Google+ Forget dieting forever: 2011

If you love cooking and experimenting with new recipes - you've come to the right place! Not only do we have delicious recipes - we also share our SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS story.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Looking ahead to the celebrations

During the festive season, we have made the decision to eat a normal calorie allowance each day, we know we have gone over this allowance at times!  But we have eaten whatever we want to eat, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Wherever we can, we have included some extra walking.  Getting a pedometer to chart your progress is a fantastic idea.  You have to believe us, walking ANY distance really does add up, and you can eat more if that's what you want to do with the additional calories! 

Today, in anticipation of the buffet later in the evening, together with the odd drink or two.... we have decided to stretch our legs and go for a long walk (weather permitting) to ADD some additional calories to our allowance.  It's always nicer to do this before eating, as we feel we can justify a sausage roll or two or three.  If we walk 3 miles, we get to eat 300 more calories.  I'm allowed 2000 calories today, being a woman of average height. 

We think we'll be eating salmon with watercress and crushed new potatoes (with butter) for dinner tonight.  Have to see what the fishmonger has on offer first though.  If not, we might make our own fish and chips. 

The pork belly recipe will be posted later, and we're having that tomorrow with crispy crackling, mash and minted peas - can't wait!! Believe me, this recipe is great for removing most of the fat from the pork, leaving just the succulent tasty meat.  It also fits nicely into our daily calorie allowance!

Friday, 30 December 2011

New Year preparation in hand!

We have half prepared our New Year dish.  We fancy eating belly of pork with all the crackling - slow cooked to perfection.  Mash and minted pea puree will complete the meal.  I'll put the recipe up tomorrow.  It's straightforward, but takes a little preparation. The way it's cooked draws out the fat yet leaves the wonderful flavours.  It's cheap, delicious and so tasty.  All the top restaurants are serving this - yet we can make a dozen portions for the price of one! 

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Recipe - turkey curry of course!

We’ve got some turkey leftovers to eat, and using our wonderful curry sauce results in a refreshing, light, and virtually fat free curry!  After all the high fat foods, we think our bodies  need a rest, and this curry has all the flavours minus the fat.  You can use the dry spice mix as a ‘rub’ for fish too, so experiment!!

DRY SPICE MIX

1 x 5ml (tsp) of each of the following:

Coriander seeds
Fenugreek seeds
Cumin seeds
Fennel seeds

Dry the above spices in an oil free pan until you begin to smell the aroma and hear the seeds popping. This won't take too long. All the flavours will be released and the seeds can be either bashed or ground until you have a powder (this will keep for some time in an air tight container).

Next – dice about 3 medium onions and sweat in a little olive oil on a low heat – cook until translucent.  Then add a couple of cloves of crushed garlic.  Chop up one chilli (or more/less if you prefer) and add to the pan. 

In a separate saucepan, empty a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, a pint of vegetable stock, 5 ml of turmeric PLUS all the dry spices (above).  Then add 1” chopped ginger.  Add the fried onion mixture and simmer the whole dish for around 20 minutes or so.  

Now blend the whole mix.

Finally, add a small amount of honey to sweeten to your taste (we used about 20g).  Season with a good pinch of salt and black pepper.  Depending on what stock you use, will depend on how much seasoning you use. 

That’s the curry sauce – add whatever meat you want – in our case LEFTOVER TURKEY (we added about 400g cold turkey).  We will also fry off some more chunky onions and add this to the dish to give a bit of texture.

The above ingredients will make 4 good portions of turkey curry.  Allowing for a little cooking oil, the whole dish comes to around 900 calories; assuming this is divided into 4 very large portions, this curry works out at just 225 calories per portion!  Yet you wouldn't know it - as the flavours are just so fresh and intense.  We think this freshly prepared dish is so much tastier than anything processed!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Wednesday weigh in!

It's that time of the week again.  Considering the time of year, we are both pleased with our results.  My partner and I are both about 1 lb heavier.  Amazing.  The additional weight is from pure excess.  We still have those post Christmas chocs and nibbles hanging around, which is something to be mindful of.  In fact it was watching my partner mindlessly eating the mince pies at 225 calories each that brought this home to me.

Yesterday we had some wonderful soup, which we thoroughly enjoyed after all the rich foods.  After a walk round the sales (2.5 miles/250 calories) yesterday, we hope to go for a nice walk somewhere today and get some more fresh air. 

With all the lovely food around, we felt we ate what we wanted.  We're going to continue with our 4 days being good followed by 3 days normal eating, until we reach our healthy BMI - and that's not far away now. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

BBC radio

Having successfully lost over 5 stone between us, we were pleasantly surprised when a BBC radio programme called us in to talk about it.  A very surreal day followed, and I think we even lost weight in the process!  Joking aside, we really are surprised at just how much weight we have lost, considering the food we eat.  We know our method of eating - together with a little exercise through walking, really does work.  We haven't followed a specific diet, and we have eaten everything we love to eat. 

Here is the link to our interview: 

On reflection, to the question "What were you eating before"...  we were snacking a lot.  This snacking was partly due to our meals not being big enough!  Now, as this year has progressed we have increased the size of our meals, to eliminate the 'need' for snacking.  We realise you can snack for other reasons, but we now know we can stop the snacks eaten due to being hungry.  We've also migrated away from processed food to more freshly prepared food.  Our method of eating is similar to interval training, with spurts of being 'good' and watching the calories for 4 days, followed by 3 days of normal intake.  We believe this really helps our metabolism fire on all fours.  And finally, we walk more - and take opportunities to add in a bit of walking wherever we can.  Take the stairs (that's 10 calories), walk to the pub (100 calories) - they all add up!  Earn that pint (280 calories).

The festivities have begun and this includes lots of wonderful food treats.  I'm putting together our menu list and 'things to do' - and can't stress enough, just how delicious real home made tastes.  Keeping things simple helps, but we enjoy messing around and relaxing in the kitchen.  So we will be taking some pictures later.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Be realistic

These last few days and the week ahead means we are spending more time often with family and friends and indulging  Let's be honest, at this time there are some of the best foods out there on offer whereever you go.  We are not going to deny ourselves and become miserable, and it's good to relax.  In order to gain one REAL pound of fat, we need to eat an additional 3600 calories.  That's quite a bit of chocolate and mince pies.  A mince pie will set us back approx 220 calories, but it is also filling and satisfying.  I say 'real pound of fat', because we have found we can go away, eat lots of heavier foods (such as pastry) and the scales show we've gained weight.  Yet, within a few days these mysterious pounds disappear.  We've put this down to water retention - that's all we think it can be, because we know we haven't eaten 3600 additional calories.  So now we don't panic and just let our body settle down first. 

We will be delighted to emerge from the festivities with a small weight gain, because we know this weight will soon disappear again.  During a successful year of weight loss, we found that the additional walking really did help.  So for my mince pie I could walk to the shops and back if that was a round trip of 2 miles or 20 minutes there ane back.  I did that yesterday!  OK I was a little strapped for time, but made the effort, blew away the cobwebs, saved petrol and added 200 calories to my 'calorie bank'.  Later in the day, mince pie and coffee in hand.......... I felt entitled.  If I don't get to add a bit of walking beforehand, I can always increase that activity in January, knowing that it really does work towards the weight loss.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

New look

I've rearranged my blog - hope you like it. 

Busy morning -Tuesday lunch

After a rather unexpectedly pleasant but busy morning, we were ravenous.  A swift takeaway could have cured the problem, but we didn't.  We know later on this week we will be eating for England. So what was there that we could possibly eat within 10 minutes of getting through the door?

We went for one of our favourite quick meals that cost us around just 400 calories.  Ciabatta and mozzarella salad.

