Sunday, 30 September 2012

Life gets in the way

September has proven to be more challenging than April. Remember April? Good times a-go-go. I've barely lost anything this month, but I weigh marginally less now than at the start so although a loss would have been nice I can't complain too much. I have done a lot of socialising in the past three weeks so I suppose I'm pleased overall to have not gained. Just think how much I could have gained had I not been semi on plan!

Tomorrow is Mr Bee's birthday (21 again) and we had a curry on Friday, a fast food lunch on Saturday, too much wine and then a pizza lunch planned for tomorrow. Heaven knows how many syns in all that! I have a holiday booked from SW this week as we are off work for the week so the plan is to enjoy lunch tomorrow and start anew on Tuesday morning... Beginning with a gym trip. That should work some of it off! Hopefully a good week starting Tuesday should get me back into the swing of things. Life just keeps getting in the way. The important thing though, is to get back in to it, and I really need to if I want to drop another size for Christmas. Possible, if I sort myself out!

Today my lovely little family munched on boeuf bourguignon which comes in about 2.5 syns per person. It's a classic French recipe which sounds complicated but really is extremely simple. A little searing of bacon and beef, mix in some flour, then bouquet garni, stock and wine... 3 hours later you have a lovely rich stew. Mashed potatoes are the perfect match for the rich sauce and tender beef. Could there be anything more perfect for a cold winter day? Pudding was my first attempt at a jelly terrine and I was quite pleased. Sugar free jelly, fromage frais and fruit, layered in a loaf tin. I will most definitely make this again - we all enjoyed this, it's low syn and looks fun which is important where kids are concerned.. and this really is the best bit about Slimming World - its good for all the family.

So it all starts again properly on October 2nd. It's time to stop having fun.

Just as soon as I've eaten that pizza...

Friday, 28 September 2012

Spud in the oven

Honestly, how boring are jacket potatoes? For a long long time it is something I just haven't cooked because they provide so little for the length of time taken to cook them. And you know, I get that other than actually putting them in the oven there's no real work involved, save for rubbing the raw with oil and salt for a lovely crisp skin. Even that part isn't essential - although you do get a bonus hand exfoliation at the same time! I just have a nagging feeling that if something takes that long to cook it should be a reasonably splendid outcome, and whatever you say a jacket potato doesn't offer that.

If you are counting calories or following some other diet plans then you have to be aware of the size of your potato and the 150g potato allowed on some diets is pretty small.

Enter Slimming World.

Not for the first time I find myself eating a reasonable amount of something you would not normally associate with a diet. It does require planning since I don't have a microwave to zap it in, so if I am in a bit of a hurry I put a large BBQ sized skewer through the middle of the potato to speed the process up.

My problem is what on earth to put on top? Beans? Yuck. Chilli? Not for lunch. I've discovered beans are a possibility with cheese on top. Leftover curry is also good. Today I have discovered that fat free fromage frais is a pretty decent substitute for soured cream on top a potato, topped with crispy grilled bacon and grated cheese. This feels more like it, luxurious and full of flavour but cheap too. We also enjoy the super retro corned beef jackets - 100g of corned beef mashed with the scooped out potato from 3 baked potatoes and a bit of salt, stuffed back into the skins, topped with your HEA of cheddar cheese and grilled until bubbling. (I make this 1 syn per potato.)

In the absence of soup as a warm lunch the humble baked potato is rapidly making its way into my diet as a semi regular lunch.

Who knew.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Boys look away now

This is a weird one. It's a subject I've avoided talking about so far, but as it is relevant to dieting of any kind and most of womankind, it's only right to mention it. You probably know what it is now, so I promise I'll keep it short and sweet.

The fact remains that for the vast majority of women monthly cycles have an affect on appetite and food intake. Whether it's carbs or sugar you crave - or like me just tons of food in general - for a few days there all you want to do is eat. Combined with a fairly common side effect of water retention, Star Week (as SW quaintly call it) can turn a good week bad. Whether that is a false gain/maintain because of water retention which will be gone next week, or because of the kilo of chocolate and 15 packets of crisps you consumed is the real question.

I'd love to tell you I have fail safe tips for coping with this most taxing few days. On top of the emotional roller coaster and pain there's a food issue too? How unfair. (And yes, we know we are being unreasonable but we just can't help it.) I don't have the answer though, sadly. Only the knowledge that almost all of us do it. It's like knowing you aren't alone helps in itself and it's just about battling through as best you can, doing what you need to do and minimising the damage as much as possible during your meals.

And that's all I'll say on the matter, honest.

Who's for a brew?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Even tea for me

Goodness me, it's cold. Who's cold? I even had two cups of tea today - it must be cold! The problem with cold weather is that it commands hot, filling food. I don't know about you but I don't much fancy cold dinners in this weather.

