Google+ Forget dieting forever: June 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.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Is it the fat?

As I said, one of my "rules" is to eat normal food. Nothing that has been changed, for example, a low fat yoghurt is something I do not eat. I KNOW I feel fuller for longer on good old real food.

I have just been scanning the weekend newspapers, as I didn't get time to read them. I was too busy making food then eating it. I came across a piece in the paper about a diet using high fat foods and eliminating the carbs (whereas I am NOT eliminating anything by the way). The interesting bit about this was that it tells me that if I eat fat, I do not produce insulin. Perhaps this is why I am finding losing weight so simple? Going back to the yoghurt - if I was to eat a low fat yoghurt, then there is something in the yoghurt to replace the fat that has been taken out. It is sugar. Sugar does not fill me up and as this newspaper article tells me - it makes me produce insulin! I'm no authority on the matter, but I am sure there must be something to this eating lark.

Here is a pic of my lunch. Quite simply, it is colourful, interesting, very tasty. A ham and egg salad at around 350 calories (more if you count the ham I was nibbling as I sliced the joint). Don't forget to put some salad dressing on, as this will help fill you up for longer. I've added a grating of strong cheese (no more than 5g) using the fine grater, and there will be some delicious spuds from MY garden grow bag once they are cooked. Of course I am going to cover them in a dab of butter and salt, then EAT.


The ham is HOME COOKED. Really simple to make. I can only taste a small amount of salt, but not too much unlike the plastic packages. A little salt's good if I've been exercising. I gave the recipe to my daughter and she amazed all her friends with it, and she said it was so easy to cook that she couldn't understand why no one else had ever done it!

I get a piece of gammon from the butcher. Put this in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Throw water away. Cover again with more water, add usual stock veg, carrot, celery, onion, a few peppercorns, teaspoon of honey, few herbs if I have them and bring back to boil. Simmer for 20 mins per pound. Once cooked you can leave the ham in the juices to cool. Or you may wish to remove, cut off most of the fat, cover in honey and place in a hot oven to crisp up for 20 mins? The main thing is, the ham is succulent and tasty and it'll be my guess that you will be eating this again. Be prepared and you can take tasty lunches to work.

Monday crunch time

My weigh in day. After a weekend of fun and food, I was hoping the scales would be kind to me. Was my weigh in good? Yes it was. I am down half a pound. This was amazing. My way of eating is proving to be a recipe for success.

I had been "good" right up until Friday evening. The weekend arrived and I let myself eat and drink anything I wanted to. I didn't count any calories either as I didn't have time and I also wanted to see what would happen if I just listened to my body.

Am I consciously eating less? It didn't feel like it and I ate and drank everything I wanted without any guilty thoughts whatsoever. I felt full for most of Sunday, so maybe I was eating less then? I'm really happy because not once did I feel deprived. There was plenty of chocolate doing the rounds and there was a chocolate brownie cake with lashings of chocolate, and clotted cream! If anything I think I need a good salad to feel normal again (when it used to be the other way round). My relationship with food is finally becoming normal.

My Monday morning weigh in has cheered me on with the fact that during a busy June with a holiday and huge celebration, I never actually put on any weight. In fact I still lost a little weight. I'm now looking forward to July with a weight loss averaging one pound per week again.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A fab weekend in sight

After a few good days, the holiday weight gain has now gone, and in fact I am 1/4lb less than I was before going away!! There has been a litle more exercise than usual, but not in the conventional sense. I've been up and down ladders, sorting out the house in readiness for the arrival of my daughter and her friends this weekend. Exercising by doing all the ironing, sweeping all the corners and creating a palace fit for a queen. A very sociable weekend lies ahead and we are really looking forward to it.

Although I have just returned from shopping, and am starving, I already know what I am going to eat. I'm not tempted to pick, because I'm being extra good, especially with a party weekend in sight.

Breakfast was cereals today, knowing that I would be walking around and doing the shopping. Lunch is a simple sandwich from one of the stores, at just under 400 calories. That is a treat in itself because someone else has prepared it, and it was crayfish and rocket - one of my favourites. That takes me half way through the day on around 600 calories. Just another 900 to go - so plenty left for the evening (and that little bit of chocolate I have sitting patiently in the fridge). My partner was at home for lunch and had this chicken salad at around 250 calories (if he has used the new mayonnaise we found made with real olive oil and a hint of lemon), so he has eaten even less!


As I've said, I don't crave things any more, mainly because my rule is to eat real food, full fat and filling, no substitutes (because I will only want the real thing in the end).

How's this for a bonus - the sun is shining. It's lovely and HOT. So much for the weather forecast? Maybe I will get out there and mow the lawn too, that will give me a few extra calories to add to the Calorie Bank. I've just been out and found some really ripe tomotoes and can't wait to eat them tonight. If you have just ONE plant in your garden/balcony, make it a tomotoe plant. The taste is so different to shop bought, the texture is very soft and it is bursting with a flavour that only a home grown one will give. And the smell is something out of this world.

I'll prepare some pineapple in a while, as that is quite cheap at the moment. Sit this in view (in front of the little bar of chocolate) at the front of the fridge, ready to pick at. It is really juicy and does the trick if I need a quick sweet fix.

The days we are good are not so difficult when we know we can indulge later. The weekends creep round quickly enough to help keep us on the straight and narrow. If I think of going beyond my calorie allowance, I make the choice whether to or not. I ask myself if I really want it so much now, or can I wait until the weekend when I've got more calories to spend.

With so much to look forward to this weekend, eating a little less today so as to enjoy it all later seems so easy. I challenge anyone out there to follow this idea and see for yourselves. See how good it feels to let go, have a good time, while in the back of your mind you're thinking - I can have this. No guilt, no shame, but freedom.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Overspending? Eating too much?

