Fennel, Chilli & Sausage Ragu – 215 calories (excluding spaghetti)

IMG_0711Delicious and very quick and easy to make! If you can’t get hold of a good quality sausage meat, remove the skin from some good quality sausages and this will work equally well.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 3

Calories per serving: 215


Olive Oil – 6ml

Pork, Sausage Meat – 180g

Tomatoes, Chopped, in Rich Tomato Juice – 1 Can/400g

Fennel, Bulb – 1 Medium Bulb/300g

Garlic, Raw – 2 Cloves/6g

Peppers, Chilli, Dried, Flakes – 1 Pinch/0.1g

Fennel Seeds – 1 Tsp/2g


Trim and slice the fennel bulb. Peel and finely dice the garlic.


Break up the sausage meat. Heat the oil in a saute pan over a medium heat and fry the sausage meat until golden, then set aside (leaving any oil produced in the pan).

Add the chopped fennel bulb (reserve the fronds) to the pan and fry for 10 minutes until softened and golden.

Add the garlic cloves, fennel seeds and 2 tbsp cold water. Turn down the heat slightly, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chilli flakes, tinned tomatoes, and the browned sausage meat with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti (or other pasta of choice) in a large pan of salted boiling water according to the pack instructions.

Drain loosely and toss in the pan with the ragu and reserved fennel fronds. Garnish with a handful of chopped fresh basil and parsley.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 215

Sugars (g) 7.2

Fat (g) 13.6

Fibre (g) 3.8

Fruit & Veg 3.1

Protein (g) 13.9

Carbohydrate (g) 8.6

Celebrations and eating out

This is something that has changed for me during my weight loss journey.  At some point during my weight loss journey (probably about 2/3 years in) I recognised that I just could not afford to eat out every week….

I used to plan every trip out of the house to include some food, ie, trip to town = lunch in a pub, trip to the garden centre = cake and coffee.  Now, my trips out of the house are planned around my food – so I make sure that I am back home for a lunch that I have already planned or made (soup, salad, etc) OR I will take a packed lunch with me if I know that I’m going to be out over my lunchtime.

So for example this week, I have a meeting that starts at 11.30am and goes on until 1pm.  As I don’t eat breakfast, it’s crucial that I eat my lunch between 12 noon and 1pm or I start to feel really hungry.  I will therefore make up a bowl of salad and take it with me in a cool bag with cutlery and a serviette plus a flask of water.  If people are going to arrange meetings over the lunchtime period, then they just have to put up with my munching a salad whilst we talk!  Usually other meeting attendees are very complimentary about my healthy bowl of food and I’ve never been told not to eat it (I always make sure I warn people that I’m going to eat my lunch at some point!)

We rarely eat out now – usually just special occasions.  In itself, that is quite nice as it makes it a bit more of a treat.  I recognise that isn’t a popular choice for many,  but as I am short, sedentary and don’t have a lot of weight to lose, I sadly have no choice.

With previous weight loss attempts, before my mind set had changed, I would often look at the menu – see what choice I “should” make (in terms of fewer calories), and then at the point that the menu choices were being taken I would still end up selecting the thing I “really” wanted )often quite calorific)!  I would feel I was missing out if everyone was having a dessert, so I’d inevitably cave in and have one too.

My mindset has changed, as well as my palette.  I’m not bothered by many of my previous “favourite” menu choices – for example, fish and chips, or a curry with rice and a naan – I simply cannot physically eat that amount of food and I don’t like to pay for food and waste it.  I’d rather have new potatoes to fries.

I LOVE vegetables and therefore I will look for restaurants that serve plenty of fresh vegetables with their dishes.

As portion sizes in many restaurants if often too much for me, I’ll sometimes select 2 x starters…. or I’ll choose a side salad and another side dish and have those with a starter as my main course.

I only have dessert if I see something on the menu I “really” want; again, many of the choices I’ll just find too sickly or stodgy.  I’d enjoy a pavlova or a creme brulee – but won’t fancy cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding…  I’ll often just have a mouthful of the husband’s dessert (if he can be persuaded to part with it) and a nice coffee.

I purposefully select restaurants which serve higher quality (nicer) food in smaller quantities.

At the end of the day, it is all about [b]my choice[/b].  [i]What do I want more – that meal out, that dessert – or to lose weight?[/i]

It does help that I love cooking and I really enjoy the food that I prepare.  I am often disappointed by a meal cooked by a restaurant – finding it too salty, too greasy or too bland.

I know I make it all sound so simple… but believe me, these changes didn’t happen until well into my weight loss journey.  My new “normal” just became my normal “normal”!

