SLOW COOKER VEGGIE CHILLI RECIPE

Although I count myself as a ‘flexitarian’ – meaning I eat meat from time to time, I try to follow a predominantly veggie diet. I honestly think this is probably the most achievable goal for most meat-eaters as it’s realistic, but not exclusive – asking people to go vegan overnight just isn’t realistic. But if we all did our bit then we would significantly reduce meat intake, which would benefit the environment – more on that here.

This recipe serves 4 and is such an easy thing to make. Simply chop, add to slow cooker and leave the machine to do all the cooking for you – I put mine on low all day while I’m out and about at work or otherwise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack Quorn mince (300g)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans in chilli sauce (and include the sauce!)
  • 1 red onion (finely diced)
  • 2 green peppers (or a different colour – green is just what we had!) thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes (roughly diced)
  • 1 330ml can of stock (I refilled my kidney bean can with stock – you can use beef or use veggie and ‘beef’ it up with some marmite)
  • Spices (I didn’t measure these out but added a ‘sprinkle’ of each – if that helps!)
    • Chipotle chilli flakes
    • Smoked paprika
    • Chilli salt

To serve: there are several ways you can enjoy this meal…

  • Classic: with rice, and a dollop of salsa / sour cream
  • Low-carb: in an oven baked pepper with cheese grated on top
  • Messy: in taco shells (okay there’s a less messy but still delicious option = soft tortillas, but I’m giving you options!)
  • Fun: on top of nachos, with jalapenos and grated cheese (Edam works best for that ideal stringy-ness)

MARATHON TRAINING UPDATE

We are now less than one month away from our first 2019 marathon – Paris – so I thought it would be fitting to share an update on how we’re feeling and how training is going.

As of today (27 March) we have:

18 days until Paris and 32 days until London

Our furthest run so far:

32KM (20 miles) – we ran from Wandsworth, through Wimbledon and down to the river in Kingston. We then followed the river back through Teddington, Richmond, Hammersmith and Putney. We accidentally joined the Richmond Half Marathon for miles 9-12 (which actually helped a bit as we were running with others!) The last few KM were tough so we adopted a run / walk technique.

A few weeks ago we did a similar length run – 31.5KM – again, from Wandsworth (it’s where we lived so that makes sense!) we ran down to the river and followed it through Battersea park and Westminster to Tower Bridge. Running over that bridge is an iconic point in the marathon – not only are the crowds amazing, the view is also incredible (and you’re almost at the halfway point). We then ran up to Regents Park, around the park (past the back of London Zoo!) and then back down to Battersea through Hyde Park.

How I’m feeling

I’m feeling pretty damn good – I’m really enjoying this training cycle and I’m looking forward to taking on two of the biggest European marathons. This training has gone much better than it did for my previous two marathons, so I’m hopeful the races themselves will go a bit more smoothly too! That, coupled with the (hopefully) amazing crowds should mean that Dom gets amazing experiences for his first and second marathons!

How Dom is feeling

I’m actually really enjoying the marathon training process. Consistently running 3 times a week has been really rewarding and I can feel it becoming a habit (which I hope to continue long past both marathons). I feel like we’ve prepared really well so the excitement is definitely outweighing the nerves. Bring it on!

Our plan for the next few weeks

The taper has begun! Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to continue training the same amount a week (3 times), but we’ll be reducing the distance of our long runs significantly (~10 miles and then 6 miles) and adding in a couple of pre-hab sessions (Dom, I will get you stretching!)

In the weeks between the marathons, we’ll just do what we can to keep our legs ticking over – a few short runs and we should be fine! That’s the beauty of doing two marathons so close together: you only have to train once. Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling myself – wait until afterwards before booking your own!

CARDIFF REST AND RUN ROUTE: REVIEW

This week Holiday Inn challenged me to experience one of their many Running Routes and here is what I thought!

This blog post is also available on the Rest and Run hub and is in partnership with Holiday Inn.

Last weekend I visited my hometown of Cardiff and my dad and I decided to try out one of Holiday Inn’s Running Routes. As I’ve touched on previously, my Dad is the main reason I got into running – he’s my running hero! Not only is he on marathon number 34 himself, but he’s just so consistent – whether there are hills or if it’s a flat run along the river, he never fails to break pace (which makes him such a great running partner)!

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Holiday Inn has Running Routes all around the country (check them out here). There are two great routes in Cardiff which will take you through the gorgeous Bute park – there’s a 4.75KM option and a 9.5KM option. The park itself comprises 130 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland that once formed the grounds of Cardiff Castle. Not only do you get a great view of the castle on your way into the park, but you also have incredible views of the back of the castle.