We know when we overspend. We see something we like, don't have the cash, so buy it on credit. Then we spend days, weeks and months paying for it. It's the same with over-eating. See something we like - perhaps cake - go over your daily calorie allowance, and spend days, weeks and months paying for it.

The thing is, we all like to eat treats, but being overweight and wanting to eat something like a cake, usually comes with feelings of guilt. Guilt then increases and before we know it we are eating more. The way I eat now is without any guilt. The freedom from guilt is like unlocking a mystery. In fact, now when I'm eating a cake or pizza or whatever, I know I can eat it, so I really get to enjoy it. I've earned it. We work hard to enjoy our lives, so the odd treat is acceptable and being free to enjoy that treat makes me happy.

When I lost my job I was miserable. Eating too much and putting on weight made me even more miserable. But since finding my own way round the food track, I've also discovered that having something like losing weight to focus on has really helped me become more positive. As far as I see things, I've unravelled my mystery of how to lose weight and carry on eating the things I love. By doing so, I have treated myself to a whole new perspective - and that's a very good view too. I am in control now, and THAT is the most powerful tool. So if you can try and do what I have done, and take control of your life, all you have to really do next is make CHOICES. Choices that you will enjoy. Tweet me with your successes!

If I have to use my credit card, and overspend on calories, then it's usually because I have chosen to, or if not, I take action afterwards.

There is - for me at least - no real secret to losing weight any more. See how I think now. "It's all in the mind".

Weighing it all up

If you get yourself some good food weighing scales, you won't regret it. They are a must.

I've eaten quite a bit of bread today, so I must be after the carbs for some reason? Each slice is weighed and calculated though, as this is the ONE food that can really pack in the calories. Looks innocent enough doesn't it, but there it is concealing all those calories, and that's before adding the fillings.

I wanted a cheese and onion sandwich, so I had one, with mayo. To balance out my day, I will have a really scrumptious pork casserole, which I made earlier and stuck in the freezer. I slow cooked a small shoulder of pork in cider, with a few herbs chucked in. The shoulder joint is by far the tastiest, and slowly cooked in whatever way you choose, is sure to bring a smile to your face. After slow cooking, I let it cool down and sprinkle some ice-cubes on top to soak up the fat. I then remove this and portion up the casserole.

Casseroles are filling and nutrious. Most are low in calories if the fat is removed. Remember all the lovely flavour stays behind for you to enjoy. My casseroles are all very low in calories, and this pork casserole will give me an ample meal for under 350 calories. I'm having mine with spring cabbage, baby carrots, broad beans and - yes - new potatoes. Just remember when you get out the potatoes, to WEIGH them. 125g is enough even though it looks like it's not. Cut them into halves or quarters and they look more, then add a touch of butter and salt. Just get those flavours going on, and you won't think you are eating something tasteless and low in calories - you will be feasting on something fantastic.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Recipe - huge beef stir fry with noodles - just 280 cals!

Make friends with this stir fry! Especially if you can't get much walking in, like me today, as it is pouring with rain. It is very low in calories and your plate can overflow before you even begin to touch that calorie bank account.

Tonight I am having beef stir fry made with RUMP steak, other nights I may have some chicken breast instead and noodles. The total calorie value for my meal is around 280 calories. So if you want something really savoury and satisfying here is the dish that will help you do that. It is surprising just how much beef - or how little - you will need to make a very satisfying portion. Here is what the piece of beef (which is going to make 2 servings) looked like before and after slicing very thinly. There is approximately 120g and which come to just 209 calories (that's just over 100 calories per person, and possibly more than you would get in a restaurant), here is how much that looks like:
The beef was then marinated in a mushroom Stir Fry sauce from the supermarket. We don't add any other seasoning as it is quite strong. If you don't have this stir fry sauce, we would use Soy Sauce, some grated ginger and a bit of garlic - again don't add further salt.

Remember we are after flavour and texture, enough to fill us up, and believe me, this will fill you up. This is a picture of the same 120g rump steak cut ready for the stir fry:


Today I used a packet of pre-prepared supermarket stirfry veg, all readily available. The whole pack is just 80 calories! That's 140 calories for the beef and the vegetables per portion so far. To which we are going to add a few more mushrooms and mangetout. This is your ultimate in fast food at a very low cost both to your budget and your calorie bank. Add whatever you like, peas, peppers, carrots etc. We will have a few noodles which will add around another 140 calories each to the meal. The whole meal is around 280 calories.

Here's what each portion looked like!

COOKING METHOD - SERVES 2 PEOPLE

While the beef is marinating, heat a saucepan to a low heat. Add some vegetable oil or sesame oil if you have some. Put in one small clove of garlic and just a thumb of sliced ginger (around 3g) and fry gently to soften, then remove from the pan and DISCARD. The garlic and ginger is just to FLAVOUR the oil. Turn the heat up then add the beef and fry for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove the beef and set to one side. Now add all the stir fry vegetables and fry for a couple of minutes. Return the beef to the pan to finish off.

If you are adding some noodles, cook according to the instruction in boiling water first, then rinse in cold water. I've noticed the calories are only listed per 100g cooked weight (140 cals)! An experiment shows that one of the 75g blocks of dry noodles will make 200g cooked, so that's 100g for each of us then. Pat dry then add to the stir fry.

Now you can choose whether to have something you really fancy?? Or maybe be extra good and think of all those calories you have added to your Calorie Bank Account??

Walking back to thinness

The scales are not everything - they do not tell the whole truth. Looking at my silouhette, my stomach looks flatter. So my Monday morning weigh in may be witholding what is really going on.

