Thursday, 29 October 2015

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

A friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago, how come I haven't been blogging and putting up recipes. Simple, I cook and bake when I'm happy, and this hasn't been that happiest few months.
Things have started to get going again. Nothing will be like it was before, I think about my dad every day,  and no day will ever be the same without him. My mum said that dad wouldn't want us to be sad and unhappy, because he was very much a happy and funny person. So lately I have been surrounding myself with happy smiley people.
I've been working alongside my brother lately. We used to be inseparable as kids, and again in our late teens, but we grew apart through our adult lives.
Coming back together again has been lovely. I really missed Ben and I have loved every day working with him. He makes me laugh and even those who work for him have all said that he seems happier than he's ever been before.

Four weeks ago I tore the soft tissue on my left foot. it was a simple step back and crunch sound that brought me to my knees in pain. I couldn't walk for three days, and when I could, it was so painful.
When something bad happens, I look a bit deeper and try to figure out why it happened and what for. If I hadn't hurt my foot that has slowed my training down to a drastically slow pace, I never would have had the time to help my brother with his company, as more of my time and focus would have been on training and competing.
Although my foot feels really good now, almost 5 weeks after the injury happened, I still pulled out of 4 competitions around the UK. It doesn't matter, as I'd rather make sure that I'm 100% fit and well going in to a competition.

So now that things are better, life is going well. I laugh more, I surround myself with my brother and get cuddles from him every time I see him, I'm happier...... So I baked!

As this weekend is Halloween, I made some pumpkin spice cookies.

Here is how I made them:


150g Ground Almonds
2 Tbsp of Flax Seeds
2 Tbsp of honey
2 Tbsp of Coconut oil
1 Tsp of Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp of Pumpkin Spice
1 Tsp of Mixed Spice


Place the ground almonds in a mixing bowl along with the flax seeds, spices and cinnamon.
Melt the coconut oil and add the honey to make the mixture nice and runny. Place the honey and coconut oil in the mixing bowl. Combine everything together, and make small balls, then flatten them on a baking sheet. Place them in the oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 10 minutes.
Cool down on the tray for a few minutes, and enjoy with a cup of green tea.


Jolie x

Friday, 18 September 2015

Sweet Potato crust fish pie

The plan for this year was to blog about food at least once a month, hopefully more. Idea's have been constantly flowing, but I've had a lot of things stopping me. I cook and bake when I'm happy, and the last couple of months haven't been the happiest. They've been extremely sad.
Since I came back from competing in Nice and displaying a very dismal show of jiu jitsu and crying on the mat after receiving the worst news possible the night before about my dad being so ill, I spent every day at the hospital with my dad, up until the 21st July when he passed away around 5am.
It has devastated our family and left a huge gap in our hearts, and my mum has literally lost her other half of 42 years of marriage.
You often hear when someone passes, people saying 'They will always be with you'. It's true, I feel my dad around me all the time. I speak to him, ask him for help, laugh when I think of him (he was a very funny man) and even hear him comforting me when I burst in to tears when I'm doing something completely normal like sweeping the floor.
We talk about him all the time, even when eating dinner, we will say "Dad would have like this dinner." "Dad loved green beans, but hated carrots!"
Food definitely brings a family together.

My dad inspired me to be as sporty as he was and have a love for sports. As he got older, he preferred watching sports, but I like the fitness side and to get involved. I think that's why I have accepted Jiu Jitsu so much and gone completely full force in to it.

Me at Dad at Niagra Falls
Time doesn't stand still when you lose someone so close, you have to make yourself get on with things. There were some nights that I just couldn't bring myself to go and train, so I stayed on the sofa and chatted with my mum all evening and cuddled Maemo. It's so easy to get in to a depressive slumber and shut yourself away from the world, but this is life, this is what it's all about. People have commented quite a lot about how strong I have been through this time. I've had my mum and my brother, plus a loving family and good friends to bounce off.
We are all under the same contract, so while we are human's, we need to let our spirits make the most of the enjoyment we can have here on earth.

At the top of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Things are relatively back to normal now with work, training and socialising. But there is one thing thats changed.... Me! I don't know how to describe it, but I feel the change. My heart has a huge gap of sadness, but our loss has made me stronger.

