Sunday, 31 January 2016

Some of the easy Slimming World recipes I've tried so far this week

A couple of weeks ago I posted some of the recipes I have tried over the past week for others to have a go at.  Each week when I post my Slimming World update people often say they want to follow my food diary but don't know any of the recipes, so here they are.

Friday night we had jerk chicken and vegetable skewers with courgetti and new potatoes:



I modified these from the SW recipe which is for jerk chicken skewers and, rather than having one chunk of chicken on one stick, do them as 'kebabs' with some speed veggies.

Here's the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • 4 large skinless and boneless chicken breasts.
  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp jerk seasoning
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • Finely chopped fresh coriander and red chilli
  • Lime wedges, to serve

Method

  1. Cut each chicken breast into six pieces and place into a bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except the chopped coriander and red chilli) and toss to mix well. Cover and chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight if time permits.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and place on a grill rack in a single layer. Cook under a preheated medium grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  4. Push a skewer into each piece, sprinkle with the chopped coriander and red chilli and serve with lime wedges.
I modify it slightly and put the chill in with the marinade so there's some extra spice and I cook the chicken on the skewer.

So, on Friday I skewered them all up and lined them up on a baking tray and cooked them on 180 for 25-30 minutes.

I served them with courgetti (ready spiralized bought from Tesco) and new potatoes.


Saturday's breakfast was American-style pancakes with fat free natural yoghurt and strawberries:



One of the members in my group shared this recipe on our Facebook page.

Ingredients:

35g porridge oats
One muller yoghurt
Two eggs

Method

Mix the oats, yoghurt and eggs together
Spray a frying pan with some fry light and spoon the individual pancakes into the pan (makes about 8)
Wait until small bubbles appear then turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes
Serve with whatever you fancy


Saturday's lunch was double onion and thyme frittata with butternut squash spaghetti:



Saturday I had this with butternut squash spaghetti (bought ready spiralized from Tesco) and Sunday I had what was left with courgetti.

This serves four and can be your HEA for the day because of the cheese.  I didn't have a frying pan that could go in the oven so used my quiche dish which worked just as well.

Here's the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3 onions
  • 100g cherry tomatoes
  • 4 spring onions
  • 120g Cheddar cheese
  • A small handful of fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp dried
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp artificial sweetener
  • 250g quark
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4. Peel and finely chop the onions. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Finely chop the spring onions. Grate the cheese. Chop the thyme.
  2. Spray a 9in/23cm ovenproof frying pan with low calorie cooking spray. Scatter the onions in the base of the pan, along with the cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and sweetener. Stir to mix evenly and then place in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until softened. Remove from the oven.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the quark and eggs. Add the thyme, season to taste and stir in the spring onions. Pour this mixture into the pan and mix well. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until just set and the top is golden.

Sunday's breakfast was baked oats with raspberries served with strawberries:


There were so many different recipes for these that I found so I just put a couple I'd seen together based on what I had in the fridge/cupboards.

Ingredients:

35g porridge oats
2 tbsp fat free natural yoghurt
2 tsp sweetener
1 egg
50g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp baking power

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180
Mix together all the ingredients and leave to rest for two minutes
Fill two muffin cases with the mixture
Bake at 180 for 20-25minutes until golden brown on top
Serve with fresh fruit and/or yoghurt

When making these I discovered you have to syn for cooked fruit, so these are 1/2 syn for 50g cooked raspberries and can be your HEB for the day or 6 syns for the porridge oats.


Sunday's tea was sticky five spice gammon with stir fry veg and noodles:



This was one of my favourite Slimming World meals so far.  It was literally so quick and so easy to make and tasted amazing.

Here's the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 4 x 175g gammon steaks, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely diced
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 level tbsp clear honey
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce

Method

  1. Sprinkle the 5-spice powder over the gammon steaks. Spray a large, wide, non-stick frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and cook the gammon over a high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the edges are tinged brown.
  2. Add the red chillies, orange zest and juice, honey, stock and soy sauce and simmer rapidly for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce becomes sticky and the gammon is glazed and golden with almost burnt edges.
This was to serve four so I halved the quantities just to do two of us.  It was quite spicy but it was beautiful!!

I served it with stir fry vegetables and Sharwood's dried egg noodles which are free.  


Lunches in the week will be roasted tomato and basil soup:



Here's the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • 900g ripe tomatoes
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, to garnish

Method

  1. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking tray, spray them lightly with low calorie cooking spray and sprinkle with the oregano. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6 for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes start to soften and the skins begin to char.
  2. Meanwhile place the onion and garlic in a large, heavy-based saucepan with 300ml of the stock. Cover the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Peel and chop the roasted tomatoes and add to the cooked onion mixture in the pan along with the remaining stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the soup back to the pan, season well and add the basil. Reheat the soup if necessary and serve garnished with some roasted cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.
I made this last week and loved it so much that I made it again this week.  It's so tasty you wouldn't know it was syn free!

I pretty much followed the recipe to the T, except for peeling the tomatoes because, honestly, I could not be bothered with that.  All it meant was that I have a bit more texture to the soup which really doesn't bother me in the slightest. I also didn't use fresh basil, I used the basil in the spice jars.

Altogether it made five portions for this week's lunch which is me set for the whole week now!

And that's that!  After my expected gain last week and all me indulgence I decided to hammer it this week and try some new things.

I would recommend the jerk chicken skewers as they are super tasty, and of course the gammon.

The baked oats also taste incredible.

Hopefully my hard work in the kitchen this week will pay off on Wednesday and I'll have lost those pesky 2.5lbs from last week and a bit more!

You may also like: Slimming World recipes for you to try

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The weird wedding dreams have begun

They've started - the wedding dreams have started.

