Saturday, 29 December 2012

Time to take down

Well hello.

Two days in a row - we are on a roll!

Well as the title suggests today was the day that I decided to take the decorations down, they have been up since 1st December and much as I love them I figure that Xmas is over and really I should get the house back to normal.

It didn't take long to pack it all away and get back to normal. While I was on a roll I packed up some of the bolognese to go in the freezer for weekday teas - making sure to label it so I don't forget what was in it.

As promised the lovely Mr Ocado turned up at 8am and delivered my goodies. There was nothing missing which I love :) and as I'd stocked up on some of my favourite items I was doubly pleased.

Nice thin breadsticks. Orzo pasta (for Nigella's orzo rizotto - yum), Stapleton's low fat fig & date yogurt with grains (so good with fruit) and finally my beloved balsamic - costs the earth but it is worth it as a little goes a long way. I wouldn't pay £12.99 for a bottle of wine but balsamic?! hell yeah :)

After my busy early morning I settled down for some breakfast and a Sky+ fest of my recorded Xmas programmes.

 Mushrooms, spaghetti hoops (oooh, it's been ages), scrambled egg and 2 Linda McCartney sausages - rosemary and red onion. On the side a nice black coffee and for a little later some Greek yogurt, Stapleton Fig & Date yogurt and a sliced banana. Breakfast of champions.

I spent the remainder of the morning lounging but came back to earth with a bump when I realised that I did in fact have a lunch date and 30 minutes to get ready - still in my PJ's at this point. But I managed it and had a lovely lunch with some slimming buddies. I kept it good with steak pie (minus the pastry) a jacket & peas.

So now the hubbie is at the pub and its me and a snacky platter to hold me over until tea time.

Oh, and a little bit of this - another Santa gift.

Plus a peek of my Xmas slippers.
Tea is to be steak, jackets and a garlic mushroom dish - I can't wait.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Make way for the sloth

Ooooh, how long has it been?!

Now most people take a break from blogging for a few days...... erm. Nearly a year?!Hmmm how easy we forget.

In my defence I had a lot going on this past year but regardless, I never expected to be away so long. Needless to say I have a lot to fill you in on but all in good time.

All we need to know for now is that I've had a good year in the main but the upshot is that I am larger than this time last year (by a LOT) and this blog was helping motivate me and keep me on track.

So I am back, camera in hand and ready to go, I am treating this as journal for me. To try and keep on track and keep a check on myself.

But enough with the boring stuff, let me get to PICTURES!!

Shall I start with tonight's tea? delicious and filling and always hits the spot - spag bol.

Spag bol topped with red cheese always reminds me of my childhood! We only ever had Red Leicester or Edam at home - oooh, Edam, not had that in years.

So my spag bol has a few healthy additions. Firstly I use a combination of ex lean minced beef and Quorn mince. This works brilliantly and the husband has no idea it's in there. So you get to healthy it up without sacrificing on authenticity or flavour.

Secondly I add lots of hidden veggies into the mix. This one had grated carrot, courgette, diced yellow pepper and onion. Because I cooked it for a good 3 hours on simmer, the veggies melted into the sauce but also help to bulk it out a little.

Thirdly I always serve my spag bol with some kind of side, this goes on the plate first so as to limit the serving of spag bol I give myself (I am greedy with pasta).
Tonight I had lambs lettuce (a fave) with roasted sprouts, courgette and shallot. To ring the changes with the veg I added mixed spice and a tsp of honey in the roasting tray and they went perfectly with the main.

Finally that nostalgic red cheese is a reduced fat variety (50% to be precise). All the flavour and less fat - win win so a little goes a long way.

I'm currently enjoying a cuppa in
my new Xmas mug before early bed.
Thanks Santa ;)

Early delivery tomorrow from Mr Ocado - I am sure there will be some goodies to share with you from that, gotta love Ocado - but only treat ourselves every so often.

Right, catch ya on the flip side. Nice to be back.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Sales baby

Don't ask me how I did it but I managed to get the husband to the sales today...... miracle.

We headed into York early in order to beat the crowds but fortunately it was fairly quiet.

I had in mind some things I needed - a baby present for a little girl born on Xmas day (aaah!) and I wanted to nip into Lush to see if they had any of my favourite shower gel in stock.

