Confessions of a habitual weigher

I was once a habitual weigher.

Until I discovered calorie counting!

The great thing about logging all my food is I know whether I can expect a loss each week – or whether the scales will be going in an upwards direction.

If I have had a week of going over my calories, I know what the end result will be! If I’ve been away on holiday or for a weekend and not bothered logging food or making less than sensible choices – I know I’ll see a gain. If I have stuck stringently to my calorie allowance (which is set to half a pound weight loss) I know that I should enjoy a loss!

I used to go to Slimming World and Weight Watchers and think that just going to the weigh in and listening to the class leader was all I needed to do! I would hate the idea that I was not going to lose weight and the sorts of excuses I was forced to make as to why that was.

I love the calorie counting way – it’s about being accountable and honest with myself. Nothing is forbidden. No food is “free”. I can check the calories the food contains and it is me who makes the choice about whether I want to eat it or not.

I won’t say it all falls into place just like that, but once you can get your head around the simple fact that less calories in vs more calories out = weight loss, it becomes a whole lot easier!

As a sedentary (disabled) very short woman, I know that I have to be more stringent than others who are active or more mobile, taller or younger!! 

I STILL weigh myself every morning, I know that the scales will fluctuate quite considerably (depending on whether I have eaten lots of carbs, exercised, eaten salty food, etc). The one weigh in that matters is the Friday morning weigh in – the one I log.

It’s not all plain sailing – life has to go on around weight loss – the birthday celebrations, Christmas, social gatherings. The choices I make on those occasions are completely up to me.

I don’t log when I am on holiday – and I used to just “let go” but I have learned during the course of my six year weight loss journey that I can’t afford to do that. So I now reign myself in. I will still face a gain on my return, but it’s never as huge as when I took a holiday from my healthy eating habits!

I’m showing you my weight loss chart so that you can see that I am far from perfect. But I know what to do.

It’s up to me what I choose to do.

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Sweet Potato and Chickpea Burgers – 150 calories

IMG_1261Sweet Potato & Chickpea Burgers

Preparation Time: 60 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves: 9

Calories per serving: 150 (each burger)

Ingredients

Porridge Oats, Rolled – 90g

Sweet Potato, Baked, Flesh Only – 635g

Chick Peas, one tin drained – 240g

Coriander, Ground – 1 Tsp/5g

Cumin, Ground – ½ Tsp/2.5g

Olive Oil – 1 Tsp/5ml

Onions, Red – 80g

Coriander, Fresh – 35g

Dried Chilli Pepper Flakes – 1 Pinch/0.1g

Olive Oil – 1 calorie spray (20 sprays)

Method

Spike the sweet potato all over and bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven (190 degrees) for about an hour until soft. Leave to cool.

Drain the chickpeas.

Peel and finely chop the red onion and garlic clove. Separate the stalks from the leaves of the coriander (but do not discard).

Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Add the diced onion and fry for about 3 – 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Cut the sweet potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Add half to a large mixing bowl and the remainder to a food processor. Add the oats, chickpeas, chilli flakes, cumin and dried coriander. Roughly cut the coriander stalks and add to the food processor. Pulse several times. You may need to open the lid and scrape the edges into the middle of the processor so that you have a uniform consistency.

The aim is to retain several chunky pieces of chickpea, as these will give a lovely crunchy texture to the finished burger.

Combine everything into the mixing bowl, including the fried onion. Roughly chop the coriander leaves and add to the mixture. Stir again to combined.

Line two baking trays with non-stick baking parchment and spray over the top with the spray oil.

Using two tablespoons and your hands, make around 9 or 10 large balls with the mixture. Press into a pattie shape (leaving about 2cm thick) and place gently onto the greased and lined baking sheet. Ensure that the edges don’t touch.

Place the baking trays into a fridge for 30 minutes to allow the burgers to firm up.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Remove the burgers from the fridge, spray the tops of the burgers with the spray oil and place the baking tray in the oven for 25 minutes, turning the burgers once during cooking time.

These burgers are perfect for freezing – to cook from frozen, increase the cooking time by 5 minutes.

Serve the burgers in a bun or they are perfect with a salad. Tzatziki goes really well alongside the slight spice of the burger.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 149.6

Carbohydrate (g) 29.4

Fat (g) 2.2

Fibre (g) 4.3

Fruit & Veg 1.5

Protein (g) 3.7

Salmon, lemon and creme fraiche courgetti – 440 calories

IMG_1253Lovely quick recipe and very tasty! I have made a few variations of this dish – using smoked salmon, prawns or salmon flakes, as I have done here.

The cheese on the top is a token really – only 10g per person, but it’s not needed for the flavour, as there is already lots of flavour going on.

Many people say they’re not fond of courgetti, but I love combining it as I have here with whole wheat spaghetti.  Plenty of additional crunch for a whole lot less calories.

Preparation Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 20 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 461.8

Ingredients

Courgette, Raw, Average – 2 Courgettes/448g

Olive Oil -10ml

Lemon zest – 1 Tsp/2g

Lemon juice – 1 Tbsp/15ml

Creme Fraiche – 40g

Whole Wheat Spaghetti – 80g

Onions – 50g

Garlic – 1 Clove/3g

Salmon, Flakes, Honey Roasted – 100g

Cheddar Cheese – 20g

Parsley, Dried – ¼ Tsp/0.25g

Frozen peas, defrosted – 60g

Method

Julienne the courgette into fine strands. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Zest the lemon and juice. Grate the cheese using a course grater.

Cook the spaghetti as per the instructions – drain and set aside keeping warm.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, cook for around 3 minutes until softening.

