Pasta ‘al Forno’ with Roasted Aubergine and Mozzarella – 443 calories

IMG_0878 3

Preparation Time:   30 mins

Cooking Time:   30 mins

Serves:   4

Calories per serving:  443.2



Onions                                                                  –    1 Onion/100g

Garlic                                                                    –    2 Cloves/6g

Aubergine                                                             –    1 Lge/550g

Olive Oil                                                                –    3 Tbsps/45ml

Fusilli, Dry Weight, Wholewheat                             –    200g

Cheese, Mozzarella, Half Fat                                –    1 Ball/125g

Mature Cheddar Cheese                                       –    50g

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

Basil, Fresh                                                           –    1 Tbsp/5g

Olives, Black, Pitted                                              –    45g

Vinegar, Balsamic, of Modena                              –    1 Serving/10ml


Cook the pasta in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet and when cooked, drain and set aside.

Halve the aubergines and remove stalks, cut into 2cm chunks. Place in a roasting dish and sprinkle with 2 tblsps of the olive oil. Place in an oven at 190 degrees for 30 minutes. When cooked, they should be soft and golden brown.

Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Pour the remaining 1tbsp of oil into a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the onions for 5 minutes, don’t allow to brown. Add the garlic, cook for a further minute. Then add the tomatoes and the olives. Continue to cook reducing the liquid for 15 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar. Cut the olives into quarters and add. Tear the basil and stir through along with the thyme (leaves only). Combine the cooked pasta, tomato mixture and cooked aubergine.

Grate the cheddar cheese using a coarse grater and tear the mozzarella into pieces.

Put half the pasta mixture into a shallow oven proof dish. Sprinkle over the mozzarella pieces and then top with the remaining pasta mixture. Finally top with the grated Cheddar

Place dish into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.

Perfect served with rocket topped with toasted pine nuts.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)  443.2

Carbohydrate (g)  42.9

Fat (g)  21.7

Fibre (g)  8.9

Sodium (g)  0.343

Fruit & Veg  3.3

Protein (g)   18.9


Smoked haddock and celeriac Hotpot – 323 calories

IMG_0869This was such a quick, easy recipe – and so delicious and filling! The original recipe I took it from said to serve 2, but there’s no way we could have eaten half of it, so a third portion goes into the freezer for another occasion!

Smoked haddock and celeriac hotpot

Preparation Time:35 mins

Cooking Time:30 mins


Calories per serving:  323


Butter -14g

Olive Oil – 10ml

Onions – 1 Med/100g

Celeriac, Raw, Average – 360g

Potatoes, Maris Piper – 200g

Vegetable Stock Pot Knorr – 1 Pot/28g

Haddock, Fillets, Smoked – 250g

Bay Leaves, Dried – 1 Leaf/0.9g

Milk, Semi Skimmed – 200ml

Sweetcorn, Naturally Sweet, in Water, Tinned, Drained – 1 Tin/160g

Parsley, Dried – 0.5 Tsp/0.5g


Peel and chop the celeriac and potatoes into chunks. Peel and finely dice the onion. Remove pin bones and skin from the haddock.

1. Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the celeriac and potato to the pan, season well and fry for 5-6 minutes, then add the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 5-10 minutes until tender. Remove from the heat and leave covered.

2. Place the fish in a large pan with the bay leaf, cover with the milk and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and leave for 5 minutes or until just cooked. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and flake into large chunks, removing any skin.

3. Return the onion and root-veg mixture to a medium heat. Add the milk from the poached fish and the sweetcorn and gently simmer for 2-3 minutes. Check the seasoning. Divide the chowder into two and serve half immediately, with half the haddock, sprinkled with the parsley.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 322.9

Carbohydrate (g) 30.5

Fat (g) 10.9

Fibre (g) 7.0

Sodium (g) 1.563

Fruit & Veg 2.6

Protein (g) 24.2

Running on the Alter G treadmill

Today I got to run!  The wonderful thing about the Alter G treadmill is that you are totally supported.  Walking, never mind running – is really hard work for me and I am at risk of falling.  Falls are NOT good. I go down like a felled tree and usually cause damage to my neck (whiplash, as I throw my head back) plus the fact that my arms don’t have elbows or wrists – means that I take the full force of my body weight through my shoulder joints.

My heart rate was getting up to 165bpm – I was walking and running with just 75% of my body weight – the remaining weight being supported by the air filled chamber underneath.

I worked up a healthy sweat and look forward to charting my progress.  I’ve booked a series of 10 sessions.





Session with the Sports Therapist….

IMG_1217…or perhaps the Personal Trainer?  Had a very useful hour with Mike, the Sports Therapist at the Circle Clinic.  He’s devised me an exercise routine to help strengthen muscles in my problem areas where I get regular and often unrelenting pain.

