Category Archives: Health & Fitness

You had me at avocado – healthy lunch recipes

healthy couscous

Trying to eat healthily this year but already find yourself teetering on the edge of that wagon? Join the club! If you’re sick of soggy salads and sad sandwiches at lunchtime, allow us to give you a little inspiration…

 

We asked a few members of our tribe for their favourite healthy lunch recipes – we don’t just run on bananas you know, and trust us when we say our gang needs all the nutrients and energy they can here at Banana HQ! Healthy eating isn’t a mystery; just remember to keep things natural and fresh, and that it’s all about balance – which, as it happens, is also an important skill when you’re navigating our tree tops!

 

Ready to liven up your lunchtime? Take a look at these tasty healthy lunch ideas…

 

Moroccan couscous

Stuck having your lunch al-desko? With just a few spices and dry ingredients, you can get a real taste of the exotic! Just prepare some couscous according to the packet instructions, then in a separate pan, toast a spice mix of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cardamom and mixed spice, before adding oil, sliced red onion, red pepper and courgette. Throw in some sultanas, chickpeas and pistachios, then stir it all into the couscous with some chopped fresh mint. If you like, add grilled chicken breast for extra protein.

 

Loaded sweet potatoes

If you tend to crave something warm at lunchtime, this nutritious take on a jacket potato will do the trick. Sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants, vitamin A, bet-carotene and fibre ΓÇô and they’re oh-so-tasty! Just cook a whole sweet potato for 40 minutes in the oven, then cut in half and stuff with anything you fancy. You could try cottage cheese; feta and roasted veggies; spicy chicken; tuna and red onion; or houmous and spinach.

 

Spicy bean burrito bowl

Arriba! Fire up your taste buds with a spicy Mexican bean bowl – so yummy you won’t even notice it’s good for you! Cook a grain of your choice (such as quinoa or bulgar wheat) then stir in chopped onion, garlic, chilli, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Mix through black beans, red kidney beans and sweetcorn. Divide into portions, then pile each one onto a bed of chopped iceberg lettuce. Top with salsa, chunks of avocado and a dollop of yoghurt.

 

Funky frittatas

Frittatas are a great lunchtime choice ΓÇô they’re cheap, versatile, easy, and you can make a few portions in one go! To make a basic frittata, cook your chosen fillings in a large, oven-proof frying pan (try chorizo and red pepper), then add 5-6 eggs beaten with milk, and cheese such as goats cheese, cheddar or feta. Cook for 10-12 mins until set, then flash under a hot grill to cook the top and turn it golden brown. Cut into three or four portions and serve with a crispy green salad.

 

Wholesome banana muffins

OK, we couldn’t help include one banana recipe! What can we say, we’re bananas about them! Whip up a batch of these beauties on a Sunday evening, and you’ve got lunchbox puds for the whole week. Take 250g flour (use a 50/50 mix of white and wholemeal) and combine with cinnamon, ginger and baking powder. Stir this into a mixture of three mashed bananas, two eggs, brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract, and mix until blended. Pour into muffin cases, sprinkle with oats, then bake for around 25 mins.

 

So there you have it! Some healthy ideas to keep you full up and fuelled up. And if you’re making a packed lunch, why not bring it to one of our forest locations to fuel a day of fun and adventure? We promise to help you work up an appetite!

Can you achieve Hygge?

Love Trees

Hygge, we hear you ask, what is it and how do I get one?

Some words sound like what they are. Like ‘gargle’ for example, or ‘achoo!’, or maybe even ‘vroom’. ‘Roar’ and ‘hoot’ are also a little like that, now we think about it. ‘Ribbit’, too!

Anyway, where were we?

Ah yes. What does the word ‘hygge’ mean, do you reckon? It sounds kind of like one of those hugs where someone squeezes you so tight that they squish your organs a little bit, but you don’t mind because you know they’re totally just hugging you that way to show how much they care about you.

What the apeing heck is hygge?

Pronounced – say it with us now – ‘hoo-ga’, if we tried to explain what hygge is, we would say it’s a subtle blend of a state of being, mixed in with an activity. It’s derived from the Danish word for ‘cosiness’; a simple pleasure falling in-between the smell of chestnuts burning and the warmth from a burning fire.

