Recipes to Kick-Start Your Year

Like most people, January comes around and I start thinking about how I can improve various areas of my life. One of which is my health. I’m now coming out the other side of a challenging ‘dry January’. I’ve cut out the booze, been eating less sugar and made an impulse purchase a few days ago, buying Joe Wicks’ ‘Lean in 15’ cookery book.

Lean in 15 contains some simple, quick and healthy recipes, as well as some HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts and nutritional information. Some of the recipes are quite similar to each other and rather predictable: chicken stir-fry, prawn and noodle stir-fry, beef stir-fry, teriyaki chicken stir-fry, Singapore noodles, duck noodles, chicken fried rice and curry fried rice), dishes you’d find in many cookery books (and ones you’re likely to have eaten/made previously if you enjoy Asian food). However, they do all appear to be pretty straightforward and speedy to prepare and there are enough options for those looking for some healthy and hurried meal solutions, in an otherwise gloomy new-routine-setting kind of a month.

Some of the more interesting and original looking recipes within the book include turkey meatballs with feta, coconut and cashew Daal and beetroot protein brownies.

I thought I’d share a couple of the recipes I’ve made this week. The first is the tortilla pizza. Surprisingly tasty, despite containing absolutely no cheese! The recipe suggests you make two pizzas but I actually found that one, with some salad, was sufficient to fill me up. The second is the BBQ chicken wrap. This wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the pizza, but nice enough and definitely something I’d make again.

I’m planning to try out a few more of the recipes in the next couple of weeks, let’s hope they’re as successful as these first couple!

2017 Health Blog Awards Ceremony


Last month I attended this year’s Health Blog Awards in London, a collaboration between That Protein and the Health Bloggers Community (HBC). Although from a professional perspective I’m more focused on personal development, there is a link between life coaching and well being, and it is widely accepted that well being and mental health are closely connected (and impact on our physical health). With this in mind, it was a good opportunity for me to go along and find out a bit more about developments in the health industry and those blogging about them.

The evening allowed bloggers a chance to mingle and a space for up and coming brands  to introduce themselves. There were products to sample, followed by introductions and a Q&A by the panel of judges responsible for deciding on the best blogs. The award ceremony then took place and the evening concluded with all attendees being presented with a hefty goody bag to take home.

One of the products I received in my goody bag was Ohso chocolate. This is a Belgium chocolate bar which is both gluten and nut free, it contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, has minimal ingredients (which I always assume is a good thing) and a small bar contains just 72 calories. Crucially, the chocolate is pretty tasty! It’s sweet but also has the slightly bitter taste associated with dark chocolate. This is a product I would buy if I was desperate for a quick chocolate hit without all the guilt.

I also tried one of the gluten free Nutri-brex muesli balls this morning, designed as a ‘perfect breakfast snack’. These raspberry and almond muesli balls are suitable for vegans, contain no added sugar and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Again, the ingredients list is reassuringly minimal and the whole pack contains 202 calories (which if you were to consume instead of breakfast, isn’t particularly calorific). They seem like a good substitute for a more conventional breakfast if you’re in a hurry, far better than many products out there proclaiming to be ‘breakfast foods’, however I found them a little sweet for my liking.

The Noughty hair conditioner is another product I received in my goody bag. It’s 97% natural, containing no petrochemicals, parabens, sulphates or silicones (if you know what all that is). It makes my hair smell great and is super quick to apply. I was a little dubious about a leave-in conditioner as I thought it might make my hair greasy, but in reality have found that’s not the case at all, instead my hair feels really soft and smooth. I will definitely continue using it.

Below are some of the other products that featured at the event…

The blog awards were as follows:
Best Recipe Blog
Best Science and Nutrition Blog
Free From and Illness Recovery
Best Health and Fitness Instagram
Best Yoga and Spirituality Blog
Best Irish Blog
Best Fitness Blog
Best Beauty and Lifestyle
Best Vegan Blog
Best European Blog
Best New Blog
Health Blogger of the Year

Jessica Ward, who won Health Blogger of the Year has a fantastic website, so was a worthy winner. Her site is aesthetically pleasing and the content is upbeat, interesting and varied. I’m keen to try out some of her healthy recipes, particularly her chocolate brownies.

As the event becomes more established, I hope to see it grow to include awards which are broadly covered by the ‘health’ category, for instance personal development. I would also like to see a larger emphasis on mental health and well being, as I believe there is scope for this and this is equally important.

