{Recipe} Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

We are officially going into short days and winter since daylight savings ended last weekend.  Growing up, April always meant warmer days, sunshine, flowers and the tease of summer.  These days it’s completely the opposite.  I find it strange how seasons, months and holidays seem to coincide and when one element is different the whole feeling changes.  Part of the joy in holidays and seasons is the nostalgic nature – so now Easter brings a change in wardrobe but rather than breaking out my spring dresses I’m pulling out sweaters and tights!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

With the earlier sunset, spending an hour or two making dinner after work when it’s dark feels like we are eating late!  So to assist with dinners and lunches during the week I try to prep veggies and proteins on Sunday or Monday.  Last week I made BBQ pulled chicken in the slow cooker (crock pot) for sandwiches, wraps, burritos and quesadillas.  When I use the slow cooker, I tend to cook things on low overnight so it’s ready in the morning.  The chicken was so moist, delicious and super easy to make!  We ate it mainly on rolls with extra BBQ sauce and my twist on coleslaw (recipe at bottom).  For lunches, I would put the sandwiches together and then microwave for 10 seconds before eating.  The little heat took the sandwiches to the next level as it loosened the bread up and helped the flavors blend.


We also used the chicken in the Mexi Bowls as the protein instead of beans and also put it in tortillas with cheese as a quesadilla.  Though these two dishes mixed a Mexican flavour with a little BBQ chicken, we didn’t have issues with the flavors.  We used salsa, greek yogurt and avocado on the mexi bowls and quesadillas, whereas the sandwiches had additional BBQ sauce.

BBQ Pulled Chicken

10 min prep, 8 hours cooking on low heat

1 cup Beer (use beer of choice – I used The Chancer Golden Ale)

3 cups warm water or stock

1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

2 carrots

2 red onions

1 whole chicken (using chicken breasts would reduce cooking time)

BBQ seasoning or rub

BBQ sauce

Roughly chop carrots into disks and onions into wedges.  Line the bottom of the slow cooker (or crockpot) with the carrots and onions.  Place whole chicken on top of carrots and onions.

Pour the apple cider vinegar & beer over chicken and if possible into the cavity of the chicken.  Fill up the slow cooker with the water.  I tried to pour the water around the chicken in hopes that I wouldn’t wash off the beer and ACV from the top of the chicken.  The water should come up halfway on the chicken – you may need to adjust the amount of water based on pot size and chicken size. Note – the water level will rise during cooking as illustrated in my photos below.


Pour the 1-2 Tbs of BBQ sauce and BBQ seasoning onto the exposed skin of the chicken.  Massage with either fingers or back of spoon into the chicken skin.  Sprinkle 1 Tbs of Seasoning and sauce into beer and water mixture and stir around chicken to ensure seasoning dissolves.

Put lid on and cook on low for 8 hours.  I put mine on at night and it was perfect when we woke up in the morning.  Since we were headed straight to training I changed the setting to keep warm setting until we returned home.


The chicken will be super tender and hot so use tongs to remove the legs first and then remove the rest of the chicken onto a big cutting board.  Pull meat off of bone and put into a big bowl. Pull chicken apart using two forks until shredded to desired consistency.  Add 1-2 Tbs of the stock from the slow cooker and 2 Tbs of BBQ sauce.  Mix well and serve.  Store leftover chicken in a sealed container up to 5 days in the fridge.

use forks to shred chicken quickly
use forks to shred chicken quickly

Greek-Yogurt Coleslaw

One handful of slaw

1 heaping Tbs Greek Yogurt

½ tsp mustard

1/8 tsp lemon juice (estimated)

Salt & Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Serve on two buns with pulled BBQ chicken.

 bbq chicken sandwich


Weekly Training Recap 31 March

Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible. – Saint Francis of Assisi

My training for last week somehow didn’t seem extraordinary but when I look at the figures on paper I managed to accomplish quite a lot!  Though on Monday I was talking to mom about what I did and realized the distances I covered in one week are nearly the exact same distances I will cover in one race in November.  Gulp. Bit by bit I will get there hey?!

