Chicken, Gong bao – 340 calories

IMG_1407Chicken, Gong bao – 340 calories

This delicious Chinese chicken dish is flavoured with fresh ginger, garlic, chilli and peanuts, and drizzled in a soy-infused sauce. A classic Chinese recipe that can be made in just 20 minutes and a great dinner for two idea.

Preparation Time:  10 mins

Cooking Time:  10 mins

Serves:  2

Calories per serving:  340.3

Ingredients

Olive Oil – 1 Tbsp/15ml

Spring Onions – 3 Med/45g

Red Chilli Peppers – 1 Pepper/13g

Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar – 2 Tsps/14g

Rice Wine Vinegar – 1 Tbsp/15ml

Soy Sauce, Dark – 2 Tbsps/30g

Cashew Nuts -30g

Root Ginger -20g

Cornflour – 1 Tbsp/15g

Garlic – 2 Cloves/6g

2 x Chicken, Breast Fillets, Skinless – 200g

Chicken Stock Cubes, Knorr – ½ Cube/5g

Water, Mineral Or Tap – 100ml

Preparation: Peel and finely chop the ginger and garlic. De-seed the chilli pepper and chop finely. Trim the spring onions cut into thin slices at an angle. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Chop the cashews.

Method

For the sauce, put the stock, sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside until needed.

Heat the oil in a large wok set over a high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Remove and set aside.

In the same wok, stir-fry most of the spring onions, the ginger, garlic and chilli for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the chopped cashew nuts and continue cooking for 2 minutes, or until golden.

Return the chicken to the wok and pour over the sauce. Cook, stirring, for 3 – 4 minutes, until the sauce is glossy and thickened and the chicken is cooked through with no pink meat showing.

Divide the chicken between plates and scatter over the remaining spring onions and a little extra chilli.

Serve with rice or noodles. I had mine with peas (love my veggies – missed not having many in this dish), courgetti (julienned courgette stir fried in a little oil) and brown vermicelli. Whole meal was 641 calories.

I based this recipe on one I found on the Tesco website.

realfood.tesco.com/recipes/…n.html#brek8tXy8hCBYMVO.99

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)  340.3

Carbohydrate (g)  25.4

Fat (g)  14.2

Fibre (g)  1.3

Fruit & Veg  0.5

Protein (g)  27.9

Life on a low calorie allowance (1100 calories a day)

3116-76084

Those of you who read my blog posts regularly will know I am a short (4ft 9″), sedentary (disabled) middle aged (55 years) woman, who has lost a considerable amount of weight (a third of my body weight, 4 stone) over the past 6 years to get to where I am now.

I weigh just above 10 stone; ideally I would like to get to around 9 stone and maintain there. That is still “overweight” for my height, but I am short on account of my disability – so I’ll never be “petite” and both my tall younger sisters (5ft 9″) are size 12/14. I’m presently a size 16, I’d be very happy to reach size 14. I’m in proportion.

I thought I would share a little of my life on a measly 1100 calories, whilst unable to earn many through exercise…

My enjoyment of life used to revolve around food (as part of the enjoyment) but this has kind of settled into what I feel will become “normal” for me…

Two meals most days (lunch and dinner), sweet treats and snacks limited to about 200 cals in total. Alcohol is a very rare treat (I don’t really miss it now), bread less than once a week (which I also don’t miss now). We rarely eat a meal out (we plan meals at home around a trip out of the house) and we eat takeaway food about only 2-3 times a year. This is my “new life”. It has to be.

BUT I have come to the realisation that I don’t feel as though I miss out at all – in fact when I think back to what I once used to eat, it was far less varied, less tasty and less colourful. I put far more planning and thought into my meals now to keep them within calories, I love finding new recipes to try out. We rarely eat the same thing twice in a month (excluding salads, which I am eating daily at the moment, accompanies by different fish/meats).