This salad on toasted ciabatta was the perfect meal.  A dash of balsamic syrup and we were tucking in before we knew it.  We shared a ball of mozzeralla (half a ball = 160 calories).  It hit the spot - especially with the salad dressed nicely in olive oil and seasoned well. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Shopping

I take comfort in the fact that my trawl around the shops means I'm burning calories.  I've usually got my pedometer with me to see what exactly all this means. Well, today I've walked 1.9 miles while I was at the shops.  What I like to do is park up, go to a couple of shops, then return to the car with the shopping and then continue.  Food shopping is great, because we get to lug heavier bags - and sometimes we remind ourselves that once upon a time, earlier this year, we actually carried that additional weight!  All these trips to and from the car adds up.  We all have lots to do this time of year, and this limits time available to go on a leisurely walk, so by incorporating the walk into the shopping, it kills 2 birds with one stone.  Even taking the stairs rather than the escalator adds to the weight loss.  My 1.9 miles = 190 calories.  It works out that 1 mile (around 20 mins) = 100 calories.

If I'm really good today - as I hope to be - I can add this shopping workout to my 'calorie bank' (saving the extra calories up towards Christmas day).

I had porridge with syrup, for breakfast (around 225 calories), a quick sandwich for lunch (say 500 calories) and there's a huge jacket potato ready to go for later.  According to how we feel, we'll either have this with beans and coleslaw, or a salad.  The dinner should be around 500-600 calories.  I'm aiming for 1500 calories today and my partner 2000, that's 500 calories less than our average daily allowance.  So, despite eating really filling meals, we have quite a few cals left to play with.    


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Planning ahead

We eventually clocked up 3 miles today.  That's about 300 calories, but it may be more as it was pretty cold, no, it was bitter, and I think that burns more calories?  We are amazed at our fitness now though, and the hill we had once found challenging (and had to stop a couple of times) is now unbelievably easy.  The only difficulty was breathing in the cold air. Our evening meal was a cheese sandwich and some crisps!

We've missed walking due to the bad weather, and wonder if this will affect our weight loss?  So far, it doesn't seem to be making any difference.  What we try to do is get out for a short walk, even 20 minutes will do.

With Christmas upon us, we have decided to be strict on our next 4 'good days'.  We're pretty relaxed usually, but realise we might need a few extra calories for next weekend.  We can work towards this by planning ahead.  We'll have a couple of 'jacket potato' meals, partly because it will be nice to ditch the meat, but mainly because I bought a 12.5kg of potatoes, believing it was a good deal at the time.  We also plan to have a beef stir-fry because that's a virtuous yet filling meal which we haven't had for a while. Then there will be a fish meal - not sure what, but fish is also very light and filling.



Faggots

This is a strong tasting dish which we love.  We picked up three huge faggots from the butcher and made some onion gravy to go with it.  The onions were cooked with some garlic and beef stock - and half of it was whizzed up, to help thicken it.  We added a touch of cornflour to thicken it a little bit more.  It was delicious and we ate it with mash, carrots and peas. I'm not sure about the calorie content, but as all the veg was boiled, I doubt the dish was more than 600 calories.  Faggots are made of pork and offal, and they are not heavily laden with calories.  They are so filling, and it was a bit of a struggle eating just one of these...

The last time I cooked these, I had to censor the picture as faggots are not very photogenic!! This time it doesn' look quite as bad, so here's what they looked like:

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Tempura battered onion rings & steak to follow

We've just enjoyed some brilliant onion rings.  The batter was so light and tasty, and the crunch superb.  The onion was soft and delicious.  Using a spanish onion, these were huge!  Sorry about the pink dish - but hopefully this will give you some idea of size of these magnificent beasts.  Basically take 100g plain flour and add fizzy water - that's it.  Have a look online for the recipe.



I've no idea about calories - as we don't usually eat deep fried food.  What I tend to do in this case is have a wild guess, and hope (by next weigh in) I'm right!  We were going to have just one or two with our steak, in place of chips, but after a 'test' we decided it would be better to cook a few and eat them as a starter, before pausing for half an hour or so and eating the steak. 

Our steak meal will now consist of a good 6oz steak which will come to about 300 calories.  We're going to have a red wine sauce, which shouldn't add too many more calories.  There will be a side salad and a pile of delicious new potatoes (in a little butter).  The potatoes and salad will come to no more than 200 calories.  I'm going to dress the salad with a little olive oil, and some balsamic vinegar. 

For the red wine sauce - dice up two shallots, a clove of garlic and place in saucepan.  Throw in a big glass of red wine and a shot of port.  Boil it up until it turns into a syrup.  Do not use ANY oil at this stage, or fry the shallots/garlic.  When it has reduced, drain out the onion/garlic.  Let it cool and before you want to use it, just WARM (do not boil) up and add a knob of butter. 

We have only managed about 2.5 miles walking today - but that's 250 calories! The weather is not being very nice to us lately, but as we have to do a bit of shopping - I've taken my pedometer with me all day - and been surprised at just how many steps we have clocked up (and how much we have spent shopping...).  So my calorie allowance today is 2000 + 250.  That'll take care of the large glass of wine I'm about to have............

Saturday's feast

Today we are having a good old bacon sandwich for lunch.  I bought some lovely white bread that has been made locally and apparently it helps those with a yeast intolerance.  Not that we think we have a problem, but we have found that when we eat bread, we feel a little bloated afterwards.  It's also noticeable that we weigh more too.  This local bread is proved overnight - and this is the key.  So a couple of good slices of bread and some fresh bacon is all that we need!

The bacon was from the butcher - so much tastier than the pre-packed stuff.  I've mentioned this before.  We trim off the excess fat, and cut this up into chunks and set aside.  Put the bacon in the frying pan for about a minute on both sides - so the liquid gets drawn out.  Then remove the bacon and place the fat/rind in the pan.  Cook this slowly until it releases the fat.  The fat is what makes the bacon taste nice - but we feel it's better not to be eating all of that.  We then remove the fat pieces and cook our bacon in all the tasty bacon fat.  It tastes wonderful.  So much flavour, and you get to leave all the naughty fat bits behind!

Tonight we are going to have steak with salad ... I might make a mushroom sauce too. 

Friday, 16 December 2011

Friday at last

Now we get to eat our full calorie allowance!  That chilli con carne I prepared earlier this week is going to be our dinner later.  We're off to the pub, walking of course, and on return we will be tucking into a jacket potato with the chilli.  Walking a mile each way will give us 200 extra calories to play with, or add to our weightloss.

We'll be working on our weekend recipes tomorrow morning, and I know we will be having home made onion rings at some point, because I bought the biggest spanish onion I could find.  My partner made some great tempura batter the other week, and used this to give perfect onion rings! 


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wednesday's lunch

Here it is.  I know we love to eat salads for lunch, but at 400 calories or there about, it is one of our favourite meals.  In fact, this dish is so filling, we don't think to eat again until dinnertime.  I looked into why this meal really keeps the hunger pangs away.  Firstly, we have new potatoes with it - we don't scrimp either!  Around 130g of these waxy potatoes covered in butter and salt, really hit the taste buds.  Because we use new potatoes, they take time to break down in the body, so that's why they fill us up so much.  Also, we add just a tiny bit of butter - enough to coat the potato, but also enough to get the taste of it.  This added fat will also help slow down the absorption in the body.  People tend to shy away from using or adding fats, and I agree, if you add too much it's not a good thing, but we only add a little.  Then on to our salad leaves - we coat these in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Again, the olive oil will slow down the digestion, keeping hunger pangs at bay.  We add a little more fat in the form of grated cheddar cheese - just about 8 - 10g each, using a fine grater so it looks more. 

Apart from all the nutrients in the tuna, egg, cheese, potatoes and salad, the whole meal is deceivingly low in calories too.  So here it is - one of our favourites:

Wednesday's food

I made a chilli con carne yesterday, using some minced beef.  We planted a pot of chillies and there are millions of them waiting to be used!  So this might be our dinner tonight, or we may have the other half of the chicken?  Whatever it is, it will be spicy.

I'm having porridge and syrup for breakfast.  I've got a taste for this, probably because it is warm and filling.  In the summer we generally ate full fat greek plain yoghurt with our own added fruit.  As we are not eating that at the moment, I think our bodies are missing the fruit?  I've bought apples, and really enjoyed them - considering I never ate apples before, I find this strange.

If I get time, lunch will be a tuna salad.  I've been having sandwiches recently, and again, I think our bodies miss the crunch of the salads.  So a simple, cheap salad is tuna and egg. 

