Chicken Two Ways

Oh dear. I did not lose anything at my weigh in this weekend. Not even half a pound. This is a shame, and I do feel a little deflated, but I know it is just because I am getting close, have much less of me to lose and therefore it’s more difficult. It just means I have to try even harder this week.

I roasted a chicken on Sunday. I actually followed a Jamie Oliver recipe which was in the Sunday newspaper magazine. It was served with a tomato, red onion, basil and crouton salad. I added a stuffed mushroom and some sweet potatoes. Delicious.

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Part of the joy of roasting a chicken is that you get to have the leftovers for dinner the next day. I served it with baked sweet potato chips and a salad.

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I worked from home today, so was able to make a courgette omelette for lunch, which I had with some smoked salmon. I slice the courgettes with a potato peeler so they are like ribbons – that way you get lots and lots of them and feel like you are eating lots!

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It lost it’s structural integrity a bit, but was still yummy and very low in calories yet filling and nutritious.

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Recreating restaurant meals

On Monday I had the day off work and I went to Brighton with my parents. It was wonderful – the sun was shining, the pier was buzzing and the Lanes were as full of lovely things as ever. I really love Brighton. I also love the wealth of independant restaurants and cafés.

We went to Food For Friends for dinner, which is one of our favourites. Both my mum and I had their haloumi, mango and avocado salad with wasabi cashew nuts. Utterly delicious.

The restaurant version
The restaurant version

This evening I was very lucky as my mum decided to try and recreate it for us. Below is her take on the same thing. Also delicious. It’s a brilliant flavour combination – salad leaves, mango, avocado, grilled haloumi. Mum added red pepper as well since we had one.

Try it at home version
. Try it at home version

Who said eating out couldn’t be both healthy and delicious?!

Weigh In

Something brilliant happened.

My watch has been pretty loose over the last couple of months from the weight I’ve lost so far. It was starting to get silly, slipping about all over the place. I went into a jewellers and they altered for me so that it fits! That was a pretty good feeling and has left me on a bit of a high.

Last night I made bolognese. It was very good. It’s not typically considered either a gourmet or healthy meal. But mine was both delicious and had quite a bit of goodness in.

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I dry-fried extra lean mince – no need to have any oil as even the extra lean has a fair bit of fat, so it cooks nicely in that. Added a chopped red onion once it had started to brown. I left that to cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Then I added lots of chopped mushrooms and some tomato purée. After stirring it around I added a glass of red wine. I left it for a minute or two to start absorbing. Then I added a can of chopped tomatoes. I turned the heat to low and let it simmer. Near the end I added some crushed garlic – I always add this near the end so it doesn’t cook out as much and tastes stronger. Then I added one spoonful of the pasta cooking water which gives it a nice silky texture from all the starch.

One key trick, is I fill the bottom of my bowl with spinach. Then I put in some pasta. Then the sauce over the top. This has many benefits and I really recommend. The heat from the cooked food makes it wilt a bit, but not completely so it doesn’t go soggy. It bulks out the dish, and tricks your eyes – the bowl looks very full so you feel like you have a big meal, but lots of it is spinach. Plus the spinach is very good for you, and goes really well with the bolognese.

I’m very happy to be back from my weigh in, where I found out that I’ve lost a pound!

A Treat Before Weigh In

I’m back to the night before weigh in.

I wanted a treat today – by the time I got home from work my toe was sore, and I’ve worked quite hard this week. I didn’t want to go out because I needed to put my foot up. I was therefore after something yummy, light but also very quick so that I didn’t have to stand in the kitchen too long and could flake out on the sofa. I achieved this perfectly with the below, which I very much recommend:

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Scallops and chorizo on leeks and griddled courgette

Cut the leek into rounds and put into a pan with a little oil and butter. While that begins to cook, cut up a courgette and put onto a griddle pan (or a normal frying pan if you don’t have a griddle pan). Leek is best when fried in lots of butter and some cream. I just used a very small amount of butter, and put two splashes of milk in, which are absorbed into the leek and help make it nice and soft without the fat of the extra butter or cream. I was quite pleased with that – just thought it might work, tried it and it did!

Next I fried some scallops and a small amount of chorizo for a couple of minutes. Then plated it all up together.

It was all ready in about 10 minutes and really delicious – a perfect dinner!

The Weigh In

Today was my weekly weigh in. Like any teacher worth their salt, I know revealing any kind of grade or result at the very start is a recipe for disaster. If you give your students their practice papers back at the beginning of a lesson, prepare to have an entire hour where they don’t really focus on anything. This might be a different context, but I’ve learnt that lesson the hard way, so I will reveal the results of the weigh in towards the end of the post!

