Easy tomato and lentil soup – 110 calories per 300g

Soup is great in so many respects – cheap and easy to make, a good use of left-overs and warm and filling for those colder days.  A mugful after a walk in the rain, a bowlful with a buttered roll for lunch or a late night low-calorie snack.  Of course, a great way to get your veggies too!

I added a dollop of soured cream to this, but made a large batch which I’ve frozen in freezer bags to enjoy in the weeks / months to come!

Easy tomato and lentil soup – 110 calories per 300g serving

Preparation Time:       30 mins

Cooking Time:            1 hr

Serves:                        6

Calories per serving:  110

Ingredients:

Olive Oil, Extra Virgin                                              15ml

Carrot, Whole, Raw, Peeled                                    85g

Onions, Red                                                              85g

Celery, Raw, Trimmed                                              75g

Garlic, Raw                                                                3 Cloves

Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot                                      1 pot / 33g

Water, Tap                                                                 1000ml

Tomatoes, Tinned, Chopped                                   2 tins / 800g

Lentils, Red, Split, Dried                                          65g

Worcestershire Sauce, Lea & Perrins                    1 Tbsp/15ml

Preparation:

Peel the onion. Peel the carrots. Wash and trim the celery. Finely dice the carrot and celery. Finely chop the onion.

Method: 

Place the oil into a large lidded saucepan and heat over a medium heat, Add the onions, celery and carrot and cook until softened (about 15 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock pot, water and red lentils and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Add the Lea & Perrins sauce, stir through.  Serve topped with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

This soup is best liquidised, but a stick blender will also work well.

Add a dollop of creme fraiche or soured cream for your very own cream of tomato soup!

Three Bean Salad – 160 calories

Attempting to introduce more beans and pulses into my diet, and using up some of my staple store cupboard ingredients, I came up with this delicious three bean salad!

Beautifully refreshing and very versatile – alongside a regular salad, in a wrap…. what’s not to like!  As well as being super healthy, it’s filling and fairly low in calories.  Colourful, crisp and flavoursome.  Quick to assemble!


Three bean salad

Preparation time:              20 mins

Cooking time:                    N/A

Serves:                                6

Calories per serving:          160

 

Ingredients:

Black Beans, canned – drained                               234g

Chick Peas, canned – drained                                 177g

Cannellini Beans, canned – drained                        147g

Garlic, peeled                                                             2 cloves

Half a small red onion                                               26g

Vine tomato                                                               130g

Chunk of cucumber                                                  55g

Radish, trimmed x 4                                                 40g

Red lady apple, quarter                                           30g

Celery stick, trimmed                                              35g

Red pepper, quarter                                                40g

Fresh coriander, chopped                                       20g

Kalamata olives, 6 x pitted and chopped

 

Dressing

Lime juice                                                                2 tbsps/30ml

Virgin Olive oil                                                         2 tbsps/30ml

Wholegrain mustard                                               2 tsps/10g

 

Method

Drain and rinse the beans. Remove skins from chickpeas if desired.

Skin/trim and then finely chop the red onion, garlic, tomato, cucumber, red pepper, radish, celery, olives, apple.

Mix together the chopped vegetables and the beans.

Finely chop the coriander.

Pour over the oil, lime juice and add the mustard. Stir to combined. Sprinkle with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

 

 

Marinated Red Cabbage Slaw – 145 calories

Marinated Red Cabbage Slaw

There’s nothing I love more than a plate full of colour, flavour and texture and this red cabbage slaw will add just that!

Marinated Red Cabbage Slaw

Preparation Time:   3 hrs 30 mins (includes 3 hours marinating)

Cooking Time:   N/A

Serves:  8

Calories per serving:  145.2

Ingredients

Red Cabbage                           –  335g

Red Onions                              –  60g

Extra Virgin Oil                         –  20ml

Balsamic Vinegar                     –  20ml

Caster Sugar                            –  2 Tsps/10g

Raisins                                      –  55g

Carrots                                      –  150g

Walnuts                                     –  90g

Fresh Parsley                           –  6 Tbsps/22.8g

Fresh Mint                                –  6 Tbsps/9.6g

Method

Roughly chop the walnuts and toast in a frying pan, being careful not to burn. Roughly chop the fresh parsley and mint.

Peel and finely slice the carrots, finely slice the red cabbage and onion.

Combine the oil, vinegar and sugar.

