Baking as a banter – it’s not that simple! 31 October 2015.

In my BB days – Before Banting that is – I was a formidable baker. As in – I baked often endlessly – cakes, muffins, biscuits, crumbles, lemon tarts, petit fours …….. and never on a small scale – it was usually a batch of 24/36 at a time because there was always someone who needed a “bit of baking” in my mind. I associated my mother’s baking on a Sunday with all that was wonderful about my childhood – the feeling of love and warmth and satisfaction has never left me to this day. I vowed when I had my own house I would fill it and my family with sweet goodness. And fill them – and everyone else I know – I did!

That was then. This is now. Sugar free days – 71 now and counting. Or not. It has become such an easy way of life that I have almost forgotten that I loved it so much. Mind you, I rarely ate my own baking – I suppose that’s not a great recommendation for what I made but it didn’t appeal. I felt wonderful filling others up with what I made – then I ate a few Boosts or Starbars in the background, congratulating myself for my abstemiousness in regard to what I had baked!

So this is a big challenge for me. I love the act of baking. I love to fill the house with the smell of freshly baked goods. I need to find stuff I can make that creates that feeling of satisfaction without affecting the food plan.

Trying to get our children to give up the sugar completely will be another day’s task but for now at least Paddy and I are going for it!

So yesterday I baked a sugary and delicious coffee cake – not at all banting friendly, but then followed it up with these divine little tastes of heaven – cheesy muffins – they are really good – and again – another recipe that can go into the freezer for a busier day! They are from the Real Meal Revolution website – a free recipe there – one to get children eating more healthily. The only difficulty with that in our house is that none of our children likes cheddar. Sigh. Working on that but not hopeful!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs and a good tsp of Himalayan Salt
  • 200 gms grated mature cheddar and some more for decoration.
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in one bowl and all the dry ingredients together in another.

Combine the two. The mixture should be sticky and look like this:

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I use an ice-cream scoop to fill my muffin cases and I also apply some Carlex spray – a baking spray to prevent sticking. It is very difficult to get – I found it in the CookShop in the Buttercrane Centre in Newry – it may be available online but I’m not sure where you would get it – it’s not necessary and any cake release would work – I just find that one brilliant.

Anyway, after filling the muffin cases I put some cheese on top and gave them an extra sprinkling of Himalayan Salt.

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They cooked for about 30 minutes – I kept an eye on the oven – and came out filling the house with a most beautiful baking aroma – they also tasted great. These would work well as a side with chowder, as a breakfast on the go, or as “bread” for lunch if you feel that there is still something missing on your lunch plate. They tasted slightly coconutty and the almond flour felt very rich and moist. There is a hint of sweetness when you use almond flour that is quite intoxicating actually.

In other news this week I made a very quick and tasty banting cheese sauce for Paddy’s smoked haddock lunch yesterday – I boiled up some cream and threw in a bit of grated cheddar – would work really well with blue cheese if you are a fan – and then added a good grind of black pepper – paired it with some spinach – delicious! I had some salmon with the spinach and just added a bit of butter to mine.

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We also went out to dinner in one of our favourite restaurants in Drogheda on Thursday evening – The Eastern Seaboard – a gorgeous New York style eaterie – it was the alternative to spending two nights away in Galway – the girls loved it. Our baby has discovered a passion for ribs that is stunning to behold and our eldest girl has discovered chicken wings! Mind you the chicken wings in The Eastern Seaboard are out of this world – and also contain so much sugar in the sauce that we had to find an alternative – which we did – crab claws in lemon butter – yum! Those wings though …..

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They brought them to the table with the dressing on the side so I had one which was dusted in a tiny bit of flour, and then I ate the side of celery in a sour cream dressing. I shared the claws with Paddy.

For our mains we both had the burger – which is what we always have – but we asked for them sans brioche bun, and I got a side of salad greens in a vinaigrette dressing. When it came it had toasted seed on top – an extra little bonus I wasn’t expecting. It tasted fabulous and really I didn’t miss the bun.

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I felt very full after. The bonus for me was that our children had starters and mains and then were too full for dessert. So a less sugar fuelled trip than is usual when we eat out – always a good result.

