My Nutty Salty Balls: high calorie blogging

Food. Food is very rarely just fuel, it’s quite an emotional facet of life:our best friend and sometimes a bit of a Frenemy! Like most people, I celebrate by eating, some mope and comfort eat or abstain altogether, I have been known to “overeat”.  My working days were moulded by the ritual of coffee breaks and by the etiquette of taking lunch. Going without it or not eating enough of the right stuff, is not a great idea. I’ve done that too. Sometimes food defines us – vegetarianism, veganism, fruititarians, people on the “face type” diet’. For others, it ‘confines’ for health reasons – coeliacs, diabetics, intolerences and allergies. It certainly makes life interesting and as an erstwhile distance runner, I’m always on the quest for palatable energy whilst avoiding tummy issues (ahem!). Of course, food is an industry whether it’s the growing, sourcing, preparing, eating or writing about it 🙂

So! How fantastic to be emptying the food cupboards, in preparation for renting the house out and finding all sorts of wonderful and out-of-date dried goods, cans, spices and basically just ingredients to experiement with.

DRUM ROLL! Where chemistry and imagination meet a 10-year amalgamation of ingredients, there are bound to be some new “species” of food types created. The fact that I am a trained chef AND a chemist should not deter anyone from trying out their own concoctions! I should probably insert some kind of disclaimer about the recipes herein, but…….

Aberdeen City-20130222-02692I posted a picture of my’ alternative to wheaty buttery flapjacks’ on FB a few weeks back and after a threat and a couple of nudges, I produced a few of my “nutty balls” (cue numerous childish innuendo) and even organised an exchange on the Formartine & Buchan Way (a popular local distance runners route) with some friends. Dodgy passing of tin-foiled balls were followed by texts saying yum-yum-what’s the recipe? and I didn’t really know what the recipe was. Cos it was basically just a whole heap of “stuff” in random quantities and, like the best nights out always being the unplanned ones, I hadn’t recorded any details. Bad scientist, no method, no utensil list.


My Nutty BallsAberdeen City-20130224-02714

Blast some popped popcorn & rice cakes with the hand-mixer, then add room temperature crunchy peanut butter (I used no salt, no sugar organic Whole Earth brand), add some runny hunny (preferrably acacia or off the comb). Keep adding and tasting until (1) it’s yummy and (2) all the dry stuff sticks together. Form into mitt-sizes balls and leave in the fridge overnight. Then wrap a few balls up in foil, stick in your run-bag and hand them out to grateful friends when you meet them out and about. I got a little sick on eating more-than-my-fair share but have learned my lesson and they really are an excellent alternative to flapjacks or carb gels, both of which I have problems stomaching for any length of time.


A variation on the theme and this time, with added flavour balancing to knock out some of the sweetness from the last lot, in the shape of cracked pepper and salt! I’m not talking vast quantities, season to taste, being the operative phrase.

  • 50g plain popcorn (popped,stale & mashed down)
  • 50g dessicated coconut (vintage from 2008 or in date, if you prefer)
  • Honey, melted in micro – or if you wanna make the balls vegan, use algave nectar (from a flower nae from a bee)
  • Golden syrup melted in micro
  • Cinnamon, ground black pepper and table salt

TIP: Mix the salt in with the syrup after it’s come out of the micro, for better distribution when adding into the dry ingredients. It’s simple really and you can add any dried fruit or seeds as required. I’ve made a nice spicy batch with carob, sugared ginger and a hint of nutmeg. Go mental, get designing….and remember to share with and experiment on running friends.

I was however a bit miffed to see that popcorn use is ‘in vogue’ and Grazia mag have listed a popcorn biscuit in their latest issue. Pah! I was there first, eh?

And a link for an article about whether we should/ shouldn’t eat before a long run HERE

Lastly, a wee gallery of other stuff I regularly eat which doesn’t seem to mess with exercise done immediately before or after. Try Dole fruit sachets (Ella Oragnics are good too) for upt to 25g of easy-carry, easy-quaff carbs, with no additive nonsense.


