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

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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.

Celebrations & staying on track

IMG_2249I’m being strict with myself over the next 5 weeks as I have a window of opportunity to shift some excess poundage ahead of a trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar in September where I most definitely will want to try the local cuisine.

It’s our sixth wedding anniversary today  so we are out tonight to the Indian restaurant around the corner where I plan to be sensible. I had a cute cared from Andy and I have a feeling some flowers are being delivered at some point. I bought him some lovely scented candles in pots (set fo 4), some Mindfulness cards – designed to be used over a month and a beer bottle opener in the shape of a bears head with mouth opened that he can fix onto a wall outside. It’s the Iron anniversary so the cast iron bear was chosen with that in mind.

I’ve mowed the grass and watered for a couple of hours so earned myself 350 exercise calories and have already done over double my target steps – nearly 6,000! Sad to see so many brown oak leaves, but I think they’ve been blown out from various nooks and crannies by recent strong winds.

Food:

Lunch: 0.75 of an avocado, homemade creamy Greek yogurt coleslaw, salad with beetroot and olives (loving our home grown tomatoes!), tzatziki and a sprinkling of toasted seeds.

Planned Dinner: 1 x Poppadum for starter, Chicken Shashlik, cucumber and onion raita. Strawberries, raspberries and creme fraiche when back at home.

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The photo was my beautiful rainbow lunch, lettuce and tomatoes from the garden – 439 calories.

Planned dinner tonight, including my dessert should be around 630 calories.

Prawn and Butternut Squash Jalfrezi – 149 calories

IMG_2245Bulking out a curry with lots of vegetables means that you can still enjoy a filling portion for relatively few calories.

Served here with 100g of cauliflower “rice” (just 34 calories!) and half a portion of stir-fried leek and savoy cabbage (I cook it in butter and olive oil) – 37 calories.

Whole meal (including 30g of full fat Greek yogurt – 40 cals) = 260 calories!!!

Preparation Time: 30 mins

Cooking Time: 1 hr

Serves: 4

Calories per serving: 149.0

Ingredients

Butternut Squash, Raw – 270g

King Prawns, Peeled, Raw – 200g

Onions, Red – 117g

Oil, Sunflower – 7ml

Peppers, Red, Raw – 134g

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

Curry Paste, Jalfrezi, Patak’s – 30g

Mushrooms, Chestnut – 120g

Garlic, Raw – 1 Clove/3g

Coriander, Leaves, Fresh, Average – 1 Bunch/20g

Peppers, Chilli, Red, Raw – 2 Med/90g

Ground pepper (to taste)

(PS, I forgot to add the fresh coriander! Disaster – love the flavour…)

Preparation:

Peel and chop the butternut squash into 2cm chunks. Peel and chop the onion, de-seed and chop the pepper into large chunks, peel and finely chop the garlic. De-seed and finely chop the chilli peppers.

Method:

Put the oil into a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about 10 – 15 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper and chilli and continue to fry for about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and stir to release the flavours.

Add the tinned tomatoes, cubed butternut squash and cook for a further 10 minutes. Then add the ground pepper and mushrooms.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and continue to cook for a further 45 minutes, stirring at regular intervals.

Add the prawns and stir through for 5 – 10 minutes until the prawns are cooked.

Chop the coriander finely onto curry and stir through just before serving.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 149.0

Protein (g) 10.9

Carbohydrate (g) 15.8

Fat (g) 4.8

Fruit & Veg 3.5

Fibre (g) 4.1

Creamy Greek Yogurt Coleslaw (Serves 12) – 45 calories per portion

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I’ve been enjoying some own brand “Healthy Reduced Fat Yogurt Coleslaw” sold by one of the large chain supermarkets, which offered great value and taste for not many calories (64 cals for 50g). But as if often the way with these things… they’ve stopped making it!

So I thought I’d have a bash at creating my own. Here is the recipe. Be warned, just a quarter of a small white and red cabbage makes a lot of coleslaw – so reduce quantities if you are not planning to eat loads of it! We have a salad every day, so this should be eaten fairly soon.

Creamy Greek Coleslaw, Serves 12 – 45 calories per portion

Preparation Time: 30 mins

Cooking Time: N/A

Serves: 12

Calories per serving: 44.6

Ingredients

Cabbage, White, Raw – 222g

Cabbage, Red, Raw – 145g

Carrots, Raw, Coarsely Grated – 165g

Juice, Lemon, Fresh – 1 Lemon/36ml

Honey, Clear, Squeezy – 25g

Onions, Spring, Raw – 50g

Yoghurt, Greek, Full Fat – 200g

Mustard, Dijon – 12g

Vinegar, Apple Cider – 15ml

Method

Finely slice the red and white cabbage. Trim the spring onions and finely slice. Peel and coarsely grate the carrot. Pour the honey into a cup and warm slightly in the microwave. Juice a lemon.

Mix all of the shredded vegetables together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey with freshly ground pepper.

Pour the yogurt mixture over the shredded vegetables and throughly combine.

Can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 44.6

Protein (g) 1.7

Carbohydrate (g) 5.1

Fat (g) 1.9

Fruit & Veg 0.7

Fibre (g) 1.0

Green spaghetti sauce – 400 calories

IMG_1605Green spaghetti sauce – 400 calories

This fresh and flavoursome sauce has a real zing – with the addition of the mint, chilli and lemon. Quick and easy to prepare and a really stunning bright green colour!

Preparation Time: 10

Cooking Time: 20

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 400

Ingredients

Peas, Garden, Frozen – 125g

Broad Beans, Baby, Frozen – 50g

Oil, Olive, Average – 10ml

Leeks, Raw, Trimmed – 100g

Dried Chilli Peppers, Flakes – 1 Tsp/3g

Ricotta Cheese – 75g

Parmesan Cheese – 30g

Juice & zest of lemon – ½ lemon

Spaghetti, Whole Wheat, Dry – 100g

Mint, Fresh (finely chopped) – 2 Tbsp/3.2g

Method

STEP 1

Put the peas and broad beans into a bowl and pour over a kettle of boiling water. Leave for 1 minute, drain, and pod the broad beans.  This may seem a bit laborious, but the inside of the beans should pop out easily with a squeeze!

Take about half of the peas and blend in a food processor or with a hand blender with 1 tbsp of water until smooth.

IMG_1600STEP 2

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the leek with some seasoning for 8-10 minutes until soft. Stir in the chilli flakes, broad beans and remaining peas, and fry for 2 minutes. Cool slightly and put into a bowl with the pea puree, ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest and juice and some seasoning, and mix well.

IMG_1602STEP 3

Cook the pasta following pack instructions, reserving some cooking water.

STEP 4

Tip the pasta back into the pan and add the pea and leek mix, and a splash of the cooking water. Mix well and serve with the mint and more parmesan, if you like.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 400

Protein (g) 22.9

Carbohydrate (g) 42.9

Fat (g) 14.8

Fruit & Veg 2.0

Fibre (g) 10.0