PADRON PEPPERS- the king of Peppers

My question is simple; how the hell have I lived 29 years of life without having found Padron peppers? I’m sorry to my poor taste buds.

There is only a short window of opportunity to get these guys but when you see them- BUY THEM.

So good as a snack, or with my chorizo stew, or as part of some tapas, or just whenever you feel like it.

Simply chuck the punnet contents on a baking tray, add a lick of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of sea salt and bake for 20 mins. They’re a game changer.

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Chorizo stew

This dinner has proven great when cooking cooking for pals or just for a dinner come lunch option for me and Rich to reheat at work the next day. Super easy to make and really tasty so give it a go!

I know a lot of people steer clear of fats on a diet but Rich and I don’t cut it out even when “dieting” – although I wouldn’t actually say we ever “diet”. It’s got 3-4 of your veggies for the day in and the beans will help keep you fuller for longer. And even better it’s made in one pot which means less watching up for Rich (you’re welcome!)

Ingredients:

Serves 4ish

  • Half a ring of chorizo- chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 2 x onions
  • 3 x cloves garlic
  • 1 x teaspoon paprika
  • Tomato purée
  • 1 x courgette
  • 3 x peppers
  • 1 x half bag spinach
  • 1 x tin of either kidney, Black and butter beans
  • 2 x Tins chopped tomato
  • Squeeze of honey

How to:

One pot wonder, fry the onions, garlic, and chorizo chunks for a few mins, add the tomato purée and paprika. Add the diced vegetables- peppers and courgettes work well but you could also add mushrooms/ aubergines- the more the merrier :), fry off for a couple of minutes until the veg starts to soften.

Throw in the beans and chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer for 20 mins. I always add a squeeze of honey for a bit of sweetness to any stews too.

Add the spinach at the last minute and cook through.

Serve with either brown rice, cous cous or extra veggie if you’re being particularly heavenly. Photo below is with a pitta bread and a bit of Houmous (sp?!) which makes a great lunch option!

Great option to batch cook on a Sunday too and keep in the fridge for a couple of days lunches.

I need to sort out my food photography skills but I usually just want to get it in my gob to be honest

Planning protocol

This year for January- March, Rich and I did our usual reset which involved going back to the basics, having a little word with ourselves about the amount of shit we were eating and, shock horror, cutting out alcohol. Anyone who knows us will know this was a BIG surprise as we are usually the first to get smashed at any given opportunity.

With the emotional shit show that has been our lives for the few months in the lead up to Christmas we had been exceptionally careless with regards to our diets so we do relished this opportunity to refresh and motivate ourselves back to normality, which this year involved cutting out booze to pack an extra punch.

Anyway- more about the no booze news another day. For today, I wanted to share with you the best new tool in my planning tool kit. I always plan and prep meals each week and usually write a list on my phone of what we will eat, and loosely when we will eat it. However, this year I went back to basics and actually printed off a meal planner- nothing revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a real pen and paper girl- physically writing it down just makes it seem more formal you know.

I’ll sit down with my recipe books and try to pick one new thing a week (if I can be arsed) and then jot down the ingredients on my shopping list and do a weekly online shop so I’ve got everything I need for the week.

I find this also makes it harder to deviate from – when you know you’ve got the ingredients in the fridge it’s harder to justify a two for Tuesday Dominoes (although, really does Dominoes ever actually need justification 🍕)

Give it a whirl – just print an A3 sheet off (days of be week on the top and meal time/ snacks on the side) – and write down what you fancy. I find doing an online shop helps just with time more than anything- I try to get it delivered when I know I’ll have time to cook (usually a Sunday morning for me).

Chorizo for the win

I really vividly remember a story where my friends boyfriend made her pasta for dinner one night and when asked the contents he confirmed it was indeed chicken and tuna. I mean, chicken AND tuna. I’m sure it tasted fine but I just can’t comprehend putting these two pals together in a pasta dish.

So needless to say I’ve since been slightly sceptical when Rich offers to cook dinner, not to tar him with the same brush but he did one pick up a packet of skips to accompany our stir fry when I’d asked him to get prawn crackers (reason enough for concern?!)

So when Rich offered to make me scrambled eggs for breakfast I was marginally hesitant when he told me he had added a “secret ingredient”. The secret ingredient was in fact chorizo and I haven’t looked back since. There is no need for you to have scrambled eggs when even just the smallest amount of chorizo makes this a taste sensation. Fry the chorizo (sure, chuck in some onions if you really wanna be fancy) and let it go crispy. Then take it off the heat, add the eggs and let the residual heat cook them. Serve with avocado and sour dough. Perfection, sorry I ever doubted you, Rich.

Lentil Love in

So in the last year our eating habits have changed a little, I found a bit of my mojo back in the kitchen and have been mixing it up a little- and cooking a few more vegetarian meals (are you even a millennial if you haven’t started being more conscious about the amount of meat you eat?!)

First things first, eating a massive steak and chips with peppercorn sauce, a little rocket and a massive glass (bottle) of red wine will always be my favourite dinner but having a few vegetarian things in the mix is good too for a few reasons: getting in your 10 a day (apparently it’s 10 a day now- who knew?!), cheaper, freezes well and is super easy way to use loads of stuff from the fridge.

So Lentil daal has fast become one of my most batch cooked recipes- I give 100% credit of this to my Pal, Sarah who used to have it for lunch most days and introduced me to its easiness- cheers!

Super easy, I usually make a batch on a Sunday morning and crack if in the fridge or freezer in food bags ready to heat up in the microwave at work.

