Archive for April, 2008

Food Magazines

April 26, 2008

Although I have (more or less) stopped buying cookbooks, because I already have more than any one person can need, I still have my subscriptions to the BBC food Magazines Good Food and Olive. I shall cancel Olive soon but keep Good Food going for a little while. Sometimes I make a list of what I am going to cook for the next week or month. Often, unless I start cooking fairly quickly, I lose the list.

Tuesday, 25th March

So this month I am going to list here on my blog. That way I can keep track of them and follow up on the results.

The June issue of Good Food landed on my doormat yesterday (yeah, yeah, I know, not even May yet). Over the next few days I shall list what I fancy cooking from this issue.


Portion Blindness? How much is ‘a lot of food’?

April 25, 2008

When I started photo-dieting it was because I felt I needed to actually see the amount of food I ate. Not just some words and figures on a page but what that amount looked like.  It worked. I quickly learned that even when I ate healthily I put too much on my plate.

Now, I’m not saying that I don’t still put too much on my plate sometimes. But I am aware of it. I’ve also learned, from looking at the meals other people photograph and post to flickr, that some people eat a lot less than I do, others more. Often I’ll look at a pretty bento photograph and think ‘is that all she ate?’ But I was very surprised at a (real-life) comment made the other day about this lunch:

California Rolls, grapes, tomatoes, blush pear, mini cheesy red pepper muffin (didn't eat the banana)

I was invigilating some exams with another lady who I have worked with once before. I knew there was no microwave or fridge available for me that day and, unusually for me, I brought in shop-bought food. Mainly because this box of California rolls caught my eye in the supermarket and I wanted an excuse to try is (the entire box is 303 calories). I packed it in my coolbag with the tomatoes, grapes and small pear. There is also a tiny cheesy red pepper muffin (49 calories) in there.

R and I ate our lunch together and chatted. She remembered that I photograph my food and asked how it was going. We chatted about food and diets. She does Weight Watchers. She commented that I had brought in ‘a lot of food’. I was rather surprised as I thought I’d been quite restrained.  She then took out her lunch. A tub full of couscous and roasted vegetables. Lovely, tasty (I would imagine) and healthy. But – her tub was bigger and deeper than my California rolls box and stuffed full.  I found it strange that she should feel that I had brought in ‘a lot of food’. I found the rolls quite filling and didn’t need the (small) banana. Perhaps I only imagined the “good girl” comment and smile from her as I put it back into my bag.

But I have to wonder. Which of us was kidding ourselves about the amount of food we were eating?

Cheesy Red Pepper Mini Muffins

April 23, 2008

This is an Alison Holst recipe and it is delicious. Very very moorish. Just as well that a mini-muffin is only 49 calories!
mini cheesy red pepper muffins
2 cups (200g) mature cheddar cheese (or any another strong flavoured hard cheese)
1 large red pepper, roasted
1 TBS sugar
1.5 cups self raising flour
1 large red pepper, roasted
1-2 TBS chopped fresh coriander leaf
1 cup of milk
1 egg

  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Spray your muffin pans with oil (Chef Mate, Fry Light or your own spray).
  3. Into a large bowl measure the flour, cheese, salt and cayenne pepper (I didn’t have any so I used paprika).
  4. If you are using coriander leaf, add that now, and also the chopped roasted red pepper.
  5. Using your fingertips, mix it lightly till all combined.
  6. In another bowl or jug, mix the egg and milk together, then pour it onto the dry mixture.
  7. Gently fold it together – do not overmix.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the muffin pans.
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown and ‘springy’ when gently pushed.

Mix makes about 36 mini muffins. Can also be made as medium muffins.
Can be frozen (I’ve only kept them for five days in the freezer before eating so far).

Nutritional Info per muffin (when making 36 mini muffins)
49 kcals; 2.4g protein; 4.8g carbs; 2.3g fat; 0.23g fibre

Nutritional Info per batch (if making different number of muffins you can work out the data per muffin)
1775 kcals; 87g protein; 173g carbs; 82g fat; 8.2g fibre

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

April 23, 2008

This recipe has been adapted from the BBC Good Food recipe for blueberry and white chocolate muffins.

raspberry and white chocolate muffins
225g plain flour
75g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
75g butter, melted
150ml milk
112g raspberries
112g good quality white chocolate (I used Green & Blacks white creamy vanilla)

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and spray a 6-hole muffin tin with a coating of oil (Chef Mate or Fry Light or your own spray). You can use paper cases if you want but I find they stick.
  2. Chop the chocolate (I used Green & Blacks white creamy vanilla) into fairly largish chunks (or you can use chocolate chips.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
  4. Mix the egg, melted butter and milk quickly into the dry ingredients together with the raspberries and chocolate (don’t overmix, it should be a bit lumpy).
  5. Divide between the holes in the muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden and cooked through.
    These do keep in the freezer. I’m not sure for how long, I’ve only tried five days so far.

If making six muffins the nutritional value will be as follows:

436 calories; 9.75g protein; 52g carbs; 21g fat; 2g fibre; 0.3 servings of fruit.

