Leek, potato and bacon bake – 243 calories per portion

IMG_3935I planned this to enjoy as a side – frozen half of it. I think I might also add a little grated cheese or cheese and breadcrumbs on the top (will count the calories separately).

Preparation Time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 1 hour 10 mins

Serves:4

Calories per serving:242.4

Ingredients

Vegetable Stock Pot -1 Pot/28g

Chicken Stock Pot -1 Pot/28g

Water -300ml

Potatoes, Raw -500g

Leeks, Raw – 3 leeks/400g

Garlic Clove – 1 clove/3g

Streaky Bacon – 2 thick rashers, rind removed/55g

Double Cream Alternative -45g

Butter -10g

Preparation:

Trim leeks and thinly slice into rounds. Peel potatoes and thinly slice. Remove skin form garlic and finely chop. Remove rind from bacon and snip into small pieces.

Heat oven to 160C/fan/gas 4.

Method:Put the stock pots and water (boiling) in a large pan, bring to the boil, then add the potatoes and the leeks. Cover, bring back to the boil for 5 mins, then drain well, reserving the stock in a jug.

Meanwhile, using the butter, butter a large baking dish. Layer up the potatoes and leeks higgledy piggledy, seasoning as you go, then scatter the bacon over the top.

Season well, pour over the reserved stock, then spoon over the cream (if using) and cover with foil.

Can be made up to 1 day ahead and chilled. Bake for an hour, then uncover and cook for a further 10-20 minutes so that the bacon crisps.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 243

Protein (g) 7.2

Carbohydrate (g) 26.3

Fat (g) 12.2

Fruit & Veg 0.8

Fibre (g) 4.2

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chilli – 163 calories

IMG_3988Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chilli

I enjoyed this low calorie, healthy and colourful chilli with a portion of cauliflower rice (36 calories a portion – Tesco are now doing a convenient frozen pack of ready-to-steam pouches) and a large 30ml dollop of full fat soured cream (57 cals) so the whole meal was just 256 calories!! Enough left for a bowl of Greek yogurt with muscovado sugar….

Preparation Time: 15 mins

Cooking Time:  1 hour

Serves: 6

Calories per serving: 163.6

Ingredients

Butternut Squash, – 680g

Red Onions – 1 Medium/145g

Garlic, Raw – 2 Cloves/6g

Red Peppers – 1 pepper/128g

Black Beans, Canned, in Salted Water, Drained – 1 Can/240g

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

Olive Oil – 27ml

Sea Salt – ½ Tsp/2.5g

Freshly Ground Black Pepper – ½ Tsp/1g

Red Chilli Peppers – 2 Servings/56g

Chilli Powder – 1 Tsp/4g

Ground Cumin – 1 Tsp/5g

Chipotle Paste – 1 Tsp/6g

Smoked Paprika – 1 Tsp/5g

Vegetable Stock Pot – 1 Pot/28g

Ground Cinnamon – ½ Tsp/1.5g

Bay Leaves, Dried – 1 Leaf/0.9g

Cider Vinegar – 2 Tbsps/30ml

Lime Juice – 1 Tbsp/15ml

Preparation:

Peel, de-seed and chop the BNS into 2cm chunks. Peel and dice onion. Peel and finely dice the garlic. De-stalk and de-seed the red pepper and cut into chunks. De-seed the dried chilli peppers and finely dice.

Method:Pour 1 tbsp of the olive oil into a large shallow roasting dish and place into a pre-heated oven (200 degrees).

Once the oil is hot, add the cubed butternut squash, stir to cover in the oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until slightly browned.

In a large lidded pan on the hob, over medium heat, heat the remaining olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, diced red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning translucent.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, chilli powder, chipotle paste, chilli peppers, cumin and cinnamon, stock pot, water, cider vinegar. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butternut squash, bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes and their juices.

Stir to combine and cover for about 20 minutes until everything is warmed and cooked.

You’ll know your chilli is done when the liquid has reduced a bit, producing the hearty chilli consistency we all know and love.

Remove the bay leaf, squeeze over the lime juice.

Serve with rice or tortillas and a generous dollop of soured cream.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)1 63.6

Protein (g) 6.1

Carbohydrate (g) 21.4

Fat (g) 5.6

Fruit & Veg 3.4

Fibre (g) 5.8

 

Modifying behaviour around food and its consumption

Screenshot 2020-01-09 at 16.54.08I realised quite a few years into my journey to think about lifestyle changes rather than “being on a diet”.

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… and I think that with enough “practice” it becomes more and more easy until you get to the point where a behaviour is modified to the point of it becoming the only way.

I am sure 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.Screenshot 2020-01-09 at 16.54.37

I have developed a respect for the food I eat. Not everyone has the ability to eat as well as we in the western world eat. 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 really look at my plate of food before I pick up my knife and fork.

Almost daily I say to myself “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 acknowledging how priviledgedwe are in a country where food and food choices are a plenty. We should never take for granted having easy access to delicious food stuffs and our ability and love of cooking.