Work beckons again on Monday so I’m not sure if I’ll get to bake any more before then. I’m giving in for now on the sugarfree treats – apart from the coconut pancakes, the deconstructed crumble and the chocolate pots – that’s enough to keep us going – I have made red velvet cupcakes for the junior party goers – and at least there’ll be plenty of people to eat the extra – there’s always the freezer for when visitors call!

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Cottage pie, but not as you know it. 29 October 2015.

I’ll be brief today – we had a stay at home and clean the bedrooms day today, the girls and I – it is so satisfying to dump clothes that are far too big for you and to try on stuff that you haven’t been able to wear for a very long time. I am tempted to hold on to the largest of my clothes so that I can do a before and after, but you know I’ve done that before and then fitted right back into those clothes. So this time I’m binning them and will never wear them again.

Today I hit a milestone. I got my BMI under 40 for the first time since I started this plan. I have hovered at 21 pounds off for about three weeks and today it finally plummeted again so I now have 23 pounds off. But the bigger achievement for me is the BMI – I started at 43.64 so to finally get under the 40 and score a 39.71 is a huge psychological boost. The fact that I have done that in less than ten weeks is pretty impressive, and with no hunger pangs or desire to “break out” is even better.

So.

Cottage pie. Looks like it, tastes like it and is totally delicious. Our middle child even begged for extra cauli mash! Apparently it was “your best one yet Mammy”!

Meat mix:

  • 1lb mince
  • 1 oz butter to fry
  • 2 small onions and 2 cloves of garlic, chopped small
  • 3 stalks celery
  • tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbls Worcester sauce
  • 1 cup veg stock – I really need to buy some beef stock!

Cauli mash:

  • 2 small heads of cauliflower
  • 1.5 ozs butter
  • 3 fl ozs cream
  • nutmeg and salt and pepper
  • 2 egg yolks at the end
  • Grated cheese of your choice

Method:

I threw in the mince for about five minutes first, then tossed in the onions, garlic and celery. I let that cook down for about ten minutes then threw in all the rest of the ingredients. I turned down the heat to simmer and let it cook away for about half an hour.

Meanwhile I cooked the cauliflower in a little water – you should steam it but there was a very big pot of it there so I just boiled it up. When it was just soft I took it off the heat and used a hand held blender – the stick type – to puree the cauliflower with the butter and cream. Then I added a good grating of nutmeg – I use the whole nutmeg and I have a fantastic microplane fine grater – it’s about five years old but still as good as new – they aren’t cheap – about €30 each but it’s a great investment. I’ve used this one for nutmeg, lime zest, chocolate, parmesan – the list is endless.

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I then added a good quantity of salt and black pepper and left it to one side. Bláthnaid spent the afternoon pinching it from the pot – such a healthy snack to be sneaking instead of sweets!

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Then I assembled the cottage pie. I dumped the mince mix into my standard lasagne dish and just spooned the cauli mash on top. I topped it off with some grated cheddar and then put it in a pre heated oven at 170 celsius for about 40 minutes.

It came out looking golden and delicious – as you can see below. It also cut and looked just like traditional cottage pie. It was very filling and has now also been added to the list of banting dishes we like in this house!

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It’s interesting that we started this journey ten weeks ago and the media has been inundated since with articles about fat being good for you and sugar being the very devil! Maybe we are just more aware of it all – here’s a link to another very interesting article that was published in Men’s Health just this week.

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/the-truth-about-fat-and-sugar-is-finally-explained?utm_content=buffer3f987&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

One other quick recipe.

I made these with a view to bringing them to our Halloween party on Saturday. My children said no! They are yummy – I think – but then that’s because I’ve had no sugar for 70 days – their taste buds are not quite so sensitive yet! They are very quick to make and I will definitely be trying them in different variations over the next few weeks – as I fix them I’ll keep you updated!

Almond cookies

Oops! I didn’t measure anything. I just threw in about a cup of almond butter – home made – very easy – roast two packets of Lidl almonds for eight minutes then blitz them in the food processor until it looks like peanut butter – much cheaper than buying a pot – thanks to Laura for that recipe! Then into that I added a bit of dessicated coconut, a teaspoon of baking powder, two teaspoons of xylitol and about 15 gms of 100% chocolate that I grated – have a look –

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plus one egg. I bought that chocolate in Avoca a couple of weeks ago – it gives a great chocolate hit but you wouldn’t eat it by itself – it’s very bitter. At €7.70 it’s not cheap but a very little goes a long way.