Those of you who see the recipes I share will (I think) agree that I eat very well! I even had takeaway fish and chips on Friday – which was a very, very rare treat and had been planned a week in advance. My husband and I shared a large portion of haddock and chips between us, so it worked out about 632 calories for me; I ate a salad for lunch and ended the day about 100 calories over… but that was fine in the grand scheme of things.

Exercise is likely only to be about 250 maximum earned once a week (at my 1 x a week 30 minute treadmill session), 50 – 100 additional exercise calories on about 2/3 other days. I wear a FitBit, 3000 steps is more of less what I can expect to do each day.

Exercise for me is a daily stretch session lasting 30 – 40 minutes, but not intended to burn calories, but to keep my poor old body moving and as pain free as possible. I am mostly seated on a gym ball, I put on some relaxing music and really enjoy these sessions.

On the plus side, I am never too adversely affected by life events – other than holidays, where my calorie allowance does increase substantially (to what is “normal” for me) and my exercise levels reduce, as I spend more time sitting about and reading and more time travelling in my wheelchair, plus a reduction in the things which I do on a daily basis which for me require quite a lot of physical effort such as housework, gardening, etc.

So the message is, it can be done. It’s probably taken me 3/4 years so settle into this way of eating and get used to the best way (for me) of making my 1100 calories work. Not everyone would be able to skip breakfast!

I’m confident now (having lost 9lbs in the past 13 weeks) that I will get to that goal and once there (when my calorie allowance for maintenance will rise to around 1300) I’ll be able to sustain the loss.

It’s easy to “resent” healthy eating and losing weight, viewing it as something that has been “imposed” on us.  It’s easy to feel as though we are somehow missing out.

When one comes to a point of “accepting” and “embracing” that this is a different way of living entirely, it certainly becomes a whole lot easier.

Chorizo & Prawn Stir Fried Rice – 450 calories

IMG_1404Who says they’ve not got time to cook? This recipe takes 5 minutes to prepare and just 20 minutes to cook and used just one pan.

You don’t need a take away when food is this easy and quick to prepare! This recipe slightly “cheats” by making use of a microwave rice pouch – so cuts back on cooking time and washing up. I took inspiration from the link shown, but added mushrooms, peas and a few green beans, as I do love my vegetables and the beans were harvested from the garden!

Chorizo & Prawn Stir Fried Rice – 450 calories

Preparation Time:  5 mins

Cooking Time:  20 mins

Serves:  2

Calories per serving:  450.3

Ingredients

Olive Oil –  1 Tbsp/15ml

Chorizo Sausage –  42g

Cherry Tomatoes –  150g

Spring Onions –  5 Med/75g

Parsley, Fresh –  1 Tbsp/3.8g

Chestnut Mushrooms –  4 Med/20g

Petit Pois, Frozen –  1 Serving/100g

Large Raw King Prawns – 170g

Fine Green Beans –  30g

Basmati Rice, Microwave Pouch –  1 Pack/250g

Method

Fancy a flavour-packed yet quick-to-create midweek meal? Simply pull out your pan and whip up this delicious dinner for two, which combines more-ish chorizo and juicy prawns with rich tomatoes, spring onions and fluffy rice.

Preparation: Halve the tomatoes, trim and finely slice the spring onion. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into bite sized chunks. Top and tail the beans and cut into 1cm lengths. Remove the skin from the chorizo, discard skin and slice the sausage. Chop the parsley.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo, mushrooms and spring onions cook for 5 minutes, or until golden.

Add the prawns and and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the prawns are just pink.

Stir in the rice and tomatoes. Leave to cook over a low heat for 10-12 minutes, until a golden crust forms on the bottom of the pan and the tomatoes have softened a little.