Add the garlic, courgette, lemon zest and fry for around 5-6 minutes until softened – but the courgette should retain a bit of crunch.

Add the peas, lemon juice, salmon and creme fraiche, dried parsley and continue to cook for one to two minutes until the salmon and sauce are warmed through.

Serve the spaghetti onto the plates first and then top with the salmon courgetti mixture. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 461.8

Carbohydrate (g) 36.2

Fat (g) 24

Fibre (g) 7.5

Fruit & Veg 3.9

Protein (g) 25

IMG_1254

Recovering from injury & pain

IMG_1415It may not have gone unnoticed that most of my posts recently have been about food rather than exercise!

Since returning from my holiday in March, I have been plagued by various problems – the main ones being lower back pain – which I think is the cause of my other problem – sciatic pain running down the back of my left leg and into the back of my knee.

This has hugely impacted on me both physically and emotionally.  Pain is so very tiring.  I feel EXHAUSTED and this isn’t helped in having disturbed nights tossing and turning trying to get comfortable.  I am someone who needs 8 – 9 hours of undisturbed sleep every night.

Thankfully I have lots of options to try and places to go to try and sort out this problem.  My wonderful masseur (who I see once a fortnight for an hour) has been quite shocked to see me in so much pain.  I’m probably in the worse pain she’s ever seen me in.  At our last session together, we devised a plan of action.

Pain relief isn’t a route I want to go down (yet).  My pain was preventing me from exercising and yet exercise was probably just what I need to get rid of the pain.

I booked in for a session on the Alter G treadmill.  I knew that if I needed to, I could increase the amount of support the machine would give me during my walk.  I could walk at a slower pace.  I could lengthen my stride to get in some of the stretching that is needed.

I am pleased to report that the one 30 minute session seems to have had a very good result.  I am also making sure I do just 20 minutes of seated stretches each morning – lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors, sit ups, various rotations of my spine and neck.

Another session is booked.

Exercise is good.  Exercise helps.  I must keep on moving!  An article I recently wrote reminded me of the importance of this:

www.getyourselfactive.org

Crunchy aubergine, firecracker rice and chickpea bake – 511 calories

collageI think this meal (made out of left-overs in the fridge and store cupboard items) was a huge success!

It was a little like a Biryani… I’ll be using the same principles to make more meals like this (perhaps incorporating chunks of fish or meat) as it was so quick, easy and filling. Only one dish to wash up too!

Crunchy aubergine, firecracker rice and chickpea bake

Preparation Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving:  511.2

Ingredients

Rice, Firecracker, Tilda – 1 Pack/250g

Chick Peas, in Salted Water, Canned – 170g

Tomatoes, Plum, Canned, roughly chopped – 170g

Spinach, Boiled or Steamed – 75g

Cheese, Cheddar, grated – 75g

Breadcrumbs, Panko – 1 Serving/30g

Aubergine, Grilled, chopped into small cubes – 100g

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.

Mix together all the ingredients in an oven proof shallow dish, except the grated cheese and panko breadcrumbs.

Level out, and top with the grated cheese and then the breadcrumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

Serve with a salad or vegetables.

(I had mine with mashed swede and carrot).

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 511.2

Carbohydrate (g) 51.2

Fat (g) 23.7

Fibre (g) 7.7

Fruit & Veg 3.5

Protein (g) 21.4

Aubergine stuffed with spinach, rice and halloumi – 349 calories

IMG_1186Aubergine stuffed with spinach, rice and halloumi – 349 calories

I’ve discovered a wonderful vegetarian recipe website with lots and lots of  lovely looking recipes!  Whats more, it’s UK based, so the measurements are done in grams, rather than cups.  amuse-your-bouche.com

Having made this, I would swap the spray oil for a good glug of olive oil if I made it again. This was nice on its own, but I think I may need something else a little later!

Preparation Time: 20

Cooking Time: 50 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 349

Ingredients

Aubergine, Raw (Medium sized)-383g

Salt-1 Pinch/0.1g

Black Pepper-2 Pinchs/0.4g

Chick Peas, Tinned, Drained-70g

Spinach, Baby-100g

Pine Nuts-12g

Parsley, Dried-1 Tsp/1g

Rice, Brown, Dry Weight-½ Serving/50g

Olive Oil, Spray-20 Sprays/4ml

Halloumi Cheese, finely sliced-80g

Mint, Fresh, leaves only (finely chopped)-2 Tbsp/3.2g

Method

Toast the pine nuts under a hot grill or in a small frying pan, being careful not to burn.

Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise – leave the stalks on for now, but remove them before eating. Place the aubergine halves cut-side up on a baking tray. Cut a criss cross pattern over them, being careful not to break the skin.

Spray with the spray oil (20 squirts per half), and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 20-25 minutes, until the flesh is tender.

Steam the spinach in a small amount of boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and squeeze out the excess water when cooled. Shred it with a sharp knife.

Meanwhile, cook the rice until just soft in a pan with plenty of water – around 15 minutes (don’t overcook). Drain the rice, and add it to a large mixing bowl with the chickpeas, spinach, pine nuts, parsley, and dried mint. Mix thoroughly.

When the roasted aubergine halves are cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out around 1/3 of the aubergine flesh. Don’t remove too much flesh – you may need to use a sharp knife to cut through the fibres. Keep the flesh you remove for an alternative use (or just eat it straight away!).

Stuff each aubergine half with the spinach and rice mixture, and top with a few thin slices of halloumi. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or so, until the halloumi is golden brown.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 349

Carbohydrate (g) 36.4

Fat (g) 17.1

Fibre (g) 7.6

Fruit & Veg 3.6

Protein (g) 11.8