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Then I used the beater to blend it. It didn’t exactly blend like a soft dough but it did come together and I put it onto the baking tray in small mounds – I got I think 13 from this amount.

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They went into a 160 celsius fan oven for about 9 minutes and came out looking pretty much like they did when they went in!

The verdict?

I actually really liked them. They have a chewy texture like chocolate chip cookies but there is no sugar hit from them at all – you are kind of waiting for that to hit you and then – it doesn’t! Would I add these particular biscuits to my repertoire of banting recipes? I don;t think I’d be making them every week, put it that way. but it was an interesting experiment. I had two of them yesterday and still lost weight so maybe I should add them to the list after all!

Tomorrow I’ll be trying out some cheesy muffins I saw on the real meal website this morning, and making some very unhealthy sweet treats  – maybe I’ll see if I can slightly “bantise” my normal recipes!

Thank God – the freezer’s back in action! 28 October 2015

I told you all I’d try out a banting lasagne and let you know if it was worth the effort – actually I have to tell you it more than was – in fact I think I’d never go back to normal lasagne after trying this out!

There isn’t a huge amount of preparation in it after all. I thought because I was making a different type of white sauce that it would take ages – it didn’t as it happens.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb mince
  • 1/2 lb streaky rashers or bacon lardons
  • 3 sticks celery – chopped small
  • 3 small onions and two cloves of garlic – chopped small
  • 1/2 tube of tomato puree
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • 1 tbls Worcester sauce
  • Oregano and thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 cup beef broth – I had none so just used veg stock.

The mince mix was lovely – and as you can see there is absolutely nothing there that is not family friendly and “normal”!

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I browned off the mince and bacon then took it out of the pan. I needed a bit of olive oil to grease the pan then threw in the onion, garlic and celery to saute down. I then threw the mince mix back in and added all the other ingredients and left the lot simmering on the hob for about forty minutes.

Topping and “lasagne” sheets:

  • 2 cups cream
  • 8 ozs grated cheddar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste
  • aubergine or courgette sliced to resemble pasta sheets.

I then made the white sauce – incredibly easy and so unbelievably tasty. I boiled up the cream in a pot and threw in the grated cheese – I had the thickly grated stuff from Lidl but the lighter grate might dissolve more easily – it still happily dissolved away. Then I added the nutmeg and some salt and pepper. I waited until just before assembly to add the egg yolks as I was a bit worried that they might scramble!

To assemble I sliced aubergine and put it in a layer at the bottom of my lasagne dish. I then dolloped on a generous portion of the meat mix. I repeated the process twice more then covered the lot in the white sauce – having remembered to add the egg yolks to it.

The lot went into the oven at 170 degrees celsius and it cooked until it smelled right – about 35/40 minutes.

It was glorious looking when it came out of the oven. The sauce on top looked as if it had curdled slightly – it still tasted delicious. I had a small portion  – it is really rich and very creamy. The aubergine was unnoticeable which I always think is a very positive thing to say about aubergine! The courgette I would use again – it actually added to the flavour of the dish.

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This was a real winner of a dinner. The best part? It has satisfied my need to freeze – I made the recipe and it made 6 portions – so I have two extra dinners for Paddy and me for some cold winter’s evening when we land in and and have nothing in the fridge.

The other thing which really pleased me about this dish is the fact that it was the first dinner we ate that felt like our “usual” food – in that we ate something that was a one pot dish – banting up to now for us has involved meat and a side. This feels more like the food we’d eat in a major rush week – so it’s good to know that we can adapt this food plan to how we live as well as adapting our lives to the food plan.

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The other recipe I made today – actually I made three more but I’m trying not to overshare! – was seafood chowder. It is tomato based and is an absolute dream dish – so easy to make and again a great staple for my freezer – did I mention my freezer? Actually I have three – a throwback to being one of nine children with two very busy parents – my childhood memories are of my mother baking in bulk every weekend and stocking the chest freezer for the 11 of us. So I have a thing about not running out of food – I need to have stores just in case! Hence the three freezers. The fact that there are only five of us in this house seems a moot point – the freezers stay.

The chowder is simple.

