A new me – part 2!

tom_Bathroom_scaleWhile my Fitbit has helped me to think more about my activity, my food consumption hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind lately… with predictable consequences. I need to take control of my eating properly.

Calorie counting through My Fitness Pal did help me lose weight, but the constant counting didn’t help me cook ‘real’ food and I found myself relying on processed foods that could be easily tracked. I need to change my whole relationship with food, and feed myself and the rest of the family good, healthy meals. Simple calorie counting wasn’t helping me achieve that (though it did make clear the basic concept of calories in needing to be lower than calories out!).

I used to go to a Slimming World group but I’ve never found it easy to talk at the group times and the concept of doing that at the moment is horrible. The accountability and support could be great, but if I’d had a bad week for whatever reason I found it too easy to switch off and then not stay to the discussion part of group. My emotions and mood can be so variable at the moment that I don’t want to commit to a group when it may make things more difficult for me emotionally.

I’ve read about the Whole30 plan on several other blogs and looked into that but I decided I need something with a little more flexibility and some accountability.

Since the group approach doesn’t seem like the right option for me at the momentΒ  started to look into online plans. I looked at Slimming World first since I know the plan can work for me, but it’s expensive (near enough Β£20 a month!), and lacks a good tracking app. After browsing a few others I landed on Weight Watchers. I followed this plan back in my teaching days, and again after the girlchild was born. It worked well for me then, though it has changed a lot since, I’m hoping it will work well this time. It looks fairly simple to follow, will help me control portions as well as limit my dependence on processed foods. It will also connect to my Fitbit account so I can clearly link my activity levels and food intake.

My wonderful husband is being amazingly supportive (as usual!) and is going to try to help me keep on track. I’ve downloaded the app to my phone and already begun exploring the website and the various challenges in the community area. I’m going to weigh myself regularly (but no more than once a week) and take some basic body measurements monthly to see the difference this is making. I’m probably going to ask my husband to take some photos of me wearing simple leggings and a t-shirt regularly as another way of seeing the changes I’m hoping to make. I’ll post some on here once I’ve got a picture that shows some progress…

Saturday 1 November – a new beginning – again…

10 thoughts about school holidays…

10 thingsAs we hit the middle weekend of the Easter holidays I thought I’d note down 10 thoughts about school holidays… both positive and negative!

  1. πŸ™‚ No school runs! A fabulous break from driving 5 mile each way three times a day to drop off or collect the children from their schools. (a break for the pocket as well as 30 miles a day uses a lot of petrol!)
  2. πŸ™‚ No structure so we can do as we please each day – whether it’s snuggling up on the sofa with a dvd, playing with scooters in the garden, colouring in, reading or building mammoth train tracks
  3. 😦 No structure so we can do as we please each day – yes, I did intend to write exactly the same statement as number 2… Having a child with an ASD means that the lack of a structure or routine can be upsetting, and for R she has been a lot more excitable and needing more control of what B is doing.
  4. πŸ™‚ We’ve been able to sit and eat lunch all together at the table each day (well, without the husband as he’s still been at work). We’ve been able to chat, B has seen us all eating the same meals and today we had a huge breakthrough – he ate a whole bowl of rice, chicken and carrots! He has always complained that he doesn’t like rice but today he realised there’s not a lot to it, and on a spoon with other hings he likes he’s been quite content to munch away at it.
  5. πŸ™‚ We don’t have to worry about B refusing to get dressed. If he won’t clothe himself then he just stays in his bedroom until he realises he’s hungry. We have a rule in this house that unless you are properly poorly you must be dressed before coming downstairs. A grumbily tummy soon gets him moving!
  6. πŸ™‚ The children have been able to play together when they’ve not been too tired from school to tolerate each other.
  7. 😦 The children have been able to play together when they’ve not been too tired from school to tolerate each other… this can get very loud! While I’m still not 100% after last week’s virus I don’t tolerate loud silliness very well.
  8. πŸ™‚ B can have a nap in the afternoon to help him get over the virus without me worrying about picking R up from school. R is very good about playing quietly in her room if she knows someone else is trying to sleep, I think it gives her a very good excuse to get lost in yet another book.
  9. πŸ™‚ I have time and energy to cook ‘real’ food for myself and the children at lunchtimes and healthy teas for them in the early evening as well. This is really good for all of us and is helping up the fruit and veg intake of each of us.
  10. πŸ™‚ No school means no worries for R about noise and unpredictable other pupils and no worries for us about how suitable the work for her is both academically and accounting for her ASD and how she interprets the instructions she is given. This isn’t to say we’re not happy with the school, we don’t know another one in the area which would be better for her, just that school isn’t easy for her.