We think the salad lunches spur on the weight loss.  They also fill us up so much, we really feel we've eaten more than we need.  At around 400 calories for a tuna/egg salad - and that's with buttered new potatoes, I can't promote this easy salad enough.  It is so nutritious too.  If tuna is not your thing, then have whatever is - just weigh it all out and calculate the calories (you only need to do this once) to get a rough idea of what you are actually eating.

That Wednesday feeling

Well, it's here again.  Wednesday weigh in.

It's been 11 months since we started our way of eating.  4 days of being good. 3 days of normal calorie allowance.  It's worked.  We have lost well over 5 stone between us and the weight is still disappearing slowly but surely,

Considering I spent the whole day picking at food yesterday, I am pleasantly surprised to find myself down another half pound since last week.  My partner is also down half a pound.   We are really pleased with this result, particularly as we have not been able to walk due to the awful UK weather this week.  My partner was away the last couple of days, so he was at the mercy of hotel food.  I had lots to do, and because he was away, I ended up picking - a half sandwich here, a plate of chips there.  Believe me, eating like that is NOT good.  My brain was telling me I hadn't eaten much, yet I knew I had, as I was keeping a rough running total of all the foods I picked on, and I do know I sneaked in a bit more than I should have!!

My partner went to a large meeting, and some of his colleagues hadn't seen him since last year's convention.  As he walked into the room, he was greeting with disbelief.  Mind you, men are just so unexpressive so they weren't exploding with excitement, just cooly saying how he looked so good.  A few of the French guys actually guessed the correct weight loss - almost to the kilo.  A couple wanted to know how he did it - what the secret was.  And one patted his own stomach and said he really must get down to a bit of weight loss as it was creeping on and he was in a 'steady growth phase'.  Well that's alright if you're in sales! 

So, all those little half pounds here and there are working.  We are slimming down and I can't wait to see the scales report back a healthy BMI - nearly there!!  The strangest feeling at the moment (for me) is that I can see my shoulder bones appearing.  I haven't seen them since I was a skinny teenager.

Well, whatever happens, with or without walking, we are finding that if we stick to our golden rules, our weight steadily ticks down.  I really miss not having the long walks at the moment, but I am trying to make up for that by racing up and down the stairs, walking round the supermarket twice and generally trying to keep on my feet as much as possible.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Amuse bouche!

Here it is................


Just a touch of whipped cream on top............ lovely.  The sage toast was fab.

Saturday at last...

I've been busy prepping some of my own ready meals for later this week.  I made a lovely beef stew with dumplings.  This is one of our cold weather favourites.  It's warming, tasty and so low in calories (about 280 cals per portion).  We're having some of this tomorrow, with mashed potatoes and other veg.

Today we've been Christmas shopping and started the day with our porridge and syrup.  This filled us up until lunch time, which was a sandwich.  We think we have walked off these calories anyway, because I have clocked up how many miles we ended up walking round the shops!  It all adds up!

Tonight we are having half a whole chicken (to share) and this has been smothered in peri-peri seasoning.  The meat equates to around just £2 - and is enough to feed two.  We love it - and will roast this with skin on.  We also eat the crispy skin too - why not!!  We're having new potatoes with butter, corn cob and a side salad of rocket and parmesan (don't forget to dress those leaves with olive oil and salt/pepper).  You can eat this sort of meal in one of those food chains, and it'll set you back around £20.  The whole meal will be no more than 700 calories and it's very filling.

Before our main meal, we're going to have an asparagus "amuse bouche". Going posh now!!  This is simply a bunch of asparagus, a shallot, some garlic.  Chop asparagus into pieces, add a little veg stock.  Sweat the shallot and garlic then add to the asparagus.  Boil until tender, then whizz up!  Then pass it through a sieve to get rid of all the particles and you are left with a wonderful little slurp of powerful asparagus. We might have it with sage toast - roll some sliced bread - yes roll out until thin, place a few sage leave on one slice, leaving some gaps, then top with the other slice.  No butter required as the gaps end up sealing together.  Cut off crusts to make perfect squares.  Lightly oil an oven tray, place sage sandwiches on and put another tin on top.  Bake for around 20 mins.  It's wonderful with the amuse bouche or any soup in fact. I'll take a picture of this so you can see how impressive it looks, then you can wow your friends - as it's pretty tasty, yet so easy!

Here's our simple tuna salad from earlier this week - just to illustrate what we mean by filling your plate.  Make it look fabulous - make it look filling - make it look as if you are eating lots, then you won't feel deprived. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Thursday.... damp and miserable

Lunch today was some home made pumpkin soup, which was absolutely delicious.  It's simple to make, like most soups.  We had this with some cheese sandwiches. 

Tonight we're going to have the peri-peri chicken which we were supposed to have last night, but left it too late.  We ended up eating beans on toast!! 

We'll marinate the chicken breasts in peri-peri seasoning (any brand will do) and olive oil.  A pamesan salad, new potatoes in butter and corn on the cob will complete the meal.  It's one of our favourites.  The clean tastes are great, and it's very filling.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wednesday weigh in!

Considering I had a 'bad hair day' yesterday and had to compensate with a curry - which we've not had for ages, the weigh in was good.  Christmas shopping clocked up about 3 miles, so that added 300 calories to my calorie bank.  Needless to say I stood on the scales with a little trepidation, only to find I was 1/2 lb lighter than last week - and have hit another all time low!  My partner stayed the same this week.

The thing we have really noticed about our weight loss, is that it is affected by bread/flour.  When we eat anything with flour in it, our body seems to hold onto water.  The way we eat - which is as unprocessed as possible - makes us feel lighter, if that makes sense.  Only when we go away, and possibly have more bread or processed foods, do we feel heavier and more bloated. 

We had porridge this morning and lunch was a sandwich in town.  Tonight we'll have one of our favourite meals - peri peri chicken breast with salad and new potatoes. This meal always makes us feel lighter! 

As we chip away at the weight, we don't ever feel deprived.  By living with our way of eating, we get to stop and think......do we really want this or that.  We also make better choices - take today, lunchtime could have been deep-fried and calorie laden, but we chose not to.  We recognised we had already had a curry the night before, and wanted to make a lighter choice.  Yes, it can be difficult when you pass the shop and get hit by the aroma, but this is how we are losing weight.  We can have whatever we want, so if we really wanted it, we would have it.  Convenience - that's a great way to convince yourself it's worth having, but if you keep taking the 'convenient' route, then weight loss will be difficult.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Turning the volume up!

We are back to our 4 good days, and on these days we concentrate on our intake, and make a point of watching our snacks.  We have some favourite recipes to help us feel fuller, and these also fill our plates and look good too.

I'm having porridge and syrup for breakfast.  Tuna salad, with egg, new potatoes in butter and a little grated cheese.  Dinner is undecided yet.  We've bought a butternut squash and will be making a pot of soup for some of our lunches later this week. 

We are successfully losing weight on our  3 days off and 4 days on plan, where we eat whatever we want but just change the amount we eat.  We don't know why it works, but it could simply be that when we have our good days, we are 'very good' because we have just had 3 days of relaxation?  More importantly, the volume of food keeps our metabolism burning.  Even on our 'good' days, we eat with 'volume' in mind - such as the large, crunchy salad we are going to eat at lunch time today.

Think of how compact processed food is!  How easy it is too eat too - and can disappear in seconds.  I think satisfaction is more than just a quick chocolate bar, and our high volume dishes do satisfy us. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday - what NO roast!!

We've decided to give up roasts as we lead up to Christmas.  That way we really savour our Christmas dinner!

Today we are having Toad in the Hole.  Just something we fancied.  Keeping it simple, we are going to have mash, peas, and onion gravy.  A good old Yorkshire pudding batter, with 1 1/2 sausages, with the boiled veg should set us back no more than 600 calories.  Usually, at the weekend, we tend to eat what we want, and are not too bothered about the number of calories.  We only keep a rough count as we like to ensure we eat our full calorie allowance!

