Thursday, 26 February 2009

3 Bean Chilli

One of the staples of my eating these days is 3 Bean Chilli. It's delicious, nutritious and very very filling. As an added bons it' totally free on Green days and Extra Easy.

Here's the recipe.

1 onion
3 garlic cloves
400g can of red kidney beans
400g can mixed beans
200g can chickpeas
small handful of fresh coriander or 1 tbsp dried
Fry light
1-2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cinnammon
2 tbsp ground cumin (I half that!)
2 X 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp artificial sweetener
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp very low fat natural fromage frais
Pinch of paprika


1. Finely chop the onion and garlic cloves. Drain and rinse the beans and chickpeas. Roughly chop the coriander.

2. Spray a large pan with Fry Light and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir fry for 2-3 mins.

3: Add the chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin, tomatoes and sweetener. Bring to the boil. Season well, cover tightly and cook over a low heat for 10 mins.

4: Add the beans and chickpeas. Mix well. Return to heat for further 10 mins.

5: Serve in warmed bowls. Spoon over a tablespoon of fromage frais, sprinkle with paprika and garnish with coriander.

I am casual with this ingredient list. I use whatever bean selection is in my cupboard, including baked beans and it's fine. I often chuck fresh chilli in, which is great. If I don't have any fromage frais in then I just miss that part off and it's still fine. The fromage frais is delicious though! I serve it with boiled rice and it goes a very long way! It's a brilliant midweek, close to payday store cupboard ingredient meal and allegedly costs only 75p per serving so perfect in the current economic climate.

(I have copied this recipe directly from Slimming World Magazine.)

SAS Swoops In!

I mentioned on Monday that this week I would be doing an SAS Log. Here's how it works. On 1 side of the page is a list of daily aims and potential danger areas, plus space to write any of your own thoughts. On side 2 is a sort of food diary, but as well as writing down what you've eaten, you tick to say whether it was Free Food, Healthy Extras or Syns. And whether you planned to eat it or not, whether you knew the Syn value before eating it, whether you accurately measured or estimated for Syns and Healthy Extras, and whether you are writing at the time of eating, or later.

I'd say most people would claim to have a clue about their eating habits. Certainly I'd say I knew what I was eating pretty much every day. If I was trying to appear virtuous I would tell you that I nearly always stick to plan 100%, and that most days I have less than 5 Syns. If I was being honest I would admit to the odd spoonful of cereal or square of chocolate, or bite of toast. I would still be adamant that my Syns were minimal.

Well not any more! The SAS Log has sprung my eyes wide open. Day 1 revealed it, Day 2 confirmed it and Day 3 is making me try to change it.

Here's what I'm doing. I am regularly (as in most of the time!) eating things with a Syn value without knowing what the Syn value actually is. I estimate, I eat, I forget. Or as in this week I estimate, I eat, I look it up and recoil in horror! Yesterday I consumed around 8.5 Syns in this way. This would be OK if it was always so low and I never went over the 15 Syns per day allowance, but this week I am being very careful to write down everything I eat, so when I snaffled a crisp it was one crisp, not a handful. On a normal week I can well imagine I am going well over on some days, and it certainly brings last week's gain into perspective.

Knowledge is power! I guess I'm armed and dangerous now then.

Monday, 23 February 2009

I love dieting, I do.

Week 59

Weight: 17st 2.5lb
Gain This Week: 1.5lb
Total lost: 79lb

*Bangs head repeatedly on desk*

Okaaaaay. My frustration knows no bounds! I thought I'd been on track this week. I was on a high from last week. I was intent on seeing "16st something" on the scales. I went to a friend's house for dinner and we did a SW meal, each of us providing one course. I did the Strawberry Dream pudding. That's really making an effort, that is! Now OK, I'm going to admit here, there was nachos and dips too, and I did have some, but I didn't drink. And it was my only indiscretion of the week so I don't think I "deserved" the gain. Stupid scales!

Upon reflection, I think maybe some unwise eating behaviour may have been in evidence. It was half term and I was off work so I spent several days reorganising my house, shopping at Ikea, building flat pack furniture and going back and forth to the tip. All good body magic mind you - one morning I screwed 56 screws and banged in 104 dowels! My bingo wings should be in great shape! But what was happening was I was getting up, throwing on my scruffy clothes, making a coffee and getting straight to work. Add in the dog walks, and most days I didn't have time to eat anything until teatime. And of course by then I was hungry enough to eat the table I was sat at! I think I may have accidentally slipped into old habits like eating some of whatever I was making for Rebecca while I was in the kitchen, and lots of little things to tend to add up to a big disaster!

So I'm not downhearted, I've recovered from the misery of the weigh in. I have a plan for this week that involves an SAS log (for non SW readers, this is like a food diary but for behaviour, to pick up on any little bad habits you don't know you have!) And I think I'll go back to my green days again. I hate meat. Yes, I really really do. Chickpeas rock!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Photo Tag

Thanks to Rosiero for tagging me and giving me a nice midweek blog entry! Here's the deal. I have to go into my photo collection, take the fourth folder and the fourth picture in that folder and explain it. Then tag four more bloggers to do the same.