When my parents came to the European Championships in 2013 to watch me compete
A jiu jitsu friend of mine has been raising money to send herself to the World masters this month. Sophie Walters from RGA Mill Hill has had some wonderful support from her black belt instructors and team mates, and together they organised 3 seminars to help her raise the money.
On Sunday 9th August, I attended the seminar at RGA Mill Hill in North London. I partnered up with Shelley Antonio and was taught some take down set ups by David Onuma, half guard from Chris Heard and the perfect triangle in No Gi by Daniel Strauss.

With David Onuma 
The legend that is Daniel Strauss
It was a brilliant afternoon, all in aid of a lovely, humble and superb jiu jitsu competitor, Sophie Walters. The World Masters is on Saturday 26th September in Las Vegas. I would love to have gone myself, I had the money, but the registration had closed early once the  event was full.
There is always next year to get myself focussed and mentally prepared for such a bit competition, and I certainly will be a lot more organised about getting my registration in early next year.

UK Women in BJJ supporting Sophie
Good luck to Sophie and all the other British competitors who will competing. I will be eagerly awaiting the results.

Good luck Sophie!
Every now and again, something so tongue and cheek comes up and makes us laugh hysterically. I've most certainly needed this lately, so it was a pleasure to see that The Awkward Shaka had used my photo for one of the 'news' features on the website.
You can see it here:
The Awkward Shaka

They also have a Facebook page too, so like and enjoy the page for important 'news' and features that will keep you in fits of laughter.
The Awkward Shaka Facebook

It's always nice to give something back in Jiu jitsu when you have learnt so much. After 4 and a bit years of training, you acquire a lot of techniques. So it was lovely to have been able to arrange a ladies training session at our gym in Felixstowe. It was a small session, with just 4 of us, but we went over problems and hurdles that the ladies face when it comes to making their techniques work.
After 90 minutes of drills and techniques, we did some hard sparring to finish off.

Messy hair, but we don't care
Awesome training in Felixstowe
As soon as I got home from Felixstowe, I showered and got in the car and drove with my mum and Maemo down to Spain. We stopped a lot and had two night in the car sleeping, but it was ok. It was nice to be there, but as it was my dad's home with mum, you could certainly feel that he was missing.
I helped my mum with her market stall, we went for coffee with friends, and I got in two training sessions with the team at RGA Malaga at the Costa del sol fighting fit academy.
Pablo Cabo is the head instructor there and we went over basics, but put a lot of detail in to getting everything perfect with them. I love details in jiu jitsu!
Each time I visit Malaga, the team make me feel so welcome and I have made some really lovely friends there. I went back the next night for some No Gi taught by Santeri Lilius. It was ADCC rules, so for the first time ever I had learnt how to do a heel hook. I loved it. We did straight foot locks too and plenty of drills and loads of sparring. I was exhausted at the end. The heat is incredible there, and it wasn't even the hottest month of the year.

Marta, Luna & Jolie
Luna has been training the same time as myself, I see her in competitions and we follow where each other is in the world. We are the same belt and it's so nice that we have been progressing together for these years. It's always a pleasure to train with Luna, and also Marta from Malaga. They're so much fun and brilliant jiu jitsu women.

Now for the food!
I'd like to say this is my recipe, but my mum introduced it to me and made it while she was here in England. My dad loved it, so I thought it was very fitting that I blog about it this time.


2 pieces of filleted fish. We used 1 cod and 1 salmon
1 Large sweet Potato
4 Eggs
1/2 cup of milk
Spinach & Kale
Grated Mozzarella
Nutmeg (Optional)
Coconut oil


Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Cut the sweet potato length ways and slice in a food processor. If you don't have one, cut in thin slices will be just fine. It just takes a little bit longer.
Grease a quiche dish with coconut oil, then place and cover the bottom and side of the dish so there are no gaps.
Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The sweet potato would have started to soften.
While it's in the oven, beat the eggs and milk in a bowl.
Cut the kale and spinach in to small pieces and add to the mix. Chop the fish in to pieces and add to the mix too, and nutmeg if you wish.
Take the Quiche dish from the oven after 20 minutes and add the mix to the dish, then sprinkle grated mozzarella over the top, and place in the oven for a further 20 minutes or until just turning golden.

Let cool for 5 minutes and serve with some lovely french beans or veggies of your choice.


