Christmas Eve Cheese!

The great thing about the Blood Sugar Diet is… that you rarely feel hungry.

I completed 7 weeks of the 800 calories a day diet.  It’s supposed to be a minimum of 8 weeks and a maximum of 12, but I had a holiday at the beginning of December.

I am pleased to report that I lost a total of 13lbs!  This is quite incredible given my slow losses.  I’ve not got that much to lose (ideally about 21lbs) so this loss went a long way to getting me back to target.  What’s more, I felt fantastic.  I was sleeping really well, waking refreshed and ready to start the day.  My aches and pains diminished.  I felt less bloated and lethargic after eating a meal.  Most days, I only needed 2 meals (usually lunch and dinner, or brunch and dinner”.

So the weight loss was going well….  Until that was… a 2 week holiday to Tenerife.  I did my very best to stick to the principles of the diet (no bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar, wheat products, rice) – I did eat bananas, lots of avocados, many ice-cream and other desserts – (well, at least one a day!) and a few gallons of sangria – not in one sitting I hasten to add!

So damage was done and a few additional pounds were gained.  But I was heartened by the fact that had I not lost the 13lbs, I’d now be further away from my weight loss goal.

The past few days, I’ve gone back to avoiding the things I should not be eating on the BSD.  Until this morning when a couple of homemade mince pies and a few sausage rolls warm from the oven needed to be quality tested!

Today is Christmas Eve.  One great thing about the BSD is that cheese can feature.  Not kilos of it, but in moderation.  I enjoy mine with a satsuma or sliced apple instead of crackers.

IMG_0589.jpgI have assembled my cheese platter.

I’ve tried a couple of cheeses courtesy of Tesco’s Orchard Programme thanks to a £6 voucher they sent to me.

Castello Blue will be featuring regularly (you’ll notice I’ve already started on that one!) Creamy like Brie, but much more flavoursome. Also trying their French Chevre Goats cheese which I’ve had before, the Finest St Felicien and a Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Truckle (the black wax cylinder).

The St Felicien is described as “Perfect on a cheeseboard, this creamy and unctuous cheese can also be baked with black pepper and honey. Delicious with potatoes or just bread. Perfect to share with friends.”

I had to look up what unctuous meant, when I looked up the definition on-line, it seemed inappropriate!  But in relation to food, unctuous means  “buttery, luxurious, luscious, creamy, etc”.  As the serving suggestions imply really!

Blood Sugar Diet – week 6

I’m soooo happy!  At weigh in this morning, I am back below 10 stone!  In the 6 weeks of the blood sugar diet I have lost 12lb, which is massive, as my goal weight is 9st 7lbs.  The approximate weight one can expect to lose during the 8 weeks of 800 calories steering clear of the “forbidden five” (bread, pasta, rice, added sugar, processed foods) is 10% of ones starting weight.  That was 15lb for me.  So although it’s highly unlikely that I’ll drop a further 3lb before next Friday, my starting point dietary wise was probably a better starting point than for most who are completely changing their diet.  I rarely ate bread, potatoes, pasta and rice.

This week I have been busy with the media – trialling a new Blue Badge Parking app.  SIMON can be downloaded onto a smart phone or other device, and works in a similar way to GPS showing the location of VACANT blue badge parking bays on public roads.  The vacant part is clearly quite vital!

This weekend I am off to a conference at a hotel near Heathrow.  It’s an annual event aimed at beneficiaries of the Thalidomide Trust.  I’ve been a pivotal part of getting it all together, so to be honest, I’ll be relieved when it’s all over!  I’m going to be speaking to people in a workshop about the “Fit for the Future” weekend that was held in April this year.  We will hear from one of the participants who has made some massive huge lifestyle changes in the 6 months since April – not just weight loss, but exercise, emotional well being and taking up new social activities.

I’m aware I’m likely to be straying over the 800 daily calorie limit, but I’ll stick to the principles….

The arrival of Autumn

I’m always sad to see the end of the Summer (I love the sun!) but Autumn is my favourite season.  There’s something about those sharply cold and often dark mornings and evenings.  When it’s dry and sunny (which it has been so far) I want to leap out of bed and get on with my day.

