Hello tasty dinner!

…Or Hello Fresh, as it is actually called! ūüėõ

If I’m honest, I have been stuck in a dinner-rut for a while now and have had the same 7-8 dinners on rotation for the past few years. ¬†It doesn’t help that Dan is the world’s pickiest eater and the only vegetables that he will willingly eat are carrots and peas.

Now that I’m back at school and out for at least 12 hours each day I don’t really want to come home and worry about what to cook each evening. ¬†I often use the slow cooker for meals when I am thinking ahead, but this can become a bit same-y after a while.

Basically, I either wanted to employ a fantastic chef to supply me with delicious food whenever my tummy rumbled, or I wanted an easy way of making some top-quality new and filling meals.

I read a review by Anna several months ago now about how she had been talked into signing up for Hello Fresh boxes by a door-to-door salesman, but was actually enjoying them so much that she had continued her order past the initial trial.  Everything about the Hello Fresh service sounded appealing to me and so I decided to sign up for the Classic Hello Fresh box for three meals a week to see how I got on.

Each week you can decide which of the five meals available that week appeal to you the most and select them ready for the following week. ¬†On the Hello Fresh website you can scroll through dishes from previous weeks and I noted that there was such a wide selection of meals that have been used. ¬†I thought that perhaps the meals would have been on rotation every month or so, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Because I don’t return from work until 6pm I chose a ‘safe place’ for the delivery driver to delivery my box at home each week. ¬†My selected safe place was next to my recycling bin along the side of my house. ¬†If I was to continue ordering boxes through the winter though, I would set up a more sturdy safe place for the boxes so that the produce inside would not be damaged from the elements. ¬†I literally could not believe the size of the box when we returned home from work on the first Monday.

Hello Fresh boxI’m not sure how I was expecting enough ingredients for three meals to fit into a smaller box but the box was about as large as one of the (many) large craft storage containers I own and rather heavy to pick up to¬†bring inside. ¬†I was so excited to get it unpacked and look through the ingredients which had been delivered though!

Hello Fresh box ingredients

All the chilled ingredients were carefully wrapped in tiny little ice packs and wool lining.  They arrived perfectly fresh and ready to eat/be stored until required.  All ingredients that are required for the meals have been included in the box each week, apart from salt, pepper and the odd dash of olive oil.  Even items like stock, spices and cloves of garlic are included, just in teeny tiny containers for the exact amount you require.

Hello Fresh box items

You also get a thick sheet of about A5 size containing instructions for each meal.  The sheet has a slightly shiny surface (to allow for any wild pan sloppage) and contains step-by-step instructions on how to create the dish, along with photographs of the process and a snapshot of the finished meal.

Hello Fresh recipe cards

My first week of meals contained the following:

1. Pan-fried Chicken with goat’s cheese and pear salad

Pan-fried chicken with goat's cheese and pear salad (Hello Fresh)

2. Refreshing Pasta with peas, pancetta and mint

Refreshing Pasta with peas, pancetta and mint (Hello Fresh)

3. Quickfire Beef Enchiladas

Quickfire Beef Enchiladas (Hello Fresh)

What did I learn from week one?

  • I learnt that Dan’s favourite meal of the week was the salad. ¬†Well, after I had removed the spinach and pears from his half at least! ¬†But he loved the mix of walnuts, warm chicken and goats cheese over the new potatoes. ¬†This is something that I shall make again. ¬†(I served his share¬†with a side of peas just so that he got a portion of vegetables into him as part of his evening meal!)
  • I learnt that pasta doesn’t have to be boring. ¬†I was a very fussy eater as a child, as was my brother. ¬†My poor Mum only ever cooked a selection of about ten different meals that we would both eat, and that included pasta. ¬†Pasta with lots of grated cheese on top and served with sweetcorn on the side. ¬†Except I’m pretty sure my brother didn’t like the sweetcorn?…I think this has meant that I now tend to associate pasta with being a quick and easy yet incredibly boring meal choice, never choosing to order a pasta dish when eating out and often putting a pasta bake dish in the oven for nights when I’m going to be back late from running as it requires very little effort. ¬†I adored the change in texture achieved by adding the pine nuts to this dish.
  • I learnt that I see enchiladas as primarily a lunch meal. ¬†Perhaps because they are served in a wrap, and I tend to associate wraps or sandwiches as portable and therefore a lunchtime food. ¬†This was the only Hello Fresh dinner where I¬†felt like I needed dessert afterwards!
  • When cooking these dishes you need to make sure you have a lot of pans available, as often the recipes call for two or three pans on the hob, another in the oven and a couple of bowls on the side containing sauce/some sort of seasoning!

