Huel breakfast on the go

Keeping a Huel bar close at hand saves me from a calorific airline breakfast. Three cheers for Huel!

I’m writing this in Dublin, where I’m working for the day. It’s a typical in-and-out workday, with an early flight in and a late flight back to London this evening.

I used precious time in bed to wake up gradually this morning – the alarm went off at 04:45! – rather than make some breakfast. I did, however, grab a Huel bar from the kitchen on my way out the door to London City Airport.

And boy was I glad I did. I’ve managed to lose over 2kg since the start of the New Year’s better eating habits and I didn’t want to undermine it by eating lousy food at the airport or (sorry, British Airways!) on the plane.

The breakfast offered was a ham and cheese stuffed croissant. Basically, half my daily calorie allowance packed in the form of butter and fat. So I politely declined and had a coffee and a Huel bar. It was tasty and filling and I kept to my plan.

Yay me.

It’s 11:45am and I still couldn’t eat a thing. Huel is incredibly filling. Lunch, however, is going to be a nightmare, as I’m with clients and won’t have much of a choice. But I’ll get back in the saddle for dinner and make sure I don’t over-indulge in the airport lounge.

I’m so pleased I can have something like Huel on the go – especially when airport security rules mean it’s impossible to bring a liquid with me. So I’ll be ordering some more Huel bars when I get home and they’ll become a fixture of my backpack when I’m traveling.

A Huel upgrade

Now that I’m back into a semblance of healthy eating (healthy for me, that is – I’m no saint, nor am I a puritan!) and eating drinking consuming Huel regularly, I decided to expand my Huel repertoire and try new combinations.

I’ve already identified a couple of combinations that I really like:

One mixing Huel with espresso and some almond milk, for a morning wake-me-up and caffeine-boost, which is also nice and filling. In warmer weather, I throw in some ice-cubes too.

It helps me avoid skipping breakfast, which is probably one of my unhealthiest habits.  I only seem to be able to eat breakfast when I’m on holidays and it’s in the form of an unlimited buffet. Hmm…

More recently, I’ve been adding matcha green tea to the mix, sometimes adding in a banana for a bit more substance. This is really tasty, but not sweet. I don’t really want to start the day with a milkshake!

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Earlier this week, I ordered a couple of new(ish) Huel products: the Huel flavour system and the Huel bars.

I got the former to add a bit of variety to the Huel combinations and the latter as an on-the-go meal replacement for when I’m traveling for business and want to avoid greasy (but delicious) bacon rolls and croissants.

The Huel flavour pack

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I opted for the chocolate version and it’s worked out very well. I’m actually sipping a Huel smoothie made with it right now. It takes very, very little of the mix to dd a lot of flavour to the drink. I made my first one with a full teaspoon of chocolate flavour to a 500ml drink and it was a bit over-powering.

Since then, I’ve added half a teaspoon and it’s a lot more manageable. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth – I’m more a fan of the savoury, as food-related entries on this blog might indicate! – so if you do like your sweets, you may need to experiment to find the right mix.

I’ve actually found it to be more like a mocha flavour. It’s not a sweet, sweet chocolate, more like cocoa (non-sweetened), which suits my preferences perfectly. I can see this becoming a breakfast staple when I’m at home. Good job, Huel!

The Huel Bars

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The bars arrived at the same time as the flavour pack, but I didn’t have any reason to eat one as I’ve been based at home all week. So yesterday afternoon, following a very early lunch, I decided to have one with a cup of coffee.

Each of the bars is 250 calories, so I don’t think they’re intended as regular snacks! The bars are also chocolate-flavoured, but as with the flavour packs, not overwhelmingly sweet. They are very, very dense. But in a good way. A small bite will take you a little while to chew and to swallow.

I was glad I had the coffee with me! It definitely helped. It took me about 30 minutes to finish the bar (while working at my desk and sipping coffee), which surprised me to be frank. I assumed I’d have to pace myself and avoid scoffing it down in seconds.

Maybe I’m making it sound more negative than it actually was. Asa meal replacement/addition, it does the job. It’s a very healthy option, it’s easy to transport and keep fresh and it’s incredibly filling. Surprisingly filling, in fact. Which is really why I got it in the first place.

