Thursday, 31 March 2011


As well as making a firm food optimising commitment this week, I also wanted to make a firm commitment to more regular exercise, so today I rejoined the gym. It's only a 6 week membership, as we're looking to move over the next few months, and don't want to be tied to a gym that's miles away from where we live, however I'm hoping I can do a lot over the next 6 weeks, and really get my fitness levels up and some extra weight off. I'm not the most motivated person when it comes to exercise, but hopefully having paid money for it will force me to go (just as paying for classes is forcing me to stick to the diet!).

I started as I mean to go on today with 30 minutes on the cross trainer, which went by quickly with some tunes pumping through my headphones and watching the subtitled news on the TV in front of me. I also did some leg, chest and back weight machines afterwards to start building up a bit of muscle tone. Finally I had a 20 minute swim in the pool. Swimming is the one type of exercise I do really enjoy, so will normally try and fit this into my workout. There's something about it that really clears my mind!

As well as the gym, I'm wanting to do other exercise to keep my routine varied. I've been going to a zumba class since the end of last year, and absolutely love it. Its very energetic, but the two instructors make it fun as well so whilst you notice you're really working out, its easy to do. By the end of it I always feel physically exhausted but energised at the same time, and leave with a smile on my face. The only problem for me is the timing of the class - Friday evenings at 6.30pm, which is a time that's often taken over by nights out, etc. (and I'm never one to turn down a night out in favour of exercise no matter how good it is!). There are other nearby classes, but I really enjoy the class with these instructors, so don't want to change. However, the Zumba game for the wii is out tomorrow, and its already been preordered, so I'm hoping this will help me get my regular zumba fix in between classes!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

RECIPE - Tomato Soup

I love soups - I find they're great for lunch, or for a mid-afternoon snack as they really fill me up, are easy to make and are a great way to get lots of free vegetables into your diet. I made this one today, and its completely syn free:

3 medium onions
3 cloves garlic
4 tomatoes
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1tsp oregano
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 chicken stock cubes

  1. Roughly chop the onions, garlic and tomatoes.
  2. Spray a soup pot with frylight, put on the lowest heat and add the veg. Cover with a lid, and allow to sweat for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tins of chopped tomatoes, oregano, balsamic vinegar, stock cubes and boiling water. (I normally use a kettle full of water)
  4. Cook for about 30 minutes, remove from the heat
  5. Blend
  • Adding a chopped chilli in stage 1 will give the soup a lovely kick
  • Adding a handful of basil leaves between stages 4 and 5 will make a delicious tomato and basil soup
  • If you like it creamy, add a spoonful of fat free natural yogurt to your bowl and stir through

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

My SW Cooking Tips - Part 1

These are a few things that I have found useful when cooking on SW. I'll add more as I think of them!

  1. I often find that vegetables and meat burn easier with fry light than they would do with oil, so I add a splash of water to the frying pan along with the fry light and keep adding water if I feel food is burning. Everything still cooks, and I've not added any syns.
  2. Red lentils are brilliant for thickening sauces, soups and stocks, rather than using flour or gravy granules. I add a handful during cooking and they almost disintigrate into the sauce/stock and give it a nice thickness.
  3. Invest in a slow cooker. These are great for one pot meals. It's easy to chop some veg, meat and potatoes in the morning, stick them in the slow cooker and the food is ready in the evening. I've found there's no need to brown the meat, and it always ends up tender.
  4. I'm a mash addict, and have tried adding stock, quark, natural yogurt and fromage frais to mash instead of butter, but was never happy with the taste, and it felt really diety. Now I just add a little milk from my daily allowance, lots of nutmeg and finely chopped spring onion. The extra flavour brought by the nutmeg and spring onion means that I don't miss the butter, and it doesn't feel like a diet mash.

RECIPE - Chicken and Leek Stew

This is my favourite recipe for using up left over chicken from a roast, however it also works well with raw chicken that has been diced. Its packed full of vegetables, is very simple to make, only requires one pot (so saves on the washing up) and really doesn't taste at all diety! I change this slightly everytime I make it depending on what veg I have in the house, but it always tastes good, and the recipe is the same. All for 1.5 syns per portion.

(Serves 4)
Leftovers from a roast chicken, or 2 chicken breasts (diced)
4 potatoes (I also sometimes use sweet potatoes or celeriac, or a combination)
4 leeks
4 - 6 carrots
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 chilli
Pack sugarsnap peas (or sometimes babycorn or regular peas)
175ml white wine
Chicken stock
50g red lentils
Sprig rosemary (or tsp dried rosemary if preferred)
2 bay leaves

  1. Wash, peel and chop the potatoes, carrots, leeks and onion into bit sized chunks. Finely dice the garlic, chilli and rosemary
  2. Add to a large pot along with the chicken, wine and lentils. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the food. Add the bay leaves, rosemary and season well.
  3. Bring to the boil, cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook for around 35-40 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Add the sugarsnap peas for the last 5 minutes of cooking
  5. Serve and enjoy in a big bowl

RECIPE - Mexican Scrambled Eggs

I love this recipe for breakfast because it's a tasty and filling start to the day. It takes a bit longer to prepare than most breakfasts, but is definitely worth it. I came up with this recipe myself, basing it on the Mexican Huevos Rancheros, which involves fried eggs on top of a spicy tomato sauce. I'm not a big fan of fried eggs, but do love scrambled eggs, so adapted it accordingly. Best of all its no syns at all!

