Thursday, 30 June 2011

No Chocs July

As I've mentioned before on here, I've found the support on twitter from others losing weight to be invaluable. One of those lovely supportive people is known as @no_chocs on twitter, and has given up chocolate for the whole of this year. Earlier this month, she asked for some volunteers to join her for the month of July in giving up chocolate. Given all the support I've had from twitter, I felt I should join up and help give something back, so as of tomorrow I will not be eating any chocolate until the 1st August.

I don't tend to eat a huge amount of chocolate anyway, as crisps are a bigger weakness for me. However, I do enjoy the chocolate based hifi bars (the deluxe, the mint choc or the choc orange ones - I'm not picky!), and I do tend to have these as a HEXB choice a few days a week, so this is going to be my biggest difficulty. Last week at class I bought a pack of the lemon hifi bars to try, and although they're not as good as the chocolate ones, I did still enjoy them. I may also have a look at the Alpen Light bars to see if they have chocolate free ones that I could use instead.

If you are on twitter and want to follow my progress, and everyone else signed up for the challenge, have a search for the hashtag #nochocsjuly

RECIPE - Curried Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

I know chopping butternut squash is a pain, but this recipe really makes it worth it. What's more it's syn free on all plans.

1 butternut squash
2 onions
2 carrots
2 tsp curry powder (I use hot, but use mild if you don't want it too spicy!)
Chicken stock, to cover the veg

  1. Chop up the butternut squash, onions and carrots and add to a large pot.
  2. Add enough chicken stock to cover the veg, and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the curry powder and season. Cook for around 30 minutes until the veg is soft.
  4. Blend and enjoy

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

RECIPE - Stovies

On Monday I decided to do some roast beef. It was quite a big joint - more than enough for the 2 of us at home, so I ended up with plenty leftovers. Last night I decided to make Slimming World friendly stovies. I tweeted about them, and got a few questions about what they were, so here it is people!

Stovies is a traditional Scottish recipe, of which there are many variations depending on who you speak to. The one I did yesterday was made with leftover shredded roast beef from my roast, but you can also use corned beef, mince or even sausages (obviously taking into account the syns if you're doing Slimming World). They're also meant to be made using some form of fat (butter, lard, beef dripping, etc.) However as I was doing a Slimming World recipe I didn't add any fat at all, and still really enjoyed them.

Traditionally stovies only consist of potatoes, onion, gravy and meat. However I also added a lot of carrot, to get it to the one third superfree required for Extra Easy, and added some petit pois for the last 5 minutes of cooking to get an extra super speed food in! Obviously you can play around with the vegetables you use depending on your tastes. I think it would also taste lovely with cubed swede or chopped leeks.

4 large potatoes, chopped into small chunks
4 large carrots, sliced
2 onions, finely sliced
Leftover roast beef, shredded
Leftover syn free gravy (if avail, otherwise use more stock)
1 beef stock cube
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Handful of petit pois
Salt & Pepper

  1. Add everything to a large pot, except the petit pois, and add small amount of water (it isn't drained, so just add the minimum you need)
  2. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover.
  3. Cook for 45-50 minutes stirring regularly. The potatoes should start falling apart and mixing with everything else. If it starts to get too dry add a splash of water
  4. Add petit pois for the last 5 minutes just to heat through
  5. Serve - it looks like a dog's dinner but is delicious, and only one pot to wash up!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Week 13 Weigh In

Once again, last night I was aiming to get my stone award. However, the weekend hadn't been great diet wise having been away for a night in Glasgow on Friday. There was lots of wine, a few crisps and a massive pig out at Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant involved, so I was worried. (But the food in Jamie's restaurant was really well worth the syn splurge - absolutely delicious!)

