24.5.17

Nike Free Run Commuter 2.0 Shoe Review


Tell me that I'm not the only one with jam packed days; from teaching, to coffee meetings, to my own training, run club and catch ups with friends?!

And tell me I'm not the only one who feels like they need a suitcase to carry everything they need for one day?! ...laptop, charger, phone, portable charger, snacks, make-up, spare clothes... the list goes on, right?!

So when the Nike Free Run Commuter 2.0 womens trainers landed, they sounded like they were right up my street. The USP for these being their "all-day versatility". Taking you from your morning workout to your workplace and then for your run (not that I'm advocating double workout days, aight?!).

I've worn mine to teach in (Lift at Frame, Shoreditch plus my HIIT classes at Gymbox), to hang out in (coffee dates on the weekend) and even with my little black dress out for dinner on a Saturday night / hanging out in the sunshine as pictured at the top of this post.

The shoe upper fits like a sock making it super comfortable to wear all day. If, or when, you decide to workout all you need to do is use the bungee to tighten the laces for increased stability and then loosen when you are done.



The number one comment I've had from people when wearing these is... "oh are they Nike?" ...as they are so discreet with minimal branding which means the shoes just blend into your work wardrobe - you know, no more of the "work dress with running trainers" look.

The sole of the shoe uses the Nike Free technology which came about from the principles of barefoot running. This means the shoe has a low profile (just 8mm), is lightweight and flexible. So perfect for packing in your gymbag if you really, really have to wear actual shoes...

You are gonna love these if... you're a multi-tasking fitness junkie like me

Think twice if you... need a more supportive shoe for running (but they'd be okay for day to day wearing to "exercise" your feet)

The Nike Free Run Commuter 2.0 shoes are available from JD Sports for £90

Elle :) 

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20.5.17

RECIPE: Coconut Coffee Cake with Califia Farms (Vegan)


Some of my blogging friends have been sharing their thoughts recently on "teatoxes" using the hasthtag - tea is for biccies - and I mean, as much as I agree, I'm really more of a coffee girl and am definitely a cake girl (which I'm sure is why I like cycling these days as Sunday rides have obligatory cake stops to refuel). So then it will come as no surprise to you that I have a recipe for you which combines both those things - coffee in cake, and I mean, why not?!

Earlier this month, I shared with you my thoughts on the Califia Farms Cold Brew and their Barista Blend Almondmilk and now I've created my own hashtag - #IfWeCanBakeIt - a spin off of the Borrow my Blender hashtag, #IfWeCanBlendIt to create this recipe which by all means I am not labelling as "healthy" or "guilt free" as I don't associate those words with my food and especially not cake. So without further ado, here is the recipe...

Coconut Coffee Cake with Califia Farms

Dairy Free || Vegan || Easy


Ingredients 

3 1/2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp group nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

1 scant cup coconut sugar
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
3/4 cup (177ml) Califia Farms Cold Brew
5 - 6 drops of vanilla flavdrops

Method 

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius

Mix together the first 6 dry ingredients in a bowl and the 5 wet ingredients in a larger bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet while stirring gently until well mixed with no dry spots.

Pour the cake batter into the bundt mould (I used this silicon bundt mould from Amazon) and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven then gently upside down the mould onto a wire rack to allow the cake to cool.

While the cake cools, mix up the Cold Brew Drizzle (below) by whisking everything together in a bowl and then drizzle / pour / slather it on the cooled cake before slicing and serving with a side of... oh, Cold Brew mixed with Almondmilk and a dash of vanilla?!


Cold Brew Drizzle (optional)
1 scant cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup (scant / 45-50ml) Califia Farms Cold Brew
1.5 tsp lemon / lime juice
3 drops of vanilla flavdrops

...not much else to say, eh?! Other than, give it a go and enjoy!

...what have you been baking recently?! 

