Archive for July, 2007

Dinner tonight – pork & bitsa with spaghetti

July 30, 2007

I wasn’t sure what to make tonight, I just knew that I didn’t want to spend ages and I didn’t want potatoes. I looked in the fridge and found bitsa this and bitsa that and came up with this.

pork & bitsa with spaghetti

Take two thin pork steaks that need to be used soon and slice them reasonably thinly (about 1cm).
De-seed and slice a red chili that also needs to be used soon, a couple of nice looking spring onions (include some of the green bits), a bag of mushrooms (bought yesterday) and the sugar snaps that have been in the salad drawer of the fridge for ages but seem perfectly fresh (rather worryingly).

Half three or four tomatoes which are not as firm as they were. Chop and/or crush a couple of cloves of garlic.

Boil a kettle of water and heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan. Fry the meat till starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, then the onions, chili, garlic, and all the other bits you’ve chopped. Fry, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile pour the boiling water into a large pan, ad a bit of salt and a smidgen of butter or marge and throw in some spaghetti.

Give the stuff in the frying pan another stir, season with pepper, and tip in a can of chopped tomatoes. Add some salt and let it simmer away a bit. Cover if you can and leave on a low heat but not for too long. Stir occasionally so nothing burns. Tip in the remains of a packet of spinach.

Drain the spaghetti. Tip onto two plates and serve the contents of the pan over it.

Of course, you can use whatever meat and whatever veggies you have to hand. The tin of tomatoes is very useful, though, to ensure it doesn’t all get too dry.

This is particularly light and low fat which is a definitely plus if, like me, you’ve been pigging out on cakes all day.


new map gizmo

July 27, 2007

now gone.

Actively dieting works for me

July 27, 2007

No, I don’t mean lots of exercise, though of course that helps. I shall be back at my water aerobics class tonight after a short break. SO can’t participate at the moment as he had had an operation on his leg but he can drive and will drive me there and bring me home. Such a sweetie. I’m hoping that it will be Stella taking the class tonight as she is very good and enthusiastic.

Anyway, what do I mean by ‘actively dieting’? Well, I’ve always found dieting to be quite a negative thing to do. I know it’s done for positive reasons – health, looks, self-esteem, all that good stuff – but dieting seemed to be about what you can’t do and what you can’t have.

But since I’ve been photo-dieting that’s all changed. I’m actively photographing my food, and therefore thinking about what it looks like, what I’ll eat. Actively making the mosaics at the end of the day, thus marking the end of eating for that day. Actively participating in the flickr group I started for this – the Photo-diet Project. Actively looking at the photos the other photo-dieters are posting and commenting on them.

Such a lot of activity, no wonder it feels like I’m doing something. And now I’m posting on here and looking at other blogs. Some people get a lot of support from going along to Weight Watchers or Slimming World or any number of similar groups. But that’s just once a week and is expensive. I can log on to flickr or on here and there are people looking at what I’m doing. I think that’s important.

It works for me, anyway. Well it has for five and a half weeks, I hope it continues to do so. I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

Recipe list(s)

July 27, 2007

I’ve created a clickable list of recipes I’ve posted to the blog – you’ll find it on the side bar, under the blogroll. I’m thinking of making a new page listing the recipes I want to try as I keep looking through cookbooks and magazines and thinking ‘ooh, I must try that’.

Colourful = low cal?

July 26, 2007

Here’s a strange thing. The more care I take with food preparation, making my lunchbox look nice, the lower in calories it tends to be. And when it looks nice I find that less satisfies me. Maybe it’s because more of the senses are satisfied – not just the sense of taste but sight and smell too. So I take more time actually enjoying the food rather than just scoffing it. That way my body has time to tell me it’s eaten enough before I have too much.

lunch 25/7/07 strawberries & peach slices

Today’s food is very pretty with lots of bright colours (and we are told that a rainbow of food colours gives us a wider variety of vitamins and minerals and other goodies) but I’m way below my calorie limit. I figure if I’m going to have less, it should be nicer, so I appreciate it more.


I’ve tried a different box for today’s food as there were two items, the prawns and the guacamole, that I wanted to keep separate. The box is a Lock’n’Lock, like my others, but this is a long one meant for storing bacon. The two separate containers are the dividers from a smaller box of the same width but different length.

Back in my old trousers

July 25, 2007

Yesterday morning I was looking for clean, ironed, clothes to wear for work and spotted the trousers I bought when I lost a few pounds about 18 months ago. They didn’t fit me for very long then. Having dropped a size I got lax and the weight crept back. I thought ‘they might fit in another couple of weeks’. Then, remember that I keep finding bits of me that are not there (if you see what I mean – if not, read on) I thought ‘oh, give it a go, you don’t expect them to fit so you wont be disappointed if they don’t’.

