Becoming a Mindful Chef

One of the main things I want to do this year is cook more. This goes back to looking after myself in better ways as part of my desires for this year. I started by making time to cook things, rather than buy pre-made meals, but I am not a good cook. I need recipes to follow and it requires a good deal of organisation to have everything I need in the house. I tried to build up a good store cupboard stock, but didn’t want to buy things if I didn’t know whether I would like them or not. So I kept coming back to food boxes. I’ve done the veg box before, but as I need recipes this was not the way I wanted to go this time. I looked at the big names in this area, but after a cold call door stop visit from one company I never want to use them. Then I found Mindful Chef.

They are a new small business only set up last year and are based in Devon. They provide a weekly box of food for one or two people for up to four meals a week. You can choose a classic (meat and fish) or a vegan box to be delivered every Monday. The courier company they use are instructed to leave the box in a safe place (that you provide to the team) and it’s packed in a box and packaging that allows food to keep cool for up to 36 hours. I’ve been home for one delivery and the other two have been left in my safe place as specified for when I came home from work.

Each recipe is packaged up in paper bags, with heavier tins or vegetables in the box seperately. The spices, sauces, and herbs are all measured out as required for your selection. All I have to do is chop the food up and cook it as instructed.

You are given the recipe cards for the ones you selected and with the classic box a list of the upcoming recipes to choose from. I went with the vegan box for the first two weeks as I wanted to see what it was like and try out some non-meat variations of protein to see what I liked. I also thought I could add fish or chicken I already had in the freezer if I wanted to.

Inside each recipe bag, everything is divided up with heavier stuff at the bottom and lighter stuff at the top. It makes it really easy to be organised.

They are generous with the ingredients when it comes the vegetables even with the box for one person. Many of the recipes only require half a pepper or squash, but they give you a whole one. I’ve then used this as snacks or to supplement other meals by roasting up everything at the end of the week.

Here is everything I’ve cooked so far, some of which I’ve loved and some of which I haven’t, but overall I have really enjoyed trying this out and have now switched to the classic box as I need a bit more choice when it comes to things that include coconut milk.

The first recipe was this one and it was great. I went wrong by not cooking the butternut squash enough, which meant I also slightly over cooked the beans so they went a bit mushy, but this was overall a good one.

This was my favourite of my first box. I like tofu, but have never cooked it at home as didn’t know how. This recipe added lots of flavour and texture which made it very enjoyable. I would definitely cooke this one again on my own.

This was the one I didn’t like of the first week.I think it was the pepper as that was the main vegetable and I’m not a huge fan when that happens. This one just didn’t work for me, but it did introduce me to using quinoa and lentils together.

The second week’s box had my new favourite recipe ever! This was basically a burrito without the meat or bread and it was amazing! I plan to make this whenever I have visitors as it was super easy and super tasty.

This was the one that didn’t work for me from the second box. Something about the cabbage and sauce did not work for my tastebuds. I wanted to like this for the tofu, but for me it just was not my flavour.

This one surprised me in the end. I was expecting not to like it because it contains coconut milk, but I really enjoyed it. It helped the sauce reduced down a lot and properly because contains a lot of fresh garlic and ginger. It was super tasty and the quinoa balanced it out by being plain.

This week’s box contains meat and I’ll update you on that one once I’ve had a couple of weeks of the classic box. I’m looking forward to it and get excited when I get to chose the recipes each week too! This means I now only need to pop to the shop to pick up fruit and essentials. I’ve been saving a third of each recipe to take to work and that has been working really well.

And of course Merry and Pippin get a band new box every week! The bonus is it will smell slightly different each time depending on the recipes I’ve chosen.


Recent Wanderings… Plymouth

This weekend I headed on the train to Plymouth to visit my friend Ingrid. The last couple of times I’ve been down that way it’s been for work so I’ve driven and it’s taken 4 hours each way. This time I took the train and it took 3 hours and was so much easier, especially the one that was direct.  I was able to get comfy and take my flask of coffee and settle in for a good couple of hours of me-time reading (or listening as I ended up doing).