I took a lovely salad to work today - some cold chicken and a mix of salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, shredded red cabbage, grated carrot and a fat free vinaigrette dressing. It was lovely, really. Very tasty. I was even full afterwards. But was I satisfied? Not a chance. The fact that a colleague wandered into the kitchen with 2 hot rolls, stuffed with sausages and potato scone didn't help. "WANT!" my brain screamed. I finished my salad. Meh. It did not hit the spot. Hoping to avoid the same fate tomorrow, I have whipped up a chickpea and couscous soup. I say soup, I added a bit too much couscous and it's more like a chickpea and couscous stew, but if it tastes good and is warm and filling, it's a win for me!

I was supposed to go to the gym tonight, but a bad back and a local holiday conspired against me and I came home to mooch in my joggies rather than do anything active in them. Because I planned to be out though, dinner was a ready meal, Mama Bee style. A bag of my yummy chilli from the freezer. This is what a ready meal is to me - something prepped or cooked in advance and finished off or reheated. We tend to serve this with steamed rice and, for me (because I am a wimp) fat free fromage frais ply my A choice for the day of grated cheddar cheese. This is a warm and comforting dinner. It's nutritious too, full of beans and tomatoes, onions peppers and shredded, tender brisket. What's not to like? The recipe is from Jamie's American Roadtrip.

So as we approach Wednesday I am hoping not to gain again this week. I really must stop having fun! This week saw me have three meals out, one of which featured lots of ice cream, pizza and wine, one features curry and the other deep fried chips. Oh well. It all tasted fantastic! If I can maintain that would be amazing and then next week, well - it's back to losses!

The picture attached shows me, Richy and Ali all showing off our new skinny figures. We look pretty good, don't we?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Kebabbiti bobbiti boo

I know I keep banging on and on about the same old things here, but the fact remains that you don't have to eat from packets or only rabbit food just because you are dieting. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good side salad or interesting main course salad with a nice dressing, but I also like not having to live on it. Tonight's dinner is a prime example: lamb shish kebabs with a yoghurt dressing, chillies, pickles and a salad on the side, lovingly crafted by Richy. He whips up a good side salad, with our favourite additions being crumbled feta cheese (50g being your A choice for the day) and chopped red or yellow peppers.

Ok ok - I admit that the bread pictured would in no way count as a B choice. This was weigh in day though (gained a pound, fact fans), so I made these flatbreads. You could, obviously, use a wholemeal pitta or syn some other kind of bread. These were delicious though, I would highly recommend having a go at making them at some point. The recipe I used is here - - and I got 4 breads out of it.

This isn't a cheap recipe but I was lucky enough that my mum gave me a 300g piece of lamb leg which needed using. I daresay you could use any leg steaks or even diced lamb though, to be honest. Amusingly this is from a book called Economy Gastronomy - a truly brilliant book which I use often. Here is what I did:

Shish Kebabs, serves 2

300g lamb, cut into 3cm cubes
1 clove I garlic, crushed
1/2tsp ground cumin

75g fat free Greek yoghurt
1/2 tbsp tahini paste (optional - 2.5 syns)
A handful of mint, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil (optional - 6 syns)

TO BUILD, whatever you fancy of...
2 flatbreads or pittas, check
Finely sliced red cabbage
Chilli sauce
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced red onion
Dill pickles
Pickled chillies
Lemon juice

Mix together the lamb, cumin and garlic and allow to marinade for as many hours as you can, as long as overnight.

Heat a griddle or frying pan (you may need a splash of oil although we didn't) and when searingly hot place the lamb in and fry for 3-4 minutes each side.

Meanwhile, mix together all the yoghurt dressing ingredients. I used them all lay might but will try skipping the oil and tahini next time in the interests of keeping the syns down.

Make up a nice side salad and gather your condiments, once your lamb is cooked you are ready to go! We built ours with all the suggested items and although I was a little suspect about red cabbage or pickles, the whole thing was amazing. The cabbage and yoghurt made a kind of coleslaw underneath the meat and the pickled chillies 2 for me, one of which I only half ate, and I think 3 for Richy.

I mentioned above that I gained weight this week. I'm cool about it - it was a week of eating and drinking as I was away (hence why this post is belated). I think the 100lb in 2012 is unachievable now though, so I have revised my target to 91lb which is 6.5st - so 20.5lb to go. In all honesty though it's always been about clothes and dress sizes and the new dream is to go to my Christmas night out in a size 14 dress.

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

What do you think of those apples?

I'm feeling a little blue tonight, a little glum. I've just weighed in on the wii fit and it has shown a pretty massive gain, even by Sunday night standards. If you weigh in regularly like I do you get to know your daily and weekly fluctuations and I do always expect to be up after the weekend. Plus I weigh after dinner on a Sunday as opposed to before every other night.

I got my 5 stone award last week but I only lost half a pound to get it. If I am not careful my 100lb target for 2012 is going to be a dot in the horizon. At the moment I feel I'm treading water a bit but the 100lb is still within reach - I am at 70lb just now with 15 weighs to go before Christmas. That's exactly 2lb per week, fact fans. That also relies on a 2lb loss THIS week which I cannot see happening. Or next because I'm going away. Gaaaaah! It's time to refresh myself and get back to basics. It's not too late this week to still get a loss - even half a pound off is better off than on. I can lose up to 4lb in a week by being good an sticking to plan 100% so I need to get back on it. I've done it before and I know I can do it again.