They did!
I can get back into my trousers!
They do!

It’s not a flattering photograph – well you try taking a shot in a reflection in the mirror with your old camera because your ‘good’ one is playing up. When you’ve just got in from work.

Yep, just got in from work – after wearing them (and eating two meals and a snack) they still fit, still do up, no urge to undo the button.

But I mustn’t get complacent. This is my usual danger time. I lose a bit, I start to feel ever-so-slightly smug, and allow myself a bit of a slip. Which usually develops into a landslide.

The goal now is that 12 weeks into the Photo-diet Project (this is the start of week six) the trousers should be too big.

Onwards and downwards.

Oh yes, what did I mean by ‘finding bits of me that aren’t there?’ I first noticed it when pulling on skirts or trousers, either when dressing or in the loo. My behind isn’t as far behind as it was. Bits of flesh that I could feel when adjusting my bra strap, aren’t there anymore. My face looks thinner in the mirror. It might not be enough for other people to notice and comment on but I can feel it. And it feels good!

Paula’s Lemon Chicken

July 25, 2007

I first tried this recipe at a Chinese cookery class run by a lady called Paula. I enjoyed it so much that I made it again at home a few days later. I’ve used half the amount of chicken but the same amount of everything else both times.

Lemon chicken

1kg (approx) of lean skinless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
6 dried chinese style mushrooms or chestnut mushrooms
15g (approx) lard
root ginger, freshly peeled and chopped finely or grated (to taste)
1 red pepper, cored, de-seeded and sliced thinly
grated rind of 2 non-waxed lemons
5 spring onions, topped and tailed, peeled and sliced thinly (sliced diagonally)
4 TBS Chinese wine or dry sherry
1.5 tspn caster sugar
2 TBS light soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 TBS water
1-2 TBS lemon juice
sunflower oilMETHOD

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 15-20 minutes or wipe and slice fresh mushrooms.
  2. Mix the wine or sherry with the soy sauce and caster sugar.
  3. Line up all your prepared ingredients in a row next to your wok or stir-fry pan – chicken; lard; ginger/pepper/mushrooms; lemon rind & spring onions; sherry/soy/sugar mix; cornflour/water mix; lemon juice.
  4. Heat some sunflower oil in the wok and stir-fry the chicken cubes for 2-3 minutes until cooked but not too coloured. Remove from pan and put to one side.
  5. Wipe the pan with kitchen roll then melt the lard in the cleaned pan.
  6. Tip in the ginger/pepper/mushrooms and stir-fry for one minute.
  7. Add the lemon rind and spring onions and stir0fry for a further minute.
  8. Add the sherry/soy/sugar mixture and stir-fry for another minute.
  9. Add the cornflour mixture, giving it a quick stir before tipping it in as it will have ‘settled’. Stir in for a further minute
  10. Tip the chicken back in and heat through.

If you are serving immediately add the lemon juice now and remove from the heat straight away. If the food is going to be reheated and eaten later don’t add the lemon juice until just ready to serve as it will make the dish sour if left in too long.

Nice with plain boiled Basmati rice.

NOTES: Slicing the peppers and onions diagonally not only looks ‘prettier’ but gives a greater surface to cook so it cooks more quickly.

Do use lard if you can as it makes a difference to the taste and to the feel of the food in the mouth.

Nutritional info for half of this dish (if using 500g to make it all)
334 kcals; 17.2g carbs; 34g protein; 10.8g fat; 2.7g fibre; 2 portions of fruit & veg

yes, we have no bananas

July 25, 2007

When you have left your bananas for just a bit (or a lot) too long and they are too soft and squidgy to eat this is a great way to use them up. You don’t have to wait till they are that soft, of course, but very firm bananas would not be right for this recipe.
Banana bread
4oz butter or margarine
6oz sugar
8oz self raising flour
2 eggs
2 large or 3 medium, very ripe bananas

  1. Heat the oven to gas mark 4; 180C
  2. Grease a 2lb loaf tin.
  3. Mash the bananas with a sturdy fork.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs
  5. Mix together the two yellow sludges you now have.
  6. Mix in the flour.
  7. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes then lower the temperature to gas mark 2; 150C and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Try to let it cool (turned out on a rack) before you devour it. You can also slice it and freeze the slices for your packed lunch box / bento box.