Elle :) 

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Notes: I use this measuring cup set for the imperial measurements. This recipe was made in imperial measurements; any metric measurements are approximate.  

15.5.17

#3PTsToParis - Our London to Paris Ride, July '17


I don't remember learning how to ride a bike. So clearly I was born able to ride. Born to ride?! ...My earliest memories of cycling are riding down the stairs from my first floor home in Barbados on a tricycle. I think that's what hanging around with boys does to a 5 year old girl. From there, my next real memories are of getting a bike for my birthday at some point in secondary school (...now living in Essex, UK). It was purple, I loved it and I treated it the same way an Essex boy treated his Ford Fiesta (...aka a boy racer). Those two wheels were my independence... I hung out with friends and we rode so much that I knew my entire area road for road, turn for turn.

Then at some point, I became too cool for school and ended up giving (...maybe selling?!) my bike to my Uncle who I would often see "pootling" down the road on it in his own little world oblivious to cycling past me in the street.

Fast forward one more time, this time to being just under 30yo and living in zone 2 of London (in comparison to now being back in zone 6) and I decide to purchase a bike to commute to work. By this point in my life, I'm really living the "fit" lifestyle added to the fact that cycling in London is more reliable and sometimes even quicker than public transport. Then I enter a duathlon. Have a go on the Olympic Track. Enter a Sportive and ta-dah... it's 2017. And I decide to ride from London to Paris. Because, why not?!


So on 14th July 2017, myself, Mollie (of PT Mollie) and Sophie (of Fitology) will be setting off from the Olympic Park in Stratford to catch a ferry that evening from Newhaven to Dieppe, France. We'll then have an overnight stay before we continue our journey over the following two days, arriving in Paris on Sunday 16th July. Because I'm me, I'm not cycling all that way to just jump on a Eurostar straight back home so we'll be spending the night (and all day Monday) in Paris no doubt eating our way through all the food we can get our hands on. I'm especially looking forward to fresh croissants, pain au chocolat and champagne...


Our ride to Paris will be unsupported so we'll be carrying everything we need with us in panniers / bike packs. I therefore have a couple of months to brush up my skills on changing inner tubes and other little bits to ensure I can look after my bike. As for training, the goal is to get out on the weekend for long rides in addition to once or twice during the week ...so any invites for rides or indoor cycling classes will be greatly accepted! ...I'll be sharing everything I learn over the next 8 weeks here on the blog... a bit like that time I learnt to swim to take part in a triathlon, yeah?! ...cos maybe, just maybe you might be considering taking on the ride from London to Paris one day...

We'll also be documenting our training and the trip itself on our social media channels using the hashtag #3PTsToParis - all my social links are at the end of this post! Huge shout out to James M (Mollies husband) for the top two photos; James will also be joining us for the ride as (in Mollies words) official #InstagramHusband ...and he's done good so far!

Have you ever ridden from London to Paris?! If you have any tips for us on what to pack please leave them below in the comments or drop me a direct message. (..and by all means if you wanna come along, just get in touch!). Although this trip is very much under our own steam, we'd never turn down support from a brand that shares a similar message, has something to offer that would prove invaluable and / or has the same sense of adventure as us!

I've also got a couple more exciting cycling updates to share with you over the next few weeks which will probably be on Instagram so keep an eye out...

Elle :) 

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10.5.17

Vegan Coconut Blueberry Summer Smoothie Recipe

If you don't already know, I kind think I'm the queen of smoothies. I mean, I even started my own little business - Borrow My Blender - where I cater events with smoothies as well as work with brands / products to create amazing recipes and showcase products that I love and think you'll love too! For the next month, I'll be focusing on protein products over on the BMB social channels and maybe even on the blog so if you have a favourite recipe to share please leave me a link or tag me on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook etc (@borrowmyblender on all channels) and I will feature your posts / ideas!