Walking is surely the key? We walked quite a bit in Jersey. Yesterday we had a good hour walking too. As walking takes up around 100 calories per mile, it is a great way to offset indulgences or speed up weight loss.

Walking also makes me feel good. I feel much more positive. Take yesterday, after a leisurely stroll, with a few inclines, I found myself thinking that this was getting easier. So not only is it doing my weight loss proud, walking is helping me get fitter. The exercise must be increasing my body muscle content, and that apparently weighs heavier than fat.

Walking has made me THINK differently too. It gives me time to think about other things, to slow down and enjoy just being able to think. Instead of being annoyed at not getting a parking place near the shops, I enjoy that extra bit of walking I need to do after getting out of the car. In fact, any small amount of walking will add up to extra calories that can go straight into my calorie bank account. I can walk at different paces too and even pick up the pace to almost a light jog.

Thankfully back at home there are no steep cliffs. Meandering around the local streets and up into the woods is much more pleasant, apart from the beautiful beaches. It's amazing what you see, things I have never noticed before. Perhaps I see more now than I ever used to? Well, I certainly see less of me - shrinking before my very own eyes.

Monday morning

The weigh in day! I am happy to report I have stayed the same weight. Being realistic, this is actually a very good result. A few days eating and drinking my way through Jersey's delights, offset mainly by lots of walking, no doubt being the reason for this.

Once upon a time I would have been putting on quite a few pounds after a holiday. I don't know what it is about being on holiday? My body doesn't change, and suddenly become able to soak up any more calories than normal. So why do I think I am entitled to eat more? I'm there with the huge ice-cream telling myself - go on, you know you want to....even if you have just eaten an enormous dinner. I blame the waiting staff, they are just so caring.

Never mind. A temporary and not too disastrous blip. Yesterday was a good day too, and that will go some way to tipping the scales in my favour next time. My good days usually go from Monday to Thursday, so starting earlier gets me back on the losing track - or should I say winning trail. I also aim to pick up the walking a bit this week to stimulate the progress.

I realised while I was away, that a set of weighing scales was important to me. There were none around, and I had to trust my judgment each day. I like to jump on the scales most days, as they confirm what I am thinking.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Feeling relaxed about eating MY way through Sunday

It's been relatively simple so far today. I know what I am going to eat, and I have great food to look forward to. I've made choices about what I want to eat, not what anyone else wants me to eat.

I began the day with about 80g full fat greek yoghurt and some fresh raspberries with a drizzle of honey. I was right, this did not fill me up totally. I said I would have some toast if I wasn't full, but instead I had a couple of slices of a sour dough french stick with a bit of cheese on top. I'm not afraid to eat anything any more.

After about just half an hour tidying up in the garden (bit of exercise) I prepared lunch. The sun stayed out, so it's going to be a small piece of chicken about 100g, a small sausage (or two) and I found some halloumi cheese slices in the fridge. The cheese is on its last "sell by date" day, so may as well throw that on the bbq. I was very surprised at the amount of calories in halloumi, so will only be eating a small amount. There is a freshly prepared side salad with tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and mixed leaves, and a sweetcorn cob. These have been coated in some lovely tasting olive oil, salt and pepper.

TIP: You eat with your brain as well as your stomach. Interestingly I found that buying small sausages tricks the brain. Eating one small sausage registered as having eaten just that - ONE sausage. It could just be me, but I didn't want another? I felt satisfied, so stopped at one! Fortunately the butcher makes great sausages, and the ones we had today were only about 3 inches long - about half the size. So that means I ate half the calories.

The bbq was enjoyable, fun and as I could eat all the lovely food being cooked, I felt satisfied. Had I been on a "diet" I would have probably felt left out and miserable. You will see I didn't have any bread, but that was MY choice, as I want to be able to stand on those scales tomorrow and see a little success. If I had wanted it then I would have done, and there is plenty of room left in today's calorie bank to have some.

The total meal came to around 470 cals.

Chicken breast (100g) 90 cals
35g sausage 103 cals
1 Mini corn cob 90 cals
mixed salad 60g 20 cals
olive oil (teaspoon) 40 cals
new potatoes (100g) 88 cals
butter (5g) 36 cals

As the weather is holding up, I'll be off for an hour's walk to take in some fresh air. Walking is easy for me, and I don't need any special footwear really, so have chosen it as my form of exercise while I am losing this first lot of weight and to add some calories to my bank account. As I get thinner and fitter, I have a sneaky feeling this will turn into running! But I will wait and see.  (Update: May 2012 - as the weightloss was so substantial, we felt that walking was all that was necessary.  Strolling has become part of our life and we find it relaxing and enjoyable, and most of all sustainable).

Preparing and winning

I've been away for a few days and stood on the scales this morning to find I am exactly the same weight as before I left. We basically ate ourselves through Jersey. To compensate for the additional food, we walked quite a bit.

I record my weight loss using Monday morning's weigh in. Taking the Jersey trip into account, I think I will weigh exactly the same as last week or I may just about scrape half a pound in weight loss. I will be very happy with that, as there were NO restrictions whatsoever while I was away.

Normally I will eat a little less from Monday to Thursday, but as this is a topsy turvy week, I am going to be good today. Don't get me wrong, I will still eat whatever I want to eat. I have already prepared my few days ahead, and plan to eat some good quality, full fat, interesting food. There will be some recipes and pics here so you can see exactly what it is I am eating.

I choose to eat what I want to eat. By doing this I never feel deprived. By not feeling deprived I don't BINGE or CRAVE anything, because I tell myself I can have it if I want it.