(serves 2)
4 medium eggs
12 cherry tomatoes or 4 regular tomatoes
1 onion
1 chilli (any kind depending on your preference)
2 cloves garlic
Fry light
Salt and pepper
Tabasco sauce (optional)

  1. Finely dice the onion, garlic and chilli, and add to a frying pan sprayed with fry light. Cook over a medium heat with a splash of water until slightly softened (about 3 or 4 minutes). If the pan becomes dry, and an extra splash of water as needed.
  2. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the pan, ensuring that any juice from the tomatoes also goes in. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened, adding water as necessary so that it doesn't dry out.
  3. Beat the eggs, and season with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and scramble
  4. Serve with the Tabasco - add as little or as much as you like depending on your taste
These are also delicious over a slice of toast if you wish to use a Healthy Extra, or with some grilled bacon (fat removed)

A Bit About Me

Hello and welcome to my blog! I hope you will find it interesting and useful.

I joined my local Slimming World group yesterday - the first time I've ever been to a slimming class. I'm not new to Slimming World, having been an online member earlier this year, so I was already familiar with the rules. However, whilst I initially lost some weight (around about a stone), my motivation had disappeared of late as it was too easy to decide not to weigh myself, or to keep moving the scales around the house the scales showed a loss. So, I made the decision to join a class in the hope that regular weigh-ins that I can't cheat on and some support from fellow SW members would make the difference for me and get my weight loss back on track.

My weight has always fluctuated over the years from weighing 8 and half stone at my lowest, and fitting comfortably into a size 10, to over 12 stone and having to squeeze into a size 16. Now, I've made the decision to get back to that size 10 figure I loved for good. I'm getting married this November, and want to look my best on the day - after all, the photos will last a lifetime! I've already bought my dress, which is two sizes smaller than my current biggest measurement, so I definitely have pressure on me to lose the weight. However, I am confident that by starting now and continuing SW classes I will accomplish this.

I've done plenty of other diets in the past, and have had success - my eight and half stone figure was achieved through Weight Watchers, however I always felt hungry on the diet and as soon as I reached target the weight was creeping back on because I couldn't sustain that level of hunger long term. I've picked Slimming World this time, as I love the flexibility of the diet. Its great to know that I can eat something whenever I am hungry, without having to worry so long as its one of the many free foods. I also love the fact that I don't need to measure most things. This is particularly good when cooking - it means I can make dinner for my fiance and I without having to deprive him of the big portions he loves! I also like the syns allowance, as I would never want to give up my treats of crisps, chocolate and wine! I find the diet easy to follow, and great when eating out too, and as I know it works well for me it's the perfect option.

One of my passions in life is cooking. I have never been a 'ready meal' girl, instead I always like to cook things from scratch which is perfect for the SW way of life. I've already worked out how to tweak most of my favourite recipes so that they are SW friendly, and I always like to try out new recipes to keep things interesting. I'm intending to post recipes that I come up with on here, so I hope these are useful to anyone reading.

I'm also a bit of a vegetable obsessive. No meal is complete without a stack of veggies included - again something that fits so well with SW. I like to cook a lot of stews, curries and sauces where veggies are included as an ingredient, and when I'm having something more simple, such as chicken, I always like to have at least 3 kinds of veg on the side. I've also been known to have bowls of veg as a snack (current favourites being mashed turnip or sweetcorn!) The one thing I didn't have too much of before SW was fruit, which is something I'm trying to incorporate more, but sometimes do struggle with.

I've started this blog for a few reasons:
1. I want a record of my weight loss, that I can refer back to in tough times, and that's out there for everyone to see so that I can keep myself motivated (I would feel back telling my readers that I've had a gain!)
2. I love writing, and I'm looking forward to waffling on about how I'm feeling about the diet, what I'm eating, what I'm doing, etc. Plus, whilst I'm writing I can't be eating chocolate!
3. I'd love to help others with their weight loss, and hope that the recipes I post will be useful.
4. The blog will also act as a record of any hints/tips that I find useful so that we can all refer back to them.

Thanks for reading, I hope my first post has given you an idea of what I want to achieve through this blog, and I hope you return soon. Please feel free to comment on any of my posts - I'd love to hear from you. Also, if you wish to follow me on twitter you can do so @LauraASnell