With trepidation at what might emerge from the wasteland of my Pictures folder, I started clicking.....

OK that's not too bad!

This photo was taken in September 2005. It is my daughter Rebecca, shortly before her 4th birthday, and it was taken in Canada, my favourite place in the whole world. I had wanted to go and visit Prince Edward Island because we were considering emigrating to there, but Mark couldn't take any time off work at that stage (being self employed sucks!) Not to be deterred, I booked flights, hotel room for the night we arrived, and car rental for just me and Rebecca, and planned a roadtrip round Nova Scotia and PEI - how exciting!

When we arrived at Halifax (Canada!) airport after a 7 hour flight in the middle of the night, we didn't know the problem about to befall us. We headed gaily to Passport Control, only to be directed to Immigration. Feeling a little anxious, and with Rebecca bursting for a wee, we went over to the desk and discovered that they were not happy that I was arriving in Canada with my 3 year old child, but not her father. I'm not sure how single parents navigate this problem! Apparently I should have taken a letter from Mark giving his permission for me to take her abroad. (Permission! My hackles rise at the very word!!) Anyway, They wanted to see our passports, our return flight tickets and our hotel reservations. This made it worse because of course I had only booked 1 night. The plan was get in the car, drive to wherever we wanted to, find a motel and stay however long suited us. In the eyes of the Canadian Immigration official with a gun on his hip, this made me irresponsible. I resisted the urge to argue that it merely made me adventurous! They wanted to speak to Mark, to make sure that I wasn't in the process of kidnapping my own daughter, so I had to think where he would be (in the pub watching football!) and give them his phone number. To be fair, the scary man did smile when I told him where Mark would be! I was worried that being in the pub, he might be slightly drunk, think the phone call was a joke, and say something stupid that would see us on the next flight home, with a police escort!

We where sent to wait in a stark little room, and I finally got Rebecca to the loo - too late though and her Disney Princess knicks were despatched to the bin! After what felt like a lifetime we were told we could go, but not without a stern lecture on how irresponsible I was to travel so far from home with my 3 year old child on my own, and without hotel reservations for the whole visit. I took my lecture meekly and off we went!

Despite the "memorable" start, we had a wonderful wonderful holiday, we got to all the places we had planned, and managed to find somewhere to sleep every night without any great difficulty, and I discovered that this was truly my spiritual home. I hope we will return for good one day.

As a PS to this story, Mark says they didn't phone him at all, so they must have decided to let me suffer a little bit just for the hell of it! Huh.

I've enjoyed revisiting this memory, thanks Roisero! Now who shall I tag...hmmmmmm...

OK I've decided to take the lazy way, and say if you are reading this, you are tagged! If you like the idea, go forth and post your photo, and leave a comment to let me know you've done it - I look forward to seeing your memories.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Finally Lost The Baby Weight!

Week 58

Weight: 17st 1lb
Loss This Week: 4lb
Total lost: 80.5lb

Woohoo! A landmark week. I've now got a BMI in the thirties (my BMI is less than my age - woohoo!), I weigh less than 240lbs, it's the lowest weight I've been since about 2001 before I had Rebecca, and ... hang on a sec, I think I just spotted another one.... yes! I've lost around 25% of my body weight! (anyone who fancies checking the maths on that is most welcome - I'm not known for my mathematical genius!)

I knew this was a good week. My highly unreliable bathroom scales showed a loss every time I stood on them, in fact if I had kept on standing on them, I may have been 9st by tonight! So the Speed Food thing worked well for me. That and the meal planning. Without a shadow of a doubt, I shall be meal planning this week too.

This is a big cliche, but this week I read the book again. My friend Paula started SW last week (and lost 5lb - well done Paula!), so I was going over things with her which brought a few things nicely back to my attention. For example bananas and grapes are free foods but not Speed Foods, whereas most other fruits are Speed Foods. I had been eating a lot of bananas and grapes, and it was clear to see that they are the not the wisest of fruits to eat in abundance. So I changed to oranges, melons and strawberries, and the results speak for themselves. I also realised I should be trying to eat more fish (something I did eat a lot of while pregnant so me eating fish makes Mark go a little pale.....) so I had 3 fish based meals this week, and surpsingly enjoyed them.

So here's to another great week, and hopefully a new landmark as I drop in the 16st bracket!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Food Heaven

I'm loving this week! In order to rise to the challenge of eating more Speed and Super Speed foods I've immersed myself in recipe books and I've meal planned to within an inch of my life! I'm not normally a meal planner at all. I'm not very organised and I tend to cook what fits in with my time / energy level / preferences at any given time. So I've not been too rigid about this, I've selected 7 meals that vary in complexity and am cooking them in an order that suits me at any given time.

So far this week I have made Chicken Fajitas from the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food book, Chicken Dopiaza from this month's SW magazine, and Strawberry Dream from my SW class. Still to come is homemade fish pie (which should do 2 nights), homemade leek and potato soup, and the old standby 3 Bean Chilli which will definitely do 2 nights! And last night it was a rushed sort of night so it was a simple tuna, sweetcorn, salad and jacket spud tea!