Break up the rice with a fork and season to taste. Scatter over the parsley and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Read more at realfood.tesco.com/recipes/… wn-fried-rice.html#bZqiiYbaW9OtrVDb.99

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)  450.3

Carbohydrate (g)  45.1

Fat (g)  19.4

Fibre (g)  5.2

Fruit & Veg  2.5

Protein (g)  22.8

Keema Matar and Gobi (Minced Lamb with Peas and Cauliflower) 310 calories

IMG_1399

I wanted to find a use for the remainder of the lamb mince from the kofta kebabs yesterday and we also had a cauliflower that really needed to be used. I found this recipe on line (or something similar!) and made my own variation…. substituting tamarind paste with hoisin sauce – as I didn’t have any tamarind paste to add that nice sweet flavour that this dish needed. It’s not really a curry, not at all spicy but the flavours were lovely.

I served mine with half a mini garlic and coriander naan bread (64 cals) and 50g dry weight of brown basmati rice (177 cals). Total for the meal therefore 551 calories.

_________________________________________________________________

Preparation Time: 25 mins

Cooking Time: 45 mins

Serves: 4

Calories per serving: 310

Ingredients

Onions, Raw, Average – 105g

Oil, Olive, Average – 11ml

Garlic, Raw – 2 Cloves/6g

Cauliflower, Raw – 340g

Lamb, Mince, 20% Fat – 250g

Potatoes, Charlotte – 250g

Celery, 1 stick – 60g

Stock Pot, White Wine, As Sold – 1 Pot/28g

Water, Mineral Or Tap – 2 Glass/400ml

Red Pepper -100g

Turmeric, Powder – 1 Tsp/3g

Cinnamon, Ground – ½ Tsp/1.5g

Cloves, Ground – ¼ Tsp/0.525g

Ginger, Ground – 1 Tsp/2g

Thyme, Dried, Average – 1 Tsp/1g

Tamarind, Paste – 2 Tsps/10g

Petit Pois, Frozen – 1 Serving/100g

Mint, Fresh – 2 Tbsp/3.2g

Coriander, Leaves, Fresh – 10g

Preparation:  Peel and finely dice the onion, the garlic and the carrot. De-seed and chop the pepper into bite sized pieces. Trim and finely dice the celery. Peel the potato and cut into 1cm cubes. Remove the cauliflower outer leaves and cut the florets into bite sized chunks.

Method

Heat up oil in heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.

Add onion, celery and carrot and cook until translucent, about 3 mins.

Add crushed garlic, turmeric powder, ground ginger, dried thyme, ground cinnamon and ground clove

Stir to mix, until onions are well coated and fragrant.

Stir in the minced lamb, mixing well, spreading out in an even layer. Brown to get a nice searing effect).

Cook for 5 minutes, crumbling the minced lamb with the spatula as it cooks.

Mix in the tamarind paste. (I used 35ml of hoisin sauce instead, as I didn’t have any tamarind paste, similar flavour).

Stir in the potato, cauliflower, stock pot and water. Bring to the boil

Once it resumes simmering, lower the heat to med-low, cover and cook for 20 – 30 minutes (Check on it and stir occasionally if necessary).

Finally, stir in the green peas, return to a simmer and cook for 3 more minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with chopped mint and coriander.

Serve with hot flatbread or rice.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 310

Carbohydrate (g) 22.1

Fat (g) 16.3

Fibre (g) 4.9

Fruit & Veg 2.4

Protein (g) 17.2

Lamb Kofta Kebabs (217 cals) & Tzatziki (54 cals)

fullsizeoutput_7aacSo easy and quick to make. The tzatziki is definitely something I’ll be making often!

Lamb Kofta Kebabs

Preparation Time:15 mins

Cooking Time:15 mins

Serves: 6

Calories per serving: 217

Ingredients

Lamb, Mince, 20% Fat – 1 Pack/500g

Cumin, Ground – 1 Tsp/5g

Coriander, Ground – 2 Tsps/10g

Garlic, Raw – 3 Cloves/9g

Mint, Fresh – 1 Tbsp/1.6g

Method

Preparation: Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Finely chop the mint.

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients until well blended. Divide into 8 balls, then roll each ball on a board with a cupped hand to turn them into ovals. Thread onto 4 metal skewers and brush with oil.