Thank my mum for the recipe when you rub your bellies.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

French Riviera & Moules Marnier

Over the last week or so, the thing I've learnt about Jiu Jitsu is that there is no malice, we don't hate one another, we don't need to be scared of the fights, we go there to have fun and learn and better ourselves. We also compete well when we are happy, have no stress and can enjoy the day for what it is.

Last week I went to Nice in the South of France to compete in the Nice open. From the airport I took the bus, and a young lady called Ruba got on and noticed my Jiu Jitsu bag. She too was competing in the Nice open and came all the way from Jordan to do so. We were in the same Masters 1 Purple belt divisions, but she was 2 divisions above me in weight. There would be a chance that I would fight her in the open class.

Nice, France
I was staying in a yoga studio booked via Air BNB. I hadn't used it before, so I was quite excited what it had in store. I was pleasantly surprised, and even got a free Bikram Yoga class added to the stay. It was perfect, as my hip was hurting a little from training that week.

Before Bikram Yoga
The day before the competition I travelled to Monte Carlo on the bus, got some lunch in a little cafe off the main drag. I walked down to Monaco, walked some of the F1 Grand Prix track, then walked up the hill to enjoy the views of Monaco. I took the train to a little beach, that wasn't that great, so I carried on the train to Cannes. I loved Cannes, it was lively, the beach was great, all sorts of people were there from tramps to high rollers. I had a little sunbathe, read my Ronda Rousey book, then went for a little something to eat.


Cannes beach
I always make sure I have a decent dinner the night before a comp. I had Sea Bass and artichoke hearts and drank a whole litre of Evian water. I couldn't get wifi, so I pulled out my book and entertained my brain with the alternative.
The young man sitting on the next table couldn't pay his 5 Euro bill as they didn't accept card payments under 15 Euros. He was stuffed. He couldn't leave as they thought that he might not come back, and he couldn't pay. So I told the waiter to put it on my bill and for the young man to pay it forward.
His name was Kimba and from South Africa. He was in Cannes as he was working on a boat and they had docked for a couple of days, so using his free time, he enjoyed a coffee in La Cirque cafe.

I headed back to Nice on the fast train. Met some lovely new arrivals at the Yoga studio, Callaghan and Jenna from Texas. Callaghan was the niece of Michael who owns the studio, and she was travelling with her friend Jenna, teaching dance workshops around Europe.
They asked me why I stayed in hostel style accommodation, when I could afford to stay in a hotel? A lot of people ask me this, and its simply because Hotels are lonely places. When you travel alone, stay in a hotel, you may not speak to someone for a couple of days. In hostels, you meet so many people and you can have a great chat with everyone. Sometimes that's not possible because of the language barrier, but even so, knowing that you have company in the same dorm, it's very comforting.

At 11.30pm, I got a phone call from my mum and the worst news possible. My dad had come over to England on a trip that he booked a while before. He wasn't well, he had Jaundice and had lost a lot of weight. I was shocked to see his condition and it was getting worse. He had headaches every day and wasn't eating very much. My mum told me that night that during the day they called for an ambulance. She was fed up of the doctors fobbing him off and not taking his condition seriously. So the ambulance came, and my dad pretended that he had blacked out and fallen over. The ambulance took him to the hospital and he got the CT scan that he desperately needed. It showed that he had lung, pancreatic and brain cancer.
I was devestated. I cried instantly and wanted to come home. My mum said I should just stay and compete and come him on the Sunday like I had planned. I was the first person she had called, so I had to do some phoning myself. I couldn't get hold of my brother, so I called my cousin Lindsay, then finally I got through to my brother after. Then I called my uncle Eddie in San Diego and we had a chat for a while. He's very calming and a great person to talk to in a crisis.

After being awake all day, and trying to sleep that night. I finally cried myself to sleep about 3am, and was up again at 8:30, and cried as soon as my eyes opened. I wasn't sure how I was going to cope at the tournament, but I was just going to be strong and give it a go anyway.