If my dream last night set the tone for the rest leading up to the big day then I will be a worried mess. It was SO weird!

Here's how it went...

Tom and I arrived at this big, grand church together and were met by the vicar. Nobody else was there because apparently they'd all gone out to buy us a loaf of bread and biscuits for us to 'break' as part of the ceremony. We sat down to wait and, with that, loads of tourists came bundling in and started having a picnic in the church.

They then started setting up market stalls and selling things so the vicar took us until a church hall in the back which was at the bottom of a big, old, rickety staircase. It was all dusty and had cobwebs everywhere but our parents were there waving bread at us.

They told us we couldn't break the bread until a certain point in the ceremony where we'd be under this cloth. Suddenly, the hall was all decorated and some random woman was throwing paper hearts everywhere. Everyone arrived, including some really random people that neither of us have seen or spoken to in years.

As I was about to walk down the aisle, I looked down to my feet and noticed that I had odd shoes on. One was pink with a strap around my ankle and the other was a red court shoe. Then I noticed a tray of biscuits - digestives, rich tea, animal biscuits and bourbons - so I picked up a handful to eat as I walked down the aisle.

Then I woke up.  Weird, ey?!

I'm sure the significance of the bread and the biscuits just means I'm a little piggy, but the odd shoes? It was so strange.

I woke up thinking 'must make sure I wear matching shoes on my wedding day' like it was a really obvious mistake I must avoid. I really would hope that I'm not scatty enough to not realise that my shoes didn't match.

I'm just waiting for the dream where I walk down the aisle naked and wake up thinking 'must remember to put my wedding dress on!'

You may also like:I can't believe we are getting married NEXT YEAR!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

I've put on more weight this week than over Christmas but I've loved every second!

I wrote this week's food diary out before I went and got weighed and here is what went through my head: "Honest to God, if I have not put on at least half of the weight I lost last week I will be amazed."

I was close - 2.5lbs on this week. And it's ok.

This week has been quite difficult what with Tom's birthday and all the meals out/alcohol that has been consumed.  I was prepared for it, though, and knew I was going to face some challenging days.  And do you know what?  I enjoyed every mouthful and sip.

I knew before I wrote out this week's food diary that it had been a bad week syns wise, at one point I even said to myself I had eaten/drank more than I had over Christmas!  And I've put on more weight than I did over Christmas, so it's all deserved. But looking at it all in black and white, with all the syns right in front of me, I can't believe it!  Naughty Nat.

Do you know what, though? I didn't feel like I'd put on weight this week. I knew I had, because of the food I've eaten. But I've felt slimmer. My legs, for example, seem the slimmest they've been in years.

I've considered moving my target weight this last week. At the moment, I am one stone away from target. At the minute, I can't imagine losing another stone. I don't want to lose too much weight. I already feel a million times better than I did 11 weeks ago when I started. I fit in clothes I haven't fit in for years/haven't ever fit in, my fitness levels are up and I am soooo much happier in myself. I'll keep at it for now, though, and assess my target as each week goes by.

Anyway, back to the week in hand...

I did try to food optimise as best as I could with my meals, choosing salmon and veg rather than a burger; or having a salad rather than half of TGI's menu, but it was the cake and alcohol I think that let me down.  I just couldn't not have any.  It's been so long since I've eaten cake and dessert that I thought I might as well make the most of it while it was all there to choose from.  Other weeks, when I only have one or two meals out, I might not have any as to not de-rail my week.  But this week, I knew I'd fallen headfirst off the rails by approximately 2pm on Thursday (day one!)

It makes my weight loss progress look like this:


It's up and down.  But, as I've said before, Slimming World is not a diet.  If it was a diet, I'd have given up weeks ago and seen it as a failure.  I'd have probably tried the next 'quick fix' on the market and found that had great short-term results, then been back to square one a month or so later.

Slimming World is a lifestyle change and in no way ever says you can't enjoy life.  There are going to be weeks like the one I have just had where food and drink is at every turn and you just can't say no.  But in between the temptation you can stick at plan and, once it's all behind you, it's easy to get back on it and shift any temporary gains - because that's all they are.  Temporary.

This last week I was in a bikini for the first time since August and I felt amazing. I felt confident, I felt a little bit sexy and I felt happy. I didn't feel self conscious and I didn't feel fat. RESULT. I don't give a shit that I put weight on because nothing can tarnish hat amazing feeling.

I had hoped for a maintain this week but, looking back, that was way too optimistic!  There was no way I was going to undo all that damage in the few days I had until weigh day.

I'm not disappointed, though, because I know where it's come from.  It's not like the other week when I was cross because I only lost a pound.  That week I'd tried really hard and had expected more.  This week, I was surprised that I hadn't put back on most of that amazing 6lb that I lost last week.

I'm already looking to next week and a good loss.  I'd drawn a line under my naughty days and was looking to next week already. I've planned out our meals and have some new things to try, including sticky five spice gammon which I'm hoping is just as amazing as it sounds!