I think that the Blood Sugar diet is something to do with it.  It may be coincidental that around three or four days after I started on it, I was waking in the morning feeling energetic and ready to go.  Just a few weeks ago, I felt quite different.  I would have been quite happy to turn over, snuggle back under the duvet and snooze.

This past week has been a very draining one, emotionally and physically.  The start to my week was supporting a lovely friend who was going through a bit of a crisis.  But my efforts – and by her amazingly cheerful attitude, alongside the (hopefully positive) outcome made it all very worth while.

Then mid-week, my step-father was rushed into hospital with a very slow heart rate (just 30 bpm).  He required a pacemaker to be fitted, which is risky surgery for him given his present health status.  There was some uncertainty whether the risks were worth taking.

The consultant was happy to go ahead, the surgery was a success (heart rate up to 60 now) but a partially collapsed lung has meant that recovery has been far from straight forward.

Far from derailing my attempts to follow the diet, it actually spurred me on.  There is nothing quite like being surrounded by patients in a cardiac ward to spur you into making changes to your diet and lifestyle.

 

 

Moving in the right direction….

I started the 8 week Blood Sugar Diet on 17th October, with almost exactly 8 weeks until I go on my next holiday!

One thing I have noticed almost immediately (and other have reported similarly) is that my energy levels have risen.  I wake in the morning at around 6 – 7am, feeling refreshed and wanted to get out of bed and start my day.  My general aches and pains also seem to have subsided – which is a bonus.  I am still in pain most days, but not taking any pain relief (paracetamol).

I have felt fuller for longer (one of the benefits of this way of eating).  The diet is basically low-carb and restricts sugary foods (starches like pasta, rice, bread and potatoes)  and I am increasing the quantities of “real foods”, including protein, natural fats and vegetables.  I have reduced the need to snack in between meals and my snacking habit has all but disappeared.  On the rare occasion that I feel hungry, I can eat natural yogurt with seeds, nuts (natural – brazils, almonds, pecans, walnuts) or a piece of fruit.

I’ve been drinking a lot more water and cutting down (but not excluding) the tea and coffee.

In my first week, I achieved a 6.4lb loss!  I was astonished!  I’ve never, ever lost that much in one week and I have only about 1 – 1.5 stone to lose to get to my goal weight.

Things I have eaten regularly:  oily fish, regular fish, avocados, natural yogurt, olive oil, lots of fresh vegetables.

Here are some examples of some of my meals from the past week:

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Griddled peaches with cottage cheese
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Chicken breast coated in egg and dusted with coconut flour, fried in coconut oil, served with a cauliflower and bean mash and runner beans
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Swordfish steaks marinated in lemon, olive oil, basil and lemon juice with oven roasted vegetables and tomatoes
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Coconut flour pancakes with raspberries and creme fraiche

8 Week Blood Sugar Diet

I’m just back from a week long trip to Athens to visit our family there – sister-in-law, her husband (who is Greek), their 3.5 year old son who we’ve not seen for over a year and the “new addition”, a 4 month old little girl.

The hotel we stayed in (Brasil Suites Hotel) was truly wonderful – it really made the trip more of a holiday for us, as there was a small outside pool and the sun shone brightly most days.  The staff were so willing to ensure that everything was provided for us.  The breakfasts were amazing… and so was all the food we ate.

Needless to say, I brought back about 7lbs of excess baggage, which was carried around my person rather than in my suitcase.  And it wasn’t contraband!

It’s not too long before we are away again – 2 weeks in early December.  I am very keen to get shot of quite a bit more weight before then, but it’s less than 8 weeks away.

balux
The Balux House Project, Athens

During our holiday, we visited a lovely beach cafe The Balux House Project which had lots of lovely low level seating and soft furnishings and shelves of books – many in English.  I read about the “Greek way of eating” and this got me to thinking about changing how I am currently doing things.

I most certainly am not someone to jump from one faddy way of eating to another, but I do know that my weight loss has stalled since the start of this year.  My losses have been small and every weekend or trip away causes a huge weight gain, even when I make an effort to “be good”.  My weight loss calories (1100 per day) just don’t seem to be adequate, and I haven’t been exercising to earn additional calories.

I have been toying for a while with the idea of the Blood Sugar diet.  Initially, you kick start things with a strict 8 week long blood sugar diet, restricting calories by either using fasting or limiting calories to 800 a day.