‘Orange’ chicken curry

As I started typing this yesterday there was a wonderful smell filling the house from my latest slow cooker experiment: a thick, sweet chicken curry. The orange in the name comes from the first three ingredients in my list. My hope was that these three would soften as they cooked and (possibly with the help of a potato masher) become a thick, flavourful sauce for the chicken, and they have. I tend to cook the chicken breasts whole in a dish like this and then shred them once the meal is cooked as it makes it appear as though there is more meat than there actually is! I have even managed to deceive my carnivorous husband with this trick! He is one of those who feels a main meal isn’t complete without a decent quantity of meat (125g minimum!), he has eaten meals with half this and not realised.

'Orange' chicken curry

  • half a butternut squash – peeled and cut into ~1 inch dice Β£1
  • 4 sweet potatoes – also peeled and diced 1.05
  • 250g dried red lentils 55p
  • Chicken stock – I used a large teaspoon of Bovril in just over half a litre of water ~10p
  • Curry powder – I use korma powder as I don’t like hot curries, but you can add whichever variant suits you and your family ~5p
  • Mango chutney ~50p
  • Chicken pieces – I used 4 chicken breasts as that was what I had in the freezer Β£3.33 (from a 3 for Β£10 deal)

While the slowcooker heated up I chopped the vegetables. I used the slow cooker to heat the water for the stock to save putting the kettle on as well. Once the slowcooker and water were warm I stirred in a very heaped teaspoon of korma powder, three heaped teaspoons of mango chutney and the chicken Bovril. I then layered up half the squash and sweet potato followed by the chicken breasts, the lentils and the rest of the squash and potato. I wanted to make sure the chicken didn’t stick to the bottom of the slowcooker and that the lentils would be covered by the cooking sauce (no one wants to eat crunchy lentils in their curry!). I turned the slowcooker down to low to cook through the day. 6 hours later the chicken was cooked but a few of the lentils were still a little on the crunchy side so I removed the chicken, shreded it and covered it to return to the slowcooker an hour later to heat through properly before serving (you can’t be too careful with chicken!). When you remove the chicken you may wish to add some extra spice or chutney depending on your preferences.

This isn’t the most attractive plate to look at, but the thick sweet sauce is lovely and a good introduction to curry for my spice resistant son! I served mine last night with anΒ  extra drizzle of mango chutney on the top.

This made 11 ~200g portions at ~60p per portion.

10 things I…. love to eat…

10 thingsThis is the start of an occasional series. 10 things with some common link. This time it’s my favourite foods, next time maybe my least favourite foods, movies I can watch repeatedly. It’s really quite open-ended.

So here goes, 10 things I love to eat:

  1. Chocolate! It almost goes without saying. I love most types of chocolate, though I’m less keen on dark chocolate. I’ve recently discovered Lindt Lindor Strawberry and Cream – they are gorgeous!
  2. Smoked salmon. Simply….yum! I’ve only once found a type of smoked salmon which I’ve not liked, it was smoked with juniper berries and had a taste I didn’t enjoy. I’ll eat it in so many ways, tarts, pasta, rice, toast, bread… in fact with almost anything!
  3. Cake! Especially chocolate or coffee cakes…. but not coffee cakes with walnuts, that’s just wrong!
  4. Cheese. I could sit and munch my way through rather a lot of cheese with a nice pile of biscuits or breadsticks. It has to be a nice hard cheese though, I don’t like things along the brie/stilton line, or goat’s cheese for that matter.
  5. Strawberries…mmmmm! Especially dipped in balsamic vinegar with a little bit of sugar
  6. Prawn cocktail Seabrook, my favourite crisps, very closely followed by sea salt and balsamic vinegar Kettle chips.
  7. M&S Caramel mini bites – basically marshmallow crispy cakes with chocolate πŸ™‚ What’s not to like?
  8. McDonald’s Filet of fish. My guilty pleasure, I do like a McDonald’s, sadly the husband doesn’t so I don’t have one very often but they are very nice when I do!
  9. Mushrooms in any shape or form. ‘Slimy shrooms’, as my sister calls them, used to be among my most hated foods but when I hit my late teens I suddenly found I like them…a lot!
  10. Mayonnaise, especially Hellman’s. I eat a lot less of this than I used to (that may surprise some who have eaten with me recently!), but I could still happily eat this with almost anything savoury… yes, including a roast dinner!