I like to give the source for my recipes but I can’t remember where this was from. Just ‘somewhere on the internet’. I do remember that the poster said they’d got it from their aunt in New Zealand. I’ve got various banana cake/banana bread recipes, including Nigella Lawson’s grow-up banana bread with booze and raisins. But I always come back to this. It’s easy, quick, you’ll probably have the ingredients in the house, and it’s delicious!

Nutritional info per 100g:
331 kcals; 4.8g protein; 48.3g carbs; 13.2g fat; 2.1g fibre

Lamb & Apricot Tagine, with citrus couscous

July 24, 2007

I made my first tagine a couple of weeks ago. Well, a casserole with fruit, really as it wasn’t cooked in a tagine – I haven’t bought one yet. I want to get one before next winter’s comfort food season – although with the awful weather we’ve been having in the UK recently, it feels as though winter is not far away 😦

beef & apricot tagine with citrus couscous
This is a recipe I will be making again. I’ve never knowingly eaten a tagine/stew/casserole with honey in it before. It made for a very smooth and interesting feel in the mouth. The recipe is from the Australian Women’s Weekly Low-fat Feasts cookbook

One of my fellow photo-dieters asked for the recipe so here it is:

The recipe says lamb but I used beef as that’s what I had in the freezer.

Preparation time 20 minutes (plus 45 minutes standing time) – cooking time one hour.

Serves four (freezes well)

125g dried apricots
90ml orange juice
65ml boiling water
1 TBS olive oil
450g lamb steaks (or beef) chopped coarsely
1 medium red capsicum (pepper) about 200g, chopped coarsely
smallish brown onion (about 100g) chopped coarsely
1 medium kumara (sweet potato) about 400g, chopped coarsely
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
half tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
125ml (half a cup) dry red wine
500ml (2 cups) chicken stock (you can use a cube)
1 TBS honey
half cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves
100g low-fat yoghurt.

  1. Combine apricots, juice and water in a small bowl. Cover and allow to stand for 45 minutes. If you do this first you can be chopping the vegetables while it steeps.
  2. While the apricots are still soaking heat half the oil in a large saucepan and cook the meat, in batches if necessary, until browned all over.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and cook the capsicum, onion, kumara, garlic and ground spices and stir it about until the onion softens and it all smells lovely.
  4. Add the wine, bring to the boil and turn down the heat. Simmer, without a lid, for about five minutes or until the liquid reduces by half.
  5. Put the meat back in the pan with the veggies and add the apricots and their liquid, add the stock and the honey and bring to the boil.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer covered, for about 50 minutes or until the meat is tender.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander if using. Serve on citrus couscous, drizzle with yoghurt.

Nutritional info per quarter of this recipe (tagine only – not couscous):

271 kcals; 5.3g fat; 23.5g carbs; 28.4g protein; 2.8g fibre; 3g alcohol; 1.7 F&V

Tandoori chicken lunch box

July 24, 2007

Tandoori chicken bites
I made these for lunch again this week. The recipe is from the Australian Women’s Weekly (AWW) Low-Fat Meals in Minutes. The original recipe is for eight people but I have halved it and use it for lunch for two people for two days.

chicken tikka bites and grilled veg

250g chicken breast fillets
1 TBS tandoori paste
quarter cup (65 ml) low fat yoghurt
quarter tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp ground coriander
For the dip
quarter cup (65 ml) low fat yoghurt
quarter tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp ground coriander
Cucumber seeded and finely chopped (book says Lebanese but I don’t think we have them in the UK)
Half TBS lemon juice
Half TBS finely chopped coriander leaves (optional – I usually forget)

  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces
  2. In a bowl, combine the chicken with ¼ cup of yoghurt, the tandoori paste and quarter tsp each of cumin and coriander.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least three hours).
  4. Thread the chicken onto skewers and cook (barbecue, grill, or griddle) until browned all over and cooked through.
  5. For the dip: combine the yoghurt, spices, lemon juice and cucumber. Stir and serve.

Nutritional info per quarter of this recipe: 140 kcals; 5.2g fat; 4g carbs; 19.3g protein; 0.2g fibre; 0.3 F&V

Fine eaten cold in a lunch box.

I made three fairly long skewers this time. I ate one for my lunch and left the other two, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge. One is for my SO (with strict instructions that he only has one) and I shall have the other tomorrow or Thursday. They keep quite well.

To pack, I take them off the skewer and put them in my box with some salad and a little pot of the dip.
chicken tikka bites & dip
They are great with mini pitta bread. However, I was having homemade rice pudding this afternoon so felt that I didn’t need the extra carbs/starch.