Until then, I have a recipe to share with you which I lived on last month after trying out the newly launched Vita Coco Coconut Milk Alternative. The recipe was inspired by one from Protein Haus ...I used the ingredients listed on theirs and created with my favourite products and quantities to make a consistency and flavour that I thought was perfect. It tastes divine and I wanted to make sure that everyone came across it so I'm shaken it here on the blog as well as having shared it over on the BMB Instagram account.


Vegan Coconut Blueberry Summer Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup Vita Coco Coconut Milk Alternative
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
1.5 tsp Bioglan Maca
Large handful spinach
1 scoop vegan vanilla protein (I'm currently using Vega Clean Protein)

Method: Simple as ever, pop everything into your blender and blitz until smooth!

* * *
I'm not sure if I mentioned it (time just flies) but on Saturday 13th May... this weekend, I'll be taking part in the Balance Festival Urban Tri as part of #TeamVega! ...I announced it on Instagram a while back and am super excited to be part of this squad for this awesome event which will be a mix of HIIT, running and yoga. Vega will also be at Balance Festival blending up smoothies for everyone so if you will be there check them out!

I've been using their Clean Protein (in vanilla) for the past few weeks in preparation for the event on Saturday. I mostly have protein smoothies for my early starts when I wake up with only enough time to blend up a couple smoothies and pop them in my bag ready for when I find my appetite and for after teaching a double Lift class (check out my teaching schedule here and come train with me!). I also pin a post on Facebook each week detailing where I am teaching and training if you wanna join me!

I'll do a little write up of the event in the days after so keep an eye out for that! ...do you have a favourite smoothie recipe or ingredient?!

What's your favourite protein powder if you use one?!


Elle :)

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8.5.17

Kitchen Empties #5: Spring Eats & Drinks

Back at the start of 2016, I started this Kitchen Empties series. I got the idea from the beauty bloggers and make up artists I follow who all do these posts with their "empties" chatting about all the products that have finished in their beauty cabinet. I'm not a beauty blogger, and even so, I don't have enough "smellies" to create such a post ...but what I do, do, is eat a lot of food. A LOT. So I decided to save some my my kitchen empties and share them with you if I especially loved them. Here is #5, a little round up from April / May 2017.

For this post, I have a few items that I've come across, new launches and even an old favourite... but a new spin! So make yourself a cuppa tea (my all time favourite regular tea is Tetley Decaf!) and a bar of chocolate (I'm eating a high protein one from MyProtein which I got in a goody bag at Be:Fit in exchange for my email address!)... and maybe discover something new?!


Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffee and Barista Blend Almondmilk*
So these guys are new to the UK (launched in April '17) but are already a household name state side and being a dairy free household and a huge fan of coffee, I had to give these a try! The cold brew coffee is ready to drink so I literally poured it into a mason jar, and added the same parts of the almond milk to make a chilled morning brew ...(because a couple weeks ago we had weather which resembled Spring / Summer, remember?!). Some mornings I had it unsweetened and other mornings I added sugar free vanilla FlavDrops to make it feel a little more indulgent. I've been a fan of cold brew since it took off last summer (or was it the one before?!) ...it is much less acidic than hot-brewed coffee and offers more antioxidants. Califia Farms uses 100% Arabica beans, sourced from Columbia and Central America, which it steeps in cold water until all the complex flavours are released.

The almond milk got used for tea, baking (keep an eye out for a recipe I'll be sharing soon!), smoothies.... basically everything. It doesn't separate in hot drinks which is a winner for me and the consistency makes for a smooth latte. The almond milk and cold brew coffee are available in WholeFoods but they'll be launching a bigger range of products at the end of May, nationwide.


