Spanakopita (Spinach and Feta Filo Pie) – 406 calories

IMG_1174Looking forward to a slice of this with a green salad tonight!

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie

Preparation Time: 30 mins

Cooking Time: 40 mins

Serves: 6

Calories per serving: 406.1

Ingredients

Onions,-1 Onion/100g

Garlic, Raw-2 Cloves/6g

Spinach, Baby-270g

Nutmeg, Ground-1 Tsp/3g

Butter, Salted,-40g

Pastry, Filo, Frozen, Ready Roll Sheets-270g

Cheese, Mature Cheddar-55g

Cheese, Greek Feta-200g

Eggs, Free Range, Medium-3 Eggs/174g

Pine Nuts-25g

Olive Oil-2 Tsps/10ml

Preparation: Peel and finely dice the onion. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Grate the cheddar cheese. Cut the Feta into 1cm chunks. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan).

(1) Pour 10ml of olive oil into a pan. Cook the onions in the oil until soft and turning golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

(2) Put the spinach leaves into a large lidded pan and pour over a small amount of boiling water. Heat over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the leaves have wilted and then strain into a colander and squeeze out the excess water once cooled.

(3) Put the pine nuts into a small frying pan over a medium heat. Toast, stirring all the time until the pine nuts have turned a golden colour and allow to cool.

(4) Once the spinach is cool, tip into a bowl (leaving behind any excess liquid from the spinach) and mix in the nutmeg, feta, eggs, toasted pine nuts and season well.

(5) Melt the butter in a microwave or small pan. Use some of the melted butter to grease a non-stick spring form cake tin, about 20-22cm. Put the first sheet of filo in the tin and brush with the melted butter, letting the excess hang over the sides. Keep going with the rest of the sheets, turning a little before adding each additional pastry sheet and brushing all over with the melted butter.

(6) When all the pastry is used up, tip in the filling and fold over the excess pastry to cover, crinkling the excess pastry rather than laying it flat. This will add to the crispness of the pie but also give it a really attractive top.

Brush the top with the remaining melted butter then bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until the filo is crisp and golden. Leave for 5 minutes before turning out and cutting into wedges to serve.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 406.1

Carbohydrate (g) 29.5

Fat (g) 24.0

Fibre (g) 2.3

Fruit & Veg 0.8

Protein (g) 17.5

Chilli Con Carne with turkey mince (181 calories)

IMG_1165.jpgMiserable day….. what can you do!  I know!  A batch cook for the freezer and a nice warming dinner for tonight….!  Lots of added vegetables and two tins of kidney beans to bulk this out, add lots of flavour and fibre. 

Chilli Con Carne made with turkey mince

Preparation Time:20 mins

Cooking Time:1 hr

Serves:8

Calories per serving:181.7

Ingredients

Onions-110g

Celery (1 stick)-33g

Garlic-2 Cloves/6g

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

Mixed Herbs-1 Tsp/5g

Turkey Thigh, Mince-450g

Kidney Beans, Drained-2 Cans/400g

Carrots-110g

Courgette-175g

Mushrooms, Chestnut-120g

Water-200ml

Tomato Puree, Double Concentrate-1 Pot/70g

Red Peppers (1 pepper)-150g

Coleman’s Chilli Con Carne Mix-1 Pack/50g

Method

Preparation: Peel and finely dice the onion. Peel and finely dice the garlic clove. Peel and chop carrot finely. Top and tail courgette and dice into small chunks. De-seed and dice the red pepper. Finely dice the celery.

Put the olive oil into a pan and warm over a moderate heat.

Add the onions, carrot and celery, and let them cook until soft and pale gold. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the minced turkey to the pan, and let it brown lightly, stirring occasionally.

Add herbs, the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and the chilli mix. Bring back to a simmer and leave to cooked, covered, for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Add the chopped mushrooms and the drained beans after the first 30 minutes. Add a little water if it is drying out too much.

Let the mixture simmer for a good 5-7 minutes until thoroughly hot.

Serve on wholegrain rice and top with a dollop of soured cream and a handful of coriander leaves (if required).