It was a quite a good class today, a nice mix of songs to work out to from Dirty Dancing to The Lion King. There was a good section using weights as well. Last week we attempted Irish dancing – which was pretty tricky – but we didn’t return to that so we can’t have been very good at it! I usually feel very motivated to eat well immediately after my class. I was hungry from working out on just a yoghurt for breakfast, so I had beans, tomatoes, red pepper, a small amount of anchovy, paprika and eggs for lunch – all cooked together in one pan, crack the eggs over the top and cook until they set. Yummy, easy and healthy, I often eat this for dinner. It’s even better still with some chorizo added in, but I opted for without today.

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I had a bit of a shock when I got back from my exercise class. HL’s brother and his girlfriend live in Switzerland and are visiting for the weekend which is great; they very kindly brought a huge selection of Swiss chocolate for the whole family with them, including some the Swiss don’t export to this country, which makes them feel extra special. So I came home from a weigh in to find 10 bars of chocolate in the living room. This is going to be a very difficult week for losing the last half stone! I have had one square of chocolate. I am going to let myself have one more square after dinner. I think by deciding this in advance it will be easier to stick to.

A huge selection of chocolate from Switzerland to attempt to resist
A huge selection of chocolate from Switzerland to attempt to resist

So, back to the weigh in. I lost half a pound this week. I must confess, I did initially feel a bit disappointed as I feel like I’ve had a good week and avoided a lot of temptation. I thought I might lose a pound. However, it’s one more step in the right direction, and if I keep doing that I will get there!

Losing Control

Over the past few days I’ve had very little control over my food. This is not great for shifting the last half stone.

I’ve been on a residential offsite with work. Life isn’t just about food, and there have been many positives to this:
Time to get away from my normal work and think about bigger issues;
Spending time with friends from work and meeting new people;
Listening to an inspiring debate which helped me think deeply about whether university is (or isn’t) the best tool for social mobility.

On the food side however, there have been many negatives. All food was provided for us – all 500 and something of us. Food produced on that scale is rarely fresh and healthy. Lunch consisted of white bread or white wraps filled with mayonnaise, cheese etc. All lunch boxes came with Kettle Chips and cake – hard to resist. Every break we were offered tea, coffee and biscuits. So many biscuits. Tables full of assorted biscuits. That was very hard. I’m very pleased to say I didn’t eat any biscuits, cake or Kettle Chips. I don’t want to sound ungrateful – being offered lots of food is obviously a great privilege – it is interesting how many unhealthy options are typically easily available though, and how much harder it can be to eat well.

Dinner was difficult, as there were no options. It was like a wedding where you get what you are given. This included creamy risotto and a chocolate brownie – having left most of lunch I was hungry so I ate it all. That can be excused. I shouldn’t have taken two chocolates with the coffee though.

I learnt that I should have prepared more than I did. I took a packet of naked bars, which I love, and I happily devoured guilt-free to help me refuse the treats on offer throughout the day. I should have brought more though. When you know you won’t have control over your food it really is a good idea to be prepared with lots of things you like and are healthy.

When I got home I did rather delight in regaining control, and made myself some yummy carbonara. Which sounds very fattening, because everyone is used to what we in the UK have done to carbonara, but if you make it the Italian way it isn’t! No cream at all, nowhere in sight. I also add in spinach for more goodness, and this is a very quick (ready in 15 mins max) and tasty tea:

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Dry fry some chopped up bacon in a pan. I used lardons because I was tired and hungry and they are ready chopped up. I fry it for about 4 mins on a highish heat until it starts to go brown. I fill the kettle and turn it on, and chop up a lot of mushrooms while it’s cooking.

When the kettle boils, pour it into a pan on the hob. When the bacon looks a bit crispy, add all the mushrooms. Put the pasta in the pan (I was using fresh which only takes 4 mins. Again, tired and hungry).

While that cooks, separate an egg yolk and put it in a mug. You can just use one, but I used 2. Beat it with a fork briefly. I added a very small amount of Parmesan. The more you add the nicer it is within reason, but as it’s so strong you can get away with a small amount and it’s still lovely.

As the pasta is almost ready, you need to be ready with your egg mixture and a bag of spinach. I put a spoonful of pasta water into the bacon and mushroom pan (it’s starchy and gives the sauce a nice texture). Then drain the pasta. Immediately pour the egg mixture into the pan with the drained pasta. Stir it all around so that it coats the pasta. It sort of cooks a bit in the heat of the pasta and makes a delicious sauce. Once you’ve stirred that around, put the spinach in, and stir again so that it begins to wilt a little in the heat.

Now I tip the pasta into the bacon and mushroom pan. Mix it all up, and then tuck in. Really yummy, and not fat free but it has goodness and feels like a treat when actually it isn’t too bad at all.