Butternut squash & barley salad with balsamic vinaigrette – 248 calories per portion

img_3067.jpgMade this – super simple and very tasty. We’re having it with a pan fried sea bass fillet and tender stem broccoli later :-)

Preparation Time:30 mins

Cooking Time:40 mins

Serves: 4

Calories per serving:247.7

Ingredients

Butternut Squash, Raw, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes -500g

Oil, Olive -1 Tbsp/15ml

Barley -100g

Tomatoes, Sun Dried, chopped -50g

Pumpkin Seeds -1 Tbsp/10g

Black pitted olives, halved -7 Olives/24.5g

Basil, Fresh -2 Tbsps/10g

Balsamic Vinegar -2 Tbsps/30ml

Olive Oil, Extra Virgin -2 Tsps/10ml

Dijon Mustard -1½ Tsps/7.5g

Garlic, Raw -1 Clove/3g

Red Onions -50g

Capers, in Brine -1 Hpd Tsp/10g

Method

Preparation: Peel and de-seed butternut squash and cut into 2cm cubes. Peel and dice the red onion. Slice the sun dried tomatoes. Roughly chop the basil. Peel and finely dice garlic.

For the dressing

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

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

Place the squash on a baking tray and toss with olive oil. Roast for 20 mins. After 20 mins, stir thoroughly and then add the chopped onion. Continue to roast for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the barley for about 25 mins in salted water until tender, but al dente.

While this is happening, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Drain the barley, then tip it into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well and let it cool.

Add the remaining ingredients (olives, capers, chopped basil, seeds) to the barley and mix well.

This will keep for 3 days in the fridge and is delicious warm or cold.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 247.7

Protein (g) 5.0

Carbohydrate (g) 31.7

Fat (g) 10.8

Fruit & Veg 1.8

Fibre (g) 5.5

IMG_3066

Salmon fillet with a Parmesan and lemon crust – 278 calories

IMG_3052This was so easy and quick and very, very delicious. We’ll definitely be making it again!

Preparation Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 18 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 278


Ingredients

Salmon, Fillets, Raw, Skin-On (2 x 90g) – 190g

Butter, Salted – 8g

Cheese, Parmesan, finely grated – 15g

Lemon, Zest – 2 Tsps/4g

Breadcrumbs, Panko – 15g

Mustard, Dijon, Average- 6g

Dill, Dried, Average- ½ Tsp/0.5g

Oil, Olive, Average- 3ml

Preparation: Melt butter in microwave. Finely grate parmesan cheese. Zest half a lemon.

Method

1   Heat oven to 200 degrees. Use oil to brush bottom of a Pyrex baking dish. Pat salmon dry with paper towel. Place salmon, skin side down, in dish; spread with the Dijon mustard.

2   Mix panko bread crumbs, cheese, lemon zest and dill with the melted butter. Press bread crumb mixture evenly on salmon.

3   Bake uncovered 15 to 25 minutes (I cooked for 18 mins) or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Serve immediately.

I served mine with some stir-fried cabbage and leek and half a pouch of brown rice with roasted vegetables.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 278

Protein (g) 21.8

Carbohydrate (g) 6.6

Fat (g)18.4

Fruit & Veg 0.0

Fibre (g) 0.2

Easy Spanish Chicken – 424 calories

IMG_3045This was lovely – very filling and a nice bit of heat from the chilli and the chorizo. It suggested serving with green beans and rice – but it most certainly didn’t need the rice!

Preparation Time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 424

Ingredients

Oil, Olive – 7ml

Onions, peeled and sliced -100g

Peppers, Yellow, Raw (1 medium) cut into bite-sized chunks – 155g

Courgette, Raw – cut in half lengthwise and then sliced – 200g

Chorizo, sliced – 70g

Tomatoes, Chopped, in Tomato, Canned – ½ Can/200g

Butter Beans, Canned – ½ Can/125g

Tomato Puree, Double Concentrate – 1 Tbsp/15g

Oregano, Dried,- ½ Tsp/0.5g

Dried Chilli Flakes – ½ Tsp/1.5g

Stock Cubes, Chicken, half a cube

Parsley, Fresh – 1 Tbsp/3.8g

Salt – 1 Pinch/0.1g

Freshly Ground Black Pepper – 1 Pinch/0.2g

Chicken Breast Fillets 2 x 100g, cut into slices – 200g

Method

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan or saute pan. Add the chicken and season with the pepper. Fry for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.

Transfer the chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon or spatula and add the onion, pepper, courgette and chorizo to the pan. Fry over a medium high heat for 3 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add the wine, tomatoes, butterbeans, tomato puree, oregano, chilli flakes and chicken stock cube to the pan. Refill the tomato tin with cold water, pour into the tomato mixture and stir. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to the boil, return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately. Goes nicely with green beans,

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 424.6

Protein (g) 42.4

Carbohydrate (g) 26.4

Fat (g) 16.9

Fruit & Veg 5.1

Fibre (g) 8.1

Smashing it!

P1030780I’ve been on my weight loss journey for seven and a half years now.