See you next week! :) x



Week 11 food diary (syns all estimates and probably 10x worse)


Day One:

Breakfast: Two oranges and an apple
Dinner: Fish finger (6 syns) sandwich in a white roll (8 syns) with a big salad, followed by a slab of sponge cake (20 syns)
Tea: Salmon with noodles, roasted veg and a big side salad followed by sticky toffee pudding (20 syns)
Drink: 4-5 glasses of prosecco (18 syns)
Syns for the day: 72

Day Two:

Breakfast: Beans and two apples
Dinner: Homemade SW roasted tomato and basil soup followed by half a slice of chocolate brownie cake (18 syns)
Tea: TGI Friday's chicken strips (8 syns) followed by a chicken salad full of speeds
Drink: Skinny Margarita (4 syns)
Syns for the day: 30

Day Three:

Breakfast: Two oranges and an apple
Dinner: Chicken skewer with salad; speed vegetable filled pie with broccoli, carrots, peas and sweet potato wedges (8 syns); chocolate mousse cake (12 syns)
Drink: Three glasses of prosecco (13.5 syns)
Tea: None
Syns for the day: 33.5

Day Four:

Breakfast: One apple
Dinner: Carvery - pork and turkey with swede mash, Yorkshire pudding (5 syns), roast potatoes (4 syns), carrots and cauliflower (5 syns for gravy)
Tea: Homemade SW roasted tomato and basil soup
Snack: Two pears and an orange
Snack: A small slither of chocolate fudge cake (13-ish syns)
Syns for the day: 27

Day Five:

Breakfast: Apple
Dinner: Homemade SW roasted tomato and basil soup
Snack: An orange and a pear
Tea: Chilli chicken with carrot and parsnip 'chips' and a pile of spinach
Snack: Slither of chocolate fudge cake (13-ish syns)
Syns for the day: 13

Day Six:

Breakfast: Bacon, beans, poached eggs and a stack of spinach
Snack: Melon
Dinner: Cous cous (1 syn) and tuna mixed together with tomato puree and a load of spinach and lettuce
Snack: Apple and pear
Tea: Swede-topped and speed filled SW cottage pie with green beans, carrots and broccoli
Syns for the day: 1

Day Seven: (weigh day)

Breakfast: Baked beans on a pile of spinach
Snack: Melon and orange
Dinner:  Cous cous and tuna mixed together with tomato puree, red peppers, tomato and spinach
Snack: Pear and apple
Tea: Garlic and chilli prawns with rice
Syns for the day: 0

You may also like: Some Slimming World recipes I've tried

"There's nothing I hate more than being on a really good Instagram stalk and stumbling across someone with a private profile - WHO DOES THAT?!"

I love being really nosey and finding out things about other people's lives - whether they're an old school friend, a celebrity, or a complete stranger.  I literally have the biggest nosey streak ever!  

I get so much enjoyment out of noseying at people's pictures and reading bits and pieces about what is going on with them.  It's one of the reasons why social media is so useful because you can keep up to date with what friends, family and former classmates are doing without having to make a huge effort to send out updates to individual people.  If I had to do that, I would probably keep in touch with nobody!  I'd either forget people, and end up sending stuff to different people every time, or I would just forget to do it altogether.

With all these different types of social media we can literally keep up to date with people's every movements.  From an Instagram post of what they had for breakfast to a Facebook status about how their day was.  People literally share everything and I love it!  

There's nothing I hate more, though, than being on a really good Instagram stalk and stumbling across someone with a private profile.  WHO DOES THAT?! 

It's like LinkedIn - when I want to stalk someone I went to university or college with, I don't want them to know that I have looked on their profile.  Imagine if Facebook or Instagram had a similar setting so you could see everyone who looks at your profile!!  I can't work out if that would be brilliant or a complete tragedy.

It would certainly stop my mammoth stalks, that's for sure.

You know the ones - you start off on a friend's profile and suddenly, before you know it, you're 60 weeks deep into someone's profile that you've never even met but feel like you have because you've stalked them so many times.  You know the names of their kids, their pets, their partner, their favourite places to eat, their daily routine... Then, when the time comes when you bump into them or chat to them, you have to act like you know none of that stuff otherwise you'll look like a complete and utter weirdo.

I'm really hoping other people can relate to this or I will look ridiculous and will probably be strapped with a social media restraining order!!

There's a eCard thing I've seen on Instagram (probably during a stalk!) which literally sums my life up to a T:


I'm sure I'm not alone with this, either.

With all that in mind, if you want to find out a bit more about me without having to stalk my social media, you may like this: a big long list of weird and wonderful things about me

80 weird and wonderful things about yours truly

1. When I was little I wanted to see what happened if I put both my feet in the front wheel of my bike whilst going really fast.  So I tried it and flew over the handlebars.  I was really embarrassed, though, so told mum and dad that I'd hit "a really big stone" in the street and that caused me to flip over the handlebars.

2. I once pulled my wardrobe down on top of me trying to reach a jumper from the top shelf.  I was stuck under it for ages before my mum heard me shouting and came and rescued me.  From then on, my dad always screwed it to the wall to stop me pulling it over again.

3. Despite my stupidly clumsy streak, I have never broken a bone.

4. I've had two major operations - one to remove a tumour on my knee and the other to repair my lungs after I got pneumonia.

5. I jumped out of a plane in 2011 to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

6. I used to think nuns were fictitious characters because I'd only ever seen them in films.

7. I experimented as a chav when I was a teenager. Me and my friends once went to York dressed in Adidas trackie bottoms tucked into football socks with trainers on, a Fred Perry, and big hooped earrings.  *Shudder*

8. I also experimented the 'mosher' phase.  That didn't last long, either.

9. I was desperate to fit in at school (clearly)

10. I didn't have my first proper kiss until I was 14.

11. I used to be scared of dogs.

12. I now love dogs.

13. I once punched a guy in a club because he wouldn't stop touching my bum.

14. Mine and Tom's parents both got married on exactly the same day (6th May 1989) which is why me and Tom chose that as our wedding date.

15. Our parents also both live at number 66.

16. Our house was plot 66.

17. And is number 6.

18. We are not having 6 kids.

19. I love reality tv.

20. I used to want to be a celebrity just so I could go on Dancing on Ice.

21. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is my favourite film.

22. I'm a very open person and will share the most embarrassing of things with people I've just met.

23. I have needed glasses since I was little.  I'm pretty much blind without them.

24. I have a really big scar on my back from my operation on my lungs and used to tell people I'd just met that I got it after being stabbed.