Week number two of the meals contained:

1. Chermoula Chicken with chorizo lentils and roasted peppers

Chermoula Chicken with chorizo lentils and roasted peppers (Hello Fresh)

2. Duck Steaks with spiced chickpeas, sweet potatoes & lemony yoghurt

Duck Steaks with spiced chickpeas, sweet potatoes & lemony yoghurt (Hello Fresh)

3. Sage and Butternut Squash Risotto

Sage and Butternut Squash Risotto (Hello Fresh)

  • I learnt that a bit of spice on a dish can completely change the flavour and turn it into an exciting meal. ¬†I’d also never tried lentils before. ¬†Yep, I normally favour the veggie dishes but I can’t remember having ever seen these on a menu before and wouldn’t have ever thought to hunt them out in a supermarket.
  • I learnt how to heat spinach to add to a dish. ¬†Literally the best thing ever, and so quick to do.
  • Despite Dan being really good and trying so many new foods over the past fortnight, there is only so far I can push it and he refused to try any of the Sage and Butternut Squash Risotto, so I had that one for a couple of lunches instead!
  • Bella is still learning boundaries in our¬†new house and when I sat down for a few minutes in the lounge after munching through my first home-cooked duck she decided to jump up onto the worksurface in the kitchen to lick out the frying pan. ¬†Dan happened to be in the kitchen at the time, so shouted at her and booted her out the back door. ¬†His solution to the problem though? ¬†To cover the washing up with a tea towel! ¬†Oh, to be a man!

If you are careful about your shopping and would class yourself as a ‘frugal’ shopper, Hello Fresh may seem a little pricey. ¬†Boxes are ¬£39 per week for three meals for two people (you get greater value if you choose to have more dishes per week (you can choose 3 or 5) and the more people you order for (2 or 4). ¬†I received a ¬£20 discount when I signed up for the service using Anna’s sign up code which made starting out a little less of a hit on my purse.

I think that the cost of the meals works out better than going out to a restaurant for dinner several times a week though and¬†I also feel much happier knowing that I have eaten a healthy, well-rounded meal in the comfort of my own home. ¬†I love that I have learnt new skills in the kitchen as well as discovered ingredients I’d never come across before, or dared to try, creating new combinations to construct my meals. ¬†Knowing a little more about foods such as lentils and pinenuts and how to prepare them I will be much more likely to purchase them and experiment with adding them to dishes in the future.

I intend on continuing to use Hello Fresh for inspiration although slightly less regularly as it is more expensive than my weekly shop would be otherwise.

If you would like to try Hello Fresh, I have a discount code which will give you £20 off when you sign up.  (Just so you know, using my referral code would also give me a further £20 off my next box.)  Just enter the code X4BXEG in the referral box when you sign up and we will both be winners!

Have you tried Hello Fresh?
How do you get inspiration when you want to try new dishes?

The amount of sugar I eat in a day #2

When I first started blogging I really concentrated on looking at the types of food I was choosing and used my then daily blog posts to help keep me accountable for the food I was eating – with the idea that it would hopefully help me to make the correct choices on a more regular basis. ¬†I feel I eat reasonably healthily the majority of the time although I still like a few treats now and again. ¬†(Who doesn’t?!)

In 2013 I tracked how much sugar I consumed in a day¬†and following an appointment with the dentist a couple of weeks ago, where he told me I had a sweet tooth – damaging the condition of my teeth by eating too many sugary things I decided to track my sugar consumption once again. ¬†I chose to track my food on Monday earlier this week and these were my findings…
Porridge with kiwi fruit

(A re-used picture but lately my weekday breakfast looks pretty much the same every single day!)
BREAKFAST: porridge (8g sugar) with kiwi (8g sugar) on top and cooked with milk (5g sugar).  I used to also add a spoonful of granulated sugar to the top of my porridge but have stopped doing this since I visited the dentist the other week.