It’s your turn now… what’s your favourite food?

Trying to spend less on food

I’ve been reading a lot of thrifty living blogs lately and I have been inspired by some of the ideas I read.

Cooking an evening meal from scratch for us all doesn’t work in the week in our house. The husband doesn’t get home from work until a similar time to the children’s bedtime so a meal for all four of us doesn’t work. I prefer not to cook from scratch twice in the evening and have come up with a solution that helps my husband and I eat healthily, reduces the amount I spend on food and is also really easy.

Whenever I see a really good offer on meat (chopped beef, lamb or chicken breasts) I will buy some and then create something in the slowcooker either with a cheap jar of curry sauce, a tin of soup, or a carton of chopped tomatoes as a sauce base. I’ll add lots of vegetables and extra garlic or spices depending what I’m aiming for.

So far I’ve created:

  • chicken dopiaza (a jarred sauce with added peppers, onions and a carton of tomatoes)
  • beef madras (another jarred sauce with added peppers and onions)
  • chicken korma (a jarred sauce with added mushrooms, spinach and sultanas)
  • creamy chicken, leek and carrot (using a can of condensed cream of chicken sauce as a base and a little bit of smoked bacon and garlic for extra flavour)
  • a rich chilli, tomato and bacon pasta sauce (4 cartons of chopped tomatoes, lots of garlic, chilli and basil and a box of Sainsbury’s basics smoked, chopped cooking bacon)
  • garlicky chicken and mushrooms (a can of condensed mushroom soup, half a bag of frozen mushrooms, a couple of rashers of smoked bacon and 5 cloves of garlic) – this didn’t look appetising as the sauce separated a bit but it was gorgeous, very garlicky and lovely with some frozen spinach and a little grated italian hard cheese stirred though a portion
  • paprika beef (this came from a large box of reduced chopped steak late on a Sunday afternoon and was cooked with chopped tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, carrots, a beef stockpot and a lot of paprika) – it smelt amazing, but sadly due to the number of peppers put in it I couldn’t eat it 😦

These have all been boxed in individual portion foil trays (just like you get from a takeaway – but I bought mine on Amazon), clearly labelled with the date and contents and then frozen. They can be defrosted in a pan with a little water as the rice/pasta/potatoes are being cooked. The trays may not seem a cheap option, but I kept dropping plastic boxes out of the freezer and breaking them. The trays I bought worked out at ~12 pence each, which doesn’t seem cheap, but even including that cost I have been spending less on evening meals for my husband and I than I was.

My husband and I can have easy, healthy food on the table within 30 minutes of him getting home (or us getting the children into bed). We’re eating more vegetables (no bad thing!) and getting to sleep sooner due to eating earlier (which is definitely a good thing!).

Lenten fast?

At the beginning of Lent I will usually plan to cut out sweets or crisps or some form of food, or I will try to commit myself to doing for a certain amount of time or not doing something for the 40 days. This year I’m thinking differently.

After problems with bingeing and fasting last summer I don’t think cutting food out is a good idea (especially as I have a tendency to gorge myself on whatever I have in the house before I start it!). I found putting too much pressure on myself was a problem with the photo365 challenge this year so I don’t want to say I’ll read my bible for a certain amount of time each day or read a set number of chapters.


Instead I’m going to try to read a bit of a Christian book everyday. Some days it may be half an hour, some days it may be a quick 5 minutes but I think this will help me. I’ve struggled to get any reasonable quiet time routine going this year so maybe this less structured idea will help me.


photo credit: Leonard John Matthews via photopin cc