best friend, Liana. Visits to Liana’s always involve great food, training and hysterical laughter at some point throughout the weekend. A recent visit to her house was no exception.

We rustled up a delicious dinner on Saturday evening of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, spinach, chives (who are we?!) and avocado – we LOVE breakfast at any time of the day, especially for dinner. Sunday morning was a knockout egg scramble with chilli and chives before we hit the gym for a strength session.

We have been dying to try Bosu Body Bar in Chorlton for ages as it looks amazing but sadly for us it wasn’t meant to be as they are closed on a Sunday so we had to go in search of another fantastic healthy eating place to fill the void. Liana had been to The Garden, in Hale before with her friend so even though it was a good 30 minutes away after looking at the menu we decided that it would be worth it.

The Garden offers a selection of healthy, organic dishes using local produce and has an array of mouth-watering clean treats.

45 minutes later thanks to horrendous traffic we arrived delirious with hunger but the friendly staff soon had us sat down at a table browsing the menus with two tasty drinks on the way.

Liana went for a Green Peace smoothie which was made up of spinach, avocado, apple, kale, cucumber, parsley, wheatgrass and spirulina while I had an I am Balanced juice of coconut water, fresh aloe vera and fresh peppermint. They were both served in charming jam jar style jars with cardboard straws. They also do amazing looking shakes and a raw cacao smoothie, too.

Choosing lunch was just as hard as choosing a drink as the whole menu is full of delicious superfood dishes packed full of flavour and goodness.

Liana went for the Rainbow Spaghetti which was seasonal vegetable spaghetti, which you could have raw or al dente, served with a choice of tomato, coriander and chilli or a kale pesto sauce. You could then choose from quinoa meatballs, organic salmon or organic chicken. Liana had kale pesto and organic chicken and said it was delicious.

The garden 3

Meanwhile I went for the Abundance Bowl with king prawns. This was a big, hearty bowl of cauliflower rice, chilli and lime chickpeas, spring onions, parsley, radishes, apple, sunflower seeds and pomegranate seeds topped with pistachios a lime and mustard dressing. It was really tasty and the cauliflower rice was very filling but the only thing I would say is that I would’ve liked more dressing.

We didn’t stop there either. We also got some kale chips which had been cooked with some sort of cashew butter making them even tastier than regular kale chips, as well as and dips and crudités. The three dips we chose were houmous, sundried tomato tapenade and cashew cheese.

Enjoying the chilled atmosphere we decided we wanted to stay a bit longer, i.e. we weren’t done eating, so we checked out the dessert menu. Everything looked delicious but what we really had our eyes on were the blueberry buckwheat pancakes on the breakfast menu. The staff and the chef were kind enough to make us them and we enjoyed them with dairy free ice cream, banana and homemade chocolate sauce. We also threw in a homemade date and raw cacao protein ball on top – us girls can eat!

The Garden 1

If you live in Manchester/near Manchester or are there for a day trip I’d definitely recommend checking out The Garden, it’s well worth it. It’s a health food lover’s paradise. #earthfriendlyfood

Seafood & three tomato courgetti in a spicy tomato sauce

Crazy for courgetti!

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Looking at the picture on the left you could easily mistake it for a pan of pesto covered spaghetti yet it’s actually one of my favourite “pastas”, courgetti!

Thanks to my handy little spirazlier (which you can spend as much or as little on as you want – mine was £13 from Amazon) I’m able to transform this underrated vegetable in to yummy ribbons of courgette as a substitute for pasta. The outcome is a light dish which has the same texture as spaghetti and is quicker to cook than pasta – I love it.

Another food I love is fish and it goes great with courgetti which is how this dish was created. The recipe uses fresh, clean ingredients that are easy to get hold of and the entire dish can be made in less than 40 minutes. Healthy eating doesn’t need to be overly fancy and involve lots of ingredients you can barely pronounce, just eat good stuff! Also, this dish is ridiculously tasty!

You will need: (this served three people, two ladies & one big portion for the other half!)
– Three courgettes, spiralized
– Cherry tomatoes, chopped
– Vine tomatoes, chopped
– Sundried tomatoes, chopped
– 1 tbsp red pesto
– 2 tbsp, tomato purée
– King prawns
– 2 salmon fillets
– Coriander, chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– Kale
– Coconut oil
– 1 red chilli, chopped

To make:
– Start by preheating the oven to about 180 degrees and wrap the salmon in some tin foil before putting in the oven to cook for about 18-20 minutes.
– Heat a tsp of coconut oil in a frying pan and add the chopped garlic, cherry tomatoes, vine tomatoes and chopped chilli. After a couple of minutes add the tomato purée.
– When the salmon has been in the oven for about 10 minutes put the kale on a baking tray and drizzle with a little oil before putting in the oven to roast for about 10-12 minutes – be careful though as it does crisp up quickly.
– Add the spiralized courgetti to the pan and stir in the pesto, king prawns and chopped coriander.
– Once everything is ready, put the kale in a bowl then add the courgetti pasta and top with a piece of your salmon fillet.

