My Sicilian Ragu

RagFinal1RagFinal2

 

Think my sicilian roots come through in this recipe.

This one takes time and is so worth it.  Great for when you are pottering around your home on a sunday so you can give it a stir, your home will smell amazing and this makes up 12 portions.

Ragu is a versatile thing, you can use it to make lasagne, serve it with sweet potato mash or over gnocchi etc

Fab to have some in the freezer as a back up for when friends and family visit, my sons friends ask for this when over, (so it is a crowd pleaser) or frankly just for me.

Macros per portion: Fat 27.8g, Carbs 9.1g, Protein 34.5g and calories 469

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Onions
  • 8 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3 Medium Size Carrots
  • 3 Celery Stalks
  • 3 Tbsp Avocado or Olive Oil
  • 12 Rashers of Pancetta or Streaky Bacon
  • 1.2kg Minced Beef
  • 12 Italian Sausages (Sainsburies and M&S ones are gluten free)
  • 1 Bottle of Red Wine (nothing fancy Sainsburies house red is fine)
  • 2 x 680g Bottles of Passata
  • 4 Tbsp Italian Herb Seasoning

You will need:

  • A large pan
  • Meat Chopping Board
  • Vegetable Chopping Board
  • 2 sharp knives
  • Large bowl for meat
  • Large bowl for vegetables
  • Large Pan
  • Spatula
  • A little patience
  • Peel and chop your onions into small pieces and place in your vegetable bowl

  • Peel and chop your garlic into small pieces and place into the vegetable bowl

  • Peel and chop your carrots into small pieces and place into the vegetable bowl

  • Cut the ends of the celery off and discard.  Cut celery into small pieces and place in your vegetable bowl

  • On your meat board chop up your pancetta / bacon into small pieces and place in your meat bowl

  • Take your vegetable bowl and add the contents to your large pan with the avocado / olive oil in

    Your pan needs to be at a medium heat

  • Stir well and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir the vegetables every couple of minutes

  • Until vegetables have softened

  • Squeeze the italian sausage meat out of their skins into the meat bowl

  • Stir in the contents from your meat bowl and add to the vegetables in your pan.

  • Cook until meat has browned stirring every couple of minute

  • Unwrap your mince and place in your meat bowl

  • Mix the mince in thoroughly to the mix in your pan and cook until the meat has browned stirring every couple of minutes

  • Pour your bottle of red wine into your Ragu mix

  • Stir in well, make sure it is on a medium heat and let the the Ragu mix simmer on the hob until almost all the liquid has gone

  • So your Ragu mix looks like this

  • Add your jars of passata to the Ragu and stir in thoroughly (you can always add a little water to the jars after first empty, shake and pour the rest in so all passata used)

  • Add the italian herb seasoning and stir in thoroughly.

    Make sure the heat is on a medium simmer and then simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours until your Ragu is a really thick meaty mix

    Take care to stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure your Ragu does not stick to the bottom of the pan

     

     

     

  • Until it looks like so.

    There you have it – 12 portions or Ragu.

     

6 portions make up a good size lasagne like this (I put thin slices of butternut squash in instead of lasagne sheets)

The Ragu freezes well.

photo

Overnight Oats

ONO9

This is a great easy way to sort breakfast!

Just to clarify with overnight oats you prepare them the night before and eat in the morning – not eat just before bed 🙂

Love the variety of things you can do with them – here are mine from todays breakfast. You can play about with the basics to hit your Macros.

Macros: 11g Fat, 41g Carbs, 7g Fiber, 36g Protein and 398 Calories

Ingredients:

  • 25g Porridge Oats
  • 1 Scoop Cellucor Cinnamon Swirl Protein Powder
  • 2 Tbsp PB2
  • 125ml Chocolate Coconut Milk
  • 30g Raspberries
  • 10 Pistachios

You will need:

  • Glass Jar
  • Scales / Measuring Spoons
  • Measuring Jug
  • Metal Spoon to mix
  • In the evening get a clean jar with a lid

  • Measure out your oats and add to the jar

  • Add your scoop of protein powder to the oats

  • Add your PB2

  • Add your chocolate coconut milk.  Stir with a metal spoon until thoroughly mixed in

  • So it looks like this

  • Seal the jar and leave overnight

  • In the morning pour your oats into a bowl, add your topping and scrum – it’s breakfast.

    Some people like to warm theirs up – I like mine at room temperature

Cookies and Cream Protein Cake – Recipe

C&C19C&C18

This one was designed for my little brother Eddy as it has all his favourite things in it:  Dark Chocolate, Cookies and Cream Whey Protein Powder and Cashew Butter.

This cake is a big beast but no worries it freezes well and is great to share with friends.