Combine the raw vegetables, pour over the dressing, mix through and chill in the fridge for 3 hours.

When ready to serve, add walnuts, mint and parsley. Season and toss to combine.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)  145.2

Protein (g)  3.0

Carbohydrate (g)  1.8

Fat (g)  9.8

Fibre (g)  2.3

Fruit & Veg  1.1

Red slaw alongside a cashew and chestnut nut roast and Brussel sprouts.

Prawn & Rose Harissa Spaghetti – 438 calories

This was a super-quick and filling meal, made using store cupboard ingredients.  I’m not a huge fan of basil pesto, but this rose harissa pesto was absolutely delicious and added a nice spicy kick to the dish.

Preparation time:      10 minutes

Cooking Time:           20 minutes

Serves:                        2

Calories per portion:  438 calories

IngredientsOlive Oil  – 1 Tbsp/15ml

Garlic, Raw  – 2 Cloves/6g

Cherry Tomatoes      – 150g

Chestnut Mushrooms    – 125g

Lemon zest from one lemon   – 4g

Courgette, (julienned, discard the seeded core)   – 1 very large/224g

Dried Chilli Pepper Flakes   – ½ Tsp/1.5g

Baby Leaf Spinach – 1 Serving/90g

Spaghetti, Whole Wheat, Dry Weight – 140g

Cooked Jumbo King Prawns   – 150g

Harissa Paste, Rose, Belazu    – 20g


Method

Preparation: Zest the lemon. Peel the garlic and finely chop. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into chunks.  Julienne the courgette to make “courgetti” strands.

STEP 1
Cook the pasta following pack instructions, then drain, reserving a ladleful of cooking water.

STEP 2
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the courgette strands, mushrooms and tomatoes to the pan and fry over a medium heat for 5 mins, or until beginning to soften and turn juicy. Add the garlic clove and stir for a further 2/3 minutes

STEP 3
Stir through the prawns to heat through for about 2 mins. Add the harissa, lemon zest and spinach stirring to coat and allowing the spinach to wilt.

STEP 4
Add the cooked spaghetti and pasta water to the prawns, spinach and courgette mixture. Stir thoroughly to combine, season to taste and serve.


Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)        437.8
Protein (g)                24.5
Carbohydrate (g)     53.0
Fat (g)                        13.8
Fibre (g)                     11.3
Fruit & Veg                  4.0

 

Far too long…

It has been far too long since I last posted here to my Blog. No excuses really!

Life goes on…. my weight loss journey continues.  My exercise regime is unchanged.

Interestingly, I managed to lose about a stone during 2020, but then managed to gain about 10lb during 2021!  A few sneaky extra treats sneaked in here and there can completely sabotage ones weekly weight loss progress.

Whilst many people struggled with the tedium of lockdowns, I seized the opportunity to exercise every day (for up to two hours) which gave me plenty of wiggle room and a few additional calories to enjoy.

Thankfully, my health has remained excellent and (hoping not to tempt fate here) I have avoided contracting Covid – although many of those around me have not been as fortunate.

Not having holidays and social events also helped – however careful and mindful I am, a few days away from home can wreak havoc with my weight.

Slowly life is returning to “normal” and my diary is beginning to look a little more exciting.

I’m determined to post a little more frequently and share some of the meals that I cook which help to keep me on track.

Sirloin steak stir fry. No need for noodles or rice!
Pan fried sea bass fillet with sun dried tomato and basil quinoa & rice, roasted fennel, tender stem brocolli and a little buffalo Mozzarella cheese.
My quick and easy aubergine Parmigiana with stir fried cabbage and leek, Mexican rice and soured cream  https://flidfit.com/2019/08/09/speedy-aubergine-parmigiana-412-calories/
Eating in the garden, turkey meatballs with a pomodoro, & chianti pasta sauce, griddled courgette, wholewheat spaghetti and grated cheese.
Mushroom Stroganoff with brown rice, roasted butternut squash, green beans and fresh coriander.

 

Living in the moment….

Living in the moment – a critical part of emotional well being.  Especially important at the present time as we slowly inch out of the Covid-19 pandemic to spend time each day and each week to find those little things that bring happiness and comfort.

Yesterday was a day for enjoying the sunshine.  It started with my second AstraZeneca vaccine injection.  Thankfully, apart from a small amount of localised pain in the injection site, it was absolutely fine.  I had the vaccine at my doctors surgery which is about 8 doors away from my home.  Grateful that I could travel there in my wheelchair, as parking always looks a bit of a nightmare!

