Two Minute Avocado & Bacon on Toast with Tefal Optigrill

Yes. Toast. And Yes. On a grill. The Tefal OptiGrill to be precise.

When I moved back into my flat last year, I had to be selective about which kitchen appliances I brought with me or purchased. After deciding a Vitamix was a definite, I had to forgo a toaster so I could still have a kettle and microwave. Other appliances creeped in over the last 12 months, namely my waffle iron and stand mixer) but after tucking them away in cubbyholes I'm out of space so it took some convincing to go ahead and get this grill.

It's currently housed between my kitchen counter, dining table and dining chair depending on if I'm using it (which seems to have been every day since its arrival) and when I need the space to cook on the actual stove.

So far I have cooked pretty much everything on it - bacon, plantain, chicken, sausages, pork chops, steak,  salmon ...and then toast. Yes, that time came when I was absolutely starving, hadn't planned well and I wanted to eat something healthy. I had all the basics for one of my favourite meals ever - Avocado & Bacon on Toast.

What You Need: 

1/2 Ripe Avocado
2 Slices of Back Bacon
1/2 Lime
1/2 tsp Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Dried Chilli Flakes

Simple As: Turn on your OptiGrill and choose the Manual Mode. Whilst the grill heats up; peel and de-stone your avocado. You can either smash it in a bowl by hand with a fork or sometimes I use a stick (hand held) mixer which creates a smoother texture.

Place your bread onto the grill plates and close the lid. Set a timer for two minutes, by which time the bread should be golden, crispy on both sides with the grill marks visible. Once the two minutes is up, plate your toast ready for the toppings.

Turn off your grill and turn back on again, this time choosing the bacon preset programme. Place your bacon under the grill until the coloured sensor beeps to your desired cooking (I like it crispy). 

Whilst the bacon is cooking, season your smashed avocado with the juice of 1/2 a lime, a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of black pepper. Spread your smashed avocado over your toast and sprinkle on chilli flakes. Add bacon to each slice of toast.

Some Side Notes On The OptiGrill: I have found this grill so easy to use it's ridiculous! Firstly, the plates are removable which makes it super quick and easy to clean (my grill from times gone by would sit on the counter dirty for days until my mum came to visit and would clean it for me! Thanks Mum!).

I've learnt that you can, and have to, trust the preset programmes for various meats. The first time I cooked sausages on the grill, I trusted it and they cooked perfectly. Probably the most evenly cooked sausages I've ever cooked. The second time, I did't trust the programme, stopped it too early (by turning it off too) and then had to use the manual programme so they came out charred and dry (but thankfully still edible).

The only issue I've had with the OptiGrill has been that on occasions, it won't use a programme and defaults to manual. After reaching out to the team on Twitter, they told me it may be because I hadn't replaced the plates properly. When I tried replacing them (and also drying them a little) everything seems to be okay.

There's a little light on the handle which changes colour based on how well cooked your meat is (the colours are dubious in my opinion early on in the process) allowing you to cook (for example) your steaks to preference of you and your guests all in one go. The programmes mean that it measures the thickness of your meat and then adjusts the cooking time and temperature to suit. Pretty snazzy, eh?!

Only a week before had I gone out and bought an actual grill pan (for a tenner) vs the OptiGrill which retails at £129.99. At that price, I'm expecting it to grace my kitchen for a long time to come. It kinda even makes me wanna go on Come Dine With Me so I can make steak and get complimented on how perfect it is! Maybe...

Until then, I'll be sharing my culinary skills with you in this three piece Two Minute Toast series so keep an eye out for number two!

How do you like your avocado on toast?! 

Elle :) 

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The Art Of Heart Rate Training with Davina McCall and Polar

A little while back, I went along to The Third Space in London Bridge for a workout with Davina McCall, her Personal Trainer and the Polar A360 fitness tracker.

The Polar A360 (RRP £149.50)  falls under the "lifestyle" category but it also features wrist based heart rate monitoring along side your step count, calories and distance walked.

Over the past year, I've come to use heart rate based training more and more as for me it's more reflective of my workout and allows me to train for specific results. Your heart rate is the most accurate measure of workout intensity, recovery level and long-term progress. The A360 helps me to train at the right intensity (% of your maximum heart rate).