Makes 10 slices

Macros per slice: 23.3g Fat, 13.6g Carbs, 4.2g Fiber, 37.3g Protein and 420 Calories

Ingredients:

  • 400g aubergine
  • 200g Dark Chocolate (I use Green and Blacks 85%)
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 10 scoops of Cellucor Cookies and Cream Whey Protein Powder
  • 450g 0% Fat Greek Total Yoghurt
  • 170g Cashew Butter
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder

You will need:

  • Pre heated oven to 160C non fan / 140c fan
  • 2 Large Mixing Bowls
  • Microwave
  • Cling Film
  • Electric Whisk
  • Scales / Measuring Spoons
  • Sharp Knife
  • Large Loose Bottomed Cake Tin
  • Spatula
  • Puncture the aubergines all over with a sharp knife.

  • Place in a bowl, cover with cling film, pop in the microwave on a high heat for 8 minutes

  • Whilst aubergine is in the microwave, break up your dark chocolate into small pieces

  • When aubergine is cooked, remove from bowl, throw away excess water and peel them with a sharp knife

  • When peeled, blend aubergine into a smooth paste.

  • Pop dark chocolate pieces into the bowl aubergines were cooked in, so chocolate starts to melt

  • Mix the aubergine and dark chocolate together thoroughly and until chocolate has melted.  If necessary pop mix back into microwave for 30 seconds

  • Crack your eggs into a clean mixing bowl

  • Add your protein powder to the eggs

  • Add your cashew butter and greek yoghurt to the mixing bowl

  • Mix in thoroughly with an electric whisk

  • So it looks like this when all combined

  • Add the aubergine and chocolate mix to the mixing bowl.  Add your baking powder. Mix thoroughly with an electric whisk

  • Until you have a gorgeous cake batter

  • Prepare a large loose bottomed cake tin.  I find Dr Oetkers Cake release spray fabulous for this. Bake in the oven at 160C for a non fan oven or 140C for a fan oven for 35-45 minutes.  You will know cake is done when it has risen and you have placed a skewer into the middle and it comes back out clean

  • Leave to cool down completely in tin

  • Remove from tin and enjoy!

    This cake keeps well in an air tight container in the fridge but also freezes well.

Tip Number 1 – Hydration

Your skin is the largest organ of your body and on this page we will look at ways of looking after it.

Hydration is a key pointer in this.

Researchers disagree on how much water we should consume to stave of dry skin.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that as a minimum women should drink 9 cups of plain water a day and men should drink 13 cups of plain water a day, so around the 2 litre mark as a start point.

If you struggle with drinking plain water? Get a tall glass add a slice of lemon and pour hot water over it.  It’s a lovely replacement for a hot drink.

TDT Recovery Spray

Just to be clear, on this page I will share things I use that I think may help other people, no payments taken 🙂 

I have found this spray to be fantastic. Helps me recover from a big session in the gym with limited DOMS.  Best spray I have used – Simply Ripping.

Order RS

Nutrition Myth Buster Number 1 – Organic vs Conventional

Debunking fitness misconceptions:

Misconceptions in the field of health and fitness are more common then virgins at a Star Trek convention. The industry is saturated with misinformation. Tips and ‘well informed’ rhetoric can hit from all sides, often making your head feel like it’s taken a spin class all on its own.

It is all too easy to fall in to what today is termed as ‘broscience’, just as I did when I first started my career.

‘Broscience’ for the uninitiated is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.”

My aim here isn’t to cast the subject of broscience into the depths of Hades. To my mind broscience has a value. Sharing ideas and making provisional claims on aspects of health and fitness can help promote thoughts that can be further researched in the field of science- ultimately deciphering techniques and making things more efficient.

My objective is to demystify just some of the misinformation that currently exists.

My first piece of advice, would be to make sure that researched scientific evidence always stands in front of ’helpful anecdotes, ‘sure fire tips’ and ‘mates advice’.  Lets look at an example:

Nutrition myth #1: Organic foods are superior in terms of nutrient quality compared to conventional foods.

Although I wouldn’t put this myth into the premier league of broscience dogma, this is certainly one that needs to be analysed, if for no other reason, than that organic food can cost a shed-load of money. So, is it worth the extra outlay?

This current systematic review, made an important corollary, in that organically produced foods are not superior to conventional foods with respect to nutrient content.

TABLE 1

Comparison of content of nutrients and other nutritionally relevant substances in organically and conventionally produced crops as reported in satisfactory-quality studies

Results of analysis

Higher concentrations in organic or conventional crops?

