Renna's Discoveries: May 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Update from New Year New Me - What I've been up to to get fit.

So what have I been up to with my stay fit and be healthy year so far. I'm still working on weight loss, but not hugely anymore, I just need to shift a little bit here and there. However my main aim since reaching my weight goal is toning up. I am proud to say that my abs are coming back, my bum is smaller and my arms are a lot thinner. Woohoo. Progress. I am finally the weight and the size that I wanted to get to, as I wanted my old body back from ten years ago. After sitting on my butt at work and having two kids, I really wanted to get back to the old me.
I thought I would share what I love and what I have been eating and doing to achieve this. A lot of what I've been eating and doing is on my blog and instagram already, but this is a round up of what I've not written about.

I do want to say that I am not a nutritionist or a personal trainer. I have gone with what I feel is best for me, with plenty of suggestions from professionals and friends in the business.

Firstly my eating has improved greatly, and this time, I've stuck to it. Well, you know, we all have treats, but I'm not having treats every day and every night. I'm exercising a lot more, this helps with having doggies, as I get to have lovely long walks. I also have a few favourites on YouTube that I've been watching and following.

Breakfast has consisted of Oats and Fruit nearly every day. I generally have Quaker Oats pouches or similar. I don't like plain porridge, I need it sweet, so I have the Golden Syrup flavour or the Apple and Blueberry or Strawberry and Banana flavours. These are delicious and so easy. I'll generally add a banana or apple, and sometimes even blueberries. I've almost finished my Lean Greens and I've had this nearly every morning too. Just to make sure I'm getting the vegetables that I need.

Lunch has varied, as it depends what I'm doing. I can have a sandwich (using thins or pitta bread mainly) with ....anything really, ham, cheese, avocado, chicken etc etc or I'll have a salad, or I'll have loads of fruit and a protein shake, or I'll even have last nights dinner leftovers. I also love a good mozzerella and avocado salad, with possibly a tomato. It really depends. However, I make sure I eat a good amount of food. I love food, I don't know how anyone thinks not eating is going to help them loose weight. We need food for fuel. (Joe Coach taught me this). My dinners are very similar, just a larger portion and I'll include rice, pasta and potatoes too, unless I have a green salad.

I am trying not to snack throughout the day, however if I do, I'll have a health bar of some description, or oat bites, or one of my chocolate protein balls. After a long walk or a work out I will have a Nutribuddy Protein Shake. This has really helped me this year. If I fancy chocolate, I'll have a shake instead. It feels me up with low calories. Plus, I've experimented with nearly all the different milks and mixed them up and just changed the flavour so its always different. I've tried, Almond, Hazelnut, Oat, Coconut and even Hemp Milk. I will only ever buy it if its on offer at the supermarket though, as it can get quite costly. Although Aldi, now do Almond milk for 99p. So if I'm in there I'll be buying that too.

Staying hydrated. Now, I've always struggled drinking loads of water, but I do like infused fruit water. This is super healthy and gives you flavour and the water intake too. I mix it up. I like strawberries, lemon or cucumber water. I'm loving my Matcha tea too, and will add it to any protein shake or fruit mixer.
Walking gets me out and about and I've found some lovely areas near where I live. I also keep track (not every day) of my walks and the distance, just to give me idea. I use the Walk My Dog App. It counts my distance, calories used and my pace as well as hill gradients etc.
I'm not one for writing everything down or doing the same routines, as this would bore me. I need to continue to do it all for "fun"  or its all to regimented for me. I can do anything from a 5km to 9km dog walk or if I don't track it I could walk anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours.
I'll also do anything from a five minute exercise workout to half an hour. It really depends on my mood and what time it is. I'm not a gym person, I'd prefer to stay at home. Some days, I'll do exercises throughout the day. I like to do random moves like .... for example......squatting whilst brushing my teeth, squatting in the kitchen whilst waiting for the kettle to boil or food to cook, or I'll do push ups whilst leaning on the kitchen worktop, I might even lunge my way around the house. Another good one is being a mum and forgetting why you've just run up the stairs, so you'll come down and then remember and run up the stairs again. Sometimes I'll even do this for fun.
I've watched quite a few fitness videos and this has also given me ideas of quick five minutes exercises to do throughout the day.
I have tried to plank every single night though. I use this as meditation before bed. Don't ask, I just like to do it then. I can now do a two minute plank, not always...sometimes I'll still only manage 30 seconds then I'll rest and do it again. I enjoy the planking exercises, as then it distracts you from the fact that you are actually still planking. The mountain climbers or the spiderman planks are good. I also like planking around the world - which is planking whilst moving around in a circle. Youtube taught me this.