Ingredients:

  • 500 mls Passata
  • 250 mls fresh cream
  • ground garlic, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 glass of red wine if it’s leftover – not necessary
  • 400 gms seafood mix
  • parmesan to taste

I put the passata and the cream into a pot and boiled it up – I also added some garlic – I have a great garlic mill that grinds it like black pepper – think I got it in Lidl or Aldi ages ago. Once it was boiled I turned it down to a simmer, added the red wine and threw in two packets of seafood mix – a combo of white fish, salmon and a bit of smoked. I let that cook down for about seven minutes and that was it. A healthy wholesome chowder – tomato based but lovely nonetheless.

I served it as you can see with some grated parmesan under it just for the hell of it – it went down a treat. A second bowl was had – and yes – I have three more portions for lunch next week sometime – see those freezers are very handy!

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I will let you know how the cottage pie tastes next time, as well as offering some less sugary ideas for Halloween Treats. I hope our friends aren’t offended when my offering is more banting than baking!

Banting desserts – is there such a thing? October 26 2015.

I know I said that I’s make the banting lasagne and post about it next but there’s a bit of work in that and so it’ll have to be later in the week!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the Bank holiday and feels like they have overindulged in a big way. Not so in our house. I visited my parents and my mother kindly refrained from making her signature bake – apple tart – on an oven tray – swimming in sugar. She was keeping temptation from Paddy but he is on a roll these days so was quite happy not to indulge at any rate.

It did set me thinking about the social aspect of banting. There has to be a way for this lifestyle to fit in with other less extreme eating plans. Is there any way I could make desserts that my Dad a chocoholic would love that would also be banting friendly. So I came up with a recipe for a chocolate mousse – I got the idea from a banter on the realmealrevoltion.com website – Kim thank you! She suggested making a chocolate mousse with three ingredients – avocado, cream and cocoa with a spoon of xylitol to taste.

So I whipped my cream, opened my avocado – only to find that it was not at all ripe – I hate that – they are easy to find in the supermarket but it’s a curse because they are often either too ripe and gone brown or unripe and inedible. Anyway. I had the cream ready, the cocoa waiting – and then remembered my mascarpone in the fridge! Out it came – I don’t do amounts but I used about 150 mls of cream and about 70 gms of mascarpone. I whipped the cream first then whipped the two  together for a bit and then added about 30 gms of cocoa powder. It immediately seized up! Oops! I had obviously beaten the cheese and cream a little too vociferously!

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Anyway. I added less than two teaspoons of xylitol and a little more runny cream and used a spoon to loosen it up.

Oh my goodness!

Such a tasty dessert. The wonderful thing about it all is that I used a total of only two teaspoonfuls of xylitol in that whole dessert – it made three generous portions –

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this is the packet I bought nine weeks ago when I started banting and I still have barely used any.

I topped the dessert with a few raspberries and a little coconut – it really is lovely!

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The end result is lovely but next time I will add the cream cheese and cream at the same time, whip them a little less, and use a spatula to mix the cocoa in. I will also put a half teaspoon of vanilla essence in for taste.

Try and enjoy!

A little experimentation with tastes for the Bank Holiday Weekend. 25 October 2015

So I have a plan this week – because I am off for the mid-term I aim to post a new recipe most days and let you know how they work out.

We were due to go away to Galway for a few days. We decided we would be better occupied sorting our lives out at home and just relaxing a little. Our three younger family members were devastated. No cooked breakfast in a hotel? That was the dilemma for them. They love relaxing here but they love hotel food more! So as a compromise I agreed to cook a hotel feed for them. We had sausages, white pudding and beans – or should I say they did. White pudding, though lovely, has a high quantity of wheat so that is a no no.

They also wanted crumpets. Now I am known in my family for my crumpets – they are pretty glorious though I say so myself – in fact when Paddy and I married first we had them most Sunday mornings – made with eggs, sugar, almond essence, flour and milk – they are thick, coated in Stork margarine so that the edges get salty, and divine with chocolate spread on. Obviously not a banting recipe!

So the challenge was to find a recipe that would create the illusion of the aforementioned crumpet but still taste good.

I searched on ours and your behalf and found a recipe on a very interesting little page called Nourishing Days – here’s the link – http://www.nourishingdays.com – sometimes this journey brings me to most unexpected places! The comments on the recipe did not give me cause for great hope but I searched for an hour and I could hear the hungry troops stirring above me so I dived in.

