Brownies for breakfast??? Are you crazy? – Chocolate Beetroot Breakfast Brownies

I like to set myself little challenges. This generally comes with trying to find my latest breakfast that meets my nutritional needs whilst tasting awesome.

I wanted brownies for breakfast.

I made brownies for breakfast.

They were good.

I had to share!

Chocolate Beetroot Breakfast Brownies
Makes 16, 480 calories, 20g protein, 14g fat, 27g carbs (6g fibre)

Chocolate beetroot brownies

  • 200g 85% cocoa chocolate
  • 45g coconut oil (or other oil to taste)
  • 200g oats
  • 50g oat bran (or another 50g oats)
  • 75g pea protein isolate powder
  • 75g brown rice protein powder(or more pea protein or both can be substituted with a vegan protein blend)
  • 100g unflavoured whey protein powder (chocolate, vanilla or any other chocolate-friendly flavour will also work but the brownies will be sweeter)
  • 20g fine ground espresso or Greek/Turkish coffee
  • 30g cocoa
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 75g pecan nuts (or other tasty nuts, chunks or even marshmallows if that’s the way you swing)
  • 600g pre-cooked beetroot (not pickled, obviously)
  • 250g fat free fromage frais or Greek yoghurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Water as needed (details below)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan/350F
  2. Grease and line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and then grease the baking parchment.
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients (the three protein powders, oats, bran, cocoa, sugar, coffee and pecans) until combined.
  4. Break chocolate into small pieces, place in a bowl with the coconut oil and melt both together in the microwave (or a bain marie).
  5. Roughly chop the beetroot and blend until smooth with the fromage frais/yoghurt and eggs.
  6. Stir the chocolate into the beetroot puree.
  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and then add water until it has the consistency of chocolate pudding.
  8. Pour the mixture into the tin and tap to get rid of any bubbles.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes until set solid (it will still be a bit gooey).
  10. Cut into the desired number of portions (16 worked for me but 24 or even 32 would still be reasonable-sized brownies).

Okay, so it looks like a lot of steps, but I had them in the oven in about 15 minutes. I froze most of the brownies and just heat them up each morning in the oven at 120C for 15 minutes. Perfect fudgey goodness!


Christmas Approaches – Chocolate Chilli Mincemeat

I finally got my act together to do some Christmas baking this past weekend. My Christmas cake recipe can follow if anyone is interested, but here’s my chocolate chilli mincemeat recipe.

Chocolate chilli mincemeat

Chocolate Chilli Mincemeat

  • 1100g dried mixed fruit
  • 200g dried cherries
  • 100g crystallised ginger
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 3 small/2 medium eating apples – chopped very finely or grated
  • 15g mixed spice
  • 5g cinnamon
  • 1tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 225g butter – cubed
  • 200g 85% chocolate (Lindt Excellence) – finely chopped
  • 450g dark muscovado sugar
  • 300ml whisky/brandy/rum
  • 200ml orange liqueur (or more whisky/brandy/rum)
  1. Mix all ingredients other than the alcohol together in a large pan and heat until chocolate and butter are melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once fully melted, reduce the heat and stir gently pretty much constantly for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the booze and stir well.
  4. Decant into sterilised jars and cool.
  5. Store in the fridge for at least 2 weeks before use to allow the flavour to mature.

Health Warning! These Cookies ARE NOT for the Faint of Heart!

Peanut Butter Bacon Choc Chip CookiesI hold The Ranting Chef entirely responsible for this utterly unhealthy treat. His post about “The Bacon Industrial Complex” inspired me to have a go at making a protein-enhanced version of his cookies and darn they’re good!

Around four and a half hours (and a mega workout) after eating one and I’m only just starting to feel hungry!