It was one of those mornings where I just couldn't think straight. I needed food to set me up for the day, but even then, my brain felt fuzzy and I kept forgetting things. I thought I lost my purse, but found it in the bottom of my sports bag, I thought I lost my hair band, so I bought another one, but found in my bag after the tournament. It took me ages to find the venue, then when I finally got there, it was stifling hot and so sweaty. I found Sam Gibson, River Dillon and Alex Cabanes and hung out with those guys for the afternoon.
I saw Ruba in the Bull pen and we chatted for a while. She is so nice.
Someone once told me that you shouldn't talk to opponents in the bull pen, you should stay focussed, concentrate and not be friends with them. Every time I tried to not talk to people, I lost a fight and didn't enjoy myself. So I changed it, chatted to the other ladies, had fun and really enjoyed the fights.
My name was called early, but I didn't feel ready. I hadn't warmed up properly and didn't have my gum shield in. I panicked and just went to the mat. My first fight was with Sirlei. She was awesome. I didn't give her the fight that she deserved though. I lost by about 12 points as I couldn't concentrate. all I could think about was my dad the whole way through the fight and was getting more an more upset with each point that was going on the scoreboard.
Sirlei's hand was raised and I burst into tears. I've never cried about a fight, and I never will, but I'm sure that everyone there thought I was upset because I lost. I went back over to where Sam and River was sitting, and they too thought I was crying about the fight. I explained to them what was happening.
Jolie & Sirlei
Sam was amazing, he put things in to perspective for me and made me feel so much better. I wiped the tears, found the strength, and competed in the open class.
My first fight was with Ruba. It was a battle, but a good battle. It was so close at the end. I had mount, but couldn't get my foot out to score the 4 points to take me in to the lead and win by an advantage. If only there were 20 more seconds....
My next fight was Sirlei again. It was a battle and the most fun battle of them all. I lost the fight by about 7 points, but I actually didn't care, I just went for the fight and I guess to get my monies worth. It was great for people to watch, we both had fun and laughed at the end, then gave each other a great big hug. I'm sure that won't be the last I compete with Sirlei. She won gold all day long, and so she deserved to. All the ladies were amazing and we hugged and smiled all afternoon.

Silver for my woes

Purple belt Master 1 Open Class - Ruba, Sirlei & Jolie
That night I went out with Callaghan and Jenna for Moules Marnier and a good chat about their travel plans and their life, and we spoke about my dad. If I stayed in a hotel, I would never have had that, and I certainly wouldn't have had the huge hugs they gave me and I really needed.
I couldn't wait to get back and see my dad.

Callaghan, Jenna & Jolie

Moules Marnier & Pomme Frites
I was up before my alarm, bags packed and out the door. My flight home was rough and I asked the universe to just let me get back home safely so that I could see my dad.
Once at Gatwick, I got to the car park, and lost my car..... I looked around for it for ages and ended up getting the car park guy to help me search for it.
The whole journey to the hospital was surreal. I didn't feel like I was here. I was tired, sad and anxious. Then finally I got to the hospital and give my dad the biggest hug of all. He looked better than when I had left for France, he was on steroids, eating lots of food and making himself stronger. Apparently he's had his condition for about two years, but it went unnoticed. His body was so fit and healthy, it kept the cancer at bay.

Now it's about taking each day by day. Not planning, just enjoying all the time I have left with my dad. He's my hero and I'm going to be as strong for him as I can.

Dad in Spain with Maemo

Dad in Granada

Cocktail happy hour in Koh Samui

Joker! In Maya Bay Thailand

Now for the food....

There's no recipe as such, just an idea. Having Moules Marnier and pomme frites in France, made me realise that you can still have a Paleo idea version of it.

Moules Marnier and sweet potato fries.

Simple as that!

I will have a recipe for you next time.

Enjoy life!

Jolie x

Monday, 22 June 2015

Protein Pancake

Since the British Open back in May, my training has finally got back on track and I have fallen back in love with Jiu Jitsu. We never really fell out of love, we just had a hic-cup and had to deal with a few changes. The changes being that of now training and competing under another team.

With all the posts about 'Creonte's' on the Facebook UK BJJ group, a part of me wondered if thats what I was?
For those who don't know, Creonte was the name of a Brazilian TV soap character. He was a traitor. Carlson Gracie named those who left the team, started their own and fought in competitions against their old team, a Creonte. At least this is what I was told!

The emphasis is always on the fault of the student for leaving the team, and it's been interesting reading posts of those who had to change teams due to moving, work commitments or just generally not getting on with their coach.
We are only human, and when you have a coach, you need to respect them and look up to them and really feel comfortable knowing that they are the right person to help you on your Jiu Jitsu journey. It is after all our own personal journey, even though we are part of a team, we train, compete and put our body through hell to make ourselves better.