SaveSave Polar divides your heart rate into five different zones based on percentages of your maximum heart rate. With these zones, you can easily select and monitor training intensities and follow heart rate-based training programs. 

Once I've complete a training session and stop recording my heart rate theA360 provides me with info on the training benefit. Training benefits are based on Polar's sport zones, and are determined by how much time you spent and how many calories you burned in each zone. 

The A360 tells you if a session helped you build endurance, burn fat, was good for recovery amongst other benefits. You can then sync all the data to the Polar Flow app and view progress as well as receive a little guidance on how to reach goals.

I'm such a geek when it comes to all this stuff (it's my profession and my hobby after-all!) so it was fascinating to see the results of our training session up on a big screen post workout! You could evidently see where we worked (kinda hard, and then really hard) and where we rested! 

Before we left, we got the chance to sit down for a little Q&A with Davina where we got to chat about the realty of the fitness world right now. You can have a read of the top ten tips for keeping in shape she shared with us at the event - here - on the Prima Magazine website. I mean, at 48 years old, she really is inspirational! Add to that she has a instantly loveable personality, is down to earth and was 100% up for taking sweaty selfies with us after the workout! 

A huge shout out to Polar for inviting me along to this awesome event (and for getting me into The Third Space for a sneak peak!). 

What's your fitness tracker of choice right now?! 

Elle :) 

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REVIEW: Lean In 15 (The Shape Plan)

So, you caved and bought the book two?! No?? ...You're still thinking about it then??

...now you're caught up on my initial thoughts on book one, lets move on. It didn't really click with me until the second book arrived that they are planned out just like his programmes; so book one was SHIFT, book two is SHAPE and book three (out in December) will be SUSTAIN. Makes perfect sense now!

Here are my thoughts on the book so far: 

x the book is still not one I would recommend for vegetarians but I applaud Joe for sticking to what he knows and loves. You can't please 100% of people 100% of the time.

x this being said, there is not a zoodle in sight. Just real honest pasta, bread, gnocchi etc etc. Carbs that you really shouldn't be afraid of if you are training. Everything in moderation right?!

x the recipes seem to be a little more "fancy pants". I mean, WTF are nigella seeds?! I seriously thought they were some creation / blend by Nigella Lawson! If Ocado / Waitrose don't even sell them then why do I need them?! ...I don't go to health food shops that often and certainly didn't expect to need to with this book. Also, the recipes have names I don't know... erm, Panzanella? Romesco? ...then Chipotle this and chipotle that!

x I love the list of hero ingredients (including coconut oil, avocado, midget trees aka broccoli, eggs, spinach, blueberries...). They are real heroes.

photo credit: Maja Smend
x the recipe I'm most looking forward to trying is the OMG Cinnamon French Toast (pictured above).  I'm stocked up on protein bread and zero cal maple syrup already!

x I've printed off my own meal plan template (from my first post) and chosen meals to make for week one. My shopping has even come in already! I've got a real mix of dishes planned - salmon, pork, steak, cod... and my all time favourites, smoothies. So far I've made the Chunky Monkey smoothie (pictured in top image) which I loved the taste of; can't really go wrong when it tastes like a snickers bar.

photo credit: Maja Smend

x how you eat has changed. On training days, you now eat three carb rich meals and two snacks; non truing days you three reduced carb meals and two snacks. And that's because the type of training recommended in the book has changed too.

x the training now mixes HIIT with weights. Specifically volume training. I think I like it. I certainly am gonna try a session and see what I think.

You can get the book on Amazon for between £7 and £8 which like I said last time, is less than the price of a typical shop bought lunch!

Have you got your copy yet?! What's your favourite recipe so far?! 

Elle :) 

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Instagram Insider May / June 2016

It's no secret that I really do love Instagram (IG). I've owned a camera since my childhood and have heaps of photo albums. Lucky for me, we can now keep everything online and IG is one great way to share your favourite moments through photographs. 

(L - R) I've been training for The British 10km using a TomTom Runner 2 which tracks your heart rate and can also store your music which you can listen to via bluetooth headphones. All on top of being a GPS. 

A new addition to my kitchen cupboards is this beautiful bowl made from a coconut shell which was brought all the way from Bali for me by friend and yoga teacher Zara (check out her IG here). 

Like I've said before, half the fun of cycling is the eating. We stopped off in Broadway Market, Hackney last Sunday for brunch and lots of inspiring chats! 

