Thursday, 31 May 2012

The inevitable

It happened. I gained. Curse me and my positivity and optimism last week. Curse me a hundred times over. I went to weigh in, and gained a pound. Ok it's only one teeny little pound, but still - I am slightly gutted. Granted I had a dominos during the week, and a Chinese takeaway, but I have synned all that. If I'm honest I don't think the gain is about what I have and haven't eaten this week, and is entirely about ill health.

I have been pretty poorly with a chest infection this week, and the antibiotics I have been taking have been giving me horrible stomach cramps. I've been struggling to breathe and I've generally felt sorry for myself. I haven't eaten badly at all but I remain convinced that's the reason for the gain. I only wanted 2.5lb off this week, chasing my next award.

One thing is for sure - I will lose next week. I am now hoping for 3.5lb, to get my 3.5st award. Hopefully once I stop taking the pills my body will get back to normal. It's going to be back to plan, 100%.

Trust me.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Boom! That just happened!

Last week two great things happened. I got my 3 stone award and I bought new jeans, TWO sizes smaller than those I started this journey in. I bought them from a supermarket from their normal person range, rather than my previous clothing suppliers which were either a) shops for fat people b) websites for fat people or c) fat people ranges in other shops. I'm still in a big size but I'm now at the top end of the normal range and my clothing options have massively increased.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these shops, don't get me wrong. I've had many a gorgeous outfit from Evans and Simply Be in particular, but the excitement of getting something from a non plus size range was huge. I must point out that both Evans and Simply Be start at a 14 and Evans have recently introduced a "shape guide" to help you pick clothes which flatter your shape.

Obviously buying new clothes will be lovely, but the downside is how expensive it will be. Even buying from supermarkets I am going to have to be canny to not spend a fortune and waste a lot. To be honest, I'm hoping to capsule wardrobe my way through the diet, getting by with a pair of jeans, black of trousers, a few tops and ideally a denim skirt for the summer. I have a beautiful button through denim skirt already thankfully, and will be wearing it very very soon!

At the time of writing the jeans I bought last week are looking a but baggy on the legs, and the dress i wore last night to a wedding was distinctly baggy. Maybe I won't be wearing the jeans for long...

The attached pictures go someway to showing where my motivation is coming from. I really am beginning to believe I can do this.

See you at the shops.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Souper Douper

Let's get this out there, right here, right now - I hate soup. It's dull, and so hit and miss. Is it a drink? Is it food? If it's a drink why is it lumpy and textured? If it's food after all then why is it runny? There's no other food which falls into this strange texture mid ground. Oh wait, yes there is - smoothies, and I don't like them either.

The fact that I don't like soup confounds many (myself included) because it seems such a blanket statement to make when there are so many flavours and varieties available. I can make a very nice soup - I would never buy it - and Richy enjoys when I do since the options being limitless. It just holds no interest for me at all. Oh how I wish it did! It's filling, warming in Winter and very healthy. Full of nutrients and low in nasties it's hard to argue against it. Also, unlike smoothies soup is totally free on Slimming World as long as you don't use oil or butter/cream etc. (Smoothies need to be synned because of the sugars in fruit.)

With the "I hate soup" message in mind, I'm sure you'll agree that it's a little strange that I've spent the past two mornings making - you guessed it - soup. Every now and again I find a recipe which tickles my taste buds and I try it. In the past I've made sweet potato and chorizo soup, butternut squash soup and a lot of carrot and honey amongst others. You'll notice that the soups mentioned are largely root based soups - if I am going to eat soup it has to be smooth and it has to be thick. I'm not interested in broths and root veg offer a natural way to make a nice thick soup. I want my soup to hold my spoon up! Also I tend to favour sweeter vegetables for soup, it would seem. I also demand bread with soup - lots of it, preferably buttered, but sacrifices must be made, so out goes the butter!

The two I have made had mixed results, and as is so often the case in this house I have Jamie Oliver to thank for the recipes. Both are from his Ministry of Food book. I have made a creamy tomato and basil soup and a carrot, parsnip and ginger soup.

The tomato one was tasty and smooth, but a little on the thin side for my liking. Served with my B choice for the day, a dry Weight Watchers petit pain, I ran out of soup before bread. This has never happened before so I take that as a good sign. A bit more carrot or maybe potato to thicken a little more. 9/10, will make again. I think.

The carrot, parsnip and ginger soup was lovely and thick. Bright yellow and lightly spiced with ginger and black pepper it packs a gentle punch but the love just isn't there. I ran out of bread first, a WW petit pain again, and could probably have finished the soup with more bread. The extra bread would defeat the purpose of the free soup, so my bowl is not empty. 4/10 unlikely to make again unless Richy likes it.

So there we have it. A might make again and a probably won't make again. Both are lovely soups but i just cant get enthused. If i can eat the tomato soup occasionally though, it at least gives me another lunch idea. Richy has taken tomato to work today for his lunch... wonder what he thinks....?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Family favourite

Despite Heather saying she "doesn't like tomato", Chicken Parmagiana is a major hit in this house and in recent months (basically since we all started eating together regularly) I would say this has become our clear family favourite. By measuring out my breadcrumbs and using my HEA for my cheese (both Parmesan and mozzarella) I can bring this in at only 1 syn, and that syn is all in the breadcrumb. You could obviously use your B choice for this but for a few breadcrumbs, I would prefer to syn it. I work on 3 tbsp home dried breadcrumbs per chicken breast, which in this recipe is enough for two adults (or one mummy and two kiddies). I would agree this doesn't sound like a lot of chicken, and certainly the first time I made it I was worried we would be hungry but to be honest it genuinely is sufficient for even the hungriest tummy.