Today I've just eaten fantastic fresh raspberries on top of a bowl of full fat greek yoghurt with a drizzle of honey. Not only is this absolutely delicious and bursting with flavour, but I feel like the cat that's got the cream. On top of that, the plain greek yoghurt can be bought cheaply by the bucket load unlike all those sugary fruit yoghurts out there. If I'm hungry before lunch I will also have some toast. The yoghurt dish is only around 150 calories, and this may not be enough to satisfy me.

Lunch is going to be some grilled chicken and sausages on the bbq if the weather holds out. I'll make a side salad, which is coated in olive oil, salt and pepper. You will be surprised what salt and pepper does to your salad. Olive oil will make you feel full up for longer, and just a small teaspoonful won't break he calorie bank. To accompany this I am going to make a potato salad, with some fresh new potatoes and a little mayo - don't be afraid to eat the things like mayo etc, as they add flavour. Just make sure you measure it all out and ACCOUNT for the calories. As I keep saying, potatoes are fantastically low in calories, and by adding just a little mayo or butter, you will really enjoy them much more.

I've got a roasted butternut squash soup in the freezer, and will probably have that with a cheese sandwhich later in the day. I've got a recipe for he soup, and will post this later. Fresh soup is fantastic and delicious.

I expect to eat around 1600 calories of my own choice food today. That will give me about 600 to put into my calorie bank, where 3600 will add up to one whole pound of weight loss. It's a game really, I love playing it, and challenge myself to achieve that one pound per week. If I don't make 3600 I don't really mind, as this is a long term strategy and I am winning.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Bread

I used to think bread was the best thing ever. In fact, the more I eat in my new way, the less I like bread. Or should that be - the less I CRAVE bread.

Strangely enough, I have been eating some wonderful filling foods. If I make a salad I will always have a small portion of potatoes to go with it now. Once upon a time that would have been bread - then more bread. After I looked up the calories in bread together with the spread that goes on it, I was shocked just how many were lurking in just a small portion. I decided to watch this intake and find something else to satisfy me.

If I eat bread now, it is generally freshly baked (not by me, as I haven't strayed into bread baking territory yet). The stuff you get in the pre-packed loaves does not taste quite as good although once upon a time I wouldn't have noticed. Now when I choose to have some bread, I am picking out different kinds and as I am having a smaller amount, I like to think this is going to be good to taste. So I am still eating it, but aware of what I am eating and how much.

As I've just been away for a few days, we were stuck one evening with only being able to buy bread rolls that were pre-packed and not freshly baked. The bread felt soft and fluffy, so it was quite fresh, and it had a sell by date some days in advance. I didn't think there would be a problem with it. We wanted to have a bacon and egg roll for breakfast, as we had to be on the move early.

I awoke with anticipation to the smell of bacon. My partner is very kind and had already delivered me a cuppa and all I had to do was wake up and have a shower and stroll into the kitchen.

We dug into our bacon and egg rolls with finess. Hungry bears again, probably a left over weary body craving something from all that walking the day before. I managed to get half way through the roll, and found my appetite stalling. I couldn't finish the roll and had to leave some. The food itself tasted lovely, but I just could not eat any more. For about the next 4 hours our stomachs were aching. I felt bloated, uncomfortably so. It wasn't as if we were eating huge rolls either. The only difference was that they were processed bread rolls. We weren't hungry for ages, so that helped the appetite, but the physical effects were such that we wished we hadn't eaten them at all.

Some of you may think this is a wheat intolerance. However, I can eat fresh bread with no problem at all, and I eat wheat based cereals etc. So what is it about processed bread? I don't know the answer, other than my experience has taught me something - and that's to leave processed bread alone.

Morrocan Casserole

These are the ingredients for my morrocan base sauce. To this you can add whatever takes your fancy: vegetables, lamb or chicken etc.

The thing about our way of eating is that it has to be satisfying. This casserole can be as spicy as you want, and is very warm and comforting. The casserole will make about 4 good portions, and delivers so many flavours all at once. It can be eaten with or without rice, with a pitta or just some crusty bread. I can't recall the total number of calories for the base sauce, but with 100g of chicken per portion, the whole dish will contain around 350 calories.

The dish contains quite a few spices, and I fiddle around with them sometimes, especially if I want something hotter.

1 tablespoon GROUND CORIANDER
2 teaspoons each TURMERIC & PAPRIKA
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
440g tin chopped tomatoes
Small tin butter beans (or haricot etc if you prefer)
100g red lentils (pre-boiled for a minute or two first)
Small piece of ginger
Handful of sultanas
Handful of almonds
About 3 cloves of garlic - use less if you don't like it or leave out
Couple of medium sized onions
2 WHOLE red chillies (whole dried will do)
1 stock cube - veg/chicken/lamb, whatever you have
Bag of fresh spinach (if you like)

Fry the onions in small amount of oil until softened. I use olive oil, as it is supposed to be healthier, and the only oil I have to hand anyway. Add the spices, garlic and ginger. Fry this gently for a couple of minutes. DO NOT add the whole chillies to the frying pan, as these go into the pot in one piece and they are removed at the end of cooking.

Put the fried mix into a pot. Add the stock cube which has been mixed with around 1/2 pint of water. Add the tin of tomatoes, pre-cooked lentils, butter beans and finally the sultanas and almond flakes. Then pop in the WHOLE chillies, which are there to permeate the dish and give a slow lingering gentle heat.

Add any meat at this stage - you could put in SKINNED chicken thighs (then remove bones later), or chicken breast, or lean lamb. The lamb is a bit expensive. Occasionally I have browned some good quality sausages and put these in.