So am I a Creonte for changing teams? No, I don't feel like it anyway. I now train under BJJ Revolution Team International who are a branch of the Carlson Gracie Team tree. My new coach is Eduardo Gonçalves (Black Belt) and Mark Nixon (Brown Belt). I've been training with Edu in East London, and with Mark and the team in Felixstowe. Yes it's a long way for me to go for training, especially as I'm right in the middle of both academies, but when you love something as much as I love Jiu Jitsu, you will make the effort to make it part of your routine. I've known the guys a long time, pretty much all of my Jiu Jitsu life as they often trained or taught seminars at Carlson Gracie Essex.
So whats different about BJJ Revolution team training? Nothing. Everyone is there to learn, train hard and do a good job when competing. The training is tough, the students are awesome, and I've met some great people who I can call friends.  My next competition will be in Nice, France on the 4th July and I'm excited to travel abroad again and represent the team well.

This Sunday we had a ladies training session in Felixstowe. There was only a few of us. We went over basics, chokes, more advanced positions and had plenty of sparring at the end. It was a good session and hopefully the ladies got a lot from it. I certainly did.
The session was open to all gyms and it was a good introduction for beginners and a refresher for those a bit more advanced.
We will definitely hold more sessions as it was a lot of fun.
Ladies training - Jolie, Katie, Freya, Jemma & Jenny
Thanks to Katie for bringing the Strawberry Protein cookies for the end of the session. They were really lovely. I've never made Protein cookies before, so maybe I'll save that for another blog.

This blog recipe is all about breakfast!
I love breakfast so much and feel its so important to me to start the day fuelled and ready to take it on. There is another pancake recipe that my friend Haley gave me and I blogged about it a while back, but I actually feel this is so much better. Sorry Hayley!


Peach or Nectarine
2 Tablespoons of flax seed
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Moringa powder
Coconut oil


Melt a teaspoon of coconut oil in a small non stick pan on a low heat.
In a blender, whizz half a banana, half a peach or nectarine, add 2 tablespoons of flax seeds, 2 Eggs and one teaspoon of Moringa powder all together. Add to the pan of melted oil and cook until brown on one side. When it's ready, flip it over and cook the other side for a minute or two.
Turn on to a plate and add honey and the remaining banana and peach.

Pancake with Moringa - I was told it looked like Jabba....!
This pancake honestly keeps me completely full until after lunch. It's delicious. If you don't like the idea of a green pancake, you don't have to add the Moringa, and it's perfectly fine without it.
Pancake without Moringa

Jolie x

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Banana and Almond muffins

Life really is moving at a fast pace, and it's only when I come to write my blog that I notice this even more. I fill my time and days with abundance and make the most of what life has to offer.

On the 10th May, I drove my friend Ashley and I up to Nottingham to the ladies Super Seminar. It was hosted Yas Wilson, Gret Zoeller, Vanessa English and Leoni Munslow. All four brilliant Jiu Jitsu Practitioners who showed something different that demonstrates their game and strength in Jiu Jitsu.
I partnered up with Lanchana Green, who I later found out is an MMA fighter and accomplished Muay Thai fighter.
We enjoyed drilling the techniques shown from standing, closed guard, half guard and spider guard. Thankfully we had enough time to drill them so that they sunk in to remember in training. Then we did a couple of minutes of sparring then moved on to the next person. I was lucky enough to spar with Yas and Vanessa, and great to Spar with Leoni who I never had the chance to before.
There was a raffle, plenty of photos and a lot of fun had on the afternoon.
The great thing was that the money raised went to the ladies fund for their trip to the Worlds. Rather than just ask people for money on donation pages, they gave something back. I'm really looking forward to the other seminar they have planned in London.

Super Seminar
The Worlds tournament was the weekend just gone. Although Leoni was the only British lady to bring home a medal, I know that the others fought their hearts out and gave it their all. I respect and admire them so much, and their painting a brilliant picture of inspiration for the ladies in the UK who train and compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Lanchana, Vanessa, Leoni, Jolie & Gret
The following weekend was the British BJJ Open in Coventry. I had fought up a weight category to light weight. It gave me the opportunity to work more on my strength and build muscle for future competitions. After the Europeans, I knew that strength was what I was lacking. If I'm serious about competing, working on my flaws is crucial. I dropped a Jiu Jitsu training class and added another strength class to my weekly program. The only down side was that when I weighted in at the British, I was at the lower end of the weight, where I'm usually the top end of the lower weight. It was a huge challenge, but I was up for it.
My first fight was with Kate Jackson, and MMA fighter and a very good purple belt. She won by 3 points for passing my guard. She had amazing strength. Although I lost, I was happy with the fight.
There were only 4 ladies in the division, so I was given a default Bronze medal. This gave me the opportunity to fight again in the open class.