The Blood Sugar Diet principals are based on eating a low carbohydrate Mediterranean style diet. This contains few refined, starchy carbohydrates (because these convert rapidly to sugar in your blood), lots of green and coloured vegetables, plenty of protein, moderate amounts of healthy fats such as olive oil and even some dairy products such as full fat unsweetened yoghurt to keep you feeling full for longer.

I realised that this is more or less what I am doing at the moment – but my downfall is most certainly high calorie/high sugar “treats”.  Just a couple of sweet treats or meals out can undo all my efforts.

I sat in the cafe on the one and only day it was raining outside and placed an order for the Michael Mosley Blood Sugar books as well as a couple of recipe books.  I then made some drastic alterations to the on-line Tesco shop I’d scheduled for the day following our return, removing all the “sweet treats” and adding nuts, avocados, fruit, yogurt, quark, beans and pulses.

My first day of following the 8 week diet was Thursday 20th October 2016.  That gives me about 7.5 weeks until our December holiday.  Perfect.I’ll be up-dating my blog more regularly, which will keep me on track as well as encouraging me to try out some new recipes!

Mediterranean Vegetable bake

2016-09-25-16-23-25I’m presently doing a free four-week course on Future Learn called “Nutrition and Wellbeing”.  I thought I knew all about healthy eating, but the course has provided me with an education on matters that I wasn’t aware of or knew little about.

Today I have been listening and learning about diet choices: fish oils and sustainable fishing, the impact of the diet on cardiovascular disease and food and cancer prevention.

I am keen – not just because of the course, to include more grain, pulses and legumes into my meals and to cut down on weekly meat consumption.  We are presently enjoying our home grown courgette and tomato harvest.  This isn’t a big deal for me, as I rarely eat meat and enjoy experimenting with recipes – so this is todays “experiment” which was lovely!

Mediterranean Vegetable & Quinoa Bake

Preparation Time:              45 mins
Cooking Time:                    40 mins
Serves:                                     2
Calories per serving:        437.8

Ingredients

Red onion                                                                             –    50g
Garlic, raw                                                                            –    2 Cloves/6g
Cherry tomatoes on the vine                                          –    450g
Extra virgin olive oil                                                          –    3 Tsps/15ml
Aubergine, medium                                                           –    1 Med/375g
Courgette                                                                               –    316g
Mixed Herbs                                                                          –    2 Tsps/10g
Quinoa, red & white, with bulgar wheat (Tesco)       –    100g
Panko Breadcrumbs                                                           –    40g
Mozzarella cheese, grated                                                –    60g
Coriander leaves, fresh                                                      –  20g

Preparation
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Cut the aubergine into 5cm slices lengthwise. Cut the courgettes into diagonal or lengthwise sides. Peel and finely dice the red onion and garlic. Grate the cheese and mix with the breadcrumbs.  Roughly chop the coriander leaves.

Cook the quinoa mixture (100g) as directed on the packet and set aside to cool.

Method
Lay aubergine and courgette slices on a baking tray and drizzle with 2tsp of the olive oil and half the herbs.

Halve the tomatoes and place on a baking sheet cut side uppermost, drizzle with 1 tsp of the olive oil and sprinkle the remainder of the herbs over the top.

Place both baking sheets into the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes (aubergine tray) and 15 mins (tomatoes).

In the meantime, heat 1tsp of oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions. Do not allow to brown. Once they are translucent, add the garlic and continue to cook for about 2 – 3 minutes.

In a shallow medium sized oven proof dish, layer first the slices of aubergine, then the slices of courgette. Then sprinkle the onion and garlic mixture over and finally the cooked tomatoes.

Once the quinoa mixture is cooled, fluff up the grains with a fork and place in a layer of the vegetables, ensuring it is evenly spread.  Sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves evenly on the top.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and grated cheese mixture over the top of the quinoa and place the dish into the oven, reducing the heat to 180 degrees, for about 20 – 25 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbling.

Nutrition Data Per Serving
Calories (kcal)                       437.8
Protein (g)                             20.8
Sugars (g)                             15.9
Fibre (g)                                10.9
Fruit & Veg                           7.9
Carbohydrate (g)                   47.0
Fat (g)                                   18.8

Lentil meatballs with burst tomato pasta

lentil-meatballsIt’s that time of year when you are eating tomatoes as fast as you can pick them.  I’m not complaining!  I ate them twice today – once for breakfast – roasted plum tomatoes with olive oil and herbs with mushrooms on toast.