To cook on a griddle: heat the pan until you can feel a good heat rising and cook for 3-4 mins each side. Don’t turn until they are well sealed or the meat will stick to the grill or pan.

Alternatively grill or BBQ – Put the meat skewers on the grill over a medium heat for about 3-4 mins each side, brush the surface with a little olive oil.

Season if you want, and set aside. Serve the koftas with yogurt, tzatziki, salad, flat breads – or a combination.

The folded flatbreads shown in my image are usually only around 100 calories each and I toast them for a minute in the toasted.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 216.9

Carbohydrate (g) 1.5

Fat (g) 16.6

Fibre (g) 0.0

Protein (g) 14.5

fullsizeoutput_7ab0Tzatziki

Preparation Time: 30 mins

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves: 6

Calories per serving: 54

Ingredients

Cucumber – 250g

Garlic, Raw – 1 Clove/3g

Yoghurt, Greek – 250g

Juice, Lemon, Fresh – ½ Lemon/17.75ml

Olive Oil, Extra Virgin -7ml

Method

Remove the seeds from the centre of the cucumber (this is where most of the water comes from). Grate the cucumber coarsely, then squeeeeeeze out the watery juice using a sieve or by wrapping in a clean dry tea towel.

Mix in the yoghurt.

Finely chop a clove or two of garlic and stir in.

Add the virgin olive oil.

Finely chop the fresh mint and add, along with the juice of half a lemon.

Leave for 30 mins to allow the flavours to permeate.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 53.8

Carbohydrate (g) 2.0

Fat (g) 3.2

Fibre (g) 0.3

Fruit & Veg 0.6

Protein (g) 4.1

The Garden

I’ve lived in this house since 1989, so 29 years.  Over that time the garden has undergone several transformations.  Initially, it was what you may describe as a “blank canvas” – mostly lawn area, a few elderly fruit trees and some shrubs.  The previous owners hadn’t been gardeners and much of what had been stuck into the ground was dying (heathers planted underneath the shade of a large oak tree!)

My first husband was a gardener.  He spent a lot of the time we lived together developing the garden – planting various cottage garden plants, extending the flower borders out to magnificent proportions.  He was inspired by his love of Gertrude Jekyll and worked for a time in a garden that she had designed alongside an Edward Lutyens house in Sonning-upon-Thames.

Our garden however, was not the same magnificent proportions.  The borders were not carefully planted to maximise colour and texture combinations.  The flower borders looked colourful from May to July and then everything would die back and there would be nothing until the following year.

When we separated and divorced, I realised that I had to take back responsibility for maintaining the garden.  It was a somewhat worrying thought.  Especially as at the time, I had a young child at school and was recovering from a serious road traffic accident in which I had sustained a leg injury which was impacting upon my mobility.  I’d gained a lot of weight as a result.  The furthest thing from my mind was gardening.

I wanted to put my stamp on the garden.  So I dreamt up the idea of a large central decked area.  Somewhere to sit and survey the garden as the evening sun went down.  The decked area covered a large uneven patch of grass and a steep natural bank.  Underneath the shade of a mature oak tree.  Perfect.  So I thought.

I’d overlooked a critical issue.  Our oak tree (quite a magnificent specimen) attracts a lot of wild life.  Including birds.  Many birds. Some of those birds are large birds.  The size of… ducks!  They are in fact wood pigeons.  They like to perch and poo.

And poo they do.  They poo for England!  By the time the poo has dropped about 20 feet, it manages to splatter over quite a large area.

The decked area became out of bounds.  The last place I wanted to sit… with the associated risks.

I dwelled on how to overcome the poo problem for a couple of years and finally came up with a solution!  A “poo shade”!  It cost us an absolute fortune, but it did the job!  Suddenly the decked area became a feature to be proud of, with minimal maintenance.

My new husband did enjoy gardening.  His parents were both keen gardeners and had created a stunning garden from scratch set on the edge of the lake district.  They enjoyed cultivating a large vegetable garden and had an impressive collection of plants.

