Fifty Shades of Food

My friend has a ‘first date’ this week. She is all excitement and nerves at the moment and it has been really nice to re-live the experience with her. We have been discussing hair and outfits, meeting places and do’s and don’t’s. It’s the start of the honeymoon period, when everything is shiny and new. Both sides make more of an effort to impress. You must be perfectly coiffed, you have to laugh in all the right places of the conversation and the jogging bottoms are either buried in the wardrobe or incinerated with the understanding that you should buy a shiny new pair when you reach the ‘nights in’ stage. You make a fresh start with everything and decide that you WILL make more of an effort this time. This is the exact same way all new diets start.

The honeymoon phase

The honeymoon period of my diet is over. We are making less of an effort to show our commitment  to one another. I am no longer gazing at my diet with loved-up puppy eyes and seeing nothing but perfection, the joggers are out and the make-up is gathering dust in the crevices of my handbag.  I have passed the stage where all I can hear is wedding bells and dreaming up my children’s names. Instead I have reached a more steady phase wherein I am living relatively comfortably with my diet but the spark has died. Things are not perfect, we don’t always get along. We have our little tiffs every now and again, and there have been several occasions when I have almost been drawn away by some delicious creation who was prepared to offer me more excitement than my regular old diet ever could, but I always come back begging for forgiveness and promising to try harder.

I know my diet gives me what I need, even when it cannot give me what I want. We are comfortable, even if we are no longer head over heels. But I am BORED.

Now however, there is a new spice in the mix. Something to shake things up. Something that has shown that it is OK to misbehave (and punishment is sometimes not completely bad…) Fifty Shades has re-invented diets.

The world’s best diet

Think about it for a second before you dismiss me as insane. If Anastasia Steele was dating a diet, it worked really well. She does everything she can to make her man happy and it turns out that she actually enjoys her new lifestyle. Eventually, just as she starts wondering if this really is the diet for her, the diet starts to give her things in return for being so well behaved (wink wink for the readers). It becomes a relationship well on course for years of mutual benefit (another wink wink). As it turns out, she’s actually dating a man (oh, that man…) And they compromise for each other to make the relationship work, and boy, does it work.

This is exactly how a good diet should and can be. It is possible ladies, (and gents, but I’m thinking you may not find this analogy really helpful…) A good diet will show you how to incorporate your cravings into a healthy lifestyle, so you aren’t deprived but you still watch what you eat. You do have to be prepared to make changes, and it may not always be an easy ride, (pun not intended… maybe) but you eventually come out with something that you can live with quite happily. You just have to find the balance.

And this is the conclusion you come to at around the third date. You begin to ease up on the hairspray. You start to share the less fantastic things about yourself. Your partner also starts to relax into the swing of things a little and you can begin to see where it is all going to go. If it works out then you are left with a relationship of compromise and cooperation. You give and you get. This is how a diet has to work. After all, isn’t a diet just a relationship with food? It won’t work if one side does all the work, you have to meet each other in the middle. You have to try things a different way and come to a mutual understanding that meets both of your needs.You need a Mr. Grey.

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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in books, diet, entertainment, food


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A Dream Come True

London 2012

And so the Olympics have arrived. Athletes from all over the world will be competing to fulfil their lifelong dreams of taking gold for their teams and their country. It takes an unbelievable amount of determination and strength to achieve something like that; to make dreams come true – the likes of which most of us will simply never have. Fortunately, I also saw my dreams realised this week, and I didn’t have to spend a single hour in the gym to do it.

I had a wonderful dream the other night. I was pregnant (that’s the less wonderful part – as much as I want to have kiddlywinks, I’m not quite ready for offspring just yet thank you very much), and I went to my doctor for a check up. She told me that the baby was not as big as it should be, but it was nothing to worry about. I am a stress head by nature, so my subconscious self was naturally scared to death. Now, whether in the dream world or the real one, the only immediate solution for the worries of the world is ice cream. It cures all ailments (except maybe tighter jeans, but that’s what Primark is for…) and it will always be there in a time of crisis. So anyway, I am sat there in my dream, stressing my pregnancy-induced swollen breasts off, when I realise there is a tub of Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer. I eat the lot. I swear, when I woke up, I could taste it. The long and the short of it was that after eating the whole tub, I went back to the doctor who told me that the baby had grown and it was perfectly healthy. Hooray for ice cream!