Peanut Butter Bacon Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies
Makes 18, 350 calories, 34g carbs (3g fibre, 21g sugar), 14g protein, 18g fat


  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 200g smooth peanut butter
  • 125g crunchy wholenut peanut butter
  • 75g butter (or margarine)
  • 275g golden caster sugar or soft light brown sugar
  • 150g pea protein isolate
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g dark chocolate chips
  • 260g rolled oats
  • Water to bind


  1. Pre-heat oven to 170C/160C (fan)/340F
  2. Place the bacon in a non-stick baking tray and put in the oven for 15 minutes whilst you prepare the rest.
  3. Line two large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  4. Beat peanut butters and butter/magarine together until well combined.
  5. Add sugar and cream together.
  6. Add pea protein isolate and bicarb and beat in.
  7. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix well (the mixture will look like breadcrumbs at this point).
  8. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips then add enough water to bring the mix together.
  9. Take the bacon out of the oven. Drain the fat into the cookie mix and crumble in the (now crispy) bacon.
  10. Take fistfuls of dough, roll into rough balls and place on the tray and then flatten. They won’t spread so you don’t need to leave a lot of space between them.
  11. Bake for around 20-25 minutes until starting to turn golden around the edges.
  12. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before eating (or they’ll fall apart).

Meal Planning… Or Failing To Do So

Shopping Trolley 1

I posted up a picture of my shopping trolley on my Instagram and Twitter feed recently and a friend asked me if I could follow up with a little about how I plan my shopping and meals.

The short answer is that I don’t really plan very well. Here is my usual shopping process:

  1. “Bugger, I’ve run out of peppers/turkey/eggs. Grant, can we stop at the supermarket on the way home?”
  2. Head to the supermarket on the way home.
  3. Wander to the vegetable cheap shelf and grab some cabbage or kale (because there’s always cabbage on the cheap shelf). Grab 1-2kg of carrots, 1kg of leeks, onions (if needed), 1-2kg of sweet potatoes, sometimes 2-5kg of potatoes, two big bags of peppers and some salad.
  4. Trolley is now half full. Head to the meat cheap shelf.
  5. Grab whatever looks good on the meat cheap shelf, if there is anything.
  6. Wander back to the meat aisle and buy a selection of meats from the “3 for £10” offers (or similar) – usually turkey breast mince, sausages, pork mince and/or beef mince.
  7. Grab lots of bacon.
  8. Spend ten minutes debating what we’re going to cook for the rest of the week… disagree… eventually I win.
  9. Get some sort of large piece of meat (if it’s on special offer).
  10. Check the bakery cheap shelf for Grant’s second breakfast.
  11. Grab whatever store cupboard items we’re short of (soy milk, GF flour, oil)
  12. Remember that I forgot to get Greek yoghurt so go back and grab that.
  13. Wander to the tills.
  14. Remember that I forgot to check the cheap shelves a second time and run back.
  15. Decide that I need Ben and Jerry’s… so buy two tubs.
  16. Check out.

Shopping Trolley 2

Not very organised, really. In all honesty, I’m not a great planner. I see what’s there, I grab what’s cheap and I plan based on the use-by dates (or throw things in the freezer and defrost as needed).

My meals are planned around workouts. If it’s a heavy day the next day, I’ll throw something in the slow-cooker or plan to do something quick and easy (i.e. stir-fry with noodles). If it’s a rest day, I’ll plan on spending a little more time cooking something like a lamb curry with a vegetable curry and rice.

I usually bake muffins on Sunday in batches of 24 so that we can eat four on Monday and freeze the rest for the week ahead.

I did try for a while to be good and plan a week in advance, but these days I plan a day or two in advance. I make sure I always have a lot of vegetables available to me and a good selection of meats so I can be disorganised.

You might think that this leads to a lot of waste, but it really doesn’t.

I ignore use by dates on fruit and vegetables (FFS, it’s obvious when they’re going off) and generally keep most of my meat in the freezer until the day before I cook it. Almost everything that goes in our food waste bin is vegetable trimmings, egg shells, skin or bones… leftovers are eaten unless there’s something wrong with them and if it isn’t tasty it’s my own fault and I eat it regardless.


Sunday Afternoon Shakes – Part Two

By popular request, here’s the mass gainer shake recipe I made for my husband.


Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Shake
Serves one (absolute mega pig)
1448 calories, 105g carbohydrate (64g sugar and 29g fibre), 81g fat and 87g protein


  • 300ml whole milk
  • 75g whole nut peanut butter
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 2 small bananas (or one large)
  • 50g fat reduced cocoa powder
  • 50g whey protein (chocolate or unflavoured)
  • Ice to taste


  1. Blend all ingredients ’til smooth.
  2. Serve.

Sunday Afternoon Shakes

Sunday seems to be the day of pain as well as the day of rest at the moment. Spending an hour or two grimacing on the foam roller (and tennis balls) seems to be the way of things and psyching myself up for the week ahead.