Oomi Noodles*
Somehow these guys have made high protein noodles out of white fish?! ...yeah they have, and they don't taste half bad. Now I didn't even read what they were made of until I read someone else review (cos you know I'm vegan(ish) but I do eat fish on occasion and sometimes I just need cheese in my life) but by this point I'd already eaten them and enjoyed them. They literally take a couple minutes in a pan or up to a minute in the microwave... which was my default option for 3 out of 4 meals. After microwaving them I'd throw on some sesame seed oil, soy sauce and top with whatever else I was having (...including grilled salmon and heck chicken sausages, because yes, I love them). Obviously the texture isn't 100% like regular noodles but then high protein anything isn't ever the same texture... if you want high protein foods / lower carbs then that is the sacrifice you have to make but these really don't feel like that much of a sacrifice. Check out the Oomi Noodles website for more info!


Aussie Body Bars* 
Apparently these are a big deal in Australia and are also new here in the UK. I got to try out their Crunch and Mini ProteinFX Bar range... and well, I've eaten them all. According to their IG, their bars are designed to keep you going and to stay fuller for longer; I ate them all when I was either in a rush (so hello tube breakfast) or when I needed a snack / post workout snack. None of them went down in my memory as tasting awful so that's a good sign. I do remember particularly liking the Mini ProteinFX Bar in a caramel kinda flavour... salted caramel. I didn't get sent quite as big a stash as Zanna so I'm all out but should I need an emergency snack I'd defo consider them in the line up at Boots, Superdrug and wherever else they are stocked...


Emily Fruit Crisps*
I feel like these are healthy... unless you're me, and you just throw the entire packet into your mouth in one go?! ...I've tried these before - the banana chips - and loved them because they're some of the only ones on the market that don't add sugar to something that is naturally sweet (I'm looking at you Holland & Barrett!). These make the perfect snack as they're actually crunchy... as opposed to just being dried fruit which makes a good porridge topping. The pineapple pictured above is lush too... cos I love pineapple. They recently launched some vegetable crisps which I am currently munching my way through (and I ate half the stand samples at Be:Fit, sorry!) so I'm sure that they will pop up in my next Kitchen Empties...

What have been your favourite "found and finished" products recently?! 


Elle :)

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p.s products with a *, I received complimentary either for review or just by chance (like in a goody bag, which I probably have said!) but as always all opinions are my very own! ...and the biggest testament to these products are that I ate them and finished them! lol ;) x

5.5.17

Would You Rather: At Home Workouts vs Out & About

Apparently Spring is on its way. However, I'm currently laying on my sofa at home wondering why I feel so cold even though the sun is actually shining outside. I think it'll be one of those rare occasions when outdoors might be warmer than indoors.

I watched a video from Chill Insurance (https://www.chill.ie/) which asked the question "Would you rather stay in, or go out?" and it all got me thinking about how that applies to fitness... and then some other related topics came to mind so I thought I'd have a little fun creating a short game of would you rather to help keep it light hearted. Cos it's Friday y'all!

I know quite a few people have shared their thoughts on how expensive fitness is especially when classes at boutique studios average at £20 per session. Personally, I don't indulge in boutique fitness for my own training and I'm lucky enough that my current teaching schedule counts towards my training as well as having interests that lay outside of a studio (i.e. Running, cycling, swimming etc).
So, would you rather:

a) pay £20 a class at a studio, but you can choose any class

or

b) only workout at home but doing the same session each time

Over the Easter Bank Holiday, I did some Spring cleaning and had a massive clear out (which also made me realise I've been in my place for two years so surely my home insurance is due for renewal?!). This included going through all my fit kit, equipment and accessories to see what hasn't been used in a while. Basically, if it's been unused for a year then surely I don't need it so I popped a fair bit of it on eBay. What I do have left is a collection of yoga mats, my pump set and a few kettlebells.
So, would you rather:

a) have all the equipment your heart desires in a home gym

or

b) have running outdoors as your only choice

As a freelancer working at home as much as I'm based in a cafe or studio, I tend to either be found in my pyjamas or slipping myself into the tightest, most sweat-wicking garments I can find. You read about Be:Fit and the fashion catwalk right?!
So then I wondered, would you rather:

a) go to the gym in your pyjamas (like, forever)

or

b) workout at home in your trendiest activewear (like, forever)

Head over to my Twitter account to cast your "Would You Rather" votes now!

