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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Healthy Lunches: Essential Ingredients from Holland and Barrett

Holland and Barrett Healthy Lunches Meal Prep Ingredients

Holland and Barrett Coconut Oil Organic Honey

Holland and Barrett Himalayan Pink Salt Spices

Holland and Barrett Beauty Sweeties Healthy Snacks

I’ve been back at university for a few weeks now and the time has absolutely flown by. I was up to my eyeballs with assignments by the second week but, despite being incredibly busy, I have always made time to prepare food to ensure that I get all of the nutrients that I need and don’t end up skipping meals or binging on sugar to get me through my workload.

I know that a lot of people’s lunchboxes are stuffed with highly-processed convenience foods – a cheese sandwich, packet of crisps, a chocolate bar and fizzy drink are common sights – but I believe that lunches (and all meals, for that matter) should be made with real, fresh, whole foods.

A balanced meal

Eating well makes such a difference to how I feel (and look!) so I ensure that all of my lunches contain:
  • A good amount of lean protein to keep me feeling full and to meet my daily requirements. My favourites are chicken, turkey and tuna. 
  • Healthy sources of carbohydrates such as sweet potato and rice. I love baking a batch of sweet potato wedges but if you have a microwave at work, it’s easy to zap a jacket sweet potato in 4-6 minutes. 
  • Healthy fats from a variety of sources such as good quality oils used for cooking and dressings, nuts and seeds.
  • Lots of fresh, nourishing fruit and vegetables. 

Kitchen cupboard essential ingredients

I like to keep my lunches simple so that they are easy to whip up, store and carry with me. However, I also want my food to be as tasty and varied as possible, so there are some items that I always have in my kitchen cupboards:
  • Nuts and seeds that I can sprinkle on any meal, and especially salads, for an extra nutrient boost. My favourites include walnuts and chia seeds.
  • Coconut oil to cook with.
  • Herbs and spices will last a really long time and add endless variety of flavour to your food. A good cajun spice mix (although I often make my own) and ground ginger are my favourites.
  • Good quality salt. Believe me, this makes all the difference to sweet potato wedges! I love to keep some pink salt in my kitchen cupboard and not just because it looks pretty. The different hues of Himalayan salt indicates its rich and varied mineral content.
  • Desiccated coconut for healthy and easy to eat on-the-go chicken nuggets. Just dip diced chicken in egg and roll in seasoned coconut 'crumbs' before baking. Delicious!
  • Honey is another great way to add flavour to prepped foods. I like glazing chicken with honey, mustard and sesame seeds for a sweet and sticky treat! It's also a great way to naturally sweeten  sauces.
  • Nut butters are always handy to have on hand for a snack. I stick to Meridian's natural nut butters as I know they have no added nasties.
  • Something for a sweet tooth. I’m never restrictive with my diet, I just try to pick the healthiest options that I can. I tend to opt for a couple of squares of dark chocolate when I have a craving. I also recommend Beauty Sweeties, which I previously reviewed here.

Make time to meal prep

I know it can seem like a big leap to go from throwing pre-packaged foods into a bag to preparing things from scratch, but setting aside a little time once or twice a week to do it can easily become habit. Often I’ll head to my local supermarket around 11am on a Sunday morning, spend half an hour whizzing round and grabbing everything on my list, and then I’ll come home and spend an hour or so preparing everything. It makes me feel so productive and healthy, and I've noticed that overall, it saves me a lot of time and money.

I highly recommend stocking up your store cupboard with a range of flavoursome and inspiring ingredients to make preparing and eating your meals extra easy and enjoyable. Thank you to my friends at Holland and Barrett for supplying me with the essential ingredients* that I featured in this post.

There are lots of examples of what a typical lunch for me looks like over on my Instagram.

Do you prepare your meals in advance? What are your store cupboard essentials? 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

September Delights

September Delights Blonde Girl Beach Fitness Health Juice Fruit

I've had a jam-packed month where I've worked hard and played hard. I have a feeling the next few months will be filled more with work rather than play though as I've just started my third and final year of university (apologies if my posts become a little more sporadic than usual!). I still have lots of exciting content that I'm looking forward to sharing with you though, and I always love to hear what you'd like to see more of on The Blonde Ethos. In the meantime though, here are my September highlights...

+ Started training with a brilliant PT at Six3Nine. I’ve learned so much and even managed to do my first handstand since I was about 12! Keep your eyes peeled for more on this front...

+ Attended the launch of the new Epson Sensewear range and have been testing out the Pulsense activity tracker. Can’t wait to give you my verdict!

+ Made plenty of cinema trips – I find it’s such a good way to zone out.

+ Discovered the most incredible Almond Milk at the launch of Raw Press Juice Bar.

+ Took an inspiring trip to Italy with Technogym, which you can read all about here.

+ Played HintHunt with LV=. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something different to do in London! You can read the LV= blog post on the event, here.

+ Enjoyed a divine facial at the Amida Spa at Chelsea Harbour Club. More on that soon!

+ Went for a active catch up with one of my girlfriends where we walked and talked for miles on a lovely evening.