I like to watch and learn from these videos and fitness tips.

Joe The Body Coach: He's fun to watch, and he looks mighty fine too !!! He has two books out now and has been a worldwide success. He is someone that I think is a great role model. He believes in food and exercising. You must follow this guy, he's everywhere and he makes sense So listen to him.
YouTube The Body Coach

I've also been enjoying Fitness Blender on YouTube too. Have a watch of a few of these and get involved. They do some great fun workouts and they are realistic too. When I need a rest, that's ok, just do what you can. Something is always better than nothing.
YouTube Fitness Blender

My other favourite lady to work out with is gorgeous and she is such an inspiration. She talks throughout the whole way through her routines and seems like nothing bothers her. I can't do all of her videos, but I try my hardest. She has some really fun videos, and there are absolutely loads to choose from. I love her Ab and Planking videos. Body Goals!!!
YouTube XHIT

Here's me a few weeks ago !! Still Smiling !!

I've signed up to my local StarLight Walk which is 13 mile walk at night time. I could have just done the 6 mile, but I thought I'd challenge myself. 20km !! I'm not a runner, I can run say 200m and then I need a rest. This I will continue to work on!! (whilst I'm hiding in the woods where no one can see me)
I will continue to eat healthy and to do my work out and watch my fitness videos.
When it comes to exercise :

Something is always better than Nothing.

Give yourself Goals and stick to them.

Eat healthily, do not take short cuts - these will not work in the long run. I don't care what they will always have to go back to them until you train yourself to eat healthily and to exercise.

Right - That's me done, I'm off out for a fast paced walk, then back to do a ten minute workout !!
Any tips, comments, food suggestions, please leave them below.

Other Blog Posts that you might like to read of mine:
Lean Greens
Update on Lean Greens
Protein Balls
Dream Matcha
What Have I Been Eating pt2
What Have I Been Eating pt1
New Year New Me - January Post

We’re going Vegan!
As Nutribuddy has developed over time, we naturally started to head in a more ethical direction. It felt right. Every product we launched after the Sculpting Whey Protein was naturally vegan. We also started attracting many vegan customers. It wasn’t just that we wanted to accommodate for vegan customers but we actually felt passionate about the move to launch more vegan products. Changing to completely vegan is something we really felt passionate about doing. It lines up with our brand values and means that all our products are suitable for everyone! As a new start-up company, we needed time to find out what was right for us. 2 years on I can happily say we have found the right route and that involves being a vegan brand. Our customers and team are a mix of vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. The one thing we all share in common is caring about the food we eat and the environmental impact of food and packaging.

Winnie's Original - Sweet Chilli Apple Sauce

I need to tell you about some really scrumptious apple sauce. This isn't your run of the mill apple sauce, this is apple sauce with a bite. This is also a very versatile sauce, as it can be used in many ways.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Winnie's Original London - Purveyors of Exquiste Condiments. The Most Luxurious Jam in the World.