25. I love wearing backless tops/dresses to show it off.

26. I have a tattoo on my hip.

27. I used to have my belly button pierced, now I just have a little scar.

28. If I could change one thing about my body it would be my nose.

29. The first concert I ever went to was Steps.

30. I have a filthy sense of humour.

31. I didn't like coffee until about three months ago, now I drink it all the time.

32. I have a degree in Contemporary History (it's essentially modern history, politics and international relations)

33. I've worked at the Selby Times since June 2014.

34. I'm rubbish at doing my hair and make-up.

35. I could fall asleep anywhere.

36. I used to bite and pick my nails but stopped about three years ago, now everyone thinks they're fake.

37. Seeing Ed Sheeran at Wembley was incredible.

38. I'm quite good at cooking and baking.

39. My musical taste is really varied.

40. I'm really scared of people that dress up as characters.  I once queued with my brother for ages to have our photo taken with Mr Blobby then screamed the place down and cried when it got to our turn.

41. When I went to Disneyland I wanted my picture taking with the characters but was still scared, so stood about two metres away in every photo.

42. I've sung at the MEN Arena in Manchester and twice in Disneyland Paris.

43. I used to do pantomime every year and one year had a horrendous fish costume to wear. A load of people from my school saw me wearing it during a rehearsal so all came to watch the show and videoed me singing and dancing in it and sent it all round school.  That was not a good day.

44. I passed my driving test second time with no minors.

45. I used to work as a waitress and would regularly fall down the stairs whilst carrying food to and from tables.

46. I once got so drunk that I was having an argument with 'a girl' in a club because 'she' wouldn't move out of my way, totally not realising I was facing a mirror and it was, in fact, my reflection.

47. My favourite vegetable is broccoli.

48. I don't like peas.

49. My favourite colour is mint green.

50. I get on with anyone.  Unless they're not nice.

51. I only like cheese if its melted on or in something.

52. Before I started Slimming World I weighed more than Tom.

53. I'm a really sweaty person.

54. I love watching sport.

55. I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes.

56. Friends is hands down my favourite TV show.

57. If I had to liken myself to any Friends character, it would be Monica.  She's like my soul sister.

58. I was the biggest teacher's pet ever at school until about year 9 when I decided I wanted to try and be 'cool' instead.

59. I was single for four whole years before me and Tom got together.

60. I get distracted really easily.

61. I used to write to Ant & Dec when I was little and they would send me signed pictures back.

62. Last year I met Rebecca Adlington and everyone thought we were sisters.

63. I once auditioned for the X Factor.

64. If I could go back in time and interview one historical figure it would be Hitler.

65. I talk to myself.

66. I fart all the time.

67. Once, when I was parking my old car in the garage at mum and dad's, I completely misjudged how much room I had and caught the garage door hinge with my wing mirror.  This sent the door crashing down on top of my car and my heart rate through the roof! Thankfully there was not a single scratch on it, phewwww.

68. Apart from that I am really good at parking.

69. I used to love sucking water out of sponges when I was in the bath.

70. Ham and tomato sauce sandwiches are a taste sensation.

71. Bad spelling and grammar really upsets me.

72. I'm definitely a perfectionist.

73. My dad calls my 'titch'.

74. I used to be terrible for drunk tweeting - my Timehop is a daily embarrassment for me.

75. I'm rubbish at creative things.

76. I'll be 25 this year.

77. I used to always get told I look like Cameron Diaz.

78. I'd run into a burning building to save my pets.

79. I'm never on time for anything, I'm always at least five minutes early.

80. I've run out of things which are remotely interesting now so I'm going to leave it there.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

I've absolutely stormed it this week and lost a whopping six pounds

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (that's an excited 'aahh' by the way)

After being so disappointed last week with "just" losing one pound I stormed this week and lost SIX POUNDS!!!! Six friggin' pounds!!!! Holy moly!!!

I got Slimmer of the Week and my one and a half stone award.


YIPPEEE!!!

Yes, I've tried really hard this week with meals and snacking less and counting syns more, but I honestly never thought it would be as much as that. I didn't even lose that much during week one!

You'll see from the food diary below that my meals were all pretty spot on. I tried to eat even more than usual at meal times to stop me snacking or craving things after tea and that worked most days. But, of course, there were days I needed that sweet/chocolate fix.

I had a few stumbling blocks this week which could have de-railed me but I stayed focussed. My first difficulty was Saturday when me and Tom met a friend at Ed's Easy Diner. I was prepared for it and had a small bowl of speed soup before I went so I was starving and ordered the whole menu! Then when I was there, I had a chicken Caesar salad. I had it without the dressing, croutons and Parmesan - making it essentially a bowl of chicken and lettuce - but I felt so good for making that choice.

Then, on Sunday, I made pancakes for Tom for breakfast and pulled out the big jar of Nutella. I, however, had syn free pancakes with fat free natural yoghurt and fresh berries. BOOM.

I've no idea how my willpower was so strong. Each time I was tempted I just remembered my disappointment last week at "only" losing a pound.

Each week I get people asking me how I can eat x, y and z and still lose weight. A perfect example of this was Friday's breakfast - a bacon and egg sandwich. The bacon was lean and fat free and fried in fry light with an egg also fried in fry light. I made it with two slices of wholemeal bread as my HEB and was away. BEAUT.

This week has been great. I feel so happy and positive and shocked. I ate good meals this week but they were good, solid meals not just leaves and salad.

I've had some major comfort foods and amazing teas. Tom even asked one night how eating so much (my plate was piled so high!) could result in a weight loss. Well, when he gets home tonight he'll have even more questions!!