Nutrient category1

No. of studies

No. of comparisons

Standardized difference2

P

%

Nitrogen 17 64 6.7 ± 1.9 0.003 Conventional
Vitamin C 14 65 2.7 ± 5.9 0.84 No difference
Phenolic compounds 13 80 3.4 ± 6.1 0.60 No difference
Magnesium 13 35 4.2 ± 2.3 0.10 No difference
Calcium 13 37 3.7 ± 4.8 0.45 No difference
Phosphorus 12 35 8.1 ± 2.6 0.009 Organic
Potassium 12 34 2.7 ± 2.4 0.28 No difference
Zinc 11 30 10.1 ± 5.6 0.11 No difference
Total soluble solids 11 29 0.4 ± 4.0 0.92 No difference
Copper 11 30 8.6 ± 11.5 0.47 No difference
Titratable acidity 10 29 6.8 ± 2.1 0.01 Organic

 

An excerpt from the study: ‘We extracted 1149 nutrient content comparisons from 46 satisfactory-quality crop studies, and data on 11 nutrient categories were reported in ≥10 studies. Analysis of satisfactory-quality crop studies found no evidence of a difference in 8 of the 11 nutrient categories (vitamin C, phenolic compounds, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and total soluble solid). Nitrogen contents were significantly higher in conventionally produced crops, and contents of phosphorus and titratable acidity were significantly higher in organically produced crops.’

It was concluded from this systematic review that 10 out of 13 nutrient categories had no significant difference. However the differences that were detected biologically plausible were most likely due to differences in fertiliser use (nitrogen and phosphorus) and ripeness at harvest (titratable acidity).

It is important to note, that although no difference in nutrient content was distinguished between the two. Research in this area is still ongoing.

Alex Ritson – Feb 2014

You can follow Alex on Twitter @AlexJamesRitson or on Facebook

1. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/3/680.long

Seek to Understand

Life gives you lemons pic

 

For those of you who have read Stephen Covey, you will recognize the title from his book “The 7 Habits for Highly Effective People”.

“Seek to Understand” is Habit Number 5, and talks about really listening to people, to really understand them.  Most people listen with the intent to reply,  not to truly understand them.

Listening to understand is a fantastic habit and one I will probably write about later, but for today I am bringing this one a stage closer to home by asking:

  • How well do we seek to understand ourselves?
  • How well do we listen to ourselves?

Going right back to the Greek philosophers’ times, they suggested that humans are, in fact, deeply unconscious and automatic creatures who sleepwalk through life.

Quite a bald suggestion but how true is it?  How conditioned are we?

I shall use myself as an example. My understanding as I grew up was this tick list of life landmarks:

  • Go to school and pass exams
  • Go to college and pass exams
  • Go to university and get a degree (epic fail on that one as I gained 2 Ds and an E at college so no university for me)
  • Start perfect lifelong career
  • Meet a man and buy a house
  • Get married
  • Have children

The list goes on.

I must say that from college onwards my tick list of landmarks varied in order of appearance and I added a whole lot more to it (and long may I add to it). Plus a few curve balls have been thrown at me for good measure.

As humans we all have dreams and aspirations of what we would like to achieve and these dreams may change over time as we grow and develop.

There is huge variety in these dreams as it depends on the individual and the area of their life they are thinking about.  We have so many options available to us but dare we take them?

So coming back to seek to understand – ask yourself this:

If it didn’t impact anyone – what would I like to be?

Take time to enquire of yourself on this one and think of your heart’s desire.

When you have that answer write it down.

Then you have something to work towards and it enables you to start striving to live your heart’s true desire.

It doesn’t mean it will happen immediately, but by listening to yourself it gives you a cracking start point. You can then start to plan.

As an example – Two of my heart’s desires were (and are!) as follows:

  • I want to be a Massage Therapist
    I was an Area Mortgage Sales Manager for a large bank with my 15 year career in Financial Services and mum to my then two year old boy.  I went back to college at night, re-trained, qualified, set up my own business working evenings and weekends whilst continuing to be an Area Mortgage Sales Manager until my business was financially viable.  It is one of the best moves I ever made. At times through the journey I questioned my sanity, but I knew my heart’s desire. I adore my work and it doesn’t feel like “a job”
  • I want to be healthy
    I had ballooned in weight and had a lot of health issues. I went from a size 16 to a healthy lean size 8 and the health issues I was experiencing have gone with the weight.

Both are ongoing, both are hard work, and both have needed help and support from others as I strive to improve.  Both make me happy and, interestingly, “healthy” was not on my original tick list and the other took a while but I am on the right career path for me now.

So I ask you to ask yourself again:

If it didn’t impact anyone – what would I like to be?

Write it down and remember this (I love a good quote)

“Because you are alive, anything is possible” – Thich Naht Hanh

Eve Patti –  Simply Ripping Feb 2014

References:

7 Habits for Highly Effective People by Dr Stephen R Covey

Philosophy For Life And Other Dangerous Situations by Jules Evans