#CheerioFatty shrinkage and some runnering

In the last few weeks since blogging, I’ve been in a daze of frustrated dream-like proportion: I am standing on the side-lines of my life, watching the days whizz by whilst I am helplessly trapped into a slow-motion but parallel time-frame.Aberdeen City-20130208-02567

Time is literally running out and although I am not going to cease to be on the 15th March, I have a too long list of Things to Do and People to see. It is now 19 days until we fly to London for our onwards journey to Brunei. Take or leave a day or two for on-going Visa processing. Actually, we have been very fortunate that my husbands’ persistent following-up of the 50+ people involved in our move, has borne fruit. The other two couples who started before us, with a similar time-line are now 2-4 weeks behind. But it’s had it’s down sides, mostly that we’ve been on shorter fuses and having to make very quick decisions, rationing even our time together as we “divide and conquer” the To Do List. It will be worth it though and all thoughts pertaining to the move to the Far East will soon appear on a different blog – Brunei Banter, so have a looky there in a week or so!

Back to the matter in hand. #CheerioFatty and my ongoing crusade against injury has been going really well. I am assuming that this is nothing to do with the lower than training plan mileage (!) Or that because running is truly my one stress-buster at the moment, I am savouring every single mile, regardless of weather conditions or tiredness. Running with a permanent grin on my face is no good for my wrinkles!

Aberdeen City-20130220-02634Had a fantastic run at the Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon. I wasn’t clock watching but rather basing the whole thing on effort and heart-rate and surprised myself with a performance just outside my 2011 Personal best (PB). Why is this significant? Well, Oct 2011 was a long time ago and I haven’t really done any PB hunting since succumbing to Achilles issues in March 2012. Then PO10 hacked me right off by not recognising my PB as such, due to the half marathon course not being AIMS and classified as down-hill because it finished lower down than it started (despite several climbs through the route) and the start was greater than X away from the finish. Fercrivvensakes, what’s a girl to DO to get an official PB these days, eh? 🙂

The slow road back has been slow on purpose and so this run was a great marker for me and I wanted a jumping off point before I take that inevitable step backwards where pace is concerned. Brunei is practically on the equator and can be very humid = a tough running climate. In summary, the RAF Half Marathon was completed with

  • Less miles + less racing = similar time result under less duress
  • No pacing, either by watch or other runner(s)
  • No mid-race fuelling (usually I have 3 carb gels and a carb drink)
  • No pain, niggles or blisters

Moray-20130217-02610Surprisingly, I ran a ‘fairly’ comfortable sub-2 Half Marathon whilst trying to maintain my HR at 171 BPM which is what I’ve seen in training as my hard-maintainable effort. I achieved a time of 1.57.04 and an average HR of 175 BPM (I did up the pace in the last 3 miles and my max HR = 190 BPM). No pain in feet, calves or Achilles, no blisters, no sore stomach, dodgy guts, lungs on fire or, well, anything untowards really. The day was clear and warm for this time of year- a toasty 11 degC – and the route was pleasant and strewn with friendly club runners, first timers and a few familiar faces from JS Bridge of Don and Metro Aberdeen. Immediately after the race, I sat around in the sun feeling a bit disappointed that I was so close to a PB but that didn’t last long. I can still remember standing in the physio’s treatment room unable to lift my body up on my right ankle……that was about a year ago. Instead I stood up and cheered in the remaining runners, including sounding my favourite Barbaric YAWP for Esty, Gingerpaw (both PeeBeed) and Ultracat & Lorna. Also a first, I drove myself up to and back from Lossiemouth and stopped off at Tyrebagger forest that afternoon for a muddy trail run, just to prove to myself I wasn’t 100% knackered. Slept like a baby that night!

#CheerioFatty is ambling along and I’m maintaining the weight-loss despite what I would class as minimal mileage

last few weeks trainingWeek 4 (22/1 – 28/01) 2 lbs loss. BIKE= 28  RUN= 24

Week 5 (29/1 – 04/2) weight maintained. BIKE=0 RUN= 14

Week 6 (05/02 – 11/02) weight maintained. BIKE=9 RUN=16

Week 7 (12/02 – 18/02) 1 lb loss.BIKE=11 RUN=16

Week 8 (19/02 – 25/02) weight maintained. BIKE=17 RUN= 18

weekly distanceThat’s a grand total of one whole stone (14 lbs) since the start of the year and as previously noted, I’ll be tracking body-fat, water and lean weight from now on as moving into an equatorial environment means that hydration levels and body composition will need to be monitored whilst I make dietary and training adaptions. Well, that all sounded a bit official didn’t it? I’ve been eating out on a fairly regular basis and unfortunately, there are still a high number of convenience foods in the mix but I’m certain this is just a function of the whole short-of-time moving situation.