I couldn't recommend Slimming World any more if I tried. It's not just the brill recipes and flexible eating plan, it's the whole concept. The consultant of my group is incredible - she's so friendly and supportive and picks you up and gets you back on track if you have a rocky week; the group are amazing as well; and the support online.

I never ever thought I could lose as much as 6lbs in one week! My total loss is now up to 1st 9lbs in ten weeks. Yipppeeee.

This week I'll be in a bikini for the first time since August and I'm not scared. I'm not dreading it. Of course, I've still got a little bit further to go until I'm at my target but I'm going to be happier in my bikini tomorrow night than I would have been ten weeks ago. Hell, I wouldn't have even got in a bikini.

I'm rambling now.

If you're considering giving Slimming World a go, have a peek at some of the recipes for the meals I've made this week. See how easy they are, see how full my plate is and how good they look, and give them a try. You'll be surprised I'm sure.

This week is going to be tricky because it's Tom's birthday and we have loads of meals out planned and a hell of a lot of prosecco to drink. And I can't wait.

Slimming World isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle change. And life happens. This week will be tough but I will food optimise at every given opportunity and hope for a maintain at best.

See you all next week - hopefully I'll be just as upbeat and positive.

Week Ten food diary

Day One

Breakfast: Overnight oats (HEB) with loads of speed berries
Dinner: Homemade (by my mum) sweet potato, carrot, onion and orange soup with chilli flakes for an extra kick.
Snacks: Three pears (it was a snack-y day!)
Tea: SW chicken supreme with lettuce, spinach and tomatoes
Snack: 'Syn bin' bag of three chocolate orange segments (7.5 syns) and a multipack Mars bar (7.5 syns)
Syns for the day: 15

Day Two

Breakfast: Bacon and egg sandwich on two slices of wholemeal bread (HEB)
Snack: Pear
Dinner: Homemade SW butternut squash soup
Snack: Apple and pear
Tea: Pizza topped chicken (pizza breast sliced open and flattened then topped with a sauce of chopped tomatoes, chilli and garlic and toppings of lean bacon, peppers, onion and 50g mozzarella [5 syns]) with homemade chips and salad.
Syns for the day: 5

Day Three

Breakfast: Lean bacon, poached eggs and beans with spinach
Dinner: Homemade SW butternut squash soup
Tea: Chicken sofrito (SW recipe) with spinach, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes
Snacks: A 'syn bin' bag made up of a Crunchie from multipack (7.5 syns), one segment of chocolate orange (2.5 syns) and a 15g bag of chocolate buttons (4 syns)
Syns for the day: 14

Day Four

Breakfast: Syn free sweet Slimming World pancakes with fresh strawberries, raspberries and fat free natural yoghurt.
Dinner: Ham salad sandwich on two slices on wholemeal bread (HEB) and a packet of Walkers French fries (4.5 syns)
Tea: Cottage pie topped with swede mash served with carrots, broccoli and green beans
Syns for the day: 4.5

Day Five

Breakfast: Overnight oats (HEB) with a stack of speed berries
Snack: Strawberries, raspberries and kiwi
Dinner: Butternut squash jacket (like a jacket potato) with baked beans
Tea: Chicken jambalaya (SW recipe) with lettuce, spinach and cherry tomatoes
Snack: A syn free sweet pancake with free natural yoghurt and a tablespoon of Sweet Freedom Choc Shot (2 syns)
Syns for the day: 2

Day Six

Breakfast: Overnight oats (HEB) with loads of speed berries
Snack: Apple and pear
Dinner: Butternut squash jacket (like a jacket potato) with baked beans
Tea: Chicken and bacon risotto (SW recipe) with green beans
Syns for the day: 0

Day Seven (weigh day)

Breakfast: Melon
Dinner: Leftover chicken jambalaya with spinach, lettuce and cherry tomatoes
Snack: Pear
Tea: Leftover chicken and bacon risotto
Syns for the day: 0

You may also like: Some of this week's Slimming World recipes

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Some of this week's Slimming World recipes

This week I decided to share some pictures and, more importantly, the recipes to some of my meals to show you what and how much I eat, and how it really isn't the typical 'diet food' you would imagine.

Before I started Slimming World I thought I'd be eating tiny portions of the good stuff and living on leaves.  How wrong was I!

So I decided to show you that you can lose weight by eating all your favourite meals.  You don't need to drink any strange tasting shakes as a meal replacement or take any tablets or drink a tea that makes you poo.  You can literally eat your way slim, and eat all your favourite meals, too!  

When I did the Seven Day Shred by ActiDerm it was okay, but it was so hard working out which meal to replace with a shake because, like most people, I wanted to eat breakfast, dinner and tea!  But with the Slimming World eating plan there's no worry.  Literally all your favourite meals are there whether it be fish and chips, curry, lasagne, cottage pie, casserole, macaroni cheese, pizza, chips...

I've acknowledged before that I've tried all the fad diets and weight loss tips going, spending silly money on wraps, shakes, teas and pills.  Sure, they all gave me really good short-term results, but nothing that was going to ever stick.  Following these easy Slimming World recipes is a complete foodie overhaul and something that, I think, will be a change forever now.

I know a few people like to follow my food diary for the week, or get inspiration for meals, so this way you can see how to actually make them rather than me being really vague and just saying it's a SW recipe.  So I've taken the recipes from the SW website (most of them are on Google on other people's blogs but this saves you searching)

Here are some of my favourites from this week so far (with photo evidence)...

So, Friday night's tea was pizza-topped chicken with homemade chips:


This is so simple and really, really tasty!