Final verdict?

I’m really pleased with both purchases and will be buying more of the bars for sure. I think the flavour pack is going to last me some time, based on usage to date! Both mean I’m more likely to avoid snacking on something unhealthy and both contribute to keeping me pleasantly full.

Not the Christmas I-can’t-believe-I-ate-the-whole-thing full, but satisfied and no long hungry. Yet still able to stand up and move about. You know, like a healthy adult should.

And you know the benefit of eating something so simple for meals? When you sit down to a dinner made with fresh ingredients, every mouthful seems so much more delicious! And I eat less, as I’ve eaten appropriately throughout the day. Huel for the win!

 

Huel keeping hunger at bay

Two days into my reformed ways for 2017 and food is never far from my mind. I’m back using Huel as a meal replacement and valuable source of vitamins and minerals. It makes for a great start to the day and keeps me really, really full.

Which in turn makes it super-easy to avoid snacking or binging. Which, to be fair, were my two favourite activities throughout December.

The photos above show the delicious smoothie I made yesterday, which included a banana, some Huel, almond milk and flavoured with Matcha green tea I brought back from Tokyo. It was the perfect post-run meal, especially as I can’t consume anything bar coffee before I go on a long run.

I’ve been thinking about traveling with Huel – as I travel a lot for work – and while bringing this powder along with me within the UK is easy enough, taking it on a plane is a potential headache I could do without. So I was pleased to read that they’ve launched Huel bars and have ordered a sample pack of 5 to give it a go.

I see them as the perfect alternative to unhealthy hotel breakfasts where all they have on offer are sugary cereals and buttery pastries. Each Huel bar contains 250 calories, which when combined with a couple of pieces of fruit and some coffee, will make for an excellent on-the-go breakfast for me.

But for the next couple of weeks at home, it’ll be Huel for breakfast and/or lunch and something normal but healthy for dinner. I’m tracking my eating in ‘My Fitness Pal’ to help me be more mindful and aware of what I’m consuming. It definitely helps me understand how those calories add up, but also makes it hard to avoid any accidents. Accidental Snickers bar? Yes, i’ve been known to in the past. As if it just fell into my mouth!

I’ll report back once I’ve experimented with the Huel bars. And no, before you ask, this isn’t the onset of an eating disorder. I’m going to have a perfectly normal chicken salad for dinner tonight. But unlike Christmas, it won’t come with stuffing, cake or Prosecco.

Baby steps…

A change of gears required…

When I say I ‘over-consumed’ over the Christmas holidays, it’s no exaggeration. I consistently ate whatever was put in front of me. When I wasn’t eating, I was waiting on new food being prepared, or taking a short break after finishing my last meal. Or I was asleep. 

Breaks between meals were short and sweet, usually more so the latter. A dip into some chocolate here, demolishing a packet of biscuits there. Constant grazing, like a particularly greedy piece of livestock. 

Time for a change

I know many people the world over are looking at themselves in the mirror today and making all kinds of promises about their weight, their diet and their exercise regime. 

I’m not. It doesn’t work. 

But I was given an alarming piece of feedback by my own body the other evening. While lowering myself into a hotel bath (I’m usually a shower man), I was perplexed by the gathering of flesh around my waist. Flesh that’s not obvious when standing upright. Flesh that resembled the dreaded ‘spare tyre’ that the fitness magazines I buy but don’t read describe on their covers. 

Jesus. 

Now, I’m not talking ‘Peter-Griffin-fat’ or ‘Oh-my-God-where-are-my-genitals?’ fat. But it was enough to remind me that I’ve been eating like an unsupervised toddler for over a month and I need to dial it back a bit. Perhaps more than a bit. 

What to do? 

I’m not one for crash diets. Or rather, I am, but they tend to last only until about lunch time. So rather than make a massive commitment to becoming a healthier eater overnight, I’m simply going to move out of Christmas eating into New Year eating and leave a few things behind. Mince pies, Christmas pudding, sly glasses of Prosecco throughout the day. And the easiest way to do all this is simply not to have them in the house in the first place. 