We started with the baby outfits. I found a few that I really liked in M&S in the sale but settled on this knitted flower dress with tights for £9.

The suit underneath I got as it was a bargain (£5) so will put in the gift cupboard for another baby gift.... NOT for me if that is what you were thinking.

Then to Boots and picked up a couple of sale items for the gift cupboard:

I also took advantage of some offers on their 'Shapers' range and got some crisps and bars which are low syn on Slimming World:

Next had a pair of shoes that would do for work. You know you are getting old when you go for the Heavenly Soles range.... hmmmm.......

That picture looks like I've had them years! Think it was the bad light!!! They are blinking comfy I have to say. Move over grandma.

I got to Lush, my newest re-discovery.
I bought a little bottle of their very pink 'Snow Fairy' shower gel before Xmas to try.
I thought I would hate it as it is really sickly sweet in the bottle. But in the shower......... oooooh, pure pink bubble-heaven.

I was psyched to see that it was 50% off in the sale too!!!! Bonus.

You may think I went a little 'Snow Fairy' barmy:

As I bought 4 of them. Ahem.
Buuuut, once sold out my favourite fairy will not be making an appearance until October so I bought a few in order to get me through until then........!!!

I also bought a few 50% off gift sets in Lush for some imminent birthday's. Not bad for £24 in total:

The 'Let it rock' perfume snuck in the photo there - this was waiting for me when I got home. Another 'bargain' from - £17 for 50ml EDP.

Last stop in our quick sale tour was M&S food for some nice salad bits and I also got some prawns that were on offer:

I foresee salad and vegetables in 2012......

Back home I was hungry for a filling lunch. We are heading out tonight to meet up with some good friends from the gym. We are having an Indian and then perhaps a few cheeky drinks in town. I am driving today as I still have this 'tupid head cold.

We've picked our meals already which is good but I still wanted a decent lunch to tide me over until then.

I went for pasta with some of my homemade sauce and I threw in a few Asda meatfree meatballs and topped with reduced fat cheese:

The husband is busy shouting at the football so I am heading up the stairs to do Day 1 of Jillian's 30 day shred...... wish me luck :)

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very happy, safe and healthy new year.

I'll see you in 2012....... beeeeee gooooood :) xx

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Pimp my sprouts

Hmmm, think I might be overdoing it on the sprout front. Such is my love of the little green guys that they appear in some form in most of my meals from about October.
Our house is a fragrant palace from about then until Feb!

My sister didn't dissapoint over Xmas and as well as the usual plain sprouts she also made this recipe by Jamie Oliver for Xmas day (Double sproutage - woop!) :

Now let me say, they were delicious

But I can let you know from experience that shredded sprouts travel faster than the green guys in their whole form....... you get my drift?!

The house was a veritable cloud of delightful green smells come 4pm on Xmas day. Holy moley, better out than in I suppose ;)

 Now the other day at work we were discussing what we'd eaten for Xmas dinner and I picked up a vague recipe for a sprout and leek gratin which one of the ladies had cooked up in her Aga.
Lo and behold my lovely dad gave me some of his fabulous home-grown leeks today at lunchtime and I knew where they were headed.... 

Well, be rude not to try a new sprout dish wouldn't it. Plus I need to find ways of disguising them so the husband does not groan every time he gets his tea.

So I set to with the vague recipe in my head as it was relayed.
Basically you cook the whole sprouts in a pan of boiling water until just tender - add in the leeks just before the sprouts are done as they won't take as long.

Meanwhile, whip up a white sauce (however you usually do it is fine) I added a little Dijon mustard , thyme and a small minced garlic clove to mine.

Lay the just-cooked leeks and sprouts in a single layer in a baking dish.

Pour over the sauce and then crumble over a cheese of your choice. It being Xmas  (well, kind of) I opted for some crumbled stilton but cheddar or parmesan would be just as good.

(You can add breadcrumbs over the top of the white sauce and then add the cheese but I am taking it easy on the bread front at present!)

Put the dish into a medium over for 20-30 minutes or so until its bubbling.


You could eat this as it is - I know I would. But with the husband in mind I cooked up a couple of lamb chops and some roasted potatoes done in the actifry.