The garden of my then boyfriends house was paved, but he grew what he could in grow bags and on his windowsills.

When he visited, we started to plan some ideas for the garden.  We grew a few vegetables from seed.  I LOVED watching the tiny plants developing.  I could sit at a table and repot the seedlings on.  Once the vegetables were mature, I loved the amazing flavour of the tomatoes and cucumbers.  Supermarket bought salad and vegetables just did not compare.

Our garden developed with our relationship.  By the time he moved to live with me, the garden had become a place where we both spent a lot of time together.  Gardening became possible for me with his support – lifting bags of compost into places where I could fill pots and plant seeds.  We had a greenhouse installed and some vegetable beds.  We planned colour schemes for beds and learned together about which plants would work well together.

In the ten years we’ve been together, the garden has come a long way.   Of course, it is always a work in progress and there is always plenty of work to be done.  We have rigged up hoses which run down the length of the garden so that I can help with watering.

We love visiting gardens for inspiration and ideas.  We love eating what we grow.  We love (when the weather permits) sitting on our poo free deck and surveying the garden.

IMG_1355

IMG_1388

fullsizeoutput_7aab

IMG_1386

IMG_1385

IMG_1384

fullsizeoutput_7aa5

IMG_1381

IMG_1379

IMG_1378

IMG_1377

IMG_1376

IMG_1375

IMG_1374

fullsizeoutput_7aa4

fullsizeoutput_7aa3

IMG_1371

IMG_1370

IMG_1369

IMG_1368

IMG_1366

IMG_1367

IMG_1363

IMG_1362

IMG_1359

IMG_1357

Psychological “magic”

Part of my success at losing weight has been changing how I think and feel about food and the consumption of it.  There is no doubt I have always enjoyed eating – probably a little too much!  Perhaps it is the French blood in my veins.

If I am aware that an event is coming up where I’ll have limited control over my food intake, I prepare myself mentally in advance for the choices I may need to make.

At one time, I’d have just “let it go”, eaten what I fancied and however much I liked.  But now that my weight loss is real and I am benefiting so much from not carrying around the additional weight, I want to ensure that I never become hugely overweight again.

I often try and find an on-line menu for a restaurant or pub I’m planning to eat at.  I browse the menu and look at the various options.  Sometimes the plan changes (for example, there was a lovely looking “dish of the day” when we went out last week).

Sometimes I know that the food will be calorific and that healthy choices are few and far between.  Last week I was invited to an awards ceremony with a sit-down three course Indian meal.  I knew what food we would be eating, and of course – being Indian food, much of it was deep fried and I am certain that there was a lot of ghee involved!  So I knew that my meal earlier in the day would need to be fairly low in calories.  I was driving to the event and rarely drink alcohol nowadays, so alcohol wasn’t going to be a problem.  I ate fairly sparingly, and didn’t eat anything that didn’t appeal.  For example, the desert was something called “Gajjar Halwa” – made with nuts, milk, sugar, khoya, ghee and (interestingly) grated carrot!  It was sickly sweet.  I did have a small spoonful, but then left it!

In terms of logging and weighing food portions / making wise choices and sticking within calories…. it suddenly happens that you arrive at a moment in time when you realise that it is YOU who is in control, when it is YOU who makes the choice of whether to eat this or that – and more importantly, it is you and only yourself who puts the food into your mouth…. That is the moment when magic things start to happen  and the weight starts to go down regularly, when your healthy choices start to become almost automatic.

Suddenly the realisation dawns that this weight loss journey isn’t some sort of punishment to be endured, that you aren’t being denied lovely food. The lure of the unhealthy foods, cake, chocolate (or whatever else your nemesis is) – starts to lose its hold on you.  You take control.

I was going to say “take back” control, but I realise with hindsight that I probably never had control over my eating until now.

YOU are the one in control and YOU control the lure of the food, not the other way around.

I write this from the heart as someone for whom the magic started probably about 4 years ago now… my weight loss journey started 6 years ago, but it did take a while for that psychological magic to take place.