You can click on the categories above to view the winning blog sites. For more information about this year’s awards, including runners up and judges check out the HBC website.



Brooke Castillo: Being Coached

In my quest to find out as much as possible about life coaching (through all means possible) I have been searching online for podcasts and happened upon The Life Coach School’s website. Master Coach Instructor and Co-Founder of the school Brooke Castillo has released numerous podcasts for the site, the most recent of which explores some of the benefits of having a coach, her experiences of being a client and how those experiences have, in turn impacted on her approach to coaching her own clients.

The first of Brooke’s podcasts dates back to April 2014 so catching up will keep me busy! If there are any podcasts on the website which really stand out I will highlight these for you, so you can listen to them for yourselves.




What is life coaching?

I am often asked what life coaching actually is and there are many misconceptions about it. It is certainly not the easiest thing to explain succinctly, but I would describe it as follows…

Life coaching tends to be goal focused and typically involves a client seeing a coach for 5-10 sessions, however this is completely dependent on the client and their objective(s). If you choose to seek help from a life coach this means a few things:
1) You have a willingness to be proactive
2) You want to succeed
3) You are ready to move forward with your life in some way

Choosing life coaching is about deciding to take action in a particular area of your life (you may not even know exactly what it is you want to achieve initially, which is OK) and being prepared to be open and honest with someone who can support you on your journey to success. Coaching involves discussion, questioning, reflection and setting realistic and achievable goals. Your coach’s role is to help you to focus on what you want to achieve, and to look at how you can break your goals down into manageable steps in order to realise success!

In the same way that many people find it useful to have a Personal Trainer at the gym, many people find that having a life coach motivates them to succeed in other areas of their lives. For instance your goal may be related to your work life (achieving a work-based target or setting up a business) or your personal life (a health goal or lifestyle change perhaps). Some coaches specialise in a particular area e.g. relationships, whereas other coaches will work more broadly on any area a client seeks help with.

As a client you will receive support, encouragement and feedback from your coach. You will be listened to (I mean really listened to), you will be challenged and you will be motivated to take action. However, your coach will not decide your goals for you and is not accountable them… you are! As a client, you must be willing to set goals and work towards achieving them. A coach will not drag you to the finish line kicking and screaming! The process is (and must remain) collaborative.

What life coaching isn’t
Life coaching is not counselling or therapy. It may be that as a result of coaching you feel happier and in turn, healthier, but coaching is only for people who are keen to develop an area of their life, not for those requiring medical assistance. It is also not within a coach’s remit to impart knowledge, make judgements or give a client advice. A coach is far more impartial in the way they provide you with support.

Below is a brain dump I made of some words that can be used to describe life coaching:
Coaching Brain Dump 3

To find out more about how life coaching can be defined, check out my Pinterest board.


I love to travel

I absolutely love travelling and have been fortunate enough to visit a large number of countries and experience many different cultures and I hope to see even more in the future. Below are a selection of my favourite photos which I took while on my travels…

Yasawa Islands, Fiji
The Yasawas are a beautiful group of volcanic islands, located off the coast of Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. One of the islands had just five tourists staying on it for the two nights I was there… and I was one of them! I visited the Yasawa Islands as a backpacker so paid for a package to allow me to ‘island hop’ cheaply. Some of the islands are extremely small with basic accommodation and limited electricity, so there were a few cold, outdoor showers during the course of my stay! This photo is one I took shortly before going for a swim. The water really was as clear and pristine as it looks here and it was fabulously peaceful.

Yasawa Island, Fiji

Kaikoura, New Zealand
Kaikoura (situated on New Zealand’s south island), is a picturesque little town by the sea, with incredible mountain views. I took this photo on a rather stormy day as it just looked like the most dramatic backdrop had been wheeled out in front of my eyes. Kaikoura is one of my favourite places of all those I visited on either island in New Zealand, due to its natural beauty. A perfect place for a coastal walk and it’s well known for being a great location to do a bit of wildlife spotting. You can expect to see plenty of seals on the beach and there are regular boat trips for dolphin and whale watching.

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Taupo, New Zealand
This waterfall in Taupo is absolutely stunning to see – and to hear, which I experienced while walking the footpath alongside it. Taupo is a sleepy town in the north island of New Zealand. I will always remember when I took this photo as it was the day my friend and I met a local out walking his dogs, and after a short chat (in the friendly and inviting way New Zealanders do), he offered to put us up in his house for free for a week! He also made us food and took us out on the lake in his boat.