Logging food – keeping track of how many calories some favourite “treats” contain means that after a while they stay 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/chocolate, 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 they are occasional treats – and they are always logged into my diary.

Without keeping 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 take a few wrong turnings and end up going back on yourself or even getting completely lost.

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” (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 thing 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….

Oh, and I always 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!

I’m healthier and fitter now at the age of 57 than I was 20 years ago…..

I am writing this as someone who had struggled all of my life (since the age of 9) to lose weight.  I have a significant disability that affects my mobility – use a wheelchair outside of the house.  I am also very short (4ft 8”).  It wasn’t until the age of 49 when I started to log everything and kept track of the calories I was consuming that the truth hit me between the eyes.  I was eating FAR TOO MUCH for a short sedentary person.  I changed my whole approach to food and eating it that everything else clicked into place 🙂

Just wished I’d found what worked for me years ago.

Healthy dinner – 531 calories

IMG_3801After the excess snacking of Christmas, it’s nice to get back to “normal”

A 100g salmon fillet (196 cals), brushed with a little avocado oil (24 cals) and topped with cajun spice (9 cals).

A third of a rice/grains pouch – lime and herb (112 cals)

Shredded spring greens (9 cals)

Roasted butternut squash (94 cals)

Stir-fried yellow pepper, red onion and mushrooms (using 4ml of olive oil) – 87 cals

Protein (g) 31.6

Carbohydrate (g) 43.6

Fat (g) 26.2

Fruit & Veg 5.3

Fibre (g) 8.4

Cheese Scones – 106 calories each

FullSizeRenderI decided to make these today – baking isn’t usually my thing. But a friend makes them regularly and they make a great portable snack or meal if you’re on the go. The reason why there are three different cheeses is because I was using up scraps from the cheese dish! :-) But any sort of cheese will do, the stronger the better. A little of a strong flavoured strong cheese means you can get away with using less of it.

To avoid temptation, I tried one (buttered) whilst just warm and out of the oven but have frozen the remainder.

Cheese Scones – 106 calories each

Preparation Time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 12-15 mins

Serves:17

Calories per serving:106

Ingredients

Baking Powder -15g

Self Raising Flour -220g

Salt, Average-2g

Extra Mature Cheddar

Cheese, Manchego-60g

Hard Goats Cheese -30g

Cayenne Pepper -¼ Tsp/0.5g

Milk, Semi Skimmed – 150ml

Butter -55g

Method

1. Preheat oven with the lined baking tray inside to 200.C (slightly less for fan ovens). In a medium-large bowl sift together the flour, salt, cayenne pepper and baking powder. Sift again to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

2. Cut the butter into small cubes, place in the bowl with the sifted flour and then mix with your fingertips to make breadcrumbs.

3. Sprinkle the grated cheese (keeping back about 20g for sprinkling on top) into the breadcrumb mixture and mix gently until the cheese is evenly distributed.

4. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in enough milk to give a fairly soft but firm dough. Do not pour in all the milk at once as you may not need it all to get the right consistency.

5. Lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough to approximately 1.5-2cm thick. Cut out the scones with a medium cutter and then place on the hot oven tray. Glaze the tops with a little milk and sprinkle the remainder of the grated cheese on the top of each scone before putting in the oven.

6. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 106.0

Protein (g) 3.5

Carbohydrate (g) 10.2

Fat (g) 5.7

Fibre (g) 0.4

Roast aubergines with soured cream & harissa – 141 calories

IMG_3788Roasted aubergines with soured cream & harissa

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 45 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 141.5

Ingredients

1 x Raw Aubergine -355g

Avocado Oil -15ml

Butter -7g

Harissa Paste -5g

Sesame Seeds -½ Tsp/1g

Soured Cream – 25ml

Method

Heat the oven to 200C/190C fan/gas 6.

Remove the stalk from the aubergine, cut in half lengthwise.

Score the flesh into small diamonds, being careful not to break through the ski.

Place the halves cut side up in a shallow baking dish. Brush with the Avocado oil.

Place dish into oven. Roast for about 40-45 mins, or until the aubergines are completely tender and golden brown.

Soften the butter in a small bowl, add the harissa paste and mash together.

When the aubergines are cooked, put them on a warm platter and season the inside of each one with the harissa/butter.

Spoon soured cream onto each aubergine half, then scatter over the sesame seeds to serve.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 141

Protein (g) 2.0

Carbohydrate (g) 4.5

Fat (g) 13

Fruit & Veg 2.3

Fibre (g)3.5

This was really tasty and filling! I enjoyed it with a portion of stir fried cabbage and leek (74 cals), a half portion of butternut squash roasted in olive oil with paprika (95 cals) and a tuna steak pan fried in 1 tsp of olive oil with a pinch of Greek fish seasoning (143 cals).

Whole meal was therefore 453 calories.

Harissa is a classic North African hot chilli, tomato and garlic based paste to mix-in, spread on or coat and cook. Traditionally used across Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco to add heat and flavour to stews, soups and tagines.

(You can make your own – but I buy mine ready-made and keep it in the fridge.  You don’t need very much for a fiery kick!)