I was thrilled when I was told I'd lost 3lbs - not only getting my stone award, but also my club 10 award (for those not familiar with slimming world, club 10 is when you have lost 10% of your body weight). This was a massive boost for me, after feeling really disappointed at not losing the week before. I'd managed to keep myself on track despite the disappointment (aside from the aforementioned food!) and it had paid off. As an extra boost, I also got my first ever Slimmer of the Week award last night, so it really was a day full of shiny stickers!

As my consultant pointed out in class last night, over the last 3 weeks I've lost 6lbs - an average of 2lbs a week, which I'm really happy with. I'm really determined to try and keep this average up now and get my stone and a half award within the next 2 or 3 weeks (4.5lbs to go!).

Looking to this coming week, my main diet difficulty is going to the the Taste of Edinburgh event on Saturday afternoon. I go to this every year, and basically its a festival where a number of different local restaurants and local producers set up stalls either selling or giving away tasters of their food/drinks, and chefs do some demos. Its quite easy to eat and drink quite a few naughties, and afterwards I tend to end up getting a takeaway and drinking lots more wine! I want to enjoy myself, so I will be sampling what's on offer at the festival, however I'm planning on sticking to minimum syns the rest of the week. Also, I'm going to make sure I have a prepared curry and rice in the fridge on Saturday so that I just need to reheat it, rather than going for a takeaway. Hopefully all this will mean I can still achieve a loss next week.

Monday, 27 June 2011

RECIPE - Spinach and Red Pepper Cannelloni

I tried this recipe for the first time on Thursday evening. It's syn free, and honestly one of the best things I've eaten in ages. In fact, I had meant to save the leftovers for the next day's lunch, but they all got polished off later in the evening when I felt a bit hungry! I always find cannelloni a pain to make, but this recipe has really made it worth the effort, and is definitely going to become a regular meal for us. It's also vegetarian - but don't let that put you off! I'm a big meat fan, but really didn't miss it at all in this recipe.

(serves 4)
250g spinach (fresh or frozen, but if using frozen, defrost first and squeeze out excess water)
20 cannelloni tubes
2 red peppers
1 onion
4 radishes
1 300g tub low fat cottage cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 carton of tomato passata
2 garlic cloves, crushed
handful of fresh basil leaves
fresh cherry tomatoes (optional)
100g grated cheddar cheese (optional - 1HEXA per person)

  1. Finely chop the onion and red pepper. Grate the radishes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the spinach, red pepper, onion, garlic, egg yolk, cottage cheese, radishes and season well.
  3. Fill the cannelloni tubes with this mixture, using a piping bag, teaspoon or your hands depending on your preference! Try and really pack the mixture tightly into the tubes.
  4. Add the filled cannelloni tubes in a single layer to a baking dish sprayed with frylight, and top with the carton of passata, ensuring that all the pasta is covered
  5. Add the fresh basil leaves on top. If using, also add the cheese, and the halfed cherry tomatoes.
  6. Bake in the oven at 200C for around 45 minutes. Cover the mixture for the first 30 minutes with foil, and remove for the last 15 minutes to allow the cheese to brown slightly

Thursday, 23 June 2011

RECIPE - The 8 syn pizza

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for a syn free pizza on my blog, using a HEXA choice and a base made out of smash. Whilst I enjoyed this, and it helps satisfy the pizza craving, it is a bit of a pain to make. This pizza can be made a lot quicker for only 8 syns plus a HEXA, and does taste a lot more like a pizza. It uses the new Warburtons Squarish Wraps. These are a bit thicker than a regular wrap, and really lend themselves well to forming a delicious 8 syn base.

1 Warburtons Squarish Wrap (8 syns)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp oregano
42g Mozzarella, grated
Toppings of your choice (e.g. ham, cooked chicken, tomatoes, onions, sweetcorn, courgette, etc.)