Now that’s what I call baby food

The dream got me thinking about ice cream, more specifically about how you can only really get your favourite flavours mixed in the same serving from really expensive ice cream bars which are a drive away from the comfort of your own sofa and DVD player. My favourite type of ice cream is Ben and Jerry’s and as I am a slave to product placement, and I dreamt about it, I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I got my hands on some. My favourite flavours are chocolate fudge brownie and cookie dough. For the longest time I hated having to choose between the two of them. So imagine my surprise when I am browsing the frozen section of the supermarket doing the mental coin toss of heads is cookie, tails is fudge, to find Half Baked Ben and Jerry’s. I had no idea this stuff existed. We have Sky+ so I don’t really see a lot of adverts – something I am now seriously regretting because I am out of the half baked loop. It’s brownie and cookie in one tub!!! (Trust me, this is worthy of 3 exclamation points…)

I guess I am a bit like an athlete who has had a bad race in this way. I missed my chance when half baked first came out, but I’m making up for it now. I will never be a champion swimmer, I’ll never be worthy of gold on track. I may never be able to do a back flip off a high beam (obviously I could, if I wanted to – I just don’t want to outshine everyone), but I, Morag Boles, have seen my favourite flavours united in one tub of delicious cold creaminess – and finding it makes me feel like I’ve already won my medal. Who’d have thought it – London 2012 and ice cream teaming up to help me see my dreams made real – the men and women of the Olympics proving that anything is possible, and the ice cream to prove that you don’t have to superhuman to get there… If that’s not enough to make a nation proud, I don’t know what is.

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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in diet, entertainment, food


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If there’s no chocolate in heaven I’m not going

Taken from

I have been thinking about chocolate. Those of you who know me will know that this is not an uncommon occurance. Chocolate is one of the basic fundamentals in my life – one of the things I could not live without. It is an attachment so strong that I would go so far as saying that a chocolate bar would be one of the five things I would grab when fleeing a burning building. I would sacrifice my phone for it.

I have been trying to find the best way to rationalise my relationship with chocolate – why I love it so much, why my attachment is becoming stronger, and I think I may have finally cracked it. Chocolate is good for you – good for the soul.

Before you all disregard this idea hear me out… First of all, it’s made from BEANS. Last time I checked, that was a vegetable (I don’t care that cocoa beans aren’t really vegetables, I hear beans, I think veg…) Secondly, I am becoming more dependent on chocolate as I get older. I am no longer a child. I must face up to this (Boyf when you read this, please refrain from doing your smug dance – I had to deal with it at some point, but it doesn’t make you right) and if owning up to becoming an adult means I can justifiably drown in chocolate then all the better. It is often said that you become wiser with age, and as I am becoming more dependent on the stuff, doesn’t that mean that on some level, my subconscious knows that chocolate is good for me? I’d like to think so. I have to believe it is true. There has to be some perks to getting older. I’m not saying I’m old by any means. I have a fruitful and long life ahead of me I am sure, just like I am sure that I’m supposed to be enjoying chocolate during that life. It’s fate.

Chocolate is the diamond of the confectionery world. It may not last forever, but the love that remains with the wrapper does. It’s the perfect partner, it has restored my faith in love. There’s no fighting, no nagging, no mess to clean up. It doesn’t leave the toilet seat up (sorry guys), it doesn’t order you to put the toilet seat down, it doesn’t leave piles of dirty clothes all over the bedroom floor… It’s just pure perfection. The Cadbury Christ. No matter how rubbish the day has been, it always gets better when you realise you can curl up with chocolate at the end of it.

I’d love to know if you can get earthly delights in heaven. Imagine if you couldn’t. No chocolate in heaven… Now that’s a scary thought. There has to be chocolate in the afterlife. One life is not enough time to have consumed enough chocolate. More people would revert to faith if we know that the chocolate will be sweeter on the other side. For thine is the praline, the milk and the Belgian, for now and ever more, Amen.

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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in diet, food


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The celebratory Subway, and why I love my mum

Yesterday I joined 5000 women in Sheffield and ran 5 kilometres to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I beat my previous time of 43 minutes and finished the run with my mum in 33 minutes. This paragraph has to be dedicated to my wonderful mum because she stayed with me throughout the race even though she is a half marathon runner (crazy fitness freak that she is) and I kept slowing her down because of my gammy knee. Even so, she never left my side. I am proud to be her daughter. I think about all the women there yesterday who were running for their mothers instead of with them I know that it is a race worth running for them. For daughters, sisters, grandmas, grandpas, dads, brothers, for everyone. For mums.

This is a video of the photos taken for The Star website. Me, my mum and friend Sarah appear 3.52 minutes in.