Here is the recipe:

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut milk or 3/4 cup cream + 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey or a pinch of xylitol
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • coconut oil for frying or butter

First off –  I had no coconut milk so I just used coconut cream – I didn’t exactly measure but used almost all of the carton –

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Here are other ingredients I used – I get the vanilla extract in SuperValu or Dunnes Stores and the coconut flour from the local health food shop. Eggs can be any sort.

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The recipe says to beat up the eggs first and then add the rest of the wet ingredients – I didn’t read that so I just threw all the wet ingredients in together and beat it madly until it looked slightly frothy.

I then mixed the coconut flour with the xylitol – I just threw in  what looked like a spoon of it or so and then added a bit of baking powder. I threw all of that into the wet mix and beat it gently to mix.

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I let it sit for ten minutes but it really looked quite runny. I heated my pan with some butter in – I went to 4.5 on an induction hob – mid height – the result was terrible – pan too tepid and batter too runny –

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so the dog got that mix – better check that coconut is okay for the poor fellow!

I then debated – either throw it out and forget about them or try to thicken the batter – which I did – I added about twice this amount of coconut flour –

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and stirred to get this consistency –

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if you bake it looks a bit like a slightly grainy muffin mix – quite thick. Then I went again using coconut oil this time for the pan – I set the temperature to 6 and then turned it down once they started to sizzle – here is how they looked when they started out –

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which then became this

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and finally these

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They were really lovely. They had quite a coconutty flavour and tasted a little grainy, but my husband was quite happy to polish them off smothered in butter.

Having devoured a fry my children then decided to try them out. They adore the other ones. My middle child, an avid chef herself, took on the cooking of them and produced some tiny ones which the other two polished off with some honey – we didn’t have the honey because it’s very sweet. They really liked them which is great because the further into this journey we go the less I want them eating excessive processed sugar and wheat products – I will be happy to make these for them again.

The verdict:

The family really liked these – they would be beautiful with some whipped cream mixed with mascarpone and fresh or cooked berries as a decadent dessert. This quantity made enough for us all with batter left over.

Personally – they were just a bit too sweet for me – I could really taste the xylitol – and I used very little.

Result! I’ve lost my love for sugary foods! That and 22 pounds! And my husband has lost 25 – he’s nearly at his target – I’ve a while to go yet!

Next recipe is for banting lasagne. Have a great day!

Butter – it’s brilliant! 21 October 2015.

http://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/spread-the-word-butters-good-for-you-after-all-30371126.html

Above is a link to an article that was published in today’s Irish Independent extolling the virtues of butter. It’s so interesting to read all the articles published in many different papers and magazines suggesting that the current obesity epidemic can be directly linked to the advice on cutting saturated fats from our diets – have a look below:

10F_FAT BUTTER MARG STATS

and then marry that to a study from the New England journal of Medicine in 2000:

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Tim Noakes of Realmealrevolution.com argues that as the population increased their carbohydrate intake to compensate for the newly reduced fat intake, rates of obesity soared. They have continued to rise ever since.

An article in the UK Independent also explained that butter was in fact one of the new “good fats” – and Irish butter in particular is prized by many because it comes from exclusively grass fed cows – nobility in butter society!

One of the biggest findings in recent years is that the supposed link between heart disease and saturated fat does not exist. An excess of anything is bad for you, but remember banting is never about excesses – it is about eating good nutritious healthy unprocessed foods, and feeling healthy as a result.

Let’s have a quick look at some of the benefits of lovely creamy butter:

  • Butter contains glycospingolipids – basically stuff that’s good for your gastrointestinal tract – it keeps it healthy!
  • Butter can guard against degenerative arthritis
  • Butter is great for your brain – which apparently is made up of a lot of fat – it kind of looks like that doesn’t it – and butter contains oleic acid – lots of it – to help maintain the myelin coating on those neurons.
  • Grassfed butter such as ours is full of something else – called CLAs or conjugated linoleic acids, as well as aforementioned oleic acid, and myristic acid – all of which have proven cancer fighting properties.
  • Butter is a great source of Vitamins A, E and K2 – which is important in the prevention of osteoporosis.

What’s not to love there? Even Time magazine jumped on the story as far back as June 2014 – butter was on the front page! Not as glamorous as the cover of Vogue but you never know!