Bring to the boil then simmer for around an hour or so if cooking on the hob. If using a slow cooker like me, I will put this on and go off somewhere for 4 hours before looking at it again.

You may want to add further vegetables. So add any you fancy. I have put in sliced carrots, turnips and sometimes potato if I am particularly hungry and do not have any bread to eat with it. Add the veg about half an hour before the end of cooking time. Just remember if you are using the slow cooker that any veg must be brought to the boil so it is fully heated through, in a separate pan first, then added to the dish, I would add the boiled veg about an hour before the end of the slow cooking time is up.

Oh do not forget to remove those 2 red chillies before dishing up!

As a final touch, I usually throw in a couple of handfuls of spinach. It looks lovely and tastes great.

The dish benefits from cooling down and reheating the next day. In fact I doubt you will be able to wait that long, as the smell is fantastic and you will be dipping into it way before then. I've even eaten it cold as it is just so tasty, and fits perfectly inside a warm pitta bread.

The lentils and butter beans (or chickpeas if you want)bulk out the dish and will fill you up for much longer.

A beautiful spicy warm dish, much healthier because you have prepared it all yourself. Hope you enjoy. It certainly is one of my favourite dishes.

What would you do without butter


Here is the reason the Jersey butter is just so YELLOW. I couldn't resist taking this picture on the way back to the airport, as it had been pouring with rain and I was looking for something to do.

We had caught a bus to St Ouen's bay, which was empty due no doubt to the inclement weather. So we stayed on the bus and went back to St Helier. On the way back the bus driver pulled up at a farm and paid £1 for a huge bag of Jersey royal potatoes. We quickly followed. There we were with our prize potatoes, and all that was needed was some lovely Jersey butter.

As I've said before, potatoes are lovely with butter, and none more so than the variety from this small island. Just weigh out whatever you want to eat, and add this to your calorie bank. Do the same with some good quality butter to increase the intensity of your enjoyment. You will be very surprised at just how little butter you can get away with using, and the impact of flavour this has. Then add a little salt.

Forgetting we are on holiday is one thing, and having a couple of kilos of lovely potatoes left is another. I'm not sure who was the most surprised as my partner's bag went through Customs. Yes, I made him carry them. I'm sure they have seen it all before! So, what did you bring back from Jersey? Jersey pearls maybe? No, a huge bag of those very very tasty Jersey spuds. Who cares, they are sat in my fridge now relaxing, until they adorn our fish meal tonight. We stopped short of taking back some Jersey butter, just in case the sun came out and everything got a bit warm.

We have some haddock in the freezer. This will be seasoned, covered with egg and fresh breadcrumbs later, then placed on an oiled baking sheet and sprayed liberally with oil. After around 25 minutes in a hot oven (180), we generally pop it in a frying pan containing a little oil and butter just to crisp up a bit. We are not afraid of using oil and butter, because we weigh it out and use very little really. It gives the food so much more flavour.

And do you know, while I can't wait to eat my dinner later, I have no reason to snack, because I feel so spoilt.

Chicken casserole recipe

Now you can make this and eat it all week. It is very very tasty. I don't know what the secret is, but apart from anything else, it is fresh, wholesome, tasty and more-ish.

I've never cooked with TARRAGON before, and just wanted to try it, so see if it made a difference to the chicken dish. The pungent aroma studded my kitchen walls during the long slow cooking process, and was so inviting I just could not wait to eat it. Simplicity on a plate.

Take a large pack of chicken thighs, there was about 8 in my packet. Lightly dust with plain flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, and fry these (with skin on) in a pan until brown. Put this into a slow cooker, or if you don't have one, just use a large casserole dish for the oven, or large pot for the hob. Chop some onions and celery (and garlic if you like) and fry these off until brown and add to the pot. You could also add some sliced carrot tooPour some water over, they do not need to be covered, I suppose I used around half a litre. Add some tarragon sprigs, and maybe a few other herbs if you have them - perhaps a little thyme and rosemary (but not necessary).

Slow cook in the water and herbs/veg until the chicken pieces are nice and tender. This may take around 4 or 5 hours in a slow cooker, but less in a normal pot. Just keep checking until they are tender. Once cooked, remove the thighs from the pot, and when they have cooled enough to handle, take off all the skin and discard. Next, remove the bones and chop the meat up into nice chunks, not too small.

The liquid remaining in the pot will contain all the goodness from the skin/bones. This will give the much needed flavour to the dish, in effect you are creating your own stock, so perhaps you won't resort to adding a stock cube? If you do, add sparingly. The casserole liquid needs to be thickened, and I use a little corn flour mixed with cold water before adding to the casserole. If the liquid looks a little pale, I add a dash graving browning. Now taste the dish. If it tastes bland, add a bit of salt at a time until you begin to actually enjoy the taste.

Put the meat back and bring back to the boil, then simmer. Then I put in the suet dumplings. Just follow the instructions on the pack. Let these simmer away gently, and try not to stir too much or the chicken will break up, until the dumplings are cooked. Serve with potatoes and veg.

This casserole meal with dumplings comes to under 300 calories. Each portion contains about 2 thighs (just the meat of course). I like to freeze portions of this as it resurrects beautifully.

Happy eating.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Rain and caviar

Well almost caviar. With the rain set in we decided not to venture out during our short stay in Jersey. Once in the fish market this morning, we picked out some shellfish and decided upon a feast of uber fresh oysters, prawns, crab and lobster. We thought the prices were pretty cheap and not to be missed. This lovely food is packed with protein and keeps the hunger at bay for a long time. Have just enjoyed the experience and feel totally content. Nothing too heavy but all delightful. Why pay more at a restaurant?