But, are you a home body or a gym buddy?!


Elle :)

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4.5.17

What It's Really Like to Be a #Backpacker

Unofficially, I decided that 2017 was gonna be the year of volunteering for me. And I've stayed true to my word. Ive volunteered at Parkrun a couple of times (for the first times ever) and on Sunday 30th April I volunteered at Hackney Half Marathon.

Back in March 2016, I ran what goes down in history as my Personal Worst half marathon time at the North London Half Marathon. I mean, it was so bad (for me) that I don't even think I wrote it in the post but from what I can remember it was around the 2:47 mark... like, worse than my first half marathon where I did around 2:27 having never run more than 10km and not having trained. During that race, I learnt what it was like to be right at the back of the race and I experienced how it felt when people had gone home and no one was there to cheer you on and keep you going. So I chose my volunteer role for Hackney Half based on that experience... I opted to be a Sweep Cyclist... on a bike with the very last runners.

In my head, the very last runners meant just those who were a little slower than the rest but the reality was that they were mostly made up of people who just turned up late... like really late. We didn't set off until 9:36 ...when the race officially started at 9:01. So in the picture below... runners are half way round (the fast ones obvs) and I'm still at the start line...


Anyway, the first few miles weren't too bad. We kept up the pace with the runners who were pretty decent runners (just late) running between 5 and 6 minutes per kilometre. Eventually they'd catch up with slower runners and we'd leave then to it to stick with the slower ones...

Note that there were four sweep cyclists, followed by a BMW mini which was shooting t-shirts out of a bazooka, then a sweep vehicle with medics and then the actual sweep stuff like rubbish trucks and those little vehicle things with the brushes... picking up injured runners and all the rubbish left behind by the race in order to reopen the roads.

By this point, I don't know what speed I'm cycling... I just know that it's slow enough to make me almost fall off my bike a thousand times when clipped in. The runners we cycled with varied in attitudes and energy... from the pair that had never run before... yes, you read that right... they'd never run before but here there were doing a half marathon... to the pair where one friend was suffering from an injury in training... to a lady who was a true backpacker running consistently at her own comfortable pace, the woman who fell and then carried on running catching up and making good headway... then, my final runner who I rode with to the finish line (quite literally) - Silina.

If I shared with you all the things Silina and I chatted about I think it'd need a separate post but just know that we put the world to rights. I did my best, as a fitness professional, to help Silina keep an eye on her running technique, talking through mantras and sharing my own running experiences because running kinda is the same no matter how fast or slow you may be...

As we were coming close to exiting the Olympic Park, the course director informed us that the runner behind Silina would need to move to the pavement as she would not make the cut off, which meant that Silina was now officially the last runner on the course... and the last runner to finish ...IF we could get to the finish line in time.

I filled Silina in on the situation and told her that we just had to keep moving in order to make it to the end. If you wanna see real determination and real motivation, this is where you find it. She ran... and ran... and ran... and eventually we were at the bit where the finish line is just round the corner at the end of the road. There also were still people on the course who I encouraged to cheer, clap which visibly encouraged her to keep going...


Let me just take a moment to go back to mile 10 or 11... wherever Run Dem Crew had their cheer station positioned and say a huge Thank You, firstly for still being there and secondly for still cheering with all the energy I imagine you gave to those at the front... I even remember confetti flying and I seriously smiled so much I can't remember anything else other than the energy!

Right, now back to the finish. Sometimes when you're so close to the end, you just have nothing left until you hear people clapping for you, cheering for you and shouting YOUR name... and seriously, that was enough to give Silina the energy for a sprint finish! Damn... I swear, if you already know you could be proud of someone you barely know, you really haven't felt anything till you've been where I've been...