We raised more than £400 between the three of us and it was so great to have the support of our loved ones. Boyf and my step dad came along to cheer us on and my dad who lives in Flimby, Cumbria, sent messages of support and love even though he couldn’t be there in person. It wasn’t just the messages from the people I know that urged me on, it was the messages on the ‘racing for’ cards of each and every woman who ran yesterday. Messages of thanks, hope and sadly, goodbye. A family friend recently lost her battle with cancer so this year I didn’t just run for my grandma, who I always dedicate the race to, but also for Pat Williams.

Me, Sarah and Mum – we may be running, but we still know how to pose!

As me and mum crossed the line, I became really emotional (but I couldn’t cry because I couldn’t breath). It was so amazing to see 5000 women all come together to celebrate, remember and fight for the people who lost, are battling and have beaten, cancer all across the country.

We all got our medals and celebrated our running times. Then we headed for that victory Subway. Oh, the Subway… beef on whole grain and toasted with peppers, pickles, lettuce, cucumber and BBQ sauce – it was worth the pain. In the end, I didn’t have my cookie. No point in spoiling all that hard work now, was there!

We did it!

Looking at it all now, I feel very small but significant. I was one in a sea of pink clad women yesterday, but I was there, I did that. I was there with my mum and she supported me all the way, just like she had done my whole life. She didn’t care about bettering her time, she cared about running with me. She helped me, she carried me, (not physically of course, I mean, she’s strong, but she’s not Mrs. Muscle…) she pushed me like will always do. I don’t want to race without her because I don’t think I could do it without her being there.

I hope I never have to run that race for my mum and I commend the women that did. If you are one of the women who had to do that, you are amazing. If you are one of the 6 million women who have taken part in Race for Life, your strength is what will beat cancer. Your determination will be remembered by every survivor you helped to save, and the loved ones you had to say goodbye to will never be forgotten. Just think, what we all did, what we all helped to raise, it might have just saved someone’s mum.


Posted by on July 16, 2012 in food, running


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There are no calories in love…

Ah, the summer holidays. For a lowly student such as myself, the summer lasts for around 3 months, and there’s only so much rain-bathing a girl can take (rain-bathing being the new sunbathing for the residents of the UK) before boredom sets in. My problem is, when I am at a loss for something to do, I get complacent and fidgety. I need excitement and adventure. I immediately head to the kitchen to make stuff that I know I will regret eating the morning after. Like these wonderful cupcakes – just a little something I whipped up to make my zumba sessions feel worthwhile…

This sometimes dangerous hobby has a number of side effects. The first is that my sewing kit gets all excited, because I have to break it out to re-attach my buttons to my jeans. The second is that my knee complains at me for making it run on the treadmill for half an hour to burn off the guilt, the guilt of threatening my hips with yummy things that it can’t afford, and the guilt of turning my back on brownies to make this temptress of a treat. And the last is the reason I deal with all the other emotional baggage that comes with my new found crush. It is the warm, happy, comfy feeling that starts on the taste buds and spreads all the way down the very end of my tippy toes as I enjoy these freshly baked goodies. It’s a glorious feeling really. When this feeling envelopes me, I know that it is all I need to survive. Whatever ailments come my way, I know that I will be OK because I have this feeling in me. They write about it in books and you see it in films like Pretty Woman and 50 First Dates. This feeling is of course, love.

That’s right; I am in love with cupcakes. I’m not just in love with cupcakes – to say that makes me feel like I’m cheating on brownies. No, I couldn’t do that (even though we all know I am). I’m sorry dearest darling brownies… It was just a phase… I will NEVER go behind your back again… But I think maybe we should have a more ‘open’ relationship from now on… You can see other people too… I promise I will try very hard not to be jealous… You’re worth more than a cupboard cupcake lover like me…

This is the mental conversation I had with an entire aisle of brownies at the supermarket the other day when they caught my daydreaming about soft yummy cupcakes on their turf. Oh, the shame…
I do have a reason though. I’m not just one of these women who won’t commit to a loving, giving relationship with their confectionary. The truth is I cannot bake brownies very well. The only recipe I have contains a typing error in the quantities, and no matter how long I bake them for, the middle wont set, so you have to eat them out of the tin with a spoon. It’s delicious, but you can’t serve them when if the Queen comes to visit. Can you imagine? Presenting the Queen with a gooey tray and a spoon? No, I don’t think so…
So I make cupcakes instead. And this is how my affair started. This is why I cheated on my beloved brownies, and why I will do it again. It’s your fault brownies! Yours! You and your silly miss-typed recipes!!! I take a deep breath and unclench my fists… Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you…

I cannot stay away

Standing in that aisle, with all those beautiful brownies tapping their feet at me with their hands on their hips, I vowed to never buy cupcakes from a shop (at least not again). That would be like going out and paying for something you shouldn’t be doing in the first place… I will never stoop so low, brownies, I could never hurt you like that… And because my beloved has always put my craving first, they forgive me, and I promised to visit them every once in a while. After all, there are no calories in love.