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Now my brother is worried that I am eating vast quantities of butter every day – a mention of 800gms at one point! Not true. As with everything else in life it should be taken in moderation. As a banter I take in about 1400 calories a day. I might take 150 of those calories in the form of butter – that’s all – about an ounce an day – it is so luscious and rich – this evening I dropped half an ounce in on top of my scramble before eating – how divine!

Other oils that are very good for us are the fish oils – I find salmon delicious – and extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil has other oils added but if the label says extra virgin the producers are obliged by law to add nothing else to the product.

Coconut oil is also really good for you, or palm oil – one which I had thought was not good. They are the best ones to cook with as olive oil changes colour as soon as it hits 180 degrees so it is better to use cold.

Banting recommends you avoid all seed oils because of the chemicals used in the extraction of said oils. However, if like me you have to live as well as try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, don’t sweat about the occasional meal out that has sunflower oil in the salad dressing – it won’t kill us – at least not quickly!

Go on – get out that butter – you know you want to!

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A night away doesn’t have to scare you anymore. 19 October 2015.

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I spent Saturday night away with friends. It was wonderful. We stayed in Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim Co Meath and I was very impressed with the hotel and the staff there in particular.

Because it was an early meetup I had three meals to contend with, lunch, dinner and then breakfast the next morning. There was also the alcohol.

Banting does not say you should not drink but it does warn against excessive consumption for two reasons – both really good ones dammit – the first being that drinking can make the best of resolutions fly out the window, and the second is the number of “dead” calories consumed.

I am not one for depriving myself – on arrival three of us went to the lounge in the hotel and ordered barfood. I have to say the staff were incredibly helpful I got a salad and asked if I could get a little goat’s cheese  on top. It arrived with two very generous rounds of goat’s cheese which I couldn’t actually finish. They charged me nothing extra for the cheese which was really decent of them. The other thing which most impressed me was the list of allergans on the menus – every possible allergan was listed – except for sugar!

Then it was over to the guesthouse in which we were staying to have a few glasses of champagne. What a find! This champagne came from Tesco and was delicious. The best part of the champagne was finding out how low in carbs it is – about half the number that is in red or white wine – it must be the dryness of the taste – whatever – it was a beautiful bottle of champagne!

You can see what my main was – sirloin steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce, wilted spinach and buttery mushrooms. I had a crab salad for starter but asked that the dressing not be put on – no problem.

For dessert although I was far from hungry I had a cheese board. That’s where I had a moment – I ate all the grapes from the cheese board – about 16 in all – at 1gm of carb for grapes they pack a fair carb punch! Those, along with the champagne, a touch of prosecco and some fine Rioja added up to about 47 gms of carbs for the day – no cheating – I stayed with green foods all the while, apart from those grapes – and they were worth it!The cheese was disappointing – a tiny piece of brie which I ate, and then four different types of coloured cheddar. They did have very posh crackers – but they weren’t for me!

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I couldn’t have eaten another bite after that – which is most unusual for me – girlie nights away always involve chocolate and crisps. I had some macadamias with me, most of which I brought home again – and I had two squares of chocolate – there is only one square left now!

When I went down for breakfast I was happy to see the allergan signs up again so I asked if they had gluten free sausages – I wouldn’t go that route again – they were very small, only tasted okay – and I’m sure the sausages had sugar in as well – I’m becoming quite the expert at tasting it now!

The rest of the breakfast couldn’t be faulted – this was mine – and yes I ate every bite!

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That was enough though to keep me going until tea time at home.

The very best part of this night out was undoubtedly the feeling of control I had over food cravings. I didn’t once feel either hungry or deprived. I ate my fill – no chips – but that is no sacrifice when the veg is so tasty – and why wouldn’t it be when it’s slathered in butter half the time!

I left the hotel on a high yesterday – I had managed to have a great night away with my friends, not look like a sad dieter, and easily find plenty to eat from the standard menu. It was a revelation!

I will post a couple of recipes next time – I must try and see if I can set up a little recipe section on the page so you don’t have to trawl through everything to get to them.

Heavenly Himalayan Rock Salt. October 19 2015.

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I told you all I would post a bit of information about this new salt that has taken the country by storm in the past year. I found it in my local butcher’s and because we love all things pink in this house I threw it into the shopping without much thought. When I started banting suddenly Pink salt was everywhere.

Basically Himalayan Pink Salt is considered the most natural salt in the world – it is mined in Pakistan and has 84 minerals contained in its crystals. Not just a pretty face then!