  1. Mix together the passata, garlic and oregano and spread over the wrap
  2. Add the grated mozzarella
  3. Add toppings of your choice
  4. Cook in the oven at 200C for around 10 minutes
  5. Serve with a fresh green salad

RECIPE - Diet Coke Chicken

This is another well known Slimming World recipes, which I tried for the first time last night. I thought it sounded strange, and my partner looked at me like I was a crazy person when I told him we were having diet coke chicken for dinner, but it was very nice. It makes a lovely thick, BBQ type sauce. Its also a very quick and easy recipe to make, so is ideal for evenings when you don't have much time to cook but want something healthy and filling.

I've also been told of a variation to the recipe which involves using diet fanta instead of the coke to make a sweet and sour style sauce (and also adding fresh pineapple at the very end to make it more authentic) Given the success of yesterday's recipe, I intend to try the diet fanta chicken very soon too.

(Syn free on all plans)
2 chicken breasts
1 can diet coke
100ml passata
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

  1. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces
  2. Spray a non-stick pan with fry light and stir fry and onion and chicken until cooked
  3. Add the diet coke, passata and worcestershire sauce
  4. Cook over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened
  5. Serve with a fresh salad and either rice or potato wedges

RECIPE - Caramelised Onions

I love to keep a batch of these in the fridge to add to salads, quiches, pizzas etc. They are quick and easy to make and freeze well. Best of all they are syn free on all plans!

1 large onion
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tbsp water
1 tbsp sweetener

  1. Peel and chop the onion
  2. Spray a non-stick frying pan with frylight and add all the ingredients
  3. Stir fry on a low heat until all the liquid has been absorbed

RECIPE - Super Speed Soup

This is another recipe which I've seen mentioned on a few Slimming World related sites, which I'm only replicating here for reference. Its full of lots of speed ingredients, so should help speed up your weight loss. The recipe is enough for a huge pot of very thick and filling soup, and it freezes very well too, so its worth the effort of buying everything and making it up.

1 can mixed bean salad
1 can green lentils
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 can baked beans
Handful of split lentils
2 large leeks
1 large onion
4 large carrots
2 parsnips
Green, red or yellow pepper
2 beef stock cubes
Salt & pepper
Mixed herbs
(I also add garlic and chilli, though these aren’t in the original recipe!)

  1. Add all the ingredients into a large soup pot, with enough water to cover all the ingredients
  2. Bring to the boil, then simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft
  3. Either leave chunky, or blend for a smooth soup

    Tuesday, 21 June 2011

    Week 12 Weigh In

    Unusually I had felt confident about my weigh in yesterday. I'd had a good week - I'd had a few extra syns on Thursday, but had added everything up, and was easily within my syns for the week, I'd been continuing my walking and had been eating plenty of superfree foods. My clothes were also feeling a bit looser. I assumed the scales would show a good result, I'd get my stone award and be happy!

    I was wrong! I stepped on the scales in class yesterday and they showed exactly the same numbers as the week before. I felt miserable. Yesterday was one of my hardest weigh in days, and after seeing the figures I really felt like giving up. However, I had to stay in class, as recently I've been helping out our consultant by weighing members whilst she is doing the new member talks. As much as I just wanted to leave class and go home via the shops for a massive bar of chocolate and packet or two of crisps, I didn't want to let the consultant down so sat and weighed everyone else. This meant I also stayed to Image Therapy and got a lot of support from the class, as I admitted that I felt like bursting into tears!

    I was still in a mood when I got home, but fortunately I had already cooked a bolognaise sauce for dinner, so didn't have an excuse to hit the takeaway. I also got some amazing support from my slimming friends on Twitter, who all encouraged me to stick with it and not let one bad result ruin my good results so far. Last night I had a few glasses of wine, but didn't go as crazy as I could have done, and I've managed to get myself feeling a bit better today. The plan has been working for me, so hopefully this was just some crazy blip and next week I'll have a better result. Fingers crossed....

    Tuesday, 14 June 2011

    New Discoveries

    Last weekend I'd had a day out full of food and drink, and on route home I decided there was a need to visit Tesco for some post-drinking munchies. For some reason I decided to buy sausages as well. I didn't eat them, forgot about them, then discovered them in the fridge the following day when sober and cursed myself for buying such tempting things!