Female Purple Lightweight Division
It was the luck of the draw, and I got to fight Kate again. This was a better fight for me, even though I lost by more points, I escaped an arm bar and almost got a sweep and tried for an inverted guard sweep.

Escaping an arm bar
Dickie Martin from Carlson Gracie Team coached me from the side of the mats, as he did for everyone in the team. He gave me some valid points, and new things to learn. You might think it's crazy that I could be happy with losing, but this is just the beginning of another journey for me. I'm happy to make mistakes now, so I can work on them and come back better and take home the gold again.

Absolute Champion Kat Hill
Since the British Open, I've been spending more time in my strength gym Mi-Gym in Chelmsford. I've been attending Power Strength classes taught by Will Wayland. The class focuses more on technique to help you lift more. After the first two classes, the weight I lift on my back squats and bench press had increased by 5kg. Will said I'm stronger than I think I am and need to believe in myself more. I've noted the weights, and each week I will see the progression I'm making.

Hanging out at Mi-Gym
In the past week my diet has been back on track. At the start of my clean diet I had weighed 60.3kg. This is more than I've weighed in 2 and a half years. After the British Open, I ate everything in my path!! It's something I do and have always done after competitions. It's like I'm congratulating myself with food and getting prepared to eat super clean again. I need that time to eat whatever I want before being strict with myself again.

The Bank Holiday 'Murph' team
When I do get back on track, I forget how good clean food makes me feel. Sugar gives me a massive high, then a massive low. Healthy food keeps the stability of energy running throughout the day.
In a week I had dropped 1.7kg through eating good healthy food and I wasn't hungry at any point. I've been keeping a note of the food I have been eating and will post the plan that works for me on this blog.

My next competition is the Nice International Open in France. It's on the 4th July and although I have a month to get to my comfortable competition weight of 56kg, I need to keep my strength and skills training balanced and keep eating clean so I can feel in great shape for the competition.

Yesterday I made some gorgeous Muffins. I took them to training last night and I had to explain to everyone that they were healthy. They are fresh, gluten free and the only sugar in them was the natural sugar found in the honey. These are proof that you can have goodies when keeping a healthy diet.

Here is how I made them.


3 very ripe bananas
3 eggs
1/3 Cup of Coconut flour
1/2 Cup of Ground Almonds
Heaped Tbsp of honey (melted)
Heaped Tbsp of Almond Butter
1 Tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 Tsp of Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda
1 Tsp of Cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
In a food processor, mix the bananas, eggs, vanilla extract, almond butter and honey. Whizz until everything is completely combined and there are no lumpy banana bits.
In a bowl add the Coconut flour, ground almonds, soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix these well then add the wet ingredients.
Combine everything, then add to 12 muffin cases. I used silicone cases as they don't stick.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are brown. Cool in the cases for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Enjoy with a nice cup of afternoon tea.

Jolie x

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Spiral Tart

So many people ask me where I find the time to fit so much in. Well I'm an extremely organised person and write a lot of to do lists so I don't forget. This food blog has been on my list for a while, but time hasn't been on my side.
The start of the year was great, plenty of training for the European championships in Lisbon, then the competition itself. It was my first as a purple belt and I was petrified! There were only 4 ladies in my division and one of them was my friend Carol. Thankfully we were on opposite sides of the brackets, so I had a Brazilian lady to fight. She was tough and swept me and won by 2 points. I got a default Bronze medal for my effort, and entered myself for the open class. I had one more fight with a much bigger girl and she won by 2 points again. It was a great experience and I came away knowing what I needed to work on, my strength!

With Carlson Gracie Jnr

First Purple belt competition

Since then I competed in the Kleos competition in High Wycombe. A very well run small competition  with 3 purple belt feather weights in one division. I came second after two fights and a very good and technical final, but I got caught with a choke.