Here's the toad in the hole:


Saturday steak

This was our meal.  This is my steak, with a little bit of blue cheese on top.  There's our home made creamy mushroom sauce, and some of our own oven chips (made with King Edwards).  There was more salad on the side, and we also made a quick and easy savoy cabbage side - simply stir fry the cabbage, season and add cream.  There was of course plenty more chips, and we did go back for more. 

The picture is not that good, because of the lighting:

We used sirloin steak - about 7oz.  The oven chips were simply par-boiled potatoes, coated in a small amount of olive oil.  The whole meal no more than around 700 calories.  

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Apples

I have no idea why, but I have a craving for apples.  I find this odd, because apples are my least favourite fruit?  Odd.

We can only put it down to having had less salads at lunchtime.  Perhaps my body is missing a nutritent or two? Well, the apples are in the fruitbowl now.

I'm amazed at just how many miles we clock up just shopping.  Yesterday we covered 2.2 miles and today, about 1.6.  As each mile is worth about 100 calories - this walking, can add up to a lot of weight loss in the long run.  We make it a rule now to park as far away from the shops as possible, and I like to get a few things, return to the car and go back to the shops.  It can turn your usual shopping adventure into a workout!!

Today we had our bacon sandwich for lunch, and tonight we've settled on steak - with our own oven chips and onion rings.  There will be a good rocket salad on the side - something green to cheer the plate.  We'll probably nibble on some cheese and biscuits beforehand too.

Sounds a lot doesn't it.  Certainly not diet food.  But we feel this boost to our metabolism helps our body eventually rid itself of the weight.  Well, whatever it is, it's working a treat.  People are really interested to know what we are eating now, as we have lost so much weight, AND it's stayed off.  We showed a friend our starter from last week, the scallops on cauliflower puree.  His reaction was "how can you be eating that on a diet".  We explained we were NOT on a diet.  He just could not understand it.  He could see we have lost lots of weight, but the food we were eating didn't make sense.  He is just one of many who believe that to lose weight you have to follow some alien diet plan, eating food that is not particularly interesting! But, he's trying - we've noticed his wife is now drinking small glasses of wine rather than large, after we explained how many calories were in one glass. 

Friday, 2 December 2011

Weekend thoughts

Today has been a good day.  I've manage to sneak in a walk between the showers.  It was only 2 miles, but that's 200 calories for me.  Today I had porridge for breakfast and smoked salmon/scrambled eggs with toast for lunch.  It sounds a bit decadent, but one pack of salmon between two makes a quick, easily prepared lunch.  Cheaper than picking up a couple of sandwiches from the supermarket too.

Dinner tonight - before we hit the pub - is going to be left over home-made pasta.  We're going to use up the 3 sausages in the fridge, fry and slice thinly, then add to some home-made spicy tomato sauce we found in the freezer.  This will then be stirred into the pasta strips.  Apparently, home made pasta keeps you fuller for longer, as it takes longer to break down compared to the dried version - I'm no expert, but that's what we heard on the TV.  All I can say is it is VERY filling, so I would tend to agree.

For the weekend, we hope to have a bacon sandwich on Saturday before setting off on our bikes for an hour.  In the evening, we will have a sirloin steak, but not sure what with at the moment.  Sunday roast is banned until Christmas now - so we will probably have something like toad in the hole, or even a good shepherds pie.  I've finally worked out how to set the cooker, so we can go out for a drink or some exercise and return to something warm from the oven.

Friday to Sunday we boost our calories up to normal allowances, and EAT.  We love eating food, and I think more importantly, love preparing it too.  All that freshly prepared food means less processed food, so surely that's got to be good!  And, if there is anything we really do fancy (like the 3 jaffa cakes I've just eaten....) we have them, rather than end up craving them and overeating.

Thursday pasta

I've had to submit an assignment for my study course, and as this is all new to me, I sadly neglected a couple of posts here, which I'll try to catch up with.

On Thursday, I hovered on the scales hoping for a new low - as the scales flashed a number it hadn't seen before!!  It didn't happen, but then, my weigh in day is next Wednesday, so perhaps by then it will.  I get very excited at not dieting, yet finding the weight disappearing because of the way we are eating. 

Yesterday we sort of celebrated - my first study assignment was finally completed and sent off.  So we had home made pasta again - just to prove how tasty it actually is.  Believe me, if you can make this, you will never ever eat the dried stuff again (unless you have to of course).

We bought a pot of ricotta - 99p and mixed this with some spinach, added a little egg and salt/pepper and made it into ravioli.   Using some left over sage, we fried this in some butter.  Sprinkled with parmesan and scoffed the lot.  The dish in the picture would be around 500 calories at the most.  BUT....when we were eating, we felt it needed more of a sauce, so poured on around a teaspoon of truffle oil.  What a transformation!!  Ok, not everyone has truffle oil in the cupboard, we have had ours for a long time, but any good flavoured olive oil should do the same.  It lifted the dish perfectly.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wednesday weight

Our weigh in comes round so fast.... especially when you are studying!  I've had to focus on an essay, and find this has been helpful - as it takes my mind off food. 

We have both lost another 1/2 lb this week.  I can see the difference around my waistline and know there is more to come.  Keep chipping away, like we do, and overall the weightloss should follow. 

I checked my BMI this morning and it is down 0.2, since my last reading a week or so ago.  It's slowly going down, and I'm getting closer to my healthy BMI.  I'm quite excited, and especially when I look back over the past 11 months. 

Yesterday I had a sandwich for lunch followed by or favourite "good" meal - a skinless 200g chicken breast, sweetcorn cob, dressed salad and new potatoes.  I didn't get to sneak in a walk, so hopefully we'll do that today?

Today we are going to have a chicken casserole, cooked in tarragon, with carrots, peas, new potatoes and dumplings.  Lunch will be a sandwich again.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday is for relaxing with...

Slow roast shoulder of lamb!  Perfect for us as we can go out without having to think too much about the lamb roasting away.  We've put the lamb into a dimpled top oval roasting tin.  It's sitting on a bed of vegetables, some rosemary and thyme, and a little water. 

We're going to serve this with roast potatoes, cauli, carrots, brussel sprouts and peas.  We love our Sunday roast, as it helps lift our metabolism which seems to help our long term weight loss. 

It was interesting talking to a friend in the pub on Friday.  He seems to have understood our method for losing weight, and was explaining how well he was doing following our method.  Curiously though, he hadn't quite understood about eating properly at meal times.  He explained how he ate a special 'calorie counted' slimming meal.  He then said that these meals didn't really fill him up.  So we showed him our typical daily meals, and he was shocked.  "You eat ALL of that" he said.  Yes we do.  He was amazed at the size of our meals and in particular the Sunday roast.  "But you've lost so much weight" he continued.  It seems that he, and thousands of others think that the only way to lose weight is to go on a restrictive diet and eat special packets of diet foods.  Not so for us!  We asked him if he felt like snacking and he said yes.  We suggested he tried filling his plate with nutritious meals, and I showed him a few pictures stored on my iphone.  He couldn't argue, as he could see we have lost over 5 stone between us.  We stick by our rule - eat plenty at mealtimes, of good nutritious food, fill up enough so you DON'T snack.  It's the snacks that add up in the end. 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Saturday menu

We walked to the pub last night and realised both our belts needed to be tightened another notch.  What constantly surprises us is the way the weight is disappearing.  It follows the same pattern.  The body seems to swing wildly by as much as 3 lbs over a couple of weeks.  Our weight hovers, then suddenly drops quite a large amount.  Then there is a period where the weight stays the same, while the body seems to change shape.   So at the moment, we are busy changing shape!  For both of us it is around the belly area again - which is brilliant.

For today we're going to start off with some porridge for breakfast.  I make this with full fat milk and pour over some syrup.  This is a great start to the day and will fill us up.

Lunch is probably going to be bacon and eggs, with tomatoes, beans and toast.  I say "probably", because we want to go for a long walk (around an hour) and this lunch will replenish the salt and nutrients our body seems to crave after exercise.  We aim to eat no more than 700 calories.