+ Spent a couple of days in Brighton for my birthday with my family and boyfriend, where we saw Alt-J. They were absolutely incredible.

What were the highlights of your month?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A/W Activewear Lust List

A/W14 Activewear Wishlist Monochrome SportsLuxe

As we are heading into Autumn, I've been looking at updating my workout wardrobe. As I wear trainers almost everyday, and not just in the gym, I'm considering investing in some more monochrome styles now that I'm back at university (these are a little too attention-getting for a lecture hall). Also top of my list are the gorgeous Urban Warrior print compression pieces from Vie Active, as well as a sportsluxe jacket to see me through the cooler months.

Leggings - Vie Active @ Hip&Healthy - £85
Sports Bra - Vie Active @ Hip&Healthy - £56
Trainers - Nike @ JD Sports - £85
Trainers - Nike @ JD Sports - £70
Jacket - Monreal London - £240
Sports Bra - Michi NY @ Fashercise - £95
Tank - The Upside @ Net-a-Porter - £60
Sports Bra - Nike - £30

What's on your A/W activewear lust list?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Perfect Sports Bra + My Fabletics Experience

Fabletics Koia Sports Bra Blonde Fitness Girl
Fabletics Koia Sports Bra Back Blonde Fitness Girl
Fabletics Koia Sports Bra Logo
I remember being intrigued by Fabletics when the activewear retailer launched State-side, mainly because the brand's co-founder is the loveable, active and bubbly Kate Hudson. So, I'm really excited that they launched in the UK this summer; not least because their expansion across-the-pond lead to one of my favourite fit-fashion discoveries.

The Perfect Sports Bra for Smaller Boobs

Introducing my new favourite sports bra: the Fabletics Koia. I'm going to launch straight in here by stating the obvious: I'm not very curvy. I find it notoriously hard to find a good fitting, supportive sports bra (because, yes, even girls who are smaller up top still require support) that isn't completely unflattering. If ever I have discussed this problem with a girl suffering from the opposite issue, my complaints have generally been met with a rolling of the eyes. I'm not complaining about my figure, let me make that clear, but I honestly struggle to find good-fitting gym tops. I've previously spent hours in stores such as lululemon, trying style after style, only to be met with annoying gaping from one angle or another, so I was especially dubious when it came to ordering online.

Thankfully though, Kate Hudson and her team have embraced what she refers to as "the most challenging aspect of the process of designing activewear": taking every body type into consideration. The Koia Sports Bra boasts four-way stretch and moisture wicking properties, but the features that really sold it to me were the removable cups that ensure it maintains a flattering shape and the unique cut; a complimentary V-neck and unusual cut-out back. I love this soft heather grey/mint julep colourway but I can't wait to add some other shades to my collection too.

The Fabletics VIP Service

One of the things that attracted me to Fabletics was hearing that you could get your hands on an entire 2- or 3- piece gym outfit for as little at £22. To be honest, usually this would have put me off as I would have assumed the quality to be sub-standard, but the at the time, I was at an event where lots of other fitness fanatics were flaunting Fabletics' perfectly-fitting, stylish designs, which survived a gruelling few rounds of circuit training.

So, how do you get high-quality, hip activewear with such an appealing price tag? The answer is to sign up to the site's VIP membership. Complete outfits for VIP Members start from only £44, a saving of up to 40%, but your first item, which can be one of these outfits or one of the stylish separates, is half price! As part of the membership, your account will be debited £44 each month, enough to buy you an entire outfit, customised based on your lifestyle quiz. What I love though, is that there's never any obligation to buy (I've skipped a couple of months myself), and there's also the option to check out as a regular customer (although, minus the perks).

Fabletics Activewear High Intensity Print Clash

My Fabletics Experience

Unfortunately, I didn't benefit from the aforementioned half price item on my first order. Well, I did, until that item had to be returned. My initial order was for the Gaviota Capri Pants, Lima Capri Pants and the Koia Sports Bra. The latter of the two were described as being the same colour way: the high intensity print. However, when they arrived it was clear that the prints were not the same. The fundamental pattern was identical but while the trousers had a green-hue to the print and stitching, the bra was more purple, red and pink based with dark edging. The fabrics were similar, but not similar enough, and wearing the two together made me feel a little jester-like. 

As for the Gaviota Capri Pants, I simply needed to exchange for a size up because the mesh panels, which I adored, didn't benefit from the same amount of stretch as the rest of the fabric. However, after a couple of incidents of the courier not showing up to collect my return, and a two-week wait for Fabletics to confirm receipt of my items, I decided to arrange a refund instead (by that time, I had decided that I'd prefer more ankle-length options to see me through the colder months). If Fabletics were to release a full-length version of these pants for winter, I know that I, and some of my fitness friends, would be ecstatic! In the meantime though, I'm eyeing up the Cobalt Koia...

Although I've had a mixed experience with Fabletics so far, I'm still a VIP member and enjoy checking back for new styles. I'd love to know if you've tried any Fabletics kit yet, and what experience you've had?

*Photography by Cantara (Gymbags and Gladrags)