I love Jam, I have spent my whole life eating it. I love a variety of flavours however, my favourites are strawberry and apricot. Being as these two are very popular flavours I have tried many many brands. Some brands are full of fruit, others have half and half and some brands just do the jam with no bits. I actually don't mind any. The only problem that I have had in the past, is that some brands can just taste really artificial. Obviously, the best jams are home made. Yes, I have made jams in the past and I have many friends that love making jams. They make great gifts too a friend of mine always gives me Jam or Chutney at Christmas. 
I came across a new brand at a Foodie Event called Winnie's Original and we tasted the Strawberry Velvet Jam and I instantly fell in love with it. It was definitely a Wow moment. 
These jams are pure luxury, I personally have not tasted any jam like it before or after. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Infinity Dream Awards

I have been awarded by the lovely Annie Buls to tell you about myself in the Infinity Dream Awards. Its not something I do often, but I'm in ! Thank you so much for including me.
Annie is a vegetarian lifestyle blogger who believes in love at first sight and loves cats.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lobster Homeware - A New take on the Kitchen Apron

Many years ago when I was at college learning hospitality and catering, we used to learn cooking and cheffing skills. It was part and parcel of the course and I learnt many fantastic things in the kitchen that I carried through into jobs and still use to this day. Whilst training, we had to wear the full chefs uniform, chefs whites, aprons and about five tea towels hanging off of you. You had tea towels for rubbing plates down and tea towels to hold hot handles and taking dishes out of the oven. So when I'm at home, I have tea towels all over the place just so I can grab them quickly when I need them. 
So when I saw a new style of apron I was very excited. It also brought back many fun memories from college and work. I have the pleasure in introducing Lobster Homeware to you.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Eat Clean Tea #SummerOfMatcha Mocktail

I'm loving Matcha Tea this year, I have been been drinking it every day as a latte or included in my protein shakes. Its been helping me stay healthy as its full of antioxidants and has helped me loose unnecessary weight.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Number 23 Restaurant in St Albans - UPDATE 2018 - THIS RESTAURANT HAS NOW CLOSED

I took my friend out for a Tapas Lunch for her Birthday last weekend. The food was so good, I just have to share with you.

Number 23 - British Tapas
This restaurant has been on The List since it opened. Partly because I used to work with the owners many many years ago and you should always support who you know, and the fact that its tapas. However, this has not swayed my opinion in any way. We worked at a local Hotel, so I know that they know how to run a restaurant and how to cook good food. When you work in hospitality, it can make you quite fussy and spot things that others wouldn't, which can make dining out quite daunting at times. They knew I was coming, but I didn't mention how much I share on social media or that I have a blog or the fact that if there is a complaint, I will voice it. (Constructive feedback is what I call it though)
Number 23 is hidden away in George Street in St Albans, just a minute away from St Albans Cathedral. It is at the back of a shared courtyard in a building full of history. I believe it was built in the 1500's. It still has a lot of its original character which I really liked.
We love tapas and when dining with friends we actually think its one of the best ways of eating, as then there is no food envy and everyone gets to try everything. So this is a win win when it comes to food.
 These made me laugh, so I had to get a picture of them for you.
As you walk in through the front door, you are presented with two large Smeg fridges, which I was very tempted to open (because I'm super nosy) and then figured that it must hold the desserts. Then you walk through into another section, and then again into another room where the bar and more tables are. I liked this as you can have your own informal private area if you like. It did feel strange walking through the restaurant first, but then, it made me feel at home, like I had just walked through my front door into my own house. I have a funny feeling that they had a staff member at the front door in their busy times to welcome you though. There was only one waitress on duty this day, as it was near the end of their lunch rush so that's probably why she was by the bar. She was so lovely and very helpful and she made us feel very relaxed around her.
We asked for tap water and apple juice for the kids and myself and my friend Miss M had an adult drink, as it was a special occasion.
 As you can see from the menu the prices are very reasonable, and whilst we were going through it, we found it very difficult not to just order the lot !! Sounds perfect doesn't it. There is literally something for everyone so, although it may look like a small menu, its actually a perfect menu. I would be very happy with any of their choices.
We both loved the little quirky extras they had, like the cutlery holder was in fact a square teapot. We both wanted to take it home to put on our own kitchen tables. 