Posted by on July 13, 2012 in diet, food


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Ladies who Lunch

When asked to explain why people love Sex And The City, there are the obvious responses – the humour, the friendship, the outrageous sex stories… if you haven’t seen it and you like to keep anything to do with the bedroom in the bedroom, don’t watch this show. If you like a bit of humour with your date, you need look no further for your evening companion.

Oh, if only it were that glamourous
What keeps me interested in SATC is the hope the show gives me (futile though it may be). After watching an episode or two in the evenings I pray for the same outcome advertised in Carrie Bradshaw’s New York to happen in my own life. I would wait forever to find the same thing they all managed to find by the end of series 6 – the secret, the key to happiness. I am of course talking about the fact that these lovely ladies can eat out that many times a week and still maintain amazing figures.

In every single episode, they eat out. There’s cupcakes, pretzels, and more drinks than a Scottish distillery. How do they stay so slim? Every attempt Carrie Bradshaw has in the workout world results in her ridiculing it. Yes, she’s a fictional character, and yes the hope restored in me because they maintain their wonderful figures is stupid, because in real life, they probably live in the gym and renounce all things carby or calorific, but it’s still false advertising, or something to that effect which means weight gain would not be my fault.

Carrie got the lucky straw, she can write, she can dine, she can buy shoes which cost more than my entire wardrobe put together (including the actual wardrobe) and she’s never had to go up a dress size.

My idea of a lunch out is a sophisticated little side street restaurant with a girlfriend and a nice catch-up conversation over our salmon and country vegetables. In reality, it’s more like a Starbucks, or at the very most, a low fat subway, but then it’s an 8k cycle ride and a 3k run/ brisk walk just to burn off the bread. Even salads are bad in the non-fictional restaurants because they come covered in dressings. It puts a bit of a dampener on the ‘lunching ladies’ montage when you know that you can’t really be a ‘lunching lady’ without expanding the waistband and the overdraft for that matter. It’s a shame, I could have been the UK’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw but I just don’t have the genes to be with the ladies who lunch.


Posted by on May 18, 2012 in entertainment, food


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I am a woman who works on whims. Having several different hobbies and focusing on one for a few weeks and then changing to another keeps things interesting. Flavour of the month at the minute is jigsaws. Note my fabulous work below…

It was a pain in the bum if I’m completely honest. A good quarter of the thing is black, so when we got to the end, it was a matter of trying to match up the shape of the jigsaw pieces to the gap to make them fit. And to top it all off the pieces are all ridiculously similar, so we got half of them in the wrong place at first. The last little bit was the part that took the longest. It got me thinking about weight watchers.
‘She’s lost her marbles’ you say. Not true. When you reach your target weight it’s a great feeling, but then you have to stay there and that my friends is harder than it looks. When I talk to people about going to weight watchers the first response is ‘why are you going there? You don’t need to do that…’ People don’t realise that it’s got to become a way of life or you end up right back at that number you promised yourself you would never see again. Putting those last little pieces into place can take forever, but they are the most important steps – they complete the picture.
What happens when you complete the jigsaw? You look at it for a while, and it’s very pretty and you feel proud because you finished the thing, but then what? You take it to pieces and put it back in the box until the next jigsaw whim. If you take the puzzle to pieces you have to start all over again – a daunting task for most people, especially with a puzzle so big. The thought puts you off, so you leave it and leave it until you find you can’t even be bothered any more.
There is a little solution for jigsaws. When you disassemble it, keep the edge pieces in a separate bag, so that when you go back to it, you know you have that boost to get you started. There’s no point in making things more complicated for yourself is there?

My analogy isn’t foolproof. Taking your hard work to pieces where a diet is concerned is not a good idea, but keeping the foundations so you know they are always there is essential. The last few pieces of the puzzle are hard. But it’s worth it to see that final result. It’s the kind of jigsaw that you spray with glue and frame.

It feels the kind of jigsaw that you’ll be doing forever. It’s always there, you’re always adding pieces. Sometimes the pieces get put in the wrong place, and sometimes you feel like giving up and putting it back on the shelf. If you are never going to fully finish it and be done, then is it really worth all the hassle? Sometimes the answer is no, the result is not worth the effort you have put in. You’re trying your best and working hard, but you’re only fitting one or two pieces out of it. These days CANNOT defeat you. The good days will come – promise!

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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in diet, food


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