So fewer ’empty’ calories and more in the form of something nutritious, such as Huel

I’ve also not been running, due to a shoulder injury. (Yes, smart-arse, you use your shoulder when running). But I’m getting an MRI of that on Wednesday morning, so should have a plan for what to do about that by the end of the week. But it’s really shown me the lethal combination of being sedentary and having zero willpower. 

Onwards and upwards. I don’t expect stunning changes this month, but it should pay over over the next couple of months, especially if I can get back into regular exercise. And no, the sauna doesn’t really count. 

There’s no excuse

Dodgy shoulder aside, there’s nothing stopping me from making this change today. I have all the tools I need, including the fitness tracking capabilities of my iPhone and its many apps, a digital weighing scale (the treacherous bastard!) and plenty of space around me to go for walks and runs. I even have a gym in my apartment building. 

I just need to get going. 

I’m actually writing this in the BA Lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. We’re flying home from our New Year’s Even trip to the Netherlands and I was immediately exposed to the free buffet here. But I persevered and had the healthiest thing for lunch that I could find. Some Edam cheese and a whole meal roll to put it in. A bottle of a water and a coffee. No chocolate, no Prosecco, no biscuits. 

I’m not looking for a pat on the back or praise. But I do know that accountability helps with this sort of thing. So next time I post an epic description of my meal at Bodeans, or a similar BBQ joint, feel free to come down on me like a ton of bricks. 

Beating the meat sweats

I’m really not proud of myself this evening. I’ve done absolutely nothing except eat far too much and then regret my actions. 

Let’s start at the beginning. Yesterday evening, @FrankDJS booked us brunch at the local ‘Big Easy‘, kicking off at 11:30am. My plan was therefore simple: get up early, go for a run, then reward myself with an all-you-can-eat brunch of various meats. It’s worked well in the past. 

It worked out beautifully. Except I spent an extra hour in bed instead of a run and I consumed enough meat to feed a small family. The BigEasy’s ‘Big Pig Gig’, outlined below, gives unlimited food and prosecco for the extremely reasonable price of £29.50. My deeply unscientific estimate is that I consumed about three time’s that amount in meat alone. Not counting the few glasses of prosecco. 


I’m not critiquing the staff at the Big Easy – the service was great, they were attentive and generous with the food and drink, and had no way of knowing that my stomach resembles a black hole when it comes to buffet or all-you-can-eat situations. Rather than a marketing gimmick, I see this phrase as a challenge and almost always rise to it. 

We finished eating at just after 1:30pm. Two solid hours of pulled pork, BBQ beans, ribs, chicken, corn bread and Prosecco. I’ll admit there was some conversation thrown in too, but not much. We two became a meat processing team. And the team at Big Easy refilled our plates regularly and with glee. Our glasses too. 

Despite finishing our meal-slash-pork-orgy so early in the day, I haven’t touched food since. No mid-afternoon snack, no coffee, no dinner. Only water. I was hit with big-time meat sweats and @FrankDJS had to have a lie down. I managed to stay awake and then spent an hour in the sauna to expedite the sweating. I think it actually worked, as I feel a lot more human now. 

But still, there’s no chance of me eating anything this evening. I’d like to say I’ve learnt my lesson, but I think we all know I’ll be back at the Big Easy again soon. It’s too tempting an offer and too good a meal to pass up. 

I’ll just need to clear my calendar for the rest of the day.

A healthy salad

I travel for work. A lot.

And one of the hardest parts of business travel (believe me) is eating healthily. I’m constantly presented with deeply delicious and dangerously unhealthy food on room service menus.

And my will-power is virtually non-existent.

Continue reading “A healthy salad”

Finally! Matcha green tea frappuccinos in London

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They’ve been a guilty pleasure on every trip I’ve taken to Asia…a visit to a Starbucks for a delicious matcha green tea frappuccino. Malaysia. Singapore. Japan. It’s always the same.

That said, I’m not normally a frappuccino drinker – if I go to Starbucks, I have a very ordinary coffee. No syrups, no cappuccino, nothing flash. And especially no pumpkin spice abominations!