Plymouth is a lovely place. but it feels so far away. The route down on the train takes you through Bristol and down to Exeter, then down on the coast past Dawlish and into Plymouth. It’s a stunning journey if you get a good window seat. It’s a city with a university in the county of Devon and is based all around shipbuilding and has a large naval base. It’s an interesting place to explore as my friend has been finding out for the last couple of years.

For example after having a good catch up over coffee we wandered to find somewhere for lunch and we went through this arcade with a gnome garden and dragon!

It’s hidden away in a little arcade with small independent shops near the Hoe part of the city.

We then headed to Rockets and Rascals for an amazing lunch. It’s a bike shop and cafe and was super lovely. We both has toasted sandwiches, which were made fresh and super tasty. I had cheese, chorizo and chicken on a sourdough bread and it was the best toasted sandwich I’ve had in a long time. If you get the chance to go here for lunch or cake (they looked amazing too!) I highly recommend it. The staff were lovely and it felt very welcoming. I’ve just had a look at their website and they are opening another shop in Poole.

We then went to The Book Cupboard which is a fantastic used book shop we explored for a good while. I didn’t end up getting anything, but Ingrid found a new series to start with older versions of the covers.

I loved it as it was packed with books from all different time periods. The only thing I struggled with was the ordering of the shelves and I spent a bit of time really wanting to take everything off and reorganise!

I even found a section dedicated to books on cats!

We then spent the rest of the weekend catching up and relaxing at Ingrid’s place. We enjoyed good food and some TV. I was introduced to Battlestar Galactica, which is the next binge watching show on my list (which seems to be ever growing!). We had a relaxing Sunday having a late breakfast and then heading to town for a bit of shopping and to Yo Sushi to try their new menu options. It was great fun!

Then it was time to catch the train home with a flask of tea and an audiobook. The train started out very quiet, but as we got closer to Bristol more and more people joined and made me very glad I had a booked seat.

It was fab going away for one night, but I was super tired when I got home that night. I don’t know how people do this every weekend, but I definitely want to do this more often. There are so many places to explore and going away for one night is easy to do and feels worth it even with a journey of 3 hours. It has opened my eyes to the potential opportunities I have when it comes to exploring at weekends. I just need to get organised!



Dodo Pad Meal Planning

I’ve been getting back into good habits recently by meal planning and making proper shopping lists and it’s working well. I bought a Dodo Pad last year as I love the structure of it, plus my general love for fun stationary makes this a repeat purchase. It provides pages of of tables with dates and doodle pages for my lists. There is enough boxes for me to put in meals and exercise and also other things that I have going on that I know will impact on my meals or timing.

It feels good to be getting organised again and it’s nice to make the time to do this. Combined with my new delivery service from Mindful Chef (more info on that next week!) it’s feeling really good.

I can also make sure I do my shopping lists when looking at recipes and in my cupboards. This then stays on my kitchen counter for me to look at easily. It also allows me to make changes as required as there as time when we need to be flexible.

However there are also weeks that do not go to plan at all and end up looking like a scribbled mess, but this means I’m using it as I go and partly as a diary/tracker as well as a planning tool.

I find when it comes to eating well I need to be organised and have what I need easily available. This is also really helpful if you want to reduce waste, which I was getting a bit bad with mainly because I was buying too much for one person. Making the time to prepare means I can handle when things need to change. It makes during the week much less stressful and reduces the likelihood of popping to the shop on the way home from work. I’ve tried many ways of doing this and have found that writing it down is the best for me as it seems to stick in my memory much longer than trying to do it on the computer or through an app. You’ve got to find what works for you and then it’s about being disciplined with it. I know I need to do this, so now I am planning in that time each week as an appointment to myself and that is working really well. I’ve done this with my blog post writing as well and it really works for me.

Find what works for you and then discipline yourself to do it. I find motivation is temporary and comes and goes, but discipline builds habits that last.