Here is the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • ½ small red onion, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped 
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp stock
  • 2 vine tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 1 tbsp tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 chicken fillet
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 40g low fat hard cheese, grated
  • 1 cherry tomato, halved
  • Fresh basil, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Place the onion, pepper and garlic in a small saucepan with the stock and simmer for a few minutes.
  2. Add the vine tomatoes to the pan, then the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée and oregano. Cut the chicken fillet in half horizontally, being careful not to cut it the whole way through. Fold open to make a butterfly shape. Spray a non-stick frying pan lightly with low calorie cooking spray then fry the chicken to give colour on both sides. Place the chicken on a baking tray and place in the oven, 220ºC/200°C Fan/Gas 7 for 15-20 minutes. 
  3. When cooked, place the tomato mixture on top of the chicken. Add the cheese and sprinkle with basil. Place the cherry tomato on the top, then put back in the oven for 5 minutes. 
I always tweak it slightly from this.  My tomato sauce base had extra garlic and some fresh chillies added.  I also used low fat mozzarella instead of the hard cheese they recommend.  And, when it comes to toppings, you can essentially have what you like.  I used lean bacon, peppers and onion.

A little tip for doing the chicken which I did this time (and was far more successful than the first!)  When you slice the breast open to be a butterfly, put some baking parchment on a baking tray, spray it with fry light and then put the breast on top.  Spray the top of the chicken with fry light and put another piece of parchment on top and flatten it with a rolling pin.  This makes it bigger, thinner and easier to pile high with toppings.  I then took the top piece of baking parchment off and put it in the oven for 10 minutes on 200 before adding the toppings and cooking for a further 20 to 25 minutes on 180.

To do my chips, I (obviously) peeled and chopped the potatoes into chip shapes then put them in some lightly salted cold water to remove the starch.  Then made sure they were as dry as possible before putting in the Actifry and spraying with Fry light.  I cooked them for about 30-35 minutes (basically until they looked done!)


Saturday night, we had chicken sofrito:



Here's the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 25g lean cooked ham, cut into strips
  • ¼ level tsp salt
  • 75g green pepper, deseeded & chopped
  • 175ml chicken stock
  • 85g/3oz onion, chopped
  • 40g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 level tsp oregano
  • Pinch paprika pepper
  • 250g chicken breasts, skinned, boned & cut into 1½ cm strips

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a pan. Mix well and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  2. Add the chicken and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked thoroughly and the sauce thickens. Serve with a selection of Free vegetables.
It's ridiculously easy, as you can see, and was seriously tasty.  If you're wondering where the mushrooms are on my plate, I left them out because I don't like them!


Saturday's breakfast was poached eggs, lean bacon, baked beans and a stack of spinach:



No real recipe for this, just poach your eggs to your desired runny-ness, fry the bacon in some fry light, heat up the beans and bang.


Sunday's breakfast was syn free Slimming World sweet pancakes:



My willpower on Sunday morning was at its peak as I sat there and ate them with fat free natural yoghurt while Tom tucked into original pancakes and Nutella. 

These are really easy and were an amazing substitute for the real thing.  I found this recipe on Slimming World Survival after a little Google for a recipe.

So, to make two pancakes (or one in my case because my pan is huge) you need:

2 eggs
2 tbsp sweetener
1 tsp vanilla essence
Fry light

And all you need to do is:

Whisk the egg and sweetener in a bowl until soft peaks begin to form
Stir in the vanilla essence and mix well
Spray a pan with Fry light
Pour half the mixture in and fry for about 3 minutes each side
Serve with a topping of your choice
And enjoy!

So easy!  And such a good recipe to have to hand, especially with pancake day looming!  I didn't have any vanilla essence in the cupboard so did them without and I didn't think they tasted like it was missing, so don't worry if you don't have any - you don't need to make a special trip.


Sunday's tea was cottage pie with swede mash topping:


 Here's the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1kg swede, peeled and chopped 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 500g lean beef mince (5% fat or less)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp sweetener
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Method

  1. Cook the swede in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 12-15 minutes or until tender. Drain, return to the pan and mash until smooth. Season well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, spray a large non-stick frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the mince and stir-fry for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, stock, sweetener and oregano and stir well. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6. 
  4. Transfer the beef mixture to a casserole dish and spread the mashed swede over the top, smoothing the surface with a fork (adding a pattern if you like). Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden and bubbling. 

The great thing about this one is that, because it's to serve four, I make one for us for tea and one for the freezer for those nights where we're in late and can't be bothered to start making things from scratch.

Again, I tweaked this recipe slightly and added the leftover tomato sauce from the pizza-topped chicken that we had on Friday night.  It was just chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, mixed herbs, chopped fresh chilli and chopped garlic.  I'm not sure whether it was the addition of this, or just the general taste, but it was absolutely beautiful.  The taste of the cottage part of the pie was amazing, I can't even describe it.  It was just beaut.

I wasn't sure how the swede mash would taste, being a huge potato lover, but it was lovely!  You could hardly tell it was anything different.

Monday night we had speedy chicken jambalaya:



Here's the SW recipe:

Ingredients

  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  • 2 courgettes, chopped into chunks
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts, chopped into chunks
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Splash of tabasco
  • 350g long grain rice, dried
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh chopped parsley, to serve

Method

  1. Spray a large, deep non-stick frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Add the onion, garlic and chicken and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and season well. Bring to
    the boil then cover the pan and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until the stock is almost absorbed and the rice is tender.
  3. Serve scattered with parsley.

The only difference to my version was I forgot to buy courgette, so put extra peppers in.  And chopped some fresh chillies and added them in.

I love this one because it's all done in one pan, so is less mess and cleaning up, and there's always loads left for dinner/quick teas later in the week.

And there you have it! Apart from the side salad, I bet you wouldn't guess from looking at the pictures that those meals (or portion sizes) could help you lose weight, would you?