So many little things which have now become “normal” for me – not just in terms of eating behaviour, but also in my abilities to move – were once things I couldn’t even dream of when I first started on my journey.

I’ve always been disabled.  And for most of my life (from the age of 9) I’ve been overweight.

From my own personal perspective, it was easy to use my disability as an excuse as to why I was overweight and why I was unable to move MORE.

With hindsight, it was my WEIGHT that significantly prevented me from moving more.  I could barely stand for a few minutes, let alone walk any distance.  I would need someone to help fill the car with fuel as the whole process of standing whilst operating the pump was just too exhausting.

Whatever our abilities, we can all move just a little more, even if it’s just going for a trundle in the open air in a motorised wheelchair. In fact, the benefits of doing just that can be immense.

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar. This is my third “adventure” holiday to far flung destinations and remote locations in as many years.  The trips have involved long haul flights, climbing into single engine 12-seater planes and being hoisted into and out of jeeps whilst on safari.  More are planned.

One of the day trips planned on this holiday was a boat trip in a traditional dhow (wooden boat). The thing I’ve always enjoyed about boat trips is that you jump on, travel about, see things and jump off.  Not too much walking involved.

Not this time!

On arrival at the beach, the tide was right out and I could see, much to my dismay, that the boats were waiting about half a mile out in the shallow water. I immediately started to worry that I’d not be able to get out there – walking across sand and then rocks and rock pools ankle deep in water.

BUT my choices were limited.

I either attempted that walk, or neither of us would be able to do the trip (already arranged and paid for). The drive to the beach had already taken 40 minutes. We really wanted a day away from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town.

As we waited and were all kitted out with our flippers and masks/snorkels, I was experiencing an inner fear that was rising deep within me.

Eventually, we were allocated a crew member, who’s task it was to walk small groups out to the waiting boats.

Our group was allocated “Big Show”, a huge gentleman built like a water buffalo!

Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 21.13.01
Mwinchum aka “Big Show”

“Big Show” took hold of my wrist firmly in one HUGE hand, his fingers holding me tightly. “I will help you Mama” he said and started to walk me towards the boat at a steady pace, taking account of my short legs and reduced stride length.

I couldn’t look forward as my eyes needed to concentrate on the uneven ground beneath my feet, avoiding rock pools and particularly slimy patches. All the time he kept reassuring me with the words “polepole, polepole” (Swahili for “slowly, slowly”). Before long, we had reached the group of boats and I was heaved aboard – not in the most ladylike fashion, but by now I was exhausted and keen to get aboard and have a seat!

Likewise, when we stopped for our lunch, the boat had little option but to anchor in the shallows with a half mile walk to the beach and restaurant we were lunching in.

But this time, I was less fearful. By now it was the middle of the day, the sun was blazing down on us (30 degree heat).  I slid into the water and up to my waist and Big Shot took my wrist.

This time, he walked me about 50 steps and then said “Stop. Rest.” I think he was aware of my laboured breathing (or should I say puffing!) The final part of this marathon was a climb up a steep sandy beach (see picture – this shows the tide right in). Once again, I arrived at my final destination, hot, exhausted, hungry and thirsty.

I took my seat int he shade and exclaimed “I think that deserves a Kili!” (local popular beer, Kilimanjaro). No sooner were the words uttered, then one arrived on the table in front of me, uncapped – delivered by a fellow passenger.

None of my fellow passengers knew anything about my walking abilities. We were all strangers meeting for the first time – French, American, Japanese, etc. But I have no doubt from comments during the trip that they admired what I achieved that day.

I have to say though, nobody was more impressed with my performance than I was myself!

Once again, I managed to truly achieve over and above what I thought I was physically able to.

And it was well worth it.

P1030785

Cod fillet with a lemon and parsley crust – 155 calories

IMG_2364Preparation Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 20 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 155

Ingredients

Cod, Fillets, Skinless & Boneless -2 Fillets/250g

Olive Oil -5ml

Wholemeal Bread, Medium Sliced (400g loaf) -1 Slice/29g

Lemon zest -1 Tbsp/6g

Parsley, Dried-½ Tsp/0.5g

Garlic Pepper seasoning – pinch

Method

Heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Slightly toast the bread (do not allow to burn) and leave to cool/dry out.

Once cold, tear into pieces and put in a food processor with the parsley and lemon zest. Blitz to make rough crumbs. Add the garlic pepper and olive oil and stir to combine.

Place the cod in one layer into a shallow roasting dish. Press on the crumbs in an even layer to cover.

Bake for 18-20 mins.

Served with home grown potatoes (60g – 45 cals) with a tiny amount of butter (22 cals), stir fried cabbage and leek (56 cals) and mashed carrot and swede (46 cals)… so whole meal was 324 calories.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 155

Protein (g) 25.2

Carbohydrate (g) 6.3

Fat (g) 3.1

Fruit & Veg 0.0

Fibre (g) 1.4

IMG_2365

Speedy Aubergine Parmigiana – 412 calories

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I thought I’d try out this new idea for aubergine parmigiana, which roasts the aubergine halves – rather than slicing and pan frying (which adds many more minutes to the preparation).

I think I’m on to something! Much easier, saves on the quantity of oil and just as tasty!