A fresh side salad and a glass of bubbly was a must. The tomotoes were so tasty that a dressing was almost not required, but as we take the view that a little olive oil won't go amiss, plus it fills you up for much longer, and we are on a short break - then why not!

Bread was the starch for the day, and a crusty roll was enjoyed alongside our seafood platter.

Simple - enjoyable and delicious.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The rectangular beef burger

After a satisfying salty lunch, I really fancied something tasty and meaty. We opted for a burger - home made of course, and sitting meakly between a french stick. Reason. French stick was the only really available fresh choice of bread. It was actually more tasty than a roll which can be quite stodgy and round in comparison. I like french bread, it is crispy on the outside and moreish on the inside, so I thought - why not.

The only problem with the french stick was its shape - it wasn't round. On the other hand, you do not have to eat round shaped burgers,do you? My home made burger mixture (see previous blog)contained some extra garlic, so once added to the meat and onion I kneeded away. I then formed oblong shapes and cooked. These went into the french stick along with some decent salad and grated cheese. No mayo required due to the immense flavour that poured out of the succulent juicy burger. What a fab dinner, despite the disturbing thoughts as to whether it was a burger or not, just because it was not round? Serve with a small side salad and glass of red wine. My taste buds were tickled and my hunger hugely satisfied. Calories? Well, the burger ingredients would amount to 150g of minced lean beef - say 250 calories inside a bit of french stick - say 150 calories. Total honest decent fresh food is less than 600 calories and worth the wait. Do it. Twitter me and tell me you did not enjoy this feast if you honestly tried it. No mayo, no tom sauce, just good old fresh ingredients. Have a good day.

Monday, 13 June 2011

What I am eating today

Yet another magical diet. There must be thousands out there. All promising wonderful things, and all written in such a way that you believe everything. I noticed a full page spread about a celebrity who had recently lost enough weight that the two pictures really showed a difference. What comes next? A book or dvd about it. The success is there for all to see. The mystery is about to be revealed. We are all waiting in anticipation, waiting to hear how they did it, waiting for the magical potion, magical food combination, answer to thinness. While we wait we have another cheeseburger, we stock up on our favourite snacks in readiness. You can step off the merry-go-round, and face up to reality.

I've lost 20 lbs in 20 weeks without following someone's diet. I was honest with myself for just one day, and was amazed at just how much I snacked. I love food and love eating. I eat whatever I want to and the weight is slipping away gradually. I have freed myself from the awful relationship I had with food, and I now view eating in a totalling different way.

Today I am going to eat the following - bearing in mind that this is one of my 4 days of being good.

Ham and eggs for breakfast.
Croissant as a mid morning snack - because I want one.
Tuna and potato salad, as I particularly love this combination (see previous blog pages for recipe).
Chicken casserole with dumplings, potatoes and veg. Scrummy homemade stuff from the freezer.

I am also planning to go for a long walk today, so the 3 or 4 miles will be added to my calorie bank, which is about 100 calories per mile. I don't need to go mad in a gym, but just take some fresh air, enjoy the scenery and WALK. I caught a glance of my ankles in the mirror just now, I smiled as they are looking a little slimmer. I thought I was stuck with fat ankles forever!

When I get time I will put the chicken casserole recipe up. It is so delicious and comforting, that I can't wait to eat it.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Today's food delights

Wow what a busy day I've had. My food has been determined by the day. I've eaten cereal for breakfast, crab sandwiches for lunch and finally homemade beef burgers with eggs and salad for tea.

The crab meat came from the fishmongers yesterday, as it was on special offer. We fancied bread, so a crab sandwich was in order. What a treat. We shared a pack of ready salted crisps. Now the great British tradition is a sandwich and crisps - I don't know why, but it is. However, since being on our new eating plan, we have found that salty foods are more desirable after we have been walking. Is it just the salt that the body desires? Whatever, we nibbled on a few crisps and they complimented the sandwiches, along with a side salad.

Dinner was a home made beef burger. We ate this with an egg and a side salad, because we had eaten enough bread and just didn't want it again. My partner makes a surperb burger. If you have ever tried making a burger you might find it falls apart as it is cooking - here is the reason why. You will need to buy some lean mince, not too lean, and place in a bowl with some seasoning. Have whatever you fancy. We usually put quite a LOT of salt and pepper in, together with some very very finely chopped or grated raw onion and garlic. After this, just add whatever you like eg chilli powder, fresh chilli, mustard, etc (go for it). Now KNEAD the mixture for at least 3 minutes because this will stretch the PROTEINS and make the burger stick together. There is NO NEED to add egg. The kneading process is the bit that most people do not know about and the burgers fall apart.

We enjoyed a huge burger with a fried egg, boiled new potatoes which were then finished off by frying in the burger juices, and a hugh side salad. What an absolute treat. Oh the flavours. Forget counting calories because this was still under my allowance for the day (on a rough count). I do not believe in being precise about calories on the normal days, as it can drive you insane, and really not mean anything at all. After all, it is only the guide books that tell you 2200 calories are allowed (well for me, being a female of a certain height, so make sure you check your allowance out). But, I cannot programme my body with that figure, so obviously you have to take everything with a pinch of salt - LITERALLY. Just let your instincts kick in and be HONEST. By being honest with yourself you will soon learn what it is you have been hiding for so long.

Most diet classes chastise you for deviating from the diet they hand out. Just remember that this is YOUR life, you CHOOSE what to eat, and you are only kidding yourself if you fail to be honest about what you eat.