I would say that two people could easily (if forced) share one portion of tapas, so if you get 3 dishes and upwards, that would be a nice light bite. However, we are foodies, and we have three kids with us, so we just went for it.

Here's most of what we ordered:
 A good selection of breads with balsamic vinegar and oil. The bread was nice and fresh and I have to say, that this little plate was not allowed to leave the table  until I had completely finished it off.
 Five spiced chicken pieces with a chilli chutney. We ordered these for the kids and they loved them. So did we actually.
 Risotto balls (one of my favourites is Arancini, so we just Had to order these) I wish I took a photo of the inside, as they were perfectly moist and had a great texture. They had mushroom, pancetta and goats cheese and they just ooooozzzed with deliciousness. I would go back for these alone.
 Sticky sweet sausages. These were served with the sticky caramelised onion. Oh my..... these were so good too and there was plenty of it to go around the table,
Deep fried brie with cranberry jam. When we cut into ours, the cheese just melted out and oozzed like a cheesy river. It was just perfect. The chef's timings are just impeccable. 
 Here's more proof of perfection. The scotch egg ( this is after I knocked it so the yolk ran out a bit, but it was presented more neatly than this) was absolutely spot on, just how it should be.
Of course, they had my favourite cheese, Halloumi. Now, I have to admit I do generally worry when I order halloumi, as I know how I like it, and how my Greek family cook it. So I've grown up with it being cooked a certain way, BBQ'd or pan fried - if you deep fry it, I am no longer your friend. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, as it came Exactly as I like it. This is pan fried, and it was still hot and squidgy and I just tucked right in, I almost forgot to share it it was so good. 
My last one is Warm Goats Cheese served on top of baby beetroots. This is such a perfect combination. We loved it. 

 I missed photos of the chips and crackling, but they didnt last long, and .... how often can you go out and have a bowl of crackling at the table? You can't. Crackling is something most people would fight over (We still did, as one of the kids tried to eat it all to himself). Its a treat (sorry vegetarians, but it really is!)
Most of the dishes had a side salad garnish to go with it, which we also ate. In fact, I think most of the dishes were completely empty when the lovely waitress took them away at the end.
This really was an impeccable meal and certainly had the Wow factor. I would most definitely recommend it. It's a restaurant that is suitable for any occasion, a quick bite, a group, date night, parties on just on your own. We were so stuffed at the end, but we managed to force a dessert. Its a must !

Well actually, I had to order dessert as I wanted to surprise my friend with a little birthday treat.
This was the Malteaser and Baileys Cheesecake. We asked the waitress for one large portion for us to share. This is NOT for kids. It was just like drinking a glass of Baileys after dinner. It was very strong but delicious.
Our bill was presented in a lovely box which was full of sweets !! The kids went crazy and we all had to have a sweet or a lolly to walk off with.

I'd like to thank the Chef for an amazing lunch, you really are a true asset to the team with impeccable timings and food presentation.

Gutted that this restaurant has now closed, we really need to support the smaller establishments, especially as they come up with an idea that becomes their baby and without the public support, unfortunately the best chefs and their ideas have to end.

Cuppanut - Coconut Tea by Gareth Gates

So, I have come across another amazing discovery that I absolutely have to share with you.
I was sent some samples of the one and only Gareth Gates' new tea. Yes, the amazing singer that we all fell for from the first ever Pop Idol, and has been a successful singer, songwriter and theatre star ever since.

Gareth follows a very healthy lifestyle and loves Coconut. He says that he has spent quite a while experimenting in his kitchen with coconut and came up with.....a Tea !!
Yes, Coconut Tea. Not tea leaves with coconut, but just pure unadulterated Coconut. You can actually see the flakes of coconut in the tea bags.
Lots of people have commented on the name and it may sound strange, or mean something else, but it does actually make huge sense.
Cup of a Coconut = Cuppanut - Clever hey?!