Church Point after Sunday Morning ride

As I’m recapping the last weeks training progress I’m keenly aware of how little I’ve done this week.  I still have Saturday and Sunday to pull out some hard sessions but my duration and distances will not compare.  It’s all down to my focus – exciting things are happening in the next week I could not reign in my mind.  How am I supposed to wake up at 4:30am when in a week I get to see my family!  I know, those two events are not related but ask me anything at that time and I’m likely to pull out crazy linkages.  Additionally, I’ve ordered a new bike and have now put a mental block on riding until I’m on my new bike.  I will push through this weekend since I have training planned for Saturday and have just found out I’m doing a triathlon on Sunday.  I guess I’ll have to do a repeat farewell bike ride.

Monday: evening swim squad 2.2km.  This session was focused on maintaining speed and accuracy.  I’m not a fast swimmer so once the laps got down to 1 min per 50m I’m not 100% sure I was maintaining.  We ended the evening working on flip turns.  So though I am slow I can flip turn like a pro!  Basically comes down to those summers spent swimming as a kid and trying to do as many flips as I could in one breath.  #istillgotit

Tuesday: off

beautiful morning at Bondi Beach
beautiful morning at Bondi Beach

Wednesday: morning run session at Bondi Beach 12.6km.  This was an amazing run before the sun came up.  Interval runs down the promenade building speed from 80% to 100% and then a cool down 100m jog before repeating.  We finished with barefoot run throughs in the sand.  If you have a chance to ever run near a beach, I highly recommend after the run walking through the sand barefoot.  I love the soft, cool sand on my hot feet!  We walked to the bus stop with the ocean water up to our knees.  Amazing.

J heading out on his ride in the darkness
J heading out on his ride in the darkness

Thursday: morning cycle session 33km.  This was the last Thursday before daylight savings so since the park was pitch black we rode down to La Perouse and back.  It’s a fairly flat ride with small hills and one large hill at LaPa.  The ride back I stuck to the back tire of my coach and felt like I was going so fast.  Based on my heart rate data, I was pushing hard for the majority of the ride.

Friday: off

Church Point looking across to Salt Pan Cove
Church Point looking across to Salt Pan Cove

Saturday: cycle 6km. run 10.26km.  My cycle was just the commute to and from the park from my run session.  I was headed down to the Saturday morning cycle session when halfway there I realized my helmet was at home.  I couldn’t have made it home and back in time for the start of training so I went home to sleep for another 2 hours until the sun came up and the run session started!  We ran away from the park for 30 minutes and then ran back in the second 30 minutes.  The goal was to negative split – so get back from our turnaround quicker than it took us to get there.  The tricky part was the route going out was mainly downhill so coming back was brutal.  I was able to negative split by 30 seconds though.  I’ll take it!

After 50km on the bike!
After 50km on the bike!

Sunday: Cycle 50.3km.  We drove up to the Northern part of Sydney at 5am and met our group at 5am.  We rode from Mona Vale to West Head which is part of the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.  The views were beautiful and since it was daylight savings we started with the sun.  The ride out of Mona Vale didn’t seem too bad but out on West Head road the peaks just kept coming. Then we finished it off with a ride down to Akuna Bay and the slow painful climb of 150 meters over 2.5km.  The ride back to Mona Vale was all downhill and rainy.  With the rain we hit halfway back to the car, I was so glad I didn’t loop around for another 20km.  J and I loaded the car back up, grabbed some soy chais from the café and drove home to relax the rest of the day!

training 6 april

{Recipe} Easy Mexi Bowl aka Burrito Bowl

As I’ve said before in the Mexican Frittata recipe, we have a bit of a Mexican food obsession!  A few years ago, in my attempt to find something easy, healthy and delicious I used the idea of a naked burrito bowl and made a few tweaks.  We refer to this as Mexi bowl and it’s become a staple in our weekly recipe rotation.

