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.

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