Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An exercise update and Chocolate coated fruit

This is a bit of a double post, as I wanted to balance out exercise talk with something a little more fun. And naturally, when I thought of fun, I thought of chocolate.

Exercise Update

At the end of March, I set myself some exercise-related goals for April. My main priority was to mix things up, as I was getting bored with my standard routine, particularly the gym. I  wanted to get outside more and diversify my activities.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that my April goals could apply to May too. Thus, this update now relates to the last two months.

1. Cycle to and from the gym three days per week. Instead of cycling to one of my workplaces once per week, I wanted to use my bike as transport to my morning gym session ~3 times per week, thereby moving some of my cardio work outdoors and allowing more gym-based time for weights and stretching (things I neglect).

This has gone surprisingly well. I feel 100% better on the mornings I cycle - invigorated, awake, alive, and ready for the day. The downside is that it's now very dark at 6am, and getting colder and rainier as the weeks go on. I've switched my summer route to my winter route (the summer one is now super dark, and also tree-lined, and I get spooked!), but there are still mornings when the car appeals more than the bike.

This means that, on average, the last few weeks I have cycled 1 - 2 times per week instead of the intended 3, whereas when I started in April I was averaging 2 - 3 times per week. I would like to keep the average around 2, which I think is realistic over winter.

2. Sign up for races / running events.

This was a dismal fail! My running is still ticking along at a fairly stagnant rate. This is partially laziness and partially low-grade, back-to-back injuries (knees to hips to glute muscles to neck / head aches, etc.). I need to consider how much I want to work on this and how much I want to stick with the status quo.

At the moment, I think I'm happy maintaining things where they are at: keeping, and extending if possible, time, distance and speed. I would also like try to strengthen the muscles that seem to make me prone to injury.

3. Do one different activity each month.

I have played tennis with my partner twice over the past two months, which isn't very much, but we did do it and both times were lots of fun (although I lost terribly!). We also continue to manage weekend walks most weeks. I'd like to keep these things up and add in some new activities too: we've talked about indoor rock climbing, and I'm still keen on getting to an adult gymnastics class!

I guess in summary, I would say that I'm happy with (1) and (3), but admit that (2) didn't go anywhere. I'd like to continue with the things outlined above, and really focus on (3) in particular. In effect, I would like to extend myself more than I currently do.

I'll update again in another two months, at the end of July!

And now for the fun...

I really like chocolate-coated fruit and nut mixes, generic and fancy brands alike. Sadly, it can be hard to find dark chocolate-coated varieties, and when I do find them, the dark chocolate is typically of the faux dark variety, by which I mean it is perhaps 42% cocoa and has milk in the ingredients list.

So, I thought I would try making my own.

Having decided on this incredibly simple and straightforward approach, I then skipped over the sultana / nut ingredients altogether and decided on pineapple and apricots instead.

First: Melt your chocolate. 

I like to do this in the microwave, because the idea of heating water underneath a bowl of melting chocolate always seems fiddly, and I am lazy when it comes to fiddly. Plus, microwaving seems to work.

Second: Dip your fruit in chocolate. 

This is easier when you accept that (1) you are going to drizzle chocolate everywhere and (2) your hands are not going to stay clean. 

I used a spoon for the dipping, but used my fingers to get the fruit off the spoon. 

Third: Realise you want to do more than just coat fruit in chocolate.

At this point, the idea of mixing puffed millet, dried pineapple and chocolate together wafted to me. I blame my recent reflections on cereal.

I can't say I mind though. 

I set this mix into mini cupcake papers, and the resulting product was so much better than it should have been for the 5 minutes of preparation required!

The good thing about these is there's really no need for a recipe. What I did is as follows, but you could throw in whatever takes your fancy.

Super Simple Chocolate Creations

~70g dark chocolate
~50g dried pineapple
~100g dried apricots


~70g dark chocolate
~50g dried pineapple
~1 cup puffed millet

For the first ingredient set: Melt the chocolate. Coat the dried apricots and 50g of dried pineapple, and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Refrigerate until set (~45 minutes).

For the second ingredient set: Melt the remaining chocolate and add the remaining 50g of dried pineapple and puffed millet. Mix well. Spoon into mini cupcake wrappers. Place in the fridge or freezer until set (I used the freezer, and made about 10).

So easy! I can't see myself getting perfect spheres of chocolate around a sultana or nut, but I think I can live with that. 


  1. LOVE the idea of millet puffs in these! So much better than tasteless rice bubbles :P

  2. There are some odd people in this world that don't think fruit and chocolate belong together. Thankfully I'm not one. It's a match made in heaven! Chocolate covered sultanas yes please.

  3. well done on the bike commuting!! What a wonderful way to start the day!

  4. @cityhippyfarmgirl
    I concur entirely :) I love fruit and chocolate separately too, but together they're a beautiful pair.

  5. @Lisa
    Thank you! It really is. I feel on top of the world on the days I manage it!

  6. You know what's funny, I made chocolate "puddles" melting my fave Lindt 90% bar and pouring it over goji berries, dried coconut and dried blueberries... and I didn't like it! The chocolate, in the melting, lost some of its magic for me. I'd definitely do it again, only I need to find a better melting bar.

  7. Fruit and chocolate together - how can two such good things combine to make something gross? :D


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