I started using it while banting because it is claimed that the magnesium contained in it can prevent sugar cravings. It is also good for muscle cramps, and the reality is that when you stop eating processed foods your salt intake naturally plummets. I love salt – always did so you can imagine how happy I am about the whole salt business!

Here are some of the claims made about the salt –

  • Detoxifies the body by balancing systemic pH
  • Improves hydration by providing trace minerals
  • Improves mineral status of the body
  • Reduces muscle cramps by improving minerals and hydration
  • Helps balance blood sugar
  • Supports hormone balance for everyone, no matter what hormonal issues you face
  • Helps balance blood pressure because it provides unrefined, mineral-rich salt in an ionic solution
  • Improves sleep by supporting blood sugar and hormone balance
  • Acts as a powerful antihistamine
  • Supports weight loss by balancing hormones and improving energy
  • Supports thyroid and adrenal function

I find the antihistamine one fascinating – my husband is a sufferer – and in eight weeks he hasn’t had any issues.

If you google the subject you will find as many negative comments as positive ones disclaiming all the health benefitsof this particular salt. The fact that the crystals are much larger when ground than the more refined table salt means that you in fact eat less of it than regular salt – a plus of course.

All I can tell you is that we love this salt in our house – my children use it every day and because there’s no salt in anything we are eating we have a new appreciation for the flavour of our food. The pink salt only enhances this.

I’ll shoot off a quick post about hotel living and surviving on a banting diet next.

Banting for the family. October 16 2015

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We have three children. They are delighted that my husband and I have engaged with this new lifestyle but they are not hugely interested in participating themselves. They are also very slim so following our plan would not be entirely suitable to them. We eat less than 25gms of carbs a day. They could not possibly do that. So we have found ways to make their lifestyle a little less like it was before and a little more Banting friendly.

We barbecue all our meat. It tastes so much better and so much more decadent on a cold October to smell the summer in our kitchen when Paddy brings the meat in. It is also much easier to get the girls to eat some of the fat in the meat that way – it loses its yellow look and the singed flavour is very tasty. As a result they get more calories from their meat than heretofore which means we can give them less carb on their plates. We also roast their potatoes and alternate between giving them normal potatoes and sweet potatoes. Originally they were less than keen on the sweet potatoes, but after a few tries, and cooked in coconut oil in the air fryer, they now take them quite happily as an alternative. We also give them the spinach and broccoli creamed and buttered dish which again fills them so that less carb is needed on the plate. For them it’s about reducing the carbs as best we can without removing them completely.

We give them the yoghurt treat every day for lunch and that beast that used to travel home in the car every evening with me has disappeared. Now the children can survive until dinner time without having to fill the gap beforehand. They often have extra meat for lunch to lessen the carb intake. I still give them bread for lunch, but sometimes they have rice or pasta, and although that is carb they eat far less than they did in the past. Because two of them aren’t allowed to bring nuts to school they can’t substitute these for the carbs yet. But at home they reach for nuts before the bread now.

The most interesting change for me is in their taste for sweet stuff. Because Paddy and I gave it all up eight weeks ago we just stopped offering it to them. They still get the occasional treat from relatives but for the most part sugar is gone from their diets, or is at least drastically reduced. They recently had icecreams when we had visitors and the youngest told me she wasn’t that keen to have one again because it felt “too sweet”. Two of them have taken happily to 85% chocolate – the Lindt bar is beautiful – and the other is training her tastebuds! It’s okay to have 20 gms of the chocolate without taking in too much carb – and that feels substantial and satisfying.

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There are plenty of foods on the green list I never mentioned the last day – amazing seafood for example –

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aubergines that can be prepared in an eggy Parmesan mix and fried, artichokes – and pâté –  a new one I discovered today. I bought some to put on my crackers as an alternative to butter or Philadelphia. You can have cured meats but in Ireland most of them seem to have either wheat products or sugar in so check the labels. One of our favourite meals which I forgot to mention in the last post is loin lamb chops with buttery spinach – delicious and so filling.

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There is very little on the orange list, just cashews and chestnuts, and most of the fruits. You can have them all but not in abundance if you are trying to lose weight as they can spike your sugar cravings and stop your progress. Carrots are also on the list and it’s okay to include them every once in a while. They are quite sweet so don’t overdo it. Each one contains 5gms of carb – which will cause cravings for other sugar if you eat too many of them.