A day laying in the sunshine with my Kindle and reading “Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story” by Richard Bach. The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is bored with daily squabbles over food. Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself and learns everything he can about flying. His increasing unwillingness to conform finally results in his expulsion from the flock. Now an outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities while leading a peaceful and happy life.

Just the sort of story to remind you to do the things that are important to you and bring happiness.

Stopping and remaining still to read a book is something I rarely do – in fact, it’s usually only an activity I enjoy when I am on holiday.  But if reading a book means I sit still for more than 30 minutes (and NOT in front of a computer screen…) then that can only be a good thing.

My day continued with a quick and easy meal – chicken cooked in a leek, mushroom and creamy mustard sauce (with an added dash of sherry).  A ready-cooked pouch of rice, quickly warmed and a side of steamed tender stem broccoli.  Rosé wine a fine accompaniment!

As the sun began to set, my day ended enjoying the warmth, smell and sight of the fire pit…

Chicken in a creamy mustard sauce – 312 calories

These quantities provide two very generous portion sizes. 

Preparation/cooking time, about 20 – 30 minutes.

100ml Creme Fraiche, Half Fat

1 Tsp/5g Mustard, Dijon

1 Tsp/5g Mustard, Wholegrain

6ml Oil, Olive

2 Cloves/6g Garlic, Raw

1 Shot/50ml Sherry, Dry

1 Tsp /2g Tarragon, Dried (or half a tablespoon of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped)

100g Mushrooms, Chestnut

230g Chicken, Cooked, Sliced

150g Leeks

Preparation:  Peel and finely dice the garlic. Finely slice the leek into strips and wash thoroughly removing all dirt and grit. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into quarters.

Method:  Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan. Fry the leeks over a medium heat until softened and cooked – do not allow to brown. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken, continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the sherry and stir until alcohol has evaporated.

Add the creme fraiche, tarragon and mustards to the pan, stirring to combine everything. Bring to a simmer until the chicken is heated through and sauce bubbling.

Great with green beans, broccoli, any other vegetables and rice.

 

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)    312.0

Protein (g)  32.1

Carbohydrate (g)  9.5

Fat (g)  13.5

Fibre (g)  4.2

Fruit & Veg  1.7

Alcohol  3.5

Gardening, activity levels and mental health

I enjoy gardening – love my garden and it’s a place I like to be.  Away from the ‘phone and the computer screen.  Growing vegetables is great fun – watching seeds turn into tiny seedlings, larger plants and then eventually fruiting.  Of course, nothing beats the taste of home grown produce – picked just before cooking or eating.  The flavour of sun ripened home-grown tomatoes just can’t be beaten!

As well as providing a dose of fresh air (and it’s been pretty “fresh” recently!), even potting up seedlings can provide some great exercise and burns those calories.

As we move towards Summer, we get an essential dos of Vitamin D from the daylight.  Being outside, listening to the birds cheerfully chirping and the squirrels chattering lifts my mood.

Because of my limited mobility and restricted reach, I do need some practical assistance with certain aspects of gardening.

Early this morning, I was supported to set up a “work station” with everything I required to pot up several hundred tiny seedlings – cucumbers, sweetcorn, cosmos, sun flowers.  These seedlings have come for a short fostering visit from my Mum’s garden – to develop to their next stage of life, to be re-potted and then returned home where they will continue to be nurtured and then…. enjoyed.

A wallpaper pasting table in the sunshine, a couple of bags of compost strategically placed, a stack of pots, some hand tools and my shower stool, plus a small watering can that I could refill from the nearby water butt.  A large shallow tray at a convenient height where I could organise the newly planted seedling pots.

And I was ready to go.

I didn’t plan on the fact I’d work through a snow shower or two, but once out there, I soldiered on until over half the seedlings were repotted.  Then back inside to defrost and enjoy a nice cup of tea….

Back to it tomorrow!

Happy gardening everyone!

Butternut, bacon and onion roast – 313 calories

Served with firecracker rice, tender stem broccoli and a generous dollop of soured cream

Sometimes I just go with whatever is in the fridge that needs using up and today it was butternut squash and bacon.

I went with instinct and have to say the end result was rather delicious!