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 181.7

Carbohydrate (g) 18.0

Fat (g) 4.7

Fibre (g) 5.5

Fruit & Veg 1.9

Protein (g) 17.1

Smoked Cod Loin & Leek Risotto – Oven bake method

IMG_1088

This was delicious, very filling and extremely easy to make! I have never made a risotto as my husband is the risotto king in this house… but I do know that they are very time consuming.  You can’t hurry a good risotto, and he has to stand there for ever, stirring and adding stock.

Slightly higher in calories than I would usually have for a main meal, but I had just a bowl of home made “Mexican Bean” soup today at lunchtime (less than 100 calories).

I made the risotto with smoked cod loin (as that was what I had in the freezer) but you could also make it with smoked haddock – just ensure you check the calories. The cod is higher in calories by about 20 per 100g (cod is 100 cals per 100g and haddock is 84 per 100g).

I am definitely planning to adapt and use this easy method again in the future!

Preparation Time: 25 mins

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 602.4

Ingredients

Butter-10g

Leeks-150g

Rice, Arborio (dry weight)-150g

Milk, Semi Skimmed-125ml

Cod, Loins, Smoked-300g

Spinach, Baby Leaf-100g

Stock Pot (vegetable or fish)-1 Pot/28g

Tap Water (for stock)-350ml

Creme Fraiche, Full Fat-60g

Method

Preparation: Finely slice leek and wash thoroughly. Cut the cod into large chunks.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Heat the butter in a large ovenproof dish over a medium heat. Cook the leek for 4-5 mins, stirring regularly, until just tender. Add the rice and stir for a further 2 mins.

Add the stock (mix the stock pot with 350ml of boiling water) and the milk, bring to the boil and bubble for 5 mins before sitting the haddock on top. Cover with a lid or foil and bake in the oven for 18 mins until the rice is tender.

Fold in the creme fraiche and spinach, season with plenty of black pepper, then cover the pan again and leave to rest out of the oven for 3 mins before serving – the steam will soften the spinach.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 602.4

Carbohydrate (g) 71.2

Fat (g) 17.8

Fibre (g) 3.7

Fruit & Veg 1.7

Protein (g) 39.1

A lifestyle change

it-s-not-a-diet-it-s-a-lifestyle-change

I’m writing this piece based on my own experiences around losing weight successfully.  I know it’s helped a number of people on weight loss forums I use who I have shared it with and thought it’s about time I shared it a little more publicly.

To succeed at weight loss and to keep the weight off once you’ve lost it, it’s crucial to think about your weight loss journey as a lifestyle change rather than a diet.

It’s about embracing the changes you are choosing to make rather than resenting them.

That lifestyle change will need to happen a bit at a time and will involve many things : changing your behaviour around food, portion control, identifying emotional eating triggers, increasing your activity levels, trying new foods, making healthy food swaps, etc.

Commitment to diet/lifestyle change and resistance to temptation doesn’t just happen! It has to be worked at.

The only way I have succeeded this time is to change how I approach food and eating it. I have learned to resist temptation! BUT please believe that this has taken a LOT of hard work and practice!

It’s about “normalising” or “modifying” behaviour around food…  with enough “practice” it becomes easier until you get to the point where a behaviour is modified permanently.  You’ve reprogrammed yourself with a new way of approaching food.

I am certain that even some people who are not over weight do sometimes over indulge – but the fact is they don’t do it very often!

Those of us who are over weight have been used to “treating” ourselves, eating portions that are too large, eating the things that we know are calorific because we can.

It’s been a combination of changing all of those aspects of how I behave around food that has meant I have been successful this time.

I have developed a respect for the food I eat. Not everyone can eat as well as we in the western world do. We should not abuse the privilege!

I rarely eat “on the hoof” any more, I rarely eat between meals. I take time to sit at a table and present my meals nicely. I take a moment or two to study my plate of food before I pick up my knife and fork.

Almost daily I say to hubbie “Aren’t we lucky to be able to enjoy such lovely food”. I really mean that too, I am not saying it for anyones benefit but his and mine. We should never take for granted having easy access to delicious food stuffs and our ability and love of cooking as well as the fact we have the time to plan, prepare and cook it.

By logging your food – keeping track of how many calories some of those “treats” contain, after a while they remain in your head (medium egg = 70 cals, slice of white bread 100 cals, meringue nest 57 cals, 30g (matchbox size) of cheddar, 122 cals).