But the green tea frappuccino is something else. Made with matcha, ice and some cream, it’s ice cold, definitely not too sweet and very refreshing. I know that matcha is an acquired taste – but it’s one that I acquired on my first visit to Japan four years ago.

And despite the extensive menu in London’s Starbucks coffee shops, they’ve never offered this delicious green tea concoction here.

It was purely by chance that @FrankDJS came across them within the Starbucks app. A couple of hours later, we were in our local Starbucks in Canary wharf, quaffing one each and reliving some very tasty memories.

I’ll be honest. It doesn’t taste 100% the same, but it was enough to trigger happy memories of drinking one while looking out on Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo and that’s fine by me.

They’re definitely not an ‘everyday’ drink, given how calorific they are, but for an occasional treat, they’re excellent. Let me know if you’re a fan or if you’ve been inspired to  try one!

More meaty goodness at Boisdale

@FrankDJS and I had an early dinner at Boisdale, Canary Wharf last night. I won’t beat around the bush – it was superb. I’d completed a bit of a run earlier that day and had worked up quite the appetite.

Dinner at Boisdale. Won't say no to some top quality haggis while I'm here! #canarywharf #food #Boisdale #haggis #hankmarvin

A post shared by Richard A. MacKinnon (@macpsych) on

I began with a super starter portion of haggis, neeps and tatties and a glass of very tasty prosecco. Every mouthful was a delight. It’s something I don’t think I could be bothered to cook for myself, with all that potato-peeling and turnip-wrestling. So I always order it when I see it on the menu. Vegetarians look away now. Oh, and don’t click on that link explaining what’s in haggis.

Haggis, neeps and tatties! Delicious. #Boisdale #haggis #canarywharf #food #london

A post shared by Richard A. MacKinnon (@macpsych) on

This was followed by a wagyu beef burger and the most amazing chips. The burger came topped with a fried egg, perfectly cooked with a liquid yoke – which is how I like it. Seriously, there are few things that can’t be improved with the addition of an egg or two. Preferably with a runny yoke.

The chips were definitely fried it something in something a little special – my guess is duck fat – and came cut thickly and perfectly salted. I had a hard time finishing all of this, but like the gastronomic hero that I am, I just about managed it.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the burger. I tucked into it with gusto (and a knife and fork – I’m not an animal) and was almost finished before I realised my mistake. Take it from me – it was large, tasty and filling.

There is no real story to tell here, except that I’ll gladly sit down to some haggis at the drop of a hat and there’s something wonderful about being able to walk home after a nice meal out. Night Tube or not, a trip on the Underground takes the sheen off a nice meal. Oh, and I’d recommend Boisdale to anyone looking for a nice meal in Canary Wharf.

It’s not all banks and bankers, you know…

 

Overdoing it on the BBQ front

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A snap from my *last* visit to the Big Easy – note the pre-meal smile and confidence…

We went for brunch with friends to the local ‘Big Easy‘ here in Canary Wharf yesterday. And, true to form, I was attracted to the unlimited BBQ deal they offer. Unlimited puled pork, ribs, BBQ beans and roast chicken, plus drinks, for £30.

Hard to say no to that, really.

But this time, I was sharing the table with even more of a professional eater and I’m afraid that competition got the better of me. I ate more for that branch than I ever have before. Talking somehow didn’t get in the way – and we had a lot to catch up on. I didn’t even pause to take any photos of the food. Amazing, I know.

The result?

Well, an agonising walk home, a total collapse into my arm chair and straight to sleep. A food coma, if you will. I had the meat sweats. I felt like I was jet-lagged, far too full of food and really unable to do anything. It was like Christmas all over again…

A few hours later, I managed a walk around the neighbourhood in the evening sun. But even though we stopped eating at 1pm, I didn’t have any dinner. Still full.

Normally, @FrankDJS is my cue to stop eating. He’s not a fan of the unlimited deals, really. But I got stuck in a ‘re-order some pork!’ mode and the staff were only too happy to oblige.

Don’t get me wrong: it was a delicious meal and the service was great. I just had the equivalent of two and a half meals in one sitting. Normal service almost resumed today, but it seemed my body needed more time to come to terms with the calorific intake. I slept until 0930 this morning!

Now I’m itching for a run…