Preparation Time:   15 mins

Cooking Time:   1 hr

Serves:   2

Calories per serving:   313

Ingredients

Olive Oil   –   20ml

Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes  –   500g

Red Onions, half, cut into slices  –   90g

Bacon, Streaky, Smoked cut into bite sized pieces  –   87g

Sumac, Ground  –   ½ Tsp/1g

Ras El Hanout seasoning  –   ½ Tsp/1g

Garlic  –   2 Cloves/6g

Thyme, Dried   –   ½ Tsp/0.5g

Preparation:

Peel and chop the butternut into 3cm cubes. Place the olive oil in a large roasting tin and place into a preheated oven (200 degrees). Peel and chop the onion into slices. Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces. Peel and finely dice the garlic.

Method:

Once the oil is heated, place the butternut squash into the roasting dish, stir to thoroughly coat in the oil and sprinkle with the sumac and ras el hanout seasoning. Cook for 20 mins.

Add the red onion, stir thoroughly and continue to cook for a further 14 minutes.

Add the garlic and bacon pieces and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the thyme.

Cook for a final 15 minutes.

Serve with rice, a dollop of creme fraiche and any other vegetable of your choice. I like mine with tender stem broccoli!

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)  313

Protein (g)  10.9

Carbohydrate (g)  21.8

Fat (g)  20.8

Fibre (g)  4.3

Fruit & Veg  3.4

Three cheese spinach and mushroom crustless quiche – 390 calories

Why haven’t I made a crustless quiche before now?  Only one pan and a bowl, easy and quick to make, no making and rolling of pastry and full of yummy flavours.  It’s a complete meal (but I’ll be having mine with some veggies on the side…)

Three cheese, spinach and mushroom quiche.

Preparation Time:   10 mins

Cooking Time:   30 mins

Serves:   4

Calories per serving:   390

 

Ingredients

Onions, Raw                                    –      120g

Babyleaf spinach                              –      100g

Coconut Oil, Biona Organic               –      10g

Cheese, Cheddar, Medium                –      90g

Cheese, Cave Aged Goats                –      85g

Cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano          –      25g

Double Cream,                                 –      40ml

Chestnut Mushrooms                        –      25g

Medium Free Range Eggs                 –      6

Method

Peel and dice onion, wipe and slice mushrooms. Grate or chop cheeses into small cubes. Cook the spinach leaves (without water) for 2 minutes covered in the microwave on full power.

In a large frying pan, melt the coconut oil over a medium heat, fry onion and mushrooms in oil until tender.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the cream and whisk gently with a hand whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper if required.

Add the spinach and grated cheese to the egg mixture and combine.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9-in. quiche dish. Bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes until a knife inserted in centre comes out clean.

 

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)    390

Protein (g)    22.4

Carbohydrate (g)   3.0

Fat (g)    32.0

Fibre (g)   0.9

Fruit & Veg  0.8

Water-only prolonged fast (3 days)

I’ll start with a health warning.  Prolonged water fasts aren’t something that should be undertaken lightly.  Fasting is not for anyone with an eating disorder or who does not enjoy a “normal” relationship with food. 

I have been on my “weight loss” and now “weight maintenance” journey for almost 9 years.

My fast was not undertaken with weight loss as the primary goal (although it is one of the great side-effects!)

My own personal reason for trying water fasting was to enjoy the benefits of Autophagy


I’ve just completed my second (4 day) prolonged water only fast and that has prompted me to write about my experience of my first ever (3 day) water fast, undertaken in November 2020.

As is my style, I did rather jump in at the deep end.  One should build up gradually – a single day water fast, then a lengthy break (a couple of months), then a two day water fast, etc.

I read quite a lot beforehand about what to expect.  Some of the things I anticipated happened as expected.  There were other things (positive and negative) that I most certainly didn’t expect.

I won’t go into all the information available on prolonged water fasting as you can Google that yourself.  This link will take you to a site I’ve found useful.

Instead, what follows is my own experience.


Day 1, Friday 30th October

Start weight 9st 7.6lbs (60.6kg)

Liquid intake – During the day I drank only a pint of  SOLE solution which is an important part of the fasting process.  The idea is to sip the solution throughout the day.  I also had a pint of bottled water containing 4 drops of fulvic acid minerals.

In terms of liquid intake, I drank only when thirsty and in small, regular quantities.

Other than water, I drank green tea (ideally those containing matcha – Twinings and Pukka are two brands I’ve used) and black coffee.