Socialising with Swimming Club

In this last week I’ve been to two swimming club social events (and only one swimming club swim session – is that balance?) and had so much fun. I’ve been inspired by all my friends from the club and am rethinking my thoughts from the other week. I think I just needed to be reminded that it’s okay to do what I need to do and take part with the club when it works for me. It’s funny how we sometimes let fear control us without realising. I was afraid what I want to do wouldn’t fit in, but it wasn’t that at all. I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in anymore and I have no idea where that came from!

Anyway back to the social events as they are obviously just as important as the swimming itself, when it comes to being part of a club 😉

The first event this week was a big birthday for our social secretary. She is normally the one organising all of us to do different things outside of the pool, so this time someone else organised a meal for her and it was great fun and a chance to catch up with lots of people.

The next was the annual awards night. This links back to the swimming races I took part in back in November as part of the Club Championships each year. I did less in 2015 then 2014, but still did quite well and beat a couple of my previous records. I also won the ladies achievement award and jointly won the Ladies Overall Champion. It’s really nice to remind yourself of the work you put into the year and see the results a while later. It’s also great to see the kids I coach going up to get their medals and trophies and having a great time being kids away from the pool.

The night started off quite civilised, but being at the only adult table with the masters swimmers soon turned into drinking way more than I should and included drinking shots of jagermeister! One friend was kind enough to take burst of photos showing how much we loved this experience.

This was a great night and an excellent reminder of why I love my swimming club. It doesn’t all have to be about swimming and it’s okay to take some time out from the club sessions to work on what I need to work on. Looking ahead I see myself not doing all the sessions each week, but making sure one or two form part of my training as I fit everything around work and lake swimming. I’m feeling really positive about my swimming year ahead.


Blog Inspiration

I’ve been having a sort out of who and what I follow when it comes to blogs and on Twitter and Instagram. I want follow people and brands that inspire me to be the best me I can possibly be, by being who I am. I want to smile and laugh when things are funny, but I also want to be made to think and become more informed about topics I know less about. I want to be introduced to new things or be reminded that going back to basics is the best step to take. That is what I want to do for other people, so I need to follow people are like that.

It’s so easy to keep adding people to follow, but I really recommend taking the time every now and then to do through the list and take out people you don’t need any more. I usually go by the rule of thumb that if I can’t remember seeing your tweets, it’s time to go. I find that sometime I’m then introduced back to them when someone I do follow reintroduces their content, so I don’t worry about missing anything. I also find some people you don’t see their tweets as they are on the other side of the world and running in completely different time zones so your paths never cross. It’s okay to stop following people, as you can always re-follow them another time.

Lately I’ve been getting back into reading blogs for inspiration and have found I always return to the same three and search back through their archives for posts I remember and need to re-read. It feels familiar, but also going back and realising you are now in a similar place to where they were at some point in their life. I like these for all different reasons as they all have different content, but they are all strong women doing their thing and that’s what I love.

Love Lexi Life – I love Alex’s blog and social media feeds for her beauty updates (thank you for introducing me to Stila liquid eye liner) and the constant geekness I aspire to. I am currently inspired to work on my make up skills and up my geekness by bringing into my daily life.

Healthy Happier Bear – I love Ashley’s blog for her dedication to fitness and career, both of which are important to me. I love that Ashley has picked a sport (running in this case) and is working to make herself a better runner, which is what I want to do with swimming. I also love that she is dedicated to her career and is making a life of balance between working hard and enjoying life, another thing I aspire to in my own life.

Superlatively Rude – I love Laura’s work and she inspires me by writing with passion. I wish I could articulate my thoughts as Laura does, with no-nonsense and a level of vulnerability that I feel I am seeing into her mind with each piece she shares. I purchased her ebook, ‘The Book of Brave’ and cannot wait for her first book to be published this year. She inspires me to look at life as a journey and realise that every bit happens for a reason, but if you want to change it you can, you just have to work for it.

I want my blog to do what these blogs do for me. It only has to be one person and I would be so happy. My blog is an outlet for my thoughts and have never been about the numbers. This year I am going to work on improving my blog and being more consistent with content, while improving my writing skills. So watch out for more updates on where my improvement ideas take me.

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