Additional observations

Original bra size 34D Now 32D
Original Haglofs size 40 (L) Now 36 (S)
Jeans size 30 Now 28
Zara size L/XL Now M/S

Non-desireable effects

Leg cellulite is more apparent than EVER before (Och well, it’s not what it looks like, it’s what it can do). More noticeable eye-wrinkles where cheek meets eye-socket . Knees look weirder if that’s even possible,  stomach skin has taken on a Tara Reid failed tummy-tuck appearance and that’s going to suck when I get to hotter climes and have to get it out for swimming and the like, saddle-bags look relatively bigger as the rest of my legs slim down, my nose looks flatter and the chin has taken on a Reese Witherspoon ability to burst balloons due to it’s sharpness.

All in the name of fitness 🙂

I’ve arranged to see Claire (previously of Vito-Fitness) to have my cholesterol, visceral fat and other parameters re-checked to compare to 16 months ago when I had a pre-running club assessment. And that’s about it for the pre-move MOT. Now to the rapid if desparate attempt to humidity acclimatise in the 3 weeks before the Brunei Half and the Borneo Half four weeks after that. Well, I’m not one to shun away from a cheeky challenge and I’m fully prepared to be the relatively giant white slow-thing at the back of the field. Again.

And to end, a quote from Anita Brookner “In real life, of course, it is the hare who wins. Every time. Look around you. And in any case it is my contention that Aesop was writing for the tortoise market…Hares have no time to read, they are too busy winning the game.”

Week 3 & 4 – Everywhere you go….

…always take the weather with you! A new cold front hit the North East last week and once again, everyone seemed to respond as if it was the first time snow had ever fallen. This extended to the cancellation of quite a few races this passed weekend, including the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York, which would have been a long run “look see” as to fitness and training progress and slid nicely into Lochaber Marathon training (which I’m no longer in the country for).

Campaign #CheerioFatty continued until the eve of the race and once cancellations had been confirmed, I went all out with a 5 course meal at our Country Manor Hotel & Spa Middlethorpe Hall. The next day there was also “cake”. Whoops. Consequently my plummeting weight has plateaued, probably helped along with no treadmill session due to family commitments and no long run due to race cancellation. Excuses, excuses, still it’s Game (back) On this week.

However, my stats for the clean eating campaign look something like this and I now weigh the least I have weighed, for 6 years:

  • Jan1st- 7th, miles run = 20.38, lbs lost = 5.4 lbs
  • Jan 8th – 14th, miles run = 21.21, lbs lost 4.4 lbs
  • Jan 15th – 21st, miles run = 3.65, lbs lost -1.2 lbs

I’be just received a set of these Tanita body fat monitor/scales and regardless of how accurate they are, they will show relative improvements, so long as I stay hydrated. The weight lost will soon cease to matter and it’ll be about fat: muscle ratio. And while we’re talking about body changes and motivation to change, have a read of this blog Medalslut Regardless of whether you prefer a good cop or bad cop approach, this lady has certainly changed her lifestyle, health and body. Personally, I never notice anyone’s size unless they draw my attention to it first and I’m therefore not a good friend when it comes to congratulating and/or ‘having a quiet word’. I’ve also found a lot of commonality and inspiration from this Fella Ultra-runner Jon Mackintosh

So far I have this result (week 3):-

York-20130119-02403But no discernible running races to see how the weightloss has affected that aspect of my life. So now, with the Half Marathon gone, I search for something else to run before I depart for hotter climes. Unfortunately, I’m starting to feel a bit of a ‘jinx’ coming on and the last few races I have blogged about have been cancelled, so I’ll keep schtum on my last distance target. Meantime, I should make my second appearance at the local park-run as Race director, having just completed a turn in all the other volunteer positions. You’d think I’d know what I was doing by now, alas, I’ll probably still manage to fluff the intro and knacker the results 🙂 Hopefully I’ll get to run a few more as well before I depart. I guess we take  these free local 5Ks for granted and you never know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

Also, please remember to check out my reviews page which is still getting built but I’ve a list of stuff as long as my arm (some still in boxes) to review…first up, the Salomon S-LAB 2013 version of the 12-set; surely one of the Daddy’s of the latest range of rucksacks?

Ciao Bellas.