I’m three weeks into my first ever bulking cycle and I’m getting to grips with eating enough for that. Admittedly, I seem to be utterly hyperactive at times and starving at others, but it’s kinda fun eating a lot.

So recently Sundays have meant two things in terms of eating:

  1. Full cooked breakfast
  2. Too full to eat again ’til dinner.

Now seriously, I don’t have a problem with the former (as I make it and it’s GOOD), if I don’t eat again until dinner then it has to be a big dinner. So I’m giving smoothies another go. 🙂

The other glass in the picture is my husband’s chocolate peanut butter protein shake… clocking in at around 1450 calories. I’m not even going to share that one unless asked…


Chocolate, Berry and Avocado Protein Smoothie
Totals for mix – can serve one or two
537 calories, 51g protein, 25g fat, 35g carbohydrate (including 17g sugar and 19g fibre)


  • 1 small hass avocado
  • 130g frozen mixed berries
  • 50g cherries
  • 25g whey protein (unflavoured or chocolate)
  • 25g soy protein (unflavoured or chocolate)
  • 20g reduced fat cocoa powder
  • 200-300ml water


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve.


Lamb’s Heart Curry

Looks like I’m getting back into the swing of things. This is a nice simple slow-cooker recipe. You don’t have to use lamb hearts, or even lamb, but the combination of juicy lamb leg and meaty lamb hearts really works well. The lamb hearts are incredibly cheap and they work really well with the strong flavoured sauce.

If you didn’t tell people, they would never guess that what the hearts were. They have a lovely firm texture but aren’t obviously “offally”.

Whilst you all know that I’m not a proponent of paleo, I do like to share recipes which are suitable for friends who are every now and again.

Lambs heart curry

Lamb’s Heart Curry
Serves 6 (I know, I know, but this one’s really filling)
389 Calories, 10g carbohydrate (4g sugar, 2g fibre), 35g protein, 23g fat


  • 3 lamb hearts
  • 600g lamb leg (diced) – You could just use another 6 lamb hearts, but the combination works well.
  • One large onion
  • One 400g tin tomatoes
  • One 400g tin coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground chilli
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • (Or replace all spices with 2 tbsp of curry powder, all measures are approximate)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Prepare the lamb hearts. Cut into quarters lengthwise and remove the tube that goes into the top. Then chop into roughly 2cm/1″ dice.
  2. Chop the onion roughly (or slice… honestly, it will be good however you prep it)
  3. Put all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir through.
  4. Cook on low for 8-12 hours (i.e. put on when you go to work and eat after the evening’s workout… or when you get home.)
  5. Serve with rice, naan bread, vegetable curry and/or dahl.


Kale, Cauliflower and Chorizo Soup

I know kale is meant to be a wonder food… but generally I don’t like it! It’s bitter, it’s tough and it seems to have few redeeming features other than its nutritional value. (Come on, we all know I like food to be tasty!)

This soup seems to make it palatable… Actually, pretty tasty!

Kale cauliflower and chorizo soup

Kale, Cauliflower and Chorizo Soup
Serves 4 (massive portions)
184 calories, 20g carbohydrate (7g sugar, 6g fibre), 10g protein, 8g fat


  • 1 small-ish head of cauliflower
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 75g chorizo
  • 200g kale
  • 1 red chilli (optional)


  1. Roughly chop the carrots, cauliflower, chilli and onion and cut the chorizo into strips.
  2. Put in a saucepan (or pressure cooker) with enough water to cover by 1″.
  3. Boil until the carrots are soft (about 20 minutes).
  4. Add kale and boil for another 10 minutes.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Serve in BIG bowls and enjoy.

Spicy, Smoky Turkey Meatball Pasta (and an apology)

Before I do anything else, I really need to apologise for how long it has taken me to post a recipe. No excuses, I’ve just been rubbish.