ENJOY WHAT YOU EAT AND BE HONEST. YOU WILL BE REWARDED.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Brunch then dinner

After a hearty brunch of fried bacon, sausage, egg, mushroom and tomotoes, I will be treating myself to seabass on a bed of chilli noodles. I am going to put the pic on the blog later, as the seabass is fantastic. It will go some way to balancing the calories for the day too.

When cooking the bacon, take the fat off the slices and put the fat to one side. Most standard bacon is full of water, and you need to get this out. Place the trimmed slices of bacon into an oiled saucepan. Fry out the water and tip the water away. Take out the bacon and put to one side as it is only half cooked at this stage. Put the fat pieces into the pan and fry these on a LOW heat to render out all the fat. Once the fat starts to appear, replace the bacon into the pan and continue to cook to your liking. I like it nice and crisp. This will give the bacon ALL the flavour you would want without the calories.

Friday, 10 June 2011

And for the rest of my day............

My rules for eating are to restrain myself to 1500 calories for up to 4 days out of 7, then eat my normal 2200 calorie allowance for the rest of the week. I feel this hoodwinks the body into letting go of fat in the long run. Well it's worked for me. Losing one pound per week on average while NOT eating diet foods is proof it works.

Today I had full fat greek yoghurt and raspberries for breakfast. Lunch was a simple affair, and I loved the poached eggs so much yesterday that I had another with toast (and yes, butter) and baked beans. I snacked on a couple of biscuits (not digestive but morning coffee) as I fancied something sweet. Each biscuit was 20 calories each, and enjoyed this with fresh coffee.

Food total so far today is just under 600 cals:

Breakfast 159 cals
Lunch about 380 cals
Snack/coffee 60 cals

This leaves me with 900 cals if I restrict my day or 1600 cals left to eat and drink if I say this is a "normal" day. As I plan to go out and see some friends I think this will be a 2200 calorie day for me, as it's Friday this is usually the case.

We are going to have a jacket potato with moroccan chicken. I made a lovely slow cooked moroccan chicken curry using chicken thighs. I removed all the bones, chopped the meat and put it back with the spicy sauce. This was frozen in portions. Goes well with a jacket spud, which we will put on a slow heat while we are up the pub, and we arrive home to a hot ready meal which is home cooked, and very tasty. The chicken curry is so low in calories and not swimming in fat but oozing an inviting aroma (which, when I was cooking it, the workmen outside thought it smelled so good they asked what it was!). I worked out that a largish portion came to around 270 calories. So add the jacket and the whole meal will cost 500 calories. OK that sounds a lot, but it's ready and waiting and much lower in calories than a takeaway. And as you know, after a few drinks, you're starving.

I've just returned from a 20 minute walk to the shop. That will give me another 100 or so calories of energy to add to the bank. We are going to walk to the pub and back (2 miles = 200 cals = 2/3 pint of lager for free).


I will get some recipes on the site soon. And pics - once my iphone updates which is going to take 4 hours apparently! There is an exciting dish coming up tomorrow, as I think we will be having seabass with a twist so watch this space.

And so to bed, with chocolate............

What a long day! I've not snacked much today because I've been out and about, but I'm beginning to think about chocolate which I love. I am working towards just 1500 calories per day (Monday to Thursday) and if I stick to this for at least 3 of these days, I get free reign for the weekend. Today I have been very good so far, and there are quite a few unspent calories in the bank, so a bit of chocolate won't go amiss.

I've made myself a very nice chocolate drink with dare I say came from some posh high street chocolate flakes. What a wonderful way to fall asleep with chocolate lips. I've also got a mini bag of chocolate to inhale. I can have more if I want to because I have enough "uneaten" calories, but I am saving those for the weekend. In fact I could have quite a huge bar of chocolate if I wanted to right now. I always think that while I am aiming for 1500 calories, if I am absolutely desperate, I can go the whole hog and eat 2200 calories and have a normal day's allowance (which equates to a 700 calorie bar of chocolate) and still not put on weight. I'm not calling that healthy eating of course, but I am just being realistic. Sometimes we just need a big treat. Tonight though I am happy with my drinking chocolate and just the small bag of chocolate (because I know I can have more if I want to).

I hope to weigh less in the morning because of my choices today. If I don't then I won't be unhappy because I KNOW I have eaten less than I am actually entitled to eat. And that's enough for me. Goodnight.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Simple and delicious easy dinner

Having just arrived home later than anticipated I am now starving. I managed to drive past many takeaways, as Thursday should be a good day. If I want a takeaway I can have one tomorrow. The cupboard is a little bare, but I have decided to make myself home-made oven chips with eggs. I could have gone to the chip shop, and got fish and chips, but my other half is away tonight, so I have no one to share it with. Still, I can whip up some lovely tasty chips in seconds.

Take a large potato (or two if you need). Cut this into quite large chunky chips. If you have time, put them into a saucepan and boil, simmer for about 3 mins, drain and pat dry. I'm not sure if this does anything other than cook them quicker. If you don't have time, don't worry. Next, put in a bowl and pour over enough oil to give them a good coating, and I mean a good coating. Not swimming in fat, just well coated so they don't stick to the baking tray. Season well, if you fancy something other than salt, then put it on - cajun etc, whatever takes your fancy. Put these in the oven, around 180c, and turn after 30 mins. Yes, they do take a while to cook, but you will find they are worth the wait.

I have a 250g potato. Now, a lot of people seem to shun potatoes when dieting, but they are so low in calories - 60 cals per 100g. So don't be afraid of the great potato, so nutritious and filling.

DO NOT use that awful diet substitute for oil, you know, that spray on stuff that comes out some horrid white colour and doesn't work. You want to be savouring gorgeous crispy, flavoursome chips, not soggy flavourless batons.