Enjoy and tag me in your creations using #hannahshappypace

Got a courgetti recipe you want featured? Contact me! 

Egg muffins – a healthy high-protein breakfast or snack

Muffins? Love. Eggs? Love. Egg muffins? GO ON THEN!

egg muffins

Many of us don’t have the time/would prefer not to make eggs in the morning so these are the perfect portable breakfast to have on the go or as a snack or lunch accompaniment.

Boasting the density of a muffin and all the protein benefits of eggs, this is a super easy and tasty recipe to rustle up when you’re doing your food prep.

Not only that but it’s another way of getting your greens in first thing in a morning. If you’re someone who can’t stomach the thought of broccoli for breakfast (personally I love it morning, noon and night!) then this is a great way to get those vitamins and nutrients in your system in a creation which actually tastes amazing too.

You can keep these egg muffins in the fridge, heat them up or simply eat them cold.

My recipe below used the ingredients I had in the fridge at the time but you can add chorizo, salmon, sweet potato… basically anything you like – give it a go and let me know what you use.

You will need: (makes 6 big muffins)
– 6 eggs
– Handful of chopped spinach
–  Pepper/spices to season
– 4 spring onions, chopped
– ¾ bacon rashers, grilled & chopped up

To make:
– Crack the eggs in to a jug or a large bowl and whisk with a fork as though you’re going to make scrambled eggs.
– Add the pepper and other spices as well as the rest of the chopped ingredients and stir well.
– Pour the mixture into muffin cases or a Yorkshire pudding tray, basically anything that’s deep enough to hold the mixture and put it into a pre-heated oven at about 180° for 20-25 minutes until cooked.

Have you made these and added your own fillings? Let me know. Tweet me at @hannahbryan91 or tag me in your creations using #hannahshappypace

Super quick sausage & bean stew

A stew which takes less than 30 mins – yes please!

IMG_8519 IMG_8520

If there’s one thing I hate it’s waiting for my food! After a run I am RUNGY (see what I did there!?) and the last thing I feel like doing is waiting an hour or so for my dinner to cook.

I love to food prep and I’m pretty good at making my lunches in advance but not so much with my dinners and they tend to end up being something super quick and easy. When I’m cooking for just me it tends to be meat/fish, veg & some sort of lentils/carbs if I’ve trained. It’s always something pretty basic really but when I’ve got friends over I feel as though I can’t just give them the basics.

So last night Dane and I did some tough intervals (a post to come on that session soon!) and after that I needed something I could rustle up quickly for us both…you don’t want to be around Dane and I when we’re hungry!

This stew is perfect for that. It’s full of flavour and packed full of fibre and protein from the beans. This means they’ll keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer.

If you’re a vegetarian then simply leave out the sausages, it’s more than substantial on its own I just love sausages!

I served mine on a bed of crispy kale or if you fancy something even more filling then serve it with brown rice or quinoa although don’t forget you are getting carbs from the beans.

You will need:
– Sausages (I used Tesco finest sweet chilli sausages which are delicious)
– 1 tin of cannellini beans
– 1 tin chopped tomatoes
– 1 tablespoon of tahini (I used dark tahini which I’d recommend if you’re digestive system is good because you’re getting the full benefit of the seed because in the light tahini the seeds have been hulled)
– Handful of sundried tomatoes (drained of oil)
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 tsp chilli powder or a chopped red chilli
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp paprika
– Pepper for seasoning
– Coriander to stir in and to garnish

To make:
– Start by either grilling or frying your sausages (I’d always recommend grilling but if you’re frying then try to use coconut oil)
– Once the sausages are cooked simply put them to one side. Drain the beans and rinse them with water before adding to a large pan along with the tomatoes (chopped and sundried), tahini, garlic, spices, pepper and some chopped coriander.
– Heat in the pan for about 10 minutes or until everything is piping hot. You can either serve with the sausages on top or chop them up and stir them into the stew.

* If you’re making crispy kale heat the oven to about 180 degrees and when pre-heated put the kale on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and put in the oven for between 10-15 minutes – keep an eye on this as once it starts to crisp up it does so very quickly!

For afters I had some (and when I say some I mean that we ate it all) of this Lindt dark chocolate and a gingerbread green tea – so, so good!

IMG_8516 IMG_8522

Enjoy 🙂

Tag me in your creations using #hannahshappypace