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Having grown up in the area, I may be a bit biased, but the park is absolutely wonderful. It also brought back some lovely memories – from running the Cancer Research UK Race for Life to my old gymnastics club and just hanging out with friends.

We decided on the 4.75KM route and so we entered the park at the south point (just over the road from the Holiday Inn Cardiff City Centre Hotel). The wall that encompasses the park is adorned with stone animals and followed the dock feeder canal along the eastern edge of the park – past the beautiful Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and up to Blackweir (where I spent my high school years competing in cross-country races). We then crossed the River Taff and followed it back down to the end of the park – past Sophia Gardens, home to the Glamorgan County Cricket Ground, where test matches are played, and the Sport Wales National Centre (where I used to go to gymnastics sessions).

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If you’re staying in Cardiff and fancy going for a run, this is the perfect route – and with the help of Holiday Inn’s Running Routes, you can’t mess it up! In fact, if you’re visiting a new location then the Rest and Run Hub is a great resource – there are so many routes on there, for so many different cities. And, as they’re all different lengths, there’s something for everyone.

On a separate note, I would highly recommend the Holiday Inn Cardiff City Centre hotel because of its incredible location – if you’re down for a weekend of rugby or for the Cardiff Half, then you’re in prime position! Not only is the stadium directly behind the hotel, but the start line of the Cardiff Half is just outside the castle – less than 300m away from the hotel entrance!

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WE’RE HEADING UP NORTH

Yep, you read that right, this Welsh gal is moving up north – to Manchester!!

We both have new jobs that we’re looking forward to starting – I’ll be working at Havas Lynx, a healthcare advertising agency with a truly glittering reputation (literally – they have so so many trophies for all the amazing work they’ve done!) – I can’t wait to get stuck in there. Dom is still training to be an accountant, but has also found a job, with British Engineering.

We’ll be heading up towards the end of March 2019, so expect a pack-up-your-life-and-move blog post, along with a brand new flat tour afterwards!

I know some people will be asking why we’re moving out of London, but there’s a pretty easy answer for this: we’re done. London has been our home for the last 3 and a half years, and don’t get me wrong – we’ve absolutely loved living here, with all the opportunities its given us. But we never planned on living here forever, so we’re looking for a fresh start somewhere new. It’s true that Dom’s family live near Manchester, so one of the benefits will be that we’re closer to his family, but he’s never lived in the city centre so it’ll feel new for both of us.

Some other reasons why we’re really excited to pack up and head up north are:

  • The cost of living: oh my god guys, I know people know that London is expensive, but when you live here you just get used to it. Everything is so much cheaper – from rent, to meals out and the cinema (£6 per person as opposed to £14!!) – so we’re excited to be able to save some ££ for a change!
  • The commute: the move will be a change for me – from an hour door to door, on sweaty London public transport, to a 20 minute walk. I absolutely LOVE walking and will choose it over public transport whenever I can, so this is something I’m really looking forward to.
  • RideLondon training: as you know, Dom and I are taking part in RideLondon this August. Dom’s dad, Paul, is a massive cycling fan so we’ll be able to pop over for our training sessions (I wouldn’t even know where to start with trying to find a 5-hour route!!)
  • The size: both Dom and I grew up near quite major UK cities (Cardiff and Manchester) but London really is something else in terms of size! We’re so used to everything taking about an hour to get to – so it’ll be great to be able to get across the city in half an hour… on foot!
  • The Christmas markets: if you know me, you know how much I love winter and the build up to Christmas. Manchester supposedly has one of the best Christmas markets in the UK – and I’m so ready to see what its got!!
  • Being closer to the country: while we’ll still be living in a city-centre environment, we’ll be so much closer to fields and fields of countryside and I for one cannot wait! There’s just something about being out of a city thats really calming, and although it doesn’t have the benefit of being by the sea (as Cardiff does), it’s definitely a step up from London.

One thing that we will have to get used to is the colder environment – London kind of has it’s own microclimate so it barely rains and it’s always pretty mild temperature-wise. However, being from south Wales and Manchester, we were both brought up in the wind and rain, so I’ve got a feeling we’ll be absolutely fine!

We’re really excited for this new chapter and new location, and if you have any recommendations for things we really need to try / visit in Manchester or even just the North in general (I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life Northern England-wise!), please drop a comment down below.

 

 

 

RUNNING Q&A

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog post, then you’ll know that not only have I managed to rope Dom into his first ever marathon, but also – his second! I’ve not only managed to convince him to take part in the Paris Marathon (14 April), but thanks to the Holiday Inn, we also have been gifted places in the London Marathon, just two weeks later (28 April)! I’m hoping that the fact that both marathons take place in April is actually a great thing (I hope) – as we only have to go through the 3-4 month period of marathon training once!