TOTAL: 21g sugar

Tangerine

SNACK: 2x tangerines. (18g sugar)

TOTAL: 18g sugar

Mexican burrito saladLUNCH:¬†Since enjoying the best salad from Whole Foods last weekend I’ve recreated this salad ever since! ¬†This pot contains a portion of rice (0g sugar), some cherry tomatoes (3g sugar), a carrot (6g sugar), half a yellow pepper (0g sugar), some rocket leaves (0g sugar), a few small chunks of cheese (0g sugar), and a dollop each of sour cream (0g sugar), salsa (3g sugar) and guacamole (1g sugar). ¬†Delicious!

TOTAL: 13g sugarBP Pizza express vouchers

DINNER:  Dan and I have been collecting the BP Petrol vouchers for Pizza Express.  As well as the BP vouchers, we also had some 30% off vouchers from a previous visit.  Looks like there are a lot of Pizza Express visits coming up this Summer!Pizza Express garlic dough balls

STARTER: Garlic dough balls which we split.  I had the smaller four on the plate. (0.5g sugar)
Pizza Express Bosco saladMAIN: The Bosco salad; (7g sugar)

TOTAL: 7.5g sugar

Total sugar for the day: 59.5g sugar

sugar intake

Findings: This time round I used the MyFitnessPal app to record foods and establish their sugar content.  I think there was a bit of variation in the numbers given for grams of sugar in each part of my meals compared to when I recorded the information last time using the Tesco website.
As last time, I found it difficult to find a guide telling me how much sugar I should be consuming on a daily basis. ¬†My MyFitnessPal account seems to think I should be consuming 92 grams of sugar though, and I was recorded as having eaten much less than this amount over the course of the day. ¬†I’m glad I have removed the sugar from my porridge in the mornings, and I’ve found that I don’t really miss it at all. ¬†The kiwi is sweet enough to flavour the porridge and I think I would be more likely to miss the fresh fruit than the topping of sugar. ¬†I was surprised that the porridge itself seemed to have such a high sugar content count at 8g for my portion size.

What now? ¬†Although I don’t think I consume excessive amounts of sugar I am clearly doing something which my teeth are not agreeing with. ¬†I tend to eat more salads than fruit, but I do enjoy my fruit, especially at this time of year when it is so hot outside. ¬†I have toyed with the idea of a more plant-based diet over recent weeks. ¬†At times, I do eat more processed foods than I would like, and this does up the sugar content of my meals. ¬†I would (and could!) never go entirely plant based but when the Summer holidays begin (and I get my new kitchen!) I shall have a little more time to experiment with some different meals.

Have you ever tracked your sugar intake?
Do you use MyFitnessPal?

Cutting the sugar

On Monday I took a visit to my dentist.

When I was younger I had yearly (free!) checkups and cleanings. I love how my teeth felt after getting cleaned, nothing beats that clean feeling and¬†smooth finish¬†on your teeth. However, that smooth, clean feeling would soon be forgotten and some nights I would skip brushing. So there I’d be, frantically scrubbing my teeth the day before – trying desperately to make up for all those times I didn’t brush. ¬†Most of the time I lucked out and my teeth needed no urgent treatment by Delaney Park Dental, but now and again a filling was required.

As a paying adult, who eats fairly healthily the majority of the time and who now always brushes their teeth on a daily basis, I have since only visited the dentist in emergencies – when I have lost a filling or have been feeling pain from a certain tooth. You should book a dentist appointment immediately, in case you suffer from any dental issue.

Until yesterday it had been more than two years since I last visited. ¬†That visit was down to a car journey when I had been chewing some gum (unusual for me) and my filling had got caught on the gum and popped right back out on the gum. ¬†Luckily it didn’t cause me any pain, and I could enjoy the uni reunion I was attending the rest of the weekend, without downing paracetamol and sipping water tentatively through a straw.

After a quick probe in my mouth on Monday, my dentist at LANAP¬ģ Therapy in Houston informed me that I required two fillings. ¬†I was rather upset to hear this. ¬†I already have a couple of fillings and the thought of having a mouth full of silver, or worse – false teeth(!) – worries me. ¬†Ladies in their thirties don’t have false teeth do they?! ¬†At least, none I know do! ¬†(Luckily, I don’t think I am quite to the false teeth stage yet.)

My dentist told me that it appeared I had a sweet tooth and ate too much sugar.  He assumed that I ate lots of biscuits and cakes РI told him that I did not (perhaps one slice of cake a week on average?), so he questioned me over my fizzy drink consumption.  I do not like fizzy drinks.

