Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide COMPLETED!!! (review)

I completed Kayla Itsines’ BBG a couple of months ago and have been meaning to post a review of it ever since. But life, ya know how it is.

For those of you that live in a hole and haven’t heard of BBG, it is a 12 week fitness programme designed by Kayla Itsines, an Australian fitness guru. And it is tough! If you check out her website(www.kaylaitsines.com) or instagram, you can see amazing transformation photos, tips on how to stay healthy, and also get a free trial. The women’s stories and transformations that Kayla shares are super inspiring, so if check it out of you want a  bit of motivation!

I’ll explain a bit about how the programme works, without giving away Kayla’s secrets! The programme consists of a minimum of 5 workouts a week. These consist of 3 resistance sessions and then 2-3 LISS or HIIT cardio sessions. The 3 resistance are the main event really though. They involve 4 rounds of 7 minute circuits, during which you work as hard as you can to complete exercises including Jump squats, press ups and burpees. I know, what a treat!

I’m not going to lie, it is hard work. Sometimes I feel like giving up. But I always keep going, and the feeling of achievement after each workout is amazing! I get such a rush of both endorphins and self-pride. I may be hot and sweaty quite frequently, but as the week progress I feel myself getting stronger and fitter! I’ve never felt such amazing progress from working out ever before.

As you might have noticed I am using the present tense, despite stating that I finished the programme a couple of months ago. Well that’s because  I decided to do it all again.I’m currently on week 8 of my second round. I think that fact is testament to just how much I enjoyed this challenge!

I also think it’s worth emphasising the mental transformation above the physical, as Kayla herself does. From looking at the transformations it would be far too easy to become fixated on body image. This is something that the majority of women struggle with, at least at some point. Body image was definitely  a motivating factor for me. But actually I’ve found this programme has changed my perception of positive results. I work hard now because I want to feel stronger and feel fitter, not to have the perfect bod. That’s why I am recommending this programme to other women.

I intend to move on to BBG2 next! Kayla has just launched the programme as an app, and I have been a bit slow on the uptake so far. So maybe I’ll write another review of that once I’ve used it.

Falling in love with Courgette Porridge

Recently, my breakfast-based adventures have taken me to the world of Courgette Porridge, or ‘Zoats’ as our American pals say.

I was quite apprehensive about this one. I assumed it would be a disappointing health-food fad, propagated by those lying to themselves about the palatability of their alternative ‘healthy’ creations. But I  will try anything once – what’s the worst that can happen? And you stand a pretty good chance of discovering something great, as I have with this courgette porridge!

It is warming, filling and tasty – the perfect fix for a cold, autumn morning. Particularly with the addition of the cinnamon and nutmeg. It doesn’t taste exactly the same or have the same texture as standard oat porridge. It is probably more akin to a warm bircher as it is more textured.

Courgette Porridge can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge for a quick breakfast. I usually pop mine in the microwave for a minute in the morning to heat it through. But it also tastes lovely cold, very much like overnight oats! I actually tried using raw courgette in my overnight oats once, but I think it is nicer if the courgette is lightly cooked.

Cinammon and nutmeg spiced courgette porridge, topped with banana and Fage Total yogurt.
Cinnamon and nutmeg spiced courgette porridge, topped with banana and Fage Total greek yogurt.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 25g oats
  • Half a small courgette, finely grated
  • Almond milk
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  1. Grate the courgette, preferably using a medium-fine grater so the slithers are smaller in size.
  2. Cook the almond milk and oats in a small pan, over a medium heat, for about 2 1/2 minutes. They should be nearly cooked and have absorbed a fair amount of the milk. Stir to make sure they cook evenly.
  3. Add the courgette and cook for a further 2 1/2 minutes. Add a splash more almond milk to get your preferred consistency. Be careful if you prefer your porridge really thick. I find that the courgette starts to lose a bit of moisture after a couple of minutes.
  4. Stir in the spices and the maple syrup.
  5. Transfer to a bowl, add your toppings, and enjoy!

 

Banana, Pecan and Date Cookies!

I accidentally made cookies today! What a happy accident.

I intended to make a kind of raw, nakd bar-style energy bite. But after I’d rolled my balls and left them to set in the fridge for 2 hours, I decided they were too sticky to eat as they were. It was like cookie dough!

The doughy consistency ignited a curiosity within me. I decided to bake a ball just to see what would happen. It came out crispy with a gooey centre – just as a cookie should be, in my opinion. I was so pleased with the result that I baked them all! 
Lovely jubbly.

 
Here’s the recipe (makes 15 cookies):

1 overripe banana (approximately 150g)

8 dates (160g)

100g pecans

20g milled flaxseed

 
Instructions:

Chop the banana into slices.

Remove the pit from the dates.

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until gooey.

Shape in to balls, then flatten to create the cookie shape. Chill for 2 hours.

Line a tray with baking paper. Bake the balls at 170 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping them over half way through. Make sure they do not go too brown as they darken considerably as they cool.

Leave the cookies to cool, then enjoy!

Homemade Buckwheat Granola

Staying true to my word, I made my own Buckwheat Granola. I am thrilled with the result – it is crunchy, sweet and healthy!