I did my first powerlifting meet last Saturday and I’m attempting to bulk for the next few months (although the calorie intake is a little terrifying). So far I seem to be failing to gain a single kilo, so I’m going to start taking progress pictures to see if anything changes over the next couple of months.

Anyway, as you may have guessed I have a number of staple meal types which I tweak on a regular basis, but this is one of my favourites. I know that conventional wisdom is that you should fry meatballs before adding them to the sauce, but these always come out beautifully without that extra step.

Spicy smoky turkey meatball pasta

Spicy, Smoky Turkey Meatball Pasta
Serves 4
533 calories, 67g carbohydrate (13g sugar and 6g fibre), 33g protein, 16g fat


  • 500g Turkey mince (either standard or pure breast, both work beautifully but pure breast is a little leaner)
  • 2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 red chilli (I used 2 Scotch bonnets… but I do like it HOT)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil, or vegetable oil, or goose fat, or whatever fat you like… honestly, it’s just fat for frying)
  • 250g gluten-free fusilli (or whatever pasta suits you)


  1. Finely dice the carrots and onions.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan with the oil and add the carrots and onions. Fry until the onions and carrots are softened and starting to turn golden (probably around 10 minutes). It’s a bit of a faff by my standards but it tastes so good!
  3. Chop (or crush) the garlic and chilli and add to the pan. Fry for a further 2 minutes. Then add the paprika and fry for another minute or so.
  4. Add the tomatoes and bring up to a simmer.
  5. Knead the turkey mince until it’s all pulpy. Using your hands roll into balls of about 1″ diameter (no real culinary reason but they’re then lovely and bite-size) and drop into the simmering tomato sauce.
  6. Once all the meatballs are in the pan give it a gentle stir and leave to simmer for around half an hour stirring occasionally.
  7. After about 15 minutes of simmering, put the pasta on to boil according to instructions.
  8. Just before the pasta is cooked, add a spoonful of the pasta water to the meatballs.
  9. Drain the pasta and toss in the meatball sauce.
  10. Serve in big bowls and enjoy the savoury, smoky, spicy goodness.


The Girl in the Mirror – Reflections on 18 Months of Weight Loss

I’ve made a decision to move into maintenance for a while. I’ve been losing weight since July last year and the psychological toll has actually been a lot harder than a calorie deficit. I was a little horrified when I stepped on the scales to see 82.1kg (180lb or just under 13 stone). Back then, it was just the start of another diet. I didn’t realise that it would turn into the biggest change in my body since puberty.

I started this year looking at pictures of myself at Christmas parties and hating what I saw. I didn’t recognise the girl in the image, because it didn’t match the me in my head. It wasn’t that I didn’t recognise the size I was (not particularly fat, not particularly thin) but my face just never looked the way I thought it did in the mirror and the dresses never looked as good as I thought they did.

Night at the Museum 2012 Hogmanay 2012-13

I’m not saying that I look awful in any of these shots, just that I didn’t quite reconcile them.

This year I’ve gone the opposite way. I don’t recognise the girl in the mirror but the photos I see are exactly what I think they should be. I don’t know if that’s any better. My body image is still mis-matched, just in a different way.

I’ve struggled slightly with not being able to keep up with my body changing in terms of my wardrobe. You can have some dresses taken in, but not bras or corsets and some things it’s just not worth having taken in professionally (but they’re too complex to do it yourself).

So recently I’ve come to the point that I want to stop losing weight for a while. I miss wearing nice things (I’ve been living Primark and whatever I could find cheap on sale) and I particularly miss having underwear that fits.

But I still look at my body in the shower and feel like I haven’t changed. It’s nuts, but I still see a soft belly and flabby thighs, even though what I see in photos (and even in the mirror) shows someone fairly slim and “toned”.

On the other hand, I sometimes look at my shoulders and arms and feel like they’re huge, until I see the tiny little things in photos where those huge, muscular shoulders are in my head.

I don’t really know what’s real, but I think I need to take some time off to let my mind catch up with what has happened to my body.

Two Green Dresses - 2010 and 2013

Edited to add: This blog isn’t anti-fat. I’m proud of my strength training achievements more than my weight loss, but there’s no denying that I am happier with my body at the moment than I was before. It was largely ponderings on my own body image and how it has changed.