I really am gonna miss the green guys once they have finished :(

Breakfast this morning was a hot buckwheat and chia seed bowl. Served with banana and some of Martin's honey.

The camp is out on buckwheat for me. I'd rather have oats as I find the consistency of buckwheat a little thin and tasteless - or perhaps I'm not cooking it right?
Any woo, I'll finish the bag off but I don't think I'll order another.

Suffering with a cold (again) so am signing off to drink the hot toddy the kind husband has just made me.... he's a keeper :)

Nite x

Why I love it - BIC band

We may all be aiming on heading back into the gym now Xmas is out of the way or just to the great out doors for walking / running etc.

If you are anything like me then you won't be able to stand having a soggy fringe slapping you in the face while you get your sweat on or blowing your hair in several directions at once.
I like to sweep my fringe from my face when working out (granted I do have a look of the Tefal people but who cares?!) It keeps it tamed and out of my eyes and lets me focus on what I am doing.

Now slides are ok, but my hair is really thick and often creeps out of a slide (which drives me nuts). As an avid reader of blogs for a while I noticed 'BIC Bands' on 'Carrots'n'Cake' earlier this year

I w
as intrigued. They are renowned for staying in place no matter what you are doing and Tina raves about them so I headed on over to the Bic Bands website:

There were so many to choose from but I opted for a blue and brown band in the end as I thought glitter might be a little much in the spin room ;)
Mmmm, shiny head :)

Now including postage it was a little expensive for a headband I admit (about £9) - but you know what? It really has been money well spent. It turned up so quickly from order time and had a nice little message on the delivery slip.

I now wear it for most gym/spinning sessions and it never moves. I throw it in the washer if it's getting a little gross :) and I've never had a problem with doing that - although you could hand wash it if you were worried.

So I thought I'd just share my little hero product with you this Thursday.


(I have not been paid or asked to write about this product by Bic Bands, I am simply sharing one of my favourite finds)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Food Baby

Holy moley - 14th December was my last post?! You kidding me?!
I am so sorry folks.

I managed to loose my camera cable in the house somewhere..... I looked and looked everywhere then yesterday I found it - in a place I had already searched...... go figure.

So I have a stock pile of photo's from the last couple of weeks.

Rewind to Xmas day and Santa was very good to me this year. I got some Cath Kidson things - bag, purse, keyring. A charm for my Link's bracelet. A new cafetiere, coffee, smellies, scarves, candles, knickers (thanks mum!) and lots of other lovely things. We were both really spoilt this year and had a lovely time with the family on Xmas day.
My brother and wife sent some of his honey and a beautiful pot to put it in - OMG!! His honey is amazing; sweet and delicate. It is his first batch of honey from his bees in Wiltshire and I will be hinting for some more once we get near to finishing this (which won't take long!) Mmmmm holy honey bees. 

 So last time I was here I was talking about how I approach Xmas time and try to manage over eating...... ahem......... good job I went for 'managing' it this year as I got a sizable gain of 7lb on Tuesday night!!!!!!!! Good lord. That is some food baby.

Partly it is laziness on my part, not helped by Xmas week when we were out every night for food and drinks. Then on the nights we were at home I may have partaken in a few chocolates and glasses of wine..... pesky wine.

But you know what? I didn't eat until I was over-stuffed or binge on lots of rubbish like salted nuts, crisps & dips (my downfall). I didn't buy any of that this year.
Not even a whiff of Xmas cake has passed my lips. So I am ok with my gain, I figure a lot of that will be gone by next week and I am already cooking up a healthy storm back in the kitchen.

To start today I enjoyed my first bowl in ages of carrot cake oats with banana and later snacked on 3 clementines. I've really missed fruit this past week - that says something!

Unfortunately all classes are off at the gym until the new year, however I do have in my possession a DVD which I got last year - Jillian Michael's 30 day shred. I am planning on hitting the living room to get a wriggle on with the good lady. (Curtains firmly shut of course as I don't want the street thinking I have gone nuts).

Tea tonight was a chilli beef pasta bake topped with cheese and served with some veggies..... oh vegetables, how I've missed you. This also satisfied a craving for pasta which I've had these last few days.