Easy Mexi Bowl
Easy Mexi Bowl

The base of this is Quinoa, veggies and beans.  With the base covered, the tweaks come with seasoning, types of veggies and beans, and toppings.  Quinoa is often described as a super food as it is packed full of nutrients and is also gluten free.  Quinoa is high in fibre, low GI and high in protein which makes it a great food for weight loss and great substitute for grains.  Before cooking, rinse the quinoa which assists to remove the bitter coating.  The perfect ratio is 2:1, 2 cups water to 1 cup Quinoa.  Quinoa absorbs water and expands similar to rice, so 1 cup of quinoa will be plenty for a few meals throughout the week.  I cook mine in my amazing rice cooker on the quick cook setting.  If you don’t have a rice cooker, add quinoa and water to a pot over medium-high heat.  Once the water starts to boil, reduce heat and cover.  The quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook away the water, but keep your eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Stir to fluff up and it’s ready to serve or store in the fridge for the week.


Mexi Bowl aka Burrito Bowl

Servings 4, prep 5 minutes, cook time 15 minutes

1 C Cooked Quinoa

1 Capsicum (or bell pepper)

1 Zucchini

1 Small Head of Broccoli

Black Beans, low sodium

Corn Kernals

Shredded Cheese, optional



Sliced Jalapenos, optional

Coconut oil, for cooking

Heat 1-2 Tbs coconut oil in a skillet on low heat.  Chop broccoli and put in pan.  While broccoli starts cooking, chop capsicum and zucchini, then add to the broccoli. Stir occasionally.  Sprinkle Mexican seasoning during the last few minutes of cooking.  Our seasoning is a mix of paprika, cumin, chili, pepper, oregano and garlic.  The veggies take about 10-15 minutes.

If quinoa is already prepared, heat in microwave or prepare quinoa as described above.

Pour beans and corn in a colander to drain and rinse.  Slice avocado to prepare for serving.

To serve, layer into bowls ¼ cup quinoa, 2 Tbs black beans, 2 Tbs corn, ¼ of the veggie mix, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, 1 Tbs of salsa and ¼ avocado.  If you want additional heat, add a few sliced jalapenos.

Serve dinner for two and pack the leftovers in plastic containers for lunch!


We found a new to us avocado spread, Fressure, that is just ripe avocados and a little salt.  When the avocados are not ripe at the grocery store, like tonight, we grab a pack of this avocado spread.  I used 1 Tbs to substitute for the ¼ avocado.  It’s a great option to have!

Weekly Training Recap & Sunday Reads

This past week was a bit rough on the training schedule.  In all honesty, I just wasn’t in the zone.  J was in Hong Kong the whole week which was contributing to my lack of sleep.  The early morning sessions are so much harder at the moment with the sun not coming up until 7am and then with the lack of sleep and empty bed, I chose to roll over pretty much every morning!  The weather this week was also crazy – though the rain is no excuse when it’s been pouring all day it really affects mood.  Training like this won’t get me to the finish line in a few months, but sometimes having a few days of relaxed training helps your mind refresh!

Sunset during my Thursday run post storm
Sunset during my Thursday run post storm

Monday: off.  I did at least try  to make it to swim practice. I packed all my swim stuff except for my swimsuit which I realized on the way!

Tuesday: Yoga – this was a session at the local lululemon and I thought it was just a good stretch but the next morning my upper body was so sore!  All the attempts at the crow and dolphin really killed my arms!  To clarify, I cannot do the crow but the girl next to me balanced there the whole time I was trying.

Wednesday: off

Thursday: Evening hill run at bondi – 10.2km.  Hill loops are full of pain but definitely bring results.