Cuppanut has only just launched this April and I reckon it's going to be huge. This is the first pure Coconut Tea to be sold in the UK and its divine.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Update on Lean Greens Drink - Food Supplements

Lean Greens, Super Greens are amazing for you. I have really enjoyed drinking Lean Greens every day. It is by far the tastiest super green drink I have ever had. 
I've been mixing it with Water or Coconut Water and sometimes I'll add a splash of Apple Juice just to sweeten it a little if I have it with just water.
I've also mixed it with different shakers and a blender to see if there is any different and tried adding fruit to it. 

This Lean Green smoothie had added strawberries and I have to say, it was very nice. I didn't think to start blending it with fruit until the weather started to get hot, as I fancied a refreshing healthy drink in the sun in the mornings. 

It sure doesn't look very pretty, but it tasted just like strawberry water. There are many ways of using Lean Greens into shakes and smoothies if you would prefer to mix it. If you are into your spinach, Kale, Banana and Mango smoothies, then a scoop of Lean Greens will add so much extra goodness to it too. 
I would definitely recommend Lean Greens. Especially if you're a person that doesn't eat a lot of vegetables, at least this way, you can get a huge hit of goodness in a quick drink. Or even if you do eat loads of healthy vegetables, a few more is always good. This tub is still going strong after two and a half weeks. I'd say a tub a month is about right. 
I can't say whether I've felt any different, as I generally eat healthy - ish , most of the time anyways, but, it sure has stopped any feeling of hunger throughout the morning. So, I've not even thought about foods before lunch time. 
Have a read of my previous Lean Greens post HERE and place your order. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Tangle Angel - The Most Beautiful Brush in The World!!

I wanted to share an amazing product which I think will help every parent with girls. Obviously this product is amazing for absolutely everyone else, that has hair, but, when I saw it it I knew it would make my life and my daughters life easier. Especially in the morning or after the shower. Less tears, and more smiles. 
Its a brush!! But, not just any kind of brush, this is an Tangle Angel. This has got to be the most beautiful brush I have ever my life. A brush that has its own angel wings. 
It's designed to go straight through your hair releasing all the knots easily and with less pain. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Buff & Butter Essential Oils

Essential Oils are everywhere. You can make up your beauty creams, perfumes, direct into the bath or use them in candles. I like to also just drip a tiny amount of lavender on my pillow if I'm having problems sleeping, or if the kids are having problems. People have been using essential oils for centuries. 
Buff and Butter sell a wide range of oils and kits and I asked if I could review a few of their oils. These are the types of oils that as soon as you open them up and the smell hits you, it either calms, relaxes, awakens or lifts your spirits. 

Danger Mouse is Back !!

Danger Mouse is a cartoon programme that I used to watch as a child. It's also one of the many programmes that has been revamped and back bigger and better for our own children to enjoy. Danger Mouse is now on CBBC and had 3.6 million viewers in its first six weeks on TV. So this alone proves how popular it was, and is now.
Of course with every TV programme, there comes new toys.  When I went to the Toyfair with a blogger friend Lucy, we met up with Jazwares who has designed all of the new and very exciting toys. They wanted to bring the cartoon to life with their toys and help the children role play and have loads of fun. There are some very exciting new toys coming out, including a very large Danger Mouse plush toy that has his own sayings and comes with a Jet Pack, and you also have his Mark IV Danger Car, which I really want to buy my son. It has wings !!
And finally, there are these fun figures. They are 3 inches high and are nice and bright in the packaging and there are five to collect.

Outdoor Hands - Intense Hand Cream

My husband works so much and its a very manual demanding job. There is no sitting down all day staring at a computer screen, he's a grafter as some would say. He's outside a lot and can be in very dangerous places. His poor hands get really rough and sometimes sore from where they dry out so much. 
So, I thought I'd show you the results from a cream I asked to review, as he really needed it. 
Outdoor Hands is a special cream that experts in the field have designed for all those amazing people that work outside in all weathers and in all conditions.