I have just perfected the "poached" egg. Fantastic. Take a small saucepan and fill with water. Bring to the boil, add a shot of vinegar (which brings down the boiling point) and set the pan to simmer. Crack the eggs into a small cup first, then drop them in the pan and DON'T TOUCH. In about 2 minutes they will look like lovely plump fluffy poached eggs. I may have 2 eggs tonight, as I am quite hungry. Grate some cheese on top to give them a beautiful flavour if you like. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I am going to have some mushrooms and tomatoes with this meal - that way I will have a vegetarian meal. Also, the vegetables give the plate some colour, which is pleasing to look at, and makes me feel virtuous.

Total calories for this meal is (with 2 eggs) 380:

Chips (with oil) around 200 cals
Eggs are about 70 cals each
Mushrooms and tomatoes are just about free - let's say 40 cals, and that's done in the oven too, with a little spray of oil (I have this wonderful gadget that you can fill with good decent oil). If you haven't got a spray, just brush some oil on, or brush the tray.

Today has been a very good day, and I haven't eaten that much really. I have decided to have a slice of bread and butter (yes, real butter) so I can make a chip butty. The bread will be one of the most expensive calorific items, but I have plenty of room for it, so why not. My mouth is watering now, so I will leave you with that thought - which for me is going to be a reality very shortly! Oh, and one final note - this is homemade food, not processed (apart from the bread), so it is very healthy.

Cheese cheese and more cheese please

It is not just your stomach that registers the amount of food you have eaten. It's your brain. Here is an example:

The cheese I am going to use on my tuna salad at lunch time is 10g of a really tasty strong cheddar. Calories are just 40. The flavour enhancement to my meal is powerful and satisfying, so why do I need more? I grate the cheese using the fine grater - it looks more, as you can see in the picture. The piece of cheese on the right hand side is the same weight, but looks pathetic in comparison and let's be honest, something you can pop in your mouth without thinking. To get the idea of the size of the piece of cheese, I've stuck a cherry tomatoe on the plate. So which looks more.

My salad is now going to benefit from a 40 calorie taste explosion.

Weigh in

Another 1/4 lb lighter, and my partner is another 1/2 lb lighter. We know weight fluctuates daily, but are both delighted that this fluctuation is downward. Weighing every day is just a habit, and we only take the weight recorded on a Monday to record our weight loss. Since Monday I have lost 1 lb and my partner 1 1/4 lb, and that is because we have both been keeping within our calorie allowance.

It wasn't long ago when we tried a diet that only allowed us to eat certain foods. That was just about the most inconvenient diet ever, it did not fit into our lifestyle and more importantly, did not teach us anything about the food we were eating. We submitted all control to the diet, and yes, it did work, but as soon as we went back to eating our normal food again, the weight went back on. WHY. Simply because we had not learned anything - other than that the diet had worked and normal eating hadn't. We didn't want to do the diet again because we were both fed up with it.

We felt that eating was taboo, especially eating our favourite foods and that to lose weight, we had to eat special foods cooked in certain way. We hear this all the time from others who say they can't lose weight, and it's just the way they are. This usually results in over eating the things we deprive ourselves of, and as I know I've done, saying to ourselves as we eat "oh I give up" and resigning ourselves to being fat.

Just stop and think logically. Every day our body needs nourishment in the form of fuel. For an average woman that is 2200 calories per day. I then track everything I eat for one day and find I am consuming 2300 calories per day. That 100 extra calories per day adds up to 36500 per year. An additional pound of FAT on my body takes 3600 calories, so I will have put on around 10 lbs in a year if I continue to eat that 100 extra calories.

I am simply eating a little less per day. On 3 or 4 good days, I hope to eat about 700 calories less, but still eat the food I love. This may be by reducing the portion. For example, we share a large piece of fish and take a handful of chips from a delicious portion of takeaway fish and chips. We get to savour the wonderful flavours, our head registers we are eating the foods we enjoy, and everyone is happy. Isn't that better than giving up, eating the whole large portion of fish and chips while thinking "oh I give up". I suppose we throw away about half the chips, which IS difficult, but this brings our calories for that meal at most to around 800 which is not bad, and we no longer crave fish and chips! It's also much better than some low calorie substitute which does NOTHING to stop the cravings. The fish is fresh, the batter crispy and light and the chips are, well, real chips.

For the rest of the week I eat closer to 2200 calories. I enjoy life, I love eating, I can go to parties and eat all the lovely food I want to. I generally hope that by the end of the week I will have saved 3600 calories and reduced by about 1 lb. To boost this likelihood, I go for walks. One mile will give me about 100 calories to add to my calculation.

I used to think that when eg the doctor said all I had to do to lose weight was eat less and exercise more, that this was silly. I am living proof that this is not such a silly idea after all. For some it is not the quick fix, but for me, it is SO easy that I intend to continue past my initial target. My partner said it is the easiest thing he has ever done, and so easy in fact, that he (and I) will be continuing for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The non diet rules

I do not eat low fat diet foods
I eat full fat foods eg greek yoghurt
I am never hungry
I promise my body good nutritional food
I eat and drink plenty and I am never deprived of ANYTHING
There are no faddy foods in my eating plan
So far I have lost 20 lbs in weight - (one pound in weight per week)

The only other thing I know is that I am currently allowed to eat 2200 calories per day. So I eat whatever I want up to that limit on 3 days of the week, usually the weekend when I am socialising. For the remaining 4 days I reduce this amount, and slowly but surely, still eating my favourite foods and not giving anything up, the weight is coming off. If I want a few more calories to eat, then I go for a walk. I earn my cake.

Why follow a faddy diet? Take control of your life, and be happy eating what YOU WANT.
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