    After trying to resist them, I started wondering how much a sausage actually was syn-wise. The temptation was there and I wanted them badly! However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the brand I'd bought (Tesco Finest Pork and Chilli) were only 4.5 syns each. This meant that last Tuesday night I was able to make proper bangers and mash with onion gravy for only 9 syns. It felt like such a treat, and whilst I wouldn't normally have that many syns with dinner, it really hit the spot and stopped my sausage cravings. Definitely something I will have every so often.

    Another, even better, sausage discovery was also made that day. Whilst looking through the sausage syn values, I discovered that Tesco Finest Venison Sausages are only 1 syn each. I love venison anyway, and with such a low syn value I went straight out and bought some of them too, which went great with my Sunday morning Slimming World fry-up!

    My third discovery this week was Cauliflower Rice - something which I saw one of the lovely ladies on Twitter mentioning. Basically it involves grating a cauliflower and microwaving it to use as a substitute for rice. It works by giving you a similar texture to regular rice, without the carbs! I was on a red day on Sunday and had some curry to use up, so decided to try the Cauli Rice, and I have to say I was very pleased with it. It is very easy to cook (even easier than regular rice), and I think I even preferred it as I felt it tasted of more than rice does. As cauliflower is a speed symbol, its definitely something else that I think will become a regular on my plate.

    Week 11 Weigh In

    After last week's gain I was determined to get a good loss this week and had really got right back on plan. I decided to change a couple of things as well:
    1. Melon: One of the ladies in my class has lost 4 stone in 5 months, and was asked by our consultant about her favourite speed foods. She said that she ate a lot of melon everyday, so I went to Tescos and bought 4 melons for the week, and made sure I had half of one every day. It wasn't exactly a hardship given that I love melon. I just scooped out the seeds and sat with a half melon and a spoon in front of the TV.
    2. Walking: I had an appointment last Tuesday that didn't finish until 5.15pm, and would have involved 2 bus rides to get home, lasting approximately an hour. I really didn't fancy the idea of being cooped up on a warm bus, and I was planning on doing half an hour exercise when I got home. Instead, I worked out that walking home would take me about an hour and a half - exactly the same time as the bus + exercise DVD, so decided to get the extra exercise and did the 4.5 mile walk. The walk was tiring, but I had my iPod on with some good beats and made it home in one piece, having enjoyed it. This was then followed by a further 2 walks this week - one 3.6 miles and one 3.8 miles. I've really enjoyed the walking, and hope to make it a regular thing now. Despite living in this area for 6 years, and driving past things all the time, I've started noticing new places on my travels too.
    That's not to say this week was easy - I had a job interview last Thursday, which I was quite stressed about, and stress makes me crave comfort foods, which lead to me having a bit of a pig out from my fiance's biscuit tin on Friday night, along with the best part of a bottle of wine. However, I got straight back on plan on Saturday, and made sure I had less syns to combat the Friday night lapse.

    And in the end, my changes this week made a difference. I stepped on the scales last night to a 3lb loss. That brings my total loss to 13.5lbs. I was disappointed that I didn't quite get the stone award last night - especially as the scales were wavering between getting it and not getting it, but I am thrilled to have had such a good loss again. I've felt that over the last few weeks my losses have been drying up, so its a great boost to be properly back on the weight loss journey, and hopefully that stone award will be mine next Monday.