Ingredients:

2 x white onions

5 x cloves garlic

Garam masala x 1 heaped teaspoon

Medium curry powder x 2 heaped teaspoons

Chilli flakes x pinch

Cumin x 1 teaspoon

Coconut oil (or whatever oil is in vogue at time of reading)

Butternut squash or sweet potato (or both, because yolo)

Red lentils

Vegetable stock

To serve:

A dollop of mango chutney (yes you could make your own or you could get a life)

Greek yoghurt raita- i rustle this up with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and coriander all chopped fine and chucked in a bowl of greek yoghurt with a pinch of salt and pepper

Pomegranate seeds (if you’re feeling jazzy)

Poached or fried egg

Method:

Fry the diced onion and crushed garlic in the oil for a few minutes, add the spices. Cook off for a couple of minutes.

Chuck in the butternut squash and/or sweet potato – cut into 1cm chunks. Fry for a minute or two.

Chuck in 200g red lentils (I’m absolutely guessing I don’t think I have ever measured anything) and cover with veg stock.

Keep the heat around medium and it should take around 25 mins to turn into a really unappetising but tasty mush. Keep checking there is enough water and top up as needed. After 25 mins, The butternut squash should be soft too. If not just cook a little longer.

You can chuck some spinach in at the last minute if you’re feeling jazzy and fry your eggs for added protein on top if you’re eating straight away – obvs leave the egg if you’re heating up at a later date.

Serve with all the above accoutrement and voila perfect healthy dinner come lunch! 🙂

This actually looks really horrible but taste good

Stressed-ercise ?

So you’ve heard why I’ve been gone for so long, but thought I’d let you know what I’ve been up-to with regards to health and fitness (which is why I’m here obvs).

Despite being super stressed this year, I’ve actually managed to maintain my trips to the gym averaging 4-5 sessions a week. I totally get that for most people, the first thing to pack up and fuck off, in stressful periods is exercise and going to the gym. But for me, it is the only thing at times, that i have felt I can do which is truly for me and puts myself first. The only section of the day where I can put my headphones in, block out the rest of the world and do something that genuinely only benefits me. So I’d be fucked if I gave that up too.

When you have people in your lives that you want to and need to offer support to and care for, you find yourself completely wrapped up in them (understandably) and it becomes so easy to put yourself last. However, one message that I heard loud and clear from lots of different sources this year, was to actually focus on keeping myself mentally healthy in order to be able to better look after those around me who need me and are reliant on my ability to buckle up and knuckle down.

So that’s where, for me, the gym comes in. I’m lucky because I am pretty good at opening up and talking about my problems, which does combat one side of mental health. However, the other big thing for me is the science of keeping my body healthy and therefore myself, as happy as possible.

I totally appreciate that dragging yourself out of bed after a shit nights sleep worrying about things, is not the ideal for some people. I guess in a weird way I am lucky because I am programmed to make myself do it because I know (as do you) that after working out of any kind- just a walk, a cycle, a swim, whatever it might be, you WILL 100% feel better. The problems you have will still be there of course, but even for a moment a nice dose of endorphins will give you life!

I mean I sound like a right preaching Insta wanker as if I don’t understand how different people cope with stress so let me caveat this with the other major reason I’ve been still working out- I AM A MASSIVE STRESS EATER! Rich and I are truly terrible at controlling our eating when stressed- the first thing I’ll do if Rich is down is buy him all of his favourite treats (he thinks it’s because I know he will find comfort in them but it’s mainly because I want them obviously).

So in order to not balloon back to my former self, the gym has had to stay so the dairy milk can stay too 🙂 they’re best mates and see each other most days.

So I guess for me a big combat to stress is exercise but I know this doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re reading this and you are super stressed and having a shitter, just do something you love. Make yourself feel good- paint your nails, go to the seaside for the day, get some fresh air. And, if, and only If you feel up to it, get some endorphins going however that may be- they’ll come say hi and make you feel a little happier 🙂

Xx

I’m backkkkk….

Well hello there, apologies that it has been a little while- well in fact over a year since my last post. I’ve actually really missed it.

I’m in Croatia in holiday at the moment, I went for a run pre breakfast today and suddenly had an epiphany that I wanted to start writing again, so here I am, sat on a sun lounger in a cloudy but warm Croatia and writing again 🙂

So, why the absence?!

Those of you who know me well, will know that this year has been a pretty shit year for Chez Bolan. I won’t bore you with the details, but when i say shit, I really do mean shit. We’ve been dealt two big blows with regards to family members health and have been working through that which has taken a massive toll on us both. On top of this, I Started a completely new job in October, and whilst this is fine now, it’s been a bit turbulent getting used to working in the wonderful world of sales! And then, just to round this year off nicely on the stress levels, we have bought a new house and moved from our beloved North London, to modern day Suburbia, Surrey.

The latter of the stressed is actually a very welcome one (although try telling Rich that as I abandoned him on moving day because I “had” to work). We found that with all of the uncontrollable stresses we have in our lives, going back to our tiny, albeit it perfectly formed (if I do say so myself) flat in Finsbury Park each evening, through tubes at rush hour and dodging dodgy people on the way home, just added more stress than we needed- hence operation move!

Now we have moved to Surrey, I genuinely feel a real sense of elation and release from London life and stress. Sure, I wailed quite a few evenings before leaving London and I sure as hell miss our pals already but we are only an hour into central and my face is no longer quite as close to someone else’s armpit twice a day. And did I mention we have a garden?! Literally so excited to be in the sunshine in our own garden- lots of BBQ plans and making our friends come out to the suburbs!

So, aside from still being under a lot of stress, now feels like the right time to start focusing on writing, and re-motivating myself (and hopefully some of you guys) again!

So much to talk about- watch this space for usual fitness, health and real life chat.

Xx