I went on to compete in another small competition, the Southend Open where there was just two of us. I was up against a very experienced Jiu Jitsu practitioner, referee and competitor, and I won by submission!

Last month I went to New York. My cousin lives on the Upper East side of Manhattan, and I hadn't seen James in about 18 months when he was here for a very sad occasion. So I thought that a trip to New york would do me the world of good and James too!
The trip coincided with the New York open and the New York No Gi open. It would be the first time that I would be competing in a competition where I knew absolutely no one. At most competitions there is a team mate, or someone who you know from another team. Not this time. It was a challenge I was ready for.

My first night in new york was an early one. I got to my cousins apartment, met his lovely flat mate Lexi and went for a nap. 12 hours later I woke up and was ready to start the day exploring. I bought a weekly travel card and smashed the living day lights out of it! I went absolutely everywhere!!!
The first day alone I visited Central Park, Time Square, Grand Central, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, hung out in DUMBO then went out to see the New York Yankees play baseball. It was freezing, so we didn't stay for the end. Good thing really because they lost.

Times Square

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

James & Jolie at the Yankees game

New York Yankees game
The next day was one of my highlights. My cousin Lindsay is CSS for Virgin Atlantic and flew in the day after me. She only gets one night in NY, so she took the train from New Jersey and met me at Penn station. It was so good to see her as it had been a few months. We hopped in a cab and went to Big Daddy's, an all American style diner where we met James for breakfast. It was quite surreal that all three of us Brits were in the same place at the same time. It was a good little catch up. James went to work, Lindsay went to get her plane back to the UK, and I went shopping.

Cousins - Lindsay, James & Jolie
Temptation had really set in when it came to seeing all the lovely cupcakes, Pretzels and the smell of Pizza in Little Italy. I was on weight for the Gi, but had to drop 300g to be in the safe zone for the No Gi the day after. I resisted, and my steel will power didn't get a single crack.

Saturday came and was the day of the competition. I wasn't competing until 2.30pm, so I wanted to make sure that I had made use of the morning, and I went to the Brooklyn Flea market. I bought a nice print that fitted nicely in my bag, then got myself off to the City college in Harlem.
As soon as I walked in the venue I was petrified. I had got there a couple of hours before my fight was due to start, got warmed up, went to the bull pen and saw that they had changed the fight time to an hour later. I could have kicked myself! I must have read it wrong on the website and wondered why the ladies weren't warming up when I did.
An hour later I was ready to go again. The lady I was fighting was smaller than me. Super feather can be really tricky as they are really wriggly and have a lot of technique. We got to the mats, shook hands, she pulled guard, but I just couldn't pass it. Everything I had learnt had gone out of the window and my muscle memory had ceased up. I almost passed twice, but she was too good and I was left in her spider guard for most of the match.
There were no points, no advantages, and she got the decision. I was gutted.
Straight away I signed up for the Open class. Waited around until 6.30pm to be told that no one else had entered. I was gutted again! I took my default gold and went back to my cousin's apartment and sulked.

Better try harder next time

Nyjah Easton - Super nice lady and awesome black belt competitor
Sunday morning came, I woke up far too early, was feeling really grumpy. I didn't want to compete today. I put a note on Facebook and thankfully I had some really good advice, and a couple of really nice messages from a team mate and a female black belt who I really respect and admire. I got a little more sleep and was buzzing for the day ahead.
Why do I do this? Why do I put myself through the training for a competition, the strict diet, the nerves and now the fact that no one from my team is here to support me, I have come here willingly on my own to support and challenge myself?
I can do this!

I bought cupcakes on the way, I listened to some of my DJ mixes, I found some Carlson Gracie Chicago team mates to hang out with and I was buzzed for the day.

My first fight was with a Brazilian lady called Aline. She was awesome, and very technical. She got a sweep, but I managed to pass her guard and go straight to mount. I won 7-2.
My second fight was the final against an American girl who was only 19 years old called Taylor. She was awesome too. I pulled guard, locked an arm bar, but she was good at stacking so it never went on. We had a very fun and technical fight, but it went to decision and she won. I didn't mind. Gold would have been awesome, and to beat someone who was 18 years younger than myself would have been incredible. But Taylor was one of the nicest girls I have come across in Jiu Jitsu, and it was the fight that mattered that day, and it was a great fight.