I made mine using only 4 ingredients: 175g raw buckwheat, 80g dates, water and salt. So simple, yet delicious!

Buckwheat soaking

 

Yesterday morning, I began the process by soaking the Buckwheat in cold water all day. In the evening, I drained and rinsed the buckwheat, then re-covered it and left it to soak overnight.

In the morning I drained the water away and left the buckwheat in a colander to let it dry off a bit.

 

Next, I removed the stones from my dates and roughly chopped them up. I blended my dates in to a smooth paste by adding a little water, and a pinch of salt. Then I combined the dates with the Buckwheat and smoothed it on to a lined baking tray (as pictured below).

Buckwheat mixture on baking paper

I popped the tray in to the oven and baked the Buckwheat mixture for 20 minutes at 150 degrees. After this time, I turning the clusters over and baked for a further 10-20 minutes, until they looked like this:

The finished product

How easy was that?

Ridiculously easy. And it tastes phenomenal.

 

 

Review: The Living Food Kitchen Rawnola

I tried something new for breakfast this morning: Rawnola! Specifically, the Living Food Kitchen’s Rawnola.

Verdict: I would eat this again, but I will try making my own first.

Rawnola, Banana and Greek Yogurt
Rawnola, Banana and Greek Yogurt

I follow a few raw vegans on Instagram, and am always intrigued by their breakfast creations. Although recipes differ, it is often made using only oats or buckwheat with dried fruits and nuts. I love making healthy food that uses simple ingredients, so Rawnola was an obvious choice for me. But before I had the chance to some of my own, I came across the Living Food Kitchen’s Raw Blueberry and Banana Granola in a small shop. Upon inspecting the label, I discovered that his particular Rawnola is made of Sprouted buckwheat, date paste (dates, filtered water, vanilla seeds), banana, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, golden linseeds and himalayan crystal salt. THAT’S IT! No nasties. So of course I couldn’t resist it (even though it cost an expensive £6 for 160grams – eek).

imageSo this morning I tucked in to a bowl of this Rawnola- served with a splash of almond milk, sliced banana, and Fage’s 0% Greek Yogurt – and jolly lovely it was too! It was chewy, crunchy, sweet and just the right amount of salty all at the same time! It reminded me of eating a Florentine. I must say it ate better after I smashed the Rawnola in to slightly smaller chunks with my spoon, and there was one moment when I thought I may have cracked a tooth on a particularly large, hard lump. That being said, I will definitely be going back for more of the Living Food Kitchen’s Rawnola.

Yet, ultimately, my enjoyment of this bowl further spurred my desire to make my own Rawnola. My aim is to recreate this Rawnola at a fraction of the cost! Indeed, there is currently a bowl of raw buckwheat soaking on my kitchen side, which I will drain and toast with a homemade date paste tomorrow morning.

So make sure you check in for an update on my progress! If it’s a success, I will share my own recipe!

GET OUT

I found the final two years of my four year degree very difficult. I struggled to find a work-life balance, and take time out to have fun. One of the main things that bothered me in those two years was the amount of time I spent indoors, alone, working. I was always a very outdoorsy child; I have so many memories of time spent on walks with my family and playing in the village with friends. I had amazing friends at University who I value immensely (even if I don’t express it). But I didn’t allow myself to enjoy their company frequently enough. It was largely self-inflicted, but I still felt profoundly trapped, isolated and miserable.

It’s nearly 2 months since I graduated, and getting out in the fresh air (in the sun and rain – this is England after all) is having a profound effect on my state of mind. As I spent day after day as a slave to the library and to my routine, I was aware of my desire to spend more time outside. But I was so strict with myself, and so scared of wasting time, that I didn’t do anything about it. But now I see how important it is.

Getting out and doing at least a little bit of exercise every single day massively lifts my mood. So if you’re feeling a bit grotty or tired, try going for a walk around the block and see what happens!

My friend Rachel and me at the top of Harrison Stickle in the Lake District.
My friend Rachel and me at the top of Harrison Stickle in the Lake District.

Maunika Gowardhan’s Indian Kitchen

If you like authentic Indian cooking, then I would recommend buying Indian Kitchen by Maunika Gowardhan.

indian kitchen

I came across Maunika’s blog on her website a few months ago. Her simple but exciting recipes intrigued me, and I decided to give one a go. And so began my love affair with her cooking!

I was so excited when I heard that she was publishing a book, and bought it as soon as it was available. It is full of beautiful recipes for unusual curries and meat dishes, exciting side dishes and traditional Indian desserts.

The other night I made an absolutely beautiful chicken curry, cooked with mint, coriander, cashew nuts and tamarind. It was so quick to produce, and so flavoursome! Here’s a picture of the curry in progress:

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In the past I’ve made her Murgh Korma, Chingri Macher Malai (a Bengali Prawn curry with mustard coconut and chilli) and Goan Xacuti Chicken (a chicken curry spiced with star anise and nutmeg), among others! I am yet to be disappointed by one of her dishes.

So if you’re on the look our for interesting Indian recipes, or perhaps a gift, then I recommend Indian Kitchen!