Dinner is going to be a bit of a treat, and I'll have the camera ready.  We are going to have scallops on cauliflower puree, followed by sea bass with fennel.  We're busy looking up recipes, which we'll then adapt to make our own version.  I've never cooked fennel before, and really fancy this for some reason.  The total calories for both courses will come to no more than around 800 calories.

With the walk using up around 300 calories, and today being one of our full calorie days (2000 for me and 2500 for my other half) we have pleny of room for a snack/dessert and a glass or two of good wine.  What better way is there to lose weight!!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Faggots!!!

Well here we are, eating faggots, mash and peas with some wonderful onion gravy.  Sorry but it is fantastic and the mash (made with King Edwards) was just about the best - with a little bit of butter.  The King Ted, as it is known, is fabulous for mash in particular, as it is so fluffy.

We have no idea about the calorie count, but we've been working all day in the house and burning some calories, so we suspect we might just come out OK.  Calories - we would anticipate about 600 because it involves boiled potatoes (mash), boiled peas, and some offal/pork with onion gravy.  I believe it would equate to no more than a good stew, so 600 calories will be over estimating if anything!

The only problem is - the dish is not photogenic enough to put on my blog!  Sorry, but the picture doesn't do justice to the phenominal taste. It's one of those dishes you either love or hate.  We love it of course. If I receive any requests for a pic, then of course, we will put it on the blog. 

Lunch ....

It's always good to be back home eating the fresh food.  We enjoyed our break but find that when we are busy shopping and sight seeing, we prefer to eat on the go.  This often means a quick break with a sandwich - which is processed.  So to get back to simple, fresh and tasty food is great.  Here's a typical salad for us.  We would usually eat our salads with new potatoes and a little butter, as this is the most filling.  If we don't have new potatoes, then we will have a good chunk of fresh bread (rather than sliced processed bread).

We thoroughly enjoyed this salad, which cost around 400 calories.  We shared a large tin of tuna, there was a little hard boiled egg and a small amount of grated cheese.  So filling and delicious.

As we both have a day off today, we are working around the house and garden (burning calories), so we may not go for a walk.  If we do walk, it will more than likely be to the pub.  Our walking increases the amount we can eat, or, increases weightloss.

After a few days away!

It's the Wednesday weigh in again.  My partner is down 3/4 lb and I have stayed the same.  This is a great result as it is all in the right direction.  In fact my partner can honestly say he has occasionally stayed the same weight but usually lost weight EVERY week.  We've been away for a couple of fantastic days and eating a lot more processed food again.  We're also experiencing larger swings in weight during the week, as often happens when our body decides to finally let go of a weight 'range' it recognises.  I also think processed food makes me hold more water than usual, and notice this moreso after going away, when we don't have access to our own kitchen. 

I'm convinced our weight loss will slowly but surely keep going down, because of the way we have decided to eat.  I've even bought a pair of jeans that are a bit smaller than I need, to give me an added focus to aim for by Christmas.  I'm looking forward to wearing them. 

So to get back to less processed food, we're going to eat the following today:

Porridge with syrup for breakfast
Tuna salad with buttered new potatoes and a little grated cheese for lunch
Faggots, peas and mash with onion gravy for dinner

If you've never had faggots before they are pretty interesting.  Made up of pig's offal and meat with herbs.  We've bought ours from the butcher and will be making our own gravy.  It's a wonderful winter warmer, and I can't remember the last time we had them. 

I'll take some pictures later. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Wow, our steak meal tonight!!

We cooked the battered onion rings for the first time, using tempura batter.  Following an internet recipe or two, we decided upon our ingredients and went for it.  I liked the idea of adding cornflour to self raising flour, which we did.  But our first batch of onion rings turned out sadly lacking enough batter, as it had fallen off:
So, what we did was add a little more flour, actually about 35g in total.  This made the batter stick to the food so much better.  And what a taste it was.  So light and delicious!  Here is our finished dish:

So there you have it.  A meal that cost us around 600 calories, was brimming full of flavour and... more to the point, we couldn't finish because we were so full.  The battered onion rings were fabulous.  More to the point, we eat what we enjoy and because of that, we don't need to pick or snack because we've denied ourselves anything.  To some this meal fails as it has no chips, but to be honest, we much prefer the fresh taste of the new potatoes to chips.  So, whatever takes your fancy, please eat and enjoy.  Just know what your are eating, how many calories are in your food, and choose to eat it or not. 

Our Saturday

We went for a nice walk today, to clear the cobwebs and enjoy the sunshine.  Both of us sporting new low weights and feeling quite positive.  We began our day with porridge smothered in syrup.  This set us up nicely for our walk and gave us lots of energy.

Lunch was a simple affair.  Bacon, eggs and baked beans with toast.  We knew we needed the salt after the walk, because the beans tasted OK (normally they are quite salty).  The lunch was "free" as we had just clocked up enough calories from the walk, which was admittedly longer than we intended.  Remember today we get to eat a full calorie allowance too.

This evening we are having a sirloin steak, new potatoes and a salad.  If my other half gets time, we will have some home made battered onion rings........... we'll see.  But first, we are going to enjoy home made ravioli, with sage butter.  Basically it's butternut squash soup but thicker.  We added some ameretti, bread crumbs, crushed fennel and some ground almonds.  We fiddled around with the recipe which I'm going to have to post at some point.  Again, I have to say WOW.  What an explosion of flavour.  We treated ourselves to just 3 of these little pockets and added the sage butter, which surprised me, as the sage was lovely and crispy, the butter infused.  The topping was just a little grated parmesan, and the dish was PERFECT.  Here it is before I added the parmesan and a little pepper:


I think 3 ravioli was just right, as I am now waiting for the steak.  I made the sauce, which is creamy mushroom.  I fried some garlic and onions, added 2 tablespoons of brandy and just 90ml of stock (you could use half a stock cube).  I had quite a few mushrooms in the fridge, so decided to finely chop us around 8 of them and add to the pan.  After around 15 minutes of cooking, I sieved the mixture.  The liquid was then reduced to about 2 tablespoons.  I then added the remaining sliced mushrooms (about 6) to the pan and cooked for around 3 minutes.  This is the prep.  When we want to heat the sauce, we will simply add a good dollop of double cream and heat through.  Simple.

The steak will be served with the mushroom sauce, new potatoes and a side salad/parmesan shavings.  This is the first time we will have eaten the large onion rings in tempura batter and if they turn out OK we'll post a piccy so you can see what they turned out like. 

The steak meal will come to around 500 calories, and if the onion rings turn out they will add around another 100 calories.  We are hoping to "boost" our metabolism every weekend by eating our maximum allowance.  We've found this helps our weight loss continue slowly but steadily downwards, eating whatever we want.  Both myself and my partner agreed today that we would never have imagined losing so much weight this way!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Wednesday's results

Just as we suspected, our bodies are going through some sort of fat shift.  This has happened, it's almost as if the body refuses to let go of the fat for some reason.  Well our weigh in today has taken us both to new low weights and we are so pleased.  On average my partner has lost 1 lb per week, and I have lost a little less, but overall, we are still going DOWN in weight.

Today I have lost 1 1/4 lb - which, for a change is higher than my other half.  My partner is down 1 lb today.  We knew the weight loss was coming, as we could "feel" a difference in our bodies. 

Meals are simple from Monday to Thursday.  Today will be as follows:

Porridge with syrup for breakfast
Cheese and mushroom omelette with a good side salad
Sausages, beans and mash for a change

We aim to eat 200 cals for breakfast, 500 for lunch and 600 at our evening meal.  With a few cups of tea/coffee and maybe snacks up to 200 calories, I will hit around 1500-1600 calories.  I aim for 1500 calories over these 4 days.  Add to that a short walk around 40 minutes, which could be two 20 minute walks, I can burn off 200 calories and bring my calories down.  Small tweaks here and there have resulted in our dramatic weight loss over the last 10 months.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A beautiful walk on Sunday

As the weather was absolutely gorgeous, we went for a walk in the autumn sunshine.  The views were perfect, and the exercise was welcome.  We went for a walk in a place where I have many childhood memories.