Fun in the feather weight division
After the open class and coming away with a Bronze after 2 fights, I stuffed my face with chocolate, cake, fizzy drinks, Pizza, then went out for drinks with James, laughed so much and got very tipsy on some interesting cocktails.
I could finally let my hair down, and it felt really, really good.

On the Monday, I got ready, had a decent breakfast and headed down to the Marcelo Garcia academy in the West Village. The first class was No Gi and taught by Matheus Diniz, a brown belt and I had recognised him from the day before at the Open. I partnered up with another girl who was also a visitor. It was a great class, and lots of effort went in to the details of the technique. The next class was Gi. After a warm up, everyone gathered round in a semi circle. The class was 50 people strong, and thats quite incredible for lunch time. There was a guy filming, so I just thought a technique was going to be shown and filmed for the website.
Marcelo gave a lovely speech about how proud he was of everyone for competing at the weekend. He asked some of the guys to get their medals and have a picture. Matheus, Mansher and Dillon all knelt down at the front and Marcelo went to get the team trophies. He knelt behind Matheus, undid his belt and replaced it with a black belt. He did the same with Mansher and Dillon. I couldn't actually believe what I was seeing. I've only ever seen a one black belt get their belt at one time and seeing that was special enough.
Even though I'm not in the same team and I was training there as a guest, it still brought a tear to my eye because you know these guys have worked so hard.
Marcelo made another speech, and kept stopping himself from crying every so often.
it was quite a moment.

With Marcelo Garcia
The class carried on with plenty of sparring and a lot of smiling faces due to the promotion. The atmosphere was lovely.

After the class I went to Chelsea Market, then on to the high line. I ate a smoked salmon and cream cheese Bagel, ice cream and a Prezel, and headed back for some more Jiu Jitsu.

The first class was basics. The second was intermediate and the last class was advanced. After 3 hours back to back training, I sat out for a couple of sparring rounds and had a chat with Marcelo. He is quite possibly one of the nicest, humble men I have ever met and it really reflects in his gym. The atmosphere was fun, people were so nice and respectful. They must get tonnes of visitors, but treat us with the same friendly face as they would their own team mates.
I wouldn't hesitate to go back here and I would highly recommend anyone who trains Jiu Jitsu to visit.

Five classes in one day, the day after a competition was harsh on my body. I ached so much by Tuesday, but I still went out and did some sight seeing. I visited the World trade centre which reduced me to tears. Mixed emotions of sadness and anger came over me, so I had to get out of there as soon as I could. So I went to Coney Island. A strange place, but I'm glad I went, walked along the lovely beach, ate cheesy chips and bought a bag of sugary sweets.

Later that night, I met James, Lexi and Emily for drinks, then we went on to Little Italy for Pizza.

My last day came and I had just two more things to tick off my list. I got myself on the Staten Island ferry, saw the statue of Liberty, went to Magnolia Bakery, bought far too many cakes, then headed up to the top of the Rock.

I got my bag from James's apartment, headed to JFK Airport, sat down in departures and got drunk on red wine.

New York was amazing, my life is amazing and I'm thankful for all the fun I have in it.

Now for the food!

It has taken me 4 attempts, but I finally figured out what was making my spiral tart so watery in the previous 3 attempts. I was using Buffalo Mozzarella rather than grated dry Mozzarella. Now it's perfect!


Tart crust
1 Cup of almond flour
3 tbsp of Tapioca flour
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup of melted butter
1 large egg

200g Dry grated Mozzarella
200g Soured cream
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
1 Large Carrot
1 Large Courgette
1/2 Aubergine


Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Put the almond flour, tapioca, paprika, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add the egg and melted butter and mix until everything has combined.
Use a 9" tart tin and press the tart crust in to the tin and make sure every part of the inside has been covered. Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

Use a vegetable peeler and peel the carrots and courgettes in to strips. The Aubergine is quite hard to peel, so its better if you thinly slice this. Make sure the vegetables are all evenly sized with thickness.
Mix the Mozzarella, soured cream and herbs in to a bowl.
Once the tart crust is ready, pour the mixture in to the tart base and spread out evenly.
Chose which vegetable you want to start with first and gently place them round the edge, swapping to the next vegetable and the next, and continue until the vegetables have covered the base to the middle.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the vegetables have cooked well. Leave to cool, then serve with a nice big salad.

Jolie x