This breakfast just wouldn’t work as well with supermarket tomatoes!

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Roasted plum tomatoes and mushrooms on toast – supermarket bought tomatoes just won’t work!

Dinner tonight was a new recipe – lentil meatballs with burst tomato pasta.  I prepared the meatballs in the morning, and made enough for four servings… half of them have been popped into the freezer once they were cooked to enjoy on another occasion.  They would make perfect vegetarian snacks, as they are light and crispy when cooked.  Very filling too, especially when served with wholewheat pasta.

I’ve entered these as two separate recipes, so that you can enjoy the meatballs with other sauces.  In case you are wondering why some of the quantities are so “odd” it’s because I was converting an on-line recipe from US “cups”!

lentil-mix
Lentil mixture after pulsing
raw-meatballs
Lentil meatballs formed and ready to go into the oven

Lentil Meatballs

Preparation Time:             25 mins
Cooking Time:                    25 mins

Serves:                                  4
Calories per serving:      306.0

Ingredients

Dried Lentils, Green or Brown    –         136g
Water, Mineral Or Tap                   –   100ml
Olive Oil, Extra Virgin                    –   2 Tsps/10ml
Red onions                                         –   42g
Garlic clove                                        –   1 Clove/3g
Raw carrots, grated                         –   42g
Pecan Nuts                                         –   38g
Walnuts                                               –   38g
Panko Breadcrumbs                         –   27g
Mixed Herbs                                        –   1 Tsp/5g
Salt                                                         –   ½ Tsp/2.5g
Freshly ground black pepper         –   ½ Tsp/1g
1 x medium free range egg              –   1 Egg/58g

Method

Preparation: Peel and finely dice the onion and the garlic clove. Peel and coarsely grate the carrot. Crush the walnuts and the pecans. Combine lentils and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until lentils are tender, 23 to 25 minutes. If lentils are not tender and water has been absorbed, add more water and continue to cook. Drain off any excess water.

Heat 1 tsp of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat and add the red onion. Cook until onion is translucent and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the chopped garlic clove and the grated carrots, cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the cooked and drained lentils, onion mixture, nuts, panko breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, and pepper.

Pulse a few times to start combining the mixture…

Crack the egg in and pulse a few more times until the mixture is combined but the lentils are still holding shape. Set aside and let rest while the oven preheats to 200 degrees.

Take the lentil mixture and roll into 12 balls, roughly the size of a golfball. Place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and brush with 2 tsps of olive oil.

Bake meatballs until browning and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 12 meatballs, 3 per serving (they are VERY filling!) They have a lovely crisp bite, so could be eaten as a vegetarian snack.

Perfect served with another of my recipes – burst tomatoes and basil pasta. Toss everything together to serve.

Nutrition Data Per Serving
Calories (kcal)                  306.0
Protein (g)                        13.4
Sugars (g)                         1.7
Fibre (g)                           4.8
Fruit & Veg                       0.7
Carbohydrate (g)              25.4
Fat (g)                              17.2


Burst tomato pasta

Preparation Time:          5 mins
Cooking Time:                20 mins
Serves:                               2
Calories per serving:     289.3

Ingredients

Olive Oil, Olive                                                                         –  2 Tsps/10ml
Garlic Raw                                                                                  –  2 Cloves/6g
Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Whole Wheat, Dry Weight   –  100g
Cheese, Edam                                                                           –  30g
Basil, Fresh                                                                                –  1 Tbsp/5g
Tomatoes, Cherry                                                                    –  400g

Method

Preparation: Heat oven to 200 degrees. Peel and finely dice the garlic cloves. Grate the Edam cheese and shred the basil leaves.

Combine cherry tomatoes with olive oil and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Place in the oven and let cook until tomatoes have released their juices and ‘burst’, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package and drain. When ready to assemble, combine the pasta with the burst tomatoes, grated cheese, and basil and serve.

Nutrition Data Per Serving
Calories (kcal)           289.3
Protein (g)                   11.9
Sugars (g)                  8.1
Fibre (g)                      6.1
Fruit & Veg                  2.7
Carbohydrate (g)       37.7
Fat (g)                          10.1