If you read my Slimming World blogs regularly, you'll know that last week I was really disappointed with 'just' losing 1lb (yes, I feel like an idiot now).  But this week, as you'll see from my food diary when I post it after I've been weighed, I've been on it 110% again so hopefully will see a bigger loss.

On Sunday, as Tom was tucking into his Nutella-drenched, original pancakes, and I was eating my Slimming World ones (which were still beaut), I said to him that if I don't lose more than 2.5lb this week that I am quitting.  I will be so disappointed, though, if I don't get a bigger loss this week.

I can notice it when I look in the mirror that I have visibly lost weight, and people are starting to notice and comment on it too.  I know it's always how you feel in yourself and how your clothes fit (which a lot of mine don't now!) but it would be nice if the scales read with smaller numbers as well.

All will be revealed tomorrow, eek!

You may also like: Why I've ditched the quick fixes and joined Slimming World

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Why am I disappointed about losing 1lb?

I have been so on it this week - I've (unfortunately not literally) food optimised my ass off.

After gaining 2.5lbs over the Christmas and New Year period (which is nothing really when you think about it) I was determined to get rid of that and more and kick January off to a successful, slimming start.

This week, I lost 1lb.

Now, I know a loss is a loss and all that but I was SO expecting more. I was so gutted with just one pound. One measly pound.

I sat waiting for group to start thinking about the biscuits I was going to eat when I got home, feeling sorry for myself. Then group started and I heard everyone else's great weight losses and I felt even worse. But then I realised I need to look at the bigger picture.

A loss is a loss. I should be happy. I know I've put a lot of hard work into this week but I still lost weight.


I shouldn't get disheartened and despondent, I should pick myself up and carry on into a good loss next week. One pound is apparently a whole Guinea pig. And Guinea pigs are some of the bigger little creatures.

When I first started Slimming World my mums friend said that sometimes, when you've had a really good week it doesn't show on the scales until the week after. And vice versa with a bad week.

I've also been on my period since leaving group last week (and still going) which I don't think helped. But I can't look for excuses, it's time to draw my sparkly line under this week and look to next week.

I've tried loads of new recipes this week as a way to motivate myself to stick at it.  I've trawled through Instagram and Pinterest and found some great ideas for things (the oat and raisin cookies were a personal favourite).

For them, you just need 35g oats (HEB), 3 tbsp of sweetener, one egg and 25g raisins (4 syns).  Mix all the ingredients together then shape into cookies (I only got two out of it!) and bake at 180 for 20-25 mins.  For it to count as your HEB, you have to eat both/all the cookies, but that won't be hard as they're really tasty!

I've seen some people make them for breakfast and have them with fat free natural yoghurt and fruit, but I just had mine as a snack with a coffee.  Other people have swapped the raisins for a Freddo (5 syns) and grated that in, which is definitely one I am going to try!!

I also tried the butternut squash jacket that everyone in my group raves about.  Without getting too technical and complicated, it's a great jacket potato alternative because it's a speed vegetable.  Basically, unless your meal is full of speeds, you need to try and make sure at least one third of your plate is made up of speeds.  So if you were having a jacket potato, you'd have to try and fill a third of your plate with a side salad of lettuce, tomato etc (all speeds).  But, because the squash is a speed, you don't need to add anything else to it.  Winning.

The first few bites were strange because, obviously, it doesn't taste like a jacket potato.  But I soon came round to the idea.  I found that (this is probably going to sound gross) mixing the squash and beans together into a mush (I warned you) was actually really tasty.

To do the butternut squash jacket, take a squash and peel the label off (it's foil on the other side!) Put it in the microwave for 5 mins on high then take out and cut in half and de-seed.  Place it on a baking tray, skin down, spray with fry light and cook for 25-30 mins (depending on the size of your squash). I did mine on 180 (electric).  It's really filling so you'll have the other half saved for another day, which is always nice.

Apparently you can eat the skin of the squash but I've not quite got that adventurous yet.  I did, however, make the butternut squash soup at the weekend and took the advice of a lady in my group and cooked it with the skin still on and blended it all up.  There was literally no difference to when I did it before and spent a good half an hour trying to peel the damn thing.  So that's a top tip for anyone wanting to try that!

As well as cooking lots of new things, I finally sat down and sorted through all of my Christmas chocolate.  I've been really good so far and not been tempted to binge on any of it - primarily because I didn't know how many syns any of it was.  So, Sunday afternoon, I sat with my SW app, my scales, and a load of freezer bags and divided it all into bags of 15 syns or less.  It's incredible how little was 15 syns in some cases.

For example, one segment of Terry's chocolate orange is 2.5 syns!!!!  So six segments and you've had your lot for the day.  I'd have happily troughed the whole lot once upon a time and not felt guilty in the slightest.


I was left with about 30 bags of treats so have made my very own 'syn bin' for me to reach into when I have a sugary craving.  If anyone still has Christmas chocolate left and is dreading it being in the house, I would highly recommend doing this.  It almost makes me want to eat it less seeing how many syns is in some of it.

I also continued back at the gym this last week and went to a spinning class.  Now, I love a good spinning class.  I hate it at the time, but it's a good kind of hate.  Me and Soph went on Tuesday because we know it's a class we like at a good time but were shocked to discover it wasn't just a normal spin.

Oh no.

This was 'warrior spin' and it was every bit as hard as it sounded.

There was spinning, burpees, spinning, press-ups, spinning, squat jumps, spinning... At one point I just sat on the floor next to the bike staring into space.  It was hard.  Harder than hard.

So hard I couldn't even be bothered to cook tea when I got home, I literally couldn't stand up long enough, so we went to Frankie & Benny's.  I didn't go silly, though, and had chicken with some veggies and spaghetti.  No way was I undoing all that hard work I'd just done and devouring a pizza (as nice as that would have been).

