Squash, sage and sourdough bake – 246 calories

IMG_4647Squash, sage and sourdough bake

It took quite a bit of preparation, but well worth it – we have four portions in the freezer and it was absolutely delicious! We enjoyed it with M&S Italian Style sausages and a small amount of stir-fried leek and cabbage and mashed swede and carrot.

I think many vegetarians would be very happy with this (minus the sausages, of course….)

Preparation Time: 45 mins

Cooking Time: 1 hr 45 mins

Serves: 6

Calories per serving: 246.4


Butternut Squash – 1150g

Olive Oil – 10ml

Red Onions – 220g

Garlic – 4 Cloves/12g

Sourdough Bread – 100g

Chilli Peppers, Red – 2 Peppers/26g

Lemon Zest – 2 Tsps/4g

Double Cream Alternative – 1 50g/50g

Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot – 1 Pot/28g

Water – 300ml

Pecorino Cheese – 100g

Pumpkin Seeds – 1½ Tbsps/15g

Fresh Sage – 2 Tsps/1.6g


Heat oven to 140C. Peel and dice red onion. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and slice into semi-circles, keeping the slices as thin as possible. Wash the sage leaves and finely slice. Remove the zest from the lemon. Finely chop the chilli peppers.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry stirring regularly (don’t allow to brown). Once softened, add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Switch off the heat and add the chopped sage, stirring through and set aside.

Take a large shallow casserole dish. Starting with a layer of butternut squash, alternatively layer the sliced butternut squash with the onion/garlic, finishing with a layer of butternut squash.

Make up the stock pot with 300ml of boiling water, stir until dissolved and set aside. Measure the flour into a small bowl, add a few spoonfuls of the stock and mix into a smooth paste. Add the stock a little at a time until completely combined with the flour. Add the cream alternative into the mixture.

Pour the mixture gently over the butternut squash and onion layers.

Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover the dish in foil, place into the oven and bake for 1.5 hours.

Whizz up the sourdough in a food processor using the “pulse” button to make breadcrumbs. Mix with the lemon zest and finely chopped fresh chillies. Finely grate the pecorino and mix in with the breadcrumbs.

Remove the bake from the oven and sprinkle over the breadcrumb/cheese mixture. Top with the pumpkin seeds. Turn up the oven to 180 degrees and continue to cook the bake for a further 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is melted.

Remove from the oven and allow to settle for a couple of mins before serving.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 246.4

Protein (g) 8.9

Carbohydrate (g) 27.4

Fat (g) 11.4

Fruit & Veg 2.7

Fibre (g) 4.0

Covid-19 – motivation and maintaining emotional wellbeing

Derrick Evans –  aka “Mr Motivator”

Unsurprisingly, the news recently has been dominated by the news of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Understandable alarm – and even panic (when it comes to toilet paper buying) has been well documented via social media platforms.

It was refreshing this morning to listen to a programme on BBC Radio 4 which was rather more reassuring about what we can do to keep ourselves as well as we can in the period leading up to preparing for the effects of the virus to hit its peak.  I thought I would share here.

These aren’t the “usual” things that we might have been hearing or seeing.  Spreading  panic isn’t helpful or constructive and often has a profound negative effect on our emotional health.

The programme looked at how we should all ensure that we look after our own health – even before we consider offering support to others.  This isn’t just be about our physical health either.  Emotional wellbeing is vital at this time and that will become even more important if we are forced into self-isolation or when those around us are affected.

I have read and heard concern from those thinking ahead to self-isolation.  How good are we at being kept apart from others?  Our friends, family members, social activities and events, holidays and trips, days out…..  these are all critical in maintaining our wellbeing.

One of those who appeared on the programme was Derrick Evans, aka Mr Motivator.  Derrick is a Jamaican born British fitness instructor who rose to fame in 1993 through appearances on the UK breakfast show GMTV where he performed live fitness sessions and offered tips and advice to viewers.

I remember vividly Derrick’s lurid tight-fitting spandex outfits.  I also recall his infectious enthusiasm and big smile and listening to him on the programme this morning, at the age of 67, he appears not to have changed.

He advised listeners of the importance of maintaining physical wellbeing as we age and outlined some simple things that we should be doing on a daily basis in order to keep as mobile and fit as possible as we grow older.  His advice today was that we can use time when we are forced into our homes to concentrate on our physical activity.  He exercises daily for an hour and does a press up for every year of his age.  He described the value of music whilst we do exercise.