Preparation Time: 45 mins

Cooking Time: 60 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 412

Ingredients

Onions – 77g

Tomatoes, Chopped, in Rich Tomato Juice – ½ Can/200g

Garlic, Raw, Average – 1 Clove/3g

Parmesan Cheese – 20g

Breadcrumbs, Panko – 1 Serving/30g

Oregano, Dried – ¼ Tbsp/1.25g

Aubergine, Raw – 350g

Mozzarella Cheese, Half Fat – 125g

Sugar, Granulated – ½ Tsp/2.5g

Tomato Puree, Double Concentrate – 12g

Avocado Oil -13ml

Cheese, Soft, 50% Less Fat – 70g

Olive Oil – 6ml

Fresh Basil – 15 leaves/7.5g

Method

Preparation: Peel and finely dice onion. Peel and finely chop garlic. Grate the parmesan and mix in a bowl with the breadcrumbs.

Remove the stalks from the aubergines, cut them in half lengthwise. Score the flesh deeply into small diamonds, being careful not to break through the skin. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Place the aubergines, skin side down, side by side in an oven proof shallow baking dish. Drizzle over the avocado oil and brush quickly over the cut uppermost surface until fully coated. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Place the aubergines into the hot oven and roast for around 30 minutes until softened and golden brown.

Whilst the aubergines are roasting, heat a large non-stick frying pan. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and fry for about 10-15 minutes – until softened. Do not allow to brown more than to a golden colour. Then add the garlic and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has a tiny bit of colour.

Add tinned tomatoes and tomato puree to the onion and garlic. Add the oregano and sugar. Give the mixture a good stir, lower the heat and cook for a further 15 minutes.

When the tomato sauce is reduced and sweet, season it carefully with salt, pepper.

Once the aubergines are roasted, spoon the tomato mixture over the top. Lay over the whole basil leaves in an even layer.

Place the soft cheese in small blobs over the top of the tomato mixture.

Drain and slice the Mozzarella and lay the slices over the aubergine. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan over the top.

Place the dish in the oven and bake at 200C/375F/gas 5 for 20 – 30 minutes until golden, crisp and bubbly. It’s best eaten straight away, but it can also be served cold.

You can make this dish using courgettes or fennel in place of the aubergines.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 412

Protein (g) 26

Carbohydrate (g) 26.8

Fat (g) 22.7

Fruit & Veg 3.7

Fibre (g) 5.4

Health is Wealth – combatting emotional eating

Screenshot 2019-08-04 at 17.58.42

Dealing with any kind of grief or additional life stresses can be really difficult without the addition of trying to control what – or how much – we are eating.

Work, family crisis, illness, money worries, relationship issues – will enter and leave all of our lives at some point in varying degrees.

At this critical and vulnerable moment in time, it can be really easy for things to go either one way… or the other. Learning how to deal with stress and our automatic reactions to it can be truly life changing.

You can either fall back on food and use emotional eating to help you through the bad patch. After all, if you haven’t got the time or energy (because of the stress/trauma) to plan, shop and cook, the perfect solution may appear to be to turn to slices of toast, packets of biscuits and crisps, take-away and fast food. The things that provide “instant gratification” and deal with the hunger pangs.  They provide a comforting and effortless instant fulness.

This could potentially have a huge impact on your emotional health. Eating “rubbish” is likely to leave you feeling worse, lethargic, tired. Waking up to the fact that you’ve eaten all the wrong things will just add to your feelings of sadness, emptiness and add to the feelings of inadequacy and loathing that you may already have in relation to your weight.

It is at this moment in time when you are feeling particularly vulnerable – that you should take the time to look after yourself – REALLY look after yourself.

I was just thinking this morning (as I was exercising – my time to “think”!) that I was really helped in a recent trauma I experienced by the fact that my food planning and preparation are so regimented.

Rather than just tell myself that “I haven’t the time…” because of dealing with the effects of the trauma (physically and emotionally) and turning to fast food, snacks etc. I told myself instead, that now – more than any other time – it is important to keep going and not to lose all the positive benefits that I have achieved through my weight loss.

The improvements to my physical and emotional wellbeing are something I am not willing to jeopardise. The only person who can be truly responsible for helping you to heal will be you. It may well be with support and help from others, but you have to be committed to the actual “doing”.

When you are feeling at an all-time low, taking the time to look after and care for yourself – to prioritise your own needs – is absolutely essential.

Often what can help a lot with stress is to keep busy and active – keep your mind occupied so that you are not instead dwelling on the recent event / trauma.  Concentrate on the fuel you are putting into your body to make sure you are giving yourself the very best.

Trying to keep your meal times regular, trying to go to bed / get up at the same sorts of times each day and by making a huge effort to eat healthier foods as well as some exercise (ideally outside / some fresh air) will help to lift your mood.

You may find yourself surprised at just how a few simple “rules” to ensuring that you prioritise your own needs will start to make the difference to your emotional well-being.

Please note: I am not a trained psychologist! This post is written in relation to my own weight loss journey and the changes I have made to the way I think about and approach my eating.  I hope it helps you.