While busy in the kitchen  I also made a roasted tomato and garlic sauce; I am really fancying meatballs or chicken topped with sauce and cheese...... mmmmmm food is always on the brain. I figure this will be a great sauce to keep in the freezer, especially for when those lazy moments threaten to strike.

Right, sauce to blend so better fly.

Catch you soon! x

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Keeping December real

Hello peeps!

Brrrrrrr, chilly in the North these last few days. Makes me want to baton down the hatches and eat....... :)

Speaking of eating that leads me nicely onto today's post title. As you may have gathered I go to a slimming group religiously every week and have done for the past 7 years or so.

For me it works but I understand it is not for everybody. I am greedy by nature and was big as a teenager. When I joined my slimming group all those years ago it was like flicking a switch. I've never looked back - although the route I am taking to target seems to be a scenic one :)

A major dread for all slimmers seems to be the month of December. I have seen many Christmas' at group and the amount of people who give up  always amazes me. They usually say they'll 'be back in January' but I know how much damage can be done in a month - I could easily gain a stone or more just over a few weeks. 

The way I eat now has been a lifestyle overhaul for me so I guess I can't understand how people can just 'switch off' from healthy eating and cram in all the junk they can find for 4 weeks.
Ultimately it leaves you feeling terrible, remorseful, depressed and sad come January and that is not how I want to start my new year off - my years of that are behind me.

I know it can be difficult (believe me, I do) and it is such a fabulous social time so no one wants to miss out but there are ways of negotiating Christmas without it becoming a big weight loss mountain to climb come January.

I have some simple strategies that help me through while still enjoying myself.

First I use a simple planner for December that we get every year in group:

This really helps me keep things in perspective.
Instead of focusing on the meals out and making a big deal of them I focus on the days where there is nothing going on and on which I can eat normally.

By filling in the planner I am usually surprised that in actual fact Christmas for me is really just about a few meals out and isn't the huge food obstacle I thought it was going to be.

Second I make sure that I have soups on hand for lunches and food banked in the freezer such as chillies and bolognese that can be whipped out in the morning in order to resist the temptation of the take away in a lazy moment.

This week's soup is chicken broth - loosely based on the turkey broth I had last week. I am really looking forward to lunch tomorrow to eat some of this golden goodness.

I try make sure I attend my usual workout classes while the gym is open. It is all too easy for someone like me to talk myself out of going to the gym. But thanks to the husband and the class instructors I have enough people to give me the kick I need to get moving and comit myself to going.
If the gym is closed then I push myself to have a bracing walk with the husband - perhaps with a swing by a pub for a slimline tonic to sweeten the deal.

I keep lots of different healthy living magazines on hand plus I collect cookery books so I get out some of the healthier side ones to flick through. The magazines usually have a stash of New year recipes to inspire following all the heavy Xmas eating.
What better than say egg, chips and beans or a Thai green prawn soup for tea after all that festive food.

If we are heading out with friends then I often opt to drive. If that causes a fuss then I usually have a 2 drink rule. 2 alcoholic drinks maximum - Gin and slimline is my tipple so I alternate these with just a plain slimline tonic.

If the mood takes me then I sometimes opt for red wine - although this can be more dangerous. If I get a glass of wine then I go for a reasonably expensive one; that way it forces me to savour it rather than just quaff it back.

The 2 drink rule has the bonus of not giving me a hangover the next morning - hangovers can sway me to junk food choices over the healthier option. Sometimes the freezer can be a lifesaver here - I root out a home made chilli or curry to satisfy the junk demon.

I'm not saying this always turns out the way I want it to; sometimes I have 'just one more' wine or get hit by the munchies for a take away. But I try keep these things in mind and stay focused. I know where I want to be weight wise and sometimes the thrill of those new lower-sized jeans ultimately means more than that piece of cake or packet of crisps.

Back to this weeks food and it has been heavy on the soup, veg and salads. I've been craving salad with my lunches (no idea what is wrong with me).

 Add in some feta and black pepper with a drizzle of dressing...

Roast ham tea with my beloved sprouts....

Roast chicken tea with roasted new potatoes and a veg mountain.

Dad's home grown leeks paired with potatoes for a deee-lish soup....

Another salad is on the cards for tomorrow alsongside my homemade chicken broth. Mmmmmm, is it wrong to always be at least one meal ahead in my mind?!

Have a great Thursday x