(L - R Top) And because I think I'm superwoman, we went on a little 5km run around the Olympic Park before we hopped on our bikes! As you do! 

Here's me teaching! One of my favourite parts of the week! You can check out my teaching schedule on the Train With Elle page and I usually post on FB where you can sweat with me, or classes where I make you sweat! 

The realities of lunch on the go! Ordered in from EatFirst and delivered straight to my lap. Download their app now (or visit their website here) and use my referral code RF9HV51K for £7.50 off your first order! 

(L - R Bottom) We went on a little run with Olympic Athlete Perri Shakes-Drayton in training for The British 10km; you can read about that, and my training schedule here

A cute video from the run with Perri! There's always time for a quick photo stop ;) 

I went along to an epic event with Santander Cycles at The Shard. The views were fantastic! There will be more events over the Summer so have a read of my post here to find out how yo can get involved! 

(L - R Top) My friends over at VeloVixen got featured in The Times and the main picture had yours truly in it! I love that the pictures from the shoot still get used to this day! 

FRI-NALLY ...nuff said. 

I went on holiday to Mykonos in May and had the best time. Just look at the view. You can read about part of my trip on the blog in this post - Elle About Mykonos Town. I'm wearing an awesome bikini from Sweaty Betty

(L - R Bottom) Breakfast in Mykonos. This was all for me. 

Another favourite shot of mine taken wearing a reversible one piece also from Sweaty Betty. 

Oh, another favourite shot from Mykonos wearing an embroidered smock dress from Topshop. 

I have so many shots from my vacay that I updated an unused IG account and turned it into an travel account where I will be sharing a selection of photos from Mykonos through the month of June. You can follow that account here - @Elle_About_Town. I'm hoping to "get about" a lot more over the rest of the year! 

So come join in the fun on IG! If you follow me, leave me a comment so I can make sure to follow you back too! 

Elle :) 

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A Basic 10km Training Plan For Busy / Slack* Runners

*Busy, lazy, procrastination... in addition to a whole heap of other synonyms to explain / excuse my lack of commitment to running these days. As you'll know, I've taken a break from the half marathon distance for the summer with my biggest race being the Vitality British 10km in London on Sunday 10th July.

Training run for the British 10km with Olympic Athlete Perri Shakes Drayton
So I've come up with a training plan, a really basic one, that I can hopefully adhere to. It's so simple, based on just two runs per week, one long run and one interval session.

The Long Runs - The aim of this run is to get your legs used to the distance. 10km isn't exactly the longest distance but the plan is tailored to running it, building up gradually over 7 weeks until race day (at the time of writing this post, we have just under 5 weeks remaining)

The Interval Sessions - Intervals are used to increase anaerobic threshold levels (your ability to run hard without going into an oxygen deficit). These sessions also improve your endurance (the length of time you can hold your pace), and help to build muscle strength. There are so many variations of intervals you can run but I will mix up my sessions with both long (800m - 1500m) and short (200m - 400m) intervals. Once I get closer to race day, I'll be doing more long intervals than short. I'll run these intervals at 10kmph (a 60 minute 10km pace) and faster. 

Rest periods will be approx half the distance for a long interval, and the same amount of time for the effort of the short interval.  

I'm currently on week 3 of training, but still actually have to catch up on week two (I know, I know). I kicked off with a 3.68km run around London with Olympic Athlete Perri Shakes-Drayton who has just been announced as the official race starter for the British 10km. This counts as my week two long one, so I just need to do two short interval sessions and 4 miles for a long run to fully catch up (I have the Olympic Park 5km booked for this Sunday so that will do!). I'm using my TomTom Runner 2 Cardio & Music to track all my training - I think it automatically uploads to Strava too so you can join me on there if you're into that kinda thing or are also training for this race! 

I'll be mixing up my interval sessions with classes at Barry's Bootcamp, 1Rebel, Best's Bootcamp and FRAME whose classes all incorporate lots of fast treadmill running and some strength work. One of the main reasons I'm only running twice a week is because there are so many other things I want to do too including Reformer Pilates, road biking, spin classes and HIIT training. There are only seven days in a week sadly, and rest also needs to be scheduled. 

What kinda training do you do for a 10km?! Ever run just twice a week?! 