The nutritional value for the whole lot (useful if you are making a different number of muffins from the mix) is

2619 calories; 58.5g protein; 315g carbs; 125.5g fat; 12g fibre; 1.5 servings of fruit.

When I photograph more than I eat ….

April 22, 2008

What should I do? Although I am learning to cut back on the portions sometimes I still put more on my plate than I should – and then have the good sense not to finish it. Yes, I eat more of it than I should, but not all of it. So what to do with the photograph?

Well, sometimes it’s tempting to crop the photo to show just half or three quarters of the meal. But that is taking the photography side of the photo-dieting too seriously. I’ve decided that I should include the whole shot in my daily photos/daily mosaic with a note that I didn’t eat it all. That way, I will not only learn what I ate, but learn that I still put too much on my plate.

Muffins: mini (or medium) walnut and apricot muffins

April 16, 2008

apricot and walnut mini muffins

This quantity makes:
24 mini-muffins OR
12 medium muffins OR
6 medium muffins PLUS 12 mini muffins

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup water or orange juice
50g butter
1 egg
1/2 cup yoghurt
half a large (or one small) orange , rind and juice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 190C and spray the muffins tins with oil (fry light, chef mate or your own version).
2. Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well to ensure that the brown sugar is evenly mixed through the other ingredients.
3. In another bowl, microwave the apricots with the water or juice until all the liquid is absorbed (about 1 minute on 100% power).
4. Add the butter to the apricot mixture, warm it a bit more if needed to mix it in.
5. Then mix in the eggs, yoghurt and grated orange rind.
6. Make the juice from the orange up to half a cup with water (if necessary) and add this and the chopped walnuts to the mixture.
7. Fold the two mixtures together, taking care not to overmix.
8. Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin tins.
9. Bake at 190C for about 12-15 minutes for medium or about 10-12 for mini or until the mffins spring back when pressed lightly.
Nutritional info: 144 kcals; 3g protein; 20g carb; 5.8g fat; 0.8g fibre

Muffins, muffins, muffins

April 14, 2008

Banana & Blueberry Muffins

I baked my first ever muffins a couple of weeks back. Two different types: banana and blueberry muffins (made with porridge oats) and raspberry and white chocolate muffins. They were gorgeous and I made a second batch of the blueberry ones immediately for the freezer. However, I didn’t freeze them till a couple of days later which might explain why they were horrible when I defrosted them 😦

The raspberry and chocolate ones were delicious but a little heavy – not at all muffin-like.

raspberry and white chocolate muffin

Following tips from other comments on the recipe website I decided to try again with more baking powder and egg. more I decided to use one teaspoon of baking powder and two eggs but increase the rest of the ingredients by 50%. The result was good but surprisingly dry – till I discovered the melted butter was still in the microwave! The other difference with these was that the only white chocolate in the local shop was full of rice crispies.

Monday, 7th April

Today I made them again (the second way) but remembered the butter. They are delicious. I made six very large ones, used raspberries instead of blueberries and the chocolate was Green & Blacks white chocolate with vanilla (delicious).

raspberry and white chocolate muffins

I told my friend, Marilyn about the muffins and she said she loved muffins and had a recipe book, loaned to her by a colleague, called Marvellous Muffins. I’ve borrowed it and copied the recipes. Today, when I made the raspberry and white chocolate muffins I also made some apricot and walnut muffins. The author, Alison Holst, says these can be made as medium or mini muffins. As I only have large or mini I halved the quantity and made 24 mini ones. They were really nice and terribly more-ish.
apricot and walnut mini muffins

I’m planning to try a new recipe from the book each weekend that I’m home and freeze one to see how they go. Of course, like all my plans, it may fall by the wayside.


I’ve put one large raspberry & chocolate and two mini apricot and walnut muffins straight into the freezer today (after they were properly cool, of course). I’ll take them out next weekend and see how they have kept.

Coming out of hibernation

April 13, 2008

Saturday, 22nd March

After a good start last year with the photo-dieting when I lost nearly a stone I went astray after my partner’s accident in September followed by two holidays and Christmas. Then the winter hibernation kicked in. I always forget, when it isn’t winter, how badly I can be affected by SAD. Last year was probably worse as the winter followed an almost total lack of summer in the UK and some traumatic events in my personal life.

But now it’s spring. The days are longer, I’m getting more daylight,and I can feel that I am a new person again. More inclined to take exercise and to get things done.

I’ve been to water aerobics this (Sunday) afternoon and swam fifteen lengths after the 45 minute session. I knew the summer version of my brain had kicked in when I started wondering if it was feasible for me to go for a swim everyday. I already go to water aerobics on Friday evenings (straight from work) and on Wednesday evening if my partner is home to drive me there and I’m not at the theatre.

So my plan at the moment (and it might change, I might not keep it up) is to get back to the calorie counting, the food planning and the photo-dieting; to exercise everyday; and to listen to my Paul McKenna I can make you thin CD at least twice a week. The ideal plan for the Paul McKenna would be to listen to the I can make you thin every other day and his Confidence the days in between. But my guess is that wont happen.

Anyway, watch this space.