You can listen to Derrick on the programme here :  www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000gcvg at 2:52:56 into the Today programme.

If you want to do one thing today to make it a better day, listen to Derrick’s advice!

The programme was really interesting from 1:51:42 when it came to other information about the Virus and its effects.

Sharing good practice – improved access in physical activity for disabled people

I’m all too aware my recent Blog posts have all been food related.  Well, it’s time to change that!

Yesterday I attended a Forum which aimed to “provide a platform for the physical activity and disability sector to come together and share good practice, network and explore new and improved inclusive opportunities for disabled people.”

The event was organised by Get Berkshire Active who’s aim is to work with partners and stakeholders to inspire, enhance, co-ordinate and deliver physical activity where they matter locally.

The day was well attended by around 100 people at the Madejski Stadium, Reading – the room had magnificent views out across the pitch.

View out across the pitch at the Madejski Stadium

The first presentation was delivered jointly by the Activity Alliance and Access Sport and gave an overview of a recently published Activity Alliance survey which provides an in-depth comparison of disabled and non-disabled adults’ experiences of sport and activity.  The key findings of the survey showed that:

  • Four in five (81%) disabled adults want to do more activity than they currently do compared with fewer than three in five (57%) non-disabled people.
  • Just four in 10 (40%) disabled people feel they are given the opportunity to be as active as they would like to be compared with seven in 10 (71%) non-disabled people.
  • Disabled people are half as likely as non-disabled people to agree that ‘sport’ is for someone like them (32% vs 63%).
  • Seven in ten disabled people are motivated to be active to improve or maintain their physical health.
  • Two in five (41%) disabled people said a fear of losing benefits prevents them from trying to be more active.
  • Two in three (67%) disabled people said they would listen to GPs, doctors and nurses about taking part in activity.
Helen Newberry,  Engagement Advisor (South West). Activity Alliance 

The Alliance also shared details of the “10 Principles” that sports providers could follow to help make their sport or activity more appealing to disabled people.

The day provided an excellent opportunity to hear about much of the work that is going on around getting disabled people locally more engaged and active (from people like elite athlete Damian NG  who works for SportsAble).  However, I couldn’t help but feel that it would have been nice to hear first hand experiences from disabled people who had taken up a sport or found an activity that enabled them to be more active.

Damian NG, SportsAble

From my own perspective, I know that peer mentoring is an essential part of engaging and encouraging disabled people to become more active and explore ways in which they can safely do that.

Increasing activity levels and a daily programme of stretches and other exercises has enabled me to:

  • reduce pain levels
  • improve mobility
  • maintain and enhance independence
  • improve mental wellbeing
  • sleep better
  • reduce my risk of preventable diseases (diabetes, stroke, heart  disease)

Most importantly, it’s enabling me to do things that I could never have dreamed of 10 years ago.  I’m fitter now than at any other point in my adult life.






Turkey Chilli with a tortilla and cheese pie topping – 400 calories

IMG_4560Over the weekend I made a HUGE portion of healthy turkey mince chilli and made a pie for our dinner tonight with 2 portions.

For the chilli:

Preparation Time: 20 mins

Cooking Time: 1 hr

Serves: 7

Calories per serving:  189.4


Onions – 151g

Celery – 38g

Garlic, Raw -3 Cloves/9g

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

Mixed Herbs – 1 Tsp/5g

Peppers, Red – 155g

Tomato Puree, Double Concentrate – 45g

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

Turkey, Mince, Lean, 7% Fat – 500g

Cumin, Seeds, Whole – 2 Tsps/4g

Spicy Chipotle Chilli Paste – 15g

Sweetcorn, Canned, Naturally Sweet – 1 Sm Can/160g

Olive Oil – 2 Tsps/10ml


Preparation: Peel and finely dice the onion. Peel and finely dice the garlic clove. De-seed and dice the red pepper. Finely dice the celery.

Put the olive oil into a pan and warm over a moderate heat.

Add the onions and celery, and let them cook until soft and pale gold. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the minced turkey to the pan, and let it brown lightly, stirring occasionally.

Add herbs, the chipotle paste, tinned tomatoes and tomato puree. Bring back to a simmer and leave to cooked, covered, for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Add the drained beans and sweetcorn after the first 30 minutes. Add a little water if it is drying out too much.