Elle :) 

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Elle About Town: Spin Up with Santander Cycles

If there's one certain way to fall in love with London all over again, it's to take yourself up 72 floors of The Shard in London Bridge for spectacular views of the city in all the glory of summer sunshine. Yup. We got sunshine on the morning of a unique spin class located on The View From The Shard. 

Somehow, I never got around to putting two and two together to figure out that the spin class would be on actual Santander bikes which added a different dimension to our workout! 

This summer, Santander Cycles have teamed up with boutique spin studio, Boom! Cycle to curate a series of classes in iconic locations starting with this event at sunrise. The session was led by the awesome Hilary who was just full to the brim of energy and enthusiasm! 

Before I go any further, I want you to know that YOU can get involved too! It's as easy as visiting the Santander Cycles website and registering your interest so that when booking opens you will be the first to know! There will be classes on Tower Bridge and also at Kensington Roof Gardens, so not to be missed! 

Back to class; the bikes are all set on rollers so this was my first time using an actual bike indoors. I am actually due to be hiring a turbo trainer over the summer to help me with my training for L'etape in September so it was good to get a feel of how one version of these types of system work and feel. 

It took a short while to get used to the kinda jerky feeling and get into a smoother rhythm. The bikes also only have 3 gears; hard, harder and even harder! Once you ride in the heaviest gears for a while though it makes the lightest one feel like a cycle in the park. 

We got well and truly put through our paces in the 30 minute class which included plenty of upper body exercises with some free weights. I was dripping with sweat by the end of our session and had also worked up quite an appetite (all I'd eaten since my 530am alarm was a banana!). Lucky for us we were fed and watered with a Pip & Nut Toast Bar and Imbibery Juices (my all time favourite is the pineapple and cayenne). 

Which venue would be the ultimate workout spot for you this summer?! 

Elle :) 

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3 Reasons To Take Your Workout Outdoors

Okay, so Summer is a little overdue here in London. But thankfully we can generate our own heat from our workouts when we take them outdoors. A few years ago, you'd be hard pressed to catch me training outdoors especially if the weather wasn't "perfect". Then I took on a regular teaching gig where I had to turn up come rain or shine. I mean, I had to set the example right?! Through that experience, I learnt to love the outdoors and now the weather doesn't really come into it. As long as you're dressed for the weather you'll be just fine! 

Wearing || Leggings, £50 (The North Face) via Blacks Online Store, Tank, £42 (Lululemon), Trainers, £85 (Reebok)

Top Up Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins essential for us to have strong bones and a healthy immune system (read, keep yourself well) and it can be obtained from glorious sunshine. Just another reason to make the most of the sunshine when we get it! Don't forget to wear sunscreen though! 

It's Good For Your Mind, Heart & Soul
Working out outdoors isn't just good for your heart and fitness levels, it's also a great way to clear your mind, reenergise and focus. Your runs or workouts can (if you choose) become your "me" time. Spending time with other people can be just as therapeutic though. When it comes to running in particular, I find running in groups helps me to up the pace a little and challenge how fast I think I can run! 

Wearing || Sweater, £55 (The North Face) via Blacks Online Store, Jacket (Topshop)

Adventure Is The Next Big Thing
Get yourself down to a Mountain Athletics session! Taking your workouts outdoors is one thing but you can up your game even more! I think I might be the only person left to not have tried trail running (have you?!) but it's firmly on my list of things to do! In addition to trail running, my nearest The North Face Store run all sorts of events and adventures to get you on your way.

I'm wearing pieces (leggings and sweater) from The North Face (TNF), Mountain Athletics range via Blacks online store in this post. I've had them for a fair few weeks now so they've been put to the test not just for training but for my hectic schedule. The particular day these photos were taken, I had a site visit to an event venue, a photography workshop and a class to do so I loved that I could just "dress up" the pieces a bit to go about my day.

The entire range has been created to withstand all the crazy adventure you can throw at it being made from durable fabrics. I'm literally, constantly checking my diary against TNF schedule to see when I can make it along to a session and get my adventure on!

So, inside or outside?!

Elle :)

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p.s I styled my hair using Afrocentrix Products - check them out! I'll be sharing more about them real soon! ..also, this isn't a sponsored post; I was provided with the kit via Blacks online store but as ever, all opinions are my own ;)
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