    Tuesday, 7 June 2011

    RECIPE - Cheese and Herb Stuffed Chicken and Veg

    This was a recipe I made up to use up what was in the fridge last week, but ended up really enjoying it. Only 1 syn (or cheese can be used as part of your HEXA choice)

    (Serves 2)
    2 chicken breasts
    2 laughing cow light triangles
    2 baking potatoes
    1 pepper
    1 red onion
    1 pack pasata
    2 cloves garlic
    Smoked paprika (to taste)
    Mixed herbs
    Salt and Pepper
    Fry light

    1. Pop the baking potatoes in the microwave for 4 minutes to slightly soften. Then cut into wedge shapes.
    2. Cut a pocket in each chicken breast, and add a sprinkling of mixed herbs and a laughing cow light triangle to each. Squash the cheese around a bit to mix with the herbs
    3. Roughly chop the onions and peppers into chunks.
    4. Spray an oven dish with fry light and add the onions, peppers, potato wedges and chicken breasts.
    5. Put the pasata in a bowl, and crush in the 2 garlic cloves, then add salt, pepper and smoked paprika (I added about a tablespoon of this but I like it hot - add less depending on taste) and mix well.
    6. Pour over the food in the oven dish and gently stir to coat everything
    7. Put this in a preheated oven for about 40 minutes, turning everything occasionally

    The Scan Bran Challenge

    After returning from holiday I noticed that Twitter was awash with mentions of the Scan Bran Challenge. I knew Scan Bran was some sort of Slimming World food, but had never really paid much attention to it or ever thought about eating it. However, I was told that it might speed up weight loss so I thought I would give it a go particularly given my holiday indulgences. Before I started I did an unofficial weigh in on my home scales and they said I'd gained 2lbs over the holiday.

    My scan bran challenge started last Wednesday, and I have to say I struggled from the first bite. I found them like cardboard, and incredibly difficult to swallow, however I used them. I tried having them with cheese and cherry tomatoes, having them dipped in my pasta sauce, having them with hot milk in the morning, as a cake made with eggs and muller light, and finally with some really nice posh ham. The latter was the most edible, but still a struggle, and a pint of water was required with every scan bran. One day I even ended up in bed for an afternoon because I was getting really bad stomach cramps from eating them.

    However, I stuck with it. I ate my 5 a day until Monday's weigh in, where I gained 1.5lbs. As my unofficial weigh in had put me at a 2lb gain pre-scan bran this means scan bran only helped me lose 0.5lbs - definitely not worth it!

    Others on twitter seem to have had some brilliant losses with the scan bran challenge, whilst some have been like me and had small losses or maintains, so I'm glad I tried it. However, it didn't work for me, and I will never ever have another scan bran again.

    Week 10 Weigh In - Gain

    I was nervous going to class yesterday - it had been three weeks since my last weigh in, and in that three weeks I'd been on holiday and eaten my body weight in junk food, came back and had a few meals out plus a few drinks. However, I'd also been doing the scan bran challenge (more on that later), and started the 30 day shred so I'd hoped that these would help counteract the holiday naughtiness!

    I was wrong! I got to class yesterday to find I'd gained a pound and half, and whilst I wasn't surprised I was very disappointed. Its the first gain I've had since starting going to class and it put me in a bad mood for the rest of yesterday. The gain has taken me further away from my stone award (now 3.5lbs to go), and I've also recently been reminded that my wedding is fast approaching and I really need to be losing every week if I want to be at target by then. My dress is also due into the wedding shop next month, which means I'm going to have to start thinking about trying it on, and at the moment that thought terrifies me in case its still too small.

    I also logged my weight on the Slimming World website this morning, and entered my weight - my graph now looks awful. I started off really well with some great losses, and then had a few weeks of lower losses, now a gain. My predicted progress looks slow, and altogether the whole thing is a bleak picture.

    So in other words I have plenty of motivation to be 100% on plan this week! I have no meals out planned this week for a change, other than dinner at my parent's house but my mum always makes sure I have syn-free options so that will help things and as should know exactly what I'm putting in my plate. I'm going to Tesco tonight to stock the fridge up, and going to plan out some new Slimming World meals this afternoon. I'm also going to keep at the exercise, and keep a food diary again. It may be a tough goal but I want my stone award next week so I really want to lose 3.5lbs - I've done it before in a week so lets hope I can do it again.