Friday: off

Saturday: Morning fartlek run session – 12km.  Cycle – 5km to and from run sessions. Fartlek runs are when you vary the speeds so for example fast run for 5 mins and slow recovery run for 5 minutes, and repeat.  This session varied the length of the sprint runs between 3, 2 and 1 minute.

Sunday: J came home! We went out to breakfast and then just hung out the whole day.


Here are a few short articles that I found interesting on my Sunday relax day:

19 Signs You Have An Incurable Case of Wanderlust – when reading this list I think I said “yep, yep, omg yes!” to nearly every point.  Luckily, J totally has it too.

The Best TED Talks for Fitness, Health, and Happiness Inspiration – I really enjoyed the first one by Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run.

5 Lessons You Can Learn from Claire Underwood – I love House of Cards and Claire tends to shock me every episode.  Though she is crazy, the article does pull out her good qualities!

Brene Brown: How To Be Less Critical – great article on why we are so judgmental and how to take small steps to change.

These Stunning City Skylines Will Give You Another Reason To Travel The World, Right Now – Basically, the cities on our travel list…Sydney is included in the list though!

How did your training go this week?  Or any other interesting or inspiring articles out there?

Lunchbox ideas: 5minute sweet potato & black bean bowl

I’ve been carrying a packed lunch since I was 5 (minus those college years where lunch was mainly at the cafeteria). Luckily, those first 13 years my mom packed my lunch nearly everyday and she forced me into a healthy habit! Nowadays I tend to rely on leftovers as the main source of lunch for both J and I.
With Australia’s high food costs, grabbing a sandwich from a cafe is at least $10. If you have a partner, that’s $20 per day for lunch which equals $100 for the work week. That’s not taking into account drinks and don’t get me started on coffee/tea breaks! My grocery bill for the week is around $100 and that covers all meals for an entire week for two active people. The other challenges with buying lunch is the lack of ingredient control, tendency to be underwhelmed or overeat and promotes further poor food choices.

5 ingredient & 5 minute meal!
5 ingredient & 5 minute meal!

For days where I have no leftovers, like today, I try to come up with quick, easy and healthy lunches. For today’s lunch , the only prep I did was throw a handful of shredded cheese in a container and put everything in my lunchbox.  I prepared my lunch at work and was sitting at the table chatting to the girls within 5 minutes.

Thanks mom for my new lunch bag!
Thanks mom for my new lunch bag!

5 Minute Sweet Potato & Black Bean Bowl

1 Small sweet potato (I used about 2/3 of mine)

3-4 Tbs Black beans

1/4 C Cheese

1/2 Avocado

1-2 Tbs Sriracha (more or less depending on preference)

Cut sweet potato in small cubes.  Add  enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl.  Cover bowl with cling wrap and microwave for 2 minutes.

While the sweet potato is cooking, slice avocado and open can of black beans.  Rinse the beans to reduce the sodium levels.

Stir sweet potato and microwave for 40 more seconds.  If there is any water left drain before adding cheese, beans and half the sriracha. Microwave for 20 seconds.  Add avocado and drizzle with remaining sriracha.  Enjoy!!

There are many ways to vary this meal that wouldn’t add much more time!

*1 Tbs Salsa & 1 Tbs of Greek yogurt would be a little less spicy and more creamy than the sriracha

*Adding in 1/3 cup quinoa would add some great protein.

*If you had leftover cooked veggies or corn, they would add a more veggie balance

Coping with sleeplessness

Sleep is really a miracle drug without any side effect. Absolutely everything gets better with sleep. –Arianna Huffington

Get back here you silly little sandman…

Seriously, Mr Sandman, get back here.

The past few days I have battled sleep.  I feel like I have gone back to college days of late nights and horrible sleep.  I walked through Monday with the foggiest, heaviest mind.  I need a solid 8 hours of sleep and definitely notice when I’ve gone to bed even an hour later than normal.