Let the mixture simmer for a good 5-7 minutes until thoroughly heated through.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 189.4

Protein (g) 17.6

Carbohydrate (g) 11.6

Fat (g) 7.3

Fruit & Veg 2.3

Fibre (g) 4.7

To make the pie. Place 2 portions of the chilli into a shallow oven proof dish.

Topping: 2 x folded flatbreads cut into triangles (106 calories x 2) and 50g of Mature Cheddar cheese, grated (204 calories). 2 spring onions, sliced (7 cals). Unfold the flatbread and cut into triangles. Scatter randomly on top of the turkey chilli. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Place the dish in a preheated oven (190 degrees) for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the sliced spring onions once it’s removed from the oven.

Chilli & tortilla / cheese topping – 400 calories per portion

Lovely served with a generous blob of soured cream!


King Prawn Chow Mein – 411 calories

IMG_4540Haven’t done a stir-fry for ages, but really fancied one and this pack of prawns in the freezer needed to be used!

A hit with the husband, and we’ll be doing another – perhaps next time with a chilli and garlic sauce, or using strips of steak, chicken or toasted whole cashew nuts.

Serves: 2

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes


Jumbo King Prawns (cooked, frozen) -1 Pack/240g

Chow Mein Sauce, Asia Specialities, Aldi -1 Pack/120g

Green Peppers – 125g

Red Peppers – 50g

Green Beans – 66g

Chestnut Mushrooms – ¾ Pack/187.5g

Spring Onions – 27g

Avocado Oil – 8ml

Mange Tout – 72g

Wholewheat Noodles – 110g


De-seed and de-stalk peppers and cut into strips. Top and tail beans and mange touts and cut in half. Trim spring onions and cut into bite sized slices. Wipe mushrooms and cut into chunks.


Place noodles into a pan of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Put oil in a large wok and heat over a medium heat. Add the peppers, beans, mange tout and onions. Cook for around 10 minutes stirring all the time. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for a further 5 – 7 minutes.

Ad the sachet of sauce to the vegetables and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the noodles and prawns, combine. Continue to warm through for about 3 – 4 minutes.


Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)  411.3

Protein (g)  27.9

Carbohydrate (g)  55.9

Fat (g)  7.6

Fruit & Veg  3.4

Fibre (g)   10.3

Grilled Tuna With Butternut Squash, Caramelised Onion and Mint Vinaigrette – 309 calories

IMG_4077This dish was really easy and quick to prepare. I love roasted butternut squash and am always looking out for recipes that include it.

I served alongside half a pouch of grains: Bulgur Wheat, Green Lentils and Barley (225 calories)

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 309.4


Tuna Steaks – Frozen – 2 Xs 200g Steak/162g

Butternut Squash, Raw – 450g

Olive Oil (onion frying) – 8ml

Garlic, Raw – 1 Clove/3g

Chilli Peppers, Dried, Flakes – 0.33 Tsp/0.99g

Olive Oil (butternut squash roasting) – 1 Tbsp/15ml

Red Onions – ½ Med/90g

Honey – 10g

Balsamic Vinegar – 1 Serving/15ml

Mint, Fresh (chopped) – 2 Tbsp/3.2g

Pepper, Black, Freshly Ground – ½ Tsp/1g


Cut the butternut squash into 12 wedges, discard the inner seeds and, using a small knife, remove the outer skin.

For the vinaigrette, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a pan, add the onions and cook for 5 – 10 minutes until lightly browned and softened. Add the honey and caramelise gently in the pan for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add the balsamic vinegar and chopped mint, season with black pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Toss the butternut squash wedges with the remaining olive oil, garlic and the chilli flakes and place the squash on a baking tray or roasting dish to cook for 20 – 30 minutes, until golden and lightly caramelised. Remove and keep warm.

Season the tuna steaks then brush with a little olive oil. Place on the grill for 2 – 3 minutes until the tuna is cooked rare (a little longer if you prefer it more well done).

Place the tuna steaks on a bed of the grilled squash, spoon the onion and mint vinaigrette over the top and serve.

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 309.4

Protein (g) 25.3

Carbohydrate (g) 25.6

Fat (g) 12.3

Fruit & Veg 3.1

Fibre (g) 4.0


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


Calories per serving:242.4


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


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


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


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.