I don't normally do puddings, I tend to think if I want dessert then a Muller Light and some fruit will suffice. But I have to say the Strawberry Dream has re-opened my eyes to the joy that sweet stuff can bring! For those who didn't see me talk about it on Facebook, here's the recipe:

Punnet of Strawberries
Lemon or Lime sugar free jelly crystals
3 plain digestive biscuits
500g very low fat cottage cheese

Smash the biscuits to smithereens and press into the base of a serving dish (go deep rather than wide when choosing the dish!)

Chop up half the strawberries and cover the biscuit base.

Dissolve the jelly crystals in 1/4 pint boiling water. Make up to half a pint using cold water. Add the cottage cheese and blend. Pout the mixture over the strawberry and biscuit base, put in fridge to set for 2 hours.

Use the remaining strawberries to decorate the top of the set dessert.

This is supposed to serve 4, at 3.5 syns per serving, but they would be massive servings! I'd say it would easily serve 6, if not more really. I'm thinking it would be nice with a blob of Total 0% Greek Yoghurt on the side too.

Tell me about your low syn puddings!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Mr & Mrs

Week 57

Weight: 17st 5lb
Loss This Week: 1.5lb
Total lost: 76.5lb

I think my maths may have gone awry - I'm going to check my figures later - the total lost is now 5st 6.5lbs anyway.

So tonight was a good night. Yes, I lost some weight, but tonight was about much more than that. A disappointing night tonight could well have been make or break because I was really losing heart and motivation. I was planning a blog entry that explained why I may be absent for a while, while I would be considering my options. I felt as though my internal monitoring system was letting me down badly, and from one week to the next I had no clue whether I was losing or gaining.

But happily I don't feel the need to post that entry! Before I even stepped on the scales I was smiling with unexpected delight, because Heather told me that I was Slimmer of the Month for January! I have a new fridge magnet and a very sparkly new sticker! If asked, I would never have guessed that I could have been in the running for Slimmer of the Month. I might have told you that my month for that would surely have been February last year, because I recall that being an excellent month! I might have told you that on balance I had probably only lost a pound or 2 in January. This is how distorted my internal monitors have become because I lost 10.5lbs!

So I was in good spirits for the rest of the meeting, and then Heather announced that tonight was a competition - Mr & Mrs! Those of us who are Food Optimising with our partners told the group a little about how we do it, what we eat, etc and then the group voted, and Mark & I won! So I now have a certificate, a sash(!) and a lovely pen holder to add to my booty - photos of me wearing the sash to follow! The total amount of weight we have lost between us is - drumroll.......... 10st 1.5lbs - that's something approximating my goal weight!

So I feel renewed and happy tonight. Heather has set a challenge for us this week - to eat as much "Speed" and "Superspeed" food as we can fit in. I will take up the challenge with gusto and look forward to a fabulous week!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Hills, Snow and Karma

Week 56

Weight: 17st 6.5lb
Gain This Week: 0.5lb
Total lost: 76lb

*Sigh* Another week, another rubbish result. I was good as gold all week so I'm hoping that will show in the scale next week then! Anyone who knows me on Facebook would have seen my status towards the end of last week say "I have to have lost a few pounds this week, I can feel it!" so it's fair to say I had no idea what was coming when I stood on the scale! I'm not letting it get me down, I'm learning that these things happen sometimes!

I've done some good exercise this week, walking loads, and on Sunday we chucked the dogs in the car and headed for the hills for a change and had a lovely hour walking up hill and down dale, across muddy fields and amazing views. OMG the wind as we went up the hills, it nearly blew us off our feet a few times!!

Anyway, to enter the field at the start of the walk, we had to climb over a stile, and the dogs ducked under. When we came to leave, my great big lump of a dog decided he couldn't possibly duck under. So he dug his heels in. I tried to coax him through, no good. I tried to pull him through by his harness, no good, his harness shockingly just slipped off over his head - not what I need it to do. Tried to get him to go over the stile, nope. A degree of anxiety was setting in at this point. We hadn't seen another human for quite some time, I didn't have my mobile phone with me to summon up another adult pair of hands, and it was starting to snow! (He's a very big strong dog - when he doesn't want to move, he doesn't move!)

In the end Rebecca had to stand behind him and shove, while I stood in front and literally hauled his front legs through - it was like a farmer pulling a calf out of a cow :lol: (apologies to the readers who may have read that story elsewhere this week - I don't necessarily have enough material to be unique and exclusive all the time. Or ever really!)

This snow has caused it's share of aches and pains. My legs are aching as though I had done a 10k run (not that I'd know what that was like!) and yesterday I fell over on the ice no less than 5 times over the course of the day. The final time was when I was walking to work. Over I went, flat on my back, bruising my coccyx nicely. I was rescued by a good hearted stranger who turned her car around on the ice rink loosely termed a road, and drove me safely to work. I don't know who she is, but I hope her kindness is rewarded in spades by the Good Karma Fairy.