Here is a folly dating back to 1766:


We also saw some beautiful cottages around the same era, here's one of them - I love the chimney pots and dove cote!


Our Sunday meal is pork chop with a variety of veggies.  Just what we need.  All the veg is steamed too so very healthy for us.  We were pleasantly surprised at just how good this dish tasted, as we don't usually buy pork chops.  The meal was no more than 500 calories too.  This is good old fashioned eating - fresh ingredients and cheap too.  Couldn't wait to eat it, so the pic is a bit fuzzy.  A lot less calories than your typical Sunday roast with all those roasters.



Portion size

It struck me how I blindly followed the instructions on the pack when making up some porridge.  I then found it difficult to eat the whole bowlful.  I've now adjusted the quantities, taking control, and saved myself a few calories, and a few pence too.

45g of porridge oats has now become 35g, and this is the perfect portion for me.  A saving of almost 20% of the calories is a bonus, and I no longer find the last few spoonfuls difficult to eat. 

These small adjustments to your diet will pay dividends in the end.  It's easy to follow the manufacturers recommendations, but we all have different needs.  In fact you may find 45g of porridge doesn't fill you up, so change it.  The point of eating breakfast is to feel satisfied enough which then helps eliminate the need for snacks later. 

Ready meals

We popped into the supermarket yesterday for some last minute vegetables.  Still unsure what we were going to cook for our evening meal, we looked for some inspiration.  We spotted the indian ready meals, and there was a large boxed meal for two, supermarket's own brand.  It sounded inviting, and contained naan bread, rice for two, a couple of onion bhajis, 2 small curry dishes.  But what stared out at us quite clearly was the number of calories.  Each person would consume just under 1300 calories! 

I'm sure if you wanted this, you could juggle your daily allowance to include it.  Most takeaways are high in calories, so we steer clear generally.  If we do fancy a curry, we have it, but not that often these days.  It's all about choice, and we love so many kinds of food, that there always seems to be better things to choose from. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Our Saturday experiment

Well here it is, all cooked and looking good, I've left off the pepper and parmesan, as I want to taste it first:



Wow.  You have to make this stock, it makes all the difference!  The flavour is so intense and could really be used on its own as a sauce for any pasta.  Yet, it compliments the ravioli and enhances the filling.  You could even add more breadcrumbs to the filling mix, as the sauce is the key to the whole dish (not the filling).  I tried one piece with grated parmesan and found the cheese simply overpowered the delicate yet intense fish flavour.  We are so pleased - and the pasta is perfect. A good chunk of fresh bread completed the dish, and our hunger pangs were driven away. 

How nice is this?  To enjoy such fantastic food, costing so little, using a bit of imagination (and willingness to attempt something new) is fantastic.  Forget dieting forever.  Have whatever you want to eat.  We do, and our weight is coming off.  Just KNOW what it is you are eating and make a choice to either to eat or not.  We've done our exercise today, which will take care of the wine we are having with our meal.  It's simple.  Nothing is free.  You have to be in control, and the weight loss will follow.

Fresh pasta recipe!

This is our first attempt at fresh ravioli using our new pasta machine.  We're just a couple of foodies who love to experiment.  We generally eat fairly easy food, but on weekends we like to try something new or complex (when we have time).
We had some frozen langoustines which we bought a while ago at a budget supermarket.  The whole box contained 24 pieces and cost just £6.  By the time we've finished we will have made 4 meals (for two).


Recipe for the ravioli filling:

6 frozen langoustines - or you could use prawns
vegetable stock
half a lemon - zested
juice of half a lemon
make 50g of fresh breadcrumbs (we used some old freezer bread)

Begin by taking all the meat out of the langoustines.  Fiddly but good fun.  Put the shells in the vegetable stock and boil up, then simmer for at least 30 mins.  The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavour.  Whizz together - langoustine meat, the zest of half a lemon plus HALF of the juice from half of the lemon, and the breadcrumbs. 
Sieve the simmered stock, and reduce to a quarter.  Take some of this and ADD to the langoustine/breadcrumb mix.  Keep adding until you get a consistency of a thick mayonaisse.  You will have some left over, which will go into making the sauce to go on the ravioli
The rest of the stock will be used for the sauce.  Just add a little double cream and season to taste.
As this is our first real attempt, we'll report back later with a picture of the finished dish, together with our assessment.  I sort of enjoy this kind of torture, especially when I am starving hungry.

Losing weight eating the food we love!
REMEMBER: We all have a calorie allowance - and we like to post our main meals to show you what we are eating. You won’t find us posting every last morsel though – but we hope this gives you an idea of how far calories can go!
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Our weekend meal plan

We are going to eat well over the weekend, especially as we are going to some exercise of some sort.  We've really missed going for the longer walks recently, and it's as if the body recognises this too.  It's important to eat well and take in all the nutrients necessary for exercise, as we have found it actually helps improve our performance. 

Porridge for breakfast will give us enough fuel to get us going.  After exercising, we'll grab lunch which will include some salty food, and we suspect we'll eat out, so we're not sure what it will be.  When we eat out, we do a rough calculation about the calories, and don't worry too much about what we do eat.  Our evening meal will be new potatoes, salad and some meat of some sort.  Possibly pork chops? 

We're not going to eat a typical Sunday lunch tomorrow, and the menu will be very similar to today's. 

Interestingly, we watched a programme during the week about how eating can cure ailments.  Having watched the programme it appears the way we eat includes many of the foods recommended. It could explain why we are usually greeted by friends saying just how healthy we look.  Unlike some people who lose lots of weight through various "silly" diets which omit foodgroups and can leave them looking drawn and unhealthy.  We eat everything.

A busy week

Our weigh in last week saw both of us maintaining our weight, with no weight loss.  This was interesting, because we had sneaked in some good exercise.  What we are both experiencing once more is a large fluctuation in weight.  We both hit a new low, then bounce back to a higher weight.  This is settling down slightly now, and we suspect the weight loss will continue on its downward spiral.  When this has happened before, we tend to hover at a weight, then all of a sudden it disappears.  It's as if our bodies are not used to the new low weight.  It's not a problem for us, as there are signs that it is all disappearing nicely and I can certainly see the belly fat changing shape, so the fat is redistributing itself somehow.

Apart from this, I have been busy studying.  I've signed up for a new course and hadn't realised just how much work there is to do.  I am up to speed now, so everything should return to normal with my regular posts.

Today we plan to make the most of the dry weather and go for a good walk or cycle ride.  We have maintained our calorie allowance despite exercising less, which is partly due to bad weather and my new study course.  So no excuses today. 

Friday to Sunday we stoke up our metabolism and eat a full calorie allowance, and the additional calories from any form of exercise, will increase the chances of weight loss.  It's a simple equation after all.  We have sparked so much interest among our friends who continue to ask how on earth we are losing so much weight.  I did laugh to myself last night in the pub though - I overheard a group of friends, all burly rugby players chatting and one of them shouted "well how many calories were in that then".  Perhaps people really are taking in what we are doing after all. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sunday lunch with all the trimmings

That's what we are having today.  Roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and lots of vegetables.   We've treated ourselves to a proper roasting joint, rather than a slow roast joint, because we want to have rare roast beef.  We're going to sit the beef on some onions, and use the onions (which should have caramalised nicely) in our gravy.  It's one of our full calorie days, and we thought we would indulge. I'm really looking forward to it, and will post a picture later.

We've been eating porridge for breakfast instead of full fat plain greek yoghurt.  I make the porridge with full fat milk and top it with syrup.  This fills me up so I don't snack.  Snacking is unnecessary if we eat enough for our meal.  When we do snack, it's because we really fancy something, rather really "need" to eat something. 

Butternut squash soup is on the menu next week, and we are going to make this later today too. 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Results

I have successfully lost 3/4 lb and my partner has lost 1/2 lb this week.  More importantly though, our appearance is changing due to plenty of walking and the odd cycle ride.  We are fitter and more toned, and it feels good.

Eating porridge for breakfast and soups for lunch will all add up in the long run.  I didn't get to make the smoked haddock chowder (cullen skink), and I'm quite fancying having the fish with poached eggs and spinach for lunch instead today.