Don’t you think it kind of sounds like what it is? That the letters curl around you like a blanket? Like a…dare I say it? A hug! [winks]

Comfort + warmth = hygge

Hygge is the comforting warmth of a cold winter night spent inside the house, it’s good wine and food mixed with even better friends and family, it’s passing stories and ideas between friends like they’re the office tin of chocolate biscuits. It’s the sound of laughter and fullness.

Although the word has been popularised from the Danish translation, it’s actually originally Norwegian – back in the day, it loosely translated as ‘well-being’ – so it slots in with our own ape-centric values about getting yourself into the woods and having adventures pretty darn well, don’t you think? It’s been around for a while, too – it first appeared long before the 18th century, and in the name of all things that are ape, that was bloomin’ yonks ago! It’s practically part of our heritage.

Like yoga but for your thoughts

Rather than all that spiritual lark, from what we can tell, hygge is more about living well. It’s about appreciating and taking the time to consider. A little like yoga, but for your thoughts. The kind of thought-yoga you do at Christmas when you’ve eaten a full roast and you’ve put a Christmas film on the telly and you take a deep breath of relief, completely content.

It’s somehow beyond definition, and yet, we’re betting you know exactly what we mean. You just can’t put your paw on the word for it.

This is autumn (sponsored by Go Ape)

So, what’s our recipe for hygge? Well, you know us, we would start the day with some monkeying around on a Go Ape Tree Top Adventure course (where else?!).

Autumn Adventures at Go Ape

The leaves right now are the full spectrum of colours, right through from brown to green (our favourite!), and it’s the PERFECT time to get outside and let your eyes feast on the glorious naturally occurring Pantone-like rainbow that is autumn. Take it in. Let your eyes guzzle down those colours like you’ve never seen anything so blooming beautiful in your whole life. If you didn’t know better, you’d think we’d sponsored autumn or something. We would if we could!

Embrace the hygge

When you get home from your autumn Go Ape adventure, take a deep breath [inhales]. Make yourself a hot chocolate (with some of those teenie tiny marshmallows on the top – go on, treat yourself!). If you have a fireplace, light a fire and watch the embers flicker. Read a book in the living room. Snuggle up after your adventure, confident that you’ve covered both the get-up-and-go part of your day as well as the sit-down-and-nap part [exhales]. Invite a friend round to share a coffee or glass of wine, and maybe your hopes and dreams, too.

Tree Top Adventure during Autumn

Phew… do you have a Cliff notes version?

So that was the long answer, but what’s the short one? How do you be/live/get/have/eat hygge?

Embrace adventure, take a deep breath and then curl up under the most comforting, convivial blanket you can get your paws on (can a blanket be convivial? We’re not entirely sure…).

What are you waiting for? Hygge up on the sofa. You have our permission. After all, it’s part of a long-standing tradition. It would be rude not to.

How to actually enjoy exercise

FC

Our friends at the Forestry Commission share our love of the great outdoors. They also see the forest as the place to explore, enjoy and exercise.  Here’s a guest post written by Joe Walton, Forestry Commission England.

How many unloved gym passes lay dormant after their new year’s resolution-inspired pledges wear thin? How many running shoes go unworn for months after one event? How many health concerns do we ignore just because we don’t enjoy working out?

It’s tough. Health warnings are popping up everywhere we look, and our foods now contain more sugar and fat than we thought possible. We know we should be more healthy, but in real terms that means getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and two or more days of strength exercise a week according to NHS guidelines.

The problem is, lacing up your shoes and getting out for a run on the busy streets or in a crowded gym can be daunting. As well as having no privacy, there’s no fresh air, and let’s be honest here… it can be pretty dull.

Run Forest Run

Thankfully, we’re not alone in thinking this! Forestry Commission England have recently teamed up with running experts  Run England to try to make exercise enjoyable again by bringing running in the forest to life.

According to Run England research, by committing to small achievable goals, finding a support network or a motivational programme to keep us going, and appreciating the environment we exercise in, we can make exercise enjoyable again (and get healthy doing it).