I’d had a long day at work and his hands were still in my mouth but I tried to articulate that I was a runner and the majority of the sweet stuff I ate was whilst running, or just afterwards – purely to get a boost of energy whilst on a run. ¬†I then felt like my dentist was accusing me of a poor diet when he started ranting about the use of sports drinks and how long it can be afterwards until teeth are cleaned after eating whilst on a run.

He actually made me feel rather uncomfortable, sat in his chair, judging the food that I eat.
I feel that I lead a relatively healthy lifestyle – I avoid sugary breakfast cereals and tend to stick to porridge or eggs, I have salad almost every day for lunch and I home cook at least 5 out of my 7 dinners each week. ¬†Dan and I don’t have dessert unless we go out for dinner and although we might pick up a cake from the bakery at the weekend I don’t eat biscuits, a huge amount of chocolate or even like fizzy drinks – the main culprits I was accused of consuming.

What I do enjoy though is a sliced kiwi on my porridge most mornings…

Porridge with kiwi fruitI always pick up some fruit as a snack for mid-morning…

Strawberries and blueberriesMy salads at lunchtime tend to also include some fruit such as tangerines…

Salad

And my main fuel for running consists of nakd bars (filled with dates as a natural sugar) and oranges…

Nakd bars in a boxAlthough classed as healthy sugars, fruit still damages teeth and I feel that I need to adapt my diet slightly to incorporate more vegetables to replace the fruit I currently eat.  Not sure I fancy topping my porridge with some broccoli in the mornings just yet though!

A couple of years ago, when I first started my website I kept track of my sugar intake for the day.  At the time I thought I lived relatively healthily (hot dogs for dinner and sugary cereal for breakfast!)  I know my diet has improved a lot since then and I am interested to take a look at how much sugar I am consuming now vs two years ago.

Because I felt so uncomfortable talking to my dentist after his runners rant, rather than ask for advice from the dentist I booked in my fillings for a fortnight on Thursday, went home, panicked a little, spoke to my Mum about it (her response was “You eat less sweet things than your Dad.” – my Dad has false teeth¬†– this didn’t help my false teeth panic!), decided to eat nothing that I couldn’t suck straight down my throat from a straw, calmed down, had a look on Google (all the answers are on Google!) and then decided to make an action plan for the coming weeks.

Improving my dental health phase one: Minimise fruit intake and track my sugar consumption Рone day this week.
Improving my dental health phase two: Establish and make note of some good habits regarding dental care Рone day this week AFTER phase one.

Do you feel that you take care of your teeth well?
How many fillings have you had?
How much fruit do you eat each day?
Do you drink many fizzy drinks?

Also read: Contact Smiles By Glerum for a cosmetic dentist in Boynton Beach.

Related: Invisalign in Dripping Springs.

Free tennis

Sunday morning was a laid-back, easy morning. ¬†It was nice waking up at a regular time and the weather being cool enough to allow me to get my run in over lunchtime. ¬†10k was my ‘long’ run on Sunday to top off a nice easy 20 mile week following the ultra the weekend before.

I ran the first three miles easy, in heart rate Zone 2.  Stepped it up to heart rate Zone 3 for the next three and then had a little sprint finish at sub 8mm pace for the nubbin at the end before jogging a cool down and returning home feeling good!

After grabbing a quick shower and some lunch, Dan and I headed to our friend Vicki’s house where we met her and her husband Alex to go play some tennis. ¬†I spotted a little while back that over the Summer there are several free tennis sessions going on across the region. ¬†Vicki and Alex did join us for a little while at Peterborough parkruns in the build up to their wedding in April, but tennis is much more their thing, so we collected rackets and made our way over to the courts.

Vicki, Alex, Dan and I at tennisWe thought it best that the tennis stopped after each couple had won a set, rather than let it get too competitive and we all decided that more tennis needed to be played this Summer.

Juneathon – turns out I’m rubbish at blogging every day. ¬†I just don’t have the time, but I did anticipate that. ¬†My 10,000 steps a day goal equates to 70,000 steps a week.

June stepsI missed out on my target ever so slightly last week by 1,000 steps across the week which was rather annoying! ¬†But, I did cut back on my running last week following the ultra and then obviously just didn’t pick up as much walking as I should have done to balance it out again. ¬†I smashed my target the week before.

A short post today, just checking in, but I shall be posting a couple of longer ones this week with my training plan for the Grim Reaper 70 and how I might need to change my nutrition strategies following a trip to the dentist yesterday… :S

Have you ever played much tennis?
What active days out do you plan with friends?