I do have sweet treats, but I buy my own choice, so things like 2 finger Kitkat, single finger Twix, Club biscuit… these are all around 100 calories. I keep them in a tin and I can have one whenever I want to, but I limit it to no more than one a day and usually with my afternoon cup of tea. That’s not to say I eat one on a daily basis (perhaps about 2-3 times a week). They are always logged into my diary.

If you don’t keep a log of what you are eating and the calories foods contain, then it’s a bit like trying to travel from one place to another without a map. You may get there eventually BUT it’s likely to take you much longer than if you planned the route and used a map PLUS you might find yourself a few wrong turnings or even end up doubling back on yourself.

I have also learned not to plan each trip out of the house to include food. Once upon a time, I’d have included lunch with a trip into town, coffee and cake with a visit to the garden centre.

I now plan or even prepare a meal BEFORE I go out (usually a salad) so that I know exactly what I can eat as soon as I walk into the door… and don’t turn to “what I fancy” or “something quick” (usually high calorie carbs that don’t keep you full for very long…)

Make a list of the reasons WHY you want to lose weight. Keep it somewhere safe (stuck to the inside of a kitchen cupboard door?) and look at it from time to time, especially when you are raiding the kitchen for treats.

I always ask myself before eating something really calorific “Do I really want to eat this more than I want to lose weight this week?”. It’s called “mindful eating” – being aware of why you are considering eating – real hunger? Boredom? Temptation? Feeling fed up?

Have a glass of water, wait 5 minutes and consider whether you still want the food. Once it’s been snaffled down, it’s too late and you may end up feeling cross and angry with yourself….

….and that feeling (guilt, failure) lasts for a long time, much longer than the temporary enjoyment of whatever treat you ate….

Finally, I continually remind myself how good the feeling is of seeing a loss on the scales at my weekly weigh in.  That wonderful feeling lasts for days. 

Don’t forget how that feels – you need to remind yourself of that feeling next time temptation strikes!

Curry, Butternut and Sweet Potato (241 calories)

IMG_1067Second night of eating vegetarian here!  Tomorrow is a meat night (something with pork loin steaks).

The rice and Greek yogurt are not included in the calorie count above, but really take this lovely meal up a notch!

I don’t usually bother making a curry paste, but as this was so easy, perhaps it’s something I’ll repeat.


Preparation Time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 1 hr

Serves: 6

Calories per serving: 241.1


Ingredients

Butternut Squash – 660g

Sweet Potato – 500g

Coconut Milk, Light – 1 Can/400ml

Red Onions – 100g

Red Chilli Peppers – 3 peppers (3g)

Ginger, Puree – 15g

Garlic, Raw – 2 Cloves/6g

Turmeric, Ground – 1 Tsp/2.2g

Coriander, Ground – 1 Tsp/5g

Cinnamon, Ground – 1 Tsp/3g

Salt – ½ Tsp/2.5g

Coconut Oil – 2 Tbsps/30ml

Tinned Chopped Tomatoes – 1 Can/400g

Coriander, Leaves – 30g

Lime, Fresh cut into quarters – 1 (cut into wedges)

Vegetable Stock Cubes – 2 Cubes/12g

Baby Spinach – 90g

Method:

Peel and dice red onion into chunks. Peel, deseed and cut butternut squash into large bite sized pieces. Take the stalks off the chilli peppers. Peel, and cut sweet potato into large bite sized pieces.   Roughly chop the fresh coriander and cut the lime into wedges.  Rinse the spinach leaves.

Put the onion, chillies, ginger, garlic, turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon and salt into a food processor and blend to a paste, or use a stick blender and a bowl.

Heat the coconut oil in a wide lidded heavy-based casserole, then fry the paste for about 1 minute, stirring well.

Add the tin of coconut milk, followed by the stock cubes, 1 400ml tin of water, the tinned tomatoes, then the sweet potato and butternut squash.

Stir well, bring to the boil and, once bubbling, turn down the heat, put the lid on and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes (though start checking at 30) until the sweet potatoes are soft and the squash cooked through. Add the spinach 10 minutes before the end of cooking time and stir through until wilted.

Check for seasoning, then leave to stand off the heat for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Serve with rice and put chopped coriander and lime wedges on the table alongside, for sprinkling and spritzing.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 241.1

Carbohydrate (g) 33.1

Fat (g) 10.7

Fibre (g) 5.6

Fruit & Veg 3.8

Protein (g) 4.7