Transformational Coaching

Having found out a little about coaching through The Coaching Academy, as well as how neuro-linguistic programming can be used within coaching, through Toby and Kate McCartney, I was keen to discover what training provider Animas has to offer. I attended my final, free coaching introductory course in London last month. This last course followed a transformational coaching approach, which is the main approach taught by Animas on its diploma. There are numerous different styles of coaching, however they are often broadly categorised into three main approaches: Performance, developmental and transformational.

Performance coaching tends to be a focused, target driven approach where the coach supports the client in reaching specific, agreed outcomes. Developmental coaching is somewhat broader than performance, with the coach encouraging the client to identify what they have learnt through their sessions and the changes that have taken place (how is that person growing/developing?) The third key approach is transformational coaching. This is more holistic in its approach than the other two, involving the coach working with the client to understand and explore what the client’s fundamental views are, what drives them, what attitudes and beliefs they hold and how these shape that clients’ experiences. It is said to be a deeper type of coaching, but will still have some direction in mind.

The introductory coaching day run by Animas included content relating to the history of coaching and how the profession has changed and developed over the past few decades. The speaker (Founder and CEO, Nick Bolton) talked about the progression of our society from the agricultural period, then onto the industrial period and following this, the information period, which we are currently in – and how he believes we are now approaching an emotional intelligence period. He shared his prediction that careers like coaching will only become more prominent, as technology continues to replace humans performing physical jobs – and with the increasing life pressures on all of us, the need for more focus on soft skills and mental support for people will be invaluable.

The Animas definition of coaching was given as ‘A collaborative, non-directive conversation that brings about positive change both inside and out through inquiry, reflection, choice and new behaviour.’ I find this interesting as it is the first definition I have come across which emphasises the need for a client to make behavioural changes/adjustments, which is obviously fundamental to a client’s success.

I will collate everything I have learnt so far about what coaching is and how it can be defined, and will post a mind map on my blog for anyone interested in understanding more about it.

Detox Smoothies!


Last week I decided to start a detox so, with a huge heap of enthusiasm I raided the supermarket, coming home with a host of different fruits and vegetables, as well as some smoothie fillers like flaxseed, chia seeds and unsweetened almond milk. By Monday lunchtime I was armed with my Nutribullet as well as my fresh, frozen and organic ingredients.

Initially the plan was to make three different homemade smoothies per day as meal replacements for the week… however by day two, I was hungry and feeling a little dizzy! I quickly revised the plan to include some solid foods like scrambled egg on toast and a chicken salad but largely avoided meat, dairy and refined sugar, had absolutely no alcohol, drank plenty of water and tried wherever possible to stick to consuming my fresh fruit and veg smoothies.

I had a successful week and after the initial two days of headaches (presumably from sugar withdrawal) came out the other side feeling refreshed, with bundles of energy – so much so that I have decided to continue my detox this week, be it in a slightly more relaxed regime.

I want to share some of the smoothie recipes I discovered and if I come across some more that I think are worth sharing, I’ll post these for you too. The kale and pineapple recipe is one I came up with myself yesterday and all the ingredients can be seen in the above photo. I’m trying to make smoothies with more veg than fruit to limit my sugar consumption as that’s really important, as well as getting all those good vitamins and minerals from the natural produce. Enjoy!

Spinach, Banana and Berries
Handful of spinach
1/4 of an avacado
1 banana
5 strawberries
5 raspberries
2 heaped tablespoons of natural yogurt
Teaspoon of flaxeed
Drop of water

Banana, Spinach and Pineapple
1 banana
Handful of spinach
5 pieces of pineapple
Drop of coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds
Drop of water

Kale and Pineapple
Generous handful of kale
2 rings of fresh pineapple/10 pieces of frozen pineapple
A few fresh mint leaves
Teaspoon of flaxseed
Drop of soya milk

Blueberry and Kale Kick
Handful of blueberries
1/4 of a mango
Generous handful of kale
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/4 of an avacado
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of flaxeed
Drop of coconut water

Rabit Food Smoothie
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
1 peeled apple
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Drop of water

Lettuce, Grape and Peach
Half an iceberg lettuce
10 green seedless grapes
A few pieces of frozen peach
Squeeze of fresh lime
Teaspoon of flaxeed
Drop of water

Hangover Cure
2 carrots
1 apple
Thumb of fresh ginger
Water and ice

*Please note that I am not a qualified dietitian, nutritionist or doctor.

For more information and smoothie recipes, check out Nutritionist Becky Griffiths’ blog.