This next week is looking good - I've got enough chicken breasts in the freezer to feed an army and
still loads of salad and veg to create some yummy meals.  I'm going to do the chicken jambalaya again (purely because it's easy and makes enough for lunch the next day, too), the jerk chicken kebabs again, sweet chilli chicken and a big cottage pie.  Hopefully that will see me with a good loss and my half a stone award.

Fingers crossed!

Week nine food diary


Day One:

Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled with 1/3 of a tin of chopped tomatoes and 3/4 of a red pepper mixed in.
Dinner: Homemade carrot, swede and onion soup
Snack: The other 1/4 of the red pepper
Snack: Apple and pear
Tea: SW easy chicken curry with spicy broccoli and green beans
Syns for the day: 0

Day Two:

Breakfast: Poached eggs and loads of spinach leaves
Snack: Apple and pear
Dinner: Chicken and bacon salad with a whole meal bread roll (HEB)
Snack: Pear
Tea: SW fish and chips
Snack: Maltesers (5 syns)
Snack: Milky Way (5 syns)
Syns for the day: 10

Day Three:

Breakfast: Poached eggs on loads of spinach leaves
Snack: Homemade HEB oat and sultana cookies
Dinner: Homemade carrot, swede and onion soup
Tea: Diet cola chicken (SW recipe) with cauliflower rice
Snack: Five celebrations (2 syns each)
Syns for the day: 14

Day Four:

Breakfast: Dippy eggs with two slices of wholemeal bread (HEB) cut into soldiers
Drink: Tall skinny latte from Starbucks (5 syns)
Dinner: Butternut squash jacket (like a jacket potato but butternut squash) with baked beans
Tea: Roast chicken Sunday dinner with carrots, broccoli and homemade SW roast potatoes. 1 syn for gravy.
Snack: Two cookies (4 syns each)
Syns for the day: 14


Day Five:

Breakfast: Melon
Snack: Apple
Dinner: Soup and a sandwich - leftover roast chicken on two slices of wholemeal bread (HEB) with homemade SW butternut squash soup.
Snack: Pear
Tea: Chilli and garlic meatballs with roasted speed veg and a bit of spaghetti
Snacks: A 'syn bin' treat bag made up of 28g Jelly Tots (5 syns) and 38g Smarties (9 syns)
Syns for the day: 14

Day Six:

Breakfast: Melon
Snack: Pear
Dinner: Butternut squash jacket (like a jacket potato but butternut squash) with baked beans
Snack: Apple
Tea: 'Saltimbocca chicken' at Frankie and Benny's (chicken breast stuffed with salami and sage with spaghetti in tomato sauce, peas, green beans and broccoli) Guessing about 4 syns for the salami and a few for the olive oil it will have been cooked in.
Syns for the day: Est. 8

Day Seven: (weigh day)

Breakfast: Overnight oats
Snack: Apple
Dinner: Homemade SW butternut squash soup
Snack: Pear
Tea: Turkey and pepper stir fry (all done in the ActiFry so super easy)
Syns for the day: 0

You may also like: i couldn't think of an inventive title about this 'weight loss' post given my gains (and not the good gym kind)

Monday, 11 January 2016

Pants problems, spots and broken nails - HAPPY MONDAY!

This morning was your typical 'bleugh, it's Monday morning' morning.

I'd already had two cups of coffee before 10am (for someone who hated coffee until two months ago, this is huge); I have a huge spot right on the edge of my lip (the proper painful place where you can't pop it because it makes your toes curl); and I put both my legs into one of the leg holes in my pants when I was trying to get dressed, resulting in me crashing head first into the wall and leaving a nice orange circle from my foundation on said cream wall (soz, Tom!)

It took me too many attempts to park my car in a space that, when I got out, I realised could've fit a bus; my nail split really low down and I'm not getting them done until next Wednesday so it's probably going to break and be all stubby; and I had the worst period pain ever.

SOBBBBB.

I also took the wrong lunch to work, obviously grabbing the first thing in tupperware that I saw in the fridge.  Although, the fact I remembered lunch at all deserves a round of applause.

What is it about knowing it's Monday that makes us (me) so scatty and down in the dumps?  If something is going to go wrong during the week, it will mostly be on a Monday.  If I'm going to be feeling unwell, or extra tired, or fed up, it'll be on a Monday.  If the weather is going be grim and not get light all day, it'll be on Monday.  Honestly, if Monday had a face you would definitely want to throw something at it.

I love my job, so I never get that Sunday night dread about going back to work in the morning, but as soon as Monday morning rolls around I feel like I'm on a different planet.  This morning was a prime example.

I'd laid all my things out in the spare room last night for me to get ready nice and easily this morning. Tom wasn't starting work until after lunch so I made sure everything I would need was out of the room so I wouldn't wake him.  It seemed so promising - I remembered my deodorant and my handbag, and I'd picked up a pair of shoes that actually matched.  My toothbrush and toothpaste were in the bathroom along with my contact lenses (which I didn't even attempt this morning after the disaster with my pants!)

My lunch was ready in the fridge with my travel cup on the side ready for my, now essential, morning coffee and my keys were to hand rather than being buried under the contents of my over-flowing handbag.  I thought I'd set myself up for a cracking start to the day.

But, it was not to be.

I didn't even attempt breakfast at home, terrified of the mess I could make if I attempted to crack eggs/cook anything so nipped to Morrisons before work and bought some melon.  The only positive of this was that the melon was really tasty and juicy, not like the stuff I had last week which fizzed when I ate it.  The downside?  I didn't actually get to eat it until 11am!

Monday is almost done for another week now, meaning I have six mornings to look forward to where everything goes to plan and I don't turn the air blue because of my foul language before 8am.  The rest of the week I make it until at least 10!

HAPPY MONDAY!

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