Activity levels and exercise – I purposefully chose days when I had little planned and only did what I had energy for and felt comfortable with.  My usual daily workout is a 30 minute seated stretch routine, followed by a vigorous elevating heart rate bounce on a gym ball whilst swinging my arms wildly!

During the morning, I was out at 11am to a local distanced litter pick that continued until 12.30pm.

Hunger – I was surprised at my lack of hunger.  I became slightly peckish after the time of my usual first meal of the day (midday, I eat 2 meals a day) but it was nothing that I couldn’t deal with and soon passed.  I managed to do my 30 minute stretch session.

Sleep – Bed early (9pm) and slept well – 6 hours 35 mins, FitBit sleep score of 79 (Fair)

FitBit Data – Burned 1,361 calories, 3,930 steps


Day 2, Saturday 31st October

9st 5.4lbs (loss 2.2lbs) 59.6kg (1kg)

Ketone levels 4.1

Very much as day one, but without the litter pick.  Really surprised that hunger wasn’t an issue, especially after 24 hours without food.  I continued to sip on the SOLE solution and drink the green tea.  My energy levels were good, but I did go to bed early (9.30pm) and slept well, but started to experience some lower back pain.  It was one of my “usual aches and pains”….

Sleep – Slept 9 hours 5 mins, FitBit sleep score of 74 (Fair)

FitBit Data – Burned 1,341 calories, 3,380 steps

Weakness is a vital part of fasting’s slowing down process.

Back pain can increase due to toxins in the lower intestine. Blood vessels that draw nutrients from the colon are very close to the nerves of the spine. Back pain will often decrease after elimination of the toxins.


Day 3, Sunday 1st November

9st 3.8lbs (loss 1.6lbs)  Total loss 3.8lbs

58.8kg (1kg) Total loss 1.8kg

Ketone levels 4.8

Depleted Energy and nausea  – Woke feeling lethargic and lacking in energy.  After my shower and green tea, felt nauseous and then promptly vomited.  As my stomach was empty, this was just the return of the green tea!

I felt absolutely fine afterwards (I think this was caused by gulping my first cup of tea down in one go.)

I didn’t do very much on this third and final day, but I had planned my fast to take advantage of a quiet Sunday.

Pain – By end of the evening, my lower back and backs of thighs (glutes) started to ache.  This ache slowly increased.  It felt as though I’d been doing some serious exercise.  I reached the point late in the day where I was barely able to move without pain in those areas.  I applied magnesium oil to the area before bed and Volterol to my lower back.


FAST OVER!

Once the fast is over, return to “normal eating” should be gradual.  The digestive tract hasn’t seen much action and take a while to get into action.  It’s also wise to try and keep the Autophagy going as long as possible – keeping to higher “good fat” foods, low protein, lowish calories, smaller portions.


So although the fast is over, by continuing to monitor food intake one can maintain Autophagy.  The basic idea behind autophagy is that in the absence of external sources of food, the body begins to eat itself (auto: self, phage: eat), destroying and recycling its own damaged cell bits and proteins, so that new and healthy versions can be built. Autophagy is believed to be essential for helping protect against diseases like cancer and dementia, among others.


Day 4, Monday 2nd November

9st 2.4lbs (loss 1.4lbs)  Total loss 5.2lbs

58.4kg (0.4kg) Total loss 2.2kg

Ketone levels 2.8


Day 5, Tuesday 3rd November

9st 2lbs (loss 0.4lbs)  Total loss 5.6lbs

58kg (0.4kg) Total loss 2.6kg

Ketone levels 1.4


 

Day 6, Wednesday 4th November

9st 2.2lbs (loss 0.2lbs) Total loss 5.8lbs) 

57.6kg (0.2kg)  Total loss 2.8kg


Day 7, Thursday 5th November

9st 0.6lbs (loss 1lbs)  Total loss 6.6lbs

57.4kg (0.4kg) Total loss 3.2kg


Conclusion – Although this account of my first prolonged water fast may lead you to believe it wasn’t very positive (and even quite a negative ordeal!) I enjoyed it.  As the pain subsided, I was in a lot less generalised pain than I had been ahead of the fast.

I had also lost weight ahead of Christmas and that was a good thing!

Although early days and not many studies have been carried out, it is generally believed that fasting can help with the reduction of inflammation, so useful for anyone who lives with chronic pain.  It may also help with boosting the immune system.

I have just finished my second (4 day) water only fast and will be sharing my experiences with you shortly in my next Blog post.