It's a classic Italian dish - I'm not claiming to have reinvented the wheel here. The first one I tried was on but now I make my own version. Here is my take on it:

Chicken Parmagiana - serves 2

1 chicken breast
3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (1.5 syns)
40g Parmesan (2/3 of your EE allowance)
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Italian herbs or oregano
Pinch of chilli flakes
250ml passata
Salt and pepper
Worcestershire sauce
30g mozzarella cheese (the other 1/3 of your EE A choice)

200g fettuccine/linguine

1. Slice your chicken breast through the middle to give you 2 thin chicken breast. Cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin to thin them out to about a £1 coin thickness.

2. Mix your Parmesan and crumbs, season well. Dip your chicken into the egg, then into the crumbs. Chill until required. When its time to cook them, put them under a preheated grill for a few minutes each side until cooked. This step can be done in advance.

3. Spray a grill safe frying pan with frilight and cook the onion and garlic until soft. Add the passata, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, chilli and seasoning, then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring until it is rich and thick.

4. Boil your pasta and 5 minutes before it is ready put your chicken into your tomato sauce (still in the frying pan), scatter with mozzarella and put under the grill until the cheese is melted and your sauce and chicken are piping hot.

5. Lift out the chicken and mix your pasta into your tomato sauce. Top with your cheesey chicken breast and serve sprinkled with extra Parmesan (don't forget to syn it!)

As you can see, my girls thoroughly enjoyed it! I hope you do too!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Fresh Is Best

It's fair to say that eating fresh and healthy produce is not the cheapest way to eat. It drives me nuts, but fruit, veg and meat are expensive and ready meals are sadly cheaper in many cases than buying the fresh ingredients and making it yourself from scratch... whatever "it" might be. Lasagne is a fantastic example - by the time you've bought the mince, veggies and all the other bits and bobs to make the ragu (although in my kitchen a good bit of it is store cupboard basics), plus spent the time lovingly simmering your ragu, making your white sauce and baking the afore mentioned lasagne it has certainly cost you more money and time than a ready meal would.

The thing is that for me this time or money isn't poorly spent. There are few things I enjoy more than spending a few hours in the kitchen making a quality meal for family or friends and watching them eat it with gusto. I'm not going to lie and say there aren't days I can't be bothered, or days I want to order a takeaway because there are - I'm only human! - but the vast majority of the time cooking just isn't a chore. What I am saying is that the positives of cooking fresh far outweigh any negatives for me. Not that I can actually think of any negatives - the quality produce, no additives, less salt, knowing exactly what's in there. It's all good from where I'm standing.

If you want to go to a slimming club and you like to cook, then Slimming World is definitely worth while considering. I can't speak for other points based slimming clubs, but I do know that so many of the kitchen basics are free with SW (including all herbs, spices, vinegars, stock and even worcestershire sauce) that you can eat normal, family friendly meals without sacrificing taste. Oil and butter are no-go areas for me now owing to the high syn value, but that doesn't mean I can't cook old family favourites, such as lasagne - Richy's Desert Island Dish - or Chicken tikka masala. It just means I have to be a little more thoughtful, making wise substitutions for the oil and dairy products where necessary. It doesn't mean that I can't use my good old favourite books either. Both my Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver books have had an airing recently, in fact my chicken tikka recipe is a Jamie recipe.

Anyway, the point is that by cooking fresh and not using ready meals or packet sauces, you can really eat syn free saving all syns for condinents, snacks, treats or alcohol. Our dinner tonight was a creamy chicken, bacon and asparagus risotto. A shop bought, chilled risotto with chicken and/or mushrooms could cost you between 9 and 11 syns! By contrast, the one I made tonight was delicious, healthy and totally syn free - using my A choice for all my parmesan. I only used a splash of wine which ordinarily I would either syn or miss out altogether. However, now the bottle is open I suppose we'd better drink the wine - after all, it is Friday.

So enjoy your weekend, kids, I'm sure going to enjoy mine.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Oh dear.

To celebrate my 2.5 stone award last Wednesday (plus birthdays) me and Richy have just been out for dinner with Ali and Iain.... for a curry. As I say, oh dear.

Were we out for a la carte it wouldn't be so bad because wise choices could be made (tandoori chicken for example). But not tonight. No chance. No siree. Tonight was an all you can eat buffet. Ha! I managed some pakora and poppadom starters (what a hardship) and some curry, rice and bread (it's a tough shift). A few beers later (oops) and I've polished off about 70 syns. At least. Wow. Easy done over one meal. Still, it was most enjoyable and it's not something I am indulging in very often. In fact, not at all since January. And it was lush. Also, the fact I know I have a healthy free chicken marinating in my fridge for tomorrow helps. True it contains Indian spices again, but I'm hoping my recreation of Jamie Oliver's Empire Roast chicken tastes as good as the picture looks. A heady mixture of yoghurt, spices, garlic, chilli and ginger I'm hopeful it will be mild enough for the whole family. Don't worry, I'll be sure to keep you informed.

Tonight something happened though which hasn't happened in a very long time. I looked in the mirror... And liked what I saw. My outfit tonight was a direct recreation of my outfit from last week, a picture of which you are no doubt sick of looking at, but I have posted again for any (un)fortunate souls or new visitors who haven't seen it before. My hair is now long enough that I can put it in a side bun (with the help of a donut). My jewellery is a personal mixture of white gold and costume, and somehow in my 31st year I am more adventurous with make up than I have ever been, trying new colours and products. That doesn't really make sense to be honest. A teenage me should be happier playing with blue nail polish than I am now, as a 31 year old mother of two. Im going for it though, not afraid to try things out. Despite all this, I know I still have a long way to go. It's nice liking what I see though. Long may it continue.