Personal trainer Clare Darlington recognises this, and has been working closely with the Forestry Commission to help make this easier. Together they have designed an email programme which helps us to take the first steps to get up and running in the forest.

The six week programme titled ‘Run Forest Run’, features videos, advice, exercises and training plans to keep us motivated and inspired as we get into the habit of running in the forest.

Thinking about it, ditching the gym or streets for a forest workout is a straight-up good idea.

Instead of sweaty neighbours at the gym, we’ll be running alongside birds and wildlife, and instead of weaving in and out of traffic, we’ll be whizzing along between the trees. That sounds more like it!

There are also a series of 3, 2, and 1 km running routes across the country to make building up your stamina and strength a little easier, and giving you those achievable goals to stay motivated!

Once you get beyond the hurdles and frustrations which you normally associate with exercise, you get to the core of what it’s really about. No more gym passes or dark streets, just the forest, your feet, and a large dose of endorphins!

Wild Running

After you’ve found your running rhythm, you might start craving something a little more challenging.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to run somewhere a little more free, try one of the longer Wild Running routes. These are a series of the most free, euphoric runs for you to “release your inner wild.” You can download and open the routes in your favourite running app, or print out the route guide and map if you’re going for the old school, tech-free-runner vibe.

So there it is, distance yourself from the places and things which prevent you from really enjoying exercise, and place yourself in inspiring natural environment. Before you know it you will be reaping the rewards of running with a big smile on your face.

Find a healthier, happier you in the forests and #EscapeTheStreets. You can do it!

Insane races you need to know about

Insane Adventure Races

The Go Ape folk love a good ol’ challenge. Just ask one of the five members of our tribe currently preparing for the Three Peaks Yacht Race, aka one of the toughest and longest endurance races in the world.

Our job is to encourage others to challenge themselves in order to discover their potential. Our Tree Top Adventures aren’t easy – they’re challenging, especially for people who don’t like heights. But, by rising up to challenges we allow ourselves to live our lives more adventurously and we grow and develop as people. As the saying goes: “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.”

Adventure races

Growing tired of 5km park runs? Nailed numerous Tough Mudders and looking for something more, well, tough? We scoured the web and found some seriously insane adventure races guaranteed to push you to your very limits. The question is: Are you brave enough?

SDW100

Find marathons a doddle? How about running four of them back to back? The South Downs Way 100 is exactly that – a 100 mile race along the bridleways of the stunning South Downs. Competitors start just outside of Winchester and finish in Eastbourne, and have 30 hours to reach the finish line. A new course record was set in 2014 by Mark Perkins, who finished in an extremely impressive 14 hours, 3 minutes and 54 seconds.

Ring O’Fire

Picking up the pace some more, Ring O’Fire covers 135 miles of coastline around the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales. With the sea always in sight and the epic Snowdonia Mountain Range as a backdrop, runners cross everything from sandy beaches and tidal estuaries to dunes and farmers’ fields. The race is set over three consecutive days – but before you wipe that bead of sweat from your brow, that’s still a whopping 45 miles of ground to cover each day!

Bob Graham Round

Whilst notably shorter than other ultra-marathon events, the Bob Graham Round challenge is one of the highest of its kind. Set in the wondrous Lake District, the challenge comprises a 66 mile, 27,000 feet circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the area, with runners having just 24 hours to complete it. It’s so tough, only one in three runners make it back…in time!

The Spine Race

Dubbed Britain’s most brutal race, the Spine Race is a 268 mile, non-stop winter challenge which sees competitors crossing the entire Pennine Way in just 7 days. The route encompasses the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park, finishing on the Scottish Borders.

Competitors can expect to battle all weather conditions, from deep snow and ice to strong winds and torrential downpours. As the days pass, they’ll also find themselves dealing with extreme tiredness, fatigue and sleep deprivation. You’ll ache in areas you didn’t know you could ache – this one’s not for the faint-hearted.

Have you competed in any extreme adventure races? If so, share them with us – you never know, you might convince one of us to sign-up!

For more on the teams training efforts in the build up to the Three Peaks Yacht Race click here.

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