I get a lot of pain in my neck, shoulders, lower back and both hips.  Some of the pain is caused by the mechanics of my walking (there’s more here about my unique hips..) but most of it is caused by the way I use my body to carry out activities – such as using a keyboard, dressing myself, food preparation, etc.  I spend a lot of time with my head crunched forwards and my shoulders hunched.

Excuse the awful background music… there was some sort of circuit class going on at the same time!

Squats to strengthen my arms, shoulders and glutes

Concentrating on building up the muscles in my right (weaker) leg whilst building up muscles with squatting.

Bridging on a gm ball – building balance and core muscles, strengthening my lower back

Balancing on a gym ball, one leg lift.  Strengthens core and leg muscles

Building up and strengthening arms and shoulders, concentrating on keeping my shoulders down.




Strutting my stuff

Todays appointment at the clinic went really well.  After a further physical assessment and some work on my lower spine to alleviate some of the stiffness that occurs plus stretches on the muscles at the front of my thighs, I was zipped into my Alter-G shorts!

I was soon walking at 5.2 kph (3.2mph) at 70% of my total body weight.  The wonderful thing about the Alter G is that I am able to walk without over-stressing my joints and muscles and therefore I am not experiencing the lower back and hip pain that ordinarily occur when I walk any distance at all.

In total I walked for 20 minutes, mostly at a brisk pace.

I have now signed up for 10 sessions on the Alter G, the first one will be next Monday when the Physio will over see me.  After that I can go back any time that I want and use the treadmill without supervision – but I will need support from someone to get the shorts on and zip myself in and out of the machine.

I am also booked to have a session with the sports therapist at the clinic this Friday.  He will devise me an exercise programme to work on my “problem areas” – neck, shoulders, hips and lower spine.

Time to move!

At the end of November last year, I visited a local Circle Clinic locally.  They offer privately funded advice and treatment and what really attracted me to them was the fact that they offer pain rehabilitation.  So it’s all about learning how to live with persistent pain.

Over the course of last year I underwent various investigations to determine the cause of lower back pain and pain in my left hip.  I was fortunate to be referred to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore by my GP.  The hospital is a centre of excellence and provides a comprehensive range of neuro-musculoskeletal health care, ranging from acute spinal injury to orthopaedic medicine and specialist rehabilitation for chronic back pain sufferers. This broad range of services is unique within the NHS.

I had MRI scans of my lower spine and hip and they have determined that there is “minimal posterior disc protrusion at L 1/2. mild lumbar degenerative changes at the facet joints at L3/4, L4/5 and L5S1.”

Much of the damage is caused by the mechanics of walking – I don’t have proper ball and socket hip joints.IMG_1165

We discussed a pain management plan and the hip consultant agreed with my thoughts on devising a regular programme of non-weight bearing exercise.  I don’t want to have to take pain killers on a regular basis.

At the Circle Clinic, after an initial assessment by a specialist consultant in rehabilitation, I was referred on to an Orthotist and Phsyio at the Clinic.

The Orthotist quickly determined that I do not need the shoe raise I have been using for over 15 years.  In fact, with my right sided ankle fusion, the toe of my shorter (fused ankle) leg is longer than my long leg! He gave me some temporary heel inserts to try out for a month (in boots and trainers). He felt that my gait and balance, the level of my pelvis appeared improved with these. If I feel this is an improvement, he will arrange to get me a custom made insert that supports my high instep too.

Certainly the inserts have felt better and I felt more balanced. He also works as a consultant in the Orthotics dept at the local hospital who do my shoe raises, so he managed to retrieve the two boots I’d just taken to have built up! (Perfect timing!!).

alterGThe Physio has agreed that I need to get back to a regular exercise routine. I have already explored swimming (with disabled swimming club), will look to going back to Pilates regularly (one-to-one) and arranged to go back to Clinic in the new year for him to work with me on some exercises. He’s going to set me up on the Alter-G (anti-gravity treadmill) and if I like that and he feels it will benefit me, I can go back and use it unsupervised.  I also saw the Hydro Physio aquatic treadmill in use. hydro


He thinks a lot of my pain comes from the shortening of my muscles and tendons at the front of my legs/thigh (too much sitting) and that I need to work on laying on my front and improving / stretching the muscle which will hopefully help with the pains I am experiencing.
So….. I am booked to go back to the orthotist and the physio next week. I undertook with the physio to move more and exercise as I am able to between that appointment and when I next see him – which I have done!

Whilst in Tenerife I managed some walking and I have got back to my stretching / Pilates exercise regime most mornings.

lidoI still need to find a suitable swimming pool that myself and hubbie can visit regularly.  It needs to be accessible to me both in terms of getting into and out of the pool (I find step-ladder type steps almost impossible) AND have some unisex changing facilities, as I require support from my husband to get changed. But I have in mind for us to try out the newly opened Reading Lido!  We will just have to ensure that we aren’t lured by the rather lovely looking menus in their restaurant and poolside bars!

My appointment at the Circle takes place on Monday.  Watch this space as I plan to share my progress!