And people, yes, I recorded every single kilometre on Strava... because, yeah.


There you have it! ...I'm not sure if I've covered everything but I'm sure you'll ask if you have any questions, right?! ...I also wanna say that I have no experience of the event itself as a runner (I didn't go to the "Village") ...and I wanna say that my actual experience as a volunteer was sh*t ...if it wasn't for the amazing runners I met on the route and the rest of the sweep cyclist team I think I would've sacked this off from the minute I arrived at the venue to check in... but that is another (moany) story that I'll save for when I see you...

Have you ever been at the back of the race?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s this time round, my time was gifted to Virgin Sport (730am - 1pm) ...in return for crap food, the feeling that they were doing me a favour and (hopefully) a free race place which I think I will use to enter the British 10km. As usual, all opinions are my own... lol ;) 

3.5.17

Is Be:Fit London Festival Worth Your Time & Money?

Does anyone else remember Be:Fit before it was called Be:Fit?! ...like four years ago, when it took place at Olympia and was so god-awful I don't even remember what it was called?!

Anyway, I think this weekends Festival was the third annual reincarnation of that sad affair that I mentioned. Taking place at the Business Design Centre in Islington and quite frankly, beyond the branding, not much has changed (in my opinion). But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining and that is what I'm taking the time to talk to you about today.


It's blatantly obvious that Be:Fit don't really make money through ticket sales and with rules imposed on vendors that they are not allowed to give out full sized samples there are very few freebies to be gained. Be prepared to give your email address to everyone in return for... well, it varies.

Before I go on, let me clear up the class situation. There are non stop classes with all the biggest studios in attendance. When you buy a ticket, you are able to book classes in advance but they go really quickly as only 50% of the allocation can be booked. And here is where they made an epic fail - when you booked your classes (like, everything available, just in case) you're unable to cancel a class without cancelling every class booking you've made (unless you transfer a class to someone and enter their email address etc ...or am I just being stupid?!). So, I booked all my classes weeks in advance when I was feeling fit and well so when they day arrived and I felt a little under the weather, I couldn't cancel day one's classes and keep day twos.

Then, a few basic tips to help you survive the day(s):

1. Dress in layers; it's so hot in there you will sweat just standing up. Take off and put on layers as you see fit or just don't take a coat.

2. Carry a water bottle; preferably one that filters water. I had the Brita Fill & Go Active bottle (I have the lime one found here)

3. Carry a rucksack or cross-body bag so you don't have to keep holding onto it or worry about leaving it somewhere. Make sure you keep it light too as it gets heavier and heavier the more the day goes on. Consider carrying a tote bag which you can fold up and pull out for when you decide to buy something... because you will...

4. Wear your cutest activewear outfit. It literally is a fashion show where everyone wears their favourite outfits... or picks up the pieces they've been coveting for as long as they can remember... My day one outfit was from Boudavida (see picture below)


Plucky Vest White (£42) || Jazzy Leggings Pink Geo / Granite (£65)

One key feature of Boudavida is that they donate 5% of every sale back into projects that support women’s and girls’ sport. They've got a small collection of tops, bottoms, bras and outerwear but certainly enough to keep you happy as you (in their own words) sweat, smile, repeat!

5. It seems you don't need cash as much these days but be prepared to pick up some half decent deals on some of your favourite products or brands. My number one aim was to pick up some more Heck chicken sausages and I did that! I bought enough to keep me going till I see them again at Balance Festival in a couple of weeks. I literally didn't buy anything else but some of my favourite brands there include Emily's Crisps, Oatly, Kind Snacks, The Coconut Collaborative and Pip & Nut.


Last but not least, use the time to catch up with friends. Wander through the aisles chatting, nibbling, battling each other at games and pulling stupid poses in the Photo Booth... that literally makes the whole thing worthwhile! 

Did you go along this year?! What did you think?! 

Elle :) 

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