One very pleasing comment came yesterday, when my brother called round to see us.  We hadn't seen him for a couple of months, not that long ago really, and we didn't think we had lost that much weight since last seeing him.  After what he said though, I think the walking has worked, adding muscle tone shaping us up too.  I opened the door was taken aback by what he said.  In very few words, he said something I had been waiting to hear from anyone.  He said "Wow" looking me up and down saying "you look... you look...  so thin".  I thought it was quite funny, but loved that word "thin".  Then, when he saw my partner he just said "Where's the other half of you then".

So there it is.  The proof that eating properly, and forgetting all about diets, really does work.  Eating all the food groups, just eating normally, but knowing what you are eating and most importantly, just being honest with yourself, is the answer.  We all know when we sneak some chocolate, we just have to be brave and admit it to ourselves, include it in the total number of calories we've allowed ourselves to eat that day.  Exercise means you can eat more, or lose more weight - your choice.   We find we exercise more if we know we've overeaten.

I'm going to enjoy my three days of eating a normal calorie allowance now, and we are going to keep on eating this way until we have reached our healthy BMI.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

120 calories per portion!! Yes. Soup with real flavour.

This has to be the easiest soup we have ever attempted.  We've just made over one whole litre of curried parsnip soup and blended it.  It is thick, creamy and very very moreish.  The parsnips cost 58p - last of the big spenders.  It was simplicity itself and took no effort at all.  I used just a small teaspoon of curry powder, and I feel that's enough for us - but it will all depend on what curry powder you use.  It's best to put less in to start with.

We are both very pleasantly surprised at the result.  The milk and water/stock was perfect ie 1 part milk to 2 parts water/stock.  It has blended perfectly, and tastes very very creamy.  I may add a bit more water to it tomorrow.  For us that's a bonus, we didn't need to use cream as some recipes suggest, and our weight loss will be quicker.  I think the soup will be well served with some toast - something crunchy to balance out the creamy texture, maybe croutons if you fancy. 

A ready made soup would set you back at least £3 for this amount of soup, whereas our homemade version is way under £1.  At 480 calories for the batch which makes 4 good portions - that's a very tasty 120 calories per portion, however, eat half of it (if you can) and that's 240 calories of low fat, nutritious warmth.


Because it was so low in calories, we added this topping to give it some texture.  Using fried onion and bacon, then a swirl of cream for good measure.  For two people I used half a red onion, thinly sliced, one very large shallot and one slice of bacon cut into very small pieces.  The topping might bring the whole dish to around 200 calories.  Simply fry the ingredients until crisp and sprinkle on the soup.  

Monday, 31 October 2011

WOW for the spicy parsnip soup

I just HAVE to post this.  This has to be the easiest soup we have ever attempted.  We've just made over one whole litre of curried parsnip soup and blended it.  It is thick, creamy and very very moreish.  The parsnips cost 58p - last of the big spenders.  It was simplicity itself and took no effort at all.  I used just a small teaspoon of curry powder, and I feel that's enough for us - but it will all depend on what curry powder you use.  It's best to put less in to start with. 

We are both very pleasantly surprised at the result and can't wait to eat it tomorrow.  The milk and water/stock was perfect ie 1 part milk to 2 parts water/stock.  It has blended perfectly, and tastes very very creamy.  I may add a bit more water to it tomorrow.  For us that's a bonus, we didn't need to use cream as some recipes suggest, and our weight loss will be quicker.  I think the soup will be well served with some toast - something crunchy to balance out the creamy texture, maybe croutons if you fancy. 

The ready made soup would set you back at least £3 for this amount of soup, whereas this soup is way under £1.  The whole soup amounted to approx 480 calories and serves 4 good portions - that's a very tasty 120 calories per portion, however, eat half of it (if you can) and that's 240 calories of low fat, nutritious warmth.

Spicy soups to warm us through

We enjoyed our home made carrot and coriander soup at lunch time today, with a small cheese sandwich.  Tomorrow we are going to have spicy parsnip soup - a new one for us, but relatively easy to prepare and very very cheap.  I'm not sure what it'll taste like but it took us just 10 minutes to put together and is sitting nicely on the cooker, simmering away at the moment.

Ingredients for 4 good portions

1 onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon of curry powder (or garam masala)
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
small 1/2" piece of ginger (if you have some)
milk and water/stock to cover the chopped parsnips (1 part milk to 2 parts water/stock)
400-500g parsnips
salt/pepper

Using a little oil and butter - fry the onions until soft.  Add the garlic and ginger.  Place these in a large saucepan with milk/stock (about 1 litre in total should be enough) the curry powder, add the chopped parsnips, a little salt and pepper for now, and bring to the boil.  Then simmer with the lid on, for around 30 minutes or until parsnips are soft.  How easy and quick is that!

I've cooked mine this evening, so the mixture will have plenty of time to cool down before I whizz up in the blender.  I'll check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.   I generally know if I need more salt because with too little salt I feel there is very little taste.  It's up to you of course.  If the soup is too thick, just add some water.  If it's too thin, then boil uncovered for a short while to thicken it up.

I'm hoping this will make for a tasty warming soup and will let you know tomorrow lunch time.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Next week

With the weather turning colder, and the idea of salads less appealing, we are going to have a week of eating soup for lunch.  Home made soups with some really fresh bread and maybe a bit of cheese.

We already have a carrot and coriander soup ready to go as we made some last week and froze it.  It's funny how flavoursome and fresh your own soup can taste, compared to the manufactured soup.  The thing is, soup is so easy to make and more importantly - very nutritious.  It's also extremely cheap.  I took Mum a portion of the carrot and coriander, and she said it was very tasty and strong flavoured.  I suspect it was too powerful a flavour for her, as she usually buys hers, although she didn't say.  I said we probably put more coriander in than required, but our tastebuds liked that.  So, whatever recipe you follow, don't follow religiously - alter according to your own taste.

So our week will go something like this - porridge with golden or maple syrup for breakfast, soup and warm rolls for lunch.  It's only the dinners that need to be decided.

We've got some smoked haddock in the freezer, so one of the soups will be "cullen skink" and I'm really looking forward to that.  I'll post the recipe we use along with a photo.  We may make a spicy butternut squash soup too, taking advantage of cut price squash (hopefully) after Halloween.

Sunday's plan

Following a Saturday of eating - where we surpassed ourselves (and quite possibly our calorie intake), we are going to take Sunday easy.  It's another full calorie allowance for us, and as it's one of our "rules" we will still eat well, but we will have less meat.

Breakfast is going to be porridge.  We are trying out porridge to see if it has any effect on our weight loss.  Too early to report, but swapping our usual full fat plain greek yoghurt with its delicious toppings, for tasty large organic oats drizzled with golden syrup - is easy.  Both are equally enjoyable.  I'm now concentrating on having slightly smaller portions than my partner, as I am smaller and obviously need to eat less!

Another good bout of exercise will help our weight loss, and we are thinking of walking for a good hour and a half. Sounds a lot, but once you get going, if the weather is good, it's an enjoyable experience.  One hour walking equates to around 300 calories burned (that's your bar of chocolate if you fancy).  We aim to "collect" calories and add them to our "calorie bank" hoping to achieve 3,600 spare ones over the week which should equate to around 1 lb in weight loss.

Lunch will be a simple affair - probably an omelette and salad, with dinner along the lines of a jacket potato.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Revving up for a Saturday night feast

Before we set off on our long cycle ride, we ate a simple but filling breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, beans and sausages.  It certainly kept us going all day.  After a couple of hours good cycling which equate to around 600-800 calories, we think we have compensated for the breakfast.  Back to nil calories before our evening meal, we feel virtuous and ready to reward ourselves once again with some great nosh. 
We're having a cheese platter with a few good cheeses to nibble on with some grapes and figs.  The amount of cheese will be just enough to help replace the salt lost during exercise, without filling us up too much before our steak and chips later.
We've been a bit decadent and treated ourselves to a nice piece of fillet steak.  Unbelieveably fillet steak is higher in calories than sirloin!  I've created a simple peppercorn sauce too.   If I remember I'll take a pic.  Then there "could" be some home made chocolate souffle to follow - only my partner insists on trying this recipe out, so I can't really refuse can I.  Hopefully it'll turn out a treat and I will take a photo to boast his culinary skills..... I'm sure boosting our intake over the weekend was never meant to stretch quite this far, but we will have to make up for it tomorrow with a bit more exercise....