Hong Kong at dawn
Hong Kong at dawn

In an effort of silencing my anxious mind and body I went to a yoga class at the local Lululemon tonight.  The theme of the night was mindfulness.  Focusing on the moment and training your mind to release thoughts which is something I struggle against.  I replay moments and scenarios continually in mind analysing whether my words or actions were the most effective.  Though I do love my analytical mind, having the ability to turn it off and have silence is something I crave.


Here are ways I try to battle the never-ending thoughts and ultimately find peace and sleep:

  • Running – when I’m pushing through hills or sprints I am putting my whole self into that moment. I’m actually running the stress and anxiety out of my body.  At the end of a good run, though I feel shattered I also have a weightless feeling which follows me throughout my day.
  • Yoga or a few sun salutations – going to a great yoga class or through a few sun salutations helps to center my body and breathing.  Even sitting and focusing on your breathe will help ease tension.
  • Cup of tea – I’m a tea fanatic but the best to help me relax is peppermint.  We have a mint plant, though it’s struggling currently, and I will crunch a few leaves and steep in hot water.  Peppermint tea also has health benefits from headaches to stomach issues.
  • Foam rolling – I hold a lot of tension in my back, shoulders and neck.  Using the foam roller or a tennis ball to provide pressure and release the tension allows a deeper relaxation
  • Focusing on solid white – this is something J had me do while at Uni to help calm my mind and sleep.  I tend to have very vivid thoughts and dreams so when I am trying to fall asleep I will focus on a white sheet covering all thoughts & images.  It’s basically like I’m pulling a shade down behind my eyelids and only focusing on keeping the shade down.

Any other tips of relieving anxiety and finding sleep?


Weekly Training Recap 17.3.14

I am not a morning person.  Full stop.  I love going to bed with no alarm set and knowing I can wake up when I’m ready.  J, on the other hand, wakes up at 6 naturally every.single.morning.

Having a training partner who will pull you out of bed is so beneficial.  If you struggle with the morning motivation and don’t always make the best decisions when still in dreamland, find yourself a training partner.  Whether its your sibling, partner, roommate or neighbor, give them full permission to wake you up by any means possible.  Once you are up and out the door, you won’t regret the workout or enjoying the beautiful sunrise while you are finishing off your last set!

Post morning run just as the sun was rising on Bondi Beach
Post morning run just as the sun was rising on Bondi Beach

Monday: swim squad 2.8km.  I took a different bus to this evening session and was a few minutes which made me feel like I was trying to catch up the whole session.  We worked on speed sets and even though I was the slowest, I never regret a swim!

Tuesday: Morning hills in Watson Bay 18.8km.  I’ve been avoiding Tuesday morning hill sessions with the team because I am SO bad at hills.  One of those vicious cycles where to get better you must practice but practicing is so painful so excuses make it easier to skip.  Though I was shattered after the session and was sore for a few days, I definitely felt stronger by Saturday.

Wednesday: morning sprints at Bondi Beach 9km.  We basically sprinted the entire 9km!  The coach said he wanted us to go full out every lap and my heart rate data had it reaching 184bmp so I think I got there!

Thursday & Friday: off days

loving spandex! Heading to saturday sessions in the park!
loving spandex! Heading to saturday sessions in the park!

Saturday: Cycle 47km, run 8.78km, swim 1.9km.  After our 2 hours speed session of cycle we did an hour of running hills.  As I said, I hate hills.  I pushed through as hard as I could and focused on the results I would be getting from running up that hill.  I was also thinking about if I could just get through it I could go sit that the café and enjoy a chai tea….bliss.  The afternoon swim was stroke correction and was perfect way to loosen the body up from the morning pain.

Sunday: walk 3km.  J and I got up early and went for a short walk to loosen our legs and keep the soreness at bay.  The afternoon will have a lot of foam rolling!

training recap
training recap

Have you found a training partner that won’t take your excuses? Or do you have any tips on waking up before the sun?!

one girl's diaries of finding a healthy balance in australia

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