Okay. If you haven’t already checked out the website –  realmealrevolution.com – do. You will get all the proper scientific stuff there with which I won’t bore you – but it’s worth a look.

I’m spending a night away this weekend so I have lunch, dinner and breakfast to eat. Unlike other trips I’m not scared I’ll go off course. I’ll be telling the hotel that I’m gluten intolerant and I’ll pack my macadamias for when the munchies hit with the champagne – that’s okay too on this plan – just as well!

If you’re enjoying the blog leave me a message. If you spot a grammatical error or a spelling one please tell me! It matters!

Lunch – at work, at home or eating out. October 13 2015

It’s all very well to follow a new food plan, but when you give up bread for lunch what exactly do you have instead??

There are lots of alternatives. It does take a bit of planning, but there are staples you can always have ready to go.

One of my favourite lunches is my yoghurt granola treat. I take 3 – 4 ozs of full fat Greek yoghurt and put an ounce of mixed berries in on top. Aldi sells frozen berries – really handy if you don’t have a fridge to put lunch in – it keeps it cool! Their berries don’t have to be boiled before use but the Lidl ones do. It can add a different dimension to the lunch depending on whether the berries are boiled or not. Then I throw in whatever nuts are to hand – the easiest are flaked almonds – so tasty – and no bashing involved! I usually add a good dash of desiccated coconut and some poppy seeds – although they can get stuck in the teeth so I limit them!

A new recipe which I have yet to try is a smoothie – mix a good dollop of almond butter with a handful of strawberries and a few ounces of Greek yoghurt along with some ice cubes. Blitz in the liquidiser and either eat immediately or take to work for later.  I’ll try that one this weekend and let you know how it goes.

Another great lunch uses up leftovers from dinner the night before. My mother is a great believer in cooking more than you need – with nine of us in the family I suppose it was hard to gauge exactly how much to cook. So on Monday I had salad leaves, peppers – roasted for dinner on Sunday evening and let cool – lovely fresh as well – tomato, radish, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with garlic in. I took the chicken to work cold and did a quick reheat if that in the microwave – skin on – it’s important to keep fat content up because that helps to fill you.

Today I had duck breast with herby leaves and a little cheddar cheese. It was fabulous. Again, I cooked the duck last night when the oven was on for the children’s tea.

If you have nothing in the cupboard cheddar cheese and Banting crackers is always a handy option. Even if you have no cheese a bit of butter on said crackers is equally lovely.  The sesame crackers are gorgeous too – I’ll give you the recipe again.

I got mozzarella mini balls recently and had them with poached eggs and salad one day at home. I added the best fat of them all – half an avocado – and the obligatory drizzle of olive oil – extra virgin – heaven on a plate.

My husband’s favourite lunch is soup – he likes the tomato soup but he also makes a meat soup at the weekend which he sometimes brings to work with him – not a lot of fat in that – shin beef cooked with leeks, carrots and a bit of Kallio organic vegetable stock.

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This food plan is not all doom and gloom you know. This was lunch for me last Sunday in Avoca.  Crab with fennel salad in a honey and mustard dressing – most of which I left behind – the dressing that is – the only part of the salad I left was the pink grapefruit – I then had some of their broccoli and feta salad later with their French dressing  – totally gorgeous and no harm for a banter there. The net result? A pound off the next day.

I need to go – a walk planned at 8 – to help burn up some of my new found energy!

Back from a speedy walk and had to post about the almond butter smoothie – I measured nothing, just threw some almond butter, a bit of greek yoghurt and some frozen berries in to the food processor with a bit of ice – my husband has a new favourite breakfast treat! It actually looks a bit like icecream – and tastes just as good – the almond butter is amazing – really good – a finer texture and taste than the peanut butter. This is a great treat for anyone who is finding it difficult to cut protein and eat enough fat in a day.

Almond butter smoothie

Next time I’ll share some fascinating facts about Himalayan salt and why you need to take lots of it every day. I’ll also suggest a few ways you can incorporate this lifestyle into the eating habits of your children without them having to lose weight – banting is a way of life remember – it’s not just for weight loss. A banter can happily maintain by balancing protein and fat intake a little more, and by increasing good carbs. More anon.

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