King Prawn Jalfrezi – 145 calories

IMG_0701By adding plenty of vegetables to this curry, you can bring the calorie count right down – plus make it even healthier!

Served the curry with 50g (dry weight) of brown rice (174 cals) and half a mini naan bread – garlic and coriander (65 cals). Total for the meal = 384 calories

King Prawn Jalfrezi – 145 calories

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 40 mins

Serves: 4

Calories per serving: 145.0


Jumbo King Prawns, Raw – 1 Pack/240g

Red Onions – 75g

Mushrooms – 120g

Red Peppers – 1 Medium/150g

Green Beans – 200g

Olive Oil – 8ml

Curry Paste, Jalfrezi, Patak’s – 2 Servings/60g

Tomatoes, Chopped, Canned – ½ Can/200g



Finely chop onion, core and de-seed pepper and cut into bite sized chunks. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into pieces. Top and tail the beans and cut in half.

Preparation: Peel and chop the onions. Top and tail the beans and cut into short lengths. De-seed and remove stalk from the pepper and cut into bite sized chunks. Wipe mushrooms and cut into quarters.


Pour oil into a large pan and heat over a medium heat. Add the onions and beans and cook until softened (about 7 – 10 minutes). Add the pepper, mushrooms and curry paste. Cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to a simmer. Add the raw prawns, stir through and cook for a further 8 – 10 minutes until the prawns are cooked through.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 145.0

Sugars (g) 6.9

Fat (g) 6.9

Fibre (g) 4.2

Fruit & Veg 2.4

Protein (g) 11.0

Carbohydrate (g) 9.5

6 year weight loss and activity level progress

Sometimes, a little reminder pops up on my news feed that serves to remind me of just how far I’ve come in the seven years since I started my weight loss journey.

Today it was this!

Filmed on 4th February 2013. I weighed 11 stone 12lbs.  I am breathless just walking at a very slow pace.

Compared to how I move on the treadmill these days:

Weight hovering around 10 stone (still attempting to get back to 9 1/2 stone, and perhaps a little lower).   I am able to get my heart working to cardio level for over 20 minutes when I use the treadmill.

I have incorporated exercise into my daily routine for good.

The change in my appearance is quite shocking – but in a very positive way….

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan – 166 calories

IMG_0640.jpgPeople either love or detest fennel. I am one of the former – just can’t get enough of the stuff!

The nutrients in fennel are reputed to be linked to a range of health benefits.

  • Bone health – the vitamin and mineral content in fennel contributes to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.
  • Blood pressure – a rich source of potassium which is a vasodilator – it relaxes the tension in blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure.
  • Helps prevent anaemia – as it contains iron and histidine.
  • Boosts immunity and assists with indigestion.
  • Anti-flatulent – due to the the aspartic acid found in it
  • Heart health – source of fibre but it also helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. It can stimulate the elimination of damaging LDL or bad cholesterol
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Assists with digestion and regularity

So if you think you don’t like it, perhaps you just need to try it in this recipe???

Just three ingredients, three minutes to prepare and 30 to roast.

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan – 166 calories

Preparation Time: 3 mins

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 166.7


Fennel, Bulb – 2 Medium Bulbs/600g

Olive Oil – 20ml

Parmesan Cheese, grated – 2 Tbsps/20g


1) Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

2) Remove the fennel stems and slice the bulbs in half lengthwise. With the cut side down, slice each bulb vertically into 0.5cm thick slices, cutting right through the core. Spread the fennel slices on a baking sheet, coat with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss with your hands.

3) Roast the fennel slices for about 30 minutes, turning half way through – until the edges are crisp and brown. Remove from the oven and cover with Parmesan cheese shavings.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 166.7

Sugars (g) 5.3

Fat (g) 12.9

Fibre (g) 7.2

Fruit & Veg 4.0

Protein (g) 6.7

Carbohydrate (g) 5.6

Spicy Chickpea Casserole – 185 calories

img_0641This versatile and very healthy dish can be made up in a large batch and frozen and works well with accompaniments – fish, sausages, pork chop, chicken.

It is almost one quarter protein, contains over 8g of fibre per serving and plenty of vegetables.

Serve topped with either sliced and fried chorizo or crumbled feta. In fact all types of additional ingredients can be added!

Tonight we had it with roasted fennel topped with parmesan (I’m about to share the recipe for this) – the combination worked really well.

I make a large batch and freeze it.