You can keep up to date with our training journey on the #RestAndRun hashtag and website: https://restandrun.holidayinn.com

So – in order to chart our journey to London properly, we thought we’d start with sharing a bit about us and our running history:

What got you running?

  • Elin: I got into running as a weight loss tool – I had essentially gained the “freshman 15” and found that running burned the most calories of every exercise. So I started running. My dad runs a lot, and in 2013, a hip injury meant that he couldn’t run for a while. I felt awful and promised to run a marathon with him if he got better. He did, we ran the Geneva Marathon in 2014 and we’ve been running since! Paris and London will be my 6th and 7th marathons, respectively.
  • Dom: In short, I met Elin. My dad had tried dragging along on runs for years but I managed to resist but unfortunately this tactic didn’t seem to work with El. It all started with a very disjointed 3km walk/jog and now I find myself actually loving it!

Why London?

  • Elin: The bigger question is why not? London is one of the 6 majors and probably one of the most well known marathons in the world (alongside New York!) I’ve had the privilege of running London before, in 2016, and I’m incredibly excited with the opportunity of giving it another go! The crowds are the best I’ve ever witnessed for a marathon, and the spirit of London truly does carry you!!
  • Dom: Unlike Elin, I can’t see myself running 5 or 10 marathons, but if I’m only ever going to run a few, it would be silly for one of them not to be London. I’ve been a spectator at the London marathon for the last 3 years and it’s such an amazing day – the atmosphere is incredible and I think I’ll be drawing upon every last cheer to get me over the line.

What are the pros and cons of running?

  • Elin: In terms of cons, I can find running quite tough at times – but I guess you could say that about most forms of exercise! Pros? I find it a great de-stressor, especially after a long day / week at work! It gives you the mental space and time to think and work it through while sweating it out. I also love the sense of achievement that comes with running races – and that’s not just about the medals, but the feeling you get when you cross the finish line is honestly not something that can be beaten. Why else would people keep going back for more??
  • Dom: The only real con with running is that it’s difficult – and if you have to get up early for a long run, it can be quite a battle to get your foot out the door. But once you do get going and make it through a 3 hour run or a half marathon or a 10km PB, that feeling of achieving something really challenging is amazing. I never thought I’d be one to talk about the runner’s high, but I’ve been converted.

How do you find the time?

  • Elin: Both Dom and I work full time, so usually we leave the house before 8am and get back at 6:45 at the earliest. During the winter months, I find training in the dark difficult (especially early mornings – Dom is wayyyy better than me at getting up!) so we’ve had to work our way round it. We tend to train three times a week, with two during the week (running between 5-10KM from work to various train stations) and one longer one at the weekend. So far, so good!
  • Dom: I like planning well in advance which days during the week I’m going to run. I’m usually fairly good at sticking to a schedule so if I’ve set that date aside, I’ll make sure I finish work on time to fit in any runs I need to do. It does have to be a little more regimented than I would like because of pesky work, but if it’s important, you can make time.

What is your training schedule like?

  • Elin: When coming to marathon training, we didn’t want to go too lightly and end up shooting ourselves in the foot! So we looked a few up online, and soon discovered they weren’t for us. My dad is our trainer, pretty much – he’s run 34 marathons to date, and averages 3:45ish at the moment. He’s incredible! So we used his guidance and found that three times a week (as above) works for us and our schedules.
  • Dom: Disclaimer – I know nothing about marathon training. I just look to El for guidance in this department and run when I’m told to. We’ve definitely been a lot more structured with our training compared to the last year or two, and it’s already feeling like it’s paying off!

What are you most excited about?

  • Elin: completing them! Two marathons just two weeks apart isn’t something that should be taken lightly! But I’m really excited to get them done, to feel the crowds and really soak up the atmospheres! You really can’t beat the feeling of achievement that comes with running a marathon – so two in two weeks will be doubly rewarding (and exhausting…) Plus – celebrating with bubbly and carbs will be first on the list!!
  • Dom: There are a few aspects of both marathons that I’m really excited about! Obviously the adrenaline that comes with crossing the start line and the joy of crossing the finish line are two parts of the race that I’m sure most people are looking forward to, but I’m also really excited about being a part of two massive races with big crowds that will be cheering me (and a few other runners) all the way round! I’m also a big fan of bridges and architecture in general, so running by historical landmarks and across famous bridges in Paris and London is definitely something I’ll be looking forward to.

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