Our Saturday plan

The weather is glorious, sunshine with that autumn chill to keep you nice and cool.  Perfect cycling weather for us.  We're going to cycle into town along the old disused railway line.  It's out of the way of the traffic and should be a pleasant ride for us as it's easy cycling with very few hills.  To start the day we're going to have a bacon and eggs with lots of toast and some beans.  We've learned from previous longs walks, that eating a meal with plenty of salt and carbs really helps keep us going.  The bacon will be fried until as much of the fat has been drawn out as is possible, and the eggs will be fried in a little olive oil. 

It's Saturday and another day when we eat a normal calorie allowance, boosting our metabolism and really helping kick start another weight loss week on Monday. 

There has been much talk in the news of people ruining their bodies through starvation and silly diets in an effort to lose weight.  Eating everything in moderation can surely only help improve your health?  I've seen people lose weight so fast, yet look so drawn and ill from doing so.  Losing weight doesn't have to be like that.  Eating our way is proof you can lose weight eating sensibly.  Eating everything.  We are getting so many comments now about our weight loss - but more noticeably people are saying we look really healthy and well. 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Delightful Friday lunch

This lunch was perfect, and filling enough to take me through the afternoon.  I made a beef bolognese sauce and poured this onto some pasta, grated some tasty cheddar and parmesan and put in the oven.  It was a very welcome warm lunch, with around 450 to 500 calories. (picture removed)

Delicious.

We're off out to the pub tonight, and before we go we're going to have a small sandwich.  On return we will have a jacket potato with some home made curry.  It's all about being prepared.  Our intake for today (being Friday - and we get to eat a full quota of calories) has been varied and we have eaten from all the food groups. A few beers / wine with friends, is the perfect way to round off the week.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Weekly weigh in

Another fabulous week for my partner, who has lost another 1 lb.  On the other hand I have stayed the same. I had lost about 3/4 lb but on my weigh in, this had disappeared.  I'm not sure why, but suspect this has not been helped by the fact it's been pouring with rain and I've walked less lately.

Here is our lunch today.  The only problem with this, was the quiche was cut into thirds - leaving one third left over .... guess where that went (not in the bin).  This reminds me to be realistic about what WILL get eaten.  If there is something more-ish and is still hanging around, it is more than likely going to be eaten at some point.  So either don't buy it, or be honest, and count in what you know you are really going to eat (and stop kidding yourself).  The quiche was around 320 calories, and the salad and potatoes added another 150 or so.  We rarely have pastry now, but this was lurking in the freezer...

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Soups and stews

With the nip in the air, we've set about making our favourite dishes that warm us up.  Today I have prepared a slow cooked beef casserole.  I picked some rosemary, thyme and bayleaves to add flavour.  I'm going to make some dumplings to go with it.  The dish is great for reheating later, and once this is cooked, it'll be left overnight so the flavours can develop.  To help thicken the dish without too much flour, I've very finely diced some of the vegetables so they will break down while cooking.  I've also added about 100g of red lentils. 

We also prepared a carrot and coriander soup last night.  This was so easy, just take a bag of carrots and place in a saucepan, cover with water and add some vegetable stock (powder or cubes).  While simmering away, finely dice a couple of small onions and garlic then gently fry in a little olive oil.  Put everything into a blender, test for seasoning - adding salt/pepper to taste, then add some fresh coriander.  Add the coriander bit by bit, tasting as you go along.  Then simply blend everything together.  Wonderful with a chunk of bread.  Or even better still, we have recently started buying the half baked baguettes, if you like hot, crispy bread. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Searching for healthy foods

Being away from home and away from our kitchen where we could prepare our own food was a bit of a challenge.  With deep fried everything on offer we were not exactly stunned with the choice available.  We did stick to our main rule - not to eat snacks, and ensured when we did eat, it was a full and proper meal.  We walked a lot, preferring to soak up the very late sunshine and warmth which was unusual for October.  After a long weekend with our family and friends, of cocktails and eating out (and eating lots), we suspect our weight will have something to say about that.  I think the size of the portions was enormous, and found myself leaving food, which seemed such a waste.  Still, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and certainly did not hold back on anything.  We hope this temporary boost to our metabolism (sounds so much better than over-eating) will work in our favour.  A few days of fresh ingredients, and lighter meals should help too. 

Today our meals are going to be fresh and simple.  For breakfast I'm going to have porridge, and I've chosen to buy some organic / large oats, as the taste and texture is so much better.  For lunch we are having a small portion of lamb chops with new potatoes and parmesan/rocket salad.  Dinner will be a roast chicken, which I am going to cook in my clay brick.  I haven't cooked a chicken this way for years, and can only recall succulent and crispy chicken, so we are looking forward to this.  I'll be making a beef casserole with dumplings for later in the week, as the weather cools down, these casseroles are such a healthy choice.  There are also going to be plenty of salads to enjoy. 

A few reminders of our London trip, here's one of me trying to catch the moon above St Paul's cathedral on my iphone:

 

And Tower Bridge looked as grand as ever shimmering in the water:


Friday, 14 October 2011

A long weekend away

We will be away for 4 days in London.  It's going to be interesting and we are looking forward to seeing friends and family.  We will be eating our way around the City and hopefully able to make some wise choices from the food on offer.  With plenty of walking on the cards, this will add more calories to our daily allowance. 

To get us off to a good start, we are going to have a brunch of bacon, eggs, sausage, beans and toast.  We can then relax on the train knowing that hunger pangs won't creep up on us.   I was chatting to a friend yesterday, he said he could not understand his weight gain.  He only ate one very large meal per day, and that was it, he said.  He was always on the go and didn't have time to stop and eat all day.  So, what about the snacks?  Yes, after a little persuasion, it emerged he did snack.  In fact, he snacked all day - and finally he admitted he knew this, but chose to not think about it as it never really registered as "food".  This is why we are eating a good old brunch this morning.  It will be filling, nutritious and will stop us snacking until we next sit down and enjoy a good meal, with friends and family in the City.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Moroccan stew - a picture of happiness....

Here is my moroccan stew. It was fantastic, and so low in calories.  We went out tonight and met a few friends in the pub.....stayed a bit longer than anticipated and came back to this wonderful meal.

I topped the wonderful dish with some full fat greek plain yoghurt.  If we had time, we may have added some mint to the yoghurt, and possibly some cucumber, but you know what it's like when you get back from the pub in a ravenous state!!  No Michelin star tonight, but I say the flavours are worth waiting for, and all I did was add the finishing touches to my earlier recipe - spinach and pitta bread.  Absolutely fantastic hot and spicy meal at under 500 calories. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wednesday weight

Everything is looking good.  We have both managed to lose weight over the week, with my partner losing another 1 lb and myself losing about 1/2 lb.  My BMI and fat content are both down slightly, with my muscle content up over the week.

We eat really good food, and enjoy our own choice of food.  Our main exercise has been walking, although recently we have cycled instead of walking.  The exercise is casual and not too aerobic, and therefore stays at that important "fat burning" rate.  We think this is key to losing weight.  So many people go to the gym, and work at an intensity that doesn't burn fat.  We like to use the calories burnt towards treats, for example, we may have a couple of beers before dinner.  Or this week, we are saving them towards a long weekend away.  You have to remember we are trying to eat as normally as possible while still losing weight.  Walking for me is a fantastic way to burn 100 calories per mile - if you are heavier than me you may burn a few more.  It's my calorie "bank" and I use these additional calories in whatever way I choose.  I'm also surprised at how quickly a few steps here and there really add up.  Why take up a more strenuous exercise with all the health benefits walking can give us?

My partner is now in his final stone of weight loss.  It's a weight he said he can never recall.  He looks good and feels healthier. 
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