Chickpea Casserole – 185 calories

Preparation Time:30 mins

Cooking Time:1 hr


Calories per serving:185.3

Olive Oil – 20ml

Garlic, Raw – 3 cloves/9g

Red Onions – 1 Med/180g

Red Wine Vinegar – 8ml

Tinned Chopped Tomatoes – 2 Cans/800g

Baby Spinach – 500g

Chick Peas, – one tin drained / 480g

Tomato Puree, Double Concentrate – 1 Tbsp/15g

Red Chilli Peppers – 1 Pepper/13g

Soft Brown Sugar – 1½ Tsps/6g

Paprika – 1½ Tsps/3g

Ground Cumin – 3 Tsps/15g

Celery – 2½ Sticks/100g

Carrots – 180g



Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and finely chop the carrot. Trim and finely dice the celery. Peel and dice the garlic cloves.

(1) Heat the oil in a casserole dish with a lid. Add the onions, carrot and celery and cook over a medium heat until softened (not browned). Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.

(2) Add the herbs and spices, the brown sugar and vinegar, chilli pepper, tinned tomatoes and tomato puree.

(3) Add the tinned tomatoes and tomato puree – add a little water if necessary. Stir and bring to the boil. Lower heat, cover and continue to cook covered for a further 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking.

(4) Add the chickpeas, stir through. Salt and pepper if required. Cover and continue to cook for 20-30 minutes.

(5) Finally add the spinach and stir through until wilted.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 185.3

Sugars (g) 10.2

Fat (g) 5.9

Fibre (g) 8.1

Fruit & Veg 5.0

Protein (g) 9.2

Carbohydrate (g) 21.7

Vegan Bourguignon – 182 calories

img_0563 (1)I discovered a wonderful site lazycatkitchen.com full of delicious vegan recipes.  I’m going to try plenty them – lots caught my eye.

A very good meat free Bourguignon! Made it this evening and served with mashed potato (of course!) – 148 calories. Shredded leek and cabbage (stir-fried) – 74 calories… and mashed swede and carrot (43 calories).

This whole meal just 447 calories.

Vegan Bourguignon – 182 calories per portion

Preparation Time: 30 mins

Cooking Time: 45 mins

Serves: 4

Calories per serving: 182.0


Mushrooms, Porcini, Dried – 10g

Olive Oil – 2 Tbsps/30ml

Onions, Raw – 80g

Garlic, Raw – 4 Cloves/12g

Tomato Puree – 1 Tbsp/15g

Celery – 2 sticks / 130g

Carrots, Raw – 145g

Red Peppers – 1 medium pepper/130g

Stock Cubes, Vegetable – 1 Cube/50ml

Wine, Red, Merlot – 190ml

Rosemary – 1 Tsp/0.7g

Thyme, Fresh – 3 Average Sprigs/15g

Bay Leaves, Dried – 2 Leaves/1.8g

Sauce, Hickory Liquid Smoke – 2 Tsps/10g

Mushrooms, Chestnut – 1 Pack/250g

Mushrooms, Flat, Large – 2 Mushrooms/100g

Cornflour – 2 Tsps/10g

Cabbage, Cavolo Nero – 25g

Balsamic Vinegar – 2 Tsps/10ml

Parsley – 1 Tbsp/3.8g


Preparation: Peel and dice onion. Peel and finely dice garlic. Cut celery into chunks. Peel and cut carrots into chunks. De-seed pepper and chop into bite sized pieces.

Method: Place rinsed porcini mushrooms (they often have grit in them) in a small bowl and cover with (about 300 ml / 1½ cups) of boiling water to create a potent porcini stock. Set aside to let it infuse.

Chop large flat mushrooms into thick slices and the chestnut mushrooms into quarters.

Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add diced onion and saute on a low heat until slightly caramelised. Add chopped garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes.

Add carrots and celery sticks and saute on a low heat until slightly caramelised (around 20 minutes). Then add mushrooms, red pepper and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of porcini stock you prepared earlier.

Add tomato puree, a crumbled stock cube, wine, the rest of porcini stock (about 300 ml / 1½ cups in total), fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and bay leaves), liquid smoke (if using) and salt.

Chop the rehydrated porcini mushrooms finely and add to the stew if you wish.

Cover the pot with a lid and allow the stew to cook on low heat for about 30-40 minutes or so until all the veggies are cooked through and the flavours have had a change to mingle.

In a small bowl, mix 4 tsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp of water to create a slurry to thicken up the stew.

Add cornflour slurry to the stew and allow the stew to bubble gently for 5 more minutes for the stew to thicken. If the stew is too thick add a splash more water.

Add chopped kale leaves in the final minutes of cooking, put the lid back on for a few more (2-3) minutes for the kale to cook in the stews steam.

Adjust the seasoning to your taste. I added some freshly ground pepper and two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 182.0

Sugars (g) 3.4

Fat (g) 8.2

Fibre (g) 4.2

Fruit & Veg 3.0

Protein (g) 4.1

Carbohydrate (g) 14.7fullsizeoutput_9e42