In brighter news I've tackled some puddings! I made a toffee apple ice cream (ok, frozen yoghurt), which was good but not right, a bit crystally still. Tonight for pudding we had baked apples stuffed with mincemeat, which everyone else had with a blob of toffee apple ice cream (pictured) and I had with fromage frais. The last time I baked an apple was about 1993 in Home Economics at school! It was my B choice for the day so effectively free (woohoo!) this could end up being a household favourite... It felt naughty and decadent. I suppose that's the mincemeat, producing - with the help of the apples - a sweet, spiced syrup.

It also reminded me of Christmas. Which is 15 weigh ins away.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Noodle Doodle Came To Town

I'm not very good at lunch. That sounds like an absurd thing to say but it's true. I don't like soup (I've talked about that before) and sandwiches can be so hit and miss. Plus with a limited wheat allowance I have to think carefully about when I am going to allow myself my B choice. Today I had a Weetabix Toffee Oaty Bar as my breakfast so that puts bread off the menu. After a morning at Gymboree with Megan then straight to nursery to drop Heather off, it's 1.15pm, I haven't eaten since my cereal bar, and I'm hungry. I need fast, tasty, satisfying food but I can't have bread (unless I syn it), and I don't have a microwave to to zap a potato. I don't do quick packets of mugshots, super noodle things or pasta sauce things, and I'm all out of eggs. Starvation looms? Not a chance, thanks (as ever) to my well stocked store cupboard.

Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a delicious and crunchy noodle salad. (It's in her book, Express or here: I've made it before and it's delicious, but quite high in syn because there's a lot of peanut butter and oil. Surely there's something I can do along these lines? Why yes there is.

On my shopping trip yesterday I picked up mangetout and beansprouts for dinner later in the week. Combined with cooked prawns stashed in the freezer, dried noodles from the cupboard and a few other bits and pieces from the fridge and cupboard, I've presented myself with a lower syn version of that lovely noodle salad. I calculate this to be roughly 3.5 syns, which is a lot for me to use at lunchtime however it's such a success I will definitely be having it again.

Serves 1

1 card dried noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
1 handful of cooked prawns
1 handful beansprouts
1 handful mangetout, sliced
1/4 pepper (yellow or red), sliced

1 tsp smooth peanut butter
1/4 tsp garlic oil
2 tsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
Dried chilli - to taste

Mix together your dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Toss your vegetables, noodles and prawns in with the dressing. Sprinkle with extra dried chilli to taste and serve.

It really is that easy, and so tasty. This will definitely be made again, maybe with chicken. If you aren't watching syns then by all means increase the peanut butter and/or sweet chilli sauce.

Either way, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little retro in our lives. There are so many things which made previous generations what they were that we can carry on doing and using. Or eating. Let's take a minute to think of Food From The Past. Spam? Spotted Dick? Prawn Cocktail? Spag Bol? My little list has a distinct 70s/80s feel but then I was born in the 80s and my mum and dad set up home in the 70s, so it makes sense. Cooking and eating these dishes in 2012 doesn't mean you are living in the past, it just means we have come up with better ways to make them (for the most part, anyway - I don't include Spam in that!).

One thing my mum cooked when I was growing up was Chicken Kiev. Shop bought, Mashed up chicken, sandwiched with a blob of garlic butter and breadcrumbed. As a grown up I still like the concept of stuffed, breaded chicken - as does my family! - but instead of mashed chicken I use a whole chicken breast. Obviously on SW I don't use butter but I have found that light cream cheese offers a similar feeling without breaking the bank, so here's how I do it.

Please note that SW don't say that flavoured cream cheese is an A choice - if you don't want to break the rule then either do it my way and syn the cheese or use plain light cream heese and add garlic and herbs. This version using the cheese as an A choice is 1/2-1 syns per person depending on how many breadcrumbs you use.

2 medium sized chicken breasts
70g garlic and herb light cream cheese
4 tbsp breadcrumbs (homemade, 1/2 a syn per tbsp)
1 egg, beaten

Make a pocket down the long side of your chicken breasts, being careful not to cut right through.

Stuff the cheese into your chicken breast pockets.

Dip each breast into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs. Chill if possible for 30 mins.

Bake for 25 mins at 200 degrees (fan) and serve with salad and SW chips... And don't forget the ketchup for the true retro feel!

I find I measure out 4tbsp of breadcrumbs but when I measure the waste I have 2 left so I use 1 syn between 2 people. You can stuff chicken breasts with almost anything - bacon and cheese? Spring onions and mushrooms? BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese? The only limitation is your imagination, and you should know that these freeze beautifully, making them perfect for a week night tea.

Other retro offerings coming your way soon are chilli and that trifle I mentioned last week. I haven't forgotten it.

As if I could?!